NBA 2017 Draft Winners & Losers: Butler Bulls Blasphemy & The Return Of The Lake Show
By Sean Shute
The 2017 NBA draft last Thursday was a lot like when I lost of my virginity. There was a lot of hype and excitement in the build-up with the Celtics trading the number one pick to the 76ers and trade talks regarding Paul George (still believe he will get you one even if his Pacers got swept by the king.) It also started with a bang with the news of a heist taking place in Chicago involving Jimmy Butler, more on that later. But then, just like that fateful night in Worcester, the rest of the proceedings were filled thoughts of disappointment and regret. So, here are my draft winners and losers from one of the most anticipated draft classes in recent years -
Picks: Lonzo Ball (2), Kyle Kuzma (27). Josh Hart (30), Thomas Bryant (42)
Something must be said for Lavar Ball speaking it into existence. He proudly proclaimed his son was Magic Johnson with a jump shot and that he was born to be a Laker. Now his son Lonzo has a chance to play for Magic and be handed the keys to the franchise. With reports circling that Paul George will be joining the Lake Show next offseason, it made sense to take a creator and excellent passer that will enhance the talent around him. Kuzma is a versatile big man who can shoot the three and Josh Hart will be a useful bench player after a successful stint at Villanova. If all goes to plan, the Lakers could have LBJ, Brandon Ingram, Paul George and Lonzo Ball all on the court at the same time come 2018. Scary thought. That’s as long as Ben Simmons and Joel Embid don’t get their way
Picks: Justin Patton (16)
Now if I was the Bulls GM after accepting the trade for Jimmy Butler I would have quickly sent another message saying, ‘I got hacked, that was my mate sorry.’ This ingenious statement, so often used when the girl you liked in school pied your MSN message would have been perfect for this situation. Jimmy Butler is a superstar two-way player, averaging 23ppg for his career, and all the Bulls could get in return was the number 7 pick, Zach Lavine and Kriss Dunn. They effectively sold a cow for Tesco’s own beans (Shout-out to my boy Jack from Jack & The Beanstalk). The Wolves are now legitimate contenders in the Western Conference with a young core of Towns, Wiggins, Rubio and now Butler. Patton also gives them the back-up centre they have desperately needed. I’m predicting the T-Wolves make it to the second round of the playoffs.
Picks: Markelle Fultz (1), Anzejs Pasecniks (25), Jonah Bolden (36), Mathias Lessort (50)
Everyone knew who the 76ers were picking, but it was still satisfying to see Adam Silver call out Fultz’s name in a move that completes the process we have all been told to trust. The architect of ‘The Process’, Sam Hinkie, is no longer around, but it’s hard to argue against his strategy. The 76ers now have a promising young ‘tripod’ of Fultz, Simmons and Embid to build around for the future. Fultz fits seamlessly into the 76ers roster with his versatility at the point position. He can shoot the three, get to the rim and facilitate for his team mates. Prediction: An MVP comes from this roster in the next five years.
Picks: Jayson Tatum (3), Semi Ojeleye (37), Kadeem Allen (53), Jabari Bird (56)
Danny Ainge has said he would have taken Tatum number one if Boston had stayed there, but the issue is more with who Boston didn’t acquire. When you take into consideration the package that was required to get Jimmy Butler, you have to think this was a missed opportunity by Ainge. Tatum may develop into a talented player and there is value in the idea of waiting till Lebron gets old, but the chances of all their picks coming to fruition is unlikely. If Boston had to keep the pick, I’d have liked them to stay at one and draft Markelle Fultz. This way they would have a young point guard to build around with Isiah Thomas likely to test free agency next summer. In a few years’ time, the Celtics hierarchy could look back at this wondering what could have been.
New York Knicks:
Picks: Frank Ntilikina (8), Damyean Dotson (44), Ognjen Jaramez (58)
After the draft was over the immediate feeling for most Knicks fans would have been relief, purely for the fact that Porzingis remained on the roster. Phil Jackson publicly talked about trading the face of the of beleaguered franchise and I can’t even imagine the meltdown from Knicks fans that would have ensued had that happened. But then, after a few hours, the feeling of relief would turn into one of disappointment and anger. Ntilikina wasn’t jeered as much as Porzingis was last year, but the Knicks faithful still voiced their discontent. Ntilikina represents a risky selection on a relatively unknown prospect. The Knicks passed on trading up for De’Aaron Fox and passed on the dynamic Dennis Smith Jr, who both had great college seasons. Malik Monk would have represented excellent value but he was also overlooked. Time will tell in terms of how good Ntilikina turns out to be, but history suggests that a team built with European stars is not a team that is going to take home the chip.
Picks: Tyler Lydon (24), Vlatko Cancar (49), Monte Morris (51)
The nuggets look like a team contempt with mediocrity for the time being. The decision to trade down and select 6-10 shooter Tyler Lydon is a baffling one, considering the players left on the board at that point. They are overcrowded which frontcourt players, especially after acquiring Trey Lyles. The Nuggets are trending downwards and I expect them to have a worse record next season.