The Banter Sports 2017 NBA Mock Draft

  1. 76ers: Markelle Fultz, G Washington

This one’s a no brainer. Everyone knows that the Sixers will take Fultz here.

  1. Lakers: Lonzo Ball, G UCLA

LaVarr Ball really did speak it into truth. Following D’Angelo Russell’s exit for the Nets, the Lakers have clearly made room to welcome the best passer in the draft.

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  1. Celtics: Jayson Tatum, F Duke

While the popular pick to take at the three spot is Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum is the better pick for the Celtics. He can play multiple positions if they choose to play him as a small-ball four off of Al Horford. The Celtics like to take the best fit over the best player available, especially considering their “win now” mentality.

  1. Suns: Josh Jackson, F Kansas

If the Suns elect to keep this pick, and even if another team traded up, Josh Jackson goes at four. He may be the most talented player in the draft. Even if he doesn’t reach his potential, his length and defensive skills make him an asset to any team.

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  1. Kings: De’Aaron Fox, G Kentucky

Fox is the fastest player in the draft and is a natural fit with the Kings alongside Buddy Hield. After building up depth in the frontcourt in their last few drafts, the Kings will try bolster their backcourt. Fox can be an All-Star in the NBA.

  1. Magic: Dennis Smith, G NC State

Dennis Smith is the most athletic point guard in the draft. He can score with the best of them and draws comparisons to Eric Bledsoe. The Magic aren’t completely sure about moving forward with Elfrid Payton, so taking the dynamic Dennis Smith is a good insurance pick.

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  1. Timberwolves: Jonathan Isaac, F Florida State

Isaac is not only the best player available at pick number seven, but he is also a defensive stud. Minnesota is drafting a bargain at the seventh pick in Isaac, who can essentially do everything on the court if he reaches his potential.

  1. Knicks: Frank Ntilikina, G France

The Knicks don’t want to move forward with Derrick Rose, and given that they don’t move up in the draft, Phil Jackson will undoubtedly take the best point guard available. He’s the perfect fit for the triangle offense because of his unselfish mentality, and New York loves dynamic players from overseas who can shoot the three. See Kristaps Porzingis.

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  1. Mavericks: Lauri Markkanen, F Arizona

Dirk Nowitzki is 39 years old and the Mavericks need to prioritize building for their future. Markkanen is the perfect replacement. He has played overseas and can spread the floor, while being able to guard multiple positions. A perfect fit for Dallas.

  1. Kings: Malik Monk, G Kentucky

Monk may not be the perfect fit with incoming sophomore Buddy Hield already on the roster, but the Kings won’t hesitate to take him if he falls to the tenth pick.  A future back-court of college teammates Fox and Monk along with Hield sounds pretty exciting, and could be just what Sacramento needs to get back on track. Vlade Divac’s job depends on it.

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  1. Hornets: Luke Kennard, G Duke

The Hornets’ trade for Dwight Howard more than likely eliminates a front-court player from being taken with the eleventh pick.  Kennard is arguably the best shooter in the draft and a perfect fit for a Hornets team looking for three-point shooters to play off of Kemba Walker. Look for him to round out an underrated starting core for Charlotte.

  1. Pistons: Donovan Mitchell, G Louisville

Mitchell is undersized for a shooting guard, standing at an unimpressive 6’3”, but he makes up for it with a reported 6’10” wingspan.  The Louisville product is a scorer and a strong defensive player who could be a very good sixth man, or even a starter if KCP elects to take his talents elsewhere.

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  1. Nuggets: Zach Collins, C Gonzaga

The Nuggets tried to play Mason Plumlee and Jusuf Nurkic alongside Nikola Jokic last season, but the results were nothing special.  Give Jokic a guy like Collins who can rebound and defend like Plumlee, but also spread the floor with a LaMarcus Aldridge-like mid-range shot, and the Nuggets very well may have the player that have been looking for to play alongside their budding star.

  1. Heat: John Collins, F Wake Forest

The Heat experienced a tale of two seasons this year. After going 11-30 in their first 41 games, they went 30-11 in the last 41 to end the season with a .500 record, earning coach Erik Spoelstra a coach of the year nomination. I have a feeling that they will perform more like the latter part of their previous season in 2018, and adding an offensive-minded four to play next to Hassan Whiteside is a great way to maintain their second-half success.

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  1. Trailblazers: Justin Patton, C Creighton

The Blazers already have a strong core in place with Lillard, McCollum and Nurkic.  With three picks in the first round, why not take a flier on a player with tremendous upside?Patton will need some time in the G-League (yes, I promise you that it’s not the D-league anymore), but he has all the tools to become a much better player with some development.

  1. Bulls: Justin Jackson, F North Carolina

The Bulls love upperclassman forwards who can shoot (i.e. Doug McDermott, Denzel Valentine).  It may not be the best pick for the them, but it sure seems like a Bulls pick to take the leader of the team who won the NCAA title this past season. Jackson is a proven winner with great basketball IQ.

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  1. Bucks: Ike Anigbogu, C UCLA

Take a look at some recent drafts for the Bucks and you start to see a trend.  This team loves projects, especially with defensive potential (Giannis Antetokounpo, Thon Maker, John Henson).  Anigbogu has the ability to be a DeAndre Jordan-type center in the NBA.  Imagine Maker and Anigbogu both developing alongside Giannis.  Very few players would be able to get a good shot off, especially in the paint.

  1. Pacers: Harry Giles, F Duke

Whether it happens this Summer or next Summer, Paul George is leaving Indiana.  They don’t have many players to build around besides Myles Turner.  Taking a risk on the former #1 recruit out of high school seems like a good way to start their post-PG era. If Giles could bring back the same level of play that he showed in some flashes at Duke and before college, he could be a steal with the eighteenth pick.

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  1. Hawks: Jarrett Allen, C Texas

Dwight’s gone and the Hawks appear to be rebuilding.  Jarrett Allen may not be the center with the highest ceiling, but his skills and play suggest he will at worst be a high quality backup center. This is a safe pick for Atlanta.

  1. Trailblazers: OG Anunoby, F Indiana

Anunoby has the potential to be the one of the best defensive wings in the league. If his shot ever shows up, he will become a very good two-way player. The man is 6’8″ with a 7’6″ wing span. If the Blazers retain this pick on draft night, then Anunoby’s name should be called.

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  1. Thunder: TJ Leaf, F UCLA

Leaf is both a great shooter and passer out of the power forward position and fits perfectly next to Steven Adams or Enes Kanter. His defense may need some work, but he provides a good scoring punch. He feels like a Thunder type of player, too, and should be taken if he is still available.

  1. Nets: Terrance Ferguson, G Australia

The Nets don’t have their first pick next season and just traded Brooke Lopez for D’Angelo Russell. They are clearly thinking about the future (as they should be) and may as well bet on the upside of Ferguson over any of the other players left on the board. After deciding to play professionally in Australia instead of attending college in the states, Ferguson’s explosiveness should lead him to being selected in the first round of this year’s draft.

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  1. Raptors: Semi Ojeleye, F SMU

Ojeleye is small for a power forward at 6’7”, but he is strong enough to make up for that height. His shooting ability should also translate very well at the four position. He fits what the Raptors need out of their power forward spot.

  1. Jazz: DJ Wilson, F Michigan

Wilson can shoot and dribble with the best of them, and he moves very well around the court.  The Jazz like players that are versatile and Wilson is the most versatile player left in the draft.

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  1. Magic: Bam Adebayo, F/C Kentucky

The Kentucky product is strong, explosive and fast for his size and should be able to earn minutes because of those features alone.  Adebayo has shown signs of strong post-game and if his physical attributes translate into strong defense, he will have great value at the 25th pick.

  1. Trailblazers: Anzejs Pasecniks, C Latvia

Alphabet soup (an original nickname) is 7’2” and from Latvia.  He isn’t the next Kristaps (who he played with on Latvian junior national teams), but he moves very well for his size and offers a lot intriguing attributes. The Blazers have the pick count to take risks on overseas talents with the 26th selection.

  1. Lakers: Jordan Bell, F Oregon

Bell has an insane amount of energy, and his defense and rebounding should translate over to the NBA. This guy seems like a win-now type of pick, which suits the mentality of the Lakers, who want to develop into a championship contender within the next couple of years. Even if his shooting never develops, Bell will still find minutes in the NBA, especially with the lack of defensive options for LA.

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  1. Lakers: Jawun Evans, G Oklahoma State

They traded Russell and drafted Ball to replace him as the starter. Jordan Clarkson is more of a 2-guard than a true point guard, so adding Evans as a backup would be a smart investment for a team looking to compete soon.

  1. Spurs: Derrick White, G Colorado

White is a former D-2 star. He can shoot and pass and seems like the perfect Spurs player. San Antonio are going to use him right away to fill gaps for players like Danny Green who may be on their way out. Look for Pop to develop White as a regularly-utilized player in a few years.

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  1. Jazz: Matthias Lessort, C France

Picks this late usually don’t stay with the team that starts the night with them.  If the Jazz keep the pick, then why not draft a French center and hope that he can turn out just as well as the last time they did that? Lessort will have a great mentor in the Stifle Tower.

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