All season long, Ryan Blackburn and Daniel Lewis have been working on trying to identify the best prospects for the 2017 NBA Draft. All that work has lead up to June 22, when commissioner Adam Silver will walk across the stage and call out the first pick in the draft.
It’s nearly certain that the first name called will be Markelle Fultz, but to which team Fultz will be going, that remains to be seen. While the Celtics currently hold the rights to that pick, anything could happen on draft night.
After the first pick, the cats are out of the bag and it’s anyone’s guess what happens next. Here are the Denver Stiffs draft gurus with their valiant prognostications on the first round of the draft.
As always, a disclaimer that there is a high probability that all these predictions are wrong. Please comment below if you agree/disagree, and be sure to check out the site for continued draft analysis.
Here is the sixth mock draft for the 2017 draft:
Author’s note: The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers have made a trade involving the first and third overall picks in this draft. The trade will be broken down on podcast at a later date. Now, the Sixers will select first while the Celtics will select third.
No. 1, Philadelphia 76ers, Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington
Blackburn (edited): The Sixers are in dire need of guard talent on their roster, and lo and behold, the best player in the draft is one of the best guard prospects of the last decade. Fultz will immediately step in and provide some hope for a Sixers team that is desperately craving upward momentum after The Process.
No. 2, Los Angeles Lakers, Lonzo Ball, SG, UCLA
Lewis: The Big Baller Brand belongs in LA with the Lakers. There will be concerns about backcourt defense if he starts next to D’Angelo Russell, but his offensive skills justify this selection.
No. 3, Boston Celtics, Josh Jackson, SG/SF, Kansas
Blackburn (edited): Lol.
Okay fine, the Celtics are taking the best two-way wing on the board after taking a two-way wing last draft at third overall. Jackson has a considerably higher ceiling than Jaylen Brown though, and imagining those two on the wings for years to come terrorizing opponents with athleticism is pretty cool.
No. 4, Phoenix Suns, Dennis Smith Jr., PG, NC State
Lewis: DSJ is a superb athlete, and should benefit from the improved spacing in the NBA. He has time to grow into this role with Eric Bledsoe on the Suns roster, and should be able to play alongside Booker, Bender, and Chriss in the future.
No. 5, Sacramento Kings, De'Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky
Blackburn: There are concerns with Fox's jumper, as well as his slight frame. Still, Sacramento is probably the best place for him, and there's good value here. Fox has the tools to be a top 10 point guard, and he will do it by creating for himself and others along with stout defense.
No. 6, Orlando Magic, Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke
Lewis: Ideally, this is where Denver trades up to grab Jonathan Isaac. The Magic should ask for Beasley, Barton, and a future 1st. They should be sprinting to the bottom for 2018 and 2019. If not, Tatum should be a steady pro, something they've lacking as of late.
No. 7, Minnesota Timberwolves, Jonathan Isaac, SF/PF, Florida St
Blackburn: One of the best fits in the entire draft, Isaac to the Timberwolves is a dream come true. He ranks as the second best defensive prospect in the entire draft for me, meaning Thibs should love him. His game offensively should complement the T'Wolves' stars as well, since he's more of an off-ball roamer that can shoot at this stage of his career.
No. 8, New York Knicks, Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky
Lewis: Monk to the Big Apple is the flashiest pick. I'd rather have Jamal Murray, but they offer similar production. Neither are shooting guards, nor point guards, but they have the ability to score points while being limited on the defensive end. Monk is a bit more explosive than Murray, but isn’t as consistent.
No. 9, Dallas Mavericks, Frank Ntilikina, PG/SG, France
Blackburn: The allure is there to take Lauri Markannen to replace Dirk Nowitzki, but Ntilikina is the best pick. He provides a new dimension in the backcourt that current Mavericks guards just don't have offensively. I also ranked his as the third best defender in this draft.
No. 10, Sacramento Kings, Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona
Lewis: For the Kings, being able to take Markkanen in combination with De'Aaron Fox is gold. They have a point guard to build their team around, a couple centers in Skal Labissiere, Willie Cauley-Stein, and now a scoring forward in Markkanen to get buckets along with Buddy Hield. That's a solid foundation to rebuild after Boogie.
No. 11, Charlotte Hornets, Donovan Mitchell, PG/SG, Louisville
Blackburn: Mitchell has been rising up draft boards, and he comes in at 11 here to Charlotte. The Hornets will love his potential defensively next to Kemba Walker, as they need someone to take tougher PG assignments to keep Walker fresh. Offensively, if Mitchell continues to hone his three point shooting, he will look like a Gary Harris clone.
No. 12, Detroit Pistons, Jawun Evans, PG, OK State
Lewis: Evans led the best offense in college, with a team absent of any other draft prospects. For a comparison, Luke Kennard led an offense with five other draft prospects. Evans has a high basketball IQ, a great overall game, and should be an underrated guard for most of his career. He’s one of my favorite players in the draft.
No. 13, Denver Nuggets, OG Anunoby, SF/PF, Indiana
Blackburn: The choice for me is between OG, Zach Collins, and Justin Jackson from a value versus fit perspective. OG is the best defender in this class, Collins is the best player available, and Jackson replaces some of what Danilo Gallinari provides if he exits. In the end, I think Denver goes with OG, staying true to the promise of improving defensively.
No. 14, Miami Heat, Zach Collins, PF, Gonzaga
Lewis: Any time you can pair an athletic big man that can block shots and space the floor alongside an athletic big man that can block shots and dominate the offensive glass, you do it. The Heat can continue down the path of being an elite defensive team, with Richardson, Winslow, Collins, Whiteside, and Dragic powering the offense.
No. 15, Portland Trail Blazers, Justin Patton, C, Creighton
Blackburn: The Blazers lack big man depth behind Jusuf Nurkic, and it showed in the playoffs when the big man went down. Patton is a developmental prospect, but he's further along than other guys and could be a great fit with Lillard and McCollum when Nurkic goes to the bench.
No. 16, Chicago Bulls, Justin Jackson, SF, UNC
Lewis: He's an upperclassman that performed well in the NCAA tournament, and played for a blue blood school. He ticks off every box for the Bulls.
No. 17, Milwaukee Bucks, Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA
Blackburn: An athletic specimen with arms longer than a pterodactyl's wings? Sounds like a Milwaukee Buck already. Combine that with a need for a center if Greg Monroe doesn't return, and Anigbogu feels like the pick.
No. 18, Indiana Pacers, Luke Kennard, SG, Duke
Lewis: The Pacers have been searching for more offense to put alongside Paul George, and adding a player like Kennard should help. He can be a great pick and roll threat with George and Myles Turner. If George leaves, nothing matters anyways.
No. 19, Atlanta Hawks, Jarrett Allen, C, Texas
Blackburn: The Hawks need to get younger at each big man spot. Dwight Howard is currently manning the middle, and Paul Millsap is a free agent. It may be in Atlanta's best interest to seek out a young big to give the team more flexibility to rebuild if they want to, and Allen is the perfect guy to do so.
No. 20, Portland Trail Blazers, Terrence Ferguson, SG, Australia
Lewis: For the Trail Blazers, taking a gamble on an athletic wing like Ferguson is a no brainer. He's likely headed to the G-League anyways, where he can work on his game and physically mature. In time, he could make Evan Turner and Allen Crabbe expendable.
No. 21, Oklahoma City Thunder, Semi Ojeleye, SF/PF, SMU
Blackburn: The Thunder need better spacing for Russell Westbrook, and they also need someone to score when Brodie goes to the bench. Ojeleye is a good option here, and he's more versatile than T.J. Leaf.
No. 22, Brooklyn Nets, Harry Giles, PF/C, Duke
Lewis: The Nets are in a fun situation, where they can take tremendous risks and not be penalized for doing so. If Giles is a bust, the Nets will be bad when they have the rights to their own picks again. If he is a player, the Nets have control over a player that was once the top prospect in the country.
No. 23, Toronto Raptors, T.J. Leaf, PF, UCLA
Blackburn: The Raptors could use insurance if Serge Ibaka and/or Patrick Patterson leave for free agency. He wouldn't replace everything either of those two bring to the table, but T.J. Leaf would be an excellent option in a Toronto offense that had far too little playmaking without Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan on the floor.
No. 24, Utah Jazz, John Collins, PF, Wake Forest
Lewis: Utah drafted Trey Lyles a few years ago, hoping he could be their power forward in case Derrick Favors was unavailable. That hasn't worked out, and taking Collins here is a chance to take a chance on filling that position again. Collins is a defensive liability, but he'll be able to learn in a great environment with Quin Snyder and Rudy Gobert.
No. 25, Orlando Magic, Derrick White, PG/SG, Colorado
Blackburn: The Magic need better options in their backcourt, and the best option available is Derrick White. The senior guard out of Colorado was a late bloomer, but he has good size for either guard position and plays a versatile offensive game needed in the NBA.
No. 26, Portland Trail Blazers, Rodions Kurucs, SF, FC Barcelona
Lewis: Having three first-round picks is too many for one team, especially a playoff team like Portland. They take a draft and stash wing here in Kurucs, who has been ignored despite some great play as of late.
Author’s note: Rodions Kurucs was a late withdrawal from the draft process and is not available to be drafted anymore. At this point, Portland is likely to take best player available. For the sake of continuity, I have Sindarius Thornwell as the best player not selected in this mock draft, so pencil him in here.
No. 27, Brooklyn Nets, Tyler Lydon, SF/PF, Syracuse
Blackburn: The Nets should continue to add higher ceiling pieces, and Lydon is one of the best shooters in the draft. He doesn't have a high ceiling in an athletic sense, but if he can shoot over 40% from 3 and rebound, that's pretty good.
No. 28, Los Angeles Lakers, Bam Adebayo, C, Kentucky
Lewis: There's not a lot of love for centers with below-average height and wingspan, and Adebayo is lucky to be selected in the first round. At best, he's a replacement for Timofey Mozgov. At worst, he's a tall towel waver.
No. 29, San Antonio Spurs, Jordan Bell, PF/C, Oregon
Blackburn: How did Jordan Bell fall so far? Whatever. He's a great option for a Spurs team that needs a defensive minded big with the agility to switch defensively. This totally feels like a Spurs pick.
No. 30, Utah Jazz, Josh Hart, SG, Villanova
Lewis: The Alec Burks experiment in Utah is over, despite the team owing him $21 million over the next two seasons. Hart is an underrated two-guard, a high-character individual, and a great pick here for the Jazz. He should be able to help get points with the second unit from day one.