With the first round of the draft now completed, the top-30 picks know their fates regarding where they’ll play next season. The beginning of the draft went as expected for months, but there were still some very good selections buried among the first half of the event. Let’s look at the teams that did the best on Thursday night:
Los Angeles Clippers: No. 8 Al-Farouq Aminu and rights to No. 18 Eric Bledsoe
The Los Angeles Clippers need whatever they can get to recreate a winning culture in Los Angeles alongside the Lakers. On Thursday night, management did a good job to take the next step with the team. Going in, the void at small forward was the one pressing concern. The Clippers were fortunate to have Al-Farouq Aminu fall to them at No. 8, and he provides them with an instant influx of athleticism, defense and versatility. Then they acquired the second-best pure point guard in the draft in Eric Bledsoe at No. 18, giving them a good shooter and passer whom they can groom as a potential replacement to the aging and declining Baron Davis.
Toronto Raptors: No. 13 Ed Davis
After narrowly missing out on the playoffs in 2010, the Raptors will very likely lose Chris Bosh to free agency. Accordingly, they’ll have to go back to the drawing board for figuring out a plan to win. With their selection of North Carolina’s Ed Davis, they immediately inject some talent into the position that Bosh will probably vacate. While his college production wasn’t solid, Davis has a lot of upside, with great rebounding and a developing post game. With a couple years under his belt, Davis can take his game to the level that suggested he could have been a top-5 overall pick a year ago.
San Antonio Spurs: No. 20 James Anderson
It’s not often that a perennial contender like the San Antonio Spurs can add a good value in the second half of the first round, but they have done exactly that. Following up on their steal of DeJuan Blair in the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft, the Spurs add an excellent talent in James Anderson. He’s a good-sized player who’s an above-average scorer, and he plays admirable defense, too. While he won’t be the next Hall of Famer, he will be a serviceable role player for many years, hopefully providing San Antonio with someone who can maintain their high level of performance.