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Upon further review: Winners, losers, sleepers from 2017 NBA draft

Upon further review: Winners, losers, sleepers from 2017 NBA draft

Now that the dust has settled until free agency opens July 1 in the NBA, let's look back at the draft. It's all educated (and sometimes uneducated) guesswork because if you ask most people at least 25 of the 30 teams had great drafts and made great "value picks," whatever that means.

When the NBA season tips in October, however, a lot of names won't be mentioned again in such a positive light if at all. Projecting isn't an exact science especially when most of the 30 first-rounders weren't even of legal drinking age. 

Biggest winner: The Philadelphia 76ers. They manuevered their way into the No. 1 pick to grab Markelle Fultz. It seems like a no-brainer (it is), but sometime teams outsmart themselves and trade down or take an unnecessary risk when they have the best option in front of them. The Sixers went upward. They parted with assets to jump from third and made an aggressive move in a deal with the Boston Celtics who currently hold a bunch of chips that have yet to produce any value. The Sixers can now put Fultz with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid for a possible Big 3 of their own that should catapult them into the playoff picture. 

Head-scratcher: The Chicago Bulls. They traded an All-NBA and All-Defensive player in Jimmy Butler for a bunch of unknown quantities. It goes against the rule of thumb in a trade. If the Minnesota Timberwolves are going to benefit from Butler, no matter how much Bulls managment were fed up with their star, getting a proven rotation player back should've been a requirement. Instead, they got back only potential in rising second-year player Kris Dunn who had an underwhelming rookie season; Zach LaVine who is a fantastic athlete but coming off major knee surgery; and a No. 7 pick in 7-footer Lauri Markkanen. The big man can turn out to be worthy but these picks aren't sure things. Plus the Bulls swapped the No. 16 pick which was Justin Patton (Creighton) in the deal. Given they gave up by far the best and most accomplished player, that's confusing. If anything, they should've gotten a future pick(s), too.

Overrated: Sacramento Kings. Yes, they draw a good haul but drafting De'Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, Frank Mason and Harry Giles is just the first step. What about the long game as they're stepping into an organization with a terrible track record. Maybe it's a new day, but the Kings still have to prove they have the infrastructure to develop what they have in this group and the wisdom to be patient if it takes time. All four of these players will not turn out to be solid contributors. That's how the draft is.  Sometimes they'll end up sticking in the NBA but with another team and only Fox seems to be a lock based on talent. If this were the Miami Heat, for instance, it would be more a certainty they'd maximize these rookies. This is the Kings' first big test post-DeMarcus Cousins to change how they're perceived. GM Vlade Divac has been the Phil Jackson of Western Conference until proven otherwise.

[RELATED: Wizards Tipoff podcast, Ep. 18: Wiz make a deal, PBT on the draft]

Underrated: Atlanta Hawks. They've gotten little-to-no props for their selections under first-year GM Travis Schlenk. John Collins (Wake Forest), their first-rounder, is a back-to-the-basket presence they'll need after trading Dwight Howard and eventually losing Paul Millsap. In the post is the strength of Collins' game. Tyler Dorsey (Oregon) is a guard that the Wizards liked but knew he wouldn't be there at No. 52 which is why they traded out for a veteran. Dorsey has to get stronger but appears to be the right fit. He may take a year or two but the Hawks did well. And the last pick of the draft, No. 60, turned into 6-10 Alpha Kaba who played in Serbia. An intriguing prospect that could take the longest to come around but he's an incredible finisher at the rim with NBA athleticism.

Sleeper picks: Sindarius Thornwell (South Carolina) and Monte' Morris (Iowa State). Thornwell was taken at No. 48 by the Milwaukee Bucks and traded to the L.A. Clippers. Who knows how the Clippers will look now with the likely departures of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, but Thornwell is ready to play now. Defensively, his IQ is there which is rare for rookie second-round picks. He has geat instincts and plays off the ball and is exceptionally strong at 6-5. He's also a good rebounder if needed and can post up smaller guards, the type of the player the Clippers have needed in recent years. Morris may have limitations because of his physical skills -- not blazing fast, could have trouble beating his man so he's not an iso player -- but he knows how to run an offense and doesn't get loose with the ball under pressure. Faced as close to an NBA-style defense as there is in college in West Virginia with long, athletic defenders who trapped and pressured him to no end, and Morris only had one turnover. 

Best undrafted talent: P.J. Dozier (South Carolina). At 6-6, he can create havoc at both ends. The biggest knock against him is his inconsistent shot, an area that can easily be improved with hard work. Most of his other assets can't be acquired. He can slash to get to the rim and finish in traffic.

Most surprising pick: Mason (Kansas) at No. 34. It's not that the national player of the year was chosen that was eye-catching. It was how high he went to Sacramento. At 5-11, Mason will have to not just get his shot over much bigger defenders, but if he'll have to succeed in that area if he's to stick in the NBA. Right now, he's strictly an on-ball player who isn't a threat off it and hasn't displayed the vision to create for others. He's draftworthy but it seems it a big high given that a better point guard option in Morris went a whopping 17 picks later. 

[RELATED: Brooks reminisces about Durant, 1st season in D.C.]

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Marcin Gortat

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Marcin Gortat

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Marcin Gortat's season...

Player: Marcin Gortat

Position: Center

Age: 34

2017-18 salary: $12.8 million

2017-18 stats: 82 G, 25.3 mpg, 8.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.8 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.7 bpg, 51.8 FG%, 67.5 FT%, 51.8 eFG%, 112 ORtg, 107 DRtg

Best game: 10/18 vs. Sixers - 16 points, 17 rebounds, 3 blocks, assist, 7-for-12 FG

Season review: Marcin Gortat is self-aware enough to know that what happened to him in 2017-18 was inevitable in many ways. He even publicly called it before the season.

He was one year older, with Ian Mahinmi healthy and in the rotation, and with the NBA continuing to move towards small-ball and big men who can play on the perimeter. As a result, Gortat saw his role in the Wizards rotation pared down noticeably.

Though he still started all 82 games, his minutes went down from 31.2 per game the year before the 25.3. Kelly Oubre, Jr., who played the majority of the season coming off the bench, logged more minutes than Gortat, though he was a starter.

Gortat's minutes were his fewest since the 2009-10 season, when he was a 25-year-old bench player for the Orlando Magic. His numbers this season followed suit. Gortat's points and rebounds per game were both the lowest since that 2009-10 campaign.

Gortat averaged a career-best 10.4 rebounds per game in 2016-17, but the minutes had a direct effect on his volume of boards. He pulled in 2.4 less per game this season despite his rebound percentage (17.0) being close to his career average (17.5). That career average, by the way, is 30th-best all-time an eighth among active players.

Not getting the same opportunities he had in years past, plus public misunderstandings with teammates, combined to make for a frustrating year for Gortat. He said on the Wizards Tipoff podcast midseason it was the worst year of his career. Gortat, though, did continue to make an impact setting screens for the Wizards and he rallied to finish relatively strong.

He had several solid outings in the playoffs, including his 16 points in Game 3 and his 12 rebounds in Game 5. The question is whether that is the last time we will see Gortat in a Wizards uniform.

Washington has played with the idea of trading Gortat for a while now. He popped up in rumors around the trade deadline in February, but remained on the roster. Now he has an expiring contract working in his favor, making it a bit more likely he gets dealt.

Gortat knows his future in Washington is uncertain, though he said following the season he would like to stay. It would not be surprising to him or anyone if he were traded this summer. If not, he's got one year left with the Wizards and could very well have his role decreased even more.

Potential to improve: Rim protection, midrange shooting, free throw percentage

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Kelly Oubre, Jr.

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Kelly Oubre, Jr.

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Kelly Oubre, Jr.'s season...

Player: Kelly Oubre, Jr.

Position: Small forward

Age: 22

2017-18 salary: $2.1 million

2017-18 stats: 81 G, 27.5 mpg, 11.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.4 bpg, 40.3 FG%, 34.1 3P%, 82.0 FT%, 48.2 eFG%, 106 ORtg, 109 DRtg

Best game: 3/21 at Spurs - 21 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals, 9-for-17 FG, 3-for-6 3PT

Season review: The first half of Kelly Oubre, Jr.'s 2017-18 season went very differently than the second half. Through 46 games to begin the year, Oubre shot 44.9 percent from the field and 40.5 percent from the perimeter. Oubre then shot just 34.9 percent from the field and 27.4 percent from three in his last 35 games to close the regular season. That included a stretch from March 25 through April 5 in which he shot 2-for-35 from long range and 23-for-77 (29.9%) overall in seven games.

As his head coach described, Oubre had a tale of two seasons. By mid-January it appeared to be a breakout year, as he was scoring consistently and shooting at a high percentage. He was even limiting his mistakes on defense. Then, his shot went away and Oubre could never quite regain it.

All in all, Oubre's season represented a step forward. He proved he could be a top-six player in a playoff rotation and had extended stretches of success he can draw confidence from in the future.

Now Oubre enters his biggest offseason yet as a basketball player. He has just one year left on his rookie scale contract and will be in line for a considerable raise if he keeps developing. If Oubre takes even a slight step forward, he will make big money in his next contract. If he takes a major leap forward, like Otto Porter did when he was in the same position in 2016-17, he could earn way more money than the Wizards can afford as currently constructed.

That dynamic gives the Wizards a decision to make this summer on Oubre's future. He has significant trade value at this point, given his upside and his contract. He is due to make just $3.2 million next season and will be a restricted free agent in the summer of 2019. If they don't see a long-term future for him in Washington, trading him this offseason should not be ruled out.

It figures to be a busy summer for the Wizards and when it comes to Oubre there are a lot of factors in play. If they want financial flexibility, another option would be to deal Porter or another frontcourt starter and roll with Oubre as a less expensive option. Though his season was inconsistent, Oubre has shown enough to warrant consideration as a starter.

Regardless of what the Wizards decide, Oubre himself is in good shape. If he keeps getting better, he will earn a nice deal whether it's in Washington or somewhere else. He just needs to find consistency on both ends of the floor. 

He can do that on offense by tightening up his ball-handling and improving his ability to get to the rim. That would allow him to circumnavigate the type of shooting struggles that held him back late in the year.

Defensively, he has all the natural ability needed to be an elite player. He just needs to limit the gambles he takes that turn into blown assignments or unnecessary fouls.

Potential to improve: Consistency, efficiency, ball-handling


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