NBA Mock Draft 2017: Latest Projections for Marquee 1st-Round Prospects

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2017

Josh Jackson leads 2017 NBA draft talk as of late.
Josh Jackson leads 2017 NBA draft talk as of late.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Though some of the biggest names might not take part in exercises or drills, all eyes are on Chicago for the 2017 NBA Draft Combine.

Even if guys like Markelle Fultz of Washington don't go through the paces, the process nails down official measurements, reinforcing the idea the 2017 class will only further the continued evolution of the pro game.

Want centers who can run the court and shoot from deep? How about forwards who can guard the point or even bang down low with today's smaller centers? The 2017 class has a bit of everything in this regard on top of drama surrounding the likes of UCLA's Lonzo Ball.

In a backcourt-heavy class, it's only natural to see point guards dominate the top of mocks. Here's a look at a fresh offering, based on team need and prospect value.

      

2017 NBA Mock Draft

PickTeamPlayer
1Boston Celtics (via Nets)Markelle Fultz, G, Washington
2Phoenix SunsJosh Jackson, F, Kansas
3Los Angeles LakersLonzo Ball, G, UCLA
4Philadelphia 76ersMalik Monk, G, Kentucky
5Orlando MagicDe'Aaron Fox, G, Kentucky
6New York KnicksJayson Tatum, F, Duke
7Minnesota TimberwolvesFrank Ntilikina, G, France
8Sacramento KingsLauri Markkanen, F, Arizona
9Dallas MavericksDennis Smith Jr., G, NC State
10Sacramento Kings (via Pelicans)Jonathan Isaac, F, Florida State
11Charlotte HornetsZach Collins, C, Gonzaga
12Detroit PistonsHarry Giles, F, Duke
13Denver NuggetsIvan Rabb, F, California
14Miami HeatJustin Jackson, F, North Carolina
15Portland Trail BlazersTerrance Ferguson, G, Australia
16Chicago BullsJohn Collins, F, Wake Forest
17Milwaukee BucksTony Bradley, C, North Carolina
18Indiana PacersJarrett Allen, C, Texas
19Atlanta HawksIsaiah Hartenstein, F, Germany
20Portland Trail Blazers (via Grizzlies)OG Anunoby, F, Indiana
21Oklahoma City ThunderTJ Leaf, F, UCLA
22Brooklyn Nets (via Wizards)Dwayne Bacon, F, Florida State
23Toronto Raptors (via Clippers)Moritz Wagner, F, Michigan
24Utah JazzIke Anigbogu, C, UCLA
25Orlando Magic (via Raptors)Jordan Bell, F, Oregon
26Portland Trail Blazers (via Cavaliers)Josh Hart, G, Villanova
27Brooklyn Nets (via Celtics)Sindarius Thornwell, G, South Carolina
28Los Angeles Lakers (via Rockets)Justin Patton, C, Creighton
29San Antonio SpursCaleb Swanigan, F, Purdue
30Utah Jazz (via Warriors)Luke Kennard, G, Duke
Author's projections. Projected order before lottery (May 16).

      

Notable Picks 

2. Phoenix Suns: Josh Jackson, F, Kansas

This is an odd draft class for the Phoenix Suns to finally start ignoring the backcourt given its depth.

Even so, Kansas' Josh Jackson is good enough to save the Suns from loading the area up yet again.

Jackson (6'8", 207 lbs) comes off a freshman campaign in which he averaged 16.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.7 steals per game. He also happened to shoot 51.3 percent from the floor.

Granted, stats aren't the most important thing when it comes to evaluating a prospect. But the diversity of the numbers speaks to his do-everything game as arguably one of the better two-way players in the class.

What ESPN's Timothy Legler said on 97.5 The Fanatic applies to any franchise:

Jackson brings the defense and a budding shooting stroke to the desert necessary to squeak into the starting lineup right away. The point guard position will need to sort itself out, but Jackson is a quality companion for Devin Booker on both ends of the court.

      

5. Orlando Magic: De'Aaron Fox, G, Kentucky

MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 24:  De'Aaron Fox #0 of the Kentucky Wildcats shoots a free throw against the UCLA Bruins during the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at FedExForum on March 24, 2017 in Memphis, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Gett
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

This might sound odd, but here goes: The Orlando Magic can't really go wrong in this draft. 

Orlando hasn't had a cemented direction for years. The Elfrid Payton experiment seemed like a full-blown rebuild, but the front office made some odd trades and acquired guys like Bismack Biyombo and an overall shrug-worthy roster.

If the Magic get this high in the order, it's "best player available" time, which could be Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox.

Fox (6'3", 187 lbs) dropped 16.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game on 47.9 percent shooting from the floor. He's a bit wiry, but his borderline blinding speed lets him put on a show in transition, get others involved and beat defenders to a spot on the floor in the halfcourt game, with only his jump shot popping up as a bit of a question mark.

As journalist Adam Zagoria noted, Fox is ready to step under the microscope at the combine:

For the Magic, taking another point who might struggle with his jumper seems questionable. But it's time to push Payton and otherwise stack the roster with quality for a long-term rebuild.

In time, Fox might iron out his jumper issues. Everything else seems like it's already in place, and he's not talked about at No. 1 simply because of others possessing household-name status.

     

6. New York Knicks: Jayson Tatum, F, Duke

Now the New York Knicks? They could go wrong. 

Very wrong.

The Knicks are a mess. The Carmelo Anthony era could come to an end for various reasons, per ESPN.com's Ian Begley. Kristaps Porzingis skipped an end-of-season meeting with the front office, and Begley reported that teams consequently contacted the Knicks about a trade.

This situation means the Knicks should grab a proven forward such as Duke's Jayson Tatum, who averaged 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.3 steals.

Funnily enough, Sporting News' Sam Vecenie had quite the interesting comparison for the 6'8", 205-pound Tatum when talking with ESPN Charlotte:

Tatum has great upside on both ends of the court, hence his being in a two-way race with Jackson for most of the year when it comes to potential top-five forwards.

The Knicks need to take the plunge here to prepare for life after the soon-to-be 33-year-old Anthony and grab Tatum.

The scenario above doesn't give the Knicks much to work with at point guard, leaving Tatum as the obvious best player available. In hindsight, should he meet his potential, it could look like the Knicks got a major steal.

         

All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.