Mock Draft 1.0: Pre-Lottery Prediction

94×50 Pre-Lottery Mock Draft

As the 2017 NBA Draft approaches, we will be providing a few mock drafts along the way. Pre-Lottery, Post-Lottery, and one week from draft night, we will give our best projection of when the future stars of the NBA will hear their name called in Brooklyn.

1. Boston Celtics: Markelle Fultz, Washington, PG 11. Charlotte Hornets: Zack Collins, Gonzaga, C 21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Tyler Lydon, Syracuse, PF
2. Phoenix Suns: Josh Jackson, Kansas, SF 12. Detroit Pistons: Donovan Mitchell, Louisville, SG 22. Brooklyn Nets: Ivan Rabb, California, PF
3. Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball, UCLA, PG 13. Denver Nuggets: Jarrett Allen, Texas, C 23. Toronto Raptors: Bam Adebayo, Kentucky, PF
4. Philadelphia 76ers: Malik Monk, Kentucky, SG 14. Miami Heat: John Collins, Wake Forest, PF 24. Utah Jazz: Kyle Kuzma, Utah, PF
5. Orlando Magic: Jayson Tatum, Duke, SF 15. Portland Trail Blazers: Justin Jackson, UNC, SF 25. Orlando Magic: Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State, PG
6. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonathan Isaac, Florida State, PF 16. Chicago Bulls: Terrance Ferguson, USA, SG 26. Portland Trail Blazers: O.G. Anunoby, Indiana, SF/PF
7. New York Knicks: De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky, PG 17. Milwaukee Bucks: Luke Kennard, Duke, SG 27. Brooklyn Nets: Dwayne Bacon, Florida State, SF
8. Sacramento Kings: Lauri Markkanen, Arizona, PF 18. Indiana Pacers: Harry Giles, Duke, PF 28. Los Angeles Lakers: Ike Anigbogu, UCLA, PF/C
9. Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Smith, N.C. State, PG 19. Atlanta Hawks: Justin Patton, Creighton, C 29. San Antonio Spurs: Isaiah Hartenstein, Zalgiris, C
10. Sacramento Kings: Frank Ntilikina, France, PG 20. Portland Trail Blazers: T.J. Leaf, UCLA, PF 30. Utah Jazz: Rodions Kurucs, Barcelona 2, SF

 

The Pick – #1 Overall, Boston Celtics, Markelle Fultz (University of Washington, PG)

The rich get richer as the number one seed in the Eastern Conference – the Boston Celtics – take the best player in the draft, Markelle Fultz. A 6’4 PG with a 6’9 ¾ wingspan, Fultz has limitless potential as a two way force in the League. Fultz averaged 23.2 points, 5.9 assists and 5.7 rebounds on 47.6% from the field. Fultz combined with Isaiah Thomas in the same backcourt that would have the potential to become one of the best in the league.

 

The Pick – #2 Overall, Phoenix Suns: Josh Jackson (Kansas, SF)

The Phoenix Suns come into the draft as a team stacked at the guard positions. Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, and Leandro Barbosa man the backcourt slots for the Western Conference cellar dwellers. Up front, Marquese Chriss, Tyson Chandler, Alex Len, and Dragan Bender lead the charge. Where the Suns figure to be particularly thin is at the wing positions. T.J. Warren stands alone as the only established wing. Enter Josh Jackson, a hyper athletic 6’ 8” small forward with a 6’ 10” wingspan. His ability to score efficiently (16.3 PPG on 51% shooting at Kansas) could help Devin Booker shoulder the scoring load, and his 7.4 rebounds per game will be a nice addition to a squad who finished 6th in total rebounding this past season.

 

The Pick – #3 Overall, Los Angeles Lakers, Lonzo Ball (UCLA, PG)

There is substance behind the hype. Lonzo Ball can flat out play. Perhaps one of the best passers in recent college basketball memory, Ball plays an uptempo style that would fit perfectly with the young run and gun Lakers. Ball stands 6’6 with a 6’7 wingspan, and has the potential to be a two way nightmare for opposing coaches. Ball averaged a slash line of 14.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 7.6 assists per contest. With those sky high assist numbers, the Lakers would be able to slide D’Angelo Russell over to the two guard, which would help free up Russell to play into his score first mentality. The only potential downside to Ball’s game would be his unorthodox shooting form, and scouts have doubts over whether or not he would be able to get his jumper off with an NBA defender in his face.

 

The Pick – #4 Overall, Philadelphia 76ers: Malik Monk (Kentucky, SG)

Should they get the fourth pick in this year’s draft, the Sixers will be picking in the top 5 for the fourth year in a row. Brian Colangelo will have an array of young talent to choose from, and here we think he goes with Malik Monk, the streaky shooting guard from Kentucky. Though he’s a bit undersized for the position at 6’ 3”, Monk makes up for a lack of height by elevating on his jumper, and has no trouble knocking shots down with a hand in his face. After averaging 19.8 PPG on 39.7% shooting from beyond the arc, Monk has shown he is the one of the best scorers in this draft when he heats up from deep. With the start of the Ben Simmons era and the emergence of point guard T.J. McConnell this past year, a spot up shooter with range would step in and be an immediate contributor.

 

The Pick – #5 Overall, Orlando Magic: Jayson Tatum (Duke, SF)

The Orlando Magic are facing a draft selection that will be crucial to their rebuilding efforts. They have needs at every position besides center, and will look to take the best player available at number 5. Here we have them taking Jayson Tatum, a polished wing from Duke who at one point was considered a strong contender for the number one pick. With a stat line of 16.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, Tatum boasts a stat line similar to Josh Jackson, but plays a different style. Under Mike Krzyzewski, Tatum showed scouts a smooth stroke from the midrange and three point line while flashing signs of an underrated explosiveness when attacking the rim. Perhaps the most NBA-ready prospect right now, when we look back on it, Tatum could very well be the best player to come out of this draft.

 

The Pick – #6 Overall, Minnesota Timberwolves, Jonathan Isaac (Florida State, SF/PF)

At 6’11 and a 7’1 wingspan paired with shooting range and defensive upside highlights Isaac as a Swiss Army Knife type player. Capable of doing a little bit of everything, Isaac would project well into a front court with former ROY Karl Towns and shot blocking Gorgui Dieng. Isaac would be invaluable in terms of being able to stretch the floor, creating space for Andrew Wiggin’s devastating cuts to the basket. He needs to put on weight and may be more of a “project” than an instant impact guy, but his upside makes him a more than reasonable pick here at 6.

 

The Pick – #7 Overall, New York Knicks: De’Aaron Fox (Kentucky, PG)

Fox falling to the Knicks is an unpopular slide, but the Sixers taking Monk will leave the Knicks with an opportunity to grab a steal at number 7. With lightning speed and crafty slashing ability, the Kentucky point guard’s electrifying athleticism has drawn comparisons to that of John Wall. If Fox develops into the guard Wall has, the Knicks will have found their point guard for the future. As a player who wears his heart on his sleeve and plays for his teammates, Fox will bring a culture change to a toxic Knicks environment. That said, Fox’s Wall likeness also stems from cringeworthy perimeter shooting ability (24.6% from 3pt range). Despite averaging 16.7 points to go along with 4.6 assists, concerns about Fox’s shooting ability could very well see him slip out of the top five and right into the Knicks’ lap. However, should that jump shot develop as Wall’s has, Fox will be a terror for NBA defenses and the franchise player New York desperately needs.

 

The Pick – #8 Overall, Sacramento Kings, Lauri Markkanen (Arizona, PF)

The Kings need talent, and lots of it. Markkanen gives you a scoring threat at the PF position, with good shooting range to help space the floor for Willie-Cauley Stein. At 7 feet tall, the Dirk comparisons are undeniable. Markkanen averaged 15.6 points and 7+ rebounds a game during his time as a Wildcat, and posted an impressive 25.4 PER. The Kings should be drafting the best players available, and Markkanen is the best player left here at 8.

 

The Pick – #9 Overall, Dallas Mavericks, Dennis Smith Jr. (N.C. State, PG)

With Fultz, Ball, and Fox all likely to be off the board at 9, the Mavericks go with Dennis Smith to fill a need at point guard. After acquiring center Nerlens Noel and announcing that power forward Dirk Nowitzki will return for his 20th NBA season, the Mavericks should look to strengthen their backcourt early in the first round. Despite tearing his ACL in his senior year of high school, Smith is still one of the most athletic guards in the draft. His 18 points and 6 assists per game were a bright spot on a 15-17 North Carolina State team. On their current roster, Yogi Ferrell starts at point guard following a surprising breakout in the back half of the ‘16-’17 season. An athletic guard who can score and facilitate will be a great fit for a team who finished 8 games back of a playoff spot this past season.

 

The Pick – #10 Overall, Sacramento Kings: Frank Ntilikina (International, PG)

The Kings taking Markkanen with the 8th overall pick addresses their frontcourt needs. With the 10th pick, we see them going for a player who is high risk with salivating upside. 18 year old international prospect Frank Ntilikina stands at 6’ 6” and plays for Strasbourg in the LNB A League in France. It seems that every year there is one international player who sneaks into the lottery for better or worse (See: Kristaps Porzingis, Dirk Nowitzki but also see: Darko Milicic, Jan Vesely). Ntilikina has ideal size for the position and great length which will allow him to guard multiple positions. While his stats in France were unimpressive (5.2 points, 1.3 assists, 2.1 rebounds per game), he played a very limited 18 minutes per game. In an expanded role with a chance to develop behind the likes of Darren Collison and Ty Lawson, Ntilikina will have a chance to hone his skills and develop before much is asked of him. That said, the Kings have Darren Collison and Ty Lawson, and taking Ntilikina wouldn’t address a particular need. In other words, a pick with significant risk that doesn’t really fit into their roster right now? It has Kings written all over it.

 

The Pick – #11 Overall, Charlotte Hornets, Zach Collins (Gonzaga, PF/C)

Collins measured 6’10 ¼  at the Combine with a 7’1 wingspan. In 17+ minutes a game at Gonzaga, Collins put up 10 points and an encouraging 1.8 blocks per game. He has great range on his jumper, which would pair well with the Hornets current roster. Collins moves well for a PF/C, which will be key in defending the pick and roll. The Hornets will be looking to get back into the Playoffs in 2017-18, and Collins will be expected to join a rotation of Frank Kaminsky and Marvin Williams to make a much needed contribution.

 

The Pick – #12 Overall, Detroit Pistons, Donovan Mitchell (Louisville, SG)

What Mitchell lacks in height (Measured 6’3 in shoes), he makes up for with a 6’10 wingspan. Mitchell scored 15+ points per game, along with making 2.4 threes per contest on 35.4% from beyond the arc. Mitchell also contributed 4.9 rebounds and 2.1 steals a game, showing that he can do more than just score. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a RFA this summer, and while the Pistons are expected to match whatever offer sheet he signs, nothing is ever a guarantee. Even if Caldwell-Pope comes back, there is considerable lack of a scoring punch coming off the Detroit bench. Mitchell would help sure up the guard rotation and give Coach Stan Van Gundy a solid guard/wing defender to call upon.

 

The Pick – #13 Overall, Denver Nuggets, Jarrett Allen (Texas, C)

Ryan Thomson of Draft Express breaks down Allen perfectly, “At 6’11 with a 7’5 1/2 wingspan, Allen is a major presence on the offensive glass and as a finisher inside the paint, where he can play above the rim from long vantage points thanks to his impressive physical tools. He shows flashes of potential protecting the rim and rebounding outside of his area, and his jump-hook can be developed into a real weapon in time thanks to his high release point and soft touch around the basket. While raw and still underdeveloped, his skill-level is relatively high for a player his size, as he can attack in a straight line from the high post, or even make mid-range jumpers at times, despite his extreme struggles from the free throw line (55%)”  

 

The Pick – #14 Overall, Miami Heat: John Collins (Wake Forest, PF/C)

After a breakout year at Wake Forest, John Collins enters the draft as one of the most enticing and enigmatic prospects available. His 6’ 9” height and 6’ 11” wingspan make him undersized for his skill set and style of play. A low post presence who dominated the glass for the Demon Deacons (19.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game), Collins may have to develop an outside game to stretch the floor and earn minutes under Coach Erik Spoelstra. He was able to succeed on a lackluster Wake Forest team despite being the focus of ACC defenses all year long. Defensive concerns, lack of an outside game, and size issues prevent Collins from going higher in the lottery. He may have come out a year too soon, but his stock was sky high all year. With time, though, Collins has a chance to develop into a serviceable NBA forward in a world class organization.

 

The Pick – #15 Overall, Portland Trail Blazers, Justin Jackson (UNC, SF)

Portland will look for one of the best players available at 15 regardless of position. Justin Jackson would give added versatility to an already dynamic offense. The 2017 National Champion posted 18.2 points per game for the Tar Heels, and has shown steady development throughout his college career. If Jackson can put on muscle and develop defensively, he will be used at both the 3 and the 4, giving Portland a number of different lineup options to mix and match for the future.

 

The Pick – #16 Overall, Chicago Bulls, Terrance Ferguson (International, SG)

Listed at 6’ 7” in shoes, Ferguson gives the Bulls an added weapon on the wing. One of the nation’s most sought after high school prospects in 2016, Ferguson followed the likes of Emmanuel Mudiay in foregoing college and electing to play a year overseas. With Australian ball club Adelaide, Ferguson averaged 4.6 points and 0.6 assists in a very limited 15 minutes per game. How high he goes will depend largely on his performance in the Combine and how well he shows off his athleticism in the physical tests. The possibility of trading Jimmy Butler or losing Dwyane Wade to free agency will have the Bulls looking to snatch up a versatile wing player who can guard multiple positions.

 

The Pick – #17 Overall, Milwaukee Bucks, Luke Kennard (Duke, SG)

The Bucks have the young pieces in place to be a great team for years to come. Giannis Antetokounmpo has the making of a future MVP, Malcolm Brogdon looked like a Top 2 rookie all season, and if Jabari Parker stays healthy, Milwaukee will have a Big Three foundation for the future. When you add in the likes of Khris Middleton, Greg Monroe, John Henson, and Thon Maker, the Bucks have young talent all over the court. As they progress, Giannis, Parker, and Middleton will handle the playmaking duties. Thus, the Bucks will look to add a pure shooters to complement their already bright young core. Luke Kennard from Duke is the pick here, and he may just be the best pure shooter in this class. At 43.8% from three on five attempts per game, Kennard has shown he can make teams pay for clogging the lane. Look for the presence of Kennard to free up lanes for Antetokounmpo and company to slash at will.

 

The Pick – #18 Overall, Indiana Pacers, Harry Giles (Duke, PF)

Before two ACL injuries in two separate knees, Harry Giles could have been the number one pick in this draft. Injuries plus an up and down year at Duke sees Giles fall out of the lottery. While many believe that he would have benefitted from another year with the Blue Devils, Giles can contribute now to an NBA team. This pick would be based on promise and upside, not on what Giles did during his time at Duke.

 

The Pick – #19 Overall, Atlanta Hawks, Justin Patton (Creighton, C)

Atlanta’s depth chart has Dwight Howard and Kris Humphries as the only centers on the roster. Howard has been openly upset about his role with the Hawks, and the front office may be forced to look for future options at the center position as a result. Patton is one of the best options as a traditional center in the draft, and his athletic position will keep him on the floor when the Hawks run their small ball lineups. 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game with Creighton last season saw him burst onto the scene as one of the nation’s best bigs, and he’ll only improve as he heads to the next level.

 

The Pick – #20 Overall, Portland Trail Blazers, T.J. Leaf (UCLA, PF)

Leaf is a prototypical stretch 4. The Blazers could go with Tyler Lydon here, but they are opting for perhaps the more athletic of the two. The Blazers need shooters to space the floor for Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Leaf would give them just that, as well as a guy with a high motor. Leaf has some defensive flaws that can be exploited, but at this stage in the draft you are picking for specific roles, and Leaf gives them something that they are seriously needing.

 

The Pick- #21 Overall, Oklahoma City Thunder, Tyler Lydon (Syracuse SF/PF)

Tyler Lydon is the perfect player for the Thunder. He has range on his jumper at the 4 position, and can block shots. As we saw in the playoffs, Russell Westbrook cannot do it all on his own no matter how hard he tries. This Thunder desperately needs floor spacing and that’s exactly what Lydon would give them. He also can hold his own defensively: he can guard the pick and roll as well as protect the rim. He would be a great get here this late in the draft and would fill an exact need for the Thunder.  

 

The Pick – #22 Overall, Brooklyn Nets, Ivan Rabb (California, PF)

Brooklyn faces a draft in which they find themselves in a complete rebuilding phase. Unfortunately, they only have late picks and it’s unlikely they acquire a true franchise player outside of the lottery. Rabb is one of the better rebounders in this class, a skill that the Nets will welcome given their middle of the pack rebounding statistics this past season. He averaged 14.0 points on near 50% shooting for Cal, and can offer talent in the frontcourt for one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference. He’ll expected to step in and contribute right away, but late in the draft, it may be the best the Nets can get at the position.

 

The Pick – #23 Overall, Toronto Raptors, Bam Adebayo (Kentucky, PF/C)

Adebayo is 6’ 10” with a 7’ 3” wingspan, and has one of the best motors in this draft. Grabbing 8.0 rebounds per game under John Calipari, Adebayo is an athletic freak but a player with a raw skillset. Serge Ibaka and Patrick Patterson are both free agents this summer, and thus, Adebayo makes sense to fill the void those two will leave. Look for him to step right into a major role and dominate the boards up north next year.

 

The Pick – #24 Overall, Utah Jazz, Kyle Kuzma (Utah, SF/PF)

Kyle “Pete” Kuzma is a bit of an unknown commodity. Playing for Utah he may not have gotten the fan fare that some of the other prospects may have gotten, but the kid can flat out play. During his Junior season, Kuzma posted 16.3 ppg, 9 rpg and 2.4 apg. At 6’9, he is projected to play both the 3 and the 4, and with a 7’0 wingspan, he has some defensive potential. The Jazz will be looking for scorers and shooters to add to an already deep bench, and Kuzma fits that to a T.

 

The Pick – #25 Overall, Orlando Magic, Jawun Evans (Oklahoma State, PG)

Jawun Evans can fill it up. As a sophomore he put up 19 ppg to go along with 6.5 assists. Regarded as one of the better playmakers in the Draft, Evans is more than capable running an offense. A bit undersized at the PG position at 6’1, there is potential for him to be abused defensively by bigger, stronger guards. However, the Magic need scoring off their bench as well as someone who can run their offense when Elfrid Payton is off the court and Evans is their man.

 

The Pick – #26 Overall, Portland Trail Blazers, O.G. Anunoby (Indiana, SF/PF)

O.G. Anunoby could have been a lottery pick if not for injuries that hampered his sophomore season. An elite wing defender, O.G. could develop into a Tony Allen type player, but with a better offensive arsenal. It all comes down to if he can recover. At 6’8 and pre injury, O.G. was projected to be able to guard 4 positions. This late in the draft, you have to take a risk and make no mistake, this is what O.G. is until he proves his injuries are behind him.

 

The Pick – #27 Overall, Brooklyn Nets, Dwayne Bacon (Florida State, SG/SF)

Once again, Brooklyn has needs at every position. Late in the first round they are unlikely to find the type of player who can have an immediate impact. They’ll likely draft a player with huge potential, and we have them going for Dwayne Bacon out of FSU at 27. Though most drafts project Bacon going early-mid second round, we consider him a steal even at 27. His length (6’ 10” wingspan) and unique scoring ability (17.2 points per game) make him a versatile NBA guard/wing. A potential diamond in the rough late in round 1, the Nets would be smart to roll the dice on Bacon.

 

The Pick – #28 Overall, Los Angeles Lakers, Ike Anigbogu (UCLA, C)

Ike is the definition of a project. Extremely raw with tons of upside, the Lakers have to take a chance with him still on the board. He will need extensive work on his game and will most likely spend a majority of the season in the D-League, but his upside at 28 is too high to pass on. Scouts love his motor and potential shot blocking abilities. With no franchise center currently on the Lakers roster, the pick makes sense.

 

The Pick – #29 Overall, San Antonio Spurs, Isaiah Hartenstein (International, C)

We project Hartenstein to fall a bit, as most analysts see him going in the 20-25 range. At 7 feet tall, his size and athleticism are decent. The main drawback from his game is his perimeter shooting and lack of a low post game. Under Gregg Popovich, he would have time to develop, and Pop’s fascination with foreign players is no secret. If he falls this far, it could wind up being a match made in heaven.

 

The Pick – #30 Overall, Utah Jazz, Rodions Kurucs (International, SF)

With the last pick of the first round, the Jazz take a chance on Rodions Kurucs, a small forward playing in Spain with Barcelona 2. Averaging 9.5 points and 2.8 rebounds per game, Kurucs can attack the rim and shoots serviceably from outside (32% from deep). He will likely need time to develop, but on a Western conference contender like the Jazz, there will be no rush for Kurucs to step into the spotlight and play big minutes early on.

 

 

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