Tuesday, January 24, 2017

2017 NBA Mock Draft, Part 1

Today we'll take our first stab at a 2017 NBA Mock Draft. Draft order based on final standings following the 1/22 games. Traded picks based on Chad Ford's NBA Mock draft notes, so send any complaints to him. Picks 1-15 today, 16-30 tomorrow.

1. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn) - Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington

The Celtics have the ability to swap picks with the Nets, and will certainly be doing so regardless of the lottery results.

While I'm not sure if Fultz and Isaiah Thomas would be an ideal fit together, Fultz seems to be the consensus top pick at this point and I can't imagine Danny Ainge passing up on the top talent in the draft for team need.

Fultz is a dynamic athlete who's having a remarkable freshman season, averaging 23 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds a game. He might be an even better fit for the NBA game, however, as he seems to play even better with more talent around him.

Ball is quite a consolation prize for whatever team doesn't win the lottery. A likely #1 overall pick in most years, Ball is a truly special playmaker at the point guard position. His shot looks ugly, but it's been effective to this point and the rest of his game is spectacular.

At 6'6 he's a menace on the defensive end and very difficult to stop near the rim, making him a great leader for the pick and roll offenses of today's NBA. Ball and Fultz will likely continue to battle one another for the top spot over the next few months. Don't underestimate Ball getting a huge boost among scouts if he has a great NCAA tournament as UCLA runs to the final four.

3. Los Angeles Lakers - Lauri Markkanen, F, Arizona

The smooth shooting seven footer has dramatically improved his draft stock each month. He's a great shooter who also has a knack for scoring inside the 3 point line as well. While Julius Randle is turning into a solid player, Markkanen brings a lot of skills Randle doesn't have, so the two could conceivably share the court together at times.

Players like Dennis Smith Jr and Josh Jackson would get hard looks here as well, but ultimately Markannen's ability to stretch the floor is too valuable in Luke Walton's offense to pass up.

If the Lakers fall out of the top 3, this pick goes to the 76ers.

4. Phoenix Suns - Josh Jackson, F, Kansas

Phoenix has had too many point guards for years, so it wouldn't surprise me if they shock everyone and draft another point guard. However, after drafting two power forwards (Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss) in last year's lottery, a wing like Jackson is a better fit and he's a good value at this spot.

The KU freshman has had a terrible year shooting the basketball, which is worrisome from someone who is expected to be a wing player in the NBA, but his other skills are very good. He's a sensational athlete and has the tools to be a lock down defender. He could improve his ball handling but it's still effective and likely to improve over time. He's very good at finishing around the rim and his mid-range game is likely to improve as he makes better decisions with the basketball.

5. Dallas Mavericks - Dennis Smith Jr., PG, North Carolina State

The Mavericks badly need a young cornerstone player to build around, and they finally seem to be bad enough to get a good draft pick. Landing a player with Smith's potential would make owner Mark Cuban and company very happy.

Smith is a bit smaller than Fultz and Ball, but he might be even more explosive. His shot will need to improve, but he's got a very high ceiling and like Fultz he has a natural feel for the game as well as elite athleticism.

6. Philadelphia 76ers - Malik Monk, G, Kentucky

It's great to see the 76ers winning some games of late and making a real push for a playoff spot, but that whole 'trust the process' chant should be stopped immediately. It's just embarrassing.

With a glut of big men and Ben Simmons likely to run the offense once he gets healthy, the 76ers biggest need is likely to be another wing to play next to Ben Simmons. Monk has great range on his jump shot and the ability to carry an offense on his own at times,

7. Minnesota Timberwolves - Jonathan Isaac, F, Florida State

The freshman standout is a skilled player with several good tools that should project well to the next level. As he fills out, his defensive versatility should be a major asset, which is something the Timberwolves need badly.

He's a good shooter and athlete for his size, and he should only improve with more experience. Despite his size and considerable recruiting hype, Isaac to me has less upside than most other lottery picks, but a higher floor.

8. Sacramento Kings - Frank Ntilikina, PG, France

The Kings have been drafting Europeans more frequently over the past few years, with limited success. However, Ntilikina is an elite prospect at the point guard position and he's only available at this point because of the unusal strength of the freshman point guards in college basketball.

The youngster from Belgium is a great playmaking point guard with an exceptionally long wing span that allows him to be a major problem for opponents. His offensive game is similar to Ricky Rubio's when he came out of Spain, but he's a better athlete. He's known to have some flair in his passing game but his shot is a work in progress.

The Kings owe the Bulls their first round pick if it falls outside the top 10. The 76ers also own the right to swap picks with the Kings inside the top 10. Neither happens in this scenario.

9. New Orleans Pelicans - De'Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky

Kentucky coach John Calipari has said that De'Aaron Fox is even faster than Washington Wizards point guard John Wall, another former Wildcat. The left-hander looks like the Tazmanian Devil when he goes coast to coast, and Anthony Davis would love to play with someone so good in the pick and roll.

Jrue Holiday is a solid player who the Pelicans will try to keep long-term, but Fox has the potential to be a bigger contributor in the future.

10. Orlando Magic - Jayson Tatum, F, Duke

In what's been a disappointing year for the Duke Blue Devils, Tatum remains a bright spot. A highly recruited player, Tatum has shown the ability to shoot from deep although he needs to make better shot choices.

The Magic will likely be able to take the best player available at this spot, but it's also possible they will try to package their pick and a few of their younger assets for another veteran player, much like they did last season in acquiring Serge Ibaka.

11. Portland Trailblazers - Ivan Rabb, C, California

The Cal sophomore likely would have been a lottery pick last season had he declared, but he ultimately chose to spend another season in college to try to improve his draft stock and improve his game. He's likely to remain a late-lottery projection at best regardless of when he decides to declare.

Portland has some depth in their front court but not a lot of skill, and if the team can remain patient with Rabb he could develop into a force inside. With Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum struggling to share the ball this season when healthy, a better compliment to Lillard is also possible but I don't expect the Blazers to trade either player this off-season.

This pick depends entirely on what the Knicks decide to do with Phil Jackson. He's been mediocre at best as an executive, and he's been feuding publicly with the team's best player basically all season. Knicks owner James Dolan can find better places to spend $12 million than on Phil Jackson, but that doesn't mean the team will make the right decision and move on.

If Jackson stays, I expect the team to take a player like Bridges, who has looked great in stretches this season and has the work ethic and explosiveness Jackson seems to like. Bridges is too small in my opinion to be a future star despite his great athleticism, but he should have a solid NBA career.

13. Milwaukee Bucks - Terrance Ferguson, SG, Australia

Ferguson is the latest high school All-American to decide to play overseas for money instead of playing in college for free. He wasn't a sure thing to be a one and done collegiate player, but he's expected to declare after his Australian season.

Stats are always sketchy to judge an international player on, especially a young American player who has to earn his role. Ferguson has played well lately, and has the size and length to be a very good wing player in the NBA. He's a great athlete with a solid shot, but his year in Australia has really helped his decision making more than anything. We'll have to see if that carries over into the much more selfish NBA game, but Ferguson has helped his draft stock by shunning college.

14. Detroit Pistons - Harry Giles, F, Duke

The former top high school prospect in the country, Giles has dealt with some serious knee injuries over the last three seasons dating back to high school. He hasn't looked anywhere close to the player he once was, which is concerning, but as an 18-year-old freshman there's plenty of time for him to get back into playing shape.

If he can return to being the kind of player he was before his injuries, he'd be a steal this late. He has franchise-changing potential, but now the issue is whether he'll ever get back to that point. And, even if he does, teams will need to worry about him having a shorter career as his knees wear down in the future.

However, at this point, Giles potential is worth the risk, especially for a Pistons team that has plenty of depth but really needs a top talent to take them to the next level.

15. Denver Nuggets - Robert Williams, PF, Texas A&M

Williams has seemingly come out of nowhere for A&M to emerge as one of college basketball's best long-term prospects. He's a bit undersized for the NBA game at 6'9, but he's shown skills that most college freshman don't possess. He needs to improve, like most freshman, but he's shown enough flashes this year that he's a potential lottery pick despite not being a highly regarded recruit at all. He's got the potential to be a solid two-way player.

The Nuggets have been trying to find a player to pair with center Nikola Jokic, and Williams would be a nice player to develop next to him for years to come. He could develop into a more offensively skilled Kenneth Faried.

Thanks for checking out our 2017 NBA Mock Draft! Don't forget to check back tomorrow for Part 2.


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