The NBA Draft is just over 24 hours away. We have seen a few trades happen already with many more rumors out there that makes it seem like there could be a few more either before tomorrow night or during the draft. It will be tough to predict what trades could happen involving picks. It seems safe to say the Lakers will not be trading #2 for Paul George, but perhaps Boston moves #3 for Jimmy Butler. Teams like Portland are likely to either package their picks and move up in the draft or trade one or two to get out of some of their contracts. I wrote a mock draft earlier in the year but with more time to check out prospects and more news on what may happen, I am going to do it a little different this time. I have 21 prospects I would want to go after in the first round. I have player comparisons and short summaries for them. I will follow that by two mock draft; one of what I would do as a G.M. which will be pretty similar to my rankings as most of the time best player available is the way to go in the NBA, and the second will be what I think will happen tomorrow night. Both only go up to pick #20. I think prospects #20-#40 are all similar and it will come down to preference.
My top ten is fairly similar to most experts. I think the top six all have a chance to be stars, each having their own faults. Malik Monk does not have the star power but you cannot overvalue his shooting skills and athleticism. If he turns out to be Jamal Crawford, he may never make an All-Star team, but would you not want a Jamal Crawford with the 7th pick? Isaac is such a risk I could not take him any higher than 8th due to who is ahead of him. Last year he could have potentially gone third but this draft is deep so you cannot risk the potential over the certain things ahead. After Markkanen, who like I said, I’m not that high on, everyone else is either a huge risk potential wise, like say Harry Giles or Justin Patton, or has a high floor and low ceiling, just to a lesser extent than Markkanen. The rest of my top twenty is mostly players I expect in the right situation could have careers as starters or high end backups. Like I said before, I think prospects 20-40 are all in the same tier of talent, I just have some I like more than others due to potential fits, unique skill sets, and fit in the modern NBA. This draft is a little odd prospect wise. The top 7-8 is a lot of talented young wings, followed by a good portion of young big men with skillsets not fit for the modern NBA, and followed by a lot of older players who don’t look like stars but could easily be the next Malcolm Brogdon. A player like Bam Adebayo could be a late first or early second this year, whereas ten years ago he would have been projected the next Dwight Howard and would go in the top five. People are trying to emulate the Warriors. The Warriors are the most talented collection of players in NBA history and will not be replicated anytime soon. Maybe if teams can figure out how to incorporate speed and size, but less shooting, similar to the Sixers, they will have a chance. Much easier said than done though. In my opinion, this draft and next will shape the NBA for the next decade more so than any other in recent memory. The recent drafts have not had much top end talent and the next two look like they do. I am not sure about next year’s depth but this is one of the better. You can never expect an Isaiah Thomas from any draft but I could see this being one of the higher percentage drafts for picks that end up having a 5+ year career. These players will not appear in my mocks and most are not projected first round picks but here are a few second round prospects I would want to go after: Dillon Brooks, Edmond Sumner, Monte Morris, Frank Mason, Josh Hart, Davon Reed. I think all 6 of these players have the skillset to make an impact on an NBA, whether that be as the 15th man on a contender or 9th man on a rebuild. Let’s get to the top prospects.
- Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington Huskies
Pro Comparison: Damian Lillard
Markelle Fultz has ideal size for a point guard, but also tall enough to play the 2. His over 6’9” wingspan and athleticism projects well to be an above average defender. He can shoot, drive, create, play off-ball, has a midrange game, can explode to the hoop, rebound, run in transition, has a nice Euro-step and pretty much everything else. I compare him to Damian Lillard as the are both explosive prospects who can do a little bit of everything and possess great, but not elite athleticisms. Fultz has the both highest floor and ceiling of any player in the draft. There is no team in the NBA that couldn’t use a player like Fultz. He can play on and off the ball, can create for other, can be a spot up shooter and can play slow or fast paced. It would not be surprising to see a stat line of 18 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds a game as a rookie. Since Fultz has been the number one prospect on most people’s boards for a while now, everyone is trying to find a way to pick apart his game. Fultz is such a well-rounded prospect it is hard to find a true fault in his game. The biggest knock on Fultz would be that his team lacked success. The Washington Huskies went 9-22 with Fultz playing in only 25 of those games. It is tough to know without every meeting him, but you could say that leaves some worry about leadership and lack of desire to win. In a sport where one player can change a team so drastically, you would think he would have pulled together a few more wins. The other knock on Fultz would be is that he does not put the same effort in on defense as offense, but just as LeBron James sometimes conserves energy on defense so he is fresh for offense, Fultz might be in the same boat. He had to carry the entire offense. When these are the two weaknesses we are nitpicking, you have a safe prospect. If Fultz can be your number two option in 3 or 4 years after getting adjusted to the NBA, I would expect you to be competing for a championship. I think there is a huge gap between Fultz and every other prospect in this draft and most other drafts in recent memory.
- De’Aaron Fox
Pro Comparison: Mini John Wall
De’Aaron Fox has the floor of Elfrid Payton, the ceiling on John Wall, a middle ground of Dennis Schroeder. Fox is one of the fastest players I have ever watched, whether it be running in transition with the ball or chasing down the ball on defense. But where he really amazes me is how quick he is off the dribble in a half-court setting. He can get to the rim before the defense even realizes what has happened. Once blowing by his defender, Fox can either rose up over defenders to finish in the lane or dish out to teammates on the outside when defenses collapse. Fox is like Wall in that he has the athleticism to throw down dunks over the defense or contort his body for a contested layup. Fox also has a midrange game and can pull up over defenders, but has not yet developed three-point range. Fox shot only 25% from deep in college. In the modern NBA, it is tough to pick out a successful point guard who is not a good three-point shooter. Wall was not a good shooter out of college as he was never asked, or needed to shoot all that much. He was so much more athletic than opposing defenses he could always just get to the hoop. Wall is by no means an elite three-point shooter but has developed a jumper that defenders at least have to respect. Given fox may never have the NFL size of Wall and it is tough to expect anyone in the NBA to have the kind of assists game that Wall does, he should come close. When listening to Fox in interviews, he presents himself as a young man who wants to do nothing but play basketball. He has no interest in clubs, drinking or partying. This is someone who wants to be the best he can be both on the court and as a leader. He also knows he can shoot the way he shot at the end of the season in the NBA if he works on it. If Fox shot the ball over 40% from three he is in competition for the #1 pick and am I confident that he can get a respectable shot. This is someone I want leading my team. Fox should be able to contribute right away on the defensive side of the ball. His size and athleticism allow him to stay in front of his man, and he was able to hold Lonzo Ball in check in their two matchups. He actually drastically outperformed Ball, which shows that he can compete against NBA caliber talent. I loved watching Fox play this season. He was always exciting to watch and there was always a highlight to be made. He could grab a rebound, push the floor in transition, beat almost everyone down the floor due to his speed, and throw an alley-oop to a teammate or throw it down himself.
- Jayson Tatum
Pro Comparison: Carmelo Anthony
Jayson Tatum and Josh Jackson are comparable to Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins of a few years ago. They are even from the same colleges. Each has a different style of play and are of similar skill level with similar potential, albeit in a different fashion. I think it will come down to preference as to who goes first out of these two players. Tatum had a slow start to the year due to injury but came on strong down the stretch, even if team success was not indicative of it. Carmelo Anthony is one of the best scorers in NBA history. Tatum also has a little Paul Pierce to him. I always find it pretty absurd to compare college players to some of the best players in NBA history but the style of play and what Tatum can bring to a team is similar to that of Carmelo. Watching Tatum, you see the well-rounded offensive game he brings and how he can score from anywhere on the court. Tatum can take the ball in the post, and from a combination of little stutter steps, fade away on the baseline for an easy twelve-foot basket. Tatum can take the ball from the outside and drive to the basket, either pulling up for a midrange shot, or continue the drive to the hoop. Like Anthony, Tatum will never be rising above defenses and will probably not have a career of poster dunks in LeBron-type fashion, but can contort his body at the rim to draw a foul and still get a good shot up. Tatum can also serve as a spot-up shooter. His 34% three point shooting wasn’t great but his 85% free throw shooting represents a the potential for that three point number to rise. We have also seen in the workouts leading up to the NBA Draft that Tatum looks like he can become an elite three point shooter. Tatum is also a solid rebounder and with work in a NBA strength an conditioning, Tatum should be able to put a few pounds on and operate as a stretch four when his team goes small, especially with his advanced rebounding skills. I see Tatum playing the four in the NBA similar to when Carmelo had his best seasons. In today’s NBA, Carmelo has a negative connotation to him but think about if 2008 Melo had some help, he very well could have led a team to a championship. For how good Tatum will be on offense, I would prefer him not guarding Durant, LeBron and Paul George. How Tatum develops on the defensive side will determine his NBA ceiling. In college he was able to hold his own, but currently does not have the quickness for the more athletic NBA 3s nor the size for the bigger NBA 4s. If he were playing the Cavs, Tatum would get destroyed by either LeBron all around or Love in the post. (Most people do though) Tatum did show that when playing down low he can come over and be weak side help and his 1.1 blocks and 1.3 steals per game show good defensive instincts. I am much higher on Tatum than most people, as I could see him being the focal point of an offense and has a ceiling as one of the better scorers in the NBA. If he can go to a team that has some defense and ball movement around him, I expect a Rookie of the Year Award.
- Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas Jayhawks
Pro Comparison: Andrew Wiggins, but the opposite (I’ll explain)
At the end of the season, Josh Jackson and Fultz were neck in neck for my top prospect, but as the pre-draft process has gone on, Jackson has dropped a little. Jackson has the ideal build for a NBA small forward; 6’8” and over 200 pounds with great athleticism. Even if his offensive game takes some transition time, he will still be able to run the court and finish in transition while also being a contributor on the defensive side. Jackson averaged 1.1 blocks and 1.7 steals per game as a freshman while also playing within the team defense and never trying to do too much. He impressed in the ability the chase players down in transition and had a number of highlight chase down blocks. Jackson should be able to come right into the NBA and contribute to whichever team he was on. Just as Jaylen brown this past season did not do much on offense, his confidence, size and defensive ability allowed him to contribute to a number one seed in the playoffs. Jackson could wind up being right up there with Wiggins, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler and franchise building blocks that are great on both sides of the ball, but it will take some work on offense.. Jackson does everything you could want on offense, just nothing at an elite level outside athleticism.. He can play isolation ball, can get to the hoop or pull up, can play in the post against smaller defenders, can rise up defenders when driving, can facilitate the offense and create for others. He shot over 50% from the field which shows he plays inside himself and never tries to do too much, but the passion he shows lets you know that he wants the ball in his hands at all times, whether that be to take the shot or create for someone else. Jackson shot an impressive 38% from three-point range as a freshman, but with 57% from the free throw line and the extended NBA three point line, it should be expected that his three-point percentage drop significantly. This could be the difference between being a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and a Paul George. That is the biggest knock against his game right now. Whether that develops or not will ultimately determine his ceiling but all his other abilities will allow him to be a starter in the NBA regardless of his shooting. He could also just prove me wrong and continue his 38% percent shooting and put all those questions to rest. We’ll see. The opposite of Andrew Wiggins comparison is probably not the best in the world, but both being one and done highly regard wings from Kansas makes it inevitable. The opposite part is that Wiggins has come in as an offensive force, but is struggling on the defensive side. His one on one defense isn’t bad but has struggled in the team defense. Josh Jackson should come in an excel on defense, but on offense, one on one he shouldn’t be bad but will struggle playing a key role in team basketball. Out of the top five prospects, he has the lowest ceiling, but some skills that are not teachable and make him a valuable NBA player. His off-court incidents make it so I would not draft him top three in such a star studded class.
- Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA
Pro Comparison: Jason Kidd
Lonzo Ball is the toughest prospect in this class to evaluate. Between his awkward shot, no in between game, lack of defense, and his father, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. But he also has the best vision in the class, shot the ball well from three in college despite his awkward shot, and his extremely undervalued athleticism, he has lots of positives. He is just not your typical prospect in every way and I have been debating for months if I think he will be the best player in this class or out of the league before his rookie contract is over. For that reason, I cannot put him any higher than five. The top five in this draft is in a tier of its own and I cannot reasonably put him below that. But the potential of putting together the combination of his size, athleticism, vision, and what hopefully is his shooting, you cannot put him any lower either. I think his awkward jumper could be an issue. It is a fairly slow release and because it crosses his body somewhat, it is easier for a defender to stick a hand out. It is one of the reasons he had a nonexistent midrange game in college. Because of the close proximity of the defender as you move closer to the basket, the less time you have for your release. One of the reasons Steph Curry and Carmelo Anthony are so lethal from anywhere on the court is because of how quick they get the ball out. You will rarely, if ever, see these two get their shot blocked on a jumper. Think about it like a quarterback’s throwing motion. The quicker a release for a quarterback, the less time the defense has to react. One of the main criticisms of Tim Tebow was he dropped the ball low in his motion, giving the defensive lineman time to swat the ball and gives the defensive backs a extra split-second to see where the ball is headed. That being said, there is a lot to like about Ball and there are reasons he is slotted at number two overall. Ball makes everyone around him better. Ball took a UCLA team that went 15-17 in 2015-2016 and led pretty much the same team to a 31-5 record in 2016-2017. Ball plays basketball like someone would play chess; he tends to see the whole play before it happens, and that play is usually up-tempo. Ball’s style of play worked at the high school and college level, but most NBA teams run a slower paced offense than what he is used to. Ball is the one player in this draft who could average ten points per game for his entire career, and still make a drastic impact on the game and be a key contributor to a championship team. Ball is so unique as a player that the Jason Kidd comparison is not ideal, but this is a close as I can think of. Maybe Michael Carter-Williams with a jump shot and just an overall more fluid game? For everything Lonzo does on the court to make the team better, I cannot stress enough how little I would want LaVar Ball around my team.
- Dennis Smith, Jr
Pro Comparison: Derrick Rose
Dennis Smith is in a position similar to Fultz in that he played on an awful team and was asked to carry the entire offensive load. Smith averaged 18.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 6.2 assists, .4 blocks, and 1.9 steals per game on 46% from the field and 36% from three in his lone season of college ball. Every single one of these stats are better than what Derrick Rose accumulated in his lone season in college except the field goal percentage, which Rose only bested him by about 2%. When you hear Derrick Rose now, you think Rose of the Knicks, but if Smith can be even somewhat of pre-injury Rose was, whoever drafts him will have an exciting prospect on their hands. Smith is so explosive driving to the basket and is such a good athlete. When he drives, it is reminiscent of Russell Westbrook or Rose. These kinds of athletes will always have a place in the NBA. His assists and three point percentage also give indications that he can help a team and serve as a spot up shooter. Smith tends to not put 100% into defense, but that seems to be a common theme with these draft prospects who played on bad teams and had to carry the whole offensive load. Smith has all the intangibles to be a good NBA defender. I have not seen much of Smith in interviews, but there has been no negative news about him either. I am very close to changing my top five to a top six and including Smith. His explosiveness is just that good that if he can become a more consistent shooter and hold his own on defense, he will be a starter for years to come. His style does not reflect that of making those around him better and that what he needs to work on the most, but is probably the hardest thing for a point guard to learn.
- Malik Monk
Pro Comparison: Jamal Crawford without the elite handle
The perfect landing spot from Monk’s perspective would be the Sixers. He would be able to play off ball with Ben Simmons doing must of the ball handling, and on defense switch onto point guards most of the time to avoid oversized shooting guards. Monk is an undersized, streaky shooter, who does not create much offense and is not a strong defender. These characteristics as a group tend to not translate to great NBA players. That is not to say Monk won’t be a good NBA player, he just has a few things to overcome. But Monk is also recently 19 and has a lot of room to grow and does one thing that most NBA teams value above all; score. Monk was one of the best scorers in college basketball this past season. He averaged 19.8 points per game on 45% shooting from the field and a touch under 40% from three. His most memorable game of the season came against North Carolina when he went for 47 points. I expect Monk to be a heat check player in the NBA, similar to Jamal Crawford. He can hit five threes in a row and it seems like everything will go in, and then go cold for stretches. Monk, like Crawford, will have to focus on runners and floaters when he gets into the paint as his size and lack of athleticism will keep him from finishing above the rim. Luckily this is one of his strengths. Players coming out of Kentucky are tough to judge. Due to all the talent around them, sometimes players aren’t asked to do as much and stick to their specialties. No one thought Devin Booker was going to be as good as he currently is. Booker has the Harrison twins and Tyler Ulis playing ahead of him and we were just not given the opportunity to see his full skill set. Monk got much more of an opportunity to show what he can do. He played 1218 minutes in his lone season of college basketball compared to Booker’s 816. Everything Monk is weak in, De’Aaron Fox is generally pretty strong in. They balanced each other out very well so given the opportunity, Monk may be able to develop those traits we didn’t get to see in college. If not, we might get Jeremy Lamb 2.0. I would not want to be picking 7th in the 2017 draft. The drop-off from 6 to 7 is significant.
- Jonathan Isaac, SF, Florida State Seminoles
Pro Comparison: Brandon Ingram
Let me just start by saying that this comparison is to 2016-2017 Brandon Ingram. Ingram is going to come out and crush it this year. He has all the talent and is one of the hardest workers in the NBA. I have seen Isaac a lot higher than this on most big boards. I am not a fan Isaac but I can see the draw some scouts have. He has the body, speed and basic skillset that he can play the 2, 3 and 4, similar to Ingram. The foundation is there, it will just take the player bringing these skills together to reach their incredibly high ceiling. The difference between Ingram and Isaac is that Ingram had a lot more production in college to show scouts. Isaac could disappear for games at a time and looked like a future All-Star in others. He is somewhat similar to Marquese Chriss in that regard. Each compares favorably to past All-Stars and they possess all the physical tools in the world, they just have to put everything together which is much easier said than done. It would not be shocking to see any of Chriss, Isaac or Ingram become an All-NBA player and it would not be shocking if they were all out of the NBA in five years. Although his potential is through the roof, I think it takes a lot to get there. I do not trust a college player who did not make a huge impact on their team becoming a great NBA player. This is a similar situation to Marvin Williams out of UNC some years back. He did not even start for UNC but all the potential that a scout could want was there, but the current skillset was not. Williams has become a decent player but nothing like his potential. The NBA Draft is all about potential, but it cannot be the only thing a prospect has when you are drafting top five or seven.
- Frank Ntilikina, PG/SG, France
Pro Comparison: Dante Exum
Frank Ntilikina is a 6’5” French point guard prospect. Dante Exum is a 6’6” Australian point guard who was the fifth pick in the 2014 NBA Draft and currently plays for the Jazz. Both prospects were or will be 19 at the start of their respective rookies seasons and are coming into the league as raw, athletic point guards who both possess the size to be combo guards in the NBA. Neither has gotten the chance to play against too much elite competition before coming to the NBA and their draft position is based on potential rather than what they have accomplished so far in their careers. Exum has dealt with injuries but even so, has not lived up to expectations. As much as each prospect is unique, the NBA is a copycat league and front offices tend to follow draft trends. This may hurt Ntilikina, as there has not been a highly drafted international guard that has lived up to their draft expectation recently. Ntilikina can excel to the rim and can create for others but most other parts of his game are raw and it will probably be two or three years before we can expect a breakout. He has performed well in the playoffs the past few weeks but has also not stood out much. Worse case scenario he is a 3 and D who can guard two or three positions with his crazy wingspan. He is one of the last prospects that has the real potential to be an above average player. Lauri Markkanen may come in right away and be better but will he ever be anything more than Ryan Anderson at best?
- Isaiah Hartenstein, PF, Lithuania
Pro Comparison: Donatas Motiejunas
This could very well end up being the biggest bust in the draft. I am well of aware of it but think Hartenstein is worth the risk as he could give a team a young player they can either bring over right away and develop in the G League or leave over in Europe. He is a raw prospect in every sense and has not played against much elite competition. Hartenstein also has a little arrogance to him. Not nearly as bad as Mario Hezonja but in a similar mold. He also has a habit to tend to fall in love with the three, even when he is the biggest guy on the court. So besides having raw skills to develop, he will need to make an attitude adjustment and also an adjustment in style of play. That is not to say he can’t shoot from outside because that is a main draw, but he needs to learn when to do what. That sounds easy and something once told, you should just be able to do, but it is not always the case. Josh Smith for example was obsessed with shooting threes, despite the fact that he was not very good at it. This led to his NBA downfall. Hartenstein is by no means ever going to be Shaq but when he goes for dunks in the post, he goes up powerful off two feet and throws the ball down with two hands with his legs going out as if to say “get out of my way.” He will never be Shaq but it shows a willingness to play down low as opposed to solely a perimeter player. Hartenstein has the size of an NBA center with above-average athleticism that allows him to play power forward. His combination of shooting from outside, playing down low, and rebounding is above that of any prospect in this draft. The best part about Hartenstein is his ability to rebound and launch outlet passes. It is like watching Kevin Love. Each individual skill might not be the best compared to other big men in the draft but no other big man prospect can offer the same combination of skills, while able to play both the 4 and 5.
- Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona Wildcats
Pro Comparison: Channing Frye
Speaking of…When I first sought out at evaluating the class of 2017 NBA prospects, Lauri Markkanen was low on my initial impressions. I thought of him as Andrea Bargnani. A big man who can shoot and that’s about it. After watching some more game film of Markkanen, he is more than that. Markkanen is an elite three-point shooter and has the height to shoot over pretty much anyone. He can also create his own shot off the dribble to a degree, something Bargnani could never do. Markkanen lacks the build and touch right now to be a post of scorer. Markkanen has an offensive skillset that is valuable in the modern NBA but defense is where he is going to have to work on if he wants to stick in the NBA. The have been a lot of comparisons to Kristaps Porzingis. I can maybe see that on offense a little bit (I think even there they are very different), but defense is where the comparison really falls off. Porzingis is a great athlete and elite shot blocker. Porzingis will probably play his best NBA basketball when the Knicks decide to slide him over to center. Markkanen currently could not hold his own at center, but will also struggle to stick with more athletic 4s, nor is he a good rebounder. It is tough to think of a team where you would be comfortable having Markkanen and not feel like he was a liability on defense. A team will draft Markkanen due to his offensive potential in the hopes that they can teach him defense, the question is just whether it can ever be developed and he can overcome his natural limitations. We know Markkanen is never going to be a good defender and rebounder, it is just whether he can do enough on the offensive end to make up for it. Could you imagine any other team besides the rockets that can afford to play Ryan Anderson at center? No because they are basing their offense on shooting 30+ threes a game. No other team could afford to have that at center. And in the current NBA, they would both be torched at the four. Valuable NBA player? Yes. Anything more than a sharpshooter? Probably not. Markkanen can carve out a nice career like Frye by playing 20 minutes a night and knocking down shots at an elite clip.
- Harry Giles, PF, Duke Blue Devils
Pro Comparison: Gorgui Dieng
In 2015, Jeff Goodman, of ESPN, tweeted, “Besides Anthony Davis, Harry Giles is top overall recruit I’ve seen in past decade-plus.” Rivals and 24/7 Sports had Giles ranked as the number two recruit in the country after Josh Jackson, with ESPN ranking him number one overall. He also starred for Team USA at the 2015 FIBA Under-19 World Championship. These accolades tend to lead to a top three draft pick, yet Giles will be lucky if he goes in the lottery. This is due to two surgically repaired knees and an underwhelming freshman season at Duke. There are two players we can look back on from the 2016 draft to compare Giles to; Thon Maker and Skal Labissiere. Maker was a YouTube sensation with his diverse skillset and ridiculously high ceiling, yet had never played against any elite competition and scouts were unsure if Maker and his skinny frame would ever be able to put all his tools together. Labissiere was a top two recruit on all three major recruiting services, with Rivals even rating him above Ben Simmons. Labissiere struggled to even crack Kentucky’s lineup his lone year, but entered the draft due to potential. Both Maker and Labissiere have held their own at the NBA level this year and both improved over the school year. This bodes well for Giles in that joining an NBA team, with their coaching and training, will be able to live up to the potential he showed in high school. And watching his high school highlights was something special. Dieng is a safe comparison for Giles style of play in that they can do a little bit of everything inside the arc. If Giles even gets close to what he looked like in high school, he will absolutely exceed Dieng and could come closer to a Kevin Garnett. If that player, now almost two years removed from his most recent knee surgery, can come back, the Nuggets will have a star in the making. The Nuggets have a lot of depth all over their roster and are at the point that they just need to pair stars with their current start Nikola Jokic. They are one of the few teams in the lottery who can afford to swing on a boom-or-bust prospect like Giles.
- Donovan Mitchell, SG, Louisville Cardinals
Pro Comparison: Avery Bradley
Avery Bradley is one of the more underrated players in the NBA. If Mitchell can turn into even a lesser version of Bradley, that is not a bad career. An undersized guard who works his butt off for 15 points and 5 rebounds a game while shutting down the other team’s lead guard.
- Terrance Ferguson, SG, Adelaide 36ers
Pro Comparison: J.R. Smith
It does not feel right to compare anyone to J.R. Smith because he is one of a kind. Ferguson was the 16th rated recruit by 24/7 Sports but decided to play the year in Australia for the Adelaide 36ers so we did not get to see him play against any of the other top prospects. Ferguson has explosive athleticism and we could see him competing in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. He also has very good three-point range, potentially good enough to compete in the Three Point Contest. These two qualities together should get him lottery looks, especially when outside the lottery is mostly big men These two are clearly his strengths but also has a nice floater game. His game resembles that of Monk’s, and we might be debating the two if Ferguson had played college ball.. Ferguson also has less than ideal length, despite being 6’7”. Ferguson also has nice combo of arrogance and fun to his game, similar to that of Smith. Ferguson is not going to be a star, but could be a quality depth wing.
- Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga Bulldogs
Pro Comparison: 2016-2017 Serge Ibaka
I am not a fan of prospects who do not start. Collins has started one year of his recent basketball career: his senior year of high school. He played behind some decent players but if you really are that good you find a way to jump in front of them. That said, he can shoot and defend some. He will never lead the league in blocked shots and I do not expect him to be as good as Ibaka or ever be a max player. He just has a shot that a lot of these other big guys do not.
- Luke Kennard, SG, Duke
Pro Comparison: Mike Dunleavy
Kennard can shoot, grab some rebound and play within himself on defense. Sound just like a Dunleavy type of player: every team could use one but is not winning you a championship.
- Jordan Bell, PF/C, Oregon Ducks
Pro Comparison: Kenneth Faried
Faried was the 22nd pick in the 2011 NBA Draft due to being an energy player who just grabbed rebounds. I think if the draft were redone, teams would take him much higher. Faried is best suited to come off the bench but at this point in the draft, if you can get that energizer it is worth it. Bell brings the same characteristics and needed toughness to a NBA team.
- Derrick White, PG/SG, Colorado Buffaloes
Pro Comparison: Malcolm Brogdon
A player who plays within his limits, knows his role, and is a leader. He can play either guard spot, on or off the ball and will very rarely have a mental breakdown. White is a great shooter who should carve out a role even if he never is a lead guard. If he were 19 instead of almost 23, we would be talking about a top five pick.
- Justin Patton, C, Creighton Bluejays
Pro Comparison: Smaller, lesser Myles Turner
It is very rare to see a redshirt freshman entering the NBA Draft, especially when it was not medical. Patton was a late bloomer and once he got used to a college regime, he bulked up and learned to use his skills. An NBA regime should only help more. He has a soft shooting touch around the basketball and showed the ability to make threes, but with a small sample size. His low free throw percentage points to that being a fluke but he is one of the rawest prospects in the draft so some team will think they can teach him. He has more upside than a Jarrett Allen at this point on the board.
- Justin Jackson, SF, UNC
Pro Comparison: 2016-2017 Richard Jefferson
I am not drafting Jackson with the hope that he’ll ever be more than quality depth, but wing depth has never been more important. After two bad years of three point shooting, one good one has put him back on draft boards. If he were a senior instead of a junior, would we have him as the best senior? Maybe cause of his position yes but Derrick White would give him a run. I expect a career of 10 points, 4 rebounds with solid, but not great defense.
- Jarrett Allen, C, Texas Longhorns
Pro Comparison: JaVale McGee
Blocks some shots, get some rebounds, throw down some alley oops and don’t end up on Shaqtin’ A Fool. Allen’s style is losing importance in the NBA but every team needs a player like this who can play 15-20 minutes a game.
|Pick #||Team||What I Would Do||What I Expect The Team To Do|
|1.||Philadelphia 76ers||Markelle Fultz||Markelle Fultz|
|2.||Los Angeles Lakers||Lonzo Ball||Lonzo Ball|
|3.||Boston Celtics||Jayson Tatum||Josh Jackson
They could keep him or move him after free agency for Jimmy Butler
|4.||Phoenix Suns||De’Aaron Fox||Jayson Tatum|
|5.||Sacramento Kings||Josh Jackson||De’Aaron Fox|
|6.||Orlando Magic||Dennis Smith||Jonathan Isaac|
|7.||Minnesota Timberwolves||Offer #7, Ricky Rubio and Zach LaVine for Kristaps Porzingis
If not, draft Jonathan Isaac. They cannot afford Hartenstein in Europe for 2-3 years
|Look for trade partner. If no luck, draft Zach Collins|
|8.||New York Knicks||Malik Monk||Frank Ntilikina|
|9.||Dallas Mavericks||Frank Ntilikina||Dennis Smith|
|10.||Sacramento Kings||Harry Giles||Lauri Markkanen|
|11.||Charlotte Hornets||Donovan Mitchell||Malik Monk|
|12.||Detroit Pistons||Isaiah Hartenstein||Try to trade pick
If not, Luke Kennard
|13.||Denver Nuggets||Lauri Markkanen||Harry Giles|
|14.||Miami Heat||Zach Collins||Donovan Mitchell|
|15.||Portland Trailblazers||Offer #15, #20, #26 and any combination of players outside Lillard, McCollum and Nurkic for Jimmy Butler
If not, Justin Patton
|16.||Chicago Bulls||Terrance Ferguson||John Collins|
|17.||Milwaukee Bucks||Luke Kennard||Justin Patton|
|18.||Indiana Pacers||Justin Jackson||T.J. Leaf|
|19.||Atlanta Hawks||Jarrett Allen||Jarrett Allen|
|20.||Portland Trailblazers||See above
If not, Derrick White
|Trade for cap relief
If not, Isaiah Hartenstein
The three players most involved in trade rumors have been Paul George, Jimmy Butler, and we haven’t heard anything other than they are taking calls but Kristaps Porzingis. Here are the three most realistic trade scenarios I can see regarding these three players.
Lakers Receive: Paul George
Pacers Receive: Jordan Clarkson, #27 Pick and #28 Pick in 2017 NBA Draft, Lakers’ 2020 First Round Pick, lottery protected
Why The Lakers Do This Trade: The Lakers could wait until next year and not give up these assets and hope they end up with Paul George and that could very well happen. If Paul George wants to go there that bad, he could always just sign as a free agent, but the Lakers are not going for just one star. By getting George now, they will have his Bird Rights. Since he and Brook Lopez will both have cap holds lower than what their actual 2018-2019 salary would be, they could potentially make a run at LeBron or another top free agent and still be able to retain most of their players. They would even have a shot at keeping Julius Randle if they can get rid of Luol Deng. I am unsure of the exact numbers but my quick math now, it would definitely be possible to retain Lopez and George and still have Ingram and presumably Ball. IF the Lakers are planning on letting Lopez walk, it is not as important to trade for him now but you know the Lakers want to be relevant now. The Lakers could hold out a few more weeks and hope they do not have to include the 2020 pick.
Why The Pacers Do This Trade: The Pacers and every other team in the NBA know Paul George wants to go to the Lakers. I do not think any other team but the Cavs would trade for him right now and they’re front office is such a mess it might now happen. So if the Pacers are getting no other offers besides the Lakers’ offer, they will have to take it.
Trail Blazers Receive: Jimmy Butler
Chicago Bulls Receive: Maurice Harkless, Al-Farouq Aminu, #15 and #26 Pick in 2017 NBA Draft, Trail Blazers’ 2020 First Round Pick, unprotected
Why The Trail Blazers Do This Trade: They need a third star to pair with Lillard and McCollum and they should do whatever needed to acquire him. If the Bulls want Crabbe or Turner, throw them in. If they want Davis or Vonleh, throw them in. If they want the #20 pick as well, throw it in. They do not have the prospects to make this work but the three picks this year make it possible. I would try to keep one to add young talent to this already expensive roster.
Why The Bulls Do This Trade: If the Bulls are ready for a rebuild, you could do worse than three first round picks and two rotation players. The problem is none of these are picks are high enough to likely turn into stars. The Bulls would prefer to package Butler to a team in the top five or for future picks that will likely be in the top five. The Bulls know this and I could see them asking for all three picks this year, along with two more first round picks. I doubt the Bulls will do this but I can see the Trail Blazer’s putting together a solid offer.
New York Knicks Receive: Jaylen Brown, #3 Pick in 2017 NBA Draft, Celtics’ 2019 First Round Pick
Boston Celtics Receive: Kristaps Porzingis
Why The Knicks Do This Trade: They really shouldn’t trade Porzingis but this is the bets offer they will likely receive. They will be getting their two wing players for the next decade, each who was a #3pick along with another 2019 first round pick. The Celtics are the only team who can offer multiple first round picks without gutting their roster. The Knicks could also go after Crowder, Bradley or Smart in place of Brown or a pick. They are all fairly interchangeable. If the Knicks do not want this years’ pick, they could go after the Nets’ pick next year and hope it is #1.
Why The Celtics Do This Trade: A player like Porzingis never is available on the trade market. A 7’3” rim protecting big who can shoot and looks to be one of the up-and-coming stars in the NBA on a rookie contract is unheard of. Only the Knicks would be entertaining offers for him. The Celtics need to take advantage of this. Horford and Porzingis should work well together and Porzingis can be under the Celtics’ control for the next 6 years. They still will have the money to go after a big name free agent and still have the assets to go after other big name players in trades.
Photo From: http://www.sportingnews.com/nba/news/nba-mock-draft-2017-rumors-order-projections-rankings-celtics-lakers-sixers-markelle-fultz-lonzo-ball-josh-jackson/1gaqcubaannj415d36bax2zpmt