The 2017 NBA Draft is in the books, and as you debate the selections, we’re here to break down the winners and losers on a Thursday night in Brooklyn.
Philadelphia 76ers : They finally landed their franchise point guard, Markelle Fultz, to go along with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons . They didn’t overthink it, cashed in on the Process and got a point man who can create on his own.
The Sixers gave up a lot, but landed as close to a can’t-miss prospect as there was in this draft. At some point, they had to commit to a guy instead of biding their time. The Sixers have one of the best young cores in the league and are ready to go.
Minnesota Timberwolves : They landed a perennial All-Star for almost nothing. They dealt a player in a positional logjam coming off a major injury ( Zach LaVine ), a flawed second-year point guard ( Kris Dunn ) and a nine-spot drop in the first round for Jimmy Butler . They get a leader and top-tier talent who makes tough shots, loves Tom Thibodeau, always plays hard and can generate his own offense. The Wolves also wound up with Justin Patton at No. 16, giving them a 7-footer with a plus-20 PER last season at Creighton Bluejays . Patton is as good as anyone they would have taken at No. 7.
Utah Jazz : They traded Trey Lyles , bailing on him after a down season, and a late first-rounder for Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell can work off-ball and be brought along slowly behind Rodney Hood . They added value while giving up little.
Golden State Warriors : They got Jordan Bell at No. 38 overall by paying the Bulls $3.5 million. Here’s an idea, NBA. Maybe don’t trade late first/early second-round picks to Golden State, where the only challenge the next five years will be maintaining depth. The Warriors got a valuable reserve in Patrick McCaw last year and Bell on Thursday. You know they’ll make the most of him.
Sacramento Kings (?!): Wait… are the Kings a rational franchise? They took Kentucky Wildcats point guard De’Aaron Fox, a great athlete who fits a serious need. They traded Zach Collins to Portland for two picks, which became Justin Jackson and Harry Giles — a safe forward pick and an injury-concern gamble with potential. Then they added Frank Mason in the second round. They hit every value slot.
New York Knicks FANS: They didn’t trade Kristaps Porzingis . That’s a huge win. They got Frank Ntilikina, a good triangle point guard. But mostly it was a good night because they didn’t trade Porzingis … yet.
LONZO BALL: Yes, he went No. 2 to the team he and his father desired. Yes, he joins a team that could add stars in the future. But that team is under a huge microscope at all times and just traded D’Angelo Russell. That puts a lot of pressure on Ball in L.A. LaVar Ball only made it tougher by proclaiming the Los Angeles Lakers would make the playoffs in Lonzo’s first season. Opponents are going to hear that, and everything else LaVar says, and some will look to punish the younger Ball for it. The Balls got what they wanted, but it’s Lonzo who must live up to the billing.
Detroit Pistons : Hindsight could crush me when Luke Kennard becomes a great player. However, there were great shooting-guard options available at No. 12, including Mitchell, who would have worked perfectly. Instead, the Pistons went with Kennard, a defensively limited shooter who is not athletic enough to play in many situations. Is he going to be able to chase good shooters around screens? Can he dig and recover? Can he free himself when teams overplay him at the 3-point line? There are a lot of questions for a guy picked that high.
Chicago Bulls : They gave up their best player and a three-time All-Star for LaVine (coming off a major injury), Dunn (a second-year guard who has struggled) and Lauri Markannen, who is going to be an odd fit. Then they landed Bell in the second round and traded him to the Warriors … for cash. They look like fools for pushing Butler out for almost nothing. The Bulls are lost, and also may have to deal with a buyout demand from Dwyane Wade after he opts in for $24.5 million.