On Thursday, the 2017 NBA draft brought several minor trades and one major transaction that should put the Minnesota Timberwolves in the playoff picture for the 2017-18 campaign. On the other hand, the Chicago Bulls will look to start from scratch.
As for drafted prospects, the top-two selections went as planned. Despite some uncertainty surrounding the Boston Celtics’ ideal selection at No. 3, team executive Danny Ainge made the best choice for the franchise going forward.
The excitement will continue through the summer league due to the ample talent in this draft class. The Golden State Warriors made two moves that explain the front office’s genius.
What’s the final grade on every team that made a selection on Thursday? How will these prospects fit within the rosters?
Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks needed to revamp their frontcourt after trading Dwight Howard to the Charlotte Hornets, and Paul Millsap declined his player option to become a free agent. John Collins will have an early opportunity to play significant minutes, and his skill set should allow him to thrive in Atlanta. Tyler Dorsey could develop into a quality sixth man.
Boston Celtics: The Celtics went with the better all-around scorer as opposed to the better overall player at No. 3. Jayson Tatum brings good character to the locker room and adds a consistent offensive threat in the frontcourt. Semi Ojeleye will add muscle and collect rebounds with the second unit off the bench.
Brooklyn Nets: Though soft-spoken, Jarrett Allen will bang in the paint with the ability to post double-doubles on any given night. He’s the immediate replacement for Brook Lopez at center. Kyle Kuzma should work on his distance shot to carve out a bigger role at power forward.
Charlotte Hornets: Multiple teams made a mistake in allowing Malik Monk to drop to the Hornets at No. 11. Nonetheless, Charlotte grabs the best value pick in the draft. The Kentucky product will light up the scoreboard alongside Kemba Walker in the backcourt. Dwayne Bacon slipped into the second round, but he’s equipped to surprise the league as a major contributor on the offensive end.
Chicago Bulls: The Bulls made a huge draft-day splash when unloading Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves. This trade will be discussed in-depth below. Chicago acquired the No. 7 pick and selected Lauri Markkanen, who’s ready to shoot off pick-and-rolls and fire away from three-point range on Day 1. The grade below reflects the pick, not the Butler trade.
Cleveland Cavaliers: N/A
Dallas Mavericks: Based on pure talent, some analysts feel Dennis Smith Jr. brings enough to be considered a top-five pick. In a guard-loaded draft, he goes to the Mavericks at No. 9. The team needs a lead point guard. The North Carolina State product can also score in bunches using his shooting range and athleticism when going to the hoop.
Denver Nuggets: Danilo Gallinari opted out of his deal to become an unrestricted free agent, and the Nuggets acquired Tyler Lydon to potentially fill the space at small forward. The Syracuse product won’t come in as an immediate contributor, but he may develop into a solid role player in the frontcourt.
Detroit Pistons: The Pistons picked up the Duke sharpshooter to carry the second unit in the scoring department. Luke Kennard shot 43 percent from beyond the arc during his sophomore year on the collegiate level. He’ll have no issues carving out an early niche role in Detroit.
Golden State Warriors: The reigning NBA Champions traded with the Bulls to acquire Jordan Bell, who’s able to guard multiple positions at 6’9″. The Warriors have enough shooters, and the front office picked up a high-energy defender. Bell steps into an excellent locker room situation with much room to grow offensively.
Houston Rockets: Isaiah Hartenstein should work on refining his shot, but his inside game paired with his size brings intrigue. The 19-year-old 7-footer could be effective in head coach Mike D’Antoni’s fast-paced offense. However, it’ll take two years before we see this international product on the court.
Indiana Pacers: As everyone awaits a Paul George trade, the front office made its first selection that will likely soak up the four-time All-Star’s minutes. Unlike his time at UCLA, TJ Leaf won’t have a point guard who’s head and shoulders above most of the competition. It’s questionable as to whether Leaf can post close to a double-double like he did at the collegiate level.
Los Angeles Clippers: There’s still no word on Chris Paul‘s intentions. If he goes elsewhere in free agency, Jawun Evans will lead the offense thereafter. Regardless, the Oklahoma State product has the ability to lead and create his own offense. The Clippers made a good selection in terms of value and picked up a contingency plan in case their lead guard bolts.
Los Angeles Lakers: The marriage between flashy point guard Lonzo Ball and the Lakers will lead to a rainbows and unicorns honeymoon period. He absolutely fits with the organization. The front office also picked up a tough guard in Josh Hart and backup center in Thomas Bryant for the second unit.
Memphis Grizzlies: Ivan Rabb fits into the tough gritty culture in Memphis. He’s a 6’1o” big who’s going to compete for boards and score around the rim in a variety of ways. He could replace Zach Randolph who’s going to test the free-agent market over the summer. Dillon Brooks has the potential to boost the roster in the scoring department off the bench.
Miami Heat: Edrice “Bam” Adebayo adds more toughness to the Heat’s frontcourt. He’s the projected backup for Hassan Whiteside due to his ability to score in the paint and protect the rim. It’ll be interesting to see if the head coach Erik Spoelstra experiments with Whiteside and Adebayo together. Neither have the ability to stretch the floor.
Milwaukee Bucks: D.J. Wilson can stretch the floor with his shooting ability, but he’s also flashed his shot-blocking skills as a sophomore at Michigan. At 6’10 ½” with a 7’3″ wingspan the Bucks add more length to the roster with a versatile skill set. On paper, it’s a deep roster. Wilson will become another moderate contributor in the second unit or potentially a small-ball starting lineup.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Minnesota received the No. 16 overall pick via the Butler trade. Justin Patton will back up Karl-Anthony Towns at center. Though, the rookie should aim to improve his rebounding. With Towns, Butler and Andrew Wiggins running the show, someone has to hustle to create second-chance scoring opportunities. Again, the grade below only focuses on the draft pick.
New Orleans Pelicans: N/A
New York Knicks: There’s not much tape floating around on Frank Ntilikina, which caused some eye rolls and groans from the fans. However, the French guard flashes unselfish playmaking ability, and he’s a solid defender with high upside at just 18 years old. Knicks should be happy to see Phil Jackson turn the page at point guard as opposed to leaning on Derrick Rose in a long-term scenario.
Oklahoma City Thunder: In today’s NBA the three-and-D players who can contribute on both ends of the court hold decent value. Assuming Russell Westbrook finds the open man, Terrance Ferguson can score in space with a smooth stroke. His defensive prowess will keep him on the court longer than most rookies.
Orlando Magic: Jonathan Isaac will provide some excitement to Magic games. He’s a two-way player who could blossom into an impressive talent. If the Florida State product stretches his shooting distance, he’ll compete for Rookie of the Year honors.
Philadelphia 76ers: Of course, the Sixers hit big in a trade with the Celtics to acquire the No. 1 overall pick. Now, reliable scoring guard Markelle Fultz joins Ben Simmons who can distribute and Joel Embiid as a dynamic big. The rise to relevance in Philadelphia will take another season or two. Nonetheless, after years of tanking, it’s a team that finally has a nucleus and direction.
Phoenix Suns: Josh Jackson could’ve been the best draft pick on some big boards. The Suns may have dropped to No. 4 in the lottery, but the team still acquired a game-changer without having to trade up. Immediately, the Kansas product will elevate play in the frontcourt at small forward.
Portland Trail Blazers: The Blazers have one of the best backcourt tandems in the league, but they’re certainly lacking in the frontcourt. The front office traded up to No. 10 for Zach Collins and picked up Caleb Swanigan at No. 26. Clearly, the decision-makers feel center Jusuf Nurkic needed help inside or depth behind him.
Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox has the character and on-court skill to change the franchise’s underwhelming course. The Kings traded out of the No. 10, as stated above, and acquired selections at Nos. 15 and 20. Justin Jackson’s confidence boost as a shooter should help earn significant playing time. Harry Giles will become the steal of this year’s draft class if he remains healthy.
San Antonio Spurs: Derrick White projects as a combo guard who can score and distribute. We can also see the end of the tunnel for 35-year-old Tony Parker. The Spurs’ first-round pick will have an opportunity to play a decent amount of minutes in the upcoming season.
Toronto Raptors: OG Anunoby tore his ACL in January. The Indiana product downplayed his recovery process to ESPN during draft night, but he admitted the injury likely affected his stock. The Raptors hope to see Anunoby‘s tenacity on defense in the pros. If he can improve on the offensive end, he’ll compete for a starting role at small forward.
Utah Jazz: The Jazz finished as the stingiest team on the defensive end, allowing 96.8 points per game. On Thursday, the front office focused on versatile scorers. Donovan Mitchell should develop into a quality starting two-way player in the backcourt. His athleticism will help create scoring opportunities. Tony Bradley will spell Rudy Gobert at center.
Washington Wizards: N/A
Top 2017 Draft Storylines
Chicago Bulls Blink First in Big Trade Moves
Ironically, a trade made the most noise at the top of the draft. The Timberwolves packaged Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the No. 7 pick for Butler and the No. 16 pick.
The move indicates the Bulls’ intentions to demolish the veteran plan with Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo and Butler as captains on the Chicago’s ship. Now, head coach Fred Hoiberg will guide a younger team with Lauri Markkanen, Dunn and LaVine as the budding talents on the roster.
Dwyane Wade opted in for the final year of his deal with the Bulls worth $23.8 million, per Spotrac. Obviously, this team won’t contend for a playoff spot. Will the 35-year-old commit to helping the young players along as the sun sets on his career?
Butler reunites with Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota. They could have another solid run together similar to their days with Bulls. Alongside Towns, Wiggins and Ricky Rubio, the Timberwolves will contend for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The Lakers and Lonzo Ball Finally Happened
We all saw it coming, especially LaVar Ball, who unapologetically gloated about his vision for his eldest son:
Many Lakers fans wanted Ball in purple and gold. They’ll see it very soon. Ball will run the offense and put the pieces in place for a young group to score with ease on some nights.
The Lakers may pull off a trade for Paul George in the coming days or weeks, which adds more excitement to a franchise that’s missed the postseason for four consecutive years. By the way, LaVar thinks the playoff drought ends once his son steps on the court:
After months discussing LaVar as a distraction, who’s hurting his son’s draft value and reports about poor conditioning, team president Magic Johnson confirmed, via Twitter, Ball was his first choice:
If the Lakers acquire George, the starting lineup will continue to go through changes, but Brandon Ingram remains off limits, per ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein.
Golden State Warriors Quietly Improve Roster
During the telecast, the analysts covered the Butler trade and the top-five picks extensively. However, the defending champions made two small moves in a vacuum, but it’s huge when looking at the bigger picture.
Through the previous season, many criticized the Warriors frontcourt. Many wondered if poor rim protection would hurt their run at an NBA title. We already saw the results—it didn’t faze the Western Conference superteam. However, the front office sent $3.5 million in cash to the Bulls for Bell and signed Chris Boucher after the draft, per The Vertical’s Shams Charania.
Golden State picked up two Oregon Ducks, who could immediately contribute on the defensive end and provide long-term solutions to the rim protection issues.
The Warriors made a pair of low-key moves that separate their organization from the rest. The front office addressed a glaring need without having to trade assets. It’s a well-run establishment that will likely win its third title in four years.
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