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NBA Draft Night: What We Know

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As draft night 2017 gets set to take off, the NBA community has already endured more shake up than usual.

Before draft week even arrived, the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers agreed to swap their picks at the top of the draft. This deal delivered the Sixers the top overall pick for the second consecutive season, after selecting Ben Simmons in 2016’s draft.

With the No. 1 pick, the Sixers will draft Markelle Fultz, a guard out of Washington, according to reports.

However, after the certainty of the top, the pick this year’s draft holds many questions. Those start directly with pick No. 2.

The Los Angeles Lakers have long been tied to former UCLA guard Lonzo Ball, whether due to Ball refusing to work out for any other team or because Ball’s boisterous father LaVar proclaimed months ago his boy would be a Laker. Despite all of the proposals of a Ball-Lakers marriage from the player’s end, the team doesn’t seem as committed to the relationship just yet.

Magic Johnson, President of Basketball Operations, has explored many options with the No. 2 pick so far since lottery night, including a similar move that Philadelphia capitalized on.

Along with growing fond of Fultz, Johnson and the Lakers have batted around the idea of selecting former Kansas forward Josh Jackson and former Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox with the second pick in Thursday night’s draft.

But despite the back and forth about whether Ball will don the purple and gold or not, signs are beginning to point toward the inevitable anyway.

Drafting or not drafting Ball isn’t the only decision that Los Angeles has been trying to make, though. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported on Monday that the Lakers were looking to acquire another lottery pick on top of their No. 2 selection. On top of it, Chad Ford suggested that the Lakers were going as far as dangling D’Angelo Russell in attempts to acquire it.

While the Lakers could find themselves with a new point guard of the future early in the night if they select Ball, at this moment it’s questionable who will be sharing the backcourt with him.

After the Lakers make their decision, the Celtics’ clock starts running just a few minutes later than they expected even a week ago. Based on the deal they made with the Sixers and reports out of Boston, the Celtics held players like Jackson and former Duke forward Jayson Tatum in the same category as Fultz in terms of player evaluation.

As their draft slot draws closer, the Celtics will likely focus in on one of these two premium wings to add to their already talented roster that finished atop the Eastern Conference last season.

Further down the line, it looks as if the Dallas Mavericks are taking interest in another foreign prospect that they hope can be a cornerstone of their franchise for years to come.

Trying to bring Ntilikina on board in Dallas should come as one of the least surprising moves draft night will have to offer. The French point guard brings an interesting combination of raw skill and physical attributes that can catch just about any team’s attention in the draft. Considering the Mavericks are well versed in overseas scouting, the potential selection of Ntilikina should he be on the board at No. 9 makes more than enough sense.

For one team currently selecting outside of the lottery, draft fortunes could change before Thursday night if they push the right buttons. The Indiana Pacers are in a situation where their star player, Paul George, has already made the decision that he will leave the team next summer via free agency in an attempt to join the Lakers. The Lakers are also among the teams speaking to Indiana about a trade for George, though there are others.

Should the Pacers be able to deal George ahead of draft night and recoup a handful of assets, including a lottery pick on this year’s draft, they would be headed in the right direction for their post-George existence.

With the draft being held at the Barclays Center, the hometown Brooklyn Nets will be looking to make some moves of their own. Owning two late first-round picks (Nos. 22, 27) the Nets seem interested in packaging their pair of picks for a chance to select a little sooner.

Sitting relatively devoid of assets and talent, general manager Sean Marks seems willing to take a chance on bringing in a higher quality player to help jump start the rebuild up in Brooklyn.

Not to be outdone by his crosstown counterpart, Phil Jackson made waves Tuesday morning when a report came out that the Zen Master isn’t completely closed to the idea of trading the future of the Knicks’ franchise in Kristaps Porzingis.

While it certainly wouldn’t be ideal for Knicks fans to move on from their one shining light from this past season, Jackson usually isn’t one to conform to conventional thinking. The 13-time NBA champion has apparently given enough thought to the possibility of moving Porzingis that he’s even considered who the Knicks would select with the No. 8 pick Thursday night as the 7-foot-3 Latvian’s replacement.

A player of Porzingis’ caliber, coupled with his age (21 years old), should return more than a respectable trade haul. If the versatile forward were to be moved, a high pick in this year’s lottery would most likely be involved, adding even more movement to an already interesting draft night.

However the night plays out, one thing for certain is that the 2017 NBA Draft will be nothing short of interesting.

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About Dennis Chambers

Dennis Chambers

Dennis Chambers is an NBA writer in his first season with Basketball Insiders. Based out of Philadelphia he has previously covered NCAA basketball and high school recruiting.