It’s incredibly hard to pity Chicago Bulls fans. I mean, 10+ years of witnessing basketball greatness from MJ would leave any fan-base happy for a long, long time. However, the events that took place at last night’s 2017 NBA Draft may have earned the windy city some sympathy points.
Jimmy Butler, who had been the center of many trade rumors lately (many of which involved the Cavs and Kevin Love), was probably the best player to be acquired during draft night. The Bulls sent Butler and the 16th pick for Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn, and the 7th pick. The Bulls would take Lauri Markkanen, the versatile big man out of Arizona that will add some much needed floor spacing for Chicago’s offense. The Wolves would take Creighton’s Justin Patton who will likely serve as a backup to Karl-Anthony Towns this upcoming season. While the Bulls got decent talent in return, their value does not even come close to matching that of what Butler brings to the floor each night, so the Wolves were a big winner on draft night.
Despite the big Jimmy Butler trade, draft night remained fairly “normal”. Markelle Fultz went first to the Sixers, bringing in a new era in which Philly natives simply must “Trust the Process”. Oh, it is worth mentioning that these young Sixers already have a bit of an edge to them.
Clearly Mr. Embiid would not mind seeing Lonzo on a poster sometime soon. Speaking of Lonzo, the Lakers would select him second, confirming what many followers of the Big Baller Brand knew all along. LA has been dying for someone to fill Kobe’s shoes and with D’Angelo Russell away in Brooklyn now, Lonzo will be captain of the Laker ship.
The Boston Celtics, with their GM Danny Ainge under a bit of scrutiny right now for just stockpiling future picks and not improving the team, scored a win on this year’s draft with Jayson Tatum at number 3. Ainge has expressed a lot of confidence in the kid and even stated he would have selected Tatum first overall if he had the chance. Tatum, being the offensive star that he is, relieves a lot of pressure that needs to be taken of Isaiah Thomas if the C’s hope to make a run at an Eastern Conference title and challenge the Cavs. While offensively gifted, Tatum’s defense and overall awareness need some work, although I don’t see that being a problem under coach Brad Stevens.
The Golden State Warriors also managed to enter the draft and angered much of the internet while doing so. The Warriors paid the Bulls (side note: ALWAYS negotiate with the Bulls on draft night. Always.) $3.5 million for their second round draft pick (number 38) which Golden State happily turned into Oregon’s Jordan Bell. Fans may remember him most from his two failed box outs at the end of last year’s Final Four game between Oregon and North Carolina, box outs that some fans argue cost the Ducks the game. Despite that hiccup, Bell had a tremendous collegiate career and adds yet another versatile big man for a Golden State team looking to solidify their center position going into next year.
The last team I’d like to mention here are the Sacramento Kings. Don’t worry Kings fans, you guys actually did ok! In fact, quite possibly more than ok. De’Aaron Fox gives them a long, athletic point guard that can certainly create for himself and others, and Fox has already stated he wants to be a “franchise changer” and get Sacramento back to the playoffs. The Kings also managed to scoop up Justin Jackson out of North Carolina with the 15th pick, which adds another long frame to the mix and gives them both scoring and defense on the wing. Their last splash in the first round came with Harry Giles out of Duke with the 20th pick. Giles has been plagued by injuries over the last 4 years, tearing both of his ACL’s. However, even in a role with limited minutes initially, his rim protecting ability and touch around the rim give Sacramento a much-needed presence down low after the departure of Demarcus Cousins last year.
While draft night always brings way-too-early predictions for the upcoming NBA campaign, it’s safe to say some teams are very satisfied with their draft night performance (Celtics, Sixers, Wolves…). For everyone else? Well, you’ll just have to wait and see if that first round draft pick is a boom…. Or bust.