The Golden State Warriors finished off the business of winning the NBA championship last week, and their fans celebrated their second title in three years with another victory parade.
With those events accounted for, the NBA was all about the 2017-18 season and beyond with the 2017 draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, Thursday night.
The Philadelphia 76ers once again had the No. 1 pick in the draft as a result of their trade with the Boston Celtics. The Sixers opened things up as expected, as they selected Markelle Fultz of Washington. While the Celtics decided they did not need to use the No. 1 pick on a point guard because they have Isaiah Thomas, the Sixers were happy to select the 6’5″, 186-pound Fultz.
The Los Angeles Lakers followed by taking the exciting Lonzo Ball to run their offense with the No. 2 pick. Ball, who famously did not work out for the Celtics and wanted to play for the Lakers, got his wish when commissioner Adam Silver announced his name.
The Chicago Bulls traded All-Star Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he will be reunited with his former head coach Tom Thibodeau, per K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.
Here’s a look at the first round of the NBA draft and grades for each team, along with analysis of a couple of players who will immediately impact their new teams.
2017 NBA Draft
1. Markelle Fultz (PG) Washington to Philadelphia, Grade: A
Sixers have the point guard they need to jump-start their offense.
Overall: The key for the Sixers was getting a star guard, and they succeeded.
2. Lonzo Ball (PG) UCLA to Los Angeles Lakers, Grade: A
Make no mistake, this is a Magic Johnson selection. Ball is a pristine ball-handler and a brilliant passer.
Overall: Lakers are closer to being a competitive team than they have been in years.
3. Jayson Tatum (SF) Duke to Boston Celtics, Grade: A-
Celtics expect him to come in and score. Hard worker who will fit in on their roster.
Overall: Celtics making move to give Cavs a fight.
4. Josh Jackson (SF) Kansas to Phoenix, Grade: A-
Highlight-film type player who will need to improve his shooting.
Overall: Second-round pick Davon Reed has size on the wing.
5. De’Aaron Fox (PG) Kentucky to Sacramento, Grade: A
Magnificent athlete who runs like the wind and has the instincts to make big plays.
Overall: Adding Frank Mason III makes this a sensational draft for Kings.
6. Jonathan Isaac (SF) Florida State to Orlando, Grade: B+
Humble and versatile small forward who will work hard every day.
Overall: Second-rounder Wesley Iwundu gives them a fine small forward.
7. Lauri Markkanen (PF) Arizona to Minnesota, Grade: B-
Outside shooting big man who will go to the Bulls.
Overall: Butler trade helps this team step up.
8. Frank Ntilikina (PG) International to New York Knicks, Grade: C+
Sure-fire defensive stalwart but needs more on the offensive end.
Overall: Knicks are a long way from competing
9. Dennis Smith Jr. (PG) NC State to Dallas, Grade: C-
Not a sure thing and has much to prove.
Overall: Not a lot of drama from the Mavericks.
10. Zach Collins (C) Gonzaga to Sacramento, Grade: B+
Tremendous scorer and a big man who can pass.
Overall: Kings with a fine draft.
11. Malik Monk (PG) Kentucky to Charlotte, Grade: B+
He has some Vinny Johnson in him because he can heat up in an instant scorer and score with ease.
Overall: Second-round pick Frank Jackson coming off foot surgery. Fine shooter when healthy.
12. Luke Kennard (SG) Duke to Detroit, Grade: B
Intelligent player who can score at the most important times.
Overall: If Kennard can contribute, Pistons can hold their heads up
13. Donovan Mitchell (SG) Louisville to Denver, Grade: B-
Tremendous athleticism and instincts who should be ready to contribute.
Overall: Monte Morris is a nice second-round addition.
14. Bam Adebayo (C) Kentucky to Miami, Grade: B+
One of the most improved players in the draft.
Overall: Need Adebayo to continue to develop.
15. Justin Jackson (SF) North Carolina to Portland, Grade: B-
Speedy and smart, ready to contribute right from the start. Much-improved as a three-point shooter.
Overall: Jackson should work out for Blazers.
16. Justin Patton (C) Creighton to Chicago, Grade: B
Has made a big step up and looks like a solid shooter for a big man.
Overall: Bulls going into rebuild mode with Butler trade.
17. D.J. Wilson (PF) Michigan to Milwaukee, Grade: B-
Tremendous length on a team that has plenty of that characteristic.
Overall: Second-round pick Sindarius Thornwell defines toughness on defense and can shoot.
18. TJ Leaf (PF) UCLA to Indiana, Grade: B+
Excellent shooting range and superb in transition. Solid shooter and rebounder.
Overall: Pacers hoping second-rounder Ike Anigbogu can stay healthy.
19. John Collins (PF) Wake Forest to Atlanta, Grade: B
Very athletic player with good length who can rebound the basketball but must improve on defense.
Overall: Second-rounder Tyler Dorsey gives Hawks a solid three-point shooter.
20. Harry Giles (PF) Duke to Portland, Grade: B-
He was injured last year, but he has remarkable talent and this relatively unknown performer has the kind of game that could develop in the NBA.
Overall: Blazers traded Giles to Kings.
21. Terrance Ferguson (SG) International to Oklahoma City, Grade: C+
A shooter who played well overseas. Will need time to develop into a consistent contributor.
Overall: Thunder did not help themselves much.
22. Jarrett Allen (C) Texas to Brooklyn, Grade: C+
Runs the floor well, rebounds and can block shots, but not a great offensive force.
Overall: Nets helped themselves slightly with Allen and Kyle Kuzma.
23. OG Anunoby (SF) Indiana to Toronto, Grade: B
Injuries limited him at the end of the season, but he appears to be a big-time defensive stopper.
Overall: Only Toronto pick will not be an impact player.
24. Tyler Lydon (SF) Syracuse to Utah, Grade: B-
He played zone defense with the Orange and excelled at that aspect of the game, but he must adapt to man-to-man. He is a fine shooter and a solid offensive threat.
Overall: Can Lydon make the defensive adjustment?
25. Anzejs Pasecniks (C) International to Orlando, Grade: B-
This Latvian player can run up and down the court and looks like a solid offensive contributor. Will be a liability on defense at the start of his career.
Overall: Magic make some progress with draft and subsequent moves.
26. Caleb Swanigan (PF) Purdue to Portland, Grade: B
One of the best rebounders in the nation, Swanigan averaged a double-double for the Boilermakers. Does he have the quickness to guard NBA speedsters?
Overall: If Swanigan asserts himself, Blazers have improved.
27. Kyle Kuzma (SF) Utah to Brooklyn, Grade: B-
Worked his way up the ladder at the combine. Will fight hard for the ball and has some athleticism and scoring skill.
Overall: Kuzma has the intangibles to become a contributor.
28. Tony Bradley (PF) North Carolina to Los Angeles Lakers, Grade: B-
Strong rebounder who needs to work on his stamina.
Overall: The Ball pick makes the Lakers’ draft.
29. Derrick White (PG) Colorado to San Antonio, Grade: B
Self-made player who can be a solid role player for the Spurs.
Overall: Spurs know how to develop players.
30. Josh Hart (SG) Villanova to Utah, Grade: B
Deserving player who was a star for the Wildcats. He will have to fight hard to make an NBA roster.
Overall: Jazz did not get impact players, but second-rounder Nigel Williams-Goss could become a decent contributor.
Guard Markelle Fultz, Philadelphia
While he may not have been the ideal player for the Celtics, Fultz fits the Sixers to near-perfection.
He is a big guard at 6’5″ and 186 pounds, and he can do it all on the offensive end, with excellent shooting, ball-handling and the ability to pass.
Fultz also knows what to do down low, so he can figure out a way to score even if his shot is not falling. In addition to playing with the ball, he can play off of it and man the shooting guard position if that’s what is needed.
Fultz should be able to handle playing with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, and his ability to adapt quickly may turn the Sixers into a winning team early in the 2017-18 season.
Small Forward Jayson Tatum, Boston
The Celtics passed on the outstanding point guard from Washington, in large part because they have a sensational player in Thomas.
So team president Danny Ainge traded down and picked up this fine offensive talent from Duke. He can play the kind of up-and-down the court running game that old-school Celtics fans love to see from their team. He is also versatile because he can make plays down on the blocks and also get the job done on the drive.
Tatum has a fully developed NBA game on the offensive side, and if he can improve his three-point shooting just a bit, he could become a star.
The defensive part of his game is not as complete as his offensive game, but he is a hard worker who will do whatever head coach Brad Stevens tells him, and he should get better in that area.
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