2017 NBA Mock Draft: 1st-Round Predictions for Landing Spots of Top Prospects

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMay 8, 2017

MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 26: Malik Monk #5 of the Kentucky Wildcats shoots against Justin Jackson #44 of the North Carolina Tar Heels in the first half during the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at FedExForum on March 26, 2017 in Memphis, Tennessee.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The fate of numerous NBA franchises resides in a machine filled with ping-pong balls and some large square envelopes.

The 2017 NBA draft lottery, which will take place on Tuesday, May 16, is one of the most important in league history since the practice was first instituted in 1985. Elite talent sits at the top of the player pool, and there is a ton of depth throughout the class.

Here's a look at a new mock draft and some analysis on three of the top prospects.

Note that the draft order will not be finalized until May 16.

2017 NBA Mock Draft
PickTeamPlayerPositionCollege or Pro Team
1Boston CelticsMarkelle FultzPGWashington
2Phoenix SunsJosh JacksonSFKansas
3Los Angeles LakersLonzo BallPGUCLA
4Philadelphia 76ersMalik MonkSGKentucky
5Orlando MagicJayson TatumSFDuke
6Minnesota TimberwolvesJonathan IsaacSF/PFFlorida State
7New York KnicksDe'Aaron FoxPGKentucky
8Sacramento KingsFrank NtilikinaPGStrasbourg IG (France)
9Dallas MavericksLauri MarkkanenPFArizona
10Sacramento KingsZach CollinsCGonzaga
11Charlotte HornetsJustin JacksonSFNorth Carolina
12Detroit PistonsDennis Smith Jr.PGNorth Carolina State
13Denver NuggetsRodions KurucsSFFC Barcelona B (Spain)
14Miami HeatTJ LeafPFUCLA
15Portland Trail BlazersTerrance FergusonSGAdelaide (Australia)
16Chicago BullsJustin PattonCCreighton
17Milwaukee BucksHarry GilesPFDuke
18Indiana PacersDonovan MitchellSGLouisville
19Atlanta HawksIsaiah HartensteinPFZalgiris (Lithuania)
20Portland Trail BlazersLuke KennardSGDuke
21Oklahoma City ThunderJordan BellPFOregon
22Brooklyn NetsJawun EvansPGOklahoma State
23Toronto RaptorsSemi OjeleyePFSMU
24Utah JazzJohn CollinsPFWake Forest
25Orlando MagicIvan RabbPFCal
26Portland Trail BlazersCaleb SwaniganPFPurdue
27Brooklyn NetsOG AnunobySFIndiana
28Los Angeles LakersJarrett AllenCTexas
29San Antonio SpursDillon BrooksSFOregon
30Utah JazzJosh HartSGVillanova
Writer Projections

Malik Monk, Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers can go a few different routes, but it's hard seeing them take a point guard when the team has committed to playing Ben Simmons, the 2016 No. 1 overall draft pick, at that position next season.

If Philadelphia lands a pick in the top three, then Josh Jackson seems like the inevitable choice. The former Kansas forward would instantly provide a defensive boost and help the 76ers' outside shooting, which was one of the their main weaknesses last year (they finished 27th in field goal percentage).

However, if Philadelphia stays in the No. 4 to No. 5 range, then it should take former Kentucky shooting guard Malik Monk, who is the best pure scorer in this year's draft.

In his one year in Lexington, Monk averaged nearly 20 points per game while shooting 45.0 percent from the field and 39.7 percent from behind the three-point arc. He could immediately start at shooting guard for Philadelphia.

If Simmons and center Joel Embiid play the majority of the season, the 76ers could finally make the playoffs after years of tanking.


Jayson Tatum, Orlando Magic

Some folks are mocking former Kentucky point guard De'Aaron Fox to the Orlando Magic, including DraftExpress and Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report.

That's a definite possibility. Incumbent Magic starting point guard Elfrid Payton had a shaky year and lost his starting job at points this season, and Fox would probably be the best player remaining at No. 5 if he lasts that far.

However, Payton is just 23 years old and enjoyed a nice end to his 2016-17 campaign, averaging 16.0 points and 9.2 assists per game in April. The Magic should at least give the three-year guard another season to see if he can carry that momentum into 2017-18.

Furthermore, former Duke forward Jayson Tatum would be a good option. He could fit right in at small forward, with Aaron Gordon staying at his more natural power forward position.

The 6'8" Tatum averaged 16.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game for Duke last year and could immediately start for the Magic.


De'Aaron Fox, New York Knicks

This is a point guard-rich draft, so much so that it wouldn't be a surprise to see five of them picked in the top 10.

If the Knicks get the seventh pick and Fox somehow falls that far, then they should make this selection in seconds. They might be lucky enough if the teams above them draft for need as opposed to picking the best player available.

It's pretty simple to explain why the Knicks and Fox are a perfect match: The Knicks need a point guard, and they finished 25th in defensive efficiency, per ESPN.com.

Fox was the freshman floor general for a Kentucky team that nearly took down eventual national champion North Carolina in the NCAA tournament, and his defense is one of his strengths. In fact, Fox got a nine out of 10 from NBADraft.net in that category.

Also, DraftExpress recently received access to one of Fox's pre-draft workouts in Los Angeles, and Jonathan Givony posted this eye-popping highlight:

Jonathan Givony @DraftExpress

Here's a little taste of some of what we saw at De'Aaron Fox's workout in LA. Absolute freak athlete. Full workout: https://t.co/857NtadsIj https://t.co/Iq90Cj7RGU

Any team could use an infusion of crazy athleticism like that, and the Knicks are no exception. Fox would be a great fit in New York.