Philadelphia 76ers: 2017 NBA Draft grades
The Philadelphia 76ers had their way in the 2017 NBA Draft. As a team that’s on the rise, they look to be on the downslide of the rebuilding process.
The Philadelphia 76ers began a trend in the 2017 NBA Draft by drafting prolific freshman guard Markelle Fultz. Fultz was one of 16 freshmen drafted in the first round, breaking last year’s record of 13.
The Sixers made their intentions clear after swapping the third overall pick in the draft and the Los Angeles Lakers‘ 2018 first-round pick (protected) with the Boston Celtics for the first overall pick.
Fultz joins an up-and-coming roster looking to turn the corner as a franchise after going 28-54 in the 2016-17 season. He joins the first overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, forward Ben Simmons, and the third overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, center Joel Embiid, to potentially form a dynamic trio of scorers and playmakers.
Along with Fultz, the Sixers also drafted four other players in the draft, three of which came in the second round. They traded the Orlando Magic a future 2020 first-round pick (top-20 protected via OKC) for Latvian center Anzejs Pasecniks, who was the 25th overall selection.
With the 36th overall pick, they took Jonah Bolden, a power forward out of Australia. They nabbed another shooting guard with the 46th overall pick, selecting Sterling Brown out of SMU. However, they traded the pick that was Brown to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Then, with their final pick (50th overall), they drafted Mathias Lessort from France.
Pasecniks may not come over right away, but Bolden, Brown and Lessort have an opportunity to make an impact on a roster looking to finish up the rebuilding process.
No. 1 — Markelle Fultz
Point guard Markelle Fultz headlined this year’s 2017 NBA Draft class as the first overall pick out of Washington University. Fultz entered this year’s draft with a lot of hype and he hopes to live up to it after landing in Philadelphia.
Fultz is a 6’4″ guard with tons of potential on both ends of the floor. He averaged 23.2 points, 5.9 assists, 5.2 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks per game in 25 games for the Washington Huskies in his lone season. He shot 47.6 percent from the floor and 41.3 percent from three as well.
Fultz led the Pac-12 in points per game, was second in assists per game and fourth in steals per game. He brings scoring, ball distribution, three-point shooting and defense to a team in desperate need of support in each category.
He’s the perfect pick-and-roll player to have with Embiid and Simmons on the floor, even with Simmons at the point-forward position.
Fultz is a native of Prince Georges County in Maryland and attended DeMatha High School. He is the 18th NBA player drafted out of DeMatha High School and the first player selected as the first overall pick.
No. 25 — Anzejs Pasecniks
The Philadelphia 76ers acquired a late first round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and made the most of it. They selected Latvian center Anzejs Pasecniks. He averaged 7.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per game this past season for Gran Canaria (Spain). Pasecniks is a seven-foot center with tons of upside shooting the ball and in the pick-and-roll game.
With Pasecniks on contract for two more seasons with Gran Canaria, it doesn’t look like he’ll be on the Sixers roster anytime soon. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though.
Philadelphia already has four centers listed on the current roster. Adding Pasecniks in the short-term may not be in the cards, but giving him time to develop surely is. He’s only 21 years old.
Stashing Pasecniks overseas works mutually for both parties for now. The Sixers have found recent success in drafting and stashing players.
Backup power forward Dario Saric made his rookie debut in the NBA this past season. Saric averaged 12.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists while shooting 31.1 percent from three-point land. He was selected as the 12th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
No. 36 — Jonah Bolden
Jonah Bolden is another prospect the Philadelphia 76ers took with the 36th overall pick in the NBA Draft. He originally attended UCLA back in 2016 and joins the Sixers’ roster after playing a season overseas in Serbia.
Bolden is a 6’10”, 227-pound stretch-4 with length and athleticism, although he’ll likely be a prospect for the Sixers in the early going.
Bolden averaged 4.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game in 31 appearances in his lone season with the UCLA Bruins back in 2016. He averaged 21.7 minutes per game.
Last season, Bolden brokeout with FMP Beograd as one of the most versatile forwards. He averaged 12.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.3 steals in 27.2 minutes per game in 40 games, starting in 38 of them.
Bolden shot 48.1 percent from the floor and 40.5 percent from the three-point line. He has the ability to drive the hoop as well as fill it up from deep.
Bolden can give the Sixers another offensively gifted big man to work the perimeter but he’d be hard-pressed to find playing time next season.
No. 50 — Mathias Lessort
Mathias Lessort is an undersized but versatile big man with shades of J.J. Hickson in his game. He was the 50th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Lessort is only listed at 6’9″ and 235 pounds, but he uses his strengths to his advantage and makes teams pay if they fall asleep in transition. He runs the floor really well and is a reasonable option in the pick-and-roll.
Lessort averaged 10.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game for his club, Nanterre, in 2016-17. He shot just 59.5 percent from the floor but took just five three-point shots in 54 games.
Lessort isn’t a three-point shooter but he is another solid interior prospect on the roster. He plays solid defense and shows awareness on the glass, both areas of need on the Sixers’ roster.
At just 21 years old, he can play the power forward or center despite his small stature, especially with guys like small forward Dario Saric and center Richaun Holmes off the bench.
Overall, the Philadelphia 76ers added some key pieces to the roster, starting with Markelle Fultz. Fultz is a guy with superstar potential even if he doesn’t get a whole lot of shots right away. He’s a solid three-point shooter who also has the ability to distribute the ball. With Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons on the court, Fultz has an opportunity to do big things in Philadelphia.
Pasecniks is a guy who gives them a solid draft-and-stash prospect with tons of upside. He’s an active player in the pick-and-roll game who attacks the rim without hesitation.
Bolden gives the team another international player with length and athleticism. He had a breakout season overseas in Serbia and is looking to build on that in the 2017-18 season.
Lessort is another international player that can play a role on the fastbreak and in the defensive game. He isn’t the biggest player but he makes up for it with his speed and strength.
Overall, the Sixers had a very productive 2017 NBA Draft. It remains to be seen if all their picks after Fultz will make the roster, but they still filled needs nonetheless.