The NBA news and rumors were flying fast on Twitter in the days leading up to the draft. While we did see a few splashes, namely Chicago Bulls superstar forward Jimmy Butler being traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the picks largely went as expected.
Ultimately, this year’s player pool has a ton of star power and depth on paper. The 2017-18 season will be fascinating, as we’ll see if that thought comes to fruition.
Here’s a look at each team’s first-round selection alongside some grades and analysis.
2017 NBA Draft Board
2017 NBA Draft First-Round Grades and Selections
1. Philadelphia 76ers: Washington PG Markelle Fultz (B)
Fultz is a great fit for the 76ers, who need a go-to scorer who can shoot from the outside or slice to the rim. He’s a multidimensional offensive threat who was a dynamite offensive star in his lone year at the University of Washington, and he could immediately become the 76ers’ No. 1 scoring option.
The only reason why this grade is a “B” is because the 76ers gave up a first-round selection to the Boston Celtics to move up just two spots.
Clearly, the 76ers think Fultz is head and shoulders above the rest of the draft class, but if he becomes an All-NBA Team member someday, no one will care about that selection being traded away.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: UCLA PG Lonzo Ball (A)
The Lakers get the mature, pass-first floor general they needed in Lonzo Ball, who should immediately slot in at starting point guard.
Ball is set up for success in L.A. Not only is he close to home, but he can learn under Magic Johnson, the best point guard in NBA history.
Furthermore, there isn’t as much of pressure on Ball to produce right away as one might think.
Sure, his father’s boisterous manner has put a bull’s-eye on his back, and the second-biggest market in the country is hungry for a winner after four years of losing, but the Lakers are very young team that still needs to grow. It’s not realistic for them to turn things around next year.
With a little time and development, Ball should develop into an All-Star.
3. Boston Celtics: Duke F Jayson Tatum (A)
The Celtics desperately needed another scorer to take the load of Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley, and Jayson Tatum, who scored 16.8 points per game for the ACC tournament champion Duke Blue Devils, fits the bill with ease. Tatum can score from anywhere on the floor and can play small forward or power forward position.
His selection won’t put the C’s on par with the defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers, but with the addition of a star free agent this offseason (perhaps Gordon Hayward or Blake Griffin), Boston will suddenly have the deepest team in the NBA, with players who can pour in points and play shutdown defense.
4. Phoenix Suns: Kansas F Josh Jackson (A)
The Suns are a very young team that has a ton of potential. The problem is that they are very bad defensively in a conference loaded with offensive superstars. Per ESPN.com, the Suns finished third to last in defensive efficiency.
Simply put, they can’t compete with the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets by outscoring them every night. Instead, they need to find a way to improve on defense, and Josh Jackson fits the bill perfectly. He can slot right into the starting lineup and be tasked with defending his opponent’s best offensive threat (minus the center position).
The Suns still need more pieces to cobble together a better team defense, but Jackson is a great start.
5. Sacramento Kings: Kentucky PG De’Aaron Fox (A)
This is the best pick of the entire draft, as the Kings get a player at No. 5 who could very well be seen as the No. 1 player from the class of 2017 down the line.
Fox has as much potential as anyone else picked this year. On offense, Fox is a great ball-handler who can drive to the rim with ease. On defense, he’s tenacious. And it seems like he’s done nothing but say and do all the right things since he stepped foot in Lexington. No one in the draft may have better intangibles than him.
Fox will immediately become the Kings’ starting point guard. There will be some growing pains with this being such a young team, but Fox has Hall-of-Fame potential.
One can’t help but wonder if the Kings-Lakers rivalry from the early 2000s will be renewed with Fox and Ball in the same division.
6. Orlando Magic: Florida State F Jonathan Isaac (B)
Isaac stays in state as the Orlando Magic pick him sixth overall. The former Seminoles forward should slot in as the starting small forward immediately.
His addition to the starting lineup is quite interesting, as he and power forward Aaron Gordon on the court at the same time should make for some nightmare matchups next year. Their combined length and ridiculous athleticism will be a problem for many teams.
If Isaac continues to improve his three-point shooting (he was at 34.8 percent last year), then he could become one of the best players to emerge from this draft.
7. Chicago Bulls: Arizona PF Lauri Markannen (C)
The Bulls sent Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for a package that included the No. 7 pick, and with that selection, Chicago took the seven-foot sharpshooter from Arizona, Lauri Markannen.
Markannen had a solid season at Tucson, averaging 15.6 points per game (alongside 42.3 percent three-point shooting), but where will he slot within this lineup?
Is he going to play alongside Nikola Mirotic and Robin Lopez in the starting lineup? If so, the Bulls are going to have issues on defense, as smaller and quicker forwards who can stretch the floor would give Chicago problems.
Still, Chicago was a poor shooting team last year, finishing 25th in the NBA in field-goal percentage, so Markannen could help improve that mark significantly.
8. New York Knicks: SIG Strasbourg PG Frank Ntilikina (B)
The best player on the board at No. 8 was Malik Monk, the former Kentucky shooting guard who dropped 47 points on eventual national champion North Carolina this year, but the Knicks decided to fill a larger position of need at point guard.
It’s difficult to trust the Knicks’ judgment at this point, especially when president of basketball operations Phil Jackson went on television the night before the draft and confirmed rumors that 7’3″ star forward Kristaps Porzingis could be traded, but New York has to take a shot on a young point guard to build around for the future.
New York has had issues there on and off since Walt Frazier was manning the position, so it’s time for some consistency. Ntilikina is probably its best shot at No. 8.
9. Dallas Mavericks: NC State PG Dennis Smith Jr. (C)
The Mavs fill a position of need by picking Smith at No. 9, who will presumably start alongside Seth Curry in the backcourt next season with Yogi Ferrell coming off the bench.
At times last season, Smith looked like one of the best players in college basketball, like when he scored 32 points against Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium in an upset win.
But Smith was inconsistent as well. Of course, a tumultuous season in which Mark Gottfried was eventually fired (he finished the season as a lame-duck coach) didn’t help, but Smith’s performance in the ACC tournament (seven points and four turnovers in a first-round loss to Clemson) was a disappointing end to his Wolfpack career.
Still, Smith is young (he’ll be 19 years old when the NBA season begins) and has a ton of potential. A Smith-Curry pairing could be very fun to watch.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Gonzaga F/C Zach Collins (A)
After a trade with the Sacramento Kings, the Trail Blazers selected Gonzaga center Zach Collins, one of the most efficient players in college basketball last year (funny enough, you’ll see the same thing said about another big man named Collins at pick No. 19).
Collins was a key member on a Gonzaga team that made the national championship and lost just two games all year. He averaged 10.0 points (on 65.2 percent shooting), 5.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in just 17.3 minutes per game. In case you’re wondering, yes, he put up those numbers despite playing less than half the game on average.
Collins and Nurkic should make for a dynamic and athletic frontcourt pairing, with the bruising Nurkic clearing space down low and the more versatile Collins showing his range both shooting and defending.
11. Charlotte Hornets: Kentucky SG Malik Monk (A)
Somehow, Malik Monk, who averaged 19.8 points per game and was the SEC Player of the Year as a freshman, fell all the way to 11th.
The Hornets are obviously getting a steal with Monk outside the top 10. He’s an NBA-ready scorer who can slot next to Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum and immediately make the Hornets a strong contender to return to the playoffs.
Charlotte needed some three-point shooting help, as it was 18th in the NBA last season. Monk will immediately boost that number right away and is an early contender to be the NBA Rookie of the Year.
12. Detroit Pistons: Duke SG Luke Kennard (A)
This is a no-brainer pick. The Pistons were one of the worst shooting teams in the NBA last season, making just 33.0 percent of their three-pointers, which ranked 28th out of 30 teams.
In an NBA where teams are more reliant on the three-pointer than ever, that simply isn’t going to cut it.
Enter Luke Kennard, who was one of the best scorers in Division I men’s college basketball last season. Kennard shot 49.0 percent from the field and 43.7 percent from three-point range last year.
Kennard will probably start the season on the bench behind incumbent starter Kentavius Caldwell-Pope and provide the second unit with a much-needed scoring boost.
13. Utah Jazz: Louisville SG Donovan Mitchell (A)
The Jazz traded with the Denver Nuggets to acquire this pick, and with it, they took Louisville guard Donovan Mitchell, who should immediately provide some much-needed backcourt depth. In fact, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Mitchell usurp Rodney Hood at the starting shooting guard.
Mitchell fits Utah’s identity seamlessly. He’s a tough, hard-nosed defender that finds himself on a team that provides itself on its efforts at that end of the floor, led by star center Rudy Gobert.
If the Jazz convince Gordon Hayward to stick around, they could contend for a top-three seed in the Western Conference playoffs next year.
14. Miami Heat: Kentucky PF Bam Adebayo (A)
The Kentucky power forward, who was overshadowed in Lexington by star guards Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox, dramatically rose up everyone’s mock drafts and big boards in the days leading up to the draft.
It’s easy to see why, as Adebayo is a 6’10” power forward built like a block of granite. He was also very productive in his lone season in Kentucky, posting 13.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per year.
Adebayo and Whiteside will form one of the toughest frontcourts in the NBA next year, and the Heat should be one of the best rebounding and blocking teams in the NBA (if not the best at each). Whiteside‘s length is always a problem for anyone driving the lane, and Adebayo‘s a solid rebounder already.
The Heat, who went 30-11 in the second half of the season, could be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference next year.
15. Sacramento Kings: North Carolina SF Justin Jackson (B)
The Kings picked up another college star after trading with the Portland Trail Blazers to acquire the 15th pick, as they selected the best player on last year’s national championship team, Justin Jackson.
Sacramento is in full rebuilding mode after trading center DeMarcus Cousins last year, and it is clearly trying to acquire as many younger assets as possible and see what works.
While Jackson doesn’t project to have the upside and athleticism of other players picked outside the lottery, he’s still a very good and productive forward who can immediately make an impact in the Kings’ rotation as someone who can score from anywhere on the court. It will be interesting to see how he pairs with Fox if Jackson finds himself in the starting lineup.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves: Creighton C Justin Patton (A)
It’s a debate as to whether the Timberwolves or Kings are having the best draft night after Minnesota made this pick. Patton is an athletic 7-footer who will create a great frontcourt pairing with Karl-Anthony Towns (teams finding a missing piece in the frontcourt seems like a theme in this draft).
All of the sudden, the Wolves have a great starting five, with Jimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins on the wing and Ricky Rubio manning the point. The Timberwolves look like the No. 1 candidate to be the most improved team in the NBA next year.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: Michigan PF DJ Wilson (C)
DJ Wilson and Derrick Walton led Michigan on an incredible run through the Big Ten tournament and into the Sweet Sixteen, where the Wolverines nearly beat Oregon.
While Wilson should have a productive NBA career, Wake Forest big man John Collins, who was taken two picks later by the Atlanta Hawks, might be the best big man in this entire draft.
Wilson is a first-round draft pick for sure, but given Collins’ incredible production last season, he may have been a better pick at this spot.
Still, Wilson should fit in well with a scrappy Bucks team that is on the rise.
18. Indiana Pacers: UCLA PF TJ Leaf (C)
TJ Leaf had a great season in UCLA, scoring 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds for an up-tempo, high-energy offense in Westwood.
Much like the Bucks and DJ Wilson, however, John Collins seemed like a better pick in this spot. Collins seems like a player that a team can build around down the line, and he would have been a good fit with Myles Turner in the frontcourt.
However, Leaf has a lot of potential as well and should see a lot of playing time off the bat on a team that’s likely beginning its rebuilding mode following the assumed exit of star forward Paul George.
19. Atlanta Hawks: Wake Forest PF John Collins (A)
With Dwight Howard being traded to the Charlotte Hornets, the Hawks had a gaping hole in their frontcourt alongside Paul Millsap.
Enter John Collins, an energetic forward from Wake Forest who is an NBA-ready scorer and rebounder. He also happened to be one of the most efficient players in college basketball last year, posting averages of 19.2 points and 9.8 rebounds in 26.6 minutes per game.
He’ll immediately provide a jolt to the Hawks starting lineup, which was very inconsistent last season. If the Hawks can find another outside shooter this offseason, don’t be surprised to see Atlanta become a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference next year.
20. Sacramento Kings: Duke PF Harry Giles (A)
The Kings continued their excellent draft by taking Harry Giles after acquiring the 20th overall selection from the Portland Trail Blazers.
As said before, the Kings (much like the Suns and Lakers) are accumulating a boatload of young talent and seeing what works for them.
Giles, who was considered one of the best players in the class of 2016 when he was in high school, suffered knee injuries in 2013 and 2015. He played sparingly in his one year at Duke as he worked his way back slowly from the latter injury.
This is a great spot to take a chance on Giles. If he comes close to fulfilling the potential he once had before the injuries, then this is clearly the steal of the draft.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Adelaide SG Terrance Ferguson (B)
The term that keeps being thrown around regarding Terrance Ferguson, an American prospect who de-committed from Arizona and played one year overseas instead (one has to wonder if this becomes a more popular route), is “three-and-D.”
Ferguson has the potential to be a better version of DeMarre Carroll, a very solid three-and-D player for the Atlanta Hawks when they won 60 games a few seasons ago.
He won’t be expected to contribute much right away, but down the line, he could slot into the starting lineup as a knockdown outside shooter and shutdown defender.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Texas C Jarrett Allen (A)
With Brook Lopez now a Los Angeles Laker in the D’Angelo Russell deal, the Nets needed a big man to take his place.
Allen was arguably the best frontcourt player remaining at this spot (one can argue that it could be Caleb Swanigan, but Allen is more athletic and has better upside).
The 6’10” Allen should have the opportunity to play significant minutes right away in the Nets’ starting lineup. Brooklyn is a young team that is learning the pro game under head coach (and former player development guru) Kenny Atkinson, so this is a good spot for the former Texas center to learn and grow.
23. Toronto Raptors: Indiana F OG Anunoby (B)
This pick has a similar feel to the Kings’ selection of Harry Giles at No. 20. If not for a torn ACL suffered midseason that ended his year, Anunoby would have probably been a back-end lottery selection.
However, his stock dropped a bit, and Anunoby ended up being a late first-round pick. Not that the Raptors are complaining, of course, as Anunoby, if he returns to form, could end up being a crucial piece in the team’s rotation next year and a future starter at small forward.
The 6’8″ Anunoby, if he stays healthy, could have one of the longest and most productive NBA careers out of anyone picked in the back end of the first round.
24. Denver Nuggets: Syracuse F Tyler Lydon (C)
Denver grabbed this pick in its deal with the Utah Jazz, also acquiring young big man Trey Lyles as well.
Tyler Lydon is yet another big man in this draft who can bang down low and shoot from the outside. The 6’9″ power forward averaged 13.2 points per game last year and shot 39.2 percent from the three-point line, but he also grabbed 8.6 boards and swatted 1.4 blocks as well.
The issue is that Lydon is joining a very crowded frontcourt, featuring Nikola Jokic, Danilo Gallinari, Juan Hernangomez and Mason Plumlee. Denver was probably best served taking a guard who could provide some depth right away.
Still, Lydon has the potential to be a solid NBA pro.
25. Philadelphia 76ers: Herbalife Gran Canaria C Anzejs Pasecniks (B)
The 76ers grabbed this pick in a trade with the Orlando Magic. Pasecnicks is a 7’1″ big man who could provide some excellent depth behind center Joel Embiid. Here is Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer with more on the pick:
It sounds like a broken record at this point, but once again, we see another big man who can stick it from the outside getting selected in the first round. If that wasn’t an indication that the era of centers sticking to the post for 40 minutes per game is over, then who knows what else would be.
Pasecniks will probably play sparingly off the bat, but keep an eye on his development down the road.
26. Portland Trail Blazers: Purdue F Caleb Swanigan (B)
With this pick, coupled with the Zach Collins selection at No. 10, the Blazers suddenly have one of the deepest frontcourts in the entire NBA.
Swanigan was one of the most productive players in college basketball last year, scoring 18.5 points and 12.5 rebounds last year while also showing a deft shooting touch (44.7 percent from three-point range and 78.1 percent from the free-throw line). He should fit in well with Portland and make an immediate impact off the bench, giving the Blazers some excellent depth.
Ultimately, Swanigan‘s versatility should help him greatly on the next level.
27. Los Angeles Lakers: Utah PF Kyle Kuzma (B)
The 6’9″. 220-pound Kuzma improved steadily in each of his three seasons playing for Utah, averaging 16.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per game last season.
With the Lakers, he’ll join a very young frontcourt where Brook Lopez is the elder statesman at 29 years old (until his contract runs out next year).
Kuzma won’t contribute much right away, especially with so many players sitting in front of him on the depth chart, but he could be a nice addition to the rotation in a year or two.
While Kuzma certainly shows promise, a shooting guard or wing seemed like the best fit here, especially with Nick Young bolting for free agency and D’Angelo Russell no longer in the mix. Of course, the Lakers did take care of that three picks later.
28. Utah Jazz: UNC C Tony Bradley (B)
The Jazz acquired this pick from the Lakers in a draft-night deal, and with the selection, Utah took the 6’11” Tony Bradley, who played sparingly in his one season at Chapel Hill but was productive while he was on the court.
It’s not Bradley’s fault that he couldn’t find much playing time last year, as upperclassmen Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks grabbed most of the time there. Still, Bradley did well in his 14.6 minutes of playing time, posting 7.1 points and 5.1 boards per game.
Bradley fills the frontcourt rotation spot vacated by Trey Lyles, who was traded to the Denver Nuggets on draft day. He’ll very likely spot center Rudy Gobert when he needs a breather.
29. San Antonio Spurs: Colorado G Derrick White (A)
The Spurs do it again with another great steal, this time picking Colorado guard Derrick White, a late bloomer who rose up big boards during the pre-draft process.
The former Buffalo scored 18.3 points per game last season, making over 40 percent of his three-pointers. With the Spurs, he should get some quality minutes off the bench and could even moonlight at point guard if called upon.
Don’t be surprised if White is starting for San Antonio within a few seasons.
30. Los Angeles Lakers: Villanova SG Josh Hart (A)
Well, as said in the Kyle Kuzma section, the Lakers needed another guard to replace the departed Nick Young and D’Angelo Russell, and Hart could certainly fit that bill.
Simply put, Hart is a proven winner and leader. He won the national championship with Villanova two years ago and was nothing but productive during his time with the Big East powerhouse, averaging 18.7 points per game in his senior year.
Remarkably, Hart never shot less than 50 percent in each of his four seasons at Villanova. Although he doesn’t have a ton of upside, and other prospects project better athletically, Hart is just a damn good player. He should get a shot to take the starting shooting guard role immediately.
2017 NBA Draft Second-Round Grades and Selections
(This section will be updated at the conclusion of the NBA draft.)
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