The Philadelphia 76ers got the player they wanted and Lonzo Ball the team he wanted during Thursdays draft
The Philadelphia 76ers got the player they wanted and Lonzo Ball the team he wanted. The 76ers selected guard Markelle Fultz on Thursday night with the No1 pick and the Lakers followed by taking Ball, the start of a record-setting run of one-and-dones in the NBA draft. The point guards from the Pac-12 Conference began a run of seven straight freshmen. Nine of the first 10 selections played just one season of college ball.
Fultzs selection was made all the more memorable when a pre-written template on his Instagram page wasnt filled out correctly, leaving the interesting caption: Excited to head to (City) and join the (team name). It was unclear at the time of publication who (team name) were hoping to select in the second round or what the fans in (City) thought of Thursdays events.
Fultz averaged 23.2 points last season, tops among freshmen, and added 5.9 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game, the only Division I player to reach those stats. He walked across the stage Thursday night at Barclays Center wearing orange sneakers made of basketballs.
The 76ers had the No1 pick for the second straight year after trading with the Boston Celtics on Monday. Now they add Fultz to a promising young core that includes rookie of the year finalists Joel Embiid and Dario Saric, plus Ben Simmons, the top pick from last year who sat out all season with a foot injury.
Fultz, who played just 25 games in college, said it was always his dream to be the top pick and wasnt bothered that Boston traded the chance to take him.
In high school I told my trainer Keith I wanted to be the No1 player in the country and the No1 draft pick, so it was a goal I set out there, and thats what I was striving for, Fultz said.
Ball then got the wish he and his father, LaVar, wanted all along by staying in Los Angeles, where he starred last season at UCLA. LaVar Ball had said his son would only play for the Lakers, and it was clear that would happen when Lonzo got a phone call with the Lakers on the clock.
As Lonzo walked on stage to meet NBA commissioner Adam Silver and put on a purple Lakers hat, LaVar put on a gold and purple Big Baller Brand hat, the company he has started. Tonight was supposed to be a good night. Definitely was, and now Im just focused on playing, Lonzo Ball said. Just want to get on the court.
The Celtics then took Dukes Jayson Tatum at No3 after moving down two spots in the trade with Philadelphia, drawing cheers from a large contingent of their fans at Barclays Center wearing green. The Suns took Josh Jackson of Kansas, the Sacramento Kings took Kentucky guard DeAaron Fox at No5 and the run of freshmen continued when the Orlando Magic selected Jonathan Isaac.
Silver has talked about changing the NBAs limit, saying the current rule that American-born players must be 19 and a year out of high school, but teams seem just fine with the current system. The run of freshmen bettered the 2014 record of four straight first-year players to start the draft, finally ending when the New York Knicks took French guard Frank Ntilikina at No8.
The Chicago Bulls traded three-time All-Star Jimmy Butler and the 16th overall pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the No7 overall pick as the Wolves try to finally put an end to a 13-year playoff drought.
The trade brings together Butler and Wolves coach and president Thibodeau, who coached the Bulls for five seasons before being fired in 2015. Butler gives Thibodeau the tough-minded scorer and hard-nosed defender that he has been searching for to complement a promising young core.
The Wolves paid a big price: besides surrendering the lottery pick, they gave up a rising star in LaVine, who is coming off of a torn ACL and Dunn, last years No5 overall pick. They were among the youngest teams in the league last season, cast as a team that could be a force once all of their pups grew up.
The top 10 was rounded out with two more freshmen: Dennis Smith Jr of North Carolina State to Dallas at No9, and Gonzagas Zach Collins at No10 with the Kings second pick.