Draft night has come and gone. We now know where at least 60 new players will start their NBA careers. As expected, there were a lot of draft night trades. It was difficult to keep up with them all as I watched the draft. Also as expected, the unexpected happened. There were several players who were drafted way above where I thought they should go, and players who fell much too far for their talent level. All the picks are in, which means we can take a look at who won and lost the draft. Here are my winners and losers of draft night 2017.
The Timberwolves traded for Jimmy Butler without having to give up a lot to get him. They gave up Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and their number seven overall pick. That’s not a high asking price. In return, the Timberwolves got Butler and the Bulls 16th overall pick. Pairing Butler with Wiggins and Towns was a great move. The Timberwolves now have their big three. Butler becomes the veteran star of a team with two very young superstars in the making. Next season might finally be the year the Timberwolves make it into the playoffs. Minnesota would have been the biggest winners in the draft if they didn’t make a single pick. I loved this trade. I’m excited to see the Timberwolves work their way into the playoffs next year.
Drafting De’Aaron Fox got them started off on the right foot. He’s the point guard of the future. In my final top 10 mock draft, I said Fox is my pick for rookie of the year. I think he’s got potential to be like John Wall. I was disappointed to see the Kings pass on Malik Monk at number ten, but I guess they really like Buddy Hield as their shooting guard. I just think it would have been great to pair the two college teammates together. In addition to Fox, the Kings ended up with Justin Jackson and Harry Giles. Jackson is an effective swingman who can shoot well from outside. I think he’ll become a nice role player for the Kings. Giles is a little bit of a risk because of his injury history and lack of success in college, but at pick 20, if he doesn’t pan out it won’t hurt the Kings too much. I almost forget about Frank Mason III. The Kings got him in the second round, most likely to be their back up point guard. I think he’s been overlooked because of his height. He’s going to be a nice addition. I really liked what Sacramento did in this draft.
I couldn’t believe Dennis Smith Jr. lasted this long. I thought the Magic, Bulls, and Knicks would have taken him when they had the chance. I even said, “this pick is Dennis Smith Jr.” when each team came on the clock. I was shocked to see all three of those teams pass on him. The Mavericks got a steal at number nine. Dallas needed a point guard, and they got one of the better ones in this draft. Smith is going to be a great player for the Mavericks for years to come. He’s a freak athlete who is a big time scorer. I really just can’t believe he fell to nine. The Mavericks got who they wanted all along, and all they had to do was wait.
The Hornets stayed put at number eleven, patiently waiting their turn. That waiting paid off big time. Malik Monk just fell into their laps. Charlotte gets a lethal 3pt shooter to put next to Kemba Walker. Ranked 18th in 3pt shooting last year, it was an area the Hornets needed to improve. In addition to drafting Monk, the Hornets traded for Dwight Howard before the draft. I know Howard isn’t the player he used to be, but he can still play. He averaged 12.7 rebounds per game last season. The Hornets ranked 16th in rebounds per game, so adding Howard addressed another need. The Hornets got one of the best players in the draft at number eleven, and they’ve filled two big needs. Winning!
What were the Bulls thinking when they traded Butler? I don’t have all the inside information, but I feel like there were teams willing to give up more for Butler than the Timberwolves did. In addition to losing their star player, I think the Bulls are losers because of the pick they made. Chicago got the number seven overall pick from Minnesota, which they used on Lauri Markkanen. I like Markkanen as a player, but the Bulls still had Dennis Smith Jr. and Malik Monk on the board. I think Smith and Monk would have been much better choices at number seven. They most likely didn’t pick either of those players because they got Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn in the trade, but neither of them are going to help the Bulls long term.
Orlando ignored their biggest need. They didn’t get much better on offense. Instead of adding an explosive offensive player to their 29th ranked offense, they went with defense with both their picks. I had a feeling this would happen because Frank Vogel loves his defensive players. You can be good at defense, but if you can’t score it won’t matter a whole lot. Many thought Orlando would go with an explosive guard like Dennis Smith Jr. or Malik Monk, who were both still on the board at number six. Instead they went with Jonathan Isaac. At number 33 overall, they drafted Wesley Iwundu. Oklahoma State guard Jawun Evans, another offensive minded guard, was still there. Defensively they got better, but their biggest need is offense, and they ignored that need.
New York Knicks
Frank Ntilikina over Dennis Smith Jr.??? Interesting selection. Ntilikina is still raw. He’s got a lot of growing to do. I don’t think he’s going to make the Knicks any better right now. There was more talent on the board, but they decided to pass on that talent. In addition Dennis Smith Jr. being available, the Knicks could have taken Malik Monk. I don’t think anyone had Ntilikina ranked above those two guys. Well I guess the Knicks did. John Calipari said he wanted Malik Monk in New York, stating he thought Monk would light it up there. Of course Calipari would have high praise for Monk, but I agree with him. Who knows, the Knicks and Ntilikina could prove me wrong. Last time the Knicks drafted a foreign player people didn’t like, it turned out pretty well.