Draft ex­perts get their or­ders mixed up

Ex­ecs know top five but not when they’ll be taken. Celtics-76ers trade shuf­fles deck.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Brod­er­ick Turner

The con­sen­sus among many NBA ex­ec­u­tives is that the play­ers who’ll be taken with the top five picks in Thurs­day’s NBA draft are a fore­gone con­clu­sion.

The order in which these one-and-done col­le­giate play­ers will be se­lected, how­ever, re­mains less than cer­tain.

One thing that ex­ec­u­tives who spoke to The Times agree on: The Lak­ers are ex­pected to use the No. 2 pick on UCLA’s Lonzo Ball. The ex­ec­u­tives spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to speak pub­licly about the draft.

With con­vic­tion, the ex­ec­u­tives view the top five, in no par­tic­u­lar order, as Ball, Wash­ing­ton’s Markelle Fultz, Ken­tucky’s De’Aaron Fox, Kansas’ Josh Jack­son and Duke’s Jayson Tatum.

“It’s go­ing to be those five guys,” an NBA ex­ec­u­tive whose team has a mid-firstround pick said Fri­day. “But

[NBA, the order they are go­ing to be in, no­body knows. Some teams are send­ing out smoke sig­nals. And then there are these trade ru­mors that could have an ef­fect on the draft order.”

The hottest of those ru­mors re­port­edly came to fruition Satur­day night, in­tro­duc­ing some clar­ity to the sit­u­a­tion. Mul­ti­ple out­lets re­ported that Bos­ton had traded the No. 1 over­all pick to Philadel­phia for the 76ers’ third over­all choice plus ad­di­tional picks. The deal was to be fi­nal­ized Mon­day.

The 76ers are ex­pected to take Fultz, who worked out for the team on Satur­day. The Celtics pre­sum­ably would take Jack­son third, if the Lak­ers took Ball at No. 2.

One ex­ec­u­tive ex­plained why Ball, Fultz, Fox, Jack­son and Tatum are at the head of the 2017 draft class.

“Those five guys have ev­ery­thing,” said the ex­ec­u­tive, whose team has a late lottery pick. “They have the skill level, the ath­leti­cism. They have the up­side and they got the pro­duc­tion right now. I think they have the whole deal.”

Some ex­ec­u­tives be­lieve that Florida State for­ward Jonathan Isaac might have a small chance of mov­ing into the top five. He’s 6 feet 11 with a 7-1 wing­span but weighs only 205 pounds. He av­er­aged 12 points and 7.8 re­bounds dur­ing his lone sea­son with the Semi­noles.

“Jonathan Isaac would be in that group if he was a lit­tle more de­vel­oped and stronger,” one ex­ec­u­tive said. “He might have the best up­side of all of them. So the draft is re­ally good. It’s solid.”

The Lak­ers worked out Ball twice, and saw Jack­son work out in Sacra­mento and at the team’s prac­tice fa­cil­ity in El Se­gundo.

Ac­cord­ing to the ex­ec­u­tives, the Lak­ers were split over the two play­ers.

“If I’m the Lak­ers, I take Josh Jack­son be­cause he’s so damn ath­letic and has a great up­side,” said one ex­ec­u­tive whose team doesn’t have a lottery pick. “If you want to model after all those 6-9 wing play­ers the War­riors have, you take Jack­son and put him be­side Bran­don In­gram. Jack­son and In­gram can be in­ter­change­able parts just like the War­riors do with KD [Kevin Du­rant], Dray­mond [Green], [An­dre] Iguodola and all their other play­ers. But, the Lak­ers will take Ball.”

Here’s one NBA scout’s take on the group:

Fultz is a 6-4 point guard who can play some shoot­ing guard. He av­er­aged 23.2 points and 5.9 as­sists this sea­son. “He is prob­a­bly the best player in the draft.”

Ball is a 6-6 point guard. He av­er­aged 14.6 points and an NCAA-lead­ing 7.6 as­sists. “He could turn a team around with a Ja­son Kid­dtype of ef­fect.”

Fox is a 6-4 point guard. He av­er­aged 16.7 points and 4.6 as­sists. “He could be a beast de­fen­sively.”

Jack­son is a 6-8 wing player. He av­er­aged 16.3 points and 7.4 re­bounds. “If he de­vel­ops a three-point shot, he’d be un­real be­cause he’s got ev­ery­thing.”

Tatum is a 6-8 wing player. He av­er­aged 16.8 points and 7.3 re­bounds. “He is a pro­to­typ­i­cal NBA small for­ward.”

“With this group, I think there are some re­ally tal­ented play­ers,” one ex­ec­u­tive said. “I just don’t know who is go­ing to be a su­per­star.”

Joe Rob­bins Getty Images

KEN­TUCKY point guard De’Aaron Fox’s im­pres­sive play in the NCAA tour­na­ment lifted his draft stock.

Grant Halver­son Getty Images

ONE SEA­SON at Duke es­tab­lished Jayson Tatum as “a pro­to­typ­i­cal NBA small for­ward,” one scout says.

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