The 2017 NBA Draft has come and gone as the next set of young talent is ready to enter the NBA for the upcoming season. There were some obvious picks, some surprises, some trades, and lots of speculation about what the draft results mean for free agency on July 1st. A NBA record 14 freshmen were selected in the first round, and the Spurs pick of Derrick White was the latest a senior has ever been drafted. Here is my recap of the things I found the most important.
The consensus #1 pick in the draft was made official as the Philadelphia 76ers selected Washington PG Markelle Fultz to join a squad of young studs that Philly has been piling up over the years. Many people think the time has finally arrived for the 76ers to be competitive again, as Fultz will join last year’s #1 pick Ben Simmons, star big man Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, and Robert Covington in what could be an exciting young core if all remain healthy. No one questions Fultz’s athletic talent and abilities on the court, but the one criticism has been that he played for a terrible Washington team that lost 23 games last year. Fultz will have the opportunity to change the loser perception if he can lead Philly back to the promised land.
The second pick in the draft was no surprise either, as the Los Angeles Lakers selected UCLA PG Lonzo Ball. The selection comes just days after the Lakers traded away former lottery pick point guard D’Angelo Russell, indicating that they will put their trust in Ball for the foreseeable future. Lonzo Ball led the nation in assists per game last year, but has drawn criticism for his shooting mechanics. Nevertheless, he should be an exciting player to watch on a young Lakers team next year that has it’s sights on winning again.
After giving away the #1 overall pick to Philadelphia in a controversial trade, the Boston Celtics selected Duke forward Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick. Danny Ainge said after the draft that they would have taken Tatum #1, thus the reasoning for trading the pick. While Tatum is dynamic scorer that can play and defend multiple positions on the court, it remains to be seen if the Celtics will ultimately keep him or package him in a trade for one of the many superstars that Boston is trying to acquire. Not everyone thought Tatum should’ve been the #3 pick either. Many people had Kansas star Josh Jackson, who was taken by Phoenix at #4, as the third best player in the draft. Time will tell whether Tatum or Jackson should have been selected first.
The biggest trade of the night was Chicago Bulls trading Jimmy Butler and their first round pick to move up to #7 and take Lauri Markannen out of Arizona. Butler will reunite with his former head coach Tom Thibodeau and join a talented young team that includes star big man Karl Anthony-Towns and former #1 pick Andrew Wiggins. This was a great move for Minnesota, and a questionable move for the Bulls who definitely could have gotten more for Jimmy Butler as they look to rebuild their team.
Despite being known as a dysfunctional franchise, I thought the Sacramento Kings quietly had the best draft last night. After taking De’Aaron Fox at #5, they traded down and picked up both Duke star Harry Giles and North Carolina veteran Justin Jackson. Fox should contribute right away, and if Giles stays healthy and reaches his potential he could be the next Kevin Garnett. The Kings also added sharpshooter Frank Mason III out of Kansas in the second round to wrap up a pretty impressive draft overall.
Let me know your thoughts on this year’s draft in the comments down below.