The NBA draft is only six months away, but the drafting process/evaluation period apparently has gone underway. Currently, if the season ended today, the Boston Celtics would have the first pick of the 2017 NBA Draft due to a trade from the Brooklyn Nets. Next in the order is a frequent visitor into the NBA’s lottery, the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers have held picks within the NBA Lottery for the past four years. The 76ers currently hold a 9-24 record, which is not only second worst in the Eastern Conference but also in the NBA. According to NESN.com writer Nicholas Goss, he has the 76ers picking UCLA freshman point guard Lonzo Ball as the second pick in this year’s upcoming NBA Draft.
Ball, the prodigious guard from UCLA, stands 6’6 and 190 pounds. He’s averaging 14.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 8.1 assists per game. In high school, his talents got him a scholarship offer from UCLA, in which he signed as a sophomore in January of 2014. In high school, he showed off his exceptional all-around game that put him on the radar for not only college coaches, but NBA coaches, too. Averaging a triple-double his senior season (23.9 points, 11.3 rebounds and 11.7 assists) is no small feat; comparisons to former NBA guard and present Milwaukee Bucks coach Jason Kidd began to become the norm. CSN Philly’s Steven Tydings explained why Ball is one of the nation’s best point guards.
“Ball also had the choice defensive assignment of Dillon Brooks, who he held to just nine for 20 shooting. However, Brooks made the game-winning shot over Ball. The UCLA freshman still finished with 14 points and six assists despite a poor start to the game. He was involved in every part of the Bruins’ offense in the second half, pushing the ball in transition and putting pressure on the Ducks’ defense.
“Ball and the Bruins rebounded Friday. On 7 for 14 shooting (4 for 8 from three), Ball had a career-high 23 points to go with seven rebounds and six assists in a win at Oregon State, 76-63. While he has a very unconventional three-point motion, it works quite well and makes him a threat from all over the court, maybe even halfcourt like his brother.”
Will Ball become on of the top selections this year in the NBA Draft? The signs point to yes. The 76ers are slowly but surely building through the NBA Draft, with selections of Ben Simmons in last year’s draft and Joel Embiid, who’s playing in his first NBA season after missing two full NBA seasons dealing with a nagging foot injury. Embiid has been a surprise for the NBA this season, registering 19 points, seven rounds and two blocks per game. Embiid is doing this on a team-mandated minute restriction. Once Embiid becomes healthy, Simmons becomes healthy and if the 76ers draft Ball at point guard, the NBA could see the 76ers slowly evolve into a decent NBA team.
Building through the draft isn’t as popular as it used to be, but still very common. The Golden State Warriors built their nucleus of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green through the draft over four years. The Oklahoma City Thunder once had a nucleus; Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden in which all three were drafted in the 2007 and 2008 drafts, respectively. Of course, Harden was traded to the Houston Rockets and Kevin Durant shocked the NBA by signing with the Warriors this past offseason. So in the NBA, super teams can be built, but so can teams through the NBA Draft.
It may not be the 76ers, though. There’s still time left in the NBA season, and there are plenty of teams who could have an uprising/decline. But for now, Philadelphia has the upper hand for one of the NBA’s prized possessions of the future.
[Featured Image by Steve Dykes/Getty Images]