Each week, four of Basketball Insiders’ top writers break down the latest news and notes surrounding the 2017 NBA Draft.
Here is this week’s Mock and the Draft notebooks from each writer.
Just like they did in the Porzingis draft a couple of years ago, New York is essentially going to have their decision made for them by the time they pick at #8. They end up with Jayson Tatum there in this draft, which is a pick as damn fine as the coffee and cherry pie at the Double R Diner. Tatum might not be the megastar they had hoped to land in this draft, but they would not be disappointed in the return on that investment. There are eight or nine really, really good players in this draft. All the Knicks have to do is nab the best of who’s left over.
I also had it in my mind heading into this mock that there was no way De’Aaron Fox was going to fall to Sacramento at #5, and he may still not, but Kings fans don’t have as bad a chance as they probably think of landing arguably one of the top three talents in this draft with the fifth overall selection. If the Lakers pass, as happens in this mock, there’s a reasonable chance he’s still there at #5. He won’t make it past the Kings.
This is probably the highest I’ve ever had Ike Anigbogu, and I’m good with it. Sacramento needs to gamble on potential future stars, and Anigbogu, the youngest player in this draft, has a chance to be really good. Every radio show I’ve done in the last three weeks somehow has come back around to him somehow, and I imagine he’s pretty high on a lot of teams’ wish lists despite his relative inexperience. Go watch a YouTube highlight video on him if you haven’t already. Kid’s a freak show defensively.
Chicago will lose their minds if Justin Jackson is still available at #16. He’s exactly their kind of kid, having played three years of college basketball for an elite program like UNC. Jackson’s a really, truly great kid with top-rate pedigree. There’s a better chance that John Paxson and Gar Forman “get younger and more athletic” this offseason than there is of Chicago passing on Jackson if he’s available at that slot in the draft.
Jackson’s UNC teammate Tony Bradley made his way into the first round of this mock, too. He’s insanely inexperienced and right on that first-round bubble, but I think late in the first round, ceiling wins out and somebody with a young core (like L.A.) takes a gamble.
It’s almost unbelievable that the NBA Draft is only about two weeks away, but here we are. This is actually the third-to-last mock draft we are going to put out, and this week, I don’t really have anything earth-shattering to report.
All indications I have gotten from Los Angeles is that Lonzo Ball is likely to land with the Lakers, but that the team is doing its due diligence in exploring other options and opportunities that may be there with the pick. If the Lakers truly are in love with Lonzo, fooling everyone into thinking that De’Aaron Fox could be their choice could actually motivate Ball to both show up and show out for his Lakers workout, as well as gauge the extent to which he truly wants to be a Laker.
As for the Sixers, I am still standing behind my belief that they will walk away with Malik Monk and a bunch of other outlets are finally catching up. I believe that Josh Jackson might be the third-best prospect in this draft, which will bode well for the Phoenix Suns. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Suns nab Fox with the fourth pick, as the combination of Fox and Devin Booker is one that could form a dynamic backcourt for the next 10-15 years. Not being intimately plugged into the front office in Phoenix, I can’t say I know how they’re thinking.
In the latter half of the lottery, we are seeing some names move up and down. The most notable is Frank Ntilikina. There are some that think he has incredible talent, but many that believe he is a few years away from making an impact at the NBA level. The Knicks could have interest in him, but from what I’ve been told, he trails both Malik Monk and Dennis Smith on the team’s wish list. If the Mavericks pass on Ntilikina, he could make a lot of sense with the Pistons at number 12, which is where I had him last week. He goes down with Terrance Ferguson and Rodions Kurucs as the guys whose floor and ceiling in the draft we truly don’t know. It’s similar to Thon Maker last year, as some mock drafts had him lasting until the second round before the Milwaukee Bucks surprisingly chose him with the 10th overall pick.
One scout told me that he only thinks four players in this draft have “star caliber” ceilings—Markelle Fultz, Malik Monk, Josh Jackson and Dennis Smith. He thinks that Lonzo Ball and De’Aaron Fox will be “solid” pro guards, but has reservations about each of them. While I may not agree, his opinion underscores a recurring theme in this draft: outside of the top five, many people think there is a lot of parity among the players being projected to fall in the second half of the lottery. That said, there are certain players that I have confidence in believing where they will fall, and that’s pretty much been indicated in my consistency over the past several weeks.
Check your smoke detectors, folks. Smokescreens are spreading rampantly with two weeks until the draft as executives try to keep their competitors guessing.
Even Pat Riley recently joked at an American Express event alongside Magic Johnson that the Lakers’ president of basketball operations wants to be Lonzo Ball’s mentor. This followed several reports that the Lakers are not committed to Ball yet if the Celtics select Markelle Fultz first overall as expected.
In addition, the rumor mill churned out new reports of the 76ers and Kings being open to trade discussions. 76ers general manager Bryan Colangelo left the possibility open for trading down. Conversely, the Kings have had internal discussions about trading their two picks to move up and land De’Aaron Fox, according to an ESPN report.
The Kings can also trade the fifth and 10th picks to move up and select Kansas forward Josh Jackson. Rudy Gay is entering unrestricted free agency, which leaves a void at small forward.
Speaking of point guards, Jawun Evans is drawing interest from several teams in the 20s and will have upcoming workouts with the Trail Blazers on June 8, the Thunder on June 9, and the Jazz on June 10, league sources told Basketball Insiders. Evans also wrapped up a workout with the Lakers earlier this week.
Luke Kennard is another player who is seeing his stock rise after an impressive shooting display at his CAA Pro Day.
Some of the top prospects will begin working out for teams with high draft picks over the coming days. Those workouts will help determine where that player ranks on each team’s big board and how they envision moving up or trading down on draft night.
The Celtics fell in love with Terry Rozier years ago, and he was drafted higher than many expected at the time. We’ll find out over the next week or so who can be the next Rozier.
Throughout the Draft process, we often get a chance to sit in on workouts or take part in Pro Days for players trying to get into the NBA Draft discussion. Last year we got a chance to see Juan Hernangómez’s Pro Day and were blown away by his upside. The same was true of D-League Rookie of The Year Abdel Nader.
This year there have been a few impressive showings, but for whatever reason, some of these guys may not get a lot of draft consideration. But as teams start to field Summer League squads there are some names to watch.
Craig Victor played for LSU before running into issues off the court and was ultimately dismissed from the team. Once considered a top 40 high school prospect, Victor has spent a ton of time in the gym not only re-making his body (dropping some 20 pounds) but remaking his game. The slimmer Victor looks every bit the part of a NBA small forward, but his track record may make him too risky to draft – but he could be one of the better diamond in the rough prospects in the class.
Chris Perry, who played at South Florida for a bit before running into his own issues, looks every bit the part of a Big Baby-Lite type player. Crafty around the basket. Has a knack to score from a lot of places. He is a little undersized for his game, but his ability to play fluidly in the open court and to finish around the rim makes him an interesting name to watch, especially if a team take a chance on him in summer league.
Kobi Simmons falls into this group as well. He has not done as well in team workouts as his camp had expected, but his athleticism and raw ability make him an interesting player at the bottom of the draft. Simmons could go undrafted in this particular draft, but it’s not hard to imagine that he’ll get a look in the NBA once he proves that he can really be a point guard at the next level.
The sleeper of all sleepers may be Virginia Military Academy’s QJ Peterson. In terms of flat out NBA ability, he checks a ton of boxes. The problem for QJ is he is really undersized and a tad older than most teams are willing to invest a draft pick in. He averaged 19 a game for VMI, and in his Pro Day at IMG, he flat out crushed drills and shot the ball incredibly well. He may not be a draft pick, but he did enough in this process to think he could play at the next level and is a name to watch as summer roster start to get constructed.
The 2017 NBA Draft is in 15 days, so there will be two more Consensus Mock Drafts before the final picks are made.
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