A whirlwind NBA pre-draft season finally culminated on Thursday night with 60 players hearing their names called at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Here’s a look at the NBA draft board and team-by-team grades (with analysis for each) alongside quick breakdowns of the top prospects and sleepers of the draft.
NBA Draft Board
NBA Team Grades
Atlanta Hawks (A)
The Hawks filled two need spots by picking Wake Forest big man John Collins and Oregon shooting guard Tyler Dorsey. The former player could be the best power forward or center in the entire draft.
Boston Celtics (A)
Jayson Tatum will significantly help shoulder Boston’s scoring load next season, but the best value pick of the entire draft may have gone 37th when the C’s took SMU forward Semi Ojeleye, a do-it-all forward who will fill multiple roles.
Brooklyn Nets (A)
Center Jarrett Allen figures to be the Nets’ cornerstone big man for the foreseeable future, and trading a late first-rounder and Brook Lopez for former second overall pick D’Angelo Russell could also bring dividends.
Charlotte Hornets (B)
Kentucky shooting guard Malik Monk, the draft’s best scorer, magically fell to the Hornets at No. 11 and should fit right into the starting lineup. The pick of shooting guard Dwayne Bacon in the second round was more curious considering the Monk selection.
Chicago Bulls (F)
Simply put, the Jimmy Butler deal was awful. A superstar was traded for a starting shooting guard coming off a season-ending knee injury, a backup point guard and the No. 7 selection in a draft that, on paper, has five elite prospects head and shoulders above everyone else.
Cleveland Cavaliers (N/A)
The Cavs did not have a pick in this draft.
Dallas Mavericks (C)
The Mavs filled a need by taking point guard Dennis Smith Jr., but his inconsistent production for a losing team at NC State is worrisome. Still, he and Seth Curry may form a dynamic duo.
Denver Nuggets (B)
Tyler Lydon seemed like a bit of a reach at No. 24, especially because Denver’s frontcourt positions are so crowded. But the Monte Morris pick at No. 51 could be the most underrated selection of the entire draft. He may be the backup point guard to Jamal Murray by the end of the year.
Detroit Pistons (A)
This one is pretty simple: The Pistons needed another shooter, and they got the best one on the board in Luke Kennard, who should play significant minutes off the bench right away and could even be starting within a season or two.
Golden State Warriors (A)
Frankly, it’s unfair that the Warriors grabbed Jordan Bell, a power forward who broke out during the NCAA tournament and could basically become Draymond Green-lite off the bench for the Dubs. It’s an incredible fit for Bell, and he should shine immediately.
Houston Rockets (A)
Houston got a player in the mid-second round in 7’1″ Isaiah Hartenstein, who was being mocked in the first round of numerous drafts this spring. If he pans out, he could be one of the biggest steals of the draft.
Indiana Pacers (B)
The Pacers may regret bypassing Wake Forest power forward John Collins, who went one pick later to the Atlanta Hawks, but TJ Leaf should be a good pro. Taking Ike Anigbogu and Edmund Sumner in the second round might prove to be master strokes.
Los Angeles Clippers (A)
All the Clippers did was pick up two of the best players in college basketball last season in point guard Jawun Evans and forward Sindarius Thornwell in the second round. Both should be key cogs in next year’s rotation, and if the Clippers’ core blows up, they could even find themselves starting.
Los Angeles Lakers (A)
Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka get an A for their first draft. Lonzo Ball was a no-brainer pick at No. 2, and he should be productive right away.
The best pick of the night may have been at No. 30, as shooting guard Josh Hart, one of the more efficient backcourt players in college basketball, could conceivably slot into the 2-guard role next to Ball for years.
Memphis Grizzlies (A)
The Grizzlies need a little more bench depth to help stars Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, and they did just that by picking up two Pac-12 studs in forward Ivan Rabb and forward Dillon Brooks. Both should be able to make an impact for the second unit right away.
Miami Heat (A)
Bam Adebayo and Hassan Whiteside can now form the most physically imposing frontcourt outside New Orleans. One player is built like a brick house, and the other player once had 12 blocks in a game. Adebayo’s stock was rising fast as the draft approached, and the Heat were lucky to grab him.
Milwaukee Bucks (B)
The Bucks picked up two tough, high-energy players in DJ Wilson and Sterling Brown who should fit well into a young, scrappy team on the rise. Both should find time in the rotation immediately.
Minnesota Timberwolves (A)
The Jimmy Butler deal was a heist, especially because they still got to pick in the first round at No. 16. Justin Patton rounds out what is now one of the best starting fives in the NBA. The T-Wolves should turn the corner next year and be a 50-win team.
New Orleans Pelicans (B)
Frank Jackson was a bit overlooked on a Duke team that featured lottery picks Tatum and Kennard (alongside the notorious Grayson Allen), but that may not be the case in the NBA as he should get an immediate chance to shine in a Pelicans backcourt that needs some young talent.
New York Knicks (B)
While Frank Ntilikina wasn’t the best player on the board at No. 8 (that would be Malik Monk), the Knicks’ need for a point guard to finally man the offense for years as opposed to playing Russian roulette for what seems like decades is paramount. It’s a wait-and-see game to see how Ntilikina turns out.
Oklahoma City Thunder (B)
Three-and-D prospect Terrance Ferguson probably won’t be making waves next season, but he could develop into a solid starter down the line. It also helps that Ferguson got a taste of the professional basketball life thanks to his one season at Adelaide in Australia.
Orlando Magic (B)
Jonathan Isaac and Aaron Gordon will form a unique duo from the forward positions. Isaac’s height and length at small forward, coupled with Gordon’s ability to literally leap over mascots, should provide many problems for teams.
Philadelphia 76ers (B)
The term being thrown around after the Fultz trade is that Philadelphia has “completed the process.” Now it’s time for results, and this dynamic starting lineup could do just that as long as everyone stays healthy. Unfortunately, that is a big “if,” but if that happens, then this team could be the best in the Eastern Conference within five years.
Phoenix Suns (A)
From the looks of it, Phoenix is committed to fixing its broken defense, as it selected defensive star Josh Jackson at No. 4 before taking another defensive stopper in Davon Reed. Alec Peters at the back end of the second round is a great value selection.
Portland Trail Blazers (A)
In a different era, Zach Collins might have been a top-three pick. But this is a point guard-driven league where the three-pointer and small ball rule, so the 19-year-old slipped to 10th in a great class.
Still, he has a ton of potential and could turn out to be one of the best players in this draft. He should form a great duo with Jusuf Nurkic down low. Caleb Swanigan will also provide excellent depth as a backup.
Sacramento Kings (A)
De’Aaron Fox would have been the No. 1 pick in previous drafts despite a poor shooting year at Kentucky. Thankfully for Kings fans, Fox fell to fifth this season.
Fox may well be the best player in the class of 2017 if he develops an outside jumper. The Kings’ picks of Justin Jackson and Harry Giles were shrewd moves in the middle of the first round. Sacramento has a long way to go, but don’t be surprised if we see a renewal of the Kings-Lakers rivalry in a few years.
San Antonio Spurs (A)
Bam Adebayo was the late riser into the lottery thanks to a great pre-draft performance, and Derrick White was the late riser into the end of the first round thanks to a great pre-draft performance. Naturally, two of the smartest NBA front offices struck while the iron was hot, with the Spurs taking White, who should immediately slot in as a backup guard right away.
Toronto Raptors (B)
This pick hinges on whether OG Anunoby returns to his old form. If he does and continues his development, he could be a stud small forward alongside Kyle Lowry (should he re-sign) and DeMar DeRozan within a few seasons.
Utah Jazz (A)
The Jazz beefed up their backcourt depth in picking up Donovan Mitchell and Nigel Williams-Goss, and they also got a promising young prospect in Tony Bradley to spell Rudy Gobert. Ultimately, the Jazz filled some needs with solid players.
Washington Wizards (N/A)
The Wizards did not make a pick in this draft.
NBA Top Prospects
As noted in the Bulls section, five elite prospects ended up standing out about everyone else when the pre-draft process ended: Fultz, Ball, Tatum, Josh Jackson and Fox.
There is a large range of possibilities for Philadelphia next year. If the team stays healthy, the season should end with a lower seed in the playoffs, which is based on both the 76ers’ potential and the Eastern Conference’s mediocrity. If it doesn’t, then it could be another long year in Philadelphia. For his part, Fultz should be a dynamic scorer right away and may even lead the team in that department.
Ball is the leader the Lakers need. He’s a mature, pass-first point guard capable of running a high-octane offense. Although his shot is unorthodox, no one can argue with its effectiveness. If the Lakers keep building around Ball (and the draft was a good start with the addition of Hart), then Showtime could return sooner rather than later.
It will be interesting to see how Tatum fits into the Celtics rotation next year. Where and how will he fit? Regardless of where that leads, Tatum is an NBA-ready scorer who should give the C’s a much-needed offensive boost.
No team was a better fit for Josh Jackson than the Suns, and no player was a better fit for the Suns than Josh Jackson. The two complement each other perfectly. Phoenix needs a lockdown defender who can also run a bit in a faster-paced offense, and Jackson fits that mold. He and Devin Booker should make for an electric pairing.
Fox is going to experience some growing pains off the bat in Sacramento. In fact, it’s likely that the Kings finish with one of the worst records in the NBA next year. But Fox (and the rest of the Kings) are young and have time to grow. If they stick together and improve under the tutelage of head coach Dave Joerger, then we could be watching a Kings revival.
NBA Top Sleepers
Here are five prospects picked outside the lottery who will be making big impacts soon.
John Collins was a beast at Wake Forest, nearly averaging a double-double in the tough ACC. Atlanta is a great fit for him, and he can be a starter there for a decade.
Hart has found a good long-term home in Los Angeles. If the Lakers pick up a big-time scorer or two (presumably Paul George and someone else), then Hart should fit right into the starting lineup, as he won’t demand the ball but should be able to score when needed and do all the little things to help the Lakers win.
Bell is going to be a fan favorite in Golden State immediately thanks to his tenacious style of play. The 22-year-old plays with his heart on his sleeve and should provide a huge jolt of energy to the second unit. Off the bench, he and Javale McGee might make for the most intriguing frontcourt pairing in league history. That’s only a slight hyperbole.
Evans won’t start right away if Chris Paul stays with the Clippers, but it’s possible we could see him learn under Paul for a few years before going his own way and finding a new home as a starter. If that’s the case, then Evans couldn’t have had a much better tutor.
Morris played against some of the best players in the college ranks week after week, and he more than held his own. The opportunity is there for him in Denver on a rising team in need of someone to grab the point guard position and call it his.
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