Who won the 2010 NBA draft, held Thursday night in New York City? Who lost?
It'll be a long time before we know for sure. Some picks will take years to pan out, and only when it's all said and done can we look back on the careers of these young men and definitively say who worked out and who didn't.
The story of the 2010 draft is a work in progress. But at the moment, here's how things are shaping up:
Let's start with the obvious. The Wizards started off their night by selecting John Wall, the wunderkind point guard who will no doubt turn their franchise around. They followed that up by adding Lazar Hayward at No. 30 and Nemanja Bjelica at No. 35 — and it's presumed that in a couple of weeks, the Bulls will ship them Kirk Hinrich and their No. 17 (Kevin Seraphin) for next to nothing. When all's said and done, the Wiz will have added five viable pieces, and one of them is a future All-Star. Not a bad night's work.
The Bulls' trade to unload Hinrich and Seraphin was really a win-win. The Bulls give up two pieces, but they open up a considerable amount of cap space in losing Hinrich, and they're now inching closer to having the financial flexibility for two max free agents, like perhaps LeBron James and Chris Bosh. If they unload Luol Deng in a sign-and-trade, they can have both, or if they keep Deng, they can get one max guy and also make a run at a lesser free agent (maybe Carlos Boozer or Joe Johnson). Either way, the Bulls' chances of being major players this July just keep getting better and better.
San Antonio Spurs
How do the Spurs do it? It seems like every time R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich make a pick, it's a steal. Last year, they got DeJuan Blair out of Pittsburgh with the 37th pick in the draft, and he turned out to be a star. This year James Anderson fell to them at No. 20, giving them one of the most dominant scorers in college basketball. Somehow, the Spurs manage to keep piling up All-Americans without ever needing a high draft pick.
In taking Gordon Hayward at No. 9 overall, you have to wonder whether the Jazz got a little carried away looking at one strong NCAA tournament run. How good a prospect is Hayward, really? He's a smart player with good instincts, and is a tremendous outside shooter with a quick release. But is he big enough, strong enough, athletic enough to be a star in the NBA? It's not likely. The Jazz could have found a surer thing than Hayward with their top-10 position in the draft.
Golden State Warriors
Ekpe Udoh is an outstanding defensive big man. He's big and long, he's got tremendous footwork, and he can block shots in truckloads. But a defensive specialist is a role player on a good team, not a rebuilding centerpiece on a bad one. The Warriors have nothing to build around besides Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry — did they get enough in Udoh? He's 23 with a limited offensive game. How much upside does he have left? At No. 6, the Warriors could have gotten a forward with some scoring ability — someone like Greg Monroe or Al-Farouq Aminu. Instead, they took a gamble.
New York Knicks
Sorry, this is just too easy. First off, the Knicks had no first-round pick on Thursday night, courtesy of their trade six years ago for Stephon Marbury. Second, they spent two picks in the second round on Andy Rautins and Landry Fields, a pair of collegiate nobodies. And third, they watched as both the Bulls and Miami Heat made strides forward toward improving their cap position this summer. The LeBron sweepstakes are drawing closer, and the Knicks look passive while everyone else looks hungry.
Maybe in a year or five, we'll look back on this NBA draft and see things differently. Maybe John Wall will be a bust; maybe Gordon Hayward will be a Hall of Famer. Maybe the Knicks will pile up championships. But at the moment, none of the above seem likely.
We won't know for sure until all these draftees take the court and play.