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2017 NBA Draft: Fultz trusts ‘The Process,’ Ball goes to Lakers, Warriors get in on action

What a night!

2017 NBA Draft Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The NBA Draft is one of the best nights of the year. I’ve enjoyed it from afar, and I’ve enjoyed it up close and personal. It’s a strange meeting of corporate branding, nervous teenagers, proud family members, and stupid fan costumes. All in all, it’s a heck of a time.

After last year’s seemingly weak draft class, we’ve all been brimming with excitement, waiting for Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, et al to walk the walk and shake Adam Silver’s hand. It’s been a long year full of meaningless prognostications, endless mock drafts, and quite a few surprise trades.

For the second year in a row, Philadelphia picked first overall. After selecting superstar-in-waiting Ben Simmons with the first pick in 2016 (he has yet to play a real NBA minute, although he shined in Summer League), they traded up, swapping picks with Boston, who hadn’t valued Fultz as highly as them. Philly got themselves a heck of a “Trust the Process” core now, with a team featuring Ben Simmons (please be healthy), Joel Embiid (PLEASE be healthy), and now Fultz (for sake of continuity, please by healthy).

Next up, the Lakers surprised absolutely no one — including apparently Jesus and Zeus — by fulfilling everyone’s destiny and selecting hometown kid Lonzo Ball to come and run Luke Walton’s system. Honestly, I’m frickin excited about this team. You might forget, but Brandon Ingram is actually younger than fourth overall pick Josh Jackson. If Ingram was in the draft this year, he maybe goes three? Four? Maybe fifth? I don’t think he gets drafted before Ball or Fultz, but maybe ahead of Tatum or Jackson? Either way, the Lakers now have a young core that they can definitely get excited about. So far, they’ve avoided panic trading for Paul George, hoping instead that he’ll stay true to his word and sign after this next season when he hits free agency. They’ve disengaged from the D’Angelo Russell circus show, and they’ve dumped their major source of salary-migrains by including Timofey Mozgov in the Russell trade.

I may hate the Lakers, but I will enjoy watching these kids learn to play together under second year coach Walton.

The Celtics then followed suit, and drafted the player they’ve long claimed they would have taken first overall had they kept their pick in Jayson Tatum. Hey, if they really were going to take Tatum first overall, and if they knew the Lakers and Sixers would have passed on him in the same spot (with their eyes on Ball and Fultz), why not trade back, pick up more assets and get the guy either way? This trade only backfires if a.) the Celtics never make that one big push to get a superstar, or even a nominal star like Gordon Hayward, or b.) if Fultz turns into a generational star and Tatum ends up being a meh player on a meh, never-quite-contending team. Either way, there’s no way to figure out what’s gonna happen. Just have to see how this all plays out over the next five years or so.

Also, bonus content, because this is super good:

The Suns must feel like they were the true winners of the night, as they happily drafted the player who many think might end up having the best career of anyone from this draft class. Josh Jackson is a physical specimen, and is perhaps the most ready-made NBA prospect that climbed up on stage last night. He’ll impact the game on both the offensive and defensive ends, and the combo of him and Devin Booker (still only 20 years old!) could be a harbinger of a forthcoming Suns renaissance.

Rounding out the top five, the Sacramento Kings selected the fastest player in the draft, De’Aaron Fox. He’s a defensive nightmare for opposing players, and his offensive game is shifty, fast-paced, and unpredictable. If he ever gets a consistent jump shot, he could very well end up being the best point guard in a point guard heavy draft.

The draft wandered on through the wilderness of NBA suspense, with Woj bombs removing all the suspense as we went. Trades were made, Jimmy Butler now is a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Chicago’s front office is a steaming pile of horse dung. Seriously, WHAT WERE THEY DOING LAST NIGHT?!

After the trade, Jimmy Butler’s personal trainer went absolutely scorched earth on the Bulls.

Like, dang man. Dang. That is cold. “He is a liar and everyone knows.” Well, now everyone does, for sure.

Another head scratcher from the Bulls: They let the Warriors buy a draft pick from them, which the Warriors then used on Oregon big man Jordan Bell. I know I’m not just speaking for myself when I say it’s going to be dope AF watching MVP Patrick McCaw and multiple time All-Star Jordan Bell lead the Warriors to an eighth straight Finals victory in 2025. Mmmmm, that champagne already smells good.

For a comprehensive guide to each and every pick, click here.

That was fun, can’t wait for next year’s draft. We’ve already got a mock up, if that’s the type of thing you like (I know you do, as do I).

But beyond everything, did any team do anything to make you think they’re gonna compete with the Warriors next year? Not really, right? The Cavaliers did not land Jimmy Butler, as we’d feared. The Spurs didn’t do anything to really move the needle in a meaningful way. Sure, the Timberwolves got a lot better, but it’s going to be at least three or four years until they mature into a contender, if it happens at all.

The draft is fun, the draft is one of the best nights of the year. But for now, the Warriors seem safe atop the mountain. Ain’t nobody coming for their throne quite yet.

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