2017 NBA Mock Draft: Predictions for Prospects Who Will Sneak into 1st Round

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorApril 21, 2017

WICHITA, KS - DECEMBER 17:  Guard Jawun Evans #1 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys drives and scores past guard Daishon Smith #2 of the Wichita State Shockers during the first half on December 17, 2016 at INTRUST Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas.  (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)
Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

Take a look at some of the best players on this year's NBA playoff teams and where they were drafted.

Jimmy Butler was the last pick of the first round in 2011. Marc Gasol went 48th in 2007, and Kawhi Leonard (2011) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (2013) were each taken 15th. Paul Millsap went 47th in 2006, and, to top it off, Isaiah Thomas was the last selection of the entire draft in 2011.

The lesson here is that some of the best players in the NBA don't necessarily go in the lottery.

Here's a look at a new mock as well as three players who could be taken at the back end of the first round. Who knows, maybe one (or all) of the players in this trio will be stars some day.

2017 NBA Mock Draft
PickTeamPlayerPositionCollege or Pro Team
1Boston CelticsMarkelle FultzPGWashington
2Phoenix SunsJosh JacksonSFKansas
3Los Angeles LakersLonzo BallPGUCLA
4Philadelphia 76ersMalik MonkSGKentucky
5Orlando MagicJayson TatumSFDuke
6Minnesota TimberwolvesJonathan IsaacSF/PFFlorida State
7New York KnicksDe'Aaron FoxPGKentucky
8Sacramento KingsFrank NtilikinaPGStrasbourg IG (France)
9Dallas MavericksLauri MarkkanenPFArizona
10Sacramento KingsZach CollinsCGonzaga
11Charlotte HornetsJustin JacksonSFNorth Carolina
12Detroit PistonsDennis Smith Jr.PGNorth Carolina State
13Denver NuggetsRodions KurucsSFFC Barcelona B (Spain)
14Miami HeatTJ LeafPFUCLA
15Portland Trail BlazersTerrance FergusonSGAdelaide (Australia)
16Chicago BullsJustin PattonCCreighton
17Milwaukee BucksHarry GilesPFDuke
18Indiana PacersDonovan MitchellSGLouisville
19Atlanta HawksIsaiah HartensteinPFZalgiris (Lithuania)
20Portland Trail BlazersLuke KennardSGDuke
21Oklahoma City ThunderJordan BellPFOregon
22Brooklyn NetsJawun EvansPGOklahoma State
23Toronto RaptorsSemi OjeleyePFSMU
24Utah JazzJohn CollinsPFWake Forest
25Orlando MagicIvan RabbPFCal
26Portland Trail BlazersCaleb SwaniganPFPurdue
27Brooklyn NetsOG AnunobySFIndiana
28Los Angeles LakersJarrett AllenCTexas
29San Antonio SpursDillon BrooksSFOregon
30Utah JazzJosh HartSGVillanova
Writer Projections

 

 

Jawun Evans

Here's a trivia question: Can you name the starting point guard (and best player) on the team who ranked No. 1 in offensive efficiency in Division I, per KenPom.com, this year?

Most basketball fans might say former UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball, but his Bruins were No. 2. The answer is Jawun Evans, who led the Oklahoma State Cowboys to a fantastic offensive season.

Evans averaged 19.2 points and 6.4 assists per game and turned it up in his last seven contests in particular, posting 23.7 points and 8.7 assists a night.

He will likely be picked in the back end of the first round, but it's only because this draft is loaded with elite talent at the top and a ton of depth throughout the player pool. Sam Vincencie of Sporting News tweeted an interesting note regarding his Evans take recently:

Evans only played two years in Stillwater, and he is turning just 21 years old this summer. A team looking for depth at point guard should take a flyer on him.

 

Jordan Bell

It's not a coincidence that the teams who finished top two in defensive efficiency this season, per ESPN.com, also had the two best win-loss records in the league.

In fact, the Golden State Warriors (67-15) and the San Antonio Spurs (61-21) were the only teams to finish with more than 60 wins. No other team had more than 55.

It's clear some teams have the offensive firepower needed to hang with anyone on any given night, but defense is a common Achilles' heel.

Therefore, expect to see a few defensive stalwarts climb the draft boards as we get closer to June, with one of them being Jordan Bell, the Oregon forward who swatted eight Kansas shots in a 74-60 win that vaulted the Ducks to the Final Four. Here's an excerpt from a piece Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer wrote on Bell after that big win:

"At 6'9" and 225 pounds with a 6'11" wingspan, Bell is undersized for the center position, even at the college level, but he makes up for it with elite quickness and hops, wiry strength, and an incredible sense of timing and anticipation."

Per Sean Meagher of the Oregonian, Bell apparently gets that timing from some interesting sources: "I learned it from Guitar Hero. I also played volleyball in high school, so that really helped me out with timing."

Bell should find a spot on a team picking in the back end of the first round that is looking for a rim protector.

 

Josh Hart

Here's one of the best stats you'll find for any draft prospect this season: Villanova guard Josh Hart stayed in school for all four years, and he never shot worse than 50 percent from the field in any of those seasons.

It's a shot in the dark to say that he will be picked in the back end of the first round, considering that DraftExpress, Bleacher Report and NBADraft.net say otherwise (Gary Parrish of CBS Sports does have him going 27th, however).

That being said, it's hard to look at Hart's Villanova resume and not consider him in the first round. Other players may have more upside, but Hart was the leading scorer on a team that won the national championship. That has to count for something.

Hart is solid on defense as well. Here's Mike Schmitz and Julian Applebome of DraftExpress with more:

A coach's dream in terms of toughness, Hart lacks great length for his position at the NBA level, but has decent quickness, gets in the passing lanes well, and scrapped and clawed at an impressive level for a player often carrying a significant burden offensively many nights this season.

They also noted that Hart was one of the more efficient offensive players in the country:

"Taking on a larger role in Villanova's offense as a senior, Hart was one of just eleven players in Division I and four in high major conferences to use over 16 possessions per game and score over 1.10 points per possession, according to Synergy Sports Technology."

In sum, the team picking Hart would get a national champion who is efficient on offense and tenacious on defense. You can't ask for much more than that.