2017 NBA Draft week is finally here, and with it a mammoth trade that will shake up the lottery.
On Saturday, TNT’s David Aldridge reported that the Boston Celtics will send their No. 1 pick to the Philadelphia 76ers. In exchange, the Sixers will send Boston their 2017 No. 3 pick and their protected 2018 pick from the Los Angeles Lakers, per The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Instead of heading to Beantown, consensus No. 1 prospect Markelle Fultz is now poised to land in Philly. He’ll join Brett Brown’s talented young core and try to push the Sixers back to glory. Meanwhile, the Celtics continue to gather assets, positioning themselves nicely for major acquisitions in the future.
Let’s dissect where the remaining top prospects will land with a new first-round mock.
1. Philadelphia 76ers (from Boston Celtics via Brooklyn Nets): Markelle Fultz, Washington PG (6-4, Fr.)
When news broke that the Celtics would trade the No. 1 pick to the Sixers, the future of the Eastern Conference shifted massively. Philly cashed in a few of its assets to move up and get their coveted point guard of the future.
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons will benefit immensely from Fultz’s versatility. He’s already exceptionally polished for his age, and he’s just a teenager. He’ll open up new scoring avenues for everyone because he draws so much defensive attention.
This isn’t an absolutely perfect fit because they’re all ballhanders. But Fultz has enough off-ball skill and Brett Brown has the creativity to make it work. Fultz’s shooting talent will come in handy when the Sixers use Simmons as the primary ballhandler and when they need floor spacing. Early in his career, he won’t shoot 41 from distance like he did at Washington, but he’ll hang in the mid- to high 30s.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball, UCLA PG (6-6, Fr.)
Few high-lottery picks have faced the mix of hype, scrutiny and second-guessing that Ball has encountered. Some of that is inflicted by his father. But when the focus returns to X’s and O’s, Ball’s size, playmaking vision and shooting potential are impossible to ignore.
Barring a Paul George trade, the Lakers will take Ball and give him the keys as the lead distributor. He’ll set the table for L.A.’s young prospects while keeping defenses honest with an accurate, albeit funky shooting delivery.
Like any high-upside prospect, his best-case scenario will depend on defense. Can Ball compete hard on that end and utilize his size, or will foes walk over him and thereby neutralize some of his offensive impact? He has yet to prove he’ll be an above-average stopper.
3. Boston Celtics (from Philadelphia 76ers via Sacramento Kings): Jayson Tatum, Duke F (6-8, Fr.)
Even the Celtics might not know who they’re taking (or trading for) at No. 3. There are strong arguments for either Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum, and Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz indicated that the Celtics love Tatum’s offense:
Boston thinks Jayson Tatum might be Paul Pierce 2.0, which is another reason why Ainge would take him at 3, source tells me. https://t.co/rEvLZChKb6
— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) June 18, 2017
Tatum isn’t the Truth, but he’ll churn out buckets when called upon. He’ll take some pressure off Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford by attacking the hoop and splashing outside shots. Although his defensive potential isn’t overwhelming, it’s at least encouraging. Tatum significantly improved his agility since high school, and he uses his athleticism and long arms to swallow up space on defense. He has the physical wares to guard all types of wings and power forwards.
4. Phoenix Suns: Josh Jackson, Kansas F (6-8, Fr.)
After all the recent top-3 buzz and commotion, the Suns might still luck out and land a two-way stud in Jackson. He’s an awesome investment for Phoenix to bolster its outlook on the wing.
Although he won’t be a go-to scoring weapon early on, he’ll instantly bring high-octane defense and athleticism. Jackson’s quick feet, aggressive instincts and size will stymie the vast majority of NBA slashers.
Jackson’s passing and above-the-rim acrobatics are unquestionably impactful. Will he become a reliable shooter, though? He shot 23 of 43 (53 percent) from 3-point range after Jan. 21 for Kansas. Jackson could be efficient from the NBA arc if he continues to smooth out the hitch in his release.
5. Sacramento Kings (via Philadelphia 76ers): De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky PG (6-3, Fr.)
Fox has the talent and mentality to challenge anyone in this draft crop down the road. The Kings would be wise to pluck him at No. 5 and snag their floor general for the future.
Two things will become painfully clear for opponents early in Fox’s career. It will be tough for defenders to contain him off the dribble, and it will be equally difficult to get around him on the other end. He’ll put tons of pressure on Sacramento’s opponents.
Nobody really knows how good of a shooter he’ll be. He improved throughout the season at Kentucky, although he still has a relatively low release point. Significant NBA production from distance would be a bonus.
6. Orlando Magic: Dennis Smith, Jr., N.C. State PG (6-2, Fr.)
Smith has had multiple meetings with Orlando, suggesting the Magic have strong interest in him. He was both a highlight factory and a lowlight eyebrow-raiser at N.C. State last year, but there are way more layers to his game.
Smith will bring a thrilling mix of scoring and passing. His drive-and-dish shiftiness will give a much-needed jolt to the Magic’s backcourt, and he’ll keep foes off balance with outside shooting.
Orlando’s selection of Smith is a risk. He’s just 6-2, which will occasionally cause matchup issues on both offense and defense. Also, he showed shaky defensive habits at N.C. State. The hope is that Frank Vogel will get him to buy in and that his offensive impact will outweigh defensive shortcomings.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonathan Isaac, Florida State F (6-10, Fr.)
Isaac’s draft-night landing spot will depend on how much his lottery suitors value his tangible upside on defense. He could go as high as No. 4 to Phoenix, but he won’t fall any further than Minnesota at No. 7.
With the foot speed of a wing and the size of a center, Isaac will change the Wolves’ defensive schemes. They’ll blow up pick-and-rolls much more often, and Isaac’s weak-side speed will also improve their help defense.
I don’t know whether Isaac will eventually create his own shot in the NBA. He can’t right now. Fortunately, he moves extremely well without the ball and has outside shooting potential. Isaac could be a floor-stretching combo forward who’s Minnesota’s fourth or fifth scoring option.
8. New York Knicks: Frank Ntilikina, France PG (6-5, 18 years old)
The Knicks could use a lead guard for the future, and Ntilikina checks a bunch of important boxes. He’s a solid 3-point shooter for his age, an unselfish distributor, a willing cutter and an agile defender. He’d join Kristaps Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez in one of the league’s top international cores.
Ntilikina’s shooting stroke (39 percent from international arc this season) and playmaking potential are attractive, but his defense might be more influential in Year 1. He has a superb feel for containing slashers, squeezing through screens and closing down passing lanes. Players with his defensive instincts and effort are exactly what New York needs to become competitive.
9. Dallas Mavericks: Malik Monk, Kentucky SG (6-3, Fr.)
Monk might give Dallas the most value and flexibility of any remaining prospect. The Mavericks would incorporate Kentucky’s marksman beautifully into their spread sets and weak-side pick-and-roll options. He’d flourish in Rick Carlisle’s system and empower the likes of Harrison Barnes and Seth Curry.
Monk’s place in the lineup and rotation next season will depend largely on what Dallas does in free agency. He might come off the bench or start next to J.J. Barea or Curry. In the big picture, however, he’d give the Mavs options in the backcourt. His shooting and secondary passing will be maximized for years.
10. Sacramento Kings (via New Orleans Pelicans): Lauri Markkanen, Arizona PF (7-0, Fr.)
With an athletic point guard now in the fold, the Kings will use their No. 10 pick to target a forward or big man. Given the playing styles of defensively gifted youngsters like Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein, Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen is a marvelous fit.
The above-the-rim offensive impact and defensive ranginess of Labissiere and Cauley-Stein would complement Markkanen’s perimeter game. Meanwhile, the Finnish 7-footer will stretch the floor efficiently for Sac-town. He’ll make opponents pay for sending a third defender on Fox-Labissiere pick-and-rolls. Markkanen won’t stand out in other areas, but he’ll crush his role.
11. Charlotte Hornets: Donovan Mitchell, Louisville SG (6-3, So.)
Even though this draft isn’t incredibly deep, there are still some starting-caliber players outside the top 10. Mitchell is qualified, and he’d fill Charlotte’s long-term void at shooting guard.
His perceived value climbed after May’s draft combine, where he measured well (6-10 wingspan) and tested well athletically (40.5-inch vertical leap). Those particular tools erased some of the concerns of him having an underwhelming height.
Mitchell’s body of work at Louisville and predraft workouts do the rest of the selling. He competed speedily and aggressively on defense, and he also showcased a convincing shot-making repertoire. He’ll dynamically enhance the Hornets’ perimeter attack.
12. Detroit Pistons: Luke Kennard, Duke SG (6-5, So.)
We had Justin Jackson in this slot in our previous mock, and he’s still probably a strong candidate to land in Motown. But Kennard’s shooting stroke is even more convincing and could be more efficient in Stan Van Gundy’s offense.
Sam Vecenie of Seth’s Draft House explained how Kennard fills the Pistons’ dire need:
… The team struggled to shoot from distance, only hitting 33 percent of their 3s, good for 28th in the NBA. Kennard would give them a bona fide sniper from deep, as well as another option on the perimeter to create offense. He could likely play with both Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or Reggie Jackson, or he could even lead bench units.
Kennard wouldn’t put up huge numbers in Detroit, yet he’d give the offense invaluable shooting consistency.
13. Denver Nuggets: Justin Jackson, North Carolina SF (6-8, Jr.)
Jackson is arguably the best two-way performer on the board. The Nuggets could plug him into their rotation and he’d quickly jell with cornerstone pieces Nikola Jokic and Gary Harris.
The Tar Heels standout displayed an advanced feel for the game during all three years at Chapel Hill. He made perfectly timed cuts, fired precision passes and supplied rangy defense. Jackson is a proven commodity when it comes to intangibles and the fundamentals teams want from prospective role players.
For a team on the cusp of a playoff berth, Jackson is a terrific addition. Coach Mike Malone will love his ability to play off the ball and bring defensive energy.
14. Miami Heat: Zach Collins, Gonzaga C (7-0, Fr.)
The Heat will add a lot of skill to their frontcourt with one move. Gonzaga’s freshman riser has great hands around the rim and also has noticeable outside shooting touch.
Collins capitalized on his size and mobility last season, notching 23.2 points, 13.6 rebounds and 4.1 blocks per 40 minutes. His 9-3 standing reach will earn him a bunch of put-backs and deflections in the NBA as well, but he’ll have to keep polishing his skills. We didn’t see a huge sample size of shooting from him at Gonzaga (10 of 21 on 3-pointers). However, his smooth delivery and high release point continue to pass the eye test.
15. Portland Trail Blazers: Jarrett Allen, Texas C (6-10, Fr.)
I expect the Blazers to use one or two of their first-round picks to pad their defensive depth and target rim protectors. Allen has the length (7-5 wingspan) and flashes of shot-blocking prowess to warrant interest, along with an intriguing offensive future.
Texas’ 6-10 one-and-done center did more than finish pick-and-rolls and put-backs. Allen displayed a soft-shooting touch from 5 to 15 feet out, suggesting he could be more than just an opportunistic center in the NBA. Over 55 percent of his shots were 2-point jumpers last season, and he converted 48 percent of them (per hoop-math.com)
16. Chicago Bulls: John Collins, Wake Forest PF (6-10, So.)
Whether Jimmy Butler is traded in the near future or not, it would behoove the Bulls to take the best all-around prospect available. Without a convincing shooting guard or wing worth reaching on, Gar Forman and John Paxson will turn their gaze toward Collins.
Wake Forest’s 6-10 forward made the most of a significantly increased role in 2016-17. Collins unleashed an improved scoring skill set and a greater knack for dominating the boards. Consequently, he skyrocketed up draft boards and is now a fringe lottery pick. He won’t likely last any longer than 16 picks on Thursday night.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: Justin Patton, Creighton C (6-11, Fr.)
Patton received a green room invite for the draft, so there’s a decent chance several mid-first-round teams are interested in him. Creighton’s unexpected one-and-done prodigy could be Milwaukee’s next big-man addition to bolster their frontcourt depth chart.
Greg Monroe and Spencer Hawes could both possibly hit free agency this summer. Patton wouldn’t instantly replace their skill level and production, but he’d help partially fill the void. His nose for the rim and promising lefty shooting touch are tantalizing. Milwaukee must be patient with him, though; Patton needs to polish up key areas like defensive positioning and free-throw efficiency (52 percent at Creighton).
18. Indiana Pacers: T.J. Leaf, UCLA PF (6-10, Fr.)
Per Woj, Paul George told the Pacers he’ll leave Indy in free agency next summer. That could lead to a full-scale rebuild for Nate McMillan’s squad. Several spots in the rotation may be up for grabs.
One of the few pieces who’s clearly a valuable long-term asset is Myles Turner. The Pacers will keep the young shot-blocker in mind when approaching the draft, and Leaf is a prime candidate to pair with him. His scoring touch, unselfishness and high-level passing ability could bring the best out in Turner. In return, Turner’s elite rim protection will make up for Leaf’s unimpressive defensive exploits.
19. Atlanta Hawks: Ike Anigbogu, UCLA C (6-10, Fr.)
Even though Anigbogu didn’t get one of the 20 green room invites, he could still land in the top 20. All it takes is one team to be captivated by his defense.
Atlanta is one of his likely destinations due to its need for depth at the 4 and 5 spots. Anigbogu’s combination of bounciness, power and length would translate to the Hawks’ defense gorgeously. The little-known UCLA freshman can put a fence around the rim like few bigs in this class; he swatted 5.0 shots per 100 possessions last season. He’ll serve as Dwight Howard’s understudy in the short-term, followed by an increased role down the line. Anigbogu doesn’t have an advanced scoring repertoire, but he’s well-coordinated near the bucket.
20. Portland Trail Blazers (via Memphis Grizzlies): Harry Giles, Duke PF/C (6-11, Fr.)
The Blazers will aim for a boom-or-bust player with their second first-round selection. Giles may be a total letdown if his knee issues don’t stay in the past, yet at No. 20, the risk is worth the lofty reward.
Although his three knee procedures robbed him of much of his vertical explosiveness, he remains an end-to-end threat. Giles has superb agility on cuts to the rim and in help defense scenarios. And when opponents try to go over or around him, his 7-3 wingspan shrinks the court.
His offensive role at Duke was limited, and the Blazers wouldn’t count on him for big production either. However, Giles has the beginnings of some low-post dexterity and a mid-range jump shot. In a couple of years, he could become much more than a dunker.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: OG Anunoby, Indiana F (6-8, So.)
Anunoby wasn’t invited to the green room for draft night. It means there’s a good chance executives are wary about his right knee and don’t like his relative lack of offensive versatility.
He may slip out of the top 20, but he won’t tumble far. Anunoby offers too much positional interchangeability and just enough shooting potential to bring two-way value. He shot 13 of 29 (45 percent) from downtown as a freshman, followed by a pedestrian 14 of 45 as a sophomore before his season-ending injury.
The Thunder would love to add more defense in the forward corps, along with some shooting upside. Anunoby could bring a truckload of defensive juice to OKC’s bench.
22. Brooklyn Nets (via Washington Wizards): Terrance Ferguson, U.S.A. SG/SF (6-7, 19 years old)
During his brief stint in Australia, Ferguson didn’t deliver convincing skills or production to garner lottery interest. However, his ceiling is similar to a lottery wing based on his shooting potential and pogo-stick athleticism.
Ferguson’s shooting volatility stems from inconsistent mechanics. Given some of his long-range hot streaks, however, the talent is there if he can cultivate a steadier shooting motion. The Nets have the time and the coaching staff to take a gamble on Ferguson in this department.
Meanwhile, Ferguson’s agility and energy could translate into disruptive defense. The tools are there for him to become an exciting 3-and-D asset.
23. Toronto Raptors (via Los Angeles Clippers): Bam Adebayo, Kentucky PF/C (6-9, Fr.)
Toronto will take the best power forward on the board at No. 23. Adebayo got an invite to the green room, which means he might already be gone by the time the Raptors are on the clock.
If he’s still on the board, Masai Ujiri should invest in Adebayo’s fascinating mix of proven strengths upside. The Raptors may need to restock the frontcourt this offseason, and Kentucky’s high-flyer is part of the solution.
He didn’t consistently play lock-down defense in Lexington last season. Nevertheless, he has the chops to thrive in the NBA because he has shown great foot speed on the perimeter. Adebayo is versatile enough to jockey for position in the paint and switch onto guards in the same possession.
24. Utah Jazz: Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State PG (6-1, So.)
If Utah wants to address its potentially fluctuating backcourt, it could take a guard here. Evans is immensely talented and has the dual-threat command to fuel the Jazz offense off the bench.
Mike Schmitz of Draft Express talked on Locked on NBA about Evans’ playmaking value:
If you take the size away … and you’re talking about who are the best pure basketball players in this draft, I think he’s up there, just because he’s a tremendous ball-screen player. Really plays an NBA style … using both sides of the floor as a pick-and-roll passer.
Evans’ height (5-11.5 in shoes) will keep him out of the top 20, but he’s a worthwhile pickup for a lengthy team like Utah. He could come off the bench and play next to Gordon Hayward, Rodney Hood or Dante Exum.
25. Orlando Magic (via Toronto Raptors): D.J. Wilson, Michigan PF (6-10, Jr.)
Michigan’s standout junior has a multidimensional, multipositional future in the NBA. If he continues the improvement we saw in Ann Arbor, the Magic will be able to plug him in to a variety of lineups.
Right now, he doesn’t have the base strength to win low-block battles against 5s. However, his 7-3 wingspan and 9-1.5 standing reach will enable him to grow into a combo-big who alters shots around the rim.
Wilson also has the offensive skills and agility to make an inside-out impact. He can rise way above the cup on drives and pick-and-rolls, and he has a promising outside jumper. Wilson improved his 3-point percentage to 37 percent and his free-throw percentage to 83 percent in 2016-17.
26. Portland Trail Blazers (via Cleveland Cavaliers): Isaiah Hartenstein, Germany PF/C (7-0, 19 years old)
As we’ve noted in prior mocks, the Blazers may not keep all three first-round picks. Their roster is already loaded with bodies and salaries. If they do keep the 26th pick, they’ll likely pursue players who could potentially be groomed overseas for a year or two.
Hartenstein is the best draft-and-stash candidate available in the late first round. He played for Lithuanian league champion Zalgiris Kaunas this past season, so he had a small role on an experienced roster. Even so, he flashed substantial two-way potential during his 11 minutes per game.
Portland will hope the 7-footer continues to develop his aggressive interior defense and perimeter scoring. Hartenstein has the physicality and ballhandling skills to produce in the paint and also play away from the basket.
27. Brooklyn Nets (via Boston Celtics): Tyler Lydon, Syracuse PF (6-9, So.)
Sean Marks will enhance Brooklyn’s long-range attack by adding Syracuse’s stretch 4. Lydon is the most polished 3-point shooting big man on the board, and it’s easy to envision him meshing with the Nets’ rebuilding system.
Every NBA coach prefers a well-spaced set, and Kenny Atkinson loves really spreading the floor even more than most. He does a great job of empowering forwards who can roll to the hoop, pop for 3s or spot up. Lydon fits the mold with a silky-smooth shooting touch in catch-and-shoot situations; he also has sharp court vision as a secondary playmaker. He’d come off the bench and keep the Nets’ offense humming.
28. Los Angeles Lakers (via Houston Rockets): Semi Ojeleye, SMU F (6-7, Jr.)
After L.A. opts for a playmaking guard at No. 2, it will hunt for an athletic wing or forward at No. 28. The Lakers need someone who can provide a boost on defense and outplay opponents athletically.
SMU’s transfer junior enjoyed a breakout year thanks to an improved shooting stroke and upgraded defense. Ojeleye shot 42 percent from distance and also besieged the basket on drives and put-backs. Don’t count on him to create his own shot, but he’ll be a potent supplementary scorer.
The 2017 AAC Player of the Year will also be a multi-spot defender in the Association. Given his strong base and the way he slides his feet, he’ll stymie a lot of wings and some power forwards throughout his career.
29. San Antonio Spurs: Anzejs Pasecniks, Latvia C (7-2, 21 years old)
Two years after rising star Kristaps Porzingis came stateside, another 7-2 Latvian will land in the first round. Pasecniks is a much different player, however, as he’s a pure 5 man rather than a stretch-big.
San Antonio will value Pasecniks for his ability to cut and convert plays around the rim, as well as his defensive potential. The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor noted the big fella has top two-way traits:
Excellent rim runner who runs fluidly up the floor, has good hands, and finishes expertly in the paint. … Mobile defender whose upside hinges on his mobility rather than his verticality protecting the rim.
The Spurs don’t have any centers locked up long-term, so they’ll strongly consider adding Pasecniks for depth and insurance.
30. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors): Kyle Kuzma, Utah F (6-9, Jr.)
Although the most skilled forwards like Collins, Leaf and Lydon are off the board, the Jazz still have a couple of options. Polished players like Ivan Rabb or Kule Kuzma will likely be available at No. 30.
Give Kuzma the edge because he has more perimeter potential. At 6-9.5 in shoes with a 7-0.25 wingspan, Kuzma has the size of a power forward with a lot of wing-like skills. He’s comfortable putting the ball on the deck, shooting from 3-range and connecting with open teammates. And when he gets the rock near the hoop, he has great hands and footwork to finish.
Kuzma’s NBA ceiling will hinge largely on his defensive improvement and 3-point efficiency. He still needs to show he can consistently wall off NBA forwards.
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