Draft day is finally here! Only a few more hours until we find out where these rookies will be starting their NBA careers. It’s been just over a week since my original top 10 mock draft, but since then there have been some changes. The 76ers traded for the number one pick, and we’ve also been hearing some more rumors about who teams are targeting. I’ve changed a few of my picks based on the information we’ve been getting, as well as some gut feelings. With the draft quickly approaching, here are my final predictions for the top 10 picks of 2017.
1. Philadelphia 76ers: Markelle Fultz – 6’4″ PG – Washington
I think the 76ers have made it pretty clear who they’re taking with the first pick. They didn’t move up two spots to take anyone but Fultz. Markelle Fultz could be the final piece to the process. He gives them a big guard who can score, rebound, and pass. With four starters all under the age of 23, I’m excited to see how this team will grow together. Acquiring the number one pick was a great move for the 76ers, and it could pay off big time a few years down the road.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball – 6’6″ PG – UCLA
Trading D’Angelo Russell has officially opened up the door for guess who…… Lonzo Ball! Magic Johnson is serious about getting the Lakers back to the top of the league. He’ll start their rise by drafting Ball, who is an incredible play-maker. Although Lonzo Ball may not be as gifted in some areas, he’s got the ability to be one of the better passers in the league right from the start. His passing makes things much easier for his teammates. The Lakers get their point guard here. Who’s next on their list? Paul George. I have a feeling the Lakers will be back soon.
3. Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum – 6’8″ SF – Duke
Here’s the first change from my original mock draft. Josh Jackson didn’t work out for the Celtics, which is a pretty good indication that they won’t take him. The Celtics go with Tatum instead. Jayson Tatum is a forward who can score. He’s probably the most gifted scorer in this class. His ability to score from just about anywhere will attract the Celtics. Isaiah Thomas needs another scoring threat on the court with him. Tatum’s ability to score gives him just that.
4. Phoenix Suns: Josh Jackson – 6’8″ SF – Kansas
If the Celtics don’t take Josh Jackson at number three, the Suns will jump at the chance to get him. Jackson’s offense might take some time to develop in the NBA, but one thing you can always rely on with Jackson is his defense. He’s a lockdown defender who can guard multiple positions. Defense is valuable for any team, and the Suns won’t hesitate to take a player who can help them improve their 28th ranked defense from day one.
5. Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox – 6’3″ PG – Kentucky
De”Aaron Fox is actually my favorite player in this draft. I think he has John Wall potential written all over him. He’s my pick for rookie of the year. The Kings have a lot of needs right now, so why not start with a player who can come and in run the show for them? Fox struggled with his jump shot in college, shooting just 24.6% from the 3pt line. Although he struggles in that area, he uses his speed and athleticism to blow by people. John Wall didn’t have a great jump shot coming out of college, but much like Fox, he did have speed.
6. Orlando Magic: Dennis Smith Jr. – 6’2″ PG – N.C. State
Dennis Smith Jr. is still my pick here. Orlando hasn’t made any moves this offseason, meaning they still need someone who can give them some offense. Orlando’s 29th ranked offense is in need of a major upgrade. Smith is an aggressive guard who can score, score, and score. He’s not just a scorer though. In just under 35 minutes a game last season, Smith averaged 18.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 6.2 assists, and 1.9 steals. He can do a little bit of everything. Can anyone else see a poor man’s Russell Westbrook?
7. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonathan Isaac – 6’10” SF/PF – Florida State
Pairing Jonathan Isaac with Wiggins and Towns may finally push the Timberwolves into the playoff picture. The 27th ranked defense from a year ago could use Isaac’s versatility. Putting him on the floor with Towns and Wiggins would allow him to come in and do what he does best. His offensive game needs some work, but he won’t have to worry about that right away if he’s got two 20+ plus scorers playing along side him.
8. New York Knicks: Malik Monk – 6’3″ SG – Kentucky
The Knicks need all the help they can get. There’s not much they don’t need right now. Malik Monk is the best player left on the board at this point, so the Knicks have to take him. Monk would give the Knicks a legit 3pt weapon. He shot 39.7% from behind the arc a year ago. For a team that ranked 21st in 3pt percentage, they sure could use Monk’s shooting.
9. Dallas Mavericks: Frank Ntilikina 6’5″ PG – France
I originally had Lauri Markkanen going here, but ultimately what the Mavericks need is better guard play. Frank Ntilikina has the potential to be a great point guard. In today’s NBA, the point guard position has become one of, if not the most important. If you don’t have a good point guard, it’s likely you won’t have a good team. Ntilikina has all the tools to become a top guard. I think he’d be a great addition to the Mavs during their rebuilding period.
10. Sacramento Kings: Luke Kennard – 6’6″ SG – Duke
I had Ntilikina going here in my first draft, but with him off the board, the Kings take a different guard to pair with De’Aaron Fox. Luke Kennard would be a perfect fit next to Fox. Fox struggles with his shot, but shooting is Kennard’s strength. A 43.8% 3pt shooter, Kennard can be the Kings threat from outside, while Fox is the threat inside. I can see Fox and Kennard being one of the best guard combos in the league in a few years if they end up being paired together. The Kings need talent, and that’s what they get with Fox and Kennard.
Thanks for reading my final draft predictions. Leave a comment about any surprise draft picks or trades you think we might see and why! Come back later this week to get my picks for winners and losers of the NBA Draft.