The 2017 NBA Draft is in the books, so now it’s time to look at who lost big during Thursday night’s big event.
Yeah, the Celtics were a big loser on Thursday night. They traded down and gave up the chance to draft Markelle Fultz, who was the best player in the draft by far. Then, for the second year in a row, they failed to make a significant move with all the assets they’ve acquired.
Danny Ainge has done a fantastic job stockpiling all those draft picks, but at some point you have to actually do something with them. You’re telling me they couldn’t have come up with a more enticing package for the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Jimmy Butler? Instead, they moved down and wound up with Jayson Tatum.
I like Jayson Tatum, I’ve said he’s was the most NBA-ready player in this year’s draft, but does adding him put you over the top in the Eastern Conference? Nope. Short-term he’s doesn’t make Boston a title contender and long-term he doesn’t have the upside of Josh Jackson, who went fourth.
The Celtics could have left draft night with Fultz or put together a package for Butler, but instead walked away with Tatum and a ton of future draft picks they’ll have trouble finding room for on the roster. I just don’t get the plan here.
The Bulls gave up the cornerstone of their franchise and a guy who had repeatedly stated he didn’t want to leave Chicago, and they didn’t get much in return. Jimmy Butler is easily a top 15 player in the NBA and one of the league’s top two-way talents. Oh and they were also forced to throw the 16th pick into the deal just to get it done, which seemed unnecessary.
The Bulls wound up with Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen in the deal. Dunn is coming off an atrocious rookie season, during which he averaged 3.8 points. 2.4 assists and 2.1 rebounds in 17.1 minutes per game. He was an absolute non-factor for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who needed production out of him. His PER of 8.13 was laughable from a guy touted as the most NBA-ready player in the 2016 NBA Draft. Meanwhile, LaVine is an enticing, improving talent, but he’s coming off ACL surgery and who knows how that will change his game. Markkanen is a solid stretch-four who can really shoot it, so he’s a solid pickup.
The Bulls basically got a nice shooting 7-footer and two enormous question marks in exchange for an affordable perennial All-Star who wanted to be in Chicago. Oh, and they could have had Justin Patton at No. 16 as well.
It was not a good night in the Windy City.
I really hate saying any kid who goes back to school is a “loser” or made a mistake, but this certainly feels that way. Ivan Rabb was projected as a sure-fire lottery pick before the 2016 draft, and wound up falling into the second round after returning to Cal for his sophomore season. He landed in a solid situation with the Memphis Grizzlies at No. 35 (after a trade from the Orlando Magic), and should fit in well there, but that’s a big-time fall.
Rabb is a really nice prospect as a big man, but failed to improve his offensive game significantly during his sophomore year. He’s got all the tools to be a good inside presence but just hasn’t put it all together. He’s raw, and needs to add muscle to his frame. There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done here. Hopefully he winds up putting it all together.
Speaking of guys who made mistakes…Ike Anigbogu should have gone back to UCLA. The kid is built like an NBA player right now and blew everyone away at the combine, but none of that has translated to the basketball court.
At the combine, Anigbogu measured in at 6’8.5″ barefoot, with an absurd wingspan of 7’6.25″ and a standing reach of 9’2.5″ while weighing in at 252.2 pounds. Oh, and he had just 5.4 percent body fat. Those are lottery pick tools, but he wound up being selected with the 47th pick in the draft.
Anigbogu had an awful freshman season, during which he averaged just 4.7 points and 4.0 rebounds in 13.0 minutes. With his natural gifts and some polish, he could have dominated the Pac-12 as a sophomore.
So, what, exactly, are they waiting for? Paul George doesn’t want to be there anymore, teams are calling them and his value isn’t going to go up over time. Eventually the memory of his stellar first-round is going to fade and teams are going to realize the advanced numbers say he’s a rapidly declining player. George ranked 42nd in PER last season and was 39th in win shares. The Pacers need to unload him as soon as possible.