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. Next week’s Consensus will feature the entire 60-picks of the 2017 NBA Draft.
This is the last one before the last one, which means I’m done experimenting and really am trying to get a sense of what could happen on draft night. I like the feel of this mock, but I’m glad I still have another week to really think about it.
Here’s what I feel good about: The top two picks being Fultz and Ball, something unexpected happening from picks 3-8. Ike Anigbogu in the lottery. Brooklyn making sneaky-good picks in the 20s. Portland trading away at least one of those three picks (hence my reticence to make one of those three picks a Euro stash). Ivan Rabb and Harry Giles as first-round picks, and Kyle Kuzma in San Antonio. Something about that just feels right.
Here’s what makes me nervous: Orlando taking Dennis Smith over Jayson Tatum. New York being the team that does the crazy thing from picks 3-8. Zach Collins falling to #14. Semi Ojeleye going that high. Juwan Evans in the first round, and the potential that Giles could drop quite a bit due to injury concerns and make all my mocks look silly.
Some other thoughts: Luke Kennard in Denver actually would be really fun, wouldn’t it? OG Anunoby is so good, but he’s hurt. I find myself wondering he slips down a little further than where I’ve had him for most of these mock drafts. Is Donovan Mitchell the surprise star in this class? I keep looking for who that guy will be and am struggling to do better. T.J. Leaf and Lonzo Ball, together again in Los Angeles would be an odd turn of Fortuna’s wheel, but that’s how the ball bounced in this mock.
Next week is a full 60-pick consensus mock draft, the first ever here at Basketball Insiders (in the Consensus format), and that’s where I’ll solidify my thoughts on some of these things. In the meantime, this mock will do. It’s getting closer.
Kevin Durant’s free agent decision to sign with Golden State transformed the Warriors into an unbeatable dynasty, but don’t forget the organization built its core through the draft.
Stephen Curry was selected seventh overall in 2009, Klay Thompson was selected 11th overall in 2011, and Draymond Green was selected 35th overall in 2012.
Quite a contrast in comparison to players such as Andris Biedrins selected 11th overall in 2004, Ike Diogu selected ninth overall in 2005, Patrick O’Bryant selected ninth overall in 2006 and Anthony Randolph selected 14th overall in 2008.
The draft is crucial to building sustainable success. It’s the foundation of many great teams over the years.
San Antonio added a franchise superstar by selecting Tim Duncan first overall in 1997. The Spurs supplemented him by selecting Manu Ginobili 57th overall in 1999 and Tony Parker 28th overall in 2001. The Spurs won five titles during Duncan’s tenure.
The Cleveland Cavaliers selected Kyrie Irving first overall in 2011 and traded Andrew Wiggins, the top overall pick in 2014, to acquire Kevin Love and win the 2016 championship. The Boston Celtics traded draft picks and several young assets to acquire Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to win the 2008 championship. The Los Angeles Lakers traded veteran Vlade Divac for Kobe Bryant, a teenager at the time, who became the face of the franchise for 20 seasons and won five championships.
Notice a pattern here? The draft is the foundation of several championship teams.
With that in mind, two teenagers projected as first-round picks are no longer featured in this week’s mock draft. Jonathan Jeanne has Marfan syndrome, a potentially career-ending disorder, which was first reported by The Vertical and Rodions Kurucs removed his name from the draft altogether.
While Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball and De’Aaron Fox headline the draft, don’t overlook the rest of the class in one of the deepest drafts in recent years.
The biggest news impacting the draft over the past week was Jonathan Jeanne, who we learned to have Marfan Syndrome. The condition impacts the body’s connective tissue and is the same ailment that Baylor’s Isaiah Austin was learned to have prior to the 2014 NBA Draft. Austin wasn’t drafted, so we should expect the same fate for Jeanne, unfortunately. Jeanne was expected to be selected somewhere in the 20s, so his situation will certainly have a domino effect on team selecting outside of the lottery. The same should be said of Rodions Kurucs, the Latvian forward whose stock had been rising over the past few weeks. Kurucs had been connected to the Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs over the course of this draft season, and at this point, it isn’t entirely clear to me why he withdrew.
At the top of the draft, it seems that we are knowing less about team’s intentions as the draw draws nearer, which is good for the teams exercising their picks and bad for us. The Sixers, to me, remain the most interesting team in the top three, as they have brought Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox in for multiple workouts and are apparently torn between those two at the guard spot and Josh Jackson if they opt to select another front court player. I still believe the Sixers walk away with Monk, mainly because he’s the best fit. I’ve been told that the Suns would have a hard time passing on Fox if he is available to them at four, so the Kings-Sixers trade that we mentioned a few weeks ago is still a possibility. I still have Fultz and Ball going with the first two picks.
Luke Kennard, John Collins and Donovan Mitchell are players whose stock has risen over the past few weeks, with Mitchell having an opportunity to crack the top 10. Most of the movement in my mock this week comes as a result of some teams zeroing in on certain players and types, as well as the situations involving Jeanne and Kurucs.
This is the penultimate mock, but I don’t expect my projections in the top 10 to change drastically, at this point, we have a fair idea of where players are going to land, with Terrance Ferguson being the prospect that has the best chance of crashing the draft order.
I made some pretty significant changes from my Mock Draft filed yesterday. As we get closer and closer to the actual draft on June 22, I continue to struggle with the idea of the Lakers leaving Lonzo Ball on the board at number two. While the Lakers have been fairly adamant, they have made no decisions and no promises to anyone, Ball still remains the second-best talent in the draft. However in talking to executives the gap between Ball and say, De’Aaron Fox, Josh Jackson or even Dennis Smith Jr, isn’t so great to make it a no-brainer decision like Markelle Fultz.
The Lakers are going to have Ball in for a second visit after wrapping up visits with Fox, Jackson, and Smith over the last week.
The 76ers are ramping up their workouts this week with visits from Fultz, Fox and Duke’s Jason Tatum. It is unlike Fultz is working out for anyone, rather he’ll simply meet with the team.
There are a few names to watch as the hype of the draft kicks into its next gear…
Malik Monk is getting a lot of love from teams in the 5 to 10 range. There is a sense he may be the Knicks guy at number eight if he is there. The Kings seems to be locked in on Fox, however, if he goes early the second option for the Kings might also be Monk. Teams like his all-around game, and while he’s not the traditional point guard player, there is a sense that he could be an attack guard in the NBA much like James Harden, Russell Westbrook and CJ McCollum have become. While no believes Monk is the next coming of any of those players, there is a sense that in the current NBA, Monk could thrive as a lead guard with the ball in his hands, while also having the ability to swing off the ball based on matchups.
Dennis Smith, Jr. has wowed virtually everywhere he’s been. He’ll host a Pro Day to help with what’s become a demanding workout schedule tomorrow in Raleigh. There are a number of trade down scenarios that have been kicked around, that focus on Smith, Jr. A number of teams are weighing deals at five, six and seven if the draft board plays out where Smith Jr. is there. It is unlikely Orlando moves the six, but if their target is genuinely FSU’s Jonathan Isaac (as many continue to suggest), moving down a few slots in exchange for value might make sense if they would pass on Smith Jr. and could still get Isaac.
Duke big man Harry Giles continues to be something of an enigma. There is a sense that his upside could be tremendous, but questions about his ceiling, his knees and his overall game at the next level have his stock all over the place. Like Thon Maker a year ago there are as many detractors from his draft value as supporters, but like Maker, he could go higher because of his potential especially for a team with lots of depth and options. Giles is very much a “house money” prospect; his range could be anywhere from 13 to 26.
A name to watch late in the first round is UNC’s Kennedy Meeks. While he’s not showing up on very many Mock Drafts, there is a sense the Toronto Raptors might be dialed in on him at 23. On the surface that doesn’t seem likely, but there is a narrative of the Raptors wanting to move on from Jonas Valanciunas to shed some contract money and with so little on the roster now in terms of rebounding stretch bigs, Meeks checks off a lot of boxes. The question becomes do the Raptors really need to draft him to obtain him?
If the Raptors are genuinely going to open the vault for free agents Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, how does the team flesh out the roster with play-now players?
The Raptors have a history for reaching for exactly what they want in the draft, regardless of public opinion. Every year there is a guy that makes the draft world go nuts, could Meeks be that guy this year?
There are two names in the sleeper department to watch – Utah’s Kyle Kuzma and South Carolina’s PJ Dozier. Both have the resume of a second-round selection and both very well could end up there, but there is a growing sense that Kuzma could be gone early in the second, meaning if a team really wants him they may have to reach up in the late first round to grab him.
Dozier has his fans at the NBA level. Some have pegged him in the 40’s, but there is sense a few teams late in the first may scoop him up on potential, especially the teams with multiple picks late in the first.
Kuzma has crushed in workouts and really has done well in head to head, so of the two he may be the safest bet to go much earlier than expected.
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