1. Philadelphia 76ers (from Brooklyn, via Boston): Markelle Fultz, G - Washington
Philadephia gets: #1 overall in 2017
Boston gets: #3 overall in 2017 and 2018 Lakers pick (protected selections 1 and 6-30. If this pick does not convey than the Celtics will recieve the Sacramento Kings 2019 pick)
Markelle Fultz is a great fit for Philadelphia. On a team that already has Embiid, Saric, and Simmons, Philly was desperately hoping to land one of the top 2 picks in this years draft to add one of the guards to their exciting young frontcourt. Giving up just one of their future first round picks is a small price to pay for Philly if they believe Markelle Fultz is the franchise point guard that most scouts do. The Celtics allowing Philly to seemingly add the last piece to a potential eastern conference powerhouse down the line should perplex most, but the Philly fans shouldn't care. Sam Hinkie got them this player with his wheeling and dealing for the Lakers and Kings' picks long ago, and it looks like trusting the process has finally paid off for Philadelphia.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball, G - UCLA
Remember when I said most of what you hear before the draft is BS? The Lakers are taking Lonzo Ball, and it should have nothing to do with the fact that he’s from LA and went to UCLA. Lonzo Ball is the 2nd best player in the draft. He’s a transcendent passer, a good shooter, and has great athleticism and a great frame for the point guard position. Thanks to his father people have forgotten how talented Lonzo is. It’s become more about the narrative of Lavar Ball and Los Angeles than Lonzo's talent. Out of all the top point guards taken in the lottery over the past 7 years, Lonzo is the only one to average over 7.5 assists and have a PER over 24.5. He will jump onto a team with young scorers in Russell, Randle, and Ingram and immediately be one of the best assist man’s in the NBA. Lonzo’s talent shouldn’t be diminished by his father’s big mouth.
3. Boston Celtics (from Sacramento, via Philadelphia): Jayson Tatum, F - Duke
And now we get to the Celtics. The team that thinks they are smarter than everyone on the planet. They know who IS REALLY gonna be the star of this draft class. They don't care if the experts have been saying Markelle Fultz is far and away the best player in the draft, they are right and everyone else is wrong. To say the least, that's not very sound thinking from the Celtics. Danny Ainge better be right about Markelle Fultz because if he is the franchise stud that scouts say he is, then trading the #1 pick is a fireable offence. Ainge is a gambler, but trading the #1 pick for spare parts is the biggest risk he's made in his career thus far. If the player he takes doesn't have a better career than Fultz, it will go down as most likely the worst trade in Celtics franchise history. As far as who they'll take, it ultimately comes down to Tatum and Jackson. A lot has been made of the Celtics potential interest in Josh Jackson, but their love affair with Jayson Tatum has flown under the radar.
Now the Celtics are in the line of fire. The clock is officially ticking. If Ainge trades these picks for stars and takes a win now approach, he'd better be confident that his team can beat the Warriors. Just contending isn't good enough to give up the #1 pick for. If the Celtics just take Tatum or Jackson and just traded down because they knew they would be there, then you better hope he's the best player in the draft.
4. Phoenix Suns: Josh Jackson, F - Kansas
The Suns got burned on NBA Draft lottery more than any other team. They fell from #2 to #4, the biggest drop of the night, but the Suns could still end up with the player they want at #4. The Lakers and Celtics have both claimed to have taken a liking to Jackson over the past few weeks, but he doesn’t seem to fit on any of the top 3 teams. As long as there are no trades, it looks like Jackson could fall right into the Suns lap. Phoenix already has Booker and Bledsoe in the backcourt, and they have been in love with the pairing of Jackson and Booker at the wing since the draft process began. They would be jumping for joy if Jackson fell to them at 4. Jackson’s shooting struggles are a little more easy to hide on Phoenix team that already has a great shooter at the guard position in Booker, and the best situation for Jackson to go into is one with as many driving lanes as possible. With Booker and Jackson, Phoenix will definitely feel confident about the future of their team.
5. Sacramento Kings (via Philadelphia): De’Aaron Fox, G - Kentucky
All reports say that the Kings want Fox, and might even trade up for him. The way the draft looks now they might not need to, but if the Bulls want the #3 pick for Jimmy Butler they might be in trouble. Nonetheless, there won’t be any trades made in this mock and Fox just doesn’t make sense for Philly or Phoenix. The Kings are in desperate need of someone to hand the keys to the franchise over to after trading DeMarcus Cousins, and Fox can be their guy. With the little amount of talent the Kings have, Fox would be able to have the ball in his hands as much as he wants. Fox is the type of player who needs the ball in his hands to be successful, so Sacramento might just be the perfect fit.
6. Orlando Magic: Malik Monk, G - Kentucky
Like the Kings, the Magic have been in desperate need of someone to hand the keys to their franchise over to ever since the got rid of their All-Star center. The only difference is the Magic have been waiting for someone since 2012. Monk doesn't quite fit the bill like Fox, but he has serious scoring potential. He has an athletic frame that went underutilized at Kentucky and his shooting prowess is unquestioned. At 6'3", the hope would be to slot him in at the shooting guard position and slide the 6'7" Fournier to small forward. The Magic need something to go their way. At the very least, Monk's shooting gives the Magic some of the floor spacing they have been extremely desperate for.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonathan Isaac, F - Florida State
Isaac is the perfect stretch 4 in today’s NBA, and next to Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins the Timberwolves might have the best SF-PF-C combo in the NBA already. Isaac is a great shooter and his ability to create even more space for Wiggins and Towns to get to the basket makes him an ideal fit in Minnesota.
8. New York Knicks: Dennis Smith, G - NC State
At this point, Knicks fans would likely take anyone not named Frank Ntilikina. Ntilikina’s fit in “the triangle” has been talked to death in New York ever since the New York media caught wind of him. Everyone assumes that if Phil Jackson has anything to say about this pick it will be Ntilikina. Dennis Smith is just the better player. He’s a Steve Francis in his prime level athlete at the point guard position and could electrify the city from the start of his rookie season as a young scorer. If the Knicks pass on him in favor of any of the other prospects, it would feel like Phil Jackson’s time in New York should be up.
9. Dallas Mavericks: Lauri Markkanen, F - Arizona
With all the top point guards off the board, the Mavericks should start thinking about life after Dirk Nowitzki. If Markkanen can get Dirk to tutor him during his rookie season it would help him tremendously. It may be hard to escape Dirk’s shadow in Dallas, and Markkanen will more than likely never live up to the Dirk comparisons that being picks by Dallas will force on him, but Markkanen is still a starting caliber forward in today’s NBA and could provide a smoother transition for Dallas after Dirk retires.
10. Sacramento Kings (via New Orleans): Harry Giles, F - Duke
The Kings are desperate. Any team that risks taking Giles has to be. Giles is one of the biggest boom or bust prospects in recent NBA history. His season at Duke was sub-par, but the videos of the once great forward prospect still loom just one YouTube search at away for any GM. Teams will have to talk themselves into the fact that Giles wasn’t fully healthy last season and that their NBA trainers can help him become the player he once was. The Kings haven’t made the playoffs since 2006. Trying to gamble on Giles would not even be top 5 on the list of bad decisions made by Sacramento over the past decade, and if he booms instead of busts, he’s the steal of the draft.
11. Charlotte Hornets: Frank Ntilikina, G - France
The Hornets are a strange team. Their needs are skewed by the players they have on their roster. They spent lottery picks on Kaminsky and Zeller and spent 12 million per year on Marvin Williams. They are currently playing small forward Nicolas Batum at shooting guard so Michael Kidd-Gilchrist can start at small forward. They chose to pay Nicolas Batum like a top 3 guy, and overpaid their role players meaning they have virtually no cap space. If I was the Hornets GM, I would move this pick for Jahlil Okafor, but if they can’t do that, Frank Ntilikina would be a good backup for Kemba and could also play some shooting guard when asked to. The Hornets were tied for the 3rd seed last season with the Celtics, the Heat, and the Hawks and finished behind all those teams this year, even the Heat who lost their best player. After looking like a promising team last year, the Hornets are in danger of getting stuck in NBA limbo.
12. Detroit Pistons: Luke Kennard, G - Duke
With the impending free agency of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope looming and no clear upgrades at the other positions available at #12, the Pistons can attempt to take Kennard as an insurance policy. If Caldwell-Pope gets a big offer from another team, the Pistons would be smart to let him walk and move forward with Luke Kennard. You shouldn’t play a role player like a top 3 guy (ask the Hornets). Kennard showed real scoring ability in college and could turn into a mid-teens type scorer in the NBA.
13. Denver Nuggets: TJ Leaf, F - UCLA
The Denver Nuggets would probably prefer to find a point guard and move on from Mudiay after benching him for Jameer Nelson this past season, but with none of the board finding a frontcourt partner for Jokic would be a smart move. If Faried can’t get back to being the player he used to be, Leaf would be a great player to replace him with. He fits perfectly into a floor spacing offense and if the Nuggets can bring back Gallinari than a lineup of Jokic, Leaf, Gallinari, and Murray could provide enough floor spacing to take advantage of Mudiay’s driving ability.
14. Miami Heat: Ivan Rabb, F - California
The Miami Heat started at least 5 players at the power forward position this past season. After moving on from Chris Bosh, the Heat need someone to play the position. Rabb was projected to go higher if he had come out after his freshman season, but he fell under the radar a little this year with all the talent at the top of the draft. Rabb has shown a willingness to try to expand his range this past season, but still has a long way to go until he can become a consistent 3 point shooter. Nonetheless, Rabb would be a good fit in Miami and if Erik Spoelstra could go 30-11 over the last 41 games with the revolving door he had at the power forward position this past year, Rabb could do wonders for the Heat.
15. Portland Trail Blazers: OG Anunoby, F - Indiana
The Trail Blazers have 3 picks in the first round this year, and after signing Evan Turner and Allen Crabbe to a combined 35 million per year, they need to hit on these picks to improve. Although OG will come in injured, he’s drawn comparisons to Kawhi Leonard all year, and would be a great player if he can come back strong from his injury. The Trail Blazers would be gambling a bit with this pick, but it should be well worth it, even if they have to wait a few months for him to hit the floor.
16: Chicago Bulls: Zach Collins, C - Gonzaga
Robin Lopez is likely not the long term answer at center for Chicago, and if Chicago wants to just take the best player available, then Zach Collins would be the guy. According to most Collins is the best center in the draft and he could be a nice starting big man for Chicago a few years down the road. In the meantime, he would be an upgrade of Cristiano Felicio as the backup center off the bench.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: Jarrett Allen, C - Texas
The Bucks have depth at every position available, which makes them extremely hard to predict. The position they need is point guard, but there are none on the board worth taking that high. It feels very likely that they re-sign Snell and they already have Middleton, Brogdan, Giannis, and Jabari. They don’t need more wing depth. Greg Monroe’s impending free agency could mean the end of his time in Milwaukee, so taking Allen to help fill some of the minutes at center could be the move for Milwaukee to make at #17.
18. Indiana Pacers: Donovan Mitchell, G - Louisville
Monta Ellis fell off a cliff this past season and Indiana desperately needs a shooting guard. Mitchell has great defensive potential and could be a great fit on Indiana’s team where they already have enough offensive minded players in their starting lineup in Teague, Turner, and George (even if only for a year).
19. Atlanta Hawks: John Collins, F/C - Wake Forest
If Paul Millsap leaves in free agency, Atlanta is going to need a power forward and John Collins could be their guy. Although he may not be able to make a big impact in his rookie season, Collins could be a nice piece for Atlanta to groom for the future.
20. Portland Trail Blazers (via Memphis): Justin Patton, C - Creighton
Portland needs to find another star in the draft. Their first swing was at Anunoby, and taking another one at Patton could prove fruitful. He has very high upside as an athletic center with great post moves and if that translates into the NBA they could have their 3rd scorer. If not, he’d be a nice backup for Nurkic.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Justin Jackson, F - North Carolina
The shooting on the Thunder is poor and that’s putting it lightly. If they’re going to win with Russell Westbrook and he’s going to have the ball in his hands on every possession, then they need to put shooting around him. Jackson is a start with his 3 and D wing potential and neither Grant nor McDermott are exactly locks for the starting job.
22. Brooklyn Nets (via Washington): Terrance Ferguson, G - USA
After trading their picks the Nets need to find talent with these late first rounders that they were able to trade off their role players for. Ferguson could be a nice guard prospect for the Nets to take a flyer on. The Nets would allow Ferguson to grow and they would put the ball in his hands much more than other teams picking in the late 20s.
23. Toronto Raptors: Bam Adebayo, F/C - Kentucky
Drafting Bam as a potential Serge Ibaka replacement wouldn’t be ideal for the Raptors, but they may have to with the money Ibaka is likely to get in FA. Adebayo is an athletic 4 and while he is no sure thing to become a starting 4, the Raptors might have to take the risk. They’ve had a revolving door at the power forward position over the past few years and the hope would be for that to end with Adebayo.
24. Utah Jazz: Kyle Kuzma, F - Utah
Derrick Favors was perhaps the lone disappointment in a year of growth for the Jazz. Their power forward position is considerably weak and putting all their chips in the Trey Lyles basket would be a bit of a risk. Kyle Kuzma can provide them with some solid depth at the position and it certainly doesn’t hurt that he went to college there.
25. Orlando Magic (from LAC, via Toronto): Caleb Swanigan, F/C - Purdue
If the Magic don’t feel confident in Bismack Byiombo’s abilities anymore who could blame them. Swanigan can provide backup minutes at the 4 or 5, and the without any clear needs the Magic might as well go for one of the better college performers on the board.
26. Portland Trail Blazers (via Cleveland): Johnathan Motley, F - Baylor
After taking a center and a small forward, the Blazers go for a power forward in Motley with high upside. If they can hit on just one of these picks with a mid-high level starter next to Lillard and McCollum they’ll be in good shape.
27. Brooklyn Nets (via Boston): DJ Wilson, F - Michigan
DJ Wilson rose up everyone’s board during Michigan’s run through the big ten tournament and NBA scouts have taken a liking to him. At 6’10” he’s a good shooter and in today’s NBA that’s enough to get you drafted. Coach Kenny Atkinson loves to play up tempo and has even gotten Brook Lopez shooting 3’s, so adding another skill big would make sense for them.
28. Los Angeles Lakers (via Houston): Ike Anigbogu, F/C - UCLA
Timofey Mosgov clearly wasn’t what the Lakers thought he was when they paid him 64 million dollars on the first day of free agency. Ike can try and become the center the Lakers need and hopefully Lonzo Ball can help integrate him into the Lakers starting lineup. With Ball, Russell, Ingram, and Randle all the Lakers need is a center to finish off their young lineup for the future.
29. San Antonio Spurs: Isaiah Hartenstein, F/C - Germany
The Spurs have a great history of taking international players and although Hartenstein has fallen fairly far down most people’s boards he could be a nice fit in San Antonio. With David Lee and Pau Gasol both getting another year older the Spurs could use some youth at the big man spot and Hartenstein definitely has the physical tools to be coached up by Popovich into a solid backup for the Spurs.
30. Utah Jazz (via Golden State): Juwan Evans, G - Oklahoma State
If the Jazz lose George Hill in free agency, which is starting to look more and more likely, it will be back to the same old story. The point guard position has been a disaster in recent years for the Jazz from Dante Exum to Trey Burke they can never seem to get it right. Taking Evans would be a red flag to all Jazz fans that Hill probably won’t be returning, but if the Jazz truly do not expect him to comeback they will need depth. It would be Exum’s job to lose, but with 2 1st round picks the Jazz might as well take another swing at a point guard with #30.