The 2017 NBA Draft is Thursday night from Brooklyn, and there already has been a blockbuster trade as the Philadelphia 76ers have acquired the No. 1 overall pick from Boston in exchange for the No. 3 overall this year and another first-rounder either in 2018 (via the Lakers) or 2019 (via the Kings).
The 76ers have made it no secret they are taking University of Washington guard Markelle Fultz, who is -5000 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com on the odds to be the No. 1 overall pick. He will be the first player from UDub to go at the top spot and join 2016 No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons as well as Joel Embiid and likely 2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year Dario Saric to form an intriguing core on the 76ers.
The other big news in the NBA over the weekend was Paul George telling the Indiana Pacers that he’s going to leave as a free agent after next season, potentially to sign with his hometown Lakers. The Pacers can’t afford to let George walk away next summer and get nothing in return as Oklahoma City did with Kevin Durant last July. So if a deal is coming, it’s likely going to be at the draft.
Would the Lakers trade the No. 2 overall pick in a package to land George now or will they simply wait and be 100 percent confident he will sign with them next year? If they stay put, the Lakers are expected to take UCLA guard Lonzo Ball at the No. 2 spot. Los Angeles is the -260 betting favorite to draft Ball, while any other team is +200.
Boston at No. 3 overall is reportedly leaning toward Kansas swingman Josh Jackson, although the Celtics could trade that pick in a package for George or Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler. That the first three picks in order Thursday are Fultz, Ball and Jackson is -120 on the 2017 NBA Draft props with the field at +100.
Those three are all freshmen and it’s expected be a freshman-heavy first round with an over/under of 16.5 of them being drafted. The most freshmen taken in the first round of a draft was 13 in 2015. The top three picks – Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell and Jahlil Okafor – were freshmen in ’15. The top three last year – Simmons, Brandon Ingram and Jaylen Brown – were as well.
Nowadays, if you are a senior in the NBA Draft scouts assume something is wrong, plus seniors are obviously at least three years older than a freshman. You no longer see superstars like Tim Duncan or Grant Hill, to name two, stay all four years in college (Jimmy Butler and Draymond Green did but they weren’t expected to be stars in the NBA).
It’s projected to be an especially weak group of seniors in 2017 with an over/under of 0.5 taken in the first round. The favorite to be the first one selected is Colorado guard Derrick White at +185. He played just the one season of Division I ball with CU. Prior to that, he played three years at Division II Colorado-Colorado Springs, where he was an All-American as a junior.
Last year, White was one of two players, along with Fultz, to rank in the Pac-12 Top 10 in
scoring, assists and blocked shots.