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June 22 changes the trajectory of the NBA for a decade or more.
It might sound hyperbolic, and maybe hindsight will treat it as such, but it’s not often a team qualifying for conference finals like the Boston Celtics clutches the top pick in a draft. Nor is it common to see other historic franchises such as the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks hold top-10 positions.
As for the prospects themselves, each name—from Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball on down—will continue to elbow out room on the stock market via interviews and pre-draft workouts. While the overall market doesn’t figure to change much, a few names keep making notable headway.
Before taking a closer look at those names, here is a mock draft based on team need and the current prospect stock market.
2017 NBA Mock Draft
|1. Celtics (via BKN)||Markelle Fultz, G, Washington|
|2. Lakers||Lonzo Ball, G, UCLA|
|3. 76ers||Josh Jackson, F, Kansas|
|4. Suns||Jayson Tatum, F, Duke|
|5. Kings (via PHI)||Jonathan Isaac, F, Florida State|
|6. Magic||De’Aaron Fox, G, Kentucky|
|7. Timberwolves||Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga|
|8. Knicks||Frank Ntilikina, G, France|
|9. Mavericks||Dennis Smith Jr., G, NC State|
|10. Kings (via NO)||Malik Monk, G, Kentucky|
|11. Hornets||Harry Giles, F, Duke|
|12. Pistons||Lauri Markkanen, F, Arizona|
|13. Nuggets||Terrance Ferguson, G, Australia|
|14. Heat||Justin Jackson, F, North Carolina|
|15. Trail Blazers||Ivan Rabb, F, California|
|16. Bulls||John Collins, F, Wake Forest|
|17. Bucks||Tony Bradley, C, North Carolina|
|18. Pacers||Jarrett Allen, C, Texas|
|19. Hawks||Isaiah Hartenstein, F, Germany|
|20. Trail Blazers (via MEM)||OG Anunoby, F, Indiana|
|21. Thunder||TJ Leaf, F, UCLA|
|22. Nets (via WAS)||Dwayne Bacon, F, Florida State|
|23. Raptors (via LAC)||Moritz Wagner, F, Michigan|
|24. Jazz||Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA|
|25. Magic (via TOR)||Jordan Bell, F, Oregon|
|26. Trail Blazers (via CLE)||Donovan Mitchell, G, Louisville|
|27. Nets (via BOS)||Sindarius Thornwell, G, South Carolina|
|28. Lakers (via HOU)||Jonathan Jeanne, C, France|
|29. Spurs||Caleb Swanigan, F, Purdue|
|30. Jazz (via GSW)||Luke Kennard, G, Duke|
Prospects Shaking Up Stock Market
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Even in this class with incredible depth at point guard, one has to wonder if Frank Ntilikina’s position continues to inflate his stock.
Ntilikina is the definition of a developmental prospect, whereas other guys like Fultz and Ball can at least come in and play right away. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with this status—especially when said project is 6’5″ and 180 pounds of pass-first talent who needs to work on a jump shot and scoring for himself a bit more.
Though he played in France and isn’t much of a household name, Ntilikina is still one to know for fans of teams in the top 10 thanks to versatility and what Mike Schmitz and Bogdan Karaicic of Draft Express describe as a budding jumpshot:
“Fresh off of a season-best 15-point outing versus Aris in the Champions League, Ntilikina is one of the more steady guard prospects in this draft class as he defends multiple positions, can play on or off the ball, has a strong feel for the game and a mature professional approach, and has greatly improved as a shooter.“
The scouting report cautions against suggesting Ntilikina is as good as his fellow top American point prospects right now, but that’s still not reason enough to keep him out of the top 10 in the mock above.
There, the Knicks pull the trigger at No. 8, banking on the extreme upside and pass-first ways of Ntilikina as opposed to someone such as Dennis Smith Jr. out of NC State. Inflated, stock-market altering position or not, the Knicks want a pass-first point after dealing with Derrick Rose a season ago.
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It doesn’t seem like much can stop Donovan Mitchell’s rise.
The Louisville product hung around the fringes of the first-round conversation for a while, perhaps in large part because some might classify him as undersized at 6’3″ and 210 pounds. Whether this rings true or not, it’s hard to ignore Mitchell’s performance at the combine and what he brings to the table.
Mitchell only averaged 15.6 points and 4.9 rebounds per game as a sophomore while shooting a streaky 40.8 percent from the floor, but again, the combine performance raised some lofty comparisons.
Look at a recent update to Mitchell’s scouting report at ESPN.com: “Mitchell had the best combine of anyone, and he didn’t play a minute of five-on-five. His elite athletic testing numbers—combined with a crazy, Dwyane Wade-esque wingspan of 6-foot-10—have some lottery teams targeting him now.”
As such, Mitchell has shoved aside plenty of prospects on the way to cementing his first-round status. Above, this lands him with the Trail Blazers and lets him develop behind guys like Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum while providing great depth for a playoff push and insulation against any departures.
Given the recent hype, Mitchell seems like a guy who can be a better pro than college player depending on the fit. Smaller or not, scouts clearly love everything else about his game.
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While also yet to attain household-name status, Terrance Ferguson won’t have to wait much longer.
He’s a 6’7″, 184-pound guard with elite range.
The analysis could end there. With the NBA placing a premium on shooting, the tandem of size and range here has teams abuzz, even if it’s plain as day Ferguson still needs to put on some muscle.
Ferguson himself hasn’t been shy about championing how his pro experience in Australia will help ease his transition to the Association.
“I played professional basketball last year, so the speed of the game was pretty much the same (as the NBA). I’m pretty much used to it right now. But at the other end of the floor, I’m playing defense first and then my shot’s eventually going to fall,” Ferguson said, according to NBA.com’s Keith Langlois.
A team won’t need much convincing to bank on the size and shot here, though, which is why the Denver Nuggets pull the trigger at No. 13 in the above mock.
Slowly, Denver has a nice core emerging around Nikola Jokic, while the team still looks to get the most out of guys like Emmanuel Mudiay. Adding some mismatch-creating size and surefire shooting to the mix won’t hurt, especially because Ferguson can grow right alongside the budding core.
Ferguson has had a long journey traveling up the draft board, and it isn’t through just yet. He’s arguably the biggest mover to keep an eye on as the process continues.
All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.