2017 NBA MOCK DRAFT

2017 NBA MOCK DRAFT

            The number of storylines that have popped out of seemingly nowhere this year in the NBA is practically countless. If you start last offseason, you have the well-documented Kevin Durant saga, Westbrook vowing revenge, while the Cavs were celebrating their most recent championship.

Fast forward through the bulk of the regular season and a predictable playoff season, we have reached the first few weeks of the NBA offseason. All seemed calm in the world, and then everyone’s favorite breaking news Twitter account dropped one of his patented Woj Bombs.

Adrian Wojnarowski, basketball insider extraordinaire, has been busy as ever, first breaking the news of the Boston Celtics-Philadelphia 76ers swap of the first pick, giving Boston one more addition to their treasure chest of assets.

This was hardly the end of Woj and his tweets, though. There was news about Paul George and his talks of leaving Indiana, Jimmy Butler being linked to the Cavs, plus D’Angelo Russell being traded to the Brooklyn Nets. Woj has been a busy man

All these trades are leading up to one of the most important (and in this writer’s opinion, exciting) moments of the NBA season: the draft.

Franchises are made (GSW- Steph Curry, MIA- Dwayne Wade) and destroyed (MINN- Jonny Flynn and Ricky Rubio over Curry, Darko Milicic) during the draft. For some teams, the 2017 draft will give a franchise a chance to draft their franchise players. For others, they have a chance to draft one more quality player that can give their championship aspirations a much-needed boost, while others (*cough* LA Clippers, *cough*) will have no picks.

Without further ado, the NBA draft:

 

  1. Philadelphia 76ers (from Boston) Markelle Fultz, G – Washington

Perhaps one of two done deals in the draft, the 76ers would not have given up a first rounder next year if they were not going to take Fultz, the clear cut best prospect in a stacked draft. Fultz is not only the safest player in the draft, but also the one with the most obvious upside. Comparisons range from James Harden to Russell Westbrook.

Some question the ability and work ethic of Fultz due to his subpar record at Washington. Although his team did poorly this season, Fultz dominated despite seeing frequent double teams while playing with subpar players. That, coupled with Fultz winning Team MVP on a stacked Team USA U-18 Roster while only playing 20 minutes a game should alleviate thoughts of Fultz and his work ethic.

  1. Los Angeles Lakers Lonzo Ball, G – UCLA

The other sure thing of the draft became solidified Tuesday night when the Lakers packaged 2015 No. 2 overall pick D’Angelo Russell and salary albatross Timofey Mozgov to Brooklyn, receiving Brook Lopez (aka an expiring contract after this season) and the number 27 pick in the 2017 draft. With no current point guard, it is practically already a done deal, much to the delight of LaVar Ball.

  1. Boston Celtics (from Philadelphia) Josh Jackson, F – Kansas

The Celtics whose swap of picks with the 76ers will see Boston move down two spots, will choose the wing they believe can be paired with last year’s number 3 pick Jaylen Brown for the foreseeable future. There is a lot of hype around Duke forward Jayson Tatum as a possible selection here, but I believe Ainge likes the defensive game and slashing ability of Jackson more than he likes the Rudy Gay-clone Tatum.

  1. Phoenix Suns De’Aaron Fox, G – Kentucky

There really is no such thing as having too many Kentucky guards. The Suns pick Fox on his slashing ability and defensive upside. Pairing Fox with Devin Booker allows for a formidable one-two punch down the road, one that will allow Fox to distribute and cover up any of Booker’s defensive shortcomings. If Fox improves his shooting to average or slightly above average for an NBA point guard, he could be top 10 at his position. If his shooting never improves, his floor will still keep him in NBA rotations somewhere in the league.

  1. Sacramento Kings (from Philadelphia) Jayson Tatum, F – Duke

The Kings need a point guard and need one badly. However, Sacramento has never been one to draft based on need (see last year’s draft picks). As a result, they take the polished scorer from Duke, someone who plays very similar to current unrestricted free agent and former Sacramento King Rudy Gay. If Tatum can bring some consistent scoring and work on his defense and rebounding, he can reach a ceiling above that of Gay.

  1. Orlando Magic Dennis Smith, G – NC State

The Magic could go several ways with this pick, but I believe that Smith would prove to be the most significant upgrade at point guard after Elfrid Payton has been stuck in neutral since being drafted. Smith comes as a proven scorer and can provide some pop in a Magic lineup that desperately needs some.

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves Jonathon Isaac, F, – Florida State

The T-Wolves can add a lanky and mobile forward to a team that already boasts several long and lanky players. Isaac will always be solid defensively due to his enormous wingspan and excellent quickness, but his ceiling will be determined by how well he matures offensively.

  1. New York Knicks Malik Monk, G, Kentucky

The best-case scenario for the Knicks would be having Fox or Tatum somehow dropping to them at pick number eight. However, the more realistic pick of Monk would do the Knicks just fine, as they get a scorer who will become one of the best shooters in the league within a few years, provided Phil Jackson avoids hampering the Knicks further.

  1. Dallas Mavericks Frank Ntilkina, G – France

Although I am not as high on Ntilkina as others, I have heard the Mavericks believe he can be the best point guard they have had since early Steve Nash. Those are some big shoes to fill for the 19 year old from France, a prospect that is extremely raw and needs molding, but he has the physical tools to become an impact player at one point in his career.

  1. Sacramento Kings (from New Orleans) Lauri Markkanen, F, Arizona

The Kings draft another tall big man, but Markkanen is one that can prove to be a better fit for the Kings. Paired with Cauley-Stein, Markkanen and his defensive deficiencies will be masked, while Markkanen will show himself to be a sharp and polished shooter, allowing the Kings to spread the floor and open up their frequently clustered offense.

  1. Charlotte Hornets Donovan Mitchell, G, Louisville

I would have penciled in Zach Collins here before yesterday, but Charlotte just traded for Dwight Howard, giving them another post player. Mitchell can be the leader of the second unit off the bench, backing up Kemba Walker for the near future, or playing at shooting guard in a small ball lineup with his explosive athleticism.

  1. Detroit Pistons Zach Collins, F, Gonzaga

Collins exploded onto draft boards towards the end of his freshman year at Gonzaga, putting up solid games during the end of the NCAA tournament to pad his draft stock. Pairing Collins with Andre Drummond will allow for Detroit to space the floor, as Drummond lives around the hoop and in the paint.

  1. Denver Nuggets OG Anunoby, F – Indiana

The Hoosiers beloved OG gets taken in the lottery despite his injury risks and history. If OG comes back with no hindrances, he could be the steal of the draft at 13. However, if he is plagued by injuries during his professional career and never fixes his shooting, his upside is limited to that of a Tony Allen of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.

  1. Miami Heat Luke Kennard, G, Duke

The second Blue Devil off the board represents the best pure shooter in this year’s draft. Monk likely has the leg up shooting off screens, but the length and spot up shooting ability of Kennard will gel nicely in Miami, a team that had only three players with a 3 point shooting percentage of over 35 percent.

  1. Portland Trail Blazers Justin Patton, C – Creighton

Patton turned into the majority of the Creighton offense this season, taking big strides offensively in the process. Portland has Indiana product Noah Vonleh on their roster still, but much of Portland questions whether Vonleh will ever be able to piece it all together. With Patton, the Blazers are not only getting a solid offensive big man, but also a big man that battles on the glass, something to counteract the subpar rebounding rates by the guards in Portland.

  1. Chicago Bulls John Collins, F – Wake Forest

Collins polished his game a significant amount this year, posting better rates in shooting percentage, rebounding rate, and points per game. Collins has been working on his outside shooting, something that will allow him to play in the NBA if his low post game does not translate well. There are questions about Collins and his defensive instincts, something that could hamper his immediate impact to Chicago. However, seeing as the Bulls will not be title contenders for the near future, they have the luxury of waiting on Collins and watching him progress for a few seasons.

  1. Milwaukee Bucks Jarrett Allen, C – Texas

Allen has shown he can be a solid stretch five at the next level. He can play inside as well, but is not truly excellent at any one part of his game. The Bucks cannot get enough of long players with versatility, meaning that if Allen is around at 17, the Bucks will take him.

  1. Indiana Pacers Justin Jackson, F – North Carolina

Jackson, who possesses versatility offensively and defensively, could be a steal for the Pacers if he falls this far. The ACC Player of the Year would provide much needed outside shooting and defensive ability for a team that appears to be rebuilding in the very near future due to the fragile nature of Paul George.

  1. Atlanta Hawks J. Leaf, F – UCLA

Leaf, when paired with Paul Millsap (and especially without Dwight Howard in the paint) will allow Atlanta to spread the floor in a way that will bring the Hawks up to speed with the way the NBA is being played today. Although Leaf is not a great defender, his offensive game will keep him on the floor for years to come.

  1. Portland Trail Blazers (from Memphis) J. Wilson, F – Michigan

Wilson has shot up draft boards in large part to his feathery touch he displayed throughout this season. Wilson can be the ideal stretch four or small ball five, who can defend several positions with his length as well. Wilson would mesh nicely with Patton, as their games compliment each other well.

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder Tyler Lydon, F – Syracuse
  2. Brooklyn Nets Semi Ojeleye, F – SMU

The Duke transfer became a stats beast at SMU, shooting his way up to the first round in the process.

  1. Toronto Raptors (from LA Clippers) Ike Anigbogu, C – UCLA
  2. Utah Jazz Derrick White, G – Colorado
  3. Orlando Magic (from Toronto) Anzejs Pasecniks, C – Latvia
  4. Portland Trail Blazers Terrance Ferguson, G – Australia
  5. Los Angeles Lakers Harry Giles, C – Duke

The Lakers can afford to take a flier on a player once considered to be in the conversation for number one overall a few years ago. Two knee surgeries have scouts worried, but if he were able to reach his full potential, the Lakers would get a major steal.

  1. Los Angeles Lakers (from Brooklyn) Tony Bradley, C – UNC
  2. San Antonio Spurs Caleb Swanigan, F – Purdue

Swanigan was an excellent college player, one that defenses would have to constantly double and triple team. In the NBA, his flaws of being too small for his position and not being able to shoot well enough will be exposed throughout his career. However, Gregg Popovich would be able to mold Swanigan into a serviceable and productive NBA player.

  1. Utah Jazz Ivan Rabb, F – California
  2. Atlanta Hawks (from Brooklyn) Frank Jackson, G – Duke
  3. Phoenix Suns Jordan Bell, F – Oregon
  4. Orlando Magic (from LA Lakers) Jawun Evans, G – Oklahoma State

Evans knows how to score and score in bunches, and will provide good competition for Dennis Smith in training camp to start the year.

  1. Sacramento Kings (from Philadelphia) Jonah Bolden, F – Australia

The former UCLA product has high upside, and competing and playing with De’Aaron Fox will only increase his value down the road.

  1. Orlando Magic Wesley Iwundu, G – Kansas State
  2. Philadelphia 76ers (from New York) Thomas Bryant, C – Indiana

Trust the Process.

  1. Boston Celtics (from Minnesota) Josh Hart, G – Villanova
  2. Chicago Bulls (from Sacramento) Dillon Brooks, F – Oregon
  3. Philadelphia 76ers (from Dallas) Kyle Kuzma, F – Utah

Reports on Kuzma show he can go anywhere from the late first round to late second round. Although he was the leading scorer for Utah this season, he lacks good physical tools and shooting ability, skills that are crucial to making an impact at the next level.

  1. New Orleans Pelicans Isaiah Hartenstein, F – Lithuania
  2. Charlotte Hornets Sterling Brown, G – SMU
  3. Utah Jazz (from Detroit) Bam Adebayo, C – Kentucky

I am not high on Adebayo. His draft stock varies dramatically – there are concerns about whether or not his defensive instincts and shooting ability outside of 12 feet will translate to the NBA. Although Adebayo will be an excellent finisher around the rim and possesses elite level strength, it will be the improvements in his game that will be the deciding factor for how far his NBA career lasts.

  1. Houston (from Denver) Jonathon Motley, F – Baylor
  2. New York Knicks (from Chicago) Alec Peters, F – Valparaiso

Peters, one of the most versatile players in all of the NCAA, is a strong bet to make any roster as a second round pick in large part due to his ability to score and defend several different positions.

  1. Houston (from Portland) Tyler Dorsey, G – Oregon
  2. Philadelphia 76ers (from Miami) Frank Mason, G – Kansas
  3. Indiana Pacers Sindarius Thornwell, F – South Carolina
  4. Milwaukee Bucks J. Dozier, G – South Carolina
  5. Denver Nuggets (from Memphis) Dwayne Bacon, F – Florida State
  6. Philadelphia 76ers (from Atlanta) Cameron Oliver, F – Nevada
  7. Denver Nuggets (from Oklahoma City) Edmond Sumner, G – Xavier

Sumner was at the helm of a solid Xavier team this season. Sumner could spell Emmanuel Mudiay at times, as he possesses the skill to take over the backup point guard role from aged veteran Jameer Nelson.

  1. Washington Wizards Monte Morris, G – Iowa State
  2. Boston Celtics (from Cleveland) George de Paula, G – Brazil
  3. Phoenix Suns (from Toronto) Devin Robinson, F – Florida
  4. Utah Jazz Nigel Williams-Goss, G – Gonzaga
  5. Boston Celtics (from LA Clippers) J. Peak, G – Georgetown
  6. Brooklyn Nets (from Boston) Jaron Blossomgame, F – Clemson

Blossomgame acted as the leader and main source of offense for the Tigers this season. He could very well carve out a niche role as someone who can defend multiple positions and chip in at times offensively.

  1. New York Knicks (from Houston) Alpha Kaba, F – France
  2. San Antonio Spurs Peter Jok, F – Iowa
  3. Atlanta Hawks Melo Trimble, G – Maryland