2017 NBA Mock Draft
It’s that time of the year again, the NBA Draft. The time of the year when NBA teams put their trust in kids still having to use fake ID’s to get into bars. The time of the year when ESPN analysts constantly say, “Great Pick” or “He will contribute right away” to nearly every pick while half of them end up spending more time picking out their wardrobe before a game than actually playing any minutes 1. It’s also that time of the year when my beloved Timberwolves will likely pass on a guy only to see him become a once-in-a-generation player for the team picking right after them 2.
Let’s forget about that last one and get to the moment we’ve all been waiting for 3, the NBA mock draft. Unlike many of the other 3,405 mock drafts on the Internet this will be a little different. Instead of predicting where I think each player will be picked, I will instead make a pick based off what the team picking should do. It’s not crazy and out of this world but it’s the way I’ll do it.
This year’s draft class is an interesting group. Some say this draft is the deepest since 2003, which saw LeBron go 1, Darko go 2 4, the Miami Heat go back and forth between drafting Dwyane Wade or Chris Kaman, and the T-wolves drafting Ndudi Ebi, a guy who has had his name mispronounced more times than the points he scored in the NBA 5. Even though many are saying how talented this draft class is, I still feel this class received less hype than the 2014 NBA draft. I frankly think it’s a great class to find you’re second or third best player for a championship team. It’s not like the 2015 draft, which had 3 players you could win a championship with as your best player: KAT, Porzingis, and Devin Booker. It’s still a good draft that I think will produce a few all-stars, but it all matters on where they end up. Let’s begin then.
1) Philadelphia 76ers: Markelle Fultz
The 6’5” guard from Washington is whom the Sixers should take first. The thing that jumps out most when watching him is that he is just a complete basketball player. He doesn’t need the ball every possession, he can post up down low, he can stand in corner and shoot threes, he can facilitate. Many of the prospects in this draft only fit certain roles. Not Fultz, the man can do it all. Of all things he does, his ability to change speeds is the one that jumps out to me. He never seems to be in a rush and he understands the advantage of slowing down at a certain moment only to speed past the defender when the time is right. It’s a unique trait that not many prospects can do and at the level he does it at.
The only knock people have on Fultz is that his Washington team was horrendous this year. The reason I think this was the case is that his team lost two guys to the draft, Dejounte Murray and Marquese Chriss, and even with those guys they were only 4 games over .500 in the 2015-16 season. Washington hasn’t been relevant since Isaiah Thomas was there, when they won the Pac-12 regular season title. Adding Fultz to a team with Simmons and Embiid will be fun to watch. It will take the pressure off Simmons when it comes to ball handling and open up the floor for Embiid. I see this pick helping the Sixers become a legitimate playoff contender this upcoming year.
2) Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball
Lavar Ball 6 gets his wish and his son goes to the Lake Show. I truly believe that Lonzo Ball is the best prospect in this draft. His passing and ability to make players better are something no prospect in a while has had the ability to do to this level. Lonzo made TJ Leaf a first round prospect and Bryce Alford shot 45% from the field when he hadn’t shot over 40% his entire career. Even though Lonzo is a quiet guy who doesn’t show much emotion on or off the court, his passing is contagious and it benefits the team in so many ways. In the one year with Lonzo, UCLA went from 67th in the country in PPG to 2nd. You might be wondering why I don’t have the Sixers taking him, the reason is that he doesn’t want to play for them, also I don’t think their style works with him. Lakers have more of a fast-paced, high ball movement style that Lonzo can take to a new level.
The one concern I have for Lonzo is his jumpshot. My concern is different than most people’s concerns for it. I think he has the ability to make 3’s from deep range with it. However he struggles making it off the dribble. The only time he can shoot it off the dribble is going to his left and stepping back. He cannot get it off going to his right and I think if he ever needs to use it for a pull up in midrange, he struggles with it. Unlike other prospects I don’t think it is fixable either. He would have to completely redo his shot, which for a guard in the NBA is nearly impossible to do. In my opinion, he will be stuck shooting deep 3’s and only layups 7 but in my opinion you need to be able to make midrange jump shots in order to keep the defense on its heels. The good thing for Lonzo is that this is not what GM’s are drooling about over him. His passing is what got him here and its what will make him the best prospect in this draft.
3) Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum
Many, including me, thought he had a real shot at being #1 overall by the time he entered Duke. The year didn’t go as planned and because of it he slid 2 more spots than he would have liked. However, I believe this is a good spot for Tatum as he will look to be the Celtics’ primary wing scorer for years to come. The positives for him are that he is a 6 foot 8 forward who can handle the ball to some extent. He is a sufficient athlete, not one that will jump out the gym however. A lot of people liken his game to Paul Pierce. I can see where the comparison is coming from but I don’t know if Tatum has the “it” factor to himself that Pierce had. I know its hard to tell with guys but I just don’t see it with him.
His main weakness 8 is his defensive consistency. It’s not that he can’t defend, it’s that he doesn’t seem to want to. When I watch him, I get the idea that he is thinking about getting back on offense as quick as possible. He also tends to iso more than I think he should. Lastly, he went to Duke, which has produced only one all-star, Kyrie Irving, during the one-and-done era. In all, I’m not super high on Tatum. I think he has a chance to be good but I see more Rudy Gay than Paul Pierce in him. I just believe the Celtics need more of a scorer in Tatum rather than Jaylen Brown 2.0 in Josh Jackson.
4) Phoenix Suns: Josh Jackson
Recently, Josh’s stock has fallen cause of his off the court issues. Frankly, I don’t think they’re that big of a deal. He was simply backing up his teammate 9 and I have never heard a bad word about the kid. All you hear is how hard he works. Man does the kid work! I watched nearly every KU game this year 10 and I don’t think I saw a more determined to win prospect in this draft. His competiveness level is an all-time high. He has great court vision; I wouldn’t say he is an elite passer as I have seen him make bad passes when he hurries them. However he always seems to know where everyone is when he is attacking the rim. This year he had to guard some 4’s as KU went small ball. I saw him singlehandedly beat Baylor on the defensive end by blocking shots down low on guys 3 to 4 inches taller than him. When they played Michigan State 11 he went off for 23 and blew the doors off Michigan State.
The only knock people have on him is his jump shot. I agree that it needs some work but I think with a few tweaks it can become good. He has a little hitch in it that makes it look odd, but I think it can be worked on. The sad thing was that when he made a 3 this year, you felt shocked, unlike most prospects on this list. The guy has such a competitive edge to him that I think he will work to fix it. But right now, all Phoenix would need from him is to shut down the best guy on the other team and maybe play small ball 4 for them. A lineup of Bledsoe, Booker, Chriss and Jackson will be fun to watch, let’s just hope they stay together for a while.
5) Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox
The fastest man in the draft goes to the fastest team 12. There has been some debate before the draft on whether Fox or Ball is a better prospect. Some people point to Fox’s game in the Sweet Sixteen to prove it, a game where Kentucky won and Fox went off for 39 points, as the reason to take Fox over Ball. I disagree with this. In the 2005 National Championship Game, Ty Lawson’s UNC Tar Heels beat Deron Williams’ Illinois Illini. If the Utah Jazz used the simple criteria of Lawson’s team beat Williams’ team as the deciding factor for the pick, they would have taken Lawson and the rest would be history 13.
The thing I like about Fox is his speed, his insane “quick” hops, his defensive ability, his floater game, and the fact that he is a lefty. The things I don’t like are his shot from 3, 24% from 3, the fake crying he did after he lost to UNC to boost his stock 14, and the fact that he wore his hair in a bun during some time during the SEC schedule that actually made him look like a girl. Still, I like him overall as a prospect. A guy this athletic is too good to pass up. If he can figure out his jumper, the dude could be an every year all-star. If not he’ll be the athletic guard that will be fun to watch but will end up hurting his team in the playoffs.
6) Orlando Magic: Malik Monk
Cut to John Calipari clapping and smiling has his “son” 15 has been selected 6th overall, higher than most thought. I don’t usually like to reach for players but this one is a must. Monk fills a huge hole for the Magic in shooting. Last year, the Magic were 29th in the NBA in 3 point shooting. With Monk they should be able to move up the ranks a little bit in that category. Like Lonzo Ball with passing, Monk’s sheer ability to score is why I have him getting drafted so high. He is a supreme athlete with a 40 plus vertical, something you don’t see from kids with such a sweet shooting stroke.
The Magic have too many bigs on their roster. Monk is a necessary pick for the Magic as they need more guards. During the season, Monk will be able to take over and maybe put up something similar to the 47-point outburst he had against the eventual national champs, UNC, in Las Vegas. In all, this pick will help the Magic overall. I believe Monk could one day be an all-star and I can’t wait for when he goes off for 60 in a game.
7) Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonathan Isaac
The man with the Mohawk (which would make him 7 foot 4) gets picked to go to the Timberwolves. I like this spot for him, he kind of played a “role player” role for FSU and will be able to do the same for the Wolves. The guy reminds me of poor man’s Kevin Durant, unlike Durant, Isaac isn’t afraid to list his real height. The guy has the ability to hit the outside shot, he can run the floor extremely well for his size, and can legitimately defend on the perimeter. For a team coached by a defensive guru, he will fit right in. He will be able to take the load off of Towns on the defensive side of the ball. He is also not a bad rebounder either 16.
Small thing I found interesting when I watched one of his games. When he was getting interviewed after the game, all of his teammates came over to mess with him. It wasn’t in a mean way but in a “this is our guy” way. That says a lot about a team with veteran talent. This kid is a good enough kid that they don’t feel he is standoffish since he is going in the lottery.
His only weakness is that he isn’t a polished player. Everything in his game needs to be fine-tuned. But if that is your only weakness, this kid has a chance to be special. He will fit in perfectly for the Wolves, can’t wait to be disappointed!
8) New York Knicks: Frank Ntilikina
Congratulations Knicks fans, since you picked right after the Wolves, you will now have a transcendent talent that will change the way basketball is played… Hope you enjoy! I have the Knicks select the 6’5” point guard out of France. For this pick it came down to Dennis Smith or France 17. I chose France for a few reasons. First, I was amazed with his defense. The kid tried on every possession relentlessly to not let the guy he was guarding score. Second, he is taller and longer than Smith is. Lastly, when I watch him I see the potential of something good. When I watch Smith, I see him becoming a future overweight PG who moves around a lot 18. I think this kid could become a really good shooter and a future defensive all-nba first teamer. If he can better his point guard skill he could become a good player in the future.
9) Dallas Mavericks: Justin Jackson
I have Justin Jackson going higher than most people. I think the kid will be a very good NBA player. He has great size and length, excellent defensive ability, nice touch around the rim, and he just found his stroke this past year from 3. The thing that excites me about him are two things. First I think he has the ability to play multiple positions. He can play the 2-guard and just shoot threes. He could play the 3 and slash and knock down floaters. He could also play the small ball 4. He can guard 1 through 4 on the court as well. The second thing I like about him is he seems like a great kid who does whatever it takes to win. He came back for his junior year after the heartbreaking loss in the Title game and really improved his game. I really like this kid and I think he will have a 15-year career.
10) Sacramento Kings: Zach Collins
This is the year of the white power forwards people 19. This draft has TJ Leaf, Zach Collins and Lauri Markkanen. Of the 3, Collins is my guy. He is a legit 7 footer who can play D, rebound, and has a nice shooting stroke. The one thing that bothers me is that he fouls a lot. He fouled out in the National Championship game, which I think lost Gonzaga the title. When he gets to the NBA guys are going to go at him to make sure he fouls out. I don’t think he has a good post up game but with his shooting ability it wont matter. I feel as if he will be a good fit in Sacramento. He can play alongside Cauley-Stein and Hield, and fit in anywhere on the floor. I dont think he’ll ever be an all-star but he will be a nice fit for Sacramento.
11) Charlotte Hornets: Donovan Mitchell
I like Donovan Mitchell a lot. He is one of the few guys I have watched for Louisville that actually seems like he can score. I think he has the ability to be a knockdown shooter in the NBA. When watching him, his athleticism is what jumps out at you. He is only 6’3” so he is undersized but he makes up for it in many ways. When I looked at the Hornets roster, it looked like their starting lineup was filled. I decided that they could use a player to come off the bench and ignite something. Mitchell will be able to guard 1 through 3’s on the court and I think his ability to score will help him be a great pro. I see him being one of those guys everyone wants by the time he gets into free agency later in his career.
12) Detroit Pistons: Lauri Markkanen
This is the part of the draft where I start drafting guys I’m not big fans of for teams solely because of their potential. In this case, Markkanen is someone who fell a little in the draft and is a valuable pick at 12. I think he can fit in well for Detroit. He is a 7 footer who can stretch the floor. The problem with him is that he cannot rebound or defend. However, when you have Andre Drummond, who does both of those things at an extremely high level, you can pick a guy who just can score. Markkanen will be able to open up the lanes for the other guys on the team and Detroit can maybe get back to playing “8th seed in the east” basketball.
13) Detroit Nuggets: Dennis Smith Jr.
I’m not a big fan of Dennis Smith. NC State, a team who usually has good seasons, was awful. He got his coach fired midway through the year 20. Lastly, I have this weird vibe that he doesn’t care that much. The reason I have the Nuggets pick him is that he fell so far in the draft, it becomes a must to take him. Since Emmanuel Mudiay didn’t play well this past year, I think it is time for Denver to look for someone new to take over the Point Guard position. That man is Smith. When watching Smith, I see a 6’3” Nate Robinson. He has the ability to get to the hole and he has great leaping ability. However, he doesn’t shoot the ball well and he is a below average defender who seems to forget his assignment a lot. I think he could fit well with Jokic because he is athletic enough to get open for his passes. Denver also has lots of shooters that can make up for Smith’s inability to shoot. It’s not a great pick in my opinion but it could work out in the long run.
14) Miami Heat: TJ Leaf
I like TJ Leaf a lot. I think he has the ability to be a really good pro. He can rebound and defend well. He was the leading scorer on the #1 offensive team in the country, UCLA. When UCLA played Kentucky the first time, he was the best player on the floor. He grabbed offensive rebounds and even left Calipari stunned that a white guy could do this. I don’t think he is a great shooter from deep, I think he could have a nice midrange game though. He seems to get injured a lot, missed a couple games at UCLA this year. However, he is a great athlete who I think could be a great player off the bench for the Heat next year.
This ends my 2017 NBA Mock Draft. I decided to only do the lottery because I feel that after the lottery it’s hard to predict and pick players. Most of the time these lottery players need to make an impact right away unlike the others in the draft. The NBA Draft should be a good one, like usual, and I expect the Kings will do their best to screw it up. Once the draft is over I will recap the picks and trades. I will discuss who had the best draft and who had the worst draft. I will discuss, which player has the best situation and worst situation. I will also discuss the best moments of the draft. I am signing off now, see ya soon.