1. Donovan Mitchell – Philadelphia 76ers
Original Spot For Mitchell: 13th Overall (Jazz)
Original 1st Pick: Markelle Fultz
The 2017 NBA Draft is one of the instances where there are two player who are worthy of the No. 1 overall selection. One of those players didn’t get drafted until the very end of the lottery at pick No. 13. And the Utah Jazz could not be happier with the fact that Mitchell slipped that far.
The explosive combo guard has been sensational during his four-year run in Utah which has seen the Jazz reach the postseason each season. Mitchell flourishes with the ball in his hands, and has played extraordinarily well as the lead guard or as an off-guard. His defensive effort can be a bit inconsistent, but the Jazz ask so much of Mitchell on the offensive end that he’s earned a pass in that department. Truth be told, you can’t go wrong with either Mitchell or Jayson Tatum with this selection.
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2. Jayson Tatum — Los Angeles Lakers
Original Spot For Tatum: 3rd Overall (Celtics)
Original 2nd Pick: Lonzo Ball
In all likelihood, if the Lakers did in fact draft Jayson Tatum with this pick he would have been part of the package that was sent to New Orleans for Anthony Davis. However, it’s incredible to imagine what could have been in Los Angeles. Had the Lakers been able to retain Tatum – to go along with LeBron James and Davis – the rest of the NBA would have been in serious trouble.
Tatum has blossomed into one of the top offensive players in the game. His work in isolation is elite. There aren’t too many defenders in the league who can match Tatum’s length and skill level. Additionally, he has the defensive chops to guard a multitude of positions. He moves his feet well, and can contest shots with his 6-foot-8 frame. The 23-year-old has also already had plenty of playoff experience in a short amount of time. Tatum is averaging 21.6 PPG over 50 career playoff appearances.
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3. Bam Adebayo — Boston Celtics
Original Spot For Adebayo: 14th Overall (Heat)
Original 3rd Pick: Jayson Tatum
Bam Adebayo’s development as a two-way player has been key for the Heat’s future outlook. Miami has had a knack for finding draft gems without needing to tank, and Adebayo is the shiniest diamond they’ve uncovered. His ascension has been miraculous for a player selected at the end of the lottery. Miami can run their offense through Bam, and his 5.4 APG average in ’21 was only bested by Nikola Jokić at the center position. Adebayo made his first All-Star appearance in 2020, and many more accolades are coming his way.
It’s fitting that the Celtics would end up selecting Adebayo in a re-draft. Boston has not had consistent center play since Al Horford’s prime with the team. In a lot of ways, Adebayo is a super-charged version of Horford given his ability to defend at a high level and create for others. His effort and tenacity would be cherished by the Boston faithful.
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4. De’Aaron Fox — Phoenix Suns
Original Spot For Fox: 5th Overall (Kings)
Original 4th Pick: Josh Jackson
Following his rookie season, Fox had the look of a potential draft bust. He was dreadful as a shooter, and graded out as one of the worst players in all of basketball according to several advanced metrics. The former Kentucky Wildcat turned that all around in Year 2, flourishing as a leader for a Kings team that has lacked any sort of stability. He’s improved every year since then, and is coming off an All-Star worthy campaign in ’21.
Fox’s outside shot remains a work in progress. It seems that his numbers from a sharpshooting 2018 campaign (37.1-percent from three) were an anomaly. Over the last two seasons, Fox is shooting just over 31-percent from beyond the arc while hovering around the low 70’s from the line. If his outside jumper ever stabilizes, Fox will be an All-Star for years to come.
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5. John Collins — Sacramento Kings
Original Spot For Collins: 19th Overall (Hawks)
Original 5th Pick: De’Aaron Fox
The 24-year-old forward out of Wake Forest has been a productive player for the Hawks. Although a bit undersized for the power forward spot, Collins still has career averages of 16.6 PPG and 8.4 RPG. Atlanta utilizes him in a number of ways. While he can run the floor and score in the paint, his best skill might involve rolling to the rim in pick-and-roll situations.
Atlanta has had to tinker a bit with its rotation. It’s a perimeter-based team, which doesn’t help Collins all the time. However, he’s still a good talent — and one which the Hawks believe in. Case in point, Collins nabbed $125 million from the Hawks (which will be paid to him over a five-year span).
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6. Lonzo Ball — Orlando Magic
Original Spot For Ball: 2nd Overall (Lakers)
Original 6th Pick: Jonathan Isaac
When analyzing Ball with advanced metrics, one will see a very productive player. Among his peers from the ’17 draft, Ball is near the top of the leaderboards in assists, steals, and rebounds. He’s already an above-average defender at the point guard position. His unselfishness was on full display in New Orleans. Had the Pelicans not finished near the bottom in three-point field-goal percentage, Ball’s assist totals could’ve easily exceeded 10.
Most impressive has been Ball’s willingness to improve his game. His jumpshot has been completely revamped, and he’s shot over 37-percent (on high attempts) from beyond-the-arc in back-to-back seasons. There remains some warts in his game, but Ball is far too talented to drop any further. He still has the ability to be an influential player in this league, and has the chance to finally reach the postseason in his first year with the Bulls.
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7. OG Anunoby — Chicago Bulls
Original Spot For Anunoby: 23rd Overall (Raptors)
Original 7th Pick: Lauri Markkanen
After a solid first few seasons with the Raptors, Anunoby enjoyed a breakout season in Year 4. Playing a career-high in minutes (33.3), Anunoby starred on both ends of the floor for the Raptors. He routinely took on the toughest assignment on the defensive end, and still managed to maintain strong shooting numbers (48.0/39.8/78.4).
In a couple of years time, it wouldn’t be all that shocking to see Anunoby make an All-Defensive team, or two. The 6-foot-8 wing is as springy vertically as he is quick laterally. In a league dominated by athletes and the three-point shot, Anunoby is the quintessential “3-and-D” guy. He would be a hot commodity at this point in the draft.
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8. Jonathan Isaac — New York Knicks
Original Spot For Isaac: 6th Overall (Magic)
Original 8th Pick: Frank Ntilikina
Isaac’s spot at this point in the draft is based solely on upside rather than tangible production. Through his first two seasons in the league, Isaac posted pedestrian averages 8.5 PPG on 41.9-percent shooting from the field. He was limited to just 27 games as a rookie due to an ankle injury, but appeared in 75 games for the Magic the following year. Injuries continue to be a problem for Isaac, who missed the entire ’21 season after suffering an injury in the bubble a season ago.
With that said, Isaac’s tantalizing length and athletic ability is still present. He’s absolutely perfect for today’s NBA in all facets. He was sensational as a third-year player, averaging 2.3 BPG and 1.6 SPG to go along with a career-high in points (11.9), rebounds (6.8), and field-goal percentage (47.0). The potential to guard multiple spots on the floor is there. Isaac also has a feathery touch from anywhere on the floor when tasked with shooting. From a ceiling standpoint, Isaac is easily a top-five player in this pool of athletes. It’s just a matter of staying on the floor.
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9. Jarrett Allen — Dallas Mavericks
Original Spot For Allen: 22nd Overall (Nets)
Original 9th Pick: Dennis Smith Jr.
In many ways, Allen represents the new age big man. Rarely does a 6-foot-10 center shoot 70-percent from the free throw line, 61.8-percent from the field, 31.6-percent from three-point range, and block 1.4 shots per contest. He was a causality of the James Harden deal which landed the former league MVP in Brooklyn, though Allen was playing exceptionally well in ’21 for the Nets.
His per-36 numbers from last year pop off the screen – 15.6 PPG, 12.2 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.7 BPG. If given more playing time, Allen could potentially approach All-Star level status as a big man in the Eastern Conference. Now as the franchise center in Cleveland, it will be interesting to see how Allen fits next to No. 3 overall pick Evan Mobley. If he continues to develop at this rate, his current draft positioning likely would be too low.
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10. Dillon Brooks — Portland Trail Blazers
Original Spot For Brooks: 45th Overall (Grizzlies)
Original 10th Pick: Zach Collins
Brooks has a well-rounded game that permits him to be a solid contributor in any environment. He moves well for a 6-foot-8 forward, allowing him to match-up with multiple positions on the defensive end of the floor. He can knock down shots when left open, and make the right play when defenders close out hard. Brooks’ positional versatility and unselfishness will keep him in NBA rotations for the next decade.
There’s a case to be made that Brooks is the second most valuable player for the Grizzlies moving forward. Of course, Ja Morant is the team’s franchise star, but Jaren Jackson Jr. was expected to be the No. 2 option. Injuries have derailed the early portion of Jackson Jr’s. career, and Brooks has stepped up in his absence. In his first playoff appearance in ’21, Brooks played in five games for the Grizz and averaged 25.8 PPG on 51.5/40.0/80.8 shooting splits.
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11. Derrick White — Charlotte Hornets
Original Spot For White: 29th Overall (Spurs)
Original 11th Pick: Malik Monk
The combo guard for Colorado has been one of the best picks for San Antonio in recent years. He’s got great size for the backcourt, and is an above-average shooter and passer. Although he only appeared in 17 games during his rookie campaign in 2018, White was a standout in the G-League, eventually leading the Austin Toros to a title.
After getting his chance in the big leagues, White has shown he belongs as an NBA starter – or at the very least, a sixth man. The fourth-year guard averaged career highs in points, steals, blocks and minutes played while dealing with a multitude of injuries. There aren’t a whole lot of obvious holes in his game. He could afford to become a more consistent shooter, though making 2.3 threes per game (even at a mediocre 34.6-percent clip) is nothing to scoff at.
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12. Chris Boucher — Detroit Pistons
Original Spot For Boucher: Undrafted
Original 12th Pick: Luke Kennard
Chris Boucher possesses one of the highest ceilings of any player from the 2017 NBA Draft. After playing sparingly during his first three seasons, Boucher burst onto the scene for the short-handed Raptors in ’21. Appearing in 60 games, Boucher nearly doubled his career highs across the board. The former Oregon Duck averaged 13.6 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and an eye-popping 1.9 BPG. He also showcased a bit of range, making 1.5 threes per game at a 38.3-percent clip.
Boucher is an exceptionally gifted athlete who can glide from one side of the court to the other. Big men who can protect the paint, move their feet, and knock down open jumpers are invaluable. While he hasn’t posted the same level of consistent production as some of his peers, Boucher’s ceiling as a player is sky high.
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13. Luke Kennard — Utah Jazz
Original Spot For Kennard: 12th Overall (Pistons)
Original 13th Pick: Donovan Mitchell
Kennard and Donovan Mitchell will be compared for the rest of their respective careers. The former Blue Devil was selected one spot ahead of Mitchell, and the latter is a bonafide star who has helped guide the Jazz to multiple playoff berths. That’s unfair to Kennard though, who has plenty of talent in his own right.
The smooth-shooting lefty has deep range with plenty of ball-handling skills. He can fill in at either guard spot, and has defended better than expected. While he’s doesn’t possess the same type of ceiling as some of his peers, Kennard has the skillset of a player who will be in the league for a very long-time. It’s no wonder the Clippers inked Kennard to a massive $64 million deal last offseason – though it may have been a bit of an overpay.
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14. Lauri Markkanen — Miami Heat
Original Spot For Markkanen: 7th Overall (Bulls)
Original 14th Pick: Bam Adebayo
Markkanen came into the league with plenty of questions. There were some worrying about his perceived lack of short-area quickness. Duly, Markkanen had the reputation of not being the best rebounder for a 7-footer. Markkanen enjoyed stellar rookie and sophomore campaigns, but back-to-back lackluster seasons was enough for the Bulls to move on from the former 7th overall pick.
As he saw his role reduced, Markkanen overall play dropped as well. Though he did shoot a career-high from beyond the arc in ’21 (40.2-percent), Markkanen was a liability on the defensive end and a zero in the playmaking department. The Bulls opted to give veteran Thaddeus Young a majority of the minutes at the power forward spot instead. Markkanen will get a chance to prove he’s more of a complete player for his new team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
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15. Kyle Kuzma — Sacramento Kings
Original Spot For Kuzma: 27th Overall (Lakers)
Original 15th Pick: Justin Jackson
The legend of Kyle Kuzma first began during the 2017 NBA Summer League. A virtual unknown from Utah, the 6’9″ swingman lit up the combine with an array of skillful moves. This resulted in Kuzma being drafted at the end of the first round by the Los Angeles Lakers. While Lonzo Ball garnered much of the preseason hype, it was Kuzma who developed into the best rookie on the team.
However, Kuzma’s reign slowly fizzled during his tenure in LA. While he saw the rest of the young core get shipped out for Anthony Davis and other win-now pieces, Kuzma was inserted into an unfamiliar role as a reserve player. His shot comes and goes, and his decision-making leaves a lot to be desired. Though, he did make strides as a defender for one of the best defensive teams in the league last year. If Kuzma can become a more consistent offensive player, his tenure with the Wizards will be just fine.
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16. Markelle Fultz — Minnesota Timberwolves
Original Spot For Fultz: 1st Overall (76ers)
Original 16th Pick: Justin Patton
No one really knows what happened to Fultz. A reported shoulder injury took on a life of its own throughout his rookie year. Footage of Fultz surfaced during training sessions. When attempting to shoot a jumper, it looked as if the aliens from Space Jam zapped all of his basketball-playing talents from him. It was truly bizarre — and remains a mystery as to what happened to Fultz after a stellar collegiate season.
He’s never been able to quite find his footing as a scorer, though Fultz has settled in as a two-way playmaker for the Magic. He uses his size and handle to get to the basket, and is capable of delivering crisp passes to his teammates’ shooting pockets. Had it not been for injuries, Fultz would be ranked much higher on this list. He was held to just eight games in ’21 before an ACL tear sidelined him for the remainder of the year.
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17. Monte Morris — Milwaukee Bucks
Original Spot For Morris: 51st Overall (Nuggets)
Original 17th Pick: D.J. Wilson
Monte Morris could have helped the Bucks tremendously during their run to an NBA Championship. The backup guard for the Nuggets has excelled as a reserve, and has also shown he can produce when given a larger role. Playing behind Nuggets star Jamal Murray, Morris has emerged as one of the best backup point guards in the league. He’s a reliable offensive player who takes care of the ball (0.7 career TOPG) and can score from all three levels (47.9/39.3/81.6 career shooting splits). There’s no doubting Morris will have a career in the league for the next decade.
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18. Thomas Bryant — Indiana Pacers
Original Spot For Bryant: 42nd Overall (Jazz)
Original 18th Pick: T.J. Leaf
Though his injury history is well-documented, Bryant is a highly intriguing player for today’s NBA. He doesn’t provide much in way of rim protection for his Washington Wizards. Bryant is limited athletically, and doesn’t have the leaping ability or lateral quickness to become an elite defender or rebounder. While he does struggle on the defensive end, Bryant makes up for it on offense.
Bryant is a terrifically efficient scorer with a polished low-post game. He shot over 70-percent on two-pointers last year, and has extended his range to beyond the three-point arc. If he can stay healthy, Bryant could potentially be one of the best scoring bigs in the league.
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19. Malik Monk — Atlanta Hawks
Original Spot For Monk: 11th Overall (Hornets)
Original 19th Pick: John Collins
In Year 4 with the Hornets, Monk finally showed why he was worthy of a lottery selection in the ’17 NBA Draft. After seeing inconsistent minutes for his first few seasons, a series of injuries pushed Monk into a major role for Charlotte last year. The lights-out shooter obliged by putting up the best season of his career. Monk shot 40-percent from beyond the arc on a career-high 5.0 attempts.
There’s plenty to love about his game. Monk’s release is picture perfect, and he can get off any shot in an instant. He’s essentially the modern day version of J.R. Smith, but with a higher ceiling as a playmaker. Now with the Lakers, Monk will get even more opportunities for easy looks playing alongside LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook.
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20. Josh Hart — Sacramento Kings
Original Spot For Hart: 30th Overall (Lakers)
Original 20th Pick: Harry Giles
A National Champion at Villanova, Hart has all the makings of a “glue guy” that teams desperately covet. He works exceptionally hard on both ends and consistently fights for rebounds. At 6-foot-4, Hart is one of the better undersized rebounders in the league, averaging 8.0 RPG in 28.7 MPG last year.
His release is a bit funky, but Hart can be an accurate shooter when given space and time. His winning mentality, tireless effort, and glass-cleaning ability will keep him in the league for the foreseeable future. Hart has the makings of a player who will produce for a contending team in due time.
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21. Tony Bradley — Oklahoma City Thunder
Original Spot For Bradley: 28th Overall (Jazz)
Original 21st Pick: Terrence Ferguson
After spending his first three seasons with the Jazz, Bradley ended up on the Thunder last year – just like he does in this re-draft scenario. Though he won’t provide much in the scoring department, Bradley is a strong center with a muscular frame. He uses his size to box out smaller big men and eat up space down low. In 18.0 MPG for OKC last season, Bradley averaged 6.1 RPG. Bradley will have a place as a backup big for years to come.
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22. Dennis Smith Jr. — Brooklyn Nets
Original Spot For Smith Jr.: 9th Overall (Mavericks)
Original 22nd Pick: Jarrett Allen
Smith Jr. is akin to lightning in a bottle. One has to harness his abilities. If handled correctly, he could explode for 30 on any given night. However, on the flip-side, Smith Jr. can just as easily turn the ball over seven times en route to a 4-for-14 night. There’s no denying Smith Jr.’s special athletic ability. The former NC State star can attack the rim as well as anyone in this class.
With that said, Smith Jr.’s ceiling is limited by his lack of playmaking and defensive abilities – two costly weaknesses for an NBA guard. He also struggles to shoot the ball from the perimeter — which takes him into the dangerous position being a volume scorer/empty stats guy on a poor team. One has to wonder whether he does in fact have the ‘feel’ for the game. Though at this point in the draft, nabbing an eventual 20 point-per-game scorer is nothing to scoff at.
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23. Josh Jackson — Toronto Raptors
Original Spot For Jackson: 4th Overall (Suns)
Original 23rd Pick: OG Anunoby
Jackson may never develop into an All-Star. A low release on his jumper has resulted in poor shooting numbers from beyond the arc (29.8-percent). While this aspect of his game must increase for him to reach his ceiling, there’s a lot to like about Jackson’s trajectory as a player.
Jackson found new life in Detroit, and showed that he can be a productive player when given the right opportunity. Along the way, he demonstrated the proclivity to be an above-average rebounder for his position. At the very worst, Jackson will develop into a player who can score at a respectable clip and provide energy on both ends. Any NBA team would love this sort of role player — particularly with the current climate of the league.
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24. Zach Collins — Denver Nuggets
Original Spot For Collins: 10th Overall (Blazers)
Original 24th Pick: Tyler Lydon
Collins appears to slot in perfectly as a stretch five. He’s extremely skilled — both with his back to the basket and facing up — and runs well for his size. He’s shot well in spurts during his NBA career, and averaged 1.8 blocks per 36 during the ’19-’20 season. He’s not a terribly gifted offensive rebounder, and often settled for tough looks in his rookie campaign. Those skills will develop as he ages, though it’s unlikely he ever becomes an immensely efficient finisher around the basket in the vain of Clint Capela or Rudy Gobert.
The biggest issue with Collins has always been his health. He hasn’t exactly lived up to the billing of a top-10 pick, but many concerns over his long-term potential would be eased if he could stay on the floor. Perhaps the Portland training staff wasn’t a good fit for the former Gonzaga Bulldog. The Spurs staff will get a chance to work with Collins after the team signed him to a three-year/$22 million deal this offseason.
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25. Frank Jackson — Philadelphia 76ers
Original Spot For Jackson: 31st Overall (Hornets)
Original 25th Pick: Anzejs Pasecniks
Jackson boasts interesting potential coming off a strong season. Standing at 6-foot-3, Jackson has the ability to play either guard position admirably. After missing the entire ’17-’18 seasons with a foot injury, Jackson has shown no signs of slowing down following multiple surgeries. He has great speed with the ball, and is a much improved scorer since entering the league.
In his first year with the Pistons in ’21, Jackson enjoyed his best year as a pro. Playing for a rebuilding team, Jackson provided stability off the bench averaging 9.8 PPG while shooting over 40-percent from beyond the arc. The Pistons rewarded the former Blue Devil with a two-year deal worth $6.2 million in the offseason.
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26. Wes Iwundu — Portland Trail Blazers
Original Spot For Iwundu: 33rd Overall (Magic)
Original 26th Pick: Caleb Swanigan
The NBA Draft hasn’t been too kind to the Magic over the years. They’ve missed the postseason in seven of the last nine seasons and haven’t won the lottery since the Dwight Howard draft in ’04. When they do select in the top-10, their picks have either been plagued by injuries or were outright busts.
In terms of maximizing value, the Magic have fared better with their second-round picks than their lottery selection. Orlando “drafted” Talen Horton-Tucker, Jake Layman, and Jarred Vanderbilt all in the second round – though each player wound up playing for different teams. That list also includes Iwundu who has emerged as a quality wing who can run the floor and defend multiple positions.
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27. Harry Giles — Los Angeles Lakers
Original Spot For Giles: 20th Overall (Blazers)
Original 27th Pick: Kyle Kuzma
A former top recruit, injuries derailed the early portion of Harry Giles career. Before becoming a pro, Giles was a prep star in North Carolina and enrolled at Duke with high expectations. Highlights of an 18-year-old Giles showed a fluid 6-foot-10 athlete with innate playmaking skills. We haven’t seen his peak form quite yet, but his improving health is a great sign moving forward.
Proving he can stay durable over lengthy stretches is the first hurdle Giles must overcome to becoming a solid NBA player. He’s played in 142 games over his NBA career, though he was able to avoid any major injuries playing for the Blazers last season. If he can find consistent minutes, Giles will continue to improve and bolster his stock.
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28. Semi Ojeleye — Utah Jazz
Original Spot For Ojeleye: 37th Overall (Celtics)
Original 28th Pick: Tony Bradley
Players like Ojeleye should be commended for their ability to adapt at the NBA level. A former top recruit, Ojeleye was originally at Duke before transferring to SMU. As a Mustang, Ojeleye was a prolific scorer that knocked down 42-percent of his threes. Getting drafted to a stacked team like the Celtics meant less opportunities for the second rounder, and he responded by becoming a solid perimeter defender.
The 6’7″, 235-pound bruiser always had it in him, but that change of mentality speaks volumes about how he will develop as a player. With a solid defensive foundation, Ojeleye should be able to find rotation minutes for the foreseeable future. He’ll attempt to do so for the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks next season.
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29 Jordan Bell — San Antonio Spurs
Original Spot For Bell: 38th Overall (Warriors)
Original 29th Pick: Derrick White
At the time, Jordan Bell slipping all the way to the 38th overall pick looked like a steal. It became increasingly worrisome for the rest of the league when it was announced the defending champion Golden State Warriors had acquired the rights to that selection. Adding a shot-blocking, rim-running savant to a team filled with elite shooters and ball handlers? Not an ideal pairing for the other contenders in the NBA.
Much to the delight for the rest of the league, Bell could never put it all together. While he’s been a semi-productive shot blocker over the years, Bell has settled into a deep reserve player (12.1 MPG) over the course of his career. He provides value as a backup big, though many believed his ceiling as a player far exceeded where he’s at currently.
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30. Frank Ntilikina — Los Angeles Lakers
Original Spot For Ntilikina: 8th Overall (Knicks)
Original 30th Pick: Josh Hart
With their first draft selection after Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks shocked the world yet again by taking French guard Frank Ntilikina with the 8th overall pick. The New York front office coveted Ntilikina’s size, defensive potential, and youth. Though he’s been a serviceable rotation player over the years, Ntilikina hasn’t yet blossomed into the two-way force the team originally envisioned.
The lack of offensive improvements has stunted Ntilikina’s development as a player. His minutes have waned every season as the Knicks have turned to steadier, more reliable options on the offensive end. The 23-year-old still earns some run as a defensive specialist, but the fact he earned so little playing time during the playoffs last season is quite telling. One would think Ntilikina would be the ideal player to pit against Trae Young, who dominated New York’s guards during the five-game series win for Atlanta.
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