NBA Draft: The L.A. Lakers, Charlotte Hornets, Philadelphia 76ers and Utah Jazz get PSN’s top grades from Thursday night’s selections. At the other end? The New York Knicks are no surprise.
By Jamal Murphy, PSN contributor
>>Listen to post-draft analysis on this week’s Nets Gain
In what was the most anticipated NBA Draft since the LeBron James draft of 2003, the league’s 30 teams made their selections from a draft class that was as deep as any in more than a decade. Let’s see which teams put their picks to the best use.
Atlanta Hawks: B
The Hawks took a flyer on some post help with Wake Forest’s John Collins. Tyler Dorsey was a nice pick as well, coming midway through the second round for a team that needs depth at guard. Alpha Kaba, the draft’s final pick, is an athletic big from France with major upside.
Boston Celtics: B
You can’t argue with the Celtics taking the long, athletic and offensively polished Jayson Tatum as the third pick. SMU’s Semi Ojeleye was a good value pick at No.37. Boston’s last two picks, however, were head-scratchers.
Brooklyn Nets: B+
The Nets copped a lottery talent with the 22nd pick. Jarrett Allen is very raw offensively, but the 6-foot-11 center with a 7-5 wingspan has tons of potential and great character. The 19-year-old prospect was considered a possible late lottery pick and was a top-15 prospect coming out of high school in Texas. Aleksandar Vezenkov is an overseas small forward prospect that has a decent shot at the league.
Charlotte Hornets: A
Michael Jordan & Co. provided Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum with some dynamic guard help. Malik Monk is an absolute steal at No.11 and second-rounder Dwayne Bacon is a strong combo guard who averaged 17 points per game at Florida State. Bacon was a top 20 prospect coming out of high school in 2015.
Chicago Bulls: C+
The Bulls spent most of draft night downgrading their team with the trade of Jimmy Butler to Minnesota. Their one pick was solid in Lauri Markkanen, a pure-shooting stretch 4 or 5. Markkanen has potential, though I’m not sure it’s star potential. The Bulls also now have holes throughout their roster.
Cleveland Cavaliers: No grade
The Cavs did not have a pick in the 2017 draft.
Dallas Mavericks: B
The Mavs definitely needed a point guard and they got one with ninth pick Dennis Smith Jr. Smith is a ball dominant, flashy point guard that will give Dallas an instant jolt offensively.
Denver Nuggets: C-
In Tylor Lydon, Vlatco Cancar and Monte Morris, the Nuggets added three question marks to a roster full of them. Nothing to see here, yet.
Detroit Pistons: C
I like Luke Kennard as a player, but I’m not sure how well he fits in with Stan Van Gundy’s system – or the NBA in general. We will see, but there may have been better options available to the Pistons.
Golden State Warriors: B+
The Warriors paid cash considerations for the 38th pick and got a piece that they needed. Jordan Bell out of Oregon is a strong and bouncy 22-year-old PF that likely will help Golden State’s front line immediately. The rich got richer.
Houston Rockets: B
The Rockets may have gotten a steal with their only pick at No.43. Isaiah Hartenstein is a 7-foot-1, 250-pound center with athleticism and game at only 19 years of age. Potential back issues caused him to slide in the draft but, if he can stay healthy, this pick was a coup for Houston.
Indiana Pacers: C
There’s a lot going on in Indiana and the Pacers added some potentially sound pieces from UCLA in T.J. Leaf with the 18th pick and Ike Anibogu at No.47. Edmond Sumner was a major reach late in the second round.
Los Angeles Clippers: B
Doc Rivers and the Clippers made the most of two second-round picks, getting Jawun Evans and Sindarius Thornwell. Both players were dominant players at the college level last year and could have been first-rounders in a weaker draft. Evans is a great low-value flyer for the Clips, considering Chris Paul’s potential departure.
Los Angeles Lakers: A-
Magic Johnson did the right thing and drafted Lonzo Ball to lead the new-age Lakers. Ball is a next-level passer, capable of changing a team’s culture instantly a la Jason Kidd. The Lakers then got two hardworking, high IQ players in the late first round in Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart. And with the 48th pick, L.A. got great value and potential by picking Thomas Bryant out of Indiana – a 20-year-old, 6-foot-10 versatile center with a 7-6 wingspan.
Memphis Grizzlies: B+
The Grizz did pretty well with two second-round picks, getting forward help in Ivan Rabb and Dillon Brooks. Both players were victims of this incredibly deep draft and both could figure prominently in the Grizzlies’ rotation sooner rather than later.
Miami Heat: B
Pat Riley & Co. got an old school (in game), but new school (in athleticism) power forward that bolsters their frontcourt and could fit in nicely with center Hassan Whiteside. Bam Adebayo plays close to the basket, but is a beast with it and has the athletic ability to broaden his game.
Milwaukee Bucks: B+
The Bucks may have gotten one of the draft’s hidden gems in D.J. Wilson out of Michigan. Wilson is an athletic, versatile, high IQ 6-foot-10 forward who can shoot, pass, handle it a little bit and defend. With his 7-3 wingspan, he should team with the Greek Freak and Thon Maker to form an treacherously versatile front line in the future. The Bucks, who also need guard help, drafted a solid one in Sterling Brown at No.46.
Minnesota Timberwolves: B
The Wolves added game-changer Jimmy Butler in a blockbuster trade, then used the draft to acquire promising big man Justin Patton from Creighton. Patton is raw and jumped on the scene during the past college season, but he is an intriguing mix of size and skill and is raw and young enough to make his potential look scary. It will be interesting to see how he meshes with Karl Anthony Towns in the frontcourt.
New Orleans Pelicans: C
The Pelicans desperately need guard help and they took a flyer on Frank Jackson out of Duke. He’s a few years away at best from being a floor leader, so the Pelicans still need guard help.
New York Knicks: C-
The Knicks used the 8th pick to select French guard Frank Ntilikina. By all reports and on film, Ntilikina is a solid prospect with good size, athleticism and defensive instincts. However, he seems a few years away from truly contributing. If that’s the case, it will be tough for him (and Phil Jackson) in New York. The Knicks passed on players who likely have more upside and immediate impact in Malik Monk and Donovan Mitchell. Their second-round picks were dubious as well.
Oklahoma City Thunder: B-
The Thunder took a chance on a player with the potential to be a prototypical NBA small forward. Terrance Ferguson was a top-15 recruit out of high school but decided to play overseas for a season rather than going the traditional college route. He has a great natural shot, elite athleticism and good length for a small forward/shooting guard.
Orlando Magic: B
The Magic, who need help in all areas, decided to concentrate on their frontcourt in this draft and did a decent job. No.6 pick Jonathan Isaac has unlimited potential as a 6-foot-11 small forward, but will need time to develop. Andzejs Pasecniks from Latvia is a 7-footer with skills and a mean streak and second-round pick Wesley Iwundu is a versatile, do-it-all forward out of Kansas State.
Philadelphia 76ers: A
It was a good day for the 76ers. They got the best overall player in the draft by taking Markelle Fultz at No.1 and then made two sneaky second-round picks by drafting two ridiculously athletic foreign bigs. Both Australia’s Jonah Bolden and Frenchman Mathias Lessort have more to their games than size and athleticism, and don’t seem to be too far away from being able to contribute.
Phoenix Suns: B+
The Suns got a monster – particularly for their system – when they drafted Josh Jackson fourth overall. Watching him run up and down the floor will be a treat. Jackson also brings playmaking and defensive ability to the table. They made solid second-round picks as well, getting Davon Reed and Alec Peters.
Portland Trail Blazers: B+
The Blazers could use some frontcourt help and may have solved that issue with this draft. Zach Collins, taken No.10 out of Gonzaga, has special skills for a big man but will need time to develop. Caleb Swanigan (26th pick) showed special scoring and rebounding ability at Purdue and could be ready to contribute immediately.
Sacramento Kings: B+
The Kings got one bona fide star and three intriguing prospects. Fifth overall pick De’Aaron Fox should excel immediately in the open court. Justin Jackson is a solid small forward/shooting guard prospect that will need to shore up his confidence at the NBA level. Harry Giles is a huge injury risk that may be worth it at the 20th pick and Frank Mason is a solid second-round pick at point guard.
San Antonio Spurs: B+
Picking from the second-to-last slot in both the rounds, the Spurs as usual did the most with what they had. In Derrick White and Jaron Blossomgame, they were able to land two solid and mature players who could step in and give them minutes pretty quickly.
Toronto Raptors: B-
The Raptors added an athletic wing with lots of potential, drafting O.G. Anunoby with the 23rd pick. He has a ways to go before proving he can be a solid NBA wing, however.
Utah Jazz: A
The Jazz did their due diligence, as usual, and made some shrewd picks. Donovan Mitchell’s under-the-radar, athletic, smart and hardworking profile fits the Jazz perfectly and he should excel in short order. Tony Bradley is a solid big man that needs developing, but his grasp of the fundamentals should serve him well in Utah. Nigel Williams-Goss is good value for a late second-round selection.
Washington Wizards: No grade
The Wizards did not have a pick in the 2017 draft.