By: Jason Gandhi
My inaugural NBA mock draft is finally here! There will be tons of NBA and NFL mock drafts in the coming weeks as we approach “draft season”. It is time for mock draft 1.0 in the NBA with the college season officially ending and the Tarheels becoming champions. The order below is as of 4/9/17 before the lottery is actually done. Hope you enjoy and any feedback you have we’d love to hear!
- Boston Celtics (Brooklyn Nets)- Markelle Fultz PG Washington
The Celtics are in the best position of any team in the lottery. They are the #2 seed in the East and are only getting better with the #1 pick in the draft. They have so many picks along with tons of young players both overseas and stocked on their bench and D-League team. There is no real “need” to fill in this draft. It seems like Fultz is ranked higher than Lonzo Ball on most teams draft boards. Because of the no clear need, they go best player available, and to them that is Markelle Fultz.
- Phoenix Suns- Josh Jackson SF Kansas
What about Lonzo Ball? Well, the Suns have Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight and not to mention Tyler Ulis who has been playing very well in the expanded role he has seen lately. Right now, the need for the Suns is a two-way small forward. Jared Dudley is there but at age 31, he is not the answer. The answer is the best two-way player in the draft and that is Josh Jackson. The Suns need to develop around their budding star in Devin Booker and Josh Jackson is the perfect complement. He doesn’t need a lot of perimeter shots but he will lock down on defense and be a difference-maker on offense.
- Los Angeles Lakers- Lonzo Ball PG UCLA
The perfect marriage? Lonzo wants to go, the Lakers would love to move D’Angelo Russell to the shooting guard spot, it just seems perfect. Not so fast, Lonzo Ball would fit in very nicely with the Lakers and I’m sure they’d love to have him. The only concern I have is the main reason Lonzo wants to come to LA. His father. Lavar Ball is too close and if I am Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka, I take a long look at if it is worth the headache if they draft him. If that issue is settled, it really looks like a great fit. He will distribute the ball to all of the young guys on the Lakers and the return of Showtime might be on the horizon.
- Philadelphia 76ers- De’Aaron Fox PG Kentucky
The Sixers process is finally coming together. If they can get healthy. Joel Embiid looks like a potential star and Ben Simmons has drawn Lebron and Magic comparisons. The one thing they lack is a true guard that can lead a team. De’Aaron Fox fills that hole. He is so quick and is phenomenal off the dribble. The only thing he lacks is a consistent jumper but that can be developed. If Fox turns out to be the future at PG for the Sixers, watch out for Philadelphia, because the process is finally coming together.
- Orlando Magic- Malik Monk SG Kentucky
There is no clear need for the Magic. They do not have a star at any position so I went with who I think is best player available. Malik Monk will bring people to games. He has superstar potential for sure with 47 points against the national champs, 34 against Ole Miss, 37 against Georgia along with others. Monk can stroke it from deep but also create his shot. He will give the Magic someone they might finally want to develop.
- New York Knicks- Dennis Smith Jr. PG NC State
The Knicks can do one of two things at the #6 spot. Either fill a need at the point guard position or you find a replacement for Carmelo Anthony. If I was drafting, I would go Jayson Tatum who is one of my favorite prospects in this draft. But I think the Knicks go PG and get an athletic point guard in Smith who has drawn comparisons to John Wall and Kyle Lowry. Both are money in the mid-range game and can knock down the 3 occasionally but they pride themselves on being able to work off the dribble. Dennis Smith Jr. is definitely a lot less known than Fultz, Ball, etc. but give it a few years and the Knicks might have a dynamic duo of Smith and Porzingis.
- Minnesota Timberwolves- Lauri Markkanen PF Arizona
This pick was very tough to make because the Timberwolves do not have glaring holes anywhere. They drafted Kris Dunn last year to be the PG of the future so the weakest link would be Gorgui Dieng if I had to pick one. Markkanen would be a good fit with Karl Anthony-Towns and the Timberwolves are looking better and better by the minute.
- Sacramento Kings- Jayson Tatum SF Duke
Tatum is one of my favorite prospects in this draft and I think he is going to have a fantastic NBA career. Going to Sacramento though with very little front office stability, he is going to take on a major role there. Assuming the Kings get rid of Gay, the Kings are focusing their franchise around Buddy Hield, Jayson Tatum and their other pick in the top 10.
- Dallas Mavericks- Miles Bridges SF Michigan State
Bridges hasn’t decided whether he will enter the draft or not. If he does, the Mavericks is a nice fit for him. They have Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews for now, but when the youth movement kicks in (no more Dirk) and a potential starting 5 of Ferrell-Curry-Bridges-Powell-Hammons he could be the star of the group.
- Sacramento Kings (New Orleans Pelicans)- Jonathan Isaac PF Florida State
Isaac is a very long and athletic 4. He was able to take over games in college but he needs to get a lot stronger this offseason. He might need to talk to Brandon Ingram about his 5,000 calorie diet he followed last year during this process. If Isaac can put on some weight, but still be as quick and athletic as he is now, his athleticism impresses a lot of scouts.
- Charlotte Hornets- Harry Giles PF Duke
Harry Giles was one of the most talked about high schoolers a few years back. After ACL injuries, he really took a hit back. During this season at Duke, he was still getting back to full strength but most scouts will tell you his potential is astronomical if he can stay healthy. Giles could be scary in a couple of years.
- Detroit Pistons- Frank Ntilikina PG France
Ntilikina is someone who I could see going anywhere as high as 8 and as low as 17. He is an interesting prospect because he has great physical attributes. He is 6’5″ and reportedly a 7’0″ wingspan. He can drive to the basket pretty effectively but his shot needs to get more consistent. Definitely, an intriguing guy to watch as we get closer to draft night.
- Denver Nuggets- Zach Collins PF Gonzaga
Zach Collins was the first big name recruit that Gonzaga won over in high school. Collins lived up to the hype with his 6 block performance in the Final Four. He got into foul trouble in numerous games this year, so that limited his crunch time minutes. He is someone that brought energy and toughness to the Zags and was a key part of their run in the tourney. I think he is a high floor prospect and the Nuggets could pair him with Jokic in a couple of years.
- Miami Heat- OG Anunoby SF Indiana
OG just declared for the draft and now his draft stock is ALL over the place. He could go as high as 14 here to the Heat but could even fall to the 2nd round. With the ACL injury this past year, he really missed out on a lot of development he could have gained. I think OG Anunoby could have used one more year and then been a no doubt lottery pick, but his potential is still high if he stays on the court.
- Chicago Bulls- Bam Adebayo C Kentucky
Edrice “Bam” Adebayo was just another Kentucky big man to enter the draft. I think he could have a similar career to Willie Cauley-Stein, where if he gets the playing time he could be productive. Adebayo could get minutes early with the Bulls if they aren’t sold on Robin Lopez and Adebayo could be a solid starting center for the Bulls.
- Portland Trail Blazers- TJ Leaf SF UCLA
Surrounded by the Lonzo Ball hype, Leaf kind of flew under the radar. Leaf can stretch the floor as a 4 and could complement Nurkic and the entire Blazers nicely. Leaf would be a long-term pickup and definitely an upgrade over Noah Vonleh at the 4.
- Indiana Pacers- Ivan Rabb C Cal
The Pacers drafted Myles Turner just two years ago and he has developed quicker than much thought. His lack of rebounding really hurts the Pacers at times and pairing Rabb with him could help secure more rebounds. Rabb was supposed to be a lottery pick last summer but he opted to stay in college one more year. He didn’t take that next step this year and so I have him falling to the Pacers at 17.
- Milwaukee Bucks- Isaiah Hartenstein PF Germany
A good draft and stash prospect that got a lot of hype earlier this fall but he is a very good player and has potential to be great. He is not ready to play yet but if the risk pays off, he could be a major part of a playoff push in Milwaukee in a few years.
- Atlanta Hawks- Terrance Ferguson G Australia
Terrance Ferguson is one of the few great shooters in the draft. The Hawks would get a Kyle Korver type replacement only Ferguson has shown flashes of being able to dribble-drive as well. He can play in the D-league or overseas for a year but once he’s ready, the future is bright for the Aussie.
- Portland Trail Blazers (Memphis Grizzlies)- Moritz Wagner PF Michigan
Scouts are mixed on Wagner. He played very well in the month of March and really climbed up draft boards. He showed his ability to stroke it as well as play in the post. He is young so he could benefit from one more year under the Michigan staff, but if he comes out I think the Trail Blazers get a good young prospect that could be the Lamarcus Aldridge replacement.
- Oklahoma City Thunder- Andrew Jones G Texas
The Thunder need all the help and potential stardom they can get. Jones gives them that boom or bust potential. He started to shoot better as the season went on and Russell Westbrook would be very happy to have someone who can knock down some perimeter shots.
- Brooklyn Nets (Washington Wizards)- Justin Jackson SF UNC
The Nets need help. Justin Jackson is the prime example of going back to college and getting stronger and better and improving draft stock. He was considered mid-2nd round last year when many though he would come out. Jackson can play immediately and give Nets fans some hope.
- Utah Jazz- Jarrett Allen C Texas
Allen is a young prospect that could fill in for Gobert if he decides to leave in free agency. He is very raw and needs a lot of work but he could be a steal here in the draft.
- Toronto Raptors (Los Angeles Clippers)- Justin Patton C Creighton
Patton needs time. The Raptors can afford to wait for Patton as a long-term replacement for either Ibaka or Valunciunas. He could produce in the D-league for a couple years and then be a quality player for the Raptors.
- Orlando Magic (Toronto Raptors)- John Collins SF Wake Forest
Collins scored the rock very efficiently this year for the Demon Deacons. He is very one-dimensional and needs time but he has a good foundation to build on.
- Brooklyn Nets (Boston Celtics)- Caleb Swanigan PF Purdue
One of the best big men in college this season, who is not getting much love from NBA scouts. Scouts believe he is undersized and too slow. I think the Nets are getting great value at 26 here and snagging “Biggie”. This could be a steal in the draft.
- Portland Trail Blazers (Cleveland Cavaliers) – Ike Anigbogu C UCLA
- Los Angeles Lakers (Houston Rockets)- Luke Kennard G Duke
He is a good shooter and shooting is always a need. He would be a younger and more disciplined Nick Young assuming he leaves this offseason. A good young kid to come off the bench.
- San Antonio Spurs- Rodions Kurucs PF Latvia
The Spurs are known for international prospects. This is just another that could develop nicely over in Europe and could be a potential role player in a few years. He is very raw but has some “boom” potential.
- Utah Jazz (Golden State Warriors)- Kostja Mushidi G Belgium
The Jazz have a pretty solid 12 man roster so Kostja is a good draft-and-stash prospect. Let him develop while the Jazz contend in the playoffs.