Tuesday night’s NBA Draft lottery wasn’t very surprising. The Celtics had the best odds for the top pick, and the ping pong balls bounced in their favor. The Lakers had decent odds of keeping their pick and seem destined to take local product Lonzo Ball (and Lavar), and there were few surprises the rest of the way.
Now that the draft order is set, here are a few thoughts I have about what this means for the 2017 NBA Draft.
1. Markelle Fultz should be a Celtic.
Unless something drastically changes, the Washington star freshman will be headed to Boston for his rookie season. There were reports that several agents didn’t want their clients working out for Boston, in fear of being buried on the bench, but I can’t imagine the Celtics passing on a player of Fultz’s caliber. He’s a long guard with the ability to score in multiple ways, shoots the ball well, has solid floor vision, and was one of the best players in college basketball on the pick and roll.
There are some concerns. Can he play alongside Isaiah Thomas? Will the Celtics view IT as more replaceable with Fultz in the fold? Should Boston be concerned with Washington struggling so heavily last season (I disagree that this should be of much concern, but I understand the logic).
The Celtics basically have two major needs: a consistent scorer that can regularly command attention away from Thomas and a forward/center to play alongside Al Horford.
There aren’t a ton of great big man prospects in this draft worth a #1 selection, so Fultz provides a “best prospect available” approach while simultaneously filling an area of need for a Boston squad that is one of the best in the East.
Yes, there could be a trade at the top, but that’s a topic for another time.
2. De’Aaron Fox likely ends up in Sacramento
As a Kentucky fan, I like that Fox will likely end up playing with former Wildcats Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere, but the Kings are so dysfunctional that it’s hard to be excited that this will be his likely landing spot.
In all honesty, I think Fox has the potential to be one of the best players from this class. He’s fantastic in transition and off the dribble, a really good passer, finishes well at the rim through contact, and is a high-character guy. If he stays healthy and develops his jump shot, he will be a force in the league for several years.
However, Fox will need some time to develop his game further and I hope he is able to continually develop in Sacramento. Sadly, it is hard to see that squad being a winner in the next few years.
3. Malik Monk is a wildcard
Sticking with the Kentucky angle, Malik Monk is really a wildcard in this draft. As a bit undersized two guard, there are some concerns for him at the next level, but he is one of the better scorers in the class. When he catches fire, he is lethal from the outside and with superb athleticism, he can attack the rim and score there as well.
Defense and rebounding are a concern for Monk, but he showed some improvement toward the end of the year in that regard.
In terms of draft position, there are several places Monk could end up being slotted in this year’s draft. I could see him going as high as 3rd to the 76ers, where perimeter scoring is definitely needed, but 5th to the Kings (if Fox isn’t available), 7th to the Timberwolves, 8th to the Knicks, 9th to the Mavericks, and the Kings at 10 all seem like viable options.
4. Phoenix fell, but could still get their guy
I’m sure Phoenix was certainly hoping to land the top spot, draft Fultz, and build their backcourt of the future with a lethal scoring duo of Fultz and Devin Booker, but despite their fall from second to fourth, the Suns will still potentially be able to land Josh Jackson, who I think fits well with the Suns.
Jackson is one of the highest upside guys in the draft and has superstar potential due to elite athleticism and a high motor. Jackson can immediately come in and play on the wing, providing defense, athleticism, and rebounding.
If his shot comes along, Jackson could be a big-time player in Phoenix for a long time and could fit well into what Phoenix is trying to build. The Suns are ripe with young guys filled with potential. Booker, forwards Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender, and backup guard Tyler Ulis are all good pieces.
While Phoenix surely would’ve rather been at the top and had Fultz, I don’t think their world comes crashing down if they are able to take Jackson at 4. Jackson could go third to the Sixers, but Jayson Tatum will probably be heavily looked at for that third spot as well.
5. It’s a tough time to be a New York basketball fan
It must be hard to be a fan of either the Brooklyn Nets or New York Knicks last night.
The Nets watched as their league-worst record could’ve landed them the top overall spot in this year’s draft, but instead, that pick will be flipped to the Celtics. Instead, the Nets will pick 22 and 27. While there will still be good players available at those slots, they will probably begin drafting on potential at that point with guys like Hamidou Diallo, Harry Giles, and others probably still available at that point.
Not only that, but the Nets also have to give up their 2018 pick to the Celtics in a draft that will likely be just as good, if not better, at the top than this draft.
For the Knicks, they are sorting through inner turmoil with the Carmelo Anthony situation while trying to determine the team’s direction. Do they ship Carmelo out, blow it up, and build around Porzingis? Play the free agent market and hope for a home-run player to pair alongside Anthony and Kristaps? The Knicks surely would’ve loved for some lottery magic to move higher up into the draft, but there will be some impact players left at #8 in a pretty deep class.
However, the Knicks will soon have to begin making decisions on what direction they want to go.