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NBA mock draft 2017: Chicago Bulls trade Jimmy Butler for the No. 1 pick

Markelle Fultz is going to the Chicago Bulls after a major trade in our latest mock draft.

Washington v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

We like to keep things fresh with our weekly NBA mock drafts. The best way to do that is to randomize the order for each projection until lottery finally goes down on May 16.

The Lakers won our initial fake lottery draw. The Knicks came away with the No. 1 pick the second time we did it. Last week, the Sixers got the top pick and the Lakers’ pick by virtue of it falling outside the top three.

This week’s winner is the Phoenix Suns. That’s great, but ... also a little boring. So, by the power vested in me by SB Nation, we’re going to have a mega trade at the top of the draft.

The Phoenix Suns send the No. 1 pick to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Jimmy Butler. The Suns can include either Brandon Knight or Tyson Chandler to make the salaries match. Fans of both teams will probably hate it. That’s how you know it’s a good trade.

1. Chicago Bulls — Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington

Let’s explain why each side might pull the trigger on this deal.

Why the Suns do it

The Suns just missed the playoffs for the seventh straight season. Phoenix has had a lot of draft picks over the last few years and put together a nice stable of young players. Devin Booker, Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss, T.J. Warren, Tyler Ulis, Alex Len. At some point, the Suns have to think about making a move for a star to finally teach these young guns how to win.

The timing here is extremely convenient: general manager Ryan McDonough is coming back for his last season under contract. If he wants to continue to be employed, it might be wise to attempt to make the playoffs for once. Another 19-year-old probably won’t help you do that. A certified top-10 overall player in the prime of his career with two affordable years under contract like Jimmy Butler will.

Why the Bulls do it

The Bulls need a fresh start. Chicago is 83-81 over the last two seasons, stuck squarely in the middle of the pack with no obvious path to contention. The Bulls thought signing Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo would make them better, but they actually got one game worse despite making the playoffs this year. Running the whole thing back again next season would be horribly distressing for the fan base and a doomed idea from the start.

It’s hard to part with a homegrown star like Butler, but Fultz is a worthy return. He’s big (6’5) and fast, thrives in the pick-and-roll and shoots over 41 percent from three. He has every tool and incredible instincts as a scorer. There are no obvious holes in his skill set.

Phoenix gets a perennial All-Star to slot in around Eric Bledsoe, Booker, and their young front court. Chicago gets to press the reset button and begin a new era with an elite point guard prospect. Objectively, this feels like it works for both sides. If Kevin Love can get traded for Andrew Wiggins, why can’t Jimmy Butler get traded for Markelle Fultz? Please tell me why I’m wrong in the comments.

2. New York Knicks — Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA

What makes for a good point guard in the Triange Offense? Size, shooting, and the ability to play on or off the ball. Lonzo Ball checks all of those boxes.

The Triangle would require an adjustment from Ball. He played in a pace-and-space scheme at UCLA and immediately helped transform the Bruins into the best show in college basketball. The Knicks need a similar jolt.

Best-case scenario: A special passer like Ball helps make Kristaps Porzingis one of the best players of his generation. Worst case? LaVar Ball gets into a high stakes showdown with Jackson and James Dolan that makes for great theater. Either way, we’re all winners.

3. Los Angeles Lakers — Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas

There’s already been so much hype about Ball to the Lakers, but it’s possible Josh Jackson makes even more sense given the roster. The Lakers need a defensive complement Brandon Ingram and D’Angelo Russell and also someone who can help set them up. That’s Jackson. He’s one of the best athletes and competitors in this class and should be able to make an impact from day one defensively. On offense, his playmaking ability separates him from the other wings in this class.

4. Boston Celtics — Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke

Falling to No. 4 would be a major bummer for the Celtics, but fortunately this draft is deep enough in the lottery that they will still come away with a great young talent. Jayson Tatum is exactly that. He’s a 6’8 wing with a polished scoring package and the ability to create offense from all three levels. With Tatum and Jaylen Brown, Boston would have two big, athletic wings at a time when those players are valued more than ever.

5. Philadelphia 76ers — Jonathan Isaac, F, Florida State

Isaac vs Malik Monk vs. the point guards (Dennis Smith Jr. and De’Aaron Fox) would make for a fascinating debate in Philly. Monk seems like the best fit on paper because of his shooting ability. Point guard could be the team’s biggest need unless you’re the proud owner of a T.J. McConnell jersey. We’ll go with Isaac here for a simple reason: he brings more to the table than anyone else left on the board.

It’s easy to see Isaac as a ceiling player because of his size (6’10), developing shooting ability and athleticism. Really, he projects as a great defensive prospect thanks to his length and quick feet. He should be able to play either forward spot for the Sixers and give them a player who doesn’t need the ball to make an impact next to Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

6. Orlando Magic — Dennis Smith Jr., PG, NC State

Smith might have been the most athletic point guard in college basketball this season, which is scary considering he was only a year removed from tearing his ACL. He’s an explosive rim attacker who could breathe life into a Magic organization that desperately needs it.

7. Minnesota Timberwolves — Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona

I don’t want to give Markkanen to the Timberwolves in every mock draft, but no one else really fills a need here. Minnesota isn’t taking De’Aaron Fox after picking Kris Dunn at No. 5 last season and Monk seems redundant with Zach LaVine already on the roster. Markkanen makes sense as an elite shooter in the frontcourt who can add some instant offense around Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.

8. Sacramento Kings — De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky

The Kings suddenly have a promising young core with Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, and Buddy Hield. What they need is a point guard who can push the pace, get after it defensively, and put everyone else in a position to score. Fox fits the bill. He embarrassed Lonzo Ball and UCLA in the Sweet 16 and showed a unique ability to put pressure on opposing defenses throughout the year. He’d be a god send for Sacramento.

9. Dallas Mavericks — Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky

Kevin O’Connor at The Ringer had an interesting comp for Monk recently: Blazers guard C.J. McCollum. Both players are about 6’3, can get hot from deep in a hurry and thrive off dribble pull-ups. Monk is a superior athlete and McCollum is a better ball handler, but it’s an interesting comparison. The Mavs would be just fine with adding a scorer of McCollum’s caliber in this spot.

10. Sacramento Kings — Frank Ntilikina, G, France

Ntilikina is too good to pass up in this spot even after drafting De’Aaron Fox two picks earlier. He’s a 6’5 guard with quick feet and a reliable stroke from three-point range. He’s also only 18 years old, so Sacramento can take their time developing him and not worry about fit right away.

11. Charlotte Hornets — Terrance Ferguson, SG, Adelaide (NBL)

Ferguson is the type of player who could win both a dunk contest and a three-point shootout. He was considered a five-star recruit out of high school and committed to Arizona before deciding to play professionally in Australia instead. His numbers in the NBL were underwhelming, but his physical tools are intriguing for a two-guard. Charlotte could use a shooter in the backcourt.

12. Detroit Pistons — T.J. Leaf, PF, UCLA

I’ve typically had Leaf in the 20s in these mocks, but there are plenty of projections that have him as a lottery pick. We know Stan Van Gundy loves shooters at power forward and Leaf fits the profile.

13. Denver Nuggets — OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana

Anunoby tore his ACL in January and Indiana promptly collapsed after he went down. He’s a physical marvel with super long arms and explosive leaping ability around the rim. He projects as a versatile defensive forward who would fit nicely next to offense-first types in Denver like Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.

14. Miami Heat — Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga

The first-ever one-and-done from Gonzaga, Collins has gone from a third string center at Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High School (behind Stephen Zimmerman and Chase Jeter) to a certified lottery pick. He broke out in the NCAA tournament by helping lead Gonzaga to the Final Four. If he didn’t get in foul trouble in the title game, the ‘Zags would probably be national champs.

15. Portland Trail Blazers — DJ Wilson, PF, Michigan

Wilson remains my pick for the guy who will shoot up draft boards after the combine. Still projected as a second rounder by DraftExpress, Wilson’s combination of size, athleticism, three-point shooting, and shot blocking will make him intriguing for teams looking for frontcourt help.

16. Chicago Bulls — Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina

Jackson was a McDonald’s All-American out of high school who tested the draft waters last year by coming to the combine. NBA teams told him he needed to improve as a shooter and get more athletic, and that’s exactly what he did in his junior season. UNC got a national championship out of it and Jackson made himself a lot of money by boosting his draft stock. Sometimes it’s OK to go back to school.

17. Milwaukee Bucks — Donovan Mitchell, SG, Louisville

If the Bucks are committed to Giannis at point guard, they need someone who can defend lead guards at the other end. Mitchell can do that. He’s a ball of energy and athleticism who could be a combine All-Star. Louisville fans are praying he goes back for his junior year.

18. Indiana Pacers — Luke Kennard, SG, Duke

Kennard put up better numbers in the pick-and-roll than anyone in this draft as a sophomore at Duke. He’s a lights-out shooter with good size for an off-guard at 6’6. As long as he can hold his own defensively, he should have a long career.

19. Atlanta Hawks — Jarrett Allen, C, Texas

Allen was Shaka Smart’s first signature recruit at Texas and was supposed to take the program to the next level. Instead, the Longhorns stumbled to an 11-22 largely because they had no true point guard. Allen might not have made a big impact on college basketball, but his tools are undeniable as a long-term prospect.

20. Portland Trail Blazers — Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky

The same loophole that allowed Thon Maker to enter the draft last season allows Diallo to do the same thing this year. He joined Kentucky midseason but didn’t play, making him possibly the first-ever one-semester-and-done prospect.

Diallo was a no-brainer five-star recruit as a 6’5 shooting guard with a strong upper body and elite athleticism. He might need a year or two in the D-League to improve his handle and midrange scoring package, but he looks like the rough outline of everything you want out of a two-guard. He makes a lot of sense for a team like Portland with multiple first-round picks.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder — Semi Ojeleye, F, SMU

OKC desperately needs a scorer on the wing who can take pressure off Russell Westbrook. Ojeleye could be that guy. He broke out in his debut season at SMU this year after transferring from Duke, where he blossomed into a versatile three-level scorer.

22. Brooklyn Nets — Harry Giles, C, Duke

Giles is another player who should be on the radar for any team with multiple first rounders. He was a legend on the AAU circuit who was considered the best player in high school basketball from a young age before repeated knee injuries slowed his rise. He didn’t look like future superstar at Duke as a freshman, but there’s still time if he can get healthy. He’s worth a flyer for a Nets team desperate for star power.

23. Toronto Raptors — Rodions Kurucs, SF, Latvia

Kurucs is a draft-and-stash prospect with great size (6’8) and developing shooting ability.

24. Utah Jazz — Kostja Mushidi, SG, Belgium

Mushidi was hitting shots all over the court at the Nike Hoop Summit in April. The Jazz can’t ride Joe Johnson forever. Maybe Mushidi could fill that role if he continues to develop his body and his game.

25. Orlando Magic — Tyler Lydon, PF, Syracuse

Lydon was a breakout freshman a year ago who helped lead Syracuse on an unlikely run to the Final Four as a No. 10 seed. Cuse missed the tournament entirely this season, but Lydon quietly had a productive sophomore season, He’s a shooter who isn’t afraid to mix things up on the glass.

26. Blazers — Justin Patton, C, Creighton

It will be fascinating to see what happens to all the centers in this draft. There are too many big men to go around as the league continues to downsize and value skill over size. Patton has a chance to stick because he’s an efficient scorer around the rim who runs the floor hard and has upside as a paint protector. He was phenomenal as a redshirt freshman for a Creighton team that was excellent before Mo Watson’s knee injury.

27. Brooklyn Nets — Juwan Evans, PG, Oklahoma State

Evans was drawing CP3 comparisons as a recruit and mostly lived up to them during his two years at Oklahoma State. The Cowboys had the most efficient offense in the country this season and played one of the most entertaining games of the NCAA tournament in a first-round loss to Michigan. Evans is short at 6’0, but he’s bigger than Isaiah Thomas or Tyler Ulis. Those guys have done OK.

28. Los Angeles Lakers — Bam Adebayo, C, Kentucky

Adebayo is a throwback big man: he’ll clean the glass, punch home dunks and provide a big body in the paint. If he improves as a shooter or shot blocker long-term the Lakers could have a real steal.

29. San Antonio Spurs — Caleb Swanigan, PF, Purdue

Swanigan was the best big in college basketball as a sophomore. He led the country in double-doubles and even developed a reliable three-point shot. His biggest issue will be defending in space.

30. Utah Jazz — Isaiah Hartenstein, PF, Germany

Hartenstein moves well for a giant (7’1, 250 pounds). He’s drawn comparisons to Donatas Motiejunas.