NBA Mock Draft 2017: Lonzo Ball To Lakers? Top Picks Compete In NCAA Tournament
NBA Mock Draft 2017 Lonzo Ball to Lakers top picks NCAA tournament

NBA Mock Draft 2017: Lonzo Ball To Lakers? Top Picks Compete In NCAA Tournament

With the NCAA Tournament now in session, that means many of the 2017 NBA Mock Draft top 10 picks are on display, for the most part. The collegiate star who has been considered the consensus top choice for weeks now is absent from the field, as Markelle Fultz and the Washington Huskies had a dismal record this past season and failed to get into the field. However, the man everyone is talking about, UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, is in action, along with several other guys among the top 10 draft picks. Here’s the latest on which of these star college players might go where and how they’re doing so far in the March Madness 2017 games.

The DraftExpress website still ranks freshman Markelle Fultz as the No. 1 overall choice in their NBA mock draft ahead of Lonzo Ball. It’s being speculated that the Boston Celtics, who own whatever pick the Brooklyn Nets get, will have the top choice due to the Nets having the worst overall record. The Lakers are speculated to get the No. 2 pick while the Phoenix Suns have the No. 3 followed by the Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic, Sacramento Kings, and the New York Knicks.

UCLA's Lonzo Ball in NCAA tournament vs Kent State
UCLA’s Lonzo Ball was on display in an NCAA tournament win over Kent State Friday. [Image by Jamie Squire/Getty Images]

It’s being suggested by many sports analysts out there that Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers need to do whatever they can to acquire Lonzo Ball in the draft. The team is speculated to have a top three draft pick, but only if the pick (which they received from Philadelphia) lands in the top three of the order. If the Lakers fail to get that spot, they may make moves to trade up or trade for Ball. The team certainly has the assets to do so, even if it was previously said they would hold on to young players like Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram, and D’Angelo Russell.

The reason behind it is the potential for Lonzo Ball to save the Los Angeles franchise from continued obscurity. It’s one of the most popular teams in the history of the league and with the legendary Kobe Bryant having retired, they will need a savior. The way Lonzo Ball’s dad, Lavar, and others have touted his skills, and from what Ball is showing himself, he could be the next great star in this league. While he’s not Magic Johnson, he certainly has shown playmaking abilities that Magic probably would love to have on this Lakers team. It could be enough for Magic and the rest of Lakers’ management to move Russell and other assets in order to land an extra-special player with loads of upside.

2017 NBA Mock Draft Top 10

  1. Celtics – Markelle Fultz PG (Washington) – (Next game: N/A)
  2. Lakers – Lonzo Ball PG (UCLA) – (Next game: Cincinnati 3/19 at 9:40 p.m. ET)
  3. Suns – Josh Jackson SF (Kansas) – (Next game: Mich. State 3/19 at 5:15 p.m. ET)
  4. Sixers – Jayson Tatum SF (Duke) – (Next game: South Carolina 3/19 at 8:40 p.m. ET)
  5. Magic – De’Aaron Fox PG (Kentucky) – (Next game: Wichita State 3/19 at 2:40 p.m. ET)
  6. Kings – Dennis Smith PG (NC State) – (Next game: N/A)
  7. Knicks – Lauri Markkanen PF (Arizona) – (Next game: St. Mary’s 3/18 at 7:45 p.m. ET)
  8. Kings – Malik Monk PG/SG (Kentucky) -(Next game: Wichita State 3/19 at 2:40 p.m. ET)
  9. Timberwolves – Jonathan Isaac SF (Florida St) – (Next game: Xavier 3/18 at 6:10 p.m. ET)
  10. Mavericks – Robert Williams PF/C (Texas A&M) – (Next game: N/A)

Ball is currently competing with his UCLA Bruins squad in the NCAA Tournament’s South region. As CBS Sports reported, the Bruins are a No. 3 seed and advanced with a win over No. 14 Kent State 97-80 in their first round matchup. Ball, who is being eagerly watched by plenty of scouts in each game he suits up for, finished with 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting including his 2-of-3 three-pointers made. In addition, he had four rebounds and three assists to help his team. There was also a scary fall at one moment in the game, but luckily Ball appeared to be able to shake it off. His teammate’s forward TJ Leaf and Thomas Welsh finished with more points and rebounds, but it’s ball who has been the floor leader. He’ll be on display on Sunday night when the team takes on the Cincinnati Bearcats.

Also in action out of the top five picks have been Kansas’ Josh Jackson, Duke’s Jayson Tatum, and Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox. Duke, a No. seed, won their first round matchup 87-65 against No. 15 seed Troy. Tatum helped lead the way with 18 points, 12 rebounds and assist. Kansas also was victorious in a rout, defeating No. 16 seed UC Davis 100-62. The freshman Jackson had 17 points and seven rebounds in the win with 8-of-12 field goal shooting. As for Fox, Kentucky is a No. 2 seed and defeated Northern Kentucky 79-70. Fox, also a freshman, scored 19 points to lead his team’s scorers. He also had six turnovers but three assists, two boards, a steal and two blocks to nearly fill up his stat line.

Arizona Wildcats Lauri Markkanen dominates first NCAA tourney game
Arizona Wildcats big man Lauri Markkanen dominated in his first NCAA tournament game of 2017. [Image by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]

There are other players from the top 10 speculated picks in tournament action to keep an eye on. Tucson.com reported that Arizona, a No. 2 seed took down No. 15 North Dakota on Thursday 100-82. In the win, it was Wildcats’ NBA prospect Lauri Markkanen scoring 20 points on 8-for-12 shooting. The 7-footer also collected six boards and hit all four free-throw attempts to help his team. Florida State was another team victorious in first round action with an 86-80 win over Florida Gulf Coast University. The Seminoles’ Jonathan Isaac recorded a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds but also had five assists, two steals, and three blocks for a complete game.

With plenty of crazy March Madness action still on the way, a standout performance could really improve some of the prospects’ stock. However, it seems as if the top part of the mock draft order is pretty much locked unless Ball somehow puts on a clinic to bring his Bruins a National Championship. A number of NBA teams are basically competing in the Markelle Fultz vs. Lonzo Ball sweepstakes, but based on how other stars have emerged out of nowhere in the league, there’s probably more than a few gems to be found beyond those two players.

[Featured Image by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images]

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