Trust the process. Lavar Ball. Danny Ainge.
The 2017 NBA Draft has no shortage of storylines and has had the basketball community on the edge of their seats ever since the Golden State Warriors hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy in Oakland, California.
Let’s be completely honest, Thursday’s draft has more intrigue and drama than any part of the 2017 postseason did.
With a major trade at the top of the draft, Paul George and Jimmy Butler on the chopping block, a very talented draft class, and the hometown team having 3 first round picks, the draft just might be the highlight of the basketball season
The Conglomerate Project
As a staff, we got together and went through a first round mock draft. Each of us took an NBA Division and drafted for each team in that division.
Northwest Division: Garrett Thornton (@PortlandGarrett)
Pacific Division: Jason Hartzog (@JHartsLife)
Southwest Division: Bryant Knox (@BryantKnox)
Atlantic Division: Darby Marioth (@DarbyMarioth)
Central Division: Simon Teska (@Teskanation)
Southeast Division: Jarreau Brown (@pREAUfessional)
Buckle up and enjoy draft week, embrace the madness, and please mock our mock draft!
- Philadelphia 76ers
Markelle Fultz | Washington | PG | 6-4 | 195
The spirit, and more importantly the products, of Sam Hinkie lives on in Philadelphia as Bryan Colangelo puts together a trade that moves his team up to the number one spot from their former three spot. With the selection of Markelle Fultz, you’ll find that many Sixers fans will be glad to inform you that ‘The Process’ is complete. Fultz is an all-around talented point guard who displays a sweet shooting touch, phenomenal court vision, and an exciting defensive upside. It’s going to be a real treat to see Fultz and Ben Simmons teaming up to terrorize backcourts while competing for Rookie of the Year honors.
- Los Angeles Lakers
Lonzo Ball | UCLA | PG | 6-6 | 190
As much as I would love to see the Lakers trade this pick or simply pass on Ball (mainly just to see how that story would unfold), but this is the right pick for them. He wants to be there more than anywhere else and he’s a damn good basketball player. In today’s NBA where so many point guards are more score first type of guards, it’s refreshing to see a top talent with an unselfish, pass-first attitude. Ball led the nation in assists as a freshman, averaging 7.6 APG. He doesn’t take a lot of shots, but with the nation’s 6th best effective FG% (0.668), he is an efficient scorer. Defensively, he has good instincts when it comes to jumping passing lanes, but his on ball defense is a little shaky. With his length and a little work I don’t see that becoming much of an issue at the NBA level.
- Boston Celtics
Josh Jackson | Kansas | SF | 6-8 | 205
Apparently, the Boston Celtics are really high on Duke’s Jayson Tatum. “Jayson Tatum is Paul Pierce 2.0” is just one of the many things I’ve seen online from Celtic insiders. But I’m not buying it and, despite the praise from Danny Ainge, I don’t think he’s buying it either. Even with the similarities that Jackson and Jaylen Brown possess, I’m happily taking the risk, if you want to call it that, of drafting this versatile Kansas small forward, who could very well be a generational talent. If it weren’t for the Philly-Fultz romance or the Lakers-Ball soap opera, one could expect Jackson to go first or second in just about any draft. Instead, Boston trades down from the one spot to grab the player they wanted all along.
- Phoenix Suns
Jayson Tatum | Duke | SF | 6-8 | 205
The Suns won’t have to reach for a position of need here. The question a lot of people are asking is who would you rather have? Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum. Well, the Celtics made the choice easy here by leaving them with Tatum. Tatum has all the tools to become a star in this league. He is a long wing (6’11 wingspan). Although he doesn’t shoot particularly well from beyond the arc, he has an array of offensive moves that make him a prolific scorer. Phoenix is happy to take him at 4.
- Sacramento Kings
De’Aaron Fox | Kentucky | PG | 6-4 | 170
Sacramento’s owner Vivek Ranadive is in love with Buddy Hield. Hield is the reason that he was willing to only take 1 first rounder for DeMarcus Cousins. I’m not so sure that Hield pans out with his “Steph Curry potential”, but I could see him and De’Aaron Fox forming a great backcourt duo for the Kings. Similar to how well Malik Monk and Fox worked together in Kentucky. Fox’s explosiveness and ability to get to the basket commands a defensive presence. This can help free up a good shooter like Hield.
- Orlando Magic
Lauri Markkanen | Arizona | PF | 7-0 | 225
The Orlando Magic ranked 25th in 3-point makes and 29th in 3-point percentage for the 2016-17 NBA regular season. With Jeff Green as their current PF, they need youth and perimeter shooting. Lauri Markkanen provides both. In addition, his sharp shooting ability will provide space for Elfrkd Peyton to operate in pick and roll with Nikola Vucevic.
- Minnesota Timberwolves
Jonathan Isaac | Florida State | PF-SF | 6-11 | 205
The Minnesota Timberwolves continue to add a crazy amount of talent to their roster. Adding Johnathan Isaac to a core of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Kris Dunn is scary for the opponents in the Northwest Division. Isaac brings a versatile game and a high ceiling. Isaac’s measurables are very intriguing and will give him some positional flex.
- New York Knicks
Frank Ntilikina | France | PG | 6-5 |170
“The French are coming! The French are coming!”
Okay, maybe I wasn’t the most attentive in history class, but one thing I know for sure is that Frank Ntilikina, the lanky French point guard will be the perfect fit for New York. The Knicks could lose every single game and Phil Jackson would still refuse to give up the triangle offense. That’s one of the many reasons why Ntilikina is the obvious choice for this worrisome Knicks squad. He might not provide the instant impact that Malik Monk or Dennis Smith Jr. could provide but, down the road, and sooner rather than later, Jackson might finally give Kristaps Porzingis a reason not to skip town.
- Dallas Mavericks
Malik Monk | Kentucky | SG-PG | 6-4 | 185
Every general manager asks himself the same thing at draft time: What’s more important—need or talent? As far as the Mavs are concerned, they’ve absolutely found the latter…and quite possibly the former. Malik Monk, at No. 9, was the most talented player available with the highest upside—not to mention the best shooter and scoring guard of his entire class. The better news, though, is that he’s a combo guard who, at 6’3”, could become that long-term floor general. As a big-time scorer, athletic finisher and excellent ball-handler, Monk can find ways to score on his own (aka, replace Wes Matthews sooner rather than later). But during a Warriors-dominated era, trying him out at point guard during a rebuild could be well worth the risk.
- Sacramento Kings
Zach Collins | Gonzaga | PF | 7-0 | 230
Luari Markkanen would have been the dream pick here for Sacramemto. It would be in the Kings best interest to add a stretch 4 to the mix with new PG De’Aaron Fox. With Markkanen gone and TJ Leaf a little too much of a reach at 10 they go with the next best big on the board here with Collins. Collins could develop into a stretch 4. He has a small, yet accurate, sample size from 3-point range (10/21) that looks encouraging. You can never have enough 7-footers and the Kings need to stockpile as much talent as possible.
- Charlotte Hornets
Luke Kennard | Duke | SG | 6-5 | 190
The Charlotte Hornets wings consist of Nicolas Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Jeremy Lamb. They’ll look to add another option that can score at this position. Luke Kennard has more moves than a 90s boy band member. He and Walker will be a headache for opposing defenses.
- Detroit Pistons
Jarrett Allen | Texas | C | 6-10 | 235
Like pretty much every team, the Pistons could use some size. They have some options here — the local-ish kid from Creighton is an “alternative choice” and they could add a 3 (small forward) instead of going with a big, but Allen has some size — 6’10” and 235. Like many one-and-done players he did his job at Texas and now he’s looking forward to the next level. It might take him a year to be relevant.
- Denver Nuggets
John Collins | Wake Forest | PF | 6-10 | 225
John Collins is arguably the most offensively talented big man in this year’s draft. At Wake Forest he put up great numbers, averaging 19.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game as a sophomore, all while shooting 60+% from the field. Collins next to Nikola Jokic is a scary duo in Denver. They can’t guard anybody, but they’ll score a bunch of points.
- Miami Heat
T.J. Leaf | UCLA | PF | 6-10 | 225
The retirement of Chris Bosh leaves a gaping hole at the PF position in Miami. While James Johnson is elite defensively he doesn’t offer a lot offensive. Combine that with the fact that he’s a free agent this offseason and the Heat will need to find depth and insurance at the position. TJ Leaf provides a consistent mid-range jumper and is great in pick and roll. Lonzo Ball often times set the table for him back at UCLA so he doesn’t necessarily need the ball in his hands to score. He’ll fit nicely with the ball-dominate guard Goran Dragic.
- Portland Trail Blazers
OG Anunoby | Indiana | SF-PF | 6-8 | 235
Let’s be real, Portland is not drafting 3 rookies in the first round. But with three picks, it gives them the chance to take some chances. Anunoby’s ceiling is Kawhi Leonard. Anunoby’s most likely comparison is Al-Farouq Aminu. Anunoby’s worst case scenario is Aminu with Greg Oden knees. Read more on OSN.
- Chicago Bulls
Terrance Ferguson | Australia | SG | 6-7 | 185
The Chicago Bulls surprise a bunch of people here, but in Chi-Town they are planning ahead and preparing to move away from the Jimmy Butler era. Ferguson isn’t an Adonis by any means, nor is he a franchise savior, but he brings youth, athleticism, and excitement to a team that will need it — especially if they lose Butler. Unlike Butler at his age, Ferguson already has an advanced perimeter game. If the Bulls are able to retain Butler, then Ferguson can be a compliment as a two-guard as well, so really this is a win-win for Chicago. Make it happen.
- Milwaukee Bucks
Isaiah Hartenstein | Lithuania | PF | 7-0 | 240
Hartenstein has been on the draft radar for NBA teams for a while – and rightfully so. He’s a 19-year-old, 7-footer with the fairly common skill set that most European-style players possess. In a league where high-profile centers are on the decline, he doesn’t fit the traditional role, so it makes sense for the Bucks to take a little risk here. He’s a little more polished than some former international players taken in the middle-to-late first rounds in prior years, so there is potential for him to earn significant playing time this season in Milwaukee.
- Indiana Pacers
Dennis Smith | North Carolina State | PG | 6-3 | 195
I don’t think anyone (in the world) expected Dennis Smith Jr. out of N.C. State to fall this far, but he was impossible for the Pacers to pass up. A projected top-10 pick, he will help the Pacers move on from Paul George – assuming that becomes a thing. If it’s all simply white noise and George is still playing in the city that Peyton Manning built, Smith can easily play alongside him and will contribute immediately in the backcourt (even if it is for only one more year after George went public this would be his last year in Indianapolis)..
- Atlanta Hawks
Semi Ojeleye | SMU | SF/PF | 6-7 | 235
The rebuild needs to start sooner than later for the Atlanta Hawks. Going with the assumption that Paul Millsap will leave for greener pastures, they’ll need to replace his scoring and versatility. Ojeleye offers a tough, rugged frame and an offensive book that allowed him to carry SMU’s offense at times.
- Portland Trail Blazers
Donovan Mitchell | Louisville | SG | 6-3 | 210
Donovan Mitchell was one of the highest rated players that Portland brought in for a workout. If Mitchell were there at 20, Neil Olshey would do cartwheels down the hall of the practice facility. Mitchell could be CJ McCollum 2.0. After showing an improved stroke, Mitchell shot 35% from three as a sophomore, to go with 15.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 2.1 steals per game.
- Oklahoma City Thunder
Justin Jackson | North Carolina | SF | 6-8 |195
Andre Roberson is going to be a restricted free agent after next season and will likely break the bank. Drafting Jackson so late in the first round, the Thunder are able to have a year to see if Jackson can be a good replacement when they let Roberson walk next summer. Jackson is a veteran, for college standards, and fits the 3-and-D mold that the Thunder love.
- Brooklyn Nets
Justin Patton | Creighton | C | 7-0 | 230
The Brooklyn Nets are the NBA’s equivalent of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. Or, in other words, a dumpster fire. There’s not a whole lot going right for this organization. They’ve got the New York Knicks’ Linsanity leftovers, the more often broken Lopez twin, and about four players I’ve never seen before in my entire life. It’s go big or go home for this struggling organization. They take the old saying quite literally here by drafting Creighton’s 7-foot center, Justin Patton. Many scouts are unsure of what Patton will become, which is why he’s been seen as high as a lottery pick, but as low as a second rounder in various mock drafts. Brooklyn takes their chances on his development, both physically and fundamentally, as a future all-around dominant center.
- Toronto Raptors
Harry Giles | Duke | PF/C | 6-11 | 220
Before the start of the 2016-17 college basketball season, Harry Giles was projected to be a surefire top five selection in the 2017 NBA Draft. That high praise was given despite his senior year in high school being wiped out by a knee injury. However, it was an injury to the other knee, which he suffered during his time at Duke, that had tarnished his once remarkable draft stock. There’s no question that Giles is a versatile prototype style big that can create some problems for opposing 4s and 5s. However, there’s a big question mark on his ability to stay healthy. Toronto is willing to take that risk.
- Utah Jazz
Anzejs Pasecniks | Spain | C | 7-2 | 230
Kristaps Porzingis has taken the league by storm and has been labeled a “unicorn”, just an incredibly unique player. Pasecniks, a fellow Latvian, could be in the same mold. Utah has shown an affinity to foreign players with unique games. Pasecniks is a 7-footer that can shoot the 3 and handle the ball well. He would be an interesting complementary player to Rudy Gobert.
- Orlando Magic
Derrick White | Colorado | PG/SG | 6-5 | 200
It’s been well documented that the Orlando Magic are looking to bring more consistent shooting to their PG position. They’re also looking to add more competition for Elfrid Payton. Derrick White shot 39% from 3 and while only taking 4 attempts per game; averaging 18 points per game is nothing to sneeze at. Additionally, White has the ability to play both guard positions. This gives the Magic even more flexibility with the ability to play White and Payton together in the backcourt.
- Portland Trail Blazers
Ivan Rabb | California | PF | 6-10 | 215
Rabb was a standout at Cal as a Freshman and likely would have been a lottery pick in the draft last year. He went back to school, had a pretty mediocre sophomore campaign, and really hurt his draft stock. With their 3rd first round pick, the Blazers can swing for the fences for a guy at a needed position. Rabb may just develop into a starting power forward in this league, or he may bust. That is a chance you can take at 26. My scouting report at OSN.
- Brooklyn Nets
Jawun Evans | Oklahoma State | PG | 6-1 | 185
Oh boy, the Brooklyn Nets again. If it weren’t for their infamous Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett/Jason Terry move, the Nets would have the number one pick right now. Or maybe they wouldn’t have gotten this bad in the first place… Anyway, the Nets make a move that might shock some people considering they just paid Jeremy Lin a pretty penny last off-season. They take Jawun Evans, the undersized, yet aggressive, wise, multidimensional beast from Oklahoma State. Evans has a lot to offer a team in the NBA, including a strong grasp of defensive techniques, superior quickness, a lethal offensive skill set, and some wonderful court vision. Wait, so what’s the downside of drafting Evans? Well, like Kyle Lowry or Isaiah Thomas, Evans finds himself down in the draft rankings thanks to his height, which is 6-foot-1-inch on a good day. Brooklyn hopes that he overcomes the undersized stereotype. If so, they might just have the steal of the draft on their hands.
- Los Angeles Lakers
Ike Anigbogu | UCLA | C | 6-10 | 250
Ike Anigbogu has great athletic ability for his huge 6’10” 250 pound frame. He has shown that he can run with a fast style offense alongside fellow UCLA freshman and their newly drafted point guard, Lonzo Ball. Like any young big, he needs a few years to polish off his game. At just 18, this is a risk the Lakers will gladly take at this point in the draft.
- San Antonio Spurs
Jordan Bell | Oregon | PF/C | 6-9 | 227
The San Antonio Spurs know how to find a gem. Jordan Bell may or may not qualify as a sleeper at this point following his March Madness run, but his unpolished offensive game could be enough for most teams to pass on him in the first round. So, are the Spurs concerned? Nah, bruh. Bell is a defense-first high-flyer who blocks shots, rebounds with aplomb and never takes off a play. If that doesn’t sound like a Gregg Popovich product, nothing does. And who knows? In the Spurs system, Bell could become a reliable energy guy on offense before we know it.
- Utah Jazz
Frank Mason | Kansas | PG | 5-11 | 185
The Jazz are a franchise in limbo waiting for the Gordon Hayward decision. At this point, it is all about loading up on talent. Earlier in the draft I mocked the Jazz taking Pasecniks from Latvia. For the final pick in the 1st round, Frank Mason makes a lot of sense. George Hill and Raul Neto handled the point guard duties this past season admirably, but playing in the Western Conference, you can never have too good of guard play. Mason could be a risk worth taking long term.