NBA News: 76ers Take Markelle Fultz As #1 Player In Draft, Lakers Get Lonzo & Lavar Ball, Bulls Trade Jimmy Bulter +More
The 2017 NBA Draft was supposed to be wild and unpredictable. Instead, it turned out to go almost exactly according to plan.
There was one big trade – with Jimmy Butler going from the Chicago Bulls to the Minnesota Timberwolves – but otherwise the draft played out very much like it was supposed to according to most prior prognostications. The evening was largely drama-free after an insane few days of pre-draft buildup involving non-stop trade rumors surrounding Paul George and Kristaps Porzingis and several actual deals, including Dwight Howard being shipped from Atlanta to Charlotte and D’Angelo Russell being moved by the Los Angeles Lakers.
So, with that in mind, here’s a quick look at the winners and losers from the NBA’s annual draft selection show
General Manager Bryan Colangelo didn’t mess around, sending the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft and the rights to either next year’s Lakers pick or the 2019 Sacramento Kings pick to the Boston Celtics for the right to move up two spots to the top overall selection. Doing so allowed the 76ers to select former DeMatha star Markelle Fultz, who instantly will become a starter for them and a perfect fit for their burgeoning core.
Playing alongside Ben Simmons, Fultz should give Philadelphia another creative player off the dribble, as well as a shooter and athlete to pair with Simmons, who is expected to do a lot of ball handling despite being 6-foot-10. The Sixers now need to keep both Simmons and Joel Embiid healthy and on the court, but if they do they should be set for years to come.
Word on the street coming into the draft was that Tom Thibodeau wanted to go get a veteran to help Minnesota speed up its rebuilding process. He certainly did that, sending Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and the No. 7 pick (which turned into Lauri Markkanen) to the Chicago Bulls to be reunited with all-star forward Jimmy Butler, who is coming off his first all-NBA season.
Now Minnesota has Butler to go along with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, which should allow the Timberwolves to get back into the playoffs for the first time since 2004 – and the first time, period, without Kevin Garnett. The fact Minnesota was able to get Butler and not completely get out of the first round, allowing them to take Creighton center Justin Patton, makes this a huge win for them.
Los Angeles Lakers
Getting Lonzo Ball is obviously a good thing for the Lakers, as was opening up significant cap room for next summer by moving on from D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov. But an underrated part of the Lakers’ draft night was getting Josh Hart, the Villanova and Sidwell Friends star who rated well by statistical translations. He should be able to step in and give them some minutes right away in the backcourt.
The fact that Paul George wasn’t traded is also a win for the Lakers, as it further enhances the potential of George joining the Lakers sometime between now and next July, when he will be a free agent and has already said he plans to sign there. A trade to a winning franchise Thursday could’ve changed that.
The Kings have had, shall we say, a checkered draft history over the past few seasons. But it’s hard not to look at the way this night played out for them in any way other than a win.
Not only did the Kings get the man they targeted the whole time – Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox – with the fifth pick, but they turned around and slid a few spots back from the 10th pick to get North Carolina forward Justin Jackson, a good shooter, at 15 and Harry Giles, a former top prospect who has been slow to recover from knee injuries, with the 20th selection. It was the kind of smart, solid drafting the Kings haven’t done enough of in recent seasons, and hopefully is the start of a new trend for them.
Credit Source: Washington Post