Posted on June 23, 2017, by Travis Pulver

The Golden State Warriors earned the right to enter next season as the defending world champions. Other than that designation, they will enter the 2017-18 season just like everyone else. They will be 0-0 and looking to make it to the NBA Finals at the end of the season (and win it, of course)—or at least be competitive.

Several teams took a step in the right direction—some bigger than others—Thursday night courtesy of some fresh new talent in the NBA Draft.

Via @RealGM

It is not unusual to see a team or two go a little crazy with trades on Draft Night. Nothing crazy happened this year. Surprising, maybe, but crazy? Nah.

Some may call the Chicago Bulls trading away their best player, Jimmy Butler, crazy. It was definitely surprising since Butler had recently expressed a desire to be the guy that leads the Bulls back to glory. After barely making the playoffs last year, maybe the Bulls simply lost confidence in his ability to do it.

So, to get the rebuild ball rolling, they decided to ship Butler off to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Zach LaVine and Kriss Dunn. The two teams also swapped draft picks. Chicago ended up taking Lauri Markkanen with the No. 7 pick they got from the Timberwolves. Minnesota selected Justin Patton with Chicago’s No. 16 pick.

Minnesota is being credited by many for bringing in a solid, reliable two-way veteran that can bring some much-needed leadership to their young locker room.

Chicago, on the other hand, is being criticized for basically giving Butler away. Dunn is young and could still turn into a good player, but his rookie season was underwhelming. LaVine is a human highlight reel, but he is also coming off a major injury. Players fail to come back from major injuries all the time.

As for the draft, no one really made any surprising or shocking moves. Markelle Fultz was taken by the Philadelphia 76ers with the first pick, just as expected. The Los Angeles Lakers followed with an even less surprising move—Lonzo Ball.

LaVar Ball followed his son’s selection by the Lakers by putting some more pressure on his son by predicting Lonzo would lead the Lakers back to the postseason next year—also not surprising.

Via @NBA

“Lonzo Ball is going to take the Lakers to the playoffs in his first year,” LaVar told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

When asked later about his dad’s comments, Ball gave a pretty good answer:

“That’s the goal. You don’t play to lose. That’s definitely the goal. That’s the plan.”

The rest of the top ten is as follows:

  1. Celtics: Jayson Tatum (F) – Duke
  2. Suns: Josh Jackson (F) – Kansas
  3. Kings: DeAaron Fox (G) – Kentucky
  4. Magic: Jonathan Isaac (F) – Florida State
  5. Bulls: Lauri Markkanen (F) – Arizona
  6. Knicks: Frank Ntilikina (G) – France
  7. Mavericks: Dennis Smith Jr. (G) – NC State
  8. Trail Blazers: Zach Collins (F/C) – Gonzaga

For the first time in NBA draft history, the first five players selected were freshman. A record 16 freshmen were taken in the first round.

To see a complete list of the players drafted, click the following link.

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