Now that the 2017 NBA Draft is a thing of the past, it’s time to provide synopsis on which teams have gradually improved as a result of the draft. Some teams have taken considerable steps towards team-related success for the 2017 season. So before the next phase of the NBA offseason that is free agency kicks off, let’s pinpoint which teams have improved notably so far.
Sacramento Kings: Added PG De’Aaron Fox, PG Frank Mason, SF Justin Jackson, PF Harry Giles – The Kings are coming off a season in which they went 32-50, which makes it 11 seasons and counting that the team has failed to win more than 38 games. So for a team that pulled off a midseason trade last season of a once-franchise star (DeMarcus Cousins), the team is looking to add considerable talent to the roster from top to bottom. Grabbing Fox at 5th overall is a great start. Fox provides plenty of speed and playmaking in the open court. Mason can be the team’s future steady hand at PG and the 2016 Naismith Award winner has plenty of leadership and winning in his background. Jackson is fresh off a national championship with UNC and can see considerable minutes with both veterans small forwards Rudy Gay and Tyreke Evans being unrestricted free agents. The Kings have added young, winning talent and even with the insertion of younger faces alongside probable leading scorer SG Buddy Hield, the Kings are a much more talented team than they were a few weeks ago.
Boston Celtics: Added SF/SG Jayson Tatum, PF Semi Ojeleye – As evident during the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Celtics needed more offensive punch to a roster that has a plethora of talent on the defensive end but possessed unreliable scoring ability. Enter Tatum. A 6’8 weapon who averaged 16.8 PPG and 7.3 RPG with Duke last season. Tatum is a perfect second option with PG Isaiah Thomas and has the capability to take over a game with his own ability. In Ojeleye, the Celtics have an undersized PF who does not play undersized. His versatility on the offensive end will aid the Celtics roster as he develops throughout the season. While the Celtics are still staring at the Cavs in a battle for best in the East, they have now narrowed the gap between themselves and the Cavs.
Philadelphia 76ers: Added PG/SG Markelle Fultz – The Sixers added a few more pieces via the draft but there is a great possibility that most of their second picks will either play overseas or primarily in the newly named “G”-League. The selection of Fultz as the first overall pick is a sizable move in it’s own right. With Fultz, the Sixers have an elite point guard to run the show and team with 2016 first rounder Ben Simmons and 2014 first rounder Joel Embiid. The process is nowhere near complete but now the Sixers have cornerstones in three different areas in their lineup. The team is probably at least two seasons away from being a potential playoff team but the process will begin to pay off this season thanks to the addition of Fultz.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Added SG/SF Jimmy Butler (via trade), C Justin Patton – The team’s biggest gain was via a draft night trade to receive a three-time All Star in Butler. Now the Timberwolves have a triumvirate of special talent with Butler, SG Andrew Wiggins, and C Karl-Anthony Towns that may lead the team to the playoffs this upcoming season. Patton brings size and great length to be a nice complement to Towns as a backup center. Shooting is still needed for the roster to truly form but one thing is for sure, the Timberwolves are talented and officially scary.
Portland Trail Blazers: Added PF Zach Collins, PF/C Caleb Swanigan – The Blazers have one of the best backcourts in the entire league in PG Damian Lillard and SG CJ McCollum. What was needed was rebounding ability and enough scoring punch on the glass to take a little pressure off the backcourt. In Collins and Swanigan, both need development but both also possess underrated ability to provide points in the paint. If I were a betting man, I would feel comfortable in Swanigan being more of an asset early than Collins. One or both can help out during their rookie years and possibly give the Blazers the much needed relief in the front court.