NBA Mock Draft 2017: 1st-Round Predictions for Fastest Rising Prospects

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJune 13, 2017

Duke's Harry Giles (1) walks up the court in the second half of an NCAA basketball game against Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Duke won 85-83. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Chuck Burton/Associated Press

The 2017 NBA Finals are over and the Golden State Warriors are once again champions. Now, it's time to look forward to the offseason.

The first and most significant stage on the immediate horizon is the 2017 NBA draft, which will take place on June 22. We know the draft order, which kicks off with Eastern Conference runners-up the Boston Celtics. We also know who the top prospects are.

What we don't know is exactly which prospects will wind up with which teams. The fact that some prospects appear to be rising late in the draft process only complicates the picture. We're going to examine some of those rising prospects here.

We'll also mock the first round of the draft based on factors like prospect potential, team needs and team fits.


2017 NBA Mock Draft Round 1

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

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

3. Philadelphia 76ers: Josh Jackson, F, Kansas

4. Phoenix Suns: De'Aaron Fox, G, Kentucky

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

6. Orlando Magic: Malik Monk, G, Kentucky

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

8. New York Knicks: Lauri Markkanen, F, Arizona

9. Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Smith Jr., G, NC State

10. Sacramento Kings (via New Orleans): Frank Ntilikina, G, France

11. Charlotte Hornets: Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga

12. Detroit Pistons: Harry Giles, C, Duke

13. Denver Nuggets: Ivan Rabb, F, California

14. Miami Heat: Justin Jackson, F, North Carolina

15. Portland Trail Blazers: John Collins, F, Wake Forest

16. Chicago Bulls: Luke Kennard, G, Duke

17. Milwaukee Bucks: Jarrett Allen, C, Texas

18. Indiana Pacers: Tony Bradley, C, North Carolina

19. Atlanta Hawks: TJ Leaf, F, UCLA

20. Portland Trail Blazers (via Memphis): Dwayne Bacon, F, Florida State

21. Oklahoma City Thunder: OG Anunoby, F, Indiana

22. Brooklyn Nets (via Washington): Isaiah Hartenstein, F, Germany

23. Toronto Raptors (via LA Clippers): Jordan Bell, F, Oregon

24. Utah Jazz: Justin Patton, C, Creighton

25. Orlando Magic (via Toronto):  Rodions Kurucs, F, Latvia

26. Portland Trail Blazers: (via Cleveland): Josh Hart, G, Villanova

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

28. Los Angeles Lakers (via Houston): Caleb Swanigan, F, Purdue

29. San Antonio Spurs: Terrance Ferguson, G, Australia

30. Utah Jazz (via Golden State): Donovan Mitchell, G, Louisville


Rising Prospects

John Collins, F, Wake Forest

If there's one thing we learned during the 2017 NBA Finals, it's that big men who can shoot can be virtually indefensible in the right situations. While 6'10" Wake Forest prospect John Collins probably isn't going to be the next Kevin Durant, his willingness to add a deep shot to his game has his stock on the rise.

According to Sean Labar of HeroSports.com, Collins has been working on his three-point shot, and progress there could turn him into a complete prospect:

"This really feels like a dream scenario for a NBA team in search of a versatile big man. Collins showed dominance in nearly every facet of the game last season. The dude finished in the top-5 in the conference in points scored, rebounds, blocks, and field-goal percentage. That kind of consistent production is hard to come by, and now he can add 3-point shooting to the arsenal?"

Collins was a productive player last season, even without a consistent long stroke in his bag of tricks. He averaged 19.2 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game in 2016. According to Collins, though, teams have been interested in his ability to shoot.

"Almost every single team asked me about my ability to lengthen the floor in terms of creating more space for my shot," Collins said, per Labar. "I didn't shoot the three a lot in high school, but it's something I've always had. I think I've always had a great, natural shot that's always been there, but it's just a matter of getting reps up."

Collins should be a first-round prospect as things stand. If teams are convinced Collins can add the long ball to his repertoire sooner rather than later, he could wind up going near the top of Round 1. I don't think he falls past the teens. 


Harry Giles, C, Duke

From a pure talent standpoint, Duke's Harry Giles is one of the best prospects in this year's draft. He has size at 6'11" and is possibly the best big-man prospect in the entire draft. Athletically, he has the goods to play either center or forward, depending on the scheme.

The question with Giles is his injury risk. He has already suffered two significant knee injuries during his playing career.

However, Giles seems to be easing injury concerns, which has his stock on the rise. Jeremy Woo of SI.com even called Giles one of the biggest winners of the NBA combine:

"Giles is the draft's biggest wild card when it comes to long-term injury risk, but did well for himself by showing up, measuring well and testing respectably given all he's been through with his knee problems. He's still one of the most talented players in this class, although he didn't show much of that at Duke, and it's a pretty solid bet that a team will take the plunge pretty early."

"I'm 100 percent healthy," Giles said, per Ansar Khan of MLive.com. "My body feels good. I'm ready to move forward."

Considering how much guesswork and risk are involved in the NBA draft anyway, I'd be surprised if a team didn't take a chance on Giles in the first half of Round 1. My guess is he goes somewhere between picks No. 8 and 18.


Jordan Bell, F, Oregon

Kansas' Josh Jackson is widely considered the top defensive prospect in this draft, and he could be a lottery pick because of that perception. Oregon product Jordan Bell might not be on his level defensively, but his stock has been on the rise thanks to his defensive ability.

Last season, Bell averaged 8.7 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 1.3 steals per game. According to Bell, his ability to defend and rebound comes as much from effort as talent.

"I think it's 90 percent effort, honestly. You just got to want to do it. A lot of people have the ability, they just don't want to," Bell said, per Craig Grialou of ArizonaSports.com. "And then I think 10 percent is like, just having the kind of skills [of] knowing where it's going to come off."

Thanks to his consistent effort, Bell might actually be the best rebounder in the draft.

Philadelphia 76ers vice president of basketball administration Brandon Williams said his team sees "a Dennis Rodman-like player that's got the ability to play across a few positions, mainly defensively," according to Joe Bloss of CSNPhilly.com.

Teams love effort players, and at least one of the NBA's teams will prevent Bell from falling out of Round 1.