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Re-Drafting Markelle Fultz, Jayson Tatum and the 2017 NBA Draft

Andy Bailey

Today's media landscape demands instant analysis of the NBA draft, but it takes time to have a clear idea of how every team did.

For the 2017 draft class, we now have five seasons from which to draw some takes. If teams knew then what they know, the first round would've gone much differently.

With that extra information in hand, we'll re-draft the first 30 picks from 2017, but the order won't be entirely based on past production.

These players are all still in their mid-20s, theoretically pre-prime. So, there's a lot of subjectivity in play as well. Sorting through everyone requires a lot of judgments calls.

More general evolutions in the game of basketball have to be considered, too. Five years ago, the idea of positionless basketball (and by extension, the importance of wings) wasn't quite as prevalent as it is now.

With all of the above tossed into something of an analytical cocktail, this is how the first round should shake out if it was re-drafted today.

Check out B/R's 2016 NBA re-draft here.

Picks 30-26

Frank Ntilikina (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

30. Jordan Bell (Originally Picked 38th)

Jordan Bell appeared in only seven games over the last two seasons. His NBA career appears to be on life support, but his rookie campaign in 2017-18 should at least offer a glimmer of hope.

Being a fringe rotation player for the eventual champion Golden State Warriors may have been a perfect role for him, but he was 40th leaguewide in box plus/minus that season and looked like a potential successor to Draymond Green.

29. Matt Thomas (Originally Undrafted)

Matt Thomas doesn't provide much beyond shooting, but when you're as good as he is at basketball's most important skill, there may be a role as a specialist available somewhere.

Thomas has appeared in only 126 NBA games, but his career three-point percentage is 40.4. In his two seasons overseas (2017-18 and 2018-19), he shot 47.2 percent from deep.

28. Frank Ntilikina (Originally Picked 8th)

Frank Ntilikina is on the other end of that spectrum. After five seasons, it's become clear that he isn't a long-range shooter, although his 38.4 percent clip from deep on limited volume over the last two seasons offers a glimmer of hope.

But even with career marks of 37.1 percent from the field and 33.1 percent from three, Ntilikina's defense may be good enough to keep him in the NBA for a while.

27. Frank Jackson (Originally Picked 31st)

Frank Jackson provided some reason for optimism in 2020-21 when he shot 40.7 percent from three with the Detroit Pistons. However, he plummeted to 30.8 percent from deep last season despite posting a career-high 10.6 points per game.

Jackson is only 24, so he still has time to mesh the efficiency of 2020-21 with the slight uptick in volume from 2021-22. If he can do that, he has a chance to be a decent backup guard.

26. Josh Jackson (Originally Picked 4th)

There are still some intriguing elements in Josh Jackson's game. He's 6'8", plays decent, switchable defense and has even showed some playmaking chops. Over the last four seasons, he's averaged 3.2 assists per 75 possessions.

Unfortunately, Jackson has a career true shooting percentage of 49.5. That level of inefficiency is difficult to overcome.

Picks 25-21

Dennis Smith Jr. (Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images)

25. Dennis Smith Jr. (Originally Picked 9th)

After averaging 15.2 points on 14.8 shots and 5.2 assists as a rookie, Dennis Smith Jr.'s basic box-score numbers have steadily trended down. On the bright side, more committed defense and a rising steal percentage have helped him post a near-average box plus/minus over the last two seasons (much better than the first three).

If he can carve out a niche as a dedicated point-of-attack defender who can take advantage of cutting and finishing opportunities on the other end, he may be able to stick around int the NBA as a backup guard.

24. Zach Collins (Originally Picked 10th)

It's easy to chalk up the disappointment of Zach Collins' career to this point to injuries. Over the last three seasons, he's appeared in only 39 games.

But 2021-22 gave us a glimpse of promise for Collins. Though he played only 502 minutes, Collins' 1.7 blocks and 1.0 threes per 75 possessions suggest he still has some three-and-D potential. Hitting 21 of his 60 three-point attempts (35.0 percent) since 2019-20 offers some encouragement, too.

23. Tony Bradley (Originally Picked 28th)

Tony Bradley doesn't do anything flashy. He's played only 11.7 minutes per game during his career. But if you want a backup center who knows how to take up space on defense and won't demand a bunch of post-ups on the other end, he's your guy.

Over the course of his career, Bradley has averaged 14.3 points, 13.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per 75 possessions. His teams' point differential has been better when he's on the floor, too.

22. Luke Kornet (Originally Undrafted)

Though he hasn't had a ton of opportunities to show it, Luke Kornet looks like a solid three-and-D reserve when he's on the floor.

Kornet has already played for five teams, and he has made only 46 appearances over the last two seasons. But his career marks of 13.9 points, 2.5 threes and 2.0 blocks per 75 possessions suggest he still has some potential to unlock.

21. Chris Boucher (Originally Undrafted)

Assuming his 38.3 three-point percentage in 2020-21 isn't an outlier—he's at 30.6 percent for the rest of his career—Chris Boucher is one of the more intriguing big men in this group.

Since cracking into the Toronto Raptors' rotation in 2019-20, Boucher has averaged 9.8 points, 1.2 blocks and 1.0 threes in only 19.6 minutes per game over the past three seasons. He isn't just a rim protector, though. In the same stretch, Matisse Thybulle is the only player in the league who has blocked more three-point attempts.

Picks 20-16

Markelle Fultz (Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)

20. Thomas Bryant (Originally Picked 42nd)

Injuries have limited Thomas Bryant to only 83 games over the last three seasons, but he looks like a distinctly modern big when he's available. During that stretch, he's averaged 11.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 0.9 blocks and 0.7 threes in 22.4 minutes while shooting 37.7 percent from deep.

Because there isn't much junk in his offensive diet—74.9 percent of his career shot attempts have come from three-point range or within five feet of the rim—Bryant is 11th in the league in true shooting percentage since 2017-18.

19. Markelle Fultz (Originally Picked 1st)

Much of the mystery that surrounded Markelle Fultz's game and shoulder through his first few seasons is gone. Five years after the Philadelphia 76ers selected him with the No. 1 pick, he's emerged as a solid (albeit limited) playmaker and defender for the Orlando Magic.

Fultz has averaged 15.9 points, 7.0 assists and 1.7 steals per 75 possessions for his career, and the Magic have been a little better when he's on the floor. But he's played only 26 games over the past two seasons because of a torn ACL, and his 49.6 career true shooting percentage is a bit daunting.

18. Malik Monk (Originally Picked 11th)

Malik Monk's first three seasons were wholly disappointing. He struggled to find a consistent role with the Charlotte Hornets and shot only 32.2 percent from three. For someone who entered the league with shooting as his calling card, that was a bad sign.

But he turned things around in his fourth campaign. And since the start of 2020-21, he's averaged 13.0 points and 2.2 threes in 25.6 minutes while shooting 39.4 percent from deep.

If Monk continues to add to a steadily developing playmaking arsenal and becomes a passable defender, he could become a consistent starter.

17. Monte Morris (Originally Picked 51st)

Monte Morris' individual ceiling may not be higher than some of the players picked after him here. His career high for points is 24. He's only hit double-figures in assists three times.

But Morris is among the NBA's steadier floor generals and boasts a gap-filling game that isn't accompanied by many mistakes.

For his career, Morris has averaged 10.5 points, 3.7 assists and 1.2 threes in 25.2 minutes while shooting 39.4 percent from three. Since 2017-18, his 4.8 assist-to-turnover ratio trails only Tyus Jones' among players with at least 100 assists.

16. Isaiah Hartenstein (Originally Picked 43rd)

It took him a while to find the right team and role, but Isaiah Hartenstein had a major breakout in 2021-22. As the backup center for the Los Angeles Clippers, he ranked 18th in the league in box plus/minus and averaged a well-rounded 17.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.3 blocks and 1.5 steals per 75 possessions.

While rim-running is one of Hartenstein's more important and marketable skills, he showed last season that he can do a little bit of everything. The Clippers had a point differential around that of a 62-win team when he was on the floor, compared to one around that of a 33-win team when he was off.

Picks 15-11

Kyle Kuzma (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

15. Dillon Brooks (Originally Picked 45th)

Box plus/minus is the internet's most accessible catch-all metric, and it loathes Dillon Brooks' career. Among the 1,001 players who've appeared in an NBA game since 2017-18, Brooks ranks 1,001st in wins over replacement player (the cumulative variant of box plus/minus).

Part of the issue is his way-below-average shooting, which is easy to understand. But this rank also illustrates the blind spot that box plus/minus and several other catch-all metrics have: a struggle to measure defensive impact.

Because Brooks' tenaciousness on the ball doesn't lead to a ton of individual counting stats, those metrics may make the mistake of thinking he isn't doing much. On the contrary, his willingness and ability to hound the opposition's best wing is part of why the Memphis Grizzlies are plus-0.6 points per 100 possessions when he plays compared to minus-3.2 when he isn't.

14. Jonathan Isaac (Originally Picked 6th)

At this point, taking Jonathan Isaac in the top half of a re-draft would be a legitimate risk. A torn ACL has kept him out for more than two full seasons. The last time we saw him play was in the bubble in August 2020.

There's no telling what Isaac look like when he returns in 2022-23. But if he plays as well as he did in his 34 appearances in 2019-20, he might launch himself into the top 10 of this group.

In only 28.8 minutes per game that season, Isaac averaged 2.3 blocks, 1.6 steals and 6.8 rebounds while shooting a respectable 34.0 percent from deep. Those are Andrei Kirilenko-like numbers, and that kind of defensive versatility can be a game-changer.

13. Josh Hart (Originally Picked 30th)

Before Josh Hart got traded to the Portland Trail Blazers this past season, the compliment on steadiness paid to Monte Morris probably could've applied to him as well. In his first four seasons, he averaged a solid 8.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.5 threes and 0.9 steals in 26.0 minutes while shooting 34.8 percent from deep.

In Portland, after Damian Lillard had been shut down for the season, Hart showed an ability to scale up his game. He played 13 games for the Blazers, but that included a 44-point outburst and an average of 19.9 points per game.

12. Kyle Kuzma (Originally Picked 27th)

Scoring efficiency has generally been an issue for Kyle Kuzma. He has yet to post an above-average true shooting percentage in any of his five seasons.

But he's made big strides in other aspects of his game over the last two seasons, particularly on defense.

For someone who looked like a volume-scoring, heat-check guy at the start of his career, Kuzma's development toward multipositional defense and strong rebounding is encouraging. Over the last two seasons, he's averaged 8.6 rebounds, 2.3 threes and 0.9 blocks per 75 possessions.

11. Lauri Markkanen (Originally Picked 7th)

For his first four seasons with the Chicago Bulls, Lauri Markkanen looked like something of a prototypical stretch big from the post-Dirk Nowitzki era. He averaged 15.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.2 threes while shooting 36.6 percent from deep, but he didn't offer much in the way of playmaking or defense.

Then the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired him in a sign-and-trade last summer and had the radical idea to start him on the wing, while Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen occupied the 4 and 5 spots. Markkanen more than survived in that lineup.

When he shared the floor with Mobley and Allen, Cleveland allowed only 103.2 points per 100 possessions, a mark that ranked in the 97th percentile leaguewide. Markkanen still doesn't really create for others, but his shooting and the recently discovered positional versatility make him a borderline top-10 pick here.

10. Luke Kennard (Originally Picked 12th)

Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

After leading the NBA in three-point percentage with a 44.9 mark in 2021-22, Luke Kennard is up to 42.5 percent for his career. That's good for 13th all-time.

Even if being on track for all-time-great-shooter status was all Kennard had going for him, he would've made an appearance in this re-draft. What elevates him to the top 10 is his underrated ability to create off the dribble.

In 2019-20, his last season with the Detroit Pistons, Kennard averaged 15.8 points and 4.1 assists. He ranked in the 78th percentile leaguewide as a pick-and-roll ball-handler and in the 67th percentile as an isolation scorer.

The Los Angeles Clippers have a lot of creators and a more egalitarian offense, so they've used Kennard largely as a spot-up shooter. But he has a more robust scoring and playmaking arsenal to offer.

9. Derrick White (Originally Picked 29th)

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Derrick White's game doesn't often jump off the screen. He's never scored 30 points in a game. He doesn't dazzle with DeMar DeRozan-like footwork or Kyrie Irving-like handles. His three-point percentage has steadily trended down for the last three years.

But on the less glamorous side of the floor, White has a huge impact.

White's teams have consistently allowed fewer points per 100 possessions when he's in the game throughout his career. His combination of quickness and length (he has a 6'7½" wingspan) allows him to defend both guards and wings.

When you add that defensive versatility to White's facilitation on offense, you get a rare type of player. Giannis Antetotokounmpo and Draymond Green are the only other players in league history who match or exceed his career marks for minutes, assist percentage, block percentage and steal percentage.

8. OG Anunoby (Originally Picked 23rd)

Vaughn Ridley/NBAE via Getty Images

After Kawhi Leonard left the Toronto Raptors in 2019, OG Anunoby elevated himself to a legitimate three-and-D starter. He's averaged 14.0 points, 1.9 threes and 1.5 steals while shooting 38.2 percent from deep over the past three seasons, and the Raptors' point differential has been comfortably better with him on the floor.

When Kyle Lowry left Toronto last summer, Anunoby upped his volume again. He put up career highs in points (17.1) and assists (2.6) per game. His efficiency took a big hit, but he at least provided some evidence of scalability.

Anunoby might never develop into a bona fide No. 1 option or creator, but he's shown enough to suggest he can be a second option on a competitive team or a third or fourth option on a contender.

When you take that in concert with his size (6'7", 232 pounds) and versatility on defense, it isn't hard to push him into the top 10 here.

7. Lonzo Ball (Originally Picked 2nd)

Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The comparisons between Lonzo Ball and De'Aaron Fox started back when they were at UCLA and Kentucky, respectively. They probably won't let up any time soon.

Ball got the nod in the draft when he was taken three picks ahead of Fox. When this exercise took place last offseason, he topped Fox again. So after posting career highs in box plus/minus (2.5) and three-point percentage (42.3) in 2021-22, why is he now behind Fox?

Most teams look for top-scorer or lead-playmaker potential in the top 10. Five years into his career, Ball looks more like a secondary playmaker, and he isn't likely to be higher than third or fourth on the scoring pecking order on a good team.

Ball is one of the game's better connectors and hit-ahead passers. His size (6'6" with a 6'9" wingspan) makes it easy to plug him into positionless or switch-heavy defensive schemes, too. Because of all of the little stuff he does, Ball's teams have been better when he's on the floor in each of his five campaigns.

Ball's durability is becoming more of a concern, too. He has yet to play more than 63 games in a season, and his recovery from a knee injury that has sidelined him since January appears to be rockier than anticipated.

6. De'Aaron Fox (Originally Picked 5th)

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

De'Aaron Fox's impact on plus-minus hasn't been near as good as Lonzo Ball's, but it's getting harder to ignore the difference in their respective ceilings.

Over the last three seasons, Fox has averaged 41.3 points plus points generated by assists per 75 possessions. Ball put up 29.8 in that same stretch.

That's a significant gap, and Fox has the slight edge over Ball in true shooting percentage as well. Even with all of Ball's ancillary contributions, that's just a bit too much to overcome.

Beyond the numbers, it's easier to see Fox as a primary initiator (either as a scorer or distributor) with his lightning-quick first step and knack for getting to the rim. Those players are a little harder to find.

Now that he has an All-Star-caliber teammate in Domantas Sabonis, we could see Fox put that explosiveness to even greater use in 2022-23.

5. John Collins (Originally Picked 19th)

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Conventional wisdom may say to take playmakers before a big, but there are just enough weaknesses in the games of Lonzo Ball and De'Aaron Fox for them to slip behind John Collins.

Collins isn't perfect either. Otherwise, he wouldn't be in the No. 5 slot. But in the right context, he could be one of the game's most dynamic centers.

Over the last four seasons, Collins has spent most of his playing time with the Atlanta Hawks at the 4. He's averaged 18.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.2 threes and 1.0 blocks in only 30.6 minutes per game during that span.

Collins' 37.9 three-point percentage over the last four years shows that he can shoot well enough to pull opposing bigs away from the rim. His high-flying finishing ability makes him a threat as a rim-runner or cutter, too.

Playing Collins at the 5 might lead to some defensive issues, but there's still time for him to grow on that end. His offensive versatility should make up for that in the meantime.

4. Jarrett Allen (Originally Picked 22nd)

Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

John Collins' game is more well-rounded than Jarrett Allen's, but the Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star center is rapidly becoming one of the game's better specialists.

In an era where plenty of bigs are shooting and passing more, Allen has doubled down on a Rudy Gobert-like game that focuses on rim-running and rim protection. Being good enough in those two areas should allow him to survive the NBA's ongoing positionless revolution.

Last season, Allen was 26th leaguewide in box plus/minus and averaged 18.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per 75 possessions to go with a 69.8 true shooting percentage. The Cavaliers allowed 4.2 fewer points per 100 possessions with him on the floor compared to when he was off.

When you can impede the opposition's ability to score inside while adding double-digit scoring at that efficiency, you're almost guaranteed to have a positive impact.

3. Donovan Mitchell (Originally Picked 13th)

Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

In terms of scoring, Donovan Mitchell's career is off to a heck of a start.

Only 17 players in the three-point era had a higher scoring average than his 23.9 through their first five seasons. Meanwhile, the list of players who put up more total points than Mitchell in their first 39 playoff games reads like a who's who of all-timers: Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Allen Iverson, Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

With his high-volume three-point shooting, underrated mid-range game and ability to finish among the trees inside, Mitchell has quickly become one of the NBA's premier scorers. His playmaking is starting to catch up, too. Over the last two seasons, he's averaged 5.3 assists.

To this point, though, he's shown little as a defender. Over the last few years, perhaps due to an overreliance on Rudy Gobert, there have been far too many examples of him seemingly quitting on a possession.

Mitchell's height (6'1") might make it difficult for him ever to reach an All-Defense level, but he has the length (6'10" wingspan) and athleticism to at least be a contributor on that end. There's still plenty of time for him to develop that facet of his game.

2. Bam Adebayo (Originally Picked 14th)

Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

Taking Bam Adebayo ahead of Donovan Mitchell might be controversial, but he checks more boxes while being in the ballpark of 20-point-per-game scoring.

Adebayo is a better rebounder than Mitchell and a comparable playmaker. More importantly, he's one of the best defenders in the NBA. (He's made an All-Defensive team in three of his five seasons.)

Adebayo isn't solely a rim protector, either. He's also capable of switching onto wings on the perimeter. If your aim is to build a modern defense that can switch all over the floor without sacrificing what a traditional 5 brings, Adebayo might be the best player to start with.

As he continues to develop as a scorer—his average has gone up in each season since his rookie year—Adebayo has All-NBA potential.

1. Jayson Tatum (Originally Picked 3rd)

Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

There shouldn't have been much suspense over the top spot in this 2017 NBA re-draft. Jayson Tatum was the obvious choice even before he led his team to the 2022 NBA Finals.

Tatum is coming off back-to-back seasons with at least 26 points, seven rebounds and four assists per game. Over his last three postseason appearances, he's made two conference finals and averaged 26.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 3.0 threes, 1.1 blocks and 1.1 steals while shooting 38.5 percent from three.

Those absurd numbers are proof that Tatum is already far more than just a No. 1 scorer. What gives him a chance to compete for MVPs, though, is his rapid ascent to elite defense.

Last season, he led the NBA in defensive win shares (a number typically dominated by big men) thanks to his ability to guard all over the floor, rebound and pile up steals and blocks.

With big wings en vogue, having one who can be your best player on both sides of the ball is one of the modern game's ultimate gets. That's exactly what Tatum is.


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