The 2017 NBA Draft is in the books, and the top players from one of the deepest classes in recent memory have found homes. What follows is a look at which teams won biggest during Thursday night’s draft.
A team that didn’t win the lottery got, by far, the best player in this year’s draft. Any time that happens it’s a huge win. The Sixers made a power move and did what it took to jump from No. 3 to No. 1 and secure Markelle Fultz. That alone makes them winners.
At No. 25 the Sixers took Anzejs Pasecniks, a big, skilled, Latvian forward who could stay in Europe to develop for a while. He’s super skinny at 7’1″ and 200 pounds, but moves really well for his size and can shoot it. They also snagged a big, athletic wing in Jonah Bolden with the 36th pick, and he could wind up being a steal. At 6’10” and 215 pounds he size, a high basketball IQ and can shoot it.
Philadelphia rounded things out with a really nice point guard in Oklahoma State’s Jawun Evans (No. 39) and a draft-and-stash Frenchman in small forward Mathias Lessort (No. 50). It was a great haul for the Sixers.
*Jawun Evans’ rights have been traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, but the deal has not become official yet.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers did what they had to and took Lonzo Ball at No. 2, then continued an incredible culture overhaul with the rest of their draft. They added an athletic, versatile grinder in Utah’s Kyle Kuzma at No. 27, then deftly traded the 28th pick to the Utah Jazz to move down to 30 and add the 42nd pick.
At 30 they took Josh Hart, an experienced guard who can defend, finish at the rim and is a proven winner. He should immediately become a leader in the locker room. Then at 42 they snagged Indiana’s Thomas Bryant, a 19-year-old center with a 7’6″ wingspan, a great motor and sneaky athleticism. Bryant needs a lot of polish but, given where he was taken, he’s basically a human lottery ticket.
Ball will make everyone around him better immediately, Kuzma and Hart should bolster the second unit, and Bryant has tremendous potential.
The Timberwolves left draft night with a top 15 player in the NBA and got him for what appears to be 50 cents on the dollar. The Jimmy Butler trade will change the franchise for the better and Minnesota fleeced the Chicago Bulls to acquire him. And the Timberwolves wound up with Creighton center Justin Patton with the 16th pick to boot. It was a good night in Minnesota.
Look, I’m as surprised as anybody, but I absolutely loved what the Kings did in the draft. I couldn’t believe Vlade Divac somehow went an entire draft and avoided firing off a 12-gauge into his size 17s. The Kings Wound up making four selections and three of them were fantastic, while the fourth was solid.
The Kings selected De'Aaron Fox with the fifth pick, giving them an elite defensive point guard with a high ceiling, who also has the personality to become the face of the franchise. They then traded down from the 10th pick to secure 15 and 20, where they took North Carolina wing Justin Jackson and Duke forward Harry Giles. Jackson is a high-volume scorer who could be hit or miss and if Giles can put his knee issues behind him he could wind up as the steal of the draft.
Then with the 33rd pick, the Kings selected National Player of the Year Frank Mason III. I absolutely loved that pick, as the senior guard out of Kansas will provide a steadying influence for a roster and a franchise that has been a nightmare over the past few years. Fox, Mason and Giles were absolute home run picks, while Jackson should at least be a streaky scorer at the next level. This was a great draft.
Jordan Bell was a steal for the Golden State Warriors at No. 38. The Oregon big man is an athletic rim protector who can help the Dubs right now. So yeah, the NBA’s best team got even better. Hey Jordan, it’s probably worth memorizing your ring size.