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2017 NBA Mock Draft: Predictions for Most Intriguing Prospects

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJune 6, 2017

MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 24: De'Aaron Fox #0 of the Kentucky Wildcats drives to the basket against the UCLA Bruins in the second half during the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at FedExForum on March 24, 2017 in Memphis, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

What makes for an intriguing NBA draft prospect?

Sometimes, it's the amount of positive hype a player is receiving before the draft. This year, that's former University of Kentucky point guard De'Aaron Fox.

Other times, it's an incredible set of NBA Draft Combine measurements that makes fans wonder about a player's NBA potential. Jonathan Jeanne, who turns just 20 years old on July 3, is that prospect this year.

And then there are the players who enjoyed breakout college seasons for big conference programs but aren't getting a ton of momentum heading into the draft. This year, one of those players is former Oklahoma State point guard Jawun Evans.

Here's a look at a new mock draft and analysis on Fox, Jeanne and Evans.

     

2017 NBA Mock Draft

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1. Boston Celtics: Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington

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

3. Philadelphia 76ers: De'Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky

4. Phoenix Suns: Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas

5. Sacramento Kings: Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke

6. Orlando Magic: Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky

7. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonathan Isaac, SF/PF, Florida State

8. New York Knicks: Frank Ntilikina, PG, SIG Strasbourg (France)

9. Dallas Mavericks: Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona

10. Sacramento Kings: Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga

11. Charlotte Hornets: Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina

12. Detroit Pistons: Dennis Smith Jr., PG, N.C. State

13. Denver Nuggets: Rodions Kurucs, SF, FC Barcelona B (Spain)

14. Miami Heat: Donovan Mitchell, SG, Louisville

15. Portland Trail Blazers: Harry Giles, PF, Duke

16. Chicago Bulls: Jarrett Allen, C, Texas

17. Milwaukee Bucks: OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana

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

19. Atlanta Hawks: Justin Patton, C, Creighton

20. Portland Trail Blazers: Luke Kennard, SG, Duke

21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jordan Bell, PF, Oregon

22. Brooklyn Nets: Tyler Lydon, PF, Syracuse

23. Toronto Raptors: Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA

24. Utah Jazz: TJ Leaf, PF, UCLA

25. Orlando Magic: Isaiah Hartenstein, PF, Zalgiris Kaunas (Lithuania)

26. Portland Trail Blazers: Terrance Ferguson, SG, Adelaide (Australia)

27. Brooklyn Nets: Jawun Evans, PG, Oklahoma State

28. Los Angeles Lakers: Bam Adebayo, PF, Kentucky

29. San Antonio Spurs: Jonathan Jeanne, C, SLUC Nancy (France)

30. Utah Jazz: Derrick White, PG, Colorado

      

De'Aaron Fox

One can make the argument that no singular player is receiving more praise and hype at the moment (and rightfully so).

You can Google De'Aaron Fox or search for his name on Twitter and find a litany of articles and tweets singing Fox's positives, but Washington Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall's take on Fox per Chris Miller of CSN Mid-Atlantic is probably the best endorsement: "A lot of people say it's bias because he's from Kentucky, but I think De'Aaron Fox might end up being the best point guard out of that class. He reminds me of myself a lot, just a lefty."

Wall does have a University of Kentucky bias (he played one season there before entering the NBA), but regardless, we have a four-time NBA All-Star saying that Fox reminds him of himself.

No one can knock Fox's handling, quickness, defense and intangibles, among other attributes. However, the big knock on Fox was his poor outside shooting last year, as he shot just 24.6 percent from the field.

However, Mike Schmitz of DraftExpress is optimistic that Fox can improve:

Mike Schmitz @Mike_Schmitz

Thought De'Aaron Fox showed he has more shooting potential than scouts saw at Kentucky. Think he becomes at least an AVG 3P shooter in time. https://t.co/jBASFhec2V

If Fox can start hitting more outside shots consistently, he can be an All-NBA Team member someday.

      

Jonathan Jeanne

Jeanne, who played for SLUC Nancy in LNB Pro A (France's top basketball league), ranked No. 1 among all 2017 NBA Draft Combine prospects in hand length (9'5 ½", tying him with eight others), height without shoes (7'0 ¾") and with shoes (7'2"), standing reach (9'5 ½") and wingspan (7'6 ½"). He could be a nightmare matchup problem for teams if he develops.

Although NBA teams are increasingly reliant on three-point shooters and small-ball lineups more than ever before, you can't teach size. Jeanne is slight for his height, weighing at 207.4 pounds, but some time with NBA trainers will allow him bulk up quickly.

Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report watched Jeanne at the NBA Draft Combine and had this to say:

"[Jeanne] presented himself as a giant finishing target at the rim. He changed shots naturally just by sliding and raising his arms. He even showed off some touch with a high-arching mid-range jumper.

Jeanne clearly lacks strength and appears weak with the ball in traffic and easy to back down in the post. But at 19 years old, there are too many other unique, enticing aspects of his game and profile."

Jeanne is a project and needs at least a redshirt year or two before contributing to an NBA rotation, but the wait could certainly be worth it for a team willing to take a chance.

      

Jawun Evans

The top five point guards on everyone's draft board are set in stone at this point. It is the quintet of players you see above who are in the top 12 of the mock draft.

Oklahoma State point guard Jawun Evans is the next point guard off the board at No. 27. While he isn't going to be a lottery pick, he very well might be one of the best three floor generals from this draft.

It's hard to ignore the fact that Evans was the best player and the leader of an Oklahoma State team that finished first in Division I men's college basketball in offensive efficiency, per KenPom.com. He averaged 19.2 points, 6.4 assists and 1.8 steals for the Cowboys last year and led them to an NCAA tournament appearance.

That OK State team also faced the toughest schedule in the nation, per KenPom.com. Five of their nine Big 12 foes made the NCAA tournament, and the Cowboys also faced eventual national champion North Carolina and NCAA tournament participants Maryland, Wichita State and Arkansas out of conference.

The primary issue with Evans is that he's on the smaller size (per DraftExpress, he is 5'11 ½" with shoes). Per Josh Riddell and Julian Applebome of DraftExpress with more on that, especially in regards to his trouble finishing at the rim:

"He isn't afraid to attack the basket and challenge rim protectors, but hasn't found much success finishing from close range at the college level, as he converted just 47% of his half-court attempts inside the paint last season according to Synergy Sports Technology. His lack of size and just decent explosiveness are major issues here, and is something he'll have to work to overcome in the NBA."

Evans will certainly have to work on finishing in the paint on the next level. His shooting numbers also dipped from his freshman to sophomore seasons (Evans made 47.5 percent of his threes in 2015-16 but 37.9 percent in 2016-17), although in fairness, he was asked to do a lot more during his sophomore season.

Still, Evans is a prospect to watch. Will a team take a chance on him in the top 20, or might he slip outside the first round?

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