2017 NBA Draft: Best-Case Scenario for Each Top Prospect
— Vincenzo Mannello (@vmreal14) April 20, 2017
5. De’Aaron Fox (Kentucky, PG, Freshman)
Best-case scenario: Los Angeles Lakers, with D’Angelo Russell moving to shooting guard
Limited versatility and a questionable jumper stand out as De’Aaron Fox’s big weaknesses. He’ll need a team with enough shooters that can also start him at point guard.
The Philadelphia 76ers already have a non-shooting primary ball-handler in Ben Simmons. And Fox wouldn’t work well playing off the ball next to Isaiah Thomas in Boston. He could take Elfrid Payton’s job in Orlando, but the Magic had the second-worst three-point percentage in the league this season.
The Lakers would be an ideal fit for Fox, who could take over at the 1 and push Russell to 2-guard, a position he’s proved he can play. Los Angeles’ No. 30-ranked defense in efficiency would also likely benefit from Fox’s extreme quickness next to Russell.
In L.A., Fox would get the spotlight and shot-makers at the 2 and 3 with Russell and Brandon Ingram. He would also get an offense that likes to run (No. 6 in pace), which plays into his strengths as an open-floor weapon (91 field goals in transition in 36 games at Kentucky).
3. Lonzo Ball (UCLA, PG, Freshman)
Best-Case Scenario: Boston Celtics
Lonzo Ball may want the Los Angeles Lakers, but the Celtics represent the more ideal team for him to start with.
If there is a weakness of Ball’s, it’s defense, which Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox exposed by going for 39 points against UCLA in the NCAA tournament. The Lakers were dead last in defensive efficiency, and though Ball would help the offense, it’s fair to question whether a Ball-D’Angelo Russell-Brandon Ingram-Julius Randle core would stop anybody.
Boston, which ranked 12th in defensive efficiency, has enough defenders to mask Ball’s struggles in guarding the perimeter.
He’d also complement Isaiah Thomas’ volume scoring with quick-decision passing, and Ball doesn’t need to dominate the rock. He made an enormous impact at UCLA despite being used on just 18.1 percent of the Bruins’ possessions.
His approach also fits the Celtics offense, which calls for shots at the rim and behind the arc—not in between. Only four teams generated a fewer percentage of their points in the mid-range than Boston. That philosophy should work for Ball, who finished his freshman season with 97 baskets at the rim, 80 threes and just 12 made field goals in between.