The NBA mock draft 2017 speculation continues as teams are finishing out the NBA regular season. Just this past week, the college basketball national championship was decided with several prospects featured in that matchup. In addition, Friday night featured the Nike Hoop Summit 2017, a game which would showcase some of the potential top prospects for future years. With that in mind, the upcoming draft class could produce some gems in the early picks, as well as some diamonds in the rough later on.
As the season wraps up for teams within the next week, there are three teams that have the best chances of getting the top overall pick, or at least a pick in the top three. Those teams are the Boston Celtics (by way of the Brooklyn Nets), the Phoenix Suns, and the Los Angeles Lakers. According to an ESPN report on Friday, the odds favor Boston when it comes to the best chance of landing a top-three pick. This is due to the fact that the Brooklyn Nets have the worst overall record in the league.
Thanks to a trade with Brooklyn several seasons ago, Boston is sitting in prime position when it comes to adding another young star to their playoff contender team. Phoenix has the next best chance at a top three pick, followed by the Lakers. The report contends that if L.A. wins more games over its final stretch it could be hurting its chances at that top three pick. The pick goes back to the Philadelphia 76ers by default if it lands at No. 4 or below.
As of right now, the Celtics have a 64.3 percent chance of getting a top three pick, while the Suns have a 54.1 percent chance, and the Lakers a 48.7 percent chance. Boston also holds a 25 percent chance for getting the No. 1 pick, while the Suns have a 19 percent chance and the Lakers a 16.5 percent chance. Those lucky Orlando Magic have a slight chance at 10 percent.
There’s still some interesting speculation about who will go at No. 1 depending on which team gets that top pick. A lot of experts are saying that it should be Lonzo Ball, no question. Some are saying if it is the Celtics, then the likely pick will be Washington Huskies guard Markelle Fultz. Despite not appearing in the NCAA tournament and his team’s poor record in the past season, he’s considered an NBA-ready prospect.
Among Fultz’s strengths are his physicality, his incredible 6-foot-10 wingspan, scoring prowess, and abilities to create for others on his team. There’s also the potential for him to improve upon his defense, making him worth a gamble for the top pick. In the mind of a team like Boston, he may be the readiest of the available prospects to come in and contribute to their system. Other teams that are in rebuilding mode will be able to give more time to guys like Lonzo Ball or Josh Jackson.
If the top selection goes to Phoenix or Los Angeles, then Lonzo Ball is most likely to be the name that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver calls as the first draft pick. Just recently, various media sources, including SB Nation, reported that Ball said he would prefer the Los Angeles Lakers selecting him over being the No. 1 pick.
The UCLA standout made the comment while appearing on ESPN’s SportsNation show.
“I’m gonna go with Lakers. All my family’s in LA, so just to be able to play in front of them, I think that would mean more to me.”
After Ball and Fultz, the most likely draft pick will be small forward Josh Jackson from the Kansas Jayhawks. Jackson could end up on any of the three teams mentioned. After Jackson, Duke’s Jayson Tatum would go next, followed by Kentucky guards Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox.
NBA Mock Draft Top 10
- Celtics – Markelle Fultz – PG (Washington)
- Suns – Lonzo Ball – PG (UCLA)
- Lakers – Josh Jackson – SF (Kansas)
- 76ers – Jayson Tatum SF (Duke)
- Magic – Malik Monk – PG/SG (Kentucky)
- Knicks – De’Aaron Fox – PG (Kentucky)
- Timberwolves – Dennis Smith – PG (NC State)
- Kings – Lauri Markkanen – PF (Arizona)
- Mavs – Jonathan Isaac – SF (Florida St.)
- Kings – Frank Nitlikina – PG (Strasbourg International)
Over the past week or so, a good number of college basketball players declared they would enter the 2017 NBA Draft. Among them were Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen, Kentucky’s Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox, and even Lonzo Ball’s backcourt mate Bryce Alford. Fellow UCLA teammate T.J. Leaf also declared and has been projected around pick No. 22 in this June’s draft. Another player who has announced they will try to make it in the professional league was Duke’s Luke Kennard.
As mentioned, Monday was also the 2017 National Championship game for the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament. In that game, the University of North Carolina topped Gonzaga 71-65 to win their sixth championship. Starring for the Tar Heels in that game was prospect Justin Jackson, who finished with just 16 points, four rebounds, and three assists, along with two blocks. Jackson is projected as the No. 12 pick possibly going to a team in his home state, the Charlotte Hornets. The UNC junior averaged 18.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game during his college career and was instrumental at leading them into the finals.
Another tournament player recently making headlines, who could be among the Top 30 picks is Kansas’ Frank Mason III. On Friday, it was announced that the Jayhawks senior won the John R. Wooden Men’s Player of the Year award. Mason III, a 5-foot-11 guard, finished this season with 20.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game. He’s being projected to go in the second round, possibly at the No. 59 pick, but this could change as the NBA combine and team workouts take place in the coming weeks.
For now, fans of playoff-bound teams will get ready to cheer on their squads toward a postseason run. Meanwhile, fans of those teams who won’t be participating will wait for Tuesday, May 16, when the NBA Draft lottery is held to show which teams will get which picks in June’s NBA Draft. The draft itself arrives on Thursday, June 23, with either Lonzo Ball or Markelle Fultz likely to be that first name called out from the podium.
[Featured Image by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]