NBA draft 2020: Biggest first-round winners and losers

Tyrese Haliburton's NBA draft profile (1:03)

Check out some of the highlights that made Tyrese Haliburton the No. 12 pick in the NBA draft by the Sacramento Kings. (1:03)

Who are the biggest winners and losers from the first round of the 2020 NBA draft?

The top three picks -- Anthony Edwards (Minnesota Timberwolves), James Wiseman (Golden State Warriors) and LaMelo Ball (Charlotte Hornets) -- went as expected, without any big trades shaking up the top of the draft. But there were still plenty of surprise selections throughout the first round.

Our NBA experts Jonathan Givony, Kevin Pelton and Bobby Marks break down their early winners and losers from the evening.

More: NBA draft pick-by-pick analysis | NBA draft trade tracker



Pelton: The answer to this question was going to be whoever took Tyrese Haliburton well below where he was placed in mock drafts, and even further below where he ranks in my stats-based projections (No. 2 overall behind LaMelo Ball).

I suspect new Kings general manager Monte McNair was thrilled Haliburton somehow dropped to No. 12. He should be able to complement De'Aaron Fox in an off-ball role in Sacramento.


Givony: Considered a strong candidate to hear his name called in the top five, Deni Avdija falling all to way to the end of the top 10 was a bit of a surprise. Part of that was by design, as Avdija's camp was highly selective in electing where to send medical info. They favored good development situations where he could find immediate playing time in a strong organization.

Avdija should find everything he was looking for in Washington. There is playing time to be had and opportunities to develop his playmaking and shooting ability in one of the NBA's most up-tempo offenses.


Marks: The Clippers entered the night with only the No. 57 pick in the draft. They also had no future first-round picks available to trade. But they still found a way to acquire former lottery pick Luke Kennard by trading out Rodney McGruder and Landry Shamet. Before he injured his knee in December and missed the remainder of last season, Kennard was averaging a career-high 15.8 points per game on 40% from 3. Kennard is extension eligible up until Dec. 21. If there is no deal in place, he will become a restricted free agent in 2021.

The Nets are in a similar position to that of the Clippers: built to win now even if it means trading away draft assets. Limited with financial flexibility in free agency, the addition of Shamet gives the Nets shooting off the bench. He is a career 40% 3-point shooter on 5.2 attempts per game.



Pelton: I don't think the Pistons' draft-day trade with Houston showed a strong grasp of value. They gave up a protected future first-round pick structured in a way that could make future trades difficult and $12.8 million of cap space to acquire the No. 16 pick from the Rockets, then used it on a center (Isaiah Stewart) with limited range and defensive versatility.

I did feel better about Detroit's other deal, giving up guard Luke Kennard to get the No. 19 pick and take Villanova wing Saddiq Bey. Bey has a chance to be a better two-way player than Kennard and, importantly, will be on his rookie contract for four seasons, while Kennard is up for an extension.


Givony: The Suns shocked many in NBA circles by passing on a seemingly perfect fit in Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton to take Maryland big Jalen Smith.

Haliburton looked like an ideal guard to play behind Chris Paul and Devin Booker before eventually graduating to a bigger role down the road. Instead, the Suns looked to plug a more immediate hole in the frontcourt with Smith, who fills a need as a stretchy, shot-blocking big man. Smith should be able to play behind both Dario Saric (if re-signed) and Deandre Ayton, but passing on Haliburton there was tough.


Marks: This is purely about the injury to Klay Thompson, not the James Wiseman pick at No. 2. The Warriors were projected to be back in contention for a title in 2020-21, and a serious injury to Thompson could derail that hope.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday that Thompson hurt his lower right leg and is expected to undergo testing in the next few days to determine the severity of the injury.

I will give credit to the Warriors' front office for not panicking during the draft when the Thompson news broke. It would have been easy to try to move back in the draft and target a shooting guard, but they selected who they believed was the best prospect available. Wiseman certainly fills a need at the center position, and the Warriors will now turn their attention to improvements via their $17.2 million trade exception. With Monday's expiration date on that exception, Golden State is on the clock to help find bench help or a possible replacement for Thompson.