Now that the lottery is out of the way, I will be able to project the lottery picks in the 2017 NBA draft. In my opinion the lottery was a bit chaotic but the final results were close to chalk. The Celtics received the first pick from the Nets, which was chalk, the Lakers moved up one spot and kept their pick from being taken by the Sixers, (what else is new?) and the Sixers moved back a spot but ended up with the third pick after swapping their pick with the Kings who ended up with the fifth pick. The biggest loser of the night had to be the Suns who moved back two picks to the fourth pick after being slotted for the second pick.
Many players who are expected to be drafted in the lottery attended the event and got to experience a big factor of what decides their future in the NBA. They got to get their first taste of the NBA life that they will hopefully be living for the next decade.
I will be drafting these players not only based on their talent level, but also how the fit with the team they will be joining.
15 Boston Celtics (From Brooklyn Nets) - Markelle Fultz
Markelle Fultz is the clear #1 pick in this year's draft class. The Celtics will happily scoop him up at #1 despite having their franchise point guard in Isaiah Thomas already. Fultz can play alongside anyone in the backcourt due to his versatility. He is naturally a point guard but could also play the two next to Isaiah Thomas, and eventually take over the starting spot once Thomas gets old.
Fultz has to be the pick here at #1, he just brings too much to the table not to scoop him up. If the Celtics don't take him, you can bet he will be picked next by the Lakers. Just imagine; the Celtics were the no.1 seed this year and now they're getting Fultz. The rich get richer.
14 Los Angeles Lakers - Lonzo Ball
Lonzo Ball and the Lakers seem like a match made in heaven. Lonzo's father, Lavar, loves being in the spotlight and Hollywood is just the place to be in the spotlight. The Ball's are also from Chino Hills so the Lakers are their hometown team. They seem to be high on him and I can't see them passing up on a guard which isn't the team's biggest need, but a need nonetheless. Plus, Ball may already be the most hated prospect coming into the league, so why not embrace the criticism and head to LA?
Lonzo has also said that he will only work out for the Lakers which shows where he wants to be as well. Maybe once Ball gets to the Lakers people will start to buy his $500 shoes. No one else will that's for sure.
13 Philadelphia 76ers - Josh Jackson
The Sixers were really coming into this draft hoping for their point guard of the future. Getting the point guard likely required getting the first pick in the draft. The sixers would have loved to have Markelle Fultz and would have probably taken Lonzo Ball had they had the #2 pick. Since the top two guards are off the table, the next best talent in Josh Jackson, who may be even more talented than the picks above him, but it isn't the point guard that the Sixers are looking for.
They will still gladly take Jackson and place Simmons at the point and see where that takes them. You would have to think after landing another young talent that the Sixers will finally be ready to roll.
12 Phoenix Suns - Jayson Tatum
Jayson Tatum won't have trouble scoring that's for sure. The Suns should be very happy to add Tatum who would be a great complement to Devin Booker on the offensive end. Tatum has a very advanced skillset for his age and footwork to match. He didn't even get to reach his full potential at Duke and was still able to perform at an extremely high level due to an early season foot injury. He improved throughout the season and I don't think we have seen Tatum at his best yet.
The Suns should look to add a scoring small forward, a piece that they desperately need. Tatum and Booker should finally be able to bring some respectability to the Suns moving forward.
11 Sacramento Kings - De'Aaron Fox
De'Aaron Fox is the second best point guard prospect in my opinion. I think his game will translate better to the NBA better than Lonzo Ball's will, although I'm not sure if NBA scouts would agree. I think that Fox's speed, slashing ability, and athleticism gives him the edge over Ball. Their head to head matchup also favors Fox. In their matchup in the NCAA Tournament, Fox torched Ball for 39 points and the win. Fox also doesn't come with the distraction that Ball would which is a big win for Sacramento.
If Fox can even come close to his NBA comparison of John Wall, then he will turn out to be a solid NBA player and a help to the Kings, who need talent badly.
10 Orlando Magic - Malik Monk
Malik Monk might be the best scorer in the draft but I predict that he will slide to sixth because of his slight frame and lack of versatility. The Magic, however are in need of a good scorer and he will fit in well with the Magic. Monk is a great shooter and can score from just about anywhere, but he isn't a great ball handler or distributor. He is a bit small for a shooting guard which might limit his versatility on the NBA court, but if he can knock down shots on a nightly basis, then he could become a huge addition for the Magic and could be their best scorer for years to come. For all this to happen he will have to become more consistent, something he wasn't in college.
9 Minnesota Timberwolves - Jonathan Isaac
Isaac has a huge upside but also has a huge bust potential. He fits the new NBA style of long and lanky, but he is mostly a defensive force at this point. He is a bit raw and could benefit from putting on a few pounds to bang down low with the big guys. Isaac would fit with the Timberwolves well because they struggle on defense. Isaac would provide the stability in the paint that the team is missing since KAT primarily plays power forward. Isaac would be a big upgrade from Gorgui Dieng or Nikola Pekovic. Isaac could possibly be the piece that the T-Wolves have been missing and make them a playoff team. There's also the possibility of the Wolves trading this pick for an NBA player.
8 New York Knicks - Justin Jackson
The Knicks could use a player like Justin Jackson especially if Carmelo ends up leaving this summer, which I think he will. Jackson is a junior which lowers his draft stock right off of the bat. Scouts don't like seeing older players in the draft these days despite having the advantage in experience and NBA readiness. NBA teams like to draft based on potential more and more nowadays. He is the first non-freshman to be drafted in my mock draft which shows just how much the NBA draft is changing.
Despite his age, Jackson would be a great fit in New York as he continues to grow as the seasons go by. It's time for the Knicks to get younger and swapping out Melo for Jackson is the right call.
7 Dallas Mavericks- Dennis Smith Jr.
Dennis Smith Jr. is probably the biggest wildcard of the draft. He is so tantalizing with his body of work. He is extremely skilled, can score with ease, but isn't a great facilitator. He made many lazy turnovers that you wouldn't want your starting NBA point guard to make. His ceiling would be a Damian Lillard but he could turn out to be Brandon Jennings at worst. He is definitely an intriguing prospect and is the last of the top tier of point guards. He will likely be the last point guard to be drafted in the lottery. This doesn't change the fact that he could easily be the best player in the draft when it is all said and done.
6 Sacramento Kings (From New Orleans) - T.J. Leaf
The Kings got this pick from the DeMarcus Cousins trade so they have to make it count. T.J. Leaf is the most skilled big man in the draft class. The draft will be marked by the point guards like Fultz and Ball, but Leaf was the best player on UCLA this season (Lonzo Ball was on his team) believe it or not. Leaf could very well end up being a steal and turn into a bit more offensively versatile Kevin Love for the Kings where he will get the ball plenty and hopefully get many open looks under the basket with Fox playing the point.
Leaf is sneakily athletic and shifty for a guy of his size and he has a jump shot to spread the floor like modern day NBA teams like to do.
5 Charlotte Hornets - Isaiah Hartenstein
Isaiah Hartenstein is a player that will go under the radar for many casual fans and maybe even some NBA teams. For those who don't know him, he is a 6' 11" power forward from Germany. he has a solid inside out game and is a great passer like many foreign bigs are. I would liken his game to Nikola Jokic's at this point in his development just because of his advanced offensive repertoire. There isn't much game film on him, but from what I have seen he is a very good ball handler and could possibly grab a board and go coast to coast without outleting to a guard. It is tough to get an accurate reading on Hartenstein because he didn't play college ball in the States. This makes him a possible steal.
4 Detroit Pistons - Lauri Markkanen
Markkanen is another overseas player and teams will have very little tape to judge him by. Assuming you've never heard of Markkanen either, he is a 7'0" power forward with great athleticism. He can get up and down the floor with ease and moves like a small forward. He isn't a great ball handler but he is better than average in that aspect. His best post move his to post up and blow by his defender for a dunk. He doesn't have many moves at this point but it looks like he has good footwork and once he becomes more patient, he will start to be a problem in the paint. He would be a great pairing with Drummond down low. He brings a stretch four to a team that has a traditional center.
3 Denver Nuggets- Terrance Ferguson
Terrance Ferguson is the so called, "mystery man" by ESPN and that truly sums up what he is, a mystery. He opted to play in a professional basketball league in Australia called the NBL instead of going to college. This makes it very hard to evaluate his talent because no one knows the level of competition he is facing. Ferguson is a good scoring guard and that's what he will be looking to do for the Nuggets. The Nuggets have some pieces but are lacking the star power to make them a contender. This season they were only one game away from the playoffs when Russell Westbrook hit a dagger at the buzzer to send home thousands of disappointed Nuggets fans.
2 Miami Heat- Harry Giles
When you are looking at Harry Giles, don't look at his stats, they don't tell the full story. The full story is that Harry Giles was the consensus #1 overall prospect of the class of 2016. He could be the #1 draft prospect as well if it weren't for his multiple knee injuries. He has had so many knee injuries that at this point, quite honestly, I can't keep track of them. Giles could really make an impact in the NBA if he can get his health straight which is his main priority. Nothing else matters for Giles if he can't get on the court. Before his injuries he was an explosive forward with oozing potential. What he is after the injuries remains to be seen.
1 Bonus: Ike Anigbogou
Oh, what the heck; let's throw in a bonus entry to round our list out to 15. The Portland Trail Blazers seem to be stuck in mediocrity. Due to the outstanding play of Damian Lillard, the Blazers keep finding ways to make the playoffs, but at the same time, they just don't have the firepower to compete with the likes of the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs.
Ike Anigbogou would provide a big body presence up front to complement the shorter Lillard well on the back end and could give the Blazers a more balanced lineup. With a wingspan of 7'6" and 1/4, Anigbogou has the raw tools to develop into a useful NBA player.
What say you? Who do you have going early in the 2017 draft?