The Definitive 2017 Mock NBA Draft
Everything here will come true tonight. Nothing is incorrect.
We’re finally here. After a slog of a post-season, where little-to-no exciting events actually occurred, the week between the finals and tonight’s draft was pretty lit. We had the #2 overall pick from two years ago traded for an okay center. We had human-albatross Dwight Howard traded 250 miles up the east coast. Apparently everyone’s second favorite unicorn is getting traded because Phil Jackson is senile? I can’t wait.
This is my first time publishing a mock draft and not just scribbling it on a note pad. All of these picks will be accurate. The only ways any of these picks don’t happen are a) trades happen (and they will); or b) general incompetence. Let’s do this shit.
#1. Philadelphia 76ers — Markelle Fultz, PG, University of Washington
We’ve known that Philadelphia was taking Fultz ever since they traded Boston for the first overall pick over the weekend. Hell, we’ve known Fultz was going in this slot regardless of team since January. This is the biggest “duh” of the draft. While this is a relatively stacked draft, Fultz is the closest thing to a generational player, though not quite to the extent of Anthony Davis or even future-teammate Joel Embiid. That being said, if all goes well health-wise, Fultz can likely be penned in as a future All-Star. He’s going here. 100%.
#2. Los Angeles Lakers — Lonzo Ball, PG, University of California-Los Angeles
This is pretty obvious too, though less so than the previous pick. Part of me saw potential for Josh Jackson here, but that kind of evaporated with the aforementioned trade involving D’Angelo Russell. Lonzo is the hometown talent, his dad is an annoying-if-not-huge star, and Lonzo seems like the kind of player Magic Johnson would salivate over. Lonzo’s staying in LA.
#3. Boston Celtics — Jason Tatum, SF, Duke University
I’m less sure about this one than the previous two, but with the announcement that Jackson would not be working out additionally with Boston prior to the draft, it seems fairly likely that this will be Tatum. That is, if Boston keeps the pick. Personally, I’m not high on Tatum. He tends to be a little ball-dominant, and I don’t know how that’s going to work as long as this is Isaiah Thomas’ team (for however long that may be). But, he’s got a pure shot, can play solid defense, and is young. Boston is probably trading the pick, but if not, I think it’s Tatum.
#4. Phoenix Suns — Josh Jackson, SF, University of Kansas
Jackson is the best player in the draft. Personally, to me, in my opinion, it is Bad that as a teen he thinks he can get away with threatening to beat women. You can hope that disappears with age and maturity, but some players never grow in that direction. So, he likely sucks very badly as a person. But he can ball. People forget these are corporations obsessed with money and results. Josh Jackson is the best player available in the draft to lead to those results. Phoenix would be foolish not to take him.
#5. Sacramento Kings — De’Aaron Fox, PG, University of Kentucky
This just makes so much sense. Sacramento has a ton of picks this year and is relatively set as far as the front-court goes with Skal Labissiere having an impressive rookie season and Willie Cauley-Stein coming alive a bit after DeMarcus Cousins was shipped out of town for Buddy “Future Steph Curry” Hields and some spare parts that are no longer on the team. I think they go with Fox here. He’s a good ball-handler with tons of energy and speed that could, at its peak, be John Wall-ian. They could potentially reach a bit and get Jonathan Isaac here, but I doubt they go with that when there are forwards aplenty later in the draft.
#6. Orlando Magic — Jonathan Isaac, SF, Florida State University
Positions are dumb. Isaac is a “small” “forward” but at 6'10 and with his skillset, he could easily be used as either a stretch-4 or, in today’s small-ball NBA, possibly a center. Orlando was drunk at the wheel under Rob Hennigan. As a Bucks fan, I’ve had experience with John Hammond drafts. As the new Magic GM, I think Hammond goes for someone in the mold of his best draft-pick in Milwaukee (GIANNIS GAWD). They have totally different skill-sets, but Isaac is another project-type pick that has a very high ceiling that someone like Frank Vogel could utilize well. Plus, he gets the home-state bonus.
#7. Minnesota Timberwolves — Lauri Markkanen, Forward, Latvia
This could be the first big “surprise” of the draft. A lot of people seem to think that either Dennis Smith Jr. or Malik Monk could go here. To me, either of those picks seem to be concessions that the Kris Dunn and Zach Lavine experiments are over with. I don’t know if I’m there yet. Dunn has been in the league a year. He wasn’t great, but it was one (1) year. Lavine is an injury liability, sure, but I’ve liked what I’ve seen from him a ton. He’s a very exciting player and I would imagine, while I like Monk, it would take a number of years before he is quite at Lavine’s level. And Minnesota has no one at the 4. Are we sure Gorgui Dieng and Nikola Pekovic will be in the league next year? I think the Wolves need a big to pair with Karl-Anthony Towns. Markkanen isn’t Porzingis (stop comparing them!). Hell, he probably isn’t Ryan Anderson. But he has a nice, pure shot and I would like to see Tibs try to mold Lauri into someone who can develop a post game.
#8. New York Knicks — Frank Ntilikina, PG, France
Again, everyone seems to think this is Monk, if he drops. Everyone seems to be forgetting Phil Jackson is a lunatic obsessed with basketball styles as old as my grandparents. Frank has truly great defense and isn’t a self-creator on the other side. He’s a perfect triangle point guard. I could see Monk being the pick for the Knicks if literally anyone else was making the decisions: he is the right pick. Frankie Nicotine is the Phil Jackson pick.
#9. Dallas Mavericks — Malik Monk, SG, University of Kentucky
This would be so perfect. There’s been a lot of talk about Monk’s lack of ability to create for himself, because Fox ran the court for Kentucky last year. But Monk would have the keys to the back-court in Dallas almost immediately and would be fun as hell to watch for at least one more Dirk season. Monk’s 3-game is already pretty perfect, and pairing that with Dirk would be beautiful to watch.
#10. Sacramento Kings — Donovan Mitchell, SG, University of Louisville
I know two guards in the top 10 picks for one team is a bit crazy. Especially with forwards available. I know. But Sacramento is stock full of bigs. Are they going to reach for O.G. Anunoby, who they would have to stash for a year, or Zach Collins, who wouldn’t get much time behind Skal and Willie? I don’t see it. Sure, Vivek thinks Buddy Hield is the next Steph Curry. What if he isn’t, like literally everyone else seems to think? I think stocking up on guards is the best call for Sacramento and Donovan was exciting as hell to watch on Louisville last year. But Vivek is bound to Vivek, so we’ll see.
#11. Charlotte Hornets — John Collins, PF, Wake Forest
A lot of people seem to think this is another North Carolina-educated player in Luke Kennard from Duke. I don’t see it. Collins played on a team where he was more of a focus than Kennard was at Duke, sure, but Collins was All-ACC (like Kennard), second in Conference POY (with 3x the votes of Kennard), and most-improved, again topping Kennard. He also lead the conference in FG%, came third in PPG and second in RPG. He has a fairly complete game and seems like a player Michael Jordan would love to have when Dwight eventually retires. Pairing him with Frank Kaminsky as a stretch big in the future sounds fun.
#12. Detroit Pistons — Dennis Smith Jr., PG, North Carolina State
Detroit is almost certainly going with a point guard here. It’s just a matter of whom. It seems likely it’ll either be Smith or Ntilikina, whichever falls past New York and Dallas. I would be really surprised if neither were available here. Personally, I think Smith is better. He isn’t quite the defender Ntilikina is but his offense is light-years ahead. That being said, I think New York takes Frank for the triangle reasons mentioned above, freeing up Smith for Detroit. Dallas won’t pass up on Monk, if available, and would likely prefer Frank’s defense-first skillset, if not. Sacramento will likely already have their PG in Fox. Charlotte has Kemba Walker. It just makes sense for one of the two guards mentioned to be available here.
#13. Denver Nuggets — Luke Kennard, SG, Duke University
Whatever. Who cares? No one selected by Denver is going to have an immediate impact with their current roster. Kennard is fine, sure, but he’s a white kid from Duke. This isn’t worth caring about.
#14. Miami Heat — Zach Collins, PF, Gonzaga
Something about a 7-foot plus lanky forward who can both shoot from the outside incredibly well and dunk with ease, as well as swat shots away sounds very Miami. In the wake of Chris Bosh no longer being able to play, unfortunately, Collins seems like a perfect fit, if available.
#15. Portland Trail Blazers — Terrance Ferguson, SG, Australia
This is a couple of picks lower than most people have Ferguson. He just doesn’t seem to fit with the other teams in the low-teens, but could be snatched up if those teams are thinking best player available. Personally, I think Ferguson learning under C.J. McCollum is a great fit, and you could play the two together in the way Portland already does with Evan Turner.
#16. Chicago Bulls — Bam Adebayo, PF, University of Kentucky
Chicago needs everything and they need it now. Outside of Jimmy Butler, whose day’s could be numbered, there isn’t any spot where you can see a player lasting there with the team for more than four years. Adebayo is the best player available: an explosive big with tons of energy. The team needs to build assets and Adebayo is their best chance at doing so.
#17. Milwaukee Bucks — OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana University
This is purely wishful thinking. The Bucks recently announced former Director of Basketball Operations Jon Horst as the new GM after Hammond left for Orlando. This kinda pisses me off. The team had brought in Justin Zanik a year ago as Assistant GM under the guise that he would replace Hammond when he eventually left/retired and Zanik was running the Bucks’ pre-draft team. And after selecting Horst over Zanik for the permanent gig, Zanik left the team. So, we now have a GM making his first pick for the team on about a week’s notice and the guy who originally was leading the draft process is now off the team. Sounds great!
The Bucks, while none of the assets are necessarily “good,” have a stockpile of big men. Thon Maker showed some nice moments here and there after Jabari Parker went down with an injury after the All-Star Break. Greg Monroe is back for at least another year and was the team’s best post-season producer outside of Giannis. John Henson and Spencer Hawes will likely be gone by the time Parker comes back from injury (hopefully). With no real guard talent at this part of the draft, I think Horst’s best move is reaching a bit, taking Anunoby for his promise, and stashing him for a bit since he isn’t immediately needed. Anunoby gets compared to Trevor Ariza, Shane Battier, and (at best) Kawhi Leonard potential. Pairing someone like that, even if he ends up being closer to a Jae Crowder-type, next to Giannis and Co. seems like a Hammond-esque move and one I could get behind.
#18. Indiana Pacers — Justin Jackson, SF, University of North Carolina
The Pacers are a bit in flux right now. Paul George is shipping out west (either the Midwest or California) sooner rather than later and Myles Turner is waiting for the keys to the franchise. Instead of pairing him with another big, I think the Pacers would be best-suited pairing him with an offensive producer. While this is a bit of a reach, as Jackson is already 22, Jackson truly seems like a 6'8 shooting guard than an average-sized small-forward. Pairing Turner with someone who can run the floor, is NBA-ready, and can truly shoot seems smart. I think Indiana looks at the success Milwaukee was able to get from Malcolm Brogdon last year and makes a similar risky-but-smart pick here.
#19. Atlanta Hawks — Harry Giles, PF, Duke University
I played more minutes last year than Harry Giles. If the Bucks select him before Atlanta, I’m going to be pissed. He’s had three knee-related surgeries already at 19. The once-#1 pick projected player is now the definition of a project. Atlanta just sent Dwight away. Maybe they try to take a chance on someone who could be the next Dwight. Who cares?
#20. Portland Trail Blazers — T.J. Leaf, PF, University of California-Los Angeles
With Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and last year’s big surprise Jusuf Nurkic set as the core of the team, Portland is in a pretty good spot. They don’t necessarily need anyone who can step in right away. While Nurkic is a bit of a bruising big in the traditional sense, pairing him with a stretch-big like Leaf could be a good recipe for a successful front-court going forward. I like Leaf here, though taking a chance on another Eastern European big like Anzejs Pasecniks might be the move.
#21. Oklahoma City Thunder — Frank Jackson, SG, Duke University
For the love of god, please get Russell Westbrook someone who can score. Jackson is small as far as two-guards go at 6'4, but man can he shoot. Russell needs that more than any other superstar in the league. Him kicking out to Jackson is already better than fucking Victor Oladipo or Andre Roberson. Give me a break.
#22. Brooklyn Nets — Justin Patton, PF, Creighton University
I really don’t know what Brooklyn does. They made the right move in trading for D’Angelo Russell, who could be the franchise-player going forward. There really isn’t anything else worth saying about this team. Build assets around Russell. Take the best player available in Patton and hope for the best.
#23. Toronto Raptors — Jonah Bolden, SF, Australia/UCLA
Bolden is an interesting story in that he started off as a fairly respected Australian-native recruit for UCLA that was poorly-positioned and ended up going pro in Europe. This led to him improving wildly and winning the Adriatic League’s top prospect award, recently given to Nikola Jokic and Dario Saric. Bolden is a bit of a project, but Toronto isn’t looking to draft someone that will be an immediate star, with DeMar DeRozan leading the team. They can afford to take a risk and pick someone that might take a year or two but who has a great shot, can fill space, and hold his own on defense.
#24. Utah Jazz — D.J. Wilson, PF, University of Michigan
This seems like the move. Pairing a fluid big who can ball handle but also keeps up Utah’s penchant for defense next to Rudy Gobert seems smart. Utah is in a weird state in that they are probably going to lose their franchise-player here shortly. They’re in a spot where they can redefine their brand, and building next to Gobert seems smart.
#25. Orlando Magic — Anzejs Pasecniks, Center, Latvia
I think it’s safe to say the Nikola Vucevic experiment is probably over in Orlando. While true centers aren’t really valuable in the modern NBA, Pasecniks is a rim-runner who can finish pretty well and actually shoot. Apparently. How the fuck am I supposed to keep up with Latvian players. Grow up.
#26. Portland Trail Blazers — Derrick White, PG, University of Colorado
Oh, jesus christ. Portland has another pick? Derrick White. Sure. Fine.
#27. Los Angeles Lakers — Jarrett Allen, Center, University of Texas
I like Allen a lot and considered putting him down for my Bucks. Would be totally fine with that. He has a lot of upside and is a solid two-way big man, though his feel for the game is a bit off. I’d rather get Anunoby, and don’t see any of the between teams really taking this much of a risk. Magic is Magic.
#28. Los Angeles Lakers — Tyler Lydon, PF, Syracuse University
Why do the Lakers have back-to-back picks? They should have to announce them at the same time. If they take more than a minute in between I’m going to yell, probably.
#29. San Antonio Spurs — Caleb Swanigan, PF, Purdue University
Swanigan was one of the best collegiate players in the country last year. He has Pop written all over him. I really hope this happens. It seems perfect.
#30. Utah Jazz — Kyle Kuzma, SF, University of Utah
Hometown guy, theoretical Gordon Hayward replacement, can kinda shoot. Sure, perfect fit.
This was fun. I’ll do it next year. Consider this your bible for draft night as you pound beers and eat chips. I hope by the time you read this Porzingis has been traded. Good night.