Knicks, Nets aren’t improving

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Knicks, Nets aren't improving

The teams that win in the NBA are the ones that draft well, making drafting the lifeblood of the league. And on Thursday night at the Barclays Center, the Post takes a close look at who left the building as winners and who as losers.

winner

Orlando magic

The Magic won Shaquille O’Neal as its top pick in 1992, and Dwight Howard a dozen years later. They went big this time with the most ready. Paolo Banchero has the defense and intangibles for a team that badly needs both. A 6-foot-10, 250-pounder who can pass, imagine Ben Simmons with a jumper.

Detroit piston

GM Troy Weaver just finished this design. After Sacramento inexplicably passed Jaden Ivey for Keegan Murray, Detroit pounced on the open threat Ivey. The Purdue star has drawn comparisons to Ja Morant and should be the perfect athletic complement to Cade Cunningham’s height and intelligence. The addition of athletic 6-11 shot blocker Jalen Duren in a three-way deal was a bonus; but creating enough cap space to chase Deandre Ayton or Miles Bridges hangs on the rim.

Jaden Ivey speaks to the media after being drafted by the Detroit Pistons
Jaden Ivey speaks to the media after being drafted by the Detroit Pistons
NBAE via Getty Images

Pelicans from New Orleans

Dyson Daniels in 8th place fits perfectly. Brandon Ingram, newly acquired CJ McCollum and Zion Williamson (eventually) will record; Daniels does the defense and the dirty work. He’s got a wobbly sweater, but assistant Fred Vinson has worked wonders with Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Herb Jones. Daniels is his next student.

San Antonio Spurs

A pick later, the Spurs took 6-foot-9 defensive ace Jeremy Sochan against Duren. But like New Orleans a spot ahead, they’re taking a young top pick with an Achilles’ heel they’re confident longtime shot doctor Chip Engelland can fix. Then came greatly improved Ohio State guard Malaki Branham at number 20 and Notre Dame’s Blake Wesley at number 25, three athletic top picks. Who will bet against Spurs player development?


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loser

Brooklyn Networks

It’s not just that the Nets didn’t have a single pick in their own building on Thursday. It’s not just that they put the No. 23 in hopes of relapses from Philadelphia to next year, only to see the 76ers improve by bringing in De’Anthony Melton. It’s that they owed Houston their own pick for James Harden, and we see how that worked. Oh, and the ghost of Kyrie Irving appeared over the night.

Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Sacramento Kings

They were played by Ivey. After his rumors that he didn’t want to play in Sacramento, they got scared of the best player available and settled on Murray. Yes, it fills a need, but it would almost certainly have been available later. The Kings could have had a nice return coming down from 4th place, especially with Ivey on the board. But hey, they passed Luka Doncic for Marvin Bagley, so maybe Ivey was right.

New York Knicks

Yes, they turned a pick into three and cleared the cap spot. But they sacrificed Lottery talent, while the Bucks picks are likely to be poor and the other two are heavily protected. It seems like a steep price to pay to clear Kemba Walker’s non-incriminating $9.2 million deal, all for a shot at free agent Jalen Brunson (unless Irving is the endgame, which raises entirely different concerns brings).

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker
Getty Images

Memphis Grizzlies

In a wing league, Memphis was not only enviably deep, but actually had an abundance of wings. They traded Melton to Philadelphia for the No. 23, taking David Roddy with them alongside No. 19 Jake LaRavia. You drafted well under Zach Kleiman, but why give up a solid defender and a legitimate piece for a few rookies with limited potential who might have a hard time breaking that rotation? For such a young team, experience should be a priority.

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