Zach Haines’s 2017 NBA Draft Projections

By Zach Haines

Twitter: @_zachhaines_
Instagram: @zachhaines15

The 2017 NBA Draft Lottery has come and gone, showing the order of teams picking from a pool of promising prospects for the upcoming season. With a field of players that have so much potential to be transcendent for whatever team they end up on, now would be as good a time as any to project just where these players will end up. More importantly, it should be interesting to see who makes the top ten.

Boston Celtics- Markelle Fultz Guard/University of Washington

Markelle Fultz is hands down the best talent in this year’s draft class. The Celtics would be foolish to take anyone else over him. Fultz has a blend of athleticism, scoring, court vision, teammate involvement, and basketball IQ that nobody else in the draft possesses. His only real areas that needs improvement are his defense and energy. Washington had a lackluster team last year in Fultz’s freshman year, so one can only assume being on an NBA roster will give him the motivation to kick his game into a higher gear.

Los Angeles Lakers- Lonzo Ball Guard/UCLA

The Lakers and Lonzo Ball coming together has been a fairy-tale narrative that has been hyped up over the past month or so, and it is likely to come true. Is Lonzo the right choice for the Lakers in this draft class? Probably not. Lonzo isn’t as complete of a package as his father, LaVar Ball, pitches him to be. Ball has trouble creating separation and creating his own shot, he has an ugly jumpshot, and he is an extremely passive player. Beyond that, Lonzo’s noteworthy playmaking ability has only been demonstrated in transition, so his effectiveness in the half-court set has really yet to be seen. The Lakers; however, need a decent enough point-guard-type player to get the ball out of D’Angelo Russell’s hands, since Russell is more of a shooting guard. The tandem of Ball and Russell could, in time, be a formidable force if they learn to play well with one another, which shouldn’t be an issue considering Lonzo’s passiveness. Nonetheless, the Lakers will take him and the fairy-tale will continue.

Philadelphia 76ers- De’Aaron Fox Guard/University of Kentucky

LEXINGTON, KY – JANUARY 07: De’Aaron Fox #0 of the Kentucky Wildcats dribbles the ball during the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Rupp Arena on January 7, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The Sixers need a wing presence that possesses size, strength speed, defense, and electric offensive abilities. The answer is De’Aaron Fox. The Sixers also need a player with the type of attitude necessary to play in Philly. An attitude that comes with competitiveness, aggression, and an undying will to win. The answer is De’Aaron Fox. Beyond the perfect match he seems to have with the Sixers’ current situation, he has one more important factor that make him astronomically crucial for the team’s success. Fox is a willing learner, and he learns quickly. Under Brett Brown, and in a rapidly improving Sixers team, expect to see big things out of De’Aaron Fox.

Phoenix Suns- Josh Jackson Forward/University of Kansas

The Phoenix Suns need a forward with versatility, simple as that. Enter Josh Jackson, a near perfect fit for the Suns’ current and developing situation. Jackson will provide defense and a slashing presence that won’t take the ball out of the hands of emerging superstar Devin Booker. The Suns are still a handful of seasons away from being a playoff team, but inserting Jackson into their mix is a step in the right direction.

Sacramento Kings- Malik Monk Guard/University of Kentucky

The Kings are in rebuild mode following the monumental trade of DeMarcus Cousins following this past year’s All-Star break. Adding a wing scorer to help create a new, fast-paced, high-scoring team to keep up with the changing landscape of how the game is played is crucial to the King’s eventual success. Drafting Malik Monk would give the Kings a solid backcourt and wing presence, which is honestly what is needed in order to compete in this league. The days of inside-out offenses are long gone in the NBA, so the Kings need to use their pick to take one of the better wing scorers so they don’t remain a step behind the rest of the league.

Orlando Magic- Justin Jackson Forward/University of North Carolina

CHAPEL HILL, NC – FEBRUARY 22: Justin Jackson #44 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts after a basket against the Louisville Cardinals during their game at the Dean Smith Center on February 22, 2017 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

This one might be a bit of a stretch, but the pairing of the Orlando Magic and UNC’s Justin Jackson might be the best case scenario for both parties. The Magic’s style of play fits perfectly with what Jackson displayed all throughout the March Madness tournament. His ability to stretch the floor would allow players like Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic, and Evan Fournier to operate closer to the basket. Additionally, he has shown that he isn’t afraid of the big moment, which is something a team like the Magic needs on their team. This is just too good of an opportunity for Orlando to pass up when it is their turn to pick.

Minnesota Timberwolves- Jonathan Isaac Forward/Florida State University

The Timberwolves are right on the brink of becoming a playoff team. Their core is composed of Karl-Anthony Towns, Ricky Rubio, Andrew Wiggins, and Zach Lavine, which have all really come into their own over the past season or so. All they really need now is an everyday power forward, which is a position they are relatively weak in. Jonathan Isaac is the solution. He has the capability of being a double-digit scorer and rebounder, which is all the Timberwolves really could ask for at this point in their development of the team.

New York Knicks- Dennis Smith Guard/North Carolina State University

The Knicks are a mess. Phil Jackson has put on one of the worst performances as an executive I have ever seen. Uncertainty is synonymous with the situations regarding Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose, and Joakim Noah. However, if Jackson is smart, he’ll take Dennis Smith. Not because Smith is a franchise changing player, but because the Knicks are in desperate need of a point guard. Smith can go out every night and give the team close to double-digits in scoring and assists, which could prove to be somewhat beneficial. But again, it’s the Knicks, so no one knows.

Dallas Mavericks- Jayson Tatum Forward/Duke University

Dallas is in a state where they’ve established a solid backcourt, but now need to start building upon their frontcourt since Dirk Nowitzki isn’t getting any younger. Drafting Jayson Tatum is the best choice for Dallas due to his versatility in playing either forward position. This would give the team an extended amount of options to slowly build for the future, since a complete overhaul and rebuild isn’t necessary. Tatum would be a great compliment to Nowitzki and Nerlens Noel in the frontcourt, since he doesn’t demand the ball or display passiveness. He plays a solid team-brand of basketball that would fit right in with what the Mavericks are trying to accomplish.

Sacramento Kings- Zach Collins Center/Gonzaga University

As I mentioned before, the days of the center have come and gone in the NBA and Sacramento, but that doesn’t mean the Kings still don’t need one. Zach Collins displayed in the March Madness tournament that he can be depended on, and behind Willie Cauley-Stein, Collins is sure to develop the skills that made him one of Gonzaga’s go-to guys down the stretch. He and the Kings just make sense together, he’s that type of talent that they’ll want to have around in two or three years, pairing him with Cauley-Stein to form a respectable frontcourt duo.


The 2017 NBA Draft will be held Thursday, June 22 at 7:00 EST on ESPN.

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