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2017 NBA Mock Draft: Predictions for Where 1st-Round Prospects Will Land – Bleacher Report

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 16: Draft prospects Markelle Fultz and Josh Jackson poses for portraits prior to the 2017 NBA Draft Lottery at the NBA Headquarters in New York, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty Images)

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The NBA draft lottery is over and the order is set, which means it’s time for a deep dive into a fresh mock draft. So let’s do that first, before we go into detail on how the early picks could play out come June 22.

2017 NBA Mock Draft
1. Boston Celtics Markelle Fultz, G, Washington
2. Los Angeles Lakers Lonzo Ball, G, UCLA
3. Philadelphia 76ers Josh Jackson, F, Kansas
4. Phoenix Suns Jayson Tatum, F, Duke
5. Sacramento Kings De’Aaron Fox, G, Kentucky
6. Orlando Magic Dennis Smith Jr., G, NC State
7. Minnesota Timberwolves Jonathan Isaac, F, Florida State
8. New York Knicks Frank Ntilikina, G, Strasbourg
9. Dallas Mavericks Lauri Markkanen, F, Arizona
10. Sacramento Kings Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga
11. Charlotte Hornets Malik Monk, G, Kentucky
12. Detroit Pistons Donovan Mitchell, G, Louisville
13. Denver Nuggets O.G. Anunoby, F, Indiana
14. Miami Heat Justin Jackson, F, North Carolina
15. Portland Trail Blazers Jarrett Allen, C, Texas
16. Chicago Bulls Luke Kennard, G, Duke
17. Milwaukee Bucks Harry Giles, C, Duke
18. Indiana Pacers Justin Patton, C, Creighton
19. Atlanta Hawks Ivan Rabb, F, California
20. Portland Trail Blazers Terrance Ferguson, G, Adelaide
21. Oklahoma City Thunder Jonathan Jeanne, C, Nancy
22. Brooklyn Nets Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA
23. Toronto Raptors Rodions Kurucs, F, Barcelona
24. Utah Jazz Tyler Lydon, F, Syracuse
25. Orlando Magic T.J. Leaf, F, UCLA
26. Portland Trail Blazers Isaiah Hartenstein, F, Zalgiris
27. Brooklyn Nets Jawun Evans, G, Oklahoma State
28. Los Angeles Lakers Bam Adebayo, C, Kentucky
29. San Antonio Spurs Jordan Bell, F, Oregon
30. Utah Jazz Semi Ojeleye, F, SMU

Let’s be honest—this year’s draft starts with the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Boston Celtics are going to draft Markelle Fultz. He’s the best player in this draft and fits alongside Isaiah Thomas. And they really shouldn’t trade the pick for an established superstar like Jimmy Butler or Paul George, since there’s no guarantee of re-signing those players and it won’t make them better than the Cleveland Cavaliers or Golden State Warriors anyway.

But, hey, that’s a different article.

Then there is the No. 2 pick. And, come on, do you really think the Los Angeles Lakers will pass on Lonzo Ball? Will Magic Johnson, king of the showtime, pass up an exciting facilitator like Ball? Especially since D’Angelo Russell can either be moved to shooting guard—an experiment the team toyed with late in the season—or traded for veteran help?

The pick will be Ball. There’s a case to be made for De’Aaron Fox, who outplayed Ball twice this season and would give the team a far superior perimeter defender. And Josh Jackson would fit, given how awful the Lakers are on defense.

But it’s going to be Ball. We all know it’s going to be Ball. It practically feels preordained to be Ball.

So we move to the Sixers, who at No. 3 landed in a great spot and a rough spot all at once.

It’s a great spot because there are still a number of elite players available, including Fox, Jackson and Jayson Tatum. It’s a rough spot because none of those players are a perfect fit for the Sixers, unlike both Fultz and Ball, who both would have slid into the team seamlessly.

Fox and Jackson, for instance, aren’t great shooters, and the Sixers really need shooting to complement Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Both players seem best suited next to guys who can space the floor and capitalize open looks on the perimeter. 

In that regard, Tatum is perhaps a somewhat better fit. He shot 45.2 percent from the field last year and 34.2 percent from beyond the arc. His shot doesn’t appear to be broken or flawed in any way, and he should grow into an excellent mid-range scorer and serviceable three-point threat. 

But Tatum is an isolation player. And given that Simmons is at his best running the offense and facilitating—and Embiid will need plenty of touches as well—an iso scorer isn’t necessarily what the Sixers require. Tatum could perhaps grow into a better spot-up shooter, but his bread and butter in the NBA will be his iso scoring, which could be wasted in Philly.

Jackson, meanwhile, would make the Sixers downright filthy on defense, giving them incredible length and the ability to switch everything. Imagine a lineup of Embiid, Simmons, Jackson, Robert Covington—who emerged as an elite defender in 2016-17—and whoever they start at “point guard.” The length, athleticism and defensive potential of that lineup is awesome. 

Plus, Jackson is dynamic in transition and would give the team a nice slasher to the basket. And he actually shot 37.8 percent from beyond the arc, another positive.

But there are two concerns in that regard. The first is that his shooting motion will need to be fixed. It’s downright ugly, and has enough hitches that it probably will become an issue at the next level. The second is that he shot 56.6 percent from the free-throw line this year.

Given that free-throw percentage is often a solid indicator of how a player’s shot might translate at the next level—Kawhi Leonard, for instance, shot just 29.1 percent from beyond the arc in college but 74.4 percent from the free-throw line—there are real concerns with Jackson’s shot going forward.

Finally there’s Fox, who was a dreadful three-point shooter in college—24.6 percent—but shot 73.6 percent from the free-throw line and doesn’t appear to have anything wrong with his shooting motion. There’s reason to believe that with NBA coaching and a dedication to improvement, Fox could easily become a solid shooter at the next level.

He’s also an absolute blur and fantastic athlete, and the combination of Simmons and Fox in transition would be thrilling. But there are very real concerns about how productive Fox would be in the halfcourt playing off the ball, which would be his role next to Simmons, especially if his shot doesn’t come around.

Fox is likely going to be at his best when he can have the ball in his hands and break opponents down off the dribble, finishing at the rim or creating scoring chances by collapsing an opponent’s defense and kicking the ball back out to his teammates. He may see less of those chances playing next to Simmons.

Add it all up, and Jackson feels like the best combination of fit, talent and upside. Brett Brown values defense, and Jackson would make them dynamic in that regard. And if they can rework his jumper, he has Leonard-type upside as a two-way star. 

The Sixers drafting Jackson will be a bummer for the Phoenix Suns—where he’d be a perfect fit as a secondary playmaker and running mate to Devin Booker, drastically improving the team’s defense in the process—but Tatum will be a solid consolation prize. The Sacramento Kings will probably be thrilled to see Fox at No. 5, meanwhile, where he’ll fit perfectly next to Buddy Hield. 

The Orlando Magic will have some interesting options at No. 6, but the tantalizing upside and athleticism of Dennis Smith Jr.—coupled with the uninspiring play of Elfrid Payton—make him a nice fit. At No. 7, Jonathan Isaac is a match made in heaven for the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he’ll slide in between Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins and give the team the dynamic defender it needs in that spot.

The New York Knicks will have to make a tough decision at No. 8: Draft a combo guard tailor-made for Phil Jackson’s beloved and outdated triangle offense in Frank Ntilikina, or an offensive dynamo and sharpshooter like Malik Monk to pair with Kristaps Porzingis?

Don’t be surprised if the Knicks stick with their triangle philosophy and go Ntilikina. 

That could cause a slide out of the top 10 for Monk. The Mavericks could draft him, but they may be tempted to go after a player in the mold of franchise legend Dirk Nowitzki in Lauri Markkanen, who would pair nicely with Nerlens Noel to give the team their frontcourt of the future. And given how enamored the Kings are with Hield, they may address a different position rather than shooting guard at No. 10.

If that’s their mindset, Zach Collins would make a lot of sense. They could also gamble on high-risk, high-reward prospects like O.G. Anunoby or Harry Giles, though No. 10 probably would be a bit high to take that plunge, especially given the team’s dearth of talent.

So, yes, Monk could drop all the way to No. 11, where the Charlotte Hornets would happily add him on value alone. But this would also be a fascinating spot for the Sixers—loaded with a bevy of draft picks and solid young role players—to perhaps move back into the first round and go after the shooter they desperately need.

If Monk drops out of the top 10, the Hornets will have a slew of suitors for their pick besides the Sixers. With the talent pool dropping off a bit after the top 11 in this draft, that pick should be another pressure point, much like No. 3.

Source: world

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