The 2017 NBA draft is finally here. After 12 months of hype, the players making up one of the most exciting draft classes in recent memory are about to learn where they will begin their pro careers.
There will be no drama at the top when the Philadelphia 76ers get on the clock. With the trade up to No. 1, the Sixers have zeroed in on Markelle Fultz to finally get the franchise out of the lottery and into the playoffs. The Lakers could throw a wrench into this mock draft with a surprise pick at No. 2, but it would be shocking if they actually passed on Lonzo Ball.
The rest of the top 10 falls nicely into place after that. Boston and Phoenix both need big wings with Jayson Tatum and Josh Jackson sitting right there. The whole NBA knows the Kings want De’Aaron Fox. What do the Knicks do at No. 8? It feels like they could go in any direction.
This is our final mock for the 2017 draft. Happy draft day, everyone.
1. Philadelphia 76ers - Markelle Fultz, G, Washington
Fultz is the total package for a guard. He has ideal size, a reliable shooting stroke from three-point range, and a unique ability to create offense for himself and others out of the pick-and-roll. The trade up to No. 1 was a grand slam for Philly. If Joel Embiid can stay healthy and Ben Simmons reaches his potential, the 76ers suddenly have the brightest young trio in the NBA.
Here’s our first feature on Fultz as a high school player, from Dec. 8, 2015: Markelle Fultz went from JV to one of the best prep point guards in the country in 2 years
2. Los Angeles Lakers - Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA
The Lakers’ decision to trade D’Angelo Russell clears the way for Lonzo Ball to be the second pick in the draft. Ball possesses a gifted basketball mind to go along with deep shooting range and great size for a lead guard at 6’6. A year ago, UCLA was one of the most disappointing programs in the country before Ball transformed them into the greatest show in the sport. Don’t bet against him having a similar impact on the Lakers eventually.
Our first Ball feature from the 2016 McDonald’s All-American Game: Basketball has never seen a player like superstar recruit Lonzo Ball
3. Boston Celtics - Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke
Tatum offers classic go-to scoring ability on the wing. He has great size (6’8), advanced footwork, and an array of moves that are developed beyond his years. It’s fair to wonder if Tatum is a bit of a ball stopper who struggles to make his teammates better, but the fit with the Celtics should help mitigate that problem. Brad Stevens has a way of getting his teams to play together. Now he’s going to have an incredible offensive talent on the wing to push his group to the next level.
Our first Tatum feature, from July 9, 2015: 5-star recruit Jayson Tatum has the basketball world in the palm of his hand
4. Phoenix Suns - Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas
Jackson seemed likely to go the 76ers at No. 3 before the trade with the Celtics. Now he should be there for Phoenix at No. 4, where he looks like a perfect fit with the Suns’ young roster. Jackson is simply the type of player who helps you win: he’s a great athlete, ruthless competitor,.and unselfish when the ball is in his hands. If the young front court of Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender can come into its own, the Suns will suddenly have a great collection of diverse talent.
Our first Jackson feature, from Oct. 6, 2015: Josh Jackson is the blue-chip recruit who could be a college superstar right now
Choose One: Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum
5. Sacramento Kings - De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky
Fox turned in the most memorable individual performance of the college basketball season when he dominated Lonzo Ball in the Sweet 16. He’s known for his blinding speed, his ability to get to the rim, and his tenacity on both ends. The Kings need a point guard, but even more than that they need a new face of the franchise. Fox checks both boxes.
6. Orlando Magic - Jonathan Isaac, F, Florida State
What makes Isaac unique is his ability to impact the game without demanding the ball be in his hands. He is a phenomenal defensive talent as a versatile forward who can slide his feet with guards and protect the rim like a big man. His offensive skill set is raw, but he has a nice face-up jumper (35 percent from three) and will bring value as a cutter.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves - Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona
Markkanen is an elite shooter at 7-feet tall with an ultra quick release. That should help open up driving lanes for Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, and even Karl-Anthony Towns. Think of him as a bigger Ryan Anderson. He’ll need to add strength and improve defensively.
8. New York Knicks - Frank Ntilikina, PG, France
If the draft breaks the way I think it’s going to, the Knicks have the most interesting decision of the top 10. Malik Monk, Dennis Smith Jr., and Frank Ntilikina are all great prospects in their own right. You can argue Knicks can’t go wrong with whomever they chose — though surely they will try. I’m putting Ntilikina here because he feels like the best fit for Phil Jackson’s beloved Triangle offense. He’s not going to break you down off the dribble like Smith or catch fire as often as Monk, but he’s the longest and most intriguing defensive prospect of the bunch. He reminds me of a young George Hill.
9. Dallas Mavericks - Dennis Smith Jr., PG, NC State
Smith is a mega-athlete at point guard who is at his best attacking the basket. Throw him in a spread pick-and-roll offense surrounded by Nerlens Noel, Dirk Nowitzki, and Harrison Barnes, and he should be immediately successful.
10. Sacramento Kings - Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky
Someone is going to fall to No. 10. If it’s Monk, he’ll be set for a reunion with Fox to keep the Lexington-to-Sacramento pipeline alive. Monk isn’t a perfect fit with a similar player in Buddy Hield already on the roster, but he’s too talented to pass up at this point. We’re like a year away from John Calipari accepting a godfather offer to become the new emperor of the Kings.
Our first Monk feature, from July 21, 2015: 5-star recruit Malik Monk wants to be more than a mixtape legend
11. Charlotte Hornets - Luke Kennard, G, Duke
The Hornets have Dwight Howard now. It's been nearly a decade since the peak of the late-2000s Magic teams that starred Howard with shooters all around him, but why not attempt to run it all back? Luke Kennard went to Duke nearby and might be the best shooting prospect in the draft.
12. Detroit Pistons - Donovan Mitchell, G, Louisville
Reggie Jackson’s future in Detroit is uncertain at best. Can Mitchell be the Pistons’ point guard of the future? It’s possible. While he typically played off the ball at Louisville, Mitchell has the length and athleticism to overwhelm opposing guards defensively. He isn’t a natural ball handler or shooter, but he did hit 37 percent of his threes as a sophomore. More than anything, he feels like a Stan Van Gundy type of player.
13. Denver Nuggets - OG Anunoby, F, Indiana
The Nuggets have a pair of budding offensive talents in Nikola Jokic (already a star) and Jamal Murray (looked good as a rookie). Now they need a strong defensive presence to tie the lineup together. Anunoby can be exactly that. He’s a strong, long-armed defender who should be a great fit for Denver at the four once he recovers the ACL he tore in January.
14. Miami Heat - John Collins, PF, Wake Forest
Collins led all DI college basketball players in PER this season thanks to efficient inside scoring and incredible rebounding. There are questions about his shooting range and lateral quickness, but it’s hard to ignore that type of production.
15. Portland Trail Blazers - Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga
Collins could go as high as No. 10 in this draft, but there’s usually one player who falls out of the lottery every year. There’s a lot to like about his game: a combination of shot blocking and perimeter offensive skill, namely. By the end of the season, he might have been the best player on Gonzaga’s first ever Final Four team.
16. Chicago Bulls - Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina
If Jackson is available, recent history would suggest he’ll be the Bulls’ pick at No. 16. Chicago’s front office has long favored veteran college players from winning programs who improved over time. In that sense, Jackson is similar to the Bulls’ first rounder from last year, former Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine. If Jackson’s not around, the Bulls could go in any direction. Texas’ Jarrett Allen or Creighton’s Justin Patton seem like strong possibilities.
17. Milwaukee Bucks - D.J. Wilson, F, Michigan
Wilson enters this draft looking like a boom-or-bust selection. He wasn’t all that productive at Michigan until the end of his junior season, but there’s a lot to like about his physical tools. Namely: at 6’10, 240 lbs. with a 7’3 wingspan, Wilson offers a rare combination of shooting and rim protection. If everything clicks in the NBA, he could be a major sleeper in this draft.
18. Indiana Pacers - T.J. Leaf, PF, UCLA
Leaf hit a scalding 46 percent of his three-pointers playing next to Lonzo Ball at UCLA. The only issue is that he didn’t do it at a high volume, canning only 27 threes all season. If his efficiency can maintain as his volume rises, he deserves to be a lottery pick. He’ll have to answer a lot of questions defensively either way.
19. Atlanta Hawks - Jarrett Allen, C, Texas
The Hawks just gave away Dwight Howard, so a center at No. 19 makes a lot of sense. Patton and Allen are arguably the two top available talents at the position. Allen’s superior defensive potential gives him the advantage here.
20. Portland Trail Blazers - Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA
Anigbogu profiles as a classic rim protector who can set screens and catch lobs on the offensive end. That’s a dimension Portland doesn’t have right now with Jusuf Nurkic.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder - Derrick White, G, Colorado
It’s wild to think White anyone played one year of D1 ball at Colorado. He has a complete skill set for a guard: he can shoot, pass and handle with enough size and athleticism to play either backcourt spot. I see him as a player who could eventually either play next to or backup Russell Westbrook.
22. Brooklyn Nets - Harry Giles, C, Duke
Giles is the perfect pick for a team that has multiple selections in the first round and needs to swing for the fences. He was the former No. 1 high school player in the country before repeated knee injuries took a toll on his production at Duke. If he can get and stay healthy, hopefully he can still fulfill the potential so many scouts saw in him as a prep star.
23. Toronto Raptors - Semi Ojeleye, F, SMU
Ojeleye has three level scoring ability in a ridiculously strong 6’6 frame with a 40-inch vertical. There are questions about if he has the lateral quickness to defend threes or the length to play the four, but he’s skilled enough to carve out a role either way.
24. Utah Jazz - Tyler Lydon, PF, Syracuse
Lydon hit 40 percent of his threes over two years of college ball at Syracuse. There’s a spot in the first round for a front court shooter like that.
25. Orlando Magic - Terrance Ferguson, SG, Adelaide
Ferguson is this draft’s top high school player who decided to go overseas instead of play college basketball. He has great size (6’7) for a two guard with a nice shooting stroke and impressive athleticism. Scouts will question his feel for the game and his ability to break down defenders off the dribble. At this point in the draft, he’s a good gamble for the Magic.
26. Portland Trail Blazers - Kyle Kuzma, F, Utah
Kuzma is a big 6’9 forward who is comfortable making decisions with the ball in his hands. Portland could use a different dimension at the four and Kuzma’s combination of size and feel for the game would offer it.
27. Los Angeles Lakers - Justin Patton, C, Creighton
Patton could legitimately go in the lottery. He’s an athletic center who can run the floor, score around the basket and is just starting to scratch the surface of his skill level. It feels like there’s one player like that who falls every year. Skal Labissiere is the patron saint.
28. Los Angeles Lakers - Wesley Iwundu, SF, Kansas State
If Iwundu’s jumper comes around, he’s going to have a long NBA career. He’s a 6’7 wing with good defensive potential and impressive passing ability.
29. San Antonio Spurs - Anzejs Pasecniks, C, Latvia
A 7’3 center who can shoot? He feels like one of the biggest sleepers in this draft. Of course the Spurs get him.
30. Utah Jazz - Frank Jackson, G, Duke
Jackson is an athletic 6’3 guard who can hit jumpers off the dribble. He didn’t get the opportunity to show everything he can do at Duke, but he has the talent to carve out an NBA career. He also grew up in Utah. It’s a nice note to end on.