What if NBA GMs could Re-Do the 2017 Draft?

The rules: We’re doing this re-draft as if the GM’s could see the prospects’ first season and a half before making the pick in 2017. Fit will be considered but based on the team at the time. For example, the Suns won’t necessarily avoid drafting a center—they don’t have Deandre Ayton yet. Enjoy the article.

1. Philadelphia 76ers: Jayson Tatum

Career: 14.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.1 APG, 47% FG, 41% 3PT
Change: +2
Actual Pick: Markelle Fultz

If Fultz’s injury issue doesn’t get figured out, this pick will be a great what-if. One of the unusual things about the 2017 draft is that two of the top three picks would join contending teams. The Celtics, thanks to the Nets, had the #1 overall pick. And the #3 pick would go to the Sixers, thanks to the Lakers. With their eyes on Fultz, Philly used a couple additional future picks to trade up to #1. Boston was planning on taking Tatum the whole time, and they got him at #3. However, due to the really weird Fultz saga, The Sixers really wish they could get a re-do. In his career, Fultz has played 33 games, averaged 20 minutes and 8 points, and shot a total of 4 for 15 from three. Tatum has played 116 games, averaged 31 minuets and 15 points, and shot a total of 166 of 405 from three. It’s crazy to think about now, but he would be a great fit next to Embiid and Simmons. He can space the floor and play off-ball, but he can also create and get a bucket when they need one. Philly’s lineup could be Simmons, Redick, Tatum, Covington, Embiid with Saric, McConnell, Chandler, and others off the bench. That would be scary.

2. Los Angeles Lakers: Donovan Mitchell

Career: 20.4 PPG, 3.7, 3.6 APG, 43% FG, 33% 3PT
Change: +11
Actual Pick: Lonzo Ball

Lonzo has worked out fine for LA, and he’ll come up soon, but there are about twelve teams that would love another chance to draft Donovan Mitchell. He and Tatum are the clear top two in this draft, and the choice at #1 was because of the fit in Philly. Can you imagine Donovan Mitchell’s personality and explosive play in the Staples Center? That would be something. He may not be as efficient as Tatum, but Mitchell has already proved to be an electric scorer. Only five rookies have averaged twenty points this century—Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Tyreke Evans, and Donovan Mitchell. Pretty good company.

3. Boston Celtics: De’Aaron Fox

Career: 13.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 5.5 APG, 44% FG, 34% 3PT
Change: +2
Actual Pick: Jayson Tatum

I should probably clarify here: Fox really wouldn’t fit with Kyrie Irving. He’s better when he gets to run the offense and have the ball. But we have to assume Boston wouldn’t have traded to three if they weren’t planning on Tatum, so I’m just going to go with the third-best player here, and assume the Celtics would have made another move. And yes, Fox really looks like the third-best player in this draft. You see his career stats up there, but this season he’s averaging 18 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds, and 39% from three. That’s significant improvement, and that’s why Fox just barely edged out Lonzo to go #3 in this re-draft.

4. Phoenix Suns: Lonzo Ball

Career: 10.0 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 6.3 APG, 38% FG, 31% 3PT
Change: -2
Actual Pick: Josh Jackson

I’m not giving up on Josh Jackson quite yet, but he’s been a little bit disappointing for a #4 overall pick. I bet they wish they could go back and draft one of the two point guards. Even with Lonzo off the board, they could’ve taken De’Aaron Fox ahead of Jackson. We also have to remember that at the time of the draft, drafting Lonzo was considered a risk because of all the LaVar stuff. Interesting that LaVar hasn’t really opened his mouth about the Lakers ever since LeBron signed there… Anyway, one thing you don’t see in the box score is defense. Lonzo is already an all-defense level guard, which would fit very well next to Devin Booker. There’s still room for improvement with his jumpshot, but Phoenix would gladly exchange Jackson for Ball.

5. Sacramento Kings: Lauri Markkanen

Career: 15.5 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.1 APG, 43% FG, 37% 3PT
Change: +2
Actual Pick: De’Aaron Fox

It seems the best players left on the board are the two power forwards, and Lauri has been just a little better than Kyle Kuzma, which is why Sacramento would go back and take him. The Kings were looking for any position at this point, and Markkanen would be a nice piece to build around. I’ll be honest, as a Bulls fan, I wasn’t super happy with the Lauri pick, but his offensive game has been very well-rounded, I thought he would just be a shooter. Less than half his field goal attempts have been threes, and he’s improving off the dribble. His rebounding has also been better than expected, and he cracks into the top five here.

6. Orlando Magic: Dennis Smith Jr.

Career: 14.6 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 4.8 APG, 41% FG, 33% 3PT
Change: +2
Actual Pick: Jonathan Isaac

As of 2018, Orlando is now building around three big men and playing Isaac, Gordon, and Bamba as your SF, PF, C really doesn’t seem like the direction basketball is going. Instead, they should’ve taken a point guard here, and would if they could go back. This season, D.J. Augustin is averaging 28 minutes for Orlando, and Jerian Grant is playing 19. No offense to those two, but at some point, the Magic will need to find a point guard of the future. DSJ would’ve been great. Who wouldn’t love watching him, Ross, and Gordon throw down dunks? I would.

7. Chicago Bulls: Kyle Kuzma

Career: 17.0 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 2.5 APG, 46% FG, 35% 3PT
Change: +20
Actual Pick: Lauri Markkanen

Rank Combo Off Rtg
1 Kuzma and Hart 108.8
2 Kuzma and KCP 108.3
3 LeBron and Hart 108.2
4 Hart and Chandler 108.2
5 Kuzma and LeBron 107.2
6 Kuzma and Ingram 107.0
7 Kuzma and Chandler 106.9

Kuuuuuuuz!! Kyle Kuzma will probably go down as THE steal of the 2017 draft outside of Donovan Mitchell. In the 2018-19 season, he’s averaging 18.7 points, 2nd most of the class (Mitchell). NBA.com has an awesome feature where you can find stats for any specific 2, 3, 4, or 5-man lineup. Here are the Lakers’ best offensive combos (offensive rating). By the way, this only includes combos that have played 300+ minutes together. I looked this up wondering if Kuzma and LeBron would prove to be a great combo, but instead, I found that Kuzma on his own may be the Lakers’ best offensive player this season so far. His influence really increases the team’s offensive success. The Bulls would give him the ball even more, and those stats would look even better if he were in Markkanen’s role in Chicago.

8. New York Knicks: Josh Jackson

Career: 11.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.7 APG, 41% FG, 27% 3PT
Change: -4
Actual Pick: Frank Ntilikina

Player  3PT% Rookie Year* 3PT% in 2017-18
Tyreke Evans 25.5% 39.9%
Kent Bazemore 29.4% 39.4%
Paul George 29.7% 40.1%
Otto Porter 33.7% 44.1%
Courtney Lee 33.8% 40.6%
Josh Jackson 27.1% N/A

There’s a clear top seven in this draft, and now things are gonna start to fall off. But Josh Jackson has been better than you may think, averaging 12 and 4 and playing good defense. The real question with Jackson, before the draft and now, is his three-point shot. 27% from outside isn’t gonna cut it for a wing in 2019 and beyond. But there’s a history of these athletic, defensive wings being able to add an outside shot. Even if they don’t become 40% shooters from deep, it’s possible to develop enough to be serviceable off-ball shooters while continuing to play lockdown defense on the other end. (See table). If Jackson can improve his shot, he can really become a great three-and D player, which is exactly the archetype NBA GM’s look for in their role players on the wing.

*Note: A couple of these players hardly played their rookie year. I used the first year that they shot 1 three per game. For all of these guys, that was also the first year they really played.

9. Dallas Mavericks: John Collins

Career: 12.2 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 1.1 APG, 58% FG, 30% 3PT
Change: +10
Actual Pick: Dennis Smith Jr.

If they couldn’t have DSJ, John Collins would have to be the next pick. Atlanta got him at 19, which looks like a steal now. Together, Collins and Trae Young make up a solid young duo for the Hawks. At this point, the Mavs weren’t really building around anything. Harrison Barnes and Wes Matthews were their two guys playing 30+ minutes. Collins would be a great pick to build around and they’d end up in the top five again in 2018 as they did in reality.

10. Trail Blazers: Jarrett Allen

Career: 9.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG. 1.0 APG, 59% FG, 9 for 39 3PT
Change: +12
Actual Pick: Zach Collins

The Blazers traded picks 15 and 20 to Sacramento in exchange for this pick, with which they took Zach Collins, who’s been fine. However, Jarrett Allen has turned out to be another sleeper in the 2017 draft. He’s known for blocking the dunks of superstars, including Blake Griffin, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and LeBron James. However, his game goes deeper than the highlights. He’s 9th in shots defended within six feet, and his opponents’ percentage is 13th lowest in the league, so he is a premier rim protector. And he can finish on the other end at a high percentage. Allen setting picks for Lillard and McCollum? Not bad.

11. Charlotte Hornets: Josh Hart

Career: 8.5 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.3 APG, 46% FG, 39% 3PT
Change: +19
Actual Pick: Malik Monk

Monk hasn’t been bad for the Hornets, he’ll be coming up soon, but Hart is better. The Lakers had a really good draft last year, picking up three of the four players in their young core. Ball at 2, Kuz at 27, Hart at 30. Anyway, Hart would be a great fit in Charlotte next to Kemba Walker. Only 3% of Hart’s shot attempts come from the midrange. 57% threes, 10% free throws, and other 30% are layups. He’d be a great fit.

12.Detroit Pistons: Jonathan Isaac

Career: 6.9 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 0.8 APG, 40% FG, 31% 3PT
Change: -6
Actual Pick: Luke Kennard

Isaac hasn’t materialized into much of a player yet, but he’s still one of the best physical specimens in the draft. 6’11” and only 210 lbs, Isaac has a 7’1” wingspan and the speed to play on the perimeter at both ends. Although his skills are still pretty raw, that body and athleticism make him a top 12 prospect in the class at worst. He’s still got plenty of time to develop his game. He’d be a good fit in Detroit, too.

13. Utah Jazz: OG Anunoby

Career: 6.5 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 0.7 APG, 46% FG, 36% 3PT
Change: +10
Actual Pick: Donovan Mitchell

Utah was fortunate to draft the Rookie of the Year Runner-Up at 13. If they had to select from the remaining players, Anunoby would be a great fit. He’s a budding 3 and D talent, who can defend multiple positions and switch on pick and rolls. If he wasn’t a member of the league’s deepest bench, he’d be getting more minutes. Per 36, OG’s averaging 14 points and 5 boards.

14. Miami Heat: Frank Ntilikina

Career: 6.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 2.5 APG, 36% FG, 31% 3PT
Change: -6
Actual Pick: Bam Adebayo

Ntilikina has been somewhat of a disappointment in New York. Maybe it’s because of how well Kristaps Porzingis turned out from the past draft, or maybe it’s just New York. Regardless, the young guard still has some upside. He’s a defensive specialist, it’s fair to say. His shooting numbers could still improve, but he’s just not a creator offensively. I’d love to see him in Miami next to Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson. Winslow has been named the Heat’s point guard while Goran Dragic is out, so the three could split playmaking duties. And it sure would be tough to score on them.

15. Sacramento Kings: Markelle Fultz

Career: 7.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.1 APG, 41% FG, 4 for 15 3PT
Change: -14
Actual Pick: Justin Jackson

I was gonna do write-ups for the lottery picks only, and then I realized 15 was gonna be the place for Fultz and decided one more wouldn’t hurt. Speaking of hurt… cheap Fultz joke. There’s so much baggage with the Fultz story, we need to specify what he actually is. Look at his stat line! Better than the last few players. Fultz is a solid defender who can score in the midrange, pass, rebound, get to the rim a little. Even if he never re-develops his shot, he’ll still be a solid role player. Is Shaun Livingston a reasonable floor? Maybe he should be higher than 15, but the baggage can be a turn-off. And that’s IF he doesn’t get the jumper back. He shot 41.3% from three at Washington. He didn’t forget how to shoot. If he can recover from his shoulder condition, he could become a really good player.

16. Minnesota Timberwolves: Monte Morris

Career: 5.3 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.1 APG, 47% FG, 0-3 3PT
Change: +35
Actual Pick: Justin Patton

17. Milwaukee Bucks: Malik Monk

Career: 8.1 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 1.9 APG, 37% FG, 34% 3PT
Change: -6
Actual Pick: D.J. Wilson

18. Indiana Pacers: Dillon Brooks

Career: 10.3 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.6 APG, 43% FG, 36% 3PT
Change: +27
Actual Pick: T.J. Leaf

19. Atlanta Hawks: Bam Adebayo

Career: 7.2 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.6 APG, 53% FG, 1 for 12 3PT
Change: -5
Actual Pick: John Collins

20. Sacramento Kings: Harry GIles

Career: 9.6 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 4.1 APG, 47% FG, 0 for 3 3PT
Change: 0
Actual Pick: Harry Giles

21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Zach Collins

Career: 5.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 0.8 APG, 43% FG, 31% 3PT
Change: -11
Actual Pick: Terrance Ferguson

22. Brooklyn Nets: Semi Ojeleye

Career: 7.5 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.6 APG, 44% FG, 39% 3PT
Change: +15
Actual Pick: Jarrett Allen

23. Toronto Raptors: Semi Ojeleye

Career: 3.0 PPG, 2.1 APG, 0.3 APG, 37% FG, 31% 3PT
Change: +14
Actual Pick: OG Anunoby

24. Denver Nuggets: Frank Mason III

Career: 6.9 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 2.8 APG, 38% FG, 31% 3PT
Change: +10
Actual Pick: Tyler Lydon

25. Orlando Magic: Derrick White

Career: 5.5 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 2.4 APG, 44% FG, 37% 3PT
Change: +4
Actual Pick: Andzejs Pasecniks

26. Portland Trail Blazers: Terrance Ferguson

Career: 3.6 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 0.4 APG, 40% FG, 32%
Change: -5
Actual Pick: Caleb Swanigan

27. Los Angeles Lakers: Wesley Iwundu

Career: 4.6 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 0.9 APG
Change: +6
Actual Pick: Kyle Kuzma

28. Utah Jazz: Damyean Dotson

Career: 6.5 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 0.8 APG, 45% FG, 35% 3PT
Change: +16
Actual Pick: Tony Bradley

29. San Antonio Spurs: Dwayne Bacon

Career: 3.8 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 0.7 APG, 41% FG, 34% 3PT
Change: +11
Actual Pick: Derrick White

30. Los Angeles Lakers: Jordan Bell

Career: 3.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.6 APG, 60% FG, 0 for 5 3PT
Change: +7
Actual Pick: Josh Hart

I grew up in a small town in Indiana, about an hour outside of Chicago. I’ve been a diehard Chicago sports fan my entire life, and basketball has always been my favorite sport. In high school, I founded a Sports Media Club, where my classmates and I wrote articles and produced podcasts. After graduating, I kept writing and podcasting on my own. Now I’m a freshman at Purdue University, and I am excited to join Lineups and continue to further the growth of the content side of the site.

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