The 2020 NBA draft was scheduled for Thursday until the coronavirus shut down the basketball world. We won’t know which player will hear his name called first until Oct. 16 — the draft’s new date — and it will take a few seasons to see which players pan out. The 2017 draft class was full of potential, but three seasons in, we pretty much know which players are rising and which are busts.
So here’s how the 2017 draft should have gone down with what we know today.
No. 1 Jayson Tatum
Actual pick: Markelle Fultz, Philadelphia 76ers
Tatum’s draft slot: No. 3 Boston Celtics
In just three short seasons, Tatum has risen to the top of this draft class and is a budding superstar. The 22-year-old wing was averaging 23.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game before the season was suspended early in March. Tatum ranks in the 92nd percentile in points per play on 5.8 possessions per game as a pick-and-roll ball-handler. That’s up from 2.4 possessions per game in the 2018-19 season.
Every aspect of his game has continued to improve. He has shot over 400 threes this season — more than twice the amount of attempts from his rookie year — and is shooting 39.9 percent from deep for his career. His ball-handling has improved, and he has averaged less than two turnovers per game in his three seasons. Tatum is finding freedom in the offense and becoming a scoring machine, dropping 30 or more points in 14 games this season.
His 6-foot-8 frame has started to fill out, making him a threat on the defensive end. Tatum had four steals in his last game against the Indiana Pacers and averaged 2.5 steals over his last four games before the stoppage. He can guard all three positions on the perimeter and drop down low in iso situations.
Tatum is the most complete player in this draft class and an All-Star for years to come.
No. 2 Donovan Mitchell
Actual pick: Lonzo Ball, L.A. Lakers
Mitchell’s draft slot: No. 13 Utah Jazz
Mitchell’s ascent came fast and without warning during his rookie season. He won the Slam Dunk Contest and was the runner-up to Ben Simmons as the Rookie of the Year. Over three seasons he’s averaged 22.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and four assists per game. It’s an impressive feat, considering LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are the only other two players in history to average at least 22 points, four rebounds and four assists in their first three seasons. It’s hard to believe Mitchell fell to No. 13 in 2017, and he’s been the biggest surprise in this class.
Mitchell is one of the best playmakers in the NBA and is excellent around the rim and in drawing contact. At 23, he’s become a young leader for a struggling Utah Jazz team and has the potential to be a franchise player down the road.
No. 3 Bam Adebayo
Actual pick: Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
Adebayo’s draft slot: No. 14 Miami Heat
Adebayo is a modern-day big who is extremely versatile at 6-foot-9. He has speed in the open court and great hands that make him a dream tandem for guards. Over his three seasons, Adebayo has improved almost every stat line. His ability to find cutters in the lane is rare for a power forward, and he’s averaging 5.1 assists per game this season, dishing out 10 or more assists five times this year.
Bam was named an NBA All-Star this season after averaging 16.2 points and 10.5 rebounds per game in a breakout year for the Heat.
No. 4 De’Aaron Fox
Actual pick: Josh Jackson, Phoenix Suns
Fox’s draft slot: No. 5 Sacramento Kings
Fox is one of the fastest end-to-end guards in the NBA and easily the best point guard in this draft. He was right in the middle of pushing the Sacramento Kings into a playoff spot before the season was suspended. Fox has slowly morphed into an elite point guard, averaging 20.4 points and 6.8 assists per game this season.
His 3-point shot needs improvement, shooting just 33.5 percent in his career. The shifty point guard has the ability to take over possessions and can always get off a shot when the clock is winding down. If this year’s improvement is any indication of Fox’s growth, fans will be seeing him in an All-Star Game very soon.
No. 5 Lonzo Ball
Actual pick: De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings
Ball’s draft slot: No. 2 Los Angeles Lakers
All the coverage leading up to the 2017 draft involved the LaVar Ball sideshow. It’s not a stretch to say that LaVar was the biggest star inside the Barclays Center, with fans chanting his name, asking for pictures and some fans booing him out of the arena. Despite all of his father’s antics, Lonzo has gone on to be a productive pro. His stint in Los Angeles lasted two seasons, but this year in New Orleans has been different. Ball was averaging 20.8 points per game in March, and we’ve started to see glimpses of what he can do with Zion Williamson on the court. Ball was one of the best passers in college and it’s still one of his biggest strengths. He’s averaging seven assists per game this season, dishing out 15 dimes in a win over the Boston Celtics in late January.
He entered the league with an unconventional jump shot but has transformed his shooting mechanics and his numbers have improved. Ball’s 3-point shooting percentage has improved to 38.3 percent after only shooting 30 percent his rookie season. He is the only player in this draft class to average at least 10 points and six assists each season.
No. 6 Jonathan Isaac
Actual pick: Isaac by the Orlando Magic
Injuries have plagued Isaac throughout his three seasons. A knee injury limited him to 32 games this season, but the 6-foot-11 forward was on his way to a breakout year. Isaac averaged 12 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Defensively, he can guard almost every position, switching on everything and meeting players at the rim. His 3-point shooting (33 percent) isn’t bad for a player his size, and he attempted at least two 3-pointers in almost every game this season.
Isaac has become one of the best young shot-blockers in the league, ranking in the top 20 in total blocks the last two seasons. He had 78 blocks in his shortened season, edging out players like Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Dwight Howard. If Isaac stays healthy, a Defensive Player of the Year honor could be in his future.
No. 7 OG Anunoby
Actual pick: Lauri Markkanen, Minnesota Timberwolves
Anunoby’s draft slot: No. 23 Toronto Raptors
Anunoby has excelled as a player who does all the little things. A true 3-and-D player, his stat line isn’t crazy (10.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game), but he is very effective. The 6-foot-7 wing is shooting 38.1 percent from three and over 50 percent from the field.
It’s what he does defensively that makes him such an asset. He ranks in the 94th percentile in isolation defense, giving up only 0.61 points per possession. He’s also versatile, with the ability to guard all five positions. Anunoby is the perfect starting role player for any team with a superstar.
No. 8 John Collins
Actual pick: Frank Ntilikina, New York Knicks
Collins’ draft slot: No. 19 Atlanta Hawks
Collins is super bouncy at 6-foot-9 and is a highlight reel when catching lobs and finishing putbacks. He’s a good 3-point shooter at 40.1 percent this season and is averaging 21.6 points and 10.1 rebounds. He’s not quite big enough to be the defensive presence in the lane the Hawks need and isn’t quick enough to stay in front of guards on the perimeter. But with Trae Young leading the young Hawks, Collins is an integral part of the rebuild and will have a long career because of his outside shooting.
No. 9 Jarrett Allen
Actual pick: Dennis Smith Jr., Dallas Mavericks
Allen’s draft slot: No. 22 Brooklyn Nets
No player in this class has more than Allen's 293 career blocked shots or 1,665 rebounds. The 6-11 center also is starting to find his place on offense averaging, 10.6 points per game and grabbing 195 offensive boards this season. He occasionally takes a 3-pointer here and there, but most of his value comes in the lane or on the block. Allen is an old-school center who is only 22. He has the time to grow and develop his game, but with the NBA putting more value on guards and playmakers, Allen’s role on the court is limited without the development of an outside shot.
No. 10 Lauri Markkanen
Actual pick: Zach Collins, Sacramento Kings
Markkanen’s draft slot: No. 7 Chicago Bulls
Markkanen has had a quiet career on a struggling Chicago Bulls team, but he’s still managed to put up solid numbers. During the 2018-19 season, Markkanen put up 10 or more points in 48 out of the 52 games he played. He averaged 14.7 points and 6.3 rebounds this season and put up 20 or more points in just 10 games this year. He has great size at 7-feet but struggles on defense when he has to step out and guard on the perimeter. The Bulls haven’t been the best place for growth for young players, and Markkanen has been plagued with injuries. He could hit another wave of success on a different team that could utilize a 7-foot playmaker on the wing.
No. 11 Derrick White
Actual pick: Malik Monk, Charlotte Hornets
White’s draft slot: No. 29 San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs have an unbelievable eye for spotting talent and fit. White wasn’t a popular pick late in the first round, but he’s blossomed into one of the fiercest defenders in the league. The 6-4 guard is one of the best shot-blocking guards in the league, thanks to his 6-8 wingspan, and he averaged just under one block per game during the 2019-20 season. He’s tough in the lane, getting to the free-throw line 74 times this year and shooting 85.7 percent. His 3-point shooting has improved from the 2018-19 season but still needs some work. White isn’t great at creating for others in the lane or in iso situations, but he seems to do everything else really well, making him a key rotational player.
No. 12 Kyle Kuzma
Actual pick: Luke Kennard, Detroit Pistons
Kuzma’s draft slot: No. 27 Los Angeles Lakers
Kuzma was playing like he was one of the biggest sleepers in the first round during his rookie season, averaging 16.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He also shot decently from 3-point range at 36.6 percent, his career-high mark. Kuzma was the only young asset to stay with the Lakers after the team traded Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart for Anthony Davis last summer. Kuzma isn’t a great defender, but one thing he can do is score. Will he ever be an All-Star? Probably not, but he’s a quality player.
No. 13 Josh Hart
Actual pick: Donovan Mitchell, Denver Nuggets
Hart’s draft slot: No. 30 Los Angeles Lakers
Hart is one of the best rebounding guards in the league and is at the top of the rebound rate stat sheet (tied with Dejounte Murray) for players 6-5 and under. He’s a high-motor player who attacks the glass, and he averaged 6.5 rebounds this season. Hart is a solid rotational player who has had his moments this season, hitting big shots for the Pelicans. In the Christmas Day win against the Denver Nuggets, Hart finished with 16 points and went 4-of-5 from the 3-point line. Villanova has a long history of producing older productive guards that can contribute right away, and Hart is no exception. He’s consistently improved each season and possesses the potential to have a long career as a rotational guard.
No. 14 Zach Collins
Actual pick: Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat
Collins’ draft slot: No. 10 Portland Trail Blazers
Collins was sidelined for most of this year after suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. We’ve started to see glimpses of what Collins can be with some more development as he was a key player coming off the bench during the Western Conference semifinals last year against the Nuggets. During the series he averaged 8.7 points and 4.2 rebounds, scoring 14 points in two of the seven games. Collins is a solid rim protector who has the ability to step outside the 3-point line. During the 2018-19 season he made 40 3-pointers and shot 33 percent from deep. He’s still a project, but Portland looks like a great fit for the young forward to grow into a solid pro.
No. 15 Markelle Fultz
Actual pick: Justin Jackson, Portland Trail Blazers
Fultz’s draft slot: No. 1 Philadelphia 76ers
A lot of people wrote off Fultz after limited playing time in Philadelphia and his unusual shoulder injury that broke his almost perfect jump shot from college. He’s been through a lot during his three years in the league, but Fultz has started to find his way in Orlando after a 2019 trade. He averaged 12.1 points and 5.2 assists this season and shot 47.3 percent from the field. His 3-point shot still needs work, as he hit only 30 of 118 this season. The upside to Fultz is that he’s still young, turning 21 in May, and he appears to be healthy and fully recovered from his nagging shoulder injury.
No. 16 Luke Kennard
Actual pick: Justin Patton, Chicago Bulls
Kennard’s draft slot: No. 12 Detroit Pistons
Current team: Detroit Pistons
2019-20 season: 15.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists
Career totals: 9.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists
No. 17 Frank Ntilikina
Actual pick: D.J. Wilson, Milwaukee Bucks
Ntilikina’s draft slot: No. 8 New York Knicks
Current team: New York Knicks
2019-20 season: 6.3 points, 2.1 rebounds 3 assists
Career totals: 6 points, 2.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists
No. 18 Dillon Brooks
Actual pick: T.J. Leaf, Indiana Pacers
Brooks’ draft slot: No. 45 Memphis Grizzlies
Current team: Memphis Grizzlies
2019-20 season: 15.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2 assists
Career totals: 12.4 points, 3 rebounds 1.7 assists
No. 19 Monte Morris
Actual pick: John Collins, Atlanta Hawks
Morris’ draft slot: No. 51 Denver Nuggets
Current team: Denver Nuggets
2019-20 season: 8.4 points, 3.5 assists
Career totals: 9.4 points, 3.6 assists
No. 20 Dennis Smith Jr.
Actual pick: Harry Giles, Portland Trail Blazers
Smith Jr.’s draft slot: No. 9 Dallas Mavericks
Current team: New York Knicks
2019-20 season: 5.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists
Career totals: 12.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists
No. 21 Josh Jackson
Actual pick: Terrance Ferguson, Oklahoma City Thunder
Jackson’s draft slot: No. 4 Phoenix Suns
Current team: Memphis Grizzlies
2019-20 season: 10.4 points, 3.2 rebounds
Career totals: 12.1 points, 4.3 rebounds
No. 22 Justin Jackson
Actual pick: Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets
Jackson’s draft slot: No. 15 Sacramento Kings
Current team: Dallas Mavericks
2019-20 season: 5.7 points, 2.4 rebounds
Career totals: 6.6 points, 2.6 rebounds
No. 23 Terrance Ferguson
Actual pick: OG Anunoby, Toronto Raptors
Ferguson’s draft slot: No. 21 Oklahoma City Thunder
Current team: Oklahoma City Thunder
2019-20 season: 4.2 points, 1.5 rebounds
Career totals: 4.9 points, 1.4 rebounds
No. 24 Frank Jackson
Actual pick: Tyler Lydon, Utah Jazz
Jackson’s draft slot: No. 31 New Orleans Pelicans
Current team: New Orleans Pelicans
2019-20 season: 5.6 points, 1.4 rebounds
Career totals: 7 points, 1.8 rebounds
No. 25 Harry Giles
Actual pick: Anžejs Pasečņiks, Orlando Magic
Giles’ draft slot: No. 20 Sacramento Kings
Current team: Sacramento Kings
2019-20 season: 7 points, 4.2 rebounds
Career totals: 7 points, 4 rebounds
No. 26 Semi Ojeleye
Actual pick: Caleb Swanigan, Portland Trail Blazers
Ojeleye’s draft slot: No. 37 Boston Celtics
Current team: Boston Celtics
2019-20 season: 3.1 points, 2 rebounds
Career totals: 3 points, 2 rebounds
No. 27 Sterling Brown
Actual pick: Kyle Kuzma, Brooklyn Nets
Brown’s draft slot: No. 46 Milwaukee Bucks
Current team: Milwaukee Bucks
2019-20 season: 5 points, 3.7 rebounds
Career totals: 5.2 points, 3.1 rebounds
No. 28 Malik Monk
Actual pick: Tony Bradley, L.A. Lakers
Monk’s draft slot: No. 11 Charlotte Hornets
Current team: Charlotte Hornets
2019-20 season: 10.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists
Career totals: 8.6 points, 1.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists
No. 29 Wes Iwundu
Actual pick: Derrick White, San Antonio Spurs
Iwundu’s draft slot: No. 33 Orlando Magic
Current team: Orlando Magic
2019-20 season: 5.3 points, 2.5 rebounds
Career totals: 4.6 points, 2.5 rebounds
No. 30. Thomas Bryant
Actual pick: Josh Hart, Utah Jazz
Bryant’s draft slot: No. 42 Los Angeles Lakers
Current team: Washington Wizards
2019-20 season: 12.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists
Career totals: 9.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists
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