2017 NBA Mock Draft 1.0 (Fantasy Basketball)
With the NBA Draft mere weeks away, Basketball Insiders senior writer Joel Brigham mocks out a potential first round of picks with a look at the fantasy impact if everything fell exactly in this order.
1) Boston Celtics: Markelle Fultz (PG – Washington)
Long-term, Fultz could very well be the best player from this draft class, but immediately he’s not going to be much of a fantasy asset. Boston already has a ball-dominant point guard in All-Star Isaiah Thomas, but Fultz also will have to contend for minutes with Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier and Avery Bradley. It’s an embarrassment of riches, but it muddies the depth chart a bit for a team that already was pretty loaded in the backcourt.
2) Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball (PG – UCLA)
While not quite the logjam Boston is destined to deal with, the Lakers are looking at an overloaded depth chart in the backcourt, too, especially if they draft a point guard like Ball with the second-overall pick in the draft. Making this selection could open up a potential trade for Jordan Clarkson, which would lighten the load, but Ball in L.A. won’t do any favors for D’Angelo Russell’s fantasy value (or his own).
3) Philadelphia 76ers: Josh Jackson (SF – Kansas)
Here’s a rookie that could pay some immediate dividends for fantasy owners. For all the talent Philadelphia has drafted, they haven’t really drafted a consistent (or consistently healthy) scorer. Jackson could be that, and he’ll chip in some three-point shooting and defense for a little extra value in the minute he takes the floor in Philly.
4) Phoenix Suns: Jayson Tatum (SF – Duke)
One of the better isolation scorers in the draft, Tatum is probably going to be among the top two or three rookie scorers in the league no matter where he ends up. Phoenix, though, would be thrilled to add him to their young core, not only for his scoring but for his rebounding, as well.
5) Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox (PG – Kentucky)
John Wall seems to think Fox is the left-handed version of himself, which bodes well for whichever fantasy owners draft him. Sacramento has every reason in the world to give Fox all the minutes he can stomach, which means he’ll be an effective fantasy add if only through attrition. He may be one of the more well-rounded fantasy rookies next season, but don’t count on him to shoot many three-pointers.
6) Orlando Magic: Malik Monk (SG – Kentucky)
Monk will be happy to shoot some three-pointers, and what better place to do that than sunny Central Florida? The new front office in Orlando can’t blow their first lottery pick, and Monk is as safe as it gets at No. 6. He’s a little undersized, but he’s arguably the best pure scorer in his class. Monk can score in bunches, and on a team like Orlando that doesn’t have a single dominant scorer on the roster, he’ll do plenty of it as a member of the Magic.
7) Minnesota Timberwolves: Lauri Markkanen (PF – Arizona)
The “stretch four” has revolutionized the way that fantasy players have drafted at power forward, and Markkanen is built to contribute in the way that guys like Channing Frye and, much more optimistically, Ryan Anderson have the past few years. He’ll get you a couple three-pointers a game and will chip in some rebounds, but probably not a whole lot else.
8) New York Knicks: Jonathan Isaac (F – Florida State)
A real boom-or-bust pick, both in real life and in fantasy, Isaac is tall, athletic and incredibly talented, but he’s also incredibly young and unpolished. At his best, he’ll run like a gazelle on the break for plenty of easy buckets, while also hauling in some boards and knocking down a three-pointer or two each game. Few expect him to be at his best immediately, however, which means he might be more of a stash or late-round gamble in fantasy.
9) Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Smith (PG – North Carolina State)
There are so many great point guards in this class that it apparently is easy for a guy like Smith to get pushed down just enough to be the forgotten elite floor general prospect. With Dirk Nowitzki nearing retirement, Dallas needs their next big star, and potentially getting that in Smith would be a godsend at No. 9. Even better, his fantasy footprint would be bigger than Ball’s and Fultz’s because of the opportunity awaiting him in Big D.
10) Sacramento Kings: Justin Jackson (SF – North Carolina)
Like Fox, Jackson would be landing in a spot where minutes and shots are more available to young players than just about any other organization in the league. Jackson isn’t all that exciting as a player, but good players don’t always have to be exciting. Jackson is gifted offensively, incredibly cerebral, and good on the defensive end. He’s not a league-winner in fantasy, but in this situation especially he’d have a good opportunity to contribute.
11) Charlotte Hornets: Donovan Mitchell (SG – Louisville)
Nobody did more for himself in the NBA Combine than Mitchell, who measured 6’3” with a 6’10” wingspan and who had the fastest ¾-court sprint since the 2008 NBA Draft Combine. His speed and athleticism are elite, but he’s an undersized two guard who is going to have to learn to play some point in the NBA. That will require adjustment, which could limit his impact as a rookie, especially playing behind Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum (if he’s re-signed) in Charlotte.
12) Detroit Pistons: Zach Collins (PF/C – Gonzaga)
Collins played only about 15 minutes a game for Gonzaga off the bench last season, but teams really seem to like his combination of size, athleticism, footwork and shooting range. The Pistons reportedly are looking to trade this pick for veteran help, and Collins would be an ideal swap for that sort of player, especially for a young team in need of stockpiling talent. Collins is more of a project than an immediate impact guy, but could be interesting in dynasty drafts depending on where he lands.
13) Denver Nuggets: Frank Ntilikina (PG – Strasbourg/International)
Emmanuel Mudiay hasn’t been the savior the Nuggets hoped he’d be, but Ntilikina can both run the point and score off the ball, which makes him a nice backcourt asset for a team that seems to be loaded just about everywhere else. He’s the best international prospect in this draft as well as one of the youngest, so while he’ll play in this rotation, he probably won’t be a major statistical contributor.
14) Miami Heat: Terrance Ferguson (SG – Adelaide/International)
No one’s got a bigger draft range than Ferguson, who could go anywhere from the back end of the lottery to the top of the second round. In Ferguson, Miami gets an incredibly athletic guard with good size that can score in a number of situations, but he’s also a human stick figure that needs to hit the weights. He’s a solid long-term prospect, but probably not all that great in the short term. If you want to place early bets on which rookie will appear in the dunk contest, though, Ferguson is far and away the best option.
15) Portland Trail Blazers: Ike Anigbogu (C – UCLA)
The Blazers need some help in the frontcourt, and while Anigbogu isn’t all that polished (he wasn’t a starter at UCLA last season), he’s about as talented as anybody in this draft. He’s also the youngest player in the draft, but that won’t hold him back from running all over the floor defensively. He’ll block shots and haul in boards as a rook, but there’s a good chance he’ll go through some growing pains, too. Expect flashes of brilliance, but inconsistency.
16) Chicago Bulls: OG Anunoby (F – Indiana)
As good as Anunoby is, he’s coming off ACL surgery and probably won’t be available to play until early 2018 at best. Some have even suggested he won’t play at all as a rookie. That means you can’t draft him to your redraft fantasy team and wait for him, even if a team like Chicago might be willing to in real life.
17) Milwaukee Bucks: Harry Giles (C – Duke)
Speaking of ACLs, Giles has torn two of them in his life, which makes him an interesting pairing with Jabari Parker, who also attended Duke and has torn his ACL twice. That might seem like a lot of risk for the Bucks to assume, but Giles is a former No. 1 high school prospect who’d be a lottery pick with a clean bill of health. There’s tons of potential here, but he’s not going to come into the league putting up 20/10 every night.
18) Indiana Pacers: Luke Kennard (SG – Duke)
You never can have too much three-point shooting these days, and while Kennard’s ceiling is relatively low as a pro, he can become a spot specialist when a team needs shooters. At this point in the draft, you’re looking for guys who can do one or two things well, or to hit a home run. Kennard does one or two things well. He’s a smart, mature, likeable player who will fit in well with the Pacers.
19) Atlanta Hawks: Jarret Allen (C – Texas)
Allen is more of a home run swing, but he has a good baseline as a pro with defensive and rebounding skills. Atlanta needs to hedge against losing Paul Millsap, and Allen would be a promising prospect. Depending on the minutes available with the Hawks, he could be useable in fantasy for boards and blocks.
20) Portland Trail Blazers: Justin Patton (C – Creighton)
And now the run on big men begins. Like Anigbogu, who Portland grabbed at 15, Patton is dripping with athleticism and potential, but unlike Anigbogu, Patton is a legitimate seven-footer. The Blazers can stockpile talent in this draft with three first-rounders, even though there’s no way all of them are getting consistent minutes in what is becoming a pretty loaded frontcourt.
21) Oklahoma City Thunder: John Collins (PF – Wake Forest)
There’s no guarantee Taj Gibson re-signs with OKC, and if he does leave Collins is a player of the same ilk that could step in and give the team similar production, albeit on a smaller scale at first. He’s the same kind of dude, which means if Gibson does come back, it could limit Collins’ production as a rookie.
22) Brooklyn Nets: Rodions Kurucs (SF – Barcelona 2/International)
This young man from Latvia is generating an increasing amount of buzz leading up to the draft as the next-best international prospect outside of Ntilikina. Brooklyn can’t really afford to draft “safe” players considering how brutal their owed draft picks are the next couple of summers, and Kurucs has as much upside as anybody at this point in the draft.
23) Toronto Raptors: Jonathan Jeanne (C – Nancy/International)
Jeanne really wants to be like Rudy Gobert, his fellow gigantic countryman from France. They certainly are built the same, standing well over seven feet with about as much muscle as a tetherball pole. Jeanne is a project, but Toronto can afford to wait. Turing into a defensive stud like Gobert is a best-case scenario for the lean, lanky Jeanne, but he’s not strong enough to play much right away.
24) Utah Jazz: Tyler Lydon (F – Syracuse)
Lydon fits the “stretch-4” model about as well as anybody in the draft this side of Markannen, and his combination of crafty post moves and shooting range make him one of the better values this late in the draft. The Jazz don’t need a whole lot, so big minutes aren’t really there for Lydon, but he’d be a good fit and probably a strong return on investment for Utah at pick No. 24.
25) Orlando Magic: Ivan Rabb (PF/C – California)
One of the more mature kids in the draft, this former McDonald’s All-American is a stronger, more mature version of the player that was projected as a lottery pick a year ago. Orlando needs real talent right away, and Rabb is it. His minutes will depend on how the frontcourt shakes out over the summer, but for now he’d be buried behind Nikola Vucevic, Bismack Biyombo, and Aaron Gordon.
26) Portland Trail Blazers: P.J. Dozier (G – South Carolina)
Playing behind Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, Dozier isn’t going to see much of the floor, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing considering how much growth he still needs to make as a point guard. He’s a prototypical “tweener,” but this late in the first round and as the third of three draft picks for Portland, he’s a worthwhile risk.
27) Brooklyn Nets: Tony Bradley (C – North Carolina)
Again, the Nets need to swing for the fences with their two first-round picks, and Bradley, though raw, has one of the higher ceilings of the prospects left on the board. He won’t have a fantasy impact as a rookie, but this rare UNC one-and-doner is big and skilled enough to at least give Nets fans some optimism for the future.
28) Los Angeles Lakers: Bam Adebayo (C – Kentucky)
At only 19 years old, Adebayo is already built like an NBA player and boasts elite athleticism despite his build, which is rare for someone his age. He’s a competitive kid with loads of long-term potential, which is something L.A. would be happy to cultivate. He could even see decent minutes as a rookie depending on how the depth chart shakes out.
29) San Antonio Spurs: Semi Ojeleye (F – SMU)
Ojeleye tested incredibly well at the combine, and his combination of strength and maturity make him a good fit for the Spurs. Frankly, it doesn’t seem to matter who the Spurs draft this late in the first round. They always seem to do something productive with the selection.
30) Utah Jazz: T.J. Leaf (PF – UCLA)
Leaf probably won’t drop this far in the real draft, but with so many good big men in this draft, it’s all but certain at least one of them will be available to Utah with the last pick of the first round. Leaf is too good to let slip into the second round, with his impressive range for a big man and overall basketball intelligence.