The 2017 NBA Draft class lived up to the hype last season. It produced many fantastic young players, including an exciting three-way battle for Rookie of the Year between Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell and 2016 No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons.
Some of the best players in the 2017 class didn’t go in the top 10, and the two most notable names are Donovan Mitchell (No. 13 to the Utah Jazz) and Kyle Kuzma (No. 27 to the Los Angeles Lakers).
Now that we’ve had a full season to evaluate these players’ rookie campaigns, let’s take a look at how the 2017 draft could’ve played out with the information we now have.
Here’s our 2017 NBA Re-Draft (original pick in parenthesis).
1. Philadelphia 76ers: Jayson Tatum, SF (Markelle Fultz, PG)
Tatum was efficient offensively, a top 10 3-point shooter and played better-than-expected defense using his excellent length and athleticism. He’s the perfect type of versatile wing player for the 76ers. In fact, after striking out on LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard this offseason, Philly still hasn’t addressed this weakness.
Passing on Tatum and giving Boston a potential 2019 top five pick in order to move up from No. 3 to No. 1 could prove to be a disastrous trade for the 76ers.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Donovan Mitchell, SG (Lonzo Ball, PG)
We could make a case for the Lakers taking Ball again — his rookie season was better than people give it credit for. But it’s tough to pass on Mitchell, who paced all rookies in scoring at 20.5 points per game and led the Jazz to the Western Conference semifinals. And there’s still a lot of improvement left in Mitchell’s game, evidenced by his so-so 34 percent mark from 3-point range and 43.7 percent clip from the field. The comparisons between Mitchell and Dwyane Wade appear to be legit, at leasst for now.
3. Boston Celtics: Josh Jackson, SF (Jayson Tatum, SF)
It’s clear the Celtics wanted a versatile wing player at No. 3, and maybe they would’ve taken Jackson originally if he had agreed to work out with them late in the draft process. Jackson is a very good defender and improved as a scorer as the 2017-18 season wore on. He needs to shoot much better than 26.3 percent from beyond the arc, but he and Ben Simmons were the only rookies to average at least 15 points and 5 rebounds per game after the All-Star break.
4. Phoenix Suns: Markelle Fultz, PG (Josh Jackson, SF)
The Suns need a point guard, and Fultz is a quality playmaker and scorer. The shoulder injury that sparked a bizarre, nearly season-long saga derailed his rookie season, but his summer work with renowned shooting coach Drew Hanlen appears to have fixed some of the weaknesses in his shot. Fultz still has a very high ceiling, and a backcourt of him and Devin Booker would be quite entertaining.
5. Sacramento Kings: Lonzo Ball, PG (De’Aaron Fox, PG)
The Kings probably originally would’ve taken Ball if he were available here. He’s a better passer, rebounder and defender than Fox, and if his outside shooting improves he’s going to be a terrific all-around player.
6. Orlando Magic: Dennis Smith Jr., PG (Jonathan Isaac, PF)
Isaac has been a bust so far, although to be fair, injuries prevented him from having a full rookie season. Smith Jr. averaged 15.2 points per game and filled up the highlight reel with athletic dunks. He’s a quality scorer and someone who can sell tickets — an ideal player in the Orlando market.
7. Chicago Bulls (via Minnesota): Lauri Markkanen, PF (Lauri Markkanen, PF)
The Bulls took some heat when they acquired this pick in the Jimmy Butler trade on draft night and supposedly “reached” on Arizona center Lauri Markkanen. The 7-footer quickly silenced the critics by averaging 15.2 points per game and proving to be a reliable 3-point shooter.
8. New York Knicks: Kyle Kuzma, SG (Frank Ntilikina, PG)
We still have high hopes for Ntilikina, but a quality scorer like Kuzma probably would’ve been a better pick for the Knicks. They need a No. 2 guy alongside Kristaps Porzingis, and Kuzma’s ability to create his own shot from anywhere on the floor would’ve complemented the Latvian superstar well.
9. Dallas Mavericks: De’Aaron Fox, PG (Dennis Smith Jr., PG)
The Mavs, without Smith Jr. on the board, should take the Kentucky product instead. Fox is the most athletic player in this class, at least among guards, and improved his shooting as a rookie.
10. Portland Trail Blazers (via Sacramento): OG Anunoby, SF/PF (Zach Collins, PF)
The Blazers traded up to get Collins and it’s been a mistake so far. Anunoby is a very good defender and can lock down opponents at shooting guard, small forward and power forward. He’s also a quality 3-point shooter. Anunoby probably would’ve been a lottery pick if he didn’t suffer a major knee injury at Indiana, and he proved as a rookie that he should’ve gone that high anyway.
11. Charlotte Hornets: Frank Ntilikina, PG (Malik Monk, SG)
Monk was very good at the end of last season, and more playing time should result in a solid Year 2 for him. But with Kemba Walker entering the final year of his contract and the Hornets needing to rebuild soon, taking a potential point guard replacement for Walker in Ntilikina makes a lot of sense.
12. Detroit Pistons: Malik Monk, SG (Luke Kennard, SG)
Kennard is mostly a 3-point shooter and doesn’t attack the basket with same ferocity as Monk.
13. Utah Jazz (via Denver): John Collins, PF (Donovan Mitchell, SG)
The pick the Jazz traded up for to take Mitchell now will be used on Collins, who made All-Rookie second team after averaging 10.5 points and 7.3 rebounds on a solid 57.6 percent shooting. He was the most underrated rookie last season, and a lot of that is due to the fact he played on a bad Atlanta Hawks team very few people watched.
14. Miami Heat: Jonathan Isaac, PF (Bam Adebayo, C)
Isaac has similar length and size as Adebayo, but he shows more promise as an outside shooter and someone who can attack the basket and finish at the rim.
15. Sacramento Kings (via Portland): Harry Giles, PF (Justin Jackson, SF)
The Kings took Giles at No. 20, but given how well he played in the 2018 summer league and the fact he’s now healthy after taking all of 2017-18 off, he is primed for a huge rookie campaign. The former top high school recruit has all the tools needed to be a very good all-around player. He was, and really still is, the No. 1 wild card in this class. He might be a top five player from this class if we re-draft it five years from now.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Chicago): Bam Adebayo, C (Justin Patton, C)
Adebayo is a better shot blocker, interior defender and rebounder than Patton, and the Kentucky product also has a softer touch around the basket on offense.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: Luke Kennard, SG (D.J. Wilson, PF)
The Bucks’ playoff hopes were doomed because of the lack of quality 3-point shooting around superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Kennard, who shot 41 percent from beyond the arc as a rookie, certainly would improve that weakness.
18. Indiana Pacers: Jarrett Allen, PF (T.J. Leaf, PF)
Allen was an efficient scorer and defended better than expected, and you could’ve made a case for him on the All-Rookie second team. His hard-nosed style of play also would be appreciated by Pacers fans. He has much more upside than Leaf at the power forward position.
19. Atlanta Hawks: Jordan Bell, PF (John Collins, PF)
Bell and Collins are similar players, and the Warriors were lucky to get the former in the second round. Bell runs the floor well, finishes at the rim and is a very good interior defender. He is a poor 3-point shooter, but that’s something he can work on over the summer.
20. Sacramento Kings (via Portland): Josh Hart, SG (Harry Giles, PF)
Hart was the 2018 Summer League MVP and had a solid rookie season for the Lakers in limited minutes. He averaged 7.9 points per game and shot an impressive 39.6 percent from 3-point land.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Zach Collins, C (Terrance Ferguson, SF)
Collins would provide scoring depth at center behind Steven Adams, who carries a heavy burden for OKC at both ends of the floor.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Derrick White, PG (Jarrett Allen, PF)
White could enjoy a breakout sophomore season if he gets more playing time in San Antonio. He’s a good outside shooter and has pretty good size for a point guard at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds.
23. Toronto Raptors: Terrance Ferguson, SF (OG Anunoby, SF)
With Anunoby off the board, the Raptors go to the best available wing defender in Ferguson, someone Toronto probably would have thrown at LeBron James in their Eastern Conference semifinals series.
24. Denver Nuggets (via Utah): Sterling Brown, SG (Tyler Lydon, PF)
Brown is a better outside shooter and defender than Lydon, and would allow the Nuggets to rest Jamal Murray without taking a huge hit from the 3-point line.
25. Orlando Magic: Justin Jackson, SF (Anzejs Pasecniks, C)
Jackson was inconsistent as a rookie and averaged 6.7 points and shot a disappointing 30.8 percent from 3-point range. He still could be a solid role player, though, and that’s what teams are looking for late in the first round.
26. Portland Trail Blazers: Justin Patton, C (Caleb Swanigan, PF)
Foot injuries sidelined Patton for all but one game last season, but if healthy, he has the size and strength to be a good low-post defender and rebounder.
27. Los Angeles Lakers (via Brooklyn): Dillon Brooks, PG (Kyle Kuzma, SG)
The Lakers were lucky to originally get Kuzma here, but Brooks is a solid pick in this re-draft. The former Oregon star averaged 11 points and shot 35.6 percent from 3-point land for the Grizzlies. He also played all 82 games for Memphis and started 74 of them.
28. Utah Jazz (via LAL): Tony Bradley, C (Tony Bradley, C)
After averaging a double-double in the G-League last season, Bradley is ready to be Rudy Gobert’s backup center on a full-time basis.
29. San Antonio Spurs: Semi Ojeleye, SF (Derrick White, PG)
With Kawhi Leonard gone, the Spurs need a lockdown defender, and Ojeleye certainly showed he has the potential to be that type of player, particularly in the playoffs when he did a nice job guarding the Greek Freak in Round 1. His 3-point shooting must improve, though.
30. Los Angeles Lakers (via Utah): TJ Leaf, PF (Josh Hart, SG)
Leaf’s ability to stretch the floor with good outside shooting could’ve made him a nice replacement for veteran center Brook Lopez, who left the Lakers to join the Bucks in free agency last month.