The 2017 NBA draft class has churned out many of the NBA’s best young players, but they haven’t been the ones you might have expected. The strength of the class at the time of the draft was point guards, as five of the top nine original picks played that position. However, players from a variety of positions and roles have succeeded.
So let’s redraft the top 10 players from this strong class. How many point guards will show up? It is much fewer than five, that’s for sure.
1. Philadelphia 76ers select F Jayson Tatum
Original pick: G Markelle Fultz
Earlier in this NBA season, there were valid arguments for several different players to go No. 1 here. Tatum, Donovan Mitchell, Bam Adebayo and De’Aaron Fox are all current or future All-Stars despite being 22 or 23 years old.
In about mid-January, though, Tatum threw that debate out the window. The Celtics’ All-Star averaged 27.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.5 steals and 1 block per game with a 48.8/45.5/75.2 shooting slash in his final 23 games before the season was suspended.
When you add in the fact that Tatum is a very solid defender at 6’8”, the choice for No. 1 becomes obvious.
2. Los Angeles Lakers select G Donovan Mitchell
Original pick: G Lonzo Ball
Los Angeles is a great spot for Mitchell, an explosive, skilled guard who is good for at least a couple of jaw-dropping highlight plays per game. The Lakers got some nice flashes from Ball at the point guard spot, but ultimately he didn’t show enough to the team as a shooter and scorer in his first two years.
Mitchell isn’t quite the defender Ball is, but he can lead an offense with his fantastic slashing abilities along with decent shooting and facilitating skills. He has spent his first three seasons with the Jazz and he has thrived as the team’s No. 1 option.
The 2017-18 Lakers could have had a very fun young core of Mitchell, Ingram and Julius Randle that would have excited fans and won a few games, too.
3. Boston Celtics select F/C Bam Adebayo
Original pick: F Jayson Tatum
Adebayo wouldn’t have been picked this high before this season, but since he is the frontrunner for the Most Improved Player award, he gets a big boost. He has a unique combination of great interior and perimeter defense, rebounding, passing and inside scoring for a big man. He doesn’t have a midrange or three-point jump shot, but he does everything else well.
Bam and Al Horford could have made for an excellent center tandem for the Celtics from 2017 to 2019. At times, they could have also played together due to their defensive versatility, passing and Horford’s long-range shooting ability.
4. Phoenix Suns select G De’Aaron Fox
Original pick: G/F Josh Jackson
The Suns luck out in this redraft, because this class has a clear top four players and point guard was a massive position of need in 2017. Eric Bledsoe was still on the roster but he was on the verge of requesting a trade from the struggling Phoenix franchise.
Fox would have slid in immediately as the Suns’ starting point guard, taking some of the offensive burden from overworked shooting guard Devin Booker. Phoenix certainly would have been a fun and fast-paced team to watch in the past few years with Fox and Booker leading the charge.
5. Sacramento Kings select F Jonathan Isaac
Original pick: G De’Aaron Fox
The Kings’ original pick was a great one, but Isaac is an excellent consolation prize. Sacramento was trying to pick up the pieces from the DeMarcus Cousins era in the summer of 2017. For many years the Kings had drafted poorly. They had not prioritized defense, shooting or chemistry in their front office decisions. It showed in an utter lack of on-court success.
Isaac would be a breath of fresh air in the Kings’ organization. The 6’11” combo forward has had his injury concerns, but he still possesses very tantalizing potential. Before injuring his knee in January, he was a legitimate candidate for Defensive Player of the Year with his amazing length, athleticism and instincts.
While Isaac definitely shines brightest on defense, he has also shown enough offensive skill to convince me that he is a future All-Star.
6. Orlando Magic select G Lonzo Ball
Original pick: F Jonathan Isaac
Orlando has lacked a playmaker at the starting point guard position for a long time. Elfrid Payton looked like that player for a little bit, but his inability to shoot threes and free throws as well as inconsistent defense made him a no-go as a starter.
Ball would provide the Magic with an excellent combination of playmaking, three-point shooting and perimeter defense. His scoring game isn’t super diverse, which puts a ceiling on his potential, but he should spend most of his career as a top-10 point guard in the league who thrives on making his teammates look good.
7. Chicago Bulls select F/C Lauri Markkanen
Original pick: F/C Lauri Markkanen
Unfortunately for Markkanen and the Bulls, his stock has fallen since a year ago. The sweet-shooting big man showed no signs of progression in the 2019-20 season after a very promising sophomore campaign in which he averaged 18.7 points and 9 rebounds per game. His numbers have dipped in several key categories and his future with the Bulls now looks cloudy.
Markkanen is still very talented and I think the Bulls’ coaching staff misused him this season. However, when you combine his mediocre all-around game and his offensive inconsistency, it is a stretch to project him as a surefire future All-Star these days.
8. New York Knicks select F/C John Collins
Original pick: G Frank Ntilikina
Collins just produces. His scoring, rebounding and true-shooting numbers have all increased in each of his three seasons and he averaged a fantastic 21.6 points and 10.1 rebounds per game in 2019-20. He has turned into a rare big man who can finish well at the rim and also hit three-pointers.
The warts for Collins are also pretty clear: he is undersized at 6’9” and a thin 235 pounds, he doesn’t create shots for himself or others and he isn’t good on defense whatsoever. His Atlanta Hawks have been bad in each of his three seasons, so there’s some question about how much he can contribute on a winning team.
However, there is definitely a lot of talent there for Collins and I think the Knicks would happily scoop him up at this point in the redraft.
9. Dallas Mavericks select F OG Anunoby
Original pick: G Dennis Smith Jr.
Admittedly, this pick looks much better if Dallas is still able to swing deals to acquire Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. Those two look like the next big star duo in the NBA and they need high-level role players like Anunoby to support them.
Anunoby fits well on any NBA team as an extremely long and athletic wing who provides elite defense and a solid three-point shot. However, he’ll look even better on a team like the Mavs that has the offensive weapons to create shots for him and allow him to expend the majority of his energy on defense.
10. Portland Trail Blazers select C Jarrett Allen
Original pick: F/C Zach Collins
The Trail Blazers are set at guard with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, which makes them less likely to pick a guard like Luke Kennard, Markelle Fultz or Derrick White. They could definitely use a versatile forward, but the options are thin there.
Allen, a true center, is the top prospect remaining on the board. His wingspan is nearly 7’6” and he protects the rim, rebounds, sets screens and scores at the rim very well. He and Jusuf Nurkic could have formed a very effective center platoon until Portland decided to make a decision on which guy to keep. Likely, that guy would be the younger and cheaper Allen.