What's Lincoln Thinkin' - 2017 NBA Mock Draft
1. Philadelphia 76ers - Markelle Fultz, SG, Washington. We’ve been talking about him being the first round pick since the college basketball season ended, but I’m still not comfortable saying his name. Shouldn’t his first name be a girl’s name? Is there a more uninspiring last name for a star athlete than Fultz? He’s going to be a bust.
2. Los Angeles Lakers - Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA. Say what you will about this guy, at least he’s named like a basketball player. I wish the Lakers had waited until after the draft to trade DeAngelo Russell, just so we could hold on the hope that Thursday night we could have an angry Lavar Ball sitting in the green room. Too bad this pick is a foregone conclusion. What’re the odds Dad goes up to shake the commissioner’s hand?
3. Boston Celtics - Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas. Pick seems to be down to either J-Jax or J-Tates, even though Jackson hasn’t worked out with Celtics. While the reports are that Danny Ainge shut down a trade including this pick for Jimmy Butler, I’m not positive the C’s make this selection.
4. Phoenix Suns - Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke. TJ Warren started at small forward for the Suns last year. There are two good point guards on the board, but it’s hard to not fix that problem
5. Sacramento Kings - De'Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky. There are years that De’Aaron Fox would be in the discussion for the #1 pick. Sacramento needs a new franchise player (and probably a new FRANCHISE while they’re at it) and Fox is a great talent to start with.
6. Orlando Magic - Dennis Smith, PG, North Carolina State. Tough to say ‘no’ to some of the big guys available, but Elfrid Payton is not a dynamic enough point guard to lead Orlando out of the doldrums. Isaac may be a Florida guy, but Dennis Smith has a better chance of having impact sooner.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves - Jonathan Isaac, F, Florida State. For the first time in a long time there’s a lot to like about the T-Puppies – K-A Towns, Kris Dunn, Wiggy, LaVine. A stretch 4 who plays solid defense seems like a piece they could use – and Minnesota seems like a team that can be patient as Isaac figures out his offensive game.
8. New York Knicks - Malik Monk, G, Kentucky. Has there been a worse time to play in New York? The czar (Phil Jackson) seems lost, the aging star (Carmelo) has worn out his welcome, and the future (Porzingis) already wants out. At least this is a no-brainer pick – Monk’s skills as a shooter could literally help any team in the league.
9. Dallas Mavericks - Frank Nkitilina, PG, France. Not a huge draft for international players, which is certainly refreshing for all of that make mock drafts. A lot less watching of Fran Fraschilla this year for me. Mavs could use a point guard for the future.
10. Sacramento Kings - Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona. The top talent falls all the way to #10. If there’s a team that can screw up two picks in the top 10 in a draft THIS deep, it is the Kings. But I love starting the rebuild in Sac-Town with Fox and Markkanen.
11. Charlotte Hornets – Donovan Mitchell, SG, Louisville. After making a blockbuster deal to bring in Dwight Howard, the Hornets could improve their back court. Reports say Mitchell has impressed more than anyone in workouts. If this works out, Mitchell could be a Kemba replacement.
12. Detroit Pistons - Luke Kennard ,SG, Duke. Pistons were one of the worst shooting teams in the NBA last year. Kennard is the best shooter in the draft.
13. Denver Nuggets - OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana. Going with need here too – Anunoby gives Nuggets a much-needed big-bodied defender off the bench.
14 Miami Heat - John Collins, PF, Wake Forest. What can I say? I’m a sucker for the story. West Palm Beach kid gets to play for his dream team – he still has Dwyane Wade jerseys in his closet. But who better fits the Heat's needs at this point? Someone to help Hassan Whiteside in the paint, and be that Chris Bosh replacement at the 4. JC may not have Bosh-range quite yet, but he has the offensive game to get buckets at the next level. Both his mom, and I, will freak out if this happens. But if the Mavs take Markkanen, Collins could go four picks earlier to Sacramento.
15. Portland Trail Blazers – Zach Collins, PF, Gonzaga. Anyone want guess who Portland’s third-leading scorer is? Certainly, their backcourt (Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum) is incredible, but when Al-Farouq Aminu is the next guy on your list, you need some scoring from someone other than your little guys. Justin Jackson is an option here, but it also seems too far for the 7-footer from Gonzaga to fall.
16. Chicago Bulls – Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina. Jimmy Butler seems to be on his way out, so what’s Chicago’s plan from here? Tough to say, if they get one of the small forwards at the top of the draft, then they probably won’t go Jackson. But if they don’t, they’re going to need someone who can go score. At this point, it’s J-Jax. Wait.. used that nickname already. Jus-Jax.
17. Milwaukee Bucks - Justin Patton, C, Creighton. Quality of player available begins to drop at this point. Time for some big guys to come off the list – and many of the following could spend much of their rookie seasons on D-League rosters. But you can’t teach size, and the following few players certainly have it.
18. Indiana Pacers - Harry Giles, C, Duke. Giles has a ton of upside, which never materialized at Duke. The Pacers know they can’t keep Paul George, so it’s time to tank for a while, and gamble. At this point in the draft, Giles is worth a gamble.
19. Atlanta Hawks - Bam Adebayo, PF/C, Kentucky. Like the Pacers, it’s time to reset in Atlanta, which is smart. The Celtics and maaaaaayyyybeeee the Wizards are only teams that can challenge LeBron James in the East. If you were running those teams, you would have to build towards the future.
20. Portland Trail Blazers - Jarrett Alle,n C, Texas. Blazers don’t have room for all three of their draft picks on the roster, but Allen is an intriguing prospect. Probably wouldn’t let him fall much further than this.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder - Terrance Ferguson, G, Adelaide (Australia). Not an international player, Ferguson went overseas to play out of high school instead of going to college. Thunder have just one player on their team who can score, so maybe getting another one might help their cause. Little known fact – Not the Magic, not the Pistons – the Thunder finished dead last in the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage last year.
22. Brooklyn Nets - TJ Leaf, PF, UCLA. Leaf showed some offensive flashes in March, and certainly that part of the game may be ready for the NBA. But defensively he’s atrocious – so he’s a good project for a team that’s years away from playing meaningful games at any point during their season.
23. Toronto Raptors - Jawun Evans, PG, Oklahoma State. The Raptors have no one to back up or possibly replace Kyle Lowry, and Evans may be the only point guard drafted in the first round after the first three go. Like the Hawks and Pacers, the Raptors also need to quietly discuss what their future holds. They are not a bad team. But that’s not getting you very far.
24. Utah Jazz - DJ Wilson, SF, Michigan. When you have a defensive monster at forward in Rudy Gobert, you can gamble on a guy that has an immature defensive game. Wilson has some offensive traits that can help right away, and has high upside on that side of the ball. The Jazz will just need Gobert to cover up his shortcomings.
25. Orlando Magic – Jordan Bell, PF Oregon. Magic need some nasty, some personality. Bell is one of those guys that mauls the boards. This is a good fit here, but the Magic may be tempted to draft a player with a higher offensive ceiling.
26. Portland Trail Blazers – Isaiah Hartenstein, C, Germany. Ah! Another international player! Where are all the Zizzizic’s and Skeetaskeetaviliashili’s this year? And Hartenstein was born in Oregon, has an American mother, and his dad was an Oregon Duck. Fran, Fran, where are you?
27. Los Angeles Lakers – Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA. Lakers are only going to take Bruins in this draft. True story – they only traded for this pick for the Nets just so they can be prepared if Leaf falls and they can take all UCLA players.
28. Los Angeles Lakers – Josh Hart, SG, Villanova. They’re going to need someone for Lavar Ball to yell at after his son kicks the ball out instead of taking it to the basket. Lavar is going to hate the Lakers’ shooters. They’re broadcasts are going to be unbearable to watch.
29. San Antonio Spurs – Ivan Rabb, PF, Cal. Best pick in the draft. If the Spurs are making it, you just got to assume.
30. Utah Jazz – Caleb Swanigan, PF, Purdue. To continue building that winning culture in Utah, you got to pick guys that want to be there. Swanigan grew up in Salt Lake City, and wants to return home. This last pick would make too much sense.