Redrafting the 2017 NBA Draft

The 2017 NBA Draft will go down as one of the more infamous drafts in the past decade as it featured a monumental bust at the top of the draft in Markelle Fultz – a seemingly “can’t-miss” point guard prospect out of Washington who got injured and subsequently lost the ability to shoot the basketball to the point where he needed to stop playing basketball to try to fix his yips. Adding insult to injury with this pick, the 76ers traded a future first round pick and the no. 3 overall pick to move up to select Fultz. Meanwhile, the Celtics used that no. 3 pick to draft the one true superstar in this draft at no. 3 in Jayson Tatum. Imagine what the Sixers could have been had they not drafted Fultz? Well, imagine no more – here’s how the 2017 NBA Draft plays out if it happened today.


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Original Pick: Markelle Fultz

As great as some of the other options are for the Sixers here at no. 1, Philly will turn in the draft card to Adam Silver the second the draft begins and select Jayson Tatum (assuming the Celtics actually traded them the no. 1 pick again in the alternate reality). This draft class has a handful of future All-NBA players, but Tatum is the only future MVP of them all. Tatum made the leap to an All-NBA player this past season where he averaged 23.4 ppg., 7.0 rpg. and 3.0 apg. on 45-40-81 shooting. Imagine if the Sixers had nailed this pick and had Tatum, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons all on the same squad!?!


LA Lakers: Donovan Mitchell (13)

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Original Pick: Lonzo Ball

De’Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo is justifiable options here, but Donovan Mitchell seems to be built for (or at least the most ready for) the bright lights of LA, especially considering what has happened since this draft. After averaging 24 ppg., 4.4 rpg. and 4.3 apg. on 45-37-86 shooting in the regular season, Mitchell ascended into superstardom this postseason, averaging 36.3 ppg., 5.0 rpg., 4.9 apg. on 53-52-95 shooting in a seven-game series loss to the Conference Finalist Nuggets. He scored 57 points in a Game 1 loss and 51 points in a Game 4 win. The Lakers grab him here and have a much better setup for the future for when LeBron arrives in the 2018 offseason. 


Boston Celtics: Bam Adebayo (15)

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Original Pick: Jayson Tatum

Bam Adebayo gets the call over his college teammate, De’Aaron Fox, here at no. 3 because of his offensive and defensive versatility. Fox might be a more mature version of John Wall, but Adebayo might be a bigger and more athletic version of Draymond Green. Not sure which is better, but the latter is rarer. Bam made a leap this past season where he made his first All-Star Team, first All-NBA Defensive Team, and averaged 15.9 ppg., 10.2 rpg. and 5.1 apg. He’ll anchor the Celtics’ defense for the next decade in this alternate reality.


Phoenix Suns: De'Aaron Fox (5)

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Original Pick: Josh Jackson

Suns fans: Close your eyes and picture De’Aaron Fox flying down the court in transition and dishing the ball out to Devin Booker for wide open shot after wide open shot every night. Sounds pretty nice, eh? That’s what life could have been like had Phoenix had they just selected Fox over Josh Jackson back in 2017. They could have had (by far) the best young backcourt in the NBA. Fox seems poised for stardom after averaging 21.1 ppg. and 6.8 apg. last season.


Sacramento Kings: John Collins (19)

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Original Pick: De’Aaron Fox

It’s a shame that Jumpin’ John Collins was suspended 25 games for PEDs last season because it may have stunted his growth and role on the team. After a breakout season his sophomore year (19.5 ppg., 9.8 rpg. and 56-35-76 shooting splits), his numbers and efficiency increased in season three (21.6 ppg., 10.1 rpg. and 58-40-80 shooting splits), but he was relegated more and more to being an observer on offense with Trae Young’s breakout. In this redraft, the Kings lament missing out on Fox, but know that they at least get a guy who can put the ball in the bucket, grab some rebounds and excite fans with jaw-dropping dunks.


Orlando Magic: OG Anunoby (23)

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Original Pick: Jonathan Isaac

OG Anunoby is a good NBA player. How good? It’s difficult to assess right now because he’s spent his first three seasons on a team dead-set on winning the title. He showed a ton of promise guarding LeBron James in the 2018 playoffs, but then became an afterthought in his sophomore campaign due to the arrival of Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam’s breakout and some untimely injuries, including an emergency appendectomy that caused him to miss the entire postseason. He showed signs of being a high-level role player in the 2020 playoffs, averaging 10.5 ppg., 6.9 rpg. and 2.2 blocks+steals and hitting an all-time great buzzer-beater in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals to keep the Raptors afloat.


Minnesota Timberwolves: Lauri Markkanen (7)

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Original Pick: Lauri Markkanen 

While Lauri Markkanen’s draft position won’t change, his team will – I’m going to go ahead and render a guess that the Bulls won’t be trading Jimmy Butler in a deal to acquire Zach LaVine and Markkanen this time around. Thus, T’Wolves, who didn’t make much use of Butler either, select the sweet shooting big man to play alongside Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins and hope that the increased floor spacing leads to more wins.


New York Knicks: Lonzo Ball (2)

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Original Pick: Frank Ntilikina

Instead of selecting a defensive-minded point guard who can’t shoot in Frank Ntilikina, the Knicks select a defensive-minded point guard who can sometimes shoot in Lonzo Ball. That’s selling Ball a little too low as he’s a stellar passer and especially excellent in transition. New York takes him in the redraft and hopes that he can continue to improve on his three-point shot like he did last season where he shot 37.5 percent. 


Dallas Mavericks: Jarrett Allen (22)

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Original Pick: Dennis Smith Jr. 

At no. 9, the Mavericks take the talented, but raw big man out of Texas over the talented, but raw point guard out of NC State. Jarrett Allen dominates around the basket on both ends. He shot 64.9 percent from the field last season and has averaged 2 blocks per-36 minutes for his entire career. Given his physical gifts, the Mavs will expect him to be a cornerstone big man for the next eight to 10 years.


Sacramento Kings: Kyle Kuzma (27)

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Original Pick: Zach Collins 

In 2017, the Kings traded the 10th pick to the Blazers for picks 15 (Justin Jackson) and 20 (Harry Giles). The Blazers probably “won” that trade, so the Kings aren’t going to repeat history this time around. Instead, they’ll sit tight and draft Kyle Kuzma, a talented, but inconsistent scorer out of Utah. This past season, Kuzma’s scoring dropped from 18.7 ppg. to 12.8 ppg., but he improved his overall game, especially his defense…and it helped him win a title with the Lakers. Unfortunately for Kuzma, he won’t be winning a nearly as early in his career in this alternate reality as the Kings have been a dumpster fire for nearly two decades.


Charlotte Hornets: Derrick White (29)

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Original Pick: Malik Monk

The Hornets don’t get cute with the no. 11 pick as they select a consistent two-way guard in Derrick White. In addition to being an good defender, he’s a solid shooter (career 47-36-82 shooting splits) and can create a little offense for himself (11.3 ppg., last season) and others (3.5 apg. last season). It’s not a sexy pick, but it’s a pick that will drive winning – and the Hornets can never have enough of that.


Detroit Pistons: Thomas Bryant (42)

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Original Pick: Luke Kennard

Thomas Bryant, a big-time recruit that underperformed a bit at Indiana, fell all the way to pick no. 42 back in 2017, and eventually landed with the Lakers. The Lakers, however, didn’t see much potential in Bryant and waived him, after which he exploded onto the scene for the Wizards, averaging 10.5 ppg. on an NBA-best 68.5 two-point field goal percentage. He won’t slip so far this time around as the Pistons scoop him up at no. 12 and know that they’ll have a replacement for Andre Drummond in the future.


Denver Nuggets: Dillon Brooks (45)

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Original Pick: Donovan Mitchell 

At this point in the redraft, teams are looking for starter-caliber players. Dillon Brooks is already an above-average three-and-D player for the Grizzlies. Brooks averaged 16.2 ppg. for the upstart Grizzlies this past season. His physical style of play and competitive spirit would make him an ideal fit around Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray in this redraft reality. 


Miami Heat: Luke Kennard (12)

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Original Pick: Bam Adebayo

Although Pistons fans will always rue the day they took Luke Kennard over Donovan Mitchell, that doesn’t mean that Kennard is a bad pro. In fact, he’s got a shot to be a high-end role player for many years to come, especially after averaging 15.8 ppg. on 39.9 percent shooting from deep. The Heat will take him here and put him in the Duncan Robinson role.


Portland Trail Blazers: Monte Morris (51)

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Original Pick: Justin Jackson

Monte Morris is arguably the best backup point guard in the NBA. These past two seasons, he’s averaged 9.7 ppg. and 3.6 apg. with 48-40-82 shooting splits in only 23.3 mpg. He’d be a perfect third guard for the Blazers behind Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, much like he’s been an excellent third guard for the Nuggets behind Jamal Murray and Gary Harris.


Chicago Bulls: Josh Hart (30)

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Original Pick: Justin Patton 

Josh Hart was a steal for the Lakers at no. 30 in 2017, and he’ll be a nice player for the Bulls here at no. 16. Hart had a career-year last season that saw him average 10.1 ppg. and 6.5 rpg. His attacking style and excellent rebounding from the wing position makes him a valuable rotation piece. If he can improve his three-point shooting just a bit (34.2 percent last season), he’d be a very good role player in this league for years to come.


Milwaukee Bucks: Jonathan Isaac (6)

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Original Pick: DJ Wilson

The Bucks take a big swing here and hope that Jonathan Isaac stays much healthier in this alternate reality. Isaac has twice appeared poised for a breakout, and twice suffered serous knee injuries, with the most recent one coming in the bubble (a torn ACL and meniscus) that will likely keep him out for the 2020-21 season. When healthy, Isaac is one of the best, and most versatile defenders in the NBA.


Indiana Pacers: Zach Collins (10)

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Original Pick: TJ Leaf

The Indiana Pacers value big men more than most teams do today, so it makes sense for them to grab a solid two-way big like Zach Collins at no. 18. Collins has had some injury issues, but his stretch-five skill set on offense (36.8 percent from three last year) and ability to move his feet pretty well on defense make most people confident that he’ll be a decent big man in the NBA for the next five to eight years.


Atlanta Hawks: Markelle Fultz (1)

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Original Pick: John Collins 

That Hawks don’t get quick so fortunate as to land John Collins this time around. But, they do get a player with a lot of upside in Markelle Fultz. Fultz notoriously developed the yips and lost the ability to shoot early in his career with the 76ers. He’s improved a little bit, but still only shoots 26.7 percent from three. If he never develops a shot, he’ll end up being a similar player to Kris Dunn or Michael Carter-Williams. If he does develop a shot, he could be a huge steal this late in the draft.


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20. Portland Trail Blazers: Josh Jackson (4)

Portland Trail Blazers: Josh Jackson (4)

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Original Pick: Harry Giles

Much like the Fultz pick above, the Blazers take a swing on the upside of Josh Jackson here at no. 20. Phoenix definitely wasn’t an ideal environment for Jackson, but he grinded in the G-League for most of last season, then flashed some ability in 22 games for the Grizzlies, averaging 9 ppg. in only 17.3 mpg. Perhaps the Blazers’ strong, Damian Lillard-led culture keeps Jackson on the straight and narrow this time around.


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21. OKC Thunder: Dennis Smith Jr. (9)

OKC Thunder: Dennis Smith Jr. (9)

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Original Pick: Jarrett Allen

After a promising rookie season (15.2 ppg. and 5.2 apg.), Dennis Smith Jr.’s career has fallen off a cliff. He went from starting a point guard for a promising team in Dallas to barely playing for arguably the worst franchise in the NBA in the Knicks. There’s a productive player in there somewhere. I don’t know if any team will ever be able to summon it out of him at this point, but had a stable franchise like the Thunder drafted him out of NC State, his prospects would be much more promising.


Brooklyn Nets: Harry Giles (20)

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Original Pick: Terrance Ferguson

Once an elite high school prospect with Kevin Garnett-like potential, Harry Giles struggled to overcome his various knee injuries in high school and college, and fell to pick no. 20 in 2017. He’ll fall to no. 22 in this redraft. In his two NBA seasons, Giles has flashed a little potential, averaging 17.5 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per-36 minutes. He projects to at least be a decent backup NBA big man, but perhaps Brooklyn can help get a little more out of Giles than Sacramento has thus far.


Toronto Raptors: Malik Monk (11)

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Original Pick: OG Anunoby

Malik Monk has been a massive disappointment for the Hornets thus far in his career. Yet, I can’t entirely give up on a guy who had as many special performances in college as Monk did. I thought he had a chance to be a star lead guard at best, or a Lou Williams-type of sixth man off the bench at worst. With their excellent player development system, the Raptors roll the dice on Monk and try to improve his defense and court awareness so he’s on the court during the game’s key moments.


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24. Utah Jazz: PJ Dozier (Undrafted)

Utah Jazz: PJ Dozier (Undrafted)

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Original Pick: Tyler Lydon

PJ Dozier’s numbers are unspectacular (5.8 ppg., 2.2 apg., 1.9 rpg.), but, trust me, he can play. If Denver didn’t have such a deep roster, you’d have heard a lot more about the 6-foot-6 guard out of South Carolina. If you watched the Nuggets at all in the bubble playoffs, Dozier had an impact as a defender and do-it-all guard in key stretches of the series against the Jazz and the Lakers. The Jazz will grab him at no. 24 here and play him Dante Exum’s spot in this new reality. 


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25. Orlando Magic: Frank Ntilikina (8)

Orlando Magic: Frank Ntilikina (8)

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Original Pick: Anžejs Pasečņiks

Frank Ntilikina, a.k.a. Frankie Smokes, is selected in a much more reasonable position this time around given the limited skill set he’s displayed thus far in his career. Ntilikina is a strong defender, but a poor offensive player – his career offensive rating per 100 possessions is 93 (not great!!). The Magic draft him at no. 25 and hope that he can grow under the tutelage of DJ Augustin.


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26. Portland Trail Blazers: Jordan Bell (38)

Portland Trail Blazers: Jordan Bell (38)

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Original Pick: Caleb Swanigan

At no. 26, the Blazers are merely looking for an occasional contributor, and they’ll get that with Jordan Bell. Although his career hasn’t played out like some expected it to when the Warriors purchased the 38th pick from the Bulls back in 2017, Bell played actual minutes against the Rockets and the Cavs for the Warriors during their title run in 2018, and then again against the Blazers in 2019. Having seen him up close and personal, the Blazers happily take him at no. 26.


Brooklyn Nets: Chris Boucher (Undrafted)

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Original Pick: Kyle Kuzma 

Chris Boucher is one of those players the Raptors will randomly play big minutes when Toronto has some injuries, and will put up huge numbers like when he had 25 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks against the Bucks in the bubble. Boucher has an interesting skill set – he blocks 3.1 shots per-36 minutes and attempts 5.7 three point attempts per-36 minutes for his career. 


LA Lakers: Tony Bradley (28)

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Original Pick: Tony Bradley

Last year was the first real time Tony Bradley got playing time in his three-year career. He proved to be a solid backup, averaging 15.5 points, 14.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per-36 minutes. The Lakers, who dealt him for the rights to Josh Hart on draft night in 2017, will actually hold onto Bradley this time around.


San Antonio Spurs: Damyean Dotson (44)

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Original Pick: Derrick White

Damyean Dotson had a very nice sophomore campaign for the Knicks in 2018-19, as he averaged 10.7 ppg. and 3.6 rpg. while shooting 36.8 percent from three. His minutes regressed along with his game in 2019-20, but the Spurs have a way of getting the best out of all of their players – just look at guys like Patty Mills and Bryn Forbes.


Utah Jazz: Wesley Iwundu (33)

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Original Pick: Josh Hart 

Wesley Iwundu is a player that you’ll occasionally see on the right night and wonder why isn’t this guy a more impactful player? He’s got a decent looking jumper and hit 36.7 percent of his threes in his second year. He’s also 6-foot-6 and has the tools to be a lockdown defender. For whatever reason, he hasn’t been able to put it all together (only 5.8 ppg. in 18.3 mpg. last season), but the Jazz should are optimistic here with the last choice of the first round.

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