The 2016/17 NBA season was a bit anticlimactic to say the least. The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers (who many chose to meet in the Finals) met in the Finals. And with the rosters and with the league going the way it is, don’t be surprised if the two continue to meet in a best of five Finals series (the Dubs currently lead 2-1).
Alas, for fans of teams that weren’t fortunate enough to make the postseason, the NBA Draft arrived right on time. With rumors swirling like a nerd’s head in a high school toilet, plenty of teams propelled themselves into playoff contention while other teams weren’t able make the leap. The Lakers got Balls, the Celtics added even more draft picks and the Heat may now have the meanest defensive 4-5 in the game.
While I understand judging players before they even touch the court is not the smartest thing to do, these are just opinions based on the rosters on paper. But feel free to call me a moron and say how dumb I am for these predictions. I can handle it. Also, I’m not including the Sacramento Kings in this story (whoops, I guess I just did) just because I’m attempting to hide my bias. WE GOT DE’AARON FOX, YESSS!! Okay, now where were we?
Here are some of the winners and losers from the 2017 NBA Draft.
Winner: Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers are primed for a hell of a 2017/18 season as long as their stars of the future, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, can stay healthy. They swapped their third pick for the Boston Celtics’ No. 1 pick to nab Markelle Fultz. Fultz will join Simmons in the back court and the two will look to do some damage.
Simmons missed the entire ’16/17 season due to injuries, but his potential is limitless. With Simmons and the addition of Fultz, the 76ers now have a pair of top picks to lead a young team filled with potential upside.
Loser: Chicago Bulls
The Bulls, who eked into the playoffs last season traded their best player and the 16th pick in the NBA Draft for an unproven Kris Dunn, a player coming off an ACL injury, Zach LaVine, and a #7 pick which turned into Lauri Markannen.
Now, the question is how can the Bulls rid themselves of Wade and more than likely Rajon Rondo as well to complete the team’s youth movement. The real issue I have with the Butler trade is their return being a trio of players whose NBA potential is untapped. When you give up an All-Star like Butler, you’d like to get a guaranteed starter at the least.
LaVine has shown improvement since entering the league and last year he was having a tremendous junior year, then he tore his ACL and was out the remainder of the season. It was a tough-luck situation for the 22-year-old who was averaging 18.9 points per game along with three assists and three rebounds.
If LaVine turns into a superstar and replaces Butler, obviously this trade is about even, but with Wade taking up the shooting guard position (and getting paid $24M this season), the Bulls need to work out the kinks of the roster to better situate themselves.
Winner: Phoenix Suns
Can you say “Runnin’ Suns” 2.0? Maybe. Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, TJ Warren, Marquese Chriss. The Suns have the potential of being one of the fastest teams in the league and definitely one of the most athletic.
Jackson was considered by some the best player in the draft and him falling to the Suns at four is a huge break for Phoenix. Jackson had one of the highest Box Plus/Minus in all of college basketball at 10.7 and showed he can perform on both ends of the court while at Kansas. Adding him to a lineup with offensive threats like Booker and Bledsoe should allow him to ease into the offense.
If Jackson can become the player many see him being, the Suns future could be bright. While the trade rumors surrounding Bledsoe are still in the air, the young talent on the Suns is obvious. While they’re still a couple years away from playoff contention, Phoenix is heating up.
Loser: Detroit Pistons
I think the Pistons are bad… boy. But, seriously, the team hasn’t had a direction in some time. Their biggest name Andre Drummond is constantly being dangled as trade bait, but no ever seems to bite. The player I think they need to revolve their team around, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, is a restricted free agent next year and will be expecting a big payday.
Enter Luke Kennard. The NBA Draft’s 12th pick out of Duke and a player I see as being a left-handed Kyle Korver at best. Kennard’s utilization of head fakes and jab steps allow him enough space to get his shot off and don’t get me wrong, his shot is beautiful. But, my biggest question is if his game will translate to the fast-paced NBA.
My second objection with this selection is that Kennard plays the two-guard (Caldwell-Pope’s position). So, unless the Pistons are prepared to move Caldwell-Pope to the three, Kennard will be on the bench for at least this season.
My third quarrel with this selection is that the Pistons only had one pick in this draft. Why not trade the 12 pick and get yourselves some more selections? If Kennard does start at the two and Caldwell-Pope plays at the three, be prepared to see teams attempt to take advantage of Kennard’s lack of speed.
So there you have it. Those are my winners and losers of the 2017 NBA Draft.
Featured Image: Panini Instant NBA Draft #16