Ben Simmons

NBA Draft Winners, Losers: It was a good night in Philadelphia, Minnesota

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Let’s be honest, judging the winners and losers hours after the draft is throwing darts at a board. There are picks and moves we think are smart that turn out to fall flat, and there are picks that are smart we don’t see coming. This year, a lot of people around the league thought that someone in this draft between picks five and 12 would turn out to be a stud — they all have potential and flaws, but who will work and be able to fill in the holes in their game? It’s too early to know.

That doesn’t stop us from making our projections.

Here ar our 2017 NBA Draft winners and losers.

WINNERS:

The Minnesota Timberwolves. When news of them pushing for a Jimmy Butler trade came up, I thought it foolish to give up a lot of quality pieces for a guy not on the timeline with Karl-Anthony Towns. However, this deal was a good one. Minnesota got Butler and the No. 16 pick (Justin Patton) for the No. 7 pick (Lauri Markkanen), Zach LaVine (an athletic two guard coming off an ACL injury), and Kris Dunn (who was unimpressive as a rookie, but maybe bounces back). This is a great deal giving the Timberwolves both another strong defender, someone who knows Tom Thibodeau’s system, and a professional locker room leader. Minnesota now starts Ricky Rubio, Butler, Andrew Wiggins, and Towns, and they look like a playoff team next season.

The Philadelphia 76ers. Unlike a certain GM in Boston, Bryan Colangelo and the Sixers were willing to push their chips into the middle of the table to get their three stars. Now they have it after trading for the No. 1 pick (at a fairly high cost, but if you have the chips this is what they are for). Markelle Fultz was taken with the top pick to go with Ben Simmons (last year’s No. 1) and Joel Embiid. Add in quality players around them like Dario Saric and Robert Covington, and the Sixers potentially have a foundation for greatness. now they just need to keep everyone healthy for a season.

The Sacramento Kings. It seems weird to type this, but they nailed this draft. They got their point guard of the future in De'Aaron Fox (who now gets to go up against Lonzo Ball four times a season — that’s going to be fun). They traded out of the No. 10 pick to get the No. 15 and 20, and they got Justin Jackson and Harry Giles. I’m higher on Jackson than most, but he certainly should be an NBA rotation player. And Giles, if healthy and anywhere near back to form, could be the steal of this draft. Frank Mason was a solid second round get. The Kings were a smart, mature franchise for a night. We’ll see if this is a trend.

Golden State Warriors. They didn’t have a pick in this draft, but they bought one early in the second round to land Jordan Bell (Long Beach Poly shout out). He showed in the NCAA tournament against Kansas he showed how he is a fierce defender of multiple positions (and he did the same at the combine). He’s athletic, has an NBA body, but he can score a little around the basket or from farther out if left wide open — and on the Warriors he’ll be left wide open. Bell is a nice player but this is a perfect fit.

LOSERS:

The Chicago Bulls. Management deciding it couldn’t build around Jimmy Butler and it was time to move on to a real rebuild is completely legitimate — but then you’ve got to get more back for an All-NBA player who is elite on both ends of the court. Maybe Lauri Markkanen is more than just a stretch four, hopefully, Zach LaVine fully recovers from his ACL injury, and Kris Dunn can’t be a bad as he looked last year — and that’s still not enough. Butler had time left on his contract, there was no rush to get this done, yet the Bulls pulled the trigger on a sub-par package that slows those rebuilding efforts. It was not pretty in the Windy City.

Boston Celtics fans. They were teased all day with dreams of Kristaps Porzingis, or Butler, or Paul George, and in the end they got Jayson Tatum. I like the Celtics’ picks, I think Semi Ojeleye could be a steal in the second round. But all day long Celtics fans were told of big dreams, none of which yet came to pass and Danny Ainge continues to hold on to his chips. Someday he’ll make a move. Probably. But that day is not today.

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.

PBT Extra: Sixers go after own big three with trade for No. 1 pick

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Joel Embiid. Ben Simmons. Markelle Fultz.

Could that be Philadelphia’s  big three of the future? Embiid thought enough of it to Tweet out a photo from Fultz’s workout with the Sixers.

That’s what they are hoping for in trading for the No. 1 pick, a deal I break down in this latest PBT Extra.

For Boston, they may draft Josh Jackson (or Jayson Tatum), but this feels like the first the first domino in a series of moves for them to bolster the roster. Or, maybe Danny Ainge just wasn’t sold on Fultz.

But the Sixers are.

 

Celtics complete trade of No. 1 pick to 76ers with previously unreported wrinkle

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Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons… and, soon, Markelle Fultz.

The 76ers have built an incredible young core. But it came at a cost – years of losing to tank for Embiid and Simmons and an extra first-round pick to move up with the Celtics to draft Fultz No. 1 overall this year. That trade, as expected, is now complete.

With the deal official, we have a clear look at the draft picks and protections involved.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have acquired the third overall selection of the 2017 NBA Draft and the favorably-protected rights to a future first round pick from the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for the first overall pick in this year’s draft.

The future first round pick will be the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2018 pick if it’s within the No. 2 to No. 5 range of the 2018 draft. If it is not, the Celtics will instead receive either Sacramento’s or Philadelphia’s first round pick in 2019, whichever is more favorable. However, if either of those 2019 picks result in the first overall selection, Boston will instead receive the other first round pick.

“We’re thrilled to be able to select what we expect be an impact player with the third pick in this year’s very talented draft class, while also adding a highly valuable future asset as we continue to build towards Banner 18,” said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.

It was previously reported the Celtics, if they don’t get the Lakers 2018 first-round pick, would get the Kings’ 2019 first-rounder. The conditions for Boston getting the higher of Philadelphia’s or Sacramento’s 2019 first-rounder (or the lower of the two, if one is No. 1) were previously unreleased.

This doesn’t change the calculus much. It’s still possible the Lakers’ 2018 pick completes the trade. If not, the Celtics get a higher floor (getting the more favorable of two picks, rather than just one wherever it lands) and a lower ceiling (no No. 1 pick) with the 2019 selection. The 76ers should be much better by then, though Embiid’s and Simmons’ injury histories cause concern. It’ll still probably be the Lakers’ or Kings’ pick going to Boston.

After Philadelphia picks Markelle Fultz No. 1, the Lakers will probably take Lonzo Ball No. 2. That puts the Celtics on the clock in a big decision, seemingly between Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum. Getting that right will factor into how this trade is judged years from now.

But whether Fultz becomes an elite player will hover the transaction more than anything else. If he’s a superstar, it’d be nearly impossible for Boston to recoup enough value from the lower draft picks it received. If not, the Celtics have set themselves up even more nicely for a future that already includes the Nets’ 2018 first-rounder.

Sixers deal for point guard they need with Markelle Fultz

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Jerryd Bayless was supposed to be the guy, the veteran stabilizing presence, but he broke his wrist. He played in three games.

T.J. McConnell was a surprise and a find, but he’s a backup at the point long term, not the answer.

Sergio Rodriguez threw great passes, but he was always a stopgap.

Philadelphia headed into this offseason unsettled long-term at the point. There has been talk of chasing Kyle Lowry or some other free agent veteran point guard to settle the young team down, but those again were not the long-term answer.

Markelle Fultz is that answer.

By trading for the No. 1 pick in this draft, sending the Boston Celtics the No. 3 this year than either the Lakers No. 1 next year (if it falls in picks 2-5) or the Kings pick in 2019, the Sixers get a potentially great young point guard, a versatile one who fits what they are trying to build.

Fultz, Joel Embiid, and Ben Simmons — that could be the Sixers big three.

Fultz should bring the ability to organize the offense consistently that Philly lacked last season (with Bayless out injured). They needed someone to set the table, and Fultz can do that.

But Fultz can do so much more.

Fultz is a versatile point guard for the modern game. He can shoot (41.3 percent from three last season), can score from the midrange or attack the rim, he’s a strong playmaker in transition or the halfcourt, and he’s a good floor general. There’s very little he can’t do on offense, and defensively he has potential.

Brett Brown can use Fultz off the ball if Simmons is running the point, or he can trust Fultz to run the show. They could form the kind of dangerous pick-nd-roll play with two ball handlers who can shoot we have seen from Cleveland with the Kyrie Irving/LeBron James 1/3 pick-and-roll. Plus both Fultz and Simmons are good passers who can feed Embiid.

Philly’s potential new big three also are all on basically the same career arc.

We don’t know how this move will ultimately play out, or if these three can mesh with the Sixers. Can they stay healthy enough to find out?

However, right now, this is a strong move by Philly — there comes a time to cash in some of those treasure trove of picks and get the guys you want. Bryan Colangelo did that here. I’ve had my concerns about how the new Sixers GM would mess up “the process” but this is not that. This is getting a potentially great young player that fits what the Sixers are building. This is a strong move.