We are just three nights away from the 2017 NBA Draft, a blockbuster trade has already happened, and rumors are running rampant for every NBA Team. The 2017 NBA Draft class is one of the most loaded in years, not just with potential superstars at the top of the draft but also with excellent depth in the later rounds. It’s time for the 2017 SportSmasher.com NBA Mock Draft:
1) Philadelphia 76ers – Markelle Fultz, PG (6’5 185lbs 19-years-old) Washington – The 76ers had the third overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, but they had a problem, only one player at the top of the 2017 NBA Draft class fit their needs and he was not expected to last until the third pick. Markelle Fultz is an excellent shooter, who can not only play the point, but can play off the ball which is much needed in Philadelphia. With non-shooter Ben Simmons and big man Joel Embiid set to become the focal points of the 76ers offense, they needed a player who can space the floor, which is why Markelle Fultz makes so much sense. Fultz can play off the ball with Simmons on the court, he can take over at point guard when Simmons is off the court, and if Simmons turns out to be more of a forward who is a gifted passer than a primary ball handler than Fultz can take over as the team’s starting point guard. I always thought that Markelle Fultz and Malik Monk were the two best fits for the 76ers, since they both provide scoring from the outside which is their roster’s biggest weakness, they 76ers did what was necessary to trade up and secure the draft’s top talent who is the best fit for their roster.
Additional Thoughts: I really thought this trade was a win-win for the Celtics and the 76ers, the Celtics are loaded at the guard position so Markelle Fultz did not make a lot of sense, unless you are planning on blowing up a backcourt that just got you to the Eastern Conference Finals. Instead of reaching for a player that makes more sense for their roster, or taking Fultz and burying him behind a loaded backcourt or being forced to make a trade to make room for Fultz, the Celtics traded down while adding an excellent future asset. The 76ers saw one player in this draft that made the most sense for their roster, and moved up to get him, while surrendering a future first round pick (Lakers in 2018 or Kings in 2019 depending on protection). The 76ers had two first round picks in both the 2018 and 2019 NBA Drafts, so they could afford to part with one, in order to select the player they covet most in 2017.
2) Los Angeles Lakers – Lonzo Ball, PG (6’6 190lbs 19-years-old) UCLA – The Ball family gets their dream scenario, Lonzo Ball stays home in Los Angeles, and becomes the new face of the Lakers. Lonzo Ball is the most skilled passer to enter the league in quite some time, and while his shot needs work, he is a playmaker who will make everyone around him better. Magic Johnson will not be able to resist selecting a player that might remind him a bit of himself, although Jason Kidd is probably a better comparison, and while the best thing for Lonzo Ball might be to play elsewhere due to his spotlight hogging father Lavar Ball who has been outspoken about Lonzo playing for the Lakers. There has been talk recently that the Lakers also love Markelle Fultz, but that ship has sailed, he will be selected first overall by the 76ers. Kansas forward Josh Jackson also wowed the Lakers in workouts, and if Magic Johnson does not want to deal with Lavar Ball and does not think that Lonzo Ball can handle the spotlight of being the new face of the Showtime Lakers in his hometown, Josh Jackson could be the pick. I do not think Magic will be able to resist a point guard with superstar potential, who brings Showtime back to Los Angeles, so I think Lonzo Ball is the pick.
Additional Thoughts: Paul George has been open with his desire to play for his native Los Angeles Lakers, and the Lakers are not quiet about the fact that they want a veteran star like Paul George, as the Lakers have plenty of young talent that could make a trade possible. If Paul George makes it clear that he is leaving Indiana when his contract expires after next season, and the Pacers receive an offer of a package that includes some combination of D’Angelo Russell or Jordan Clarkson or Julius Randle or Brandon Ingram for George from the Lakers (although I hear the Lakers are telling the league Ingram is untouchable), it would be very difficult for them to say no. Why risk losing Paul George to the Lakers for nothing when you can add young talent for him? The Lakers lose their 2018 pick to the 76ers, so there is no incentive to finish in the lottery again, I expect them to draft Ball then trade some of their young talent for a veteran who can help them win now.
Other Lakers Rumors: The Lakers have been frantically calling around the league trying to acquire another lottery pick, which means there is another player who is expected to go late-lottery that they are in love with, however the Lakers do not have a 2018 first round pick so it will be interesting to see who/what they are offering. The Lakers are rumored to be shopping guard Jordan Clarkson, however, if they are trying to land another lottery pick they have to be offering more than Clarkson. You have to wonder if a player like D’Angelo Russell or Julius Randle is on the table.
3) Boston Celtics – Josh Jackson, SF (6’8 205lbs 20-years-old) Kansas –The Boston Celtics get the guy they wanted to take first overall with the third pick, they Celtics are loaded in the backcourt (Isiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier) and adding Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball does not make a lot of sense, those player would either be buried on the bench or Boston would be forced to make a trade to find playing time for the rookie and blow up a backcourt that just led them to the Eastern Conference Finals. Instead, they trade down two spots and pick up an excellent two-way forward in Josh Jackson who can do it all, while adding an additional 2018 first round pick (Lakers) in the process. Josh Jackson is an elite athlete, he can guard four positions on the basketball court with his length and agility, and while his shot needs to be more consistent he has potential as an offensive player. Adding Josh Jackson makes the Boston Celtics better now, especially from a defensive standpoint, he can play the three when the Celtics go big and the four when they go small while guarding the other team’s best player.
Additional Thoughts: We all know that the Boston Celtics are going to make a big trade at some point, they have more assets than any team in the NBA, so whenever a superstar becomes available the Boston Celtics will be ready to pull the trigger. The Celtics have a combination of young players and draft picks, and could make a “godfather offer” to several teams in the league with stars who are potentially available, the real question is are the players we know to be available (Paul George, Jimmy Butler) worth parting with these assets? There has been some buzz of Gordon Hayward or Blake Griffin joining the Celtics in free agency this offseason as well, the Celtics want to have a chance at dethroning King James and beating the Cavs next season, so it will be very interesting to see what moves they make this summer to make this team a legit title contender. There have been rumors that the Celtics called the Pelicans with an incredible offer for forward Anthony Davis, that included multiple young players and draft picks, but were told Davis was not available.
UPDATE: I am sticking with Josh Jackson in this mock draft, but I am hearing growing buzz that the Celtics may actually like Jayson Tatum more than Josh Jackson, as Tatum is a better scorer with a higher offensive ceiling. There were points last season where, if Isiah Thomas could not get a bucket, the Celtics could not score and Tatum would give Boston a better offensive option. The Celtics drafted an ultra-athletic forward who is an excellent defender third overall in the 2016 NBA Draft when they picked Jaylen Brown, and Josh Jackson would be a little redundant with Brown on the roster, Tatum and his polished offensive game is likely the better fit.
4) Phoenix Suns – Jayson Tatum, SF (6’8 205lbs 19-years-old) Duke – The Phoenix Suns are in an interesting spot, they have a lot of young talent on the roster including a budding superstar in 20-year-old Devin Booker, they also drafted a pair of big forwards last season in the super athletic Marquese Chriss and sweet shooting Dragan Bender who each flashed potential. The Suns are known to covet Josh Jackson due to his defensive prowess, but in this scenario he is off the board, so the Suns target the same area and select Duke forward Jayson Taytum. Out of all the players in this draft class, Jayson Taytum might have the best chance to become a truly elite scorer, he is ready to put up points in the NBA right now. While it can be argued that Phoenix does not need more scoring as this team can really put up points, and Josh Jackson is probably a slightly better fit, Jayson Taytum makes a lot of sense as the three of the future in Phoenix.
Additional Thoughts: The Phoenix Suns are truly one of the draft’s wildcards, and while I think that the three is clearly their biggest need and that adding a running mate for Devin Booker makes the most sense to me, the Suns could easily go in another direction. The Suns seem set at point guard, but they definitely have some interest in Lonzo Ball should he surprisingly slide, does this mean the Suns are looking at young point guards (even with Eric Bledsoe and Tyler Ulis on the roster) and could they take De’Aaron Fox here is Jackson is off the board?
UPDATE: Based on the information that I have received since I posted this, I would flip flop the Boston and Phoenix picks, and would have the Celtics select Jayson Tatum and the Suns select Josh Jackson. That is, if Boston is making this pick for themselves, there is a chance that Boston trades this pick in a package to land an established veteran. Boston does not need another athletic wing who is a bulldog defender but has a questionable jump shot with Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown on the roster, that’s exactly what Josh Jackson is, so he would be redundant in Boston. The Celtics see some Paul Pierce in Jayson Tatum’s game, he is the most NBA ready scorer in the draft class, and even has the length to play stretch four in small ball lineups. Phoenix would rather have Jackson than Tatum, they need a super athletic wing defender to play alongside Devin Booker, so the Suns would be thrilled if Jackson fell into their laps.
5) Sacramento Kings – De’Aaron Fox, PG (6’3 170lbs 19-years-old) Kentucky – This is the best case scenario for the Sacramento Kings, they have long needed a franchise point guard, and need one now to run the show during their post-Boogie Cousins rebuild. De’Aaron Fox is a perfect fit, especially with a young Kings team that wants to run, Fox plays extremely hard and is the fastest player in the draft. The knock on Fox is that he cannot shoot, which causes him to slide to the fifth spot in this mock draft, but he is an excellent fit in Sacramento alongside players like Buddy Hield, Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein. The Kings are smitten with De’Aaron Fox, so much so that they considered trading up to get him, and had discussions with the 76ers about trading the fifth and tenth overall picks to land Fox at three. That would have been a horrible decision, luckily for the Kings the 76ers and Celtics made a blockbuster trade, which makes it much more likely that Fox will fall into the Kings laps at fifth overall.
Additional Thoughts: The Kings have holes at point guard and small forward, each of which they could be able to fill in this draft, as they also have the tenth overall pick. If De’Aaron Fox is no longer on the board here, which would mean Phoenix selected him, either Jayson Tatum would make a lot of sense to fill the need on the wing. If that is the case, there is a decent chance the Kings could grab a point guard prospect like Dennis Smith or Frank Ntilikina with the tenth pick.
6) Orlando Magic – Dennis Smith, PG (6’3 195lbs 19-years-old) NC State – The new general manager of the Orlando Magic John Hammond has his work cut out for him, the Orlando roster might be the ugliest in the league top-to-bottom, the Magic had the strangest roster construction in the league last season with many redundant players who could not be on the floor at the same time. One thing that we do know is that Magic head coach Frank Vogel was not thrilled with the play of point guard Elfrid Payton last season, benching him multiple times, and playing CJ Watson and DJ Augustin over Payton down the stretch of close games. In a loaded point guard draft, the Magic select extremely talented Dennis Smith, a player who reminds some NBA scouts of Steve Francis. Smith is an explosive athlete, who is capable of running an offense as well as scoring in bunches, he needs to play at a high level more consistently but the talent is there.
Additional Thoughts: The Magic could draft a wing, but they do have talent there, with Evan Fournier and Terrence Ross, along with Aaron Gordon (if they still think he is a three). The Magic also has Mario Hezonja on the roster, a wing who was the fifth overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, but who has barely played in two NBA seasons. Will he ever get a chance to show what he can do? A big man who can stretch the floor, like Jonathan Isaac or Lauri Markkanen could also be an option for Orlando, they do not have a player on the roster with that skill set. Another name I have heard associated with this pick is Frank Ntilikina, John Hammond found Giannis Atentokounmpo in the draft in Milwaukee, and while Frank Ntilikina is not the physical freak that “The Greek Freak” is he is a very long and athletic international player who can play the point. Another name that I have heard whispers of in Orlando is Louisville combo guard Donovan Mitchell.
7) Minnesota Timberwolves – Lauri Markkanen, PF/C (7’ 225lbs 19-years-old) Arizona – The T-Wolves have one of the most promising rosters in the NBA, with talented young players such as Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, Ricky Rubio, and Gorgui Deng, many expect that it’s only a matter of time before the Timberwolves are contenders in the West. They do have needs though, and a talented big man who can stretch the floor would be a welcomed addition, so in this scenario the Wolves draft Lauri Markkanen. An excellent three point shooter, who is also a gifted passer, Markkanen could play alongside Karl-Anthony Towns and his shooting ability would space the floor allowing the Timberwolves other skilled players to work in the paint. The comparison that I love for Lauri Markkanen is Houston Rockets forward Ryan Anderson, a big man who is a sharp shooter from deep, he will thrive in the Minnesota offense.
Additional Thoughts: The Timberwolves could go another route here, and select a player like Florida State big man Jonathan Isaac, but I have heard that Markkanen is higher on their draft board. I also hear that the Timberwolves are considering trading Ricky Rubio, and handing the starting point guard job over to the Kris Dunn, with the Dallas Mavericks interested in acquiring Rubio.
UPDATE: While the Chicago Bulls asking price for their All-Star wing Jimmy Butler is still “ridiculously high” it has been confirmed that the Minnesota Timberwolves reached out to the Bulls, and at least discussed Butler’s availibility, as the Timberwolves would like to reunite Butler with his former head coach Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota. There is no word on if an offer was made, or how serious the talks got, any trade of Butler would send the Bulls into full scale rebuilding mode.
8) New York Knicks –– Frank Ntilikina, PG (6’5 170lbs 18-years-old) France – The New York Knicks need to rebuild their roster around budding superstar Kristaps Porzingis, and to do that, they need to find their point guard of the future. Frank Ntilikina is just eighteen-years-old, but he has wowed scouts in workouts, he has incredible length and athleticism that remind some scouts of a shorter Giannis Atentokounmpo as a prospect. Frank Ntilikina is already an excellent defender, and while his jump shot is a work in progress, it is already better than players like Lonzo Ball or De’Aaron Fox who have already been selected in this scenario. Drafting Frank Ntilikina is drafting a player based on potential, but when it comes to ceilings, Frank Ntilikina might have the highest in the draft due to his size/skill/athleticism combination.
Additional Thoughts: It is expected that the Knicks will smartly let Derrick Rose walk in free agency, as that one year experiment failed miserably, so point guard will be a big need specifically one that will get the ball to Kristaps Porzingis. Dennis Smith or Frank Ntilikina would make a lot of sense as the Knicks point guard of the future, however, Phil Jackson is also running the show and does not value point guards in the sacred triangle offense. The Knicks could also really use a shooting guard, so Malik Monk makes a lot of sense, he is a great athlete who has unlimited range. The need to move on from Carmelo Anthony, and become Kristaps Porzingis’ team, with rumored trade destinations for Carmelo Anthony being the Los Angeles Clippers (in a three team trade), Boston Celtics or the Miami Heat.
UPDATE: Not only are the Knicks trying to acquire an additional first round pick, but they are also apparently trying to trade up in the draft, as they fear the player they covet most will not be on the board in the eighth slot. The other team who is trying to trade up is the Dallas Mavericks, and one source says that both teams are targeting Frank Ntilikina.
9) Dallas Mavericks – Jonathan Isaac, PF (6’11 205lbs 19-years-old) Florida State – The Mavericks are still caught between rebuilding mode and the era of Dirk Nowitzki, who will return for a 20th season, so they should take the best player available who is an asset that could help them with their post-Dirk rebuild. Isaac is extremely talented, but very raw, and needs a lot of time to develop. Isaac has the skill to develop into an elite scorer, but he needs to add a lot of strength, and develop a better understanding of the game. Sitting behind Dirk Nowitzki and watching one of the greatest scoring forwards of all –time would be a great way for Isaac to learn.
Additional Thoughts: The Dallas Mavericks will not go into full rebuilding mode until Dirk Nowitzki officially retires, so they can afford to take the best prospect available regardless of position, and develop them to become a key player once they are ready to rebuild. Isaac has a very high ceiling, but another player they could look at is Frank Ntilikina, who the Mavs have scouted more closely than any other team. Ntilikina is another player with a very high ceiling, but he needs development, it’s going to take him some time.
UPDATE: The Mavs are rumored to be in discussions with the Minnesota Timberwolves for point guard Ricky Rubio, and while nothing is imminent, you would have to assume that this pick would be included in any deal.
UPDATE: As mentioned above, the Mavs are rumored to be calling around the league, trying to trade up to be sure they are in position to draft a certain player. At this point we are unsure who the Mavs are targeting, but one source states that both the Knicks and Mavs are trying to trade up to be sure they are in position to select Frank Ntilikina.
10) Sacramento Kings – OG Anunoby, F (6’8 215lbs 19-years-old) Indiana – In this scenario the Kings have already drafted their point guard of the future in De’Aaron Fox, he needs a running mate on the wing, so the Kings draft forward OG Anunoby. A player who’s stock would be higher had he not torn his ACL in January, his recovery is going well, and the rebuilding Kings can afford to bring Anunoby along slowly. Anunoby is one of the strongest players in the draft, he is an excellent defender, and a great athlete on both ends of the court. It would be a lot of fun to see Anunoby running the court with the Kings young and athletic core once he is healthy.
Additional Thoughts: The Kings obviously have needs everywhere, and with two top ten picks, they need to come away with their point guard of the future as well as another talented player. I have wing as a bigger need, especially the three, but the Kings have so many needs that nobody is off the board here.
11) Charlotte Hornets – Malik Monk, SG (6’4 200lbs 19-years-old) Kentucky – If the draft breaks this way, the Hornets should rush to the podium and knock everyone over on their way, because they are getting the steal of the draft when Malik Monk falls into their laps at eleventh overall. I think that teams will start considering Monk as early as the sixth pick (Orlando), he will be heavily considered by the Knicks at eight, but after that there is a good chance he falls to the Hornets. Malik Monk has weakness, he needs to get stronger to finish around the rim in the pros, but he is a great athlete who can flat out score. Monk is a very good shooter, he can be a little streaky, but when he is hot look out. The Hornets may have bigger needs, and their backcourt seems set with Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum, but Monk could easily play shooting guard with Batum at the three. Monk would be a huge upgrade as a third guard over players like Jeremy Lamb and Marco Belinelli right away, and with some development, Monk has star potential.
Additional Thoughts: The Hornets could go another route if Monk is no longer on the board, they could draft a player like Gonzaga big man Zach Collins, but he is redundant with a player like Frank Kaminsky already on the roster. The best player available in this scenario is Frank Ntilikina, so the Hornets could take him, he needs development but has a high ceiling as a combo guard. I have heard that the Hornets have interest in Texas center Jarrett Allen, who is raw and needs a lot of development, but reminds some people of a young DeAndre Jordan due to his great athleticism.
12) Detroit Pistons – Donovan Mitchell, G (6’3 210lbs) Louisville – The Pistons get lucky in this scenario, as a very good player at a position of need falls to them with the eleventh pick, in Louisville combo guard Donavan Mitchell. One of the hottest names in the draft in recent weeks, Donavan Mitchell is getting compared to Dwayne Wade, which I think puts way too much pressure on Mitchell. While Mitchell is undersized for the NBA, he makes up for it with his ridiculously long wingspan, and his thick frame at 210 pounds of muscle. Mitchell is a great athlete, he shot lights out his workouts, his stock is soaring as the draft approaches. The Pistons could lose Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as a free agent this summer, Donovan Mitchell can log minutes at two guard, or he could play the point with Reggie Jackson at the two.
Additional Thoughts: It seemed like the Pistons were going to be building a potential contender around Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond, but Jackson struggled mightily last season, and the Pistons were better with Ish Smith on the court. There is no doubt that the Pistons roster has a lot of potential, but they need to make a decision on Caldwell-Pope, and figure out if Jackson is still in the team’s long team plans. There are also rumors circulating that, for the right price, both Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond are very available.
13) Denver Nuggets – Zach Collins, F/C (7’ 230 19-years-old) Gonzaga – This is an ideal scenario for the Denver Nuggets, who feel they are close to building a contender, centered around super talented big man Nicola Jokic. The Nuggets traded for Mason Plumlee last season, but Plumlee is a free agent this summer, and Zach Collins would be a perfect fit next to Nicola Jokic who doubles as insurance incase Plumlee leaves. Collins is the type of big man that every NBA team currently covets, he has the ability to stretch the floor, and he is an excellent rim protector which is needed next to Jokic. Collins also plays with toughness which Denver needs in the front court, he could be selected much earlier, but if he were to fall to Denver he would be a perfect fit.
Additional Thoughts: The Nuggets have a talented roster, and do not have a lot of needs, although I would expect that they look for a big man with Mason Plumlee potentially leaving as a free agent. A player like Harry Giles is intriguing if the Nuggets were to swing for the fences, he is one of the most talented players in the draft, but his nasty injury history is extremely concerning.
14) Miami Heat – Justin Jackson, SF (6’8 200lbs 22-years-old) North Carolina – After a horrendous start, the Miami Heat became one of the league’s hottest teams in the second half of the season, and just missed the playoffs as a result. Justin Jackson is 22-years-old, so he is older than most of the prospects in the draft, but he is also very polished and ready to contribute. Jackson has high basketball IQ, he can put the ball in the basket, and he can help the Heat on the court immediately.
Additional Thoughts: The Heat are one of the more intriguing teams this summer, as they think they are close to contending in the East, they just need to make one more big move. Miami is an attractive destination for free agents, but it’s also a city that Carmelo Anthony would consider waiving his no trade clause for, would the Heat part with a young player like Justise Winslow and a pick to land Carmelo Anthony? A starting five of Hassan Whiteside, James Johnson (free agent who the Heat will try to retain), Carmelo Anthony, Dion Waiters and Goran Dragic could make noise in the East. I have also heard the Miami Heat linked to free agents Gordon Heyward and Blake Griffin, and when Pat Riley has cap room, he historically makes a splash. Many people have told me to keep an eye on Miami this offseason, they think they are close to having a team that can compete in the East, they are poised to make a big splash.
15) Portland Trail Blazers – Harry Giles, C (6’11 222lbs 19-years-old) Duke – The Portland Trail Blazers can afford to swing for the fences, and they do just that here, as they select ultra-talented big man Harry Giles out of Duke. We barely saw Harry Giles at Duke, he got off to a late start due to arthroscopic knee surgery, and was never fully healthy. Giles enters the draft with major questions about his knees, but the former top recruit can be brought along slowly behind Jusuf Nuric, and given time to get fully healthy before being asked to contribute. If his knees are deemed healthy, Harry Giles is a potential star, and if not, the Blazers have another two first round picks in this draft to find less risky talent.
Additional Thoughts: Blazers fans absolutely hate when I say this, but I think the Blazers would be better served trading C.J. McCollum, and getting a player who fits better next to Damian Lillard in return. Putting a ball dominant point guard next to a ball dominant combo guard and asking them to share is just not going to work out. I know Blazers fans love McCollum, but they can get a nice haul for him on the trade market, and better the team as a whole. Portland has three first round picks in this draft, and the draft is loaded, so they should be able to greatly improve their roster depth that way. However, if I am running the Blazers, I am moving McCollum anyway for a massive haul of players that fit better next to Lillard.
16) Chicago Bulls – Luke Kennard, SG (6’5 195lbs 20-years-old) Duke – The Bulls desperately need a knockdown shooter who can space the floor, their best shooter was Doug McDermott, and they traded him to the Oklahoma City Thunder mid-season. Kennard is tone of the best shooters in the draft, but he is not just a spot up shooter, he also excels at coming off screens and can run the pick and roll. The Bulls probably beat the Boston Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs if Rajon Rondo does not get hurt, so they could make a few tweaks to their roster and try again, or blow the whole thing up and trade Jimmy Butler.
Additional Thoughts: The Bulls are another very interesting team this offseason, if they were to trade Jimmy Butler they could get an excellent haul for him, which would send them right into rebuilding mode. If I was running the Bulls, I would attempt to pry the third overall pick in the draft and some young players, as well as some future assets, from the Boston Celtics and start the rebuilding process in this loaded draft.
17) Milwaukee Bucks – Terrance Ferguson, SG (6’7 185lbs 19-years-old) Australia – A player that decided to spurn college basketball and play internationally in Australia last season, Ferguson is one of the draft’s most intriguing players, he has a ton of talent but needs to develop consistency and add strength. Ferguson is very long and is an excellent athlete, who is a good but streaky shooter, and who needs work as a defender. Ferguson has potential to be an offensive spark off the bench that can develop into a starter, he has a ton of talent, and he is one of the draft’s boom or bust prospects. The Milwaukee Bucks need help at shooting guard, Tony Snell is a free agent, and while the Bucks would like to retain Snell due to his excellent defense Ferguson is better than him offensively right now. The Bucks are not afraid to swing for the fences, and one of their biggest weakness has been outside shooting, which Ferguson provides.
Additional Thoughts: The Bucks could add another young big man here, Michael Beasley is a free agent, so if the Bucks let Beasley walk a player like John Collins or Ike Anigbogu or Bam Adebayo could make a lot of sense.
18) Indiana Pacers – John Collins, PF (6’10 225lbs 19-years-old) Wake Forest – One of the most underrated players in the draft, John Collins is an extremely productive big man out of Wake Forest, who quietly averaged 19 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game as a sophomore at Wake Forest. The knock on Collins is that he is not a good shooter from deep yet, he struggles to stretch the floor, but he is just nineteen-years-old and that portion of his game is still developing. Paired with Miles Turner in the Pacers, Collins would give the Pacers another young piece in their frontcourt rotation for years to come, as it seems the team will be entering rebuilding mode once Paul George is traded or leaves in free agency.
Additional Thoughts: It seems to me that the odds the Indiana Pacers trade Paul George increase by the day, and we know that the Pacers have had initial talks with the Cleveland Cavaliers, with a swap rumored to be Kevin Love for Paul George being discussed. Paul George has expressed his desire to play for his hometown Los Angeles Lakers, and the Lakers want George, so the Cavs will not make this deal unless George agrees to stat in Cleveland long term. Paul George has informed the Pacers that, if he is not traded, he will likely leave as a free agent next summer so the Pacers would be wise to trade George now instead of letting him leave as a free agent and getting nothing in return. The rumors is that, if talks between the Pacers and Cavs become more serious, the Lakers will jump in and make an offer for Paul George as well because they do not want to lose George to the Cavs where playing with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving is likely enough to convince George into staying long term. Stay tuned, I expect this situation to heat up within the next 48 hours, and I think George gets traded.
19) Atlanta Hawks – Bam Adebayo, PF (6’10 250lbs 19-years-old) Kentucky – The Hawks could lose Paul Milsap as a free agent this summer, and even if they retain Milsap, he turns 33-years-old next season and the Hawks need to start thinking about the future. Bam Adebayo is a massive power forward, he is a great rebounder and defender, who’s offensive game needs a ton of work. However, Adebayo’s athleticism and raw physical ability make him very interesting as a prospect, he can guard inside and outside but his lack of an outside shot has teams wondering how he fits offensively.
Additional Thoughts: To nobody’s surprise, center Dwight Howard is very available, and while he played well for Atlanta in stretches last season no team has been willing to absorb his huge contract. One team that I have heard as an intriguing destination for Howard is the Washington Wizards, adding Dwight seems to be an upgrade over Marcin Gortat, and might be enough to take a very skilled Wizards team to the next level.
20) Portland Trail Blazers – DJ Wilson, F (6’10 240lbs 21-years-old) Michigan – In this scenario, the Portland Trail Blazers already swung for the fences with their first of three first round picks when they selected talented but injury plagued big man Harry Giles, so with their second pick, they add a player who is one of the fastest risers in the draft. DJ Wilson is an ultra-athletic stretch four, Wilson is a high flier who can shoot from deep, and while he does not have much more to his game than that he is a perfect fit in the modern NBA. While it seems the Blazers have several players in this mold, such as Al-Farouq Aminu and Moe Harkless, Wilson has a higher ceiling than each of those players.
Additional Thoughts: The Blazers are not expected to keep all three of their first round picks, and they have had trade discussions with the New York Knicks, who may give the Blazers a veteran for one of their picks. Expect the Blazers to look at Euro-stash players as well, such as Anzejs Pasecniks, who can be drafted and stashed overseas, although the crop of those players is not as deep in 2017 as it has been in recent years.
21) Oklahoma City Thunder – TJ Leaf, F (6’10 222lbs 20-years-old) UCLA – The Oklahoma City Thunder are Russell Westbrook’s team, and he is going to dominate the ball for the foreseeable future, so the Thunder need players who can excel without the ball. TJ Leaf has an incredibly high basketball IQ, he is one of the best passers in the draft, and he is an excellent shooter who is a great fit in the modern NBA. The problem with Leaf is that he is a terrible defensive player, and he is not a great athlete, so he will probably never decent defensively. However, with Russell Westbrook dominating the ball, Leaf can knock down shots and distribute the ball effectively with the Thunder’s second unit.
Additional Thoughts: I have heard the Thunder linked to DJ Wilson, but in this scenario, he was drafted a pick before they were on the clock. The Thunder have two big free agent decisions to make this summer, in Andre Roberson and Taj Gibson, and it will be interesting to see if they keep one or both of these players. Roberson is an excellent rebounder and defender who is flawed offensively, Gibson is a bruising big man who the Thunder acquired at the trade deadline, and who I hear they would like to keep.
22) Brooklyn Nets – Jarrett Allen, C (6’11 235lbs 19-years-old) Texas – The Brooklyn Nets are in a black hole thanks to what I have repeatedly called the worst trade in NBA History, they do not have their own draft pick until the 2019 NBA Draft, making a true rebuild impossible. In this scenario, the Nets try to rebuild in the only way possible without lottery picks, they swing for the fences and draft Texas big man Jarrett Allen. A player who is often compared to DeAndre Jordan, Allen is huge, and he is a great athlete who can excel around the rim on both ends of the floor. Do not expect Allen to shoot, his points will come on dunks or put backs, but he has good defensive instincts as a shot blocker and is a strong rebounder. Allen needs to get physically stronger, but big men who are as athletic as he is are hard to come by, and he will have time to develop in Brooklyn. The Nets eventually have to trade Brook Lopez, which will leave a huge void in the middle, which Allen can step in and fill.
Additional Thoughts: The Nets have acuminated some young talent, but it perplexes me why they have not traded Brook Lopez, who is still in his prime and who could easily return a package of young players and/or draft picks on the trade market. I know that, with Boston holding their first round pick again in 2018, there is no incentive for the Nets to tank so they may as well hang onto their veterans. However, Lopez is in his prime and could help a good team right now, trading him and getting some value in return makes sense.
23) Toronto Raptors – Ike Anigbogu, F/C (6’10 230lbs 18-years-old) UCLA – You can argue that no team has more decisions to make in free agency than the Toronto Raptors, they went all-in and loaded up their roster in an attempt to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers by trading for forwards Serge Ibaka and PJ Tucker, both of who are free agents this summer. Well not only did that plan not work, but the Raptors starting point guard Kyle Lowry is also a free agent, as is reserve forward Patrick Patterson, so the Raptors need to figure out the direction of the franchise going forward. In this scenario, the Raptors draft Ike Anigbogu, who is one of the rawest players in the draft class but who is also the youngest player in the draft. While his offensive game needs work, Anigbogu should develop into a great defender and rebounder, which may make the loss of some of their free agent forwards more painless.
Additional Thoughts: The Raptors need to do whatever it takes to retain Kyle Lowry, while Cory Joseph played well in stretches with Lowry injured last season, losing your team captain and floor general in free agency would be impossible for the Raptors to overcome. Players like Ibaka, Tucker and Patterson can be replaced. Losing a player like Kyle Lowry could send the Raptors right into rebuilding mode.
24) Utah Jazz – Justin Patton, C (6’11 230lbs 20-years-old) Creighton – Starting center Rudy Gobert has developed into a great player for the Utah Jazz, but his knee injury forced the Jazz to play Jeff Withey in the first round against the Los Angeles Clippers, which nearly cost the Jazz the series. The Jazz need to bolster the backup center position, and in this scenario they do just that, and draft big man Justin Patton. While Patton is not ready to play major minutes right away, he is a sweet shooting big man with three point range and excellent touch, teams love his upside and most projections have him being drafted before this slot.
Additional Thoughts: Will the Utah Jazz be able to retain Gordon Hayward long term? I hope so, because I really enjoy their roster, and the potential that it has in the future. However, the Boston Celtics armed with a ton of assets and Heyward’s college coach Brad Stevens are looming. The Miami Heat, armed with a ton of cap space, no state tax and Pat Riley are looming. Stay tuned.
25) Orlando Magic – Semi Ojeleye, F (6’7 235lbs 22-years-old) SMU – In this scenario, the Orlando Magic already drafted their point guard of the future in Dennis Smith, so they draft a wing who can help him in Semi Ojeleye. A very muscular player (he is jacked) Semi Ojeleye already has an NBA body, he can stroke it from deep as he shot 42% from three last season, and he is a solid defender who can help Orlando on both ends of the floor. Orlando needs players who can contribute now, and Semi Ojeleye is ready to get NBA minutes, as a physical three or an undersized four.
Additional Thoughts: Orlando needs talent, and they need to eliminate all of the redundancy on their roster, so they can afford to swing for the fences here. New general manager John Hammond is still evaluating the roster, but I could see Orlando making trades this offseason, following the regime change I think that many players are available for the right price.
26) Portland Trail Blazers – Anzejs Pasecniks F/C (7’2 230lbs 21-years-old) Latvia – As I mentioned earlier, if the Portland Trail Blazers keep all three of their first round picks (which is highly unlikely), expect them to go international with at least one of those picks. If they go international, Anzejs Pasecniks would be a great selection, the Latvian big man has been a hot name in recent days and he can really stroke it. Anzejs Pasecniks has been called an extremely poor man’s Kristaps Porzingis, while he is nowhere near the athlete or defender that Porzingis is, he has a similar face up offensive game.
Additional Thoughts: The Blazers have needs, but there is no room for three rookies first round picks on their roster, I have been told to expect the Blazers to trade one of their first round picks and to go international with a draft-and-stash player with another.
27) Brooklyn Nets – Tyler Lydon F (6’10 225lbs 21-years-old) Syracuse – The Nets have already selected an interior big man in this mock draft, with the selection of Jarrett Allen, and with their second pick they select a perimeter big man in former Syracuse star Tyler Lydon. An excellent shooter, Lydon is a stretch big man, who has a game similar to Ryan Anderson. He needs to get stronger, and he needs more consistency, but in Brooklyn he will get minutes and have a chance to develop.
Additional Thoughts: The Nets seemed to find young players in the backcourt who will be valuable NBA players in the 2016 draft when they selected Caris LeVert and Isaiah Whitehead, maybe they can do the same in the frontcourt in 2017, and in this scenario they end up with two nice prospects who complement each other well in Jarrett Allen and Tyler Lydon.
28) Los Angeles Lakers – Jonah Bolden, F (6’10 227lbs 21-years-old) Serbia – A hot name who is generating serious first round buzz in recent days, Jonah Bolden is an Australian native who left UCLA after one season to play in Serbia, where he had a lot of success. Bolden also impressed scouts in workouts, he is a true stretch four, who would be a nice fit in Los Angeles with Lonzo Ball and the new look Showtime Lakers.
Additional Thoughts – The Lakers are trying to trade for an additional lottery pick, and rumor has it they may be packaging this selection along with a player in order to get one, they apparently have their eye on a wing player in the late lottery. Stay tuned and see if Magic Johnson can work some Magic.
29) San Antonio Spurs – Jordan Bell, F (6’9 230lbs 22-years-old) Oregon – A great athlete and one of the best defenders in the 2017 NBA Draft class, Bell plays hard, and is also an excellent rebounder. Bell’s shot needs work, and he is undersized for his position in the NBA, but his tenacity and athleticism will earn him a place on an NBA roster.
30) Utah Jazz – Frank Jackson, G (6’4 205lbs 19-years-old) Duke – The Utah Jazz could lose George Hill in free agency, and Dante Exum has struggled to come back from a knee injury, he was supposed to be Utah’s point guard of the future but his once promising career may have been derailed permanently due to injuries. The Jazz need help at guard, and in this scenario they draft Frank Jackson, who I think is one of the most underrated prospects in the draft. A former top recruit, Jackson is a bit of a combo guard, and while he is more of a scorer than a playmaker at this point he actually reminds me a bit of George Hill.
Additional Thoughts: For the Utah Jazz, this offseason is all about retaining Gordon Heyward, and not letting him bolt to Boston or Miami. In the draft, the Jazz could do a lot worse than their haul in this scenario, a developmental big with sweet touch like Justin Patton and an athletic combo guard like Frank Jackson would both be nice fits in Utah.
Best Players Available:
Tony Bradley, C (6’10 248lbs 19-years-old) North Carolina – The best offensive rebounder in the draft, Tony Bradley should have a long NBA carrer as a backup center, he just needs a lot of work on the offense end of the floor.
Jawun Evans, PG (6’ 177lbs 20-years-old) Oklahoma State – If Jawun Evans were a few inches taller, he would be a lock for the first round, he still might be a first round pick because he is very talented.
Isaiah Hartstein, F (7’ 225lbs 19-years-old) Germany – A stretch four or five who just turned nineteen-years-old, Isiah Hartstein has a lot of talent, however he is nowhere beer ready and is probably best suited staying overseas for a few seasons.
Ivan Rabb, F (6’10 215lbs 20-years-old) California – Ivan Rabb probably should have gone pro in 2016, he declared for the draft and could have been a lottery pick, but he returned to school to improve his draft stock. That did not happen, and in a much deeper class, he will likely be a late first or early second round pick.
Kyle Kuzma, F (6’9 221lbs 21-years-old) Utah – A stretch four prospect, Kyle Kuzma is not a great athlete and is not explosive, but he is a talented and versatile offensive player who fits the modern NBA game as an inside/outside forward.
Derrick White, G (6’5 200lbs 23-years-old) Colorado – Derrick White is not a great athlete, and he is older than most draft prospects which causes him to slide, but he is an excellent passer with a high basketball IQ and good size.
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