Products You May Like
The 2017 NBA Draft is most famous for the mystifying collapse of its No. 1 pick — and the multiple All-Stars who followed.
Multiple All-Stars and All-NBA players have emerged from the 2017 rookie class. None of them, however, went first overall. That unique honor was bestowed upon Markelle Fultz, the once glamorous Washington guard whose career arc in the NBA is best described as utterly inexplicable.
It’s a prime example of how unpredictable the NBA Draft truly is. At the time, no player felt particularly close to Fultz. He had it all — the skill, the athleticism, the potential for immediate production and long-term growth. Then it all fell apart, almost immediately, because of a shoulder injury we still don’t fully understand.
Anything can happen in the NBA. And often, it does.
Who would go No. 1 overall if the 2017 NBA Draft were held today?
With the benefit of hindsight, the 2017 draft order would look much different. Fultz wouldn’t have gone first overall. Perhaps the Sixers wouldn’t have even traded up to No. 1 in the first place, completely changing the trajectory of multiple NBA franchises. That’s what makes this particular exercise so fun: it’s an exercise in what could have been.
Let’s jump right in.
F, Utah Jazz
A career 36.4 percent 3-point shooter who can guard a couple different positions depending on the matchup. Sterling Brown affords lineup flexibility at 6-foot-7 and won’t get played off the court.
G, San Antonio Spurs
Frank Jackson averaged 10.6 points for the rebuilding Pistons last season, a new career high. Unfortunately, his scoring efficiency plummeted. He might peak as a change-of-pace reserve.
G, Los Angeles Lakers
Edmond Sumner spent last season recovering from a severe knee injury, the kind of injury that can derail an unproven player’s career. He started 24 games for the Pacers in 2020-21, though, and he brings intriguing size and athleticism to the two-guard spot.
F, Brooklyn Nets
Originally the No. 4 pick, it has been tough sledding at the NBA level for Josh Jackson. He’s an athletic 6-foot-8 wing who can defend all over the floor, but his scoring numbers are dreadful. It’s hard for one-way players at the professional level.
G, Portland Trail Blazers
Frank Ntilikina never really figured it out offensively. That said, his 3-point percentage has steadily increased in recent years and he does provide impactful defense on the perimeter. His 7-foot-1 wingspan can really muck things up for the opposing offense.
Dennis Smith Jr.
G, Orlando Magic
Dennis Smith Jr. will probably never recapture the productivity of his rookie season. He’s simply not the elite on-ball creator teams expected him to be on draft night. Instead, Smith has carved out his niche as a stingy guard defender.
C, Utah Jazz
Tony Bradley has been remarkably unremarkable in his NBA career, but he’s a pretty reliable drop coverage defender who can rebound and convert easy points at the rim.
C, Toronto Raptors
Injuries have been the story of Zach Collins’ career. There’s a lot to like on the surface — he’s a mobile 7-footer who attempts multiple 3s per game — but he hasn’t been on the court long enough for us to get a solid read on his NBA future.
C, Brooklyn Nets
Luke Kornet has played for five teams in five years, never lingering too long in one spot. The playing time has been sparse, but he’s listed at 7-foot-2 and can snipe 3s. Sign me up for more.
F, Oklahoma City Thunder
Were it not for his relatively advanced age (29 years old), Chris Boucher would be much higher in this re-draft. He’s a bankable role player for a contender, supplying a lot of length, activity, and switchability to the Raptors’ elite defense.
C, Portland Trail Blazers
Thomas Bryant is another player whose career has been indelibly marked by injuries. His ability to block shots and hit 3s should keep him relevant, but we simply have not seen him on the court much the last few seasons.
G, Atlanta Hawks
Malik Monk finally found his footing in the NBA last season, emerging as a reliable reserve guard (and spot starter) who can score in myriad ways. His propensity for bucket-getting dates back to before Kentucky, so expect Monk to keep it up.
C, Indiana Pacers
Isaiah Hartenstein finally broke onto the scene with the Clippers last season. He’s an excellent rim runner and shot blocker who is now in line for an even bigger role with the Knicks in 2022. He’s a rock-solid, fundamentally sound player who impacts winning on both sides of the ball.
G, Milwaukee Bucks
Monte Morris has long drawn praise for his ball security and efficiency at the point guard position. He’s not particularly explosive, but Morris avoids mistakes and does a lot of good things on offense. His 3-point percentage hovers around the high-30s every season and he looks comfortable as a starter or a sixth man.
F, Chicago Bulls
Jonathan Isaac has not played NBA basketball since 2020. That’s a problem. Injuries have ravaged his career and it wouldn’t be hard to blame teams for passing on him in this re-draft. But, when healthy, Isaac has flashed legitimate All-Defensive team upside with plenty of scoring equity to boot.
G, Portland Trail Blazers
The Sixers’ infamous decision to trade up and select Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 overall pick feels like decades ago. One vague shoulder malady and a torn ACL later, Fultz’s career path is still very much undetermined. He’s a gifted facilitator and versatile defender who has enough natural talent to warrant optimism despite the laundry list of red flags.