2017 NBA Mock Draft: Post-Lottery Edition

Washington v Arizona

We now know where everyone is slotted to draft on June 22nd. So let’s jump right into it. This is where I project the prospects landing spots – barring them withdrawing from the draft by Wednesday’s deadline and any trades between now and draft night.

  1. Celtics via Nets – Markelle Fultz: Fultz is the clear head of his class. I can’t imagine the Celtics passing up on a generational talent. This allows them the flexibility to trade Thomas this offseason if they decide his next contract is too rich for their liking.
  2. LakersLonzo Ball: LaVar Ball knew it all along. Magic was sweating during the lottery even if he was trying to hide it in his friendly trash talk with Embiid. In the end, both Big Baller Brand and the Lakers both got exactly what they wanted all along. Whether Ball can live up to the hype is another question. He will make his teammates better even if he can’t score in all three levels of the floor. The fit with Russell will not be ideal, and could lead to a trade before or during the season.
  3. 76ers via KingsJonathan Isaac: Firmly believe the Sixers need to pursue every avenue possible to trade down, but those kind of trades rarely happen this high in the lottery. This pick basically decides how the rest of the lottery unfolds. Fox and Jackson are poor fits as non-shooters, and Tatum isn’t positionally ideal with Simmons on the floor. This leaves Isaac, Monk, and Smith. Went with Isaac in this mock, but it will be interesting to see if Colangelo picks highest upside (Isaac/Smith) or best fit (Monk/Smith).
  4. SunsJosh Jackson: The Suns were very disappointed to see their second half of the regular season tanking wasted on ping pong balls, as they dropped from second-best odds to win the top pick to the fourth selection overall. They also may be disappointed with Isaac going off the board ahead of them, but Jackson could be a fine fit next to Devin Booker.
  5. Kings via 76ersDe’Aaron Fox: The Kings actually moved up from eighth to fifth with the pick-swap from the Sixers trade. I’m actually not as high on Fox as others may be. His slight frame and 170-lb. combine weight leads me to believe his defensive potential is overblown – and the jump shot is a serious concern. On the other hand the Kings will want to snag a player they think can run an offense, and the hype on him is picking up at the right time.
  6. Magic – Dennis Smith: Much like Fultz, Smith’s freshman season was derailed by a weak supporting cast. His scoring and pick-and-roll ability will transition smoothly to the NBA. Once he retains all of his explosiveness from before his knee injury, he has the chance to be the second best player in this draft. The Magic need to take the best player available here and build around him, and their whole roster should be available for trade.
  7. Timberwolves Malik Monk: This is a tough one to predict. I think if Isaac or Jackson are available, the Wolves would pounce on them. This one comes down to Monk’s reliable scoring and secondary ball-handling in contrast to Tatum’s prowess in the paint and mid-range. I went with Monk simply because I don’t expect Kris Dunn to pan out, and Monk gives them flexibility in the backcourt. Monk-Towns pick-and-roll action would be tons of fun too.
  8. Knicks – Jayson Tatum: As long as Carmelo is a Knick, this is about as poor of a fit as one could get drafted into. Phil Jackson has to pick the best player available though, especially if he continues to publicly discredit his current superstar. Giving Tatum a lot of minutes as a rookie could force Melo to waive his no trade clause.
  9. MavericksLauri Markkanen: Markkanen will have a lot of scouts questioning whether he can ever develop into even a mediocre defender at his position. Protecting the rim and rebounding will never be his calling card. On the bright side this is the franchise that took a very similar prospect nearly two decades ago. In Dirk’s final season, it almost seems this pick is meant to be a passing of the torch.
  10. Kings via Pelicans – Frank Ntilikina: The Kings will be drafting their long-term starting backcourt with their two top-10 picks if things go according to this mock. Fox and Ntilikina could form a terrific defensive duo, with Fox acting as the primary ball-handler and playmaker on offense while Ntilikina continues to improve upon his shooting. Opinions vary on whether Frank can become a primary scoring option, but the physical traits are there as his skills continue to improve.
  11. Hornets – O.G. Anunoby: Anunoby is probably the best defensive prospect in the draft. He also is coming off a major injury and may never develop any offensive skills. Extremely raw, his length and strength project similar to Tony Allen since Anunoby could cover the 1 to 4 position in the NBA.
  12. Pistons – Zach Collins: Might be a duplicative fit next to Andre Drummond, but playing the two of them together might be an interesting Stan Van Gundy experiment for a season. Zach is clearly the best player available at this point in the draft. With patience he should develop into a high-quality starting center who is efficient on both ends of the floor.
  13. Nuggets – Donovan Mitchell: The fastest riser in the draft right now, Mitchell tested out fantastically in the combine. He has the athleticism, size, and strength to contribute on both ends of the floor. The big question is whether his improved three-point shooting this year is a sign that he can develop legit NBA range, or merely a mirage.
  14. Heat – John Collins: An extremely productive scorer and rebounder, Collins will need to improve his decision making with the ball when he gets double-teamed. His midrange game is already developed, which makes him a legitimate candidate to start at PF with Whiteside, who will make up for Collins’s lack of length and defensive ability.
  15. Blazers – Justin Patton: The Blazers biggest weakness was their defense, particularly in the paint. The trade for Nurkic made an immediate impact, but they will be looking for additional bigs to play post defense. Patton is not an exceptional defender right now, but he has the athleticism and length to become one. Lillard and McCollum will enjoy employing him in transition and the pick-and-roll.
  16. Bulls – Jawun Evans: Evans seems to be a divisive prospect. His doubters will point to his short stature as a limiting factor for him developing into a starting level PG. His believers will point to his polished offensive game and motor. He is constantly attacking the defense and should be a productive offensive player in the league. The Bulls could use him as a short term backup for Rondo and hope his grit makes up for his physical limitations in the long run.
  17. BucksRodions Kurucs: A lot of folks may never have heard of this kid, but the Bucks won’t hesitate to dabble in the foreign talent pool in the first round. Kurucs is likely a stash for a couple years if he keeps his name in the draft this year, but his ceiling is very high. A long lanky athlete with an inside/outside offensive game and impressive passing and court vision, he reminds me of Gordon Hayward with a little less bounce.
  18. Pacers Ivan Rabb: Ivan had a very disappointing sophomore season at Cal. Expectations were very lofty after his freshman season, when he was a terrific inside presence on offense. His post game is refined and should translate against NBA competition. The Pacers are looking to get someone at 18 that can contribute immediately as a rookie if they still have any hope of retaining Paul George. Rabb and Turner could be a solid big man combination as Turner is the stronger interior presence on defense, but can space on offense while Rabb goes to work inside.
  19. HawksHarry Giles: Paul Millsap looks like he is walking out the door after declining his player option with the expectation of getting a near max offer elsewhere. The Hawks will probably go into rebuild mold, so taking the player with the biggest upside here makes sense. Giles has a well-documented history of major knee injuries, and he essentially redshirted his freshman year at Duke. This is still a physical specimen who was rated at the top of his class throughout his high school career. Patience will be key but if he regains his fluidity and fills his body out, at the very least he will be a strong defender. Giles’s rebounding and toughness are unquestionable, but he is extremely raw on offense right now.
  20. Trail Blazers via Grizzlies – Jonathan Jeanne: I don’t expect Jeanne to play in an NBA game in the next two years, but his ridiculous length (7-6 wingspan) will get him looks by all the teams in the first round. 26 teams passed on Rudy Gobert, and I don’t expect as many teams to make the same mistake with Jeanne. This doesn’t mean the expectation should be that Jeanne develops into a defensive MVP candidate, but a team like the Blazers should have the foresight to take a calculated risk given the potential return.
  21. ThunderLuke Kennard: Kennard will never be anything more than a mediocre defender, but the Thunder have plenty of capable defenders and need some flexible offensive players to relieve pressure off of Westbrook. Luke could play with either Westbrook or Oladipo, as both a primary or secondary ball handler. Also his shooting is certifiably deadly and will be an essential addition to the Thunder offense.
  22. Nets via Wizards – Isaiah Hartenstein: The mantra for the Nets is simple in the draft: swing for home-runs. This is a team that doesn’t have its own lottery picks while having the worst record in the league. Management should try to draft and stash Hartenstein, or keep him in Brooklyn but bring him along slow for a couple seasons. If he develops a consistent three-point shot and works on his playmaking and decision-making, he could be an elite talent. There just aren’t that many fluid athletes with his size.
  23. Raptors via Clippers – Justin Jackson: Jackson excelled in the NCAA tournament and many fans may expect his name to come up in the lottery, but the 20-ish range in the first round is where he will probably end up. The Raptors could really use his skill set as a relentless competitor, wing scorer, and activity off the ball. He actually could be an upgrade on the role Terrence Ross used to play, and close out games. I really like Jackson’s motor on defense, but I doubt he will translate into anything more than a turnstile against proficient NBA wings. If the Raptors retain Lowry and Ibaka, Jackson is a good fit for a team trying to compete for Eastern Conference titles right now.
  24. JazzDillon Brooks: If Gordon Hayward and George Hill verbally commit to stay in town before the Jazz make this pick, then Brooks shouldn’t be in the picture. The problem is they won’t commit before they see what calls their agents get from around the league. In which case the Jazz have to operate under the worst-case-scenario that they lose both. Add in the fact that Hood, Burks, and Favors all have a lengthy injury history and the Jazz will immediately be in a position of desperation for finding playmakers. Brooks is a fierce competitor, and he was a confident leader at Oregon. Those traits will translate to the league, and his size and shooting should be an interesting combination for any team in the late first or early second. At 24th, this might be a slight reach based on hypothetical fit. Still, regardless of what happens with Joe Ingles, Brooks will be able to crack this lineup even if Hayward and Hill both stay.
  25. Magic via Raptors – Ike Anigbogu: Ike is extremely raw. His offensive moves are non-existent. His defensive mantra is to try to block everything in sight, without discipline. He also isn’t extremely tall. So what makes him such an intriguing prospect for new GM John Hammond? I think that he reminds me of Bismack Biyombo – but with more upside. His length (7-6 wingspan) is tantalizing, his explosiveness is spectacular, and he can play the pick-and-roll game on offense as well as finish lobs. Can’t really defend drafting him before the 20th pick, but 25 seems like the right spot to take a risk on him developing any fluidity, footwork, discipline, and skills to complement his incredible athletic package. The Magic have needs all over the floor and need to take calculated risks to hit on a sleeper.
  26. Trail Blazers via Cavaliers – Jarrett Allen: Allen has all the markings of a top-10 prospect on highlight reels, especially the dunk-of-the-year against WVU. But when you watch full games of him you wonder why he can completely disappear. He needs to figure out how to get his motor going for the full time that he is on the court. He has the size and athleticism, and with some basic skills on both ends of the floor he could eventually develop into a complete two-way starting center. Jarrett will be another calculated investment by the Portland front office that needs to improve their big men depth and drafting him means the end of Meyers Leonard’s Blazer career.
  27. Nets via Celtics – Andzejs Pasecniks: As with their earlier pick the Nets have to continue swinging for the fences with the draft. In free agency, they can go after players that fit their culture – but Pasecniks should be the prospect with the highest upside left on their draft board. He is 7-2 with a similar wingspan, his offensive game is smooth, and he can even make some 3’s. May never develop into an elite rebounder or defender, but if he replaces Brook Lopez after a few seasons growing up in Europe, that’s a steal at No. 27.
  28. Lakers via Rockets – TJ Leaf: Lonzo Ball will be really happy with this pick, as will Leaf, who needs a pass-first guard to set him up for success. He runs the floor, catches lobs, and cuts to open spaces. If he develops a consistent jump shot he could become a really reliable offensive option. Unfortunately on defense he may never be elite, but more effort would help.
  29. Spurs – Derrick White: White is an interesting prospect and the Spurs like molding players into their system. He will be 23 by the time he enters the league, but his experience will be amongst the most unique of anyone in the draft. A transfer to Colorado out of a D-II school, he had to redshirt his junior year, and as a senior he blew people away. In the combine he once against stood out. His playmaking is already developed and he seems to enjoy the competition. Also physically he measures out as a good rangy athlete.
  30. Jazz via Warriors – Josh Hart: Hart’s senior season at Villanova did not end the way he wanted it to. There are two ways to look at his career. Either he exceeded all expectations and became a versatile NBA prospect in the process, or elite defense exposed his ultimate downfall of lacking shooting range and elite athleticism. Hart is still a creative player that can help teams as playmaker, and the Jazz will need immediate help if George Hill and/or Gordon Hayward leave. His age may be a negative for most teams, but his experience will be invaluable for a team like the Jazz.

Second Round

  1. Hawks via Nets – Caleb Swanigan: Caleb is an immediate contributor as a scorer and rebounder, and they will need that after Millsap leaves.
  2. SunsTerrance Ferguson: Quite the drop for a one-time lottery prospect that underperformed in Australia without any obvious strengths besides athleticism.
  3. Magic via Lakers – D.J. Wilson: Wilson has been a very pleasant surprise and has the physical traits and intangibles to play either PF or C depending on the lineup.
  4. Kings via 76ers – Bam Adebayo: Possibly a lottery talent, the Kings will be excited to grab him this late.
  5. MagicJordan Bell: The best lateral speed of any big in the draft, Bell will be a versatile contributor immediately but may struggle with rebounding.
  6. 76ers via Knicks – Kostja Mushida: I have the Sixers using all their second round picks on stash-able players.
  7. Celtics via Timberwolves – Tyler Lydon: I can see the Celtics trading this pick, but Lydon is a versatile wing that Ainge may have his sights on.
  8. Bulls via Kings – Thomas Bryant: A big, strong, and long center that will need a few seasons to develop.
  9. 76ers via Mavericks – Arnoldis Kulbolka: Another stash for the Sixers as they have more picks than roster spots.
  10. PelicansSemi Ojeleye: Semi is the type of rotational player that could play with whichever one of Davis or Cousins is on the court.
  11. HornetsMonte Morris: Kemba needs a backup, Morris should be a solid backup PG long term.
  12. Jazz via Pistons – Sindarius Thornwell: If Hayward leaves, there will be some opportunity here.
  13. Rockets via Nuggets – Johnathan Motley: Rockets need bigs that have the energy to run up and down the floor and rebound.
  14. Knicks via Bulls – Edmond Sumner: The PG situation for the Knicks will be fluid and they will need depth regardless.
  15. Rockets via Blazers – Frank Jackson: The Rockets have ball handlers but Frank is someone they can groom for a couple years.
  16. 76ers via Heat – Matthias Lessort: Sixers continue to stash.
  17. PacersKyle Kuzma: Turned heads at the combine with his play and Pacers need guys that can play as rookies with the George situation.
  18. BucksCameron Oliver: Insurance policy for injury-prone Jabari Parker.
  19. Nuggets via Grizzlies – Omer Yurtseven: Might want to consider going back to school, as this would be a big drop from his expectations coming into the season.
  20. 76ers via Heat – Blaz Mesicek: Another draft and stash.
  21. Nuggets via Thunder – Devonte’ Graham: I’m not sold on the Nuggets’ PG situation unless they give the controls to Jamal Murray.
  22. WizardsTony Bradley: Wizards need bench bigs that can rebound and hustle.
  23. Celtics via Clippers – Sviatislav Mykhailiuk: Expect them to stash him overseas. He may also decide to return to Kansas by Wednesday.
  24. Suns via Raptors – Alec Peters: A highly productive college player that can contribute if all their high-upside young players disappoint.
  25. JazzP.J. Dozier: Rodney Hood and Alec Burks are always hurt.
  26. Celtics via Cavaliers – Borisa Simanic: Celtics have too many picks, they will trade out or stash.
  27. Nets via Celtics – Chris Boucher: 3-and-D upside big coming off an unfortunate injury.
  28. Knicks via Rockets – Wesley Iwundu: Phil will like Wesley’s mature game.
  29. SpursNigel Hayes: The Spurs bigs are old and weak on defense, Hayes can add some toughness.
  30. Hawks via Warriors – Nigel Williams-Goss: Mr. Irrelevant, was pretty relevant in college and the Hawks like long PG’s.

Notable Undrafted Players: Devin Robinson, Alpha Kaba, Jaron Blossomgame, Kobi Simmons, Isaiah Briscoe, Keita Bates-Diop, Kennedy Meeks, Dwayne Bacon, Shake Milton, Melo Trimble, Allonzo Trier, VJ Beachem, Ethan Happ

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