The biggest news of the 2017 NBA draft had nothing to do with a college player entering the NBA. After a year of speculation, the Chicago Bulls finally decided to trade Jimmy Butler. The Minnesota Timberwolves are the lucky team to acquire his services.
For Butler, this means a reunion with Tom Thibodeau, his first NBA coach. The Wolves are acquiring an All-NBA-caliber player who has improved every year of his career. Paired with Karl-Anthony Towns, the Wolves suddenly have one of the best one-two punches in the league. The playoffs shouldn’t be out of the question next year, and maybe even beyond.
On the other hand, the trade is a disaster for Chicago. Kris Dunn didn’t show anything as a rookie, Zach LaVine is a nice young player coming off a torn ACL and the team had to trade its No. 16 pick just to acquire No. 7. With that selection, the Bulls took Lauri Markkanen, a great 7’0 shooter with major questions on the glass and defensive end.
The Wolves are the big winner of the draft. The Bulls are the big fat losers. Here are the rest of our draft grades.
John Collins (No. 19), Tyler Dorsey (No. 41), Alpha Kaba (No. 60)
The Hawks needed a big man after the Dwight Howard trade. A superior defensive prospect in Jarrett Allen was still on the board, but Atlanta went for John Collins, the better offensive player. Collins led all of D1 college basketball in PER last season by growing into a monster rebounder and efficient interior scorer. He just doesn’t have the rim protection skill or perimeter quickness to anchor a defense.
Jayson Tatum (No. 3), Semi Ojeleye (No. 37), Kadeem Allen (No. 53), Jabari Bird (No. 56)
The Celtics could have had Markelle Fultz, the player I consider to be the best guard prospect in the draft since John Wall in 2010. Instead, Boston traded its No. 1 pick to the 76ers for No. 3 and a premium future pick. I like the fit with Tatum to the Celtics — he’s a pure scorer who should learn to share the ball under Brad Stevens and will complement Jaylen Brown well. Still: I’d rather just have Fultz.
Jarrett Allen (No. 22), Aleksandar Vezenkov (No. 57)
Jarrett Allen has a great potential as a defensive center thanks to his 7’5 wingspan and quick feet on the perimeter. After the Nets’ Brook Lopez trade, Allen gives them a high-upside young center to grow with D’Angelo Russell. I love the Russell trade too for the Nets. If you factor that in, it’s an A.
Malik Monk (No. 11), Dwayne Bacon (No. 40)
The Hornets had the No. 11 pick in a draft that seemed like it had 10 great prospects. Instead, Charlotte somehow walked away with Malik Monk, a player who could have went in the top six on pure talent. Monk is about to form one of the most exciting young backcourts in the league alongside Kemba Walker. That will be a lot of fun.
Lauri Markkanen (No. 7)
Lauri Markkanen is an elite shooter at 7’0. He has a quick release, deep range, and should be a nice fit for a Chicago team that desperately needed shooters. The problem is Markkanen is a liability on the glass and defensive end and doesn’t have the versatility that’s valued in the modern NBA. I’d rather have Monk or Dennis Smith Jr. than Markkanen or Kris Dunn.
Of course, I’d rather have Jimmy Butler than all of them.
Dennis Smith Jr. (No. 9)
Grabbing Dennis Smith Jr. at No. 9 was always the dream scenario for the Mavericks. He’s a mega-athlete at point guard who thrives attacking the rim. I like the idea of Smith in a spread pick-and-roll surrounded by Nerlens Noel, Dirk Nowitzki, and Harrison Barnes.
Tyler Lydon (No. 24), Vlatko Cancar (No. 49), Monte Morris (No. 51)
Tyler Lydon shot 40 percent from three over two years at Syracuse. Monte Morris is a pure point guard who set assist-to-turnover records at Iowa State. Denver probably didn’t walk away with a game-changer, but both guys could be rotation pieces.
Luke Kennard (No. 12)
Luke Kennard might be the best shooter in the draft. It’s all part of Stan Van Gundy’s plan to turn the Pistons into the 2009 Orlando Magic.
Jordan Bell (No. 38)
The Warriors paid the Bulls $3.5 million to draft Jordan Bell. That’s a move that totally exposes both franchises.
Isaiah Hartenstein (No. 43)
Isaiah Hartenstein was projected as a first-rounder in most mocks. Instead, Houston was able to grab him at No. 43.
T.J. Leaf (No. 18), Ike Anigbogu (No. 47)
T.J. Leaf is a pure shooter who hit 46 percent of his threes while leading UCLA in scoring last season. Ike Anigbogu was projected as a first-rounder by everyone because of his shot-blocking ability, before slipping to round two. Too bad the Pacers can’t bring Lonzo Ball with them.
Juwan Evans (No. 39), Sindarius Thornwell (No. 48)
Juwan Evans drew Chris Paul comparisons all year at Oklahoma State while orchestrating the country’s most efficient offense. Who better to learn from than CP3 himself?
Lonzo Ball (No. 2), Kyle Kuzma (No. 27), Josh Hart (No. 30), Thomas Bryant (No. 42)
Lonzo Ball’s greatest strength is his basketball mind. He has ideal size (6’6), deep shooting range, and always seems to think the game two steps ahead of anyone else. Ball just helps you win games. I like Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart as versatile forwards, too.
Ivan Raab (No. 35), Dillon Brooks (No. 45)
Ivan Rabb could have been a lottery pick had he come out after his freshman season last year. He was projected as a first-rounder all year even after an uninspiring sophomore season at Cal. This could be a nice value for Memphis in the second round.
Bam Adebayo (No. 14)
I’m not sure I understand what the Heat were going for by taking Bam Adebayo at No. 14. He’s a good rebounder, but he has no shooting range and isn’t a rim protector. He also doesn’t seem like a natural fit next to Hassan Whiteside.
D.J. Wilson (No. 17), Sterling Brown (No. 46)
D.J. Wilson and Sterling Brown were two of my favorite sleepers. Wilson has a diverse skill set for a power forward, and Brown looks like a classic 3-and-D guy. Milwaukee knows what it’s doing.
Justin Patton (No. 16)
Hey, Justin Patton is nice, too.
Frank Jackson (No. 31)
Frank Jackson didn’t get to show just how talented he is during his one season at Duke. The former McDonald’s All-American has good athleticism and the ability to shoot the ball off the dribble with range.
Frank Ntilikina (No. 8), Damyean Dotson (No. 44), Ognjen Jaramaz (No. 58)
The Knicks needed a guard and got to choose among three of the best in this draft: Malik Monk, Dennis Smith Jr., and Frank Ntilikina. They went with Ntilikina, who is the longest and best defensive prospect of the bunch. I just hope New York fans are patient: He’s still only 18 years old.
Terrance Ferguson (No. 21)
The Thunder needed shooting and athleticism next to Russell Westbrook. Theoretically, Terrance Ferguson can provide that. Let’s see if the reality of Ferguson as a player is as good as the idea of him.
Jonathan Isaac (No. 6), Andzejs Pasecniks (No. 25), Wesley Iwundu (No. 33)
Jonathan Isaac was one of my favorite players in this draft. He’s a versatile 6’11 forward who can defend anyone and shows a promising stroke from three-point range. Wesley Iwundu is a potential steal in the second round. He’s a big wing who can pass and defend. The only question is the jump shot.
Markelle Fultz (No. 1), Jonah Bolden (No. 36), Mathias Lessort (No. 50)
Markelle Fultz is a stud. Jonah Bolden is a nice pickup in the second round too as an athletic forward who can shoot a bit and finish plays above the rim.
Josh Jackson (No. 4), Davon Reed (No. 32), Alec Peters (No. 54)
Josh Jackson is a great fit for Phoenix. He gives the team the defensive presence on the wing it badly needed while also providing unselfish playmaking ability on the offensive end.
Zach Collins (No. 10), Caleb Swanigan (No. 26)
The Blazers traded No. 15 and No. 20 to move up to No. 10 and grab Zach Collins. Collins can block shots and shoot from the perimeter, giving Portland a big man it didn’t have before in the frontcourt. Caleb Swanigan is also a nice addition as a double-double machine who can shoot from three.
De’Aaron Fox (No. 5), Justin Jackson (No. 15), Harry Giles (No. 20), Frank Mason (No. 34)
De’Aaron Fox was the player the Kings wanted all along and they were fortunate to see him fall to No. 5. The trade down with the Blazers netted them UNC forward Justin Jackson, who fills a hole on the wing, as well as Duke’s Harry Giles. There was a time when Giles was considered a possible No. 1 overall pick before knee injuries took a toll on his production at Duke. I also like the selection of Frank Mason III in the second round.
Derrick White (No. 29), Jaron Blossomgame (No. 59)
Derrick White was everyone’s favorite draft sleeper. White enjoyed an enormous rise during his only season of Division I ball, developing into a combo guard with the ability to pass, shoot, and dribble. Of course he fell to the Spurs.
OG Anunoby (No. 23)
Anunoby was considered a possible lottery pick coming into the draft. He has the potential to be a monster defensively thanks to his strength, quickness, and length. He’s recovering from a torn ACL but profiles as a player who could potentially defend up to four positions.
Donovan Mitchell (No. 13), Tony Bradley (No. 28), Nigel Williams-Goss (No. 55)
The Jazz parted with Trey Lyles to move to No. 13 for the opportunity to select Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell was one of my favorite players in this draft — an elite athlete with great length who can play either backcourt spot. This gives Utah insurance for both George Hill and Gordon Hayward as they enter unrestricted free agency. The Jazz also nabbed UNC freshman Tony Bradley at the end of the first round, who profiles as an elite offensive rebounder.
They traded the 52nd pick for Tim Frazier. That’s the type of backup point guard the Wizards desperately needed last year.