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

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistJune 18, 2017

Duke's Jayson Tatum, left, drives past South Carolina's Chris Silva, right, during the first half in a second-round game of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Greenville, S.C., Sunday, March 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Rainier Ehrhardt/Associated Press

It doesn't get much more entertaining than this—days before the 2017 NBA draft, reports surfaced suggesting the Boston Celtics moved the top selection.

This year's draft had its interesting narratives before the apparent blockbuster. A point-heavy class does wonders when it comes to shaking up league hierarchy. Lonzo Ball's drama is Lonzo Ball's drama. Historic franchises like the Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks residing in the top 10 makes for a good time.

These narratives go on and on, yet none can beat the Celtics bowing out of No. 1 by trading it to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for No. 3, according to TNT's David Aldridge. According to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski, Philadelphia gives up a whopping three first-round picks to move up and predictably select Markelle Fultz.

Below, the updated mock will reflect the trade set to get finalized Monday. After, we'll look at some of the ramifications and other noteworthy items perhaps getting lost in the background.

        

2017 NBA Mock Draft

TeamPlayer
1. 76ers (via BOS*)Markelle Fultz, G, Washington
2. LakersLonzo Ball, G, UCLA
3. Celtics (via BKN, PHI*)Josh Jackson, F, Kansas
4. SunsJayson Tatum, F, Duke
5. Kings (via PHI)Jonathan Isaac, F, Florida State
6. MagicDe'Aaron Fox, G, Kentucky
7. TimberwolvesZach Collins, C, Gonzaga
8. KnicksFrank Ntilikina, G, France
9. MavericksDennis Smith Jr., G, NC State
10. Kings (via NO)Malik Monk, G, Kentucky
11. HornetsHarry Giles, F, Duke
12. PistonsLauri Markkanen, F, Arizona
13. NuggetsTerrance Ferguson, G, Australia
14. HeatOG Anunoby, F, Indiana
15. Trail BlazersIvan Rabb, F, California
16. BullsJohn Collins, F, Wake Forest
17. BucksTony Bradley, C, North Carolina
18. PacersJarrett Allen, C, Texas
19. HawksIsaiah Hartenstein, F, Lithuania
20. Trail Blazers (via MEM)Justin Jackson, F, North Carolina
21. ThunderTJ Leaf, F, UCLA
22. Nets (via WAS)Donovan Mitchell, G, Louisville
23. Raptors (via LAC)Rodions Kurucs, F, Spain
24. JazzIke Anigbogu, C, UCLA
25. Magic (via TOR)Jordan Bell, F, Oregon
26. Trail Blazers (via CLE)Dwayne Bacon, F, Florida State
27. Nets (via BOS)Sindarius Thornwell, G, South Carolina
28. Lakers (via HOU)Caleb Swanigan, F, Purdue
29. SpursFrank Jackson, PG, Duke
30. Jazz (via GSW)Luke Kennard, G, Duke
Author's projections. *reported trade.

      

Notable Updated Projections

3. Celtics (via BKN, PHI*): Josh Jackson, F, Kansas

Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

So where do the Celtics go from here? 

Team president Danny Ainge has a perceived habit of gaining asset after asset without actually making a big splash, a thought process which applies to free agency and the draft. His last few "big" moves certainly apply—signing Al Horford last year and this trade don't exactly have the immediate high impact fans want.

But Ainge's willingness to trade this specific pick in this specific class could hint at how the coaching staff feels about the Isaiah Thomas-led backcourt. With Fultz and Ball surely off the board, which Ainge understands well enough, it's easy to imagine the Celtics going a different direction.

Kansas' Josh Jackson is quite a different way to go. The 6'8", 202-pound forward is the draft's best two-way player, putting elite athleticism to use by being a quality on-ball defender and slasher with a high motor.

Ainge himself hasn't been shy about Jackson lately, as the Boston Globe's Adam Himmelsbach noted:

The Celtics getting a better look at Jackson in the coming days won't overly impact the team ending up drafting him. Another two-way player to run with Thomas is nothing short of a good thing, though it does create some interesting situations with Jaylen Brown already on the roster.

Ainge, at worst, already has a sooner-than-expected contender on his hands thanks to MVP-esque play from Thomas. Jackson improves depth in the short term and in the longer outlook grows alongside Thomas and another crop of incoming first-round picks.

        

4. Suns: Jayson Tatum, F, Duke

Rainier Ehrhardt/Associated Press

The Phoenix Suns really like Ball, or at least one could get such an idea based off a quick Google search. 

In the mock above, though, the Lakers aren't passing on the California kid who just so happens to be one of the best pure passers to enter the league in a long time.

Rather than settling for lesser value at the point, the mock has the Suns rolling with Duke's Jayson Tatum, who remains neck and neck with Jackson as the best forward in the class.

Where Tatum falls a bit behind Jackson is shooting, but we're still talking about a guy who averaged 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.3 steals per game while shooting 45.2 percent from the floor.

CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein pointed out an upside-minded thought making the rounds when it comes to the former Duke star:

The Suns aren't exactly getting consistent play at the point either, which is why some believe the team will draft a guard. But this is a deep class, and putting a sheer scorer, elite transition presence and solid wing defender next to Devin Booker could work wonders for both Booker and Tatum.

And here's a caveat—the Suns adding a potential star like Tatum next to one of the league's budding stars like Booker puts the Suns in an interesting position in free agency, where over the next couple of years some noteworthy names at the position will hit the open market.

In an even shorter-term outlook, keep in mind the Suns own Miami's 2018 and 2021 first-round picks, assets the front office could dangle to get back in the mix for a top point guard this year.

            

8. Knicks: Frank Ntilikina, G, France

Now for the Knicks. 

It stinks to take a somber tone with one of the Association's most important franchises, yet Phil Jackson and the Knicks have found a way to fall into the background of the conversation despite sitting at No. 8.

The general consensus is the Knicks will take French point Frank Ntilikina. This has been a common line of thinking for a while now, but a recent note by Frank Isola of the New York Daily News says it all:

Look, the Knicks taking a prospect who isn't a household name isn't the end of the world. And it's about a million times (roughly) better than taking another ill-advised quick fix like Derrick Rose.

But Ntilikina is all of 18 years old and a slim 6'5" and 180 pounds. As a recent ESPN.com scouting profile notes, his stock could be more of a positional thing than anything else: "Other teams worry that he's moving up the board based on his position and not his talent. But I'll be surprised if he's still on the board at pick No. 10."

But as the old cliche goes, there are two sides to every coin. The scouting report makes a point to highlight the Dallas Mavericks' interest at No. 9, which is saying a lot considering that front office has one of the best international scouting staffs on the planet. 

For the Knicks, Ntilikina isn't an immediate upgrade by any means. But he represents the future and can develop alongside Kristaps Porzingis while the front office figures out what in the world to do with the rest of the roster.

            

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