The 2017 NBA Draft kicked off Thursday night at the Barclays Center in New York with the Philadelphia 76ers taking Washington point guard Markelle Fultz at No. 1. Jayson Tatum was picked third by the Boston Celtics, becoming the first player off the board from a Triangle school, and at least six more players from Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State expect to hear their names called before the end of the night. Follow along to find out where they all end up.
Jayson Tatum (Duke): Round 1, Pick 3 (Boston Celtics)
Although Duke was not the dominant team many expected it to be last year, Tatum lived up to his billing as a top-three recruit in the Class of 2016 and is the Blue Devils’ fourth top-three pick in as many years. After missing the first eight games of the year with a left foot sprain, the 6-foot-9 forward turned into an elite scorer in his lone season of college, averaging 16.8 points per game.
Now, Tatum will join a Celtics team that is already a contender, earning the top seed in the Eastern Conference this spring before falling to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the conference finals. Boston is crowded at Tatum’s position on the wing, with Jae Crowder and last year’s No. 3 pick Jaylen Brown already on the roster, but after trading down from the No. 1 pick to add a future first-round pick this week, general manager Danny Ainge could cash in his trade chips for a star in the near future.
Tatum is capable of heating up from the perimeter, knocking down six 3-pointers to carry Duke past Virginia Feb. 15, but will need to develop more consistency with his jump shot and was most effective attacking the basket. He scored at least 19 points in all four games of the Blue Devils’ improbable run to the ACC championship in March and is tall and athletic enough to cause problems for NBA defenses right when he steps on the floor.
Dennis Smith Jr. (N.C. State): Round 1, Pick 9 (Dallas Mavericks)
A Fayetteville native, Smith is the first Wolfpack player selected in the top 10 since Tom Gugliotta in 1992. The 6-foot-3 point guard will take his offensive playmaking ability to Dallas and help fill the Mavericks’ glaring void at point guard. Smith could potentially seize a starting spot right away after Yogi Ferrell and J.J. Barea handled ball-handling duties for Dallas last year.
Smith spurned Duke and North Carolina as a five-star recruit in favor of the Wolfpack for his lone season of college, and he starred individually on a team that stumbled to a 15-17 record. He averaged 18.1 points and 6.2 assists per game and poured in 32 points in N.C. State’s biggest win of the season, an 84-82 victory against Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Luke Kennard (Duke): Round 1, Pick 12 (Detroit Pistons)
Kennard was expected to come off the bench when the Blue Devils were in preseason practice, but the sophomore sharpshooter took advantage of injuries to freshmen Tatum, Harry Giles and Marques Bolden to seize control of a starting position and remain the team’s most consistent player all year.
A unanimous first-team All-ACC selection, Kennard averaged 19.5 points per game this season and could serve as an offensive spark off the bench for the Pistons. If Kentavious Caldwell-Pope leaves Detroit in free agency, Kennard could be forced into an even bigger role, but he will likely need to improve defensively before he can become a regular starter in the NBA.
Justin Jackson (North Carolina): Round 1, Pick 15 (Sacramento Kings via Portland Trail Blazers)
The Trail Blazers made the No. 15 pick, but will send it to the Sacramento Kings along with the 20th pick as part of a proposed trade in exchange for the No. 10 pick, which was Gonzaga’s Zach Collins. Jackson is older than every player picked before him, but will join the Kings as an already polished scorer who could contribute on the wing right away.
After winning the ACC Player of the Year award as a junior, Jackson is North Carolina’s highest draft pick since 2012. The 6-foot-8 forward tested the draft waters last season, but chose to come back to school and saw his scoring average jump by more than six points thanks to a much-improved jump shot, as he helped his Tar Heels win the national championship.
John Collins (Wake Forest): Round 1, Pick 19 (Atlanta Hawks)
Collins is the first Demon Deacon to be taken in the draft since Al-Farouq Aminu in 2010 after a breakout sophomore year that took the ACC by storm. With 19.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, the 6-foot-10 forward finished second in ACC Player of the Year voting and carried Wake Forest to an NCAA tournament appearance.
The Hawks traded big man Dwight Howard to the Charlotte Hornets earlier this week, and Collins will compete for playing time in the frontcourt with former Duke center Miles Plumlee.
Harry Giles (Duke): Round 1, Pick 20 (Sacramento Kings via Portland Trail Blazers)
With three first-round picks, the Kings could afford to take a chance on somebody, and they will hope Giles’ potential outweighs the injury red flags that have plagued him in recent years. Although the Trail Blazers officially selected Giles, he will head to Sacramento as part of the same proposed trade that will send Jackson to the Kings.
Giles became the top recruit in the nation after an impressive junior year at Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point, N.C., and a summer with the U19 national team, but suffered a torn ACL for the second time of his career in the first game of his senior year.
Giles was not healthy enough to play for the Blue Devils until Dec. 21 last season due to arthroscopic knee surgery in October and only averaged 3.9 points per game when he made it back to the floor, but has gradually regained his explosiveness in pre-draft workouts. At his best, the 6-foot-10 big man has been compared to perennial All-Stars Kevin Garnett and Chris Webber as an athletic power forward.
Tony Bradley (North Carolina): Round 1, Pick 28 (Utah Jazz via Los Angeles Lakers)
Bradley barely made it into the first round and will go from the Lakers to the Jazz as part of a proposed trade, giving the Tar Heels multiple first-round picks for the first time since 2012. Bradley waited until the last moment to decide whether to return to Chapel Hill or remain in the NBA Draft after initially declaring for the draft without an agent, but the 6-foot-11 center ultimately decided to become the Tar Heels’ first one-and-done since Brandan Wright in 2007.
Bradley never started a game at North Carolina but was an effective understudy to seniors Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks in the post. He averaged 7.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game for the national champions and has a skillset that translates well to the NBA game with a smooth midrange jumper. Bradley will likely back up second-team All-NBA center Rudy Gobert for a Jazz team that won 51 games last year.
Frank Jackson (Duke): Round 2, Pick 31 (New Orleans Pelicans via Charlotte Hornets)
Jackson surprised many with his decision to leave Duke after just one season, becoming a school-record fourth early entrant in the draft. He impressed with his athleticism and his play during 5-on-5 scrimmages at the Draft Combine in May, but had surgery on his right foot soon afterwards that may keep him out of the NBA Summer League in July.
The 6-foot-3 guard barely missed out on the first round and got picked with the first selection of Round 2. Charlotte will ship him to New Orleans in a proposed trade, where he will play with two of the top big men in the league in Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins.