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.