2017 NBA Mock Draft
- Philadelphia 76ers- Markelle Fultz, G/Washington
Trust the process. In Fultz, Philly lands the franchise point guard they were looking for to couple with last year’s top pick Ben Simmons and the “Trust the Process” campaign manager Joel Embiid. Fultz sampled the pu pu platter last season at Washington, mustering only nine wins despite putting up a dazzling 23/6/6 while shooting 41 percent from deep. With those numbers, Fultz became the first freshman in nearly 25 years to average more than 20 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game. At 6'5, 190 pounds, Fultz has prototypical point guard size. Add in a 6'10 wingspan and a deer-like gracefulness, and the freshman has the ability to become a playmaker on the defensive end of the floor, too. This is a homerun pick for the 76ers.
2. Los Angeles Lakers- Lonzo Ball, G/UCLA
The Lakers have blown a lot of smoke throughout the draft process, but I think Lonzo Ball is their guy. The smoke cleared some after Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka dealt D’Angelo Russell to Brooklyn, making it so that Nick Young outlasted the number two pick of the 2015 NBA Draft as a Laker while also opening a spot for Ball to fill immediately. Ball’s transcendent vision and passing should translate nicely into the free-flowing, offense-friendly NBA. Plus, how awesome/terrible would it be to have LaVar Ball saying outrageous things about the world’s most popular basketball franchise? Pick Lonzo, Lakers.
3. Boston Celtics- Jayson Tatum, F/Duke
Between Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, and Jaylen Brown, the Celtics have a glut of tough, defensive-minded wings. For that reason, I think they pass on Josh Jackson here. Tatum has a polished offensive game and thrives in isolation situations. He has advanced footwork and is crafty, especially in the post:
That’s an NBA level move. Tatum can get the Celtics buckets and fill the role of wing scorer, a spot Boston doesn’t really have in their current form. That separates him from Jackson and is why the Celtics should go with the Dukie.
4. Phoenix Suns- Josh Jackson, F/Kansas
With that said, Jackson is a beast. His biggest question is his wonky shooting stroke, but Jackson still shot 38 percent on 3.6 threes per game. Jackson’s tenacity and competitiveness will surely translate to the pro ranks, and he’ll need those chops to check the top swingmen in the league. The Suns gave up the most points per game last season and were among the bottom feeders in nearly every team defensive category, and Jackson should be able to plug some of those holes based on his athleticism and grit.
5. Sacramento Kings- De’Aaron Fox, G/Kentucky
Fox is almost a mini-version of Jackson. He’s springy, relentless, and the biggest knock on him is his outside shot. Fox bricked 75 percent of his threes last season, a troubling statistic especially when considering how much closer the college line is compared to the NBA arc. Despite his subpar perimeter game, Fox averaged 16.7 points per contest on 48% shooting. His athleticism and touch around the rim make up for his lack of a threat outside. Fox is also helped by his competitive streak. He took Lonzo Ball’s lunch money in the Sweet 16, when all the chips were on the table between two blue bloods. Fox’s dad went further, saying his son “ate (Lonzo’s) ass.” He’s not wrong in saying that, as Fox went for a career high 39 points on 13–20 shooting while limiting Ball to 10 points on 4–10 shooting. Fox seems determined to prove that he’s the best player in the draft, and the Kings would be dumb to pass on him at five.
6. Orlando Magic- Malik Monk, G/Kentucky
As a team, the Magic shot 32.8 percent from downtown last season, good for 29th in the NBA. Monk is a prolific shooter who can get hot in an instant. Immediately, Monk would inject verve into a lifeless offense, one who finished 27th in points scored per game a season ago. Orlando splurged on a slew of big men last summer, drafting Stephen Zimmerman, committing $72 million over four years to Bismack Biyombo, and inking Jeff Green to a $16 million deal. These three joined an already crowded front court including Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic, effectively clogging the paint and thwarting Orlando’s offensive attacks. Monk would help to space the floor and can create his own shot, two things the Magic desperately need.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves- Jonathan Isaac, F/Florida State
Thibs would fall in love with Isaac early on because of his defensive prowess; he’s long, athletic, and can defend nearly every position on the floor. His offense, particularly his outside stroke, is a work in progress, but he should be able to improve a woeful Minnesota defense.
8. New York Knicks- Dennis Smith, G/North Carolina State
Smith is as talented as they come, but there are some questions about his injury history and his leadership ability. Smith was the lead guard for NC State last season, a highly talented team who bombed expectations and got their coach fired. Even so, Smith is so explosive and is such a dynamic playmaker that it trumps all the question marks. Not many 6'2 freshmen can do this:
That’s why he’s a top 10 pick.
9. Dallas Mavericks- Frank Ntilikina, G/France
There’s an international man of mystery every year, and Ntilikina is this year’s version. The Frenchman’s wingspan has been reported to be 7'1, which would be the longest of any point guard in the NBA and is equivalent to the average NBA center. In other words, Ntilikina has the wingspan of a Boeing 747 and can use those arms to get in passing lanes, deliver passes over and around defenders, and sky for rebounds. He’ll be a project as he must transition into the NBA game, but Ntilikina’s tools give him a star’s ceiling.
10. Sacramento Kings- Lauri Markkanen, F/Arizona
Markkanen is a 7'0 sniper, recording splits of 49/42/84 in his freshman campaign. He’d provide space for De’Aaron Fox’s drives and the two could develop a nice chemistry in the pick and pop. The problem with the big Finn is that he can’t really do anything else besides shoot. You could probably score on him and might be able to out-rebound him. I originally had Markkanen going seventh to Minnesota, but then I realized he would last about three weeks before Thibs strangled him.
11. Charlotte Hornets- Donovan Mitchell, G/Louisville
By dealing Marco Belinelli in a package to the Hawks, the Hornets opened up a spot for combo guard Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell would also be an upgrade at the backup one over Ramon Sessions. Mitchell’s 6'10 wingspan and 40.5 inch vertical will help him defend positions one through three from the start, and his three-point percentage spiked ten percent from his freshman to sophomore year. That versatility and tangible improvement make him a lottery pick.
12. Detroit Pistons- Luke Kennard, G/Duke
Let’s compare Kennard to another white marksman from Duke in their sophomore seasons in Durham:
JJ Redick: 15.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 42/40/95.
Kennard: 19.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 49/44/86.
I’ll take Kennard, especially because he’s bigger and has a better handle than Redick did at the same age.
13. Denver Nuggets- OG Anunoby, F/Indiana
The Nuggets were the 29th rated defense in the NBA last season and missed the playoffs despite scoring the third most points per game. That should put into perspective how bad Denver was defensively. Anunoby is a top wing defender in this class, and could fill the spot that free agent Danilo Gallinari will leave.
14. Miami Heat- John Collins, F/Wake Forest
Collins was one of the most productive players in an elite college basketball conference. He leapt from 7.3 points and 3.9 rebounds per game his freshman season to 19.2 points and 9.8 boards last year. Collins could fill in right away behind Hassan Whiteside or start at the four for Miami.
15. Portland Trail Blazers- Ike Anigbogu, C/UCLA
The first of a cluster of risky big men off the board, Anigbogu played limited minutes at UCLA last season. Scouts and front offices drool over Anigbogu’s measurables: his 6'10, 250 pound frame, 7'6 wingspan, and 9'3 standing reach bode well for his battles in the NBA trenches. The UCLA product can take his time developing behind Jusuf Nurkic, giving Anigbogu a chance to watch and learn without feeling the pressure of being an every day starter. Anigbogu is difficult to project in a mock draft because he could develop into an All-Star or he could be out of the league in three years. He’s a hit or miss prospect, and the Blazers, with three first round picks, can afford to swing for the fences.
16. Chicago Bulls- Justin Jackson, F/North Carolina
Jackson is a well-rounded player who is not outstanding in any one area. Much improved from the outside, he should be able to help Chicago’s woeful three point shooting numbers.
He’s also a capable defender and has performed on college basketball’s biggest stage. Jackson’s ceiling isn’t as high as others, but he’s a more guaranteed NBA talent.
17. Milwaukee Bucks- Zach Collins, F/Gonzaga
Despite all their length and athleticism, the Bucks were the league’s second-worst rebounding team. Collins averaged 19.2 rebounds per 100 possessions in his freshman campaign, and is a physical player who can carve out space down low. Mix in a low post game and a blossoming outside jumper, and you’ve got yourself a top-20 pick.
18. Indiana Pacers- Semi Ojeleye, F/SMU
I love this guy. Built like a Greek god, Ojeleye is a physical specimen. He also shot 42 percent from distance last season. Last I checked, 6'8, 230 superhumans with 41 inch verticals who can also stroke it tend to do well in the NBA. Especially with Paul George likely on the outs, the Pacers should take this combo forward if he’s still there at 18.
19. Atlanta Hawks- Jarrett Allen, C/Texas
Bye bye Dwight, hello Jarrett. Allen is next in the “Risky Big Men” line. About the former Longhorn, Fran Fraschilla said, “Next year, he’s not going to help an NBA team very much. It’ll shock me if he doesn’t play a lot of D-League basketball.” If he’s a project, he should go to a team that’s rebuilding. Enter the Atlanta Hawks, who just salary dumped Dwight Howard and will likely see Paul Millsap walk in free agency.
20. Portland Trail Blazers- DJ Wilson, F/Michigan
Wilson would fit well into the Blazers’ system as a stretch four, taking Evan Turner’s and Al-Farouq Aminu’s minutes. Neither Turner nor Aminu shoot it well from deep, so opponents sag off of them. This neuters driving lanes for Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, making it more difficult for the franchise’s stars to do their things. Wilson would help to fix this issue with his ability to stretch the defense.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder- TJ Leaf, F/UCLA
In terms of percentage, the Thunder were the worst three point shooting team in the NBA last year. In 58 attempts, Leaf shot 46.6 percent from behind the arc at UCLA. He can space the floor for Russell Westbrook and work with the soon-to-be-MVP in the pick and pop game, giving Russ an extra option in his attacks to the rim.
22. Brooklyn Nets- Harry Giles, C/Duke
ESPN’s Chad Ford says Giles might be the most polarizing prospect he’s ever scouted. Giles’ ability is unquestioned, but he has a nasty injury history which has sapped some of his athleticism. The Nets should take the risk here because Giles could end up being a steal at 22.
23. Toronto Raptors- Terrance Ferguson, G/USA
A five star recruit in the class of 2016, Ferguson opted to skip college and play professionally for a year in Australia. He’s a smooth wing who could develop into a solid two-way player down the road. Ferguson expectedly struggled at times in his first year professionally, but that should ultimately help him in his transition into the NBA.
24. Utah Jazz- Tyler Lydon, F/Syracuse
A stretch four who can light it up from the outside, Lydon can also fill in at the three at times. His versatility and stroke make him a relatively safe pick, but his ceiling isn’t as high as others.
25. Orlando Magic- Bam Adebayo, C/Kentucky
Adebayo definitely passes the eye test. He’s the guy who walks into the gym to play pick up and everyone immediately wants him on their team. Adebayo is chiseled from stone and has a 38.5 inch vertical, but will need to refine his low post game to reach his potential.
26. Portland Trail Blazers- Isaiah Hartenstein, F/Germany
Hartenstein was touted more highly in the earlier stages of the draft process, but his stock dropped after limited playing time overseas. The Blazers should pounce on him at this spot because they have three first round picks, so they can afford to take a shot and could even draft and stash Hartenstein. Plus, the big man was born in Portland, so he’d feel at home in PDX.
27. Los Angeles Lakers- Justin Patton, C/Creighton
The Ringer’s Mark Titus once said he wouldn’t be surprised if Patton became a double-double machine in a few years, but that he also wouldn’t be surprised if Patton was out of the league after his rookie deal. That’s the kind of volatility Patton has in the eyes of many. Like the Blazers, the Lakers have three first round picks, and can afford to gamble with higher upside players.
28. Los Angeles Lakers- Derrick White, G/Colorado
White’s development from lightly recruited high schooler to Division 2 star to Colorado star and now first round draft pick is a testament to his work ethic and projectability. White can play either guard position and has shown the ability to knock down spot up jumpers, something he’ll have to be able to do with Lonzo Ball as his point guard.
29. San Antonio Spurs- Jawun Evans, G/Oklahoma State
With Tony Parker’s torn quad and the prospect of having to pay Patty Mills, Evans makes sense for the Spurs here. It could be argued that no college player did more for their team’s offense last season than Evans, and the Spurs could use a facilitator in their pass heavy attack.
30. Utah Jazz- Tony Bradley, C/North Carolina
A 9'5 standing reach and a 7'5 wing span put Bradley in the Rudy Gobert category in terms of physical tools. Bradley came into his own later in his freshman campaign, contributing off the bench for the Tar Heels. Utah would be a good fit for him as he could learn from one of the NBA’s best big men in Gobert.
31. Charlotte Hornets- Caleb Swanigan, F/Purdue
The work Swanigan has put in to transform his body from obese eighth grader to a slimmed down 260 is tremendous, and the results have shown. He turned himself into a top college player, but needs to continue to work on his weight to defend at the next level.
32. Phoenix Suns- Kyle Kuzma, F/Utah
Much improved from sophomore campaign, Kuzma can stretch the floor and play multiple positions.
33. Orlando Magic- Frank Jackson, G/Duke
An outstanding athlete with the tools to be a stud, Jackson needs to improve his ability to create for others. Especially with the Magic having cooled on Elfrid Payton as their point guard of the future, this pick makes sense for Orlando.
34. Sacramento Kings- Josh Hart, G/Villanova
Hart is a known commodity with a four year résumé of production for an elite college program. He’s a safe bet for a franchise in need of stability.
35. Orlando Magic- Anzejs Pasecniks, C/Latvia
The Latvian really increased his stock after showing off his skills at 7'3 during his pro day. Pasecniks could be a draft and stash player given Orlando’s log jam in the frontcourt.
36. Philadelphia 76ers- Ivan Rabb, F/California
Touted as a lottery pick a year ago, Rabb fell into a late first round/early second round prospect after a down sophomore year. Philly can afford to take a gamble here.
37. Boston Celtics- Jordan Bell, F/Oregon
Bell is a terrific athlete but will need to bulk up to be an effective four in the NBA. With Boston’s deep roster, he’ll have the time to do just that.
38. Chicago Bulls- Frank Mason, G/Kansas
The Bulls need a reliable point guard and Mason has impressed throughout his time at Kansas and during the draft process. I really like this pick for Chicago.
39. Philadelphia 76ers- Tyler Dorsey, G/Oregon
With Fultz running the point and a litany of frontcourt players, the Sixers could use a player who can knock down shots and create for himself on the wing. Dorsey can do both.
40. New Orleans Pelicans- Alec Peters, F/Valparaiso
Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins require space to operate in the low post, and Peters could be the stretch forward to give them just that.
41. Atlanta Hawks- Thomas Bryant, C/Indiana
With freakishly long arms and sneaky athleticism, Bryant can turn into a rim protector with time. Having just dealt Dwight Howard, the Hawks could give minutes to Bryant right away.
42. Utah Jazz- Jonah Bolden, F/Australia
The former UCLA Bruin intrigues scouts with his length and bounce, but his questionable jumper drops him into the second round.
43. Houston Rockets- Cameron Oliver, F/Nevada
Cameron Oliver and Kevin Durant: the only two underclassmen in the last 25 years to record more than 60 blocks and make 60 threes in a single season. Not bad company.
44. New York Knicks- Mathias Lessort, F/France
Powerfully built and an explosive player who runs the floor like a gazelle. Lessort will need to sharpen his basketball instincts and improve his skill level to develop into an NBA player, but the tools are there.
45. Houston Rockets- Wesley Iwundu, F/Kansas State
Improved from the outside and as a rebounder, Iwundu has the athletic profile to defend wings and forwards.
46. Philadelphia 76ers- Devin Robinson, F/Florida
A freakish athlete with a sweet stroke, Robinson’s inconsistency is his downfall. Surrounding him with the young talent the Sixers have is a recipe to maximize his potential.
47. Indiana Pacers- Johnathan Motley, F/Baylor
Motley is rough and rugged down low and bangs for position on the glass. He’s also shown a developing mid range stroke.
48. Milwaukee Bucks- PJ Dozier, G/South Carolina
Milwaukee’s M.O. in recent draft history is to draft long, athletic players who don’t have the best stroke. That’s PJ Dozier.
49. Denver Nuggets- Sindarius Thornwell, G/South Carolina
Thornwell led South Carolina’s charge to the Final Four and set the down for their bulldog mentality on the defensive end. He may be able to inject some nastiness into an otherwise lifeless defense.
50. Philadelphia 76ers- Edmond Sumner, G/Xavier
A torn ACL dropped his stock some, but Sumner remains an outstanding athlete with the ability to break defenders down off the dribble.
51. Denver Nuggets- Damyean Dotson, G/Houston
Dotson chucked 7.7 threes per game last season and made 44.1 percent of them. He can get hot in an instant and provide a spark off the bench.
52. New Orleans Pelicans- Dillon Brooks, F/Oregon
Brooks is a savvy scorer with a knack for coming through in the clutch. He’ll have to find a way to compensate for his lack of athleticism at the next level.
53. Boston Celtics- Aleksandar Vezenkov, F/Cyprus
The Celtics have too many talented players on their roster and too many draft picks to not draft and stash at least one player.
54. Phoenix Suns- Monte Morris, G/Iowa State
A heady point guard who can push the pace, Morris would feel at home in the Suns’ up tempo system.
55. Utah Jazz- Kobi Simmons, G/Arizona
Simmons will need to develop a more reliable outside game, but he’s long and athletic which is a recipe for success in today’s NBA.
56. Boston Celtics- Dwayne Bacon, G/Florida State
Bacon is a streaky shooter that could develop into a Gerald Green type player. He’s worth taking a flyer on at 56.
57. Brooklyn Nets- Davon Reed, G/Miami
Reed can get hot from the outside and is a proven knock down shooter, which the Nets could use.
58. New York Knicks- Jaron Blossomgame, F/Clemson
Blossomgame saw his three point percentage plummet from 44 percent his junior year to 26 percent his season year. He’ll have to regain confidence in his stroke to have any sticking power.
59. San Antonio Spurs- Jonathan Jeanne, C/France
Jeanne was one of my favorites in this draft and regarded as a first round pick before being diagnosed with Marfan’s Syndrome. It would be the ultimate Spurs move to draft and stash the Frenchman and reap the benefits in the future.
60. Atlanta Hawks- Nigel Williams-Goss, G/Gonzaga
This year’s Mr. Irrelevant. The Hawks have little guard depth and could use a savvy lead guard like Williams-Goss.