With the NBA playoffs underway, there are several teams that are featured in the NBA mock draft 2017 speculation for possible first-round picks. Among the notable teams that will be in or right near the lottery are the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Portland Trail Blazers, and Milwaukee Bucks. Each of these teams is also looking to advance to the next round of the postseason, but they could further bolster their chances for next year by making the right picks. Here’s a look at what players these four teams may be able to draft in June.
As basketball enthusiasts know, the 2017 edition of the NBA playoffs officially tipped off this past weekend. It featured all 16 of the teams in action, scattered across the eight different matchups. Among the teams highlighted here, the Boston Herald reported that the Celtics were upset by the Bulls in their Game 1 opener in Boston. Their All-Star floor general Isaiah Thomas, the No. 60 pick in the 2011 draft, was dealing with a tragedy from just a day earlier. His sister Chyna Thomas was killed in a car accident, and on Sunday, the Celtics star scored 33 points during an emotional outing.
They’ll look to bounce back in Game 2 on Tuesday night, but of all the teams in the playoffs right now, the Boston Celtics are really sitting pretty. This team not only finished atop the Eastern Conference to grab the No. 1 seed for this year’s playoffs, but they also are a near lock to grab the No. 1 draft pick in the lottery when team order is determined in May. The reason behind this is Brooklyn making a deal several seasons ago that gave Boston their draft pick. Based on Brooklyn’s awful record, the Celts have the top odds for the No. 1 pick. Even if they don’t get that pick, it’s likely Boston will grab either the second or third pick.
For months now, analysts continue to peg Washington Huskies star Markelle Fultz as the guy who will go first. The No. 2 pick could be UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, and No. 3 is expected to be Kansas’ Josh Jackson. Boston fans could see any of these three players suit up for their team next season, or Boston may choose to take that pick, along with other assets they have available, to swing a trade. The Celtics may simply decide it’s in their best interest to add some more veteran playoff experience or star power, rather than an unproven young player.
As MassLive reported recently, there’s a very slim margin between Fultz and Lonzo Ball for the No. 1 and No. 2 pick. Fultz seems like he could be a great pick by Boston to step in and contribute right away alongside Isaiah Thomas. The downside is his lack of experience in a “postseason” situation, as his team was on the losing end of too many games at Washington to qualify for any tournament. Lonzo Ball was in the tournament, but some questioned if he folded in the team’s loss to Kentucky. He may be a more overall skilled player down the road, so the team that gets him may not be one in the playoff mix right away.
The NBA mock draft spotlighted through Draft Express indicates that the Chicago Bulls could have the next-highest pick in the draft, with the team slotted for No. 14. The team could even get a pick as high as No. 12 or No. 13, which could bring a player such as North Carolina small forward Justin Jackson or Texas center Jarrett Allen to a Bulls lineup that already features the star power of Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, and Rajon Rondo. Jackson would bring tournament experience to the team, as he participated in UNC’s historic run to another championship for the school this past year. He’s also a junior, something a lot of the players being speculated as draft picks above and around him are not.
NBA Playoffs Team Mock Draft (1st Round Top 20):
01. Boston Celtics – Markelle Fultz (Washington, PG)
14. Chicago Bulls – Terrance Ferguson (Adelaide, SG)
15. Portland Trail Blazers – Og Anunoby (Indiana, SF)
17. Milwaukee Bucks – Justin Patton (Creighton, C)
18. Indiana Pacers – Ike Anigbogu (UCLA, C)
19. Portland Trail Blazers – Donovan Mitchell (Louisville, SG)
20. Atlanta Hawks – Ivan Rabb (California, SF)
The Portland Trail Blazers are right there with Chicago when it comes to drafting near the top 10. Even though they are playing against the top seed in their conference for the first round, Golden State, this squad has made the playoffs for four straight seasons now. It’s possible they could pick up a new small forward or power forward to improve their lineup. Current speculation has them around the No. 15 or No. 16 spot in the draft lineup. Potential picks are Indiana sophomore Og Anunoby or Wake Forest power forward John Collins. Not only that, they could come away with two picks within the top 20 of this year’s draft. Speculation suggests they could get some future depth to back up Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
Don’t forget about the Milwaukee Bucks. Just like Chicago, the Bucks also scored an upset of their higher-seeded East opponents the Toronto Raptors in Game 1. They’ve already got a lot of talent in the form of Giannis Antetounmkpo (aka “The Greek Freak”) and players such as Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, Malcolm Brogdon, and Thon Maker. The team could wind up with the No. 17 pick in June, which Draft Express believes would be used on a center. Two guys who could be available at that spot are Creighton freshman Justin Patton or UCLA’s Ike Anigbogu.
As a lot of fans know, sometimes new stars emerge from the most unlikely places in the NBA Draft. Teams with picks outside the top 10 often strike gold. Steve Nash was a No. 15 draft pick in 1996, and Devin Booker was the No. 13 pick in 2015. Nash ended up a two-time NBA MVP and future Hall of Fame candidate. Booker is just getting started for the Phoenix Suns, but he scored 70 points on the Boston Celtics this past season, showing his remarkable abilities to score, albeit in a loss.
Business Insider gives more evidence of potential stars outside the top 10. Karl Malone was No. 13 pick in 1985, Tony Parker was No. 28 in 2001, and a guy named Kobe Bryant went at No. 13 in the 1996 draft, just a few spots ahead of Nash. So fans of the Bulls, Blazers, and Bucks may soon see their teams get the next “big star” out of nowhere.
[Featured Image by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]