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.

Irving’s 47 lead Celtics past Mavericks to maintain streak

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DALLAS (AP) — Kyrie Irving scored 10 of his season-high 47 points in overtime as the Boston Celtics rallied once again from a double-digit deficit to beat the Dallas Mavericks 110-102 on Monday night and extend their winning streak to 16 games.

The Mavericks led by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter, but as they have several times during their winning streak, the Celtics stormed back.

The winning streak ties the fourth-longest in Celtics history.

Boston tied the game at 96 when Irving stole the ball from Dirk Nowitzki and fed Jayson Tatum for an alley-oop lay-up that hung on the rim for a full second before dropping through.

Irving scored his team’s first six points of overtime. Then after Jaylen Brown gave Boston a 104-102 lead with a jumper with 1:39 to play, Irving went to work on Yogi Ferrell, backing him down and drawing contact on a lay-up with 48.5 seconds to play. Though Irving missed the free throw to keep the score 106-102, Dallas never got closer.

Harrison Barnes scored 31 points and Wesley Matthews had 18 for Dallas, which came back from an early double-digit deficit as the Celtics went cold for much of the second and third quarters.

Irving and Barnes had chances in the final 30 seconds but both missed shots that would have given their teams the lead.

The Mavericks fell behind by as many as 15 points in the first half, outscoring the Celtics 55-35 over the second and third quarters.

Dallas took its biggest lead of the game when Yogi Ferrell fed a cutting Dwight Powell for a lay-up to make it 87-74 with 7:47 to play before the Celtics rallied.

Boston shot just 10-for-34 over the two middle quarters after building the early lead.

 

DeMarcus Cousins ejected after elbowing Russell Westbrook in head

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DeMarcus Cousins‘ history of flagrant fouls certainly didn’t help him here, but if anyone elbows a guy in the head, he’s going to get tossed.

And that’s what Cousins did here.

Midway through the third quarter in New Orleans, Cousins blocked a putback attempt by Russell Westbrook, then grabbed the rebound. Westbrook tried to reach in across Cousins’ body for the steal, and Cousins cleared out space with his elbow — right to Westbrook’s head. Cousins walked around saying “no, no, no” afterward, and he likely thinks the officials had it out for him here because he was just getting a guy off him, but we go back to the original point — elbow a guy in the head, get tossed. The league is cracking down on blows above the neck. Westbrook did not leave the game.

The Pelicans went on to come from 19 down to win the game 114-107, behind 36 points and 15 boards from Anthony Davis.

Damn, Paul George with the in-game bounce pass alley-oop to Jerami Grant

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The game has been close (as of midway through the third quarter), but that didn’t stop Oklahoma City from putting on a show in New Orleans.

Paul George had the ball on a 2-on-0 fast break and decided to throw the playground bounce-pass alley-oop, which Jerami Grant got up and finished with authority. This could be one of the dunks of the year.

We’re going to see that highlight for a while.

Jusuf Nurkic’s agent says big man wants to stay in Portland this summer

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Last season, after his trade from frustrated backup big in Denver to new starter in Portland, there was a honeymoon — the Blazers went 14-6, their defense was better, and Nurkic was a big man setting big picks for quick guards in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.

This season the honeymoon is over, things have been up and down, but far from time to say the marriage should end, as he is a free agent next summer. Nurkic is the only real starting center on the roster (even if coach Terry Stotts left him on the bench in the fourth quarter in favor of Ed Davis a few games back). Nurkic is averaging 14.6 points and 7.2 rebounds a game, and the Blazers’ defense is 1.5 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court. However, his effort level has been up and down, and his shot is off, with a true shooting percentage of just 49.4, and he is shooting just 56.6 percent in the restricted area.

Nurkic wants to stay in Portland, his agent told Ben Golliver in a story at Sports Illustrated (that story is worth the read for the Nurkic origin story, which is amazing).

“I feel like the Blazers are very happy with Jusuf and Jusuf is very happy there,” Tesch, the agent, told The Crossover by telephone this week. “We had some [extension] talks but we decided to play it out this year and engage in talks again in July. He has already proven that he can help the team. There is a fit for Jusuf in Portland and he’s looking to stay there long-term.”

The two sides talked extension before the season, but Portland understandably wanted to make sure there was more to this relationship than just a honeymoon. It gave Nurkic a chance to drive up his asking price.

Portland and Nurkic likely will find a long-term deal next summer because it just makes sense for both sides. There are not a lot of teams with max free agent money next summer (4-6, I was told by an insider), or a lot of money to spend in general, and both DeAndre Jordan and DeMarcus would be centers on the market who rank ahead of Nurkic. Portland will offer more than other free agent destinations, if not as much as Nurkic dreamed of, and they will find common ground.

But there is a lot of season to play out before then. The Blazers feel like a team that should be better than its record so far, and Nurkic is part of that untapped potential. If things change, that’s good for Nurkic — and the Blazers.