NBA draft profile: Klay Thompson can shoot, teams like that

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Klay Thompson can shoot. His stroke is pure.

In a draft where everyone has serious question marks, if you can consistently put the ball in the hole the thing you do well is something every team needs. Thompson caught scouts eyes as a shooter as he filled it up in college — Washington State ran him off screens all day long — and he knocked it down at a 39.8 percent pace from three (and that was with defenses targeting him).

Then he went to the NBA Draft Combine and looked like the best shooter according to reports. Then everywhere he has gone for workouts he has impressed with his touch from deep — to the point Knicks president Donnie Walsh (formerly of the Pacers) threw around the Reggie Miller comparison.

Thompson has a long way to go to get anywhere near Miller, but it gives you an idea of what scouts think about his shooting. He gets raves.

Like everyone else in this draft, Thompson — the son of former No. 1 overall pick and Showtime era Laker Mychal Thompson — still has questions to answer in the pros.

He is not an explosive athlete — he’s not a guy who is going to create his own shot at the next level. Yes, some guys in the NBA get around that but it’s much harder on the wing (as a two or three) where the NBA’s best athletes play. He is 6’7” and shoots with a high release so he doesn’t need much space, but he isn’t going to create much of it himself at the next level (if a guy is running out on his at the arc he can put it on the floor to get around him, but he doesn’t have the ball handling to get to the rim and doesn’t finish great there anyway).

The bigger concern is defense — he wasn’t great at that in college, his lateral movement is average at best and, again, on the wings in the NBA he will be matched up against ridiculously good athletes. Could he be a guy who scores but costs you as many points at the other end?

One thing you don’t hear mentioned a whole lot is the marijuana possession arrest and him having to leave the Cougars team. NBA teams may have concerns, but they seem to see that as a blip not a pattern.

There are questions. But there are things we know — he knows how to get open off screens and he knows how to soot the rock.

If you’re going to take a gamble, you take a gamble on a guy who you know can put the ball in the hole.

Thompson has been steadily moving up the board over the past couple months. Our man Steve Alexander at NBC’s Rotoworld has him going at No. 15 to the Pacers (where the Reggie Miller comparisons would never end). But that is about the farthest he will fall (sorry Knicks fans). DraftExpress has him going No. 14 the Rockets, while ESPN’s Chad Ford has him going No. 10 to the Bucks (a team that could use some offense).

If there was one guy in that range teams might trade up to get it would be Thompson — sometimes GMs fall in love with a shooter. Something to watch.

Markelle Fultz’s draft day shoes were made out of basketballs (VIDEO)

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Markelle Fultz was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night, but what may have just stole the show were his shoes.

Fultz, 19, Showed up in New York dressed to the nines while also rocking some pretty unique sneakers. When asked what inspired him, Fultz said he just wanted to go with something crazy.

The shoes are apparently made out of real basketball leather, so I can’t imagine they breathe very well. They sure do look pretty sweet.

Probably better than any Big Baller Brand shoe.

Philadelphia 76ers select Markelle Fultz No. 1 overall in 2017 NBA Draft

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The Philadelphia 76ers have selected Markelle Fultz No. 1 overall in the 2017 NBA Draft.

We’ve known this was coming for some time after the Sixers moved up in the draft and swapped picks with the Boston Celtics. Philadelphia originally had the No. 3 overall pick, but traded rights to their selection in order to take the Washington Huskies point guard.

Philadelphia would now appear to have a solid core in place after stockpiling young players for years under former GM Sam Hinkie’s leadership. Hinkie is no longer with the team, but the results of his process have created one of the strongest young teams in the Eastern Conference.

Fultz joins a core of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Robert Covington, and Jahlil Okafor in Philadelphia. At 6-foot-5, Fultz is a tall young guard who can bring not only a pick-and-roll game to the Sixers, but some shooting as well. That bodes well given how much ball-handling duties we expect to see from Simmons, who is an elite passing talent but has not shown the ability to shoot the ball just yet.

The Sixers still need to add some kind of shooting element to their roster, but having Fultz not only as a lead ball handler but as an off-the-ball option might just take some of the pressure off of Bryan and Jerry Colangelo when it comes to finding another shooter on the wing.

Fultz Played just one season for Washington, scoring 23.2 points and dishing out six assists per-game. He shot 41% from 3-point range and even averaged 8.8 rebounds per 100 possessions. Fultz was named to the PAC 12 all-freshman team and all-conference team for 2017.

The real question for Philadelphia moving forward of course is the health of their previously drafted hopeful stars. Yes, That the Sixers have eight seemingly embarrassing amount of riches on their roster is a great thing for fans who have watch a team continue loosely lose for nearly half a decade. But Embiid Has been plagued with leg injuries, and Simmons missed his entire first season with a foot injury.

Fultz perhaps caps this incredible run in the NBA draft for the Sixers given his draft position and the needs of the roster. Philadelphia is in an excellent position to succeed in the Eastern Conference, which still doesn’t have a true challenger to LeBron James. But Fultz, Simmons, Embiid, and the Sixers will need to not only advanced together on the floor, but stay on the floor in order to make that happen.

Drafting Fultz is a great step for the Sixers. After years of trusting the process, fans in Philadelphia won’t be the only ones hoping to see them succeed now that their faith has been verified.

2017 NBA Draft pick-by-pick tracker with analysis of each move

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Already the 2017 NBA Draft has been crazy — the No. 1 pick was traded for only the seventh time in NBA history. The No. 2 pick from a couple years ago has already been moved to make way for the next No. 2 pick coming to Los Angeles.

Now it is likely to get even wilder.

This is the best place to follow all of it. Just keep hitting refresh all night.

We will constantly be updating this post throughout the course of the night — it will be live with a quick analysis of every pick and how they fit in with the team that took them. We’ll also be on top of trades and everything else happening around the NBA tonight. About the only thing we know is what’s happening now with the No. 1 pick, so let’s put the Sixers on the clock.

 

 
Sixers small icon 1. Philadephia 76ers: Markelle Fultz, 6’4” point guard (Washington). The Sixers hope they have their big three rounded out with Fultz. One scout I trust told me this was a one-player draft at the top — Fultz was clear and away the best guy available. What doesn’t he do well offensively? He can score off the pick-and-roll from all three levels: He makes threes, can hit mid-range pull-ups, or attack and finish above the rim. He can make plays in transition, makes good decisions off the pick-and-roll, uses both hands, and had great body control and footwork. The concerns are he can be passive, lets the game come to him a little too much, and can be a lazy defender (despite elite physical tools). Stlll, he was the clear No. 1 for a reason.

 
Lakers small icon 2. Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball, 6’6” point guard (UCLA). You can’t teach his court vision and passing skills, which remind one of a LeBron/Ricky Rubio level of passer. With those skills, he is amazing in the open court. Yes, his shot is awkward (because of it he can’t pull up going to his right well), but in catch-and-shoots the ball goes in. Concerns about his shot – and his father — are overblown. The real questions are how he defends at the next level (he was disinterested for long stretches in college), and can he create in the halfcourt (he didn’t do a lot of pick-and-rolls, and on them 75 percent of his drives ended with a pass, he has to be more of a scoring threat).

WE HAVE A TRADE: The Chicago Bulls are sending Jimmy Butler to play with his old coach Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota, in exchange for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the No. 7 pick in this draft. That is a great deal for Minnesota.

 
Celtics small icon 3. Boston Celtics:

Report: Suns discussing trade of Eric Bledsoe to Nuggets

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The Phoenix Suns are rebuilding and they have one good trade chip in their hands — Eric Bledsoe. He remains a very good point guard who could help a lot of teams, and the Suns want young players and/or picks back in any potential deal.

Enter the Denver Nuggets, reports Chris Haynes of ESPN.

That has potential, depending on what the Suns thing of Emanuel Mudiay. They might prefer Jamal Muray, and also is there someone they like in the 13th pick area.

Of all the wild rumors flying around on draft day, this one makes some of the most sense. For the Suns, they could land a couple of quality young players to go with their No. 4 pick, all of whom can be paired with Devin Booker, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, Alex Len and the rest. For the Nuggets, they get a veteran point guard that helps them look more like a playoff team next season.

That said, teams are talking to everyone about almost everything right now. Whether this one goes through remains to be seen.