The biggest news on 2017 NBA Draft Day is that the Knicks are searching for a Top 4 pick to ship Kristaps Porzingis. I can't imagine any team in the Top 4, especially the Phoenix Suns at 4, not thinking about adding Porzingis to their roster.
Kristaps is 7′ 3″. He averaged 18 points and 7 boards per game last season. Not only that, but he also blocked 2 shots per game. It's difficult to find a big man that has a complete set of basketball skills. The fact that he's 7′ 3″ still means something in the NBA.
1. Philadelphia 76'ers – Markelle Fultz, Washington, PG
The 6'5″, 195 lbs, Fultz has been compared to Karl-Anthony Towns due to his skill set. He can do anything you ask from a point-guard. Fultz averaged 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game. He shot 47.6% from the field. He shot over 41% from three.
He could be one of the Top 5 players in the NBA within the next 2 to 3 seasons. He's leaving Washington after his freshman season. It means he's young enough to form a seriously talented core at Philly if Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons return from injuries. The 76'ers should be much improved with Fultz at point-guard.
The only real knock is that, at times, he lapsed on defense. That's not a big concern. Not yet. Most college players find transitioning on the defensive end at the NBA to be difficult.
I don't think Fultz finds the transition difficult. I just believe it's going to take longer for his defensive game to develop. He's already got a great NBA game on offense.
2. L.A. Lakers – Lonzo Ball, UCLA, PG
There was a moment yesterday where I thought maybe, just maybe, the Lakers go for De'Aaron Fox over Lonzo Ball. Then, I woke up this morning and said to myself, “What are you thinking?”
The key for me, and this is going to sound nuts, is LaVarr Ball. Yes, Lonzo's off the cuff, supremely confident, father is the reason I firmly believe Lonzo goes to the Lakers with pick 2. LaVarr has already developed a strong relationship with L.A.'s upper management. That's huge.
Lonzo Ball is a decent human being. You can tell that LaVarr and Lonzo's mom, Tina, have been a huge force in his life. I think the way that LaVarr has conducted himself has been silly at times. But, I can't knock how he's raised his kid.
Lonzo's got great size at 6′ 6″ and 190 lbs. He understands the game of basketball much better than most point-guards that come out of college. He's an excellent passer. He's got great vision, meaning that he can see the entire court. He's also great at anticipating.
The three big knocks are defense, competitiveness, and the way he releases the ball so low with his jump shot. The lack of competitiveness could be an issue. He must raise his competitive fire to excel in the NBA. There were plenty of games that he could have taken over while a freshman at UCLA. He didn't. Much of Lonzo's lack of competitiveness may have been because UCLA coach Steve Alford didn't want Lonzo to take over games.
3. Boston Celtics – Jonathan Isaac, Florida State, PF
The Celtics traded from 1 to 3. There are a couple of things about that. First, they're sticking with point-guard Isaiah Thomas. Thomas has developed into one of the best players in the NBA. He's gotten better year to year. With Brad Stevens as his coach, Thomas should become a much stronger passer this season than he was last season. I believe Stevens is improving parts of Isaiah's game slowly. That's how Stevens developed Gordon Heyward into one of the very best players in college basketball at Butler.
The decision to stick with Isaiah means that Stevens and GM Danny Ainge can shore up the middle. Boston's frontcourt isn't that bad. But, the Celtics could use a strong power forward that can develop into one of the very best at the position. Jonathan Isaac might be that power forward.
How good is Jonathan Isaac? In high school he started at point guard. Only after growing 7 inches did Isaac change to power forward. He must gain weight at only 205 lbs. I don't think he'll have an issue putting on pounds. His frame can handle it.
I think Isaac has the most upside of any player in the 2017 NBA Draft. I believe he's got more upside than Ball or Fultz. It's rare to find a big man that's 6′ 10″ who has ball-handling skills to go along with a nice face-up jumper. I mean, if the only knock on the kid's game is that he must gain weight to play on the blocks, what does that tell you? It tells you that the kid's upside is tremendous.
4. New York Knicks (from Phoenix Suns) – Josh Jackson, Kansas, SF
The Suns want to trade this pick. They don't see anyone at 4 that can help their burgeoning core of Devin Booker, Marques Chriss, and T.J. Warren. I believe they're set on point-guard Eric Bledsoe. Drafting anyone here makes no sense to Phoenix.
What does make sense is trading the pick for Kristaps Porzingis. It's obvious that the Knicks don't want to take the time to fix whatever's gone wrong with Kristaps. I used to think that Melo was the problem. Now, I'm starting to think that Melo's got the patience of a saint.
Kristaps didn't even show up for his season ending exit interview. What does that tell you? The Knicks must do something. They grab the Suns' pick so that Phil Jackson can find another player to build around.
That player should be Josh Jackson. Jackson has a lot of upside. He also plays defense, a Phil staple. Not only that, but he can play multiple positions, understands the game, and is able to shoot or drive to the hoop. He's a good player.
5. Sacramento Kings – De'Aaron Fox, Kentucky, PG
Speed kills, right? Nobody's faster than De'Aaron Fox. Nobody. If he were a football player, he'd have been some team's lock down cornerback. That's how fast he is. He's a fearless defensive rebounder. Since he's so fast, Fox can grab a defensive board and run the fast-break.
He has all the tools that you need in your point-guard. The only really knock against Fox is that he doesn't have a strong long-range game. The key for Sacramento, should they draft him, is to not put Fox in a position where he must make the long-range, three-point, jump shot.
Why? Buddy Heild plays for Sacramento. Heild hits over 41% from three. He should hit his threes at a higher percentage this season. Heild is the Kings' three-point shooter. Fox is the Kings' set up man.
What Fox does have that gives him a huge advantage is a mid-range jump shooting game. Think about it. Fox has the moves to juke plenty of NBA players in man-to-man, once he gets around you, he can bury the mid-range jumper. If he sees a straight line to the basket, Fox drive to the basket. He shot 212 free throws at Kentucky last season. The kid isn't afraid to go to hoop.
Check out tonight's NBA Draft. Who knows? The next star for fantasy basketball might be one of the Top 5 players chosen.