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2017 NBA Mock Draft: Top 10 Picks

Synopsis: On the cusp of the 2017 NBA Draft, I’m running out of time to predict the Top 10 overall picks. Earlier this week, the 76ers traded their #3 pick (along with a future 1st rounder) to secure the Celtics’ #1 spot. According to most NBA insiders, Philly will take Washington PG Markelle Fultz. With the 2nd overall pick, the Lakers presumably will select Lonzo Ball. After that, it’s anyone’s guess. As usual, I’ll provide my assessment of potential Top 10 Busts from this draft prior to the start of the upcoming season. For now, here’s my 2017 NBA Mock Draft.


2017 NBA MOCK DRAFT: TOP 10 PICKS

With only a couple hours to go before the 2017 NBA Draft, I’m gearing up for one of my favorite televised events of the year. I fully admit that the NBA Draft lacks the pomp and circumstance of its football counterpart. However, I appreciate that it’s over in one night. Furthermore, I absolutely love Lisa Salters’ cringeworthy questions as if she were a reporter for TMZ or Inside Edition. Frankly, she’s the only reason I keep watching after the Deputy Commissioner starts announcing names at the beginning of the 2nd round.

[I routinely update posts after significant developments occur. Usually, I can wait several months (or years) before my comments become outdated. In this case, I need to provide a correction within hours. Specifically, ESPN decided to replace Lisa Salters with Allison Williams as the interviewer for its 2017 NBA Draft coverage.

By bringing up the stroke suffered by Lonzo Ball’s mom during an interview with the 2nd overall pick, Williams proved to be worthy of the role. Still, she didn’t offer the same overall entertainment value I expect from ESPN. Of note, I lost interest shortly after the start of the 2nd roundFor as much as I chastised ESPN for having Lisa Salters, I enjoyed her unrelentingly salacious interview style.]

As of now, the biggest pre-draft news involves the 76ers moving up to the #1 overall spot. Specifically, Philadelphia gave up its 3rd overall pick this year and a future 1st rounder for Boston’s top pick. Based on a tweet by Sixer Joel Embiid, the cat’s out of the bag regarding the pick. 

MARKELLE FULTZ: #1 OVERALL PICK?

Before the end of the draft on Thursday night, other trades will have occurred. It’s beyond my pay grade to be able to predict those. Instead, I’ll simply assume that the current trade order stays the same. Based on that assumption, as well as my assessment of players’ abilities and teams’ needs, I prepared the following mock draft.

2017 NBA MOCK DRAFT: STATS (TOP 10 PICKS)
Pick Team Player Pos School Age Height Weight PPG RPG APG
#1 76ers Markelle Fultz PG Washington 19 6′ 4″ 195 23.2 5.7 5.9
#2 Lakers Lonzo Ball PG UCLA 20 6′ 6″ 190 14.6 6.0 7.6
#3 Celtics Josh Jackson SF Kansas 20 6′ 8″ 203 16.3 7.4 3.0
#4 Suns Jayson Tatum SF Duke 19 6′ 8″ 204 16.8 7.3 2.1
#5 Kings De’Aaron Fox PG Kentucky 20 6′ 4″ 171 16.7 4.0 4.6
#6 Magic Dennis Smith PG NC State 20 6′ 3″ 195 18.1 4.6 6.2
#7 Timberwolves Jonathan Isaac SF/PF Florida St 20 6′ 11″ 205 12.0 7.8 1.2
#8 Knicks Frank Ntilikina PG Strasbourg 19 6′ 5″ 170 5.4 2.3 1.5
#9 Mavericks Lauri Markkanen PF Arizona 20 7′ 0″ 225 15.6 7.2 0.9
#10 Kings John Collins PF Wake Forest 20 6’10” 225 19.2 9.8 0.5

To be fair, I can’t claim any particular talent evaluating college players. I can crunch the numbers, but lack the years of experience needed to project future value. Instead, I’ll rely on the experts and their evaluations. Still, I researched the teams with top 10 overall picks in order to assign specific players to specific slots. 

If my 2017 NFL Mock Draft provides any indication of my predictive powers, I won’t be quitting my day job anytime soon. [According to my wife, this last sentence provided a cringeworthy moment missing from the absence of Lisa Salters.] Fortunately, the talent pool of basketball players is much smaller. As such, there’s much less deviation (i.e. chance of making a significant error). The following table shows the lack of variability in across various mock drafts. 

2017 NBA MOCK DRAFT: EXTERNAL RANKINGS (TOP 10 PICKS)
     Avg   NBA    Bleacher NBA Hoops Draft  
Pick Player  Rank   .com  CBS Report Draft.net Hype Express SI
#1 Markelle Fultz 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
#2 Lonzo Ball 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
#3 Josh Jackson 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 5
#4 Jayson Tatum 4 5 4 5 5 5 3 3
#5 De’Aaron Fox 5 4 5 4 4 4 5 4
#6 Dennis Smith 8 9 8 9 7 7 9 10
#7 Jonathan Isaac 6 7 7 7 6 6 6 6
#8 Frank Ntilikina 10 8 9 10 9 9 14 9
#9 Lauri Markkanen 9 10 11 8 11 11 7 7
#10 John Collins 14 15 19 15 13 13 13 15

As the table shows, the top half of my mock draft match follows consensus. However, I deviated from the pack for the bottom half of my Top 10 picks.

  • At #6, the Magic need a point guard more so than other front court player. And no, Elfrid Payton doesn’t cut it.
  • Having recent success with international player Kristaps Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez, Knicks GM Phil Jackson won’t be able to pass over Belgian/French PG Frank Ntilikina.
  • Perhaps my biggest swing involves my prediction that the Kings will take PF John Collins. While many others have Gonzaga Center Zach Collins going in this spot, I believe the former Wake Forest player has a much better chance becoming a 20/10 player than the former Zag.

[If I had gone with Zach instead of John Collins, I would have nailed the Top 10 overall picks. When I first revealed my mock draft to my son prior to the draft, he immediately remarked that I confused the two players. Earlier in the day, he had beaten me at golf for the first time ever. Point being, I should have deferred and listened to him.]

For those of you wondering, the following table highlight the players I overlooked with my final selection.

2017 NBA MOCK DRAFT: EXTERNAL RANKINGS (ADDITIONAL PLAYERS)
   Avg   NBA    Bleacher NBA Hoops Draft  
Player  Rank   .com  CBS Report Draft.net Hype Express SI
Malik Monk 7 6 6 6 8 8 8 8
Zach Collins 11 12 13 11 10 10 10 12
Luke Kennard 12 16 10 16 12 12 12 14
Donovan Mitchell 13 11 12 30 14 14 11 11
2017 NBA MOCK DRAFT: STATS (ADDITIONAL PLAYERS)
Player Pos School Age Height Weight PPG RPG APG
Malik Monk SG Kentucky 19 6′ 4″ 197 19.8 2.5 2.3
Zach Collins PF/C Gonzaga 20 7’0″ 230 10.0 5.9 0.4
Luke Kennard SG Duke 21 6’6″ 202 19.5 5.1 2.5
Donovan Mitchell SG Louisville 21 6’3″ 210 15.6 4.9 2.7

While I’m not putting any of the previous players in the Top 10, they’re the most likely to ruin my mock draft. Then again, they might hope to drop given that it would give them an automatic exemption from becoming a Top 10 Bust. 

[Of note, these players were selected with the 10th-13th overall picks. Including them, I correctly predicted 13 of the 14 lottery picks. Still, my wife doesn’t have to worry about me quitting my day job because many others matched my effort.]

Well, it’s time. C’mon Lisa, don’t let me down. 

[ADDENDUM]

Clearly, predicting Top 10 NBA Draft picks doesn’t prove any skill. However, there’s a lot of value in predicting which ones are more likely to become busts. I reserve the right to change my opinion, but I believe this draft will be remembered for its depth and not for its elite talent. Of note, a redraft several years from now likely will include more than a few late 1st round, 2nd round, or undrafted players who should have gone in the Top 10. Specifically, I don’t think this draft will be remembered for the busts, but rather for the undervalued players. As always, only time will tell. 

ESPN’s overnight ratings improved this year after falling by over 10% last year. Still, I bet those numbers were inflated by our prurient interest in what Lonzo’s dad would say. Fortunately, the leader of Big Baller Brand didn’t disappoint. Specifically, he mentioned that Zeus foretold the selection of his son by the Lakers. While other might disagree, I enjoy the entertainment value that Daddy Ball provides.

Unlike Sr. Ball, EPSN’s on-air talent failed to deliver. First, the network chose to eliminate my favorite distraction (i.e. Lisa Salters). At the same time, Jay Bilas failed to live up to his insatiable desire to reveal players’ wingspans. Hopefully, ESPN goes back to its predictably entertaining formula next year. As always, only time will tell.

2017 NBA MOCK DRAFT: TOP 10 PICKS
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