Zeroing In on the 2017 NBA Draft

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Last year’s draft was interesting but this year’s draft is going to be eventful. The first thing that strikes me as utterly hilarious (or contemptuous depending upon where you live) is the fact that the draft is being held in Brooklyn and yet the Nets lost both first picks of each round to the Celtics and Hawks. In return for the first and thirty-first picks they’ve got the twenty-second, twenty-seventh, and fifty-seventh. So…not really quite the steal they were going for I’d assume.

Honestly it’s such a stroke of equal parts fortune and irony for Boston that they are the overall first round pick and still in the race for a Finals appearance having just offed the Wizards in seven games and headed to a matchup with Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Wizards get no love from the sports pantheon, but RIP John Wall- you really tried your damnedest and Bradley Beal could only flop so many times… At least the Wizards didn’t explode like the Rockets did in orbit around the Spurs when they got mugged 114-75. Speaking of the Spurs, they’re not doing so hot without Leonard so a Golden State return to the Finals is looking more probable by the day.

But we didn’t come here to talk about Chef Curry’s odd scruff or Manu Ginobili’s strange bout of utter clutch-ness, or even LeBron’s undying dominance. No, we came here to discuss some of the other interesting developments in pro basketball culture and what exactly is going on with the 2017 NBA Draft.

If you’ve been paying attention to college or professional basketball at all lately then you’ve probably heard the likes of names such as Markelle Fultz, Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum, Lonzo Ball, and Malik Monk mentioned. It doesn’t matter that those prospects (and others) are from big name schools such as Washington, Kansas, Duke, UCLA, or Kentucky. All that matters is how they’ve played and sometimes how they carry themselves as well. Whether somebody is going the one and done route or playing out a number of years at their respective college, making it this far is a testament to their talent and commitment.

I’ve been watching the NCAA prospects, the NCAA Tournament coverage, the NBA seasonal games, and any other basketball related coverage possible over the past few months. It’s been an intriguing time. But now it’s coming down to the draft season and we only have about a month before the decisions are in. Let’s look at the current standings between a couple of sports media outlets right now:

CBS/FOX

1. Markelle Fultz, Washington (PG)

2. Josh Jackson, Kansas (SF) / Jayson Tatum, Duke (SF)

3. Lonzo Ball, UCLA (PG) / Josh Jackson, Kansas (SF)

4. Jayson Tatum, Duke (SF) / De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky (PG)

5. Jonathan Isaac, Florida State (SF) / Lonzo Ball, UCLA (PG)

6. Dennis Smith, NC State (PG) / Jonathan Isaac, Florida State (SF)

7. Lauri Markkanen, Arizona (PF) / Dennis Smith, NC State (PG)

8. De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky (PG) / Lauri Markkanen, Arizona (PF)

9. Malik Monk, Kentucky (SG)

10. Justin Jackson, North Carolina (SF) / Frank Ntilikina, International (PG)

11. Frank Ntilikina, International (PG) / Jarrett Allen, Texas (PF)

12. Zach Collins, Gonzaga (C)

13. Donovan Mitchell, Louisville (SG) / Justin Patton, Creighton (C)

14. Justin Patton, Creighton (C) / Justin Jackson, North Carolina (SF)

15. Johnathan Motley, Baylor (PF) / OG Anunoby, Indiana (SF)

16. Isaiah Hartenstein, International (PF) / Ike Anigbogu, UCLA (PF)

17. Ike Anigbogu, UCLA (PF) / John Collins, Wake Forest (PF)

18. Ivan Rabb, Califronia (PF) / Terrance Ferguson, International (SG)

19. OG Anunoby, Indiana (SF) / Ivan Rabb, California (PF)

20. Caleb Swanigan, Purdue (PF) / Donovan Mitchell, Louisville (SG)

There are a few places where both sources happen to have the same person at the same rank and yet otherwise there are subtle shifts and differences between their top twenty prospects as of right now. If we were to take these top twenty and position notwithstanding assign them to the team with that respective draft slot, it would be an interesting picture indeed. As it stands, we’ve got the usual wheeling and dealing going on behind the scenes as well and then there’s always the Ball family brand going after the Lakers hard.

Interesting enough, Frank Mason III only makes some of the lists in the top thirty- good enough for the first round but definitely at the tail end. It’s a shame that amazing players such as Mason will inevitably go much later because of aspects like size and durability which are much bigger issues in the pro league than they may be in college. Mason only stands at 5-11 and 190 pounds after all, but the senior was one of the most experienced and talented players in the country.

Similarly but on the flip side, let’s look at Caleb Swanigan who is in the top twenty at least as far as CBS is concerned. Swanigan is a 6-9 250 pound sophomore who has tournament experience and some crazy points totals at times as well. Comparative to his first season stats, he outperformed himself in every field with the exception of win shares- he played one more game this season but his rating was a 6.4 comparative to a career total 9.0. His 2016-17 season points, rebounds, and assists averages were over four points better (18.5 versus 14.4), two points better (12.5 versus 10.4), and half a point better (3.0 versus 2.4) than his career averages respectively.

If we are going to use him as a continued example and random player focus here, he also outperformed himself in terms of field goal, three point, free throw, and effective field goal percentages. His averages were 52.7, 44.7, 78.1, and 57.2 comparative to a career average of 50.1, 37.6, 76.0, and 54.3 respectively. His effective player efficiency rating (PER) also leapt from 21.5 to 26.2 so if his particular growth is representative of the other sophomores or non-one and done players, this will be an intriguing draft class indeed.

As it stands at the moment, the 2017 NBA Draft order is as follows for the first and second rounds (picks 1-60):

  1. Boston (From Nets) +1 -1
  2. Los Angeles Lakers +1
  3. Philadelphia (From Kings) +1 -1
  4. Phoenix +1
  5. Sacramento (From 76ers) +1 -1
  6. Orlando +1
  7. Minnesota +1
  8. New York +1
  9. Dallas +1
  10. Sacramento (From Pelicans) +2 -1
  11. Charlotte +1
  12. Detroit +1
  13. Denver +1
  14. Miami +1
  15. Portland +1
  16. Chicago +1
  17. Milwaukee +1
  18. Indiana +1
  19. Atlanta +1
  20. Portland (From Grizzlies, Via Nuggets/Cavaliers) +2 -1 -1 -1
  21. Oklahoma City +1
  22. Brooklyn (From Wizards) +1 -1
  23. Toronto (From Clippers, Via Bucks) +1 -1 -1
  24. Utah +1
  25. Orlando (From Raptors) +2 -1
  26. Portland (From Cavaliers) +3 -2
  27. Brooklyn (From Celtics) +2 -1
  28. Los Angeles Lakers (From Rockets) +2 -1
  29. San Antonio +1
  30. Utah (From Warriors) +2 -1
  31. Atlanta (From Nets) +2 -2
  32. Phoenix +2
  33. Orlando (From Lakers) +3 -1
  34. Sacramento (From 76ers, Via Pelicans) +3 -2 -2
  35. Orlando +4
  36. Philadelphia (From Knicks, Via Jazz/Raptors) +2 -1 -1 -2
  37. Boston (From Timberwolves, Via Suns) +2 -1 -1
  38. Chicago (From Kings, Via Cavaliers) +2 -2 -3
  39. Philadelphia (From Mavericks) +3 -1
  40. New Orleans +1
  41. Charlotte +2
  42. Utah (From Pistons) +3 -1
  43. Houston (From Nuggets) +1 -2
  44. New York (From Bulls) +2 -1
  45. Houston (From Trail Blazers) +2 -1
  46. Philadelphia (From Heat, Via Hawks) +4 -1 -1
  47. Indiana +2
  48. Milwaukee +2
  49. Denver (From Grizzlies, Via Thunder) +2 -2 -1
  50. Philadelphia (From Hawks) +5 -2
  51. Denver (From Thunder) +3 -2
  52. Washington +1
  53. Boston (From Cavaliers) +3 -4
  54. Phoenix (From Raptors) +3 -2
  55. Utah +4
  56. Boston (From Clippers) +4 -2
  57. Brooklyn (From Celtics) +3 -2
  58. New York (From Rockets) +3 -2
  59. San Antonio +2
  60. Atlanta (From Warriors, Via 76ers/Jazz) +3 -2 -3 -2

As you can see, not every team is picking up a top tier draft slot. In fact, several teams have traded away what would’ve been their slot and do not even have a single pick this year. Here’s the individual picks available to each team, from most to least:

  1. Philadelphia 76ers (5)- 16/17 Record: 28-54 (14th in East)
  2. Orlando Magic (4)- 16/17 Record: 29-53 (13th in East)
  3. Utah Jazz (4)- 16/17 Record: 51-31 (5th in West)
  4. Boston Celtics (4)- 16/17 Record: 53-29 (1st in East)
  5. Portland Trail Blazers (3)- 16/17 Record: 41-41 (8th in West)
  6. Sacramento Kings (3)- 16/17 Record: 32-50 (12th in West)
  7. Denver Nuggets (3)- 16/17 Record: 40-42 (9th in West)
  8. Phoenix Suns (3)- 16/17 Record: 24-48 (15th in West)
  9. Brooklyn Nets (3)- 16/17 Record: 20-62 (15th in East)
  10. New York Knicks (3)- 16/17 Record: 31-51 (12th in East)
  11. Atlanta Hawks (3)- 16/17 Record: 43-39 (5th in East)
  12. Los Angeles Lakers (2)- 16/17 Record: 26-56 (14th in West)
  13. Chicago Bulls (2)- 16/17 Record: 41-41 (8th in East)
  14. Charlotte Hornets (2)- 16/17 Record: 36-46 (11th in East)
  15. Houston Rockets (2)- 16/17 Record: 55-27 (3rd in West)
  16. Indiana Pacers (2)- 16/17 Record: 42-40 (7th in East)
  17. Milwaukee Bucks (2)- 16/17 Record: 42-40 (6th in East)
  18. San Antonio Spurs (2)- 16/17 Record: 61-21 (2nd in West)
  19. Minnesota Timberwolves (1)- 16/17 Record: 31-51 (13th in West)
  20. Dallas Mavericks (1)- 16/17 Record: 33-49 (11th in West)
  21. Detroit Pistons (1)- 16/17 Record: 37-45 (10th in East)
  22. Miami Heat (1)- 16/17 Record: 41-41 (9th in East)
  23. Oklahoma City Thunder (1)- 16/17 Record: 47-35 (6th in West)
  24. Toronto Raptors (1)- 16/17 Record: 51-31 (3rd in East)
  25. New Orleans Pelicans (1)- 16/17 Record: 34-48 (10th in West)
  26. Washington Wizards (1)- 16/17 Record: 49-33 (4th in East)
  27. Cleveland Cavaliers (0)- 16/17 Record: 51-31 (2nd in East)
  28. Golden State Warriors (0)- 16/17 Record: 67-15 (1st in West)
  29. Los Angeles Clippers (0)- 16/17 Record: 51-31 (4th in West)
  30. Memphis Grizzlies (0)- 16/17 Record: 43-39 (7th in West)

As you can see, some teams such as the Jazz, Celtics, and Hawks came away with quite the steal despite being pretty highly ranked in their own respective conferences. Some of the lower seeded teams such as the 76ers, Magic, Trail Blazers, and Suns came away with steals through a sheer higher number of picks as well. Meanwhile, teams such as the Grizzlies, Clippers, Wizards, Thunder, Heat, Pistons, Mavericks, and Timberwolves are all hurting for picks due to the fact they either have one or none.

As our last little bit of statistical crunching here, if we look at who made the most trades (either directly or involved via a trade) it also paints a particular picture as to who has already won or lost this draft class picks notwithstanding.

  1. Cleveland (4)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +4
  2. Philadelphia (3)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +2
  3. Brooklyn (2)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +1
  4. New Orleans (2)- Picks/Trades Ratio: -1
  5. Toronto (2)- Picks/Trades Ratio: -1
  6. Sacramento (2)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +1
  7. Denver (2)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +1
  8. Memphis (2)- Picks/Trades Ratio: -2
  9. Atlanta (2)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +1
  10. Oklahoma City (2)- Picks/Trades Ratio: -1
  11. Los Angeles Clippers (2)- Picks/Trades Ratio:-2
  12. Boston (2)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +2
  13. Houston (2)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +/-
  14. Golden State (2)- Picks/Trades Ratio: -2
  15. Utah (2)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +2
  16. Washington (1)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +/-
  17. Milwaukee (1)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +1
  18. Los Angeles Lakers (1)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +1
  19. New York (1)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +2
  20. Minnesota (1)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +/-
  21. Phoenix (1)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +2
  22. Dallas (1)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +/-
  23. Detroit (1)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +/-
  24. Chicago (1)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +1
  25. Portland (1)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +2
  26. Miami (1)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +/-
  27. Indiana (0)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +2
  28. Charlotte (0)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +2
  29. Orlando (0)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +4
  30. San Antonio (0)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +2

Now the question undoubtedly remains: who has the best steal of a deal in terms of getting picks without sacrificing them through trades? Well here’s the top ten teams for that and with this final segment that concludes my lengthy draft preview.

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers +4 *Currently @ 2nd in East, 6th Overall
  2. Orlando Magic +4 *Currently @ 13th in East, 26th Overall
  3. Philadelphia 76ers +2 *Currently @ 14th in East, 27th Overall
  4. Boston Celtics +2 *Currently @ 1st in East, 4th Overall
  5. Utah Jazz +2 *Currently @ 5th in West, 8th Overall
  6. New York Knicks +2 *Currently @ 12th in East, 25th Overall
  7. Phoenix Suns +2 *Currently @ 15th in West, 29th Overall
  8. Portland Trail Blazers +2 *Currently @ 8th in West, 16th Overall
  9. Indiana Pacers +2 *Currently @ 7th in East, 14th Overall
  10. Charlotte Hornets +2 *Currently @ 11th in East, 20th Overall
  11. (And San Antonio +2) *Currently @ 2nd in West, 2nd Overall
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