2017 NBA Lottery Mock Draft

Due to the strength of the draft class and the New York Knicks consistent ineptitude, I’ve been following this draft for half a year now. Here are my thoughts on how the draft will play out if no additional trades occur.

  1. Philadelphia 76ers - Markelle Fultz, Washington

Fultz was always going first it was just a matter of who picked him. He is a perfect fit next to Ben Simmons and joins the most exciting young core in the East (sorry Bucks).

2. Los Angeles Lakers - Lonzo Ball, UCLA

Just like Fultz, Lonzo’s draft spot was preordained. The Lakers may have kicked the tires on a trade down but after the D’Angelo Russell cap clearing move, Lonzo is getting the keys to the Ferrari. Happy Lavar.

3. Boston Celtics - Jayson Tatum, Duke

Now it gets interesting. With the Celtics passing on Fultz via trade down and already having a glut of talented guards on the roster, you can write off De’Aaron Fox. Therefore, it comes down to the elite forward choices, Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum. Long term projections for these two vary depending on who you ask but I think it’s an easy call. The Celtics just drafted Jaylen Brown last year and have Marcus Smart as well. They can’t take another defensive bulldog with an inefficient offensive game. Brown should become more than that but right now the Celtics are better served by taking a bucket getter like Tatum.

4. Phoenix Suns - Josh Jackson, Kansas

Phoenix will be happy to take Jackson here (or Tatum if he’s available instead). Locking down a wing to join with Devin Booker is a great way to continue building a young foundation. TJ Warren is nice but he isn’t blocking Jackson or Tatum. With Tyler Ulis showing flashes last season, Eric Bledsoe still a Sun, and point guard being such an upgradeable position year to year, going for Fox doesn’t make much sense. Outside chance Suns take Jonathan Isaac here if he’s higher on their board. The draft never mimics all the groupthink after all.

5. Sacramento Kings - De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky

This is a safe pick but honestly the Kings will take whoever turns up here. Keep building around Buddy Hield, Skal Labissiere, and Willie Cauley-Stein. If Jackson or Tatum slips to the Kings or they decide to go for Isaac, look for the Kings to take a point guard like Donovan Mitchell at 10. With two picks this draft and a depleted roster, they should stand pat and take two swings versus trying to trade up. With point guard deep this draft, they shouldn’t be afraid to take a forward at 5 if the opportunity presents itself.

6. Orlando Magic - Dennis Smith Jr. , NC State

This is a tough call because it really sets the table for the rest of the draft. Jonathan Isaac make a lot of sense as a versatile forward but so does going for a flashier selection who can score. DSJ is not a better passer than Elfrid Payton but his ability to attack off the bounce is more effective in the modern NBA. The Magic need offense. Isaac and Aaron Gordon as a small ball tandem is tantalizing though. Who knows?

7. Minnesota Timberwolves - Jonathan Isaac, Florida State

Dream scenario for Wolves. Add a versatile wing that could play next to Towns in small ball lineups. This all depends on how Minnesota has evaluated Isaac’s development time. There is a chance they don’t want to wait around for Isaac to become a contributor, especially after Kris Dunn’s rough rookie year. If that’s the case, take Isaac and trade him later. Value and fit is too strong.

8. New York Knicks - Frank Ntilikina, France

The most Phil Jackson move possible (besides trading Porzingis) would be to pass on Malik Monk for Frank Ntilikina. At least one of Monk, Ntilikina, or Smith will be available to the Knicks at 8. I’m certain that Phil prefers Ntilikina’s size, defense, and triangle fit above all else. However, Malik Monk could very well be the next Devin Booker and more than just the shoot first guard role he played at Kentucky. The best Knicks point guard of the last 10 years was about a month of Jeremy Lin. They need to nail this pick.

9. Dallas Mavericks - Lauri Markkanen, Arizona

They’re hoping one of the point guards slip. In my scenario, they’ll take the best guy left on their board. Is that guy Lauri Markkanen? He certainly fits and despite his flaws his shooting will be of immediate help because his offense is a nice compliment to Nerlens Noel. Definitely in play for Mavs to take Donovan Mitchell or Malik Monk if they’re in love with either guy and want to upgrade the Yogi Ferrell x Seth Curry backcourt this season.

10. Sacramento Kings — OG Anunoby

I can’t see the Kings taking Zach Collins like other mocks because he projects as a role player just like Willie Cauley-Stein. Swing for the fences on a wing like Anunoby. If he stays healthy, his defensive versatility will be a strong foundation to the core. Again, if their first pick isn’t Fox, Donovan Mitchell makes a lot of sense here.

11. Charlotte Hornets - Malik Monk, Kentucky

I really want to see the Hornets take Zach Collins here just so they can continue their lottery power forward obsession (Cody Zeller, Noah Vonleh, and Frank Kaminsky are their last 3 lotto picks). However, with the newly acquired Dwight Howard manning the middle with Zeller, a wing is required. Why not Monk who would be a great shooting compliment to Kemba Walker and a tremendous value at pick 11? Nicholas Batum is getting worse from beyond the arc, Marco Belinelli is gone, MKG can’t shoot, and Jeremy Lamb is bad. They need a shooter. I know I’m taking a chance here with Monk falling out of the Top 10 over Smith or Ntilikina but the high variance of this draft is what makes it so fascinating. If Monk is gone here, the Hornets could pounce on Luke Kennard. Same fit.

12. Detroit Pistons - Donovan Mitchell, Louisville

Stan Van Gundy isn’t thrilled with Reggie Jackson and neither are most basketball fans. A fresh start at the point guard position is required, whether Jackson can be immediately traded or not. Alternatively, they could look to acquiring a modern day big as Andre Drummond’s future has also come into question.

13. Denver Nuggets - Zach Collins, Gonzaga

They would love OG Anunoby and his defense to fall to them. Despite the ascendance of Nikola Jokic and the banishment of Jusuf Nurkic, the Nuggets could actually use another big man in the right role. Kenneth Faried is still on the trade block for what feels like an eternity and Gallinari is looking at a huge payday in free agency. With Gary Harris and Jamal Murray on the wings, a sound big with an outside shot could work out nicely.

14. Miami Heat

They have a glut of swingmen and only 1 consequential big in Whiteside. I could see Justin Patton or John Collins or even Jarrett Allen. That being said maybe they add another wing in Justin Jackson. I’m sure my mock will be trash by this time anyway. Waiters Island, No Vacancy.