The 2017 NBA Draft will hold a lot of surprises for teams but the main entertainment could involve three of the NBA’s most storied franchises. The Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers are all in prime position to change the course of their franchises for years and get back on top.
The Celtics may be in the best position with a core of players that have already made their mark in the league. The current Celtics roster is one that is heavily favored to be the team that could knock the Cleveland Cavaliers off their throne in the Eastern Conference. With players like Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford, and Jae Crowder they have managed to put fear in most teams. However, thanks to the Brooklyn Nets they could be even better next season.
The Lakers have the young talent but they’re young. It will take them another season to jell and a few roster moves could not hurt as they need to get rid of some huge contracts. With D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle leading the way the Lakers could be heading to the playoffs next season if Magic Johnson can work some magic.
The 76ers are the team on the rise here. Years of trusting the process have paid off with valuable draft picks and unknown players like Robert Covington and Richaun Holmes. However, their big draw will be the frontcourt that will feature Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. If the 76ers play their cards right this offseason they will make the playoffs for the 2017-18 season for sure.
And this is how all three teams can achieve the common goal of winning. It starts with the 2017 NBA Draft.
The Celtics have the Nets pick this year which could turn out to be the top overall choice. The Lakers are heading towards a top selection as long as it stays in the top 3 or else it goes to the 76ers. The 76ers will get a top selection of their own or the possibility of the Lakers and the Sacramento Kings as well. But here is when it gets tricky.
Let’s say the Celtics get the top pick. What do they do? Most experts and NBA Mock Drafts have the Celtis selecting Washington PG, Markelle Fultz. He can play both guard positions but the Celtics seem to be solid there with Thomas and Avery Bradley. Now, what the Celtics could do is look for a PF with that top pick since they won’t need to draft Fultz or UCLA player, Lonzo Ball. A defensive and rebounding player to pair with Horford is a must. Another option the Celtics could take is to make a trade with a team like the Phoenix Suns for Tyson Chandler and place Horford at the 4 spot. A move like that gives them flexibility in the draft.
Wishful thinking is that the Lakers will fall into the 2nd slot which would allow them to select Ball, however, why would they do that with Russell and Clarkson still on the roster? Here’s where they could make some moves. If the Lakers want Ball then they could offer a package to the 76ers for Okafor that can include either Russell or Clarkson. The problem for the Lakers is that there are not any quality Centers worthy of a high pick in this Draft. Okafor will provide them with an inside presence but, this is only if they wish to go the route of a backcourt player. The amount of faith they have in Brandon Ingram is also key. It looks as if Clarkson is the odd man out, which will fit right into the 76ers plans.
The 76ers frontcourt is set for the future with Embiid, Simmons and Dario Saric. It’s their backcourt that needs the upgrade. I love T.J. McConnell but the 76ers need a playmaker that can hit from the perimeter consistently and get the ball to the bigs inside. A 2-guard that can slash is needed as well and that’s where Clarkson fits in. The 76ers position doesn’t matter this year, it’s either PG or SG for them but instead of drafting players they could make a pitch to the Lakers and Boston regarding Okafor.
Here is how all this can play out.
The Celtics take their top pick and draft Fultz, then trade Bradley to the 76ers for Robert Covington and a 2018 second round pick in which they will then trade that pick the Suns in exchange for Chandler. The Lakers select Ball then make a trade with the 76ers for Okafor while handing over Clarkson. The 76ers can then make the boldest move of the day by taking their top pick and Ben Simmons and offer them up to the Indiana Pacers for Paul George.
I know, it’s a lot to gather but each team will fill their respective needs. There’s no guarantee that the draft position will play out this way but it’s possible. The Celtics are loaded with talent and as they proved last year with their Lottery pick, they’re picking position fillers now, not stars. The Lakers may be high on Ball and will look to move Clarkson. The 76ers have what every team needs now. Picks. If the 76ers can land Bradley and Clarkson before their selection, then why not try to make a move on George who they can later offer to the Lakers for the price of a small country.
The NBA Draft is about talent, however, it’s also about future Draft positions as well. These trades are not as far-fetched as some may think and can possibly work if all three teams are willing to look at the bigger picture.