2017 NBA Mock Draft: 12/28/2016

With conference play beginning, I figured it would be a good time to craft my first mock draft with commentary. Though numbers are often inflated before conference play starts, this draft has a chance to be very, very good. Enjoy.

# Team Player H/W Hometown Position School 16-17 Stats
1. Philadelphia 76ers (7-23) 21870342016 Markelle Fultz, Fr 6’4, 195 lbs Upper Marlboro, MD PG/SG Washington 22.0 ppg, 6.3 apg, 6.2 rpg
 There is talent to be found in the city of Philadelphia, but this is still a very bad team. Getting Ben Simmons back will help, and so will two lottery picks. The Sixers need to add back court talent, and Markelle Fultz looks like the early leader as the best of a very strong group of guards. Tough and aggressive, Fultz has the look of a Kyrie Irving, John Wall or Derrick Rose. The only issue among scouts could be the fact that Fultz is putting up big numbers for a bad team.
2. Boston Celtics (19-13) (from Nets)  slhg02hbef3j1ov4lsnwyol5o Josh Jackson, Fr 6’8, 207 lbs Detroit, MI SG/SF Kansas 15.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.1 apg
After a somewhat promising start to the season, the Nets have fallen apart again. Which, of course, means that Boston will have another top five pick. Josh Jackson has put up amazing numbers all across the board, from the stats you see above to a shooting percentage over 50%, with some blocks and steals included. Scouts were worried about Jackson’s jump shot, and so far, those worries have been justified. The talent is there to be an all NBA defender. If Jackson can improve the range on his jumper, he has All Star potential.
3. Dallas Mavericks (9-23) ifk08eam05rwxr3yhol3whdcm Lonzo Ball, Fr 6’6, 190 lbs Chino Hills, CA PG UCLA 14.6 ppg, 9.3 apg, 5.0 rpg
The Mavericks have not had a special point guard since Steve Nash. Fortunately, this draft is absolutely loaded with floor generals. Markelle Fultz, Dennis Smith Jr., De’Aaron Fox and Lonzo Ball could not be any different prospects. Ball has some Jason Kidd to his game, and could quickly become a fan favorite in Dallas thanks to his NBA friendly game.
4. Phoenix Suns (9-22) 23843702014 Malik Monk, Fr 6’4, 200 lbs Lepanto, AR PG/SG Kentucky 21.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.3 apg
The Suns have a strong collection of athletes, but it has not translated to wins. Predicting who Phoenix will take here is impossible, though I do not see them going with a point guard. Shooting is at a premium, and Malik Monk has been on fire the first month of the season, so he could be a very high pick. Similar to Jamal Murray last year, though perhaps a better athlete, Monk is a combo guard who can flat out score.
5. Miami Heat (10-22) burm5gh2wvjti3xhei5h16k8e Dennis Smith Jr., Fr 6’3, 195 lbs Fayetteville, NC PG North Carolina State 18.9 ppg, 5.5 apg, 3.9 rpg
The Heat are looking to rebuild their team around Hassan Whiteside. He has been as good as advertised, but the other four spots in the lineup are totally up for grabs, which means the best player available would be the way to go. Dennis Smith Jr. has shown the ability to be a lights out scorer, and has some Damian Lillard to his game. The NBA is a point guard league right now and Smith could be a 20 point per game scorer for the Heat.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves (10-22) zq8qkfni1g087f4245egc32po Jayson Tatum, Fr 6’8, 205 lbs St. Louis, MO SF Duke 15.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.2 apg
Despite three 20 point per game scorers, the Timberwolves are slugging through yet another losing campaign. Tom Thibideau never plays rookies, so whoever they draft here is likely to ride the bench. Jayson Tatum is off to a good start with the Blue Devils. He is an aggressive scorer who has very strong defensive potential. His shooting leaves something to be desired, but Thibideau would theoretically enjoy his ability to provide defense off the bench.
7. Philadelphia 76ers (7-23) (from Lakers) 21870342016 De’Aaron Fox, Fr 6’3, 187 lbs Houston, TX PG Kentucky 16.3 ppg, 6.8 apg, 5.0 rpg
What a great point guard class this is. The 76ers need guards in the worst way, and De’Aaron Fox and Markelle Fultz both have the size and strength to play alongside each other. Fox is off to a fantastic start. Scouts knew he was a solid defender, but his offensive game is more advanced than expected. This would be a dream scenario for Philadelphia, which could surround Joel Embiid with four ball handlers in Fox, Fultz, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric.
8. New Orleans Pelicans (13-21) 496226812014 Edrice Adebayo, Fr 6’10, 260 lbs Washington, DC PF/C Kentucky 12.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.7 bpg
Anthony Davis has been playing at an MVP level, but this looks like another lost season for the Pelicans. New Orleans has simply failed to surround Davis with the necessary pieces to be competitive. New Orleans needs an actual center to keep Davis from having to match up with the more physical big men in the NBA. Edrice Adebayo is more than just a lumbering big man. He is quick and agile and has the ability to become a decent scorer, as well as a solid rebounder and shot blocker.
9. Portland Trail Blazers (14-20) bahmh46cyy6eod2jez4g21buk Lauri Markkanen, Fr 7’0, 230 lbs Jyvaskyla, Finland PF/C Arizona 16.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.5 apg
Perhaps no team has been as disappointing as the Trail Blazers. After a historic off season spending spree, Portland is languishing in the lottery. Portland has a dynamic back court, but the rest of the roster is full of bit role players. Lauri Markkanen has been as good as advertised for the Arizona Wildcats, showing a big time ability to stretch the floor on offense. He is not much of a defender, but should fit in nicely as a third option on offense for this team.
10. Denver Nuggets (14-18) xeti0fjbyzmcffue57vz5o1gl Harry Giles, Fr 6’11, 227 lbs Winston-Salem, NC PF Duke 0.5 ppg, 1.0 rpg
The Nuggets still lack a real franchise talent, but their depth has them fighting for the final playoff spot in the West. With Harry Giles still on the board, it is a risk well worth taking for a deep Denver team. Giles is being brought along very slowly, but should start to see more minutes once conference play starts. He was the top recruit for a reason. If the knee holds up, he has All Star potential.
11. Orlando Magic (15-19) wd9ic7qafgfb0yxs7tem7n5g4 Jonathan Isaac, Fr 6’10, 210 lbs Naples, FL SF/PF Florida State 12.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.2 bpg
The Magic have been a bit of a mess this season, thanks in large part to a stagnant offense. Mario Hezonja has bust written all over him, and the Magic could still use a scorer off the bench. Jonathan Isaac is still a project who has hit a bit of a lull offensively, but has the perfect blend of shooting and defense that teams covet at the small forward position. The Florida native could be a perfect fit in Orlando.
12. Detroit Pistons (14-18) 3079 Frank Ntilikina 6’5, 170 lbs Brussels, Belgium PG France 5.2 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 1.1 apg
The Pistons have a solid roster, but have underachieved thus far. Detroit usually just drafts the best player available, so that is the route I have them taking here. Like most of the point guards in this mock, Ntilikina is a jump shot away from being a complete point guard. He has the size and quickness to be a matchup nightmare in the NBA. However, like most overseas prospects, he gets little run for his European team, which makes him a bit of a mystery.
13. Indiana Pacers (15-18) 3083 Ivan Rabb, So 6’11, 220 lbs Oakland, CA PF California 14.6 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.6 apg
What a fantastic draft this is setting up to be. Players who will be picked in the teens would have been top five picks in 2016. While Ivan Rabb lacks the upside of many players picked ahead of him, he is a safe bet to come in right away and produce as a rebounder and weak side defender. He would fit in nicely next to offensive threats Myles Turner and Paul George in Indiana’s front court.
14. Washington Wizards (15-16) 21956712016 Miles Bridges, Fr 6’7, 230 lbs Flint, MI SF/PF Michigan State 16.6 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 2.0 apg
After a miserable start to the season, the Wizards have been on fire. John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat are all having spectacular years. Unfortunately, the bench may be the worst in the league. That means the Wizards should just draft the best player available. Miles Bridges has been the lone bright spot for the struggling Spartans. Think Stanley Johnson with a jump shot. He is strong, aggressive and a solid defender.
15. Chicago Bulls (16-16) (from Kings) hj3gmh82w9hffmeh3fjm5h874 Aaron Holiday, So 6’1, 185 lbs Chatsworth, CA PG UCLA 13.9 ppg, 4.5 apg, 2.8 rpg
It is not often that a player loses his starting spot to a stud freshman, but ends up actually benefiting. That is the case with Aaron Holiday, who has excelled in his role as the backup to Lonzo Ball. Holiday’s shooting percentages have skyrocketed and he has shown improved court vision and defensive ability as well. While he does not have the size scouts like out of point guards, he has starting ability and could eventually take over for Rajon Rondo in Chicago, and become the third Holiday brother in the NBA.
16. Chicago Bulls (16-16) hj3gmh82w9hffmeh3fjm5h874 Omer Yurtseven, Fr 7’0, 245 lbs Istanbul, Turkey C North Carolina State 11.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.8 apg
With two first round picks, Chicago can take the upside player who is still a couple years away from being NBA ready. After a suspension, Omer Yurtseven has finally taken the court for the Wolfpack. He has shown nice scoring touch around the rim and the ability to be a quality passer as well. He is not much of a defender right now, and could use another year or two of college, but some team will take him in the mid first round.
17. Atlanta Hawks (16-16) 22091682016 Robert Williams, Fr 6’9, 237 lbs Vivian, LA PF Texas A&M 10.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.7 bpg
Of all the quality freshman, perhaps the most underrated has been Robert Williams. Despite playing only 20 minutes per game, he has made his impact as a rebounder and shot blocker. He will be a project to be sure, but has the ability to be a Derrick Favors type in the NBA. The Hawks are a veteran led team who needs to start developing some young players at all positions.
18. Milwaukee Bucks (15-15) 22582752016 Jalen Brunson, So 6’3, 190 lbs Lincolnshire, IL PG Villanova 12.8 ppg, 4.0 apg, 2.2 rpg
Many thought that Villanova was a fluky national champion, but the Wildcats continue to roll in 2016. Jalen Brunson is just one of a number of very good players on that team, but he is the top prospect. Brunson is shooting over 50% and takes very good care of the ball. He might not be the flashiest prospect, but would form a solid point guard duo with Matthew Dellavedova in Milwaukee.
19. New York Knicks (16-15) 2nn48xofg0hms8k326cqdmuis TJ Leaf, Fr 6’10, 225 lbs El Cajon, CA PF UCLA 17.2 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 2.7 apg
This draft is so deep that there are still potential starters available in the late first round. While all eyes have been on Lonzo Ball at UCLA, fellow freshman TJ Leaf has been just as impressive. Leaf lacks the athleticism to be a top ten pick (perhaps) but has the ability to stretch the floor, grab some rebounds and even handle the ball. All valuable commodities to have as a modern power forward. He would make a nice first big off the bench for the Knicks.
20. Charlotte Hornets (18-14) 512019262015 Melo Trimble, Jr 6’3, 190 lbs Upper Marlboro, MD PG/SG Maryland 18.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.9 apg
Maryland is off to a fantastic start, and Melo Trimble has been the main reason why. Trimble has really improved as a scorer. Dangerous from anywhere on the court, he has worked his way into first round consideration. The Hornets tend to lean towards upper classmen with their draft selections. Trimble could come in right away and provide offense off the bench.
21. Denver Nuggets (14-18) (from Grizzlies) xeti0fjbyzmcffue57vz5o1gl Rodions Kurucs 6’8, 190 lbs Riga, Latvia SF Latvia 5.9 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 1.1 apg
With two first round picks and a deep roster, Denver can afford to draft for potential. Rodions Kurucs has good length and a nice jump shot, though he is obviously a couple of years away from being a quality NBA regular. The Nuggets can draft and stash him in Europe in hopes he develops into a poor man’s Danilo Gallinari.
22. Brooklyn Nets (8-23) (from Celtics) hsuff5m3dgiv20kovde422r1f OG Anunoby, So 6’8, 235 lbs Jefferson City, MO SF/PF Indiana 12.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.6 bpg
The draft community has been very high on OG Anunoby, even after a quiet freshman season, and it has been easy to see why. Anunoby brings shooting, athleticism and defense to the forward position, making him a solid fit for pretty much any team. With the Nets, there will be minutes at both forward positions, and he could develop into a starter pretty quickly. In fact, once the combine rolls around, he could wind up as a lottery pick.
23. Utah Jazz (19-13) 23467492017 Cameron Oliver, So 6’8, 225 lbs Sacramento, CA SF/PF Nevada 15.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 3.0 bpg
Another sophomore who could easily wind up as a lottery pick is Nevada’s Cameron Oliver. Oliver has been a one man wrecking crew for the Wolfpack. He rebounds, has range out to the three point line, and is even among the NCAA leaders in blocks per game. The only knock against him is the level of competition, but the Mountain West has produced plenty of NBA prospects. He would be a nice big off the bench for the deep Jazz.
24. Oklahoma City Thunder (20-12) khmovcnezy06c3nm05ccn0oj2 VJ Beachem, Sr 6’8, 201 lbs Fort Wayne, IN SF Notre Dame 15.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.3 apg
There is a distinct possibility that there could be no juniors or seniors selected in the first round of the 2017 draft. VJ Beachem sneaks in, thanks to his ability to hit three pointers and play solid defense. With Russell Westbrook dominating the ball, that is all the Thunder need out of their small forwards.
25. Toronto Raptors (22-9) (from Clippers) 22745782016 Isaiah Hartenstein 6’11, 225 lbs Eugene, OR PF Germany 3.6 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 0.5 apg
This is the second year in a row that the Raptors have two first round picks. For a playoff team, it is hard to commit four roster spots to young players, so this could be a draft and stash situation. Isaiah Hartenstein has lottery talent, but he has not shown much for his Lithuanian team, though that is common with European prospects. With proper development, he could become a starter in this league.
26. Toronto Raptors (22-9) 22745782016 Mustapha Heron 6’5, 215 lbs Waterbury, CT SG Auburn 15.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.3 apg
If there is one thing Bruce Pearl can do, it is recruit. Mustapha Heron was the highest ranked recruit to join Auburn in years, and he is off to a fine start. He is very strong for his position, and has three point range. Think Victor Oladipo. Unfortunately, he will not get much run in Toronto behind Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, but he is the top available talent here.
27. Houston Rockets (24-9) 8xe4813lzybfhfl14axgzzqeq Tacko Fall, So 7’6, 300 lbs Dakar, Senegal C UCF 15.2 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 2.5 bpg
Many expected the Mike D’Antoni Rockets to be an entertaining sideshow, but few expected the team to win like it has. General Manager Daryl Morey is an analytics nerd to the fullest, and no college basketball player has a higher PER than Tacko Fall. We have seen many college basketball giants simply go through the motion of being a mountainous man. That is not the case for Fall, who has serious NBA talent. He is averaging a double double and blocks shots as well. The jury is out as to whether he fits in today’s NBA game, but he is a worthy gamble in the late first or early second round.
28. Cleveland Cavaliers (23-7) e4701g88mmn7ehz2baynbs6e0 Thomas Bryant, So 6’10, 255 lbs Rochester, NY PF/C Indiana 12.4 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.7 bpg
Fifteen years ago, Thomas Bryant would have been a top ten pick, but the NBA has gotten away from this type of player. Bryant has done well to develop a three point shot to go along with his post game, and should make it as a quality NBA big. He only falls this far because of the depth of this draft. Cleveland could stand to develop a couple of young players to round out it’s bench, and Bryant could be a part of the rotation right away.
29. San Antonio Spurs (26-6) 827 Alec Peters, Sr 6’9, 235 lbs Washington, IL PF Valparaiso 25.5 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 1.7 apg
Alec Peters is simply a San Antonio Spurs type of pick. Peters is putting up monster numbers for the mid major Crusaders. What makes him different is his game translates well to the NBA. He can rebound and knock down jump shots all the way out to the three point line. He had a 23 point, 8 rebound game in a loss to Kentucky, showing he can hang with the big boys. Peters has an NBA future.
30. Utah Jazz (19-13) (from Warriors) 23467492017 John Collins, So 6’10, 235 lbs West Palm Beach, FL PF/C Wake Forest 16.1 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 1.5 bpg
It has been a long time since the once great Wake Forest Demon Deacons have been relevant, but they could be on their way up, thanks to guys like John Collins and Bryant Crawford. Collins is still a project, but is putting up big time numbers in only 23 minutes per game.

Round 2

31. Pelicans (from 76ers) – SF Jaron Blossomgame, Sr, Clemson
32. Hawks (from Nets) – SG/SF Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Jr, Kansas
33. Mavericks – SG Terrance Ferguson, United States
34. Suns – PF/C Jonathan Jeanne, France
35. Grizzlies (from Heat) – SF/PF Tyler Lydon, So, Syracuse
36. Celtics (from Timberwolves) – SG Kostja Mushidi, Germany
37. Lakers – PF/C Jarrett Allen, Fr, Texas
38. Pelicans – SG/SF Dwayne Bacon, So, Florida State
39. Rockets (from Trail Blazers) – PF Caleb Swanigan, So, Purdue
40. Kings – PG Frank Mason, Sr, Kansas
41. Rockets (from Nuggets) – SF Arnoldas Kulboka, Lithuania
42. 76ers (from Pistons) – SG Grayson Allen, Jr, Duke
43. Magic – PG/SG Frank Jackson, Fr, Duke
44. Pacers – PG Edmond Sumner, So, Xavier
45. Wizards – PF/C Chris Boucher, Sr, Oregon
46. Bucks – PG/SG Isaiah Briscoe, So, Kentucky
47. Knicks (from Bulls) – SG Josh Hart, Sr, Villanova
48. Hawks – PF/C Alpha Kaba, France
49. Jazz (from Knicks) – SG Diego Flaccadori, Italy
50. Hornets – SF Justin Jackson, Jr, North Carolina
51. Nuggets (from Grizzlies) – PG Monte Morris, Sr, Iowa State
52. Jazz – PF/C Moses Kingsley, Sr, Arkansas
53. Nets (from Celtics) – SG Peter Jok, Sr, Iowa
54. Nuggets (from Thunder) – PF/C Mathias Lessort, France
55. Celtics (from Clippers) – PG/SG Kobi Simmons, Fr, Arizona
56. Raptors – PF Amile Jefferson, Sr, Duke
57. Knicks (from Rockets) – SF/PF Dedric Lawson, So, Memphis
58. Celtics (from Cavaliers) – C Jo Lual-Acuil Jr., Jr, Baylor
59. Spurs – SF/PF Aleksandar Vezenkov, Cyprus
60. 76ers (from Warriors) – PG Jawun Evans, So, Oklahoma State

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