The 2017 NBA Draft goes down Thursday, June 22 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. In preparation for the first round—in which the Trail Blazers currently hold the 15th, 20th and 26th picks—Blazer’s Edge staff writers Steve Dewald and Brian Freeman have mocked the first 30 selections.
We begin with the initial 10 picks, determined by the 2017 NBA Draft Lottery and some recent trade activity. The No. 1 overall selection will be made by the Philadelphia 76ers, acquired in a trade with Boston for the No. 3 overall pick and a future first rounder.
This year, the Los Angeles Lakers are also intriguing: should they draft Lonzo Ball (and his dad, LaVar) at No. 2? Always a wildcard, the Sacramento Kings hold the 5th and 10th picks—will they find a way to break their streak of bad luck in the NBA Draft?
Let’s get started.
(Player vitals courtesy DraftExpress.com).
No. 1: Philadelphia 76ers
Markelle Fultz | PG | Washington Huskies
Class: Fr. | Age: 19 | HT: 6’4” | WS: 6’9-3/4”
Brian Freeman: After the Celtics and 76ers swapped picks, Markelle Fultz will more than likely be on his way to Philly. This young Sixers core is the perfect place for someone with his skill set—he’s not only terrific with the ball, but can defend and space the floor for other players like Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. The price was reasonable, and this is a tremendous addition for an up-and-coming team that’s finally reaching Phase Two of the process.
Steve Dewald: It’s time to start chasing some results in Philly. By adding Fultz, the Sixers have a core built for serious contention in the future. Washington’s absence from the NCAA Tournament will raise some concerns, but not enough for the 76ers to pass on his upside. With Fultz and Simmons both set to start, the race for the 2018 NBA Rookie of the Year award is already interesting.
No. 2: Los Angeles Lakers
Lonzo Ball | PG | UCLA Bruins
Class: Fr. | Age: 19 | HT: 6’6” | WS: 6’7”
SD: Magic Johnson accepts the reality of dealing with LaVar Ball for the foreseeable future by adding Lonzo to the Lakers’ young core. Despite the baggage the former UCLA star brings off the court, it’s tough to argue with his offensive production. Ball averaged 7.6 assists per game as a freshman for the Bruins, while shooting above 40 percent from beyond the arc. Both skills should translate nicely to the NBA.
BF: Is it crazy to think the Lakers wouldn’t want to take a point guard with the No. 2 pick when they already drafted a point guard in the same slot just two years ago? Maybe. But even if there’s a possibility, I’d be shocked if the Lakers went any other direction here.
No. 3: Boston Celtics
Josh Jackson | F | Kansas Jayhawks
Class: Fr. | Age: 20 | HT: 6’8” | WS: 6’9-3/4”
BF: This pick is more than likely getting traded, but if the Celtics keep it, Jackson sounds like the man the Celtics like most. Big and versatile wing players are always in high demand. With Fultz and Ball off the board, Jackson may also be the best player available.
SD: The big winner in the the Celtics’ move to the No. 3 spot is Isaiah Thomas. Boston’s leading guard will either have an explosive perimeter players like Jackson to dish the ball to, or he’ll have a proven veteran alongside him if the Celtics decide to trade once again. With a plethora of future assets on the horizon, Boston really can’t go wrong here.
No. 4: Phoenix Suns
Jayson Tatum | SF | Duke Blue Devils
Class: Fr. | Age: 19 | HT: 6’8” | WS: 6’11”
SD: The Suns continue assembling a frontcourt loaded with potential by snagging Tatum with the fourth pick. The former Duke standout has the polish needed to contribute at the NBA level, which should give coach Earl Watson another option outside of Devin Booker. With Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss already in the fold, the Suns are a team on the rise.
BF: This may be the best-case scenario pick for Phoenix: Tatum is a complete player who brings some defensive ability to the perimeter that current Suns wings T.J. Warren and Devin Booker lack. He could easily be a top overall pick if this draft weren’t so loaded. Great fit.
No. 5: Sacramento Kings
De’Aaron Fox | PG | Kentucky Wildcats
Class: Fr. | Age: 19 | HT: 6’4” | WS: 6’6-1/2”
BF: With Philly moving up to get Fultz, Fox could realistically drop to the Kings at No. 5. This is the best case for the Kings, as Fox is a consistent 3-point shot away from being as good as any player in this draft. The post-DeMarcus Cousins Kings take a huge step toward relevancy by (hopefully) adding their point guard of the future.
SD: After years of searching for a viable point guard, the Kings get lucky by having Fox fall to them. Buddy Hield put up respectable numbers after being moved to Sacramento, and pairing him with another promising young guard should give the Kings a tandem that could eventually be a real handful for the opposition.
No. 6: Orlando Magic
Dennis Smith Jr. | PG | N.C. State Wolf Pack
Class: Fr. | Age: 19 | HT: 6’3” | WS: 6’3”
SD: The Magic officially end the Elfrid Payton experiment by rolling the dice on the 19-year-old freshman out of N.C. State. Smith can score in bunches—to the tune of 18.1 points per game last year—and he’ll give Orlando the perimeter scoring punch they’ve been craving.
BF: I think most Magic fans are looking forward to the end of that experiment. There’s very little question about Smith’s ability to score. Even after recovering from an ACL tear his senior year, he possesses great explosion and athletic ability. Smith is a tough little guard, and although there could be some attitude concerns, maybe his edge will be just what a young, underachieving team needs.
No. 7: Minnesota Timberwolves
Jonathan Isaac | F | Florida State Seminoles
Class: Fr. | Age: 19 | HT: 6’11” | WS: 7’1-1/4”
BF: Isaac is the perfect fit for the Timberwolves. Aggression is the only major missing piece from his game, but he’ll work well on a team with two alpha dogs in Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. Isaac gives the ‘Wolves a lot of flexibility: he’s long enough to play the four and fluid enough to play on the wing. He also has a very nice shooting stroke for someone his size. Isaac may be a year or two away from making a big impact, but he can grow with the team.
SD: Due to the talent already on its roster, Minnesota has the luxury of choosing a raw prospect. Isaac has all the physical tools NBA scouts covet, but his frequent disappearing acts with the Seminoles raise some legitimate concerns.
No. 8: New York Knicks
Malik Monk | SG | Kentucky Wildcats
Class: Fr. | Age: 19 | HT: 6’4” | WS: 6’3-1/2”
SD: The Knicks could be tempted to reach for a point guard at this spot with Derrick Rose’s contract uncertainty, but Phil Jackson will ultimately set his sights on the best prospect remaining. Monk still has to grow into his body to make a difference in the NBA, but he can draw the attention of opposing defenses on the perimeter from day one.
BF: I don’t think Monk is going to grow much, but Knicks fans should be ecstatic if they end up with him. The only knock is his size, but he’s still arguably the best pure scorer in this draft. Monk’s an electric athlete and a threat every time he touches the ball. In a game at Madison Square Garden early last season, Monk hit seven 3-pointers, so the New York spotlight already been kind to him. Fans there will love this guy.
No. 9: Dallas Mavericks
Frank Ntilikina | PG | Strasbourg, France (via Belgium)
Class: Fr. | Age: 18 | HT: 6’5”
BF: Many Mavs fans would love Lauri Markkanen at this spot because he reminds them of a young Dirk. But at this point, I don’t think the Mavs can turn down the opportunity to draft their potential point guard of the future. Lots of questions surround Frank, but many rave about his maturity. His size—6’5” with a 7’ wingspan—is elite for a point guard, he has succeeded in grown-man competition and he has a good stroke from deep. Yogi Ferrell was a pleasant surprise for the Mavs in 2017, but Frank could really be something special.
SD: If I’m a Mavs fan, and I see this pick, I need someone to talk me off the ledge. The chance of pairing Markkanen with Nerlens Noel in the frontcourt over the next four years is too good to pass up in my opinion.
Ntilikina looks the part of a franchise point guard, however, so you can’t really be too upset with this pick. He’s already played at the professional level and will only be 19 next season—a solid investment for the future.
No. 10: Sacramento Kings
Lauri Markkanen | PF | Arizona Wildcats
Class: Fr. | Age: 20 | HT: 7’
SD: With a potential franchise point guard already on the way, the Kings can address their frontcourt with pick No. 10. Markkanen is the logical choice as the first true post player to come off the board, giving Sacramento two players who complement each other nicely. While the Arizona freshman has clear defensive deficiencies, his impressive shooting numbers—42.3 percent from 3-point range last year—are tough to pass on. If Markkanen can learn to be a passable defender at the next level, he could be an impact player for years to come.
BF: The Kings’ additions of Fox and Lauri in this draft to go along with Buddy Heild, Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere give them an exciting young roster for the first time this millennium. Markkanen may never be able to guard anyone in the NBA, but if he can develop some toughness to accompany his incredible skillset for a player of his size, he’ll be a valuable asset in Sacramento.
Head to pt. 2 of the Blazer’s Edge 2017 NBA Mock Draft to see picks No. 11-19, and pt. 3 for selections No. 20-30.
Let us know your thoughts on the first 10 picks in the comments below—did Brian and Steve get it right?