As we get deeper into the college basketball season, the cream slowly rises to the top.
This Mock Draft will highlight prospects that have seen their value rise or fall since my first mock. Each pick will include the players draft position from the previous mock in parentheses. The draft order was determined via a lottery simulation on Tankathon.com based on the current NBA standings.
Markelle Fultz: As of right now it doesn’t matter which team ends up picking at the top of the draft because Fultz has separated himself from the rest of the draft class. In each game that he plays he makes at least a couple of plays that leave fans and scouts with their jaws on the floor.
Through nine games, Fultz is averaging 22.8 points (49.7 FG, 48.7 3Pt, 66.7 FT), 6.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists to 3.1 turnovers, 2.1 threes, 2.1 steals, and 1.2 blocks in 33.3 minutes, and he already looks like a man among boys with his combination of size and explosiveness. It’s not often that a prospect at the age of 18 makes moves that some NBA All-Stars would struggle to replicate. The only critique is the lack of team success, but he isn’t really working with much. A similar situation existed at LSU last year when Ben Simmons missed the NCAA tournament, but it didn’t prevent the Sixers from scooping him up after winning the lottery. His shooting may regress from beyond the arc while his free-throw shooting should improve, but overall his jumper is NBA-ready.
Malik Monk: Speaking of NBA-ready shooters, Monk looks like the purest one in this draft class. He is jacking up jumpers with confidence and draining three treys per game while leading the exciting Kentucky backcourt in scoring. His running mate De’Aaron Fox is still the primary ball handler, but when the Wildcats need a big bucket, Monk has come through. He has the most clearly defined role of any prospect going into the draft: spread the floor and knock down shots. The area in the game where he has room for improvement is getting to the line. He only takes about two free throws per game and NBA teams will want to see him improve his comfort level with taking the ball to the hoop. He’s listed at around 6-3 or 6-4 but he looks longer. I’m not sure if it’s because he glides so smoothly or if he has a freakishly long wingspan. The lack of height may prevent him becoming the next Klay Thompson, but an Eric Gordon projection seems fair.
Lonzo Ball: Lonzo was type-cast as a product of his father’s high-octane offense at Chino Hills HS and many questioned how that would translate to a more traditional college offense at UCLA. So far so good, as Ball has exceeded all of my expectations on offense. There is no hesitation on his Kevin Martin-esque jumpshot, he lets it fly and it goes in more often than not. Most surprisingly for a freshman PG, he has assumed complete responsibility of running the offense and is constantly finding his teammates for good looks. The result is a UCLA team that has actually taken on an identity resembling that of what he ran at Chino Hills with similar winning results. Ball is burying 56 percent from the field and 45 percent from 3 while averaging 15 points and nine dimes, and if he keeps this up he has to be a no-brainer top-3 pick.
Jonathan Isaac: Admittedly, I may have had him ranked lower than most in my first mock but per-36’s of 21 and 10 with almost two blocks and two steals are hard to ignore. The biggest surprise for me has been the sweet 3-point stroke. Currently Isaac is making nearly two triples a game and making them at a 44 percent clip. The ability to extend the defense at the very least turns Jonathan into an enticing 3-and-D prospect. If we are to get a little greedy, hopefully he can improve his handle and penetrate with more aggression. The ceiling is really high and vaulting into the top-5 by draft night is not out of the question. The concern with him is whether he is a star or a role player at the next level.
Josh Hart: Often times scouts don’t get too high on a four-year senior, but with the intangibles and experience Hart gained from leading a team to a national title along with the pressure he has dealt with this season to maintain their winning streak, he has to be moving up all draft boards. Aside from his leadership and poise he is contributing in all areas of the game, scoring and shooting efficiently while controlling the offense. He gets to the line, finishes at the rim, hits 3’s, gives great effort on defense, rebounds above his height and weight, and isn’t careless with the ball. He’s essentially doing all the little things any successful franchise will want from a player picked in the first round.
Josh Jackson: His minor bump down from his perch at the top of the mock is more a product of the other prospects shining than Jackson actually losing any of his bluster. Josh has actually excelled in all aspects of the college game and the first couple of months have only solidified his status as a versatile threat on both ends of the floor. He has been extremely active on the defensive end playing the passing lanes and protecting the rim. The concerns remain with his ability to spread the floor, as his current 24 percent on 3’s and 55 percent from the charity stripe will need to significantly improve. If he starts making more shots, tightens up his handle, and improves on his turnover numbers, NBA scouts will have their mouths watering at the prospect of running a portion of their offense through him as a point-forward.
Jayson Tatum/Harry Giles: The Duke Freshman duo simply haven’t played enough and drop a couple of spots because of other prospects exceeding expectations. Tatum has not shown any rust in his first three games and looks to be an effortless scorer inside and out. Reminds me of a combination between Jabari Parker and Tobias Harris, both of whom struggle on defense at the NBA level. With Tatum there has not been enough of a sample size to determine how productive he will be on the defensive side of the ball, but with continued effort the upside is much higher than the Parker/Harris comp. Giles unfortunately has not played and consequently continues to slide down the board, but he could debut sometime in December.
Bam Adebayo: Bam Bam has been inconsistent, but his drop from nine to 15 in this mock is simply a product of circumstance where other prospects moved up due to fit. Still raw and developing, he is the type of athlete that can go anywhere in the first round depending on his progress in the season. Perhaps I was overrating him in my first mock having him in the top-10 and it’s possible I’m underrating him in this one. So far the positive signs are his ability to draw fouls, make free throws, and provide elite rim protection. Calipari is still figuring out how to properly use him, so expect large fluctuations in his playing time.
2017 NBA Mock Draft 2.0
1. Dallas – Markelle Fultz (4) Washington Freshman, PG/SG 6-5 190 lbs. 18 yrs old
Looking more and more like a transcendent future star with the versatility to run any type of pro offense.
2. New Orleans – Lonzo Ball (8) UCLA Freshman, PG 6-6 190 lbs. 19 yrs old
His shooting and passing translates perfectly to the NBA, and Anthony Davis would love catching his alley-oop passes.
3. Philadelphia via Sacramento – Josh Jackson (1) Kansas Freshman, SG/SF 6-8, 200 lbs. 19 yrs old
The type of complete wing player the Sixers have lacked since they traded Andre Iguodala in his prime.
4. Sacramento via Philadelphia – Jayson Tatum (2) Duke Freshman, SF 6-8 200 lbs. 18 yrs old
With or without DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings will need a guy who can get buckets once Rudy Gay likely leaves in free agency.
5. Minnesota – Harry Giles (3) Duke Freshmen, PF 6-10, 240 lbs. 18 yrs old
The Wolves are underperforming, and a Giles-Towns front court would be lethal. Difficult to figure out his draft stock until he gets healthy and rejoins the active lineup.
6. Boston via Brooklyn – Malik Monk (12) Kentucky Freshman, PG/SG 6-4 185 lbs. 18 yrs old
Even though the C’s lack rebounding, with Giles off the board Monk may prove to be a monster steal. Whether a starter or sixth man, Monk would further strengthen Boston’s guard rotation.
7. Miami – Dennis Smith (5) N.C. State Freshman, PG 6-3 190 lbs. 18 yrs old
Miami is lacking the backcourt and Smith is the leader they need whether Goran Dragic is dealt or not.
8. Phoenix – Jonathan Isaac (11) Florida State Freshman, SF 6-11 200 lbs. 19 yrs old
Isaac should be able to develop into a fantastic defender, and if he does the defensively dismal Phoenix Suns should target him.
9. Denver – De’Aaron Fox (7) Kentucky Freshman, PG 6-3 175lbs. 18 yrs old
Mudiay is not the answer at PG for Denver, and an all-Kentucky backcourt of Fox and Murray would bring a lot of excitement.
10. Philadelphia via LAL – Frank Ntilikina (6) Strasbourg France, PG 6-5 180 lbs. 18 yrs old
Trust the Process, pick the kid with the highest ceiling, and hope he turns into the next Giannis.
11. Orlando – Lauri Markkanen (13) Arizona Freshman, PF 7-0 225 lbs. 19 yrs old
Markkanen is definitely a scorer at the next level. Hopefully the lack of defense is mitigated by Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo.
12. Washington – Ivan Rabb (12) California Sophomore, PF 6-10 220 lbs. 19 yrs old
The Wizards lack toughness, and Rabb has plenty of that.
13. Indiana – O.G. Anunoby (15) Indiana Sophomore, SF 6-8 215 lbs. 19 yrs old
It just so happens that Indiana gets its native star. Anunoby is the type of old-school hardworking kid that Larry Bird can get behind.
14. Milwaukee – Miles Bridges (14) Michigan State Freshman, SF/PF 6-6 225 lbs. 18 yrs old
Inconsistency issues are plaguing Bridges this year and he will need to cut down on his fouls, but the upside remains.
15. Portland – Bam Adebayo (9) Kentucky Freshman, PF/C 6-10, 250 lbs. 19 yrs old
The Blazers have Dame and C.J., but Portland is softer than tissue paper on defense.
16. Atlanta – Jarrett Allen (16) Texas Freshman, C 6-11 220 lbs. 18 yrs old
Allen has a lot more to prove and any team picking him in the middle of the first round is looking at the big picture.
17. Detroit- Marques Bolden (20) Duke Freshman, C 6-11 250 lbs. 19 yrs old
Limited action so far on a stacked Duke team, but Coach K will get him going by tournament time.
18. Brooklyn via Boston – Thomas Bryant (23) Indiana Sophomore, C 6-10 240 lbs. 19 yrs old
Regardless of whether Lopez is still around, Bryant is a fiery big that would fit Brooklyn’s new culture.
19. Chicago – Isaiah Hartenstein (17) Zalgiris, PF 6-11 225 lbs. 18 yrs old
This is where the run on international kids begins. Hartenstein is stronger than most kid’s his age.
20. Charlotte – Rodions Kurucs (21) Barcelona 2, SF 6-8 190 lbs. 18 yrs old
Take Kurucs and let him learn on the job while watching Batum from a free courtside seat.
21. New York – Terrance Ferguson (18) Adelaide, SG 6-7 180 lbs. 18 yrs old
All the way down under but he has Madison Square Garden written all over him. Perhaps a Jennings-Ferguson backcourt next year?
22. Utah – Josh Hart (30) Villanova Senior, 6-6 200 lbs. 21yrs old
The Jazz should be ecstatic if they can grab Hart at 22. He fits in well with with a deep core of wings, and he is the type of rookie that you can throw right into the fire of a team trying to make its breakthrough.
23. Oklahoma City – Grayson Allen (19) Duke Junior, SG 6-4 185 lbs. 23 yrs old
Will he fit in playing with Westbrook or not?
24. Denver via Memphis – Jonathan Jeanne (24) Le Mans, PF/C 7-2 200 lbs. 19 yrs old
Rudy Gobert or Alexis Ajinca? Jokic, Nurkic, and Faried can’t all still be on this roster past the trade deadline, can they?
25. Toronto – Tyler Lydon (22) Syracuse Sophomore, SF/PF 6-9 200 lbs. 20 yrs old
The Raps could be looking to add wing players who can contribute right away. Lydon should be the pick if he continues to improve in his sophomore season.
26. Houston – Luke Kennard (28) Duke Sophomore, SG 6-5 200 lbs. 20 yrs old
Morey and D’Antoni should both love this smooth scoring kid. If not Gregg Popovich will gladly take him a few picks later.
27. Toronto via LAC – Kostja Mushida, Mega Leks, SG 6-5 210lbs. 18 yrs old
The latest Mega Leks darling rising up most draft boards. Looks like a real athlete. Can he improve his handle?
28. Cleveland – Ömer Yurtseven (25) NC State Freshman, C 7-0 230 lbs. 18 yrs old
Hopefully when Yurtseven gets to play he can show teams that he combines size with agility.
29. San Antonio – Edmond Sumner, Xavier Sophomore, PG 6-5 180lbs, 20 yrs old
Parker isn’t getting any younger and Popovich isn’t going to start Patty Mills at PG, so Sumner could be an intriguing option.
30. Utah via Golden State – Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (26) Kansas Junior, SG 6-8 190 lbs. 19 yrs old
Svi can be a steal for any team that realizes he is severely under-utilized in Kansas and is still baby-aged for his Junior classification. A Hart-Mykhailiuk draft class could contribute right away.
31. Dallas – Devonte Graham (29)
Looks solid but isn’t spectacular at anything.
32. Boston via Minnesota – Jaron Blossomgame
His game continues to blossom into his senior year.
33. New Orleans via Philadelphia – Frank Jackson
This assumes he enters the draft based on his potential, but it looks like he may need another year at school for seasoning.
34. Atlanta via Brooklyn – Alec Peters
Four-year vet putting up monster scoring numbers.
35. Phoenix – Jawun Evans
A pleasant early season surprise, 23 points and five dimes per game for the undersized sophomore PG.
36. Memphis via Miami – Alpha Kaba (27)
Still somewhat of an unknown.
37. New Orleans – Monte Morris
Senior PG can run an offense.
38. Chicago via Sacramento – V.J. Beachem
Notre Dame showed toughness against the No. 1 team in the nation, but Beachem was ice cold.
39. Houston via Denver – Dwayne Bacon
Undersized but a tough cookie.
40. LAL – Kyle Kuzma
Rebounding machine, but can he protect the paint?
41. Orlando – Robert Williams
Reminds me of Tractor Traylor in college.
42. Washington – Cameron Oliver
A run on PF’s in this part of the draft, but the Wizards really do need one.
43. Houston via Portland – Keita Bates-Diop
D’Antoni will want him to work on his 3-point shot.
44. Philadelphia via Detroit – Blaz Mesicek
Philly has so many draft picks in the last few years that they will need to stash some guys.
45. Atlanta – Nigel Hayes
Undersized, but makes up for it with versatility, effort, and heart..remind you of another Hawk?
46. Milwaukee – Chris Boucher
Perhaps my most underrated prospect in the draft. 3-and-D, long, athletic, energizer bunny. His name rarely pops up though.
47. Indiana – Melo Trimble
Another grinder that Bird may have his eyes on.
48. Brooklyn via Boston – Isaiah Briscoe
The glue on this Kentucky team that always seems to get overlooked.
49. New York via Chicago – Dillon Brooks
East Coast bias means you don’t hear a lot about him in New York, but he could impress the fans.
50. Utah via New York – Mathias Lessort
Draft-and-stash French big.
51. Charlotte – Devin Robinson
Needs to get into the gym and bulk up, has skills but lacks strength.
52. Utah – Malcolm Hill
The opposite of the previous pick, perhaps undersized but a tough kid.
53. Denver via Oklahoma City – Aleksander Vezenkov
I feel like he pulls out of the draft every year, but at some point he will stay put.
54. Denver via Memphis – Justin Jackson
A nice athletic wing who could do well off the bench.
55. Toronto – Viny Okuou
Has the body and size, but very limited experience.
56. Boston via LAC – Johnathan Motley
From Baylor to Boston, bringing consistency.
57. New York via Houston – Donavan Mitchell
An inconsistent yet explosive college scorer, but will it translate?
58. Boston via Cleveland – Mikal Bridges
Will being a part of a championship team translate to getting drafted?
59. San Antonio – Arnoldas Kubolka
I’d be lying if I said I knew much about him, but there’s a good chance the Spurs do.
60. Philadelphia via Golden State – John Collins
With a 41 PER as a sophomore he should at least become this draft’s Mr. Irrelevant.