Wednesday, January 25, 2017

2017 NBA Mock Draft Part 2

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. Part 1 can be found here.

16. Chicago Bulls - Edmond Sumner, PG, Xavier

It's no secret that the Bulls will be looking for a long-term answer at point guard this off-season after their Rajon Rondo experiment failed miserably. The Bulls also badly need some athleticism as most of their players are below average for their positions in terms of athleticism.

Sumner has great size for a point guard, and he uses it effectively to be among the best rebounding point guards in recent memory. He's also a top-flight athlete. His game is very similar to Kris Dunn's at the same age, although Dunn had better handles. Both can be turnover prone at times, but they will wow you multiple times a game with their physical tools. Sumner will need to improve his shot at the next level.

17. Indiana Pacers - TJ Leaf, F, UCLA

Heading into last season's draft, lazy "experts" continued to refer to Marquette forward Henry Ellenson as a poor man's Kevin Love, which was only because they were white guys. Love was 10 times the college player Ellenson was, and their games really weren't similar at all.

However, TJ Leaf is really a poor man's Kevin Love. He's much skinnier than Love was, and will need to add some weight as he develops, unlike Love who had to get into better shape. But both players have the ability to shoot the 3 and both players are fantastic rebounders. They both attended UCLA as well. Leaf is not the next Kevin Love, I don't think, but should be a solid starter in the future.

He's one of my favorite players in the whole draft.

18. Charlotte Hornets - Josh Hart, G, Villanova

While this may seem a little early for Hart, it's no secret that Hornets owner Michael Jordan values players who won in college. He targeted former Wisconsin great Frank Kaminsky because of his success in college, and Josh Hart is an even bigger winner.

Hart has played well this season and is a potential player of the year, but he doesn't project as more than a role player at the next level. I expect Jordan to fall in love with Hart's game, both physically and mentally, and zero in on him as draft time nears. A trade down is possible too.

19. Washington Wizards - Bam Adebayo, C, Kentucky

Eventually, some of these potential one-and-done freshman are going to realize that committing to Kentucky is actually going to hurt their draft stock. Playing with so many great players has to be fun, but because Kentucky has a scorer at every position, most of these top recruits have to change their games to fit in with the stacked roster.

Long-term, that may benefit their games at the next level, like it did for Karl-Anthony Towns. Calipari refused to let him shoot 3's, despite it being one of his best skills, and made him develop a low-post game the majority of the time. When Towns was first being mentioned as a possible #1 pick late in the season, most experts weren't even aware he had 3 point range.

Towns was so good that it didn't matter, one workout with the Timberwolves was enough to lock him at #1, so it didn't make a difference for him. But someone like Adebayo, who would be most teams main scorer, is forced to score less than he would to give players like Malik Monk and De'Aaron Fox there share of shots. That's a long-winded way of saying Adebayo could be a top 10 pick come draft day, but for now he gets to play with another former Wildcat in John Wall.

20. Denver Nuggets (via Memphis Grizzlies) - Isiah Hartenstein, F, Lithuania (via Oregon)

Hartenstein chose to play in Lithuania instead of college, just like Terrance Ferguson. The 7 footer has unbelievable potential for someone his size, as he has great athleticism and makes plays that will leave people in awe.

Unfortunately, he has a history of poor body language and blaming teammates for mistakes that happen every game. Think DeMarcus Cousins, but without the established dominance. Had Hartenstein gone to college he have put up great numbers and helped his draft stock, but there's nothing wrong with being paid for an extra year. He's putting up solid numbers in Lithuania as well.

Memphis only keeps this pick if they pick inside the top 5.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder - Justin Jackson, F, North Carolina

The Thunder are quite clearly Russell Westbrook's team, and will remain that way for a long while I would assume. That means the team has to do a good job of finding players that can play with Westbrook, instead of always targeting the best player available.

Jackson brings a versatile all-around game that would pair well with Westbrook's ball-dominance, and he brings a similar competitiveness to the game as Westbrook.

22. Atlanta Hawks - Thomas Bryant, C, Indiana

After a stellar early start, Bryant has been a bit inconsistent for a struggling Indiana team. A potential lottery pick, Bryant's game hasn't improved as much as most expected it to this season.

Bryant remains a solid prospect and as just a sophomore there's plenty of time for him to improve. The Hawks would be able to groom Bryant behind Dwight Howard, and they would also have a solid insurance policy if Howard's back issues return in the near future.

23. Brooklyn Nets (via Boston) - Alec Peters, F, Valparaiso

As a college senior, Peters isn't a sexy pick, especially for a team that is on pace to finish with the league's worst record.

Unfortunately, due to the pick swap, the worst team in the league is currently picking 23rd. Peters has had a very productive collegiate career and should be able to carve out a useful role in the NBA. He's not a great 3 point shooter but he could develop it, as his shot has solid fundamentals and he won't be the main focus of an NBA defense like he is at Valpo.

The Nets receive this pick in a first round draft pick swap with the Boston Celtics.

24. Toronto Raptors - Rodions Kurucs, F, Latvia

Kurucs is one of the youngest players in the draft and is likely to spend some time in Europe. He's currently playing for FC Barcelona in Spain. He will need to add strength, but that shouldn't be a major issue as he gets older. He has good shooting range and scoring ability, and a keen sense for drawing fouls on defenders. That skill will only improve with more playing time.

With the Raptors possessing two late first round picks and a veteran filled roster, the team will almost certainly look to draft an international player with at least one of the choices. They also could look to trade one of their picks.

25. Utah Jazz - Grayson Allen, G, Duke

Allen has had a rough season, as he's been suspended for tripping players, and the media has been all over him for it. I don't feel bad for Allen, as he's brought it upon himself, but I do think it's being a little overblown. Some athletes are overly competitive, and they can become cheap players because of it. It's nothing new.

Despite Allen's issues, he's still a great basketball player and he's a perfect spark plug off the bench in the NBA. He's a good defender with insane competitiveness, he can shoot from deep and he can score off the dribble. None of those skills are likely going to be elite at the next level, but he should be able to have a long career in the league if he can stay out of trouble.

26. Toronto Raptors (via Los Angeles Clippers) - Jonathan Jeane, C, France

The 7'2 monster is another draft-and-stash prospect. He's a very good athlete for someone as large as he is, and he should develop into a dominant shot blocker in time. His size and athleticism would make it a major disappointment if he doesn't.

The Raptors may not want to add two draft and stash players, but in this case Jeane is too talented to pass up for a college junior or senior.

The Clippers will only keep this pick if they pick inside the lottery.

27. Houston Rockets - DeVonte Graham, PG, Kansas

Graham can shoot the 3 and is capable of playing off the ball, something that would be necessary if he ever shared the court with James Harden.

Graham's NBA strength is likely to be his defense, as his quick hands should translate to the next level. He's mostly a "3 and D" type player in the NBA, but because he plays point guard that's not of huge value. However, playing him next to Harden would allow his better skills to shine while minimizing his weaknesses.

28. San Antonio Spurs - Donovan Mitchell, SG, Louisville

Mitchell is a bit undersized for an NBA 2-guard, but he's a defensive standout who also has a knack for putting the ball in the bucket.

The Louisville sophomore will need to drastically improve his efficiency at the next level, but there's no team better at making players efficient than the Spurs. His defensive skills alone should help him see the floor early in his career, while his offensive game develops.

29. Cleveland Cavaliers - John Collins, F, Wake Forest

The sophomore may not declare, but he's having another good season and as an undersized 4, now might be his best chance to land in the first round. He's shown an ability inside to score the basketball with efficiency, but his lack of a jump shot really hurts his draft stock in today's NBA.

Collins is the kind of hard-nosed player LeBron James likes to play with, and if he develops into an effective NBA player he compliments Kevin Love well because they are basically opposites.

30. Utah Jazz (via Golden State) - Tyler Lydon, F, Syracuse

The 6'9 sophomore may not declare, but if he does he should find himself in the first round. He's got great 3 point touch and is a very good free throw shooter, two skills that should make him a solid role player at the very least.

Utah is having a very solid season and likely won't have a lot of minutes for a draft pick next season, but adding someone like Lydon may change that as he's good enough to play 8-10 minutes a night immediately in my opinion.

Thank you for checking out our 2017 NBA Mock Draft. We will update it periodically throughout the year.



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