Welcome to the Hashtag Basketball 2017 NBA Mock Draft 1.0.
In our first Mock Draft, we provide initial predictions of the 2017 NBA Draft, as well insight into each selection. Note that all selections are based on current draft standings, and look for an update after the 2017 NBA lottery next Tuesday, May 16th.
1 Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn)
Markelle Fultz – Point Guard – Freshman – 6’4 – 23.2 PPG / 5.7 RPG / 5.9 APG – Washington
Only four years ago, Danny Ainge began flipping players for assets to accelerate his organization’s rebuild. Today, the Boston Celtics sit atop this year’s NBA lottery courtesy of Billy King and the Brooklyn Nets.
But despite finishing atop the Eastern Conference, Boston remains a step away from the NBA's elite tier. Moreover, with a roster consisting of just one star (Isaiah Thomas), the Celtics are best served to shoot for the moon, rather than search for a system fit.
Markelle Fultz offers Boston their best shot at a potential superstar. In his single year at Washington, he eclipsed 40% from three while shooting over two three-pointers per game—he also managed nearly six assists and six rebounds per game. Critics note his team’s inability to win games (9-22 for 11th in the Pac-12), but Fultz was a consistent bright spot who will fit seamlessly into the Boston Celtics winning culture.
2 Phoenix Suns
Lonzo Ball – Point Guard – Freshman - 6’6 – 14.6 PPG /6.0 RPG / 7.6 APG - UCLA
Lonzo Ball could very well become the first prospect to be outshined by his father outside the realm of basketball. Due to all this attention, warranted or not, Ball has an immense amount of pressure on him to succeed. To his credit, he has mainly let his game do the talking, and it’s hard not to make a case for his success in the NBA.
What stands out to me, and most people who have seen him play is his incredible playmaking ability along with his scoring prowess as he was able to facilitate as well as score at an extremely efficient clip. He was able to shoot 41.2% from three on 5.4 attempts per game, despite his shooting form that would give any shooting coach nightmares, something that may or may not be fixed once in the NBA (see Shawn Marion).
In college, Ball towered over most of his competition as he stood at a solid six-feet, six-inches. While he will still be one of the tallest point guards in the NBA, the level of defense will be much higher as opposing players can take advantage of his jerky release with their height and quick hands. The most glaring issue outside of his shot form is his free throw percentage which sat at a measly 67.3% on an extremely low number of 2.7 attempts per game, four less than projected #1 overall Markelle Fultz. In recent years, it has been noted that FT percentage is one of the better indicators of how well a player’s shot will translate to the NBA, something that many Lakers fans learned the hard way as they saw Ingram struggle mightily with his shot after hitting 41% of his threes in college but shooting only 68.2% from the line.
The Suns already have an established point guard in Eric Bledsoe, but you simply cannot pass up the chance to draft a potential All-Star by picking someone like Josh Jackson instead for fit purposes.
3 Los Angeles Lakers
Josh Jackson – Shooting Guard/Small Forward – Freshman - 6’8 – 16.3 PPG / 7.4 RPG / 3 APG - Kansas
When I look at Josh Jackson, I see a lot of potential, perhaps even the highest in the draft outside of Fultz. The NBA player comparison that immediately comes to mind is Kawhi Leonard who had a very similar career in college as Jackson as he averaged 15.5/10.6/2.5 on 44.4% shooting and 29.1% from three. When compared to Jackson’s line of 16.3/7.4/3 on 51.3% and 37.8% respectively, Jackson edges him out ever so slightly. Now the odds of Jackson being a top 5 NBA player within his first five years of being drafted is extremely low, but when looking at Jackson and seeing his defensive prowess, it’s tough not to get a little bit giddy.
If the Lakers manage to retain the third pick and select Jackson, they will have one interesting lineup that will look something like Russell/Jackson/Ingram/Randle/Zubac, which is one of the better young cores in the league. There is a noticeable lack of shooting here which could be ameliorated by going small and moving Jackson, Ingram, and Randle to the 3/4/5 spots while inserting Clarkson in as the shooting guard.
Jackson has some glaring weaknesses, but those mainly stem from his 56.6% free throw percentage and questions about his shooting overall. The good news is that his shot is not completely broken like Ball’s and is relatively smooth and shoots on balance. One underrated aspect of his game as well is his burgeoning post game which he would show off throughout the season. This is something that he could easily use to his advantage if he did play at the SG position as his 6’8” frame makes him one of the tallest shooting guards in the league. Jackson is an exceptional talent, and while he is still a little way away from his final form, he’s got one of the highest ceilings of all draft prospects and should leave Laker’s fans salivating at the thought of adding him to their young group of guys.
4 Philadelphia 76ers
Malik Monk – Shooting Guard – Freshman - 6’4 – 19.8 PPG / 2.5 RPG / 2.3 APG - Kentucky
Malik Monk might be the most polished scorer to come out of the NCAA in the last few years (yes even more so that Buddy Hield) as he can score from virtually anywhere and seemingly with ease. There’s no better place to look than Monk’s game against UNC on December 11 where he went 18/28 and 8/12 from 3-point territory for a total of 47 points against the future NCAA champions. While games like this leave little question about his scoring ability, Monk’s average, at best, playmaking and defense raise questions about how successful Monk can be on the next level. That’s why, if the 76ers choose to bypass Monk here and pick Tatum or Jackson (whoever’s available) I can see Monk falling into the back half of the top ten.
Don’t get me wrong, if Monk can translate this scoring ability to the NBA then he’ll be a 22-25 points per game kind of guy, but without improvements elsewhere in his game he’ll never be as great as some of the others in this class have the potential to be.
5 Orlando Magic
Jayson Tatum – Small Forward/Power Forward – Freshman - 6’8 – 16.8 PPG / 7.3 RPG / 2.1 APG - Duke
Undoubtedly one of the more polished scorers in recent memory, with a play style reminiscent of (recently retired) Paul Pierce. His percentages may not jump off the page (45.2% overall and 34.2% from 3), there is much hope to be found in his free throw percentage of 85%, something that again is always a great indicator of shooting potential. He has the height of an average SF at 6’8”, but his 6’11” wingspan should allow him to wreak havoc on the defensive end and allow him to play as a stretch four.
Tatum seems to be the perfect fit on this Magic team who needs help at just about every position outside of PF where Aaron Gordon is slowly coming along. Furthermore, he seems to be a better long-term solution at the SF spot than Terrence Ross who seems to be better off as the first guy off of the bench. If Tatum is still there at five, it’ll be tough to pass him up as he has the potential to be the top player from this draft and already has a high floor as is.
6 Minnesota Timberwolves
Jonathan Isaac – Power Forward – Freshman – 6’10 – 12.0 PPG / 7.8 RPG / 1.2 APG – Florida State
Once again, the Minnesota Timberwolves find themselves competing for ping pong balls. Could adding another piece to an already talent-loaded roster finally lift them out of their playoff drought?
With the sixth selection, Minnesota will benefit most from adding the explosive Jonathan Isaac. He shows promise from three (34.8% at 2.8 attempts per game), and Thibodeau will love his active defense (1.2 STL/game, 1.8 BLK/game). Isaac will bring an immediate presence of rim protection and energy to a defensively-lagging roster.
Isaac will require time to grow into himself, but he projects as an ideal frontcourt partner for Karl-Anthony Towns. Entering next season, Minnesota fans will hope that he represents the final addition of youth to an organization desperately working to escape its thirteen-year playoff hiatus.
7 New York Knicks
De’Aaron Fox – Point Guard – Freshman – 6’4 – 16.7 PPG / 3.9 RPG / 4.6 APG – Kentucky
Despite an egotistical owner and disoriented president, the New York Knicks have managed to retain their draft picks. Rejoice Knicks fans—you can at least benefit from your misery unlike your neighbors in Brooklyn.
Moreover, the Knicks can celebrate if they land De’Aaron Fox. After an outstanding NCAA tournament, which included outdueling Lonzo Ball and outperforming his own teammate Malik Monk, he appears prepared for the limelight of Madison Square Garden. Fox is an explosive athlete who can attack the rim to create for himself and his teammates. While his shooting is a work-in-progress, his quickness and basketball IQ will act as a placeholder in the meantime.
Conversely, Fox is not the ideal fit for Phil Jackson’s triangle. But at this point, does anyone fit the triangle? As long as Dolan and Jackson reside in New York, smart money suggests that the Knicks are miles from becoming a successful organization. However, Fox represents another glimmer of hope alongside Kristaps Porzingis for future management.
8 Sacramento Kings
Dennis Smith Jr. – Point Guard – Freshman – 6’3 – 18.1 PPG / 4.6 RPG / 6.2 APG – NC State
If Sacramento can draft well, the Boogie trade can quickly revert to a successful organizational pivot. Slotted with the eighth and tenth pick, Divac has holes to fill—specifically at the point guard position.
With Fox off the board, Dennis Smith becomes the next point guard up. Despite a disappointing season for NC State, Smith lived up to his five-star expectations in a competitive ACC conference. He’s an explosive athlete and skilled visionary. He is yet to be an elite shooter—35.9% three-point shooting on 4.8 attempts per game—but he was a consistent finisher with a 50.9 FG% and a 71.5% free throw percentage (a common indicator of innate shooting ability).
With the surprisingly impressive play of Hield, Labissiere, and Cauley-Stein, the Kings future is brighter than most expected. Smith adds a playmaker to the mix who can create both for himself and his teammates.
9 Dallas Mavericks
Frank Ntilikina – Point Guard – Amateur (age: 18 years) – 6’5 – 5.2 PPG / 2.0 RPG / 1.3 APG – SIB Strasbourg, France.
Frank Ntilikina projects as the first international player to be called on draft day. As the last top-tier point guard available, expect Dallas—renowned for their international scouting—to scoop up Ntilikina.
Both an athlete and point guard at heart, he possesses the stereotypical pass-first gene of many international guards. But to what extent is this due to an often-maligned jump shot?
Regardless, he manifests potential to become an elite NBA point guard. His unselfish attitude will fit perfectly with Rick Carlisle’s dominating nature. While Seth Curry and Yogi Ferrell both made splashes last season, expect Dallas to groom Ntilikina as their long-term project.
10 Sacramento Kings
Lauri Markkanen – Power Forward – Freshman – 7’0 – 15.6 PPG / 7.2 RPG / 0.9 APG – Arizona
With their second selection, the Kings can complement their frontcourt with an ideal stretch forward in Lauri Markkanen. He shot the three at 43.3% but struggles to protect the rim. He is an average rebounder at best for a seven-footer, but his perimeter-oriented style fits perfectly into the evolving NBA. Moreover, he has the unique ability to pump-fake and take his man off the dribble—easier said than done for a seven-foot 19-year old.
After a tough showing in the NCAA tournament, Sacramento may benefit from his hurt draft stock. His playing style will fit well with Cauley-Stein and Labissiere and could solidify the Kings frontcourt for years to come.
11 Charlotte Hornets
Terrance Ferguson – Shooting Guard – Amateur (Age: 18 years) – 6’7 – 4.6 PPG / 1.2 RPG / 1.2 APG – Adelaide, Australia
Terrance Ferguson will benefit from residing in likely the shallowest position in the upcoming draft. Ferguson spent the past year playing in Australia. Beforehand, he had dominating performances playing for the USA Junior Select Team, including a record-setting seven three-pointer performance in the 2016 championship.
His strongest competition at the shooting guard position will be Luke Kennard; while both are excellent shooters, Ferguson receives the nod for his reputation as an excellent defender paired with his 6’10 wingspan. Ferguson will need to assert himself under Coach Clifford, but between an aging Marco Belinelli and a need for excess floor spacing, expect prompt contribution.
12 Detroit Pistons
OG Anunoby – Small Forward – Freshman - 6’8 – 11.1 PPG / 5.4 RPG / 1.4 APG - Indiana
OG Anunoby is the first real project pick of the draft as he has all-star potential but can only achieve this if he vastly improves his jump-shot. In his sophomore year, he shot a promising 55.7% from the field but a dreadful 31.1% from three and 56.3% from the line, bad signs for a jumper which needs the touch of a shot doctor. What this does tell us is that he’s able to score inside using his upper body strength along with a very solid finishing ability.
The most intriguing aspect to Anunoby lies in his physical attributes which include a 7’6” wingspan and an explosive jumping ability, both of which lend to his stellar defensive play. Perhaps the best prospect to compare him to in recent years in Stanley Johnson of the Detroit Pistons. Looking at these two you can see why Johnson was picked 8th and why Anunoby is projected to go in the lottery, there’s so much potential there that it’s hard to pass up.
13 Denver Nuggets
Rodions Kurucs – Small Forward – Amateur (Age: 19 years) - 6’8 – 9.5 PPG / 2.8 RPG / 1.4 APG - Barcelona
Rodions (Rod) Kurucs is one of those question marks as no one is truly sure where he’ll fall in the draft. The Nuggets showed last year that they are willing to make a stretch pick when they selected Juancho Hernangomez with the 15th overall selection, a pick that looks quite promising for the future. Kurucs fits nicely into the Nuggets long-term plan as he projects to be a solid rotation player down the line and, right now, with Wilson Chandler and (potentially) Danilo Gallinari filling up that Small Forward position, he’ll have plenty of time to grow along with Hernangomez and Malik Beasley.
There’s not a whole lot known about Kurucs outside of the fact that he seems to have it all, a very good jump-shot, good height, solid leaping abilities, and decent handles for a 6’8” Small Forward. He very well could be the next big international prospect or another disappointment like Bargnani. There is much mystery surrounding his potential fit in the NBA, but he should be worth the risk.
14 Miami Heat
Harry Giles – Center – Freshman - 6’11 – 3.9 PPG / 3.8 RPG / 0.3 APG - Duke
Harry Giles came into the season projected to be the number one overall pick as there was immense hype surrounding his height, wingspan, athletic ability, and defensive potential. In a season that was derailed from the start with recovery from an ACL tear, Giles never really found his footing and struggled to find consistent minutes under Coach K.
There is a reason he hasn't fallen further in this mock draft, and that's solely thanks to his preseason hype, much of which was warranted. He’s still a stretch at fourteen but I think a lot of teams will regret passing up on him, much like Skal Labissiere, who tore it up for the Kings once Boogie was traded away. Giles’ versatility makes him a lottery pick and teams (hopefully) know this.
15 Portland Trail Blazers
Zach Collins – Center – Freshman – 7’0 – 10.0 PPG / 5.9 RPG / 0.4 APG – Gonzaga
Collins spent his season stuck behind senior center Przemek Karnowski, but impressed scouts during Gonzaga’s tournament run. Given another season, he would likely have solidified himself as a top-ten talent. At number fifteen, therefore, this is great value for Portland as Collins can score from anywhere on the court and shows a knack for rim protection.
16 Chicago Bulls
Jarrett Allen – Center – Freshman - 6’11 – 13.4 PPG / 8.4 RPG / 0.8 APG - Texas
Jarrett Allen is any coach's dream, he sports a 7’5.5” wingspan and is able to hit a shot from anywhere inside the three-point arc (and with solid mechanics as well). He won’t be the quickest or biggest center in the league, but there is much to be happy about with his game. As previously mentioned he has the potential to expand his jump-shot out to the three-point line as well as the ability to finish around the basket, something that more and more centers can do in today’s game. His wingspan will also be extremely helpful in rim protection, something the Bulls desperately need with Robin Lopez being their one solid big.
17 Milwaukee Bucks
Justin Patton – Center – Freshman - 7’0 – 12.9 PPG / 6.1 RPG / 1.2 APG - Creighton
Patton is a 7-footer with great footspeed, a good post game, and a wingspan to be reckoned with. He fits in nicely with the Bucks craving for lengthy talent. Patton also allows Thon Maker to move over to the four spot if the Bucks wish and then they can trot out a lineup with 3 seven footers in Giannis, Thon, and Patton. With Henson no longer looking to be in the Bucks long term plans and a need for a more permanent solution at the Center position than Monroe, Patton seems to be the perfect player to slide into the Bucks rotation.
18 Indiana Pacers
TJ Leaf – Power Forward – Freshman – 6’10 – 16.3 PPG / 8.2 RPG / 2.4 APG – UCLA
Standing at 6’10 and with a 46.6% three-point shooting percentage, Leaf depicts the quintessential stretch-4. However, he needs to convince GMs that he can handle the defensive physicality of the NBA. In Indiana, you have a roster with Thad Young, Myles Turner, and Kevin Seraphin already in place, which will offer Leaf a developmental period as he physically matures.
19 Atlanta Hawks
Ivan Rabb – Power Forward/Center – Sophomore - 6’10 – 14 PPG / 10.5 RPG / 1.5 APG - CAL
Rabb made the unfortunate decision to not declare for the NBA draft last year and has since regressed, leading to his fall from a potential lottery pick last year to a late first rounder this year. He has all the tools to be successful in the NBA but is still clearly underdeveloped and needs someone to take the time to work with him every day. He’s certainly no Center in the NBA, at least not right away, with his skinny frame, but his 7’2” wingspan is certainly nothing to scoff at. With Paul Millsap and Ersan Ilyasova potentially gone, the Hawks could have no depth whatsoever at the PF position, making Rabb an ideal pick.
20 Portland Trail Blazers
Donovan Mitchell – Shooting Guard – 6’3 – 15.6 PPG / 4.9 RPG / 2.7 APG - Louisville
Donovan Mitchell is a dynamic scorer who can take you inside and take you outside. While he only shot 40.8% on the season and a disappointing 35.4% from three, he did show marked improvement on his three-point shot from his freshman to sophomore year, showing a dedication to improve his outside shot. He doesn’t have much playmaking ability, something that would have helped Mitchell rise in the draft and historically volume scorers in college don’t always translate well in the NBA. The Blazers do need some bench help in any way they can get it, and Mitchell could end up being a potent bench scorer a la Jamal Crawford.
21 Oklahoma City Thunder
Justin Jackson – Forward – Junior – 6’8 – 18.3 PPG / 4.7 RPG / 2.8 APG – UNC
After three years at UNC, Jackson can bring an immediate presence as a shooting wing, something OKC desperately needs around Westbrook. However, weighing in at a mere 193lbs, he needs to add weight to compete defensively.
22 Brooklyn Nets
Isaiah Hartenstein – Power Foward/Center – Amateur (age: 19 years) - 7’0 – 5.2 PPG /4.1 RPG /0.7 APG - Zalgiris
One of the bigger question marks in the draft as he saw little playing time overseas but plays with a certain intensity that is unmistakable and this fire will help him immensely in the NBA. This guy is quite impressive when taken at face value – a 7-footer that is supremely athletic and can also shoot the ball from the FIBA 3-point line effectively. He also displays an ability to find the open man often, a great sign for anyone, especially a seven-footer. Being such a big question mark he could end up being a Porzingis-lite or he could be a Milicic-lite, but either way Sean Marks will have no one questioning this pick.
23 Toronto Raptors
Caleb Swanigan – Power Forward/Center – Sophomore - 6’9 – 18.5 PPG / 12.5 RPG / 3.0 APG - Purdue
Swanigan is one of the top talents in college, there’s no doubt about it. His biggest problem stems from the fact that he’s much like Anthony Bennett as in he will be a tweener in the NBA – not built for the SF position but not quite tall enough for the PF position. Swanigan certainly is a big boy that can bang down low, but even with his large wingspan, taller opponents won’t have too much trouble shooting over him in the post. He almost certainly will never be a star in the league but can be a reliable rotation player at the least.
24 Orlando Magic (via Toronto)
Luke Kennard – Shooting Guard – Sophomore – 6’5 – 19.5 PPG / 5.1 RPG / 2.5 APG – Duke
Orlando is an organizational mess—one year they zig, the next they zag. Luke Kennard is as close to a sure thing the Magic will find this late in the draft. He can provide instant offense through his proficient shooting and creative ability to score out of the pick-and-roll. The Magic should consider themselves lucky if they can snag Kennard at 24.
25 Utah Jazz
John Collins – Power Forward – Sophomore – 6’10 – 19.2 PPG / 9.8 RPG / 0.5 APG – Wake Forest
Similar to Orlando, Utah is stumbling upon a steal if Collins can slip this low. Collins is an athletic defender and efficient scorer. His main criticism comes from his inability to shoot the three and thus struggle to fit into the modern NBA pace-and-space style.
26 Portland Trail Blazers
Ike Anigbogu – Center – Freshman – 6’10 – 4.7 PPG / 4.0 RPG / 0.2 APG – UCLA
Anigbogu received thirteen minutes per game at UCLA, but NBA teams will fall in love with his potential. Given time, he can become an elite NBA defender. As Portland’s third first-round pick, Anigbogu will enter with low expectations and should be given a lengthy developmental period.
27 Brooklyn Nets
DJ Wilson – Power Forward – Junior – 6’10 – 11.0 PPG / 5.3 RPG / 1.3 APG – Michigan
Through impressive Big Ten and NCAA tournament runs, DJ Wilson caught the NBA’s attention. Standing at 6’10 with an athletic build, Wilson offers positional versatility playing at either forward position. If he can knock down shots in workouts, watch for his draft stock to rise.
28 Los Angeles Lakers
Semi Ojeleye – Small Forward – Junior - 6’7 – 19.0 PPG / 6.9 RPG / 1.5 APG - SMU
Another volume scorer who has great athletic ability, Ojeleye can be a dynamic scorer off of any bench. The Lakers certainly could use any extra help on the wings as they are currently relying on Nick Young and a way past his prime Luol Deng for their wing scoring off the bench. 29 Edrice “Bam” Adebayo – Center – Freshman – 6’9 – 13.0 PPG / 8.0 RPG / 0.8 APG – Kentucky Bam is an explosive athlete who will earn playing time with effective rim protection and rebounding. At 6’9 teams struggle to classify him at his natural position as a center, but an organization like San Antonio will use him in the appropriate role and quickly fall in love with his hard-working nature.
29 San Antonio Spurs
Edrice “Bam” Adebayo – Center – Freshman – 6’9 – 13.0 PPG / 8.0 RPG / 0.8 APG – Kentucky
Bam is an explosive athlete who will earn playing time with effective rim protection and rebounding. At 6’9 teams struggle to classify him at his natural position as a center, but an organization like San Antonio will use him in the appropriate role and quickly fall in love with his hard-working nature.
30 Utah Jazz
Dwayne Bacon – Shooting Guard/Small Forward – Sophomore - 6’5 17.2 PPG / 4.2 RPG / 1.7 APG - FSU
Honestly, with the 30th pick in the draft, your chance of striking gold is insanely small, but someone like Bacon could be a productive wing that helps bolster the Jazz bench. He’s lengthy with a 6’9.5” wingspan, which will lend itself to his improvement as a defender and he’s got the ability to shoot the ball--vital components in becoming a coveted 3 and D player that every team can use.