Last night’s NBA Draft Lottery indicates that the actual draft is only one month away. The 14 NBA teams that failed to make the playoffs all had a chance to acquire the first overall selection in the upcoming NBA Draft on June 22nd.
The rights to the top two picks came down to the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. These two storied franchises currently reside at opposite ends of the NBA spectrum. The Celtics are playing in tomorrow’s Eastern Conference Finals, while the Lakers finished the regular season with a 26-56 overall record.
In the end, the luck of the leprechaun prevailed.
Holding the best odds (25 percent) of any of the 14 teams, the Celtics were granted the first overall pick and have their choice of any player in this tremendously strong draft class. Last night’s lottery produced the following draft order.
2017 NBA Draft Order:
1. Boston Celtics
2. Los Angeles Lakers
3. Philadelphia 76ers
4. Phoenix Suns
5. Sacramento Kings
6. Orlando Magic
7. Minnesota Timberwolves
8. New York Knicks
9. Dallas Mavericks
10. Sacramento Kings
11. Charlotte Hornets
12. Detroit Pistons
13. Denver Nuggets
14. Miami Heat
While no Big Ten prospect is projected to get selected in the first fourteen picks, the draft order allows us the chance to speculate on the respective teams’ later selections. Both the Celtics and Lakers have multiple selections in this draft and are in prime spots to select some of the Big Ten’s top players.
Let’s take a look at which prospects have a chance to land in the middle of the legendary Boston-LA rivalry.
NBA Draft Lottery: The Big Ten Impact
The Celtics not only won the first overall pick, they also have four total picks in this draft. Boston selects 1st, 37th, 53rd, and 56th overall. It is difficult to see them passing on one of the fantastic guard prospects with their first pick, meaning they will definitely target a forward/center with at least one of their three second round picks.
Defense is always at a premium in a Brad Stevens’ coached team, so Boston would love to acquire freshman Justin Jackson of Maryland with the 37th pick. Jackson is a versatile scorer who can guard a multiple positions on the defensive end. His length and 7’3” wingspan would be put to good use in Stevens’ defensive system. Despite most mock drafts have him going in the first round, Jackson could slide to the Celtics in round two.
Needing some more size inside, Boston could use their 53rd pick on Indiana center Thomas Bryant. While not great on defense, Bryant brings a 6’11” 245 lb frame and a massive 7’6” wingspan. The old adage “you can’t teach size” could be the selling point on the still 19 year old Bryant.
For their last pick, the Celtics could take a flyer on Michigan 6’11” forward Moritz Wagner. A true European-like big man who can shot 40 percent (45 of 114) from three point range this season, his intelligence and pick-and-pop ability will create matchup trouble for any Celtics opponent.
-Los Angeles Lakers
The second overall pick is never a bad runner-up prize, and the Lakers will use that pick to grab the best available dynamic guard in either Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball. Their only other selection will occur at the end of the first round with the 28th pick.
Los Angeles could pair their top level guard with Michigan sophomore D.J. Wilson. The 6’10” 240 lb former Wolverine is as versatile offensively as any other forward in this draft. Wilson produced great percentages across the board last season shooting 53.8 percent from the field, 37.3 percent from three-point range, and 83.3 percent from the free throw line.
D.J. Wilson’s athleticism and offensive ability would be huge assets in the up tempo style that Lakers’ President of Basketball Operations Earvin “Magic” Johnson so desperately wants his team to play.
Any player would love to be a part of the NBA tradition of either the Celtics or the Lakers. There are a myriad of Big Ten prospects who are viable options for both teams in either the late first or early second round of the draft. Last night’s lottery gave Boston and Los Angeles two gifts, but there could be more to follow from the Big Ten Conference come June.