NBA Mock Draft: Point guards, small forwards pack the top 10
NBA Mock Draft
This is CSN's second go-around at a 2017 NBA Mock Draft. This is what we believe teams *should* do. Note: Since I'm not familiar with a few potential late-first round options such as Rodions Kurucs or Isaiah Hartenstein, they aren't included in the mock draft.
1. Boston Celtics
Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington: Nothing changing at the top of the draft. The Celtics can both fill a need (the current backcourt needs a lot of money the next few years) and select the best player in the draft. Jimmy Butler or Paul George might bring them closer to catching the Warriors and Cavaliers, but Fultz's potential isn't worth losing out on. Fultz can play either guard position, has elite athleticism and defends. He's a no-brainer first pick.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA: There are reports that the Lakers aren't sold on Ball at No. 2, and that his workout in Los Angeles on Wednesday didn't blow anyone away. All that still feels more like smokescreens than hard facts. Ball is the second best prospect in the draft at a position the Lakers need (D'Angelo Russell can play off the ball) with superstar potential. Forget LaVar, forget the $220 flip-flops. Ball is an exceptional passer, has the best range in the class and is still 19 years old.
3. Philadelphia 76ers
Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas: There may be better fits than Jackson for Philadelphia, but a franchise that topped 20 wins last season for the first time since 2013, best player available is still the way to go. With Ben Simmons running the point and Joel Embiid looking like (when healthy) a franchise player, adding the draft's best wing is another steal for the Sixers. Jackson has great 3-and-D potential and should be able to play right away. Are the Sixers closer to a playoff berth than we think?
4. Phoenix Suns
Jonathan Isaac, SF, Florida State: A year ago the Suns made a bet on physical specimen Marquese Chriss with the No. 8 pick and it paid off. They could roll the dice again on a player like Isaac, who looks every bit the part of a future superstar. The 6-foot-11 sophomore is still refining his game, but his versatility will serve him well at the next level. He'd fit in perfectly with a Suns team that ranked second in the league in pace.
5. Sacramento Kings
De'Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky: The Kings are reportedly looking to package picks No. 5 and 10 to move up and draft Fox. They may not have to (although Phoenix could certainly give him a look at No. 4). It'd be a perfect pairing for a Kings team desperate to find a point guard of the future. In Sacramento, Fox would have time to work on his shooting while working with a young core that includes Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere and whomever the Kings select at No. 10.
6. Orlando Magic
Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky: The Magic can go a number of different ways with this pick, and that says a lot about where they stand as a franchise. What was painfully obvious watching Orlando play this year is they simply need scorers. They were second-to-last in offensive efficiency and 27th in points per game. Plugging in Monk, the SEC Player of the Year who topped 20 or more points 18 different times.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves
Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke: Arizona's Lauri Markkanen would be an option here and an excellent fit, but Tatum's value here is too good to pass up. Tatum came on late after a foot sprain slowed his progress, and he's got an NBA-ready body that could help the Timberwolves compete sooner than later. It would also push Andrew Wiggins to shooting guard where he seems to be more comfortable early in his career. A core of Towns, Wiggins, LaVine and Tatum is something to get excited about.
8. New York Knicks
Dennis Smith, PG, North Carolina State: Outside of a 7-foot-3 Latvian stretch forward, the Knicks check just about every box under the "needs" category. But with Derrick Rose hitting free agency and Phil Jackson having zero other true point guards on the roster, it's apparent the Knicks need to strongly consider the best remaining point guard at No. 8. In this scenario it's Smith, who had a monster under-the-radar year at NC State and should transition nicely to the NBA. He and Kristaps Porzingis could form a lethal 1-2 combo.
9. Dallas Mavericks
Frank Ntilikina, PG, France: Both Yogi Ferrell and Seth Curry came seemingly out of nowhere to put together impressive seasons. But it's clear the Mavericks still need to find their point guard of the future following the departure of Deron Williams. Enter Ntilikina, who has superb length (he's 6-foot-5 with a longer wingspan) and court vision. He'd form a formidable backcourt with Wesley Matthews and Harrison Barnes as Rick Carlisle prepares for the start of the post-Dirk era.
10. Sacramento Kings
Donovan Mitchell, SG, Louisville: The Kings can't worry too much about positional need given that they've missed the postseason each of the last 11 seasons. Instead they can pair Fox (their No. 5 pick) with a versatile shooting guard in Mitchell whose stock has risen immensely. A long combo guard with elite potential on the defensive end, Mitchell would fit in well alongside Fox and with any combination of Fox, Buddy Hield and Malachi Richardson (last year's first-round pick). This would be an excellent haul for Sacramento.
11. Charlotte Hornets
Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona: The Hornets love their stretch forwards, as Marvin Williams and Frank Kaminsky combined for 240 made 3-pointers last season. Markkanen would certainly fit the bill and is a steal here at No. 11. His defensive shortcomings should be covered up by Steve Clifford's schemes, and he'd be a perfect pick-and-pop shooter with Kemba Walker.
12. Detroit Pistons
Luke Kennard, SG, Duke: The Pistons could go a number of directions in the draft, but grabbing some outside shooting should be at or near the top of the list. Detroit attempted the fifth fewest 3-pointers per game last year, and their 33 percent clip was third worst in the league. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope should be back as a restricted free agent, but Kennard would be a welcome additon on the second unit. He's helped his stock in the pre-draft process, and could go even earlier than here.
13. Denver Nuggets
Zach Collins, PF, Gonzaga: The Nuggets have their franchise player in Nikola Jokic, and Kenneth Faried is still under contract for two more years. Even Juan Hernangomez showed flashes of potential in his rookie season. But Collins is excellent value here, providing a defensive presence the offensive-minded Nuggets are looking for. Collins could wind up being one of the best players in the class, and he's only 19 years old.
14. Miami Heat
John Collins, PF, Wake Forest: There are a few things working against Collins. He attempted just one 3-pointer in two seasons with the Demon Deacons, and his 6-foot-11 wingspan isn't mind-blowing for someone his size. Still, all Collins did in his sophomore season was produce in the league's best conference. Power forward is still sort of a revolving door for Miami ever since Chris Bosh left the court, and Collins would look great next to Hassan Whiteside in bigger lineups.
15. Portland Trail Blazers
OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana: You've heard it plenty of times in every mock draft you read: The Blazers have three first-round picks, so taking either a foreign player or a player who will need some time to develop is likely. That's the case here, as Portland nabs one of the more athletic wings in the draft. Anunoby tore his ACL early in his sophomore season but declared for the draft anyway. There are reports he won't be ready to play much his rookie season, which would be just fine for a Blazers team whose roster is essentially full already.
16. Chicago Bulls
Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA: Trying to get younger? Anigbogu is one of the youngest players in the draft, as he won't turn 19 until October. How about athleticism? The freshman center has a 7-foot-6 wingspan and a 33-inch vertical. He played sparingly is his only season with the Bruins and there is plenty of room to grow on the offensive end. But he's one of the best shot blockers in the class and has home-run potential. The Bulls have lacked a true rim protector since Joakim Noah's knees were healthy. It's admittedly an outside-the-box pick, but inside-the-box hasn't done the Bulls much the last few drafts.
17. Milwaukee Bucks
Jarrett Allen, C, Texas: The Bucks liked what they got from Thon Maker at power forward last season, and now they'll get a chance to draft a true center who should add to a defense primed for a huge 2017-18 season. Allen has all the measurables and has plenty of room to grow after just one season in Austin. He has great touch around the rim and is a terror on the offensive boards. Greg Monroe and Spencer Hawes could both leave in free agency, leaving a void at center with John Henson. Allen makes sense here and is excellent value this late in the first round.
18. Indiana Pacers
Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina: The Pacers could lose C.J. Miles in free agency and need to win sooner than later to show Paul George they can still build a contender around him. Jackson fits the bill in both those areas, as he shot better than 44 percent from deep and is ready to play right away. He doesn't have the athleticism some teams are looking for, and he's already 22 years old. But he has one of the highest floors in the draft because of that outside stroke.
19. Atlanta Hawks
T.J. Leaf, PF, UCLA: It's anyone's guess where Paul Millsap will wind up this summer, while Ersan Ilyasova, Mike Muscala and Kris Humphries are also free agents. That leaves zero true power forwards on the roster, meaning the Hawks are just about a sure thing to take one here. Leaf is the best one available after he averaged 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds in his freshman season for the Bruins.
20. Portland Trail Blazers
DJ Wilson, PF, Michigan: The Blazers need defensive help on the interior, but with players like Anigbogu and Allen gone their best bet is to go with the best player available. That could be Wilson, who brings a unique skill set to the position with versatile defensive capability, 3-point touch offensively and a strong showing against steep competition this past March. It's likely he goes later than No. 20, but the Blazers could reach on a player they like with three picks in the first 25 selections.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder
Terrance Ferguson, SG, Australia: Ferguson reportedly hasn't wowed in workouts and it could have him fall into the 20s. If he does the Thunder would gladly swoop him up. While he has plenty of room to grow - as most 19-year-old players do - he has athleticism and range, two things the Thunder backcourt (outside of a certain No. 0) need in a big way.
22. Brooklyn Nets
Harry Giles, PF, Duke: The Nets still have two first-round picks despite giving up the No. 1 overall pick to the Celtics. But on a team that won't pick in the lottery next year either they're going to need to swing for the fences with their picks here. Giles is a perfect fit, as the top high school recruit in last year's class who has dealt with serious knee injuries the past few years. If a medical team clears him, Giles would be an absolute steal here. On the flip side, he's probably the biggest "if" in the class.
23. Toronto Raptors
Semi Ojeleye, SF, SMU: It's going to be a franchise-changing summer for the Raptors, who have Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka as free agents. Even Patrick Patterson and P.J. Tucker need new deals. So this pick is a bit of a wild card depending on how Masai Ujiri feels free agency is going to go. Ojeleye is a scorer who would fit in well on the second unit if Tucker departs this summer.
24. Utah Jazz
Justin Patton, C, Creighton: Rudy Gobert is locked up, but Jeff Withey is a free agent and it's about time the Jazz look for an upgrade. Finding an offensive-minded one like Patton would be even better, and his own versatility would give the Jazz options to mix and match with Gobert, Derrick Favors and Trey Lyles. Patton probably needs a year or two to develop, but the Jazz still have the frontcourt depth to allow him to do just that. Of course, whatever the Jazz think Gordon Hayward will do this summer could change the direction they go here.
25. Orlando Magic
Wesley Iwundu, SG, Kansas State: The one-year Jeff Green experiment is finally over, and while the Magic did add Terrence Ross and still have Mario Hezonja and Malik Monk (in this mock) they really need an overhaul in the backcourt. Iwundu was a solid, four-year starter who touts a ridiculous 7-foot-1 wingspan and 36-inch maximum vertical leap. He's already 22 years old and doesn't tout an overly impressive outside game, but there's upside there and he tallied 3.5 assists and 1.0 steals in 31.4 minutes.
26. Portland Trail Blazers
Jawun Evans, PG, Oklahoma State: Another case of best player available for the Blazers, who (in this mock) have already selected forwards in Anunoby and Wilson. Now they go the point guard route, finding an eventual backup for Damian Lillard in Evans. He's undersized at just 6-foot-1 but plays much bigger than that (6-foot-5 wingspan). He was a stellar playmaker for the Cowboys, averaging 6.5 assists, and tallied 1.7 steals per game. He'll get some time to come along slowly but could develop into a late-round gem.
27. Brooklyn Nets
Tony Bradley, PF, North Carolina: The Nets bring in a project who can be brought along slowly in Bradley, who showed some real flashes of potential in his long season at North Carolina. He had a handful of impressive non-conference outings and grabbed 13 rebounds in 28 minutes during the Final Four. His 7-foot-5 wingspan and already-impressive 240-pound frame give him a solid base to potentially turn into a productive pro.
28. Los Angeles Lakers
Bam Adebayo, C, Kentucky: The Lakers need an enforcer on the interior - sorry, Julius Randle - and Adebayo can contribute just that. Anything else he gives on the offensive end is an added bonus. With Ball and Adebayo, the Lakers add two pieces to their rebuilding project in areas of need.
29. San Antonio Spurs
Josh Hart, SF, Villanova: The Big East Player of the Year turned in a fantastic senior season, shooting better than 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent from deep. The only real knock against him is that he's 22 years old, ancient by today's NBA standards. But he's got a 6-foot-8 wingspan and a skill set that would fit in perfectly in San Antonio; he averaged 2.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
30. Utah Jazz
Frank Jackson, PG, Duke: A surprise winner at the NBA Draft Combine, Jackson leads the second tier of the talented point guards in this class. If he falls this far Utah would gladly swipe him up. George Hill and Shelvin Mack are free agents and Dante Exum has proven next to nothing in his first three NBA seasons. Jackson has superb athleticism and size. Rounding out his game will be important, but he's worth the gamble here.