2024 NBA Draft: Winners and Losers – Lakers Score with Dalton Knecht, Knicks’ Savvy Moves, Spurs’ Asset Hoarding

2024 NBA Draft: Winners and Losers - Lakers Score with Dalton Knecht, Knicks’ Savvy Moves, Spurs’ Asset Hoarding
Image Credit: 2024 NBA Draft

The first round of the 2024 NBA Draft has wrapped up (with the second round scheduled for Thursday), and it was a night filled with significant moves beyond just the draft picks. The New York Knicks, for instance, were active with some under-the-radar yet strategic moves amidst trades and re-signings.

While it will take time to assess the impact of these choices fully, we can make educated guesses based on current knowledge. Here are the first-round winners and losers of the NBA Draft.

Winner: Los Angeles Lakers

For all the speculation about the Lakers selecting Bronny James at No. 17, they were surprised to find Dalton Knecht, the SEC Player of the Year, available. Universally projected as a top-10 pick, Knecht slipped to the Lakers, addressing their long-standing need for shooting.

Sports Analysis

Knecht is a top scorer and exceptional shot-maker who can excel running off screens. His fit with coach JJ Redick, a former elite shooter himself, is perfect. Grade: A+

Loser: Dalton Knecht

Knecht finds himself in a fantastic position on the Lakers, poised to contribute to a title-contending team alongside LeBron James and under the tutelage of JJ Redick. However, financially, it’s a different story.

Projected to go as high as No. 6, Knecht could have earned around $34M over four years. Instead, as the No. 17 pick, he will make approximately $18.5M. The $16M difference is significant, highlighting the harsh reality that maximizing one’s financial potential is crucial in securing a future, despite the advantageous team fit.

Winner: New York Knicks

The Knicks have had a busy few days, trading for Mikal Bridges and re-signing OG Anunoby. Their draft strategy also stood out. They cleverly managed their finances by trading a first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for five second-round picks and selecting Pacome Dadiet at No. 25.

These moves allow the Knicks to avoid paying guaranteed first-round money, giving them flexibility with second-round picks, who can be signed for less and with more creative contracts. Additionally, Dadiet is likely a draft-and-stash player, further reducing immediate financial obligations. This is critical as the Knicks navigate a tight budget close to the hard cap.

Winner: Zaccharie Risacher

Going No. 1 overall makes Zacharie Risacher a clear winner. This 3-and-D wing wasn’t the consensus top pick, but he benefits from being in a draft class that favoured his skill set. The Hawks, potentially entering a rebuild, drafted him, securing Risacher about $57M over his first four seasons.

CBS Sports Analysis

Risacher’s selection is solid but not spectacular, aligning with expectations for this draft. The Hawks missed an opportunity to trade down but still made a sound choice. Grade: B

Winner: French Basketball

Following Victor Wembanyama’s No. 1 selection in 2023, France continues to dominate with three of the top six picks in 2024: Zaccharie Risacher, Alex Sarr, and Tidjane Salaun. This trend highlights the growing prominence of French talent in the NBA.

Loser: Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies aimed to move up from No. 9 to select Donovan Clingan, rumoured as a potential No. 1 pick. Failing to secure the deal, they ended up with Zach Edey instead. While Edey has potential, missing out on Clingan is a setback.

Winner: Portland Trail Blazers

Conversely, the Blazers, who managed to draft Clingan at No. 7, emerge as winners. Clingan’s potential as a defensive anchor and versatile playmaker adds significant value to Portland’s roster.

Winner: San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs continue to build a future-focused roster, trading the rights to Rob Dillingham for future picks. San Antonio, with Victor Wembanyama, is amassing a wealth of draft assets, ensuring a sustainable talent pipeline as their star matures.

Sam Quinn’s Analysis

The Spurs’ strategy of collecting future picks positions them well, betting on the unpredictability of long-term team performance and ensuring flexibility in roster building.

This 2024 NBA Draft night reshaped several franchises and set the stage for future dynamics in the NBA. Each winner and loser highlighted here reflects strategic decisions that could shape their paths for years.


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