After a multitude of draft rumors, trade rumors, and everything else in between, the 2017 NBA Draft finally arrived. Which teams made significant moves to shape their roster? Who may have whiffed? Which prospects landed in ideal situations? Here were the highs and lows of the 2017 NBA Draft.
- The Minnesota Timberwolves entered the draft as a non-playoff team but they may have punched their ticket to the playoffs this upcoming season. Trading the 7th overall pick (PF Lauri Markkanen), G Zach LaVine, PG Kris Dunn to the Chicago Bulls for three-time All-Star SF Jimmy Butler, who was 14th in scoring (23.9) and shot 87% from the free throw line. The young Wolves get an established star to add to a young nucleus that includes SF Andrew Wiggins and C Karl Anthony-Towns. With one move during the draft that did not include taking an actual pick, Minnesota improved greatly.
- Taking Washington PG Markelle Fultz 1st overall was a move that the 76ers HAD to make. Why? After years of telling fans to “trust the process”, it was time to “complete” the process sort of speak. The selection of Fultz gives the 76ers their fourth top-3 selections in each of the last four drafts. For a process that took a great amount of time to mold, shape, and structure, walking away with another young stalwart gives the “process” a clear direction. Wins may slowly but surely follow.
- The Lakers got what they wanted by taking PG Lonzo Ball at 2nd overall. Although Fultz was the first player overall, Ball will be “the guy” that this entire draft leans when it comes to discussing this draft years down the line. Ball provides the ball-handling, the scoring, and the “Showtime”-like persona (along with his often-heard-from father, LaVar). If Ball fits the bill, the Lakers got a true playmaker to light up Hollywood.
- If there was another young team that took significant steps in the right direction, the Sacramento Kings took that mantle. Having Kentucky PG De’Aaron Fox fall into their laps at 5th was more of a dream coming into the draft. Getting a 6’8 SF in Justin Jackson out of North Carolina provides another versatile player with an offensive game that seemed to be polished each year he was at UNC. I’m not predicting the Kings as a dark horse team but with the addition of Fox and Jackson, along with SG Buddy Hield, do not be surprised if the win totals start to ascend for Sacramento in the coming seasons.
- The Boston Celtics are coming off a season in which they were the #1 seed in the playoffs and 62 regular season wins. The roster is largely young but the team still could have used a piece or two to close the gap between themselves and the defending Eastern Conference Champions Cleveland Cavaliers. By taking Duke SF Jayson Tatum (3rd overall) and SMU PF Semi Ojeleye (37th overall), the Celtics added two prospects who can get buckets consistently. The Celtics offense has improved considerably with the addition of those two and that gap has narrowed.
- It was not a great miss by any means, but for the New York Knicks to grab largely unknown PG Frank Ntilikina out of France, it felt as if was a pick that underwhelmed. Maybe because at the time, North Carolina State PG Dennis Smith Jr. was still available. An undersized 6’3 stick of dynamite that would have made the local New Yorkers proud. Only time will tell if Ntilikina was worth it but for a team that needs a sure thing, this is another project.
- While I like Florida State F Jonathan Issac as a prospect, his fit on the Orlando Magic is well….not a great fit. The Magic needed more pure scorers and shooters to uplift a below-average roster. While Issac is a great athlete with Alien-like length, he does not necessarily cure the ills of the Magic at the moment.
- Not only did the Bulls trade their prime asset in Butler for not a lot in return but they also gave away a shot blocker and above-average rebounder in Oregon C Jordan Bell, their selection at 38th overall, for $3.5 million dollars. Maybe the dollars in are place to aid a potential buyout of veteran SG Dwyane Wade’s contract but it was vivid last night that the Bulls are in the works for a possible rebuilding phase.