My good friend Josh Sparrow reached out to me and asked if I was doing a mock draft. At the time I had no plans to so he asked if he could do one for the site. Along side his picks I went ahead and did my own. I did not look at his beforehand so this should be interesting.
Author: Josh Sparrow
If you’re like me, the end of the NBA finals doesn’t mean the end of the basketball season for you. Not even close.
Post NBA finals means one thing and one thing only – it’s draft season!
The NBA draft is a spectacle unlike any other. In a few nights, 60 young up-and-comers are going to hear their name called – and any one of them could completely change a franchise’s fortunes, regardless of where they are drafted (see guys like Draymond Green, Isaiah Taylor, or DeAndre Jordan).
Others could get complete and utter disasters (I’m looking at you Anthony Bennett). Either way, draft night is always filled with excitement, intrigue, and (most likely) a ton of surprising trades.
I’ve done my fair share of research on the matter – meaning I’ve probably read 100 mock drafts over the past few months, watched scouting breakdowns of the top players, and studied up on each team’s strengths and weaknesses.
And for all that work, I can say with 100% confidence that this mock draft will be totally and utterly inaccurate. But hey, it’s fun to try, right?!
So without further ado, here is my own personal 2017 NBA mock draft (BTW thanks to Mr. Bibbins himself for letting me take a stab at this!)
#1. Philadelphia (From Boston via Brooklyn) – Markelle Fultz
I’ll give myself a 1-for-1 on this pick. It’s a no-brainer. At this point, Markelle Fultz’s game is probably the most NBA-ready of any player in the draft. He can score, play defense, and finds space by being extremely crafty with the ball (despite not having elite speed or quickness). The 76ers’ “process” might finally be complete.
Bib’s Take: Easy pick here. Despite having him ranked 9th on my Bib’s Board, I think he’s a great player. With Simmons handling a lot of the PG duties he may actually flourish in this role.
#2. Los Angeles Lakers – Lonzo Ball
This pick was a little tougher. I personally like De’Aaron Fox’s upside a little bit more than Ball’s. And his defense is something that LA could use more of. But I’m not going to let once NCAA tournament performance sway me. Ball is a future floor general who makes his teammates better. And despite his awkward shot, it goes in more often than not. I think the Lakers do (and should) take Ball, and him and Russell might form a pretty dynamic backcourt.
Bib’s Take: So far we’re 2 for 2. The Lakers talked a tough game about not drafting him but in the end I think they pull the trigger.
#3. Boston (from Philadelphia via Sacramento) – Josh Jackson
Is there an NBA GM who makes better trades than Danny Ainge? I’m saying nope. The Celtics traded down to get the guy they wanted in the first place. Even though Jackson does a lot of the same things that last year’s 1st round pick Jaylen Brown does, I think he’s an upgrade on the wing and I think Boston takes him here – unless they manage to trade this pick to NY for Porzingis, which would be nuts! Even if that does happen, I still think Jackson goes 3.
Bib’s Take: Now we’re having fun. I have the Celtics taking De’Aaron Fox here. Game recognize game and I don’t see the Celtics passing on a killer like Fox.
#4. Phoenix – Jayson Tatum
Tatum averaged about 17 points and 7 rebounds per game in college, while playing in one of the toughest conferences in the country. He looks like he can be a bit of a “ball stopper” at times, but his ability to score in isolation is probably unmatched by anyone else in the draft. Once his outside shot improves, pairing him next to Devin Booker could be a filthy combination for the Suns over the next decade.
Bib’s Take: We’re on the same page again. I think the Suns take who they think is the best player available. They don’t need a shooter and they don’t really need a big man. They might think a point guard is a reach with the 3 above already off the board in my scenario but if Boston goes with Jackson I think the Suns take Fox here.
#5. Sacramento (from Philadelphia) – De’aaron Fox
This is the best case scenario for Sacramento. The Kings have to be hoping and praying that Fox falls to 5. We all know about his game against UCLA in the Sweet 16. We all know about his speed and quickness. And we all know about his pesky defense. So is he the next John Wall? Is he the next Russell Westbrook? That, no one knows. But, bottom line: once he improves his 3 point shot, he’s probably going to be a star. And the Kings desperately need one of those after trading theirs’ away last year.
Bib’s Take: And so we have the same top 5 just with two players swapped. I have the Kings taking Josh Jackson. They are solid up front and they’ve got Buddy at the 2 so they need a PG and a SF. Since they know they can get their PG later I think they go with a wing here and they can’t do better than Jackson.
#6. Orlando – Jonathan Isaac
Depending on how the Magic feel about Elfrid Payton being their PG of the future, they may decide to upgrade their backcourt with this pick. But I think they probably stick with him for at least another year and grab Isaac, who is maybe the most unique defender in the draft. He may eventually be able to guard all 5 spots once he adds a little muscle. And if he becomes less passive on offense, he might turn into a two-way star.
Bib’s take: More fun! I think the Magic shock the world and take Malik Monk here. Their biggest need in this draft is buckets and Monk will be able to deliver them as the 6th man for this Magic team on day 1.
#7. Minnesota – Lauri Markkanen
From my hours of in-depth research (i.e. all the reports I’ve read online) it seems like the T-Wolves are hoping Jonathan Isaac falls to them here. But in my mock, he’s off the board and they go with the next best guy – a 7 footer who can truly space the floor and give Karl Anthony-Towns the room he needs down low to finally transition into an all-star. It’s a good pick – Markkanen just needs to work on his defense a little.
Bib’s take: Josh and I apparently read the same reports and since Jonathan Isaac is still on the board in my mock the Wolves take him here. I think he’s going to need some time to find his way and I think he’ll be able to do that behind Dieng and Wiggins.
#8. New York – Malik Monk
This is a tough pick for me to make. As a Hornets fan, I’m praying for some miracle that let’s Monk fall out of the top 10. But, mock drafts are all about honesty (or something like that) and I’ve got to be real with myself. New York has been in talks to trade for Ricky Rubio, which means they might pass on a PG here and instead go with an exciting, athletic guard who can put up 40+ on any given night.
Bib’s take: With Monk off of the board in my mock, plus the fact that the Knicks are shopping Porzingis in an effort to make room for Markannen… Again, read top 50 to see how I feel about him.. I think the Knicks take him here. He will definitely space the floor but the Knicks will get roasted by any team with a respectable 4 man.
#9. Dallas – Dennis Smith, Jr.
Based on his top 50 player rankings I have a feeling M-Bibs is going to disagree with me on this pick. Smith doesn’t have the length and defensive potential that Ntilikina has. But he does have elite speed and athleticism and I can easily see him blowing by his defender and dishing it out to Dirk, Harrison Barnes or Curry 2.0. Or maybe he’ll just dunk on a defender. Either way, Smith could be the next Damien Lillard, and Dallas should snatch him up while they can.
Bib’s take: You know me too well… While I love Smith’s game and am a huge fan of Damian Lillard he is the exact opposite of what the Mavs said they wanted in a point guard. With Frank Ntilikina still on the board and the ghosts of Antetokounmpo past haunting him, I think Cuban pulls the trigger on the French Freak (which sounds way more inappropriate that Greek Freak for whatever reason.)
#10. Sacramento (From New Orleans) – Zach Collins
If the Kings get Fox at number 5, they’ll need legit floor spacers to make room and let him do his thing. They already have Buddy Hield who can be a sharpshooter, but I think adding a center with 3-point range could be a smart move. We all remember Collins’ game against South Carolina (blah blah blah) in the Elite 8, but he was also very efficient all season at Gonzaga while playing a limited role. Not sure Kings fans will love this pick, but I think Collins could be a great front court pairing with Skal Labbissiere.
Bib’s Take: My colleague apparently is not a fan of Willie Cauley-Stein but as I mentioned earlier I think the Kings are set up front. They got their Rudy Gay replacement earlier in my mock so here they get their point guard, Dennis Smith.
#11. Charlotte – Frank Ntilikina
Not sure if this is good fortune – or me just setting up the draft to fall this way – but if Ntilikina falls to the Hornets here, they have to scoop him up. They need defense – check. They need a backup PG – check. They need a lengthy running mate to pair with Kemba Walker and let Batum slide back over to his natural forward position – check check check. Call it wishful thinking, but this draft might just work out perfectly for Charlotte (if I have anything to say about it at least!)
Bib’s take: And suddenly it all makes sense… Josh wanted Frank for himself so he made him slide to the Hornets. I guess we both can dream. However, in my mock, with Frank gone. I have the Hornets taking Donovan Mitchell. He’s been slowly rising up draft boards and I think with Belinelli gone the Hornets will need depth at the 2. He can also handle some point guard duties so it’s somewhat killing two birds with one stone. Kennard is a better shooter but the Hornets are a defensive team at the end of the day and Mitchell fits that mold.
#12. Detroit – Justin Jackson
This is tough. I wanted to go with Donovan Mitchell here, but Detroit already has an athletic 2-guard who can shoot and plays defense (let’s just call him KCP so I don’t have to spell it all out.) Jackson improved his 3-point shot A LOT at North Carolina last year and proved to be a true team leader. I think he contributes from day 1 and will consistently get better.
Bib’s Take: Dare I say I forgot KCP existed? Regardless I’m sticking with my pick. The Pistons couldn’t score last year so they do their best to fix that with this pick. They are strong at the 3/4 so I went with the next best guard (according to other people though I know a guard that completely erased him from an NCAA tournament game) available in Luke Kennard.
#13. Denver – Donovan Mitchell
I know Denver took a 2-guard last year, but at this point, I think Mitchell is too valuable to pass up. He prides himself on being a tough defender, is incredibly athletic (he had the highest standing vertical at the combine), and isn’t afraid to be aggressive on offense. He’s a little undersized for a SG (6’3”) but he could play PG in lieu of Mudiay at times. I also think his style of play will pair well with Nikola Jokic on both ends of the court.
Bib’s Take: This is where things started to get difficult for me. I wanted to go with Justin Jackson here but after doing some research it looks like the Nuggets want to go big here. They should actually because they lack REAL depth up front currently and have a glut of wings. I have them taking the most ready of the big men available who also fits their style in Justin Patton. I think he could flourish in their system.
#14. Miami – John Collins
Miami may want to go with 3-point shooting as a priority with this pick. But I think they make a somewhat surprising choice and take a dominant low-post scorer and tenacious rebounder who can draw some attention in the post and free up Hassan Whiteside. It’d be hard to get second chance points against a team with those two guys posted up down low.
Bib’s Take: And we close out the lottery on the same note. If the Heat had a weakness last year it was big man depth as they had Josh McBobs playing real minutes late in the season and James Johnson playing a ton of minutes in the post. Collins gives them another big body to clog up the paint if they decide to go huge but also can spend some time at the 5 to spell Whiteside in small-ball lineups.
And that does it for the lottery. A big thank you to Josh for taking on this beast. The rest of the first round will be released tomorrow. Stay Tuned!