The NBA Draft takes over Barclays Center tonight (Thursday), the home of the Brooklyn Nets, as Brooklyn and the NBA’s other 29 teams once again choose some of the league’s future NBA stars from colleges and international leagues.
Players that have completed one year of college, known as “One and Dones,” and international players 22 years of age and under who have declared for the draft are eligible. College players who have finished their four years of college eligibility and international players 23 years of age and older are automatically eligible to be selected. Underclassmen who have declared for the draft give up their remaining years of college eligibility.
The excitement of this year’s draft has been driven by picks one, two and three held by the Philadelphia 76ers, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics. Philly, holding the No. 1 pick for the second consecutive year, traded with Boston earlier this week. Initially, Philly held the third pick, trading up to the first spot with Boston to ensure that they get their player of choice. They’ll compensate Boston with either a first round pick in 2018 or in 2019 for the opportunity.
The trade allows the Sixers to take University of Washington freshman guard Markelle Fultz, who they admittedly have a strong interest in. Fultz is considered by many as the top point guard in the draft.
Also driving interest in tonight’s draft is the promotion (by his father, LaVarr Ball) of Lonzo Ball, a 6-foot-6 Southern California point guard who just completed one impressive year for the UCLA Bruins. Ball refused to work out for Boston and has his heart set to play for the Lakers, a team now run by Magic Johnson.
Johnson also made headlines this week by trading 21-year-old point guard D’Angelo Russell, the Lakers’ 2015 first round pick (Second overall), and the 7-foot-1, 275-pound Russian center Timofey Mozgov to the Nets, who, like the Lakers, are rebuilding, for center Brook Lopez and Brooklyn’s 27th pick. Brooklyn also has the 22nd first round pick.
Lopez, a Californian who attended Stanford, was drafted 10th in the first round by the Nets in 2008, averaging 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds during his nine years with them. Russell averaged 15.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists this season, his sophomore year. Mozgov, 30, won an NBA championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers last year, 2016, and averaged 7.4 points and 4.9 rebounds this season, which nears his yearly career average.
Also making this draft interesting is Paul George’s notice to the Indiana Pacers that he’s out of there after the upcoming season (headed for the Lakers). There’s the rumored Jimmy Butler to the Cleveland Cavaliers trade. David Griffin, now the Cavs’ former general manager, is being let go this week by team owner Dan Gilbert, and there are trade rumors regarding Kristaps Porzingis.
Rounding all of this out is the first round of Top 10 picks. The Phoenix Suns at four, the Sacramento Kings at five, the Orlando Magic six, the Minnesota Timberwolves seven, the Knicks at eight, the Dallas Mavericks nine and the Kings again at 10.