Biggest Steals of the NBA Draft
These teams found some unexpected value on draft night.
The 2017 NBA Draft was loaded with talent throughout all 60 picks. Teams make mistakes all the time and pass more talented players for fit, leaving the best prospects sliding down the draft board. This usually allows better teams to scoop up these falling prospects.
There were a lot of talented players drafted on Thursday night, but some fell a few spots further than they should have. The teams that ended up getting them are very fortunate that they were available when they were, and that they were smart enough to not make the same mistake other teams did by passing.
Semi Ojeleye, Boston Celtics
Ojeleye was a late riser as people started to notice that he embodies the versatility and shooting ability that every team covets. Most thought he would go in the later part of the first round, but was picked up by the Celtics in the second round with the 37th pick.
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In a league that is trending more towards versatility and three point shooting, I’m surprised that Ojeleye experienced such a slide. There are questions about his shot creating and defensive intensity, but he has a lot of the same qualities that Draymond Green does.
Since Green is the key to Golden State’s unstoppable offense and suffocating defense, you’d think more teams would be eager to take a player that has the potential to become that kind of impactful piece. Anyway, Boston found itself a very good player in the second round that should be able to contribute to their team next year. Since they’re one of the best teams in the NBA, that’s a testament to Ojeleye’s talent.
Jordan Bell, Golden State Warriors
You can typically see which franchises are dysfunctional and which are not on draft night. In Bell’s case, we saw both sides of that spectrum all at once. The Warriors sent $3.5 million to the Bulls for the rights to Bell, who was selected with the 38th pick in the second round.
Bell was another late riser due to his performance in the NCAA tournament and athletic gifts that he showcased at the combine. He has the potential to be a dynamic two way player with versatility that should certainly help Golden State’s second unit.
Considering that he was even available at 38 was surprising, but for the Bulls to help the defending champions like that for cash considerations is even more of a joke. Nobody should be helping the teams on top of the league, and it shows how poor the Bulls front office did on draft night even after the Jimmy Butler trade.
Malik Monk, Charlotte Hornets
Monk was a consensus top ten pick, but he was taken with the 11th pick by the Hornets. He has one of the highest ceilings in his class due to his shooting ability and elite athleticism. The Hornets made out like bandits getting Monk at their spot.
Multiple teams made mistakes by passing on Monk Thursday. First the Bulls took Lauri Markkanen with the 7th pick. Chicago received Kris Dunn and Zach Lavine in the trade for Jimmy Butler, but decided to go with a need instead of the best player available in Monk. Chalk this up as another loss for the Bulls.
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Then the Knicks took Frank Ntilikina with the 8th pick. Ntilikina is not as big a mistake as Markkanen, but Monk is still the better player, and Phil Jackson can’t afford to pass on talent. Then the Kings made the mistake of trading the 10th pick in the draft to Portland instead of coupling De’Aaron Fox with his college back court mate.
Then Portland passed on Monk to take a need in Zach Collins. Monk shouldn’t have been available at 11, but the Hornets lucked out and have a potential all star at the shooting guard position, which is something they desperately needed next to Kemba Walker.
Ike Anigbogu, Indiana Pacers
Anigbogu probably came out of college a bit too early, but has sky high potential due to his frame and defensive upside. He could have gone anywhere in the first round, but the Pacers were able to snag him in the second round with the 47th pick.
There is a much greater chance that Anigbogu doesn’t pan out and struggles to find his place on an NBA roster, but the Pacers are a team that will be in rebuilding mode pretty soon. They’ll be able to focus in on their young talent more than other teams would. This will allow Anigbogu to learn and develop gradually enough to maximize his talents.
Once all of these draft picks start to play in the summer league and during the regular season, we’ll be able to see more steals that we didn’t anticipate. Malcolm Brogdon wasn’t seen as a steal, but now he is a rookie of the year candidate and regular starter for a playoff team despite getting drafted in the second round.