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NBA Mock Draft 2017: Updated Predictions for 1st-Round Prospects

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2017

Washington guard Markelle Fultz dribbles the ball against Western Michigan in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

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
PickTeamPlayerPos.School/Country
1Boston Celtics (via Nets)Markelle FultzPGWashington
2Phoenix SunsJosh JacksonSFKansas
3Los Angeles LakersLonzo BallPGUCLA
4Philadelphia 76ersMalik MonkSGKentucky
5Orlando MagicJayson TatumSFDuke
6Minnesota TimberwolvesJonathan IsaacSFFlorida State
7New York KnicksDe'Aaron FoxPGKentucky
8Sacramento KingsLauri MarkkanenPFArizona
9Dallas MavericksDennis SmithPGNorth Carolina St.
10Sacramento Kings (via Pelicans)Frank NtilikinaPGFrance
11Charlotte HornetsZach CollinsCGonzaga
12Detroit PistonsJustin JacksonSFNorth Carolina
13Denver NuggetsTerrance FergusonSGAustralia
14Miami HeatTJ LeafPFUCLA
15Portland Trail BlazersJustin PattonCCreighton
16Chicago BullsDonovan MitchellSGLouisville
17Milwaukee BucksJarrett AllenCTexas
18Indiana PacersHarry GilesPFDuke
19Atlanta HawksOG AnunobySFIndiana
20Portland Trail Blazers (via Grizzlies)John CollinsPFWake Forest
21Oklahoma City ThunderLuke KennardSGDuke
22Brooklyn Nets (via Wizards)Ivan RabbPFCalifornia
23Toronto Raptors (via Clippers)Tyler LydonSFSyracuse
24Utah JazzJohnathan MotleySFBaylor
25Orlando Magic (via Raptors)Isaiah HartensteinPFGermany
26Portland Trail Blazers (via Cavaliers)Semi OjeleyeSFSMU
27Brooklyn Nets (via Celtics)Jawun EvansPGOklahoma State
28Los Angeles Lakers (via Rockets)Caleb SwaniganPFPurdue
29San Antonio SpursSindarius ThornwellSGSouth Carolina
30Utah Jazz (via Warriors)D.J. WilsonPFMichigan

Top Picks

Celtics: Markelle Fultz, PG

Markelle Fultz has high expectations for himself going into next year:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

There are no limits for @MarkelleF’s rookie season. https://t.co/apXBlqrIV7

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

LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 13:  Josh Jackson #11 of the Kansas Jayhawks dunks during the game against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Allen Fieldhouse on February 13, 2017 in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

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

TUCSON, AZ - FEBRUARY 25:  Lonzo Ball #2 of the UCLA Bruins handles the ball during the college basketball game against the Arizona Wildcats at McKale Center on February 25, 2017 in Tucson, Arizona. The Bruins defeated the Wildcats 77-72.  (Photo by Chris
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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.