With the 2017 NBA Lottery in the books, I’ll take a look at how the first 14 picks could play out.
The 2017 NBA draft class is one of the deepest we’ve seen in recent memory. The point guard class is loaded. There are also a plethora of young, talented big men with immense upside.
Let’s take a look at how the first 14 picks may look in my 2017 NBA Lottery Mock Draft.
- Boston Celtics– Markelle Fultz, G, Washington
I would be completely shocked if the Celtics kept this pick. They already have quality players at every positon and the bench is full of former lottery picks: Jalen Brown, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, and Kelly Olynyk. Now it’s time for them to go out and get a big fish that they can pair with Isaiah Thomas, so they will legitimately have a chance to beat LeBron James.
- Los Angeles Lakers – Lonzo Ball, G, UCLA
We all know this is happening. It just makes too much sense. Ball is from LA, played at UCLA, and his dad, LaVar Ball said he is “going to be a Laker”, so we know it’s going to happen. The only issue is, D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson are their current young promising point guards on the roster. There is a simple fix to that: move Russell to shooting guard, Clarkson off the bench and let Ball run point guard. Everybody wins. Ball can be the true point that he already is, D’Angelo Russell can be the shooting guard that he should be, and Jordan can come off the bench playing both roles to fill the gaps.
- Philadelphia 76ers— Josh Jackson, F, Kansas
The Sixers are really in “No Man’s Land” with the third pick. They need guards… BAD. The front court is set with Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, and Jahlil Okafor. They drafted Ben Simmons last year and even though he has played a game in the NBA, I imagine he will run a point guard type role and help the frontcourt with his 6’ 10” size and great passing. They could use a stud small forward and Josh Jackson, unexpectedly, turns out to be the best player available. Josh Jackson should come in and give them instance athleticism and a big strong perimeter defender. His offensive game is raw, although it shows great promise. At the very least, his defensive versatility should make him a starter on this team.
4- Phoenix Suns – Jayson Tatum, F, Duke
Suns are in a similar situation as the Sixers. The best player available, Jayson Tatum, doesn’t fill the direst need (center, it’s clear Alex Len isn’t the center of the future), but fills the next biggest hole. Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker, Jayson Tatum, Dragon Bender, Len’s replacement, could really do some damage in 3-4 years if some of these young guys reach their potential. We are already starting to see what Devin Booker is capable of: youngest player to score 70 in NBA history and he can’t legally drink alcohol. One more good player, this team could crack the playoffs. Tatum might be the missing player to get them out of the lottery.
- Sacramento Kings — Dennis Smith Jr, G, North Carolina State
Kings don’t really have much on the current team. Last year’s lottery pick Buddy Hield didn’t show much in his rookie season, so we will see what he can do in his sophomore season, Willie Cauley-Stein really came on last year in Demarcus Cousins’ absence. Dennis Smith is a scoring first point guard with good athleticism. He could be the point guard of the future and really turn this franchise around.
- Orlando Magic – Malik Monk, G, Kentucky
I must say, I think Jonathon Isaac is the best player left on the board, but the Magic already have a 6’ 10” freak athlete that can play both forward positions by the name of Aaron Gordon. They don’t have a lead scorer in the backcourt that can take over games and put the ball in the basket when it counted most. Malik Monk seemed to do that more than anyone in the college basketball last year. He is a little small to be a shooting guard at 6’ 3”, but like Isiah Thomas is showing to the world, big scorers come in little packages.
- Minnesota Timberwolves—Jonathon Isaac, F, Florida State
Karl Anthony-Towns is clearly a future star of this league. He’s a top 3 center and is only twenty-one. The wolves need to get as many young players around him as quickly as possible. Jonathon Isaac is a 6’ 10” lanky specimen. He didn’t get much offense usage last year at Florida State, but he showed offensive fluidity, versatility, and efficiency that is rare for a person of his size and age. Ricky Rubio is coming off the best year in his career, Andrew Wiggins hasn’t reached his full potential, but he is still young and a 20 ppg scorer for his career, Jonathon Isaac would fit right in in this emerging young team.
- New York Knicks—De’Aaron Fox, G, Kentucky
The Knicks backcourt desperately needs young help. The “Derrick Rose Experiment” isn’t the future for the Knicks. De’Aaron Fox’s best quality is his speed and athleticism, but his jumper looks like it could be improved into a formidable long range shooter. Fox and Porzingis could be Mike Conley and Marc Gasol-esque tandem. Fox, tight now, isn’t a starting caliber two-way guard, but he isn’t far away and his potential could allow him to be much more an elite guard.
- Dallas Mavericks—Lauri Markkanen, F, Arizona
Dallas Mavericks are going to be without Dirk very soon. They might as well get a player with a similar skill set to learn from the best “stretch 4” in NBA history. Lauri Markkanen is a 7-foot power forward with a great shooting stroke. His ability to step out and spread the floor is remarkably like Dirk. Harrison Barnes is turning out to be a solid acquisition for Dallas, but he doesn’t look like he is a franchise player. Markkanen could be that guy, but he will need a few years to bulk up and improve his defense.
- Sacramento Kings– Justin Jackson, F, North Carolina
The Kings are sitting pretty with two top 10 picks. Sacramento already drafted the point guard of the future, there isn’t a shooting guard worth reaching for at this pick, and Tyreke Evans will probably be their starting forward. Justin Jackson makes perfect sense. Justin Jackson is a do it all scorer and a solid defender. Jackson stayed at UNC a little longer than some of the other prospects, but he improved his outside shooting every season. He could potentially evolve into a go to scorer for the Kings.
- Charlotte Hornets- Zach Collins, C, Gonazga
Zach Collins really flew up draft boards after his NCAA Tournament performance at Gonzaga. He is still very young, but he already shows good basketball awareness, offensive prowess, and rebounding. Charlotte Hornets’ Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum have been a good combination in the backcourt. The front court youngsters haven’t proven to provide much production. Zach Collins has the potential to be a good two-way anchor in the middle.
- Detroit Pistons- Frank Ntilikina, G, France
The Pistons future isn’t in great shape right now. Andre is showing that maybe he isn’t going to live up to his potential and Reggie Jackson is turning out to be a below average point guard. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Tobias Harris are both turning into very promising versatile two-way players. Frank Ntilikina is can be another two-way player who specializes in defense.
13 Denver Nuggets — Isaiah Hartenstein, F, Germany
The Nuggets are in a developing place as a team, there is young talent studs at pretty much every position and a young and emerging star in Nikola Jokic. They have Gary Harris, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried, and Jamal Murray; the only position that could use an upgrade is power forward. They can take a chance on a project like Isaiah Hartenstein even if he is a draft and stash guy, and in two years he would step right in and contribute on what should be a playoff team.
- Miami Heat — Jonathon Motley, F, Baylor
The Heat were a game away from making the playoffs last year; with that being said, they don’t need much to pull them out of the lottery. They have a solid nucleus with Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic, Justice Winslow (who missed most of the year with injury), and Dion Waiters (Yeah, Dion played some decent basketball last year until he got hurt down the stretch). I think it’s fair to assume the Heat are willing to prepare for the near future without Chris Bosh. Motley is a do it all forward out of Baylor. Motley is a similar body build as Bosh and could get a lot of early playing time.