2017 Mock Draft and NBA Draft Results
June 12, 2017
This year’s NBA draft class has been hyped up as possibly the best since 2003 when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and more were selected, and it deserves a lot of the hype it’s getting. This class has it all- a surefire number one pick in Washington’s Markelle Fultz, great two-way players such as Josh Jackson out of Kansas, Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox, and Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac. Fox’s backcourt mate at Kentucky, Malik Monk, as well as Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen, serve as the knockdown shooters. And of course, there’s a polarizing player (with an even more polarizing father) in UCLA star Lonzo Ball. This has been one of the most unpredictable drafts we’ve had in a long time, due to the dozens of scenarios in play on June 22.
- Boston Celtics select Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington
Fultz is far and away the best prospect in this draft. He does not have a single weakness, and excels in many categories. He’s elite when it comes to getting to the rim and finishing, a skill that is helped by his outstanding athleticism. His shot is already solid, and has all of the tools to be a great defender. As an added plus for the Celtics, he can play both guard positions, which will help him fit in with Isaiah Thomas.
- Los Angeles Lakers select Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA
Ever since Ball broke out at UCLA, his father Lavar has become the bigger headline grabber, which has often overshadowed his son’s one-of-a-kind skillset. Lonzo is the definition of a unique prospect. He’s an elite passer with unbelievable court vision, but doesn’t hold the ball for a lot of time. His college shooting numbers would indicate that he’s one of the best shooters in the draft, but front offices fear his shot form, that is very weird, to say the least. He, or at least his father, desperately wants to play for the Lakers. And while there have been a few reports that new President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson isn’t sold on Lonzo, expect the Lakers to snag the LA kid with the second pick.
- Philadelphia 76ers select Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas
Given that the top two picks seem like a lock, the Sixers control how the rest of the draft plays out at number three, and they can really go in any direction. Jackson is likely the best player available at this spot, and unless they trade down, the Sixers will probably opt to take who they view as the best player available over someone who might fit better with the roster.
- Phoenix Suns select Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke
While Phoenix is likely praying that Philly passes on Jackson, here they’ll have to settle for Jayson Tatum, who displays many qualities of an NBA go-to scorer, somebody who can go one on one and get buckets when his team needs it most. The problem is, however, this skillset doesn’t necessarily fit today’s NBA. The combination of his questionable three point shot, and his reliance on isolation plays, which are no longer commonplace in the league, raise questions. But pairing him with Devin Booker gives the Suns two fantastic young scorers.
- Sacramento Kings select De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky
Fox has been the highest riser on draft boards in recent months, and this isn’t surprising at all. Given his maturity that will impress teams, as well as his freakish speed and athleticism that hasn’t been seen in a rookie since John Wall, he is sure to have teams ready to do whatever it takes to get him. The only reason he isn’t being considered for one of the top two picks is because of his jump shot (or lack thereof). He simply can’t shoot right now, and whether he’ll start knocking down jumpers soon remains to be seen. Regardless, he’s too good to flame out, he’s bound to carve out a niche in the league.
- Orlando Magic select Dennis Smith Jr., PG, North Carolina State
Orlando right now is desperately in need of someone to help turn their fortunes around. Ever since they traded Dwight Howard away almost five years ago, they’ve been a terrible team, which becomes a problem if you repeatedly blunder your first round picks like they have. Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon have been disappointing relative to where they were selected, and Mario Hezonja seems to be a bust, taken fifth in 2015. Smith gives the Magic a point guard who is explosive, even coming off of a torn ACL in high school. He is a phenomenal athlete, and his scoring abilities continue to develop. His shot is still a work in progress, but the worst case scenario for Dennis Smith is that he’ll end up being a reliable scorer. But best case, he’ll be a scoring machine who excels in other categories as well.
- Minnesota Timberwolves select Jonathan Isaac, F, Florida State
There may be no better fit in this draft than Jonathan Isaac going to Minnesota. He’d be their power forward, and their roster would be full of versatile and athletic players, which would propel them to new heights on the defensive end. He can step out to the perimeter and allow Karl Anthony-Towns to dominate in the paint, or vice versa. Isaac and Towns both having the threat of great jumpers also helps the main perimeter scorers, Andrew Wiggins and Zach Lavine. This pick is a no-brainer, and Tom Thibodeau should do whatever he needs to do to make this happen.
- New York Knicks select Frank Ntilikina, PG, Belgium
The New York Knicks are a trainwreck. The man in charge, Phil Jackson, is the reason why. He seems to care little about his team, relentlessly shames his best player, has alienated his young star, and is committed to playing in a system that hasn’t been successful in two decades. However, Belgian guard Frank Ntilikina does fit what Phil wants most. Frank will be a good player with the Knicks, but would turn into a very good player elsewhere- it’s the story of the Knicks.
- Dallas Mavericks select Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona
After missing out on a point guard that they should be coveting, look for the Mavericks to get their eventual Dirk Nowitzki replacement. Markkanen, at his seven foot frame, is likely the best shooter in this draft, and would fit perfectly with new Dallas big-man Nerlens Noel. Having a year or two playing under Dirk would help him mold his game into one reminiscent of his predecessor.
- Sacramento Kings select Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky
Sacramento ends up ecstatic in getting both halves of Kentucky’s electrifying backcourt with their two lottery picks. Monk can shoot with the best of them, but will likely fall far due to his very questionable defense and playmaking ability.
- Charlotte Hornets select Zach Collins, PF, Gonzaga
Charlotte is able to snatch a nice interior prospect in Gonzaga’s Zach Collins. He has nice touch around the rim and can hit open jumpers, and would help Kemba Walker as another guy to help carry the scoring load.
- Detroit Pistons select John Collins, PF, Wake Forest
The Detroit Pistons are in the worst possible place: barely good enough to make the playoffs, but too good (and too bad at drafting) to get any real game-changers in the draft. And Stan Van Gundy seems to be happy with that, as ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that they’re trying to move this pick for a “win-now” veteran. Win what? The right to get swept by LeBron in the playoffs? Anyways, the Pistons will likely opt to draft a player who is good right now without much room for improvement. John Collins of Wake Forest fits the bill. If the Pistons want to finally be smart, though, they’ll decide to trade players for picks, not vice versa.
- Denver Nuggets select OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana
Denver has what every team covets- a young star who can lead a championship team. And when you have such a player like the Nuggets do in Nikola Jokic, you build the rest of your roster to fit with that player. Enhancing their strengths and hiding their weaknesses is key. And Jokic’s biggest weakness is easily his defense, which is questionable at best. Drafting OG Anunoby would be the perfect way to help that problem. His potential on that side of the ball is limitless. He will be able to guard every position, which is incredibly rare. If he becomes the defender he has the potential to be, any offensive improvement would just be an added bonus. His shot is suspect, but he has great size, length and athleticism.
- Miami Heat select Harry Giles, PF/C, Duke
Harry Giles has had an interesting last 9 months, to put it lightly. He came to Duke as the top high school recruit in the nation and the projected #1 pick in the draft. He had trouble making it back to the court from an injury, and when he did come back, he had very little playing time, and didn’t look impressive at all when he played. He surprisingly still entered the draft, and is now looking at a projected late lottery or early 20s selection. If a team in need of a big wants to take a risk, which Pat Riley of the Heat has been known to do, Giles can be an interesting gamble to take.
- Portland Trail Blazers select TJ Leaf, PF, UCLA
With the first of their three picks, the Blazers add Leaf due to his fit as a stretch big. His defense is poor, which doesn’t help Portland’s problems on that end, but his shooting ability helps give Jusuf Nurkic more room to operate down low.
- Chicago Bulls select Justin Jackson, SG/SF, North Carolina
The Bulls go in a familiar route and grab a seasoned college veteran who can (hopefully) help right away. But, this pick should go better than the Denzel Valentine pick last year. Jackson is a good player who at worst will be an effective defender and shooter. He would fit great with Jimmy Butler, if the Bulls decide not to trade Jimmy.
- Milwaukee Bucks select Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA
Milwaukee loves taking risks in the first round on players with supreme athleticism and length. In 2013, they took a huge gamble on a prospect nobody had ever heard of and selected Giannis Antetokounmpo. Obviously, he’s now blossomed into one of the brightest young stars in the NBA today. Last year, they took Thon Maker in the top ten, which seemed insane at the time, but he was starting at center for them in the playoffs in his rookie year. The Bucks need help with rim protection and rebounding, and they’re always looking for athleticism, so UCLA’s surprise entrant in the draft makes sense here. Anigbogu is somewhat of an unknown as to what his role will be in the league, but if anyone can unravel the mystery quickly, it’s the Bucks.
- Indiana Pacers select Donovan Mitchell, SG, Louisville
If the Pacers can get Mitchell at 18, it will without a doubt be the best pick of the draft. Mitchell is projected to go in this range, but he should go in the top ten. He is primed to be a top tier defender in the NBA, and can also shoot and handle the ball well. The Louisville product would be the perfect player to pair with Paul George on the wings.
- Atlanta Hawks select Luke Kennard, SG, Duke
While Kennard is known for his shooting, which is excellent, where he’ll surprise people at the next level is with his playmaking and ball-handling. He can fit in with the Hawks as the primary jump shooter, as well as the secondary ball-handler.
- Portland Trail Blazers select Rodions Kurucs, SF, Latvia
The Blazers have three first rounders and an already crowded roster, so it only makes sense that they use one of them on a “draft-and-stash”- someone who will be in Europe playing professionally for a year or two before coming over to the United States. Kurucs is the number one stash option available in this draft, and will hopefully fill a future need on the wing.
- Oklahoma City Thunder select Terrance Ferguson, SG, Australia
Ferguson took the unusual route of electing to play a year in Australia rather than in an American college. He’s somewhat of an unknown because of this, but his athleticism, defensive potential and shooting ability will help Russell Westbrook in OKC.
- Brooklyn Nets select Isaiah Hartenstein, PF, Lithuania
When you’re in the position that the Brooklyn Nets are in, you don’t draft players with high floors, you must shoot for the stars on players with high ceilings. A perfect way to do this is to pick a raw foreign player with great tools like Hartenstein. At seven foot one, he possesses unique ball-handling abilities for someone his size, and has a nice shooting stroke as well. He isn’t going to blossom immediately, and his defensive skills need a lot of work, but Isaiah is certainly a project worth taking on if you’re the Nets.
- Toronto Raptors select Bam Adebayo, PF, Kentucky
While the Raptors should look to blow up their nucleus of Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas and opt to get younger and cheaper, there are no signs of them doing so. Expect them to take the best player on their draft board- who at this spot, should be Kentucky big-man Bam Adebayo. His interior presence as well as his rebounding can help them down low.
- Utah Jazz select Ivan Rabb, PF, California
The Jazz don’t need much right now, but what they need most is depth inside, and Rabb would help them. Whether his scoring or rebounding skills translate to the pros is yet to be seen, but his rebounding ability is a sure thing, after he averaged a double-double in his sophomore season at California.
- Orlando Magic select Derrick White, G, Colorado
After nabbing a high-upside player in Smith, the Magic grab a Senior guard who has been rising up draft boards recently due to his natural scoring ability and all-around skillset. White may not become a star, but he’ll certainly be a good player in the NBA.
- Portland Trail Blazers select Justin Patton, C, Creighton
Portland adds more interior depth, grabbing the backup center they need in Creighton’s Justin Patton. There have been trade rumors surrounding them and Sixers center Jahlil Okafor, so don’t be shocked if one of their three picks ends up being made by the Sixers.
1. Brooklyn Nets select Jawun Evans, PG, Oklahoma State
Brooklyn gets another high-upside prospect here, a true steal with Jawun Evans at 27. He can get a chance to shine early on, as there will be plenty of shots for him to take on basketball’s worst team.
- Los Angeles Lakers select Tony Bradley, C, North Carolina
With the first round pick that the Lakers acquired in the Lou Williams trade, LA grabs a center that they do need. They should look at Texas’ Jarrett Allen instead, but rumor has it Bradley only stayed in the draft because he got a promise from the Lakers that they’d take him if he were available.
- San Antonio Spurs select Sindarius Thornwell, SG, South Carolina
Sindarius Thornwell makes for the perfect Spur- a hard nosed defender who lacks athleticism, isn’t flashy and stays quiet. His vertical jump at the Draft Combine was the second worst overall, which is very concerning for a six foot five guard. However, he showed in his Final Four run with South Carolina that he is capable of being a big part of a winning team.
- Utah Jazz select Frank Jackson, G, Duke
With the final selection of the first round, the Jazz take a surprise entrant in the draft who is capable of being plugged in at both guard positions in Frank Jackson. His versatility will be useful for them, especially if free agent to be George Hill decides to take his talents elsewhere.
This draft can go in many directions, and there are sure to be many surprise picks and trades made on the night of the 22nd. The question is, which teams will set themselves up for a bright future, and which ones will cripple their own?