2017 NBA Mock Draft
1. Philadelphia 76ers: PG Markelle Fultz (Washington)
NBA Comparison: Brandon Roy
If the Sixers are fully committed to giving Ben Simmons the keys to the offense, then Markelle Fultz is the only logical choice at #1. Fultz has no holes in his game on the offensive end; furthermore his ability to shoot (41.3 % from three at Washington) and play off the ball will allow him to mesh well with Simmons. Fultz can also handle point guard duties full-time if the Ben Simmons point guard experiment fails. Those who worry about him only winning 9 games at Washington probably never watched him play, because that team was trash and the coaching wasn’t much better (sorry Lorenzo Romar). With Fultz, a healthy Embiid, Ben Simmons and a ton of cap space, Philly may finally be on the rise after years of wondering if Sam Hinkie was competent enough to have a job as a GM (we may owe him an apology).
2. Los Angeles Lakers: PG Lonzo Ball (UCLA)
NBA Comparison: Bigger, more athletic Ricky Rubio with a jumper
The Lakers have brought in several other top prospects over the past week for workouts, but it’s all a smoke screen. Lonzo Ball is going to be the Lakers’ pick and he’s been their choice since the night of the lottery. The Jason Kidd/Magic Johnson comparisons are a reach but he does share their ability to make others around them better. Ball is at his best in transition where his court vision and passing ability shines brightest which is perfect for LA because this young Lakers team is built to play up-tempo. Concerns about his ability to share a backcourt with DeAngelo Russell are no longer an issue since the Lakers dealt Russell to Brooklyn in exchange for the 27th pick. Ball would also be a perfect complement to any of the superstars the Lakers plan to pursue in 2018 (Paul George/LeBron James).
3. Boston Celtics: SF Jayson Tatum (Duke)
NBA Comparison: Danny Granger
Jayson Tatum may be the most NBA-ready of all the top prospects. He’d be a major upgrade over Jae Crowder should the Celtics choose to keep this pick. Tatum has an offensive arsenal that’s ready to get buckets from day one. His presence on offense should prevent teams from loading up on IT in the half-court like we’ve seen in the past. Despite being only 19 years old, Tatum should have no problem fitting in with the culture of the Celtics after playing a year under Mike Krzyzewski. Josh Jackson is also an option for Boston at #3, but he’s too similar to Jaylen Brown, who had a shaky rookie year but still managed to show flashes of star potential.
4. Phoenix Suns: SF Josh Jackson (Kansas)
NBA Comparison: Golden State Warriors Latrell Sprewell
Josh Jackson has as much upside as anyone in the draft and was a strong candidate to go #1 before Boston traded the pick. Jackson would fit in well with the young, rebuilding Phoenix Suns as he’d be the perfect wing to play next to Devin Booker. Jackson can guard the opposing team’s best perimeter player, Eric Bledsoe can guard the next best perimeter player, which allows Devin Booker to hide on defense like Steph Curry and Isaiah Thomas. Jackson plays the game with a passion and intensity that’s rarely seen in today’s NBA. With an improved jump shot, he should be one of the best two-way players in the league for years to come.
5. Sacramento Kings: PG DeAaron Fox (Kentucky)
NBA Comparison: Dennis Schroder
Fox made everyone a believer after his performance against Lonzo Ball in the Sweet 16. Some believe he may be the best player in this draft in 5 years. Sacramento loves drafting Kentucky players (Cousins, Cauley-Stein, Labissiere) and the Kings are the best fit for him as far as his development is concerned. Sacramento should start Fox immediately, allowing the opportunity to learn from his mistakes much like former Kentucky point guard John Wall did. If he can develop a respectable jumper to go along with his speed, athleticism and tenacity, the sky is the limit.
6. Orlando Magic: PF/SF Jonathan Isaac (Florida State)
NBA Comparison: Rashard Lewis
At 6-11, with the ability to shoot the three and protect the rim, Isaac may have the most the potential of any player in the draft. He also may be the biggest project in the draft as well. At just 205 pounds, Issac may not be ready to bang inside immediately, but he fits the profile of the prototypical stretch four in the modern NBA. The Magic already have Aaron Gordon locked in at PF, so ultimately Orlando will hope Isaac can develop a tight enough handle to play the SF position full-time.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves: PF Lauri Markkanen (Arizona)
NBA Comparison: Raef Lafrentz
In today’s NBA, spacing is a priority on offense. A key to that spacing is a big that can stretch the floor like Kevin Love, Ryan Anderson, Porzingis, etc. Lauri Markkanen can provide Minnesota with such spacing, and he’d be a welcomed addition to their frontcourt of Andrew Wiggins, Gorgui Dieng and Karl Anthony-Towns. Markannen will be a liability on the defensive end; however, Coach Thibodeau should be able to find a way to keep him on the floor without hurting the team. Minnesota may look at taking Dennis Smith with this pick, but with Kris Dunn, Tyus Jones, and Ricky Rubio already on the roster, Thibodeau will probably have to pass.
8. New York Knicks: PG Frank Ntilikina (France)
NBA Comparison: Dante Exum
None of us know much about Ntilikina outside of YouTube highlights (hence the Exum comparison), but it’s been reported that the Knicks have a strong interest in him. This is the exact type of dirtbag pick to expect from Phil Jackson.
9. Dallas Mavericks: PG Dennis Smith (NC State)
NBA Comparison: Eric Bledsoe
Like Markelle Fultz, Dennis Smith was stuck playing for a squad that stunk, but his talent was apparent despite his lack of team success. Smith is ranked lower than other point guards, but he is just as gifted as any player in the draft. His ability as an athletic, scoring point guard fits the mold of the position in the league today. The Mavericks are rumored to pursue Jrue Holiday and Jeff Teague in free agency, but Smith provides great insurance just in case the Mavs strikeout on both point guards.
10. Sacramento Kings: SG Malik Monk (Kentucky)
NBA Comparison: Chicago Bulls Ben Gordon
As previously stated, Sacramento loves drafting John Calipari’s players. They would jump at the chance to reunite the backcourt of Malik Monk and DeAaron Fox. Monk is arguably the most explosive scorer in the draft, he also has the clutch gene to match (ask my Tar Heels). The Kings traded for Buddy Hield in February, but in today’s NBA you can never have too much fire power. Monk could thrive as the starting two guard next to Fox or in a 6th man role similar to Lou Williams and Jamal Crawford as the focal point of the Kings second unit’s offense.
11. Charlotte Hornets: SG Luke Kennard (Duke)
NBA Comparison: Nik Stauskas
The Hornets have placed an emphasis on shooting threes over the past two seasons. Luke Kennard would fit well into their game plan, as he finished second in the ACC in scoring in 2017 while shooting nearly 44 percent from three. He lacks ideal athleticism for a shooting guard in the NBA, but so did former Duke All-American J.J. Redick. If Steve Clifford can turn Kennard into an average defender, his shooting ability and basketball IQ should find him a spot in the Hornets rotation.
12. Detroit Pistons: C/PF Zach Collins (Gonzaga)
NBA Comparison: More athletic Meyers Leonard
Collins could’ve started for most teams in college basketball last season, but he starred in a reserve role for national runner-up Gonzaga. The freshman from Las Vegas shot nearly 48 percent from three and averaged nearly 2 blocks per game while playing just 17.8 minutes per game. Stan Van Gundy is rumored to have made Andre Drummond available in trade talks, so Collins potential as a stretch five in his offensive scheme should be too much for him to pass on.
13. Denver Nuggets: PF John Collins (Wake Forest)
NBA Comparison: J.J. Hickson
John Collins emerged out of nowhere as one of the most improved players in the country, averaging nearly 20 & 10 in just under 27 minutes. Kenneth Faried’s time in Denver appears to be coming to an end, and Collins is well suited to replace him as an energetic force on the glass that can run the floor and finish lob passes from Nikola Jokic.
14. Miami Heat: SG Donovan Mitchell (Louisville)
NBA Comparison: Avery Bradley
Dion Waiters had the best season of his career during the 2016-17 season. He is sure to command a huge raise during free agency. Pat Riley has his sights set on Gordon Hayward, Danillo Galinari, Blake Griffin and Paul Millsap, so there might not be enough cap space left to keep Waiters. Mitchell is a superb athlete (YouTube his dunks) that will be a solid replacement for Waiters; he can come in and compete on the defensive end right away. Mitchell could develop into a starting two guard if he can continue to improve his outside shooting.
15. Portland Trailblazers: C Justin Patton (Creighton)
NBA Comparison: Myles Turner
Portland solidified their core when they traded for Jusuf Nurkic in February so they can afford to draft the best player available or a project with a lot of potential. Patton leans more toward the latter, but his size and ability to shoot the three will be valuable as the NBA becomes more and more about spreading the floor.
16. Chicago Bulls: C Jarrett Allen (Texas)
NBA Comparison: Robin Lopez
The Bulls appear to be ready to move on from Jimmy Butler officially starting the rebuilding process. Allen could develop into an elite rim protector as well as someone who can finish consistently around the rim.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: SF/SG Justin Jackson (North Carolina)
NBA Comparison: Danny Green
The Milwaukee Bucks are committed to acquiring players who are long that can play multiple positions. Justin Jackson checks off both of those boxes. The Bucks need more three-point shooting to place around Giannis making Jackson the easy choice at 17 unless someone takes an unexpected fall. After the success of Malcolm Brodgon in his rookie year, don’t be surprised if Jackson is playing meaningful minutes by the end of the season in Milwaukee.
18. Indiana Pacers: PF/C Harry Giles (Duke)
NBA Comparison: New Jersey Nets Kenyon Martin
Two years ago, Giles was projected to go #1 in this draft but knee injuries have derailed his dreams of going in the lottery. Many feel he can recover and potentially get to the elite level he was once projected to reach. With Paul George confirming his plans to leave Indiana in 2018, the Pacers will need all the talent it can get, therefore drafting Giles is worth the risk.
19. Atlanta Hawks: PF T.J. Leaf (UCLA)
NBA Comparison: Ryan Anderson
The Hawks’ brass has openly admitted that Paul Millsap will probably get more lucrative offers from other teams in free agency, so it’s likely he won’t be back in Atlanta. Leaf is a face-up PF similar to Millsap that can potentially become a valuable stretch-four if he can extend his range to the NBA three-point line.
20. Portland Trailblazers: SF/PF OG Anunoby (Indiana)
NBA Comparison: Al-Farouq Aminu
The Blazers can score with the best of them, but they are as horrible as it gets on the defensive end. Anunoby is coming off an ACL tear, but when healthy he can add value with his defensive versatility and his ability to run the floor.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: PG Jawun Evans (Oklahoma State)
NBA Comparison: D.J. Augustin
The NBA playoffs proved that OKC desperately needs a point guard that can manufacture points when Westbrook is out of the game. Evans was an All-American and one of the best point guards in college basketball last season. He should be a hit with the Oklahoma fans after starring for the Cowboys in Stillwater for two years.
22. Brooklyn Nets: SG Terrance Ferguson (Australia/ Texas, USA)
NBA Comparison: Gerald Green
Before skipping college to play professionally in Australia, Ferguson was a YouTube star due to his athleticism as well as his range from beyond the arc. The Brooklyn Nets hoist as many threes as the Celtics and Cavaliers, drafting Ferguson (39% from three in Australia) would be a move in the right direction for a franchise lacking shooters and talent.
23. Toronto Raptors: C Ike Anigbogu (UCLA)
NBA Comparison: Tyson Chandler
The Raptors clearly missed Bismack Biyombo’s defensive presence this past season, especially against Cleveland in the playoffs. Anigbogu might take some time to develop, but he can potentially fill that role. The former Bruin also has the potential to become a great finisher in the pick-and-roll due to his mobility and athleticism.
24. Utah Jazz: PF Tyler Lydon (Syracuse)
NBA Comparison: Kyle Wiltjer
Lydon gives the Jazz a shooter they can pair with Gobert to keep the floor spread. He also forces defenses to stay at home when Gobert rolls to the basket off screens.
25. Orlando Magic: SF Semi Ojeleye (SMU)
NBA Comparison: DeMarre Carroll
The Magic struggled on the defensive end throughout the season; Ojeleye should be able to come in and make an impact on that end of the floor immediately. He can defend multiple positions and is strong enough to log time as a small ball PF.
26. Portland Trail Blazers: PG Derrick White (Colorado)
NBA Comparison: Jrue Holiday
White’s fairytale story is almost complete. He’s gone from the Division II ranks to first team All-Pac 12 to potential first-round draft pick. He has good size at 6-5 for the PG position and could challenge Shabazz Napier for a spot in the Blazers point guard rotation.
27. Los Angeles Lakers: PF D.J. Wilson (Michigan)
NBA Comparison: Anthony Randolph
Wilson had a huge NCAA tournament where he showed his versatility and potential as a face-up PF. The Lakers may look to move Julius Randle in an effort to free up more cap space. Moving Randle would leave an opening at the PF spot where Wilson could potentially become a full-time starter one day.
28. Los Angeles Lakers: PF Isaiah Hartenstein (Germany)
NBA Comparison: Poor man Kristaps Porzingis
The Lakers can afford to take a chance on the 7-1, 19 year-old from Germany with the 28th pick. Hartenstein fits the mold of the prototypical European big man that can excel on the perimeter as a shooter as well as someone who can attack the basket on closeouts.
29. San Antonio Spurs: PF Caleb Swanigan (Purdue)
NBA Comparison: Glen Davis with range
Swanigan will remind Spurs fans of Dejuan Blair with his ability to rebound, but his offensive game is far more refined. Swanigan has range on his jumper and should be able to score on the interior in the NBA from day one.
30. Utah Jazz: C Tony Bradley (North Carolina)
NBA Comparison: Omer Asik
Bradley gives Utah another big body that can rebound and provide some insurance if Rudy Gobert goes down with injury. He moves well for his size in addition to showing potential as a finisher in the pick-and-roll.