With the Utah Jazz season having come to a close, all eyes turn toward the 2018 NBA draft. Most discussions around the Jazz will involve draft prospects and who Utah could add to this already exciting core.
For today, however, I decided to take a look back at the 2017 NBA draft. After all, this could very well be one of the top drafts in NBA history. I don’t think any of you need reminding that the Jazz came out like bandits last summer.
Here is my opinion on how the 2017 NBA draft lottery should have played out.
1. Utah Jazz: SG Donovan Mitchell
Actual 1st pick (76ers): SG Markelle Fultz. Donovan’s actual selection: No. 13
You’re absolutely right. There’s now way the Jazz could move all the way up to number 1 from 24. You’re also absolutely right in thinking there was no way I was putting Donovan Mitchell in a jersey other than Utah’s. The first-year rookie of the year candidate put up some historic numbers. With averages of 20.5 points per game, 3.7 reb, and 3.7 assists all while leading a team to the 2nd round of the playoffs, Spida showed that he has a very bright future in this league and had the best year from this draft class.
2. Philadelphia 76ers: SF Jason Tatum
Actual 2nd pick (Lakers): Lonzo Ball. Tatum’s actual selection: No. 3
The 76er’s gave up an extra pick to move up in the draft last year to take Markelle Fultz. Turns out the Celtics may have been right all along and Tatum was the better prospect. Like Donovan, Tatum is helping lead his team to a deep playoff run in a weak eastern conference. He has also proven that he’s likely going to be a multi-time all star in this league. Tatum averaged 13.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.6 assists while shooting 43% from 3.
3. Los Angeles Lakers: PF Kyle Kuzma
Actual 3rd pick (Celtics): Jason Tatum. Kuzma’s actual selection: No. 27
The Lakers still end up with Kuzma in this redraft, but this time around they have to use a high pick to get him. Kuz surprised everyone this year with how well his game translated to the NBA. He was one of the Laker’s best players, putting up 16.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.8 assists. If everyone on the Lakers is available, as reported a couple days ago, he would be high on my list of long-term targets to slot next to Rudy Gobert.
4. Boston Celtics: PF Lauri Markkanen
Actual 4th pick (Suns): Josh Jackson. Markkanen’s actual selection: No. 7
Makkenen is another rookie who had himself a really good first year. Much like Donovan, he made a ton of 3’s this year with a total of 401. The 7 footer stretch 4 fits the modern NBA perfectly and will likely have a long career because of it. The comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki were maybe a little too easy to make as a tall European shooter, but his rookie season certainly pushed him in that direction.
5. Phoenix Suns: SF Josh Jackson
Actual 5th pick (Kings): PG De’Aaron Fox. Jackson’s actual selection: No. 4
Josh Jackson started the year off reaaalllly slow. But once he got more comfortable and confident, he showed consistent flashed of a player worthy of a top 5 pick. He averaged 13.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in his first year for the Suns. Jackson is a a long, athletic wing that will likely grow into a good player in this league.
6. Sacramento Kings: PG Lonzo Ball
Actual 6th pick (Magic): Johnathan Isaac. Ball’s actual selection: No. 2
The only place that might be more fitting for Lonzo than LA might be Sacramento. They still get a point guard in this redraft, but go a different direction than last summer. Lonzo’s playmaking ability is deserving of his Jason Kidd comparisons. His averages show that as well, with about 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists a game. His shooting obviously still needs some work, but his development will be interesting to watch over the years.
7. Orlando Magic: PG Dennis Smith Jr.
Actual 7th pick (Bulls): Lauri Markennen. Smith’s actual selection: No. 9
It feels like the Orlando Magic have been looking for a point guard of the future for some time now. They may have finally found their answer with Dennis Smith Jr. Smith had a pretty exciting first year, having a pretty long leash playing for the tanking Mavericks. He wasn’t the most efficient player, but most rookie guards aren't. As his efficiency goes up, so will his stock as a player.
8. Chicago Bulls: SG Markelle Fultz
Actual 8th pick (Knicks): Frank Ntilikina. Fultz’s actual selection: No. 1
It’s not an NBA season without the 76ers having a weird season from one of their rookies. I think we know less about Fultz now that we did a year ago, which is why he’s dropping in the redraft. That being said, he’s only a year removed from putting up 20+ as a college freshman, so the potential is still there for him to live up to the #1 pick. Maybe an offseason will do wonders and he’ll have a turnaround season next year.
9. New York Knicks: PF Jonathan Isaac
Actual 9th pick (Mavericks): Dennis Smith Jr. Isaac’s actual selection: No. 6
Isaac is another player that had a disappointing rookie season. Injuries allowed him to only play in only 27 games his first go-around. Those limited minutes did still allow him to show why he was drafted so high to begin with, but here in the redraft we have him slipping just a little bit. The Knicks decide to take him as the long-term piece next to Kristaps Porzingis in the front court. The power forward has all of the athletic tools needed to succeed as a big man in this league.
10. Dallas Mavericks: PG De’Aaron Fox
Actual 10th pick (Blazers): Zach Collins. Fox’s actual selection: No. 5
The Mavericks opt for another point guard in this draft, but Dennis Smith Jr. has already been selected and Fox slips all the way down to their pick. Like most rookie point guards, Fox struggled with efficiency in his first year. He shot 41% from the field and 30% from 3 on his way to 11.6 points and 4.4 assists. He has some electric, highlight-worthy plays, now he just need to work on his consistency.
11. Portland Trailblazers: PF John Collins
Actual 11th pick (Hornets): Mallik Monk. Collins’ actual selection: No. 19
The Blazers still use this pick on a PF Collins, but go with John instead of Zach this time. I really want to see John in a dunk contest someday, because this kid can fly! He had a very promising rookie campaign for the Hawks, averaging 10.5 points and 7.3 rebounds. He’ll be a building block for years to come if he can build on the success of his first year.
12. Charlotte Hornets: SF OG Anunoby
Actual 12th pick (Pistons): Luke Kennard. Anunoby’s actual selection: No. 23
OG appears to have been overlooked last summer, as he went 23rd overall in the real draft. In a redraft, he likely finds himself in the back end of the lottery. While his per-game stats aren’t eye-popping, his advanced stats show he has a bright future in the NBA. His Offensive Rating of 113 and Defensive Rating of 108 is pretty impressive for a rookie. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Hornets reconsidered their original pick and chose a different wing like Anunoby this time around.
13. Miami Heat: C Bam Adebayo
Actual 13th pick (Jazz): Donovan Mitchell. Adebayo’s actual selection: No. 14
I feel like Bam was slotted just about right when he was picked 14th overall last year. At only 20 years old, Bam will continue to grow into his big frame and likely be a serviceable center for a long time. Like OG, his advanced stats looked very good for the Miami Heat this year and they have a lot of reasons to be excited about how his first year went. He could be a double double machine here in a year or two.
14. Sacramento Kings: PF Zach Collins
Actual 14th pick (Miami Heat): Bam Adebayo. Collin’s actual selection: No. 10
Zach probably didn’t have as good of a rookie campaign as he had hoped for, but he wasn’t a huge disappointment either. The young power forward is a 7 footer with range, he just needs a year or two of development and the future is still bright for the Gonzaga product. His production, however, does bump him down some in a redraft.
The Utah Jazz packaged Trey Lyles (laughing gif) with the 24th pick to move up to the 13 spot. That gave them the privilege of bringing Donovan Mitchell to Salt Lake City and the rest is history. While other teams are tanking to get the top pick in the draft, Dennis Lindsey didn’t need it. He was able to get the top talent with the 13th pick.
Obviously the higher you pick the greater your chances are at getting a star, but nothing is guaranteed when it comes to the draft. Thankfully, Lindsey and Crew are really good at their jobs and the future of the Jazz looks as bright as ever. I can’t wait to see what the Jazz GM has up his sleeve for this year’s draft. Surely he has Denver on speed-dial, but I think we can be confident that the Nuggets will not be picking up the phone if he gives them a ring.
Similar to what I said at the beginning, this was a very deep and talented draft and Spida is leading the charge. I am so glad that Utah was able to move up and get the guy they wanted all along. We have a lot to look forward to after he gets a full offseason of development.
There were some other pretty good hits and misses from last summer, and I’d love to hear your comments on what players you feel were the biggest steals or the biggest disappointments.