The 2020 NBA Draft: Who Won, and Who Lost?

An in-depth review of some of the winners and losers of the 2020 NBA Draft.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

This year’s NBA draft was like no other, as young NBA hopefuls watched commissioner Adam Silver announce picks through TV screens in their living rooms, surrounded by (hopefully not too many) family members and friends. Following a delayed NBA season that stretched into October in the Orlando bubble, the long-awaited NBA draft finally took place on November 18 and was held virtually from ESPN facilities in Connecticut. As with all drafts, some teams found themselves headed in the right direction, while others strayed a bit too far from the intended path.

Winner: Philadelphia 76ers

Following 14 years as general manager of the Houston Rockets, NBA executive Daryl Morey signed on to be the President of Basketball Operations for the Philadelphia 76ers at the end of October. Since then, he has made multiple moves in order to overhaul the roster of a disappointing 76ers team that resulted in a first-round playoff exit this past season. Prior to the draft, Morey managed to unload Al Horford’s overpriced contract to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Danny Green and Terrence Ferguson. In order to get rid of 34-year-old Horford, who is owed $81 million over the next three years despite averaging just 11.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, the 76ers were forced to pay the steep but necessary price of two first-round picks.

They acquired premium shooter Seth Curry in exchange for Josh Richardson and the 36th overall pick via a draft-day trade. Philadelphia also landed talented combo guard Tyrese Maxey with the 21st overall pick. Through free agency as well as draft night, new executive Morey was able to transform the Philadelphia roster. A new supporting cast characterized by players such as Curry, Green, and Tobias Harris will help to better space the floor for the dynamic duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid as the 76ers hope to make a deep playoff run in the East this upcoming season.

Winner: Sacramento Kings

Holding the longest active NBA playoff drought, the Sacramento Kings’ front office is looking to make significant changes after finishing at 31-41 last season. Much of the King’s success in this year’s draft actually came from the board and the way in which the selection of players played out.

Previously believed to easily be a lottery pick in this year’s draft, Sacramento was lucky to have Iowa State Cyclones point guard Tyrese Haliburton fall to them at the 12th overall pick. A prolific passer and ball handler, Haliburton will be a welcome addition to a roster consisting of impact players such as De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, and Marvin Bagley. In addition to being the best player available on the board, Haliburton presents a perfect fit to a team in dire need of improved spacing. The rookie is able to compliment Fox’s explosive speed and slashing ability with intelligent passing and capable shooting, combining for a dangerous backcourt that will hope to make an impact for the Kings next season.

Loser: Minnesota Timberwolves

Despite scoring the number one overall pick in the NBA draft, the Timberwolves were underwhelming in numerous aspects, partially due to the lack of a clear number one overall prospect. It is clear that the Timberwolves hoped to do more with the assets they had entering the draft. There were rumors that the Timberwolves were attempting to trade out of the number one spot before and on draft day, in hopes of acquiring a win-now player to pair with big man Karl-Anthony Towns and point guard D’Angelo Russell. With the first pick, the T-Wolves ended up selecting arguably the best overall player in Georgia, small forward Anthony Edwards.

While not to say that Edwards will not make an immediate impact on a Minnesota team hoping to make the playoffs, there are always many questions about a teenager who chose to go one and done in college. In addition to questions about his commitment, Edwards will need to increase his defensive efforts if he hopes to play a large role on the team. Not to mention, it will be interesting to see how Edwards plays off the ball offensively as a third option scoring guard on a crowded team of ball-dominant scorers. In college, he was a much more prolific scorer with the ball in his hands, so Edwards needs to learn how to contribute to the offense without possession of the basketball if the Timberwolves want to sneak into the Western Conference playoffs.

Loser: Houston Rockets

Powered by a stacked backcourt with the superstar duo of James Harden and Russell Westbrook, the Rockets aimed to make a deep playoff run in the West once again with a roster characterized by small ball and stretching the floor. However, we once again witnessed the Rockets eliminated in the second round, this year at the hands of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. LAfter numerous reports of trade demands from both of their stars, the Rockets looked to make a push with a disgruntled roster and took to transforming their team. First, they notably traded away recently-acquired wing Robert Covington for Trevor Ariza and two first-round picks. Many considered this trade was done in order to restock their assets following the Russell Westbrook trade and to acquire some younger talent on an older roster.

From there, however, Houston made the puzzling decision to get rid of Ariza, along with a first-rounder, for the Pistons’ first-round pick. Ariza had a low guaranteed salary, and despite his age, is still a talented player that the Rockets could have gotten more value out of. While an attempt to make the roster younger makes sense for the Rockets’ front office in cutting costs, all of this logical thinking was thrown out the window when the Rockets purchased a second-round pick for $4.6 million. With only one draft pick, outside of the top-50 overall, the Rockets had an awful draft night that revealed nothing about the direction of the team. If they want to remain contenders, they need to learn to build a roster around Harden, or simply move on from them altogether and enter rebuilding mode.