With the 2017 NBA Draft officially concluded, it’s time to assess the damage, and to try and predict what every teams’ next move is as they prepare for next season. For those of you who watched the entire draft, I applaud your commitment, and for those of you who didn’t, here’s a recap of the entire first round, the major moves, and the winners and losers on draft night.
- Philadelphia 76ers – Markelle Fultz, PG Washington: No surprises here with this pick, Fultz was the consensus top pick in this year’s draft, and rightfully so. Many people didn’t watch Fultz too often, including myself, due to the fact that he played in the PAC-12 and on a very bad team, but he possesses many attributes that make him a great fit for the league. A natural scorer at 6′ 4″ with a 7′ wingspan, coupled with athleticism, a nice outside shot, and play-making ability, Fultz should definitely contribute to #TheProcess and could become a star in the league.
- Los Angeles Lakers – Lonzo Ball, PG UCLA: This pick was essentially guaranteed with the trading of D’Angelo Russell, and it’s a solid pick for the Lakers. Ball is a natural leader, and he possesses outstanding passing abilities to go with a remarkably efficient offensive game (He was the only player to shoot better than 60% on 2 pt field goals and 40% on 3 pt field goals). Ball has all the potential to be a part of a young core that could revive the Lakers and showtime along the way.
- Boston Celtics – Jayson Tatum, SF Duke: A great pick for Boston with a lot of upside, Tatum is fortunate to be a lottery pick joining a 50-win team. Tatum boasts a well established offensive game drawing comparisons to Carmelo Anthony, and with Amir Johnson figuring to leave the C’s in free agency, Tatum could instantly find himself in a big role bolstering the team and providing another offensive weapon as Boston tries to get over the hump that is LeBron and the Cavs.
- Phoenix Suns – Josh Jackson, SF Kansas: One of my favorite picks of the draft, if there’s one thing the league always has a place for, it’s athletes, and Jackson definitely fits the bid. While his jumpshot is inconsistent as well as his overall offensive game, Jackson is a high motor guy that will be a dynamic compliment to Devin Booker on the wing. Plus, he can be a great defender and offensive skills can be improved over time, but Jackson’s athleticism is something you can’t teach.
- Sacramento Kings – De’Aaron Fox, PG Kentucky: This pick is right up there with the Knicks’ pick as one of the most painful picks for me in the draft. I absolutely love De’Aaron Fox on and off the court. He’s blazing fast with a great handle, the ability to finish around the rim, and an underrated mid-range jumpshot which was flashed in excess against Lonzo Ball and UCLA during the NCAA tournament. Not only that, but he has drawn John Wall comparisons and he’s a leader and a high energy guy. So why do I hate this pick? Because Fox has all the tools to be a star in this league, but Sacramento is where players’ careers go to die. Tell me the last Kings’ draft pick that went on to have a successful career. Exactly.
- Orlando Magic – Jonathon Isaac, F Florida State: Orlando just can’t seem to figure it out recently, but hopefully Isaac can be an answer. Having grown a freakish amount in high school similar to Anthony Davis, Isaac possesses excellent guard skills for a player of his size to compliment good ability around the basket and a freakish wingspan. Provided he can fill out and get stronger, Isaac has a lot of potential to become a scary player in the league.
- Minnesota Timberwolves (Chicago) – Lauri Markkanen, F Arizona: I can’t help but think that the Bulls got the short end of the stick in this deal, and I’m not sure how I feel about Markkanen either. The poor man’s Kristaps Porzingis, Markkanen shoots the 3 at a great clip and can stretch the floor, but is lanky and a bit soft, and his defense will have to improve as well as his strength if he’s going to succeed.
- New York Knicks – Frank Ntilikina, PG Strasbourg: Was Phil Jackson asleep when the Knicks decided to make this pick? Probably not, because this pick was such a typical Jackson/Knicks thing to do. Draft an 18 year old European prospect who is largely unknown and touted solely on potential that won’t be realized for years, and who ESPN gave a 59% chance of being a bust. Sounds good right? Ntilikina is raw and could potentially develop into a solid player in the league, but he’s only averaging 5.5 ppg in limited minutes in France, and with both Malik Monk and Dennis Smith Jr. on the board, I just really hate this pick by the Knicks. At least there were no crying fans after this one.
- Dallas Mavericks – Dennis Smith Jr., PG NC State: One of the biggest steals of the draft. Smith Jr. is a gamer, and while playing in the rigorous ACC, he proved that he is an extremely talented offensive guard who can make an immediate impact. Dallas was in need of a point guard, and I predict Smith Jr. makes waves in the league, all while causing an early funeral for Phil Jackson at the hands of all the angry Knicks fans who will be pissed that they missed him.
- Sacramento Kings (Portland) -Zach Collins, C Gonzaga: I see Adam Morrison in Zach Collins’ future, and no, not college Adam Morrison. While Collins brings size, intensity, and a presence on both ends of the floor, he has never been the best player on his team, and I don’t think he should have left school for the draft. Clearly NBA execs think otherwise, but I just don’t see this pick panning out. But who really pays attention to Portland anyway, right?
- Charlotte Hornets – Malik Monk, SG Kentucky: I was in complete shock that Monk fell this low in the draft, so this is a steal for the Hornets. I’m sure Michael Jordan is smirking with a cigar in his mouth somewhere, life is good for the GOAT, and it just got a lot better for Kemba Walker and company. Monk is a gifted scorer with extremely under utilized athleticism, and if he continues to improve and combine the two, I project him to be a big time star. I mean the guy dropped 47 on the eventual national champions, and eclipsed 30 points 3 other times during the season. He’s the real deal.
- Detroit Pistons – Luke Kennard, SG Duke: Kennard is definitely the epitome of a Duke basketball player, a guy who is just so easy to hate, but also so easy to love at the same time. Not only did Kennard inspire the greatest tweet of the year (courtesy of Barstool), but he has a silky smooth offensive game and he can fill it up in bunches, making him a lot of fun to watch, and a good candidate to improve Detroit’s offense, particularly from behind the arc.
- Denver Nuggets (Utah) – Donovan Mitchell, SG Louisville: This pick leads me to think the the Jazz are anticipating the departure of Gordon Hayward. Regardless, Mitchell is an athletic SG with a lot of upside, and he showed flashes of how good he can be at the pro-level, so this is a solid all around pick for the Jazz. The Mormons have spoken, welcome to Utah Donovan Mitchell.
- Miami Heat – Bam Adebayo: Adebayo had an underwhelming freshman season at Kentucky but it’s hard for me to hate any pick that Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra make. Adebayo is a great athlete with a lot of potential, and I think the Heat develop him into a solid player.
- Portland Trailblazers (Kings) – Justin Jackson, SF North Carolina: This goes back to what I said before about the Kings and killing careers and just flat out doing stupid sh*t. They passed on Malik Monk at 10, and I thought okay fine, they have Buddy Hield, they don’t want a SG. Only for them to trade the pick, and draft Justin Jackson at 15. Like what the actual…I mean I know Jackson averaged 18 ppg, but I think he’s extremely overrated and only good for about 10 ignorant pull-up 3’s a game. I hope Malik Monk drops a 30 piece on you Sacramento, I really do.
- Chicago Bulls (Minnesota) – Justin Patton, C Creighton: Most people probably didn’t even know that Creighton existed, but Patton is another long center that grew an insane amount in high school. He’s athletic, can shoot the 3, has guard skills, and a high motor, so I like this pick because I think almost anyone can contribute more than Gorgui Dieng in the long-run, and I think the Wolves thought the same thing with this pick. Plus paired with Towns in the frontcourt will relieve pressure from Patton.
- Milwaukee Bucks – D.J. Wilson, PF Michigan: Wilson showed lots of potential at Michigan, and as one of the older guys in the draft he’s slightly more developed. He’s a solid offensive talent and should provide more offense and youth to a Bucks squad that could be scary in a few years. Solid pick.
- Indiana Pacers – T.J. Leaf, PF UCLA: Ah T.J. Leaf. On paper he’s a great shooter, a stretch four who is like a Swiss Army knife, and he displayed this versatility by leading UCLA in scoring with 16.3 ppg. There’s no doubt that Leaf can play, but I can’t help but wonder if the play of Ball inflated his stock and made him appear to be a more attractive player than he really is We’ll have to wait on this one.
- Atlanta Hawks – John Collins, PF Wake Forest: I love John Collins and this pick. By his second year he had developed into an unstoppable force in the paint for Danny Manning and Wake Forest, and while he’s not as good as another PF drafted from Wake, he’s a high energy guy who’s unstoppable in the paint. Unfortunately the NBA doesn’t really revolve around the paint anymore, so Collins will have to develop his jumper to become an impact player.
- Portland Trailblazers (Kings) – Harry Giles, PF Duke: I just really hate everything the Kings do. De’Aaron Fox was a great pick, I just wish he wasn’t in Sac-town, but then they trade away the opportunity to pair him with Malik Monk and select Justin Jackson and Harry Giles. Don’t get me wrong, there was a time when Giles was the best player in the country, but that time is not today, and with two severe knee injuries, and even if Giles reaches his potential, I just don’t see Giles having any longevity in the league.
- Oklahoma City Thunder – Terrance Ferguson, SG Adelaide 36ers: Risky pick for the Thunder, but a great pick, because let’s face it, Andre Roberson is absolutely terrible. Before leaving for the outback, Ferguson was routinely torching fellow peers who went on to star in college this year, so the potential is there. The best part is he doesn’t even have to live up to it, all he has to do is make open 3’s when Westbrook dishes it out.
- Brooklyn Nets – Jarrett Allen, C Texas: Jarrett Allen looks like he hasn’t been carded in a liquor store since he was 12 years old. The guy didn’t even bother to get a haircut for draft night, now that’s confidence. Unfortunately, New York teams always find a way to screw things up, so we’ll have to see how this pans out. But hey, anyone is better than Timofey Mozgov.
- Toronto Raptors – OG Anunoby, SF Indiana: This is a steal for the Raptors. Despite having surgery and an injury that caused him to miss the second half of the season, Anunoby is a freak athlete who can become a dynamic wing and defender for the Raptors. And they need all the help they can get with Kyle Lowry potentially being on the way out. I predict Drake will be rocking an Onunoby jersey by this time next year. It’s a 6 ting eh.
- Utah Jazz (Nuggets) – Tyler Lydon, PF Syracuse: Another long range shooter from Syracuse who more likely than not will disappear into the blackhole that is the NBA D-League. That’s about all I see here.
- Orlando Magic (76ers) – Anzejs Pasecniks, C Latvia: A 7 footer and friend of Kristaps Porzingis, but not nearly as gifted. The 76ers don’t really need another center, so this pick and trade was a bit puzzling to me, but hey, trust the process right?
- Portland Trailblazers – Caleb Swanigan, PF Purdue: This pick came out of right field. I don’t think anyone had Swanigan going in the first round, but I don’t hate this pick. Swanigan is built for the NBA, which can’t be said about most picks, and I have a lot of respect for anyone that goes from being 300 plus pounds to one of the most dominant players in the country. Best of luck to Swanigan.
- Brooklyn Nets (Lakers) – Kyle Kuzma, PF Utah: Even though Magic Johnson’s recent draft predictions have been God awful, I can’t help but think the Lakers got another Larry Nance Jr. type steal of a pick here, so shout out to them.
- Los Angeles Lakers (Utah) – Tony Bradley, C North Carolina: Tony who? I watched a decent amount of college basketball this year, and the fact that I didn’t even know who this guy was when he played on the national championship team should say something. But again, the Mormons have spoken, and they see a bright future in Bradley I guess. Welcome to Utah.
- San Antonio Spurs – Derrick White, PG Colorado: I thought the Spurs really missed out on a Spurs type player in Frank Mason, but I can’t hate on anything the Spurs do, because other than signing LaMarcus Aldridge, almost everything they do pans out. White is a dynamic guard who rose to the first round after having only one college offer coming out of high school, so he works hard for his success and should buy in to the Spurs system quickly.
- Utah Jazz (Lakers) – Josh Hart, SG Villanova: If you want to talk about late picks that go on to become great players or maybe even stars, this could be one of them. Josh Hart is a senior, a great leader, and he straight up gets buckets. Hart could develop into an extremely talented guard in the league, so I love this pick by the Lakers.
So now that draft night is over, it’s time to talk about the winners and losers. Some of the picks and moves in this years draft had me baffled, and like Stephen A. Smith said last night, there’s a lot to be said. So, here we go.
Minnesota Timberwolves: The Timberwolves are the clear cut winners of the night, adding Jimmy Butler, a top 15 player in the league, and giving up very little in the process. On top of that, they added another solid frontcourt player to pair with Karl-Anthony Towns. This team is young and talented, and with Tom Thibodeau reuniting with Jimmy Butler to provide veteran leadership, this team is scary.
Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers got their guy in Lonzo Ball, and they had a slew of picks in the first and second round to further boost their roster. I love Josh Hart and I think that Kyle Kuzma could pan out to be an under the radar player. The Lakers also added a solid center in Brook Lopez and dumped the contract of Mozgov and the immaturity of D’Angelo Russell in the process. With a young core and Paul George on the way, the Lakers are winners on draft night.
Boston Celtics: The Celtics have been winning on draft night since they traded KG and Paul Pierce for all these picks. Adding a player of Jason Tatum’s caliber to a 50 win team and the future is bright for the Boston Celtics.
Philadelphia 76ers: Markelle Fultz. Enough said. Trust the process.
Charlotte Hornets: I really love Malik Monk, and with his athleticism and scoring ability, I think he’s destined to become a star in the NBA. It’s not often a guy who had four plus 30 point games while absolutely dominating the competition slips to number 11, but it happened, and Charlotte is a winner because of it.
Chicago Bulls: I just can’t help but think that the Bulls got finessed big time on the Jimmy Butler deal. Zach LaVine was becoming a star because of his ridiculous athletic ability, but following ACL surgery, I’m not sure how he’ll respond. On top of that, Kris Dunn had an underwhelming first season and he doesn’t solve the shooting problem that Chicago faces. To top it off, I’m not totally convinced that Lauri Markkanen is the next coming of Kristaps Porzingis, so for that, I’m calling the Bulls losers.
New York Knicks: It’s not often that the Knicks are winners on draft night, and this year is no different. Phil Jackson must’ve been too caught up in the zen, because I don’t see how you could leave Malik Monk and Dennis Smith Jr. on the board. Hopefully James Dolan had a good concert at least…
Sacramento Kings: When it comes to doing stupid stuff, the Kings are right up there with the Knicks. They drafted De’Aaron Fox, only to pass on the number 10 pick with Malik Monk on the board, trade it, and select a less talented shooting guard and an injury prone guy who’s likely to break down on the flight over. On top of that, the Kings then proceed to draft Frank Mason…Another point guard!? Wasn’t De’Aaron Fox supposed to be the answer? Sacramento is an NBA wasteland, time to move the Kings to Seattle.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Cleveland is almost a lock to win the Eastern Conference again next year, but with no draft picks and very little cap room, plus talk of Kyrie trade rumors and LeBron ditching the Land in a year, Cleveland won’t be able to get over the hump to beat Golden State, and as Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby taught me, “if you ain’t first, you’re last”. Cavs are losers here.