NBA mock draft: Nine of the top 10 selections could be freshmen
Marc J. Spears predicts how the first round will play out
The 2017 NBA draft could end up being one of the best and wildest in league history.
Don’t be surprised if nine of the top 10 selections are freshmen, with former Washington guard Markelle Fultz going first overall to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Several NBA executives told The Undefeated they regard former Kansas swingman Josh Jackson as the most talented player in the draft. Although the Boston Celtics or Phoenix Suns could end up taking Jackson with the third or fourth pick, respectively, it’s quite possible he could fall to the Sacramento Kings with the fifth pick. Jackson did not work out for the Celtics, and the Suns are high on former Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox. Former UCLA guard Lonzo Ball is projected to go second overall to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Celtics also are considering athletic Florida State forward Jonathan Isaac with the third pick, a source told The Undefeated. Such a move would throw the draft out of whack.
There will be eyes on the likes of NBA All-Stars Paul George and Jimmy Butler, as well as several other standout players who could be dealt.
Here is The Undefeated’s 2017 NBA Mock Draft entering Thursday night’s draft in Brooklyn, New York.
1. Philadelphia 76ers
Markelle Fultz, Washington, Point guard, 6-4, 190 pounds.
Comment: The Sixers swapped picks with Boston and gave up a future first-rounder to get Fultz. There will be pressure on the guard to prove his worth fast, but that pressure isn’t expected to come from the Sixers.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
Lonzo Ball, UCLA, point guard, 6-6, 190 pounds
Comment: The Lakers have eyed the point guard of Big Baller Brand fame since landing the second overall pick in the draft lottery. The Los Angeles-area native has never been to a Lakers home game.
3. Boston Celtics
Jayson Tatum, Duke, small forward, 6-8, 205 pounds
Comment: Somewhat of a surprise the Celtics choose Tatum over Josh Jackson. The St. Louis native, however, is skilled, long and athletic with a huge upside.
4. Phoenix Suns
De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky, point guard, 6-4, 170 pounds
Comment: The Suns love Fox, but he would be unhappy to join this guard-laden young team. The Suns had better move guard Eric Bledsoe to allay Fox’s disappointment.
5. Sacramento Kings
Josh Jackson, Kansas, small forward/shooting guard, 6-8, 205 pounds
Comment: The Kings will be jumping for joy. Sacramento has found its new superstar in this future All-Star.
6. Orlando Magic
Jonathan Isaac, Florida State, small forward/power forward, 6-10, 210 pounds
Comment: New Orlando Magic general manager John Hammond, formerly with the Milwaukee Bucks, loves length. Isaac fits the Hammond bill and doesn’t have to leave his home state.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves
Lauri Markkanen, Arizona, power forward, 7-0, 230 pounds
Comment: Word is Markkanen would love to go to the Wolves to join forces with fellow 7-footer Karl-Anthony Towns. But keep an eye on North Carolina State guard Dennis Smith here too.
8. New York Knicks
Malik Monk, Kentucky, shooting guard, 6-3, 200 pounds
Comment: The New York Knicks are high on guards Monk, Smith and Donovan Mitchell. But perhaps the athletic and crafty Monk, the best scorer in college basketball, could be good in the triangle offense.
9. Dallas Mavericks
Frank Ntilikina, France, point guard, 6-5, 190 pounds
Comment: The Dallas Mavericks have had their eyes on the Frenchman for weeks now and land a desperately needed point guard for the future despite Yogi Ferrell’s surprise play at the position.
10. Sacramento Kings
Zach Collins, Gonzaga, power forward/center, 6-11, 230 pounds
Comment: The Sacramento Kings have been ridiculed for continually drafting big men. But in Collins, Sacramento gets a future starter who could fill ex-Kings star DeMarcus Cousins’ mammoth old shoes.
11. Charlotte Hornets
Dennis Smith, North Carolina State, point guard, 6-2, 195 pounds
Comment: Michael Jordan is shocked that such a talented point guard is still available. Only thing is the former North Carolina legend is drafting a member of the rival Wolfpack.
12. Detroit Pistons
Luke Kennard, Duke, shooting guard, 6-6, 195 pounds
Comment: The Detroit Pistons are looking for a shooter and land perhaps the best one in the draft. Kennard had a great workout with the Pistons but would play behind Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
13. Denver Nuggets
Justin Jackson, North Carolina, small forward, 6-8, 225 pounds
Comment: The Denver Nuggets also like UCLA forward T.J. Leaf, but Jackson is a long, talented perimeter shooter and a great finisher. Jackson comes from a home-schooled background.
14. Miami Heat
John Collins, Wake Forest, power forward/center, 6-9, 225 pounds
Comment: It’s no secret that the Miami Heat wanted an athletic big man. Miami gets that in Collins, Chris Bosh’s possible replacement.
15. Portland Trail Blazers
T.J. Leaf, UCLA, power forward, 6-10, 220 pounds
Comment: The Portland Trail Blazers add some much-needed athletic help in the frontcourt with Leaf.
16. Chicago Bulls
Donovan Mitchell, Louisville, shooting guard, 6-2, 210 pounds
Comment: If the Chicago Bulls trade All-Star guard Jimmy Butler, the strong, tough and explosive Mitchell could be their young shooting guard of the future.
17. Milwaukee Bucks
Bam Adebayo, Kentucky, center/power forward, 6-10, 245 pounds
Comment: The Milwaukee Bucks add an athletic and strong, bruising center to play alongside All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.
18. Indiana Pacers
Justin Patton, Creighton, center, 6-11, 230 pounds
Comment: The Indiana Pacers land a long, athletic and quick center to play alongside talented young forward Myles Turner.
19. Atlanta Hawks
Jarrett Allen, Texas, center, 6-10, 235 pounds
Comment: The Atlanta Hawks land a long and athletic center of the future to replace their former center Dwight Howard.
20. Portland Trail Blazers
Harry Giles, Duke, power forward/center, 6-10, 230 pounds
Comment: Before his two ACL tears, Giles was widely viewed as the top player of the 2016 high school class.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder
Ivan Rabb, California, power forward/center, 6-10, 220 pounds
Comment: Rabb plans to watch the draft in his hometown of Oakland, California, and will be ecstatic about this selection after fearing that he would fall into the second round.
22. Brooklyn Nets
D.J. Wilson, Michigan, power forward, 6-10, 235 pounds
Comment: The Brooklyn Nets land a late bloomer with a 7-3 wingspan whose stock rose during the NCAA tournament when he averaged 18.5 points and 3.5 blocks in three games.
23. Toronto Raptors
Ike Anigbogu, center, UCLA, 6-10, 250 pounds
Comment: The Toronto Raptors need more help on the inside and size to boot, which they land in Anigbogu, an athletic center with a huge upside.
24. Utah Jazz
Anzejs Pasecniks, Latvia, center/power forward, 7-1, 220 pounds
Comment: An NBA scout told The Undefeated that the Utah Jazz are big on this athletic, but very slight, big man.
25. Orlando Magic
Derrick White, Colorado, point guard, 6-4, 190 pounds
Comment: The Orlando Magic will likely want a point guard here, and White’s size gives him an edge over Oklahoma State point guard Jawun Evans.
26. Portland Trail Blazers
Semi Ojeleye, Southern Methodist, small forward/power forward, 6-8, 235 pounds
Comment: The former Duke transfer has a 40½-inch vertical leap, has an NBA-ready body and is also quite agile for his size.
27. Los Angeles Lakers
Frank Jackson, Duke, Point guard, 6-3, 200 pounds
Comment: The Lakers add another talented point guard, who had surgery on his right foot in May.
28. Los Angeles Lakers
Caleb Swanigan, Purdue, power forward/center, 6-9, 250 pounds
Comment: The Lakers add the mammoth Swanigan, who was a double-double machine at Purdue and can score in the post.
29. San Antonio Spurs
Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State, Point guard, 6-0, 185 pounds
Comment: The Spurs could use another point guard on their roster, and the hot-scoring Evans is the best one left.
30. Utah Jazz
Isaiah Hartenstein, Lithuania, power forward/center, 7-0, 250
Comment: The Jazz get a versatile European big man who is only 19 years old.