FOUR YEARS LATER….I’M BACKKKKKKK!!!!
In the first draft where the Boston Celtics had garnered the #1 overall pick I would be remiss not to bring back to the good ole fashioned live-blog. Here will be my thoughts as the night progresses in what is assured to be a franchise defining night for at least one team. How will your team do? Stick with me and find out with coverage beginning at 7pm from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.
7:02 PM — Tonight’s coverage is brought to us by State Farm. Seems to be very appropriate as “The Process” has the Philadelphia 76ers on the clock with the first pick after a trade with Danny Ainge and Boston that has the Celtics continuing to stockpile picks while the 76ers look to continue their legacy of drafting players who will disappoint and leave Center City as a hockey town.
7:09 — Our first (Jason) Kidd vs. (Lonzo) Ball comparison. This a very accurate description, aside from the fact that Ball is 2 inches taller and a better shooter at this stage of his development than Kidd was coming out of Berkeley. The current Bucks coach worked his way to the top 10 all-time in three point field goals made, so if Lonzo can develop that aspect of his game he’ll be scary good. I already believe him to be the best player in this draft, but wouldn’t go near him with a 50 foot pole thanks for his pops Lavar and the “Big Baller Brand”.
7:19 — Porzingis. Pipe Dream. And Phil Jackson is the one holding the bowl. Nice try, Zen Master. Danny may love to gamble but not tonight old friend, not with that offer.
7:25 — Commissioner Silver explaining the process of announcing the picks to the crowd. Extremely complicated, of course. Can’t be having any “Moonlight” moments tonight, right Adam? He’s the best commissioner in all of professional sports for a reason.
7:28 — Jalen Rose speaking the truth about my man Jonathan Isaac from The Florida State University. Would be very surprised if the Celtics do select him, but no other player has received as much recent hype as the man who will have the best hair in pro basketball once his name is called this evening.
7:35 — It wouldn’t be a draft without booing of the man in charge before it begins. Draymond Green gets the loudest boos (deservedly, “kicknuts”) and little man Isaiah Thomas gets a mix of boos and cheers when recognized as the last pick of the 2011 draft, reiterating Adam Silver’s point that all picks tonight matter (except for the ones that get stashed in Europe never to be seen again).
7:40 — With the first pick in the 2017 NBA Draft the Philadelphia Sixers select Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington. No surprise here. Personally, I am not sold on Fultz and the fact that he led his Washington Huskies to a 9-22 record in the 2016-2017 season. Danny Ainge thought the exact same and had no misgivings or reservations about trading down from #1 overall to #3 to still get his man in this draft. The James Harden comparison seems a bit far fetched at this point as Harden was in the running for league MVP despite not playing a lick of defense, but Fultz may have the most upside in this draft and Philadelphia is willing to continue to suck for years while their young core develops. Cool jacket though, bro.
7:47 — Pick two is also an extremely predictable pick. Lonzo Ball ends up staying home and playing for the one team that his crazy father said he would, the Los Angeles Lakers. Between picks take a second and watch the video below, and you’ll see exactly what is going on with that family dynamic. In my opinion this is an exceptional pick, and with the gifted vision and passing ability that Lonzo already has spending some time around Magic Johnson could be instrumental in his development. Hopefully he realizes that his future and his career is in his hands and gets the heck away from his overbearing father, because as I mentioned earlier I do believe his is the most talented player who was available this evening.
7:52 — TRADE. And it’s Jimmy Butler. And not to the team I expected. I just had flashbacks to the 2007 NBA Draft and the trade that brought Jesus Shuttlesworth (sorry, traitor Ray Allen) to Boston. Excuse me while I go throw up as Butler is headed to Minnesota in exchange for young superstars Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn and an exchange of draft picks.
7:54 — Boston Celtics time. With the third pick in the 2017 NBA DRAFT, Danny Ainge selects Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke University. Another young player who left Duke after just one season and at 19 years old. He’s been a top player his entire life and will probably be another project type player, whether he sticks around in Boston or is part of a package tonight or later on this offseason. I’m a bit surprised that Danny didn’t select Josh Jackson from Kansas with this pick, but congrats to Tatum who looks real good in that green leprechaun cap.
8:01 — The Phoenix Suns select Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas. Jackson is an energy player and an extremely valuable wing defender and he’ll be an outstanding fit with Devin Booker and the Suns. He needs to improve his shooting ability, but he is an electric talent and a grinder. Jalen Rose’s comparison to Warriors’ Andre Igoudala is a very good comparison, and any team would be ecstatic to have that type of player. Off court issues and an altercation with a Kansas women’s basketball player may be the only knock on the kid, but in the end he was selected where he probably would have been anyway.
8:09 — With the 5th pick, the Sacramento Kings select De’Aaron Fox, PG, University of Kentucky. Fox can score, period. He also led the SEC in assists in 2016-2017 and is another prodigy in the long line of John Calipari point guard recruits. Fox might be the most explosive offensive player in this draft and comes from the Russell Westbrook mold, so that should excite Kings fans should he still be with them by the end of the evening. Maybe most importantly, he is the fifth straight FRESHMAN to be selected tonight, as the NBA continues to lower its average age.
8:16 — Jonathan Isaac is staying in Florida. He will make the 3:30 hour trek to Orlando from Tallahassee, as Leonard Hamilton and the NOLES have another first round draft pick as the Orlando Magic make their pick at #6. 6’10”, 210 pounds, and still growing, Isaac continues to mature and develop in his game. He will need to continue to put on weight and toughness as he ages. Congrats to the Magic and to the Seminoles as this is an outstanding upside pick and a SIXTH straight frosh to be taken. Also, as an aside, the Magic do have the best jersey sponsorship deal as they stay in-house and will wear a Disney patch on their kits in 2017 and beyond. GO NOLES!
8:23 — With the 7th pick, the Minnesota Timberwolves picking for the Chicago Bulls have me saying “who?” for the first time this evening. Lauri Markkanen from the Arizona Wildcats is the pick, and what a surprise its another kid one year out of high school. The Finnish player garners a Channing Frye comparison (another Wildcat) but I’ll be honest with you and admit I didn’t watch too much Pac-12 hoops this past season.
8:29 — The Knicks go international, AGAIN. Frank Ntilkina is the pick, a point guard from France. On a day where the Knicks pissed off their last international pick this is a very curious selection, but Phil Jackson is busy sleeping and James Dolan is away at a music gig, so what do you expect from the atrocious Knickerbockers?
8:33 — Dennis Smith Jr. from North Carolina State is the pick at #9 for the Dallas Mavericks. A point guard from the Tobacco Road, Smith has a 48 inch vertical and leads with his explosive and toughness. Jalen with the “Stevie Franchise” comparison is a beautiful sight to see, and the Mavs hope that Smith Jr. can provide more production than their last few point guard busts.
8:40 — Second trade of the night. With the 10th pick the Sacramento Kings select Zach Collins, PF, Gonzaga though he will be headed to Portland in exchange for their next two picks. Collins had 69 (nice) blocks last season and is very athletic for a man of his size (7’0″, 230) The theme of the night, he is the first one-and-done in Gonzaga history and is a lottery pick despite not starting a game for Mark Few and the Zags.
8:47 — Michael Jordan and the Charlotte Hornets pick up Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky, with the 11th pick of the night. Monk, along with soon to be picked Luke Kennard, is one of the top shooters in this draft class and he can truly light up the scoreboard. Monk is possibly the most athletic player in this draft but will need to improve his defensive game if he wants to earn the type of minutes allotted to most lottery picks. Monk will join Kemba Walker in a very fun backcourt of the future.
8:52 — DETROIT BASKETBALL….Andre Drummond is the face of the franchise, but after tonight, the aforementioned Luke Kennard will try to change that after being selected at number 12. A prolific scorer from Duke University and a 2-time Mr. Basketball in the state of Ohio, Kennard is the type of player that you have to follow all over the court or he will burn you. As a lefty shooter, Kennard can fool you the first time you play against him as well.
8:59 — The Denver Nuggets select Donovan Mitchell, SG, Lousville with the 13th pick of the night. Mitchell will be headed to the Utah Jazz as part of a proposed trade. Mitchell is a top-notch defender and will bring some versatility to the Jazz who may be (hopefully) losing Gordon Hayward in free agency this off-season.
9:05 — With the final pick of the lottery portion of this draft, the Miami Heat take Bam Adebayo, PF/C, University of Kentucky. The third Wildcat from Lexington taken so far, “Bam” is the leader in the clubhouse for best name of the night. One of the top big men available, the 7’3″ wingspan on this young man will be a powerful tool at the next level for a man who had more dunks than Anthony Davis while rocking the blue and white. This is a great selection for the Heat to replace Chris Bosh, who due to his dinosaur heart will most likely never play another minute in the Association. Bam mentions “this is like our graduation” for Kentucky players and no truer words have ever been spoken.
9:12 — Portland, selecting for the Sacramento Kings as part of the earlier trade, make an outstanding pick in drafting Justin Jackson, SG, North Carolina at #15 overall. Jackson draws comparisons to Hall-Of-Famer George “Ice Man” Gervin and is a player who uses all of his 6’8″ frame and beautiful floater to light up the scoreboard. Jackson does need to learn to be more consistent and bring his energy every single night, but he is a fantastic pick for the Kings. He also just put a ring on his smoke-show girlfriend, so even if he does not succeed at the next level he’s lived up to his potential in life.
9:18 — The Bulls, on the clock for Minnesota, choose Justin Patton, C, from Creighton with the 16th pick. Patton was the Big East freshman of the year last season and is an unbelievable pick and roll talent as he continues to develop. This pick was part of the Jimmy Butler deal and has to be considered a win for the Wolves even as the give up the most explosive dunking guard in Lavine in the deal.
9:26 — The Milwaukee Bucks select DJ Wilson, PF, Michigan at 17. The Bucks are a team on the cusp of joining the elite ranks and Wilson is a player who they expect to help them reach new heights. Wilson is known for his short shorts and 7’3″ wingspan while standing at just 6’10”. Wilson is a finesse type player who will be an excellent fit with the system that J.Kidd and Bucks run and should be a very good compliment to the “Greek Freak” for the future.
9:32 — At 18, the Indiana Pacers select “just another White Guy” (according to Lavar Ball) T.J. Leaf from the UCLA Bruins. Leaf played just one year in Westwood but is a stretch four that is becoming ever so valuable in the current NBA landscape. Leaf has also grown a lot as a player, especially with his toughness, and will be a valuable player as the Pacers transition from their current core with the impending exit of superstar Paul George.
9:38 — With the 19th pick, the Atlanta Hawks select a power forward from Wake Forest University. No, it’s not Tim Duncan, it is John Collins. Collins was the 2016-2017 ACC Most Improver Player of the Year and is another pick and pop player which is an increasing frequency in the Association. Collins will still need to extend his shooting range and improve his defense, and again just be more tenacious in general as he makes the progression to the next level. Collins will replace fan favorite Dwight Howard who was traded earlier this week, so he will have big shoes to fill as he begins his NBA career.
9:43 — Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but there’s another freshman off the board (the 14th of the night). At #20 the Kings will get Harry Giles, forward from Duke, via trade. Giles was one of the top high school prospects heading into last season, but due to injuries did not quite live up to his potential while playing for Coach K. Money talks and Giles decided to enter himself into tonight’s draft and while still a first round pick he probably expected to go higher in this meat market.
9:49 — Oklahoma City goes with a unique pick, Terrance Ferguson, an American who spent last season playing with kangaroos and exploring the world down under in Australia. He is a prolific shooter who decided to forego the typical NCAA feeder system and gain experience playing against grown men in a professional league right out of high school. He is a project type player, but should the shoe fit could be an excellent backcourt mate for Russell Westbrook or play the 3 and spread the floor for the Thunder for years to come.
9:55 — The hosts of tonight’s draft finally get to make their selection. In a draft where the Nets should have been in the drivers seat and selecting first overall, Brooklyn decided to enjoy a few of the last years of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and instead finished with a league worst 20 wins last season. Thanks again, Brooklyn. With the 22nd selection the Nets scoop up Jarrett Allen, C, University of Texas. Allen is yet another one-and-done player and is best known for his posterizing dunks. Allen has HUGE shoes to fill, as he will be replacing Brook Lopez who earlier this week was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in a move that will be finalized in the very near future.
10:04 — OG Anunoby is the pick for Toronto at #23. While his name sounds more like a weed strain than an NBA player, Anunoby out of Indiana University, is a high flyer who knows how to use his length and athleticism to his advantage. As Jay Bilas points out, Anunoby has the potential to be a lock-down defender at the next level and should be an excellent fit in Toronto as he continues his development and his understanding of the game. He also promises to continue to rock the “short shorts”, bringing back some of the culture of 1980’s pro basketball.
10:10 — With the 24th pick, the Denver Nuggets by way of the Utah Jazz, select Tyler Lydon from the University of Syracuse. Lydon is yet another stretch four who will need to fill out his frame if he wants to have an extended career in the Association. Lydon is a great shooter but I would have preferred to see him spend more time progressing his inside game, but unfortunately with the way the sport is evolving we see more and more finesse players and less bruisers as the years go on.
10:19 – At 25, the Orlando Magic nab Andzejs Pasecniks, C, Latvia. Sorry guys, I have nothing for you on this one, which is probably one of the reasons the Magic were looking to unload this pick. UPDATE — He is on the move to Philadelphia in exchange for a future pick.
10:25 — One of my favorite picks of the night. At #26 the Blazers select Caleb Swanigan, PF, Purdue. He’s the prototype power forward of old and is the throwback bruiser who knows how to get things done in the paint. The kid spent time in multiple homeless shelters as a kid which helped lead to his fearless attitude, and he’s not afraid to use his big frame to his advantage. Swanigan might be best rebounder in this class, and at 26 I would consider him a steal and an exceptional project for the future in Portland.
10:30 — Brooklyn is back on the clock, selecting for the Los Angeles Lakers as part of the Brook Lopez for Timofey Mozgov/D’Angelo Russell salary dump. The pick is Kyle Kuzma, SF, Utah. Again, I didn’t get much of a chance to watch this kid last year but he was first team Pac-12 with 15 double-doubles and could grow into a role player for the Lakers. If not, no harm no foul as L.A. acquiring Lopez even as a rental makes this a fantastic trade for Los Angeles and opens up cap space for their expected 2018 offseason moves.
10:35 — Originally the Lakers pick, the 28th pick will be going to Utah. Tony Bradley, C, University of North Carolina is the pick. He’s another one-and-done who averaged 7 points and 5 boards a game in limited minutes for the Tarheels this past season. He is best known as a rebounder and was an effective player for the National Champions, but he will need to improve his footwork and post moves if he wants to become a legitimate player at the next level.
10:45 — The Spurs pull a shocker and draft a player who had just 1 D-1 scholarship offer coming out of high school Derrick White from the Colorado Buffaloes, PG, is their selection, and is another player who will take a few years to develop to his true potential. Thankfully for White, the Spurs are a perfect fit for his game, as right they don’t really need another player but instead have picked up a project that may pay dividends in the future. As Jalen Rose mentions, the Spurs have the opportunity to “develop” White and will not need to thrust him into pressure situations for a few years.
10:49 — With the final pick of the first round, the Utah Jazz grab Josh Hart, SG, Villanova. Hart was the Big East player of the year last year, and like Derrick White selected just before him are the only two seniors selected in tonight’s first round. Hart is an Eagle Scout and a blue collar worker known just as well for his defensive prowess as his finishing ability.
With that selection, and this 3-plus hour first round it is time for me to step away for the evening. I will be back tomorrow with my recap of the second round and draft grades for the winners and losers of tonight’s draft. I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to read my initial observations of tonight’s event, and I have to say it does feel good to get 3,300+ words back up here for the return of WeynethWorld. Thank you, all, and may your team make better selections in the second round than they did so far through tonight’s festivities.