Feb. 23, 2018
Second Crack At a 2017 Mock
Back in December, the first version was released and with conference play nearing an end and tournaments underway, along with some injuries, trades and intent of tanking revealed, part deux was needed. I ran the simulator three times before going with the results.
1] Phoenix Suns select Lonzo Ball from UCLA
Lonzo has been beyond spectacular for the Bruins and should be a shoo-in for the Freshman of the Year Award, while being in close consideration for the Player of the Year Award as well. Despite numerous idiotic statements from LaVar Bell, his father, the Phoenix Suns take the guy poised to be a franchise player with the top selection and don't think twice. The biggest concern with Ball's game coming into the collegiate level was his ability to hit the three-pointer and keep defenders honest. Well, he is shooting 42.2% from range on 5.4 attempts a night, albeit, the college line is closer than the professional one. At the same time, Ball has hit plenty of shots that would register beyond the NBA arc as well. He also is at a 67.7% TS, which is as ridiculous as his form. Let's also not forget his 3:1 assist to turnover ratio as well. Phoenix can also finally move on from Eric Bledsoe and let Booker/Chriss/Ball be the future trio.
2] Philadelphia 76ers select Markelle Fultz from Washington
Philadelphia is yet to see Benjamin Simmons, last years top selection, take the court, and Joel Embiid got hurt, yet again. Moves were made to clear the logjam up front as the franchise sent Nerlens Noel away for just two second round selections, and the scoring prowess of Fultz will be welcome in the City of Brotherly Love. Despite the fact that Washington won't be sniffing any post-season tournament, Fultz has shown the ability to be a gunner, scoring just over 23 a night while hitting just under 48% of his field goals and over 41% from the arc. Dishing out 5.6 assists on a team that really has no other option is impressive as well. Ability to play off-the-ball will be key as Philadelphia seems keen on Simmons being a "point-forward" as well.
3] Los Angeles Lakers select Josh Jackson from Kansas
Ping-pong balls do just enough to ensure the Lakers maintain their first round pick, and they go with the highly touted Jayhawk. Jackson has drawn comparisons to Jimmy Butler, a speculated target of the franchise, and who knows if he may even become anywhere near Butler's level, though he does have a high ceiling. Like Ball, Jackson is gifted with a very high basketball IQ, and his awareness on both sides of the court is NBA-ready. He does need a lot of work on his shot, along with bulking up a bit, which should shore up with a bit of work. Jackson will also bring on tons of speculation as he plays the same position as Brandon Ingram, the Lakers second overall pick in 2016.
4] Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn Nets) select Jonathan Isaac from Florida State
A deep playoff run and a top five pick sounds perfect in Boston, though they will be disappointed the Nets pick dropped three slots. Like Los Angeles, Boston seems to be pretty deep in every position and Danny Ainge will most likely look to consolidate talent to help Brad Stevens coach the team to the promised land. Isaac is an intriguing prospect that seemingly would fit in well with how the Celtics are currently constructed, as his size will allow him to keep the floor spread and versatility will help switching on pick and rolls defensively. Isaac needs to put on some muscle as he tends to avoid contact in the paint while is a target of opponents posting him up.
5] Orlando Magic select Dennis Smith Jr. from North Carolina State
It's time for the Magic to move past Elfrid Payton as the franchise point guard, the NBA is now in a stage where you need a point that can score or is pretty much a hindrance. Smith is just that, with his 18.5 points per outing on 46/37 shooting for the Wolfpack. Smith has exceptional athleticism and his handles are ready for the big leagues, though he does need to work on his vision and timing of passes. If he can shore up his sloppy play while developing a consistent jumper, he may end up with an argument as the best player of the draft.
6] Sacramento Kings (via New Orleans Pelicans) select Jayson Tatum from Duke
Cousins-era is finally over as the Kings look to pave way for the future, aiming to get back to being a perennial contender for the Western Conference title. An influx of youth now exists on Sacramento with Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, Malachi Richardson and Georgios Papagiannis, with Tatum fitting right in. The Coach K product definitely has a high ceiling and can be a reliable scorer for years to come with confidence and consistency. Has all the tools to be a solid defender as well.
7] Dallas Mavericks select Miles Bridges from Michigan State
Cuban is still trying to get the Mavericks back to relevancy, and the acquisition of Nerlens Noel will lead to a big chunk of cap being taken up, while the waiving of Deron Williams & Andrew Bogut will help the Mavs add more ping pong balls come lottery night. Bridges is a tweener that could play both forward slots and could be a solid compliment to Harrison Barnes. Like Noel, Bridges should also develop into a solid weak-side shot blocker, though he does need to improve his repertoire on offense.
8] Portland Trail Blazers select Lauri Markkanen from Arizona
With Damian Lillard & CJ McCollum, Portland has among the league's best combinations at the guard slot, while Jusuf Nurkic gives them a big man to keep an eye on developing. Still, the backcourt duo needs more help and Markkanen can provide them with just that. The Finnish international, Markkanen's jumper should translate to the NBA without any sort of issue. At 7 feet tall, Markkanen needs to work on his rebounding and ability to box out the opposition.
9] Sacramento Kings select Frank Ntilikina from Strasbourg (France)
Two top-10 picks isn't too shabby for a franchise looking to get back into the thick of things. Ntilikina has had his game draw comparisons to a few legends, such as Chris Paul and Gary Payton, which would be great company for the French international. Has great size (6'5) for the point guard position and his unselfishness/offensive awareness will greatly be welcome in Sacramento as he'll find open looks for Hield, Richardson, Tatum and the bunch. Needs to work on his ability to finish in the paint and be more assertive on offense. If Sacramento retains Collison, he would be a great mentor to Ntilikina.
10] New York Knicks select Malik Monk from Kentucky
New York will be surrounded by Melodrama all summer, as they have for a good part of the season, as the team remains in limbo. Monk would be a silver lining for the franchise, along with the expected improvement from Kristaps Porzingis and Guillermo Hernangomez up front. Monk isn't afraid of taking any shots and is poised to be a high scoring guard, as he hits 41.6% of his shots from beyond the arc on over seven attempts a night. He won't provide much defense, or anything else, but he will put up points in a hurry.
11] Minnesota Timberwolves select Bam Adebayo from Kentucky
Back-to-back UK Wildcats going in the double digits as the Wolves take the best defensive big man to throw next to Karl Anthony-Towns and another piece of the puzzle to go alongside Andrew WIggins and Zach LaVine. Tom Thibodeau is a defensive minded guy, making this a perfect fit as the Wolves look to get back into the playoffs for the first time since the Garnett-era.
12] Charlotte Hornets select Terrance Ferguson from Adelaide (Australia)
Ferguson was poised to be a big part of Sean Miller's Arizona Wildcats, but chose to return home to be closer to family and be able to financially help out. Ferguson quite hasn't cemented himself in Coach Joey Wright's (former Sun) rotation with the Adelaide 36ers, playing just 15 minutes a night while struggling from the field. The untapped potential with Ferguson is still there and he could be a solid compliment to Kemba Walker in the backcourt.
13] Milwakuee Bucks select Ivan Rabb from California
Rabb certainly isn't a high potential guy, but he may just be the safest pick in the draft. After coming back for his sophomore year, Rabb has put his passing skills on full display to compliment his high awareness to grab every shot that is missed. Defense still needs some work, and can use some fine touches on offense, however, would be a seamless fit with an already lengthy Buck team.
14] Miami Heat select Tyler Lydon from Syracuse
Dion Waiters is coming into his own for the Heat, as they push to sneak into the playoffs, while Hassan Whiteside is Hassan Whiteside. Lydon will come in and compliment Whiteside exceptionally well with his ability to stretch the floor on one end, while providing the defense needed with his high motor and canny ability to end up at the right place at the right time. Put some work on his ability to distribute, and the Heat would have a gem here.
15] Denver Nuggets select De'Aaron Fox from Kentucky
Just a year removed from selecting Jamaal Murray from Kentucky, the Nuggets go with another bluegrass state product in Fox as they look for their point guard of the future. Mudiay hasn't shown leaps of improvement, and Fox would be an exceptional fit with Murray as they can help cover up his inconsistent jumper while Fox goes around dropping dimes to the shooters in the Mile High City. Expect his defense to translate into the next level as well, with a very high ceiling.
16] Detroit Pistons select T.J. Leaf from UCLA
With Ball getting all the glory in Westwood, Leaf had a superb freshman campaign himself and could be the piece needed for Stan Van Gundy to help Andre Drummond reach his full potential. Measured at 6'10, Leaf has the size and athleticism to play as a stretch four at the next level, though he can use some work on getting a consistent jumper from the arc. Defensively, the effort is there, making him a solid team defensive guy. His biggest use to Detroit would be his passing skills, helping find easy buckets for Drummond (similar to Blake Griffin in Los Angeles to DeAndre Jordan) and ability to excel in a pick-and-roll/pop option, which'd give Reggie Jackson a reason to stick around as well.
17] Chicago Bulls select Robert Williams from Texas A&M
Williams came from nowhere and started a late surge up mock drafts, going as high as sixth overall on some mocks, while others still have him as a fringe first rounder. The big man from the Lone Star State is quite inconsistent, but when he is zeroed in, there aren't many I would take over him. A bully on offense, Williams isn't afraid of demanding the ball, and is unequally scared of attacking the opposition, a physical type of play missing in the pros. His passing out of double teams is also far ahead of where it should be, while his insane wingspan helps make him a formidable defender. If he can get a jumper put together, Williams can end up with a deadly repertoire at the next level.
18] Indiana Pacers select Allonzo Trier from Arizona
Larry Bird has one more year remaining on Paul George's contract, with speculation being George is tired of the franchise being in limbo and is keeping a keen eye on the development of the Lakers back in his hometown. Trier has the ability to score in bunches from all over the court, as he hits over 43% of his attempts from behind the college arc. His handles on penetration may be of worry at the next level, but his defense should keep him on the court. With George and Teague getting the vast focus of the opposition, Trier would be a perfect fit in Indiana.
19] Atlanta Hawks select Caleb Swannigan from Purdue
Atlanta has pretty much any option at the power forward slot being a free agent this summer, giving Swannigan an excellent opportunity to impress and potentially end up starting from the opening tip off. Swannigan, like Rabb, just has a nose for going after every missed shot, while having a polished low-post game and not being afraid to step behind the arc to knock down shots. With some work on his passing game, Swannigan can help Dwight keep the paint controlled, while Dwight covers up his defensive weaknesses.
20] Oklahoma City Thunder select Dillon Brooks from Oregon
Fresh off winning the Pac-12 Player of the Year honors over Ball and Trier, Brooks comes in to give Westbrook some relief due to his ability to score and hit a shot from anywhere on the court. He also isn't afraid of the big moment (see the game winner versus UCLA).
21] Toronto Raptors select Melo Trimble from Maryland
Kyle Lowry needs a reliable backup, as Corey Joseph seems to be more comfortable playing off the ball, and Trimble provides the Raptors with a seasoned player to spell Lowry. The junior point guard has never been afraid of taking the big shot, in fact, he seems to love those types of situations, could be a Maurice Williams type of player at the next level. Not shabby for the 21st pick.
22] Portland Trail Blazers (via Memphis Grizzlies) select Zach Collins from Gonzaga
Collins is putting up eye-popping stats for being a 17.5 minute bench player while hitting just under 66% of his shots from the field, and could be the center needed for Neil Olshey's roster, making a nice duo with Jusuf Nurkic at the center slot.
23] Orlando Magic (via Los Angeles Clippers) select Rodions Kurucs from Barcelona II (Spain)
Orlando takes a flier on Kurucs, keeping him overseas as they try to develop the excess youth on the roster.
24] Utah Jazz select John Collins from Wake Forest
Derrick Favors just doesn't seem to be himself past the surgery, and hopefully the summer rest can help him. As a precaution, the Jazz take one of the most efficient players in college basketball, not just Division-1. Collins wasn't far off from averaging 20/10 as a sophomore, and hits well over 60% of his shots from the field, sitting at 62.3%.
25] Brooklyn Nets (via Washington Wizards) select Isaiah Hartenstein from Zalgiris (Lithuania)
There are fewer franchises in all-sports that have a dimmer outlook than Brooklyn, and the Nets hope they hit a grandslam with the 18-year old prospect from Germany. Hartenstein has three years of professional experience, could be a formidable partner to Brook Lopez.
26] Brooklyn Nets (via Boston Celtics) select Josh Hart from Villanova
Seconds after taking an 18-year old, the Nets go with a four-year senior, hoping Hart can fit in perfect next to Jeremy Lin, as they look to try to fight for the eight seed during the 2017-18 campaign. Hart is one of the most NBA-ready prospects available for selection.
27] Los Angeles Lakers (via Houston Rockets) select Monte Morris from Iowa State
Narrowly missing out on homegrown Lonzo, the Lakers select the seasoned Cyclone point guard, who averaged a whopping 6.2 turnovers to just one assist during his senior campaign. In 1,064 minutes, Morris turned the ball over just 30 times. Ridiculous.
28] Portland Trail Blazers (via Cleveland Cavaliers) select Harry Giles from Duke
Giles would be better served returning to Durham for his sophomore campaign, but if not, the Blazers could afford taking a flier on the former 5* prospect who never got it going for Coach K, despite having all the tools.
29] San Antonio Spurs select Jonah Bolden from FMP Boegard (Serbia)
Bolden was thought to be a key player for the UCLA Bruins a couple of years ago, but disagreeing with how Coach Steve Alford used him, he decided to terminate his scholarship and went pro overseas. Doing pretty well, Bolden is currently third in the high prestige Adriatic League, and Popovich would be the perfect coach to get his output maximized.
30] Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors) select Kyle Kuzma from Utah
Jazz keep a Ute in state as they go with the All-Pac 12 selected Kuzma to end the first round. A solid scorer, Kuzma could be a rotation player for Quin Snyder.