Is there an immediate game-changing pick from tonight from a video game perspective? Will Lonzo Ball or Markelle Fultz change the Lakers or 76ers fortunes?
Brandon Kosal: The obvious answer is Fultz to the Sixers, who are now overflowing with young talent. Fultz, Simmons and Embiid — assuming they can stay healthy — are an intriguing young team. Add in Okafor (a monster in 2K for whatever reason) and Saric, and you have plenty to work with on the court and in the front office.
Joel Smith: Fultz is a nice look for Philly, as “Trust the Process” has been like what seems to be a 15-year ordeal in the making. The 76ers are starting to look like the Edmonton Oilers of the NBA — a bunch of young talent that could now translate into a return to the playoffs. That being said, if Magic and the Lakers can pull the right strings before the start of the season (hi Paul George!), Lonzo could also help the Lakers reach back to the playoffs.
Patrick Friday: I may be toying with the logistics of the question here because the actual pick likely won’t be making the impact, but the game-changing pick in my opinion happened when number 7 was packaged for Jimmy Butler. The Wolves have gone from being a fun team to watch to now being on the precipice of something special that will be forced to either sink or swim. I’ll be tuned in.
I think Fultz has the potential to lead the charge for something special in Philly. He’s got the right mindset and attitude, always has. I never bought the Ball hype. I think the Lakers will come to regret passing on Duke products in ’15 and ’17. There’s a war going on outside, Magic. You can’t hide forever.
The Bulls obviously blew things up and are starting over. Given how top heavy the league is (read: no one’s beating Golden State again for a year or two barring a major injury), are there other teams which should be considering a reset? Are the Bulls now a fun project to take on in MyGM/Franchise Mode?
Brandon Kosal: Judging by the reaction on Twitter, the number of Bulls fans happy with this deal is closer to zero than any other number. No one can fault teams who are adjusting their strategy due to what seems like inevitable and borderline unstoppable Golden State dominance, but Butler is arguably a top-10 player in this league. The Bulls could and should have held out for more.
That said, the Bulls are an intriguing team to tackle in MyGM. Dunn and LaVine both show a lot of promise, as does Bobby Portis. Even though they sold incredibly low on Butler, they do have some intriguing young pieces.
Joel Smith: As a Bulls fan, I’m trying to understand what in the bloody hell Gar Forman and co. are trying to do. After managing to keep Jimmy Butler and having the good(?) news that D-Wade decided to opt in, they blow up the roster and move Jimmy. Now Minnesota looks like a formidable team with a juicy looking starting five, and the Bulls are on reset. It looks like teams are trying to position themselves to be able to make some sort of variation of “Superteam” that in reality isn’t too viable. That being said, Chicago’s team would be a challenge project in NBA 2K18.
Patrick Friday: I think the Hawks should consider a reset, and are probably already close to there if they don’t re-sign Millsap. They have the second-longest standing playoff streak at 10-years strong but when have we ever mentioned them as true, top-notch contenders? Also, the Pacers. PG-13 wants out, you’ve got a potential perennial All-Star in Myles Turner who actually wants to be there. Stop searching for equal value and get your hands on picks. It’s time to break bread, ribs, 100-dollar bills, and this myth that you lose a trade by missing the playoffs a few times in a row. The Sixers are sitting pretty. Take notes.
What player selected below 10th overall will have the biggest impact in NBA games this year?
Brandon Kosal: Malik Monk is my answer here. I was hoping he’d fall to my Pistons, but that was always a long shot. He might be the best, most NBA-ready scorer in the draft. He should have no problem getting buckets in 2K18.
Joel Smith: Stepping just outside the top 10, I actually have two players I think will have a good impact in NBA 2K18. Malik Monk and his torrent streakiness will be the main man to watch. I also like OG Anunoby for Toronto. His offensive game needs work but Toronto drafted him for his defensive presence (and injuries aren’t a big issue in 2K). Just looking at how Norman Powell has progressed so quickly over two years, I think the Raptors trainers can work that same magic on OG.
Patrick Friday: I hate to give the same answer again, but I have no idea how Malik Monk slipped so far after we’ve watched Stephen Curry change the trajectory of the league the last few years. Specifically when talking guards, you can’t get too caught up in size. Every time Monk speaks I like him more, and there’s a genuine love and respect for the game there. Charlotte has a sneaky little team with just enough guys with a chip on their shoulders to make some noise.
Last question is the easiest one: Best pick and worst pick from the 1st round tonight?
Brandon Kosal: The best pick is Fultz, but if we’re talking which team made a great pick later in the lottery, I like Dennis Smith Jr. to the Mavs. They desperately needed a PG, so he will slot in nicely. As for the worst, I’m going with Zach Collins to Portland for two reasons: the Blazers already have roughly 100 big men on the roster, and they had to trade two first-round picks to get him.
Joel Smith: Best pick for me is Fultz to the 76ers. That’s a no brainer. Despite the hoopla around him, I think Lonzo Ball is going to do big things for the Lakers as well. On the other end of the spectrum, Frank Ntilikina to the Knicks, to me, is a terrible pick ONLY because the disarray that Phil Jackson has the team in right now. He’s a great guard to run the Triangle offense, but he might not have anybody to pass the ball to by the time the drama in New York is over. I can’t say he’s good enough to build around right now either.
Patrick Friday: Best pick in the draft goes to the Boston Celtics. As much as it literally caused physical pain to me, Danny Ainge and crew saw the same thing I did. Jayson Tatum is the best player in this draft and arguably the most NBA-ready. Boston realized this, bamboozled everyone and dropped a gem on the rest of the league. Not only is he the best player in the draft, he’s the most high-character kid also (I am a Duke boy, through and through).
Conversely, Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka took the first steps to driving the Lakers into extended obscurity. Look, I’m only 26 but my mind is older. As this team made the exact opposite picks it should have, my warm heart turned cold. In 2015 when they should’ve been bucking the trend and took the most polished big man in recent years, they followed the league and took D’Angelo Russell just to trade him a year later for in a cap-space clearing transaction (MOZZY!). This year: position-less basketball says take the 6-foot-8 kid who wants to be exactly like the guy you’re courting now that actually wants to be in LA, yet you take the guy with the second-most baggage in the draft (thanks Phoenix!) who also laughed at your misery all over social media while selling to the media he’s “always wanted to be a Laker.” Hint: Check Tatum’s feed. Like Okafor, he was a Laker fan and would’ve been wholly committed to “the west coast process.” At least they got the Josh Hart pick right. The Lakers only draft well when the decisions aren’t truly in their control.