The NBA Draft took place on Thursday night with few surprises at the top of the first round, but several interesting trades going on before the draft and in the middle of the first round. The top pick was owned by the Philadelphia 76ers, who acquired the selection in a pre-draft trade with the Boston Celtics. The 76ers selected Markelle Fultz out of the University of Washington, who was regarded by most as the top prospect in the draft and is expected to immediately start for Philadelphia. With the second pick, the Los Angeles Lakers also went chalk and took Lonzo Ball out of UCLA. Ball’s father LaVar was vocal before the draft in making clear that the Ball family preferred Los Angeles over Philadelphia, so this turned out beneficial for both sides. The Lakers also made the final selection of the first round, taking Villanova star Josh Hart, which was praised by NBA analysts as a steal.
The big mid-draft trade happened when the Chicago Bulls sent Jimmy Butler and the 16th overall pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Kris Dunn, Zack LaVine and the 7th overall pick. Minnesota is considered by most as the winner of the trade, especially considering that Butler, an Eastern Conference All-Star, is a huge veteran addition to a strong youth-oriented core, led by Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. The Bulls, meanwhile, acquired two players that have underachieved compared to the flashes of potential they showed in college. The trade did help them to move up to select Lauri Markkanen, who is considered a high-ceiling project player.
Another headscratcher to come out from the NBA Draft was the work of the Portland Trail Blazers, who came into the draft with three first round picks, but came out after a trade with Zach Collins and Caleb Swanigan, who are both centers. Especially when considering the Trail Blazers already had two solid centers on their roster, in Jusuf Nurkic and Meyers Leonard, some NBA analysts felt they should’ve focused on more pressing needs.