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The 2017 NBA Draft if just hours away as the next group of NBA stars (and busts) will soon be selected to their first team. This draft class is being talked about as possibly the best draft class since the 2004 draft which highlighted future stars such as LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Dywane Wade, among others. With big names on the trade block like Jimmy Butler, Paul George, and Kristaps Porzingis who knows which picks will stay with their current teams. Assuming that teams keep their picks, here's how the 2017 NBA Draft will shake out.
No. 1 - G Markelle Fultz
Jerry Colangello and the 76ers traded up to the No. 1 pick almost immediately after his workout in Philadelphia. All signs point to the 76ers going with the 19-year-old from the 9 win Washington Huskies. Many think that this piece will propel the 76ers to a possible playoff team, but lets pump the breaks. He couldn't get the Huskies to win more than 2 games within their PAC-12 Conference, I doubt he will be able to have an immediate impact and lead the 76ers to 40+ wins in his first season. The future is bright in Philly with Fultz, Embiid, and Simmons, but they're still going through "the process".
No. 2 - G Lonzo Ball
Congratulations to Lavar Ball, he managed to make his son the most talked about college basketball player in maybe the last decade. I believe that Fultz and De'Aaron Fox will be the better players in the NBA, but there's too much pressure on Magic and the rest of the Lakers organization to take Lonzo. His max potential is Jason Kidd with a jumpshot, if that pans out he could be one of the greatest No. 2 picks off all time. Only time will tell.
No. 3 - F Josh Jackson
There's been a lot of talk about Jason Tatum blowing away the Celtics with his workouts, but I think the Celtics can't afford to pass up on Josh Jackson. The athletic Small Forward out of Kansas has the offensive explosiveness that the Celtics need. If (and it's a big if) the Celtics keep Jae Crowder and Jaylen Brown, the addition of Josh Jackson could give the Celtics the deepest and most versatile SF depth chart in the NBA.
No. 4 - F Jason Tatum
Josh Jackson and Jason Tatum could easily swap here and I wouldn't be surprised. This draft has the potential to produce 3 to 6 consistent all-star team making players, making the lottery even harder to predict than usual. I think Tatum is a good body that can play the 3 or if you need play small-ball you can throw him at the 4. He can stretch the floor and guard multiple positions on the floor. As much as I love De'Aaron Fox, they have plenty of (Kentucky Wildcat) guards on their roster and don't need another one to take minutes away from their current young players. If they trade Bledsoe I could see Fox being taken here. But as their roster stands now, Tatum is the better asset for them.
No. 5 - G De'Aaron Fox
Put any of these players in the 2013 draft, and they're the number one pick. Fox just happens to be in one of the deepest drafts in recent NBA history, so he slips to the fifth picks and joins the Kings in their newly revamp rebuilding process. Fox struggled with his three-point shot in his one-and-done year at Kentucky, but claims that he'll be able to find it quickly in the NBA. With a knock-down shooter in Buddy Hield playing next to him, he'll be able to get the space he needs to drive and create space. Fox has just as good of a chance to turn into the best point guard in this draft as Fultz and Ball, the Kings picked a good time to have two top 10 picks in the draft.
No. 6 - F Lauri Markkanen
Surprisingly, the Magic have recovered from their mid-season blunder when they tweeted a picture of their offseason plans that detailed trading Aaron Gordon. I would have to imagine that trust hasn't been fix within the organization. Gordon could be on the move this off-season. If they choose to do so, Markkanen is a solid PF prospect to have on your roster. Drawing comparisons to Porzingis, the hype is surprisingly low for Markkanen due to the talent and potential of the top 5 picks. The Magic could get their first stretch four since the Hedo Turkoglu days which helped lead the Magic to a finals appearance.
No. 7 - F Jonathon Isaac
The versifle PF from Florida State has flown under the radar this season with players like Fultz, Ball, and Jackson dominating the news cycle leading up to draft day. Isaac stands at 6"10 and can play the 3 if asked too. Once he hits the NBA gym more often, he could have the size to guard switch on picks and guard all 5 positions. His athleticism, defensive awareness, and shooting touch (35% last season) would make him and Karl Anthony-Towns a solid combination in the front court.
No. 8 - G Frank Ntilikina
Let's be honest, what the Knicks really need to draft is a new President of Basketball Operations. But since that's not within the realm of possibility, Ntilikina would be a solid piece to add along side Porzingis (if they can keep Phil Jackson from trading him, that is). The Knicks have had their eye on him for quite some time and rumors say they've considered trading up to make sure that the French stand out can come to MSG and distract fans from the fact that their organization is in shambles. His decision making and size makes him yet another oversize point guard weapon that more and more teams are looking to acquire.
No. 9 - G Dennis Smith
Dallas rarely turns to the draft to help improve their team, but this year they may not have a choice. This draft is too good and too deep to trade this pick away for a Rick Rubio or other average player who could help make the Mavericks an eight seed. Dennis Smith's explosiveness and offensive IQ along with handles make him a near perfect fit for the modern NBA offense. With Yogi Ferrell and Seth Curry having break out seasons last year, they'll likely be demanding a big pay raise when they're free agents. Having a solid point guard on a good contract for the next 4-7 years might be something the Mavericks could benefit from when they're constantly exploring free agency.
No. 10 - G Molik Monk
If he's still on the board, I don't see the Kings passing up on reuniting Fox and Monk. It would be interesting to see between Fox, Monk, and Hield, who would be left as 6th man, but even so that is a deadly young backcourt that can put up points in a hurry. Monk is a lethal shooter and will keep the lane open for Fox to drive and dish. If those three players can work on their defense game, the Kings might turn out to not lose on the Cousins trade as much as originally thought.
No. 11 - G Luke Kennard
After acquiring Dwight Howard from the Hawks, there's some uncertainty on where the Hornets are trying to go right now. After a disappointing season, it looks like they're doing their best to keep this team in a win now mentality, even though their roster is built to be middle of the pack for the foreseeable future. Luke Kennard can join a team right now and give you a catch and shoot weapon that you can count on. With defenders like Kidd-Gilchrist and Howard likely in the starting line-up, you could afford an offensive minded player like Kennard to knock down shots and play below average defense. With Kennard on the floor, Kemba will have more space to create plays. Expect the former Blue Devil to fill the role of Marco Belinelli and hit threes.
No. 12 - F/C Zach Collins
The Pistons need someone to pair along Andre Drummond. Greg Monroe didn't work out and they've been drafting wing players ever since they landed Drummond back in 2012. The Pistons could use Collins shooting touch and rim protecting game at the PF position to take some of the pressure off Andre Drummond to be the only solid front court player they have. Collins is young but was big for the Gonzaga in their tournament run. He's someone they'd have to coach up before playing serious minutes, but he has good upside at the 12th pick.
No. 13 - G Donovan Mitchell
Mitchell is the 3 and D player that every team is always looking to acquire. His length and wing-spand allows him to cause problems for the player he's guarding, and helps him get his shots of high and efficiently on the offensive end. The Nuggets already have Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, and Emmanuel Mudiay in their backcourt rotation but hey, this is a guard dominating league. Mudiay proved little his rookie season and he and Mitchell coming off the bench with Murray and Harris starting would be an offensive power-house waiting to happen. With Jokic's passing abilities at center, Mitchell could get a lot of easy open shots on offensive, allowing him to give his all guarding the best wing player on the other end of the court.
No. 14 - F John Collins
John Collins will fill the Heat's limited options at PF. James Johnson switches between SF and PF, Josh McRoberts is past his prime, and Udonis Haslem is way past his prime. Collins would be a nice player to pair with Whiteside and give Johnson a permanent home at SF. Collins is an efficient scorer with solid back to the basket moves. If the Heat we see in the 2017-2018 season are anything like the post all-star break Heat we could see this 14th pick belonging to a team that finishes within the top 4 in the Eastern Conference standings. Not quite as impressive as the Celtics (previous 1 seed and owned the 1 pick at the end of the lottery), but still something that management should be proud of.