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3 Busts of the 2017 Draft

Busts galore! So many to pick from, so pick your poison!

Photo By: Cole Burston (Getty Images North America)

The 2017 draft class is certainly one of the most interesting classes in recent memory. We have some stars that were drafted late (Donovan Mitchell, Bam Adebayo, Jarrett Allen), there are some great role players (OG Anunoby, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart), some 2nd round gems (Dillon Brooks, Monte Morris, Isaiah Hartenstein), then the busts. The top of the draft had a lot of hype from the media and fans. It was the 3rd most watched lottery at the time, and some big-name organizations were near the top of the draft. But sadly for draft gurus and experts, everyone didn't pan out the way they thought.

1. Markelle Fultz, PHI

For as hyped up as Lonzo Ball was coming into the draft, Markelle Fultz was the consensus Number 1 pick coming out of Washington. The Celtics however, didn't buy into the Fultz saga and traded with the Sixers down to the 3rd pick to select Jayson Tatum. So the 76ers took Fultz at 1, to put an end to "The Process". Things looked bright early, with Fultz being the youngest player to post a triple-double. However, he never looked incredibly comfortable. He only shot one 3-Pointer compared to 126 attempts in college, in a similar sample size. Fultz ultimately suffered a shoulder injury, which started a long line of unfortunate events for the Number 1 pick.

In the 2018 playoffs, Fultz came in for just a few minutes during the whole run. He played just 14 games in his rookie year, and the Sixers looked like the Sixers moved on from him early. Markelle's confidence was shot. He had his infamous free-throw woes early on in the '18-'19 season. He was named a starter over JJ Redick but lost the job to Jimmy Butler when he was acquired at the deadline. That would essentially be the last of Markelle Fultz in Philadelphia, as he was sent to the Orlando Magic in exchange for Jonathan Simmons, who would only play 15 games in a Philadelphia uniform.

Fultz continued to stay healthy in Orlando. He had one year of health in 2019-'20, where he played 72 games. But other than that, he suffered an ACL injury in 2021, as well as the nagging shoulder situation. While healthy, Fultz is a capable backup Point Guard. But that's the problem. He was selected Number 1 to be a franchise-elevating player. But now he struggles to stay on the court, and when he does, it's off the bench. Just a really underwhelming career for Fultz, who once had high hopes.

2. Lonzo Ball, LAL

Steph Curry with a 40-inch vertical? More like Evan Turner with a bigger contract. Lavar Ball had us all convinced that Lonzo would be the next Magic Johnson. But what was there to disagree with? He had the passing, the run-and-gun, the Lakers uniform. But in his NBA debut, he was pushed around by Patrick Beverley on primetime television. His 3-Point shot was horrendous, as he shot 24.5% from 3 in his first 20 games. He then suffered a bunch of ankle and knee problems that kept him out during the rest of his time in LA. He was shipped off along with fellow 2nd overall pick Brandon Ingram to New Orleans for Anthony Davis. He showed a major improvement with his shot under the guidance of Fred Vinson, but failed to stay healthy.

In New Orleans, he became a catch-and-shoot 3&D guy. This seemed to be the best role for him, and he did well for awhile. But in the 2020 bubble, he fell apart. Lonzo Ball had one of the worst performances in the bubble for any player. After one more season for the Pelicans, Ball bolted to Chicago on $20M a season over 4 years. Since then, Ball has played just 35 games and has yet to play this season. The contract has looked like a terrible investment so far for Chicago, who are struggling in the East.

As the theme of this article so far, the main problem with Lonzo is his availability. He can't stay healthy. When he is on the court, he's a great defender and connector. He has improved his 3 point shot to become one of the best catch-and-shoot guys in the NBA. But it can't be used when he's not on the court. Since it doesn't look like he'll return anytime soon, I hope he gets healthy. But what a BAD career for Lonzo.

3. Josh Jackson, PHX

There used to be legitimate conversations pre-draft on whether or not Josh Jackson was better than Jayson Tatum and De'Aaron Fox. The Suns bought into the hype. They selected Jackson 4th overall, as they thought he could be the secondary scorer next to their young phenom Devin Booker. For awhile, they weren't terribly wrong. He averaged 13 PPG in his rookie year (on terrible efficiency, but whatever). He was even named to the All-Rookie 2nd team. In 2018, Jackson was forced to be the Shooting Guard, with Booker out. This started the downward spiral for Jackson, who shot the ball terribly once again. The Suns traded Jackson to the Grizzlies in the off-season, where he was sent down to the G-League.

Jackson has now spent time with Pistons and Kings, barely getting playing time. His inconsistencies on offense and the inability to play defense caused this steep decline for the former 4th overall pick. He had the potential to be a nice scorer next to Booker, but was unable to adapt to the NBA level of play. Since his G-League stint, Jackson did end up becoming a solid 2-way player. But not enough to earn significant playing time. It's just too little too late for Josh Jackson.

Other "Busts": Jonathan Isaac (ORL), Frank Ntilikina (NYK/DAL), Dennis Smith Jr. (DAL/NYK/DET/POR/CHA), Zach Collins (POR/SAS)


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