76ers take Fultz, Lakers grab Ball to start NBA draft

New Orleans Hornets: The 31st pick in the 2017 NBA Draft (Frank Jackson).

But look closer, and the 2017 Draft wasn't exactly the same as in 2016.

Dwight Howard was dealt and D'Angelo Russell — who just two years ago was on the same stage the players will walk Thursday as the No. 2 pick — was dealt by the Los Angeles Lakers, presumably to clear the point guard spot for Ball and salary cap space for the future. "Anytime you want the ball, just let me know and it's going to be there".

The inevitable was made official Thursday night when the 76ers selected Markelle Fultz with the first pick of the National Basketball Association draft. The Lakers selected Ball second overall, giving the rebuilding team another promising young guard while setting up a season of intrigue about how Ball - and, by proxy, his father's dominant presence - will impact the NBA's glamour franchise. I know mom is watching at home and all the rest of my family.

"We're taking the next step, I believe, in formulating a solid young core of players that ultimately will lead to a successful and sustainable product", Bryan Colangelo, the team's vice president of basketball operations, said Monday.

"It's been a little insane last couple days", Duke forward Jayson Tatum said Wednesday. Via Brooklyn, LA drafted power forward Kyle Kuzma with the no. 27 pick, who was a junior at Utah. You can find the full draft order here and the full list of traded picks here.

3 pick after trading with Philadelphia and will have plenty of options in what's considered a strong draft.

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The 6-foot-4 (1.93 m) guard became the second consecutive number one overall pick by Philadelphia, following forward Ben Simmons past year. The Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings round out the top five. It's De'Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith and the rest of the talented point guards in the class.

With the second overall pick of the NBA Draft, the Lakers selected 19-year-old local standout Lonzo Ball of UCLA, a player capable of reviving the fast-paced "Showtime" style that Johnson made famous.

Looking at the bigger picture, the NBA's shift to a league that increasingly values perimeter play was perhaps reflected by an early run on guards and forwards. With the no. 30 pick, LA picked senior Josh Hart out of Villanova.

Also on the team are centers Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid, who were selected No. 3 overall in 2015 and 2014, respectively.

Jackson became the fourth Top 5 pick under Self at Kansas and also is the 22nd KU player and 11th KU lottery pick drafted during the Self era.

The NCAA has never really liked it, and earlier this month, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the system as it's now constructed - where players can enter the draft after a year of college - is "not working for anyone".

Then again, maybe we shouldn't be surprised if things stay the same.

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