The 2017 NBA mock draft board is changing rapidly as the NCAA Tournament moves toward the Final Four, with UCLA standout Lonzo Ball and Kansas star John Jackson shooting to the top of the draft boards.
The NCAA Tournament serves as something of a proving ground for the best college basketball players, allowing them to show performance under pressure and cement their draft status. It’s a formula that’s proven talent in the past — Carmelo Anthony was considered a top prospect even before the 2003 tournament started, but his heroics in taking No. 3-seeded Syracuse to its first-ever national title showed him to be a truly special talent. The same could be happening this year with a small handful of players.
The very top of the 2017 NBA mock draft board had been considered set for quite some time. Washington point guard Markelle Fultz is considered the draft’s top pick, even though his team faltered and didn’t come within a whiff of the NCAA Tournament.
But there is now some question about his status as No. 1. As SB Nation pointed out, UCLA guard Lonzo Ball is shooting up draft boards with his team’s NCAA Tournament run, though it came to an end this weekend.
“At the top, there’s a fascinating debate between two floor generals who spent the season in the Pac-12 playing under extremely different circumstances. On one side sits Markelle Fultz, the star for a nine-win Washington team you almost certainly never saw play. On the other side is Lonzo Ball, the captain of UCLA and the most-hyped player in college basketball.”
SB Nation still had Lonzo Ball going No. 2 overall in their 2017 NBA mock draft, as did most others, but a lot can change in the next three months.
Lonzo Ball – "That was my final game for UCLA. I appreciate all the fans and all the support." pic.twitter.com/SdeM8MNy4V
— UCLA Nation (@UCLA_Nation) March 25, 2017
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 25, 2017
And Kansas star Josh Jackson is also climbing up NBA draft boards, though his off-the-court problems could end up hurting him.
Here is the latest 2017 NBA mock draft board (using NBA standings through the week of March 24).
1. Boston Celtics (via Nets) – Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington
With a big body for a point guard and athletic ability to spare, it would take a lot for the Celtics to pass over the Washington standout.
2. Los Angeles Lakers – Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA
What’s not to love for the Lakers with this pick? Ball is a point guard with amazing court vision, a 40 percent touch behind the three-point arc… and best of all, he would be playing in his hometown.
3. Phoenix Suns – Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas
Though he has a pending off-court issue with allegations that he vandalized a woman’s car and threatened her, Josh Jackson is likely to stay at the top of all 2017 NBA mock draft boards.
4. Orlando Magic – Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke
5. Philadelphia 76ers – Dennis Smith Jr., PG, NC State
6. Sacramento Kings – Jonathan Isaac, PF, Florida State
7. New York Knicks – Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky
Malik Monk could continue to rise up the 2017 NBA mock draft boards the deeper Kentucky runs in the NBA Tournament.
8. Sacramento Kings (via Pelicans) – Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona
9. Minnesota Timberwolves – De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky
10. Charlotte Hornets – Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina
11. Dallas Mavericks – Terrance Ferguson, SG, Adelaide (NBL)
12. Portland Trail Blazers – Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State
13. Chicago Bulls – Robert Williams, PF, Texas A&M
14. Milwaukee Bucks – Frank Ntilikina, PG, France
15. Denver Nuggets – Isaiah Hartenstein, PF, Germany
16. Detroit Pistons – OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana
17. Miami Heat – Harry Giles, PF, Duke
18. Indiana Pacers – Rodions Kurucs, SG, Barcelona II
19. Atlanta Hawks – Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga
20. Portland Trail Blazers – Ivan Rabb, PF, Cal
21. Oklahoma City Thunder – Wesley Iwundu, SF, Kansas State
22. Toronto Raptors – Luke Kennard, SG, Duke
23. Orlando Magic – T.J. Leaf, PF, UCLA
24. Brooklyn Nets – Donovan Mitchell, SG, Louisville
25. Brooklyn Nets – Caleb Swanigan, PF, Purdue
26. Utah Jazz – Jaron Blossomgame, SG, Clemson
27. Portland Trail Blazers – Josh Hart, SF, Villanova
28. Los Angeles Lakers – Tyler Lydon, PF, Syracuse
29. San Antonio Spurs – Juwan Evans, PG, Oklahoma State
30. Utah Jazz – John Collins, C, Wake Forest
The 2017 NBA mock draft board will likely continue to shift as the NCAA Tournament continues and teams take a closer look at not only the top college prospects but also the European talent.
[Featured Image by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]