The NBA draft silly season is in full swing but unlike most years where we have seen smoke there is also fire. We’ve had an unprecedented trade down of the 1st overall pick a full week before the draft and more trades seem to be on the horizon. The draft could and probably will be majorly affected by potential trades of NBA All Stars Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Love and emerging players such as Kristaps Porzingis and D’Angelo Russell. There are some teams quietly waiting in the wings on draft night to trade up or trade down and there are several teams with multiple 1st round picks that may seek to consolidate.
This last mock draft seeks to combine all of the information we have collected here at 10YS regarding interviews, individual workouts, combine results, 2017 NBA free agency and planning for the 2018 draft. Once again these picks are projections of the likely picks to be made by each front office not whom I would pick in each scenario.
1. Philadelphia 76ers
Team Needs: PG, SG
The most well-rounded and NBA ready player in the draft, Fultz also possesses tremendous upside. Markelle Fultz can play either guard spot and within any NBA offense. Reminds me of a vintage Penny Hardaway. He has the height and absurd length (6’11 wingspan) to defend 3 positions. Fultz will learn to apply himself on defense by Coach Brett Brown. Fultz has solidified his status as the number one draft pick after impressing the Celtics, Lakers and 76ers front offices during his individual workouts. Will step in the starting lineup and demote TJ McConnell to a more suitable role of the bench. Fultz possesses the shooting, dribbling and driving ability to play on or off the ball with Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
Team Needs: Depth
The current Lakers teams are woefully lacking in young prospects with defensive chops. This pick will come down to the wire between Josh Jackson and Lonzo Ball if the Lakers indeed keep it. Ultimately, Josh Jackson’s competitiveness on both sides of the ball will be what gains him the nod. With the Lakers roster being in such a flux for the next few years due to potential free agents acquisitions (Paul George, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James etc.), it behooves them to select a player who is malleable, comfortable playing off the ball as well as potential trade bait. Josh Jackson is not the most skilled scorer in the draft nor does he possess superior ball handling skills. His hands are not as large as other prospects and he tends to attack the basket in a straight line. He has already learned to maximize his abilities; his catch and shoot ability from three translates well, he has superior court awareness, anticipation and excellent foot speed. His commitment to defense will earn him lengthy court time early in his career which will also accelerate his offensive development. If his offensive improvements ever approach his current defensive ability, he could become one of the best players in the NBA.
3. Boston Celtics (via Nets/76ers)
Team Needs: PF/SG
Arguably the best passer in the draft, Lonzo Ball combines superior court vision and decision making to always find the open man. He can see over the defense with his height and is more effective on fast breaks than half court sets. He shot the ball very impressively in college but I have serious concerns on how that translates into the NBA due to his low almost sideways windup. His shooting form will probably have to be completely remade. His inability to guard quick PG’s in the NCAA may force him into playing SG in the NBA which would also marginalize his best traits. Will need to add muscle to his frame and increase his foot speed. There have been rumblings that Boston traded down to choose a small forward or that they may trade the pick but they are more likely to select and keep Lonzo Ball as they currently do not have anything resembling a pass first point guard on their team.
Team Needs: SF
Jayson Tatum is the complete package of individual scoring from the SF position with a wide variety of post-up, face-up and off the dribble moves. At six foot eight with an almost seven-foot wingspan he can play small ball power forward and might even bulk up to play power forward on a permanent basis. Tatum projects a cross between Jabari Parker and Carmelo Anthony. He also possesses the potential to be a solid contributor on the defensive end. He projects to be a primary scorer for a team but must learn how to score within a free-flowing offense. Tatum would fit into the Sun offense immediately as they currently lack a post presence where he can familiarize himself with NBA defense while refining his 3pt stroke. His lack of athleticism would not be a problem as he is surrounded by Eric Bledsoe, Marquess Chriss and Dragan Bender.
5. Sacramento Kings
Team Needs: PG, SF
De’Aaron Fox is the fastest player in the draft with the ball in his hands. Speed kills in the NBA and his speed combined with his control and change of pace via hesitation dribbles can break even the most established defenses. His NBA combine measured weight was very low for a PG of his height and he will need to improve his weight and three-point shooting in the NBA. He has admitted that his early season troubles shooting the ball at Kentucky gave him confidence issues but he worked through it and shot over 40% from 3-point from March onwards. Fox is excellent the defensive end and fights through most screens. He should immediately be a successful drive and dish point guard and would be the perfect backcourt mate to Buddy Hield who would benefit from his drive and dishes. Former Wildcats Skal Labissiere and Willey Cauley-Stein would very much appreciate the open lobs he would be able to provide them when he collapses defenses.
6. Orlando Magic
Team Needs: PG,SF
|Jonathan Isaac||6’11”||210||SF/PF||Florida State||Freshman|
The Orlando Magic are tentatively at a crossroads in their rebuild. Their young players are all soon to be extension eligible and they have yet to find a true cornerstone. Convential wisdom would suggest that they draft a PG or SF who is a lights out 3-point shooter but that’s not how GM John Hammonds operates.
An intriguing combo forward, Jonathan Isaac projects to the be the rarest of 3 and D players, with the ability to get blocks as well as steals. His seven foot one wingspan and good foot speed are tremendous physical assets that allows him to cover the entire court on help defense. Isaac has a guard mentality due to a late growth spurt and is very fluid on the court.He is presumably not done growing still. His individual scoring ability gives some GM’s pause at this point in his career and his slight frame does not seem to suited to add much more weight. The lack of weight will not hinder him on the defensive end but will prevent him from maximizing his post up ability. I believe he is one of those players who is better suited to the NBA rather than the NCAA. Jonathan Isaac could be the three-point shooting equivalent to the “Greak Freak” and possesses arguably the highest upside in the draft.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves
Team Needs: SF, PF
Lauri Markkanen is the best shooter in the draft and he just happens to be seven feet tall. Lazy comparisons have likened him to Dirk Nowitzki but Lauri Markkanen is in the next wave of European big men who possess great athleticism (comparable to size) in addition to great shooting mechanics. A prolific three-point shooter in college, Lauri can put the ball on the ground and score at the basket. His very small wingspan and lack of strength will prevent him from playing center full time and he should be partnered upfront with a defensive rebounding big man to maximize his skills. He should immediately thrive as a pick and pop shooter in a spread offense. Markkanen is allergic to grabbing rebound and fighting through screens which suggest that his lack of defensive ability is due to apathy which while concerning should be fixable. He might be a specialty player but he fits a valuable need in the NBA and slots in perfectly at PF between Karl Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
8. New York Knicks
Team Needs: PG, SG, C
The 2017 NBA draft’s mystery man, Frank Ntilikina has not been able to attend the combine nor schedule any team visits and workout due to his team SIG Strausbourg advancing to the French League Final. Ntilikina has been scouted extensively by NBA teams due to his physical tools and his potential. His 7-foot long reach and height allows him to have active hands on defense similar to Andre Iguodala and he has good form on his jump shot. It remains to be seen how good his passing ability, is but he has all the tools to be one of the best defensive players in the NBA who can also shoot and pass. He could be the player most Knicks fans hoped Iman Shumpert would have ended up being. Phil Jackson seems hellbent on pushing the triangle and in Ntilikina he has the large combo guard who has played in a similar system in the French league to mold.
9. Dallas Mavericks
Team Needs: PG, PF
|Dennis Smith Jr||6’2″||195||PG||NC State||Freshman|
Dennis Smith Jr. is the most explosive athlete in the draft. He plays very low to the ground and unfurls quickly when close to the rim. He also possesses good court vision and has all the tools to be an elite defensive player. Similar in body type and playing style to Russell Westbrook, he must substantially increase his three-point shooting as well as his midrange game to maximize his ability. Currently he’s getting by mainly on natural ability. He will need to capitalize on his ability to collapse any defense and dish to the open player for easy shots. He suffered from playing with subpar teammates and coaching at NC State. Rick Carlisle will be able to teach him the nuances of the point guard position and he will benefit from being surrounded by quality shooters( Dirk Nowitzki, Wesley Matthews) and athletes ( Harrison Barnes, Nerlens Noel)
10. Sacramento Kings (via Pelicans)
Team Needs: PG, SF
Malik Monk is a perimeter scorer and can be effective either in the starting lineup or coming off the bench. He makes up for his less than ideal height with an impressive max vertical. He may struggle to defend larger guards but his main role on the floor will be to score. He does not currently profile as a combo guard. Monk has very short arms which could prevent him from becoming an effective defender and from scoring efficiently at the rim. A true microwave scorer, Monk needs to refine his passing instincts to potentially move over to Point Guard in the mold of Stephen Curry. The Kings would prefer to take a SF with this pick but there is no prospects at this point who have high enough upside and they will likely pursue one in free agency.
11. Charlotte Hornets
Team Needs: PG, PF
|Dwayne Bacon||6’6″||220||SG/SF||Florida St.||Sophomore|
Blessed with an NBA ready body for the SG position, Dwayne Bacon profiles as an immediate role player who can grow into a larger starring role. The NBA draft is not only about selecting stars in the lottery but also about finding players who can fit various needs for the team. A cross between Danny Green and Khris Middleton, he can defend larger players due to his weight and passing lanes due to his very large hands. An effective individual scorer and defender. He is one of the more well rounded players in the draft. Needs to improve his off the ball feel of the game on both ends of the floor. Charlotte is eager to return to the playoffs and will need Bacon to contribute immediately similar to recent draft picks such as Norman Powell and Malcolm Brogdon. With the recent trade for Dwight Howard, the Hornets are in need of experience in lieu of upside.
12. Detroit Pistons
Team Needs: PG
The leader of one of the best teams in college basketball last year. Nigel Williams-Goss needed to have a very good NBA draft combine and he did. He had excellent results in the agility drills and measured well in height, reach and hand size. Very similar player to Deron Williams coming into the draft, he profiles as floor general who can control the flow of the offense without giving up much on the defensive end. Stan Van Gundy has no secret of his displeasure with Reggie Jackson and is looking for more leadership from his PGs. Will be tasked with managing the offense through very specific offensive sets and salvaging Andre Drummond’s career. Could push Reggie Jackson to SG if Kentavious Caldwell-Pope leaves in free agency.
13. Denver Nuggets
Team Needs: SF, PF
Jordan Bell entered the combine with a lot of question mark regarding his size, skill and basketball IQ. He needed to have a great NBA draft combine and he surpassed everyone’s expectations. His size measurements were as expected and his agility scores were record breaking (fastest shuttle time in combine history) for a PF. He also showed off his newfound three-point range in shooting drills which suggest that he can combine his elite defensive ability with interior scoring and the shooting to keep defenses honest. He will need to keep improving offensively to thrive in the NBA. He combines the activity of Kenneth Faired with the defensive skills of Draymond Green. Bell should serve as the perfect complement to Nikola Jokic at PF.
14. Miami Heat
Team Needs: PF, SF
Much has been said about the revitalization of the UCLA basketball program that has mainly focused on Lonzo Ball’s contributions while ignoring TJ Leaf who in my opinion was equally if not more important to the teams success. A versatile scorer, TJ Leaf brings scoring and solid understanding of offense from the PF position. He cannot play Center which limits him defensively but he is equally comfortable in the post or facing up 20 feet from the rim. He has a high motor, explosiveness and ball handling skills to conduct fast breaks. Does not have defensive instincts but acquits himself well in team defense. Should be comfortable shooting from the three-point line and physical enough to grab defensive rebounds. He will seamlessly slot in between Justise Winslow and Hassan Whiteside to provide perimeter scoring, passing and off the ball movement.
15. Portland Trail Blazers
Team Needs: Depth
The Trailblazers enter the draft with only 3 untouchable players (Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic).While they have fifteen players under contract, they will be trimming their roster either by waiving or trading players. Bam Adebayo would be a good above the rim complement to Jusuf Nurkic, whom they acquired last year to provide interior scoring. A physical specimen who should immediately become a great screen setter and defensive contributor, he profiles as a late career Dwight Howard/early Amare Stoudemire. He needs to consistently show effort on both ends of the floor and should be able to carve a niche for himself on the team as a pick setter, rim roller. He has the tools to develop into the type of player who punishes small ball Power Forwards and Centers.
16. Chicago Bulls
Team Needs: SG, PF
|Justin Jackson||6’8″||200||SF||North Carolina||Junior|
The Bulls are heading into the draft with several holes to fill (three-point shooting and off the ball movement). At this stage in Fred Hoiberg’s tenure, he does not have time to groom raw players into rotation players. Justin Jackson does not have a high upside and his physique is not suited for the rigors of the NBA. He can immediately step into the rotation however at SG/SF and play off any combination of Rondo, Wade and Butler. Jackson is very coachable which seems to be an issue with the bulls. He should be able to combine with Denzel Valentine and Bobby Portis to be the next wave off the bench. This pick may change for a player who is raw but with a higher upside is Jimmy Butler is traded.
17. Milwaukee Bucks
Team Needs: Depth
Another combine warrior, Terrance Ferguson bring greats height and athleticism to the SG/SF position. He has excellent shooting form and should be able to be a consistent three-point shooter in the NBA. He is undeniably raw but the Bucks have shown a willingness and aptitude in developing raw, international prospects while simultaneously competing for the playoffs. Ferguson struggled with his shooting during his time in Australia and would have been drafted higher if he played at Arizona (his initial college commitment). He will pattern his game after Tony Snell and Kris Middleton to give the Greek Freak more options to pass to.
18. Indiana Pacers
Team Needs: PF, SG
A modern stretch four. Tyler Lydon only brings one skill at this stage in his career and that is his ability to shoot three-pointers with his feet set. He does not have the skill to drive against NBA defenses but he has very good off the ball movement to create space for himself. Lydon separates himself from other PFs as he had a good post-up game to go with his shooting. He is a good help defender who can get steals and blocks and would benefit playing between Paul George (if he stays)and Myles Turner. His underwhelming physical measurements puts a limit of how high his ceiling can be but he could develop into a better David Lee/Patrick Patterson type player.
19. Atlanta Hawks
Team Needs: PF, C
Zach Collins brings great size as a true seven-footer with three-point potential. Has very good mobility and show good offensive/defensive potential. Has a good array of post-up moves and spatial awareness. Did not play any significant minutes at Gonzaga against NBA caliber big men. Collins possess the tools to be a modern center and could potentially be an All Star. The Hawks have already swapped Dwight Howard for Mason Plumlee and Paul Millsap could potentially leave during free agency. Collins can play alongside either Plumlee or Millsap and slide into the starting lineup if Millsap leaves.
20. Portland Trail Blazers (via Grizzlies/Nuggets)
Team Needs: Depth
Luke Kennard might possibly go higher in the draft as we are at the portion where fit matters. GM’s have stated that they expect to see him taken in the late lottery but there has not been a definitive team he has been linked too. Kennard is a crafty scorer with good size for the SG position, he’s equally comfortable playing off or on the ball and has underrated passing ability. He might be the best shooter in the draft. If he was paired with defensive PG he could have a similar career to Bradley Beal. The Trailblazers will likely use him as a scoring guard off the bench to pair with either Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum. His lack of defensive ability fits in line with the rest of the Trailblazers whose modus operandi is to simply outscore other teams.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder
Team Needs: PG,SF
The Thunder have been alternatively stockpiling athletes and shooters to replace Kevin Durant at the SF position with mixed success. With Andre Roberson as restricted free agent, Billy Donovan would be hesitant to have the SF position solely manned by Doug McDermott and Jerami Grant who both are free agents after next season. Semi Ojeleye could possibly be the long term solution as he is a physical specimen who have a very good 3 point shot with his feet set. His less than ideal height and athleticism is less of an issue playing alongside Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams and he should be able to contribute to the them immediately. Ojeleye will need to develop his off the dribble game.
22. Brooklyn Nets (via Wizards)
Team Needs: PG, SG, PF
A former contender for the number one overall pick, Harry Giles has seen his career almost derailed by multiple knee injuries. His combine measurements as well as his agility scores means that he will certainly be drafted in the first round if his medical records check out. He may never be a full-time player to prevent wear and tear on his knees but the league has long since progressed past the point of playing big men 40 MPG. He is an incredibly gifted athlete and can play in any offensive/defensive scheme. Giles should be able to anchor a defense and score in the post up to 15 feet. He should be able to foster a good pick and roll relationship with D’Angelo Russell. The NBA has a mixed history of big men with multiple knee injuries as such he is the ultimate boom or bust player. He is much less of a risk for the Nets as the need to fill the gaping hole at Center and they have experience with a Center who has had numerous knee issues(Brook Lopez). The Nets drafted a similarly gifted prospect last year in Caris LeVert who also fell due to knee problems. A point to consider is that Kevin Durant has had a lot of leg injuries that has not hindered him at this point in his career.
23. Toronto Raptors
Team Needs: PG, SF
|Jawun Evans||6’1″||177||PG||Oklahoma State||Sophomore|
The Raptors are in a difficult position this offseason in that they have 11 players under contract and 4 main contributors as free agents (Kyle Lowry, PJ Tucker, Patrick Patterson and Serge Ibaka). Of those four, Serge Ibaka seems most likely to return. The return of Lowry, Patterson and Tucker seems to hinge on the amount of money competing teams will offer. I believe the Raptors will look to select a PG as Cory Joseph is potentially a free agent next year and Delon Wright seems to settling in as a combo guard. With the Raptors struggling to run offensive sets against good defenses, they will turn to Jawun Evans to facilitate the second wave of offense of the bench. Evans has considerable experience running the pick and roll and he makes up for his lack of height and explosiveness with varying runners. He has the potential to be a very good 3-point shooter but not a volume shooter. He will probably top out as a spot starter or sixth man which is good value for this pick.
24. Utah Jazz
Team Needs: PG,SG, PF
Sparely used by Duke this past season, Frank Jackson obliterated the field in the agility portion of the combine. He has great shooting form and college splits as well as a good pedigree playing under Mike Krzyzewski. An extremely raw and inefficient player at this point. He could be the Zach LaVine of this year’s draft (three-point shooter with great hops). He brings much needed shooting and agility to the Jazz’ backcourt. The Jazz are hoping a player of Jackson’s scoring potential could learn to be a combo guard in the far future and do not need him to be an immediate contributor. Dante Exum is their point guard of the future and he is currently a defensive, slashing guard with poor shooting ability. A player like Jackson would complement Exum in the backcourt. The Jazz have shown a willingness to draft based on physical tools (Rudy Gobert and Dante Exum) and wait years for their development.
25.Orlando Magic (via Clippers/Raptors)
Team Needs: PG,SF, PF
An ACL tear in January hurt OG Anunoby chances of shining in the NCAA tournament but this should not prevent him from being drafted in the first round. Anunoby has great measurement for a SF and can play PF or even C in some lineups. His calling card in the NBA will be his defense but he has shown to have focus issues at Indiana. His lack of scoring ability is exaggerated and he has shot a respectable 37% from 3-point land in his college career and can adequately score off the dribble. His profile mirrors that of Kawhi Leonard when he came out of San Diego State and he can be the steal of the draft if he ever irons out his shooting kinks and increases his mental focus. At the least he should be able to carve a nice defensive role of the bench like Al Farouq Aminu.
26. Portland Trail Blazers (via Cavaliers)
Team Needs: Depth
Another combine warrior, Donovan Mitchell is an athletic scoring combo guard with defensive potential. He is slightly undersized at 6’3” but has very good length, large hands and obscene speed and agility. He should be able to continue his great perimeter defensive in the NBA and finally give the Trailblazers an explosive athlete in the backcourt who curiously does not finish all that well at the rim. He reminds me of a similar sized player coming out of college in Dwyane Wade but it remains to be seen if even Wade himself could repeat his success in the NBA with today’s rules and emphasis on shooting ability.
27. Los Angeles Laker(via Nets/Celtics)
Team Needs: PG, SG, PF
A very active big man with 7’3” wingspan, Jonathan Motley is a very good rebounder on both ends of the floor as well as an interior scorer. While he is a good individual defender, he has not shown much as a rim protector nor does he project to be a three-point shooter. His game resembles Tristan Thompson and he brings a lot of energy, athleticism and toughness to the PF position. He should be able to play C in small ball lineups. His bread and butter in the NBA will be scoring transition points and grabbing rebounds. He would be a good fit playing in a faster tempo or can grab loose rebounds that would otherwise be ignored by Brook Lopez. Energy players such as Motley tend to have an immediate impact in the league with winning teams. On losing teams such as the Nets it can be difficult to contribute if the offense is not being run correctly and spacing is poor (See Tristan Thompson before LeBron came to the Cavs). This pick and the following pick are at risk of being traded by the Lakers.
28. Los Angeles Lakers (via Rockets)
Team Needs: SG, PF
An impressive physical specimen who can potentially bring needed activity and toughness to the center position. He is more of a physical specimen than a skilled player at this stage. Isaiah will grab tough rebounds and has an unorthodox release that makes it hard to defend. His style of play is similar player to Robin Lopez. Hartenstein has good shooting form and might be able to extend his range to the three-point line. His gait must be corrected as he is too compact in the half court. Has the end to end speed to be active in transition. He has the potential to be a good post up scorer and passer but does not have any moves that he can currently hang his hat on. The Lakers might view him as a draft and stash candidate with an eye towards the 2019 season. The NBA has had good experience recently with the sons of former NBA players (Austin Rivers notwithstanding).
29. San Antonio Spurs
Team Needs: PG, PF, C
The Spurs will need to sign or draft a center as they have been hemorrhaging big men in the last few years. This is no different with Pau Gasol and David Lee both declining their player options and joining Dewayne Dedmon as free agents. Ike Anigbogu would bring much need size and length to pair with LaMarcus Aldridge. He is an unrefined player on both ends of the floor but his 7’6” wingspan (second longest in the league) will allow him to alter shots on defense, grab loose rebounds and finish around the rim. Greg Popovich is the ideal coach to put a raw player in a position to succeed and Anigbogu should have a significant role by the time the playoffs roll around.
30. Utah Jazz (via Warriors)
Team Needs: PG,SG, PF
Jarett Allen is another center with a 7’6” wingspan and a sprint time comparable to a guard. His physical tools outweigh his college production. His current strength is rebounding and he has a soft touch around the basket. He does not show great defensive instincts nor great lateral speed but has very good end to end speed which should get him open looks on fast breaks. Will need to improve almost every aspect of his game. He should pattern his game after DeAndre Jordan and will benefit from playing mainly C in the pros as opposed to PF in college. The Jazz will look to shore up their front line as both Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors(free agent at the end of next season) seem to have become more injury prone with each passing year and Trey Lyles has shown to be only a finesse player thus far.