The 2017 NBA Draft is said and done, and teams have begun crafting a game plan for the upcoming season. The Golden State Warriors still appear to have a stranglehold over the NBA, but the draft represents a major opportunity for teams to stack up on talent and improve. Which team improved the most? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate this question.
Top draft prospects gather for a group photo before the NBA basketball draft, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Riley: The draft was won by the Philadelphia 76ers before it even started. Philly used an early-week trade to move up to the top overall selection, and used it to draft point guard Markelle Fultz. He’ll fit perfectly with their two studs, forward Ben Simmons and center Joel Embiid. The trio will represent a young “Big Three” for the Sixers, giving them a foundation to build upon along with a boatload of cap space. The years of suffering in Philly were worth it and now the Sixers have a team they can be proud of.
Green: Ironically, I like what Boston did. They traded back with the Sixers, still grabbed a top player, taking forward Jayson Tatum with the third overall selection, and came away with an extra first rounder for either 2018 or 2019. You can also make an argument that Minnesota was also a winner by grabbing Jimmy Butler, but it’s hard not to like what Boston keeps doing. They find ways to nab extra picks while still staying relevant—keep in mind they just finished as the top overall seed in the Eastern Conference last season. The Celtics are savvy and they continue to run offseason circles around the rest of the league.
Riley: Name a better young trio than what the Sixers have? Youth in the NBA is what every basketball general manager covets, and Philly has that and then some. Embiid, Simmons and Fultz are all blue-chip prospects, but the Sixers have some good role players also. Philadelphia literally went from one of the most barren rosters in the league just a few seasons ago to one of the more promising ones. The only thing that will stop this team from making noise in the league will be injuries. If they can stay healthy, then the East might have a new powerhouse in a few seasons. LeBron James isn’t getting any younger, but the Sixers definitely are.
Green: Give me the team that’s young and already proven. Philly will have to go through Boston at some point and that won’t be an easy task. The Celtics have a lot of youth on their side as well, and one of the top players in the league in Isaiah Thomas. The rebuilding mission is already complete in Boston, and they still have a boatload of future first rounders to come. They can go in several directions, whether they decide to sit back and pluck young talent or package picks together for an all-star. No other team in the league has a better long term outlook right now than Boston.