If the NFL Draft is an exercise in extensive planning, drumrolling and a three-day marathon of selections, the NBA Draft is the exact opposite. Barely a week after the Denver Nuggets won their first NBA title, the league is gathering in Brooklyn’s Barclay Center tonight to determine what 59 young men beyond Victor Wembenyama will have new jobs and where they might be. And by midnight, most of those decisions, and probably a few more trades beyond the ones we’ve seen earlier this week, will have been made.
The once-in-a-generation talent of Wemby is headed to San Antonio, and the Spurs will once again be relevant as a result. What happens beyond that tonight is anyone’s guess. The intrigue for who will be the number two and three picks, and whether Charlotte and/or Portland will be their final destinations, has dominated the basketball talk shows and podcasts. The scrappy Scoot Henderson could be trade bait for Portland or the key to making a Hornets franchise relevant without Michael Jordan as an owner. Brandon Miller could quickly find a way to alter any narrative about his choices for who and where he spends his free time depending upon who drafts him, and how much any comparison to Ja Morant can be deflected.
And trades are already happening that can dramatically impact what happens beyond that. Last night, in a dizzying array of moves and counters, the Celtics began their dismantling of a team that failed to win an NBA title despite five conference finals trips in seven years, unloading Marcus Smart on a Grizzlies team that is trying to build leadership and adult influence around the mercurial and troubled Morant. Kristin Porzingis is leaving a Wizards team under new management that, at least for the moment, has Chris Paul as a bargaining chip. The Clippers, desperately trying to make themselves worthy of the kind of ticket prices their rapidly emerging Inuit Dome arena will attempt to command, now have a first round draft pick, and may be willing to part with Paul George in order to make more necessary changes.
And there’s even a pair of Thompson twins, these ones being Amen and Ausar from northern California, that could both be among the top 10 choices tonight, and forever make these British warblers who penned these words from a bygone era an afterthought.
And that alone will make tonight worth watching.