2017 Post Lottery NBA Mock Draft
Mark Tatum revealed a particularly uneventful draft order last night, so it’s time for my last and The Crevice’s first mock draft for 2017. I don’t believe in big boards, but fit and need, in my opinion, is much more important than best player available for most teams. Teams with nothing like Sacramento and Orlando probably want the best prospect available, but the teams at the top already have some kind of direction. So I’ll forego the big board for a mock draft. I’m just going to do the first round, since I hardly know enough about European draft-and-stash prospects and mid-major players who deserve a look.
I’m going to identify the biggest needs for each team, the probable pick in the mock draft, and a best case and a worst case comp for each player.
Pick 1: Boston Celtics
Team need: Second perimeter scorer, rebounding/defensive forward/center
Pick: Markelle Fultz
Best case scenario: James Harden with defensive instincts
Worst case scenario: James Harden with a worse shot
I, like everyone else, am huge on Markelle Fultz, given his scoring touch, stop-and-go ability, and measureables. His 6'10" length on a 6'4" frame gives him the physical tools to turn into someone who could be both a good on-ball agitator and a great roaming weakside defender. And given the Celtics’ propensity for three guard lineups, he can easily jump into the Marcus Smart spot and add a scoring punch to those lineups from day one. It’s a no brainer for Boston.
Pick 2: Los Angeles Lakers
Team need: Lead guard, rim-running/rim-protecting big
Pick: Lonzo Ball
Best case scenario: Jason Kidd with a better shot
Worst case scenario: Ricky Rubio with a better shot
If the Lakers don’t pick up Lonzo Ball, I think he’ll drop in the draft. His weird shot mechanics are going to delay his scoring development, and he isn’t too adept at on-ball defense. But his playmaking ability and size next to Russell, Ingram, and Randle could get those three into easier scoring situations.
Pick 3: Philadelphia 76ers
Team need: Perimeter scorer/defender
Pick: Jayson Tatum
Best case scenario: more athletic Paul Pierce with less playmaking ability
Worst case scenario: better playmaking Danny Granger
I think Josh Jackson is probably the better prospect overall but I think the fit next to Embiid, Simmons, Saric, and company is a little sloppy. Tatum’s smooth scoring ability and shooting touch (34.2% 3PT on 4 3PA, 84.9% FT) is far beyond Jackson’s streakiness at this point. Philly really can’t wrong with this pick, even if they strive for Malik Monk or Jonathan Isaac, but Tatum gives them the most lineup flexibility.
Pick 4: Phoenix Suns
Team need: Perimeter scorer/defender
Pick: Josh Jackson
Best case scenario: Better scoring Andre Iguodala
Worst case scenario: Andre Iguodala
Josh Jackson is an amazing defender with an amazing motor, possess great ball skills, and is the most athletic prospect in this class, or maybe second behind Dennis Smith, Jr. The Suns need exactly someone like him on the wing next to Booker to alleviate Booker’s defensive liabilities and facilitate his, T.J. Warren’s, and whichever one of Bender and Chriss develops into the franchise’s cornerstone big.
Pick 5: Sacramento Kings
Team need: Everything
Pick: De’Aaron Fox
Best case scenario: John Wall
Worst case scenario: Rajon Rondo in this year’s playoffs
Sacramento isn’t in a terrible spot, if they can nail these picks. The Kings are one of the only teams in the league who lack a point guard, and De’Aaron Fox would be a great player to build a team around. The Kings already have a pick-and-pop big in Skal and a pick-and-roll big in Cauley-Stein to pair with Fox. Buddy Hield next to Fox is a great pairing, too, very similar to what he worked with in Kentucky. All they need to do is give him a little more shooting.
Pick 6: Orlando Magic
Team need: Point guard, stretch big
Pick: Dennis Smith, Jr.
Best case scenario: Russell Westbrook
Worst case scenario: Steve Francis
I watched DSJ many times as his NC State team couldn’t figure out how to play cohesively in the ACC. The pieces he worked with gave him no space, aside from Maverick Rowan, who is basically the lanky white dude in any pickup game. And yet he put up 18.1 points, 6.2 assists (who the hell was he passing to in order to rack up those assists?), and 4.6 rebounds on 45.5/35.9/71.5 splits. Again, he had no spacing, often had to force shots, and he still had great efficiency on almost 5 three point attempts a game. Sure, he turned the ball over a lot and his defensive intensity waxes but mostly wanes. But playing for Mark Gottfried’s boiled chicken offense usually saps the life out of you. The Magic should draft Dennis Smith, try to shop Elfrid Payton, pair DSJ with Aaron Gordon in pick-and-roll schemes, and surround him with shooters like Fournier et al.
Pick 7: Minnesota Timberwolves
Team need: Stretch four, point guard with shooting touch
Pick: Jonathan Isaac
Best case scenario: Serge Ibaka with perimeter skills
Worst case scenario: Tyrus Thomas with staying power
I hate the Rashard Lewis comp because it makes Isaac out to be a scoring forward. He’s not. He’s a defensive forward with shooting ability. If his offense doesn’t develop quite as intended, he’s still a rangy forward who can guard wings and power forwards and hit a corner three. That’s exactly the type of role player who can play in the frontcourt with KAT and Wiggins.
Pick 8: New York Knicks
Team need: Point guard, perimeter scoring, youth, a new owner, a new GM
Pick: Malik Monk
Best case scenario: C.J. McCollum who can guard point guards well
Worst case scenario: Jason Terry on the Hawks
The Knicks need anything and everything, and since they can’t draft me to be their GM, the next best pick is to pick the one player left on the board with star power. If they can develop Monk into a pick-and-roll/pop handler with Porzingis, that could be LETHAL. Shooting and finishing ability in both the initiator and screener is hard to come by (see Curry-Durant or Conley-Gasol schemes), and Monk and Porzingis could help nudge this team into a new light.
Pick 9: Dallas Mavericks
Team need: Youth
Pick: Frank Ntilikina
Best case scenario: Athletic Ricky Rubio with more confidence in his shooting
Worst case scenario: Athletic Kendall Marshall
Dallas has committed to building around their core of Harrison Barnes’s scoring ability, Seth Curry’s poor man’s Steph Curry, and Nerlens Noel’s rim-running ability. That, with Rick Carlisle’s genius, might take them to a playoff spot. They can either add youth to the perimeter or behind Dirk. Personally, I don’t think they’ll contend for Trevon Duvall in next year’s draft, so might as well add a point guard this year and hope he develops. Ntilikina is a pass-first point guard with great size and length, perfect to pair with a short two-guard. He can facilitate for the establish scorers and can probably play alongside Ferrell and Curry in Carlisle’s three guard lineups. Markkanen is the other consideration at this pick, but I highly doubt he’s the next Dirk.
Pick 10: Sacramento Kings
Team need: Everything but a point guard
Pick: Lauri Markannen
Best case scenario: Channing Frye who can put it on the floor
Worst case scenario: Channing Frye
Sacramento needs to build around De’Aaron Fox in the mock. Either Skal or Willie will click. The ideal scenario is if one of the forwards in this draft drops to this pick, since 3-and-D wings are the most important position in today’s game. But all of them have been picked. And reaching from O.G. Anunoby or either of the Justin Jacksons or Rodions Kurucs isn’t a good move, albeit something the Kings would probably do. Markannen, however, gives them a stretch four who can play from day one and probably be at the level of Channing Frye or Ryan Anderson right now. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially with a 20-year old with upside.
Pick 11: Charlotte Hornets
Team need: Wing scorer, rim-running/protecting big
Pick: Zach Collins
Best case scenario: Cody Zeller with some shooting and rim protection
Worst case scenario: Cody Zeller
I hate this. I subscribe to the maxim that you should have a rooting interested in the team most geographically proximal to you. That happens to be Michael Jordan’s “let’s win 38 games every year” Hornets with Kemba, who can’t be a lead guard on a playoff team, Batum, who can’t be the second best player on a playoff team, and Cody Zeller, who can’t be the best big on a playoff team. Yet, they want to make the playoffs with that core. And, lo and behold, they have to pick 11 in a draft that isn’t too deep. The best move would be to package Kemba and this pick for future picks and tank. Try to move Batum (maybe swap him for Parsons and some picks and extend his salary with the medical clause thing). But, MJ and Rich Cho won’t go nuclear on this team, so Zach Collins it is. Hopefully, if the Hornets finally realize they need to blow this up, he can develop into a good starting center.
Pick 12: Detroit Pistons
Team need: Perimeter scorer/defender, stretch big
Pick: Donovan Mitchell
Best case scenario: Avery Bradley with more ball skills
Worst case scenario: Marcus Smart with less ball skills
If Detroit doesn’t match on KCP, they’ll need a replacement. It’s possible that Mitchell can fill that 3-and-D role, maybe even better than KCP. His immense length makes up for his height, and he’s a tenacious on-ball defender, much like the Celtics tiny guard trio. His shooting improved greatly from his freshman year (from 25.0% to 35.4%), and if that trend continues, he’ll could develop into a pretty effective starter.
Pick 13: Denver Nuggets
Team need: Point guard, wing defender, stretch four
Pick: T.J. Leaf
Best case scenario: Ryan Anderson with help defense instincts
Worst case scenario: Nick Collison
I’m high on T.J. Leaf, much higher than the draft experts. Probably that’s what makes them experts and me a dude who writes NBA pieces while watching Netflix. From what I’ve seen of him, Leaf is a slightly above average athlete with a sweet stroke and good rebounding instincts. His 46.6% three point shooting may be a little inflated because he attempted less than two a game. But even if that number drops all the way down to 38% on five attempts a game, and his total rebounding percentage stays at 14.9%, he’s a solid player alongside Nikola Jokic and Gary Harris. Again, the move here should be to package one of their aging combo forwards and this pick to clear cap space and get another young, known commodity.
Pick 14: Miami Heat
Team need: Point guard, combo forward, big man depth
Pick: Harry Giles
Best case scenario: Amar’e Stoudemire
Worst case scenario: Bismack Biyombo in his third year
I don’t need any more explanation. If Giles develops, high reward. If not, no harm done.
Pick 15: Portland Trailblazers
Team need: Perimeter shooter, stretch four, rim-running/protecting big
Pick: Jarrett Allen
Best case scenario: Chris Bosh without the post-up ability
Worst case scenario: Richaun Holmes
Allen has some upside, with a sweet shooting stroke, a good vertical, and good defensive instincts. If his motor resembles more of what it was in the later stage of the season than at first, he could really turn into something, either behind Nurkic, or possibly in his stead if Nurkic commands too much money in free agency.
Pick 16: Chicago Bulls
Team need: Perimeter shooter, point guard, big man depth
Pick: Justin Patton
Best case scenario: Nerlens Noel with a midrange jumper
Worst case scenario: Brendan Haywood
The Bulls are probably closer to blowing it up than not. If the Bulls can somehow flip Butler for a top pick this year or next year, they can target a point guard. But this year, they should pick the best available prospect. And that’s Justin Patton, who has great lateral quickness, great length, and a great vertical. He’s a solid rebounder and rim protector and has shown flashes of shooting touch. Pair him with a point guard in a spread pick-and-roll scheme and he can be a building block.
Pick 17: Milwaukee Bucks
Team need: Perimeter shooter, backup big
Pick: Justin Jackson
Best case scenario: Rip Hamilton with a better three-point shot
Worst case scenario: Tony Snell
I love Justin Jackson because he has that irrational confidence gene without being wholly reliant on it. He’s a solid scorer who can get hot, instead of just being a streaky shooter. His midrange efficiency, floater game, and ability to move without the ball make him the perfect complementary scorer for high usage players like Giannis, Middleton, and Parker. And his length on the perimeter and natural defensive instincts give him a pretty high floor.
Pick 18: Indiana Pacers
Team need: Wing shooter/defender, backup big
Pick: Ivan Rabb
Best case scenario: Richaun Holmes
Worst case scenario: Richaun Holmes without a motor
When I watch Ivan Rabb, I see Richaun Holmes. Solid backup big who can start in a pinch. If his motor’s running, he’s a very good rebounder (rebounding percentage of 18.3%) and he has a solid midrange game as well. Indiana, given they don’t trade George and bring back the team, can’t do much worse.
Pick 19: Atlanta Hawks
Team need: Backup point guard, backup big, wing scorer/defender
Pick: O.G. Anunoby
Best case scenario: Draymond Green without playmaking skills
Worst case scenario: Bigger Tony Allen
Anunoby needs to prove his athleticism will be back after the surgery, but his defensive versatility will be very useful for many teams. However, he has no shot, isn’t a particularly good finisher, and lacks ball skills. The Hawks could probably develop him into a solid rotation player.
Pick 20: Portland Trailblazers
Team need: Perimeter shooter, stretch four
Pick: Jonathan Jeanne
Best case scenario: Rudy Gobert with a midrange shot
Worst case scenario: Hasheem Thabeet
Here’s the deal: with Nurkic, Portland’s a top twelve team. So, why not go the Utah route and draft bigs with great potential and hope they develop? If one of Allen or Jeanne develops into the real thing, the other and Nurkic become expendable. Take a risk with these late first round picks and hope they hit.
Pick 21: Oklahoma City Thunder
Team need: Perimeter shooting, secondary playmaker, backup point guard
Pick: Luke Kennard
Best case scenario: J.J. Redick with ball skills
Worst case scenario: Jodie Meeks
Kennar is a savvy scorer with great efficiency and a quick release. He can off-ball with Russ and can make a play off a close out. If he can adjust to the athleticism of the wings who’ll be guarding him, he can be an above-average starter in the league.
Pick 22: Brooklyn Nets
Team need: Everything
Pick: Isaiah Hartenstein
Best case scenario: Brook Lopez with mobility
Worst case scenario: Donatas Motiejunas
The Nets need everything. Hartenstein has the highest upside of the remaining prospects, with a decent shooting stroke, mobility, and versatility. He could play alongside Lopez and behind him, as he develops into his potential. I honestly could see Hartenstein being one of the surprises from this draft.
Pick 23: Toronto Raptors
Team need: Backup big, wing depth
Pick: Ike Anigbogu
Best case scenario: Bismack Biyombo
Worst case scenario: Smaller Hasheem Thabeet
Anigbogu’s UCLA stint was less than glorious, but his wingspan and athleticism make him an interesting prospect. He can turn into a rim-running, high energy center off the bench for a team that really missed Bismack Biyombo.
Pick 24: Utah Jazz
Team need: Backup point guard, frontcourt depth
Pick: Jawun Evans
Best case scenario: Damon Stoudemire
Worst case scenario: Tyronn Lue
Pull out the little point guard role player comps. But Jawun Evans will be an irrational confidence point guard off the bench who can lose you a game just as easily as he can win you a game. His shot needs a little more work, but he’s a great finisher and can start and stop on a dime.
Pick 25: Orlando Magic
Team need: Perimeter scoring
Pick: Terrance Ferguson
Best case scenario: Rodney Hood
Worst case scenario: Terrence Ross with less efficiency
There isn’t much usable tape on Ferguson. But he has great athleticism and a good stroke, so it’s conceivable that he could develop into a starting two-guard. If the Magic can come away from this draft with their backcourt of the future, it’s a great haul of a struggling franchise.
Pick 26: Portland Trailblazers
Team need: Stretch big, perimeter shooting
Pick: Tyler Lydon
Best case scenario: Fat Nikola Mirotic who can block shots
Worst case scenario: Nick Collison with a corner three
Fat Nikola Mirotic who can block shots works perfectly next to Nurkic. But that’s unlikely to happen.
Pick 27: Brooklyn Nets
Team need: Everything
Pick: Hamidou Diallo
Best case scenario: Shabazz Muhammad with ball skills
Worst case scenario: Shabazz Muhammad without a good shot
There is little to no good tape on Diallo. But he is a nuclear athlete, probably top three in the draft. He has no shot, however, and relies entirely on his athleticism to score. His defensive motor comes and goes, but his 6'11" length is promising. But the Nets need to gamble on these picks, so Diallo might make sense.
Pick 28: Los Angeles Lakers
Team need: Center, stretch bigs
Pick: Bam Adebayo
Best case scenario: Tristan Thompson with better offensive ability
Worst case scenario: Tarik Black
Adebayo is ready to be a role player right now, given his motor and his physique. But how successful he’ll be in the league is dependent on his defensive improvement and his shooting. If he can contest shots in the paint well and develop his jump shot out to around 14–15 feet, he can be a starting center.
Pick 29: San Antonio Spurs
Team need: Wing scorer, point guard, athletic bigs
Pick: Rodions Kurucs
Best case scenario: Athletic Kyle Korver
Worst case scenario: Skinny Doug McDermott
The dream would be is O.G. Anunoby falls because of injury concerns. But that probably won’t happen. Kurucs is a good shooter with athletic upside. If he puts on weight, he can play next to Kawhi in small-ball lineups and add spacing and athleticism to this aging roster.
Pick 30: Utah Jazz
Team need: Frontcourt depth
Pick: Caleb Swanigan
Best case scenario: Paul Millsap with worse defense
Worst case scenario: Ike Diogu
Utah needs a backup plan for Boris Diaw and Derrick Favors falling out of the rotation, the former because of age and the latter because of salaries. Swanigan showed immense growth after his freshman year, and even though, his three point shooting may be a fluke, his rebounding isn’t. At worst, Swanigan can come off the bench and provide the Jazz with energy and rim-crashing. At best, he can play alongside Gobert and spread the court around their wings.