Chad Ford NBA Mock Draft 2017: Notable Picks from ESPN Guru's 4th Mock

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 4, 2017

TUCSON, AZ - JANUARY 29:  Markelle Fultz #20 of the Washington Huskies during the second half of the college basketball game against the Arizona Wildcats at McKale Center on January 29, 2017 in Tucson, Arizona. The Wildcats defeated the Huskies 77-66.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

ESPN NBA draft analyst Chad Ford released his fourth mock for the first round of the 2017 NBA draft Tuesday morning. He projects University of Washington star Markelle Fultz will edge out fellow freshman sensation Lonzo Ball of UCLA to become the first overall pick June 22.  

Meanwhile, Gonzaga's Zach Collins is one player to make a major move from Ford's third mock draft, jumping from No. 21 to No. 11 overall. He shone while helping lead the Bulldogs to the national championship game, which they lost to the North Carolina Tar Heels 71-65 on Monday night.

Here's a look at the complete forecast for Round 1:

2017 NBA Draft: Chad Ford Mock Draft 4.0
1Boston Celtics (from BKN)Markelle Fultz, G, Washington
2Phoenix SunsLonzo Ball, G, UCLA
3Los Angeles LakersJosh Jackson, F, Kansas
4Orlando MagicMalik Monk, G, Kentucky
5Philadelphia 76ersDennis Smith Jr., G, NC State
6New York KnicksJayson Tatum, F, Duke
7Sacramento KingsDe'Aaron Fox, G, Kentucky
8Minnesota TimberwolvesLauri Markkanen, F, Arizona
9Dallas MavericksFrank Ntilikina, G, France
10Sacramento Kings (from NO)Jonathan Isaac, F, Florida State
11Detroit PistonsZach Collins, C, Gonzaga
12Charlotte HornetsMiles Bridges, F, Michigan State
13Denver NuggetsHarry Giles, F, Duke
14Miami HeatTJ Leaf, F, UCLA
15Indiana PacersOG Anunoby, F, Indiana
16Atlanta HawksTerrance Ferguson, G, Australia
17Chicago BullsJarrett Allen, C, Texas
18Portland Trail BlazersJustin Patton, C, Creighton
19Milwaukee BucksEdrice "Bam" Adebayo, F, Kentucky
20Portland Trail Blazers (from MEM)Isaiah Hartenstein, F, Germany
21Oklahoma City ThunderJustin Jackson, F, North Carolina
22Brooklyn Nets (from WSH)Ivan Rabb, F, California
23Toronto Raptors (from LAC)Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA
24Orlando Magic (from TOR)Rodions Kurucs, F, Latvia
25Utah JazzMoritz Wagner, F, Michigan
26Brooklyn Nets (from BOS)Andrew Jones, G, Texas
27Portland Trail Blazers (from CLE)Kostja Mushidi, G, Belgium
28Los Angeles Lakers (from HOU)Tony Bradley, C, North Carolina
29San Antonio SpursJohn Collins, F, Wake Forest
30Utah Jazz (from GSW)Luke Kennard, G, Duke
Source: ESPN.com

Notable Selections

1. Boston Celtics: Markelle Fultz, G, Washington

Many of the questions surrounding Fultz will be similar to those faced by LSU product Ben Simmons, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft. Most notably, if he's such a special talent, why did his team only manage a 9-22 record last season, lowlighted by a dreadful 2-16 mark in Pac-12 play?

His personal performance was outstanding, though. The dynamic point guard averaged 23.2 points, 5.9 assists, 5.7 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks for the Huskies. He also shot 47.6 percent from the field, including 41.3 percent from beyond the arc.

That intriguing across-the-board skill set gives Fultz a chance to develop into a generational talent at the NBA level. He's not backing down from those expectations either. He told Bleacher Report's Jason King he's setting his sights on the GOAT conversation:

When I was younger, trying to make the make the freshman and JV team, my dream was always to make it to the NBA. At first, I was thinking about just getting to the NBA, just watching the NBA, being one of the All-Stars in the NBA.

But I actually want to be the best to ever play this game. And I think I have a pretty good chance to do that.

Joining the Celtics, a franchise already in the NBA championship conversation, would allow him to hit the ground running in the pro ranks. Playing alongside Isaiah Thomas would also ensure he wouldn't face the pressure of being an opponent's main focus at the outset of his career.

2. Phoenix Suns: Lonzo Ball, G, UCLA

Ball was making a serious push to overtake Fultz until the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. The guard struggled from the field during the Bruins' 86-75 loss to Kentucky, which raised further concerns about his defensive ability as the Wildcats' De'Aaron Fox outshone him.

The UCLA standout's overall numbers were still terrific. He checked in at 14.6 points, 7.6 assists, 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game as part of a star-studded roster. Like his Washington counterpart, he also shot the ball well—55.1 percent overall and 41.2 percent from three—despite a unique stroke.

It's worth noting his outspoken father, LaVar Ball, may impact his stock. He's been making some outlandish claims about the future of his three sons, the others being UCLA commits LiAngelo and LaMelo. And one NBA general manager spoke with Sean Deveney of Sporting News about it:

It doesn't help, all this stuff with his father. I don't know what is gained for the kid by putting that much pressure on him. Nobody from the league has been meeting with (Lonzo Ball) or anything, but that is going to be another thing to look at when it comes to due diligence before the draft. How does he handle his dad, is it just something he laughs about, or is it real pressure on him?

The Suns would be an interesting landing spot since they already have a guard logjam with Devin Booker, Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight, seemingly making someone like Kansas' Josh Jackson a better fit. But it would be tough to pass on Ball if they do end up second after the lottery.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Justin Jackson, F, North Carolina

The Final Four summed up Jackson's uncertain draft status perfectly. He scored 22 points on the strength of four three-pointers in the Tar Heels' semifinal victory over Oregon. Then he missed all nine of his three-point attempts in a 16-point outing against Gonzaga in the title game.

If he can convince teams that he'll become a reliable outside shooter in the NBA, he has a legitimate chance to push into the lottery. He shot 37 percent from long range this season, up from 29.2 percent a year ago.

Dan Dakich of WFNI provided high praise about the UNC star's outlook during an appearance Tuesday morning on ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike:

Golic and Wingo @GolicAndWingo

“I don’t know why he can’t be Scottie Pippen in the NBA.” @dandakich with some high praise for Justin Jackson. https://t.co/j6lYGc2oBA

No NBA team could use a Scottie Pippen—a versatile All-Star complement to one of the league's best players—more than the Thunder. Add in the fact small forward is OKC's biggest need, and Jackson feels like a perfect fit to join Russell Westbrook if he's available when the team is on the clock.         


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