NBA Mock Draft 2017: Opening-Round Predictions and Rising Prospects to Watch

David McCracken@crackemcFeatured ColumnistJune 5, 2017

Duke forward Harry Giles, right, fights for a rebound against Louisville forward Ray Spalding, second from right, and Louisville forward Anas Mahmoud during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, Thursday, March 9, 2017, in New York. Duke won 81-77. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

As the Golden State Warriors continue to dominate the Cleveland Cavaliers after another beatdown Sunday night, many NBA fans have given up hope for a competitive series and have focused their attention on the upcoming NBA draft. 

On June 22, the lives of some of the world's best young basketball prospects will be changed forever once they hear their name get called during the draft, and the direction of a few franchises will change dramatically as well with the addition of new blood onto their respective rosters.

But not every team has the chance to draft the likes of Markelle Fultz or Josh Jackson, and they will have to look for diamonds in the rough.

Fortunately for NBA teams, this year's draft class has a lot of depth and talent from top to bottom.

Let's take a quick look at my updated NBA mock draft: 


2017 NBA Mock Draft

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

2. Lakers: Lonzo Ball, G, UCLA

3. 76ers: De'Aaron Fox, G, Kentucky

4. Suns: Josh Jackson, F, Kansas

5. Kings (via PHI): Jayson Tatum, F, Duke

6. Magic: Frank Ntilikina, G, France 

7. Timberwolves: Jonathan Isaac, F, Florida State

8. Knicks: Malik Monk, G, Kentucky

9. Mavericks: Lauri Markkanen, F, Arizona

10. Kings (via NO): Dennis Smith Jr., G, NC State

11. Hornets: Ivan Rabb, F, California

12. Pistons: Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga

13. Nuggets: TJ Leaf, F, UCLA

14. Heat: Isaiah Hartenstein, F, Germany

15. Trail Blazers: Jordan Bell, F, Oregon

16. Bulls: John Collins, F, Wake Forest

17. Bucks: Harry Giles C, Duke 

18. Pacers: Jarrett Allen C, Texas

19. Hawks: Dwayne Bacon F, Florida State

20. Trail Blazers (via MEM): OG Anunoby, F, Indiana

21. Thunder: Justin Jackson, F, North Carolina

22. Nets (via WAS): Terrance Ferguson, G, Australia

23. Raptors (via LAC): Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA

24. Jazz: Josh Hart, G, Villanova

25. Magic (via TOR): Tony Bradley, C, North Carolina

26. Trail Blazers (via CLE): Jonathan Jeanne, C, France

27. Nets (via BOS): Sindarius Thornwell, G, South Carolina

28. Lakers (via HOU): Justin Patton, C, Creighton

29. Spurs: Luke Kennard, G, Duke

30. Jazz (via GSW):  Caleb Swanigan, F, Purdue


Harry Giles, C, Duke

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 16:  NBA Draft Prospect, Harry Giles III  smiles during 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 Photograp
David Dow/Getty Images

Heading into his freshman season at Duke, Harry Giles was a can't miss prospect, predestined to be the top pick of this year's draft even after he tore his ACL for a second time.

But another knee injury that sidelined him for the start of the season combined with inconsistent play, constant foul trouble and an inability to show off the explosion that made him such a phenom in high school, Giles finds himself as the biggest question mark in this class.

If he can get healthy and back to his normal self, he's an absolute steal and can be a future All-Star in the NBA. If he doesn't regain that burst, however, he'll be nothing more than a serviceable rotation big man. 

But the question marks surrounding Giles haven't stopped NBA teams from putting him on their draft boards. DraftExpress.com has Giles getting drafted with the 20th pick to the Portland Trailblazers, but let's be serious. Does anyone really believe that the Trailblazers, after dealing with players like Bill Walton, Sam Bowie, Greg Oden, Brandon Roy and most recently Festus Ezeli would take a chance on Giles and his injury-prone knees?

Not in a million years.

I have Giles pegged to go to the Milwaukee Bucks at No. 17, where he can learn and get back to his old self with the likes of fellow tall, athletic freaks like Thon Maker and Giannis Antetokounmpo, but Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman believes that Giles will fall to Oklahoma City, where the Thunder won't hesitate to draft him:

"The Oklahoma City Thunder should be waiting to catch Harry Giles if he slips to No. 21. There are obvious risks tied to his surgically repaired knees and limited experience. But at No. 21, the risks are worth the potential reward that would come with Giles if he strengthens his legs and skill set.

"He's bound to look more enticing during workouts than he did at Duke, where he came off the bench and struggled with foul trouble (7.7 per 40 minutes).

"As long as he stays healthy, Giles should be able to carve out a role in Oklahoma City as an energizer around the basket. But between his tools and room for growth offensively, his ceiling clearly exceeds role-player status."

Giles is a generational talent when healthy. Let's just hope we can all see Giles back to his former self for the sake of his future, and for the NBA. 


Justin Jackson, F, North Carolina

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 03: Justin Jackson #44 of the North Carolina Tar Heels dunks late in the second half against Josh Perkins #13 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the 2017 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at University of Phoenix Stadium on
Pool/Getty Images

I have Justin Jackson going to the Thunder with the 21st pick in the draft, but the former Tarheel is steadily climbing up draft boards as teams continue to search for tall, athletic swingman who can shoot the ball with consistency behind the perimeter.

Jackson reminds me a lot of Jeremy Lamb: a skinny, lanky perimeter-oriented player who needs to bulk up before making an impact on the professional level. DraftExpress.com has Jackson going as high as No. 16 in their latest mock draft to the Chicago Bulls, who are in desperate need of shooting.

A 37 percent shooter from deep last season at UNC, Jackson averaged 18.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game to go along with 2.8 assists. His versatility will come in handy as he adjusts to the physicality of the NBA game, meaning that he will have to spend a lot of time in the weight room just to survive a full NBA season.

But Wasserman isn't too concerned with Jackson's frame, insisting that he can fill a void for a team like the Denver Nuggets in case they lost Danilo Gallinari in free agency: 

"Justin Jackson could be argued as both a need-filler and the best player available. He averaged 18.3 points and drilled 105 threes during the 2016-17 season, looking far more confident and threatening as both a shooter and shot-maker on the move. He even made a strong case for himself at the defensive end against Malik Monk in the NCAA tournament.

"The Nuggets' No. 5 offensive efficiency will fall if they lose Gallinari, something they can't afford, given they're No. 29 in defensive efficiency. No player on the board will change that latter ranking in 2017-18. Jackson at least gives Denver an offensive weapon to play alongside Kenneth Faried if Gallinari goes elsewhere."

Per Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee, Jackson is even working out for teams like the Sacramento Kings who, own the fifth and 10th pick of the draft: 

Jason Jones @mr_jasonjones

UNC's Justin Jackson is scheduled to visit with the Kings tomorrow for a workout.

At No. 13, Jackson could be an enticing addition to the Nuggets, but how would he mesh with the likes of Jamal Murray, who was just drafted by Denver last season in the lottery? And at 22 years of age, Jackson is already two years older than Murray is now. 


Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 03: Zach Collins #32 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs dunks the ball against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2017 NCAA Men's Final Four Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium on April 3, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. North Carolina
Lance King/Getty Images


At No. 12, the Detroit Pistons will select Gonzaga big man Zach Collins to pair him up with Andre Drummond down below. Many pundits, including Wasserman, have Collins pegged as a big man who can do it all when given an opportunity. In Detroit, he won't be used as a center, however.

Drummond takes up too much of the paint to have a partner in crime in the post, so Collins will be moved to the power forward position and will be trained to become a stretch-four in Stan Van Gundy's system, or he will be relegated to the bench as a reserve for Drummond at the five.

Why the Pistons? Because Drummond may never improve his range moving forward, and he needs help. Collins had a lot of talent and a lot of hype for a player who only averaged 17.3 minutes per game in his lone season in college, but his upside his hard to ignore.

Collins is pegged to be selected with the No. 13 pick in DraftExpress.com's mock draft to the Nuggets and Wasserman has him going to the Miami Heat at No. 14. The Heat would be a good landing spot for Collins, as he could fill in the void left by Chris Bosh, who doesn't appear to be returning to the court anytime soon due to his illness.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

NBA does medical review on Bosh, agrees with Heat that illness is career-ending, per @IraHeatBeat https://t.co/YZz7T85IQn https://t.co/kSdhPy5hsY

Both the Nuggets and the Heat have established big men (Nikola Jokic and Hassan Whiteside, respectively) and could use Collins' services to space the floor, just the like the Pistons.

If the Pistons pass on him, Collins won't have to wait too much longer on draft night as either the Nuggets or Heat will swoop in to take him. 


All stats courtesy of ESPN.com  


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