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The Sports Daily > The Lottery Mafia
2017 NBA Mock Draft: Playoff Edition

With the 2016-2017 NBA regular season coming to a close this past week, the ping pong balls have been set for the May 16th NBA Draft Lottery. That means in less than a month we’ll know the actual draft positions for each lottery team. In the meantime, let’s take a look at where the prospects may go based on the projected order.

1st Round

  1. Celtics via Nets – Markelle Fultz: The Celtics can go in so many directions whether they keep the pick or trade it for an established superstar, but Fultz makes the most sense playing with Isaiah Thomas, and he is the top prospect on my board by a significant margin.
  2. Suns – Josh Jackson: The Suns really need to stop collecting PG’s, so unless their evaluation on Ball is that he is the significantly stronger long-term prospect, Jackson should be an easy call here. Solves a lot of their lineup issues and gives them some semblance of defensive versatility.
  3. LakersLonzo Ball: The ultimate wet dream of most Lakers fans already wearing purple and yellow Ball jerseys to the final Laker home games this season. Not sure if daddy Lavar is a headache new management will enjoy dealing with on a regular basis though.
  4. 76ersMalik Monk: The Sixers will need to decide which prospect they value the most while considering the potential fit along with Simmons and Embiid. Monk would be the obvious answer as a floor spacer and shot-maker. Unless Bryan Colangelo has a surprise up his sleeve and snags Jonathan Isaac based on ceiling.
  5. MagicJayson Tatum: Tatum is a pro-ready prospect who might lead the Magic in scoring right off the bat. With Payton as the primary ball-handler I can’t see their new management taking a guard unless they decide to tear the roster down. That leaves the choice between Tatum’s safe floor of an offensive repertoire, or Isaac’s length and defensive potential.
  6. TimberwolvesJonathan Isaac: Unless Thibs decides to flip Rubio for pennies on the dollar to draft another PG to run the offense better than it seems Kris Dunn ever will, Isaac has to be the easy choice here. He is the player built for Thibs to mold into a future DPOY candidate.
  7. Knicks – Dennis Smith: Who knows what Phil Jackson plans to do and whether they re-sign Derrick Rose and keep Melo? Porzingis is already skipping exit interviews and the Melo-drama has resulted in a breakup with LaLa. Not exactly the perfect situation for Smith to be drafted into, but the opportunity will be there for him to impress the desperate fan base.
  8. KingsFrank Ntilikina: This pick will be a matter of taste. Fox seems like the surer bet, but when has the Kings front office made the conventional pick? I wouldn’t mind them taking a shot at Ntilikina because his scoring potential greatly exceeds Fox’s.
  9. MavericksDe’Aaron Fox: For a franchise like the Mavericks stuck between throwing a retirement parade for Dirk and lottery rebuilding, Fox is a great choice this late, as he is a steady floor general with the ability and drive to humble a hyped up prospect like Lonzo Ball on the big stage. His moxy bodes well in a league where prototypical examples of his ceiling go by the name of John Wall and Eric Bledsoe.
  10. Kings via Pelicans – Lauri Markannen: For a team obsessed with finding scoring and shooting in the lottery over the past decade, the Kings have struggled to find a marksman they feel comfortable with, but Markannen should be exactly that, no pun intended. Defense will be an issue, but pairing Ntilikina and Markannen with Hield could be a very fun and high scoring trio of youngsters.
  11. HornetsZach Collins: The Hornets better pray that Zach declares because if he does, they will have the perfect center to fill their needs in the paint. Cody Zeller has struggled with consistency and health, and Collins has flashed glimpses of All-Star potential in limited minutes.
  12. PistonsJohn Collins: Stan Van Gundy struggled to find lineups that provided consistent offensive efficiency. John Collins might actually be a pretty nice fit with Andre Drummond if they convince Andre to stick to defense and John to stick to offense.
  13. NuggetsO.G. Anunoby: Will Barton, Wilson Chandler, and Gary Harris are all currently in Denver, but expect Chandler to leave this summer and O.G. to bring wing length and defensive versatility that would allow him to play with either Barton or Harris. Harris was one of the underrated bright spots in the league on a non-playoff team, and imagining Anunoby and him together is very intriguing.
  14. HeatIsaiah Hartenstein: Isaiah didn’t really impress this season in Lithuania, but it’s never easy for a young kid overseas in a foreign country. Not sure if the Heat would take him with the expectation to bring him over immediately as he seems to still be quite raw and unproven, but his package of size, skill, and explosiveness are too intriguing to let drop past the lottery.
  15. BlazersJarret Allen: Allen is a long and fundamentally polished big man. Besides Nurkic the Blazers lack size unless Ezeli can overcome his chronic injury issues. Paul Allen would be wise to bring in his own namesake.
  16. BullsJustin Patton: Despite his strong finish to the season, Nikola Mirotic’s wild inconsistencies shooting the ball and poor defense is starting to wear thin in Chicago. Patton would immediately provide much of the offensive package that Mirotic does, but perhaps a better long-term potential and a cheaper rookie contract to boot.
  17. BucksJawun Evans: Jawun was only No. 40 on my latest big board, but this mock has him making a big leap forward. Giannis is the PG, but Kidd will need to develop a primary backup PG for his second unit. Brogdon has been a revelation and Dellavedova is reliable cog, but Evans can be better than both.
  18. PacersTerrance Ferguson: Larry Bird will be taking his best shot at keeping PG13 in Indiana past next season, and that means hitting on prospects. Ferguson has the highest upside left on the board, but it’s not guaranteed he ever comes close to reaching his potential. Sounds like the stance many scouts had on George when he was drafted out of Fresno State.
  19. Trail Blazers via Grizzlies – Luke Kennard: I’m not sure Shabazz Napier is the answer to Blazer lineups without Lillard and/or McCollum. Luke should be.
  20. HawksRodions Kurucs: The Hawks will most likely be going through a very big overhaul of their roster this offseason. Without an urgent need to contend for a title, if they target players that could be home-runs down the road, why not start off with Kurucs and let him season in Europe a couple more seasons?
  21. ThunderHarry Giles: A potential top pick before the season began, and a potential first overall pick throughout the entirety of his high school career, Giles drops out of the lottery and into the lap of Sam Presti. Giles could either slide into the starting lineup with Adams, or on the second unit with Kanter. I really like both of those fits actually as long as he can stay healthy, and he might be the biggest question mark of anyone in this draft.
  22. Nets via Wizards – Justin Jackson: The Nets are building a culture of consummate pros with quantifiable skills and versatility. Jackson impressed in the NCAA tournament, and even though his shooting may be slightly overrated, his activity and motor are top notch.
  23. Trail Blazers via Cavaliers – Bam Adebayo: Bam Bam is the type of power forward that could render Noah Vonleh and Meyers Leonard obsolete. The guards will like playing with his energy and help rotations on defense.
  24. JazzDillon Brooks: So much can change in Utah depending on Hayward’s and Hill’s free agency. So they have to draft with the worst-case scenario in mind – i.e., losing their two best play-makers in one offseason.
  25. RaptorsDonovan Mitchell: Mitchell was impressive in the tournament and is quickly rising up many draft boards. He seems like a great fit to replace Terrence Ross’s minutes while providing secondary ball handling behind Lowry. A Mitchell/Joseph backup backcourt sounds solid to me.
  26. Magic via Clippers – Josh Hart: Josh’s stellar college career ended on a whimper and his stock has dropped a bit due to his inability to generate offense when his team needed it most in the tournament. I still believe Hart can be a functional playmaker in an offense that doesn’t require him to score 20 a game.
  27. Nets via Celtics – TJ Leaf: The Nets will gladly scoop up Leaf this late in the first. Leaf could go anywhere between the 14th pick and the second round, but his activity on offense makes him a worthy gamble for any team willing to be patient for his defensive principles to develop.
  28. Lakers via Rockets – Ike Anigbogu: Seems like an all-UCLA draft for the Lakers. Anigbogu is another straight-forward fit to a Lakers team lacking size and defense.
  29. SpursCaleb Swanigan: Swanigan played with a lot of swag in the tournament and Popovich will incorporate him into the system better than DeJuan Blair back in the day.
  30. Jazz via Warriors – Ivan Rabb: Rabb may have been a lottery pick last year, but will have to settle for just barely making it into the first round this year. If Favors gets traded there will be a ton of opportunity for him to go for 20/10 seasons down the road. His offensive production has never been in question, but Al Jefferson’s just don’t have as much value as they used to.

2nd Round

  1. Hawks via Nets – Kostja Mushidi: Mushidi looks like an NBA shooting guard who will willingly bomb 3’s.
  2. SunsOmer Yurtseven: A value pick of a prospect predicted to go in the lottery at one point that struggled in his freshman season but still has an NBA body and sneaky skills.
  3. Magic via Lakers – Tyler Lydon: Some evaluate Lydon as a first round prospect but I see him dropping to a Magic team that could use his all-around skill set.
  4. Kings via 76ers – Jonathan Motley: Had a really impressive finish to his season and his energy and rebounding will be useful on the Kings.
  5. MagicAndzejs Pasecniks: Hard to predict picks for a team without a GM, so why not take a young European big and let him marinate.
  6. 76ers via Knicks – Edmond Sumner: He could be a good fit if Bayless can’t get past his wrist issues, as Sergio will probably not be around next season and the Sixers will have Simmons and McConnell and may look for that third PG if they don’t make a big free agent splash on Lowry.
  7. Celtics via Timberwolves – Cameron Oliver: A very productive scorer who will need to continue improving his rebounding to help out a Celtics team that just got dominated by Robin Lopez in Game 1.
  8. Bulls via Kings – Grayson Allen: They need shooting really bad. Is Grayson a good shooter though?
  9. 76ers via Mavericks – Jonathan Jeanne: Draft and Stash and hope he’s the next Rudy Gobert even if he is probably Ian Mahinmi.
  10. PelicansSviatoslav Mykhaliuk: The Pelicans need to draft players that can fit well around Anthony Davis. Svi could be that type of shooter and playmaker.
  11. HornetsSindarius Thornwell: Best name in the draft, and an NCAA tournament performance that puts him into early second round territory.
  12. Jazz via Pistons – Tony Bradley: Bradley fits well in lineups with either Gobert or Favors.
  13. Rockets via Nuggets – Semi Ojeleye: If he proves to be a consistent corner 3 shooter D’Antoni and Morey will get their hands on him.
  14. Knicks via Bulls – Jordan Bell: Undersized and got exposed by the UNC bigs on the boards when it mattered most, but brings energy and leadership to a Knicks team that can use both.
  15. Rockets via Blazers – Thomas Bryant: If Bryant falls this far down the draft Morey will pick him solely on BPA.
  16. 76ers via Heat – Frank Mason: Probably should be a stash here for a Sixers team with too many picks, but if they don’t trade it away why not take a shot on PG who scored 20 a night?
  17. PacersWesley Iwundu: Pacers could use some scorers when PG13 is resting.
  18. BucksDevonte Graham: Kidd getting more playmakers to tinker with.
  19. 76ers via Hawks – Frank Jackson: Still a big IF that he enters the draft, but if he does the Sixers could take a shot on him and let him do work in the summer league.
  20. Nuggets via Grizzlies – Joel Berry: Jameer Nelson can’t play forever and Berry should be able to run a second or third unit.
  21. Nuggets via Thunder – Chimezie Metu: Really impressed with his production late in the season and would be a steal for the Nuggets, who are lacking explosiveness at the position.
  22. WizardsAlpha Kaba: Inconsistent production on a big frame seems like a high upside stash at Mega Leks.
  23. Celtics via Clippers – Mathias Lessort: The Celtics have too many picks to keep, so expect them to stash a high upside Euro like Lessort.
  24. Suns via Raptors – Jaron Blossomgame: Well-rounded yet limited upside, defensive-oriented prospect that could make the rotation as a rookie.
  25. JazzAlec Peters: Monster scoring and rebounding numbers, dropping due to injury, but should be a solid rotational big.
  26. Celtics via Cavaliers – Arnoldis Kubolka: Stash.
  27. Nets via Celtics – Monte Morris: Jeremy Lin has struggled to stay healthy, so the opportunity will be there.
  28. Knicks via Rockets – Blaz Mesicek: The only competent member of the Knicks organization seems to be their international scout. Stash Blaz and hope he develops into another hidden gem.
  29. SpursNigel Williams-Goss: Turning an NCAA finals run into a roster spot on the Spurs-mobile sounds about right.
  30. Hawks via Warriors – Devin Robinson: May have surprised some by declaring, but it sounds like his agent is confident he gets drafted.

Notable Undrafted Players on the outside looking in: Isaiah Briscoe, Kennedy Meeks, Dwayne Bacon, Nigel Hayes, Keita Bates-Diop, Kobi Simmons, Melo Trimble, Shake Milton, Ethan Happ.

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