Here is the third installment of my twice a month mock draft. The standings of the teams fluctuate quite a bit in that time, so these picks are quite a bit different than the last time.
1st pick- Boston Celtics select Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA. The Celtics are on the brink of being title contenders, and the team is fairly young already. Boston already has Isaiah Thomas, who is a top-10 point guard in the NBA, but they may think that they can’t pass up on such a great young talent. It is possible that they trade this pick and an average player to get that one star that they need. If they decide to keep the pick, and they do select Lonzo Ball, he would be a great backup to Isaiah Thomas. Standing at 6’6, he might be able to take Avery Bradley’s starting shooting guard position in a year or two.
2nd pick- Phoenix Suns select Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas. A few experts have speculated that Josh Jackson might be the best player in the draft. The draft is full of guards, but that isn’t what the Suns need at the moment. If they decide to go in a different direction and trade away Eric Bledsoe and/or Brandon Knight, it would be smart draft a player like Markelle Fultz. While Bledsoe and Knight are still on the team, drafting a point guard would be foolish. They should be building around 2015’s 13th overall pick, Devin Booker, who has shined in all aspects of the game so far in his sophomore season.
3rd pick- LA Lakers select Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington. Yes, the Lakers already have 2 starting caliber point guards. But D’Angelo Russell does not play like a point guard; as he doesn’t quite have the playmaking ability to strive in that position. Moving Russel to shooting guard and playing Fultz at the point could prove to be fruitful. Jordan Clarkson also has a lot of talent, but he is not consistent.
— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) February 5, 2017
4th pick- Dallas Mavericks select Dennis Smith Jr, PG, NC State. Smith is possibly the rawest player near the top of the draft. His draft stock also takes a hit because of the fact that he goes to a smaller. Arguably, the best player to come out of NC State is Phoenix Suns’ T.J. Warren, so Smith may be the first star player from NC State. He is one of the best physically gifted players in this draft, and deserves to be picked in the top 5.
5th pick- Orlando Magic select De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky. Like I said, this draft is full of high potential guards, and many will be drafted in the top 10. Fox has flown under the radar mostly because of Kentucky’s unsuccessful season thus far. He has shown many flashes of what he can do. The Magic need a guard, because Elfrid Payton certainly hasn’t panned out the way the the Magic hoped he would when trading for him in the 2014 NBA draft.
6th pick- Philadelphia 76ers select Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky. The 76ers hoped that they would have had two top-10 picks, because they hold the Lakers pick unless Los Angeles is in the top 3 picks. With the Lakers current slump, they don’t hold that pick anymore, to the dismay of Philadelphia. Monk has shown that he can be a very efficient scorer, and the Sixers desperately need better guards. They must take the shot at this pick. Monk is a very reasonable pick because he can be a good passer, making him versatile enough to play the point guard position. Right now, the only reason he isn’t play the point is because Fox is starting there for Kentucky. Getting Monk feeding the ball to Joel Embiid could be key for the 76ers future success.
7th pick- Miami Heat select Jonathan Isaac, SF, Florida State. The Heat haven’t been the same without Dwyane Wade since his departure from the team this past offseason. Hassan Whiteside was the only hope for this team to be successful this season, but here they are, most likely a top 10 pick. With Justise Winslow being out for the season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, they are most likely destined for the middle of the lottery. Both Winslow and Isaac play small forward, but they could probably move Isaac to the shooting guard because he will be a better shooter than Winslow.
8th pick- Minnesota Timberwolves select Harry Giles, PF, Duke. Duke’s basketball team hasn’t been anything short of surprising this year. Not in a good way either. They do still have top talents in this years draft. Some of their draft stock has decreased in recent weeks due to the slump, but they still bring talented players to the table.
9th pick- New Orleans Pelicans select Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke. The Pelicans really need a point guard alongside their star Anthony Davis, but with all of the top guards off the board, Tatum is the best player available at this spot. The Pelicans are somewhat weak at the small forward position as well, so this pick makes sense.
10th pick- Sacramento Kings select Frank Ntilikina, PG, France. There isn’t much on Frank, but with the recent surge of international players being drafted early, the Kings may jump the gun and take this guy. It really makes sense due to the level of play that Kristaps Porzingis has had so far this year. Nobody expected him to play as well as he has.
11th pick- New York Knicks select Terrance Ferguson, SG, Australia. Speaking of Kristaps Porzingis and the New York Knicks, they just need to explode this roster, and well before the off-season hits. It would be smart for the team to build around Porzingis moving forward. The Knicks were expected to be a “super team” after their off-season acquisitions, but they have been playing bad basketball. Carmelo Anthony has been in many trade talks, and the team chemistry has been bad all year. The players that should probably be taken around this pick are all big men, and are not what the Big Apple needs.
— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) January 29, 2017
12th pick- Portland Trail Blazers select TJ Leaf, PF, UCLA. The Trail Blazers have everything to prove at this point of the season. They were expected to be a top 5 team in the Western Conference, but are now sitting in the lottery. They need to take advantage of this opportunity. Taking Leaf at this position would be a very good selection for the Blazers. Leaf is a proven scorer and can play the small forward position, and he is getting a lot of media attention because of the fact that he plays alongside Lonzo Ball at UCLA.
13th pick- Detroit Pistons select Edric Adebayo, PF, Kentucky. The Pistons just need a lot of help all over the court, both offensively and defensively. Drafting “Bam” with this pick could help the Pistons get past those struggles, and finally get them a great player alongside Andre Drummond.
14th pick- Milwaukee Bucks select Luke Kennard, SG, Duke. The Bucks don’t need a lot of upgrading on this team. They just need their young stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker to continue improving, which will take another year or two. Picking Kennard would give the Bucks a fallback in the case that Khris Middleton gets injured again.
— Dime on UPROXX (@DimeUPROXX) February 7, 2017
15th pick- Denver Nuggets select Ivan Rabb, PF, California. The Nuggets just need a lot of young players to build their team around. Most of their roster have been in trade talks all season, such as Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried, or even Nikola Jokic. They’ve all had their name thrown up there and its about time the Nuggets make some moves when it comes to trading veteran players. They should build around their last two 1st round picks, Emmanuel Mudiay and Jamal Murray.
16th pick- Charlotte Hornets Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona. The Hornets have a lot of work to do to their roster. They really only have Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum, although he is somewhat injury prone. They need a big man that the team can build around since Al Jefferson went to the Indiana Pacers in the off-season, and Frank Kaminsky hasn’t proven to be very good in his young career.
17th pick- Chicago Bulls select Jarrett Allen, C, Texas. The Bulls seem off in recent weeks. They brought in Dwayne Wade and Rajon Rondo hoping to form a big 3, but that hasn’t happened at all. Rondo is playing worse than he ever has, and Wade has been very irritated by his teammates, which is ruining their team chemistry. Wade could leave in this upcoming off-season; he has a player option. The Bulls haven’t had good interior defense since Joakim Noah left last summer.
18th pick- Indiana Pacers select Dwayne Bacon, SG, Florida State. The Pacers should be done with the Monta Ellis experiment and trade him already. He is inconsistent on offense and plays poor defense, and Indiana needs to rebuild around Paul George and Myles Turner. They thought they could be title contenders with their off-season moves, but it hasn’t worked out yet. Bacon would give the Pacers scoring and a young player that could help this team.
— CoachBarsh (@CoachRjayBarsh) February 5, 2017
19th pick- Washington Wizards select Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State. With the pending free agency decision of Otto Porter, the Wizards should be cautious with their selection. Drafting a small forward could offend Porter, and make him think the Wizards are turning their backs on him. And for Kelly Oubre Jr, it could be that the Wizards don’t trust him to be a reliable backup. Bridges is the best player still on the board, and would still be the best option here. He is very efficient on both offense and defense. If the Wizards don’t select Bridges here, they could go with a rim protecting big man.
20th pick- Denver Nuggets select Jaron Blossomgame, SF, Clemson. The Nuggets need to trade Wilson Chandler. They already have two guards for the future, and Blossomgame could ride the bench for this team for a few seasons as they get their things together. Drafting him at 20th isn’t much of a risk if he doesn’t pan out.
21st pick- Atlanta Hawks select Robert Williams, PF, Texas A&M. The Hawks don’t need much as they are a solid play off team. Picking Williams could play out very well. Paul Millsap has been in many trade rumors, and Williams could be just the replacement they need. Williams is speculated to be a lottery pick, but playing for a smaller school and not having a tough schedule is affecting his draft stock.
22nd pick- OKC Thunder select Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina. The Thunder don’t have a solid small forward on their roster since Kevin Durant left in free agency; Andre Roberson, Jerami Grant, and Anthony Morrow have all been splitting minutes at the position. Getting a player at the small forward position in the draft could be key for the Thunder in the future. They don’t need any big men as the have Steven Adams, Enes Kanter, and Domantas Sabonis.
23rd pick-Toronto Raptors select Isaiah Hartenstein, PF, Germany. The Raptors don’t have any solid big men on their roster besides Jonas Valanciunas. They did draft Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl last year, but they haven’t played well thus far. They need to keep getting big men until they find another one to work alongside Valanciunas.
24th pick- Utah Jazz select VJ Beachem, SF, Notre Dame. The Jazz have barely any small forward depth on their roster behind Gordon Hayward. Beachem could be a quality backup.
25th pick- Brooklyn Nets select Melo Trimble, PG, Maryland. The Nets need a complete overhaul of the roster, but they need especially a playmaker. Trimble can run this offense with Lopez and form a great pick and roll duo. Diamond Stone plays similar to Lopez, and it works well with him. Melo hasn’t reached his ceiling and is still improving every game with Maryland. The Nets could get themselves a diamond in the rough here.
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) December 9, 2016
26th pick- Toronto Raptors select Juwan Evans, PG, Oklahoma State. The Raptors could use a point guard behind Kyle Lowry and Cory Joseph, and Evans is the best player still available at this point in the draft.
27th pick- Cleveland Cavaliers select Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, SG, Kansas. LeBron James has been complaining that the team needs another playmaker, and this guy could be one in a few years. The Cavs bench is weak, so this guy could get more minutes and opportunities on this team than many others.
28th pick- Houston Rockets select Tyler Lydon, PF, Syracuse. The Rockets don’t need much, but adding talented and high potential players is good for any team.
29th pick- San Antonio Spurs select Justin Patton, C, Creighton. There isn’t much to say about the Spurs. They are legitimate title contenders and don’t need many things to improve their roster. If anything, it’s the center and power forwards positions that they need most. When long time Spur Tim Duncan retired this past offseason, the Spurs spent a lot of money to add Pau Gasol and David Lee, and a good rookie could be some relief for that money commitment.
30th pick- Utah Jazz select Johnathan Motley, C, Baylor. The Jazz don’t have much depth at the center position behind Rudy Gobert. Motley has shown how he can he a very efficient rebounder, and may be the correct backup for Gobert.
Honorable Mentions: Both Indiana’s OG Anunoby and Duke University’s Grayson Allen. Both players are in very different situations regarding the NBA draft, but both could fall out of the 1st round after being projected to be as early as lottery picks.
Anunoby sustained an injury early in the season that could negatively impact his draft position if a team doesn’t want to take a chance on him and be patient as he recovers.
Allen has been a house hold name all season, but not in a good way. He has been involved in “tripping” situations on the court and has became the bully of the NCAA. A team could very well take a shot on him, but its very unlikely he’ll be taken in the 1st round due to his bad decisions.