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Highlighting winners, losers form 2014 NBA draft

Published 11:36am Monday, June 30, 2014

And so, one of the more talented NBA drafts in recent memory has come to a close.
While I’ll always prefer the NFL draft – and the NFL in general – there’s something to be said for the, erm … “efficiency” of the NBA’s take on the draft.
After all, you only get two rounds, so you have to make them count. Of course, with every draft, there are winners and there are losers. Some teams land studs with their turn at the podium, while others don’t do so hot. Without further ado, here’s my take on the draft’s best and worst:
Winner: Adam Silver – For starters, the man was cheered when he stepped on the stage to begin the proceedings. You can ask his predecessor as NBA Commissioner what that’s like.
Granted, David Stern wouldn’t know, but you can ask.
Anyway, the new head man in the Association has hit nothing but home runs in his tenure, particularly with the Donald Sterling fiasco, and his classy display of drafting former Baylor standout Isaiah Austin – whose career ended before it could begin, thanks to the discovery of a genetic defect – on behalf of the NBA was an amazing gesture.
At this rate, Silver might become the most well-liked commissioner in professional sports. In fact, I think he already is.
Loser: Toronto Raptors –  After a surprising season which culminated in a division title and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, the 2014 NBA Draft was a fine time to take steps to ensure that they wouldn’t be just a one-year wonder.
Then they drafted Bruno Cabolco. I’ve never heard of the guy, but he’s considered the Brazilian equivalent of Kevin Durant. Lofty expectations, yes, but when an analyst says you’re “two years away from being two years away” in an era where rookies are expected to make immediate impact barring injury… well, I wouldn’t be too comforted by this choice if I were say, Drake.
If it helps, the nation of Canada itself had quite the night in New York, with several top prospects from the Great White North being chosen.
Winners: Teams that drafted Nos. 1-3 – If you are the Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks or Philadelphia 76ers, you got your man. Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid were the consensus top three prospects available, and each man has the potential to be a franchise cornerstone.
So it turns out being a bad team does have its rewards. Unless you’re the Sixers, who may not reap those rewards for a couple years – perhaps by design. But that’s for a different column altogether.
Loser: Rajon Rondo (maybe?) – Boston landed itself a fine player in Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart. An inconsistent sophomore season and a mid-season suspension aside, he entered this year as perhaps the best point guard available, at least in the eyes of some pundits.
This is where a problem could arise. Beantown is set at the position with a multi-time All-Star in Rondo – when he can stay on the court, that is. Perhaps that – coupled with the mercurial guard entering the final year of his deal – motivated the selection of Smart as a heir apparent.
Maybe the Celtics intend to play both players. That could work , but from where I am setting, I don’t see Rondo remaining in a Celtics’ uniform for much longer. But we’ll see.
Winner: Miami Heat –  After a five-game smackdown at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs during the NBA Finals, they could probably use a boost. I think they got one in Shabazz Napier. Napier, a four-year player at college and a two-time national champion at Connecticut – which has put its share of players into the league – is in my view, the most pro-ready point guard in this draft.
Pretty much the A.J. McCarron of all the prospects, Napier should thrive assuming the Heat can maintain Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James – the latter of whom gushed over Napier during March Madness as well as when he was chosen by the Heat.
If the big three return to South Beach, I expect Napier to see a good amount of playing time and right now, he’s my pick for Rookie of the Year.
Loser: Sixers fans – Landing Embiid, injury history notwithstanding, could prove to be a franchise-changing move for the Sixers. The problem is, the fans won’t get to see Embiid, or the Sixers’ second first-rounder Dario Saric for some time.
So, they can probably expect their team to be bad during the 2014-2015 NBA season. And given that by some accounts, Philly was intentionally terrible in hopes of landing one of the draft’s big fish (preferably Wiggins) as a fan I’d not be too pleased about perhaps another season of “tanking.”
But hey, the long-term future should be ridiculously bright. The present looks bleak outside of Michael Carter-Williams.
Winner: New York Knicks –  I didn’t expect myself to be writing this, either, but they landed a steal in Wichita State’s Cleanthony Early. If Carmelo Anthony decides not to return, I think Early can be groomed as the team’s face going forward. It may be the small-college stigma or the fact that he isn’t as wow-inducing as others, but there is no reason why Early should have fallen to No. 34.
And with that, I await the season shooting all my prognostications to bits.
Bailey is sports editor for The Outlook.