2017 NBA Mock Draft 2.0 (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.) Philadelphia 76ers: Markelle Fultz (PG – Washington)
In making the audacious trade to solidify their immediate and long-term futures around Fultz, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, Philadelphia finally has the look of a team ready to exit mediocrity and start building a winning culture. Just like last year, they could finish with two legitimate Rookie of the Year contenders. Fultz’s own fantasy outlook is suddenly a heck of a lot rosier now that he won’t be buried on the Boston bench.
2.) Los Angeles Lakers: Josh Jackson (SF – Kansas)
The Balls want Lonzo to stay close to home, but Jackson has gained a ton of momentum in the week leading up to the draft and looks every bit as possible for the Lakers at No. 2 as Lonzo. Should this be Jackson’s landing spot, he’ll be given the opportunity to pay some immediate dividends on a fantasy team. He can score and knock down threes, but he’s likely to put up respectable defensive numbers, too.
3.) Boston Celtics: Lonzo Ball (PG – UCLA)
So where does Ball land if not L.A.? Any of the next three picks could make sense, but Boston may struggle to pass on his ceiling, especially if the guy they really wanted (Jackson) is off the board. Unfortunately, Boston is not a great place for Ball to land as he’ll be buried in a guard rotation with Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, and Terry Rozier. Whomever the Celtics draft, don’t expect much of a fantasy impact unless they end up trading the pick away to a rebuilding team.
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)
This is the guy the Kings have wanted all along, so if he actually falls here the front office will do backflips in elation. 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: Dennis Smith Jr. (PG – North Carolina State)
More than anything, the Magic need a star, and Smith represents the best opportunity to nab one at this point in the draft. His athleticism is elite, but his defense is quite a bit more inconsistent. His ceiling is high, but he’s a risky bet as a pro. At the very least, he’ll get tons of minutes for an Orlando team devoid of scoring, which means he could be one of the more interesting freshman fantasy assets next season.
7.) Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonathan Isaac (F – Florida State)
Teams can’t seem to get enough 3-and-D guys these days, and the long, lean Isaac should be able to provide at least those two things in his NBA career, and possibly more. He runs the floor extremely well for a kid his size, and he rebounds affably, as well. He’s pretty boom-or-bust, but in Minnesota, he can fill a more complementary role, which is good for his career but probably not great for his immediate fantasy value.
8.) New York Knicks: Malik Monk (SG – Kentucky)
Monk, meanwhile, should get plenty of opportunities to play for the Knicks, who appear desperate to add real talent to their roster through the draft. Monk, arguably the top scorer in this draft, is as good a fit as any. He’ll knock down some threes and score a ton of points for a Knicks team that needs him. He’s a little undersized, but height doesn’t matter like it used to for the league’s new breed of scorers.
9.) Dallas Mavericks: 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 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. Thankfully, Dallas has plenty of minutes at point guard available for him to learn on the job.
10.) Sacramento Kings: Zach Collins (PF/C – Gonzaga)
While the Kings’ frontcourt is getting a little full, Collins is the type of modern-day big man that still holds a lot of appeal thanks to his combination of size, athleticism, footwork, and shooting range. He wasn’t a starter in college, and he’s young, and that combined with a crowded big man rotation in Sacramento means he isn’t an immediate impact fantasy guy, but he certainly holds appeal in dynasty drafts.
11.) Charlotte Hornets: Lauri Markkanen (PF – Arizona)
Charlotte really doesn’t have a guy on their roster quite like Markkanen, which means his “stretch four” skill set will help diversify the team quite a bit offensively. Every team could use a Ryan Anderson type to help spread out modern offenses, and Markannen could easily be that guy for the Hornets. Expect three pointers, if nothing else, from his first fantasy season.
12.) Detroit Pistons: Frank Ntilikina (PG – Strasbourg/International)
Raw international prospects are always a risky proposition, but Ntilikina has the potential to be an elite defensive presence in the NBA. He’s the best international player in this draft as well as one of the youngest, so unless Reggie Jackson gets traded, chances are he won’t make a big impact his rookie year.
13.) Denver Nuggets: Luke Kennard (SG – Duke)
Denver is in the fortuitous situation of not needing a whole lot, which would allow them to either draft for need or take the best player available. At this point, the best player available is up for debate, so why not grab a three-point specialist like Kennard? He’s a mature kid who will fit right into the burgeoning winning culture in Colorado. He’ll add a lot to an already-promising squad, even if his individual impact isn’t likely to be significant right away.
14.) Miami HEAT: Terrance Ferguson (SG – Adelaide/International)
No one has 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 would be getting 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 a short-term one, though it would depend in part what happens with Dion Waiters in free agency. 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: Justin Patton (C – Creighton)
The Blazers clearly have some roster upheaval ahead of them, but Patton looks like as promising a prospect as any for the team’s first of three first-round picks this year. He’s long, athletic, and absolutely loaded with potential. He’s relatively undeveloped, however, and it’s not entirely clear how he’ll fit into a stacked Portland frontcourt, but it’s a good pick for the long-term, even if it takes him a while to live up to his potential.
16.) Chicago Bulls: Justin Jackson (SF – North Carolina)
Chicago typically leans toward mature, high-floor players from big-time college systems, and there might not be a player more along those lines in this entire draft than Jackson. He’s not particularly exciting, but he’s gifted offensively, incredibly cerebral, and strong on the defensive end. Chicago’s rotations make it hard to invest in rookies for fantasy purposes, but in real life, this would be a quintessential Bulls pick.
17.) Milwaukee Bucks: Ike Anigbogu (C – UCLA)
The Bucks have had success in recent years going for broke on long, athletic, unproven kids, so why not gamble on yet another one in Anigbogu? He didn’t play a ton in college, but the tape on him is incredible. He’ll haul in boards and swat away shots, but it would be hard to expect big minutes from him his first year in the league. He’s got a few years before he can be expected to contribute significantly.
18.) Indiana Pacers: T.J. Leaf (PF – UCLA)
Indiana has wanted to play small ball for years, and building their frontcourt around Myles Turner has, to a certain extent, allowed them to do that. Leaf would be another brick in the wall with his mature offensive game and inside-out capabilities. He’ll need to add some strength, but he’d be a good fit for an Indiana team that needs to get a little younger at forward.
19.) Atlanta Hawks: Jarrett Allen (C – Texas)
Allen is more of a home run swing, but he has a nice baseline as a pro with good 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: OG Anunoby (F – UCLA)
Tearing his ACL back in January really hurt Anunoby’s draft stock, as he would have easily been a top-10 pick without the bum leg, but his potential and athleticism are more than enough to keep him in the first round despite the fact that he’s certain to miss a chunk of his rookie season in the NBA. He could prove a steal for the Blazers someday, but he’s undraftable in redraft leagues this season.
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: Semi Ojeleye (F – SMU)
One of the more physically mature players in the draft, Ojeleye is a defensive stud with the physicality to match his ability. He can knock down the outside shot, too, which makes him doubly valuable as an NBA contributor. Any rookie on the Nets is going to have a chance to play.
23.) Toronto Raptors: Jawun Evans (PG – Oklahoma State)
Let’s say Kyle Lowry bolts Toronto this summer. That leaves a ton of minutes for upstart point guards, one of which could be Evans. He’s incredibly fast and a better shooter than he gets credit, but his lack of height has been his biggest knock so far. Still, he’s easily the next-best point guard outside the lottery and a reasonable fit for the Raptors, especially if they aren’t entirely confident Lowry will be back.
24.) Utah Jazz: Tyler Lydon (F – Syracuse)
Utah has two late first-round picks, but they’re already pretty loaded so they can cherry pick niche guys like Lydon to fill specific roles. Lydon can shoot. That’s his thing, though on a stacked roster like Utah’s, it doesn’t seem likely he’ll see a whole lot of floor time.
25.) Orlando Magic: Harry Giles (C – Duke)
Once again, Orlando has little choice but to reach for the clouds, despite Giles’ sketchy injury history. Just a year removed from being the top high school prospect in the country, he’s a worthwhile gamble this late in the first round. His athleticism, blocking, and rebounding could be an asset, but probably not good enough to make a fantasy impact unless the Magic clear out another big man or two via trade this summer.
26.) Portland Trail Blazers: Anzejs Pasecniks (C – Gran Canaria)
Assuming Portland keeps all three of their picks, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to draft-and-stash at least one of them. Pasecniks is a legitimate 7’2” and the kind of talent worth waiting for. He may not play in the NBA this year, though, so don’t expect to see him in anybody’s fantasy top 200.
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 about the future.
28.) Los Angeles Lakers: Ivan Rabb (F – California)
A bubble first-rounder, Rabb was a projected lottery pick a year ago who didn’t show enough in his sophomore season at Cal to boost his stock. He’s a stretch big with charisma and maturity that could fit into pretty much any locker room, but don’t expect big returns out of him, even if he does fall to a younger team like the Lakers.
29.) San Antonio Spurs: Bam Adebayo (C – Kentucky)
Of all the big men in this draft class, Adebayo may be the readiest physically to compete at the NBA level. He’s a broad, intense young man that really couldn’t fall into a more promising situation. It would be just like the Spurs to nab a value like this late in the first round.
30.) Utah Jazz: Jordan Bell (PF – Oregon)
Despite his wingspan deficiency, Bell is probably the closest thing to Draymond Green in this draft. He’s a true competitor and agitator, and absolutely should have a role eventually in the NBA. That just may not happen immediately in Utah.