NBA Mock Draft 2017: Knicks Take Lauri Markkanen, Sixers Select NC State’s Dennis Smith For June Draft Picks

When it comes to this June’s NBA Draft 2017, mock picks speculation is suggesting that the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers could both have top 10 picks to improve their rosters. As it stands, Philadelphia is in an interesting situation where if the Los Angeles Lakers don’t get a top-three pick in the draft lottery, it goes to the 76ers by default. So, it’s entirely likely the Sixers are going to load even more talent onto their roster along with young future stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. As for the Knicks, they’re a team that’s in disarray, but they’ll have a high draft pick and the possibility of trading their star Carmelo Anthony.

As CBS Sports reported recently, a college prospect who is drawing a lot of attention in mock NBA Draft speculation is Arizona Wildcats’ big man Lauri Markkanen. Listed as a power forward, he’s described as a talented “stretch-four” due to his ability to not only play inside but knock down the long distance shot. Markkanen connected on 42.3 percent of his three-point shots this past season and helped lead his team into the NCAA Tournament.

NBA Draft 2017 prospect Lauri Markkanen
Arizona's Lauri Markkanen could end up being part of the NY Knicks as their top 10 draft pick in June. [Image by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]

It’s expected he’ll be a top 10 draft pick this June, and the Knicks may be the beneficiaries of the spot he lands in. Markkanen averaged 15.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, and about an assist per game for the Wildcats in his freshman season. With the expectations that this team is once again rebuilding, it would be an interesting choice, especially with big man Kristaps Porzingis already there.

However, most teams take the best available player at the spot, and if Markkanen is there, it’s hard to see the Knicks passing him up. That could also raise the speculation that he might be packaged with Anthony to send to another team. First, Carmelo needs to waive that “no-trade” clause in his contract, however. There have been recent NBA trade rumors that the Boston Celtics may be one of the teams calling for ‘Melo, and that Jae Crowder, among others, interests Knicks’ president Phil Jackson. Could Markannen also head over to Boston to sweeten the deal?

As mentioned, the Philadelphia 76ers are a team loading up their roster for the future, and they have a shot to add even more in this June’s draft. While the team didn’t have Ben Simmons for his rookie season and Joel Embiid was injured, these two are expected back. Once they’re back, the team and fans are expecting big things from the two stars. Embiid already started to show his All-Star abilities, while Simmons has yet to really prove himself.

NBA Draft prospect Dennis Smith Jr of NC State
NC State's Smith Jr. could be a surprising future star as part of a talented young Sixers team. [Image by Getty Images]

For their NBA mock draft pick, some websites are predicting the team may go with Duke forward Jayson Tatum, which could be an excellent choice. However, CBS Sports contends that the Sixers could still benefit from a point guard. Even though Ben Simmons is expected to handle some of the play-running, a guy like Dennis Smith Jr. from North Carolina State could be a smart pick around the No. 4 spot.

NBA Mock Draft Top 10

  1. Celtics – Markelle Fultz, PG (Washington)
  2. Sixers – Lonzo Ball, PG (UCLA)
  3. Lakers – Josh Jackson, SF (Kansas)
  4. Sixers – Dennis Smith Jr., PG (NC State)
  5. Magic – Malik Monk, PG/SG (Kentucky)
  6. Wolves – Jayson Tatum, SF (Duke)
  7. Knicks – Lauri Markkanen, PF (Arizona)
  8. Kings – Jonathan Isaac, SF (FSU)
  9. Mavs – De’Aaron Fox, PG (Kentucky)
  10. Kings – Justin Jackson, SF (North Carolina)

Dennis Smith Jr. averaged 18.1 points, 6.2 assists, and 4.6 rebounds a game as a freshman for the Wolfpack. He made a comeback from a torn ACL to become the ACC Rookie of the Year and was named to the Second Team All-Conference team. Smith is described in his player profile by Draft Express as having a “powerful frame, mixed with [his] explosive speed and leaping ability.” It’s noted these skills and his physical abilities will help him transition to the next level.

For Philadelphia, taking a point guard could pay dividends in the future too. As many analysts and fans know, some of the guards who have excelled in the NBA weren’t always taken in the top three. Recent examples include Russell Westbrook, who was chosen at No. 4 and Golden State Warriors’ star Stephen Curry who was selected at the No. 7 spot. With that in mind, while teams would love to be able to snag a player like Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball, it’s not unfathomable to think that landing another point guard in the top 10 could translate into a surprising star down the road.

[Featured Image by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]