NBANews365’s Final Lottery Mock Draft 2017
*Original selections and more in-depth analysis can be seen in my early mock lottery here
- Philadelphia 76ers: Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington
My initial take was that Philly would fill in the gaps around their young duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid with some high-quality shooting wings. But now, after their blockbuster trade for the number-one selection and last-minute workout with the draft’s top prospect, Markelle Fultz seems to be the guy that will be heading to the city of brotherly love. And while the Washington phenom may not be the prototypical three-point marksmen that I originally envisioned the Sixers drafting, creating a “Big 3” of the future with Fultz/Simmons/Embiid isn’t a bad route either.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA
After trading away D’Angelo Russell to Brooklyn, one can deduce that Los Angeles is looking to draft a point guard tonight. However, contrary to the assumptions that Lonzo Ball to LA is a done deal, the 16-time champs were apparently not happy with Lonzo’s workout and even offered the Kings their #2 selection for #5 and #10 from Sacramento. Thus, the signals seem to be indicating that Magic Johnson and company may prefer Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox- who would likely be available at pick 5 -over the supposed “golden boy” from UCLA. Nevertheless, if the Lakers can’t trade back, Lonzo Ball should and will be the selection.
3. Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke
The choice here is between forwards Jayson Tatum out of Duke and Josh Jackson out of Kansas, and it looks as if General Manager Danny Ainge has already made up his mind, stating that he thinks “there’s a really good chance the player [he’ll] take at 3 is the same player [he] would have taken at 1.” And since the Los Angeles Lakers (who hold pick #2) have expressed interest in Josh Jackson in the past, it is likely that Ainge is referring to the former Blue Devil in Jayson Tatum. Tatum may not have the athleticism of his Kansas counterpart, nor does he have Jackson’s superstar potential, but he can be a fantastic secondary scoring option on a Celtics roster prime to make a deep postseason run.
4. Phoenix Suns: De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky
As Phoenix looks to trade Eric Bledsoe, the Suns could be in line to select their new franchise point guard on draft night. And with De’Aaron Fox’s stock rising by the minute, don’t be surprised if it’s this #4 pick that shakes up the long-anticipated top four of Fultz/Ball/Tatum/Jackson. Furthermore, the Kentucky star’s biggest weakness- his outside shooting woes -can be masked by fellow Wildcat alum and sharpshooting stud Devin Booker.
5. Sacramento Kings: Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas
The Kings have been eyeing De’Aaron Fox at this spot for awhile now. But if Fox goes to Phoenix, that leaves Josh Jackson to be snagged by Sacramento. The Kings need pretty much everything following their trade of DeMarcus Cousins last February, and a best-player-available approach should be expected. And here, that method would make Jackson the easy selection.
6. Orlando Magic: Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky
Like I’ve stated before, the Magic need shooting, and a ton of it. This makes Kentucky scoring-machine Malik Monk the obvious pick. The 6’3” combo-guard was one of the top outside shooters in the NCAA last season, pouring in nearly 20 points per contest on 39.7% from three-point land. Jonathan Isaac- Florida State’s do-it-all small forward -could be in play here, but it’s hard not to grant Orlando with the clear fit in Monk.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonathan Isaac, SF, Florida State
Stretch-four Lauri Markkanen has received some buzz around Minnesota, but it is ultimately Jonathan Isaac that is the right choice here for the up-and-coming Timberwolves. The T-Wolves desperately need help on the defensive side of the court, and the presence of a 6’11” forward with guard-like athleticism should help fix that issue. In addition, Isaac still has the shooting-touch (34.8% from three) to be a reliable shooting weapon next to Karl-Anthony Towns in the frontcourt, just making his case that much more compelling.
8. New York Knicks: Frank Ntilikina, PG, France
The Knicks should take Dennis Smith Jr. here. The NC State commodity has the freak physical tools that reminds one of a young (and healthy) Derrick Rose as well as Russell Westbrook. However, it’s the Knicks, and when do they do anything right (except for taking Porzingis, who they are now- for whatever reason -trying to trade)? Thus, the selection of potential French-league champion Frank Ntilikina shouldn’t be much of a shocker. But, hey, he’ll probably end up working out just like Kristaps did, and I’m sure in a few years Phil Jackson will be attempting to deal him as well.
9. Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Smith Jr., PG, NC State
If the Knicks pass up on Smith, I assure you the Mavs will not. Dallas currently has undrafted guard Yogi Ferrell employed at their starting point guard spot, so using their first top-ten selection since 1998 on a new primary ball-handler could be a good idea. As I mentioned, the sheer athleticism of Dennis Smith Jr. reminds me of someone like Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook, and I truly would not be amazed if it is the former Wolfpack- and not Fultz/Ball/Fox/Ntilikina -that turns out to be the best point guard of the 2017 NBA Draft.
10. Sacramento Kings: Luke Kennard, SG, Duke
The selection of Luke Kennard with the Kings’ second top-ten pick would make more sense as a complement to De’Aaron Fox if Sacramento was able to take the Kentucky guard at #5. But even when paired with someone else, Duke’s leading scorer last season is the best option at this point in the draft. The 6’6” sharpshooter dropped jaws with his performance at the Blue Devils’ pro day, and his stock has since skyrocketed from the middle of the first-round into the middle stages of the lottery. Kennard doesn’t have much star-potential, but he is a surefire knockdown outside shooter who can be a solid starter on a future contender.
11. Charlotte Hornets: Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona
After their recent acquisition of Dwight Howard, Charlotte could use a stretch-four to team up with their new back-to-the-basket big man. And in this draft, there’s no better stretch-four than Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen. The lanky seven-footer sank over 42% of his shots beyond the arc last season in addition to over 83% of his free-throws. Is he the next Dirk Nowitzki? Probably not, considering Dirk is a future Hall-of-Famer and one of the best power forwards to ever grace the court. But in this draft class, the Finland-born Markkanen is as close as you’re going to get.
12. Detroit Pistons: Zach Collins, PF, Gonzaga
There are many possible options here for Stan Van Gundy’s Pistons. If Kennard falls, he would be an outstanding fit in an offense that needs shooters. Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell could also be a target to replace Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who Detroit may not want to pay the $20+ million he wants this offseason. However, another choice is Gonzaga’s Zach Collins. The Zags’ first one-and-done player ever has great shooting touch from the offside (a plus for SVG) in addition to an intimidating presence in the paint on defense (a plus for the Pistons), making him the two-way player Detroit needs to become a consistent contender once again.
13. Denver Nuggets: OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana
In the end, I just couldn’t hand the Nuggets anyone else. Denver’s defense was horrific last season, and that was a large part of the reason why the team was eventually knocked out of the playoffs by Portland. Meanwhile, Anunoby could become a special defensive player in this league, someone who can guard positions 1 through 5 while also being used to lockdown the opposition’s greatest offensive threat. The 6’8” forward definitely has injury concerns that stem from a season-ending knee injury in January. Nevertheless, if he can come back healthy, he’ll be a huge addition to a Nuggets squad trying to climb the Western Conference standings.
14. Miami Heat: Donovan Mitchell, SG, Louisville
Once we hit the back of the lottery, the top prospects are mostly off the board. However, one available player that definitely has some potential is shooting guard Donovan Mitchell. The Greenwich, CT native has elite athleticism and a hard-work mentality that any franchise would want on their roster. Furthermore, his shooting stroke is improving, and he makes up for his lack of height (6’3”) with a 6’10” wingspan and a 40.5” vertical. Although he likely will not be a top-ten selection, Mitchell has the components of an NBA superstar, and could be the steal of the draft depending on his landing spot.