Re-Picking the 2017 NBA Draft
Photo via The Athletic
The 2017 NBA Draft had many interesting players, from Lonzo Ball to Jayson Tatum. One of the most notable players, Markelle Fultz, hasn't played much due to a (VERY) weird injury situation. It's almost as if rookies that play for the 76ers are cursed. Remember Zach Collins? Or Justin Patton? Well, let's see how they stack up just 15 months after they were originally drafted.
1. Philadelphia 76ers - Jayson Tatum, Forward, Duke
Imagine a world where the 76ers didn't trade the third pick, but rather kept the third overall pick selected Jayson Tatum. For the Celtics in 2017-18, Tatum averaged 14 points, five rebounds, two assists, and one block per game. Though he may not have posted the same numbers as Donovan Mitchell, Tatum plays a position more relevant to team success and has higher upside. All in all, this pick, though debatable, should definitely be Tatum.
2. Los Angeles Lakers - Donovan Mitchell, Guard, Louisville
The Los Angeles Lakers drafted Lonzo (and LaVar) Ball in 2017. Since then, Ball has become an average NBA point guard (which is pretty good, given he's only been in the NBA for a lone year). However, when a talent like Donovan Mitchell is available, you cannot pass up the opportunity to select him. Last year for the Utah Jazz, Mitchell averaged 21 points, four rebounds, four assists, and two steals. He went on to lead his team to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs, beating the OKC Thunder in round one.
3. Boston Celtics - Lauri Markkanen, Big, Arizona
The Boston Celtics lucked out (again) when they traded the first overall pick for Jayson Tatum and Sacramento's 2019 first round pick. In this scenario, Tatum goes first, so the Celtics have to settle for Lauri Markkanen, a fiery Arizona big who can stretch the floor. Not a bad consolation prize when you hypothetically are unable to obtain a player you drafted in real life.
4. Phoenix Suns - Lonzo Ball, Guard, UCLA
As of right now, the Suns don't really have a point guard. Sure, Elie Okobo and De'Anthony Melton are two lottery talents (in my opinion), but neither are pro-ready. Swapping Jackson for Ball would be beneficial both offensively from a playmaking standpoint and defensively, adding a 6-foot-6 presence in the backcourt.
5. Sacramento Kings - Markelle Fultz, Guard, Washington
Don't yell at me, please. Markelle Fultz, the first overall pick just a year ago, still has a lot of potential left to be unlocked. And sure, while he didn't have the best rookie season (in fact, it was the opposite), Fultz still could be an All-NBA guard. Plus, the Kings are gonna King, right? All in all, it would be very interesting to see Fox and Fultz swap places for a season, although that's a hypothetical almost certain to be shut down immediately by not just Sacramento, but both sides, who have seemingly fallen in love with their point guards.
6. Orlando Magic - Josh Jackson, Wing, Kansas
While Jonathan Isaac has more upside, Josh Jackson has more offensive ability and seems to be more consistent on the defensive end as well. Adding him to a core of Mohammed Bamba and Aaron Gordon would be nothing short of exciting.
7. Chicago Bulls - OG Anunoby, Forward, Indiana
It looks seemingly more likely that the Bulls are going to play Jabari Parker at small forward, which is a scary thought in itself. OG Anunoby, who was one of the steals of the draft for the Toronto Raptors, averaged six points, three rebounds, and one assist. He quickly became one of the best young 'glue guys' in the NBA, and the Bulls would be ecstatic to have him if Markkanen wasn't available.
8. New York Knicks - Bam Adebayo, Big, Kentucky
The best player available at this point, Bam Adebayo is another 'glue guy' who has mountains of potential. Originally picked at 14 by the Miami Heat, Adebayo quickly outperformed his draft position in 2017's late June's Summer League, and fans have even been calling for him to start over Hassan Whiteside.
9. Dallas Mavericks - De'Aaron Fox, Guard, Kentucky
The Dallas Mavericks still manage to draft a point guard, just a better one. Picking Dennis Smith Jr. wasn't a bad decision, but there were seemingly other, better players available. De'Aaron Fox falling to nine is a great case in point. Picked originally at five by Sacramento, Fox quickly grew into the starting point guard spot over veteran George Hill and performed well in clutch situations.
10. Portland Trail Blazers - Kyle Kuzma, Forward, Utah
The Portland Trail Blazers seem to be excited about prospect Zach Collins, but had they known about what Kyle Kuzma would come to be by the end of last season, they most certainly would have picked him over both Collins and Swanigan. Kuzma averaged 16 points, six rebounds, and two assists in 31 minutes of play per game, which isn't bad, especially for a rookie.
11. Charlotte Hornets - Jonathan Isaac, Forward, Florida State
Charlotte got a late steal in 2017 when they picked Malik Monk, but he isn't as proven as other players, in this case, Jonathan Isaac. While both have potential, the Hornets have a logjam on the wings, and to get a forward instead of another shooting guard may benefit this team and their defensive versatility.
12. Detroit Pistons - Malik Monk, Guard, Kentucky
The Pistons still get a shooter, but this time, it's the hyper-athletic Malik Monk rather than Luke Kennard. Monk, still loaded with potential, could be a contributor for a Pistons team looking to make a push into the 2019 playoffs with Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, and Reggie Jackson.
13. Utah Jazz - Frank Ntilikina, Guard, France
Let's get this straight - Frank Ntilikina isn't a bad player. In fact, he might end up starting for the Knicks at point guard this year. But there were better players available for New York to select. Ntilikina only played 22 minutes per game last season for a team that was missing Tim Hardaway half of the season. That's a bit worrisome. However, I fully expect Ntilikina to take some sort of jump this year.
14. Miami Heat - Jarrett Allen, Big, Texas
The Brooklyn Nets got a great value when Jarrett Allen fell into their laps last year. Allen's ceiling is a top-10 center in the NBA, and if he doesn't achieve that, Allen is almost certainly going to be a 'glue guy' about any team can count on, night in and out.
15. Sacramento Kings - John Collins, Big, Georgia Tech
16. Minnesota Timberwolves - Zach Collins, Big, Gonzaga
17. Milwaukee Bucks - Dennis Smith, Guard, NC State
18. Indiana Pacers - Luke Kennard, Guard, Duke
19. Atlanta Hawks - Josh Hart, Wing, Villanova
20. Sacramento Kings - Dillon Brooks, Wing, Oregon
21. Oklahoma City Thunder - Harry Giles, Big, Duke
22. Brooklyn Nets - Sterling Brown, Wing, SMU
23. Toronto Raptors - Jordan Bell, Big, Oregon
24. Denver Nuggets - Dwayne Bacon, Wing, Florida State
25. Philadelphia 76ers - Semi Ojeleye, Forward, SMU
26. Portland Trail Blazers - Sindarius Thornwell, Wing, South Carolina
27. Los Angeles Lakers - Frank Mason, Guard, Kansas
28. Utah Jazz - Tyler Lydon, Forward, Syracuse
29. San Antonio Spurs - Justin Jackson, Wing, UNC
30. Los Angeles Lakers - Wes Iwundu, Forward, Kansas State