As the Lakers visited the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday, the spotlight on the outstanding 2017 rookie class was shining bright with Smith Jr., Ball, and Kuzma in action.
With the season nearing the halfway point, one thing has become very clear throughout the league.
The 2017 NBA rookie draft class is something special.
Even with the top overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Markelle Fultz, still sidelined due to injury, the class has proven to be one of the better classes in recent history. Across the league, teams have intrusted rookies into their starting units or given them heavy minutes off the bench.
In the West, you have Dennis Smith Jr., Donovan Mitchell, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, De’Aaron Fox, Jordan Bell, Josh Jackson, Terrance Ferguson, Zach Collins and more logging critical minutes for their teams.
In the East, you have Jayson Tatum, John Collins, Frank Ntilikina, Lauri Markkanen, OG Anunoby, Bam Adebayo, Luke Kennard and more logging minutes for their respected teams.
From the top of the draft, all the way into the middle of the second round, the impact of this draft is already being felt on the league, but only time will tell how great this draft class will truly be.
With the Lakers coming to Dallas over the weekend, it was a chance to see three (Smith Jr., Ball, Kuzma) in action at the same time.
“It is a great class. Over the next two, three, four years, that will really tell the story of how great,” Carlisle said after I asked him how great this class could be.
“Like the 84′ class, that took 10-15 years to see just how great that class was going to be. There were so many Hall of Famers and everything else. This class has the same opportunity to have the same kind of impact,” Carlisle said.
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The 1984 NBA Draft is considered by many to be the best draft of all-time.
Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan were the obvious headlines at the top. Then you have other all-time greats like Charles Barkley and John Stockton. Sam Perkins, Otis Thorpe, Kevin Willis, Michael Cage and others round out the class.
“Becoming that kind of great player and a generational Hall of Fame type of player is more than just being in a great class. You have to do a lot of great things. You have to be guided the right away and get in situations with the right players,” Carlisle said.
“From what I have seen, all of these guys have been drafted into good situations that are going to be enhancing situations. It is very promising.”
For Rick Carlisle to compare this class to the prestigious 1984 class is a high honor.
Will the class produce four all-time greats like Jordan, Olajuwon, Barkley, and Stockton?
Maybe not, but it has the chance to be one of the deepest, most talented classes of all-time and only time will tell how great it will be.