This draft class has been one of the most hyped in NBA history. How will the players selected in the lottery fare in their rookie seasons?
14. Bam Adebayo – Miami Heat
Adebayo will likely start the season as a PF for the Heat, though could play some at the 5. What he’ll bring down low for Miami is mainly strength, rebounding, and lots of energy especially on defense. The Heat definitely needed more help in the post for Hassan Whiteside and they have it in Adebayo. He’s shown a solid ability to score in the post in college and if he finds even just a 15-footer, he’ll be dangerous for Miami on both ends.
PPG: 6.3 RPG: 5.9 APG: 0.7 SPG: 0.4 BPG: 1.3
NBA Comparison: Bismack Biyombo
13. Donovan Mitchell – Utah Jazz
Out of Louisville, Mitchell comes to a team who’s star just left which could mean more minutes, touches, and shots for the rookie. I was very impressed by Mitchell’s ball-handling and shot-making ability in the summer league and believe he’ll be a go-to scorer for the Jazz almost right away. His size will always be talked about but the volume scoring will be huge for Utah in a league that demands points in bunches.
PPG: 11.7 RPG: 2.1 APG: 3.4 SPG: 1.1 BPG: 0.2
NBA Comparison: Lou Williams
12. Luke Kennard – Detroit Pistons
Outside shooting was a huge problem for Detroit last year, finishing 28th among the league in team 3pt%. Kennard will provide relief from this awful stat, having a great outside jumper and spacing the floor for Andre Drummond whenever he’s out there. The Former Duke G put up over 19 points a game for the Blue Devils last year and was clutch in tight moments. We saw a difference in his offensive mentality from his freshman to sophomore year and we should see his game expand as he begins his rookie year for the Pistons. Athleticism, speed especially, is not a positive about Kennard, but his ball-handling, size, and shooting will greatly improve the Detroit offense this season.
PPG: 8.6 RPG: 2.9 APG: 1.8 SPG: 0.9 BPG: 0.2
NBA Comparison: Marco Belinelli
11. Malik Monk – Charlotte Hornets
It was a surprise that Monk dropped this far to #11 but Charlotte took advantage when he was on the board at their pick. He put up almost 20 a game last year for Kentucky and was the Wildcats go-to scorer all year. The 19-year old comes to Charlotte to most likely backup Nic Batum at the 2. Monk’s playmaking and shot making ability will be great for the Hornets as they’re lacking a scoring guard off the bench.
PPG: 10.3 RPG: 2.2 APG: 2.7 SPG: 0.8 BPG: 0.1
NBA Comparison: Jamal Crawford
10. Zach Collins – Portland Trail Blazers
Collins comes to a Portland frontcourt bringing a solid back-to-the-basket game and elite shot blocking ability. He has the size and potential to consistently put up double-doubles, though could develop a jump shot to be able to stretch the floor and give Jusuf Nurkic room to work down low as well.
PPG: 6.8 RPG: 4.4 APG: 0.6 SPG: 0.2 BPG: 1.3
NBA Comparison: Cole Aldrich
9. Dennis Smith Jr. – Dallas Mavericks
Smith Jr. is one of the best athletes we’ve seen coming into the league in this century. I think he’s one of the biggest ROTY sleepers taken this year. He’s shown a tendency to slash and penetrate easily in Vegas this summer and make plays for others by occasionally kicking out after a drive into the paint. Shot selection and turnover reduction are what Smith mainly needs to control to improve but he has the potential to be a perennial All-Star guard for Dallas in my opinion.
PPG: 12.7 RPG: 4.3 APG: 5.8 SPG: 1.6 BPG: 0.3
NBA Comparison: Derrick Rose
8. Frank Ntilikina – New York Knicks
Expect Ntilikina to be a bit of a project for the Knicks. He probably won’t start this year despite the departure of Derrick Rose. The French guard has tremendous defensive potential at 6’5″ and long arms, but must improve his offensive consistency and shot selection to be an efficient PG for New York.
PPG: 7.3 RPG: 2.8 APG: 3.5 SPG: 1.4 BPG: 0.3
NBA Comparison: George Hill/Tony Allen
7. Lauri Markkanen – Chicago Bulls
Markkanen comes to the Bulls in the Minnesota trade for Jimmy Butler. He’s now a talented frontcourt piece for a Chicago team in rebuild mode. Markkanen’s outside shooting ability and size give him the potential to be a perfect stretch big if he polishes his game up a bit.
PPG: 10.6 RPG: 5.8 APG: 0.9 SPG: 0.4 BPG: 1.1
NBA Comparison: Kristaps Porzingis
6. Jonathan Isaac – Orlando Magic
Isaac may take a while to develop for the Magic, but his length and athleticism make him an intriguing young prospect. He should be 3/4 type forward who can play center in some situations. He showcased flashy defensive ability and solid efficiency scoring above the basket at Florida State. He needs to improve his outside jumper and work on getting stronger, but once he’s ready and healthy he could be one of the best defensive players in the game and one of the most versatile forwards in the league offensively.
PPG: 7.1 RPG: 4.8 APG: 0.9 SPG: 0.8 BPG: 1.2
NBA Comparison: Kevin Durant
Before we head into the top 5, although the draft has passed, take a look at this “2017 NBA Draft Preview” clip on the Sports Fan Entertainment Youtube Page to see our video creator’s thoughts on busts and sleepers in this class!
5. De’Aaron Fox – Sacramento Kings
Fox is clearly the point guard of the future for the Kings and will get veteran help on and off the court this season with George Hill. It’d be a surprise to see him start at the beginning of the season with the addition of Hill, however, he should get an opportunity to run the team off the bench and showcase his game before his name is called. Fox’s speed is his most enticing attribute, often compared to John Wall for mainly this ability. His playmaking and size are two more positives about him after averaging over 4 assists last season at Kentucky and having an impressive 7’0″ wingspan. Shooting is certainly a problem for Fox at the moment, and though he can hit a 3 from time to time, he mainly gets his points driving to the rim and putting in layups and runners. If a jump shot is fully developed he could easily be a multiple time All-Star someday.
PPG: 11.6 RPG: 3.9 APG: 5.3 SPG: 1.4 BPG: 0.2
NBA Comparison: John Wall
4. Josh Jackson – Phoenix Suns
The Suns were lucky this draft was so deep for Jackson to drop to them at 4. After one year at Kansas averaging over 16 a game, Jackson joins a Suns team in dire need of defense on the wing. With T.J. Warren still playing in Phoenix, I’d doubt Jackson starts right away, but we could see him in the starting lineup later in the season. The 6’8″ forward is already a solid defender and slasher on the wing, finishing strong around the rim on offense and guarding multiple positions well on D. His inefficient shooting was noticeable during last college season though that will improve as his career kicks off. Rumors are swirling suggesting he would be in a potential Suns trade for Kyrie Irving, however, Phoenix has said multiple times he is pretty much untouchable. Expect him to make a solid defensive impact his rookie year and possibly develop into a superstar in the future.
PPG: 12.3 RPG: 5.7 APG: 2.2 SPG: 1.3 BPG: 1.1
NBA Comparison: Andrew Wiggins
3. Jayson Tatum – Boston Celtics
The Celtics were able to grab Tatum at #3 after trading the #1 pick down to the Philadelphia 76ers. Tatum might just have the sweetest jumper in this draft and is one of the purest scorers in the class. He’s the wing scorer the Celtics need to possibly surpass the Cleveland Cavaliers in the East this year. Tatum is also capable of dropping off passes to big men after penetrating the paint, grabbing rebounds at his 6’8″ size, and playing good wing D when he wants to, though he’s nowhere near the defender Jackson is. With the massive depth Boston currently has at small forward with Jae Crowder and Jaylen Brown, it’s possible we see Tatum at the 4 when he’s on the court and maybe start some at power forward. His numbers could be down due to being drafted by a contender, though he has a shot at appearing in the finals as a top rookie, which is rare.
PPG: 10.8 RPG: 4.3 APG: 1.8 SPG: 0.5 BPG: 0.7
NBA Comparison: Carmelo Anthony
2. Lonzo Ball – Los Angeles Lakers
Ball joins the Lakers with about as high of expectations as a rookie can have. His playmaking ability is far ahead of any other player on the board and he has the size and instincts to become a good on-ball defender and make steals in the passing lanes. All this said, don’t expect him to give you mass amounts of points and take over like Kobe did. Zo’s jumper worked in college but it’s about as ugly as it can get and might cause trouble for him in the NBA. His release point is high but it takes him far too long to get it off, making it easier for defenders to get out on the perimeter and contest. If he’s able to speed up that shot with the help of the Laker coaching staff, that shouldn’t be a problem anymore because when he has time, it goes in. His size at 6’6″ with a 7’0″ wingspan gives him the ability to grab boards at the guard position, come up with steals, and easily contest shorter matchups. Lonzo’s defensive quickness might be his biggest problem right now, though he’ll learn to defend the drive and stay with his matchup on the pick-and-roll as he gains experience in LA. With his insane court vision and potential, Ball could lead the Lakers for a decade and more.
PPG: 13.7 RPG: 5.9 APG: 8.6 SPG: 1.7 BPG: 0.8
NBA Comparison: Jason Kidd
1. Markelle Fultz – Philadelphia 76ers
Out of Washington, Fultz is probably the most polished and ready player in this class. He’s able to score from anywhere on the floor, make plays for others efficiently, grab rebounds at 6’5″, and create turnovers on defense. His fit in Philly is perfect as he comes to a team primed for a playoff berth and will play beside veteran sharpshooter J.J. Redick where he’ll get leadership and a guy to kick it out to on the perimeter. Fultz’s numbers in his only year at Washington were ridiculous as he had one of the best freshman seasons of this century, despite not being able to grab his team a tournament bid. Where Fultz can really excel at the next level is on the pick-and-roll. He and Joel Embiid should be the duo on this play and could end up being more deadly than a Green-Curry pick-and-roll. Although he’s just a rookie and joining a team with a few great young players already on it, look for Fultz to be one of the go-to guys right away. He probably won’t make the Eastern All-Star team as a rookie, but expect Markelle to post rookie Curry/rookie Lillard like numbers in his first year.
PPG: 17.9 RPG: 4.6 APG: 5.8 SPG: 1.4 BPG: 0.6
NBA Comparison: Damian Lillard