Now that the 2016-2017 NBA regular season has come to an end, the playoffs are in full swing, and most of my predictions at the beginning of the season failing to play out, the country’s top NBA prospects are now entering the spotlight, with countless theories as to which teams will draft them and why. The draft order has yet to be finalized however, so for the sake of this blog, we will assume the lottery plays out as the following:
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Phoenix Suns
- Boston Celtics
- With the first overall pick in this year’s NBA draft, the Los Angeles Lakers select Lonza Ball out of UCLA.
By now, everyone has heard the hype surrounding Ball and have seen what he can do on the court. With the glaring issues currently plaguing the Lakers, this pick seems like their safest bet. Los Angeles’s defensive play was ranked dead last among all NBA teams this past season, and their offense was not much better. Lonzo Ball may not have been a phenom on the defensive side of the ball, but his productivity on offense was impressive enough to receive attention from all over the country, partly due to his father’s controversial media presence in recent months.
What he as a player has done for the UCLA Bruins is unlike most. Successful college teams typically have a tandem of talent (see Jalen Brunson and Ryan Arcidiacono from Villanova). While it may be unfair to discredit the rest of the Bruins team, Ball was often the sole reason why UCLA was able to win as many games as they did, and helped greatly in their March Madness push. Adding a talent like him to the Lakers starting five could completely flip their statistics. Last year’s pick Brandon Ingram could work well with Ball’s perimeter talent, and D’Angelo Russell would most likely flourish as well.
- With the second overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft, the Phoenix Suns select Josh Jackson out of the University of Kansas.
The Suns are in fairly desperate need of a productive small forward at the moment, and Jackson would certainly help with his outside shooting success. Though he only spent one season with the Jayhawks, Jackson’s statistics speak for themselves. Pairing him with Suns’ Devin Booker could give Phoenix a true offensive burst, with center Tyson Chandler providing skill in the paint.
- With the third pick in the 2017 NBA draft, the Boston Celtics select Markelle Fultz out of the University of Washington.
Arguably the best all around player in this year’s draft on par with (or better than) Lonzo Ball without all the media attention, Fultz’ 6’10” wingspan allows him to play above the rim with ease on both sides of the ball. Standing at 6’4”, Fultz is able to dunk emphatically while also shoot three-pointers from the perimeter. Perhaps the most important asset he possesses is his coachability. Fultz is able to learn quickly, as displayed by his remarkable talent in his one year with the Washington Huskies. Putting him alongside star point guard Isiah Thomas could boost the Celtics’ already impressive offense, as well as give him the necessary mentoring to better understand the game at the NBA level. If he isn’t taken first overall by the Lakers (or whatever team wins the first overall pick), Fultz would be a steal at number three.