2017 NBA re-draft: The way it should have been

The 2017 NBA draft class is not one that will be looked back at fondly as a historical one, as only one player from that group is even close to being an MVP-level contributor, with a few other borderline All-NBA guys after him and then a whole lot of high- to low-level role players coming after them.

To see how bad this class gets, just scroll to the bottom of this re-draft and check out some of the names we picked among the 30-best players from that year.

Warning: Some of them aren’t even in the NBA right now.

No. 1 pick: Jayson Tatum

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The only player in the 2017 class to even approach MVP-level consideration, Jayson Tatum fell to No. 3 in his draft but is the obvious best player from that group now. Tatum has a bit of an old-school game with a new-school twist, as he loves mid-range jumpers and to face up foes on the perimeter, though he shoots the three-ball well enough that he remains very efficient for an elite-level scorer such as himself. Throughout his career in Boston, Tatum’s defense and shot selection have improved, turning him into the impactful 31-point-per-game scorer he is today. He’s come close already, but it’ll be fun to see if Tatum is ever able to lead the Celtics to championship banner No. 18. He’s got that type of ability as a No. 1 option on a contender.

Actual position: No. 3
Career earnings: $58,176,820
Career stats: 22.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.2 apg, 45.8 FG%, 37.8 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 2 pick: Donovan Mitchell

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The late lottery in 2017 is where teams truly struck gold, as is the case with both Donovan Mitchell and the next player in this re-draft. Mitchell had a lot of potential coming out of college, displaying explosive finishing ability near the rim to go with his freakish wingspan and great quickness, though looked a bit raw skill-wise, shooting under 33 percent from three over two years at Louisville. However, Mitchell started to impress teams in the pre-draft process with his shooting after having already shown improved shooting in his sophomore season in college. He probably should have gone higher in his draft, especially considering some of the players who went ahead of him.

Actual position: No. 13
Career earnings: $42,667,521
Career stats: 24.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 4.5 apg, 44.5 FG%, 36.5 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 3 pick: Bam Adebayo

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One of the very best American centers in basketball today, Bam Adebayo has developed from being just a catch-and-finish lob threat in college to a uniquely versatile big man today for Miami, one who can grab a rebound and bring the ball down the floor to run the offense, who can pull-up and shoot it from the short midrange and who can still finish at a high level out of the pick-and-roll or as a lob target. That’s not to mention his defense, where Adebayo also shines, as the former Wildcat can legitimately defend all five positions thanks to his incredibly quick feet for his size.

Actual position: No. 14
Career earnings: $42,119,272
Career stats: 14.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 3.4 apg, 55.5 FG%, 13.3 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 4 pick: De'Aaron Fox

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Coming out of college at Kentucky, De’Aaron Fox was thought of as a potential John Wall 2.0, an athletic marvel with lightning-quick speed and elite finishing ability, though with poor shooting touch. Fox has more or less lived up to that, with his outside shooting remaining inconsistent, which is masked by how special he is in other regards, both athletically and as a playmaker.

Actual position: No. 5
Career earnings: $52,676,007
Career stats: 19.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 6.2 apg, 46.8 FG%, 32.1 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 5 pick: Lauri Markkanen

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Had we done this exercise two years ago, Lauri Markkanen would have fared far more poorly, as the Finnish big looked like a bit of a disappointment early on in his career with the Bulls. However, a change of scenery and an offseason that saw him guide Finland to an impressive Eurobasket showing seemingly jump-started Markkanen’s ascent, where he now resides as one of the league’s top young floor-spacing big men. Markkanen isn’t just a floor-spacer, either, as he has the skill to dribble and shoot or attack the basket, and finish with aplomb around the near. A shame for Bulls fans the franchise wasn’t more patient with the now-blossoming forward.

Actual position: No. 7
Career earnings: $36,080,577
Career stats: 16.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.3 apg, 45.4 FG%, 37.4 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 6 pick: Jarrett Allen

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A lack of skill as a scorer and passer caused Jarrett Allen to fall a bit in his draft class, falling to the early 20s, a place he has far exceeded so far with his NBA contributions. Allen is one of the best rebounders in the league and a top-notch finisher out of the pick-and-roll, an athletic menace who can also protect the paint quite well and crash the glass on offense.

Actual position: No. 22
Career earnings: $30,034,582
Career stats: 11.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.4 apg, 62.6 FG%, 17.6 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 7 pick: Kyle Kuzma

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The Lakers had a run of impressive late first-round picks for a stretch, with one of the top players to come of that being Kyle Kuzma, an integral part in the team’s 2019-20 championship run. Kuzma has developed even more since leaving the Lakers and joining the Wizards, currently posting the best season of his career as a 21-point, eight-rebound per game contributor, a swingman who can play stretch-4 and provide versatility on offense.

Actual position: No. 27
Career earnings: $21,650,178
Career stats: 16.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.4 apg, 45.0 FG%, 33.9 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 8 pick: John Collins

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Despite being disappointing this season, John Collins is an above-average starter at the 4-spot, a modern big man who can shoot it from the outside and dribble to attack the paint. One of the league’s truly impressive high-flyers, it’s defensively where he struggles, as Collins’ impact on that end of the floor doesn’t match his physical abilities.

Actual position: No. 19
Career earnings: $34,059,862
Career stats: 16.1 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.5 apg, 55.4 FG%, 35.9 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 9 pick: OG Anunoby

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A torn ACL 16 games into his second season at Indiana led to OG Anunoby slipping in his draft class all the way to 23rd overall, which looks quite silly in hindsight considering he hasn’t been too injury-troubled as an NBA player at all. Instead, Anunoby is one of the league’s top two-way swingmen, who can shoot the ball from the outside well and defend opposing ball-handlers and wings at a high level.

Actual position: No. 23
Career earnings: $25,823,404
Career stats: 11.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.5 apg, 46.8 FG%, 37.1 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 10 pick: Lonzo Ball

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It may not be in the manner many expected it to be, but Lonzo Ball, prior to his current long injury-related layoff, developed into an effective starting point guard thanks to his defense even moreso than his offense. Ball’s quick hands and feet, and his great instincts on that end, helped him turn into one of the league’s impactful defenders at the lead-guard spot. Ball’s offensive contributions were solid, too, as the Anaheim native turned into a reliable outside shooter, a great hit-ahead passer and a player who could run an offense. He’s disappointed in comparison to his draft position of No. 2 overall but Ball is still a solid starting point guard when he’s out there. Here’s hoping we get to see Ball back out on the hardwood soon. 

Actual position: No. 2
Career earnings: $52,076,273
Career stats: 11.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 6.2 apg, 40.0 FG%, 36.4 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 11 pick: Dillon Brooks

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One of many mid-second-round picks in the 2017 class who turned out to be better pros than expected, Dillon Brooks leads the pack in this regard, going from non-first-rounder to No. 11 in our re-draft thanks to his very tenacious, pesky defense and solid scoring. Brooks may have his flaws – primarily, he has never seen a shot attempt he didn’t want to pursue – but he’s been a vital piece on a few impressive Grizzlies teams thanks to his two-way impact.

Actual position: No. 45
Career earnings: $27,412,377
Career stats: 14.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.1 apg, 41.8 FG%, 34.5 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 12 pick: Josh Hart

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Even after an illustrious college career at Villanova, one that saw him win a national title, be named a consensus 1st Team All-American and a two-time All-Big East player, Josh Hart fell to the bottom of the first round, even in what has turned out to be a disappointing draft class. Be it due to lack of size for his position or being a bit of a tweener, Hart fell on the draft night anyway, something that the former Wildcat has made look bad in hindsight with his play in the NBA. Hart is a very solid role player in the league, a high-level rebounder for a guard who can knock down open threes and guard various positions on the other end.

Actual position: No. 30
Career earnings: $20,474,999
Career stats: 9.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.3 apg, 45.6 FG%, 34.6 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 13 pick: Derrick White

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Derrick White’s journey to the NBA is actually an interesting one, as the now-28-year-old actually spent three seasons playing at the D-II level in college before transferring to Colorado for his final year of eligibility, which probably scared some teams from using a higher draft pick on him despite impressing in his lone season as a Buffalo behind averages of 18.1 points, 4.4 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.4 blocks. White isn’t a star but he’s a solid starting-level guard in the NBA, one who can run an offense, shoot with his feet set or off the dribble and create various impactful plays on the defensive end.

Actual position: No. 29
Career earnings: $24,214,695
Career stats: 11.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.8 apg, 44.1 FG%, 34.4 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 14 pick: Malik Monk

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While at Kentucky, Malik Monk was one of the most exciting college players there was to watch, with an explosive scoring ability thanks to deep shooting range, a quick first step and impressive leaping prowess. And though it has taken a while, we’re finally starting to see glimpses of that Monk, though it took quite a while. Even then, Monk is his most effective self coming off the bench and remains rather inefficient as a scorer, so it’s safe to say he’s been a bit of a letdown as an NBA player, at least so far.

Actual position: No. 11
Career earnings: $17,515,303
Career stats: 10.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.3 apg, 42.4 FG%, 34.9 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 15 pick: Jonathan Isaac

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Receiving comparisons to Kevin Durant as a prospect, as is the norm for so many supersized wings with even a modicum of shooting ability, Jonathan Isaac hasn’t lived up to the expectations of a former No. 6 pick, and that has mostly been due to injuries. We’ll see how Isaac looks in his return from a two-year-plus layoff, though early returns have been promising. If he can get back to being his former All-Defensive-Team-level self, Isaac could make his way up the list in our next 2017 re-draft. 

Actual position: No. 6
Career earnings: $39,724,405
Career stats: 9.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.1 apg, 43.5 FG%, 33.0 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 16 pick: Monte Morris

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Lack of size and athleticism scared teams out of using a higher draft pick on Monte Morris despite a collegiate career that saw him earn All Big-12 honors three times in four years. Morris has proven the doubters wrong, becoming a starter in the NBA over the past two seasons thanks to his steady playmaking and shooting, as well as his very clean style of play. Morris is one of the safest players in the league, turning the ball over just 0.8 times nightly in his career, a preposterously low rate for a starting point guard in the NBA.

Actual position: No. 51
Career earnings: $13,187,645
Career stats: 10.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.9 apg, 48.0 FG%, 39.4 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 17 pick: Luke Kennard

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A sharpshooting 2-guard with better playmaking and burst than he’s given credit for, Luke Kennard hasn’t fully lived up to his draft position of No. 12 overall, but he’s carved out a very solid career as a role player so far, shooting 42.8 percent from three for his career, even leading the league in outside shooting in 2021-22 at 44.9 percent.

Actual position: No. 12
Career earnings: $28,483,273
Career stats: 9.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.0 apg, 45.2 FG%, 42.8 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 18 pick: Thomas Bryant

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A torn ACL slowed down Thomas Bryant’s development at an inopportune time, forcing the former Hoosier to be on a minimum contract now, in what should be his prime. Bryant is outperforming that contract with the Lakers now, however, looking more like the promising player he appeared to be early on in his career. A high-energy play-finisher who can even space the floor a bit, Bryant has greatly outperformed his actual draft position, even despite missing just over one year of action due to the aforementioned injury.

Actual position: No. 42
Career earnings: $27,193,857
Career stats: 10.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.2 apg, 60.0 FG%, 36.1 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 19 pick: Markelle Fultz

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One of the most unfortunate tales of this entire draft class, and there are a few, Markelle Fultz was thought to be an excellent prospect coming out of Washington, an athletic, long guard who could score from all three levels, score, rebound and create, as well as defend. Fultz even got some comparisons to James Harden before getting to the NBA. Well, as we all know by now, a change to his shooting form prior to playing a game for the 76ers completely stunted Fultz’s early development, a hole he has only recently started to come out of. Even further derailing Fultz’s chances of living up to his potential was a major knee injury suffered as a member of the Magic. To his credit, Fultz is at least a decent low-end starter, high-end backup type now in Orlando; even his shooting has improved to efficient levels this season. He may never live up to the No. 1 pick billing, but Fultz looks well on his way to enjoying a long NBA career, something a lot of other players in this re-draft can’t say for themselves.

Actual position: No. 1
Career earnings: $53,900,017
Career stats: 11.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.9 apg, 45.9 FG%, 28.0 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 20 pick: Dennis Smith Jr.

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Once an elite prospect, Dennis Smith Jr. parlayed an impressive one-and-done college career that saw him average 18.1 points and 6.2 assists at NC State into being the ninth-overall pick in 2017. Smith Jr. received comparisons to Russell Westbrook coming out, a freak athlete at point guard who was a load to try and slow down once he got a head of steam going. Unfortunately for Smith, knee problems, a lack of skill development and poor feel for the game have forced him into a backup job at this point in his career.

Actual position: No. 9
Career earnings: $18,977,813
Career stats: 10.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 4.3 apg, 40.2 FG%, 30.6 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 21 pick: Chris Boucher

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Another undrafted-to-NBA-rotation-player success story, Chris Boucher has developed into a solid backup big man, one who fills the important archetype of shot-blocking floor-spacer out of the frontcourt. His consistency can be lacking at times but when he’s out there, Boucher usually makes a decent-enough impact within his role.

Actual position: Undrafted
Career earnings: $15,642,899
Career stats: 9.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.1 bpg, 48.1 FG%, 33.0 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 22 pick: Isaiah Hartenstein

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A mid-second-round pick in 2017, Isaiah Hartenstein has done well to outperform his draft slot to this point in his career, using toughness, good screen-setting and a willingness to do the dirty work down low to be a solid backup big man for the Knicks. He’ll never be a star, but Hartenstein can finish around the cup and out of the pick-and-roll, even peaking in 2021-22 at 8.3 points and 4.9 rebounds for the Clippers.

Actual position: No. 43
Career earnings: $4,188,245
Career stats: 5.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.3 apg, 57.2 FG%, 32.5 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 23 pick: Zach Collins

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Injuries have unfortunately been the story around Zach Collins’ career to this point, with the former Gonzaga standout missing 55.9 percent of his possible games so far in his professional career. It’s especially unfortunate considering we’ll likely never be able to see what Collins could have been, a bruising big man with toughness and defensive versatility to go with great finishing ability down low in college, as the injuries came at various costly times during his development.

Actual position: No. 10
Career earnings: $23,332,615
Career stats: 6.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.3 apg, 47.0 FG%, 33.4 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 24 pick: Justin Jackson

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An important player in the Tar Heels’ 2016-17 national championship run, Justin Jackson had the makings of a 3-and-D wing with some extra juice on the offensive end, though things haven’t really turned out that way for the former champion wing. Jackson’s lack of strength and limited athleticism have caused him to be an end-of-bench wing at this point, though, to his credit, at least he stil remains on a roster.

Actual position: No. 15
Career earnings: $13,872,490
Career stats: 6.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.0 apg, 42.3 FG%, 32.0 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 25 pick: Josh Jackson

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One of the biggest disappointments in an already-disappointing draft class, Josh Jackson looked like the next star two-way wing, with elite athleticism, quickness and defensive versatility, prompting the Suns to take him at No. 3 overall in 2017. He lasted two seasons in Phoenix before the Suns gave up on the All-Rookie 2nd Teamer, sending him to the Grizzlies, where Jackson continued his flameout. Jackson’s total lack of shooting, difficulty to take coaching and poor instincts on offense have led to him currently being a free agent at the ripe old age of 25.

Actual position: No. 4
Career earnings: $27,963,390
Career stats: 11.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.8 apg, 41.6 FG%, 29.3 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 26 pick: Wes Iwundu

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The 33rd-overall pick in 2017, Wes Iwundu has stuck it out in the NBA as a solid two-way, end-of-rotation-level wing and nothing more. Over five seasons with four different teams, Iwundu has averaged 4.4 points and 2.5 rebounds, peaking in 2019-20 as a member of the Magic at 5.8 points on 41.6 percent shooting.

Actual position: No. 33
Career earnings: $7,652,450
Career stats: 4.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 0.9 apg, 40.8 FG%, 29.3 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 27 pick: PJ Dozier

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Despite PJ Dozier’s impressive sophomore season at South Carolina, which saw him guide the team to a surprising Final Four appearance in 2016-17, the former Gamecock still went undrafted in 2017. Dozier is a heady player but lacks the athletic burst and shooting ability to be a huge difference-maker in the NBA. To this point, he has appeared in 108 NBA games and averaged 6.2 points for four different teams.

Actual position: Undrafted
Career earnings: $4,011,271
Career stats: 6.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.8 apg, 40.7 FG%, 32.0 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 28 pick: Tony Bradley

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A former high-level recruit, Tony Bradley was a one-and-one at North Carolina, helping the Tar Heels win the 2016-17 national championship before declaring for the NBA draft, surprising many with the decision considering he averaged 7.1 points and 5.1 rebounds without starting a game in college. Bradley wound up going 28th in his draft class, the exact spot we have him going in this re-draft, though his NBA career to this point has been nothing to write home about. At most, he’s a solid screen-setter and offensive rebounder.

Actual position: No. 28
Career earnings: $10,388,116
Career stats: 4.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 0.5 apg, 63.2 FG%, 45.5 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 29 pick: Sterling Brown

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In and out of the NBA lately, Sterling Brown peaked in 2020-21 when he had 51 appearances (14 starts) for the Houston Rockets and averaged 8.2 points with 4.4 rebounds. For a former mid-second-round pick, that’s not a bad career to have carved out, though in other classes, Brown probably wouldn’t have gotten picked in our re-draft.

Actual position: No. 46
Career earnings: $8,491,231
Career stats: 5.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.0 apg, 41.9 FG%, 36.3 3P%
Scouting Report

No. 30 pick: Edmond Sumner

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From a late-second-round pick to a rotation player on some pretty good teams, Edmond Sumner sticking it out this long in the NBA is impressive without a doubt. However, it also speaks to the overall weakness of the 2017 draft class that he still got drafted in the Top 30 of our re-draft despite career averages of 5.9 points and 1.5 rebounds.

Actual position: No. 52
Career earnings: $7,007,044
Career stats: 5.9 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 1.1 apg, 46.8 FG%, 32.2 3P%
Scouting Report

Biggest risers

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Chris Boucher: From undrafted to No. 21
PJ Dozier: From undrafted to No. 27
Monte Morris: From No. 51 to No. 16 (+35)
Dillon Brooks: From No. 45 to No. 11 (+34)
Thomas Bryant: From No. 42 to No. 18 (+24)
Edmond Sumner: From No. 52 to No. 30 (+22)
Isaiah Hartenstein:
From No. 43 to No. 22 (+21)
Kyle Kuzma: From No. 27 to No. 7 (+20)
Josh Hart: From No. 30 to No. 12 (+18)
Sterling Brown: From No. 46 to No. 29 (+17)
Jarrett Allen:
From No. 22 to No. 6 (+16)
Derrick White: From No. 29 to No. 13 (+16)

Highest picks not listed

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Frank Ntilikina: No. 8
Justin Patton: No. 16
DJ Wilson:
No. 17
TJ Leaf: No. 18
Harry Giles: No. 20
Terrance Ferguson: No. 21

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Story originally appeared on HoopsHype