So now that we’ve had a chance to sleep on what transpired in Brooklyn, N.Y. last night, it’s time to recap the 2017 NBA Draft. We learned that “Draft Day” is probably more exciting than any other day in the NBA, despite going relatively as scripted. This is not a full draft analysis, but if you’d like to see one click here. While we’ll need time to fully see how everything pans out, here is a list of our top two winners, losers, sleepers, and biggest potential busts.
NBA Draft Winners
Minnesota Timberwolves: Time will tell if this fleece-job was worse than what the Boston Celtics did to the Brooklyn Nets, but wow. The Timberwolves got an insane scoring talent in Jimmy Butler, while giving up minimal talent. The trade with the Chicago Bulls also helps limit Ricky Rubio’s scoring need and gets their team younger. Throwing Butler into the mix with Rubio, Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Gorgui Dieng gives Tom Thibodeau on the helluva squad. Not to mention, they got a talented center in Justin Patton with the #17 pick.
Boston Celtics: In a draft setting where most teams end up with just one, maybe two, picks, the Celtics had four. Most were acquired by trade, but each one addressed a significant need for Boston. It was rare that they had the advantage down low, but Jayson Tatum certainly provides. Many consider him the most NBA-ready player in the draft with great ability at both ends. Most importantly for the Celtics, they gave up zero assets in all the trade rumors and kept Isaiah Thomas happy by not drafting a point guard first.
*Bonus Pick* Phil Jackson: After saying that their best player, Kristaps Porzingis, was on the trade block, New York City almost rioted. Ok, maybe not, but you would completely understand if they did. But they didn’t trade KP, and they drafted the pass-first point guard they need.
NBA Draft Sleepers
Jonathan Isaac, F, Florida State: The #6 overall pick doesn’t sound like a “sleeper”, but I’ve had people tell me they think he’s the best player in the draft. Having seen this kid play up, close and personal, he’s impressive. Maybe the least talked about lottery player, the 6’11” forward has the size of a center but the shooting and mobility of a small forward. That makes him a deadly combo in Orlando, a team in dire need of a face for the franchise.
T.J. Leaf, F, UCLA: I absolutely loved this kid in college, and I love him for the Indiana Pacers. He’s got a sweet stroke that translates well to the NBA while also having solid size. The biggest knock against him is the lack of strength, which you need to be able to rebound. Only a freshman, he’s got time to change that and playing alongside Paul George, so long he doesn’t leave this summer, can only help his game.
NBA Draft Losers
Chicago Bulls: Not only did you trade your best player, but you didn’t really get anything great in return. Yes, Zach Levine averaged 18.9 points per game last year, but he’s not a strong replacement for Jimmy Butler, and Kris Dunn shot 28% from three as a shooting guard. It doesn’t help that draft pick Lauri Markkanen, despite his size and shooting ability, doesn’t help the scoring loss of Butler. What’s even worse is that the departure of Butler probably means Dwayne Wade will opt out of Chicago making it a younger, less talented team.
Cleveland Cavaliers: After losing the NBA Finals, they didn’t have a single pick to attempt and improve their roster. Not only that, but they didn’t even have a pick to trade or package. With a roster that doesn’t exactly scream trade bait, the ability to improve their team this summer is very minimal. It will be tough for the Cavs to make a real push at another Eastern Conference title, or keeping LeBron James after next year. Welcome back to the norm, Cleveland.
*Bonus Pick* Washington Wizards: Much like the Cavs, they had zero picks in the draft. That makes it harder to improve the roster this off-season after being the fourth seed in the East. With minimal salary cap room as well, don’t expect a summer splash in D.C.
Biggest Potential NBA Draft Busts
Markelle Fultz, G, Washington: I’ll admit, this is a bit of a cop out. It’s easy to say the #1 overall pick has the biggest bust potential, but it’s true. While Fultz has great size, his shooting ability is what needs to improve most. In this day and age, if your starting guards can’t shoot, it hampers the team. As much as I’m a fan of him, playing on a nine-win Washington squad makes me very wary.
Bam Adebayo, F, Kentucky: Ok, yes, he’s a Wildcat, and Calipari breeds NBA talent, but this was a reach. Miami doesn’t have great talent anymore, Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside are the top guys, and this won’t help. The Heat should have taken T.J. Leaf or Justin Jackson. They probably could have traded up to Luke Kennard as well but didn’t. With Chris Bosh still under contract for $25 million this year, Miami also has limited cap space. It helps that he was the #14 pick, but the Heat missed the playoffs by one game last year. As good as he his, Adebayo is not enough to get them into the postseason.
Now that the draft is over, it’s time to focus on free agency. A lot of talk is going on about Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, and others. If and where they go is still up in the air. All we know is that the NBA may have finally entered the most exciting part of the year.