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The Lead’s Final 2017 Mock Draft

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  1. Philadelphia 76ers – Markelle Fultz / Washington

Markelle Fultz will be the first pick of the 2017 NBA Draft. Sharpie. Shoutout to Seth Davis. Before the Sixers would make this trade official, they flew Markelle in for a “private” workout, his first with the team. Philadelphia gave up their #3 pick in this draft, along with the Lakers’ 2018 and Kings’ 2019 first round picks that they owned to trade with Boston and move up to get their guy. One of the best, most promising young frontcourts in the league adds the best scoring guard in the draft. Fultz stated his goal is to win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season. I don’t know about MVP, but he will have to battle teammate Ben Simmons for ROY.

2. Los Angeles Lakers – Lonzo Ball / UCLA

LaVar Ball has stated time and time again that his son, Lonzo, will be a Los Angeles Laker. More than likely, that dream will become a reality on Thursday night. Ball is heavily viewed as the best playmaker in this draft.  Lonzo was one of the primary factors in UCLA going from 15-17 a year ago to 31-5 this past season. With recent news that the Lakers have parted ways with D’Angelo Russell, Ball is expected to be the pick here. Paul George has said that he wants to be a Laker in 2018. The pairing of PG and Ball will help resurrect an organization that has now missed the playoffs for the most consecutive seasons in franchise history.

3. Boston Celtics – Josh Jackson / Kansas

I expect Josh Jackson to be the third pick in this year’s draft. Whether or not he plays his rookie season in Boston, however, remains to be seen. The Celtics may choose to trade this pick, either during the draft or later in the offseason, as part of a package for a superstar. At 6’8”, with length for days and a fro just as long, Jackson has seemed to separate himself into this top 3 tier, with Lonzo and Fultz. There were rumors about Boston drafting Jackson first overall, before this trade went through. And some think Los Angeles may still be considering him, although Paul George figures to change that for them.

4. Phoenix Suns – Jayson Tatum / Duke

Jayson Tatum is the best fit for Phoenix, the way their roster currently exists. Rumors of a Devin Booker / Kristaps Porzingis swap have been circulating, but New York supposedly wanted this 4th pick as well. They won’t get both, so the trade may never happen. Tatum’s game is a lot like TJ Warren, but all-around better. Warren will likely draw a large offer as a RFA in 2018, and the Suns may opt to let him go to afford a max free agent instead, much like Golden State did last year with Harrison Barnes.

5. Sacramento Kings – De’Aaron Fox / Kentucky

The Sacramento Kings need help at multiple positions, and are likely still years away from being relevant; but finally securing a starting point guard will help tremendously. The Kings have had a revolving door at PG for as long as I can remember. Drafting De’Aaron Fox closes that door. There was rumor that Sacramento might trade picks 5 and 10 to move up to get Fox, but I don’t think that will be necessary. By keeping this pick, they get their guy at 5, and can add more talent to what is already a very young core group of players with multiple lottery picks.

6. Orlando Magic – Dennis Smith Jr / NC State

Dennis Smith Jr has been surprisingly underrated in this draft class. A volume scorer who also averaged 6 assists per game, he shot respectfully well from the field given his high usage rate. Smith Jr is 6’3” and recorded an NBA Draft record-tying 48” vertical leap at a workout with the Lakers. The Magic need backcourt production, and new GM John Hammond has been rumored to be highly interested in the NC State guard. If Dennis Smith Jr. goes to Orlando, he is my pick for Rookie of the Year.

7. Minnesota Timberwolves – Jonathan Isaac / Florida State

I believe Isaac is a perfect fit in Minnesota. He has incredible length, and can play either forward position. In his only season at Florida State, he played for a great defensive coach and shined on that end of the floor. Isaac wasn’t a focal point of the offense, but showed flashes of what he could become. Playing for Coach Thibodeau will allow Isaac’s defensive abilities to earn him minutes and experience while his offensive game develops. I think he will ultimately be the perfect complement to Towns and Wiggins in the T’Wolves frontcourt, if the Celtics don’t surprise everyone by taking Isaac with the third pick.

8. New York Knicks – Malik Monk / Kentucky

Malik Monk is the best pure shooter in this draft. In any other draft class he would be considered in the top three. He can score in a variety of different ways and is a gifted shooter. He shot nearly 40 percent from downtown and averaged almost 20 points per game at Kentucky while leading them to the Elite Eight. The Knicks need help at the guard spot and an athletic guard who can play both backcourt positions is a great pick for a franchise desperately searching for direction.

9. Dallas Mavericks – Frank Ntilikina / SIG Strasbourg, France

After releasing Deron Williams mid-season, the Mavs got solid backcourt production from a couple of young players, Yogi Ferrell and Seth Curry. But neither are the pure point guard type that can thrive in Rick Carlisle’s system. What Dallas hoped to get when they traded for Rajon Rondo, they will get all that, and more, here with Frank Ntilikina. Much like Tony Parker back in 2001, Ntilikina enters the league at 18 years old, and with a ton of potential. The Mavs are so all-in on this pick that they’ve hired Vincent Collet, the head coach of SIG Strasbourg, to coach with the Mavs Orlando Summer League team, as reported by ESPN’s Chad Ford.

10. Sacramento Kings – Lauri Markkanen / Arizona

Kristaps Porzingis 2.0? At least that’s what Phil Jackson hinted at recently. Lauri Markannen is the ideal stretch 4 and will fit nicely into to today’s NBA with his ability to shoot the basketball. Lauri excelled at Arizona, averaging 16 PPG while shooting 42 percent from downtown. He could go anywhere between the 6th-13th pick. But with the Kings possibly looking to trade down here, Markkanen is a nice target for whoever may trade up to this spot.

11. Charlotte Hornets – Luke Kennard / Duke

The Hornets had stated they wanted to acquire a frontcourt player in this draft and, in a way, they have already accomplished that. Charlotte traded the 41st pick, Miles Plumlee, and Marco Belinelli to Atlanta for the 31st pick and Dwight Howard. Which certainly changes Charlotte’s approach with the 11th pick, and I expect Luke Kennard to be the move here. Their biggest need is bench scoring. Kennard is a more well-polished scorer than the other prospects at this point in the draft, and should be ready to play, and contribute, as a rookie.

12. Detroit Pistons – Zach Collins / Gonzaga

The Pistons have been openly shopping both Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond, but few specific trade offers have been rumored or leaked. This could mean nothing will happen, or knowing Stan Van Gundy’s trade history it could mean that something is about to go down. If Drummond is traded, Detroit needs a center, and Zach Collins is the best available. Collins can shoot from outside, play out of the post, and defend the rim. None of the other center prospects in this draft are as good at all three, and neither is last year’s lottery pick. Henry Ellenson is a stretch 4, and an ideal backup for Jon Leuer. If Jackson is traded and not Drummond, the Pistons have interest in Luke Kennard and Donovan Mitchell as well.

13. Denver Nuggets – OG Anunoby / Indiana

I maintain that OG Anunoby is the best fit for the Nuggets. Team President Tim Connelly has stated that this year’s draft picks won’t be expected to play a role immediately next season. Denver has seven players age 26 or younger who averaged 13+ minutes per game, and the cap space to be active in free agency. First year GM Arturas Karnisovas said the team will look for talent and fit, and Anunoby is both of those. Coming off an ACL tear, he will benefit from the ability to rehab and train, before being ready to play in the NBA. Surprisingly, Denver is still one of the few teams without an official G-League affiliate, but I don’t expect that to last.

14. Miami Heat – Harry Giles / Duke

The Heat have a crowded backcourt of returning players, and have emerged as a top contender for Gordon Hayward in free agency. Even with Hassan Whiteside, frontcourt depth is their biggest need. Willie Reed, who played surprisingly well last season, opted out and will become a free agent. And Josh McRoberts might be moved to create additional cap space. Harry Giles is a perfect fit for the culture in Miami, and will benefit from arguably the best training staff in the league. Giles is a darkhorse candidate to be the best player from this draft five years from now.

15. Portland Trail Blazers – Donovan Mitchell / Louisville

Portland currently has no open roster spots. They have stated an intention to trade Meyers Leonard, incentivised by draft picks, in a salary dump, but have yet to find a willing trade partner. Regardless, I expect them to look to trade two of their three first round picks. Donovan Mitchell is a 6’3” guard with a 6’10” wingspan, and will likely go in this mid-to-late first round range. Maybe someone feels strongly enough to move up here and get him, or maybe Portland drafts a potential future replacement for Allen Crabbe.

16. Chicago Bulls – John Collins / Wake Forest

John Collins has been rising on team’s draft boards after he put on a, somewhat surpring, high-flying dunk display at a recent Pro Day put on by CAA Sports for some of their clients. He was on the Charlotte Hornets radar, until the Dwight trade. The Bulls are on the verge of a full rebuild of a season. If they trade Jimmy Butler, they are left with a relatively young team surrounding the $24 million man. With Taj Gibson gone, and Bobby Portis’ future with the team unclear, Collins is a great pick here. Expect him to earn minutes as a rookie.

17. Milwaukee Bucks – Terrance Ferguson / Adelaide 36ers, Australia

During the playoffs, the biggest area of need for Milwaukee was very apparent, and ultimately proved to be their achilles heel. The Bucks need bench scoring, primarily from their backcourt. Greg Monroe opted in to the final year of his contract, and should be a legit 6th Man of the Year candidate again. Rashad Vaughn has gotten opportunities, but has yet to impress. Ferguson comes into this draft with little fanfare because of his lackluster numbers in Australia. But like Emmanuel Mudiay and Brandon Jennings before him, we know this is the norm for an 18 year old going to a competitive pro league. That isn’t cause to be concerned about Ferguson’s potential, and the Bucks front office won’t be. This is my steal of the draft, as I thought Ferguson was a mid-lottery level talent, even in this year’s class.

18. Indiana Pacers – Justin Jackson / UNC

Paul George is on his way out. I don’t expect him to play a game with Indiana this season, and he even might be traded during this draft. Myles Turner is an excellent big man to build around in today’s NBA. And with Al Jefferson locked up for two more years, the Pacers need to fill out their roster from positions 1-4. Justin Jackson is a player in a similar mold as Paul George, and can immediately step in and help to attempt to fill that void.

19. Atlanta Hawks – Justin Patton / Creighton

The Hawks decided to move on from Dwight Howard after just one season, and got surprisingly little value back. They even had to give up the better of the two second picks exchanged in that trade. The Hawks need a center, and will have their pick from this year’s class. Jarrett Allen, Ike Anigbogu, and Anzejs Pasecniks are all in play here – but I think Patton may have the highest ceiling of any of them.

20. Portland Trail Blazers – Jarrett Allen / Texas

Allen is a traditional rim-protector, who reminds of a young DeAndre Jordan. This could be a pick for Portland, to back up the more offensively-gifted Jusuf Nurkic. Or this could be one of the first round picks traded by the Blazers. If a team wants to move in front of Brooklyn at 22, who will likely be targeting a center, this is an ideal spot to do so.

21. Oklahoma City – DJ Wilson / Michigan

DJ Wilson played his way into the first round conversation with a great tournament this past March. At 6’10”, Wilson’s combination of outside shooting and defensive versatility caught a lot of teams eyes. OKC’s current power forwards Domantas Sabonis and Jeremi Grant have been underwhelming, although they aren’t really given a significant role within the offense.

22. Brooklyn Nets – Isaiah Hartenstein / Germany

With Brook Lopez finally traded, after years of rumors and speculation, the Nets finally move on from their franchise center. Even though they got Mosgov from the Lakers, in addition to future superstar D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn will still be in search of bigs. Hartenstein and Pasecniks are the two best fits, but ultimately I believe Hartenstein’s offensive versatility makes him the better selection here.

23. Toronto Raptors – Bam Adebayo / Kentucky

Kyle Lowry is reportedly not interested in re-signing with the Raptors this offseason, but they have an in-house replacement, Cory Joseph, already. Valanciunas still likely has three years on his contract, but Toronto could use a backup center to provide defense, rebounding, and energy when Jonas is off the floor. Adebayo fits that role perfectly, much like Bismack Biyombo did.

24. Utah Jazz – Kyle Kuzma / Utah

Kuzma saw his stock rise more than anyone else during the NBA Combine in Chicago. He performed very well in 5-on-5 play, and impressed scouts who saw him workout. His offensive skillset and IQ make him a solid fit for a Jazz team that may be retooling their roster a bit this offseason.

25. Orlando Magic – Derrick White / Colorado

Looking for potential and backcourt production, Derrick White is another great fit in this year’s draft for the Magic. White is a similar player to Hezonja, whom Orlando may look to trade.

26. Portland Trail Blazers – Ivan Rabb / California

In the past, Dame has asserted his influence on the organization and endorsed the drafting of CJ McCollum. If the Blazers keep one of these first round picks, Lillard may do so again and get the team to bring in fellow Oakland-native Ivan Rabb.

27. Los Angeles Lakers – Anzejs Pasecniks / Latvia

Magic Johnson has been trying to package these two first round picks in a trade for Paul George, so be on the lookout for that. But if they keep this, or the next pick, Pasecniks is a good fit. He doesn’t need to play immediately as they have Lopez for a year, plus Zubac. And, after adjusting to the NBA, he can excel in Luke Walton’s offense.

28. Los Angeles Lakers – Jawun Evans / Oklahoma State

Another great fit for the Lakers, after the trading of scoring guards Lou Williams and D’Angelo Russell. Outside of the guards taken in the lottery, Evans is the most explosive scorer in the draft.

29. San Antonio Spurs – Thomas Bryant / Indiana

Despite their many skills and strengths, it was the flaws of the San Antonio big men that cost the Spurs in the playoffs. Bryant is a swifter athlete than the aging Aldridge and Gasol, and can stretch the floor better too.

30. Utah Jazz – Semi Ojeleye / SMU

Ojeleye’s athleticism, shooting, and versatility make him a great pick for the Jazz, who may have to replace their best offensive player this offseason. Utah may also lose George Hill during free agency, so another pick I like here is Iowa State point guard Monte Morris.

About Preston Dubey

Lifelong basketball fanatic and Bucks’ supporter

I coach basketball; but I eat, sleep, and breathe the game.

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