by : Jay Recher
The 2016-17 NBA season was a bit of a dud, but the Draft gave many basketball fans (including me) hope that brighter futures lie ahead.
And the action from Thursday night at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn did just that.
Let's take a look at how the 1st round unfolded :
7:35pm - Adam Silver takes the stage to start the night and the question comes to mind, "Is he the most popular commissioner right now?" David Stern clearly wasn't everyone's favorite and Silver made a strong statement when he dealt with the Donald Sterling issue swiftly and decisively.
7:40pm - Much to the surprise of no one, Markelle Fultz is selected by the 76ers #1 overall. It may take a while for Philly to be good, but it will be fun to see all these young kids play together. Once they grow a little bit, and the front office surrounds these budding stars with veterans, the Sixers are going to be scary.
7:45pm - The Lakers are probably going to go Lonzo Ball here, but wouldn't it be hilarious if they didn't?? Lavar's face would replace "Crying Jordan" as the best meme of all-time.
7:47pm - And there you have it, Lonzo Ball gets picked by the Lakers at #2. Still don't love his jumper but his passing is absolutely unreal. Remember, J Kidd wasn't the greatest shooter either, but over time his shot got better and by the end of his career, he was a pretty good one. Lonzo being 6'6 definitely helps, but playing out West and guarding the likes of Westbrook, Curry and CP3 is definitely going to be an eye-opener.
7:51pm - It only took four minutes for Lavar Ball to be interviewed by ESPN. He says Lonzo will take L.A. to the playoffs in his first year. Lavar, you have a better chance of me buying a pair of your Big Baller shoes.
7:53pm - BIG TRADE!! Jimmy Butler and the #16 overall pick get traded from Chicago to Minnesota for Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn and the #7 overall pick. That's a pretty sick move. I think Butler will flourish playing with Wiggins and Towns under Coach Thibodeau. Dunn disappointed as a rookie and I worry that neither he or Lavine will reach their potential playing under Fred Hoiberg in Chicago.
7:54pm - Celtics pick Duke SF Jayson Tatum at #3. The C's are loading up on wing players to be able to battle the Cavs and Warriors. Boston made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals this year and they are going to be MUCH better next year. Look out LeBron!!
7:58pm - Just saw that Aaron Judge just hit ANOTHER home run. To make it even better right before he hit it, the cameras were on a kid who was holding a sign reading "I came to see my first game to see Aaron Judge". That's awesome!
8:01pm - Phoenix select Josh Jackson from Kansas at #4. 'Fro game strong tonight for Mr. Jackson. Love how he gets after it on defense. He will help Coach Earl Watson establish a tough-minded defensive culture that we haven't seen since..... um, never mind.
8:08pm - De'Aaron Fox gets picked at #5 by the Sacramento Kings. He abused Lonzo Ball in both games last year and I just checked the NBA schedule to see the first time the Lakers and Kings buuuuuut they haven't announced the schedule yet. Damn!! Can't wait to see that one. Safe to say that'll be nationally televised, right?
8:15pm - Florida State's Jonathan Isaac gets picked by the Magic at #6. Good for the old Seminoles standout! He gets to stay in the Sunshine State and hopefully get Orlando out of the gutter.
8:21pm - Minnesota picks Lauri Markkanen for Chicago at #7. The Bulls need as many scorers as they can get so this guy should be able to help right away. He's a 7-foot shooter who may get even bigger. I saw him make a lot of big shots for Arizona last year. He is not afraid to take a shot in the clutch. Ahhhh, the Knicks are on the clock!! What are you up to Phil? Dennis Smith Jr. would be the perfect fit but I think they go with Frank Ntilikina from France. Just seems like a very Knick-ish pick.
8:27pm - And six minutes later, New York selects the 6'5 combo-guard from overseas. Watching tape on this guy, he can shoot, he can break you down on the dribble and he can take it to the rack. He's also a very solid defender who will only get bigger because he is just 18 years young. The ESPN guys say that there weren't that many boos but I actually have volume on my TV and I heard a bunch of PO'd New Yorkers. People in the Big Apple will be a little more patient because Kristaps Porzingis didn't turn out to be Frederic Weis, but with what Phil has been doing as of late, no one in the metropolitan area is 100% confident in this pick.
8:32pm - Mavericks pick Dennis Smith Jr. from NC State. This guy can absolutely BALL! The Mavericks haven't had a strong PG like this kid since Jason Kidd and Steve Nash. Some people compare him to John Wall. He reminds me of Baron Davis. If you blink, he'll score 30.
8:39pm - Trade #2 of the night as Portland trades picks #15 and 20 with Sacramento for the #10 selection and the Kings select PF/C Zach Collins from Gonzaga for them. The former Bulldog gets to stay in the Pacific Northwest. In my opinion, this is a terrible trade for the Trail Blazers. You need as many pieces as possible to surround with CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard and is he really that much better than Nurkic, Vonleh and Leonard? I don't think so.
8:47pm - Malik Monk falls to the Hornets at #11 and Michael Jordan is probably jumping for joy right now. Charlotte has a solid backcourt with Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum but this kid can come off the bench initially and fill it up as many people have him as the best shooter in the draft.
8:52pm - The 2nd Duke player goes off the board at #12 as Luke Kennard is selected by the Pistons. Detroit picks up a shifty southpaw who can create space and make buckets after contact. I don't know if he will ever reach that level, but he reminds me so much of Manu Ginobili the way he can shift gears quickly and make the defender have trouble keeping up with his start-and-stop pace.
8:58pm - Nuggets pick up Donovan Mitchell from Louisville.... or do they? Just announced that the Cardinals shooting guard will go to Utah for the 24th pick and Trey Lyles. A 6'3 guard with a 6'10 wingspan who can flat-out defend. And he wins best socks of the night with those Louisville socks. Kid was at a loss for words regarding the realization of a childhood dream. Hoping he has a good career.
9:05pm - Make that 3 Kentucky players out of the first 14 as Bam Adebayo gets selected by the Heat. So it'll be Bam and Hassan Whiteside manning the front line for Miami the next couple of years at least. What a huge rebounding advantage the Heat will have next year. But is this the way the NBA is trending? It seems to be going in the direction of multiple, versatile shooters who can play a number of positions. I'm not a huge fan of this move, but at least Coach Cal is happy that he got another guy into the League.
9:12pm - Portland selects Justin Jackson at #15 for the Kings. To be honest, I was never a huge fan of Justin Jackson. And no, it's not because I'm a Duke fan. He just never really scared me playing against the Blue Devils. He's a good player, don't get me wrong, but I just don't know if he is going to be able to be as efficient in the NBA getting to the hoop, especially on a team in disarray like Sacramento.
9:18pm - The Bulls pick Justin Patton, a center from Creighton, with the 16th pick and he'll head to the Timberwolves in the Butler deal. You try and envision him playing with Karl-Anthony Towns and, like I said before, I don't know if this kind of thing is going to work in the NBA. Patton may be a good reserve who can hold down the middle when Towns is on the bench, but he is going to be chasing around a bunch of 6'10 guys who can shoot the rock and he will struggle.
9:28pm - D.J. Wilson goes to Milwaukee at #17 and the Bucks get another long, athletic player to add to their stable of versatile players. I love the get up and go mentality that Jason Kidd has brought to Milwaukee and I think this kid can see the success of guys like Thon Maker and Giannis Antetokuompo and be ready to contribute right away.
9:33pm - Indiana picks up TJ Leaf from UCLA at pick #18 with an eye to the future. Paul George is on his way out and you can bet that the Pacers will get a pretty big haul for the All-Star wingman. I have more faith in a guy like Leaf because his game better suits the modern-day NBA game than guys who were picked before him. The only thing that worries me about him is that he got a lot of easy shots last year due to Lonzo Ball's playmaking ability. It'll be much harder to get those looks in the Association. And right on cue, Leaf is asked about Ball in his post-draft interview. I'm sure TJ is happy to be done answering those questions.
9:38pm - Also really like the selection of John Collins at #19 by the Atlanta Hawks. This kid is a gamer who grew by leaps and bounds from his freshman to his sophomore year. I remember hearing during the NCAA season about how he was so disciplined and a natural-born leader and when you hear that both of his parents were in the military, you understand why. With Paul Millsap likely gone, a good move by the Hawks.
9:43pm - Portland picks Duke's Harry Giles at #20 and will be shipped out to Sacramento. Harry was the #1 player going into college last year, but missed the first 11 games of the year with a knee injury and never really developed into a top player. He wasn't exceptionally quick when he returned and his offensive game looked really raw. With now two surgeries on his knee, you have to question how good this kid can actually be. The thing that did impress me last season was that he was a much better defender than what I heard coming in. He backed up Amil Jefferson at the 5 at times, held his own and had quick hands to cause turnovers. His development pushed Chase Jeter to the end of the bench and eventually out of Durham.
9:50pm - Terrance Ferguson is selected by the Thunder at #21 following in the footsteps of Brandon Jennings and Emmanuel Mudiay as kids who played abroad instead of going to college for a year. OKC has a bunch of big dudes and they need more wing players who can knock down open shots, defend and handle the ball a little bit when Westbrook is on the bench. A kid like this is going to be an example of why the NBA will eventually let kids jump from high school to the pros. I'm a big proponent of the system that the MLB has in place and think the NBA should follow suit. Develop the D-League (now the G-League) into more of a developed minor league program and you can have more players have more extensive careers.
9:58pm - The Brooklyn Nets pick Jarrett Allen at #22 and he looks like he's 37 years old. The fans didn't cheer or boo, I think they were confused. He's a big dude but he was THIRD-team All Big 12. I get that he's tall but I don't know man, I just don't see it.
10:04pm - The Raptors get themselves a real OG as they pick up OG Anunoby with the 23rd pick in the draft. Yeah, the knee injury worries me but this guy is like the prototypical NBA player in 2017. He's 6'7 and can handle defending multiple spots, which is key for a team like Toronto where neither Kyle Lowry (if he stays) and DeMar DeRozan will ever make an All-Defensive team.
10:08pm - Markelle Fultz joins the desk to talk to the guys and how the team will look next season. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are studs, yeah, but let's not forget Dario Saric. This guy has an old man's game who plays within the flow of the game and is an unbelievable passer. Great note made by the fellas that Fultz and Kelsey Plum become the first players from the same school to go #1 in the NBA and WNBA drafts in the same year.
10:12pm - Just saw that Embiid said the new nickname for the Sixers young guys are the "FEDS" for Fultz, Embiid, Dario and Simmons. I'm with it. Syracuse's Tyler Lydon picked by Utah and sent to Denver to complete that earlier trade. I barely heard that kid's name when the Cuse played this year. If he's that big and the analysts are already doubting his defense, I don't see him being that much of a contributor in the League. Name me a big since John Wallace that was halfway decent coming out of upstate New York? And don't give me Melo, he's the exception.
10:19pm - Andzejs Pasecniks.... good luck pronouncing that one. This Latvian will probably will be forever compared to Kristaps Porzingis but I'm sure Pasecniks doesn't care. You have to see him coming off the bench behind Gordon and Vucevic, and don't forget they took Isaac earlier in the night. I would have liked to see Orlando go after some guards. I'm not sold on either Elfrid Payton OR Evan Fournier. To me, they have the WORST backcourt in the league.
10:24pm - Soooooo, the Blazers take Caleb Swanigan at #26. ANOTHER power forward??!?!?! Come on man, what is going on up there in Portland? Great story with his upbringing and him being the Big 10 Player of the Year, but that doesn't fill up the scoresheet or help your defense.
10:32pm - Nets pick up Kyle Kuzma at #27 and will send it to the Lakers in the D'Angelo Russell deal. I like how L.A. went after a guy in a position of need and didn't just take Frank Jackson or Frank Mason Jr. because they were the best players available. I understand when people say you should ALWAYS take the best player on the board, but I don't agree with it. Why pick up a guy just to HOPEFULLY trade him? It's not a guarantee you can find a trade partner. And you can't pick TWO point guards in the first round....unless you're Minnesota and take Ricky Rubio AND Jonny Flynn. Sorry..... too soon?
10:35pm - Two more trades announced. The Lakers trade the 28th pick, Tony Bradley from UNC, to Utah for the 30th pick and the 42nd pick. And in the other trade, the Magic send Pasecniks to the Sixers for a 1st and 2nd rounder in 2020. That's a pretty big haul for a guy picked #25 in the first round. With the acquisition of Porzingis' BFF, that is just another inclination that Jahlil Okafor's days in Philly are numbered.
10:43pm - Word is leaking out that the Lakers will go with Villanova's Josh Hart at #30. A big, big fan of this selection if it happens. He hit one of the biggest shots in basketball history to win the National Title last year and can you imagine him spotting up and knocking down shots after a sick Lonzo Ball pass? Go ahead, I'll wait.
10:45pm - The Spurs take PG Derrick White over both of the Franks, Mason Jr. and Jackson. I would usually be overly skeptical of this pick, but it's San Antonio and you have to believe in Pops and the Gang. He'll probably hit a game-winning 3 in the 2023 Finals or something.
10:48pm - The final pick of the 1st round is......... JOSH HART!! What a shock!! Hart slots in behind Ball and Clarkson and will become a more important part of the L.A. rotation as the season goes on as Coach Luke Walton figures out where he fits best.
OK, that wraps up the 1st round, let's take a look at the 2nd round :
#31 Charlotte (traded to New Orleans) - Frank Jackson (Duke)
#32 Phoenix - Davon Reed (Miami)
#33 Orlando - Wesley Iwundu (Kansas State)
#34 Sacramento - Frank Mason (Kansas)
#35 Orlando (traded to Memphis) - Ivan Rabb (California)
#36 Philadelphia - Jonah Bolden (Serbia)
#37 Boston - Semi Ojeleye (SMU)
#38 Chicago (traded to Golden State) - Jordan Bell (Oregon)
#39 Philadelphia - Jawun Evans (Oklahoma State)
#40 New Orleans (traded to Charlotte) - Dwayne Bacon (Florida State)
#41 Atlanta - Tyler Dorsey (Oregon)
#42 Utah (traded to L.A. Lakers) - Thomas Bryant (Indiana)
#43 Houston - Isaiah Hartenstein (Lithuania)
#44 New York - Damyean Dotson (Houston)
#45 Houston (traded to Memphis) - Dillon Brooks (Oregon)
#46 Philadelphia - Sterling Brown (SMU)
#47 Indiana - Ike Anigbogu (UCLA)
#48 Milwaukee - Sindarius Thornwell (South Carolina)
#49 Denver - Vlatko Cancar (Serbia)
#50 Philadelphia - Mathias Lessort (France)
#51 Denver - Monte' Morris (Iowa State)
#52 New Orleans (traded to Indiana) - Edmond Sumner (Xavier)
#53 Boston - Kadeem Allen - (Arizona)
#54 Phoenix - Alec Peters (Valparaiso)
#55 Utah - Nigel Williams-Goss (Gonzaga)
#56 Boston - Jabari Bird (California)
#57 Brooklyn - Aleksander Vezenkov (Spain)
#58 New York - Ognjen Jaramaz (Serbia)
#59 San Antonio - Jaron Blossomgame (Clemson)
#60 Atlanta - Alpha Kaba (Serbia)
MINNESOTA : You pick up Jimmy Butler to form a Big 3 with Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns and you have a defensive whiz as a coach in Tom Thibodeau. This team, to me, immediately vaults into the Top 4 in the West. Even if Butler never played under Thibs, this would still be a great fit. The fact that they already have familiarity with each other will help ease the transition for Jimmy and he can come in and be a leader right away. Huge night for the T-Wolves.
LOS ANGELES : Lonzo Ball is a franchise-altering player and regardless of his dad's antics, this guy is going to do big things for the Lakers. I like the trade of Russell to go all-in with Ball at the point. Quick, what's Lonzo's favorite kind of pen? Never mind. They also pick up Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart, who come from two solid programs and both exhibit a ton of leadership much-needed on a young team like the Lakers.
CHARLOTTE : Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. Having Malik Monk fall into their laps at #11 was a thing of beauty for Hornets fans. Good luck guarding Monk and Kemba Walker on a nightly basis. For those worried about their defensive shortcomings, don't forget that Nic Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are still there to pick up the slack on the other end and Steve Clifford is one of the best unknown coaches in the league.
BOSTON : Danny Ainge seems to be pushing all the right buttons, huh? I love how the C's went right after players that can play out in space and offer positional versatility. I watched the majority of Jayson Tatum's games at Duke and no player in the country improved as steadily as he did last year. The kid is solid in every aspect of the game (some don't like his shooting but that improved to me more than anything else as the year went on) and I think he's got much more room to grow. Ojeleye is another solid offensive option on the wing and Allen has the defensive mindset that fits right in with guys like Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart. If Allen develops quickly, it also could mean that one of those vets could be moved in a deal for that ever-elusive star to push Boston over the top.
CHICAGO : You are rarely going to get back full value when you trade a superstar, but it just feels like the Bulls got fleeced in this trade. Dunn was one of the most highly-touted players in last year's draft but by the end of the year, some questioned him being chosen that high. Lavine is working his way back from an ACL injury and that is very worrisome because his bounce and explosiveness is the biggest strength of his game. Markkanen could end up being a really good player but they have a similar player already in Mirotic so how are they going to work that out?
NEW YORK : As you saw above, I wasn't surprised with the pick of Ntilikina, but it doesn't mean I agree with it either. Part of the reason why I like the Ball pick for LA is because it brings excitement and entertainment to the City of Angels. A pick of a guy like Dennis Smith Jr. would have brought butts in the seats and would have opened up the floor for Carmelo and Porzingis. Instead, Phil brings in two guards from overseas and a shooting guard from Houston that could be a knockdown shooter, but he's not going to put any butts in the seat. Another confusing draft for the Knicks, but there is one silver lining, they didn't trade Kristaps Porzingis.
ORLANDO : Jonathan Isaac wasn't a bad pick, but the Magic NEED some dynamic playmakers in the backcourt. They've never replaced the loss of Victor Oladipo and I'm not sure how the combination of Isaac, Gordon and Vucevic is going to work. They traded two of their other three picks for other picks which is good because they need to try and pick up multiple players, but given their track record with those picks, do you really trust them?
PORTLAND : Look at what Boston is doing and now look at what Portland is doing. The Celtics are stocking up on wing players who can play a bunch of different positions so they can put various combinations on the floor to combat other team's strengths. The Blazers know their set at the guard position, but who outside of Al-Farouq Aminu can guard 1 thru 4? As I've mentioned a bunch in this article, the league is moving towards versatility and if you don't have many players that have that quality, you're not going to be very successful.
Well, that's going to do it for me. A great night for the NBA as many people were glued in to see some big news and they got with a bunch of trades, including one involving a Top 15 player in the game.
What did you think about the Draft? Any players stick out? Who are YOUR winners and losers?
PHOTO : Courtesy of Getty Images