Rumors, trades abound ahead of 2017 NBA Draft

The 2017 NBA Draft looks like its going to be a wild ride with one big deal going down already.

Bob Donnan—USA TODAY Sports
Mar 19

The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers made their agreed-upon trade official Monday, a deal that will see the teams swap the Nos. 1 and 3 picks in Thursday night’s NBA Draft.The 76ers acquired the top overall pick from Boston in exchange for their No. 3 selection and a future first-round pick, according to statements released by both teams.The Celtics and 76ers had agreed on the parameters of a deal on Saturday night after Philadelphia held a workout with point guard Markelle Fultz, who will become the fourth No. 1 overall pick in franchise history by the 76ers on Thursday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.”We are very pleased with the outcome of this trade, which puts us in the enviable position of selecting first overall in consecutive draft years,” Philadelphia president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said. “History suggests that No. 1 has the greatest odds of producing franchise-level talent and we are confident that this year’s draft class has that very potential. Thursday night will see us take another significant step toward building a successful and sustainable basketball program.”Boston, with leading scorer Isaiah Thomas already manning the point guard position, was equally thrilled to drop down two spots and receive what they expect to be a high first-round pick in either 2018 or 2019.”We’re thrilled to be able to select what we expect be an impact player with the third pick in this year’s very talented draft class, while also adding a highly valuable future asset as we continue to build towards Banner 18,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said.Boston will receive the 2018 first-round pick of the Los Angeles Lakers — if that selection falls between the No. 2 to No. 5 range. Otherwise, the Celtics will have a choice of first-rounders in 2019 — either from Sacramento or Philadelphia, whichever pick is higher.Philadelphia will pair Fultz, a high-scoring point guard out of the University of Washington, with Ben Simmons, last year’s No. 1 overall pick who missed the entire season with a foot injury.In his only season with Washington, the 6-foot-5, 186-pound Fultz averaged 23.2 points and 5.9 assists. He shot 47.6 percent, averaged along with 5.9 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals over 25 games during his freshman season with the Huskies, who posted a 9-22 record.Boston, meanwhile, could potentially own the draft rights to seven first-round selections over the next three seasons.The Celtics have been linked with either Josh Jackson of Kansas or Jayson Tatum of Duke at No. 3, although multiple media outlets reported the team may be willing to deal the pick.Lonzo Ball of UCLA is expected to go No. 2 to the Lakers, although the sides have yet to reach agreement on a deal. Ball hosted a second workout for the Lakers on Friday.Where will former Pack star Smith land?The 2016-17 season did not do wonders for Dennis Smith Jr.’s draft stock, with the freshman phenom unable to will NC State to the NCAA Tournament despite high expectations. Still, Smith is all but a lock to hear his name called in the lottery and probably has a floor at No. 9 to the Dallas Mavericks, although No. 8 to the New York Knicks could make plenty of sense as well.After all, despite the poor play from the Wolfpack last year, Smith still averaged 18.1 points per game, 6.2 assists per game and 4.5 rebounds per game. And he did that on a team where he was the primary focus on the offensive end, while coming off a torn ACL he suffered during high school.Smith is an explosive scorer and the prototypical point guard capable of slashing to the hoop and dishing off to shooters in the right offensive setup.The Celtics should be considered a darkhorse for Smith at No. 3 overall after making their move down from the top spot. Ainge spent plenty of time in Raleigh this past season watching Smith, although he was traveling around the country looking at top prospects, knowing the Celtics would end up with a high pick thanks to the Nets struggles.If Smith does fall, don’t be surprised to see someone trade up ahead of New York at No. 8 overall. He’s been heavily rumored to land there, and would be a prize outside of the top five for a team in need of a point guard.Who could Hornets target 
at No. 11?This is a deep draft when it comes to point guard, which is good news for the Hornets, who already have Kemba Walker on the roster. Should something crazy happen and a prospect like Smith fall, Charlotte could try and swoop in to grab him as depth with Walker and/or best player available.The more likely scenario playing out in most mock drafts has the Hornets looking for a shooting guard such as Donovan Mitchell out of Louisville or Duke small forward Luke Kennard, both of whom would add a serious offensive boost for Buzz City in the coming season.Mitchell scored 15.4 points per game for the Cardinals last year while shooting 35 percent from three point land and averaging 4.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists. Kennard was a lights-out scorer for the Blue Devils last season, averaging 19.5 points per game while shooting 43.8 percent from three-point range with 5.1 rebounds per game.Other local prospectsThe 2017 draft features a pile of players from around the state of North Carolina, with John Collins of Wake Forest projected as a likely top 20 pick and a sleeper to creep towards the lottery. Justin Jackson of North Carolina projects as a top-20 pick too, with some mock drafts pushing him to the Atlanta Hawks.Harry Giles of Duke looks like a good bet to land in the first round as well, with his athleticism overcoming his injury history for some team hoping to land a steal late in the first round. Don’t be surprised to see either Frank Jackson of Duke or Tony Bradley of North Carolina creep into the back end of the first round either.