There were no significant surprises in the 2017 NBA Draft last Thursday and things went almost exactly according to plan.
A big trade did take place, with the Chicago Bulls sending Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves, but the draft played out much like it was supposed to. It was a relatively drama-free evening considering the pre-draft trade rumors involving Paul George and Kristaps Porzingis, but some deals did take last week, including Dwight Howard’s trade to the Hornets and D’Angelo Russell going from the Lakers to the Nets, which pretty much guaranteed that Los Angeles was going to draft Lonzo Ball.
So, with that in mind, here are some post NBA Draft predictions for the teams that made the first two picks, the 76ers and the Lakers.
After a trade with the Celtics last weekend, the 76ers took Markelle Fultz with the top pick. Philadelphia’s deal with Boston sent the No. 3 overall pick and the Lakers’ 2018 pick or the Kings’ 2019 pick to Boston in exchange for the number one pick.
Markelle Fultz is the first guard to be selected No. 1 overall since Kyrie Irving in 2011, and this is the second year in a row that the number one pick comes from a team that didn’t reach the NCAA Tournament (Ben Simmons missed it with LSU). Fultz was outstanding for Washington last season, averaging 23.2 points, 5.9 assists and 5.7 rebounds in 25 games but it wasn’t enough to help them reach the NCAA Tournament.
Look for Fultz to make an immediate impact, he’s athletic, strong, smart with the ball in his hands and his handle is excellent. He’s also capable of creating his own shots from anywhere and he can play off the ball. Washington had a losing season but no one questioned Fultz’s attitude or work ethic and he doesn’t have many weaknesses. There will be growing pains, as with any rookie, but he shouldn’t have problems scoring and making plays for a suddenly intriguing 76ers team that will have Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric.
Los Angeles Lakers
After months of rumors, the inevitable happened and Lonzo Ball will have a chance to play for his hometown team, the Lakers. Los Angeles took Ball with the No. 2 pick and now the former UCLA star point guard joins a mix of young, talented players, including Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram.
Can the Lakers find a way to make all their talent gel and improve after finishing with second-worst record in the Western Conference last year? Adding Lonzo Ball will help, he thrived at UCLA, averaging 14.6 points, 7.6 assists and 6.0 rebounds last season and his court vision and passing skills were second to none. Ball also shot 55.1 percent overall and 41.2 percent from 3-point range, although his jump shot form can be considered funky.
Lonzo Ball’s addition can give the Lakers a versatile offense. Ball is a hell of a player, not just because his outspoken father LaVar Ball says so, his numbers back him up and the former Bruin is truly one of the best passers to come to the NBA in a long time. Ball recorded 254 assists as a freshman to break UCLA’s assist record as well as Gary Payton’s Pac-12 record and he joined T.J. Ford as the only freshmen ever to lead the nation in assists.
SportsBetting offers competitive odds, review them before placing any action on the Lakers. Ball finished with more single season assists than T.J. Ford and Jason Kidd and the only active NBA player with more assists in an NCAA Basketball season than Ball is Kay Felder of the Cavaliers. So keep an eye on Fultz and Ball and their performance props for this season because there’s plenty of money to be made and the future is bright for them.