The Liberty Ballers staff was a little delirious trying to sift through the emotional tidal wave that was the 2017 NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday night. After everyone had a moment to sift through their emotions, we had a lively discussion along with a few special guests about our gut reaction to the results.
These are our tales.
Kyle Neubeck: So let's talk about it. How are we all feeling about No. 3? The pick swap? Who are you taking today if you had to decide?
Jake Pavorsky: I'm happy they got the third pick, but I'll be damned if being the first team to be called coming out of the commercial doesn't take the wind out of your sails. The fact that the pick swap was actually necessary is hysterical, and just adds to the ridiculousness of the Hinkie-themed evening. If the Sixers had to pick at five, it'd no doubt be Jayson Tatum, and I probably would've decided to walk into I-76 traffic. They could still take Tatum, but I'm going to hold out hope the front office has their sense about them.
Not taking Josh Jackson in this situation would be completely overthinking it. He's debatably the second best player in the draft, and if not, I think the gap between him and the fourth best player in this class is pretty notable. This is a guy that does a little bit of everything - defend well on ball, attack the glass, find open teammates. I'm not sure why you wouldn't want him. I get the concerns about his jumper, and I think they're warranted, but I also think they're correctable. He did shoot 37.8 percent from three this year, and the jumper looked more fluid off the catch as the year went on. I think there's definitely a workable foundation there.
I'm locking Jackson in as my guy at three, provided Ball and Fultz are both gone. He's the one for me.
Marc Whittington: The pick swap is awesome and feels like vindication. I love it completely.
Number 3 is a tough spot. Fultz & Ball are likely to be the first two guys off the board, which means the tenor of the rest of the Top 10 will depend on what the Sixers decide. It’s too early to settle for Monk— taking him 3rd is an admission of a lack of aspiration. But there are an additional 4 ambitious choices that could be made at that slot that can define the rest of the draft, and the Sixers’ future.
Roy Burton: I agree with Jake: Jackson makes the most sense at 3, and anything else would be getting too cute with the pick. Two things, though:
1) Are we 100% sure that Fultz/Ball go 1-2? Chad Ford is already throwing De'Aaron Fox out there as a possible sleeper for that Lakers' pick - could Ball be on the board at 3?
2) Assuming it's Jackson at No. 3, what effect does that have on the Sixers' plans to give Covington an extension this summer?
Matt Carey: While I'm happy to be there, and even happier its because of the pick swap, #3 is such a tricky position to be in. I think Josh Jackson is unquestionably a top 3 talent, but I'm pretty skeptical of his shooting, even with a late season surge. A wing who shot 57% from the free throw line is a little concerning. If Jackson's shooting is an aberration, you're going to have some spacing issues offensively. Jackson isn't exactly what I've had in mind when it comes to pairing Ben Simmons with a host of shooters.
But boy, a defense that includes Robert Covington, Josh Jackson, and Joel Embiid sure is interesting as a core to build around. Good luck scoring on that lineup.
Derek Bodner: Pick swaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaap
Whittington: (All readers must now pay $3 to view this content)
Michael Levin: The swap conveyed. Nothing else matters.
Pavorsky: You can plug Jackson in at the two, right? I know it's not a real natural fit, but is that crazy? We'll see if the Sixers go in that direction to begin with, but I will acknowledge their lineups would need some serious experimenting.
I think Covington is going to get re-signed no matter what. He's a valuable piece for this team, and can start at the three until Jackson is deemed ready. Maybe Covington would kick over to the four at some point. Who knows? I'm getting ahead of myself anyway.
I'm intrigued to see how this affects their plans in free agency. If they do go the Jackson route, they're probably going to need to find another two guard that can provide some solid outside shooting. Unless they go the Malik Monk route, which I would detest.
Levin: You could actually plug in JJ at the 1. JJ-TLC-Covington-Simmons-Embiid is shooting, passing, cutting, defense, secondary handles, athleticism. My my.
Whittington: ………………….could you, Mike? COULD you?!
Pavorsky: Any objections to Jackson at three speak now or forever hold your peace.
Whittington: I like Jackson at 3, but I don’t think we need to get caught up with him there. *puts on nerd glasses* Every player’s probable outcome is so wide-cast that there’s no reason to obsess over one. *takes off nerd glasses* I think DSJ, Tatum, and Isaac could all make plausible fit and upside arguments to be chosen ahead of Jackson.
Pavorsky: You can potentially talk me into Isaac, but I'm so out on DSJ. Expound, please.
Whittington: Other than him being the best 3-level scorer not named “Markelle” in the draft, having the worst teammates outside of UW, being a freak athlete, getting to the rim at will, and finishing when he got there? Yeah. Sounds like a waste of space to me.
Shamus Clancy: The pick swap was a soaring, soaring high before completely crashing after seeing the Sixers' card drawn at three. I'm so damn happy it happened, but feel deflated from only getting that third pick, probably more so than I should be. I mean, the picks LITERALLY swapped. It was a dream-like scenario, just not my favorite dream. I want everything to go full process next year and have the Lakers pick land Luka Doncic.
I'd like Jonathan Isaac at three. I'd be cool with Josh Jackson, Malik Monk, or Dennis Smith Jr. They would never take Frank Ntilikina, but I would love Colangelo for throwing his balls on the table and taking another international guy in the top three with Frank. I'm going to live in fear that they take Jayson Tatum. He screams "Colangelo Duke connection" to me.
As for the assumption that Fultz and Ball both go in the top two picks, I remember a lot of people, local media included, saying, "Oh, it's great that the Sixers got the third pick because they don't have to take either of the big men" back in 2015. Well, that clearly went down a different path and the team was left in a horrible spot. It's certainly still in play for the Lakers to grab someone like Jackson instead, leaving Bryan Colangelo with the $495 question: Does he want to bring the Ball family to Philly?
Pavorsky: I still have my head wrapped around Ben Simmons being the primary ball handler on this team, and if that is the case, I don't know if I see what Dennis Smith Jr. does for this team. He needs the ball in his hands to be effective, and I don't think putting him on the floor with Simmons brings out the best in either of them.
I disagree on a couple fronts about DSJ's overall game.
I never saw that explosiveness on a consistent enough basis to label him a freak athlete. He doesn't have a ton of burst in general, and I never really saw him turn it on in the open court. I also don't think he's that great at getting to the rim either. I never really saw him break down defenders, and I think his overall handles are pretty average at best. He's definitely good at finishing through contact, but I don't see him beating any good NBA defenders off the dribble on a consistent basis. Also, certainly not ready to label him as three-level scorer. He shot 30.5 percent on two-point jumpers, and in general isn't great at creating space to get shots off..
Maybe a lot of that is based on the crappy teammates and coach he had at NC State, but nothing I saw from him made me think he could turn it on at the next level. Couple that with his piss poor effort on defense and his general nonchalant attitude, and I'd prefer to keep him away from this team at all costs.
I'm not a Tatum guy, but I'd take him over Smith Jr. any day. Same with Fox who I actually like, but think his fit could be equally as bad as DSJ's.
Jake Fischer: The Lakers are taking Ball. Let's get that straight.
I'm surprised nobody's mentioned this, but the Sixers are definitely going to consider trading this pick for a veteran. This is far more complex than just deciding between those guys at 3.
They now have a top-3 overall pick in a universally-considered loaded draft along with Okafor, rights to an appealing overseas guy in Korkmaz and a hoard of seconds to make some moves, not to mention the '18 Lakers and '19 Kings pick. Paul George or Jimmy Butler are a very real possibility, especially with the Bulls and Okafor's hometown roots. Plus, Butler was legitimately interested in meeting with the Sixers in 2015 before he re-signed--that I conferred with his representation. Strap in, fellas.
I cannot believe the picks swapped. Holy hell.
Carey: I think Butler is the only one I'd move #3 for (obviously as part of a package). George for one year scares me too much. Butler I'd feel much better about being able to retain long-term.
Hyman: Here's to hoping the Lakers are too allured with Ball's marketability and perceived offensive capabilities. The pick swap was fitting.
Phasing out any Fox, Tatum, and Monk chatter until June 22. Get a Kansas University wing who'll hard hedge on screens and stymie guys on the perimeter, glide in the open court alongside a ball-pushing Ben Simmons, and who can be molded into a competent offensive weapon.
I'm a Josh Jackson believer, wherever he'll inevitably fit on this roster. In an imperfect world, Smith Jr. or Jonathan Isaac would suffice at No. 3.
Side note: Fultz presumably joining the Atlantic Division's No. 1 team this season is quite unfortunate.
Neubeck: Josh Jackson is the guy, mostly because I want the Sixers to be a miserable bastard of a team to play against. You put Embiid in the middle, get Covington and Jackson harassing perimeter guys on the wings, Simmons floating and cleaning the glass, plus a guard that can shoot, and you are cookin' something fierce.
I have mostly sworn off guys who are "just a jumpshot away", with apologies to Fox, but Jackson can be a contributor even without the shot. It would make him a complicated fit on this specific team, but I'm rolling the damn dice, because I want opposing teams to loathe walking into Wells Fargo and having to play 48 minutes against this group.
Aside from him, would be happy with a few guys here. I could be talked into Ball if he falls despite wanting to avoid the LaVar experience, I've been the personal leader of the Isaac bandwagon for months, and I'm on the cautiously optimistic side of the Smith Jr. argument. Just please, for the love of all things sacred, do not put Jayson Tatum on this basketball team. I will be out faster than you can say "pick swaps".