The 2017 NBA Draft has come to an end and 60 young men’s journey in the NBA has begun!
The 2017 NBA Draft was a record breaking draft, where we saw 16 freshman selected in the first round, a new NBA Draft record, and only 2 seniors selected in the first round with the final two picks, also a new NBA Draft record. Out of the 14 picks in the lottery, 11 of them were freshman with a lot of expectations on them.
Let’s take a look at each team’s selections in the draft:
Picks: John Collins (19), Tyler Dorsey (41), Alpha Kaba (60)
Trades: Traded C Dwight Howard and Pick #31 to the Charlotte Hornets for G Marco Belinelli, F/C Miles Plumlee and Pick #41.
After news that Paul Millsap was opting out of his contract and after the Hawks dealt Dwight Howard to the Charlotte Hornets, Hawks fans were anticipating that the draft would give them the news that they have been dreading to believe; the team is going through a reboot! With the selection of John Collins with the 19th pick in the draft, Hawks fans can expect a strong-interior scorer who is a workhorse in the paint. With 4 out of 5 of the Hawks current big men set to become free agents, John Collins should step into a system where he will get a lot of playing time and experience. Collin will be a project for the Hawks, but will be the start of the rebuild in Atlanta.
The selections of Tyler Dorsey with the 41st pick and Alpha Kaba with the 60th pick in the draft, do not shake up much for the Hawks. Dorsey will likely replace Tim Hardaway Jr. if the Hawks do not retain his contract and Alpha Kaba will likely be a draft-and-stash guy. Overall, the Hawks selected a player with solid value near the end of the first round.
Grade: B (84)
Picks: Jayson Tatum (3), Semi Ojeleye (37), Kadeem Allen (53), Jabari Bird (56)
Trades: Traded #1 overall selection to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Pick #3, Lakers 2018 First Round Pick (If 2-5) (If not, then Kings or 76ers 2019 First Round Pick)
After trading down in the draft and picking 3rd overall for the second straight year, Danny Ainge, Celtics General Manager, did what he does best; acquire future assets and picks. After stating that the player they would have drafted at #1 would be on the board at #3, the Celtics went out and got Jayson Tatum from Duke with the third overall selection. After selecting Jaylen Brown last year, the real question Celtics fans are asking is what kind of role will Tatum have for the Celtics and what will their lineup look like for next season?
Well, with F Amir Johnson and F Kelly Olynyk’s contracts up and with around 30M in cap room for free agency, expect the Celtics to pursue All-Star forward Gordon Hayward from Utah. As for Tatum, he will definitely play a role with the first and second units on the court. Being the great scorer he is Tatum will definitely find his way into a lineup where he can be a focal point.
The three second round picks, Semi Ojeleye with the 37th pick, Kadeem Allen with the 53rd pick, and Jabari Bird with the 56th pick, will add depth and speed to the second and third units. Kadeem Allen and Jabari Bird will likely be G-League players for the Celtics and contend for a roster spot, while Ojeleye could be a nice bench player. Semi Ojeleye, who was ranked as NBA Draft Analyst Brett Siegel’s 30th best prospect, was selected 37th and give the Celtics speed and strength in transition. Expect the Celtics to be aggressive this offseason and add more depth to their 15-man roster.
Grade: A- (90)
Picks: Jarrett Allen (22), Aleksander Vezenkov (57)
Trades: Traded F/C Brook Lopez & Pick #27 for G D’Angelo Russell & C Timofey Mozgov
After another unsuccessful season in Brooklyn, the Nets will continue to rebuild. As a result of the trade a few years back when the Nets acquired Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the Nets 2017 1st Round pick belonged to the Celtics, which left the Nets with Picks #22 and #27.
Days before the draft, the Nets traded their best player in F/C Brook Lopez to the Lakers for G D’Angelo Russell and C Timofey Mozgov. In the process, the Nets also traded Pick #27 giving them only one selection in the first round of the draft. With the 22nd pick, the Nets selected C Jarrett Allen from Texas, filling the void that Brook Lopez left. The additions of Russell, Mozgov, and Allen give the Nets pieces to try and rebuild their broken franchise, but not immediately.
In the second round, the Brooklyn Nets took Aleksander Vezenkov from Europe with the 57th pick. Vezenkov is no more than a draft-and-stash guy that will spend the next few years playing overseas. There is a lot of uncertainty within this franchise and if the Nets cannot tap into Jarrett Allen’s potential, then it will end up being another lost draft for the Nets.
Grade: B+ (87)
Picks: Malik Monk (11), Dwayne Bacon (40)
1) Traded G Marco Belinelli, F/C Miles Plumlee & Pick #41 to the Hawks for C Dwight Howard and Pick #31
2) Traded Pick #31 to the Pelicans for Pick #40 and Cash Considerations
With close to no cap room to work with this offseason, the Hornets addressed the one thing they needed to in this draft, three-point shooting. Last season, the Hornets ranked 18th in the league in three-point shooting percentage and 26th in overall field-goal percentage. As a result, the Hornets went out and drafted Malik Monk, who had fallen out of the Top 10, with the 11th pick.
Monk is an exceptional 3-pt shooter and will play alongside Nicolas Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on the wing. Monk was probably the best shooting guard in this draft class and will be a weapon for Kemba Walker next season with the Hornets.
The Hornets also drafted Dwayne Bacon with the 40th pick in the draft, giving them more depth and shooting ability on the wing. After acquiring C Dwight Howard, there was no immediate need for the Hornets to draft a big man. Draft night was a very solid night for Michael Jordan and the Hornets as they try to finally breakthrough to the playoffs in the East.
Grade: A- (92)
Picks: Lauri Markkenen (7)
1) Traded G Jimmy Butler and Pick #16 to the Timberwolves for G Kris Dunn, G Zach LaVine & Pick #7
2) Traded Pick #38 to the Golden State Warriors for Cash Considerations (3.5M)
The biggest news on draft night was not about the picks, it was about the Chicago Bulls trading Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves were Jimmy Butler will reunite with his former coach, Tom Thibodeau. There were speculations that Butler would be on the move before draft night, but the Bulls could not get the right deal in order for their All-Star.
After a few picks had been made, the trade was announced and the Bulls were getting ready to make their selection with the 7th pick. When the time came, the Bulls selected F Lauri Markkenen from Arizona. Markkenen is the best shooting big man in the draft, which will help the Bulls who finished 24th in three-point shooting this past season.
The acquisition of Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine give the Bulls depth at both guard spots on the floor now and maybe no use for Rajon Rondo anymore. The Bulls will be going through a rebuilding stage the next few season and these new young players will be the focal points of it.
Grade: A- (93)
With no trades or selections during the draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers will have to start asking themselves the question everybody is asking: “Is this the start of the end of the LeBron James era in Cleveland again?” By not going out and trading for Paul George or Jimmy Butler, Cleveland may not have any other chance to bolster their squad. Do not forget that Cleveland is still searching for a new GM! Whoever they chose to be their new GM, they will have their hands full with a team that will have a payroll of about 130M next season.
Picks: Dennis Smith Jr. (9)
G Yogi Ferrell was a nice late-season pickup for the Dallas Mavericks last season, but was not their long-term solution to their lack of a point guard. As a result, the Dallas Mavericks made one of my favorite selections in the draft by taking G Dennis Smith Jr. with the 9th overall pick. Dennis Smith Jr. was one of the best freshman in the country last season at N.C. State and was named the ACC’s Freshman of the Year.
Smith Jr. joins a Mavericks team who is on the rise again with F Wesley Matthews and F Harrison Barnes. Oh, and do not forget about the player with #30 on the back and the last name Curry. No, no, no, Steph Curry isn’t on the Mavericks, but Seth Curry is! If Dennis Smith Jr. develops well for the Mavs, he could become one of the most explosive guards in the league.
Grade: A- (90)
Picks: Tyler Lydon (24), Vlatko Cancar (49), Monte Morris (51)
Trades: Traded Pick #13 to the Utah Jazz for Pick #24 & F Trey Lyles
After being involved in the whole Paul George and Jimmy Butler fiasco before the draft, the Denver Nuggets failed to close on a trade for difference-maker. As a result, the Nuggets were stuck with the 13th pick and no superstar caliber player to draft. So, they traded the pick to Utah for the 24th pick and F Trey Lyles.
With F Danilo Gallinari informing the Nuggets he was going to opt out of his contract and become a free agent, Denver went out and selected F Tyler Lydon out of Syracuse. They also went out and drafted Vlatko Cancar with the 49th pick and Monte Morris with the 51st pick. Morris joins an already crowded backcourt and Cancar will be staying overseas for a few more years. This leaves Denver with Lydon as their only draftee who will possibly see the court next season. Expect Denver to look the same next year if they do not make any big free agent move.
Grade: B+ (88)
Picks: Luke Kennard (12)
After a disappointing season in Detroit, the Pistons needed to improve on one thing that seems to be a recurring theme across the league: 3-pt shooting! What better way to improve your long-range shooting than going out and getting a guy like Luke Kennard with the 12th pick! If the Pistons elect to not re-sign G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, then Luke Kennard could find himself into a starting role with a Pistons team who is looking for a playmaker outside of their All-Star center, Andre Drummond.
How the Pistons team looks now is how it will likely look at the start of next season, which means the Pistons may be in a similar situation at next year’s draft.
Grade: A- (92)
Golden State Warriors:
Picks: Jordan Bell (38)
Trades: Traded Cash Considerations (3.5M) to the Chicago Bulls for rights to Pick #38
The 2016-17 NBA Champion Golden State Warriors did not have a pick in the draft entering the night, but may have come away with one of the best picks that night. They traded about $3.5M to the Chicago Bulls for the rights to the 38th pick in the draft, Jordan Bell. In 4 NCAA Tournament games, Bell averaged 11.5 PPG, 13.5 RPG, and 4.0 BPG. He was one of the best defensive players in the tournament and he is going to a championship team that loves forwards that can be prolific defenders and play the stretch 4.
Much like they did with Patrick McCaw last year, the Warriors did it again, buying the rights to a player that fell out of the first round. Warriors continue to get better by building their could-be dynasty through the draft. There is not much other teams can do when the best team in the league continues to get better.
Grade: A+ (97)
Picks: Isaiah Hartenstein (43)
Trades: Traded Pick #45 to Memphis Grizzlies for a Future 2nd Round Pick.
The Houston Rockets were rumored to possibly be shopping Lou Williams and Patrick Beverley before the draft began, but were not offered the “blockbuster” deal they were looking for. After not having a pick in the first round of the draft, they were on the clock for the 43rd pick. With that pick, they selected F/C Isaiah Hartenstein, a should-have-been first round pick that fell to pick 43.
Although Hartenstein is expected to stay overseas for a few more years to develop, the 7-foot Latvian brings a lot of potential to a Rockets team who is in desperate need of a reliable rebounder and inside scorer.
With the 45th pick, Houston decided to trade the rights to Dillon Brooks to the Grizzlies in exchange for a future 2nd round pick. Of course, this trade does not help the Rockets now, but can help them in the future when some of their veteran players leave/retire.
Look for the Rockets to be highly involved in free agency and pursue a guard like Kyle Lowry or Chris Paul. The Rockets know that they cannot compete with the Warriors in the Western Conference with just James Harden, so expect them to sign some pieces to go along with Harden for the coming years.
Grade: A (94)
Picks: T.J. Leaf (18), Ike Anigbogu (47), Edmond Sumner (52)
Trade: Traded Cash Considerations to the New Orleans Pelicans for Pick #52
After not finding a trade for Paul George that met their requirements, the Pacers had to cope with the fact Paul George will be in a Pacers jersey for only 1 more year. Indiana Pacers President, Kevin Pritchard called it a “gut punch” when he heard that George does not want to be a part of the franchise long-term. The Pacers as an organization feel blindsided by George saying he will be leaving following this season, when every sports newscast has been saying for months that George will be leaving. Sometimes staying up to date with news around the NBA pays off, especially if you are the owner or GM of a team.
On draft night, the Pacers started their “post-George” process by taking shooting-big T.J. Leaf with the 18th pick in the draft. Along with F Georges Niang and F/C Myles Turner, the Pacers will look to rebuild their franchise by drafting bigs who can space the floor and shoot from the perimeter. Leaf will be a nice addition to a young Pacers team that could use depth on the wing from a stretch 4.
The Pacers finished their draft night in the second round by taking Ike Anigbogu with the 47th pick in the draft Anigbogu, who was ranked as Brett Siegel’s 21st best prospect in the draft fell tremendously to the second round because a lot of teams were unsure about the health of his knees.
Anigbogu, the youngest player in the draft has a lot of potential, but is extremely raw. If his knee shows no sign of wear and tear and is fine, then Anigbogu could be a great addition behind Myles Turner and for the Pacers.
After drafting Anigbogu, the Pacers did not have another pick in the draft until they decided to pay the Pelicans for the 52nd overall selection, Edmond Sumner. The combo-guard from Xavier suffered a season ending knee injury in the middle of the season, but, with G Jeff Teague and G Aaron Brooks being free agents, Sumner will be a big piece to the Pacers’ broken backcourt. With G Joseph Young being the only guard under contract for next season, Sumner will play big minutes for Indiana, assuming he is healthy for the start of the 2017-18 NBA season, which he should be.
Unfortunately for Indiana Pacers fans, it is time to rebuild and your All-NBA performer will be leaving, most likely for the Los Angeles Lakers next season. For starting the rebuild process, the Pacers have done pretty well so far with their draft picks.
Grade: A- (93)
Los Angeles Clippers:
Picks: Jawun Evans (39), Sindarius Thornwell (48)
1) Traded Cash Considerations to the Philadelphia 76ers for Pick #39
2) Traded Cash Considerations to the Memphis Grizzlies for Pick #48
With rumors circulating about the Clippers core disbanding, they may not be the best team playing in the Staples Center much longer. If G Chris Paul and F Blake Griffin both decided to pack their bags and head out of L.A, who do the Clippers have left? Well, they have C DeAndre Jordan who not only struggles heavily at the free throw line, but is the only person in NBA history to air-ball back-to-back free throw attempts. Do not forget about G Austin Rivers either, who is Doc Rivers’ (Clippers GM and head coach) son, who is getting paid 12M a year to backup Chris Paul. G J.J. Redick also being a free agent, this could be the end of the Clippers reign in L.A. as the best basketball team.
Even with no draft picks entering the night, Doc Rivers and the Clippers stayed aggressive. They were able to acquire the 39th pick in the draft from the 76ers and draft point guard Jawun Evans. Shortly after acquiring Evans, the Clippers went out again and traded for the 48th pick to draft Sindarius Thornwell, one of the stars of this past NCAA Tournament. Both the picks of Evans and Thornwell may say a lot about the direction the Clippers will be taking as an organization and could be the start of a new generation coming in. Evans and Thornwell could immediately see the court in their rookie seasons depending on what the Clippers decide to do during free agency.
When free agency begins, the Clippers will have about $36M in cap space to work with. If they decide to move on from Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, then Jawun Evans and Sindarius Thornwell will be the new faces to rebuild the franchise along with their 2016 First Round Pick F Brice Johnson. The Los Angeles Clippers front office will not be relaxing pool-side this summer and will have to figure out a plan quick if they want to remain a force in the Western Conference.
Grade: B+ (89)
Los Angeles Lakers:
Picks: Lonzo Ball (2), Kyle Kuzma (27), Josh Hart (30), Thomas Bryant (42)
1) Traded G D’Angelo Russell & C Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets for F/C Brook Lopez and Pick #27
2) Traded Pick #28 to the Utah Jazz for Pick #30 & Pick #42
Since last December, it had almost been determined that the Los Angeles Lakers would be selecting G Lonzo Ball in the draft. One man in particular believes in this. LaVar Ball, Lonzo’s father, has hyped up Lonzo since the day he signed to UCLA and has been stating for months that Lonzo would only workout for the Lakers because he was going to be a Laker. Well, LaVar got his wish and the hometown kid, Lonzo Ball, will be playing in his backyard to begin his NBA career.
Lonzo Ball will be the starting point guard for the Lakers after they traded G D’Angelo Russell to the Nets. He will also be joined by fellow rookies: F Kyle Kuzma, the 27th selection, G Josh Hart, the 30th selection, and Thomas Bryant, the 42nd selection.
After four straight losing seasons and not being the best team playing in the Staples Center any more, change has been called within the organization and fans have been pleading for change. With Luke Walton becoming the new head coach last season and Magic Johnson becoming the President of Basketball Operations for the Lakers, there is a lot to look forward to in the near future. With their four draft selections in this year’s draft, Magic Johnson has gained the trust of the entire organization to rebuild this Lakers franchise into the powerhouse it was when he played for them.
Obviously, the entire Lakers core currently on the roster is extremely young with only 1-2 years of experience under their belt, so becoming the best team in the Western Conference may not come overnight. It may come within the next two summers though. Paul George has already expressed his interest in joining the Lakers as a free agent following the 2017-18 NBA season, and there are rumors surfacing that LeBron James may be leaving the Cavaliers after the 2017-18 season as well. If both Paul George and LeBron James team up and decide to go to a Lakers team that could have close to $60M in cap room next summer, they could become a major threat to the Golden State Warriors as NBA Finals contenders coming out of the West.
As for next season, expect G Lonzo Ball and F Brandon Ingram to take charge of the floor and lead the Lakers. Magic Johnson has publicly stated that Lonzo Ball will be the new face of the franchise and that he wants to see Lonzo Ball’s last name hanging in the rafters some day in the Staples Center. With all this media attention and expectations being put on Lonzo Ball, it should be interesting to see how he works out with the Lakers next season and if he can “lead the Lakers to the playoffs in his first season” like his father LaVar Ball stated he would. Overall, the Lakers’ draft night was very solid and it looks like they are clearing cap room to make big moves in the future!
Grade: A (94)
Picks: Ivan Rabb (35), Dillon Brooks (45)
1) Traded Brooklyn’s 2019 2nd Round Draft Pick to the Orlando Magic for Pick #35
2) Traded a Future 2nd Round Draft Pick to the Houston Rockets for Pick #45
Even without a pick in the draft, the Memphis Grizzlies walked away with two draft picks in style. The Grizzlies came into the night with no draft picks, but were able to trade up to grab two second round picks and select forwards Ivan Rabb with the 35th pick and Dillion Brooks with the 45th pick. Both Rabb and Brooks are older players coming out of college with a lot of experience.
Ivan Rabb, who played with the 2016 3rd Pick Jaylen Brown at California, was thought to be a lottery pick in last year’s draft, but decided to stay in school for an extra season. In this year’s draft, Rabb surprisingly fell out of the first round and heard his name called early in the second round. Dillon Brooks, the junior out of Oregon, heard his name called about 20 minutes later with the 45th overall selection, and shortly after, found out he was going to Memphis with Ivan Rabb.
Last season, the Memphis Grizzlies lost in the first round of the playoffs and ranked dead-last in team field goal percentage over the course of the season. By bringing in a well polished big man in Rabb and a sharpshooter in Brooks, Memphis may have had one of the best drafts in terms of drafting to their weaknesses. The Grizzlies struggled at times to be effective offensively, causing them to struggle in the playoffs to the San Antonio Spurs. Both Dillon Brooks and Ivan Rabb could see a solid amount of time this upcoming season if Memphis does not re-sign F Zach Randolph or G Tony Allen.
With minimal cap room to work with this summer, expect the Memphis Grizzlies to train their youth to their system and re-sign one or two of their main role players. There is no reason Memphis should not be in the playoffs again next season.
Grade: A (95)
Picks: Bam Adebayo (14)
It was a somewhat quiet night down in South Beach, Miami after the Heat made their only selection in the draft at pick #14. With fingers pointing at T.J. Leaf to be the Heat’s selection on draft night, Pat Riley decided to go a different direction and drafted Kentucky big man, Bam Adebayo. Other than dunking and being a strong rebounder, Bam Adebayo does not have any other known skills. Although he may be a better runner in transition than other NBA centers, he does not have any mid-range or long-range game.
Based on my evaluation of Big Bam, I feel that the Heat really reached for him with the 14th pick. He was ranked 28th on my Big Board and the 8th best center in the draft. Although the Heat do have a need for another stretch 4 or center, I do not believe Adebayo was the Heat’s best option at 14. Not only will he be behind C Hassan Whiteside on the roster, but he cannot shoot outside the paint. For Bam’s sake, I hope he proves us all wrong and develops into an all-around center, but coming out of Kentucky, he is really only a big body to throw in the paint for Pat Riley and the Heat.
After starting the rebuild a few years ago when King James and friends left South Beach, the Heat really have not made much progress. F Chris Bosh was released as a result of a health condition and the Heat do not have that “go-to veteran” anymore. It may take a few more years for the Heat to get back to their winning ways if they do not sign a big name in free agency this summer.
Grade: B- (80)
Picks: D.J. Wilson (17), Sterling Brown (46)
1) Traded Pick #48 to the Los Angeles Clippers for Cash Considerations
2) Traded Cash Considerations to the Philadelphia 76ers for Pick #46
After drafting the potential Rookie of the Year, G Malcolm Brogdon and F Thon Maker in last year’s draft, Milwaukee went out again this year and were aggressive with their picks. With the 17th pick in the draft, Milwaukee went out and got F D.J. Wilson, one of the latest entries into the draft out of Michigan.
Wilson was a late bloomer last college season and began to fly up draft boards during his team’s journey through the tourney. He was a big part of Michigan making it to the NCAA tournament and taking down #2 Louisville in the tournament. Wilson is a very intriguing prospect with a lot of potential. The Bucks continue their process of building a “big and athletic” team by adding D.J. Wilson to their loaded frontcourt.
In the second round, the Bucks decided that they were not finished yet and traded some stacks of cash for the 46th pick. With that pick, they took G Sterling Brown out of SMU. Brown will join an athletic backcourt for the Bucks and add some athleticism and defense for their second and third units.
As long as the “Greek Freak,” F Giannis Antetokounmpo and F Jabari Parker can stay healthy for the Bucks, they are a young and athletic squad that play with one of the fastest paces in the league. Do not sleep on the Bucks, they have some tricks up their sleeve!
Grade: B (84)
Picks: Justin Patton (16)
Trades: Traded G Kris Dunn, G Zach LaVine & Pick #7 to the Chicago Bulls for G Jimmy Butler & Pick #16
Just a few picks into the draft, breaking news surfaced all across the sports world as the Bulls traded G Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves. Acquiring Jimmy Butler is the best thing the Timberwolves could have done to improve their roster. Although it came at the cost of trading their athletic “Dunk King,” G Zach LaVine, Jimmy Butler will not only be the veteran leader for the T-Wolves, but may make Minnesota a dangerous, young team in the West. Last season, the Timberwolves lead the NBA in most 2nd half leads blown and as a result, finished with a 31-51 record. With Jimmy Butler having the ball in his hands in “crunch-time” next season, the Timberwolves will most likely win most of these close games.
As for the rest of their draft night, the Timberwolves waited until the 16th pick to make their selection following the trade. The T-Wolves took F/C Justin Patton out of Creighton with that pick. Patton will bring a lot to the table for Minnesota and has plenty of room to grow. He is an athletic and quick big man who contains a lot of potential to be a huge offensive and defensive threat. Justin Patton will most likely be a project that will take a few years to develop, but could be a huge asset for Minnesota within the next few years.
With a “Big-3” of G Jimmy Butler, F Andrew Wiggins, and C Karl-Anthony Towns, the Timberwolves could be a team to watch in the Western Conference. Being one of three teams in the NBA with two former first overall picks on their roster, there is a lot to look forward to for Timberwolves fans!
Grade: A+ (99)
New Orleans Pelicans:
Picks: Frank Jackson (31)
1) Traded G Tim Frazier to the Washington Wizards for Pick #52
2) Traded Pick #40 to the Charlotte Hornets for Pick #31
3) Traded Pick #52 to the Indiana Pacers for Cash Considerations
Around trade deadline this past season, the New Orleans Pelicans made a big acquisition by acquiring F/C DeMarcus Cousins from the Sacramento Kings for their 2016 First-Round Draft Pick G Buddy Hield and others. The night before the draft, the Pelicans made another move and traded their only point guard on their roster, Tim Frazier, for Washington’s 52nd overall pick in this year’s draft. This trade made it very clear that the Pelicans would use their draft picks to select guards to bolster their backcourt.
The Pelicans were not done making their trades just yet. After the first round was over and the Pelicans did not move up, they decided to acquire the 31st overall pick from the Hornets for their 40th pick. With this new pick, the Pelicans decided to draft their new starting point guard for the upcoming season, Frank Jackson from Duke. Jackson fell out of the first round because of foot surgery he had a few weeks back, but has the talent and ability to be a very solid floor general in the league. With two security blankets in F Anthony Davis and F/C DeMarcus Cousins, Frank Jackson will have some pretty nice options to pass to.
Outside of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, the Pelicans do not have much talent, so this upcoming 2017-18 season could just provide experience instead of wins. Frank Jackson was an excellent pick for the Pelicans that could help build a backcourt that has been almost non-existent these past few years. On a positive note, the only direction the Pelicans can go now is up since they hit rock bottom this past year!
Grade: A- (93)
New York Knicks:
Picks: Frank Ntilikina (8), Damyeon Dotson (44), Ognjen Jaramaz (58)
Well, Phil Jackson is still in New York and so is Carmelo Anthony. At least Knicks fans took a giant sigh of relief when their star forward, Kristaps Porzingis, was not traded for a second round pick and an ice cream cone. When the Knicks traded for G Derrick Rose and C Joakim Noah, Rose was not kidding when he said the Knicks were a “superteam” going to the playoffs. Well, if there was one thing this “superteam” did, it was lose and lose in fashion by getting blown out a lot.
Since the “superteam” will likely be disbanding since Derrick Rose’s contract is up and since Carmelo Anthony may be traded this season, the Knicks addressed the guard position that has haunted them for years. With the 8th pick, the Knicks passed up on G Dennis Smith Jr. and G Malik Monk and took G Frank Ntilikina from France. Although lots of people saw this pick coming, the Knicks are taking a lot of risk by drafting Ntilikina. International players always have a higher risk rate when entering the NBA only because we have never seen them play significant minutes. If Ntilikina lives up to his hype, he could definitely turn into a superstar in a market that loves you one day and hates you the next!
The Knicks also had two draft picks in the second in which they drafted G Damyeon Dotson with the 44th pick and G Ognjen Jaramaz with the 58th pick. Both of these prospects are definitely not ready to play significant minutes and will most likely be projects for the future. Dotson was a senior leader for Houston this past season and showed his versatility as a combo guard at times, but is not ready for a full slate of NBA minutes. Ognjen Jaramaz on the other hand is an international prospect I have never heard of. He plays for Mega Leks in the Basketball League of Serbia, so he has to be decent to be on the Mega Leks. I do not know where Phil Jackson found this guy or what talents he possesses, but maybe we will get a chance to see him in the NBA when he is done playing overseas for Mega Leks.
With two out of three of their picks being from overseas, and with the abundance of international prospects currently on their roster, maybe it is time to consider the Knicks a Euroleague team within the next few years! I think it is safe to say that another international prospect will be coming to New York next year, possibly Luka Doncic next year!
Grades: B (84)
Oklahoma City Thunder:
Picks: Terrance Ferguson (21)
After losing F Kevin Durant this past offseason, the Oklahoma City Thunder were left with G Russell Westbrook. The Thunder also went out and got G Victor Oladipo from the Magic for F Serge Ibaka to try and give Westbrook another weapon offensively. After posting a NBA Record for most triple-doubles in a single season (42), the Thunder lost in the playoffs to the Houston Rockets. After an MVP caliber and record setting season for Westbrook, the Thunder still needed to improve on 3-pt shooting which they ranked dead last in the league last season.
When it finally came down to the 21st pick, one of the biggest question marks and unknowns of the draft was taken. The Thunder took the highly explosive talents of G/F Terrance Ferguson who played one year in Australia. Originally committed to play for Arizona for the 20161-7 season, Ferguson decided last minute to play professionally overseas and enter this year’s draft. In the low amounts of minutes he played in Australia, Ferguson displayed flashes of his ability to shoot high percentages from the floor and be deadly up and down the court. Although he may not make an impact immediately next season for the Thunder, Ferguson is a great building block to have as the Thunder look to get quicker and better offensively to help Russell Westbrook’s back. If he keeps carrying the load, he may have to retire in a few years with back issues!
After signing Enes Kanter to a max contract extension last season, the Thunder do not have close to any cap flexibility for free agency. This coming season, their number one priority needs to be re-signing Russell Westbrook to a contract extension because they are building their franchise’s future around him. Losing Kevin Durant definitely hurt their franchise and left an irreplaceable void, but the Thunder are determined to get back to their winning ways where they know they can contend with the best. Do not forget, the Thunder gave the 73-9 Warriors team of the 2015-16 season a run for their money in the Western Conference Finals. They were one win away from going to the finals and who knows, maybe Durant would not have left! Anyways, the Thunder are a franchise that will not go away as long as Russell Westbrook is on the squad!
Grade: A- (90)
Picks: Jonathan Isaac (6), Wesley Iwundu (33)
1) Traded Pick #25 to the Philadelphia 76ers for Oklahoma City’s 2020 1st Round Pick & a 2020 Second Round Pick
2) Traded Pick #35 to the Memphis Grizzlies for the Brooklyn Nets’ 2019 2nd Round Pick
Ever since Dwight Howard left the Orlando Magic, things have not been the same. Since the 2011-12 NBA season, the Orlando Magic are 132-278. In his first season with the Magic, head coach Frank Vogel did all he could with a depleted Magic team. After trading F Serge Ibaka in the middle of the season, the Magic were left with no “go-to” guy. They continue to stock up on young talent, but have nothing to show for it yet.
With a chance to change their franchise around with the 6th pick, the Magic selected F Jonathan Isaac from Florida State. With F Terrance Ross and F Aaron Gordon being the only forwards giving the Magic extensive minutes, Isaac could step in and play a big role for the Magic next season. The lengthy forward can play either down low or on a wing and has a lot of potential as a shooter. With time to learn Frank Vogel’s system and become the focal point of the Magic, Isaac could become a young superstar for Orlando.
After acquiring future picks for their current picks, the Magic were left with the 33rd pick where they selected G Wesley Iwundu from Kansas State. Although Iwundu may not start next season, he will bring toughness to the wing for a Magic team who could use a “give-it-your-all” wing player. Getting Iwundu at 33 was a solid value pick for the Magic and could be useful for them in the future.
With the trades that they made and taking a player with potential for the future, I think the Magic made it very clear that they are still in the process of rebuilding. By taking a page out of Danny Ainge (the Boston Celtics’ GM) and acquiring future assets for picks now, hopefully the Magic’s trades will pay off in the future. Only time will tell!
Grade: A- (90)
Picks: Markelle Fultz (1), Andzejs Pasecniks (25), Jonah Bolden (36), Mathias Lessort (50)
1) Traded Pick #3 & Los Angeles Lakers 2018 1st Round Pick (If 2-5) (If not, then Kings or 76ers 2019 First Round Pick) to the Boston Celtics for Pick #1
2) Traded Oklahoma City’s 2020 1st Round Pick & a 2020 Second Round Pick to the Orlando Magic for Pick #25
3) Traded Pick #39 to the Los Angeles Clippers for cash considerations
If you don’t “Trust the Process,” then it is time to change! “The Process” is finally coming full circle and the 76ers finally have their young core! Both C Joel Embiid and F Dario Saric made their debuts for Philly this past season and gave Sixers fans a lot to look forward within the next few years. Although F Ben Simmons missed all of last season with a foot injury, he should be good to go barring no setbacks before the start of this coming season.
Following the lottery, the Sixers were stuck with the 3rd pick in the draft and in need of a top quality guard in this draft. So, the 76ers front office decided to make a big move and trade up for the guy they have been awed with since his first workout. They acquired the #1 overall pick to draft the guy they expect to change their franchise and finally elevate them out of the ground. After giving up the #3 pick in the draft and a future first rounder, the 76ers entered draft night with everybody knowing who they would select.
When the draft officially opened, the 76ers selected G Markelle Fultz with the first overall selection. Fultz joins a young core with all the potential in the world in Philly and could be the final piece to the puzzle. Later in the draft, the Sixers made another move and traded future picks in 2020 to acquire pick #25 in which they drafted C Andzejs Pasecniks from Latvia. The lengthy 7’2” big man, when he decides to come play in the NBA, will join Embiid and C Jahlil Okafor as the Sixers centers. They then later drafted F Jonah Bolden with the 36th pick and F Mathias Lessort with the 50th pick. All three of their international prospects are expected to spend another season or two overseas before joining the 76ers, but have a tremendous upside and hold traits that the 76ers need on the court.
With close to $50M in cap room this summer and an abundance of youth at their fingertips, the 76ers need to change their motto from “Trust the Process” to “Believe in the Process!” The time is finally on the horizon for the Philadelphia 76ers and within the next two or three years, the Sixers could be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
Grade: A (96)
Picks: Josh Jackson (4), Davon Reed (32), Alec Peters (54)
The only highlight of the Phoenix Suns’ season was G Devin Booker dropping 70 points on the Boston Celtics. In just his second year as a pro, Booker had a breakout year and has established himself as a Klay Thompson like player for the Suns. Other than Booker, the Suns do not have any names that will “wow” you. G Eric Bledsoe and C Tyson Chandler are two players they invested a lot into, but really have not received solid productivity from them.
After selecting F Marquese Chriss and F Dragan Bender in last year’s draft, the Suns really needed to address their wing positions to fix their franchise. So, they went out and got Devin Booker a friend with the 3rd overall pick. F Josh Jackson was a no brainer pick for the Suns and will fill a void that they have been trying to fill for years. With his ability to play defense and run the court in transition, he will be a deadly weapon to pair with Devin Booker.
With two second round picks, the Suns continued to address their wing by picking up G Davon Reed with the 32nd pick and Alec Peters with the 54th pick. Both players are very defensively sound and show potential from deep on the wing. Peters, who played a stretch 4 role for Valparasio, will most likely see time at both a wing spot and in the paint for the Suns as he develops over the next few years. Davon Reed is tough defensively and shows flashes of being a threat from deep, but will also be a project for the Suns to develop.
With a young core to build with and plenty of cap room, the Suns have a lot of potential, but need to manage their youth correctly for the next few years to make progress. It may take more time, which may make Suns fans upset, but it will be a few years before the Suns start playing well together.
Grade: B (86)
Portland Trail Blazers:
Picks: Zach Collins (10), Caleb Swanigan (26)
Trades: Traded Pick #15 & Pick #20 to the Sacramento Kings for Pick #10
After an up and down season, the Blazers were barely able to make the playoffs, but got a death sentence by having to play the Golden State Warriors in the first round. G Damian Lillard, a.k.a. Dolla Dame, was confident that the Blazers would beat the Warriors, but eventually got swept 4-0. Although they were a solid rebounding team last season, they gave up a lot of offensive rebounds and second chance points to their opponents. They also struggled to score in the paint with C Jusef Nurkic out most of the season with a broken leg.
The Blazers let everybody know that they want to be more physical in the paint by drafting Zach Collins with the 10th pick and Caleb Swanigan with the 26th pick. Zach Collins could see a lot of time on the court behind Nurkic and give Lillard and G C.J. McCollum an option in the paint. For Purdue last season, Caleb Swanigan was a monster on the boards and posted the most double-doubles in the NCAA last season with 28. He may be undersized for a big man in the NBA, but he will battle for every rebound and give the Blazers solid minutes in the second rotation.
The Trail Blazers have shown that they can compete in the West with Lillard and McCollum, but they need that third spark to get them over their hump. They are almost $40M over the projected salary cap for next season, so the Blazers will not be able to add depth through free agency. Portland will have to continue to progress the players they have now and get better together if they want to remain contenders in the Western Conference. Drafting Collins and Swanigan is a nice start to fixing what needs to be fixed in Portland.
Grades: A- (90)
Picks: De’Aaron Fox (5), Justin Jackson (15), Harry Giles (20), Frank Mason III (34)
Trades: Traded Pick #10 to the Portland Trail Blazers for Pick #15 & Pick #20
As stated in the New Orleans Pelicans review, the Sacramento Kings made a big organizational move by getting rid of their All-Star center, DeMarcus Cousins. Picking up G Buddy Hield from the Pelicans gives the Kings an outside threat to work with, but most likely won’t be their focal point. All of the Kings point guards are expected to become free agents, along with their small forwards, so it was expected that the Kings would use their two picks to address these positions.
When it came time for the 5th pick, the Kings drafted their guy that they fell in love with after his workout, G De’Aaron Fox. Not only is Fox an explosive point guard, but he is probably the fastest player in the draft. He will immediately fill the role of point guard for the Kings and play a lot of minutes this upcoming season.
The Kings then traded their 10th pick to the Blazers for the 15th and 20th picks. This was a great trade during the draft for the Kings because they were still able to draft the wing player they love, Justin Jackson with the 15th pick, and a high-risk, high-reward player, Harry Giles with the 20th pick. Like Fox, F Justin Jackson will likely start for the Kings and see a lot of playing time with Fox. Buddy Hield, De’Aaron Fox, and Justin Jackson will all start together next season and be the new “young core” for the Kings as they try to rebuild.
Harry Giles, who is still recovering from a knee procedure last year, will likely see a limited amount of time next season. Giles is a player that the Kings really liked during his workout, but someone they have to monitor really closely. If Harry Giles can return to his elite form, then the Kings could walk away with a steal in this draft.
After all of their first round selections, the Kings drafted the Wooden Award Winner, G Frank Mason III. Although he only stands 5’11”, he is a very scrappy and consistent point guard who earns the respect of everyone on the court. I do like to compare Mason’s game to Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics. Yes, they are both small, but the craftiness and explosiveness for their size is something that does not come by every day. Frank Mason III is an excellent option to be the backup for De’Aaron Fox.
With a load of young, talented players, the Sacramento Kings may be onto something for years to come. I would not get your hopes high if you are a Kings fan…
Maybe wait a few years to see how these guys grow together.
Grade: A (95)
San Antonio Spurs:
Picks: Derrick White (29), Jaron Blossomgame (59)
Well, we have almost grown accustom to seeing the Spurs in the playoffs. As long as Gregg Popovich is the head coach of the Spurs, I think it is safe to say that they will be in the playoffs. After losing their star forward Kawhi Leonard and future Hall of Famer G Tony Parker in the playoffs, the Spurs were not able to contend against the Warriors. One positive thing for the Spurs though is that Coach Pop got to see what his youth could do.
Last year’s first round selection G Dejounte Murray stepped up in a big way when Parker went down and proved that he is a reliable option for the Spurs when they need him. G Jonathan Simmons and C Dwayne Dedmon also proved their worthiness to the Spurs and showed that they can be difference makers for the Spurs moving forward. F LaMarcus Aldridge has not been what he was with Portland a few years back, leaving Kawhi Leonard to do all the work.
As the Spurs continue to age, the era of bringing in new youth continues! After keeping both of their selections in the draft, San Antonio kept it classy and drafted combo guard Derrick White with the 29th pick. White was my highest ranked senior in the draft and is a very versatile guard. He can bring the ball up the floor or play on the wing, and has shown potential to be a very nifty defender. Expect White to see some time as Tony Parker and G Manu Ginobli’s minutes dwindle down.
In the second round, the Spurs drafted another senior by taking Jaron Blossomgame with the 59th pick. Blossomgame tested the draft waters last year, but ultimately decided to go back to Clemson for his senior year. With Blossomgame, the Spurs will get a well-polished and athletic wing player that can play behind Leonard.
Overall, the Spurs draft will not wow you away and is not flashy, but is very low-risk and promising. Expect the Spurs to be in the playoffs again next year and do be surprised if they pick up a big name to contend against the loaded Warriors.
Grade: A- (90)
Picks: O.G. Anunoby (23)
After being swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs and the possibility of losing G Kyle Lowry this offseason, there is not much to be happy about in Toronto. The Raptors had no consistency this season from anyone other than G DeMar DeRozan, and struggled at times to score when he was off the court.
The newest member of the Raptors, O.G. Anunoby, was selected with the 23rd pick in the draft and could be a difference maker for the Raptors, depending on how he comes back from his injury. Anunoby suffered a knee injury at Indiana and missed the second half of his season as a result. He showed flashes of being a solid-wing defender and has proved to be explosive with the ball in his hands. If he can regain his strength and healthy, he could fit nicely into a scrappy and fast Raptors system.
Re-signing Kyle Lowry has to be the Raptors number one priority entering this offseason and should be the only thing on their mind this summer. They cannot afford to lose Lowry in free agency.
Grade: B+ (88)
Picks: Donovan Mitchell (13), Tony Bradley (28), Nigel Williams-Goss (55)
1) Traded Pick #24 and F Trey Lyles to the Denver Nuggets for Pick #13
2) Traded Pick #30 and Pick #42 to the Los Angeles Lakers for Pick #28
Last season, the Utah Jazz made it to the second round of the NBA Playoffs, only to get swept by the Golden State Warriors. Even though they had a successful year and broke through, they still ranked 28th in the league for assists per game with 20.1 APG. Coming into the draft, it was very clear that the Jazz needed some help bolstering their backcourt. With 2014 First Round Pick, G Dante Exum, not coming into his own yet, and G George Hill’s contract expiring this offseason, the Jazz needed to address the backcourt in the draft.
On draft night, the Jazz made a quick move my trading up into the lottery to select combo guard Donovan Mitchell out of Louisville. Mitchell, who mainly played off the ball at Louisville, was one of the most explosive players at the NBA Draft Combine and recorded the highest standing vertical leap. With Utah building a system where they want to play fast and in transition, Donovan Mitchell should fit in right away.
Tony Bradley, Utah’s 28th selection, and Nigel Williams-Goss, Utah’s 55th selection, will give Utah more depth behind their main pieces. Bradley is a young and promising prospect who gets to watch and learn behind one of the best defensive bigs in the league in C Rudy Gobert. Williams-Goss will play a similar role to Mitchell, but is less versatile. In the event that Utah does not re-sign George Hill, Nigel Williams-Goss could see extended minutes.
After a solid draft, the Jazz now need to focus on their free agents in George Hill and their All-Star F Gordon Hayward. If Hayward leaves Utah, they may go back into a rebuilding stage trying to find a new star to build around.
Grade: A- (92)
Trades: Traded Pick #52 to the Washington Wizards for G Tim Frazier
With G Brandon Jennings becoming a free agent this summer, the Wizards went out and got an established young point guard to backup superstar guard John Wall. G Tim Frazier is a nice addition to the Wizards and will take over the role that Brandon Jennings played for them last season. Since they were going to draft a backup guard anyways, why not just trade for Frazier instead?
The Wizards summer will likely consist of re-signing F Otto Porter to keep their starting five together. Expect the Wizards to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference again as long as John Wall and G Bradley Beal are healthy.
With the 2017 NBA Summer League just weeks away, us basketball fans do not have to wait long to see this year’s future stars in action! This year’s rookie class may be one of the most impactful rookie classes that the league has seen in awhile. With players like Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, De’Aaron Fox, and Dennis Smith Jr. all expected to be their team’s starting point guards, it is time to welcome the new era of quick minded and sharpshooting guards!
I cannot wait to see every one of these prospects in action and am counting down the days until the 2018 NBA Draft next June!