The 2016-17 NBA Playoffs aren’t finished yet, but the Grueling Truth’s Alex Golden is ready for the 2017 NBA Draft. The following is no less than Alex’s fourth go-round through the 60 names he reckons will be called on draft day – and the usual strategic trades up and down in the first round haven’t even been made! As it stands, here’s how Alex sees things shaking out in the 2017 NBA draft…
1) Boston Celtics – Markelle Fultz, Point Guard (Washington)
It is hard to see the Celtics taking anyone else here with the number one pick. We will continue to hear rumors on how this pick could be traded for a Paul George or a Jimmy Butler, but ultimately Danny Ainge will be deciding on building for the now, or building for the future. With the dynasty in Golden State, building for the future seems like a wiser plan.
2) Los Angeles Lakers – Lonzo Ball, Point Guard (UCLA)
There has been some speculation around the league that the Lakers might look in another direction than Lonzo Ball. Lonzo Ball declined workouts for the Celtics but is working out for the Sixers. It seems that this is all just a precautionary process for the talented Ball, but some draft insiders are getting a sense that the Lakers aren’t 100% on the UCLA standout point guard. Regardless, according to Keith Smith (host of the NBA Front Office Podcast), the Lakers will still more than likely take Ball with the 2nd overall pick.
3) Philadelphia 76ers – Josh Jackson, Small Forward (Kansas)
If the 76ers keep the third overall pick I truly believe they look at two guys, Malik Monk and Josh Jackson. Both are players who will slide into the starting shooting guard roles and these guys can really score the basketball. The Sixers are already set up nicely in the front court with Simmons, Embiid and Saric. The plan is for Simmons to play the point guard position, so adding a player like Jackson who fits the Sixers long, athletic lineup will be the most likely scenario.
4) Phoenix Suns – Jayson Tatum, Small Forward (Duke)
Tatum is going to be one of the best players from this draft. I love the way that Tatum plays and it is apparent that the Suns need a starting small forward. I still believe that Eric Bledsoe could be on the move but if they can hold out on dealing him, they will do that. The Suns could look at De’Aaron Fox here to be their new starting point guard because he brings a ton of talent to the table, but scouts around the league are saying Jayson Tatum will be the best player in this draft after it is all said and done.
5) Sacramento Kings – De’Aaron Fox, Point Guard (Kentucky)
De’Aaron Fox is so special. The Kings actually seem to be heading in the right direction and adding a talent like this to the backcourt with Buddy Hield should have Kings fans excited. While Fultz and Ball are headlining the point guards in this draft, it appears that many scouts are expecting Fox to be just as good or even better than the projected number one and number two overall picks.
6) Orlando Magic – Malik Monk, Point/Shooting Guard (Kentucky)
Monk is arguably the purest scorer in this years’ draft. He is a bit undersized as a shooting guard, but he could be a terrific microwave type player off the bench. The Magic do need help at the point guard and small forward positions. Really, the Magic just need talent, no matter what position. I think Dennis Smith is the best player on the board at 6, but I can see the Magic being torn between Monk and Smith.
7) Minnesota Timberwolves – Jonathan Isaac, Small Forward/Power Forward (Florida State)
Minnesota is one of the most intriguing teams in the NBA. They have a highly respected coach and a solid duo of Townes and Wiggins. The Knicks are interested in Ricky Rubio (dating back to last season) meaning the reigns would be handed over to Kris Dunn. While the Timberwolves could add a point guard here, I think they look at Jonathan Isaac or Lauri Markkanen. Isaac is overall the better athlete and someone I believe coach Thibs could really turn into a stud.
8) New York Knicks – Frank Ntilikina, Point Guard (France)
This young guard is 6’5” and has all the skills you need to be utilized in different positions. He has a high basketball I.Q. and is capable of shooting the three-point shot. While he still growing into his frame, Ntilikina is a defensive pest. The Knicks could look at Dennis Smith here, but it smells like Ntilikina is more of a Phil guy than Smith.
9) Dallas Mavericks – Dennis Smith, Point Guard (North Carolina State)
Dennis Smith has the abilities to become a pure hybrid point guard. When reading his scouting report, the first person I could think to compare him to is Russell Westbrook. If you remember when Westbrook was drafted, he was overlooked by several mock draft’s heading into the NBA Draft, but the Thunder saw so much talent and took him with the 4th overall pick. The Thunder gambled on Westbrook’s pure talent and it paid off. The Mavericks don’t make the lottery very often, but they are a smart organization and if Smith falls to 9, they will not let a talent like this slip away.
10) Sacramento Kings – Justin Jackson, Small Forward (North Carolina)
I still can’t wrap my head around where Jackson will go. This kid is extremely talented but he is a junior. It’s almost like teams overlook college players who have been in the NCAA for more than a year. The Kings need a small forward so they could possibly take Jackson here. He has had major success in the NCAA Tournament, being the go to guy for the historically great, North Carolina Tar Heels. The Kings did just acquire Buddy Hield who had a terrific senior season at Oklahoma last season, so adding another polished collegiate player like Jackson to their starting five makes sense here.
11) Charlotte Hornets – Luke Kennard, Shooting Guard (Duke)
The Hornets have expressed their desires to add shooting and scoring to the roster. The Hornets bench was underwhelming last season and they need guys to go around Kemba Walker. The Hornets could also look at a power forward or center here, but Kennard seems to be the popular pick here for Charlotte. I still don’t necessarily understand it, but I like the attributes of Kennard. If I was Charlotte, I would look to trade MKG and/or Marvin Williams to improve in the front court.
12) Detroit Pistons – Lauri Markkanen, Power Forward(Arizona)
Markkanen is the complete package. He has the ability to defend and score the basketball. Recently at one of his workouts he was putting in work from behind the arc, impressing scouts from several teams. Markkanen to the Hornets makes more sense to me, but with the recent reports that the Hornets like Kennard, the Pistons have to take Markkanen if he is there. The key here though is the Pistons are looking to add veteran help and if a talent like Markkanen falls to 12, that pick becomes very enticing and much more valuable.
13) Denver Nuggets – Zach Collins, Power Forward/Center (Gonzaga)
Collins is starting to slide out of the Top 10 in NBA Mock Drafts nationally and I am in agreement with this recent downfall. I like Collins’ talent, but I think there are better players above him. In fact, there are guys below on my Mock Draft that I like better as well. I do however think that the Nuggets are a terrific fit for Collins. He would be a solid backup to Jokic and his skill set is complementary to Jokic as well.
14) Miami Heat – Donovan Mitchell, Shooting Guard (Louisville)
Mitchell continues gaining interest from teams in the Lottery but ultimately, there might be teams that pass on his talent. The Heat will more than likely look to resign Dion Waiters who declined his player option for next season, but if they want a fall back plan, they would be dumb to pass on Mitchell. Donovan Mitchell has similarities to Dwyane Wade and Miami fans know exactly how valuable Wade’s skillset was.
15) Portland Trailblazers – OG Anunoby, Small Forward (Indiana)
OG Anunoby will fall from 10-20 in this years draft. The Kings could take a hard look at him but he won’t get passed the Trailblazers at 20. Anunoby has all the talent in a lottery-level player, but his injuries and small sample size results in a huge gamble. While this pick is a high risk, high reward move, they Blazers are one team who could take a risk with 3 first round picks this season.
16) Chicago Bulls – John Collins, Power Forward (Wake Forrest)
The Bulls seem to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. They might trade Jimmy Butler or they could continue rebuilding around him. With Wade hitting free agency, uncertainty from the Rondo experiment, the Bulls have a lot of tough decision to make. The ACC Player of the Year, John Collins is a power forward who does it all. If the Bulls were smart, they would draft this young man. His back to the basket game is still a work in progress but it improved last season. He is able to step out and hit the three, and he is a good defender. The Bulls need all the help they can get, and with most of the coveted point guards off the board, the Bulls must take the best talent available on their big board. Whether it be Collins or not.
17) Milwaukee Bucks – Terrance Ferguson, Shooting Guard (Australia)
Ferguson is impressing scouts with his athleticism, defensive abilities and his stroke from three. Ferguson could fall to the early twenties but his skillset seems like a perfect match for the Bucks’. Milwaukee already has a big three in the making (if Parker can stay healthy) and the role players surrounding the Greek Freak are solid. Adding another scorer to the mix who can defend only makes this team more dangerous.
18) Indiana Pacers – Harry Giles, Power Forward (Duke)
Indiana doesn’t need a scoring power forward, but one that is willing to complement Myles Turner. I would like to see Indiana go after Bam Adebayo or Harry Giles. I think Bam has the better body build, but Giles has the overall better game. Jarrett Allen, Luke Kennard and John Collins have been the most popular picks for Indiana in other Mock Drafts, but I am a firm believer in either Adebayo or Giles.
19) Atlanta Hawks – Jarrett Allen, Center (Texas)
Speaking of Jarrett Allen, the Hawks will have a tough decision to make here if Paul Milsap signs with a different organization. The Hawks don’t want to settle for a power forward here if there are more talented players on the board. The Hawks do have the 1st pick in the 2nd round so they could look to grab another contributor to their roster then.
20) Portland Trailblazers – TJ Leaf, Power Forward (UCLA)
Leaf is projected more and more as a late teens-early twenties level player. He has skills but he is very limited. The Trailblazers need help at power forward and could either play OG Anunoby there (if he is the 15th overall pick) or they could continue with Moe Harkless as the starting power forward. Regardless, the Leaf experiment will be a work in progress wherever he goes. He will most likely serve as a stretch four who comes off the bench.
21) Oklahoma City Thunder – Semi Ojeleye, Power Forward (Southern Methodist)
The Thunder don’t really need a center here at 21 but most the talent here is in the center position. The Thunder could look to trade the pick and trade back, or they could reach on a talent they think will fit their roster. Semi Ojeleye was one of the most interesting players in the NCAA this season and his skillset would be a great addition for the Thunder. While the majority of Mock Draft’s don’t have Ojeleye this early, his fit here makes the most sense.
22) Brooklyn Nets – Justin Patton, Center (Creighton)
Patton is a raw talent who still has a lot to prove. The Nets will be in the market for anyone who can add depth to the roster and that is exactly what Patton can do. Patton is the most diverse center here in the late first round and joining a Nets team who already has Brook Lopez will only help the development of Patton overall.
23) Toronto Raptors – Ike Anigbogu, Center (UCLA)
Ike Anigbogu is recently rising in Draft Boards, even into the teens. While he isn’t the most polished offensive player he is a skilled big that can add defensive prowess to any team he joins. He promotes himself as a rim protector and a rebounder. Valanciunas is now expendable if the Raptors believe in Anigbogu’s ability to protect the rim.
24) Utah Jazz – Anzejs Pasecniks, Center (Latvia)
Pasecniks is a teammate of Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks in Latvia. His recent play has taken him from the 2nd round to a 1st round level player. The Jazz and Blazers have multiple first round picks in the later 20’s so it makes sense for one of them to take a risk on him.
25) Orlando Magic – Jonathan Jeanne, Center (Nancy)
With the Magic having 2 early 2nd round picks, they can’t pass on a raw talent like Jeanne here. While he likely will spend this season overseas working on his game and playing for his home team, he will be a great addition to the Magic the following season. Orlando already has two centers in Biyombo and Vucevic but they could look to trade one of them knowing that they have a stud in the making coming next season.
26) Portland Trailblazers – Bam Adebayo, Center (Kentucky)
Rumors have been surfacing that the Blazers want to deal this pick along with a lengthy contract they want to get rid of. If the Blazers do keep this pick, they would like to add some depth to their front court. Meyers Leonard has shown flashes lately but they need a defender who can make a difference. I like Bam Adebayo for them here, if he is available.
27) Brooklyn Nets – Derrick White, Shooting Guard (Colorado)
The Nets need scoring and the Colorado standout will bring just that. He also showed the potential to be a defensive difference maker. While he is a senior and he could slide into the 2nd round, the Nets need guys who can help them immediately.
28) Los Angeles Lakers – Tyler Lydon, Small/Power Forward (Syracuse)
Lydon has a lot of potential here late in the 1st round and the Lakers could pounce on him, like they did on Larry Nance Jr. a few years ago. The Lakers need to add depth to their roster or they could unload the Deng and Mozgov contracts by attaching this pick with one of them. Regardless, there is a lot of talent here in the later first round and the Lakers will have several options.
29) San Antonio Spurs – Mathias Lessort, Forward/Center (France)
The Spurs are known for investing in overseas players and turning them into contributors in the USA. The Spurs could look at Hartenstein or Lessort here in the first round, but I like the upside of Lessort compared to Hartenstein. If the Spurs do indeed make several roster moves to add Chris Paul next season, they could use additional depth in the front court. Lessort is a bit of a tweener because he’s an undersized 5 but a limited 4. If you remember Boris Diaw, you know that he had the same concerns heading into the draft. The Spurs made Diaw a focal point of their offense and hopefully they can do the same with Lessort.
30) Utah Jazz – Rodions Kurucs, Small Forward (Barcelona 2)
This young talent is a huge work in progress. His offensive potential is high but he still has a lot to work on (court vision, defense and ball handling). The Jazz are in a weird position right now as they aren’t sure the status of two huge free agents, George Hill and Gordon Hayward. Investing in two draft and stash guys seems a bit risky, but it could be possible.
31) Atlanta Hawks – Ivan Rabb, Power Forward (Cal)
Falling into the 2nd round for Rabb isn’t ideal, but his inability to score on the perimeter. The Hawks get a steal here.
32) Phoenix Suns – Tony Bradley, Center (North Carolina)
Overall, he is a smart player with little athleticism. The Suns could use a guy with a high IQ and ability to score the basketball.
33) Orlando Magic – DJ Wilson, Power Forward (Michigan)
Wilson is a 1st round level talent. Falling into the 2nd round would be shocking to some. If the Magic can gran Wilson at 33 instead of at 26th, they would be extremely grateful.
34) Sacramento Kings – Jordan Bell, Power Forward (Oregon)
In the 1st round I have the Kings taking a point guard and a small forward. The Kings have invested in centers the last few years, so adding a power forward like Bell would be huge for the future of the team.
35) Orlando Magic – Juwan Evans, Point Guard (Oklahoma State)
The Magic 4 picks in the top 35. They could use this pick as a draft and stash, or continue to add solid role players. Evans is a bit undersized but he could provide a spark off the bench.
36) Philadelphia 76ers – Isaiah Hartenstein, Center (Germany)
Hartenstein is a potential first round level player, but I can see him falling into the 2nd round. He isn’t the best defender and will take a while to reach his full potential.
37) Boston Celtics – Thomas Bryant, Center (Indiana)
The Celtics will have a few 2nd round picks and they could look to gamble on some possible replacements for Jerebko, Johnson and Young. Bryant is a young center who has a lot of potential but needs time to develop.
38) Chicago Bulls – Frank Jackson, Point Guard (Duke)
The Bulls need a point guard and Jackson’s injuries will most likely lead to him sliding into the 2nd round. Jackson has potential to be a playmaker, but it will take time for his development.
39) Philadelphia 76ers – PJ Dozier, Point/Shooting Guard (South Carolina)
Dozier’s run with the Gamecocks in the NCAA Tourney raised his stock and he can be utilized as a point guard or a shooting guard. The 76ers can allow him time to develop into a solid role player.
40).New Orleans Pelicans – Josh Hart, Shooting Guard (Villanova)
Josh Hart is so good. He is my pick for steal of the 2nd round. He became a huge part of Nova’s offense and he was even more impactful on the defensive end. If the Pelicans don’t sign a starter level shooting guard in free agency, I like Hart to start.
41) Charlotte Hornets – Caleb Swanigan, Power Forward/Center (Purdue)
Swanigan is an incredible big with gobs of potential. If the Hornets pass on a big man in the 1st round, they would be smart to get Swanigan in the 2nd. Swanigan has the talent to land in the 20-30 range, but he will have to improve on his on-ball defense.
42).Utah Jazz – Edmond Sumner, Point Guard (Xavier)
His season ending surgery held him out of Xavier’s NCAA Tournament run. Sumner is a combo guard that is explosive. His age might be the only thing keeping him from being a 1st round pick.
43) Houston Rockets – Kyle Kuzma, Power Forward (Utah)
Kuzma is a stretch four who can really shoot the three well. The Rockets offense seems like a perfect match for Kuzma. He will gain interest from several teams.
44) New York Knicks – Johnathan Motley, Power Forward/Center (Baylor)
Motley brings defensive potential to the table. His game reminds me of a poor man’s version of Kenneth Faried. While he isn’t the best talent, he has a skillset that consists of a high motor, offensive rebounding and agility.
45) Houston Rockets – Dillon Brooks, Small Forward (Oregon)
Brooks is good, but he still has room to improve. The Rockets need perimeter defenders and Brooks is talented enough to be a 3 and D type player.
46) Philadelphia 76ers – Alec Peters, Power Forward (Valparaiso)
In four years at Valpo, Peters became an offensive juggernaut. The 76ers will continue adding playmakers to their roster, and if Peters is given the opportunity, he could be a contributing role player.
47) Indiana Pacers – Dwayne Bacon, Shooting Guard (Florida State)
Indiana was lucky enough to re-sign Lance Stephenson last year but with C.J. Miles opting out of his contract and Monta Ellis becoming a shell of himself, the Pacers could use another shooting guard off the bench.
48) Milwaukee Bucks – Frank Mason, Point Guard (Kansas)
The Bucks need some help at the backup point guard position, and Frank Mason is a proven college player.
49) Denver Nuggets – Jonah Bolden, Small Forward (Australia)
Bolden has a lot of upside and the Nuggets could use this pick as a draft and stash.
50) Philadelphia 76ers – Sindarius Thornwell, Shooting Guard (South Carolina)
Like Dozier, Thornwell benefited from the Gamecocks NCAA Final Four run. He won the SEC Player of the Year and developed a consistent three-point shot throughout the year.
51) Denver Nuggets – Jaron Blossomgame, Small Forward (Clemson)
His age will definitely be a factor in the upcoming draft. The Nuggets need length and defense off the bench and Blossomgame could compete for a roster spot.
52) Washington Wizards – Monte Morris, Point Guard (Iowa State)
Morris has played in an NBA level type offense for four seasons. Washington desperately needs a backup point guard and Morris could be a steal here.
53) Boston Celtics – Kobi Simmons, Point/Shooting Guard (Arizona)
He struggled to get playing time in a loaded backcourt at Arizona and it could have hurt his draft stock. His name is Kobi, so he has to be special right?
54) Phoenix Suns – Wesley Iwundu, Guard/Forward (Kansas State)
His three-point shot is still a work in progress but his defensive potential is hard to ignore.
55) Utah Jazz – Egemen Guven, Center (Turkey)
The Jazz have a ton of picks. This a clear draft and stash pick.
56) Boston Celtics – Devin Robinson, Small/Power Forward (Florida)
Robinson is a stretch four whose three-point shot improved all year long. His wingspan was highly noticed at the NBA Combine and teams will be enticed by his upside.
57) Brooklyn Nets – Cameron Oliver, Power Forward (Nevada)
Oliver is an explosive big man who can jump out of the gym. His ability to finish above the rim is something that will carry on throughout his NBA career.
58) New York Knicks – Sterling Brown, Shooting Guard (Southern Methodist)
Former brother of Shannon Brown, Sterling is a 3 and D type player. His NBA pro comparison is Solomon Hill.
59) San Antonio Spurs – Tyler Dorsey, Point Guard (Oregon)
Dorsey is a scorer through and through and with the Spurs possibly losing Ginobili, they could use a proven collegiate scorer with potential.
60) Atlanta Hawks – L.J. Peak, Small Forward (Georgetown)
Peak was not invited to the Draft Combine but was a big part of the Hoyas team the last three seasons. He is physical around the basket but is still a work in process.