2017 NBA Mock Draft 2.0

In our second Mock Draft, we provide our predictions for the 2017 NBA Draft, as well as insight into each selection. The 2017 NBA Draft takes places at 7 pm, June 22 on ESPN.

Welcome to the Hashtag Basketball 2017 NBA Mock Draft 2.0.

In our second Mock Draft, fellow writer Andrew Buchanan (@andrewb248) and I provide our predictions for the 2017 NBA Draft, as well as insight into each selection. The 2017 NBA Draft takes places at 7pm, June 22 on ESPN.

1 Philadelphia 76ers (from Boston/Brooklyn)

Markelle Fultz – Point Guard – Freshman – 6’4 – 23.2 PPG / 5.7 RPG / 5.9 APG – Washington

Markelle Fultz offers the 76ers 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 biggest hole that the 76ers have: the point guard position. 

There is a zero percent chance that the 76ers take anyone else at the one spot as they have yet to work out Ball and could have selected Tatum or Jackson at number three.  With a team that will sport three of the four best prospects in the past three years, the 76ers are taking the next step to making noise in a competitive Eastern Conference that is looking for a clear number two team behind Cleveland.  Markelle Fultz is one of the final pieces that will turn Hinkie’s dream into a reality.

2 Los Angeles Lakers

Lonzo Ball – Point Guard – Freshman - 6’6 – 14.6 PPG /6.0 RPG / 7.6 APG - UCLA

With a new regime led by President Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka, the Los Angeles Lakers are primed for an accelerated rebuild. They caught a break by sneaking past the Suns for the second pick, which leaves local legend Lonzo Ball all but a Laker. While recent reports suggest that there is genuine interest in Josh Jackson or De’Aaron Fox at number two, consider these rumors nothing more than a smokescreen. The Lakers are in the midst of another potential franchise-changing player.

Lonzo Ball’s playing style consists of selfless playmaking and efficient scoring. In his sole season, he shot 41.2% from three on 5.4 attempts per game; more impressively, he managed 7.6 assists per game. Ball carries himself with a calming air of confidence and diligent decision-making—unlike his rather repugnant father.

However, under the daily NBA scrutiny, Lonzo will need to become more aggressive to quiet his non-believers. He averaged a measly 2.7 free throws per game at UCLA and had a couple of rather dispiriting performances in tournament play (Arizona and Kentucky). Moreover, Lonzo depends on his height (6’6) for shooting separation—an advantage that he will no longer hold. But Coach Luke Walton will continue to replicate the Golden State Warrior cohesive culture offering Lonzo Ball an ideal system to develop into the star that many predict he will become. 

3 Boston Celtics (from Philadelphia)

Josh Jackson – Small Forward/Power Forward – Freshman - 6’8 – 16.3 PPG / 7.4 RPG / 3.0 APG - Kansas

Only four years ago, Danny Ainge began flipping players for assets to accelerate his organization’s rebuild into a championship contender.  This year was a little different as he traded away the top pick in order to gather even more assets by moving back in this year’s draft.  With an already established roster, the Celtics are best served to shoot for the moon, rather than search for a system fit.  Therefore the Celtics have been torn, according to reports, between Jayson Tatum and Josh Jackson, the best prospects available at number three.  Jackson, however, seems to be the best fit in terms of what Ainge is looking for. 

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.

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 as aesthetically broken like Ball’s, as it is relatively smooth and balanced--his release point is what needs to be fixed. 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 Celtic’s fans salivating at the thought of adding him to their young group of guys (if Ainge doesn’t trade this pick away as well that is).

4 Phoenix Suns

Jayson Tatum – Small Forward/Power Forward – Freshman - 6’8 – 16.8 PPG / 7.3 RPG / 2.1 APG - Duke

The Suns currently have potential, or an established starter, at every position – Tyler Ulis and Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker, TJ Warren, Marquese Chriss, and Dragan Bender – which points to the idea that they will draft the best player available who, in this case, seems to be Jayson Tatum.  Tatum, along with being the BPA, also has a much higher ceiling than TJ Warren and may be able to wrestle the starting spot away within his first two seasons.  Also, with Bledsoe already established as a high-caliber point guard, there seems to be little reason to pick De’Aaron Fox whose ceiling seems to be only slightly better than Bledsoe. And so with Tatum, they get to shore up their (potentially) weakest position going forward.

Tatum is also 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), but 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.

5 Sacramento Kings

De’Aaron Fox – Point Guard – Freshman – 6’4 – 16.7 PPG / 3.9 RPG / 4.6 APG – Kentucky

Despite having one of the worst front offices in the past decade the Sacramento Kings finally have a core that they can be somewhat happy with going forward. The addition of Fox as well will do a lot to help Kings fans regain faith in their team and front office.  The Kings have many holes in their starting lineup, specifically at the point guard and small forward positions, and Fox does much to plug one of those glaring holes.  If drafted by the Kings, Fox will have free rein on offense as they are still searching for an identity and he’ll be able to adjust to the NBA pace much faster than some of his draft counterparts who will be forced to take a backseat to more established players.

6 Orlando Magic

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 than Buddy Hield) as he can score from virtually anywhere 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 and potential, Monk’s average (at best) playmaking, ball-handling, and defense raise questions about how successful Monk can be on the next level.

The Magic, whether they choose Monk over Jonathan Isaac or not, will be front and center in terms of decision-making judgment as they cannot afford anymore draft misses, and if Monk turns out to be another bust then don’t expect John Hammond to last all five years that are on his contract. 

With a lineup currently consisting of Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier, Terrence Ross, Aaron Gordon, and Nicola Vucevic, there is a very low chance that any one of these players ever becomes good enough to become an All-Star, much less a franchise player, thus making all of them replaceable.  Monk, while having a decent bust potential could also cap out at a similar skill level as CJ McCollum, a type of player who would help open the floor for Payton to create and for Gordon to score.

7 Minnesota Timberwolves

Jonathan Isaac – Power Forward – Freshman – 6’10 – 12.0 PPG / 7.8 RPG / 1.2 APG – Florida State

Tom Thibodeau may shed tears of joy if Isaac falls to seven. Isaac is an analytical darling, ranking as high as one overall on some analytic-based big boards. He has a semi-reliable three-point shot to complement his 7’1 wingspan and highly active defense (1.2 STL/game; 1.8 BLK/game). He will bring Minnesota an immediate presence of rim protection and energy to a defensively-lagging roster.

Isaac will require time to grow into himself; he is still very raw as a prospect. However, he projects as the perfect frontcourt partner for Karl-Anthony Towns. Entering the upcoming season, Minnesota fans will pray that he represents the final addition of youth to an organization desperately working to pry itself from a thirteen-year playoff drought.

8 New York Knicks

Dennis Smith Jr. – Point Guard – Freshman – 6’3 – 18.1 PPG / 4.6 RPG / 6.2 APG – NC State

Despite an egotistical owner and a 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 manage to draft Dennis Smith Jr—the roster is in desperate need of a point guard. Expect for Derrick Rose to be gone after free agency, not that he ever was the long-term solution in New York. Meanwhile, Dennis Smith Jr. has become an underrated prospect due to a losing season at North Carolina State.

Smith is an explosive athlete and a 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. Assuming that the Porzingis trade rumors are immaterial, it seems that somehow Knicks fans have stumbled upon a surprisingly bright future between Porzingis and Smith.

9 Dallas Mavericks

Lauri Markkanen – Power Forward – Freshman – 7’0 – 15.6 PPG / 7.2 RPG / 0.9 APG – Arizona

With the ninth selection, Mark Cuban is reaching for his Dirk Nowitzki replacement. While living in the shadow of Dirk could seriously darken Markkanen’s career, playing alongside Dirk presents an opportunity for invaluable mentorship. Many mock drafts project Dallas selecting a point guard. While their need for a point guard is legitimate, expect them to scour both the free agent and trade markets in search for a point guard to complement Yogi Ferrell and J.J. Barea.

On the court, Carlisle can immediately use Markkanen to spell Dirk as his minutes will continue to decrease. Markkanen is a prolific three-point shooter and 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. Moreover, his defensive struggles leave him as the perfect long-term fit with the defensive-minded Nerlens Noel.

10 Sacramento Kings

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.  While being picked tenth is perhaps a stretch, he’s the perfect combination of fit and potential that this Kings team desperately needs, especially with the expected departure of Rudy Gay.

11 Charlotte Hornets

Frank Ntilikina – Point Guard – Amateur (Age: 18 years) – 6’5 – 5.2 PPG / 2.0 RPG / 1.3 APG – SIB Strasbourg, France.

Frank possesses one of the rarest measurables in a guard: an incredibly long wingspan.  In fact, Frank’s wingspan was recently measured at 7-foot 1-inch which is the longest wingspan for his position amongst all active players.  Having such an incredibly long wingspan will obviously help him turn into a lockdown defender at the guard position, something that any team could use.  He has plenty of weaknesses though, his shooting is sub-par, his ball-handling is quite weak, and his passing is average at best.  None of these are things that you want in a modern-day point guard, but his potential is what will get him drafted. 

The Hornets need help at the guard position as they really only have Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum (who’s more of a forward anyway) and if Frank ends up reaching his potential he’ll be a perfect complement to Kemba as he’ll be able to relax more on defense and not have to guard the likes of John Wall or Steph Curry.

12 Detroit Pistons

Luke Kennard – Shooting Guard – Sophomore – 6’5 – 19.5 PPG / 5.1 RPG / 2.5 APG – Duke

With Luke Kennard, Stan Van Gundy comes one step closer to recreating his own history. In Orlando, Van Gundy leveraged the once-dominate Dwight Howard by surrounding him with a plethora of shooters.

Luke Kennard is likely one of the top two shooters in this draft. Kennard shot 44% from three on five attempts per game, while also knocking down 85% of his free throws (might become a broken record but... NBA shooting ability indicator). However, many fail to acknowledge his innate ability to prick-and-prod in the pick and roll. Van Gundy will love his ability as a secondary ball-handler, and having Drummond behind him will help mitigate his defensive deficiencies.

13 Denver Nuggets

Justin Jackson – Forward – Junior – 6’8 – 18.3 PPG / 4.7 RPG / 2.8 APG – UNC

Denver already holds a handful of young and developing players, so it’s appropriate that they draft an established player in Jackson. Denver has taken on enough risk in players such as Murray, Harris, Mudiay, Beasley, Jokic, and Hernangomez. Denver is looking to make a playoff push this season, and Jackson brings a recognizable face and a relatively mature presence to such a youthful locker room.

In his third year at UNC, Jackson knocked down 37% of this three-pointers, converted 75% of his free throws and hit a field goal percentage on 51%, all on a 25.7% usage rate. At 6’8, 193 pounds he needs to add weight to compete defensively, but he brings a sense of dependable offense. Of course, if Denver resigns Gallinari he may struggle for playing time, but consider this our prediction that Gallinari’s future resides elsewhere.

14 Miami Heat

Donovan Mitchell – Shooting Guard – Sophomore – 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 improving 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 Heat, however, can certainly use some extra help off the bench as they were relying on some low-level rookies and veterans to play the best basketball of their lives in order to push them to their 41-41 record.

15 Portland Trail Blazers

Zach Collins – Center – Freshman – 7’0 – 10.0 PPG / 5.9 RPG / 0.4 APG – Gonzaga

While Collins has been steadily rising on draft boards, his lack of exposure at Gonzaga may deter teams from taking an early risk on him. Portland meanwhile has three draft picks and a hole in their frontcourt. Collins is a big who can immediately stretch the floor alongside Lillard and McCollum while protecting the rim on defense. Furthermore, Collins ranks in many big boards as a top ten prospect, and would likely be a lottery selection if he had spent another year in college. Collins is an absolute steal for Portland at 15.

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 as he sports a 7’5.5” wingspan and the ability 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 is highly coveted 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

Harry Giles – Power Forward / Center – Freshman - 6’11 – 3.9 PPG / 3.8 RPG / 0.3 APG - Duke

Harry Giles entered his freshman year with the expectations of becoming a future top draft pick. Between his height, wingspan, athletic ability and defensive potential, scouts were convinced he a star was in the making. His season, however, was quickly derailed with an ACL tear, greatly diminishing his draft value.

Giles fits perfectly into the Milwaukee mold as a long and athletic defender. Moreover, the organization already has its future pieces in place leaving all the more reason to take a risk. If Giles develops into anything close to a star, the Bucks have struck gold again. If not, it seems that they’ll be okay on the back of the Greek Freak.

18 Indiana Pacers

John Collins – Power Forward – Sophomore – 6’10 – 19.2 PPG / 9.8 RPG / 0.5 APG – Wake Forest

Collins is somewhat of an unknown it seems in this draft despite averaging 19.2 PPG and 9.8 RPG as he’s projected outside of the lottery.  In Collins, you get an athletic (yet somewhat undersized) defender and efficient under-the-basket scorer yet scouts are unsure how his talents will translate into the NBA game where shooting reigns supreme.

19 Atlanta Hawks

Justin Patton – Center – Freshman - 7’0 – 12.9 PPG / 6.1 RPG / 1.2 APG - Creighton

Patton is a 7-footer with nice footspeed, a solid post game, and a wingspan to be reckoned with. He fits in perfectly with the Hawks as their Dwight Howard replacement.  If Patton makes it down this far in the draft, the Hawks could come away with the steal of the draft as his potential is as good as it’ll get at number 19.

20 Portland Trail Blazers

Terrance Ferguson – Shooting Guard – Amateur (Age: 18 years) – 6’7 – 4.6 PPG / 1.2 RPG / 1.2 APG – Adelaide, Australia

Terrance Ferguson is a long and athletic guard with a promising shot and enough leaping ability to hang with anyone. Scouts specifically highlight his defensive potential while noting his record-setting seven three-pointer performance for the USA Junior Select Team in the 2016 championship. 

Meanwhile, General Manager Neil Olshey has publically acknowledged the difficult nature in attracting star free agents to Portland. Thus, Portland must shoot for the stars in the draft. Ferguson needs to add strength while solidifying his three-point shot, but at this point, he offers the starriest potential of any remaining wing prospects.

21 Oklahoma City Thunder

TJ Leaf – Power Forward – Freshman – 6’10 – 16.3 PPG / 8.2 RPG / 2.4 APG – UCLA 

Standing at 6’10 and sporting 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. Oklahoma City offers him a defensive safeguard in Steven Adams and his spacing will be appreciated alongside Russell Westbrook.

22 Brooklyn Nets

Ike Anigbogu – Center – Freshman – 6’10 – 4.7 PPG / 4.0 RPG / 0.2 APG – UCLA

Anigbogu only received thirteen minutes per game at UCLA, but NBA teams have fallen in love with his potential, especially on the defensive end. Given time, he can become an elite NBA defender. If drafted by the Nets, Anigbogu will be given plenty of minutes to develop, especially following the recent Brook Lopez trade, and a good development staff which has seen marked improvements of its bargain bin of players.

23 Toronto Raptors

DJ Wilson – Power Forward – Junior – 6’10 – 11.0 PPG / 5.3 RPG / 1.3 APG – Michigan

DJ Wilson garnered attention after an impressive run in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments. He can play either forward position, knock down shots and has the length and athleticism to become a defensive disruptor. Selecting Wilson at 23 is a swing for the fences, but that’s commonplace for General Manager Masai Ujiri. Moreover, with Toronto incapable of resigning their surplus of free agents, Wilson is an ideal replacement that comes on a rookie contract.

24 Utah Jazz

Tony Bradley – Center – Freshman – 6'10 – 6.9 PPG / 5.1 RPG / 0.6 APG - UNC

Bradley is a player who has flown under the radar for most of the year yet has risen recently on many draft boards.  Bradley sports a 7’5” wingspan as well as decent footspeed, two things that are highly coveted in a game that features a lot of pick and rolls.  There is a lot of upside in Bradley, especially if he’s picked by the Jazz as he will learn from Rudy Gobert, the best defensive center in the league.

25 Orlando Magic (via Toronto)

Frank Jackson – Point Guard – Freshman – 6’3 – 10.9 PPG / 2.5 RPB / 1.7 APG – Duke

After selecting Malik Monk with the fifth pick, John Hammond can complete his youthful backcourt with point guard Frank Jackson. Jackson entered Duke as a five-star prospect ranked tenth overall in the nation. At 6’4 with a 6’7 wingspan, he fulfills John Hammond’s desire for length. And while he represents a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ style point guard, his well-rounded nature can make for an ideal back-up. Between Jackson, Monk, and Payton, Hammond can quickly solidify a future backcourt.

26 Portland Trail Blazers

Anzejs Pasecniks – Center – Amateur (Age: 21 years) –7’1 – 7.2 PPG / 3.0 RPG / 0.2 APG – Herbalife Gran Canaria, Spain

With their third pick, Anzejs Pasecniks is Portland’s ideal draft and stash candidate. It remains up for debate whether he will immediately enter the NBA—expect the Blazers to push for another year or two in Europe. Moreover, Pasecniks offers great upside and he will receive little pressure to quickly develop as a late first round pick. 

Pasecniks is a mobile seven-footer. He is capable of finishing with either hand at the rim and has shown flashes of a potential jump shot. While he needs to add muscle to prepare for the NBA’s physicality, Portland is still seeking Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum’s interior counterpart.

27 Los Angeles Lakers (via Brooklyn)

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 with his second of three picks, Magic Johnson can take a risk on a potential boom or bust candidate in Hartenstein.

28 Los Angeles Lakers

Ivan Rabb – Power Forward/Center – Sophomore - 6’10 – 14 PPG / 10.5 RPG / 1.5 APG - CAL

A year ago, Ivan Rabb made the unfortunate decision to spend another year in college and has since seen his draft stock regress. He began as a potential lottery and is now projected to go late in the first round, at best. But while his sophomore season manifested a physically unprepared basketball player, it featured a few positive trends.

Rabb improved in all of the major statistical categories: rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and points per game. While his turnovers slightly increased and his field goal percentage declined, he averaged an extra five minutes per game with an increased usage rate of nearly 4%. While he no longer carries lottery potential, at number 28, Rabb is a low-risk gamble with the tools to become a success story for Magic Johnson and the Lakers.

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 through 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

Semi Ojeleye – Small Forward – Junior - 6’7 – 19.0 PPG / 6.9 RPG / 1.5 APG - SMU

A volume scorer who has great athletic ability, Ojeleye can be a dynamic scorer off of any bench. The Jazz certainly could use any extra help on the wings as they are currently relying on Joe Johnson, who very well may leave in the offseason, for their off the bench scoring.  With the possible departure of Gordon Hayward, the Jazz will want to hedge their bets with a player like Ojeleye.

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