The picks are in, but the drama may just be getting started. The 2017 NBA Draft took place in Brooklyn on Thursday night, with Markelle Fultz going to the 76ers at No. 1, Lonzo Ball to the Lakers at No. 2 and Jayson Tatum to the Celtics at No. 3, setting up what could be the next generation of an L.A.-Boston basketball blood feud. Meanwhile, Jimmy Butler was traded to Minnesota in a deal that could shape the balance of power among many. Let's take a look at how it all shook out.
Is there any fan base that deserves a winning season next year more than the 76ers? With the drafting of Fultz, Philadelphia has a scary young core and was able to brand a cool new nickname, courtesy of Joel Embiid:
According to Sixers fans, the new nickname is the "FEDS" (Fultz, Embiid, Dario, Simmons).. the FEDS are coming ������#TheProcess- Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) June 22, 2017
Also, Philly is already creating a rivalry with the Lakers as it heads toward an inevitable 2020-21 Finals matchup:
Please dunk on him so hard that his daddy runs on the court to save him.. https://t.co/cMvt5RYiSQ- Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) June 22, 2017
The Sixers are young, brash and fun. Now their fans have to hope they're also healthy. If so, the ceiling is high for this team.
Los Angeles Lakers
Ball might not be the next Magic Johnson. Paul George might not save this franchise. Brandon Ingram might never develop into a star. None of that matters, though. The Lakers are interesting again, and regardless of how many games they win next season, there will be plenty of storylines to make them relevant. A playoff team is still far away -- despite LaVar Ball's guarantee his son would lead them to the postseason next year -- but the Lakers are turning a corner this summer, and seem poised to finally build a sustainable contender under Magic and Rob Pelinka. That's a huge step in the right direction.
Acquiring Butler in exchange for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the No. 7 pick has to be considered a success for the Timberwolves. Minnesota gave up significant talent in the deal, but it's also acquiring a player that can push the team into the top-eight in the West. There have been plenty of speculation of a Butler-Tom Thibodeau reunion for several years, and now that it's come to fruition, the T-wolves appear primed to make a huge leap up the standings next season.
With Butler off to Minnesota, the Bulls will likely buy out Rajon Rondo and start giving all of their minutes to their young core. Wade, who turns 36 in January, doesn't fit in with Chicago's plans, but will reportedly take his $23.8 million player option for the 2017-18 season, and he doesn't want to have to explain his decision to you.
Lonzo's dad was the only father on NBA Draft night to get his own television interviews, and he didn't disappoint, guaranteeing the Lakers would make the playoffs next season and reiterating the fact that the key to life is to "speak it into existence."
On the first point, head coach Luke Walton is already being cautiously optimistic about any expectations LaVar wants to set on his team.
Luke Walton on LaVar's playoff prediction: "Right now I want (Lonzo) to lead us to a couple of summer league victories."- Greg Beacham (@gregbeacham) June 23, 2017
On the second point, maybe Lonzo to the Lakers might have just been the universe course correcting itself.
Welcome, everyone, to the LaVar Ball era.
LaVar Ball is the world's best heel. One lucky fan is walking away with a Big Baller Brand hat. pic.twitter.com/GMhGbVTjfv- Rodger Sherman (@rodger_sherman) June 23, 2017
Stealing all of the spotlight from his older bro, Lonzo, with his suit game:
It's not even yo draft Melo!!!! pic.twitter.com/IWD4k1jiE0- Cari Champion (@CariChampion) June 22, 2017
Golden State Warriors
We haven't even reached free agency and teams around the league are already scrambling to figure things out. Meanwhile, the Warriors' closest competition in Cleveland let the general manager who led them to three consecutive NBA Finals go and is hoping Chauncey Billups will accept their offer to run the team. Despite the maneuvering by all the other teams on draft night, the Warriors know they're going to re-sign Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant and be heavy favorites to repeat as champions next season.
Well, all of that is true, and the Warriors also paid $3.5 million to the Bulls to acquire the 38th pick.
Warriors paid $3.5 million for the rights to No. 38 pick Jordan Bell- Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) June 23, 2017
This is still Golden State's league, but let's all enjoy the craziness of the offseason in the meantime.
To be determined
Check the archives, the Celtics have been in the "to be determined" category for three years running on draft night, and that's probably where Danny Ainge wants his team to be. Boston didn't think Fultz was the best player in the draft, so they moved down from the No. 1 pick to No. 3, and took Tatum, who should provide some much needed secondary scoring.
They reportedly came close to pulling off a George trade, didn't meet Minnesota's demands for Jimmy Butle and refused to meet Phil Jackson's demands for Kristaps Porzingis. So the Celtics leave with plenty of draft picks over the next two seasons, another lottery selection and still without that superstar trade everyone is waiting for.
In a television interview, Fultz revealed he wouldn't be turning his phone back on until tomorrow morning, which seems like a great decision to block out all the distractions on one of the greatest nights of your life, except.
"Excited to head to (City) and join the (team name)."-Markelle Fultz pic.twitter.com/eUzTf7fs46- Rodger Sherman (@rodger_sherman) June 23, 2017
He could have landed in Boston, or perhaps gone to Los Angeles, his preferred destination. Instead, the Pacers left draft night without having found a viable trade for their soon-to-be-departed superstar, and as the time passes, and free agency season arrives, the options for George might dwindle.
Selected eighth overall by New York on Thursday, 18-year-old guard Ntilikina was plenty excited to talk about joining the Knicks, calling them a storied franchise who knew what it take to win a championship. Which, well …
Kid said the Knicks have a great history and can win a championship. He's us when we unexpectedly answer a call from a job we applied for- Larry Beyince (@DragonflyJonez) June 23, 2017
James Dolan and the New York Knicks
Speaking of the Knicks, it just so happens that owner Dolan and his band JD and the Straight Shot performed at a concert in New York on Thursday evening. A day after Phil Jackson made it clear Porzingis was available in a trade, this happened at Dolan's concert.
"We didn't PLAN to have this concert on the same night as the NBA draft, for those of you wondering" says James Dolan the night of the draft pic.twitter.com/cLa7INH2Nf- Charlotte Wilder (@TheWilderThings) June 23, 2017
They kept going as they were escorted out. "I want my money back! Don't quit your day job! Seriously your voice is awful!"- Charlotte Wilder (@TheWilderThings) June 23, 2017
Dolan stares at them, laughs into the mic, and goes, "Okay let's just keep going. You guys like Johnny Cash?"- Charlotte Wilder (@TheWilderThings) June 23, 2017
Long live the Knicks.