1984, 1996, 2003. All three of these years had draft selections that are some of the best we’ve ever seen. 84 had Jordan, Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon and John Stockton. 1996 had Kobe, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash and Ray Allen. 03 had LeBron, D-Wade, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony.
2017 might have a draft class worthy of mention with those years above. There is an abundance of great talent that has just been drafted and many of these new players look set to become stars in the not so distant future.
The race for this year’s Rookie of the Year award will be hotly contested and these five guys below look set to be the favorites.
5. Jayson Tatum - Boston Celtics
Tatum has been the biggest surprise for me this summer league. He looked very polished with a smooth jump shot complemented with good athleticism. He certainly will be a nice addition to the Celtics who only looked to get better this season.
However, Boston has just brought in Gordon Hayward to play the 3 which Tatum’s natural position. He will not be certain unless Hayward gets injured meaning his minutes this season will be limited. His role will be to come off the bench and give the Celtics a lift offensively should they need it.
A high ranked draft player like Tatum being selected by the Celtics will be huge for Tatum in his career. He won’t have the immense pressure to produce straight away meaning he can work on his craft diligently and learn from the experienced veterans he will have around. The playoff experience he is due to get will also be incredibly valuable to him and hopefully, he’ll be a star for many years to come.
4. De’Aaron Fox - Sacramento Kings
Did Lonzo Ball miss the Laker’s game vs the Kings because he was scared of Fox? Who knows? It would be understandable why he would not want to go up against him since the first two times they’ve met Ball really struggled.
Fox is a great defensive guard who combines athleticism and hustle to form many Patrick Beverly comparisons. He needs to work on his outside game so that he isn’t a liability on the offensive end but he will have plenty of time for that on a rebuilding Kings team.
3. Markelle Fultz - Philadelphia 79ers
The number one pick in this year’s draft looks like a pure stud through and through. He can shoot, he can pass and he has good athleticism. At Washington, he was their only good player and yet he still managed to shoot better than 40% from the three point line and average 23.2 points a night as a freshman.
The Sixers have a huge amount of young talent with Fultz, Simmons, Embiid and Saric. With Markelle running the show he has been given a huge opportunity to show why he is better than Lonzo Ball.
Nobody expects the Sixers to make the playoffs this year, they need to build team chemistry and grow all their young talent but they certainly will be one of the more exciting teams in the NBA next season.
2. Lonzo Ball - LA Lakers
In his first summer league game, Lonzo was terrible. He shot 2-15 and with 5 assists and 4 rebounds. In the next two games, he bounced back and got two triple doubles. He is the most exciting player in this year’s draft and there has been so much around him and his father.
Ball is an amazing passer who makes everyone around him better. He has an incredible vision as well as the foresight to make the simple yet effective passes. He will average the most assists out of any rookie next year without question.
His shooting though...is bad. It’s that horrible form where he brings the ball over to his left shoulder even though he is right handed. It’s incredibly complicated which just means there’s more of his motion that can go wrong.
This season I expect Lonzo to shoot less than 40% from the field and around 32%-33% from three, but he will easily be in contention for Rookie of the Year because he will see so many minutes on the court.
1. Ben Simmons - Philadelphia 76ers
This one was easy for me because Simmons was actually drafted a year ago but missed the season with an injury. Although he would’ve much preferred to play, it meant he could dedicate a year to getting himself in the best shape possible and working on his game before he steps on onto the court.
Simmons is a 6 foot 10 point forward who averaged nearly five assists a game in his one year at LSU. I can see him no grabbing the rebound and taking the ball coast to coast with his speed and size, finishing with a dunk at the other end, or he can get the ball to the elbow and then dictate what happens from there.
He is very strong and agile with a decent jump shot and sharp basketball instincts. Simmons and Fultz will certainly be very effective in the pick and roll because either one can be the ball handler or the one setting the screen.