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TSL NBA Mock Draft 1.0

The NBA Draft inches closer every day, and while the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers focus on the NBA finals, the rest of the league is prepping their offseason plan. The Boston Celtics hold the number one overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and the Portland Trailblazers own three first round picks. While there will likely be a large amount of movement on draft day, here is TSL’s first mock draft of the year!

  1. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn) – Markelle Fultz, PG (Washington): The Celtics have the luxury of taking the best overall player in the draft for their impressive young core. Fultz will add scoring to the Celtics bench and could take an expanded role in the coming years thanks to the contracts of Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas coming to an end. A terrific athlete, the 6-foot-4 Fultz will be able to defend multiple positions, something Brad Stevens covets. Fultz averaged 23.2 points per game, 5.9 assists per game and 5.7 rebounds per game on a bad Washington team, but wowed scouts with his upside.
  2. Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball, PG (UCLA): One of the most controversial and boisterous families take their talents to Los Angeles. Led by Lonzo’s father LaVar Ball, they have become the most talked about player in this upcoming draft. Numerous reports have the Lakers not being convinced by Ball, but I believe this is a smokescreen. Ball fits a need in Los Angeles, and despite his father’s personality, is actually a humble, and quiet leader who will appreciate playing for his hometown team. Ball averaged 14.6 points per game, 7.6 assists per game a 6.0 rebounds per game for the UCLA Bruins.
  3. Philadelphia 76ers (via Sacramento): Josh Jackson, SF (Kansas): It gets extremely murky at this stage of the draft. The Sixers have a history of taking the best player available, and while the Hinkie administration is out (Never forget Philly fans), I still think they make a Hinkie like move. Jackson does a lot of things well, and has the best upside in the draft. Jackson explodes to the rim and also plays excellent defense, covering multiple positions. If the Sixers are serious about either pursuing Kyle Lowry in free agency or letting Ben Simmons play point guard, Jackson makes the most sense. Jackson averaged 16.3 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game and 3.0 assists per game.
  4. Phoenix Suns: Jayson Tatum, SF (Duke): The Suns already have a tremendous young core, including Devin Booker, Tyler Ulis, Alan Williams and Dragan Bender. One thing they desperately need after the departure of PJ Tucker in a trade with Toronto is a young wing player. Enter Tatum, who doesn’t play the same style as Tucker, but has the potential to improve dramatically on defense. His offensive skill set is remarkable and has a frame that could put on strength and grow with this young team. Tatum averaged 16.8 points per game, 7.3 rebounds per game and 2.1 assists per game.
  5. Sacramento Kings (via Philadelphia): DeAaron Fox, PG (Kentucky): There is a lot of talk about the Kings potentially moving up to the third spot to take Fox. However, based on the choice made by Philly in this draft, the Kings will see their man fall to them. Fox is regarded for his incredible quickness, height and versatility. He is tremendous in transition and would be an incredible playmaker for a team who desperately needs help in that department. Fox largely outplayed his counterpart Lonzo Ball in the NCAA tournament and his stock is rising quickly. Fox averaged 16.7 points per game, 4.6 assists per game and 4.0 rebounds per game.
  6. Orlando Magic: Frank Ntilikina, PG (France): With the intriguing Frenchman off the board at this spot, it makes him the fourth point guard of the top 10. The most physically impressive point guard in the draft (at 6-foot-5 with a reported wingspan of 7-foot-1), Ntilikina has also improved his shooting a great deal. He appears to be a classic boom or bust type, and the Magic could use a point guard to pair with Elfrid Payton. The Magic have taken chances on international talent before and could be inclined to do it again. While playing for Strasbourg in France, Ntilikina averaged just 5.1 points per game, 2.3 rebounds per game, 1.4 assists, but will receive plenty more minutes in Orlando as they look to cash in on his potential.
  7. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonathan Isaac, SF/PF (Florida State): The Timberwolves love drafting athletic, versatile prospects whose greatest strength is their incredible physical gifts. Isaac fits the mold better than almost anyone in this draft. Isaac is remarkable thanks to his 6-foot-7 frame (7-foot-1 wingspan), but also having the quickness to be versatile on defense. The biggest point of development for Isaac will be to work on his outside shooting. Thanks to his incredible defense, it is easy to dream about what may come with a jump shot.
  8. New York Knicks: Dennis Smith Jr., PG (NC State): The Knicks need something to go right, on a team that has largely been a massive disappointment. The point guard is the key to the triangle offense, and Smith could be a solid fit in the system. While Smith is best in transition, he had a strong assist rate a NC State, with a weak supporting cast around him. Smith has some serious flaws, including his lack of consistency, but there is plenty to like with him and the Knicks don’t have the luxury of a quick turnaround.
  9. Dallas Mavericks: Lauri Markkanen, PF (Arizona): A gifted offensive big man, Markkanen draws the obvious comparisons to Kristaps Porzingis, Kelly Olynyk and of course, Dirk Nowitzki. Markkanen will get a chance to live up to those comparisons if he falls to the Mavericks and get to learn from the future Hall of Famer. Markkanen is a gifted shooter and also possesses slashing ability. He could pair well with Dwight Powell in small lineups, assuming he begins to improve his defense, specifically in terms of physicality.
  10. Sacramento Kings (via New Orleans): Malik Monk, SG (Kentucky): After taking Fox, the Kings will be looking for the best available. Why not pair him with his teammate and backcourt mate Malik Monk? Monk is a lights out shooter and the Kings have not hesitated in going after shooters in the past (see Nik Stauskas and Jimmer Fredette). While Monk is not as big as most shooting guards, neither was Jamal Crawford, who has developed a reputation as a lethal 6th man. Monk can be that and more and working with his point guard again will do wonders.
  11. Charlotte Hornets: Donovan Mitchell, SG (Louisville): The Hornets have a number of players who fill multiple positions, including Nicolas Batum and Jeremy Lamb. However, their bench depth leaves something to be desired. Enter Mitchell, who is a project in his own right, but has blossomed in college and brings a lot of desirable qualities. He is just under 6-foot-2 without shoes but has a 6-foot-10 (!!) wingspan and is able to compensate with his quickness and athleticism. His shooting is improving and he has upside to become a 3-point shooter with regularity. Mitchell averaged 15.6 points per game, 4.9 rebounds per game and 2.7 assists per game, and will get plenty of time to develop behind Batum and Kemba Walker.
  12. Detroit Pistons: Zach Collins, PF/C (Gonzaga): The Pistons could be extremely active, with decisions to be made on big pieces of the franchise like Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond. Henry Ellenson has been uneven and the team will likely take a look at some flexible players like Collins. Collins is young but still has a ways to go physically. He is tremendous agile and has refined offensive game for a big man. His jump shot is improving rapidly and could allow him to pair with Tobias Harris in small lineups.
  13. Denver Nuggets: Justin Jackson, SF (North Carolina): The Nuggets have a nice stash of picks and young players and will be looking to cash in and make a return to the playoffs. However, there is uncertainty with the small forward position with Wilson Chandler and Danilio Galinari as questions marks to return. Jackson would turn the page and allow at least one of the two to leave. Noted for his big game ability and leadership, Jackson has made improvements to his shot that have turned him into a top prospect. He will have to work on his shot creating, but could work well in Denver with help around him.
  14. Miami Heat: OG Anunoby, SF/PF (Indiana): The Heat continue to improve and play well beyond expectations. However, they did struggle on the interior and with Chris Bosh’s career likely over, it is time to search for a future big man. Anunoby is remarkable athlete who may be one of the strongest players in the draft. There will be questions about how his ACL tear recovery is going, but there is no question he will make an immediate defensive impact thanks his agility and long arms.
  15. Portland Trailblazers: TJ Leaf, PF (UCLA): The Blazers are an interesting case this draft year, with three first round picks, contracts to move and being stuck in the dreaded (too bad for the playoffs, too good for the lottery) stage. They need power forward help and Leaf projects as an interesting option. Leaf excelled in transition and will be an immediate favorite of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum for that reason. Leaf is athletic and quick but will need to bulk up in the NBA. If he does that he could be a steal.
  16. Chicago Bulls: Luke Kennard, SG (Duke): The Bulls were a dreadful three point shooting team, finishing 26th in the NBA with a combined 33.7-percent. The answer to their problems could be Kennard, who developed into an efficient scorer. He doesn’t have terrific athleticism or explosiveness, but working off screens could allow him to get open shots. Kennard hit 44-percent of his three pointers and has the footwork to get open. He could be the Bulls version of Kyle Korver off the bench.
  17. Milwaukee Bucks: Ike Anigbogu, C (UCLA): The Bucks love taking developmental projects who have unique physical gifts. Anigbogu fits that role perfectly, as the 6-foot-10, 250 lbs. center is remarkable strong and quick for someone his size. His biggest weaknesses however, are glaring. He lacks touch inside and needs more court time to improve his awareness on court. A future duo of Anigbogu and Thon Maker would be terrifying if both put it together.
  18. Indiana Pacers: John Collins, PF (Wake Forest): The Pacers will be on the look out for as help that will keep Paul George in Indiana. Collins will give the team a solid backup power forward with terrific scoring touch. He has a lot of work to do defensively but he can dominate from short and even some extended range. One of the most explosive scoring big men in the draft class, Collins will back up Thad Young and play very well with Al Jefferson off the bench.
  19. Atlanta Hawks: Jarrett Allen, C (Texas): The Hawks will look add some big man depth this offseason and figure out where their future lies. There are questions about Dwight Howard and Paul Millsap returning, and no clear succession plan. Allen would be an interesting fit, thanks to his unique 6-foot-10 frame but 7-foot-5 wingspan. Allen has a refined inside game and would received far better opportunities around some of Atlanta’s shooters. If Allen can bulk up and add physicality to his game (both offensively and defensively), he could be an intriguing prospect.
  20. Portland Trailblazers (from Memphis via Denver and Cleveland): Terrance Ferguson, SG (Australia): The American Ferguson elected to go overseas and play for Adelaide in Australia. His first taste of pro ball was up and down but he showed a combination of effective passing, a knack for rebounding and improved shot mechanics. His 6-foot-7 frame is ideal as a future hybrid player and the hope is that someone with time can develop his game. Portland can have him learn from one of the best in CJ McCollum.
  21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Semi Ojeleye, SF/PF (SMU): One the surface this could seem like a reach; but is it really? The Thunder have lacked production from the wing since Kevin Durant went to Golden State, and Ojeleye has a unique set of tools. He is a high flying (40.5 inch vertical), strong (6-foot-7, 240 lbs.) and quick combo forward with the ability to drive and hit three pointers. He is also a high character kid regarded for his strong makeup. Because he is not as tall as most power forwards, offense will be key, but next to Steven Adams, he could be very intriguing.
  22. Brooklyn Nets (via Washington): Justin Patton, C (Creighton): The Nets were the worst team in the NBA this past season and only just now get a pick at 22nd overall. The team needs to continue building for the future and that will start with trading Brook Lopez. In the meantime, they secure their center of the future in Patton. Patton is athletic, mobile in transition and physically gifted. He is also incredibly efficient, and was rated as one of the top players in the country in that category. Patton would be a great place to start for a troublingly old Brooklyn Nets team.
  23. Toronto Raptors (from Los Angeles Clippers via Milwaukee): Rodionos Kurucs, SF (Latvia): The Raptors are at a crossroads. On one hand, they are a top team in the East. On the other, they don’t have what it takes to beat Cleveland/Golden State. One way they can continue to improve is to trade DeMarre Carroll and bring in Kurucs. If PJ Tucker were re-signed, Kurucs offense would be an intriguing pairing with Tucker’s defense. He is a lights out shooter especially off screens and can learn NBA defenses off the bench in Toronto behind one of the best.
  24. Utah Jazz: Anzejs Pasecniks, C (Latvia): The Latvian big man will always be compared to countryman and former teammate Kristaps Porzingis. Formerly a lanky 7-foot-2 kid, Pasceniks has put on weight to get to 220 lbs. and will add more weight to his frame. However, his best strength is the pick and roll and his shooting will need to be improved. Coming off the bench with Derrick Favors would be a terrific combination of size, strength and finishing touch in the paint for Utah.
  25. Orlando Magic (via Toronto): Isaiah Hartenstein, PF/C (Germany): The Magic will now turn to the big man portion of the draft, and take a risk on the interesting young German Hartenstein. He is 7-foot-1, but unlike the recent trend of European big men, very physical at 250 lbs. He wont wow you with every tool, but is a hard worker and will continue to improve, especially on the offensive side with more touch. The Magic will look to get some help for Aaron Gordon off the bench at this spot and a towering lineup of Hartenstein and Bismack Biymobo would force teams into more jump shots, where Elfrid Payton can show his lock down defense.
  26. Portland Trailblazers (via Cleveland): Harry Giles, C (Duke): Perhaps the biggest wild card in the draft, Giles has the right frame and upside to be worth a top 10 pick. His extensive injury history and his lack of minutes played at Duke would indicate he could be a 2nd round pick. When a team like Portland with multiple firsts looks for players, they will usually take a chance. Giles is a very active player whose floor could be an active rebounder and defender, and whose ceiling is very high.
  27. Brooklyn Nets (via Boston): Bam Adebayo, PF/C (Kentucky): The Nets went with the big center Justin Patton and take another center in Adebayo. However, because of how strong and mobile he is, it is very possible that Adebayo could play both the 4 and 5 in an NBA lineup. Adebayo brings terrific rebounding and close the basket offense. He will have to work on a jump shot, but it will have to begin inside for the Nets who generally lack toughness.
  28. Los Angeles Lakers (via Houston): Ivan Rabb, PF/C (California): The Oakland native was once regarded as one of the top five high school prospects in the country. Now Rabb is on the fringe as a 1st rounder. Part of it was because of the poor offense at Cal and part of it is the depth of this class. But Rabb still has a lot of desirable qualities including his mobility, frame, soft touch and post up ability. If he works on refining his game, and playing in an offense that is more NBA ready, Rabb could be a steal.
  29. San Antonio Spurs: Mathias Lessort, PF (France): The Spurs will look to begin to turn the page and do what they have done so well for years: the next man up philosophy. Lessort is an undersized center that really should play the 4 and possess an insatiable motor. An elite rebounder and solid defender, Lessort was a former teammate of current Houston Rockets center Clint Capela. Lessort will only improve and without a doubt buy into the Popovich system.
  30. Utah Jazz (via Golden State): DJ Wilson, PF (Michigan): The combo forward is an intriguing prospect who really shines on the big stage. However, Wilson is wildly inconsistent and will be red hot for brief period, only to regress. However, he has very intriguing qualities including a rare combination of shot blocking and three point shooting. If Wilson is refined under Quinn Synder, he could become an intriguing rotational forward.