A loaded class of prospects could create a lot of drama heading into the 2017 NBA draft.
It's difficult to predict any sure thing in this class, even with the top few picks, but almost the entire lottery is filled with players who could develop into stars at the next level. This draft won't just come down to need but also organizations doing their homework to bring in the players with the most upside.
Here are the latest predictions for how the first round will shake out:
|2017 NBA Mock Draft|
|1||Boston Celtics (via Nets)||Markelle Fultz||PG||Washington|
|2||Phoenix Suns||Josh Jackson||SF||Kansas|
|3||Los Angeles Lakers||Lonzo Ball||PG||UCLA|
|4||Philadelphia 76ers||Malik Monk||SG||Kentucky|
|5||Orlando Magic||Jayson Tatum||SF||Duke|
|6||Minnesota Timberwolves||Jonathan Isaac||SF||Florida State|
|7||New York Knicks||De'Aaron Fox||PG||Kentucky|
|8||Sacramento Kings||Lauri Markkanen||PF||Arizona|
|9||Dallas Mavericks||Dennis Smith||PG||North Carolina St.|
|10||Sacramento Kings (via Pelicans)||Frank Ntilikina||PG||France|
|11||Charlotte Hornets||Zach Collins||C||Gonzaga|
|12||Detroit Pistons||Justin Jackson||SF||North Carolina|
|13||Denver Nuggets||Terrance Ferguson||SG||Australia|
|14||Miami Heat||TJ Leaf||PF||UCLA|
|15||Portland Trail Blazers||Justin Patton||C||Creighton|
|16||Chicago Bulls||Donovan Mitchell||SG||Louisville|
|17||Milwaukee Bucks||Jarrett Allen||C||Texas|
|18||Indiana Pacers||Harry Giles||PF||Duke|
|19||Atlanta Hawks||OG Anunoby||SF||Indiana|
|20||Portland Trail Blazers (via Grizzlies)||John Collins||PF||Wake Forest|
|21||Oklahoma City Thunder||Luke Kennard||SG||Duke|
|22||Brooklyn Nets (via Wizards)||Ivan Rabb||PF||California|
|23||Toronto Raptors (via Clippers)||Tyler Lydon||SF||Syracuse|
|24||Utah Jazz||Johnathan Motley||SF||Baylor|
|25||Orlando Magic (via Raptors)||Isaiah Hartenstein||PF||Germany|
|26||Portland Trail Blazers (via Cavaliers)||Semi Ojeleye||SF||SMU|
|27||Brooklyn Nets (via Celtics)||Jawun Evans||PG||Oklahoma State|
|28||Los Angeles Lakers (via Rockets)||Caleb Swanigan||PF||Purdue|
|29||San Antonio Spurs||Sindarius Thornwell||SG||South Carolina|
|30||Utah Jazz (via Warriors)||D.J. Wilson||PF||Michigan|
Celtics: Markelle Fultz, PG
Markelle Fultz has high expectations for himself going into next year:
This might be a bit unrealistic, but the Washington product certainly has the ability to win an MVP award at some point in his career.
Fultz has everything you look for in a point guard physically, with athleticism and quickness, plus the tools to score from anywhere or create for others. This helped him average 23.2 points, 5.9 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game on an otherwise awful Huskies team last year.
He also added 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks per game, showcasing his ability to make an impact on the defensive end.
The Boston Celtics don't necessarily need another guard, but their backcourt players lack size and outside-shooting ability. Although Fultz has been inconsistent at times, he certainly helps in those areas.
The reality is the point guard has a good chance of being the top pick regardless of the team selecting at No. 1 overall.
Suns: Josh Jackson, SF
Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight are under contract for the next few years, so the Phoenix Suns don't need another point guard. Besides, Josh Jackson is not exactly a reach with the No. 2 pick.
The Kansas star is a jack of all trades on the basketball court. He took a secondary scoring role behind Frank Mason III this year but still averaged 16.3 points per game while shooting 37.8 percent from beyond the arc. He has room to grow as a shooter but is a serious threat already and won't have problems get his shot off at 6'8".
However, what separates Jackson is what he does when he isn't getting points. He is a willing passer, a consistent rebounder and an elite defender who can match up against multiple positions.
His versatility and impressive athleticism give him as much upside as anyone in the class while also holding a high floor. Even if he doesn't become a star, he could be a valuable player on a championship team.
This skill set puts him in contention for the top overall pick and at least the top three.
Lakers: Lonzo Ball, PG
This would be a dream for Lonzo Ball, who admitted on SportsNation he would rather play for the Los Angeles Lakers than go first overall (via Kyle Boone of CBSSports.com).
It also makes a ton of sense for the team. While Jordan Clarkson and D'Angelo Russell have shown flashes of quality play in the NBA, neither is a true point guard.
Ball is a pass-first player who led the country with 7.6 assists per game as a freshman for UCLA. He was the catalyst for one of the best offenses in college basketball last year and could immediately contribute in the NBA.
While the mechanics on his shot aren't ideal, he remained a solid shooter from outside at 41.2 percent for the season.
The downside comes from his defense, where his lack of quickness could be exposed at the next level. Still, his contributions on offense and the star power he provides make him a perfect fit for Los Angeles.
76ers: Malik Monk, SG
Kentucky guard De'Aaron Fox could be a solution with the Philadelphia 76ers needing a real point guard, but the team can't afford another starter who can't shoot. Last year's first overall pick, Ben Simmons, will also try to run the offense when healthy next season.
What the team desperately needs is a shooter and a scorer, and that is what Malik Monk provides.
The guard was the SEC Player of the Year for the Wildcats, averaging 19.8 PPG with some of the most impressive individual performances of the college basketball season. This included 47 points scored in a win over North Carolina.
Monk isn't much of a passer and is only an average defender, but the one-trick pony is great at what he does. He can create his own looks and score in a variety of ways, and he shouldn't slow down once he gets to the NBA.
If Philadelphia ever gets all of its prospects on the court, Monk could be a key member of this team's future success.