NBA Draft recap: Three winners. Three losers.

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Let’s be honest — we don’t know who the winners and losers from this draft are. We will not know for a three to five years. We should be rating the 2009 NBA Draft now (Clippers and Thunder are your winners, the Grizzlies and Hasheem Thabeet are your losers) not the one that happened last night.

But that’s not how it works in our instant gratification world.

So here are three winners and three losers from the 2012 Draft as we see it now. You can decide in 2015 if we were right.

WINNERS

New Orleans Hornets. Sure, it’s not like it was a challenge to take Anthony Davis with the top pick, but that doesn’t mean they are not still the night’s big winners. They have a franchise anchor player, one they can build a title contender around. Austin Rivers gives then a good ball handling, aggressive, scoring guard to pair with Eric Gordon. Those are some strong cornerstones.

Detroit Pistons. They are not here because I love Andre Drummond — I wouldn’t have taken him personally, I don’t want my team to take guys who coasted in college — but because of where they got him. At No. 9 he is a good gamble, one that they took Khris Middleton in the second round, another good gamble.

Oklahoma City Thunder. Baylor’s Perry Jones III fell all the way to 28 and into their laps, but what a great pick for them. He’s got fantastic talent, a guy who could be the second best pick in this draft in terms of talent if his head is screwed on and he plays hard. This is a locker room that will make sure his head is screwed on right, one of the most professional locker rooms in the league. This was a steal.

Honorable mention here: Sacramento Kings and Washington Wizards.

LOSERS

Brooklyn Nets. Not because of their picks — I like getting Tyshawn Taylor and Tornike Shengelia in the second round — but for what they did at the trade deadline. They gave up their first rounder to Portland to rent Gerald Wallace, who is leaving right now as a free agent. That No. 6 pick would have helped way more than Wallace.

Cleveland Cavaliers. Some people love the gamble they took, I’m not as sold. It really comes down to this — how good is Dion Waiters in a few years? If he pans out, I’m wrong and this is a great pick. But I think they picked for need over the best player available. I will give them this, adding Tyler Zeller via trade a solid move.

Houston Rockets. Again it’s not that they made bad picks, but they made a lot of moves the last week to get into the top 10 at least and they fell short. They dreamed big but couldn’t pull it all off, so they are still stuck in the middle. I will say the Royce White pick could end up being what saves this draft for them.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.

Pacers president Kevin Pritchard likes tweets critical of Paul George trade

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Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was widely panned – including by me – for trading Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Oops.

Oladipo and Sabonis are killing it while George has underwhelmed.

Upon George’s return to Indiana, Pritchard took the opportunity to gloat. The Pacers general manager recently liked these tweets (hat tip: Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation):

This is petty – and I love it. Pritchard earned the victory lap.

Report: Rival executives still expect Paul George to leave Thunder for Lakers

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Paul George has been pretty open about his plans.

He told plenty of people – including the Pacers – he planned to leave for the Lakers in the summer of 2018. Even after the Thunder traded for him, George spoke of the lure of playing for his hometown team.

Of course, George also left the door open to re-signing with Oklahoma City. He proclaimed he’d be dumb to leave if the Thunder reached the conference finals or upset the Warriors.

So far, Oklahoma City (12-14) doesn’t even look like a playoff lock, let alone a team capable of knocking off Golden State or reaching the conference finals. So, cue the inevitable speculation.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Rival execs still expect Paul to head for the Lakers in free agency

Do these executives have inside information into George’s thinking, or are they just speculating based on already-available information? Some executives are incentivized to drum up the Lakers threat, because they want to trade for George themselves now. If these executives insist George will leave for Los Angeles regardless, they might pry him from Oklahoma City for less.

There’s also a theory George is hyping his desire to sign with the Lakers so a team would have to trade less for him. That got him to the Thunder for what looked like a meager return (but hasn’t been). It might get him to a more favorable situation before the trade deadline without hampering his next team long-term. Of course, this theory isn’t mutually exclusive with George actually signing in Los Angeles. It could just get him better options to choose from this summer.

Surely, the Thunder are trying to parse all this noise. If their season doesn’t turn around, they should explore flipping George rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer. But they should also be wary that he’ll bolt for Los Angeles at first opportunity just because rival executives predict it.