2017 NBA Draft 1st round grades

  1. Philadelphia 76ers – Markelle Fultz – Point Guard – Washington

I really like this selection for the 76ers. Sure, they gave up a lot to move up 2 spots in the draft in order to get Fultz. However, Fultz gives the 76ers a tremendous scorer that they haven’t had in awhile and now they have a really good trio of young players with Fultz, Joel Embiid, and Ben Simmons. The future is bright in Philadelphia and don’t be surprised if they sneak into the playoffs next season if their 3 top players can all stay healthy.

Grade: A

2. Los Angeles Lakers – Lonzo Ball – Point Guard – UCLA

Lonzo Ball is perhaps the most well-rounded player available in the NBA draft. He isn’t a great shooter, but he has good offensive ability. Also, he rebounds and passes the ball very well for a point guard. If Ball can become a better shooter then he will be a star in the NBA, but he is a very good all-around player with tremendous potential to be even better. The Lakers suddenly have three really good young players to build around with Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Julius Randle.

Grade: A

3. Boston Celtics – Jayson Tatum – Small Forward – Duke

This guy is an impact player that already is a very talented offensive player and a solid rebounder as well. Also, he has the length and athleticism that gives him the potential to be a good defender for the Celtics. Tatum is an impact player that should be an upgrade over Jae Crowder at the small forward position. However, this pick likely also means that the Celtics won’t pursue star Utah small forward Gordon Hayward in free agency.

Grade: A

4. Phoenix Suns – Josh Jackson – Small Forward – Kansas

Josh Jackson certainly is a dynamic player that has a chance to be a star player at the NBA level. He is already a tremendous athlete and he is a really good scorer as well. However, he needs to develop a jumpshot in order to be truly successful for the Suns. Jackson is a good defender and he is one of the most well-rounded players in this draft overall. Phoenix could be getting a great player and the only thing that he’s missing from becoming great is his lack of a consistent jumpshot.

Grade: A-

5. Sacramento Kings – De’Aaron Fox – Point Guard – Kentucky

De’Aaron Fox is my favorite player in this draft and he can really score points in bunches at times. Also, he is a good defender and he can pass and rebound somewhat well. Fox isn’t a great shooter, but if he can develop that area of his game then he would definitely be a great NBA player. Sacramento is also a good situation for him since he can possibly learn from a veteran point guard like Darren Collison and then Fox could at least be a solid starting point guard in a few years.

Grade: A

6. Orlando Magic – Jonathan Isaac – Small Forward – Florida State

Jonathan Isaac is a very athletic player with tremendous potential to be a very good NBA small forward. Isaac is a defensive specialist that has the ability to defend quick players out on the perimeter very well. He has very average offensive ability and it will be great for Orlando if he is able to score 15 points per game at some point. This is a great pick for the Magic especially since he is able to do many things very effectively.

Grade: A-

7. Chicago Bulls(From Minnesota) – Lauri Markkanen – Power Forward – Arizona

The Bulls are clearly in a rebuild mode after trading star player Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves on draft night. However, Markkanen is a great selection to start the rebuilding process as he has the potential to be a very good offensive player for many years. Markkanen is 7 feet, but he moves well for his size and he is a terrific shooter as he shot 42.3% from 3 last season at Arizona. Markkanen isn’t the type of player that spends much time around the basket, yet he is an average defender and he will have no problems scoring at the NBA level. He reminds me a lot of Dirk Nowitzki and Frank Kaminsky as players that shoot 3-pointers very well for guys their size. This is a very good pick for Chicago as this will provide a player that can score effectively from the power forward position.

Grade: A

8. New York Knicks – Frank Ntilikina – Point Guard – France

I’m not quite sure how this pick will turn out for the Knicks and it is really unknown what type of player that Ntilikina will become at the NBA level. He is a really good defender and he has good ball-handling skills as well. However, it is a mystery as to how he will perform on the offensive side of the ball. I compare him to Ricky Rubio of Minnesota since they both pass the ball effectively, but neither are very good offensive players. There is no doubt that Ntilikina has high potential, but this is a risky pick since he might not adjust to the NBA level very well.

Grade: C+

9. Dallas Mavericks – Dennis Smith Jr. – Point Guard – North Carolina State

This guy has as high of potential as any other player in this draft and he is a proven scorer as he averaged 18.1 points per game last season at North Carolina State. However, Smith is a very risky pick at this spot since his effort isn’t always there and his consistency is a concern as well. This guy has a chance to be a star player in the NBA if his effort level is consistent and if he commits himself to becoming a better defender. Either way, he should be a good starting point guard for Dallas and he will be a much needed scorer for them.

Grade: B

10. Portland Trail Blazers(From Sacramento) – Zach Collins – Power Forward – Gonzaga

The Trail Blazers badly need help at the power forward position and Zach Collins has probably the biggest potential of any power forward in this draft. Collins never got the opportunity to be a starter during college at Gonzaga because of how talented their frontcourt was. However, Collins is an athletic big man that has good offensive ability and he should develop his offensive game even further if he can develop a more consistent jumpshot. Collins probably won’t make an immediate impact right away, but he has the potential to be a very good power forward within a few years.

Grade: B+

11. Charlotte Hornets – Malik Monk – Point Guard – Kentucky

The Hornets needed another scorer to go along with Kemba Walker and they certainly found probably the best scorer in this draft by selecting Malik Monk out of Kentucky. Monk will make an impact right away most likely as a role player, but he reminds me a lot of Jamaal Crawford as both players can light it up offensively. However, Monk is similar to Crawford because neither player commits to playing defense. If Monk can get a lot of playing time then he will have the ability to score a lot of points. We’ll see if his defensive ability gets a little bit better, but he has the potential to be a star player for the Hornets.

Grade: A

12. Detroit Pistons – Luke Kennard – Shooting Guard – Duke

Luke Kennard is a really smart player that is a tremendous shooter especially from 3-point range. However, Kennard is probably as good of a player as he’ll ever be and he doesn’t have very high upside. Also, he doesn’t have the explosiveness or athleticism to be a very good defender at the NBA level. Kennard probably won’t ever be an all-star player, but he could be a solid starter and he will certainly be a very good role player for the Pistons at least.

Grade: B

13. Utah Jazz(From Denver) – Donovan Mitchell – Shooting Guard – Louisville

Mitchell is a very good defender that has a decent ability to score as well. He isn’t a great shooter, but if he can improve that part of his game then he could be an all-star caliber player. He will mostly be used as a defensive specialist for Utah, but he does everything somewhat well and he is one of the most athletic players in the draft.

Grade: A-

14. Miami Heat – Bam Adebayo – Center – Kentucky

Bam Adebayo is a mystery pick because I really didn’t see him going this high in the draft mostly because his offensive capabilities are very limited. However, Adebayo is one of the best defensive players in the draft and he will be a force around the basket. Miami isn’t a great fit for Adebayo either since they already have Hassan Whiteside who is basically the same type of player and Whiteside is already the unquestioned starter at center. Adebayo could be a good role player early on for Miami, but they have much bigger needs than at center right now and Adebayo probably won’t have a chance to be a starter as long as Whiteside is with the Heat. Overall, this pick is a reach for the Heat and they could have found a better fit because they didn’t need another shot-blocking center on their roster.

Grade: C-

15. Sacramento Kings(From Portland) – Justin Jackson – Small Forward – North Carolina

This is a solid pick for the Kings in this spot because they are getting a player that will be able to start immediately. Jackson has low upside as an NBA player so don’t be expecting him to turn into a superstar at any point. However, Jackson could be a good starting small forward in the NBA for awhile and at least he will be a very good role player. Jackson is just an average shooter for a small forward and that could limit his offense in the NBA as he’ll have to be more creative in finding ways to score points. Jackson is ready to play right away and he will give some more stability at small forward for the Kings since Rudy Gay is expected to leave the team in free agency.

Grade: B+

16. Minnesota Timberwolves(From Chicago) – Justin Patton – Center – Creighton

Justin Patton is a high energy player that will fit in well on a very young and talented Timberwolves roster. Patton could be a good role player for Minnesota for many years to come and if he continues to develop then he certainly has the potential to possibly be a decent NBA starting center. Patton is an extremely athletic player for his size and he has figured out ways to be a good scorer around the basket. However, Patton really needs to become a better rebounder and he needs to become a more physical player near the rim. Patton still has a long ways to go before he is a solid NBA player, but he has the talent to be a decent role player coming off the bench for Minnesota.

Grade: B

17. Milwaukee Bucks – D.J. Wilson – Power Forward – Michigan

D.J. Wilson wasn’t even a starter for most of his college career at Michigan and he didn’t really start playing well until late last season and that was when his draft stock majorly improved. Wilson isn’t an above average offensive player, but he did show some potential as a shooter last season at Michigan. Wilson is just a well-rounded player that doesn’t really specialize in one area of his game. He doesn’t project well as a starting power forward in the NBA, but he could be a good role player for many years.

Grade: B-

18. Indiana Pacers – TJ Leaf – Power Forward – UCLA

TJ Leaf didn’t get as much recognition as he probably deserved last season at UCLA because he was overshadowed by star point guard prospect Lonzo Ball. However, Leaf was just as productive of a player as Lonzo Ball was last season at UCLA. Leaf is a good shooter for someone of his size and he has the ability to score inside the paint and he is a really good mid-range shooter as well. Leaf will probably need to bulk up in order to be a starting power forward in the NBA and his lack of strength will hurt him as a defender in the NBA. However, Leaf has solid offensive ability and athleticism for his size and he is an intriguing player with tons of potential to be a good starting forward if he can improve his defense.

Grade: B+

19. Atlanta Hawks – John Collins – Power Forward – Wake Forest

The Atlanta Hawks appear to be heading towards a somewhat lengthy rebuild especially if star power forward Paul Millsap leaves in free agency which he probably will. However, they might have found a player in the 1st round that has the potential to eventually be a good replacement for Millsap. John Collins proved to be one of the best offensive players in the nation last season as he averaged 19.2 points per game in probably the best conference in all of college basketball. Collins already has a very good scoring ability around the rim and he started to get a better mid-range shot as well. If he can develop a more reliable jumpshot then Collins has the potential to be a terrific offensive player in the NBA. Collins also is a very good rebounder already and he figures to hold his own in that area at the NBA level. The main concern for Collins is his defensive ability and that is something that he will need to improve upon to become a reliable NBA power forward. Collins might not be a starter right away, but this is a great pick for Atlanta as he has the potential to be a very good starting power forward within a few years.

Grade: A

20. Sacramento Kings(From Portland) – Harry Giles – Power Forward – Duke

Harry Giles was a highly recruited player coming out of high school a couple of years ago and it seemed that he would be the number 1 overall pick in the NBA draft. However, he slipped down the draft boards because he has torn the ACL in his both of his knees in just a few years. Giles had terrible production during his time at Duke as he averaged just 3.9 points per game in limited playing time last year at Duke. Giles might be the most talented player in this entire draft, but there is a legitimate question about if he will be able to stay healthy in the NBA or if he will ever be close to the same player that he was in high school. If he can return even close to the type of player that he was before college then this might be the best pick in the entire draft. However, there is also a risk for the Kings that he might not even be a productive role player for them. I think this is a really good pick for the Kings to make at this point in the draft, but there obviously is a major risk associated with this pick which is why I’m not giving it an A grade.

Grade: B+

21. Oklahoma City Thunder – Terrance Ferguson – Shooting Guard – Australia

Terrance Ferguson is probably one of the most raw players available in this draft and he wasn’t very productive as he averaged 4.6 points per game during his one season in pro basketball in Australia. However, Ferguson also has the potential to be a very good starting shooting guard in the NBA. He already is known for having a very good jumpshot and he has shown flashes of his tremendous athleticism as well. Ferguson is an inconsistent defensive player at this point, but he has the potential to become a good defender. Ferguson isn’t a very good all-around prospect, but as long as he continues to develop his scoring abilities then he has a chance to at least be a good role player. Ferguson probably won’t make much of an immediate impact at the NBA level and he probably needs to start his career in the NBA G-League in order to develop. There is no doubting Ferguson’s potential, but it is unknown if he’ll ever become a solid NBA role player at least.

Grade: C+

22. Brooklyn Nets – Jarrett Allen – Center – Texas

The main thing that Jarrett Allen has is outstanding physical tools that project really well to the NBA level. He has the length and athleticism to be a very good shot-blocker and he should also be a good interior defender. However, the main issue for Allen is that he doesn’t have the size necessary to try and stop big NBA centers near the basket. Also, he relies too much on scoring near the basket and if he doesn’t add more size then he won’t contribute much offensively since he can’t rely on his athleticism alone to be able to score. This guy has a long way to go on both sides of the ball before he is ready to be a starting center in the NBA. However, if he can just add some more strength and maybe get a decent mid-range jumpshot then he could be the eventual solution at center for Brooklyn.

Grade: B

23. Toronto Raptors – OG Anunoby – Small Forward – Indiana

This guy could have probably been a lottery pick in the draft if a knee injury hadn’t prematurely ended his last season at Indiana. Anunoby might be the best defensive player in this draft as he has the athleticism to go up against any small forward in the NBA. If he can recover from his knee injury effectively then this could be a great pick for the Raptors. However, there are some major concerns about his offensive ability and if he can ever be an above average offensive player. Anunoby doesn’t have a good jumpshot at all and he was an awful free-throw shooter last season at Indiana. Anunoby should definitely be a good role player based solely on his elite defensive ability. However, he will need to develop his offensive ability if he is ever going to be a good starting small forward. Either way, Anunoby is a great pick at this point and this point in the draft and he could push for a starting spot within a couple of years.

Grade: A

24. Denver Nuggets(From Utah) – Tyler Lydon – Small Forward – Syracuse

It appears that Danilo Gallinari might be leaving the Nuggets in free agency and now drafted a small forward in the 1st round of the draft that has a very similar playing style to Gallinari. Tyler Lydon is an excellent 3-point shooter for someone of his size and he has also showed an ability to block shots during his time at Syracuse. Lydon needs to strengthen up if he wants to compete at the NBA level, but he is a good shooter that provides some potential in other areas as well. I’m not sure if he’ll ever be an effective starter in the NBA, but he is a good depth player at small forward for the Nuggets.

Grade: B-

25. Philadelphia 76ers(From Orlando) – Anzejs Pasecniks – Center – Latvia

I really don’t like this pick much for the 76ers as Pasecniks has a lot of upside, but he might not even make it to the NBA anytime soon. Pasecniks is a good scorer and he has remarkable athleticism for someone his size which is probably why NBA scouts thought he was a 1st round pick. However, he is a major work in progress as he doesn’t have the size or physicality to be able to compete defensively at the NBA level especially around the basket. Pasecniks also is an awful rebounder and he doesn’t figure to make much of an impact in that area. This pick mostly makes no sense for Philadelphia because the team is stacked with young talent in the frontcourt and Pasecniks would most likely just be a benchwarmer for awhile. Also, I’m really wondering why the 76ers would even trade for the rights to this guy since he might not even play in the NBA for awhile and they gave up a 1st round pick in 2020 just to acquire him. Pasecniks will probably continue to play in Europe for a few years at least and he might never decide to play in the NBA especially for a 76ers team that doesn’t have a role for him. This could end up being just a wasted pick and a terrible trade for the 76ers.

Grade: F

26. Portland Trail Blazers – Caleb Swanigan – Power Forward – Purdue

Swanigan was arguably the best player in the Big Ten conference last season and that is a conference that is one of the top conferences in all of college basketball. Swanigan is a physical player that makes his living almost entirely right around the basket. That is why his offensive abilities might be limited at the NBA level. However, he is definitely the best rebounder in this entire draft and if nothing else he could provide that as a decent role player at the NBA level. He might have trouble finding playing time with Portland since the Trail Blazers drafted Zach Collins 10th overall in this year’s draft. However, Portland knows what they are getting with Swanigan and he should be a decent role player very soon.

Grade: C

27. Los Angeles Lakers(From Brooklyn) – Kyle Kuzma – Power Forward – Utah

Kyle Kuzma wasn’t considered to be even close to a 1st round prospect not too long ago, but an impressive showing at the NBA combine really improved his draft stock. Kuzma is a very athletic power forward that is an effective scorer despite not having a consistent jumpshot. Kuzma has proven that he has the potential to be a good defensive player, but he was often an inconsistent defensive player during college. The Lakers already have plenty of young depth at the power forward position, so I’m not quite sure what role that Kuzma will have for the next few years. Los Angeles will probably just send him to the NBA G-League so that he can continue to develop a more consistent jumpshot. If he can develop his offense further then the Lakers might be getting a good role player. Kuzma wasn’t very productive in college overall which is why I’m shocked that he went this high in the draft. However, Kuzma does have the athleticism necessary to maybe provide some depth to the Lakers.

Grade: C

28. Utah Jazz(From Los Angeles Lakers) – Tony Bradley – Center – North Carolina

The Utah Jazz had a big need for depth at the center position behind star player Rudy Gobert and they might have just found a decent backup in the 1st round of the draft by selecting Tony Bradley out of North Carolina. Bradley didn’t play a ton of minutes while in college, but he was very effective when he did receive playing time. He is known to be a terrific interior defender and a terrific rebounder as well. Bradley won’t provide much offensively at all, although he does have the size and physicality to get some easy baskets inside the paint. Don’t expect Bradley to ever be a starting center in the NBA especially since he isn’t a player that has the conditioning to be able to play a lot of minutes every game. However, Bradley should provide the Jazz with a high energy player that will make a big impact defensively when he is in the game.

Grade: B

29. San Antonio Spurs – Derrick White – Point Guard – Colorado

Derrick White was one of the most underrated players in all of college basketball last season as he was quietly one of the best players in the Pac-12 as he averaged 18.3 points per game for Colorado. White played his first 3 seasons at division 2 school University of Colorado-Colorado Springs before transferring to Colorado. White is a terrific shooter and he is also a good passer which is obviously important for a point guard. This is a great pick for the Spurs since they are desperate for point guard depth right now. Starting point guard Tony Parker is likely to be out until January and backup point guard Patty Mills might be leaving in free agency. White might have to play a lot early on for San Antonio and he might just be the point guard of the future that the Spurs need. Either way, this is a great pick for the Spurs late in the 1st round of the draft and he has the potential to be the Spurs new starting point guard within the next few years.

Grade: A

30. Los Angeles Lakers(From Utah) – Josh Hart – Shooting Guard – Villanova

The Lakers needed more depth at the shooting guard position after they traded away D’Angelo Russell prior to the draft. They found some quality depth late in the 1st round though as they drafted Josh Hart out of Villanova. Hart played 4 years at Villanova and he ended up winning a national championship there during his junior year. Hart is an outstanding shooter and a very good defender as well. However, his lack of athleticism is the main reason that he wasn’t drafted until the last pick of the 1st round. Hart will be a good role player at worst for the Lakers and he should provide an immediate impact to a team in need of a shooting guard.

Grade: A



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