The NBA Draft is tomorrow at 4pm PDT. Draft week has already has fans startled at the moves that have been made between NBA teams prior to draft day. It is easy to expect more to occur during the draft itself but this lottery mock draft I am creating will be based on if no trades would happen during draft day.
1. Philadelphia 76ers
Markelle Fultz, G, Washington
The 76ers traded the 3rd pick in the 2017 draft and a future first round selection for the first overall selection in the 2017 draft. Immediately it was reported that they would select Fultz with that pick. Fultz could absolutely prove to be the final piece needed for the 76ers to finally make a push towards the playoffs. He adds another ball handler to the team to go with Ben Simmons and his jump shot is NBA ready. Fultz in the pick n’ roll can be deadly as well due to his shot making ability and his willingness to pass to the open man if he cannot create space for his own shot.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
Lonzo Ball, G, UCLA
The Lakers traded D’Angelo Russell to the Brooklyn Nets solidifying their desire to draft a point guard. Lonzo Ball seems to be a better fit for the Lakers’ personnel. As a 6’6 point guard that knows how to get his team involved, rebounds, and can score when necessary, Ball has drawn comparisons to Jason Kidd as well as the Lakers’ President Magic Johnson. Luke will love having Ball command his up-tempo offense as he can push the ball up the floor exceptionally well. For Magic to watch a player that holds the same skill set he did coming out of college, it’s hard to imagine him passing up on Ball especially after he claimed that Lonzo’s dad Lavar has zero influence on Lonzo’s draft stock.
3. Boston Celtics
Jayson Tatum, F, Duke
As I stated in the beginning of this article, this mock draft is under assumption that no trades will occur although I feel like if any team in this draft would trade away this pick in order to grab an already proven superstar, it would be the Boston Celtics. But with the third overall selection, the Celtics will choose Jayson Tatum who is the scoring forward the Celtics could develop to consistently help Isaiah Thomas with the scoring load or use as trade bait. Regardless, Tatum is without a doubt one of the best offensive players in this draft. His game is very similar to Carmelo Anthony’s as far as the love for isolation plays. He can get to the basket with just one or two dribbles and is a decent outside catch and shoot shot maker. As long as he develops his off the dribble jumper more and gets his left hand stronger he will be able to help the Celtics a lot whenever they need scoring.
4. Phoenix Suns
Josh Jackson, F, Kansas
Josh Jackson is 6’8″ with a 7’0″ wingspan providing a lot of length to go with his skill on the defensive end. His explosive athleticism on the offensive end is of the highest within this draft. Jackson is the best two-way player in the draft and averaged 16.3ppg, 7.4 rpg, 3.0apg, 1.7spg, and 1.1bpg during his freshman season at Kansas. He plays the game with a ton of intensity and passion which can be as good as it can be bad. Jackson is more like a wild card play because of his emotions along with his jumper that was here and there throughout lone collegiate season. Nonetheless, he would be a great piece for the Suns who particularly are not in a position to attempt drafting position needs but more so drafting a player with a high ceiling.
5. Sacramento Kings
Jonathan Isaac, F, Florida State
With Rudy Gay opting out of his contract, the Kings will draft Jonathan Isaac. His style is somewhat similar to Gay’s as far as their ability to slash through and attack the rim on offense. Isaac is 6’10” with a 7’1″ wingspan and he uses that exceptionally on he defensive end. He’s able to guard the 1-4 positions using his quick mobility for his size. His perimeter defense is one of the best in this draft. He was a later bloomer and grew over 6 inches late in high school which is a testament to how he’s able to play like a guard at a center’s height. As long as he continues to work on his offensive game and stays in the weight room he has the potential to become a great player in this league and for the Kings.
6. Orlando Magic
De’Aaron Fox, G, Kentucky
The Magic drafting De’Aaron means one of two things will be occurring in the near future. One, Elfrid Payton will either get his starting spot at point guard taken eventually or two, he’ll be put on the trade block. Fox offers a little bit of everything for the Magic on both ends of the floor. He’s another do it all type of point guard having recorded the second triple-double in Kentucky history and breaking an NCAA tournament record when he scored 39 points in a victory against UCLA. His playmaking ability on both ends of the floor makes it hard to stop him and when he gets in transition he almost impossible to stop because of his speed. Fox’s biggest asset to his game is his speed and quickness which is comparable to John Wall’s. He plays with a high motor and extreme passion for the game. There is a high ceiling for Fox and he has the potential to become a star in this league as he continues to improve.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves
Lauri Markkanen, F, Arizona
Markkanen offers a ton of versatility on the offensive end as a 7 footer with great size at 230 pounds who can stretch the floor past the 3-point line. What makes that ability even better is that he is the best 3-point shooter in the lottery if not the entire draft. He averaged 15.6ppg with 42 percent shooting from behind the arc. Markkanen is easily one of the more efficient players in this draft due to his shooting ability and mentality towards the game. He plays with a high IQ and good footwork on the offensive end mostly excelling in pick n pop situations. He has shown how agile he can be at his size with being able to put the ball on the ground and crossover the defender in order to get to the basket. Having Markkanen and Towns on the court at the same time could become a problem for other NBA front courts to handle as they both can put the ball on the ground as well as stretch the floor past the 3 while shooting efficiently from all angles.
8. New York Knicks
Malik Monk, G, Kentucky
Monk is one of the more highly touted natural scorers in this draft. Once he catches fire, good luck putting it out. He may be a bit undersized at his position because he is 6’3″ with a 6’6″ wingspan playing the 2-guard position but he makes up for it with his insane athleticism and explosiveness. He knows how to create space to get his shots up using one quick move whether if it’s a dribble crossover or low swing-thru and if he’s attacking the paint with an open lane, watch out for an emphatic finish worthy to be put on a highlight reel. When he’s motivated he can defend well by staying in front of his man using his lateral quickness and athleticism to help him keep up through ball screens. Once Monk develops strength to help him finish closer shots more efficiently and works on his shot selection he has the potential to become a perennial scorer in the NBA. He gives the Knicks something they desperately need and that is a young guard who is not afraid to take and make shots within a system. He is also a willing passer on top of his scoring skill set which can be great for the triangle offense that Phil Jackson so desperately wants his team to run.
9. Dallas Mavericks
Dennis Smith Jr., G, NC State
The Dallas Mavericks need to fill their void for a potential long-term point guard in this draft and Dennis Smith is an excellent candidate for the position. The Freshman averaged 18.1ppg and 6.2apg in the ACC which is not easy to do given the defensive capabilities within the conference. Smith is highly explosive and contains the strength to attack the basket as well as anybody. To add on, his jump shot has been improving throughout the year and if it continues to improve, stopping Smith will become hard for players in the league to stop. He excels well scoring off of ball screens which happens to be the root to most scout’s excitement over him. Pairing him with a veteran player like Dirk and a veteran coach like Rick Carlisle and he can most definitely develop into an elite point guard. Being under the wing of Mavs officials will help Smith develop a higher IQ for the game and raise his ceiling. Also, being in a backcourt with other ball handlers like Seth Curry and JJ Barea will help Smith be less ball dominant which he had a tendency of doing at NC State due to lack of camaraderie within the roster.
10. Sacramento Kings
Frank Ntilikina, G, France
Frank Ntilikina is not the most explosive or quick guard, but he holds a high IQ for the game to go with his extreme length for the point guard position. Frank is 6’6″ with a 7’0″ wingspan. That is scary for a point guard and Frank uses his physical tools well on the defensive end which is what he is more known for. He is built to guard the 1-3 positions given his length and defensive IQ. His offensive game needs work but it should pan out within a few years, the kid is still 18 years old. His professional experience already gives him an edge as he enters the NBA and he knows if he wants to have a long career he has to develop more of an offensive skill set. The Kings need to select a point guard who can be capable of holding a spot in the starting lineup and can be a floor general for the team. With both Ty Lawson and Darren Collison as free-agents it will be tough to imagine the Kings keeping both knowing they only need one and not to be one of the top guys on the roster but rather to be a mentor to the younger players.
11. Charlotte Hornets
Donovan Mitchell, G, Louisville
Mitchell can be a great addition for the Hornets given his capabilities to play either backcourt position and defensive capabilities. He can back up Kemba Walker as well as Nicolas Batum to give them both the necessary rest so that when the 4th quarter of each game comes around, they are not gassed. The Hornets struggle with maintaining leads in the 4th quarter due to their sudden lack of defense. With the addition of Mitchell, an extensive defensive load can be taken off of the backcourt starters for this team. Mitchell is NBA ready size wise being 210 pounds at 6’3″ with a 6’10” wingspan and very athletic. Being under Kemba Walker will help him improve his decision-making on the court as well as his overall basketball game. From a mentality and physicality standpoint though, Mitchell is NBA ready and Charlotte is a good fit for him.
12. Detroit Pistons
Zach Collins, F, Gonzaga
Collins fits the Pistons need for a player in the power forward position. Currently, all they have is Marcus Morris at that position. Collins is a 7 footer who can use his quickness and explosiveness to help his shot-blocking technique. He averaged 1.8bpg in 17 mpg which shows how his presence in the paint can affect the opposing team. Put him and Andre Drummond in the same frontcourt and the Pistons could become an intimidating team to try to attack the basket against. Collins holds a certain type of toughness to him that allows him to excel in the low post whether if it’s on defense or offense. He can become a good backup for the Pistons both at the power forward or center positions or potentially even start after he gets a few years in the league under his belt and if Drummond or Morris gets traded, whichever happens first.
13. Denver Nuggets
John Collins, F, Wake Forest
John Collins will begin his career playing behind Kenneth Faried and he will provide the opposite of what Kenneth normally provides. Offense. John Collins is one of the best offensive big men in this draft having averaged 19.2ppg on 62 percent shooting with 9.8rpg. Collins has the ability to score both with his back to the basketball and face up using his footwork along with an array of moves to help get him high percentage shots. He can knock down mid-range shots or take it to the basket with a dribble or two. With him working with and against Faried and Jokic every day in practice he will be able to develop a higher sense for surveying his options every offensive possession down the floor as well as develop a deeper love for playing defense and hustling on every possession. Collins has the potential to become a full-time power forward in the NBA but he will have to work very hard as he still has a long way before he reaches his ceiling.
14. Miami Heat
Luke Kennard, G, Duke
Luke is a highly-touted shooter coming from a Duke program that is known to groom shooters and make them even better at it. Luke shot almost 44 percent behind the arc on an average of 5.4 attempts per game. He averaged 19.5ppg and is also an excellent free-throw shooter. Luke fits well in Miami’s offense as they set screens for their guards giving them an opportunity to catch and shoot or create a play for a bucket which is what Kennard excels at most. He can finish with his soft-touch floater just as well as he can shoot anywhere else on the court. He has the ability to create his own shot off the dribble but creating off of a screen is better for Luke as well as the offense itself. Luke has the potential to be another major shooting threat in the NBA.