2017 NBA Mock Draft: Predictions for Where Top Prospects Will Land in 1st Round

David McCracken@crackemcFeatured ColumnistMay 19, 2017

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 16: Draft prospect Josh Jackson poses poses with draft caps for portraits prior to the 2017 NBA Draft Lottery at the NBA Headquarters in New York, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jennifer Pottheiser/Getty Images

Even after the beatdown loss that was Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, it's still a good time to be a Boston Celtics fan. 

With the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Celtics have the potential to build a dynasty in two different ways: 1) Draft the best player available and build a contender organically or 2) Trade the pick in a package for a star player to compete with the Cleveland Cavaliers as soon as next year.

I think trading the pick for the likes of Jimmy Butler or Paul George would be a rash decision, and I would prefer to see the Celtics draft Markelle Fultz and build a contender for when LeBron James' grip on the Eastern Conference loosens with age, but I'm not going to even try to get inside of the mind of General Manager Danny Ainge.

All options aside, the Celtics are in good hands with a bright future no matter what they do. As for some franchises, this draft will determine the fate of their immediate and distant futures, particularly those who missed out on a top-three selection. 

Here's a look at my updated mock draft following the lottery:

2017 NBA Mock Draft
1. Celtics (via BKN)Markelle Fultz, G, Washington
2. LakersLonzo Ball, G, UCLA
3. 76ersDe'Aaron Fox, G, Kentucky
4. SunsJosh Jackson, F, Kansas
5. Kings (via PHI)Jayson Tatum, F, Duke
6. MagicFrank Ntilikina, G, France
7. TimberwolvesJonathan Isaac, F, Florida State
8. KnicksMalik Monk, G, Kentucky
9. MavericksLauri Markkanen, F, Arizona
10. Kings (via NO)Dennis Smith Jr., G, NC State
11. HornetsIvan Rabb, F, California
12. PistonsZach Collins, C, Gonzaga
13. NuggetsMoritz Wagner, F, Michigan
14. HeatIsaiah Hartenstein, F, Germany
15. Trail BlazersTJ Leaf, F, UCLA
16. BullsJohn Collins, F, Wake Forest
17. BucksTony Bradley, C, North Carolina
18. PacersJarrett Allen, C, Texas
19. HawksJustin Jackson, F, North Carolina
20. Trail Blazers (via MEM)OG Anunoby, F, Indiana
21. ThunderDwayne Bacon, F, Florida State
22. Nets (via WAS)Terrance Ferguson, G, Australia
23. Raptors (via LAC)Jordan Bell, F, Oregon
24. JazzJosh Hart, G, Villanova
25. Magic (via TOR)Jonathan Jeanne, C, France
26. Trail Blazers (via CLE)Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA
27. Nets (via BOS)Luke Kennard, G, Duke
28. Lakers (via HOU)Justin Patton, C, Creighton
29. SpursHarry Giles, C, Duke
30. Jazz (via GSW)Sindarius Thornwell, G, South Carolina
Author's picks


Notable selections

No. 1 Boston Celtics: Markelle Fultz, Guard, Washington

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 16: Draft prospect Markelle Fultz poses poses with draft caps for portraits prior to the 2017 NBA Draft Lottery at the NBA Headquarters in New York, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloadi
Jennifer Pottheiser/Getty Images

This is a no-brainer for Boston.

Drafting Fultz is the easiest decision the Celtics will ever have to make in the draft. Forget about trades, forget about Butler and George. Unless a deal floats around that means the Celtics can trade for a player like Anthony Davis, don't even bother exploring it.

Fultz can provide valuable minutes and scoring off the bench the moment he takes the floor at TD Garden, as he averaged 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game for the Huskies as a freshman. He can complement any back court pairing of Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, Terry Rozier and even Isaiah Thomas, who said the two could figure out how to play with one another if he was the top pick.

Chris Forsberg @ESPNForsberg

IT on talking with potential No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz: "He’s a good friend of mine. If it happens, we’ll figure out how to play together."

It's understandable to question the selection from the outside looking in. The Celtics are loaded with guards, so why would they draft Fultz? Well, here's why. 

Bradley and Thomas are in line for big paydays next summer, and it's more likely than not that Thomas will be receiving a max from the Celtics while Bradley will be offered a near-max deal elsewhere and likely won't settle for another bargain deal with Boston.

Also, Smart's contract is set to expire, so Boston's backcourt situation could be quite bare next summer, particularly if they go chasing after Gordon Hayward this summer in free agency, which they most likely will, according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.

CelticsBlog @celticsblog

Free Agency Rumor: Celtics focused on Gordon Hayward https://t.co/cFwoDImdAT https://t.co/dwFKu93wf3

There's a lot of moving parts for this franchise and a lot of tough decisions that will need to be made sooner rather than later. But for now, the choice is simple. Draft Fultz and don't look back. 


No. 4 Phoenix Suns: Josh Jackson, Forward, Kansas

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 16:  NBA Draft Prospect, Josh Jackson poses for a photo before the 2017 NBA Draft Lottery at the New York Hilton in New York, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photogra
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns may have missed out on a top-three selection in this year's draft, but fortunately for them, they won't miss out on the player they need in Josh Jackson. 

Jackson has the potential to be the best two-way coming out of this year's draft, and that includes the likes of Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball.  

Jackson's combination of athleticism and size (6'8", 207 lbs) projects him to be a force on both ends of the floor—all he really needs to do is hone in on his jumpshot to become a real terror for opposing defenses at the next level.

ESPN's Tim Legler seems to think he has star potential as well:

975TheFanatic @975TheFanatic

He will develop into a shooter in the NBA. He's the closest guy to Kawhi Leonard coming into the league - @LegsESPN on Josh Jackson

While he does need to improve his offensive game, he's still pretty darn good as it is. Jackson shot 51.3 percent from the floor and scored 16.3 points while registering 7.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.7 steals per game.

Not bad for a freshman in college. 

When you combine an ability to attack the basket, efficient shooting and the strength to play lockdown defense, there aren't many players coming out of their freshman year of college like this. 

The Celtics won't take Jackson with the top selection, since they just drafted Jaylen Brown a year ago to be the future at the small forward position and they still have Jae Crowder on the roster. There's a chance that the Lakers or 76ers could pick him, too, but the Lakers wouldn't have room on the floor with Brandon Ingram playing, and the 76ers would be way too crowded if Ben Simmons can make his way back to the court. 

The Suns have a franchise piece in Devin Booker, and they'll pair him with another fast-rising prospect in Jackson. 


No. 7 Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonathan Isaac, Forward, Florida State

Mar 18, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles forward Jonathan Isaac (1) during the first half in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Originally, i had Jonathan Isaac getting drafted by the New York Knicks in my first mock draft before the lottery results came out, but since then, I've had a change of heart. 

With the Knicks drafting eighth overall and the Timberwolves slotted at No. 7, it would be interesting to see Minnesota draft Isaac, a dynamic, athletic 6'10" forward to complement Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.

Isaac would move to the power forward spot, but he would have to bulk up his 210-pound frame in order to survive an NBA season.

A pairing of Isaac and KAT would be a nightmare for opposing big men, who would not be able to keep with the pace up and down the court. Throw in Wiggins and a soon-to-be healthy Zach LaVine, and the Timberwolves could be dangerous and fast on both ends of the floor.

Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman also thinks Isaac to Minnesota makes a lot of sense:

Jonathan Wasserman @NBADraftWass

Jonathan Isaac to Minnesota makes too much sense. P-n-R defense between Wiggins/Towns. Scores by taking what D gives him. Unselfish player.

He's not as seasoned and ready to play as Fultz or Jackson, but under the tutelage of head coach Tim Thibodeau in Minnesota, Isaac could project to be a future All-Star.

Isaac will bring length to the Timberwolves inside, rebound effectively (7.8 rebounds per game at Florida Stae) and shoot a respectable clip from three-point range (34.8 percent), which Minnesota would love to see become a little more consistent to truly be able to spread the floor for his athletic perimeter players.

The Timberwolves could always go in a different direction and draft a player like Malik Monk or Frank Ntilikina with the seventh pick, but Isaac would be a better fit for the roster, especially when you consider that the team still has Ricky Rubio, LaVine and rookie Kris Dunn at the guard positions. 

Take Isaac and watch him blossom. 


All stats courtesy of ESPN.com unless otherwise noted.