NBA Draft: Atlantic Division Grades
The 2017 NBA Draft has officially come and gone with 28 of 30 teams in the league collected new players Thursday night, with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Washington Wizards being the only two teams that didn’t make a selection. As hard as the draft process was for most NBA teams, it was equally as tough tracking the draft updates on Twitter, as trades were being tossed around like pizza dough. It was a dramatic draft night and we’re going to take at how your team did with their selections.
The Atlantic Division arguably holds the most drama in the NBA. With the 76ers’ rebuild, the Celtics’ assets, and the tragedy that is the Knicks, the division is basically a natural breeder of storylines. Let’s take a look at how these franchises fared on draft night.
Boston Celtics: B
Selections(Round: Overall Pick):
1:3- Jayson Tatum (SF, Duke)
2:37- Semi Ojeleye (SF, SMU)
2:53- Kadeem Allen (PG, Arizona)
2:56- Jabari Bird (SG, California)
The Celtics surprisingly stood pat with their selections on draft night without making a trade. Jayson Tatum is the type of player they needed. An isolation scorer with good versatility and all-star upside. He should be able to jump in right away and contribute from a scoring perspective. The Celtics also have options with him as they could include him in a package to acquire a superstar, but he would be a very good consolation prize if they don’t go down that route. Semi Ojeleye is a guy that will bring energy and hard-nosed defense right out of the gate and Boston may have gotten a steal with him in round two. He’s a versatile forward that has an NBA ready physique and can body up with athletic players in the league. His offensive game is a work in progress, but Ojeleye definitely gives them great versatility. This is where the grade starts to fall. I understand that it was late in the draft, but these picks could’ve been used on better players who were still on the board. Kadeem Allen and Jabari Bird are solid players, but they may struggle making the team due to Boston’s depth. They weren’t talked about too often and may never amount to more than role players in the NBA. Overall, Boston had a solid draft. I would assume that they would’ve wanted to package some of those assets for a superstar, but they should be happy with what they came away with.
Toronto Raptors: A
1:23- OG Anunoby (SF, Indiana)
A player that was thought to be a riser in this draft falls right into Toronto’s lap. OG Anunoby is a steal at the 23rd pick. One of the best pure defenders in the draft with a solid three-point shot can go to a franchise that won’t put too much pressure on him to perform right away. They can allow him to play to his strengths and develop at an easy pace. With his ability on the defensive end, it won’t force them to re-sign a player like P.J. Tucker to anchor down the wings. Anunoby definitely has the potential to claim the starting role for them in the future, but the fact that he can play in a role that emphasizes his strengths will only help him down the road. Raptors fans should be thrilled with the selection. Despite only having one pick, they had a fantastic draft night.
Brooklyn Nets: B
1:22- Jarrett Allen (C, Texas)
2:57- Aleksandar Vezenkov (PF, Barcelona)
One thing is for certain, the Nets organization is more than happy with what they got on draft night. The guy that they were aiming for fell right into their lap in Jarrett Allen. It’s known around the league that Kenny Atkinson has a knack for developing young players and Jarrett Allen could be the perfect project for him. I was never a huge believer in his upside, but his measurable and potential skillset give him the qualities of an above-average NBA big man. After trading away Brook Lopez, the center position is now completely open and Allen will be given first dibs on obtaining the job. His size, length, and ability to run the floor will make him a fun project for Nets fans to watch as they rebuild. Aleksandar Vezenkov is a relatively popular international player as his name has been tossed around in draft talks for the past few seasons. He has a solid all-around skillset that can translate well to the NBA. The problem is the uncertainty of when and if he’ll come over to the NBA. With the amount of talent left on the board late in the draft, the Nets could have easily gone with a higher upside player from the United States rather than a draft-and-stash player. Vezenkov is talented, but it may be a number of years before Brooklyn sees him in action. The Nets are in a state of rebuild where they can basically do anything and not be wrongly looked at. They a legitimately solid draft night so this should be encouraging for Nets fans.
New York Knicks: C+
1:8- Frank Ntilikina (PG, France)
2:44- Damyean Dotson (SG, Houston)
2:58- Ognjen Jaramaz (PG, Serbia)
The drama continues for the New York Knicks. This team’s performance on draft night did not live up to the expectations of their fans. First, the talk of Kristaps Porzingis possibly getting traded and now they do this on draft night. Knicks fans are fuming. With that being said, though Knicks fans didn’t like it, Frank Ntilikina was the right pick. This kid can flat out ball. One of the best defenders at the guard position in the draft with his size and length that can also knock you out with a lights out three point shot is a player Knicks fans can get excited about. His upside is extremely high but at only 18 years old, he will take some time to develop. Ntilikina was the smartest pick for the Knicks in this draft. Here’s where it gets bad. To put it lightly, the Knicks blew the second round. They selected two players without too much upside despite the first round talent left on the board. Damyean Dotson has potential to be a three-and-d guy in the NBA, but he can get really streaky. New York doesn’t need players that have the potential to miss shots at an alarming rate. That was the primary reason he wasn’t in the top 60 on my big board. Then they went with a player that was way off the board in Ognjen Jaramaz who may never see the floor in an NBA game. Jaramaz is a Mega Leks player in Serbia with a very interesting style of play, but he’s as raw as uncooked meat. His upside isn’t that great and he may decide that his best opportunities remain in Europe. If it weren’t for the Ntilikina selection in the first round, the Knicks may have been the worst overall loser in the draft.
Philadelphia 76ers: A-
1:1- Markelle Fultz (PG, Washington)
1:25- Anzejs Pasecniks (C, Latvia)
2:36- Jonah Bolden (PF, Australia)
2:46- Sterling Brown (SG, SMU)
2:50- Mathias Lessort (PF, Australia)
Trust the process, Philadelphia. The Sixers are finally coming around. Let’s cut to the chase. Markelle Fultz is exactly the player that they needed. Arguably the best player in the draft and easily the most skilled prospect in the class. This kid can score in a multitude of ways and has the potential to be a perennial superstar in this league. He’s got great size, athleticism, and ability to play above the rim. Ben Simmons will do the primary ball-handling for them which will allow Fultz to play to his strengths and score the basketball like a freak. It’ll also take some pressure off of Simmons because Fultz has the ability to run an offense as well. This was the dream scenario for this organization. They traded back into the first round to select Anzejs Pasecniks. A stretch big man from overseas that they can stash for a season or two and bring over when he’s ready to contribute. This just adds to the plethora of young talent that they’ve obtained. He’s a seven-footer that can stretch the floor, run the floor well, and post up with his length at a high level. He should be a very solid piece when he comes over. The Sixers were also able to grab three solid players in the second that can contribute in the future. Jonah Bolden may have been a reach at 36, but the kid is definitely talented. He’s a solid scorer that can run the floor. He’ll add some needed depth behind Dario Saric at the power forward spot. Sterling Brown was a late bloomer in the process, but he’s a spitting image of his older brother, Shannon. Good athlete with a solid jumper. He shouldn’t be asked to play in a huge role so this was a solid pick for Philly. Finally, they wrapped up their night with the selection of Mathias Lessort who many thought had enough talent to warrant a first round selection. An aggressive player that has a very well-rounded skillset and should make an impact right away. He was a budding star in Australia which should be very encouraging for the 76ers. Philly had a fantastic night as they got players that can all contribute at the next level and possibly open the door for future trades. The Sixers are well on their way.