NBA drafts come and go—but this year's feels more important than usual.
Look at some of the teams in the top 10. No, not the usual appearances by teams like the Philadelphia 76ers or Orlando Magic. Focus on the prestigious franchises—the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Boston Celtics.
Weird to see those names hanging around the top of the order, right? The Knicks and Lakers, should their respective front offices draft well, might be one step away from contending again if a prospect can help lure a big free agent. As for Boston, hitting well with the first pick or dealing it for a big haul might change the complexion of the Eastern Conference.
This year's top 10 is the culmination of years and years of rebuilding, and this lends to the notion that hindsight might look back on this draft as critical in reshaping the league unlike many before it.
Here's a look at an updated mock.
2017 NBA Mock Draft
|1. Celtics (via BKN)||Markelle Fultz, G, Washington|
|2. Lakers||Lonzo Ball, G, UCLA|
|3. 76ers||Josh Jackson, F, Kansas|
|4. Suns||Jayson Tatum, F, Duke|
|5. Kings (via PHI)||Jonathan Isaac, F, Florida State|
|6. Magic||De'Aaron Fox, G, Kentucky|
|7. Timberwolves||Frank Ntilikina, G, France|
|8. Knicks||Harry Giles, F, Duke|
|9. Mavericks||Dennis Smith Jr., G, NC State|
|10. Kings (via NO)||Malik Monk, G, Kentucky|
|11. Hornets||Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga|
|12. Pistons||Lauri Markkanen, F, Arizona|
|13. Nuggets||Ivan Rabb, F, California|
|14. Heat||Justin Jackson, F, North Carolina|
|15. Trail Blazers||Terrance Ferguson, G, Australia|
|16. Bulls||John Collins, F, Wake Forest|
|17. Bucks||Tony Bradley, C, North Carolina|
|18. Pacers||Jarrett Allen, C, Texas|
|19. Hawks||Isaiah Hartenstein, F, Germany|
|20. Trail Blazers (via MEM)||OG Anunoby, F, Indiana|
|21. Thunder||TJ Leaf, F, UCLA|
|22. Nets (via WAS)||Dwayne Bacon, F, Florida State|
|23. Raptors (via LAC)||Moritz Wagner, F, Michigan|
|24. Jazz||Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA|
|25. Magic (via TOR)||Jordan Bell, F, Oregon|
|26. Trail Blazers (via CLE)||Josh Hart, G, Villanova|
|27. Nets (via BOS)||Sindarius Thornwell, G, South Carolina|
|28. Lakers (via HOU)||Justin Patton, C, Creighton|
|29. Spurs||Caleb Swanigan, F, Purdue|
|30. Jazz (via GSW)||Luke Kennard, G, Duke|
Teams Under Most Pressure in Top 10
The Sacramento Kings can't afford to mess this up.
The odd pick-swap ordeal with Philadelphia didn't work out too poorly here, and paired with losing DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings actually sit in a great situation this year.
While this seems like the early throes of a significant rebuild, nailing a pair of top-10 picks could work wonders in a hurry. In the mock above, the front office rolls the dice on Florida State's Jonathan Isaac at No. 5 and follow up with Kentucky's Malik Monk at No. 10.
In the mock above, the Kings just miss out on Jayson Tatum, though calling Isaac a consolation prize does his stock and upside a serious disservice.
He's all of 19 years old, yet he stands at 6'11" and 205 pounds coming off a year in which he shot 50.8 percent from the floor and averaged 12.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.5 blocks per game. He's a high-end, two-way prospect who can grow into something special with time.
Monk isn't really a "consolation prize" either. He's a 6'3", 185-pound combo guard who poured in 19.8 points per game on 45 percent shooting last year, though shot selection was an issue. But at 19 years old, he's got plenty of room to grow, and not just physically.
Kings head coach Dave Joerger has said the approach is "slow and steady," according to NBA.com's Kyle Ramos. The two prospects selected above are extremely versatile players who can grow while the roster gets remade around them, fitting the approach well.
It should go without saying, but all eyes are on the Knicks right now.
Good luck figuring out what team president Phil Jackson will do about his apparent Carmelo Anthony problem. To make matters worse, the team actually fell to the eighth pick in the lottery, which according to ESPN.com's Ian Begley, they had only a 22.6 percent chance of doing.
So yes, this pick is rather important.
Above, Jackson and Co. decide to go with Harry Giles out of Duke. It only seems fitting the team will roll with a major injury risk because of the incredible upside he possesses. Giles is 6'11" and 232 pounds of incredible athleticism who could easily turn out to be the best two-way player from the class if his body allows him.
Which is the catch—Giles has a pair of serious knee injuries on his resume already. As a recent ESPN.com scouting profile noted, though, there's a big risk-reward scenario here: "Based on sheer talent, he's one of the three best players in the draft. His slow recovery from an ACL tear in high school—as well as another knee surgery last fall—hampered his play for Duke. But if he checks out medically, Giles has a chance to be a monster player in a few years..."
Look, it's clear the Knicks aren't attracting major free agents. They weren't while rebuilding and certainly aren't now if Anthony might be on his way out the door. A top-10 pick needs to have best-in-class upside at this point, so Giles is the pick who can hopefully stay on the court with Kristaps Porzingis and help the team compete.
The Dallas Mavericks are in a tough spot, but there's a way out through savvy moves.
Getting Harrison Barnes was a step in the right direction, and it seems like Dirk Nowitzki isn't yet ready to fully hand things off to Nerlens Noel.
This leaves point guard as the major immediate need, and barring something crazy like a Kyle Lowry coming to town via free agency, the team will need to hit it during the draft.
Above the Mavericks do just that, grabbing Dennis Smith Jr. out of NC State, a 6'2", 190-pound point guard who is one of the most overall freakishly athletic players in the class.
Had Smith not tore up his knee during his final collegiate season, he'd be in the conversation as the first point guard off the board, something The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor hinted at in a recent note about his skill set.
"Smith is a score-first guard, but he also shows an understanding of how to play with pace by changing speeds and utilizing advanced dribble moves. This manifests for him as a passer, since he can patiently run the pick-and-roll while looking for his teammates," O'Connor wrote.
Pursuing a prospect who could turn out to be something along the lines of a Russell Westbrook isn't a bad idea for a team like the Mavericks, who need a boost to stay relevant in the deep Western Conference.
Savvy moves in free agency and via trade have Dallas on the right path. Rolling the dice on upside like Smith in the draft is a continuation of the ideal rebuilding strategy.
All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.