Mo Bamba, Lonnie Walker headline NBA draft full of Philadelphia-area talent

SIXR22
Mo Bamba, a Westtown School product, was the first Philadelphia-area player to come off the board in the NBA draft, but not the last.

NEW YORK – The Philadelphia area’s impact on the NBA draft at the Barclays Center was undeniable. Two players with local roots were picked in the top 10. One was traded after he thought he was going to play with his hometown team. Two other players with local ties went  No. 17 and No. 18.

This was no ordinary draft.

As for players with Philadelphia-area roots, University of Texas center Mohamed Bamba, the former all-American from the Westtown School, went No. 6 overall to the Orlando Magic. Bamba will enter the NBA with high expectations.

“When it’s all said and done, I want to be walking across the stage and I want to be putting on a jacket that has this little seal that says ‘Hall of Fame,’ ” Bamba said in his news  conference afterward.

Mikal Bridges, the product of Great Valley High and a two-time national champion for Villanova, was selected No. 10 by the 76ers.

After giving an emotional news conference and professing how happy he was to stay home, Bridges was traded to the Phoenix Suns for the No. 16 pick,  which had been used for Zhaire Smith of Texas Tech. The Sixers also received a 2021 first-round pick courtesy of the Miami Heat.

Later, Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo, the MVP of the Final Four, was selected No. 17 overall by the Milwaukee Bucks.

The next pick, Lonnie Walker of Miami, who last year led Reading High to a Pennsylvania state championship, was selected No. 18 by the San Antonio Spurs.

Whew!

The Bridges deal was the second blockbuster of the first round.

>> READ MORE: Sixers acquire Zhaire Smith, 2021 first-round pick in NBA draft 

The draft began as expected, with Phoenix taking Arizona center Deandre Ayton and Sacramento drafting Duke power forward Marvin Bagley III second.

Ayton joined Mychal Thompson, who was drafted first overall in 1978, as the only Bahamian players ever selected with the top pick.

After Bagley’s selection by Sacramento, the fireworks began.

Atlanta, picking third, and Dallas, selecting fifth, swapped picks, with the Mavericks sending a protected 2019 first-round pick to the Hawks as well.

The result was that Dallas got its prime target, Slovenian swingman Luka Doncic, the 19-year-old standout for Real Madrid in Spain, and Atlanta obtained Oklahoma freshman point guard Trae Young.

The 6-7 Doncic said he wasn’t surprised by the trade.

“No, No, I’ve been talking to Dallas a lot,” Doncic said. “They really wanted me, and they were very, very nice.”

The trade was contingent on Young’s being available with the fifth pick, and Memphis obliged by selecting Michigan State center Jaren Jackson Jr. with the fourth pick.

After Bamba was selected sixth, Duke forward Wendell Carter Jr. went seventh to Chicago, Alabama point guard Collin Sexton was taken eighth by Cleveland, and Kentucky forward Kevin Knox was selected ninth by the New York Knicks.

>> READ MORE: What they’re saying about the Mikal Bridges-Zhaire Smith trade 

Before the Knicks selection, the fans were urging them to select Michael Porter Jr., a player who had the talent to be the top pick but whose injury concerns caused him to drop.

Porter would be the final lottery pick selected, at No. 14 by Denver.

Knox will now push himself, knowing he wasn’t the popular choice with the fans.

“That’s just motivation,” Knox said. “A lot of people want him to get to the Knicks, but I mean, it’s all good with me. I’m ready to get to work.”

That left the Sixers taking Bridges, whose stay with the team was less than an hour in a wild first round that ended with Villanova forward Omari Spellman’s being selected by Atlanta with the 30th and final.

When Villanova point guard Jalen Brunson was the 33rd overall pick in the second round by Dallas, it completed a memorable night for the Wildcats.

Another local player, Penn State guard Tony Carr of Roman Catholic was selected with the 51st pick in the second round by the New Orleans Pelicans.