NBA Mock Draft 2017: 1st-Round Predictions, Breakdown of Top Prospects

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistMay 30, 2017

SAN JOSE, CA - MARCH 23:  Lauri Markkanen #10 of the Arizona Wildcats looks on in the first half against the Xavier Musketeers during the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament West Regional at SAP Center on March 23, 2017 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

As the NBA draft evaluation process continues, the light shines brighter on prospects' strengths and weaknesses leading up to June 22. 

Teams picking below the top five may miss out on the highly touted collegians expected to change a franchise's direction with immediate impact. However, a few players projected to round out the top 10 could crack an NBA starting lineup as rookies.

Point guards and swingmen will highlight the 2017 draft class. Who's the first 7-footer coming off the board and to which team?

How will foreign players fare in this year's draft? Who's the top overseas prospect?

We'll break down three players who may slip below the top 10 but have the skill sets to develop into quality pros.


2017 NBA Mock Draft 1st Round Predictions

1. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn): Markelle Fultz, G, Washington

2. Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball, G, UCLA

3. Philadelphia 76ers: Malik Monk, G, Kentucky

4. Phoenix Suns: Josh Jackson, F, Kansas

5. Sacramento Kings (via Philadelphia): De'Aaron Fox, G, Kentucky

6. Orlando Magic: Jayson Tatum, F, Duke

7. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonathan Isaac, F, Florida State

8. New York Knicks: Donovan Mitchell, G, Louisville

9. Dallas Mavericks: Frank Ntilikina, G, France

10. Sacramento Kings (via New Orleans): Lauri Markkanen, F, Arizona

11. Charlotte Hornets: Dwayne Bacon, F, Florida State

12. Detroit Pistons: Dennis Smith Jr., G, NC State

13. Denver Nuggets: Justin Jackson, F, North Carolina

14. Miami Heat: Caleb Swanigan, F, Purdue

15. Portland Trail Blazers: Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga

16. Chicago Bulls: Sindarius Thornwell, G, South Carolina

17. Milwaukee Bucks: Harry Giles, F, Duke

18. Indiana Pacers: John Collins, F, Wake Forest

19. Atlanta Hawks: Jarrett Allen, C, Texas

20. Portland Trail Blazers (via Memphis): Jordan Bell, F, Oregon

21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Terrance Ferguson, G, Australia

22. Brooklyn Nets (via Washington): Ivan Rabb, F, California

23. Toronto Raptors (L.A. Clippers): Bam Adebayo, F, Kentucky

24. Utah Jazz: D.J. Wilson, F, Michigan 

25. Orlando Magic (via Toronto): Josh Hart, G, Villanova

26. Portland Trail Blazers (via Cleveland): PJ Dozier G, South Carolina

27. Brooklyn Nets (via Boston): Isaiah Hartenstein, F, Germany

28. Los Angeles Lakers (via Houston): Justin Patton, C, Creighton

29. San Antonio Spurs: Luke Kennard, G, Duke

30. Utah Jazz (via Golden State): TJ Leaf, F, UCLA


Donovan Mitchell Going to the Knicks at No. 8?

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 19:  Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Louisville Cardinals reacts against the Michigan Wolverines in the first half during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 19, 2017 i
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The New York Knicks have shown interest in Louisville product Donovan Mitchell, per New York Post reporter Marc Berman.

"That versatility, his defensive mindset and character are reasons the Knicks have more than a casual interest in Mitchell—whether at No. 8 or trading down a few notches to later in the lottery," Berman said.

Mitchell plays hard on both ends of the court and possesses combo guard skills at 6'3". Whether the Knicks move on from Carmelo Anthony or not, the potential No. 8 pick could play at the 1 to replace Derrick Rose.

It's worth mentioning, Mitchell isn't a polished ball distributor, but his former head coach Rick Pitino said he's a point guard in Berman's report.

"Point guard is his natural position," Pitino told The Post. "But because of Quentin Snider, who's been around a while as a veteran, I played [Donovan] at the two-guard spot. I see him strictly as a one."

Despite Pitino's words, Mitchell showed questionable decision-making, particularly in transition offense—shown in the Draft Express video above.

Fortunately, the triangle offense spreads the passing duties as opposed to placing the onus solely on the point guard. Mitchell's defensive tenacity and ability to score on all three levels should help him earn a starting spot early in his career.


Dallas Mavericks Looking Beyond NCAA Prospects

France's Frank Ntilikina participates in a Skills Challenge before an All Star Game basketball match of the French Ligue Nationale de Basket (LNB) between a selection of the best international players from the Pro A league against a selection of the best

The NBA has become a global league with plenty of prospects from abroad leaving their marks on the game. This year's draft class won't deliver many standout players outside the NCAA, but guard Frank Ntilikina out of France may possibly hear his name called between Nos. 8 and 10.

Initially, Jackson grew intrigued by the French-born talent. Ntilikina's unselfish play as a lead guard would cater to the Knicks' half-court offense. At 6'5", he's able to see over the opposition and possesses the skills to develop into an elite defender due to a near 7'0" wingspan with good basketball instincts, indicated in the Draft Express video below.

As stated, New York may choose a better scoring guard in Mitchell, which leaves Ntilikina for the Dallas Mavericks at No. 9 or the Sacramento Kings at No. 10 if they miss out on De'Aaron Fox with the No. 5 selection. 

According to Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter, Dwain Price, Ntilikina ranks high on the Mavericks' draft board. Donnie Nelson, the team's president of basketball operations, expressed satisfaction with Yogi Ferrell's progress, but he spoke about the need to add help in the backcourt.

"I think Yogi made some huge strides and is a young developing player that we're all internally excited about," said Donnie Nelson, the Mavericks' president of basketball operations. "Hopefully we can give him some help in the backcourt."

Once the 2017-18 season starts, Ntilikina will be 19 years old with much room to grow physically and as a basketball player. Nonetheless, he's already shown an early skill set as a true pro point guard.


Sacramento Kings Take a 7-Footer in Lauri Markkanen 

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 18: Lauri Markkanen #10 of the Arizona Wildcats attempts a free throw against the St. Mary's Gaels during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Vivint Smart Home Arena on March 18, 2017 in Salt Lake Ci
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Sacramento Kings will likely take a lead guard at No. 5, whether it's Fox, Ntilikina or North Carolina State product Dennis Smith. The team's second pick within the top 10 should address the frontcourt. 

Lauri Markkanen projects as a stretch 4, who complements a defensive-minded center with paint-restricted scoring ability. The Arizona product alongside Willie Cauley-Stein fits the bill.

Markkanen has a smooth stroke from beyond the arc that will attract suitors selecting before the Kings at No. 10. Nonetheless, if he falls due to all the talent at guard, Sacramento would pick up a quality shooter at power forward.

The 7-footer won't log many double-doubles due to his struggles rebounding in the paint, but he's a marksman with space to pull up, and his size allows him to fire away with a hand in his face. Markkanen can also put the ball on the floor when he drives to the left. 

Cauley-Stein would handle all the dirty work down low, but a capable stretch 4 allows the offense to spread out, which fosters better ball movement. The front office has an opportunity to put this franchise on the right track.