The 2017 draft combine and lottery have come and gone, and we’re just over a month away from the NBA draft itself. With players making moves on draft boards and the draft order now set, FanRag Sports’ draft experts got together to discuss what happened over the last week.
1. What should the Celtics do with the No. 1 pick?
Joseph Nardone: Oh, Fultz it.
Boston doesn’t need to overthink this. Don’t trade the pick. Even if Paul George, Jimmy Butler or Jesus H. Christ are available with a straight-up trade for the overall No. 1, it won’t help the Celtics overcome Cleveland in the next season or two.
By drafting Markelle Fultz — who can play alongside Isaiah Thomas, by the way — the window not only continues to expand, but it creates a healthy salary construction for the future. You’re essentially getting a good prospect at a good rate who is obligated to play for Boston for four (then likely four more after that) years. This prospect, Fultz, who CAN play with Thomas, provides Boston a chance to sign the latter to a new contract if it so chooses or let him walk.
Basically, options are #MOAR with Fultz.
It also gives the Celtics a chance to legitimize its second five. They are a legit deep team as is, but now you have the option of playing Fultz with Thomas or plugging him in to create offense when the King of the Fourth is riding the pine.
Not to mention that all those supposedly untouchable assets (Terry Rozier immediately jumps to mind) can be moved to acquire more talent that is not creating this heavy logjam at the guard spot.
Daniel O’Brien: If they’re in a trading mood, the Celtics should consider Paul George their primary target. They should try to package the No. 1 pick in a sweet deal to tempt Indiana into trading him. Jimmy Butler is a good target as well, but I think George is more valuable long-term, a better shooter and the best fit for Beantown.
If they want to keep the pick, they should select Fultz. He and Isaiah Thomas could keep opponents off balance by taking turns scoring and facilitating. Fultz is big enough to defend shooting guards, so the pairing should work.
Ben Stram: They need to draft Markelle Fultz and plan for the future. With LeBron James in the East and 32 years old, the Celtics should prepare for the post-LeBron era and use both Brooklyn picks over the next two years. You pair Fultz with Brown and next year’s likely top-5 pick, and you’re starting to build something for 2020 and beyond.
2. Assuming Markelle Fultz is off the board, should the Lakers take Lonzo Ball at No. 2? Should they look to make a big trade?
Joseph: Ball is my favorite prospect of the draft. I like him more than Fultz. So, yeah, the Lakers should draft him.
The 2017 NBA draft is weirder than most years, too. It isn’t Fultz then Ball then a huge drop in talent after that. Some talent evaporators really like three or four players more than Ball. Because of that, it likely means whatever trade value Los Angeles has with the second pick isn’t going to be other-worldly. Obviously, that is unless a good team drafting late in the first wants to package already proven talent from its already good team, but that makes no sense.
Anyway, Magic Johnson has to love what Lonzo brings to the table. Magic loves guys who win, reminds him of him (or versions of him dabbled with Jason Kidd), and are from the area. If we look hard enough at his Twitter timeline, I imagine we’d see that.
Daniel: Ball is the second-best prospect in this draft in my opinion. The Lakers could use a dynamic facilitator, so I think they should take him. They should also aggressively pursue trade options, but I’m afraid of them giving up too much youth and salary cap space to land one player.
Ben: Take Ball. I don’t understand why people think he can’t fit alongside D’Angelo Russell, especially when he’s better defensively against shooting guards. Both have excellent range and the ability to make plays for others, and Russell played off the ball at times last year.
Ball has such a unique game and doesn’t get sped up much. He already has NBA range and is the best passer in this draft class. If he can figure out how to impact the game more as a scorer, the sky is the limit.
3. Which player’s draft stock has improved the most over the last week?
Joseph: Probably Donovan Mitchell. His star was rising as it was, but the more people got to see him — as well as “know” he is staying in the draft — I think the more people realize how special he is.
It also helps him that the ping-pong balls bounced around in a certain way that should get the very early run of point guards (and the position-less Malik Monk) off the table early. This makes him, arguably, the more desirable 2-guard in the draft.
When the season ended, people had Mitchell going in the second or late-first. While things can change, I feel pretty confident in saying he’s now a potential lottery pick who won’t slide out of the middle of the first round.
Daniel: It looks like French big man Jonathan Jeanne and Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell really boosted their value. Scouts and general managers got a chance to see Jeanne’s mobility and surprisingly smooth shooting in person. He probably went from a second-round pick to a first-round pick. Mitchell’s standing didn’t change quite as much, but his athleticism and measurements (6-10 wingspan) showed that he’ll compete physically with NBA 2-guards.
Ben: I think Hamidou Diallo will be a popular name to watch moving forward. He was the biggest riser on my recent big board as the first potential “none-and-done” prospect ever. As the biggest mystery of this draft, I think he’ll get drafted much higher than many think, a la Thon Maker last year with the Bucks.
He has all the physical tools needed to play on the wing at 6-5 with a 6-11.25 wingspan. Diallo also registered a jaw-dropping 44.5-inch vertical, which could end up the highest of any drafted player ever. There’s too much mystery here for teams to pass on early in this draft.
4. Which player’s draft stock has dropped the most over the last week?
Joseph: Edrice “Bam” Adebayo.
To be Camp Crystal Lake clear, it isn’t because his stock got worse, it is because it didn’t seem to get any better (at least according to most reputable draft sites and experts).
I’ve been on #TeamBam for a bit now, and assumed his stock would rise in, around or after the combine when people got to witness his length. The combine has since happened, his near 7-3 wingspan has been recorded, and no one gives a poop.
If you can get Bam in the late first or — as many outlets are now suggesting — the early second, it is going to be a steal.
To be fair, Bam being projected in that range isn’t saying as much about him as it is about how damn good this class is. I love this class. In fact, if this class would have me, I would marry it.
Daniel: Harry Giles comes to mind, simply because he didn’t look explosive during the combine’s athletic testing (32-inch max vertical). Athleticism was his strongest suit in high school, and unfortunately his knee injuries have taken him down a notch. He probably cost himself a spot in the lottery, and he’ll probably land somewhere in the 20s instead.
Ben: Wake Forest big man John Collins was my biggest faller, and it’s his lack of size and limited offensive repertoire that limits some long-term upside. Collins doesn’t impact the game from 3-point range, and likely won’t be much of a shot blocker in the NBA.
He’s still a great athlete and a knockdown shooter from mid-range and projects to be a solid pick-and-pop big man off the bench. That should be good enough for a late-first round pick.
5. Do you envision any major surprises at the top of the draft?
Joseph: This one is tougher than trying to watch a T-Rex dribble a basketball.
With the talent being so good this year, it creates a level of volatility. Some franchises are going to value specific players more than others, fit will play a huge role for some teams and it might foster a trade-heavy market during the draft. I don’t know how early in it that could happen, if at all, but it wouldn’t be terribly shocking to see a handful of trades in the lottery.
Other than that, barring Boston overthinking it, the only other craziness that can happen is the #fakenews a franchise the Celtics might create just to mess with longtime rival LA.
Daniel: I think De’Aaron Fox could possible crack the top 3 or 4, and Dennis Smith Jr. could crack the top 5. Their shiftiness and explosiveness will likely be extremely tempting for teams in this point-guard driven era.
Ben: I didn’t last year, and then the Celtics took swingman Jaylen Brown at third overall. Look out for another surprise at No. 3, where Josh Jackson might not be the home run pick for the Sixers. Jackson would be my pick, but maybe they opt for a more off-the-ball threat like Jonathan Isaac or Malik Monk.