Now that the NBA season is over, all that’s left for us hoops junkies is to get all hyped up for the next one. Our first source of excitement: The upcoming 2017 NBA Draft. The effects of the momentous occasion have already been felt with the Lakers swapping D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov for Brook Lopez and the 27th pick.
We’re pretty sure there’ll be a lot more wheeling and dealing on draft day. Before you completely pee your trousers in anticipation of what could go down on June 23 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, get a hold of your bladder for just a little longer and check out our mock draft of the Top 10 picks.
Who will the studs? Who will be suckered into selecting busts? At the moment, let the FHM Draft Express answer your questions.
#1 Boston Celtics - PG Markelle Fultz (Washington)
2016-17 per game averages – 23.2 pts 5.7 reb 5.9 ast 1.6 stl 1.2 blk
It’s no secret that Fultz is the consensus top pick. It’s also no secret that the Celtics will trade him to the Sixers in exchange for the third pick and a couple more future picks. This move by Celtics GM Danny Ainge is quite questionable, given that Fultz has the total package on the offensive end. At 6’4”, the 19-year-old point guard can read the floor well, shoot over his defenders, and finish at the rim in a variety of aerodynamic ways. As playmaker, he’s drawn comparisons to James Harden, who, like him, dishes assists with ease. As for his scoring, we see him as a bigger Damian Lillard. Perhaps, Ainge is banking on Markelle to be a bust, considering the dip in his point-production when he went up against elite college teams.
2016-17 avg: 14.6 pts 6 reb 7.6 ast 1.8 stl
Lonzo Ball has a weird jump shot. He’s got an even weirder dad who says the most ridiculous things. What's important, however, is that Lonzo can ball (obvious pun intended). His accuracy from deep is Steph Curry-ish at 41.2 percent. He’s a terrific rim attacker that could either finish with flair or drop off gimmes for his teammates. Having led the nation in assists, Lonzo reminds fans and pundits of the great Jason Kidd. He does move like J.Kidd and he’s even more athletic, but young Lonzo Ball is certainly nowhere near as great a defender as the legendary floor general. The good thing is, the Big Baller Brand ambassador’s athletic gifts suggest that his weaknesses aren’t a hopeless case. If not for his psycho pops, LaVar Ball, whom many teams consider as a major distraction, Markelle Fultz might not have been a unanimous choice as this class’s No. 1 pick.
#3 Philadelphia 76ers – F Jayson Tatum (Duke)
2016-17 avg: 16 pts 7.3 reb 2.1 ast 1.3 stl 1.1 blk
Kansas freshman Josh Jackson is perceived by almost everybody to be the third overall pick that Philly will ship to Boston. But we believe the Celtics’ dire need for firepower will compel them to go with Duke forward Jayson Tatum. Although Jackson’s numbers are a little bit better than Tatum’s, the latter is clearly the one built to be the more versatile scorer in the long run. With a silky-smooth shooting form and a decent face-up game at the age of 19, Tatum can develop into a reliable go-to guy in the near future. If Jayson quickly improves on his strength and toughness, then it’ll be hard to knock Danny Ainge for trading away Markelle Fultz.
#4 Phoenix Suns: PG De’Aaron Fox (Kentucky)
2016-17 avg: 16.7 pts 4 reb 4.6 ast 1.5 stl
The Suns have been counting on Eric Bledsoe to be one of the franchise’s cornerstones, but injuries have been derailing his progress for several years now. Maybe Phoenix will be better off trading him and taking a chance on the fastest and arguably the most explosive player in this draft class, De’Aaron Fox. Watching the 6’3” point guard as he sped though the courts and jumped out of the gym for thunderous slams had us thinking John Wall and Russell Westbrook. Without a doubt, his athleticism belongs with the best of them, but he will only achieve league success if he finds ways to score other than just blowing by people. In other words, work on that jumper, young man.
#5 Sacramento Kings: F Josh Jackson (Kansas)
2016-17 avg: 16.3 pts 7.4 reb 3 ast 1.7 stl 1.1 blk
With Rudy Gay, aka the lone noteworthy name on the Kings roster, itching to leave Sacramento while recovering from a torn left Achilles tendon, Josh Jackson is a great backup plan for the lowly Californian squad. The former Jayhawk will be there to provide high energy defense and offensive rebounding prowess. He’ll even find ways to score without plays being called for him. Although, we don’t see Josh ever becoming a first-option type of scorer, he can still be a game-changer for his team. When the time comes his body fills out and his on-court mentality matures—and if his work ethic turns out to be gold—Josh Jackson could become the Kings’ do-it-all forward a la Andre Iguodala.
#6 Orlando Magic - F Jonathan Isaac (Florida State)
2016-17 avg: 16.3 pts 7.4 reb 3 ast 1.7 stl 1.1 blk
Equipped with a 7-foot wingspan and guard-like instincts at 6’11”, Isaac has what it takes to be a force of nature for Orlando and ultimately become the face of the franchise. Lack of strength due to his age (19) and tentativeness due to inexperience are the main things holding this guy back from making an immediate impact in the league. Most likely, the Magic are hoping that in a couple of NBA seasons, they’ll be seeing the second coming of Kevin Garnett in him. At the same time, the Magic execs have their fingers crossed, wishing that they didn’t just draft the next Darius Miles.
#7 Minnesota Timberwolves - G Malik Monk (Kentucky)
2016-17 avg: 19 pts 2.5 reb 2.3 ast
Shooting nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc and a deadly finisher when he gets a full head of steam, Malik Monk is the most legit shooting guard in this batch of hopefuls. Just watch his 47-point outburst against North Carolina and you’ll get it. Despite a seemingly frail physical build and being an undersized 2-guard (6’4”) by NBA standards, the T-Wolves cannot pass up on acquiring a solid offensive threat in Monk. The only thing that could turn off Coach Thibs is Monk’s below-average defense. But if he works on it and makes himself physically stronger, then he’ll be having fun shooting the lights out for a stacked wolf pack.
#8 New York Knicks - PG Frank Ntilikina (Strasbourg, France)
2016-17 avg (French League): 5.8 pts 2.3 reb 1.5 ast
Frank Nkilitina’s highlight reel paints him as a 6’5” 18-year-old athletic marvel that possesses a great feel for the game. But the truth is he’s a long-term prospect. He’s got his work cut out for him in terms of polishing his overall game and body strengthening. With the Knicks about as close to being title contenders as the Philippines becoming a first-world country, it’s not farfetched to see them gamble on a player who’s a work in progress. But what if Ntilikina is actually better than we think and is later revealed to be the steal of the draft? Well, Frank will be Linsanity 2.0. And as for Phil Jackson, he’ll be viewed once again as basketball’s genius zen master. Knick fans, don’t hold your breaths!
#9 Dallas Mavericks - PG Dennis Smith, Jr. (NC State)
2016-17 avg: 18.1 pts 4.6 reb 6.2 ast 1.9 stl
Exclude the outside shot from the equation and Dennis Smith Jr. is arguably just as good or even better than Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball. He’s a big point guard with top-notch athleticism and explosiveness. His physique appears to be the most NBA-ready out of all the draftees. Factoring in why he fell a few notches from where he should really be on the draft board is his questionable focus and the drive to play winning basketball. Nevertheless, Mark Cuban shouldn’t look too much into Smith’s immaturity. Picking ninth on the draft, the Mavs are lucky to have an extremely talented player still available. Dennis Smith is a low-risk, high-reward pick at this point.
#10 Sacramento Kings - C Zach Collins (Gonzaga)
2016-17 avg: 10 pts 5.9 reb 1.8 blk
Getting another lottery player with the 10th pick, the Kings will likely select Gonzaga’s 7-foot freshman to complete a promising young frontcourt, featuring Josh Jackson at SF, Willie Cauley-Stein at PF and of course, Collins at C. However, we may have to wait a few more years to see this trio wreak havoc in the paint. Zach, although fundamentally sound, badly needs to grow into a much stronger inside player and that won’t happen overnight. Expect to see Zach Collins on the trading block if he doesn’t keep up with the physicality in the NBA by Year 2.