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2017 NBA Mock Draft 3.0: March Madness

Marching into the third month of the year college basketball reaches its apex with conference tournaments followed by the grand finale of the NCAA tournament. Ahead of this madness is as good a time as any to drop my third NBA mock draft and see where all the prospects stack up. Again, the NBA draft positions are based on a simulation from tankathon.com

Round 1

  1. Orlando Magic: PG/SG Markelle Fultz (Washington) Big Board #1 – I don’t care who wins the lottery, Fultz is the top pick. He is a transcendent talent that should take the league by storm as a rookie.
  2. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn): SF Josh Jackson (Kansas) Big Board #3 – As long as Jackson can harness his emotions, he will be a coach’s dream of a player with positional versatility on offense and defense. He is a perfect fit for coach Brad Stevens who would make sure Josh sleeps in the gym to improve his shooting range and consistency.
  3. Phoenix Suns: PG Lonzo Ball (UCLA) Big Board #2 – Lavar Ball may want all of his sons to end up on the Lakers, but Lonzo will need the Lakers to keep their pick in order to make his father’s dream come true. In this mock, the Lakers drop out of the top three and the Celtics skip him causing Ball to fall into Phoenix’s lap. Not the ideal landing spot in an overcrowded backcourt, but he is the best player available – and you have to expect Brandon Knight will be moved sooner rather than later.
  4. Philadelphia 76ers (via Los Angeles Lakers): PG/SG Dennis Smith (NC State) Big Board #4 – Boasting freakish athleticism while combining playmaking skills with scoring ability, Smith ends up in a solid situation in Philly – where he can play on and off the ball with a healthy Ben Simmons.
  5. Philadelphia 76ers: SG Malik Monk (Kentucky) Big Board #5 – With the Sixers picking back-to-back, Monk seems like a no-brainer to pair in the backcourt with Smith. Monk’s scoring and shooting range will be vital, and playmakers such as Simmons, Smith, and Dario Saric would help create easy scoring opportunities.
  6. Sacramento Kings (via New Orleans): SF Jayson Tatum (Duke) Big Board #6 – It will be interesting to see if Rudy Gay picks up his player option coming off season-ending surgery, but even if Rudy stays Tatum might be the pick here for the Kings. He has all the positive attributes Gay possessed, but the potential to improve upon his defensive weaknesses. In a little bit of a shooting slump over his last three games. His performance this month will go a long way in dictating Duke’s progress in the tournament, and consequently his draft status.
  7. New York Knicks: PG Frank Ntilikina (Strasbourg) Big Board #9 – Adding Frank to the picture means Phil Jackson will be moving on from the Derrick Rose experiment. This would bring an interesting European flavor to the future of the Knicks with the pick-and-pop, pick-and-roll combo between Ntilikina and Porzingis potentially lethal.
  8. Sacramento Kings: PF Lauri Markannen (Arizona) Big Board #7 – I have a feeling Vivek and Vlade will be grinning to pick the sweet-shooting Finnish marksman. The Kings seem to value shooting and spreading the floor in this post-Cousins rebuild.
  9. Minnesota Timberwolves: SF Jonathan Isaac (Florida State) Big Board #8 – This is the dream scenario for defensive-minded GM/Coach Thibs. He can plug in the versatile Isaac into a lineup with Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns and the three of them can develop into a fearsome threesome. Perhaps this summer they decide what to do at PG with Ricky Rubio and Kris Dunn.
  10. Dallas Mavericks: PG De’Aaron Fox (Kentucky) Big Board #10 – De’Aaron would be a very good fit as the floor general for Dirk’s final year in the league. Fox has the moxie to contribute as a rookie, and he would bolster an already interesting perimeter rotation (Seth Curry, JJ Barea, Yogi Farrell, and Wesley Matthews) for a Mavs roster that would compete for a playoff spot as long as they retain restricted FA Nerlens Noel.
  11. Portland Trail Blazers: PF John Collins (Wake Forest) Big Board #12 – This is where the team fits start to get a little more tricky. The Blazers will probably have to go with the best player available even if a Collins-Nurkic fit might be less than ideal. Collins has been such a force at Wake Forest for two years running that he can’t be overlooked anymore. If he improves his range on the jump shot he could end up becoming a player in the mold of current All-Star Paul Millsap.
  12. Charlotte Hornets: C Justin Patton (Creighton) Big Board #11 – Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky have not been the solution at center for the Hornets so far. Frank is not a rim protector and Cody has yet to expand his offensive game. Take Patton here and let him develop into the complete package.
  13. Milwaukee Bucks: PF Isaiah Hartenstein (Zalgiris) Big Board #13 – Isaiah is a bit of a mystery still. Tucked away in Lithuania with limited playing time, the 18-year-old seven-footer has all the physical attributes scouts look for and oozes potential. Remind you of another recent mid-first round Milwaukee draft pick? If his body fills out there is the potential to play both the PF and C positions. Say “Antetokounmpo-Parker-Hartenstein frontcourt” fast several times in a row.
  14. Miami Heat: PF Robert Williams (Texas A&M) Big Board #15 – Udonis Haslem worked out pretty well for the Heat franchise. Take Robert Williams and pencil him in as a solid NBA contributor for more than a decade. Perhaps not an upside pick but big men with complete two-way skill-sets are valuable and he should get snagged inside the lottery.
  15. Denver Nuggets: SF, PF Miles Bridges (Michigan State) Big Board #14 – Bridges might be hoping to stay closer to home and drop down to Detroit with the next pick, but he will be pleasantly surprised by how much fun it will be to play in the Nuggets’ offense – with Jokic getting slashers and shooters the ball in an array of creative ways.
  16. Detroit Pistons: SF O.G. Anunoby (Indiana) Big Board #17 – Going into his sophomore season, many pegged Anunoby as the next Andre Iguodala or Kawhi Leonard-Lite – with top-five potential. He may still have that upside, but will need to improve his playmaking skills. Good value for the Pistons and Stan will enjoy molding O.G. into a valuable contributor on both ends.
  17. Chicago Bulls: PF Harry Giles (Duke) Big Board #18 – Quite the fall from grace for a prospect who over the past few years seemed destined to be a top-five selection. Due to injury setbacks that will remain a long-term concern and a lack of practice time to truly integrate himself into the Duke rotation, Giles faces an uphill battle of proving his worth to teams picking in the lottery. With that being said, he could end up being a really sweet bargain for the Bulls at 17. Or maybe they just trade for Jahlil Okafor.
  18. Indiana Pacers: PF Bam Adebayo (Kentucky) Big Board #19 – Would love to see some progress on his jumpshot, but it just hasn’t happened yet. A Turner-Adebayo frontcourt with Paul George’s playmaking sounds like an interesting proposition for Larry Bird, who has to figure out how to keep his superstar player from leaving for Los Angeles.
  19. Atlanta Hawks: SG Luke Kennard (Duke) Big Board #16 – This offseason has to finally be the summer where the Hawks look to re-tool. Millsap will likely be gone, and I expect the rest of the roster to be available for the right price. If they stay at the 19th pick, look for them to take either the highest upside prospect available or a consummate pro. Kennard’s consistent development into the key cog of Duke’s offense makes him as safe a selection as anyone in the draft.
  20. Oklahoma City Thunder: SG Josh Hart (Villanova) Big Board #20 – Westbrook is putting together a historic season averaging a triple-double, which is both a reflection of his superhero abilities and the lack of playmaking next to him. Oladipo has shown improvement in that regard this season, but Hart would be a great fit as the primary playmaker on the second unit, and his complete four-year college experience (along with the NCAA title victory) should allow him to be an immediate contributor to any team selecting him in the first round.
  21. Portland Trailblazers (via Memphis): PF T.J. Leaf (UCLA) Big Board #21 – The scouting reports on Leaf seem to be all over the place. The Trail Blazers were willing to take a shot on a similar player in Meyers Leonard (No. 11 overall in 2012), and recently signed him to a lucrative contract extension that he may struggle to justify. If Portland is able to free up that roster spot via trade, Leaf would be an interesting option for Neil Olshey.
  22. Toronto Raptors: SG Terrance Ferguson (Adelaide) Big Board #24 – Possibly the most difficult prospect to pinpoint in this draft. Is he the next Terrance Ross, or is that comparison unfounded apart from them sharing the same first name? Ferguson will most likely impress GM’s picking late in the first round (especially with his workouts) and the Raptors may feel his ultimate potential combination of athleticism and scoring is a perfect fit to the roster.
  23. Orlando Magic (via Los Angeles Clippers): PF Ivan Rabb (California) Big Board #22 – Much like their neighbors in Atlanta, the Magic will be in a state of flux. GM’s usually feel pressure to hit on their draft picks when forced into a rebuild and Rabb will be a pick Rob Hennigan might think could keep his position safe. Ivan comes into the league with a stellar college résumé and should contribute as a rebounder and secondary scorer immediately. His defense might be a significant concern.
  24. Brooklyn Nets (via Washington): SF Rodions Kurucs (Barcelona 2) Big Board #23 – The poor Brooklyn Nets. A roster with holes everywhere and the worst record in the league will have to settle for swapping their top-three pick with the Celtics’ 26th pick. On a positive note, GM Sean Marks wisely flipped Bogdanovic to acquire another first round pick from the Wizards, giving him the option to go for high upside on at least one of them. Based on blurry YouTube videos, Kurucs looks like an athletic wing that can run the floor and shoot the rock.
  25. Utah Jazz: SF Dillon Brooks (Oregon) Big Board #33 –  One of the older prospects in the draft, Brooks has proven to be an elite playmaker at the college level and has really impressed with his shooting ability. If the Jazz are able to keep their core players, in particular Gordon Hayward and George Hill, aside from offering max contracts, they may want to get a player like Brooks who can contribute immediately for contention in the difficult Western Conference. The window can always close before you realize it’s open, and the Jazz’s window is currently open by a sliver.
  26. Brooklyn Nets (via Boston): C Omer Yurtseven (NC State) Big Board #25 – As with the Kurucs pick, expect the Nets to draft talent and figure out ways to mold it later. Brook Lopez isn’t retiring as a Net, is he? Regardless, Yurtseven has the upside of a long-term starting center in the league, and that is all you can ask for with a late first-round pick. His stock has dropped due to a hectic freshman season at N.C. State, but he might prove a lot of teams wrong if they let him drop into the second round.
  27. Portland Trail Blazers (via Cleveland): C Ike Anigbogu (UCLA) Big Board #29 – They call him UCLA’s enforcer, and rightfully so. Lost in his ascension into first-round prospect has been the fact that he only just turned 18. The Blazers have notably fallen off a cliff this season on the defensive end. Let Anigbogu pair up with athletes like Harkless and Aminu and see if that unit doesn’t lock some opposing offenses down. At the very least, he will bring a lot of energy any time he gets the opportunity to play.
  28. Los Angeles Lakers (via Houston): SG Donovan Mitchell (Louisville) Big Board #34 – Mitchell has been very solid this season as Louisville’s star and could make an immediate impact in the league as a valuable bench player. Lou Williams was traded for this pick and Nick Young isn’t a long-term solution, so Donovan could be thrust into a rotation with D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson. Expect the kid to prove his worth if he ends up in Laker Land.
  29. San Antonio Spurs: C Andzejs Pasecniks (Herbalife) Big Board #28 – Nobody knows what the Spurs will do – other than to expect the unexpected. Pasecniks smells like an R.C. Buford special. Length for days, although not the monolith that Boban was Andzejs seems like a 7-2 center that could develop into a versatile starting-caliber player if he fills out his frame. A perfect draft-and-stash selection late in the first-round that allows the franchise to let him hone his game overseas with additional playing time, only to lock him into the four-year rookie scale contract when he comes stateside.
  30. Utah Jazz (via Golden State): C Jarrett Allen (Texas) Big Board #27 – At one point a sure bet to be a lottery selection, Allen hasn’t necessarily been bad, but rather inconsistent. His rebounding has been solid and his offensive game looks like a tease. The turnovers and fouling need to stop. If he risks entering the draft without assurances of being a lottery pick, he potentially could slide down the board. The Jazz would gladly select him with the last pick of the round and let him develop behind the stewardship of Rudy Gobert.

Round 2

  1. Atlanta Hawks (via Brooklyn): SF Tyler Lydon (Syracuse) Big Board #26 – Hawks like versatile contributors, just look at their draft picks last year.
  2. Los Angeles Lakers: SG Kostja Mushida (Mega Leks) Big Board #36 – One of the younger prospects in the draft, stash him and see if he becomes a gem.
  3. Phoenix Suns: C Thomas Bryant (Indiana) Big Board #30 – Tyson Chandler would be a good mentor if he stays in town.
  4. Orlando Magic: PF Jonathan Motley (Baylor) Big Board #32 – Experienced college big putting up huge numbers.
  5. Sacramento Kings (via Philadelphia): PF Tony Bradley (UNC) Big Board #37 – Part of a surprisingly solid UNC season and has been extremely effective, albeit in limited playing time.
  6. New Orleans Pelicans: PG Jawun Evans (Oklahoma State) Big Board #38 – Regardless of what happens with Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans need a productive guard to pair with their bigs.
  7. Philadelphia 76ers (via New York): PG Devonte Graham (Kansas) Big Board #40 – Expect Bryan Colangelo to look for point guards and stashes.
  8. Boston Celtics (via Minnesota): PF/C Caleb Swanigan (Purdue) Big Board #31 – Productive big man that could sneak into the Celtics rotation right away.
  9. Chicago Bulls (via Sacramento): C Marques Bolden (Duke) Big Board #35 – Taking Giles and Bolden in the same draft? One of them has to pan out, right?
  10. Philadelphia 76ers (via Dallas): SG Sviatoslav Mykhaliuk (Kansas) Big Board #41 – Seemingly overlooked in Bill Self lineups, still a very young prospect with tools
  11. Houston Rockets (via Portland): PF Chris Boucher (Oregon) Big Board #45 – Daryl Morey likes players that shoot 3’s or take layups and dunks.
  12. Charlotte Hornets: SG Grayson Allen (Duke) Big Board #44 – Drops out of the first round, but doesn’t have to stray far from his college stomping grounds.
  13. Houston Rockets (via Denver): C Jonathan Jeanne (Le Mans) Big Board #39 – Stashing a big man until playing time opens up later down the road.
  14. Milwaukee Bucks: PG Frank Jackson (Duke) Big Board #48 – Jason Kidd will want improved play by his floor generals, why not add Jackson to the mix.
  15. Philadelphia 76ers (via Miami): PF Mathias Lessort (JSF Nanterre) Big Board #50 – With all these draft picks, the Sixers will have to either trade out or stash.
  16. Utah Jazz (via Detroit): PF Alec Peters (Valparaiso) Big Board #42 – Highly effective college player, Utah will want to see it translate like it did with Millsap.
  17. New York Knicks (via Chicago): SF Justin Jackson (UNC) Big Board #47 – Phil Jackson may like his shooting in the triangle?
  18. Indiana Pacers: SF Jaron Blossomgame (Clemson) Big Board #43 – His game will really need to blossom if he gets drafted to backup PG-13 and then George leaves.
  19. Philadelphia 76ers (via Atlanta): SF Mikal Bridges (Villanova) Big Board #56 – Give the local kid a shot to make an impression.
  20. Denver Nuggets (via Oklahoma City): PF Chimezie Metu (USC) Big Board #46 – Kenneth Faried replacement?
  21. Denver Nuggets (via Memphis): SG P.J. Dozier (South Carolina) Big Board #49 – Fast-rising prospect, potential Wilson Chandler replacement?
  22. Phoenix Suns (via Toronto): SF Arnoldas Kubolka (Brose Bramburg) Big Board #60 – Lanky kid with legit shooting ability.
  23. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers): SF Devin Robinson (Florida) Big Board #63 – A solid contributor with limited handle.
  24. Washington Wizards: PF Alpha Kaba (Mega Leks) Big Board #52 – Wizards need to take a shot at a high-upside PF.
  25. Utah Jazz: SG Dwayne Bacon (Florida State) Big Board #57 – Will need to earn his Bacon to crack their roster.
  26. Brooklyn Nets (via Boston): SG Blaz Mesicek (Enel Brindisi) Big Board #61 – Sean Marks digging for gems all over the globe.
  27. Boston Celtics (via Cleveland): PF Borisa Simanic (Red Star) Big Board #66 – Celtics would stash the Croatian.
  28. New York Knicks (via Houston): PG Edmond Sumner (Xavier) Big Board #51 – A potential first-round pick, possibly a steal this late.
  29. San Antonio Spurs: PG Kobi Simmons (Arizona) Big Board #69 – If only he ends up on the 76ers to play with another Simmons?
  30. Atlanta Hawks (via Golden State): PF Zach Collins (Gonzaga) Big Board #73 – The 60th pick in the draft can still turn into an All-Star.

And there it is. Let’s see how things shake up after some March Madness!

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