The NBA Draft Combine will begin in Chicago on May 9, 2017. The NBA Draft Lottery will take place on May 16, 2017. And the actual NBA Draft will be held on June 22, 2017. Below is my first round mock draft.
1. Boston Celtics – Markelle Fultz (Washington G): Fultz has unquestionably been one of the best freshman in the country, and would be more well recognized if he was playing for a NCAA Tournament contender. However, his 23.2 points, 6.0 assists, and 6.0 rebounds per game, are hard to ignore. He will be a top-5 pick, and would fit in nicely with the Celtics backcourt alongside Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley.
2. Phoenix Suns – Lonzo Ball (UCLA G): The Ball Family has become extremely well known because of Lonzo’s success at UCLA, and his two brothers big time scoring outputs in high school. Even though it seems like style over substance at times, Ball has the potential to be an incredible NBA talent. He is averaging 15.4 points and 7.6 assists, while leading his team to a 23-3 record thus far. Phoenix, who needs a point guard to play next to Devin Booker, will likely take who remains between Fultz and Ball.
3. Los Angeles Lakers – Jonathan Isaac (Florida State F): Isaac has been putting up solid numbers during his freshman year in Tallahassee, but the potential upside is what has NBA executives salivating. He is 6’10, 210 pounds, and has the ability to stretch the floor which is becoming more and more necessary in today’s league.
4. Philadelphia 76ers – Josh Jackson (Kansas F): Jackson came into the season as one of a handful of players that were considered to be possible No. 1 overall picks, and he is still near the top of the board. Jackson was able to stay focused after struggling for the first few weeks of the season, and is now averaging 16.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game. He is arguably the most athletic player in the draft pool and would create a fun-to-watch 76ers team with Ben Simmons, Nerlens Noel, and Joel Embiid.
5. Orlando Magic – Dennis Smith Jr. (NC State G): Smith Jr. is in the same boat as Fultz in that he will not be playing on a NCAA Tournament team, but that does not take away from the player he is and could become. Smith Jr., who has averaged 19.0 points and 6.7 assists per game, reminds me a lot of Chris Paul because of his ability to attack the rim and find his teammates. Orlando would likely be overjoyed with drafting Smith Jr. to be their franchise point guard.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves – Malik Monk (Kentucky G): Monk is one of the premier scorers in the nation at the college level and if it can translate to the league, he should fit in nicely. However, his on-ball defense needs improvement.
7. New Orleans Pelicans – Robert Williams (Texas A&M F): Williams has emerged as one of the top freshman in the country and has been a force in the SEC, and if he lands in New Orleans, he would learn from some of the best in Demarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis.
8. Dallas Mavericks – De’Aaron Fox (Kentucky G): Fox is already a great passer, if he can hit outside shots consistently in the NBA, he’ll be a big-time player. Dallas needs a point guard desperately as Deron Williams is quickly aging.
9. Sacramento Kings – Jayson Tatum (Duke F): Tatum has looked great, especially lately for Duke, and already has a NBA-type body and range. However, the Kings may decide to look elsewhere, possibly for a big man to replace Cousins.
10. New York Knicks – Harry Giles (Duke F): Giles was the No. 1 recruit coming into 2016-17 but after multiple ACL injuries and struggling to fit in with the Blue Devils, so far, he has a long way to go. Although, if he can reach his full potential, Giles is an All-Star.
11. Milwaukee Bucks – Lauri Markkanen (Arizona C): Markkanen just seems like the type of player that Milwaukee drafts. He is athletic, long, and can shoot from outside. In recent drafts, the Bucks have gone after players like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Thon Maker, and Markkanen fits the bill.
12. Miami Heat – TJ Leaf (UCLA F): Leaf’s most effective asset is his rebounding, which can contribute to a lot of NBA teams. He is relentless on the boards, can stretch the floor, and would fit work well with Hassan Whiteside in the paint.
13. Portland Trailblazers – Ivan Rabb (California F): Rabb was extremely well-known during his high school years but after an up-and-down freshman season, some people gave up on him. Rabb still has a lot of potential and would have room to grow in Portland.
14. Charlotte Hornets – Bam Adebayo (Kentucky C): Adebayo has a NBA-type body already, and can jump out of the gym, but his inability to known down shots from the perimeter may come back to haunt him.
15. Denver Nuggets – Isaiah Hartenstein (Germany F): Hartenstein is very talented, as are a lot of the international players we have seen drafted over the years, but there is always a sense of unknown with them. Denver would be a good place for him to land because he would not have to produce immediately.
16. Detroit Pistons – Justin Patton (Creighton C): Patton has exploded on to the scene during his freshman year on an overachieving Creighton team. If he slid to the Pistons in the mid-first round, he could develop behind Andre Drummond.
17. Chicago Bulls – Johnathan Motley (Baylor C): Motley has been one of the best players in the Big 12, alongside Frank Mason, and his ability to stretch the floor is a key to success in today’s league.
18. Oklahoma City Thunder – Luke Kennard (Duke F): Kennard went from a secret on Duke’s team of All-Americans, to the leader of the pack. He is a great scorer at the college level, but likely would not see a lot of minutes for a few seasons.
19. Indiana Pacers – Dwayne Bacon (Florida State G): Bacon can score with the best of them, and if his effort level increases, he will find minutes. At his best, he reminds me a lot of Paul George, and the Pacers may be looking to replace him if the trade rumors that have been going around are accurate.
20. Atlanta Hawks – Frank Ntiliknia (France G): Ntiliknia is a solid point guard, but I’m not sold on his potential translating to the NBA game. New York needs a point guard earlier in the draft, but is he isn’t taken there, Ntiliknia will likely slide.
21. Toronto Raptors – Terrance Ferguson (U.S. G): Ferguson is a bit of a mystery, like many players that decide to forgo college and play overseas, but he has an immense amount of talent which will attract several suitors.
22. Washington Wizards – Miles Bridges (Michigan State F): Bridges plays harder than most people, and because of that, he’ll be able to slide into a rotation sooner or later. Washington has shown the capability to develop forwards like Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre, and Bridges is similar.
23. Portland Trailblazers – Alec Peters (Valparaiso F): Peters is somewhat unheard of because of playing for a “smaller” school, but he has size, strength, and a solid outside shot which is always valued in the league.
24. Orlando Magic – John Collins (Wake Forest C): Collins has exploded over the last couple of months playing for Danny Manning at Wake Forest, and would play behind Nikola Vucevic, which could help his skills improve even more.
26. Utah Jazz – Tyler Lydon (Syracuse F): Lydon showed during Syracuse’s 2015-16 run to the Final Four as a No. 10 seed that he can play in the post as well as step outside and knock it down from anywhere on the floor.
27. Houston Rockets – Jaron Blossomgame (Clemson F): Blossomgame is incredibly athletic which is always a plus in the NBA, but his game still has a lot of holes which will keep from from seeing a lot of playing time for a while.
28. Portland Trailblazers – Dillon Brooks (Oregon F): Brooks is in the running for Pac-12 player of the year because he is fearless while attacking the cup and can shoot from virtually anywhere on the floor. I don’t see him getting a lot of minutes during his rookie campaign but there is a lot of talent.
29. San Antonio Spurs – Josh Hart (Villanova G): Hart could be the Wooden Award winner because of his work ethic and ability to attack the basket, and a landing spot in San Antonio would only make him better.
30. Utah Jazz – Caleb Swanigan (Purdue F): Swanigan will most likely be the Big Ten player of the year but he’ll need to get in better shape to keep up with the NBA’s fast pace. If he can, he’ll be a steal this late in the draft.