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.
In the first part of our mock draft, we covered the initial 10 selections. Today, let’s take a look at the next set of picks—which includes the Portland Trail Blazers at No. 15.
(Player vitals courtesy DraftExpress.com).
No. 11: Charlotte Hornets
Zach Collins | C | Gonzaga Bulldogs
Class: Fr. | Age: 19 | HT: 7’ | WS: 7’1”
Brian Freeman: The Hornets go with the best player available here and end up with big man Zach Collins. The skill set is slightly redundant to current Hornets centers, but none of them looks like a legit NBA starter. Collins also has a chance to be a rim protector (1.8 blocks per game in college) the Hornets sorely lack.
Steve Dewald: The Hornets are stuck between a rock and a hard place here, making Collins the selection by default. Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky, and Miles Plumlee are already on the books for next season, which could make playing time scarce for Collins. Coming off the bench isn’t a new concept for the former Gonzaga big man, though, as he spent the majority of his freshman year backing up Przemek Karnowski.
No. 12: Detroit Pistons
Donovan Mitchell | SG | Louisville Cardinals
Class: So. | Age: 20 | HT: 6’3” | WS: 6’10”
SD: The Pistons play it safe and give themselves an out in case Kentavious Caldwell-Pope receives a massive offer-sheet bid from another team. Mitchell is the logical choice to step into that void, as he possesses the length to be a menace on defense. If Stanley Johnson and Mitchell both develop into viable options, coach Stan Van Gundy will have a dangerous duo to deploy on the perimeter.
BF: This is another pick that’s almost certainly going to be traded, but Mitchell seems like the right selection for Detroit. Whether the Pistons decide to go deep in to owner Tom Gore’s pocketbook to retain Caldwell-Pope or not, Mitchell seems like a fit. A point guard would be ideal, but Mitchell has the 3-and-D potential that Van Gundy could get excited about. Luke Kennard could also be in play here.
No. 13: Denver Nuggets
Justin Jackson | SF | North Carolina Tar Heels
Class: Jr. | Age: 22 | HT: 6’8” | WS: 6’11”
BF: Hey look, an upper classman! The Nuggets have depth and youth at every position, but could be thin at small forward if Danillo Gallinari decides to bolt in free agency. Jackson is NBA-ready and can score with anyone in the draft. He also plays extremely well off of the ball, the perfect skill to go with franchise pillar—and one of the NBA’s best passing big men—Nikola Jokic. Very few available players could help the Nuggets with their ultimate goal of making the postseason next year like Jackson could.
SD: Without a point guard prospect in sight, the Nuggets settle for a sure thing as the lottery selections come to a close. Jackson is a fine player with lots of tools that should translate to the NBA, but nothing about him jumps off the scouting report.
No. 14: Miami Heat
Harry Giles | C | Duke Blue Devils
Class: Fr. | Age: 19 | HT: 6’11” | WS: 7’3-1/4”
SD: Yes, this is a reach, but Giles’ potential is through the roof if he can shake off his injury concerns. The Heat could go in several directions, but it isn’t a stretch for Pat Riley to make a bold move. Chris Bosh (injury/illness) and Josh McRoberts (player option) are both facing uncertainty in Miami, which could open up playing time for Giles if he can stay healthy.
BF: Giles was the best high school player in the nation a year ago, and his potential is there if he can regain the time he lost. But man, those injuries are scary—especially after watching him play as a shell of himself at Duke. There are two ways of looking at Giles: is he plagued with injuries that’ll never allow us to see the player he could be? Or will we not see the talented player he truly is until after he becomes healthy? My optimism leans toward the latter.
No. 15: Portland Trail Blazers
Jarrett Allen | C | Texas Longhorns
Class: Fr. | Age: 19 | HT: 6’11” | WS: 7’5-1/4”
BF: I am still hoping the Blazers trade this pick, but if they keep it, Allen would be the best-case scenario. Allen’s size, athleticism and length have not been seen in a Blazers uniform in a while. He rebounded well in college for an 18-year-old in a major conference—8.5 rebounds per game—and that should carry over well to the next level. Allen may never be an offensive focal point, but his ability to rebound, rim run and protect the paint could make an immediate impact for the Blazers.
If there are plenty of bigs still on the board, an interesting strategy may be to draft for another need at No. 15 and hope Allen or another frontcourt target falls to No. 20.
SD: I actually love this pick for Portland; Allen has the raw athleticism necessary to blossom into an above-average NBA defender. The 19-year-old Austin, Texas native has the speed and length to flourish as a defensive-oriented rim-runner in the NBA.
Allen does have considerable flaws though, as his paltry 56.4 free throw percentage suggests that he still has a lot of work to do on his shot. Given Jusuf Nurkic’s injury history, Allen could be called upon earlier than expected, which could have an adverse effect on his confidence if he isn’t ready for meaningful minutes.
No. 16: Chicago Bulls
OG Anunoby | F | Indiana Hoosiers
Class: So. | Age: 19 | HT: 6’8” | WS: 7’2-1/4”
SD: The Bulls were probably hoping to find a more NBA-ready prospect here, but Anunoby’s upside is too enticing to side-step at this point in the draft. The 19-year-old wing projects as a defender who can guard multiple positions at the next level, which will help Chicago overlook his injury concerns. If Anunoby can develop a consistent jumper, he’ll have all the tools to be a dangerous two-way player.
BF: The Bulls were probably hoping to find a shooter at this position. OG is a primed to be a super defender, but as of now—aside from length and athleticism—there’s nothing in his game that suggests he’s anywhere close to meaningfully contributing on offense. Chicago is due for a roster shake-up, and the Bulls know as well as any other team how hard it is to win games with non-threats on the offensive side of the ball. OG has value, but maybe not much to the Bulls.
No. 17: Milwaukee Bucks
Luke Kennard | SG | Duke Blue Devils
Class: So. | Age: 21 | HT: 6’6” | WS: 6”5-1/4”
BF: The Bucks could use some shooters to space the floor around Giannis. Kennard fits here as arguably the best shooter in the draft—ot only in the catch-and-shoot but off of the dribble and coming off screens, as well. At 6’6”, Kennard is big enough to play either wing position. Although he’s not a special athlete and has an unspecatular wingspan, the abundance of athleticism and length on the Bucks’ roster will more than make up for his shortcomings.
SD: Kennard’s shooting ability—43.8 percent from outside last year—should pay immediate dividends for the Bucks. Milwaukee could use another legitimate 3-point shooting threat to open up the floor for Giannis Antetokounmpo. Kennard has decent size for a shooting guard, giving him a chance to become a decent defender.
No. 18: Indiana Pacers
T.J. Leaf | PF | UCLA Bruins
Class: Fr. | Age: 20 | HT: 6’10” | WS: 6’11”
SD: The Pacers need to find players who complement Myles Turner, and the former sharp-shooting UCLA forward fits that mold perfectly for Indiana. Leaf has decent size for a stretch-four in today’s NBA, but he has a considerable amount of work to do on the defensive end if he wants to steal the starting job from Thaddeus Young.
BF: The Pacers get solid value here with Leaf at No. 18. He’s a very smart player, with good moves and instincts. He shot the ball well from outside in college on fewer than two 3-point attempts per game, but Leaf may be asked to put up a higher volume in the pros. He is a bit of a liability defensively, but he’ll be able to platoon with Young in the frontcourt.
No. 19: Atlanta Hawks
Bam Adebayo | PF/C | Kentucky Wildcats
Class: Fr. | Age: 19 | HT: 6’10” | WS: 7’2-3/4”
BF: Bam is phyically elite for an NBA player: 6’10”, massive wing span, strong upper and lower body, great leaping ability and he runs well. Other than small hands, he has the whole package. He also has a good motor and work ethic, but is extremely raw otherwise. The Hawks are in a transition phase, and Bam is definitely a project.
SD: The success or failure of Adebayo might be the hardest to accurately predict of any player in the first round. His size and play at Kentucky indicate that he’s a prime candidate to become a future defensive anchor, but the former Wildcat has also shot well from outside the paint in his pre-draft workouts. In the right situation, Adebayo might have a surprisingly high ceiling.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below—did Brian and Steve get it right?