Brian Patrick

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NBA Mock Draft

Saturday, May 20, 2017


The NBA Draft lottery took place Tuesday night, and the Boston Celtics, with Brooklyn’s pick, walked away with the number one spot, even though they are currently playing in the Eastern Conference finals. The Lakers got the number two spot for the third consecutive year, and they are still waiting for any sign of life from those picks, D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram.

This first mock draft is done using team needs in a very basic way, and in many ways, looks more like what I would do if I were in each team’s shoes. 


Boston is up first with the number one pick, seemingly a no-brainer.


1. Boston Celtics: Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington – Considering Boston’s current team make-up and position within the league, I would seriously consider trading this pick, but if they choose to keep it, Fultz is the only player really worth the top spot. The 6’4” point guard somehow flourished amongst a mess at Washington, averaging 23 points per game, to go along with almost six rebounds and six assists per game. Though not a very good defender yet, he has good length, and a coach like Brad Stevens could get the best out of him. 

2. Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball, UCLA – While I don’t think Ball is the second-best prospect in this draft, and he may even be outside the top five, the 6’6” point guard from Chino Hills and UCLA could bring some excitement to the fan base in Los Angeles. The NCAA’s leader in assists at 7.6 per game, Ball has great vision and passing ability to go with his size. He has a jumper that makes you think he’ll ruin his elbow, but still managed to hit over 40-percent from three, though there are many who are convinced his methodical motion and release will need to be altered for NBA speed and length. Like Fultz, Ball isn’t much of a defender, though Ball also doesn’t have the upside in that area like Fultz. The biggest problem facing the Lakers if they take Ball though, is what will they do about Lonzo’s father? 

3. Philadelphia 76ers: Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke – The Sixers are in a great spot here, with a choice between two wings, an area of need, with a lot of promise in Tatum and Josh Jackson, and choosing either could be seen as a good decision. The 6’8” Tatum is much smoother on offense, and a more consistent shooter, though he has a tendency to disappear at times during games. Jackson is the better defender of the two right now, but Tatum has the length to be effective, plus the footwork; he just needs the effort.   

4. Phoenix Suns: Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas – Jackson showed great improvement and comfort on the floor as last season went on, becoming an impact player on both ends of the floor for Kansas. The 6’8” forward is at his best when looking to attack the basket, using his athleticism well to finish, or his passing ability to kick out to perimeter shooters. If Jackson goes to Philadelphia at three, look for Tatum to go here to Phoenix.  

5. Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky – Point guard has been an issue for Sacramento in recent history, but they could potentially fix the problem with Fox here. The 6’4” guard from Kentucky has NBA speed, makes good decisions and is probably the best defender of all the point guard prospects in this draft. Fox’s jumper is definitely an area of concern, hitting just 25 percent from three this season. Fox did pick up a lot of momentum at the end of the season, torching Ball for 39 points in the NCAA Tournament.   

 

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6. Orlando MagicMalik Monk, SG, Kentucky – The Magic are in need of shooting, and Monk is one of the best in this draft. Though a bit undersized for the shooting guard spot at 6’4”, Monk has a quick release, and he doesn’t hesitate in the face of closing defenders. His shot selection can be spotty, often settling for some bad jumpers, but no one in college could put up points as quickly as Monk last season.  

7. Minnesota TimberwolvesLauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona – The Timberwolves have a great young core in Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, so they can go in a couple of different directions here. Markkanen, the seven-footer from Finland, shot 42-percent from three for Arizona last season. With his size and ability to stretch the floor, the spacing by the Timberwolves could end up among the best in the league, allowing Towns and Wiggins to continue to flourish.  

8. New York KnicksDennis Smith, PG, North Carolina State – The Derrick Rose experiment was a disaster last year for the Knicks, but with Phil Jackson’s continued insistence on implementing the triangle offense, the Knicks will need some help at point guard. Smith, 6’3”, is strong and fast, with the explosion to wreak havoc on opposing defenses. He can make some very bad decisions, and his shooting, 35 percent from three, needs work, but the upside could be too good to pass up, even if his “fit” for the triangle may not be ideal.  

9. Dallas MavericksJonathan Isaac, SF/PF, Florida State – We are closing in on the end of the Nowitzki era in Dallas, so it’s time to plan for the future. It’s not hyperbole to say that Isaac may have more potential than any player in this draft. The 6’11” 19-year-old is still very raw, but he makes plays on both ends of the floor, and as his skill set develops, he could become a match-up nightmare on the wing.  

10. Sacramento KingsOG Anunoby, SF, Indiana – The Kings have a second lottery pick here, and they can do some work to shore up the wing after taking Fox a few picks back. Anunoby missed the second half of last season with a knee injury, so his ability to impress in workouts will likely be limited. Pre-injury, Anunoby had already made an impact as a strong defender, and while his offense hadn’t improved as much as expected, there is still a lot of potential with his ability to run the floor, knock down threes and get to the basket.  

11. Charlotte HornetsFrank Ntilikina, PG, Strasbourg – Kemba Walker was an All-Star for the Hornets last season, but if anything happened to him, the team could be in trouble. Ntilikina is not the answer right now, but the 6’5” point guard, just 18 years old, has a lot of upside, even with a couple of pro seasons under his belt overseas. His jumper has continued to develop, especially off the dribble, and his length allows him to defend multiple positions well. With Charlotte’s G-League team entering its second season, it may be the perfect spot for Ntilikina to adjust to the pro game over here. 

12. Detroit PistonsLuke Kennard, SG, Duke – The Pistons haven’t gotten much of a return yet on their last two first-round picks, Stanley Johnson and Henry Ellenson, but there is still time. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will be a restricted free agent this summer, and I’m sure there is a limit to Detroit’s willingness to match any offers, so picking up Kennard here could be a nice move to add some depth to the shooting guard spot. The 6’6” guard shot 44 percent from long-range last season, and while his athletic ability won’t wow anyone, his ability to shoot does open up other offensive opportunities closer to the basket. Guarding NBA players will be a huge adjustment, but the scoring off the bench may be worth it as he develops. 

13. Denver NuggetsJustin Jackson, SF, North Carolina – The Nuggets have also started to develop a strong, young core led by Nikola JokicGary Harris, and Jamal MurrayDanilo Gallinari has a player option this year, so it could be a smart move for the Nuggets to look to the future on the wing. Jackson, 6’8”, helped lead North Carolina to the National Championship, shooting 37 percent from three-point range, scoring over 18 points per game, plus adding a few assists. With three college seasons under his belt, he could be able to contribute quickly. 

14. Miami Heat: Donovan Mitchell, SG, Louisville – The Heat have a logjam at the shooting guard spot, but it could be tough to pass on Mitchell’s athleticism, scoring ability and defensive potential. Plus, I wouldn’t be surprised if the goal is to eventually move Mitchell, only 6’3”, to the point guard spot in a couple of seasons. Mitchell did well at the recent NBA Combine, showing off his speed and leaping ability.  

15. Portland Trailblazers: Zach Collins, PF, Gonzaga – With Gonzaga’s recent run to the NCAA title game, Collins’ strong play entered the national spotlight, even if hyperbole took over a bit. The seven-footer came off the bench for Gonzaga, giving them a good inside presence on both ends of the floor, plus the added potential to become a consistent threat from the perimeter. While guys like Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu fared well at the four for the Blazers, Collins’ upside Collins may be tough to pass up.

16. Chicago BullsJustin Patton, C, Creighton – The Bulls could really use some help in the frontcourt, though Robin Lopez held his own for parts of the season. Patton broke out as a redshirt freshman, running the floor very well for his size, and looking to dunk the ball every time he touched it. While not ready to take over in the middle, he would be a great energy big man off the bench.   

17. Milwaukee BucksJarrett Allen, C, Texas – The Bucks have continued to improve as a team, though the center position still needs a lot of work. They were using Thon Maker to start games during the playoffs, even if his minutes were limited, and Greg Monroe has never been a great fit for this group, even if he did play well in his minutes. I’m not a big believer in Maker reaching anywhere near the heights that many others do, and think Allen could be a boost to backcourt no matter what. The 6’10” freshman from Texas has a 7’5” wingspan, and showed flashes of his potential on both ends this past season.  

18. Indiana PacersIvan Rabb, PF, California – Like the Pacers, Rabb had a bit of a disappointing season, but I think his potential is still worth a look here. Rabb is a solid scorer from 15-feet in, with advanced footwork, and a good basketball IQ. The 6’10” sophomore is a good defender, and should be able to guard either the four or the five eventually.   

19. Atlanta HawksIke Anigbogu, C, UCLA – Dwight Howard may not be the dominant big man he once was, but I think taking a raw young player like Anigbogu to learn from him for a season or two would be a good move. Anigbogu showed well on the defensive end in limited minutes for UCLA, and his 7’6” wingspan will be appealing to teams, though he has a long way to go to be close to NBA-ready.

20. Portland TrailblazersTerrance Ferguson, SG, Adelaide – With their second pick in the first round, Portland could add some depth behind Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum in the backcourt with Ferguson, who skipped college to play pro ball in Australia last season. He was a non-factor over there, but getting a pro year should help him with any adjustment. Known as a strong shooter in high school, Ferguson should benefit from learning from guys like Lillard, McCollum and Allen Crabbe.   

21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jawun Evans, PG, Oklahoma State – The minutes when Russell Westbrook was off the floor could often be tough to watch if you were a Thunder fan, and Evans, someone I think is very underrated in the draft, could provide some relief sooner than later. Though just a shade under six-feet tall, Evans has a great combination of speed, ballhandling and vision, allowing him to make an impact as a scorer and passer. He also shot 38 percent from three-point range, while averaging 19 points per game, last season. 

22. Brooklyn NetsJohn Collins, PF, Wake Forest – While Boston has Brooklyn’s pick in the number one spot, the Nets will have two selections here in the late first round. Brook Lopez is coming off a very good year, but having some more size and skill in the frontcourt would be a good move for the Nets. Collins had a breakout season for Wake Forest, dominating the paint and boards on offense. Playing under Danny Manning at Wake was good for him, and a coach like Kenny Atkinson can help him continue his development.  

23. Toronto Raptors: Tyler Lydon, SF/PF, Syracuse – Serge IbakaPatrick Patterson and P.J. Tucker are all unrestricted free agents this summer, so depth in the frontcourt could be important. Lydon is a versatile forward, able to play on the wing, or possibly as a stretch four. At 6’10”, he has good size, and shot almost 40 percent from three-point range last season. As with all Syracuse players, there will be questions about defense, but his size and length should help him at either forward spot. 

24. Utah Jazz: Derrick White, PG/SG, Colorado – The Jazz have been one of the league’s best turnaround stories the past few years, though they are likely missing one more substantial piece. They probably won’t find that here, but a versatile guard like White could add some depth in the backcourt, especially with George Hill an unrestricted free agent this summer.  

25. Orlando Magic: Jonathan Jeanne, PF/C, France – This is the Magic’s second pick in the first round. With the selection of Monk at number five, the Magic may not find exactly what they are looking for here, so why not take a shot on the 7’2” 19-year-old from France. Jeanne made the move to France’s top division a few months back, and while he hasn’t been overly impressive, he has shown a little of everything - ballhandling, shooting, shot-blocking and running the floor - for his huge size. If his development continues, both skill-wise and physically, as he weighs just 210 pounds, the Magic could have a steal here in a few years. 

26. Portland TrailblazersHamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky – This is Portland’s third selection in the round, so why not take a chance here on Diallo, who didn’t play a game of college basketball after joining Kentucky for the second semester. The 18-year-old Diallo is 6’5”, with a 6’11” wingspan, and plays with an energy that can be contagious. He also posted an absurd 44.5-inch max vertical leap at the NBA combine last week, the second highest ever at the combine. His skills, especially on offense need some work, but there’s no rush here.  

27. Brooklyn Nets: Anzejs Pasecniks, C, Latvia – Recent reports have the Nets very interested in the 7’2” Latvian big who plays in Spain’s ACB. While 21 years old already, there still seems to be quite a bit of room for development, and as long as you don’t expect the second coming of Kristaps Porzingis, you may still get a decent offensive player.  

28. Los Angeles Lakers: TJ Leaf, PF, UCLA – This is the Lakers’ second selection in the first round, and why not pair their pick at number two, Lonzo Ball, with his fellow freshman teammate at UCLA, Leaf. At many points during the season, Leaf was actually the more impressive of the two. 6’10”, with the ability to score inside and out, Leaf and Ball had a good rapport on the floor. He isn’t much of a defender, but neither are the Lakers’ other options at the four. Though he may never be more than a backup, he could still be valuable. 

29. San Antonio Spurs: Isaiah Hartenstein, PF, Germany – The 7’1” Hartenstein is a long-term project, but with his size and emerging skill, worth a serious look here. Hartenstein was actually born in Oregon, and moved to Germany in 2008 when his father was playing there. Playing now in Lithuania, another couple of years in Europe could be on the agenda. 

30. Utah JazzHarry Giles, PF, Duke – This is Utah’s second pick in the first round. Giles was once considered the top high school recruit in America, but multiple knee surgeries have done a number on him. Once healthy for Duke last season, he still didn’t get a lot of playing time, but showed flashes on both ends in his limited minutes. If he can stay healthy, there is still a lot of potential here, and Giles is worth a shot for a team like Utah. 




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