Just past the Christmas point, where more casual fans start tuning into professional basketball, with the gridiron coming to a halt, and no better time to kick off with the initial 2017 Mock Draft. I will be using the simulator from Tankathon to determine the order, and a lot is left to be determined as roster changes will pick up around the deadline, and who knows what collegiate players will decide to stick around for another season.
With that in mind, let's kick off the mock!
1] New Orleans Pelicans select Lonzo Ball from UCLA. Jumping up from the seventh projected slot, the Pelicans strike gold and add the best pure point guard to enter the league in ages. Ball will be a great fit with Anthony Davis as the two will combine to be among the best defensive duo's in the NBA, while Ball's passing prowess will help make life for Davis easier. If Jrue Holiday is kept around, the Pelicans will have a defensive juggernaut in front of them.
2] Philadelphia 76ers select Markell Fultz from Washington. With their first of two picks in the top 10, the 76ers go with the gunning skills of Fultz, hoping he can be a seamless addition to Benjamin Simmons and Joel Embiid. Fultz is putting up 22 points while shooting a solid 50.5% from the field and 48.6% behind the arc. Dishing out over six assists along with nearly two steals isn't too shabby either.
3] Miami Heat select Jonathan Isaac from Florida State. Miami jumps up two slots and ends up taking the in-state prospect, a 6'11 stretch guy that has the potential to be a solid shot blocker, helping to spread the floor for Hassan Whiteside to work the paint. A bit of a reach here for Pat Riley, though Isaac should be a great fit. Passing up on De'Aaron Fox may come back to bite them.
4] Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn Nets) select Harry Giles from Duke. Last time a high ranked prospect from Duke went high in the lottery after missing time due to injury, I'd say he did well. Boston hopes to replicate that by adding Giles to an already solid side and look to bring him back slowly as all the talent in the world to become a good two way contributor is there.
5] Dallas Mavericks select Dennis Smith from North Carolina State. The six year rebuild hasn't been going well for the Mavericks, but Barnes is seeming to be a decent addition to the squad after the early chatter of being overrated. Smith comes in and looks to turn the franchise around with his stall-worth defense and canny ability to get good buckets, and buckets when needed.
6] Phoenix Suns select Josh Jackson from Kansas. Jackson is expected to be an elite defender at the next level, while being able to provide offense at a respectable level. His range needs work, as he is below 30% from behind the college arc and he does need to put on a bit of weight, however, his high IQ on the offensive end helps him get open looks and punish those who cheat on him.
7] Minnesota Timberwolves select T.J. Leaf from UCLA. Arguably one of the biggest reaches we will have, but Leaf has shown to be a very capable player who can be the perfect compliment to Karl-Anthony Towns up front. The high energy big man is putting up 17.5 points and 9.8 rebounds while helping Ball lead UCLA to a superb 13-0 start, including a 17/13 performance on the road against Kentucky. Minnesota has also shown a recent knack of liking Bruin talent, with the draftings of Kevin Love, Zach LaVine & Shabazz Muhammed.
8] Philadelphia 76ers (via Los Angeles Lakers) select Mailk Monk from Kentucky. Monk is going to be a scorer, period. Something the 76ers are lacking making it an easy decision at number 7 here. After taking Fultz, they continue on with the same mindset with the efficient Monk looking to team up with Fultz in the back court for years to come. With Simmons and Fultz focusing on handling the rock, Monk can focus on what he does best, getting the ball in the hoop.
9] Portland Trail Blazers select Bam Adebayo from Kentucky. Adebayo is still young and has a lot of work to do, however, his body is as NBA ready as possible making him the perfect canvas to develop into a great prospect. With Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum expected to stick around for ages, the Blazers hope that Bam can be the defensive anchor they so-desperately need to take the next step.
10] Denver Nuggets select De'Aaron Fox from Kentucky. Three straight Wildcats to round out the top 10 as the Nuggets get an absolute steal in the services of Fox. Full of quickness and agility, the nimble Fox will give the Nuggets a floor general to rely on with his solid play in the passing lanes and ability to string together quick points. Dropping this far may enable him to be labeled as the steal of the draft.
11] Orlando Magic select Frank Ntilikina from Belgium. Orlando is a team in limbo, just trying to figure out what the end-game is will give you a coronary. Ntilikina is a great floor general who has a feel of the game beyond his young age to go alongside great size for a point. Having plenty of pro-experience in the French and EuroLeague, Ntilikina could be a bright spot for Orlando as they aim to figure out a direction.
12] Detroit Pistons select Jayson Tatum from Duke. While the Pistons have Stanley Johnson holding down the three spot, he has seen his playing time dwindle and seemingly fallen out of Stan Van Gundy's favor. Tatum gives the Pistons a chance to add a small forward that loves to play defense but doesn't shy away from the offensive end, showing confidence in his ability to score. His shooting needs a lot of work as he struggles to shoot over 40% from the field and 30% behind the arc.
13] Washington Wizards select Lauri Markkanen from Arizona. Washington may need to hit the retool button as John Wall and Bradley Beal just aren't doing as well as they should be, or they can give it another go with the addition of the sharpshooting talent of Markkanen, a Finnish talent. Lauri is shooting 43.5% from three point range for Sean Miller's Wildcats on nearly five attempts per game. He does need a lot of work to on defense, but with Wall feeding him, Markkanen would be a good pick in the nation's capital.
14] Indiana Pacers select O.G. Anunoby from Indiana. Anunoby stays local and takes his ability to score to the Pacers, looking to be the missing piece to get Paul George's side back into post season play. Shooting over 60% from the field for the Hoosiers, Anunoby is also chipping in with 1.7 blocks and .9 steals an outing.
15] Chicago Bulls from Sacramento Kings select Miles Bridges from Michigan State. 16] Milwaukee Bucks select Ivan Rabb from California. 17] Atlanta Hawks select Isaiah Hartelstein from Germany.
18] Chicago Bulls select Marques Bolden from Duke. 19] New York Knicks select Terrence Ferguson from Australia. 20] Charlotte Hornets select Jonathan Motley from Baylor.
21] Brooklyn Nets from Boston Celtics Dwayne Bacon from Florida State. 22] Utah Jazz select Kosta Mushidi from Germany. 23] Denver Nuggets from Memphis Grizzlies select Josh Hart from Villanova.
24] Oklahoma City Thunder select Jarrett Allen from Texas. 25] Toronto Raptors from Los Angeles Clippers select Luke Kennard from Duke.
26] Houston Rockets select Thomas Bryant from Indiana.
27] Toronto Raptors select VJ Beachum from Notre Dame. 28] Cleveland Cavaliers select Edmund Sumner from Xavier.
29] San Antonio Spurs select Melo Trimble from Maryland. 30] Utah Jazz from Golden State Warriors select Jaron Blossomgame from Oklahoma State.
Most people claiming to be Clipper fans for life won't even recognize this name. Even more will only associate him with his failed marriage to Adriana Lima. Marko Jaric is much more than that. He is single-handily responsible for the Clippers success during 2005-06 and, once again, when the team was able to snag away Christopher Emmanuel Paul from the New Orleans Horne...erm Pelicans.
How you may ask? Well, before the 2005-06 season kicked off, Mike Dunleavy Sr. took over General Manager duties from Elgin Baylor, the very definition of a failure. Marko was coming off a decent season and was considered to be a key part as he was a 6-foot-6 point guard, an inch shorter than Shaun Livingston, a 6-foot-7 point guard. Many expected the Clippers to use both of their giant point guards as a cornerstone for years to come.
Well, that didn't last long as Mike Dunlelavy was able to snag Sam Cassell, along with a heavily protected first round pick, in exchange for Jaric in a sign-and-trade. Cassell came in and took the Clippers to within a couple of plays of it's first Western Conference Finals appearance against Steve Nash's run-and-gun Phoenix Suns squad.
That isn't the end of Jaric's amazing impact for the Clipper franchise. That first round pick the Wolves gave with Sam Cassell to take the Serbian national was a vital part in Neil Olshey being able to snag away Paul from the Pelicans, along with Eric Gordon Jr., Al-Farouq Aminu and Christopher Zane Kaman.
Paul has matched Sam Cassell's impact and gotten the Clippers as far as the Western Conference semi-finals, but they haven't been able to get over that hump.
1] Golden State Warriors (15-2), Previous 2: Golden State has won 11-in-a-row with only two of those games coming within single digits, including a 149-106 shellacking of the Los Angeles Lakers on Thanksgiving Eve. They've also won the last five home games by an average of 20.6 points. If the Warriors can keep this going, they may challenge their own 73-win record from a year before, though, a championship will greatly surpass another regular season record.
Week 7: vs Atlanta, vs Houston, vs Phoenix
2] Cleveland Cavaliers (13-2), Previous 3: Kevin Love had a huge showing as the Cavaliers put away the Portland Trail Blazers before Kyrie exploding as the Cavs demolished the Mavericks, while LeBron continues to be LeBron. A tough week lies ahead as the Clippers come to town and the squad takes a trip up to Canada. Cleveland, however, has had the luxury of playing 10 of 15 at home.
Week 7: @ Milwaukee, vs Clippers, @ Chicago*
3] San Antonio Spurs (14-3), Previous 4: Pop has the Spurs streaking again, having won nine in a row, while holding a 10-0 road record (in contract, the Spurs are 4-3 at home). Once the schedule balances out, you can expect the Spurs to continue their recent success en route to another, very surprising, 65-win season.
Week 7: vs Orlando, @ Dallas*, vs Washington
4] Los Angeles Clippers (14-4), Previous 1: Questions are hovering all around Lob City about peaking too early, while others are saying that the Clippers are who everyone thought they were. Back to back loses against Detroit and Indiana really sting as the Clippers lose two in a row for the first time all year, and they weren't even close against the Pacers. Must be as a result of hanging out with Tony Romo. Week 7 is busy with a date in Cleveland a rematch against the pesky Pacers.
Week 7: @ Brooklyn, @ Cleveland, @ New Orleans*, vs Indiana
5] Toronto Raptors (10-6), Previous 8: Toronto bounced back well after losing four of five with a 13-point win in Houston and a six point victory in Milwaukee. DeRozan continues to score over 30 points per evening while attempting as many threes as one would expect from an Adonal Foyle. Four home games coming up should help the Raptors pad their wins to secure the second slot in the East.
Week 7: vs Philadelphia, vs Memphis, vs Lakers, vs Atlanta*
6] Memphis Grizzlies (11-6), Previous 5: A split with Miami, with each team losing at home, cost the Grizzlies a perfect week, but one can't argue with the results as they have recovered well from a horrendous start, winning eight of the last ten. All this while the Grizzlies are battling injuries early on. If they can get healthy, challenging for a top three slot may not be out of the question.
Week 7: vs Charlotte, @ Toronto, vs Orlando, vs Lakers
7] Houston Rockets (11-6), Previous 6: Houston took no mercy against the Blazers, dropping 130 on a skidding Portland side behind 38 from James Harden. Eric Gordon chipped in with 26 off the bench, hitting 6-9 from three, while Clint Capela exploded for a surprising 21 on 9-12. What's impressive about D'Antoni's start is that 11 of the 17 games have been on the road, with more of the same coming up.
Week 7: @ Utah, @ Golden State, @ Denver*
8] Chicago Bulls (10-6) Previous 7: Going 4-2 off a six game road trip, with all but one being against the Western conference isn't a bad thing, namely when the losses were against the Clippers and the high-altitude Denver Nuggets. Chicago has only played five of its 16 at home, going 4-1 and will be welcoming any home games they can get.
Week 7: vs Lakers, vs Cleveland, @ Dallas*
9] Oklahoma City Thunder (10-8), Previous 15: The roller coaster in a post-Durant Oklahoma City continues, as Westbrook has secured seven triple-doubles just 18 games into the campaign. Continuity has been key for the Thunder as they have used the same starting unit for every game thus far, and need to put together a win streak to keep up in the loaded West.
Week 7: @ New York, vs Washington, vs New Orleans
10] Boston Celtics (9-7), Previous 10: Boston went toe to toe with the San Antonio Spurs, ultimately dropping the game by six points, thus ending a three game win streak put together by the boys in green. Al Horford and Jae Crowder need to stay healthy if Brad Stevens wants the Celts to have a puncher's shot in the East.
Week 7: @ Miami, vs Detroit, vs Sacramento, @Philadelphia*
11] Atlanta Hawks (10-7), Previous 9: In the midst of a five game road trip, Atlanta was only able to score 68 in Utah before the Lakers shellacked them by 15, while missing Julius Randle & D'Angelo Russell. The trip isn't getting any easier as the Warriors are next on the slate but they are almost home. Need to get back to playing the way they did during their 9-2 start.
Week 7: @ Golden State*, @ Phoenix, vs Detroit, @ Toronto*
12] Charlotte Hornets (9-7), Previous 12: Charlotte split a home-and-home with the Knicks, both games being real interesting, after a five point defeat at the hand of the surging Spurs (who probably should be #2 in the rankings). Belinelli is averaging 16.8 points per contest while connecting on 62.% from three over the past four.
Week 7: @ Memphis, vs Detroit*, vs Dallas, vs Minnesota
13] Utah Jazz (9-8), Previous 16: Utah recovered from a four skin with consecutive blow-outs against the Nuggets (108-83) and the Hawks (95-68). Staying healthy has been an issue for Utah and a lengthy home stand should help get them closer to the fourth slot, with eight of the next ten at home.
Week 7: @ Minnesota, vs Houston*, vs Miami, vs Denver
14] Indiana Pacers (9-9), Previous 17: Missing Paul George didn't seem to be much of an issue as the Pacers shell-shocked the Clippers, holding them to just 30 points in the second half, en route to a 91-70 victory. Glenn Robinson III had a superb night, scoring 17 on 7-9 shooting, while Myles Turner continues his spectacular play as the Pacers look to erase early season woes and get back into the home court fight in the East.
Week 7: @ Portland, @ Clippers
15] New York Knicks (8-8), Previous 15: New York has been a tale of two teams, as they are a solid 7-2 at home, while a struggling 1-6 on the road. Coming off a split against the Hornets, New York has three of four at home, a good chance to pad wins and try to get back into the playoff picture for the first time since the 2012-13 campaign when they made the conference semi-finals.
Week 7: vs Oklahoma City, @ Minnesota, vs Minnesota, vs Sacramento
16] Los Angeles Lakers (9-9), Previous 14: An early season blow-out win over Golden State may have been the reason why the Warriors were ready for a home-and-home against the purple and gold, winning both games by huge margins (149-106 & 109-85). The Lakers bounced back well with a 15-point victory over the Hawks just in time to get ready for a four game road trip. In fact, 12 of the next 15 for the Lakers will be on the road. A make-or-break time for the squad.
17] Detroit Pistons (8-10), Previous 23: Like Golden State, Detroit remembered the embarrassment they faced against the Clippers at Staples, and used that to fuel a 108-97 home victory after Thanksgiving. A split week, the Pistons lost to the high scoring Rockets by three while dropping a big game in Oklahoma City on the second night of a back-to-back.
Week 7: @ Charlotte, @ Boston*, @ Atlanta, vs Orlando
18] Milwaukee Bucks (7-8), Previous 19: Giannis continues to show why he's known as the Greek Freak as the Bucks remain hovering around .500, despite nine of the 15 games being played at home. The last four games have been decided by a combined 23 points, with the Bucks winning two and dropping another two.