Now that the dust has settled until free agency opens July 1 in the NBA, let's look back at the draft. It's all educated (and sometimes uneducated) guesswork because if you ask most people at least 25 of the 30 teams had great drafts and made great "value picks," whatever that means.
When the NBA season tips in October, however, a lot of names won't be mentioned again in such a positive light if at all. Projecting isn't an exact science especially when most of the 30 first-rounders weren't even of legal drinking age.
Biggest winner: The Philadelphia 76ers. They manuevered their way into the No. 1 pick to grab Markelle Fultz. It seems like a no-brainer (it is), but sometime teams outsmart themselves and trade down or take an unnecessary risk when they have the best option in front of them. The Sixers went upward. They parted with assets to jump from third and made an aggressive move in a deal with the Boston Celtics who currently hold a bunch of chips that have yet to produce any value. The Sixers can now put Fultz with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid for a possible Big 3 of their own that should catapult them into the playoff picture.
Head-scratcher: The Chicago Bulls. They traded an All-NBA and All-Defensive player in Jimmy Butler for a bunch of unknown quantities. It goes against the rule of thumb in a trade. If the Minnesota Timberwolves are going to benefit from Butler, no matter how much Bulls managment were fed up with their star, getting a proven rotation player back should've been a requirement. Instead, they got back only potential in rising second-year player Kris Dunn who had an underwhelming rookie season; Zach LaVine who is a fantastic athlete but coming off major knee surgery; and a No. 7 pick in 7-footer Lauri Markkanen. The big man can turn out to be worthy but these picks aren't sure things. Plus the Bulls swapped the No. 16 pick which was Justin Patton (Creighton) in the deal. Given they gave up by far the best and most accomplished player, that's confusing. If anything, they should've gotten a future pick(s), too.
Overrated: Sacramento Kings. Yes, they draw a good haul but drafting De'Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, Frank Mason and Harry Giles is just the first step. What about the long game as they're stepping into an organization with a terrible track record. Maybe it's a new day, but the Kings still have to prove they have the infrastructure to develop what they have in this group and the wisdom to be patient if it takes time. All four of these players will not turn out to be solid contributors. That's how the draft is. Sometimes they'll end up sticking in the NBA but with another team and only Fox seems to be a lock based on talent. If this were the Miami Heat, for instance, it would be more a certainty they'd maximize these rookies. This is the Kings' first big test post-DeMarcus Cousins to change how they're perceived. GM Vlade Divac has been the Phil Jackson of Western Conference until proven otherwise.
[RELATED: Wizards Tipoff podcast, Ep. 18: Wiz make a deal, PBT on the draft]
Underrated: Atlanta Hawks. They've gotten little-to-no props for their selections under first-year GM Travis Schlenk. John Collins (Wake Forest), their first-rounder, is a back-to-the-basket presence they'll need after trading Dwight Howard and eventually losing Paul Millsap. In the post is the strength of Collins' game. Tyler Dorsey (Oregon) is a guard that the Wizards liked but knew he wouldn't be there at No. 52 which is why they traded out for a veteran. Dorsey has to get stronger but appears to be the right fit. He may take a year or two but the Hawks did well. And the last pick of the draft, No. 60, turned into 6-10 Alpha Kaba who played in Serbia. An intriguing prospect that could take the longest to come around but he's an incredible finisher at the rim with NBA athleticism.
Sleeper picks: Sindarius Thornwell (South Carolina) and Monte' Morris (Iowa State). Thornwell was taken at No. 48 by the Milwaukee Bucks and traded to the L.A. Clippers. Who knows how the Clippers will look now with the likely departures of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, but Thornwell is ready to play now. Defensively, his IQ is there which is rare for rookie second-round picks. He has geat instincts and plays off the ball and is exceptionally strong at 6-5. He's also a good rebounder if needed and can post up smaller guards, the type of the player the Clippers have needed in recent years. Morris may have limitations because of his physical skills -- not blazing fast, could have trouble beating his man so he's not an iso player -- but he knows how to run an offense and doesn't get loose with the ball under pressure. Faced as close to an NBA-style defense as there is in college in West Virginia with long, athletic defenders who trapped and pressured him to no end, and Morris only had one turnover.
Best undrafted talent: P.J. Dozier (South Carolina). At 6-6, he can create havoc at both ends. The biggest knock against him is his inconsistent shot, an area that can easily be improved with hard work. Most of his other assets can't be acquired. He can slash to get to the rim and finish in traffic.
Most surprising pick: Mason (Kansas) at No. 34. It's not that the national player of the year was chosen that was eye-catching. It was how high he went to Sacramento. At 5-11, Mason will have to not just get his shot over much bigger defenders, but if he'll have to succeed in that area if he's to stick in the NBA. Right now, he's strictly an on-ball player who isn't a threat off it and hasn't displayed the vision to create for others. He's draftworthy but it seems it a big high given that a better point guard option in Morris went a whopping 17 picks later.
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