Friday, June 9, 2017

NBA 2017 Mock Draft 1.0

Here's my NBA mock draft.  There seem to be a few "consensus" type picks amongst fans out there, but you'll quickly see that I don't buy it.  I lead off with a surprise, and draft prospects only start falling from there.  Read on and find out who I have your favorite team drafting and why, then tell me what YOU think:

  1. Boston Celtics - Josh Jackson F, Kansas
    And right off the bat, a lot of people are going to say I'm going off the rails.  But personally, I think adding a fourth point guard to the Boston roster would be going off the rails!  Boston's front office LOVES Marcus Smart, their backup point guard, and they really like Rozier also.  They spent a 6th and 15th pick on these guys respectively, they don't want to let them go.  And they've got IT at a GREAT rate next season, giving Smart and Rozier both another year to continue to develop.  I think the Celtics' front office is very comfortable with those two running the point after next season, and IT handling it next year.  They have no need for a point guard.
    While some might argue other players are better fits, or that Jackson is too similar to Brown, Jackson is the guy the Celtics' front office likes.  Look around the league, it's become more and more positionless by the year.  6-8 forwards with range that can defend, rebound, get to the hoop, you just can't have too many of them.  I think Brown and Jackson could play next to each other and be VERY effective.  In fact I think things set up very well for the Celtics long term right now, if they draft a forward here, then hope to draft Luka Doncic next year to replace a departing Bradley, they could easily stay in contention for the top of the East, while building for a great long term future as well.  Meanwhile drafting another point guard just gives them headaches.
  2. LA Lakers - Markelle Fultz G, Washington
    The Celtics passing on Fultz in favor of Jackson sets the Lakers up for the best excuse they could hope for to get out of drafting Ball, and bringing the Ball family circus-now vindicated by having had their demands of the NBA satisfied by being a Laker-to the Staples Center.  That kind of sideshow is better suited for a franchise like Sacramento, or Orlando.
    The Lakers bring in Fultz who starts alongside Russell and immediately upgrades their backcourt, providing a significant scoring punch.  With Ingram and Randle continuing to develop in the front court, they'll have a core to build around.
  3. Philadelphia 76ers - DeAaron Fox G, Kentucky
    While this isn't my first controversial pick, some might see it as my most controversial pick.  What I really think happens here, is that Sacramento trades up to draft Lonzo Ball.  However, if they don't I think the 76ers take Fox.  Ball is essentially a smaller version of Simmons, and they intend to put the ball in his hands a lot as a distributor next season.  Fox would make more sense for them, as a hound dog defensive point guard that can lock down elite offensive threats, and hit open shots.  He outplayed Ball the last time we saw Ball on the court in March anyway, so there's really no justification needed for this pick.
  4. Phoenix Suns - Jayson Tatum F, Duke
    I think Phoenix would prefer Jackson, but with him off the board they grab Tatum, who will provide a scorer with solid moves all over the court that can play and defend either forward position.  He's got some growing to do-both physically and figuratively-to really compete at the next level, but he'll add depth and talent to a Phoenix front line that already features exciting young prospects like Marquese Chriss and last year's fourth overall pick Dragan Bender.
  5. Sacramento Kings - Lonzo Ball G, UCLA
    Lavar and Lonzo Ball have been dreaming of the perfect fit in a Lakers uniform for the past 2 decades or so, but ironically I think they land in what's the perfect fit for them right now in Sacramento.  Los Angeles is an old school type of organization.  They might say outwardly that Lavar doesn't bother them, but it's hard for me to believe that.  I think they skip to the podium when Fultz is left for them, realizing they dodge a bullet in the Ball family circus.
    Sacramento however, is the type of organization that would embrace a circus like that.  This is a team that has pondered the ridiculous as part of a thought process to drive ticket sales, to create excitement, and to grow their fan base overall.  I think they look at the Ball family circus and embrace it, salivate at it even.  I think they enable it-they're used to crazy with Cousins, at least Lonzo isn't going to be scary and threatening reporters crazy, just nutty crazy.  Ball falls, but not past 5.
  6. Orlando Magic - Jonathan Isaac F, Florida State
    At the start of last season, we saw the Magic fail at trying to move Aaron Gordon to the 3, and while he tried to embrace the role, by the all star break in February, even head coach Frank Vogel had to admit that the experiment had failed, and that Gordon was better suited to play the power forward position.  Enter Jonathan Isaac, an intriguing young prospect who went to college just a few hours north of Orlando, at Florida State.
    Isaac is a player with the height of a PF or C (6-10), but the foot speed that enables him to defend quicker perimeter players, something he showed off regularly in college.  This could make him just the player that the Magic have been looking for, to play the small forward position.
  7. Minnesota Timberwolves - Malik Monk G, Kentucky
    Coach Thibodeau loves defense, and Monk is the best perimeter defender in this draft class, still sitting on the board in a deep guard draft.  Thibodeau would love him, and the Timberwolves might need him, as both Wiggins and Lavine will come  up for max deals after the 2018-2019 season.  With both players on the same financial clock, the Timberwolves would be wise to look down the road and set themselves up with depth to either trade one or lose one to free agency.
  8. New York Knicks - Frank Ntilikina G, International
    After his antics this past season, and given his reported desire for a huge deal from multiple outlets, I just don't see Rose returning to start at the point for the Knicks next year.  Frank Ntilikina makes an interesting prospect to fill Rose's shoes.  At 6-5 he's both tall and long, and sees the floor extremely well.
    He's a very willing passer, who looks to make those around him better.  That would make him a great fit alongside Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony-who despite public comments from Phil Jackson a few months ago, isn't going anywhere until he waives his no trade clause, and hasn't shown any indication or desire to do that.  While some think his reported changed status with his wife may influence his desire to leave New York, I'm not so sure.  He may just dig his heels in just to spite Phil, just because he can.  Ironically it could work out for everyone involved, if Ntilikina can play in the NBA.  A distributor at the helm of the offense is just what Melo and KP need to succeed.
  9. Dallas Mavericks - Dennis Smith G, NC State
    At first, I had Dallas looking at Markkanen, out of Arizon with this pick, as a potential Dirk replacement.  Dirk's time in the league is obviously coming to an end sooner rather than later, and they'll have to think about that at some point in time, but right now they need to think about a starting point guard, as their starts at that position last year were pretty much split between Yogi Ferrell and Seth Curry.
    Smith makes a nice potential prospect for them at the point, as a guy who filled up the stat sheet in college, averaging over 18 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds per game. during his time at North Carolina State.  He may not be ready to start right away, and he's a bit of a gamble, but he could pay off big time, and owner Mark Cuban does seem to love a good gamble-and have great luck, given his status in life.  Smith could very well come off the board here, and start his career in Dallas.
  10. Sacramento Kings - Zach Collins C, Gonzaga
    Collins has been surging up draft boards, and probably with good reason.  The 7 footer not only can score inside and rebound with the best of them in college, but also showed range, shooting 10-21 from three point distance during his one year at Gonzaga.  While he has range, he also seems to have good shot selection, taking 70% of his shots from inside.  Sacramento could use him at either the 4 or the 5, and would do well to draft him  here.
  11. Charlotte Hornets - Harry Giles F/C, Duke
    I wanted to put former Tarheel Justin Jackson here, given Jordan's close relationship with the championship team ("the ceiling is the roof") but for Jackson, the ceiling might be the 12th pick in the draft, because I think MJ and his front office take Harry Giles here.
    Giles just seems like such a Jordan pick to me.  He battled injuries through college, and was never able to show off as the highly touted prospect he came into Duke rated to be.  As such, he's fallen off a bit for many.  However, word is that Giles has impressed in workouts, looking "better than he ever looked at Duke", leading some to speculate about whether or not he falls and how far if he does.  Healthy, he could be a top 5 of a draft talent, but if injury issues nag him, the pick could be a bust.
    As far as skill set, Giles fits in Charlotte alongside Kaminsky in the front court, who brings range, while Giles brings an interior game.  If Jordan picks him, it might doom him though.  OR it could vindicate MJ as an owner/front office type someday down the road.  That's the nature of gambles, and well, we all know how MJ feels about gambling don't we?  He's the type who always wants to have one up on everyone else, and always thinks he does.  He's also brought in several Duke players over the last 24 months, leading me to believe Giles would be a natural fit culture wise.  Only time will tell, but I wouldn't be shocked at all to see Giles come off the board here and play at least his first few years in North Carolina.
  12. Detroit Pistons - Lauri Markkanen F, Arizona
    Drummond is the type of player that dominates the interior of the basketball court, while Markkanen is the best stretch four in this draft.  The Pistons really get lucky with him falling to them here, and SVG shouldn't waste any time getting to the podium to make the announcement.  Markkanen would be a perfect fit on the roster, would help open up the floor, and could potentially start right away, or at least play significant minutes right away.
  13. Denver Nuggets - Justin Jackson G/F, North Carolina
    Denver's one biggest need is to improve it's defense-they ranked 27th in the league in ppg allowed last year, and 29th in opponent field goal percentage allowed.  Justin Jackson is a "3 and D" guy who can play the 2 or the 3, and could maybe even guard a few 4's in the NBA.  He's a strong defender on the perimeter, who brings championship pedigree, coming fresh off North Carolina's championship team.  This sort of thing can help bring a winning attitude to a team, can help change the atmosphere, and thus, the confidence of a team, which impacts results on the floor.  Look for Jackson to go by here if not before, and make an impact on his team, even if he's not scoring 20 a game.
  14. Miami Heat - T.J. Leaf F, UCLA
    Miami is finally able to release Chris Bosh, and they haven't found a real good stretch four since he left.  Leaf could potentially fill those shoes.  He almost reminds me of Kevin Love, both coming out of UCLA, and both good three point shooters who can rebound the ball.  He might not be as good as Love-but he also might be better someday.  Or anything in between.  The Heat could use him right away, and fill a need by drafting him here.
  15. Portland Trailblazers - John Collins F/C, Wake Forest
    Slated to foot the bill of the league's highest payroll next season at this point in time, with $137 million committed to their current roster, and with three picks in the first round but 15th being the highest, the Blazers are really limited on the movements they can make this off-season, making this pick their best opportunity to improve their team in the short term.  Collins does this, giving them a guy who can immediately contribute offensively and on the boards, after averaging essentially 28 and 15 in college.
  16. Chicago Bulls - Jawun Evans G, Oklahoma State
    The Bulls found the value of a true point guard when Rondo went down in the playoffs.  At this point in the draft, despite it's depth at the position, 5 point guards have already been drafted, leaving Evans as the best on the board.  Chicago can grab him up and put him in the mix in their back court.
    **I think Chicago is best suited at this point, to trade Butler, preferably for a high pick in this draft.  I could see a team like Philly approaching Chicago with an offer of the third overall, Okafor, and maybe even the Lakers' pick next year as well, and Chicago biting on the offer.  I don't like projecting trades into mock drafts, but I thought this was worth mentioning here.**
  17. Milwaukee Bucks - Jarrett Allen C, Texas
    Giannis, Thon Maker, the Bucks as of late have shown an interest in taking young project type players, who have shown the potential to dominate down the line.  Allen would fit that mold, and if Thon doesn't work out, maybe Allen does.  Or maybe they both do and you trade one down the line.  The Bucks seem to be interested in development, and Allen is one of the most interesting young prospects in this class, with what some consider to be perhaps the highest ceiling.
  18. Indiana Pacers - Justin Patton F/C, Creighton
    Patton grew up near Creighton (in Nebraska) and has always been a small town type of guy, I think Indiana is a team that likes that in their picks, meaning they're more likely to stick around down the line.  Patton is a legit 7 footer that can really get up and down the court.  He's an offensive threat who pops well on the pick and roll, and makes a high percentage of the shots he takes.  He doesn't take bad shots, but also lacks aggression around the rim and has shown some hesitation in shooting from deeper range.  His rebounding is also suspect, but he could still potentially grow into a great young big man alongside Myles Turner, and give the Pacers two good young players to rebuild around if Paul George leaves.

    **Again, note.  I think the most likely thing that happens with this pick, is that the Pacers trade it.  The latest reports have them trying to go all in to show Paul George that they want to and are serious about becoming contenders around him down the road.  Therefore, they need players that will produce next year, not down the road, like a draft pick would.
    One place I might look is Detroit, where they could target Reggie Jackson, a player SVG is on the outs with.  The Pistons could use the pick to rebuild, and want to get rid of Jackson, and the Pacers might want to add the talent to the roster.
    Another candidate might be Portland, who will likely be looking to shed salary as much as possible.  If it were Portland that the Pacers called, I'd target Miles Leonard.  He's a good stretch four type player on a reasonable contract for the next several seasons.  He'd fit well alongside Drummond, and would be expendable to the Trailblazers at this point based  upon this mock draft scenario.**
  19. Atlanta Hawks - Luke Kennard G/F, Duke
    I see in Luke Kennard something of a shorter Kyle Korver-a player the Hawks traded away last year much to the dismay of their fan base and the players on their roster.  Kennard would give them a player with range almost to match Korver's, and also much like Korver, good height for the shooting guard position, and suspect defensive abilities.  I think he'd be a natural fit in Atlanta, and if he's still there when they pick they'd be wise to select him.
  20. Portland Trailblazers - Tyler Lydon F/C, Syracue
    The Blazers only real option to add to their team this year is through the draft, and they'll be committed to do so with at least their first two picks.  Lydon gives them a fairly well developed player who can play either forward position, has very reliable range, converting 40% of his three point attempts in college, and has the size to guard bigger power forwards even, standing at about 6 foot 10.
  21. Oklahoma City Thunder - O.G. Anunoby F, Indiana
    Anunoby falls in this mock draft for two reasons, with the most obvious being the injury late last season.  The second being that he doesn't quite measure up as tall as some thought he was, measuring 6 foot 6, while some analysts had him at 6-8 before this.  That can often chip away at your draft stock quietly.
    In Anunoby-provided he remains healthy-the Thunder get a lockdown defender who can guard the other team's scoring wing player, potentially taking some pressure off a guy like Westbrook on that side of the court.  The big question will be whether or not Anunoby has reliable NBA three point range (37% in college) and whether or not his jump shot can be reliable overall.  If it can (and given the small sample at the college level it's honestly hard to predict at this point) then he'll earn a lot of minutes and be successful. If not, he still may stick around in the league-defensive guys tend to do that sometimes-but he'll have a tough time staying on the court for extended periods of time if he's not an offensive threat.
  22. Brooklyn Nets - Caleb Swanigan F, Purdue
    With a center like Brook Lopez, that often likes to play from the perimeter, and isn't exactly known as a tenacious rebounder, the Nets need a power forward that can clean the glass.  Insert Swanigan, who averaged 15 boards per forty minutes in college, and while he stands about 6-9, possesses a 7-4 wingspan and has a standing reach of 9-1.  He could be a perfect fit alongside Lopez, cleaning up the glass and threatening the defense with his interior scoring.
  23. Toronto Raptors - Isaiah Hartenstein F/C, Germany
    Fans might look at Hartenstein and understandably draw comparisons to Kristaps Porzingis, but they'd be way off the mark.  While both are tall thin white guys from roughly the same geographical region in the world, Hartenstein's game differes from that of Porzingis about as much as it could.  Hartenstein prefers operating in the paint, and doesn't seem to possess a real outside shot.  He's a good rebounder (14 per 40 minutes) and a tough player, who can contribute in the league and should go in the first round.
  24. Utah Jazz - Ivan Rabb F/C, California
    Around this time last year, Rabb was being talked about as a likely lottery pick if he stayed in the draft.  This year, the Jazz will snatch him up at 24 and be happy with the fallen talent, whose stock suffered seriously from a down year at Cal.
  25. Orlando Magic - Terrance Ferguson G/F, Australia
    Ferguson made the rare decision to forego the NCAA and spend his year after high school playing professional basketball in Australia, where he's been unimpressive to say the least.  As a result, a player who was once thought of as a lottery talent, falls to the Magic at 25.
  26. Portland Trailblazers - Rodions Kurucs F, Barcelona
    At this point in the draft, the Blazers have drafted at least 2 rookies already and aren't trying to fill spots on this year's roster any longer.  Kurucs is a stash overseas pick, who will continue to develop in Spain while they work to open up a roster spot for him, or wait to develop a need.
  27. Brooklyn Nets - Anzejs Pasecniks F/C, Latvia
    In Pasecniks, some draft analysts see a shadow of Kristaps Porzingis, which probably comes partially from Pasecniks' experience playing alongside the budding NBA star during their days in Europe.  Both received similar attention and interest from scouts several years ago when they first caught the eye of the NBA, but Porzingis has developed more along the way than Anzejs.  The Nets may see their opportunity to build their own Porzingis across town from the original, and perhaps even a friendly in city/country of origin rivalry long term?  Who knows, but Pasecniks makes a lot of sense here, especially if they plan on trading starting center Brook Lopez, something many around the league have speculated might be in their plans.
  28. LA Lakers - Ike Anigbogu C, UCLA
    This is a long term, down the road kind of pick.  Anigbogu has great size (6-10, 250) and enough athleticism to excite NBA GM's and coaches alike.  It'll take a few years for this 18 year old to develop, but he could be a force in the league for many years to come with the right tutelage.
  29. San Antonio Spurs - Josh Hart G, Villanova
    Josh Hart was a four year player at Villanova under head coach Jay Wright.  He's a system guy, he fully buys in, he dedicates himself, and he succeeds.  That's the kind of guy a coach like Pop likes.  The kind that wants to be a cog in the system, that's the kind he can work with also.  I think Hart makes a great fit in San Antonio.
  30. Utah Jazz - Frank Jackson G, Duke
    Jackson is "Mr Utah" to the point that his father is Utah state senator Al Jackson.  He's also a solid scorer from Duke, who could fit into the Utah system, and provide them with scoring off the  bench at the 2 and 3.

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