2017 NBA Mock Draft: Full 1st-Round Predictions Post-Trade Deadline
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The NBA trade deadline is complete, and now the projected draft order suddenly looks different.
The Sacramento Kings will now be picking for the New Orleans Pelicans after sending them DeMarcus Cousins. The Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers each added first-rounders as well.
As it stands, only the Washington Wizards and San Antonio Spurs will be making their own selections in the 22-30 range.
In terms of projections, we’ve shaken up the top five and pushed our previous No. 30 overall pick to No. 17.
1. Boston Celtics (via Nets): Markelle Fultz (Washington, PG, Freshman)
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With the deadline having passed and Paul George still an Indiana Pacer, the Boston Celtics could now refocus their attention on Markelle Fultz and his potential to star alongside Isaiah Thomas.
Fultz continues to look sharp despite Washington’s disastrous 9-18 record. Even if the Huskies fail to win another game, their freshman point guard should still enter the draft as the top player on most NBA boards.
Long and athletic, loaded with high-level scoring and playmaking ability, Fultz’s profile screams NBA lead guard in today’s league. The fact that he’s comfortable off the ball with 6’4″ size and shooting range is a significant plus as well, given Thomas’ presence in the backcourt.
UCLA’s Lonzo Ball will have the chance to earn support with a postseason run, something Fultz won’t get the opportunity to do. But assuming Fultz can escape the draft process with Washington’s record the only blemish on his resume, spectacular talent, skill and production (23.2 points, 5.9 assists) will convince Boston at No. 1.
2. Phoenix Suns: Lonzo Ball (UCLA, PG, Freshman)
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Kansas’ Josh Jackson, Duke’s Jayson Tatum or Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac jump out as fits on the Phoenix Suns wing. But for the second-worst team in the league, general manager Ryan McDonough won’t prioritize needs.
Though all fine forward prospects, Jackson, Tatum and Isaac can’t offer the potential to change the Suns’ course and identity like Lonzo Ball. He’ll be called on to help maximize the roster’s talent and manage an offense that’s struggled with score-first ball-handlers at the point.
Ball gives Phoenix a different look and allows Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker to play to their strengths. His presence should also help expedite the development of young bigs like Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender.
3. Los Angeles Lakers: Josh Jackson (Kansas, SG/SF, Freshman)
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The Los Angeles Lakers could view Josh Jackson as both the best player available and a fit alongside Brandon Ingram.
The two are interchangeable, given their ball-handling and playmaking skills. Though viewed as a wing, Jackson has impressed with his ability to facilitate and pass (3.0 assists).
He’s now starting to come on strong as a scorer, averaging 19.3 points over Kansas’ last nine games. Credit Jackson’s improved shooting—he’s hit 17 of his last 33 three-pointers, a significant development given the early questions about his jumper and whether he could be an NBA star without one.
A worst-cast outcome for Jackson is still attractive. At the least, the Lakers land a Justise Winslow-type energizer who’ll attack, move the ball and defend with intensity. Consider Andre Iguodala an appropriate ceiling comparison for Jackson, who could be an 18-point, five-assist, five-rebound, two-way player in his prime.
4. Orlando Magic: Jayson Tatum (Duke, SF, Freshman)
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Dennis Smith Jr. will make general manager Rob Hennigan think, but with the Orlando Magic likely getting anxious and ready to make a move up the standings, they’ll pass on adding a rookie point guard.
Instead, they’ll opt for a potential go-to scorer on the wing.
Jayson Tatum, who’s registered at least 19 points in five of Duke’s last seven games, has strengthened his stock with better decision-making and shooting (now up to 39.2 percent from three). Doing a better job of identifying the quality scoring opportunities within Duke’s offense, Tatum has made obvious progress, a selling point in and of itself.
His six assists against Syracuse (Wednesday) and five against North Carolina (February 9) hint at untapped playmaking potential.
Terrence Ross hasn’t proved enough for the Magic to feel confident he’ll be an above-average full-time starter. Between Tatum’s textbook NBA tools and advanced skill level, which highlights sharp ball-handling, shot-creating and shot-making, he’d have the chance to start his rookie year in Orlando.
5. Philadelphia 76ers: Malik Monk (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)
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It wouldn’t be surprising if the Philadelphia 76ers already had their sights set on Malik Monk, whose shooting and off-ball scoring seem like the perfect fit.
He’d give the Sixers a much-needed boost of shot-making, considering they rank No. 7 in three-pointers attempted and No. 23 (tied) in three-point percentage. Ranking top 10 in pace, Monk’s athleticism would also be welcomed into a backcourt that currently starts T.J. McConnell and Nik Stauskas.
Monk would benefit from Ben Simmons’ passing and all the attention Joel Embiid commands.
Philadelphia will be enticed by Dennis Smith Jr., but management will pass on adding a ball-dominant rookie who’d steal dribbles and touches from Simmons and Embiid.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonathan Isaac (Florida State, SF/PF, Freshman)
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Jonathan Isaac should get top-five looks, but he’ll slip to No. 6 without great production to back up the potential.
The Minnesota Timberwolves shouldn’t mind. At 6’10” with guard-like ball skills and shooting range, Isaac’s tools, quickness and scoring versatility would look scary between Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.
He pads his offense with a comforting 11.9 rebounds per 40 minutes—key if he wants to play the 4—and encouraging defensive potential, which shows up on blocked shots (2.5 per 40 minutes) and pick-and-roll coverage.
Compared to Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum, Isaac may need more time, given his limited reps (8.1 field-goal attempts per game, 21.4 percent usage) at Florida State. But long term, there is an argument to be made that Isaac could become the top two-way forward from the 2017 class.
7. Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Smith Jr. (North Carolina State, PG, Freshman)
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Teams looking to take the next step may hesitate to bring on a rookie point guard to run the show. That could allow Dennis Smith Jr. to fall to the Dallas Mavericks, who are still at step one of the rebuilding process and just waived Deron Williams.
Smith would be an ideal get at No. 7, given the franchise’s need for a new floor general and the fact he packs top-three upside fueled by extreme quickness and explosiveness. He backs it up with skills and production, averaging 18.9 points while ranking top 10 in the country in assists (6.4 per game).
Only decision-making and shaky shooting will stop Smith from blowing up in the pros. The Mavericks, who’ll have him ranked in their top five, take their chances midway through the lottery.
8. New York Knicks: Frank Ntilikina (France, PG/SG, 1998)
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Assuming the New York Knicks let Derrick Rose walk this summer, building the backcourt should be a priority for president Phil Jackson during the offseason.
Frank Ntilikina jumps out as an obvious option, not just based on his position, but for the strengths he adds to it. An unselfish passer, improving shooter and arguably the top defensive guard in the class, he’d bring a breath of fresh air to a franchise that’s had no backcourt stability.
Jackson should have a little more confidence when it comes to drafting overseas after winning big on Kristaps Porzingis. Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox could have support from fans, but a lousy jumper and no versatility knock him below Ntilikina—who can also play off the ball and guard multiple positions—on New York’s draft board.
9. Sacramento Kings (via Pelicans): De’Aaron Fox (Kentucky, PG, Freshman)
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After trading DeMarcus Cousins, there will be pressure on the Sacramento Kings to draft a winner with this pick they received from the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Kings will use it to draft and groom De’Aaron Fox into their point guard of the future. While newly acquired Buddy Hield gives Sacramento perimeter shooting, Fox attacks and creates.
His value will lie within his ability to break down defenses, put pressure on the rim and set the table for teammates off ball screens, penetration and transition. He should also give the Kings the ability to pressure opposing ball-handlers.
At No. 9, management will overlook Fox’s shooting woes for his playmaking and hope his jumper develops over time.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Lauri Markkanen (Arizona, PF/C, Freshman)
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Arguably the most accurate sniper in the draft, knocking down 2.1 threes per game at a scorching 45.7 percent clip, Lauri Markkanen has emerged as the top offensive big man.
The Portland Trail Blazers could bring him in to stretch the floor between Moe Harkless, an average shooter, and Jusuf Nurkic, a non-shooter.
A 7-footer with lethal range, Markkanen even shows some wiggle off the dribble, with the ability to handle the ball, stop-and-pop or score on the move.
He’d go higher if he didn’t struggle in rim protection (12 blocks in 28 games) and under the boards (9.8 per 40 minutes). But the Blazers ultimately buy into Markkanen’s sure-thing jumper and unique offensive upside.
11. Chicago Bulls (via Kings): Robert Williams (Texas A&M, PF, Freshman)
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The Sacramento Kings get this pick back if it lands in the top 10, a likely outcome following the trade that sent DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans.
However, as of the All-Star break, the Kings are projected to pick No. 11, meaning they’ll forfeit their pick to the Chicago Bulls, who’ll look to replace the recently traded Taj Gibson.
In the mix for top defensive big man in the draft, Robert Williams has stood out by blocking 4.2 shots and grabbing 12.5 rebounds per 40 minutes. High-powered athleticism and enormous length (7’4″ wingspan) have also translated to eye-opening finishes off lobs and putbacks.
The New York Knicks and even the Kings could give Williams looks for his defense. If it’s still the Bulls pick, they could go big here and grab a guard at No. 17.
12. Charlotte Hornets: Justin Patton (Creighton, C, Freshman)
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A late bloomer, Justin Patton has suddenly emerged as a top-10 option, though some boom-or-bust potential forces the Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings and New York Knicks to pass.
The upside tied to Patton is worth the risk for the Charlotte Hornets, whose frontcourt is built around Frank Kaminsky and Cody Zeller.
Patton is raw and struggles with physicality, but at 6’11” with wheels, bounce and length, he’s flashed captivating glimpses of monster finishes, crafty post moves and three-point range (7-of-13 threes this season).
He should have the opportunity to build up his reps right away for a Hornets team that lacks length and athleticism at the 4 and 5 positions.
13. Miami Heat: Isaiah Hartenstein (Germany, PF/C, 1998)
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Isaiah Hartenstein is bound to charm someone in the lottery with his giant frame, athletic ability and NBA-friendly skill set.
He doesn’t see much burn in Lithuania, but he won’t need to. Hartenstein was terrific at the U18 European Championships in December, where he helped validate the hype he’d built up over the years at previous FIBA tournaments and Eurocamp.
A 7-footer with shooting range, face-up moves, impressive passing ability and toughness inside, Hartenstein’s versatility creates enticing mismatch potential.
It’s worth noting he’s fresh off one of his more productive games of 2017, having finished with eight points, a three-pointer, nine rebounds, three assists and four steals in 24 minutes during Zalgiris’ only February game.
14. Milwaukee Bucks: Miles Bridges (Michigan State, PF, Freshman)
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With Jabari Parker tearing his ACL again, the Milwaukee Bucks could look to Miles Bridges for explosiveness and offensive versatility.
Long term, he projects to fit in at power forward, alongside Thon Maker (who’s playing center), where Bridges’ quickness and shooting (2.0 threes per game) ability can cause problems for opposing bigs.
Arguably a top-three athlete in this draft, he compensates for 6’6″ size with strength, agility and scoring instincts. He’ll just need to prove his 40.6 percent three-point mark isn’t a fluke, considering he’s only making 63.6 percent of his free throws.
15. Denver Nuggets: Justin Jackson (North Carolina, SF, Junior)
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Preparing for the likelihood of Danilo Gallinari opting out over the summer, the Denver Nuggets could already be looking at Justin Jackson, one of the few wings left worth using a first-round pick on.
He’s made a giant leap this season, now shooting 39.6 percent from three (2.7 makes per game). But the 18.7 points per game he’s averaging aren’t just off open jumpers. He’s improved his ability to create his own shot and hit the tough ones off the dribble.
No. 15 overall may sound early, but it won’t if Jackson winds up carrying North Carolina from March into April.
16. Detroit Pistons: John Collins (Wake Forest, PF, Sophomore)
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There isn’t a hotter first-round prospect than John Collins, who’s averaging 24.2 points and 11.1 rebounds over Wake Forest’s last 11 games.
And with 6’10” size, a live motor and exciting athleticism, it’s become easier to buy Collins carrying his post scoring, finishing and interior activity over to the pros.
He’s even flashed encouraging defensive potential, both as a shot-blocker (1.6 per game) and a big capable of switching out onto the perimeter.
Outside the lottery, the Detroit Pistons buy into his tools, bounce and production—and overlook his raw offensive skills.
17. Chicago Bulls: Donovan Mitchell (Louisville, SG, Sophomore)
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No prospect has made a bigger leap during the past month than Donovan Mitchell, who’s averaging 21.6 points over Louisville’s last eight games.
A crafty driver, explosive leaper and dangerous shot-maker (2.4 threes per game), he’s the type of athlete and scorer who could make the Chicago Bulls look past his 6’3″ size and lack of point guard skills.
Between Louisville being postseason contenders and Mitchell’s workout-friendly athleticism and shooting, Mitchell has emerged as potential riser to track from now until June.
18. Indiana Pacers: Luke Kennard (Duke, SG, Sophomore)
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Luke Kennard continues to squash concerns over his limited athleticism with consistent volume scoring production and high-level offense.
More than just a shooter converting 2.5 threes per game at a 46.1 percent clip, Kennard has flashed advanced shot-creating with ball-handling and nifty footwork. He finds crafty ways to separate just enough.
High-IQ passing and competitiveness help strengthen his case as a role-playing wing.
The Indiana Pacers won’t count on much defense from Kennard, but they’ll value his shot-making and decision-making coming off the bench.
19. Oklahoma City Thunder: Johnathan Motley (Baylor, PF, Junior)
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The Oklahoma City Thunder could buy into Johnathan Motley’s NBA tools and breakout junior year.
Already looking the part with 6’9″, 230-pound size and 7’3 ½” length, Motley has fully asserted himself in a leadership role.
Averaging 12.9 rebounds per 40 minutes, having earned himself 41 putback opportunities, he’s been active and aggressive around the basket. And he’s sharpened his footwork and touch in the mid-range and post, where he’s shown he can make short jumpers, put the ball on the floor or separate playing back-to-the-basket.
He’s not an upside pick, but at No. 19, that’s not what the Thunder are chasing. They’ll target Motley for his interior presence and paint scoring, with the hopes he develops into a knockdown 18-foot shooter.
20. Atlanta Hawks: Harry Giles III (Duke, PF, Freshman)
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This is good spot on the board for the Atlanta Hawks to gamble on Harry Giles III, whose three knee surgeries and limited role at Duke will cause him to slide. Regardless of how impressive he was in high school, between the injury history and fact he’s averaging just 4.9 points per game, in a strong draft, the risk is just too great for a lottery team.
He’s worth it at No. 20. Giles still possesses tremendous physical tools and a mean competitive edge, which translate to 13.6 rebounds per 40 minutes and an excellent 16.1 offensive rebounding percentage.
Keeping expectations tempered, given how little reps he’s received over the years, the Hawks could view him as an energizer and insurance for impending free agent Paul Millsap. They obviously land a steal if Giles stays healthy, improves his post moves and develops a reliable mid-range jumper.
21. Toronto Raptors: Ivan Rabb (California, PF/C, Sophomore)
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Despite averaging a double-double, Ivan Rabb has slipped in the draft conversation, with a handful of more athletic and versatile big men breaking out. The fact that he doesn’t offer much rim protection (1.4 blocks per 40 minutes), any perimeter defense or shooting damages his value.
He’ll likely be ranked higher than No. 21 on the Toronto Raptors’ board, though, especially considering Serge Ibaka and Patrick Patterson will be entering free agency and the team just traded Jared Sullinger.
Terrific rebounding tools, instincts and motor should ultimately help keep Rabb afloat, regardless of how much his jumper and post skills improve. The Raptors could grab him as a role player for his finishing, back-to-the-basket game and energy.
22. Portland Trail Blazers (via Grizzlies): T.J. Leaf (UCLA, PF, Freshman)
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T.J. Leaf becomes an option in the 20s, when questions over his quickness and defense won’t matter as much.
Highly productive and skilled, Leaf can cause problems with his shooting (24 of 51 from three) and ball-handling, which makes him a threat to attack closeouts or face up and shake his man off the dribble.
He’s had trouble guarding around the perimeter and he lacks the muscle to anchor the paint. Leaf projects more as a second-unit scorer and part-time offensive specialist. The Portland Trail Blazers will take it, given the fact only one of their forwards (Moe Harkless) averages at least 10 points per game.
23. Utah Jazz: OG Anunoby (Indiana, SF, Sophomore)
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With two first-round picks and the talent level starting to fall off in the 20s, the Utah Jazz could bet on OG Anunoby’s recovery and chase the upside.
The Brooklyn Nets did it last year with Caris Levert at No. 20.
Assuming Anunoby eventually returns to full strength, extreme quickness and length hint at the potential for him to guard four positions. At the least, the Jazz should feel good about their chances of landing an Andre Roberson 2.0.
He becomes a steal if he can ever start consistently knocking down open threes. He’s 27 of 74 (36.5 percent) through 50 career games at Indiana.
24. Brooklyn Nets (via Wizards): Rodions Kurucs (Latvia, SF, 1998)
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After acquiring the Washington Wizards’ first-round pick at the deadline, the Brooklyn Nets now have two chances to find a steal in the 20s.
This late, without many available NCAA options who offer a great deal of upside, they’ll take their chances on one of the rising teenage prospects overseas.
Rodions Kurucs excites with 6’9″ size for a wing, impressive athleticism, three-point range and scoring ability. A productive last two months with Barcelona’s junior team earned him an invite to join the senior group for Euroleague.
The Nets could draft-and-stash him in the competitive Spanish ACB, where he’d see minutes among pros next season.
25. Orlando Magic (via Raptors): Kostja Mushidi (Germany, SG, 1998)
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The Orlando Magic should draft-and-stash with their second first-round pick from the Toronto Raptors.
Kostja Mushidi lacks polish and therefore struggles with efficiency against pros, but he’s still producing at 18 years old and has terrific tools and athleticism to build off.
He’s bounced back in February after a tough January, having combined to score 28 points on 6-of-14 shooting from three through 48 minutes this month.
Athletic with long arms and promising defensive potential, Mushidi has three-point range, ball-handling skills and shot-creating ability. Over the next few years, he’ll just need to tighten everything up and tie it all together.
26. Brooklyn Nets (via Celtics): Terrance Ferguson (Adelaide 36ers, SF, 1998)
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There isn’t any sense in playing it safe for the Brooklyn Nets this late. They might as well swing for the fences on a former McDonald’s All-American like Terrance Ferguson, even if he has little to show from his one-and-done season in Australia’s National Basketball League.
The talent he’s flashed over the previous few years, whether it was in high school, AAU, FIBA play or the Nike Hoop Summit, where he sunk seven three-pointers, should be enough for him to secure first-round looks.
Athletic and light on his feet with a sweet shooting stroke, the Nets will hope to groom the No. 26 pick into a three-and-D asset.
27. Los Angeles Lakers (via Rockets): Bam Adebayo (Kentucky, C, Freshman)
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Magic Johnson was able to add a first-round pick with his first move as president of the Los Angeles Lakers. Newly-appointed general manager Rob Pelinka could then use it to end Bam Adebayo’s draft-night slide.
None of the Lakers’ three centers—Tarik Black, Ivica Zubac, Timofey Mozgov—offer any athleticism or bounce inside. Even if Adebayo’s post game never takes off, coach Luke Walton could value the Kentucky big man’s power and explosiveness, which translates to easy buckets off rim runs, pick-and-rolls, catch-and-finishes and putbacks.
Limited skills and poor rebounding (13.9 rebounding percentage) and shot-blocking (5.6 block percentage) numbers are to blame for Adebayo losing support. He’ll need to build off his best conference game of the season on Tuesday against Missouri, when we carried Kentucky with 22 points and 15 rebounds.
28, Portland Trail Blazers (via Cavaliers): Jordan Bell (Oregon, PF, Junior)
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Just looking for an additional body to play a speciality role, the Portland Trail Blazers could target sleeper Jordan Bell, Oregon’s fifth’s leading scorer.
Creating offense won’t be part of Bell’s job responsibilities. Shooting 62.8 percent, averaging 11.5 rebounds per 40 minutes, the Pac-12’s leader in defensive plus-minus and block percentage will look to carve out a gig as an energizer.
An explosive, lively athlete, he leaves his mark on games with off-ball activity around the basket. At No. 28, the Blazers bet on Bell’s finishing, motor and rim protection carrying over, and his mid-range jumper (48.9 percent two-point jumpers, 70 percent from the line) becoming good enough.
29. San Antonio Spurs: Tyler Lydon (Syracuse, PF, Sophomore)
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The tendency to blend in knocks Tyler Lydon into the late-first round. He’s been quiet during too many Syracuse losses and hasn’t improved much as a shot-creator or rebounder.
The San Antonio Spurs could still find use for his shooting. Knocking down over 40 percent of his threes for the second straight year, Lydon has a convincing stroke and the ability make jumpers off spot-ups, screens and rhythm dribbles.
In the meantime, he’ll offer athleticism around the rim (dunks and blocks) and an option to feed when deep on the block. He’ll boost his NBA value by showing he can attack closeouts with the dribble and make plays on the move.
30. Utah Jazz: Mathias Lessort (France, 6’9″, PF/C 1995)
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The Utah Jazz could go back to France for another big man behind Rudy Gobert. Mathias Lessort has emerged as one of LNB Pro A’s most productive young players, averaging 10 points and 6.8 rebounds in 22.2 minutes for JSF Nanterre.
He brings an active mix of 250-pound size, athleticism and energy, which he converts to easy finishes by running the floor, crashing the glass and diving to the rim.
Lessort doesn’t project as a threatening scorer or shooter, and he’ll turn 22 years old in September. But with obvious NBA tools and numbers to back them up, the risk for the Jazz is worth the potential reward: Landing a high-motor backup center at No. 30 overall.