NBA Mock Draft After the Declaration Deadline
The deadline to declare for the 2017 NBA draft has passed, but the field isn't set in stone. Prospects who've put their names in still have until after the NBA combine in May to return to school.
Even with Michigan State's Miles Bridges and Texas A&M's Robert Williams headed back to college, there will still be compelling star power projected in June's top 10.
The draft tiebreakers have also been decided, meaning the lottery odds are officially locked. The most notable result was the the New York Knicks losing the coin flip to the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are now expected to pick No. 6.
1. Boston Celtics (via Nets): Markelle Fultz (Washington, PG, Freshman)
It's tough to say whether a first-round exit in the playoffs would make general manager Danny Ainge more interested in trading his pick or keeping it. But regardless of who selects at No. 1 overall, Markelle Fultz will remain the favorite.
He'll fit in anywhere, whether it's as lead guard or alongside a veteran floor general at the 2, where his size, length and shooting will allow him to play.
For Boston, adding Fultz likely means trading Avery Bradley, who'll be entering the final year of his deal, or Marcus Smart, who was fined after Game 2 against the Chicago Bulls for making an obscene gesture toward the Boston crowd.
Ainge isn't passing on the best available player in the draft, which, according to most scouts all year, is Washington's athletic scoring playmaker.
2. Phoenix Suns: Josh Jackson (Kansas, SF, Freshman)
Between Lonzo Ball's suspect defense, which Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox exposed in the NCAA tournament, and Josh Jackson's improvement from start to finish, the best-player argument can't be completely one-sided.
And if it's a close-enough debate in Phoenix, the Suns could opt for the better fit, which gives Jackson the edge, considering the team needs a wing and is already invested in two ball-hungry guards (Eric Bledose, Devin Booker).
Jackson's defensive potential should interest the Suns as well, though his athleticism and offensive versatility are his key selling points. An explosive, playmaking wing with a developing perimeter game, Jackson offers both upside and a plug for the hole that exists been Booker and the bigs.
3. Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball (UCLA, PG, Freshman)
Getting cooked by Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox in the NCAA tournament could actually help Lonzo Ball wind up in Los Angeles. The Lakers will take him at No. 3 if the Phoenix Suns look to avoid creating a backcourt logjam by adding another ball-handler.
Nobody left has the potential to improve or change the team's culture and identity like Ball. Adding him means shifting D'Angelo Russell to shooting guard and Jordan Clarkson to sixth man, sensible moves that play to everyone's strengths.
Ball won't help the Lakers' No. 30-ranked defense in efficiency, but there will be a ton of pressure on L.A. to take him. With Ball, expect the Lakers to play even faster than their sixth-ranked pace in 2016-17.
4. Philadelphia 76ers: Jayson Tatum (Duke, SF, Freshman)
With the emergence of Joel Embiid and Dario Saric and the arrival of Ben Simmons just around the corner, the Philadelphia 76ers' core has begun to take shape.
Assuming Simmons takes over primary ball-handling duties, the lineup will clearly need scorers or shot-makers on the wings. Jayson Tatum can fill that need without requiring the Sixers to reach.
At 6'8", Tatum demonstrated a high skill level with 16.8 points per game and 40 threes through 29 games. He comes off as a best-player-available option once Markelle Fultz, Josh Jackson and Lonzo Ball are off the board.
He'd give the lineup a second go-to shot-creator who coach Brett Brown can feature in the half-court offense.
5. Orlando Magic: De'Aaron Fox (Kentucky, PG, Freshman)
Management won't be expecting new interim general manager Matt Lloyd to turn the team around with one pick in the draft. After a 29-win season and no potential stars on the roster, Lloyd's task is to find one, regardless of position or the prospect's developmental timetable.
There is room for Orlando to upgrade every spot in the starting lineup. At No. 5, De'Aaron Fox jumps out as a best-player-available candidate and an excuse for the team to avoid committing long term to Elfrid Payton, who, despite improving, still averaged just 12.8 points and shot 27.4 percent from deep after his third year in the league.
More explosive and four years younger, Fox offers far greater upside than Payton. And after watching the Kentucky product destroy UCLA's Lonzo Ball (39 points) in the NCAA tournament, it's fair to question whether Fox actually deserves top-three consideration.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonathan Isaac (Florida State, SF/PF, Freshman)
With Zach LaVine out, Malik Monk will be enticing, but the Minnesota Timberwolves will ultimately pass on adding another scoring specialist.
Instead, they'll covet Jonathan Isaac's potential to defend, both as a secondary rim protector and an asset in pick-and-roll coverage. He moves like a wing with 6'11" size and 7'1" length, and though his 12 points per game don't stand out, Isaac flashed plenty of offensive upside, showing promising ball-handling skills and shooting.
The Wolves can take him at No. 6 to be a mismatch 4 and fill the hole between Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.
7. New York Knicks: Frank Ntilikina (France, PG/SG, 1998)
Defense, the triangle and president Phil Jackson's willingness to draft overseas make Frank Ntilikina a strong candidate for the New York Knicks.
He carries himself with poise and maturity, a selling point for a general manager who's looking to improve the team's culture and identity. Ntilikina also jumps out as the draft's top perimeter defender, thanks to monster length, quick feet and instincts.
Despite being labeled a point guard by most, he's spent a good portion of the season operating off the ball. The fact that he plays both backcourt positions should give the Knicks extra flexibility in free agency.
His versatility and feel for the game are also signs he'll fit the offensive system Jackson continues to push.
8. Sacramento Kings: Malik Monk (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)
The Sacramento Kings still need a point guard, but they need talent more, and it's easy to picture them viewing Malik Monk as the best player available at No. 8.
The Kings won't pass on him based on Buddy Hield's presence. An elite-level athlete who averaged 19.8 points and hit 104 threes as a 19-year-old, Monk's ceiling is significantly higher than the 23-year-old rookie's.
It wouldn't even be shocking to see Sacramento experiment and play both shot-makers together in the backcourt.
9. Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Smith Jr. (North Carolina State, PG, Freshman)
Without any high-upside options for the Dallas Mavericks to develop at point guard, they'll add one in the draft.
Dennis Smith Jr. is likely higher than No. 9 on Dallas' board. Explosive, skilled and productive, he also fills a long-term need.
He'll fall outside the top five after too much inconsistent effort and decision-making, but Smith's persuasive athletic ability could help him gain back support during predraft workouts.
It's probable Smith produces in the pros—the question is whether he can do so while efficiently running a team.
10. Sacramento Kings (via Pelicans): Lauri Markkanen (Arizona, PF, Freshman)
Passing on a point guard at No. 8 comes back to haunt the Sacramento Kings at No. 10. Five have already been taken through nine picks.
But the Kings won't be too disappointed with Lauri Markkanen left on the board. They have room to upgrade at power forward, and with 7-foot size and arguably the draft's best shooting stroke, Sacramento can't go wrong by taking a scoring stretch big.
He'd wind up being a solid fit alongside Willie Cauley-Stein, whose presence is felt around the basket, while Markkanen operates as a perimeter threat. In today's space-and-pace league, even a Skal Labissiere-Markkanen frontcourt would work for stretches.
11. Charlotte Hornets: Zach Collins (Gonzaga, C, Freshman)
The Charlotte Hornets will upgrade the long-term center slot with Zach Collins, who backed up the hype he created in the West Coast Conference with impressive play against Oregon and North Carolina in the Final Four and national championship game.
Cody Zeller has turned into a solid rotation player, but Collins' ceiling is higher, given the shooting range and shot-blocking potential he flashed at 19 years old.
Skilled and light on his feet, he'd give Charlotte another 7-footer with a little more upside at both ends of the floor.
12. Detroit Pistons: Jarrett Allen (Texas, C, Freshman)
The Detroit Pistons could see a gap between Jarrett Allen and the next-best option at No. 12. And despite Andre Drummond's presence in the middle, they're not in position to pass on the top prospect on their board.
Detroit can't realistically be expecting to land a star at No. 12, anyway. There isn't anything flashy about Allen, but at 6'11" with enormous 7'5 ½" length, light feet and developing offensive skills, a high floor should sway the Pistons.
After a relatively slow start, he's trended upward over the season's final two months and averaged 16.2 points and 9.8 rebounds during conference play. The fact that he initially declared without an agent, then suddenly hired one weeks later, suggests Allen received positive feedback from the NBA.
13. Denver Nuggets: Terrance Ferguson (Adelaide 36ers, SG/SF, 1998)
The Denver Nuggets drafted the last high-profile recruit (Emmanuel Mudiay) to pass on college for a year overseas. It wouldn't be a surprise if they did it again with Terrance Ferguson, a McDonald's All-American who spent the year in Australia, where Nuggets representatives visited him earlier in the season.
Workout-friendly athleticism and shooting ability will help Denver overlook his lack of production against pros. An explosive leaper with quick feet and a smooth jumper, Ferguson's three-and-D foundation should interest the Nuggets, who might lose Danilo Gallinari in free agency.
14. Miami Heat: Justin Patton (Creighton, C, Freshman)
The Miami Heat aren't filling a hole in their starting lineup with a rookie at No. 14 overall. They won't take UCLA's TJ Leaf just because they need a power forward. They'll take the best available player, even if he plays Hassan Whiteside's position.
Justin Patton isn't NBA-ready, but his longterm potential is too enticing to pass on this deep into the draft. He aces the eye test with size, length and mobility, while flashes post scoring, ball-handling and shooting suggest there is significantly more upside for coaches to unlock.
Look for Patton in the NBA Development League next season.
15. Portland Trail Blazers: TJ Leaf (UCLA, PF, Freshman)
At No. 15, the Portland Trail Blazers could see a chance to add some offense at power forward, where Noah Vonleh and Al-Farouq Aminu struggle to score.
Even if he benefited from Lonzo Ball's presence and UCLA's pace, Leaf was still highly productive and efficient for a freshman (21.7 points, 11.0 rebounds per 40 minutes, 61.7 percent on field goals). And he flashed the skills teams specifically covet in a stretch 4 (46.6 percent on threes and strong passing).
Defensive limitations will hold Leaf to bench minutes, but the Blazers won't be expecting to find a new starter this late. Landing a backup who can score, shoot and energize would be a win.
16. Chicago Bulls: John Collins (Wake Forest, PF, Sophomore)
With Nikola Mirotic and Cristiano Felicio entering free agency and the team having already traded Taj Gibson, the Chicago Bulls will look to rebuild their frontcourt through the draft.
John Collins, who initially tested the waters before eventually signing with an agent, has emerged as one of the more enticing mid-round bigs.
The ACC had no answer for his size, athleticism and skills around the basket. Collins averaged 20.0 points on 63.2 percent shooting against conference opponents, showing high-level finishing ability, touch in the paint and mid-range shooting.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: OG Anunoby (Indiana, SF, Sophomore)
History suggests the Milwaukee Bucks won't be looking for immediate contributors in the draft. They view prospects through a longterm lens, having taken chances on projects like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Thon Maker and Rashad Vaughn.
The Bucks will show a willingness to wait on OG Anunoby's knee to recover and skills to catch up. Milwaukee isn't finding any obvious Rookie of the Year contenders this late, anyway.
Long and athletic, he matches Milwaukee's identity. And he has the chance to give them another versatile defender capable of guarding multiple positions.
This late, it's worth betting on his shooting to improve.
18. Indiana Pacers: Donovan Mitchell (Louisville, SG, Sophomore)
Donovan Mitchell would bring high-level athleticism to a backcourt that isn't explosive.
He puts pressure on the rim by driving and slashing, but it's improved shooting that makes him a top-20 option. Mitchell sunk 80 threes this past year and showed the ability to catch fire and create/make jumpers with nifty ball-handling and step-back footwork.
The Indiana Pacers can bring in Mitchell, a quick defender and microwave scorer, to replace C.J. Miles.
19. Atlanta Hawks: Luke Kennard (Duke, SG, Sophomore)
Having chosen not to extend Tim Hardaway Jr., the Atlanta Hawks could be prepared to let another team overpay in free agency. Luke Kennard makes sense as both insurance and possibly the best player available, after he'd averaged 19.5 points and made 88 threes.
His skeptics will point to limited athleticism, but believers buy into his skills, footwork, basketball IQ and dangerous shooting.
Questions over his defense aren't alarming enough this late in the draft. The Hawks can grab Kennard for offense, particularly his shot-making.
20. Portland Trail Blazers (via Grizzlies): Ike Anigbogu (UCLA, C, Freshman)
The Portland Trail Blazers could bring in Ike Anigbogu for rim protection behind Jusuf Nurkic, who'll earn his money for offense and rebounding.
Anigbogu initially announced he'd be testing the waters, but eventually hired an agent, making it reasonable to presume there is first-round interest.
He averaged 3.7 blocks and 12.4 rebounds per 40 minutes on 56.4 percent shooting during his one-and-done year at UCLA. Despite scoring just 4.7 points per game, teams will envision Anigbogu following Clint Capella and DeAndre Jordan as a defensive big and high-percentage finisher who'll impact games with his tools and mobility.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Justin Jackson (North Carolina, SF, Junior)
The Oklahoma City Thunder don't appear too confident in Doug McDermott, who's logged 52 minutes through three playoff games. With the chance to add another shooter, they could pull the trigger on Justin Jackson, who also showed encouraging flashes of defense late in the year, particularly against Kentucky standout Malik Monk.
The Thunder ranked last in the NBA in three-point percentage in the regular season, and Jackson just set the North Carolina record this year for three-point makes (105).
He isn't a strong shot-creator and lacks explosiveness, but his ability to knock down jumpers and floaters scoring off the ball should keep working in the NBA.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Isaiah Hartenstein (Germany, PF, 1998)
Isaiah Hartenstein has to be on the Brooklyn Nets' radar with assistant Chris Fleming also being Germany's U20 and national head coach.
Hartenstein had a few encouraging moments at the Nike Hoop Summit (10 points, two blocks), where he showcased some ball-handling skills and bounce around the basket. And he's played well since returning to Lithuania, most recently going for 10 points and two assists in seven minutes against Lietuvos Rytas on Saturday.
He needs to fine-tune his jumper, but Hartenstein has flashed enough shooting ability, ball skills and defensive versatility to justify top-20 looks.
23. Toronto Raptors (via Clippers): Harry Giles (Duke, PF, Freshman)
The potential reward with Harry Giles is worth the risk at No. 23, where there aren't any sure things on the board.
After averaging just 3.9 points, he'll need time, but so does every other prospect this late. Giles still brings the textbook NBA body and plenty of energy, competitiveness and athleticism.
Assuming his surgically-repaired knees hold up, he should give Toronto some finishing and offensive rebounding. The Raptors get the steal of the draft if his explosiveness returns and skills keep improving.
24. Utah Jazz: PJ Dozier (South Carolina, SG, Sophomore)
The Utah Jazz could reach on potential with PJ Dozier, who has the tools, athleticism and skill set, but needs to improve his scoring and shooting.
He just averaged 15.6 points during South Carolina's Final Four run, and at 6'6", he intrigues with ball-handling ability and defensive versatility (1.7 steals per game).
Having hit 42 threes, Dozier can make jumpers—just not consistently (29.8 percent). Dozier should have the chance during workouts to convince teams his touch and range will get better.
25. Orlando Magic (via Raptors): Ivan Rabb (California, PF/C, Sophomore)
Ivan Rabb could slip into the 20s after struggling to dominate with more touches in year No. 2. The Orlando Magic may now see him as a value pick this late.
Rabb lacks explosiveness and defensive potential, but his tools, hands and footwork should still translate to points in the paint and rebounds. His post game and nose for the ball are convincing, while flashes of mid-range shooting and face-up scoring hint at a higher level of offensive upside.
Without the ability to stretch the floor, protect the rim or guard quicker players around the perimeter, Rabb's value takes a hit. The Magic will see him as a high-motor backup.
26. Portland Trail Blazers (via Grizzlies): Rodions Kurucs (Latvia, SF, 1998)
Committed to Evan Turner, Moe Harkless and Allen Crabbe, the Portland Trail Blazers don't have room for any backup rookie wings or forwards. And they aren't likely adding three rookies to next year's roster.
This is a spot for them to draft-and-stash Rodions Kurucs, who recently declared.
He's likely to spend the next few years developing with Barcelona's senior team in the competitive Euroleague and Spanish ACB.
Athletic with 6'9" size, shooting and scoring ability, Kurucs is the answer for late first-round teams who aren't in love with the NCAA leftovers.
27. Brooklyn Nets (via Wizards): Mathias Lessort (France, PF/C, 1995)
With five 20-plus-point games since March 11, Mathias Lessort has emerged as a potential first-round riser.
At 6'9", 250 pounds, he's strong, nimble and active. Lessort does most of his damage by running the floor, diving to the rim, picking up second-chance points and scoring over the shoulder.
He also moves well defensively and shows the ability to lift off the ground for blocks or switch around the perimeter. Lessort lacks polish, but his tools, motor and production overseas create a high floor.
28. Los Angeles Lakers (via Rockets): Tyler Lydon (Syracuse, PF, Sophomore)
Tyler Lydon didn't add much to his game in 2016-17, but the Los Angeles Lakers will still see value in his shooting and athleticism.
They also don't have any other bigs to stretch the floor, and Lydon shot at least 39 percent from downtown during both years at Syracuse.
His role in the pros will revolve around catch-and-release threes and finishing at the rim, but limitations as a defender, rebounder and playmaker should keep him from playing starter minutes.
29. San Antonio Spurs: Wesley Iwundu (Kansas State, SG/SF, Senior)
The San Antonio Spurs could see value in Wesley Iwundu's versatility at both ends of the floor.
His final two NCAA tournament games (21.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists) should have been eye-openers for scouts who hadn't closely followed Kansas State.
And it's possible they buy into his jumper improving after he finished with career highs in three-point makes (32) and free-throw percentage (76.7 percent).
Becoming a reliable shooter will be still be key, but with an NBA body, playmaking ability (3.5 assists per game) and the potential to guard multiple positions, Iwundu checks unique, important boxes.
30. Utah Jazz (via Warriors): Frank Jackson (Duke, SG, Freshman)
Frank Jackson declared for the draft last minute, and it's reasonable to think he'll stay in with Grayson Allen returning and top guard recruit Trevon Duval considering Duke.
Jackson, 18, was up and down during his freshman year, but showed flashes of athleticism, shooting and defense amid struggles as a shot-creator and playmaker.
At No. 30, it's still worth taking Jackson for his mix of strength, explosiveness and shot-making.
Jonathan Wasserman covers the NBA draft for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @NBADraftWass.