As the NBA season winds down with one of the least competitive finals in recent memory and the annual NBA draft is just on the horizon, fans and journalists alike are absolutely buzzing about this year’s crop of talent. Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, Malik Monk, the list just goes on and on for potential superstars that are packed to the brim for this years draft.
There’s always been an element of excitement for any draft. The amount of mystery surrounding it is naturally intriguing. And with the talent level this year, the urge for teams to make a franchise-changing pick is at an all time high.
So the question that arises is what are the risks teams will take this year to make a franchise-changing pick? Which teams are willing to make a massive move and which ones will simply play it safe and do the obvious?
Well, fellow reader, I have made my return to present some Bold Predictions for this years draft. And by some I mean only 4 because I’m freaking lazy.
These are going to incredibly outlandish, simply because they’re “bold predictions”. In all actuality, none of these will probably come true. But hey, as long as there’s evidence, I did my job.
So let’s hop to it.
Philadelphia trades the 3rd Overall pick to the Bulls for Jimmy Butler
Writing this one is going to give me chronic depression, but honestly this could turn out to be a positive for both teams. The trade goes as the 76ers trade their 3rd overall pick, Dario Saric and Jerryd Bayless For Jimmy Butler and Isaiah Canaan.
Yeah, Philly won’t be ecstatic to move Dario Saric but remember these are bold predictions. In all honesty, moving on from a raw Dario Saric for a legit star in Jimmy Butler could prove massive in the technical short term
Blue skies are undoubtedly coming to Philadelphia. When former number 3 pick Joel Embiid and last draft’s first overall pick Ben Simmons return, this team is on the cusp of being legit contenders. Both could turn out to be actual superstars in only a couple of seasons. But right now, they lack leadership and a complete star presence. They have no one to slap on posters and get fans into the arena.
Simmons or Embiid could be that guy real soon, but in the big scheme of things, a core of The Process and Benny Simmons is just not going to stand up to the King of the East LeBron James and the Cavs. So what can the Sixers do to compete with them? Assemble their own Big Three.
A Big Three of Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons could turn out to be elite. Butler is still hitting his stride, and he’ll probably keep this up and be second tier elite for the next five or six seasons. This will line up perfectly for the Sixers, as Butler will be directly in his prime by the time Simmons and Embiid’s careers get rolling. It’s all about timing with this deal and if it works as planned, it could easily propel Philly right to the top of the East with Cleveland and Boston.
And yeah, this move for Butler is obviously hasty and a massive risk. If Simmons and/or Embiid continue their injury woes for the rest of their career or just don’t blossom like expected, the 76ers will be in an even worse place than before. Just running in circles, having Butler makes the good enough to make the playoffs but never good enough to win a Finals. But it could be worth adding an asset like Butler who would be top dog in a rising 76ers team.
Now from the Bulls standpoint, this is a team going absolutely nowhere. For the foreseeable future, they will always be a bubble team. Wade, Rondo and Butler keep them afloat but they have nothing coming up for the future to be excited about.
They have promising young players in Denzel Valentine and Bobby Portis, but they aren’t franchise cornerstones in any perspective. They need a future superstar. And where better to pick one up than this loaded 2017 NBA draft? The Bulls are in massive need for a rebuild and by the time the Bulls do ascend back to the top of the standings, they would have missed Butler’s prime.
Moving on from Butler for a player like De’Aaron Fox, Jayson Tatum or Josh Jackson could be massive in kickstarting this rebuild for the Bulls.
The Lakers trade D’Angelo Russell to Boston for the First Overall pick
D’Angelo Russell trade rumours have been bustling for months and have been getting nowhere, but there’s a slight possibility the Lakers may finally snap on this one if the opportunity presents itself
The Lakers move the 2nd overall, Julius Randle and Russell for Boston’s first overall pick and Tyler Zeller. This allows the Lakers to give the potentially bonafide superstar Markelle Fultz the keys to the franchise and the Celtics someone who can lighten the offensive load on Isaiah Thomas’s shoulders.
Boston is getting blasted in the Eastern Conference Finals to a Cavs team that has eaten their conference for breakfast over the past 3 seasons. The Celtics have to make a move for someone to help the offense and it seems unlikely they pass up a complete future championship core.
With this second overall pick, they can also take someone like Jayson Tatum or Josh Jackson to fill that elite wing player Boston wants. In this scenario, Boston can give Cleveland an actual fight, as now their starting lineup is Isaiah Thomas, Russell, Jae Crowder, Randle and Al Horford with Avery Bradley, Tatum/Jackson and Kelly Olynyk coming off the bench.
Boston can’t pass this up but for the Lakers? They get future superstar Markelle Fultz to bring their franchise back to greatness like they have so desperately needed since Kobe fell off the face of the Earth. The Lakers probably aren’t this desperate but it may not be a bad move.
It’s essentially starting completely over on their rebuild process, but Fultz could jump start the rebuild process unlike Russell and Randle, who simply can’t. It’s obviously risky especially with the Lakers future being somewhat promising, especially with Lonzo Ball or Josh Jackson coming to Hollywood. However the Lakers’ future just isn’t bright enough to contend in a tooth-and-nail Western Conference so they have to make a move of this caliber if they want to someday compete for a championship.
The Phoenix Suns select Malik Monk 4th Overall
The shooting guard/small forward out of Kentucky is generally perceived at barely making the top ten, usually projected to a team in the early middle like New York or Dallas. But there is a legitimate case for the Suns at the 4th spot going for Monk.
And just to get this out of the way, no I’m not biased because Malik and I share the same last name and any highlight of him saying only his last name makes me feel special. No. Not at all.
As of right now, the Suns are far, far, FAR from playoff position. They got promising stud in Devin Booker, but there’s not much else to be excited about on their roster. Eric Bledsoe is an all star snub team regular. I literally can’t think of any other Suns player of the top of my head so we’re going to keep moving.
How do they climb back to relevancy? For starters, they need an identity. Something that separates them from everyone else. And a player to complete their specialty they have already started is standing right there at the 4th overall spot.
I’m talking about the armed and dangerous scorer Malik Monk
Monk is arguably the best scorer in this draft. After averaging nearly 20 points and shooting 45% from the field, topped of with a Kentucky freshman record 47 points against UNC, he has more weapons than most 19 year olds rolling into the draft.
With this, he’s a raw but promising offensive prospect. That’s exactly what the Suns need. With borderline elite shooter Devin Booker’s career just heating up and a textbook offensive point guard in Eric Bledsoe, the Suns are primed to be one of the best scoring showcases in the league if they can add a couple of more pieces.
Who better to add to complete this core of offense than a player like Malik Monk?
The Suns are a team cramming for an identity to separate themselves in that bloodbath known as the Western Conference. Why not finish what they probably accidentally started by just turning every game into a shootout? Malik Monk would fit the bill all too well for the Suns to pass upon it.
And yeah, they’ll probably pick top prospects De’Aaron Fox or Jayson Tatum instead because it’s just a good idea. But come on these are bold predictions. If they select my boy Monk, it’s basically party time out in the desert with the amount of offense they could potentially have. That’s something to be excited for, right?
Josh Jackson falls out of the top-five
Kansas small forward Josh Jackson is easily one of those most intriguing two way players in this draft. After averaging 16 points a game, 1.7 steals and 1.1 blocks game while leading Kansas to an Elite Eight berth, teams are just drooling over his potential ceiling. He’s got the body, fiery competitiveness and explosive play that makes him seemingly a lock for at the very least a top 5 pick. But there is some fatal flaws to his game that could completely derail this almost forgone fact.
For starters, Jackson has some strength issues. He’s very narrow but in a weaker college game, he could pass for a small-ball power forward. This was his bread and butter but going into the NBA, the possibility of him playing at the 4 is nearly nonexistent with his lack of muscle and beefiness.
This could hurt his stock a lot with the changing game in the NBA. Teams love small ball and a player like Jackson would have to be perfect in the power forward spot. With his experience and explosiveness there, he was able to dominate over slower and more lumbering players. But not being beefy enough for NBA standards could be a major turnoff for a team trying to keep up in today’s changing game like Philadelphia or Sacramento.
On top of that, his shoddy shooting raises a lot of questions with his mechanics. Often times when he shoots, his elbow flares out and he lacks a strong wrist snap. That’s a big no-no in terms of elite shooters. Plus he only made 28% of his isolation chances, which is something teams will rely on him heavily to hit in the NBA. And to top it off with a dismal career free throw percentage of 57%, how he will fare in the long run shooting wise is dicey at best. In today’s game, wing players like Jackson are almost required to have a good jumper.
And with a handle ability and hand size (yes he has some tiny hands, man) that leaves something to be desired, his places in the NBA is severely limited. Jackson should be a guy who carries a heavy offensive load however he is just not ready for this kind of role yet.
Jackson is a guy who plays hard and wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s an intense, competitive player that any team would love to have. However this is not a worth a top five pick. He is much too weak offensively to have the desired effect he would be called to play in the NBA. High picking teams like Philadelphia, the Lakers and Sacramento are praying for an offensive star to stay afloat with the fast paced nature of the league today and with their pick, it would be unwise to hand the keys of any franchise to Josh Jackson.
Well there you have it folks, 4 of my boldest predictions. In all honesty, these won’t come true. Josh Jackson is a top 5 pick and D’Angelo Russell won’t be in a Celtics jersey next season. But if at least one of them do, I at least expect a cookie for my efforts. That is all.