Less than 24-hours remain for the 2017 edition of the NBA’s draft lottery, leaving fans of various franchises on edge with picks that may be conveyed to another squad with various levels of protection. Conspiracy theorists will also be everywhere after the results, as there are tons of “rig storylines” possible depending on which side ends up victorious and who ends up with a total loss.
A quick rundown has Boston with the highest chances of getting the top selection thanks to a pick-swap option with the Brooklyn Nets from a few years back at 25%, followed by the Phoenix Suns at 19.9%, Los Angeles Lakers at 15.6% and the Philadelphia 76ers at 14.7%. Philadelphia has the opportunity to swap picks with the Sacramento Kings, ultimately giving the Kings no chance at the top pick.
1] Phoenix Suns select Lonzo Ball from UCLA
Winning the lottery, the Suns will make the decisive selection between the consensus top three prospects, and end up going with Ball. LaVar is reportedly not a concern to Phoenix, as far as being a distraction goes. Ball fits in seamlessly with Booker in the Valley of the Sun, and gives Coach Earl Watson another young piece to develop as Phoenix inches itself closer to a playoff berth. Lonzo’s ability to find the open man, and handle the rock has been a missing piece from the rotating door of point guards in Phoenix since the days of Steve Nash. With his great feel for the game, and his high awareness, Phoenix may very well end up with the best backcourt in the NBA, provided both guys continue on an incline and stay healthy.
2] Minnesota Timberwolves select Markelle Fultz from Washington
Jumping up four spots, Minnesota takes full advantage and looks to complete its youth movement by taking a prolific scoring guard that isn’t a slouch defensively and will provide you with all the athleticism you can handle. Range on the jumper will help open up space for Karl Anthony-Towns to work in the post and Zach LaVine/Andrew Wiggins to penetrate to the basket for easy hoops. Like Phoenix, Minnesota will have some moves to make, as they have three point guards on the roster as of the moment with Ricky Rubio, Tyus Jones and Kris Dunn, last year’s first round pick.
3] Los Angeles Lakers select De’Aaron Fox from Kentucky
Luke Walton and Magic Johnson breath a sigh of relief, and get to stand up from the pins and needles they have been sitting on since the lottery odds were finalized and take one of the many point guard prospects in the draft. Fox was instramental to the Wildcats March Madness run, including outplaying Lonzo Ball by a great margin during the Sweet 16, on both ends of the floor. With great size (6’4″ in shoes with a 6’6″ wingspan) and athleticism, Fox has the ability to be a one-man fast break and get to the rim for high percentage opportunities. Which is key, as his jumpshot is a glaring weakness. If he can fix his jumper, the Lakers could potentially end up with the best point guard from the draft, if not player.
4] Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn Nets) select Jonathan Isaac from Florida State
Talk about bad luck as the Celtics drop from the top projected to fourth, the furthest possible. Danny Ainge puts an end to the point guard domination of the early part of the draft with the intruiging Isaac to join their top seeded, Eastern Conference Final side. Isaac provides Coach Brad Stevens with good height and his ability to play multiple positions will provide versatility off the bench for Boston. Defensively, Isaac has all the tools to be elite while his offense is very raw. He has the ability to make timely cuts and uses his athleticism to his advantage to get his buckets.
5] Philadelphia 76ers select Josh Jackson from Kansas
With Ben Simmons on the mend, taking a forward with questionable jumper may be a head scratching decision, and a clear case of taking the best player available over need. Jackson has been talked about being a lock for the top three, and him dropping to the fifth slot is an absolute no-brainer here for Philadelphia, despite the questionable fit. His ability on defense should translate well, and few can ignite a fast break the way Jackson can. His percentage from range increased as the season went on, concluding at 38% at the conclusion of his freshman campaign.
6] Orlando Magic select Jayson Tatum from Duke
Tatum has all the tools to be good at every facet of the game, though he may never be great at any of them. Doesn’t make very many mistakes on either side of the ball with a high motor when it comes to crashing the glass, Tatum should, at the least, be a very solid glue guy. Like Isaac and Jackson, Tatum possesses all the tools to be a defensive presence at the professional ranks, while his work ethic will help him immensly on the offensive end.
7] New York Knicks select Malik Monk from Kentucky
New York is stuck in the midst of Melodrama, while there seems to be some dissent with Phil Jackson, as Kristaps Porzingis doesn’t seem to be very happy with the Zen Master. Monk provides the Madison Square Garden faithful some hope to put in buckets and a guard with seemingly unlimited range to give Porzingis space in the post.
8] Sacramento Kings select Dennis Smith Jr. from North Carolina State
Sacramento looks forward to the post-Cousins era, trying to get back to the Rick Adelman-days. With a solid core, the Kings are missing a point guard to go alongside Buddy Hield, Malachi Richardson, Skal Labisiere, Willie Cauley-Stein and Georgios Papagiannis. Bogdan Bogdanovic is also expected to come over for Dave Joerger’s side, giving Dennis Smith a shooter a second knock down target to dish to as he exploits opponents with his blazing speed and amazing athleticism.
9] Dallas Mavericks select Lauri Markkanen from Arizona
Markannen is a knock down shooter, measuring at seven-feet even and has drawn comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki, the best player in Mavericks history and seems to be a no-brainer decision for Rick Carlisle. Not shying away from big moments, Markkanen is plain and simple the best prospect for Nowitzki to mentor, and fits in seamlessly in between Harrison Barnes and Nerlens Noel in Dallas front-court.
10] Sacramento Kings (via New Orleans Pelicans) select T.J. Leaf from UCLA
Back-to-back Pac-12 forwards get taken in the draft here, as the Kings bring in one of the many elite freshman to join their youth movement. Leaf’s basketball IQ may be the highest in the entire draft, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a weakness in his game to exploit. Does need to put on some weight if he has ambitions of playing the four slot consistently, though, his ability to play “point-forward” fits the Kings projected roster well. Can’t give him space for jumpers either.
11] Charlotte Hornets select Zach Collins from Georgia
Despite being a back-up during his freshman campaign, Collins was extremelly efficient for Mark Few’s runner-up Bulldogs. Shooting 65.2% for the year, Collins averaged over ten a night and picked his spots well. Showed good ability to find the open man out of double-teams. Defensively, Collins will need to put on some strength to take the next step, though, his intensity and awareness will keep him effective for the time being.
12] Detroit Pistons select Frank Ntilikina from France
A high unknown to many, Ntilikina falls to Stan van Gundy, hoping he could be the long needed answer at the point guard slot. Some have labeled Ntilikina as the “French CP3,” high praises for the youngster and if he were to reach anywhere near that level, van Gundy would have netted a steal to get the Pistons back into contender status.
13] Denver Nuggets select Terrence Ferguson from Australia
The former Arizona commit, Ferguson provides the Nuggets with an athletic wing that has the capability to knock down jumpers with consistency. Still, Ferguson is a huge questionmark and a high risk/high reward selection.
14] Miami Heat select Ivan Rabb from California
Rabb’s stock may have dropped due to his return for his sophomore year, however, his game has expanded and he has started to let the game come to him as opposed to forcing it. With a very soft touch around the rim and ability to hit the glass, Rabb is one of the most ready contributors on the potential draftee list, giving Spoelstra and additional option as Miami looks to bounce back from the Wade-era.
15] Portland Trail Blazers select Justin Jackson from North Carolina
Damian Lillard is committed to the Blazers, and Neil Olshey needs to do what he can to build a winner around him. CJ McCollum is a great partner to Lillard in the backcourt, while the addition of Jusuf Nurkic provided Portland with a post presence. Jackson gives Coach Stotts an ever improving shooter to create space for Nurkic and keep defenses from doubling Lillard will pay dividends. He isn’t too shabby on defense either.
16] Chicago Bulls select OG Anunoby from Indiana
Chicago was up 2-0 on Boston, en route to pulling a rare 8-over-1 upset before Rajon Rondo went down with an injury, and you can expect that Fred Hoiberg has ambitions for Chicago to get right back into the thick of things. Anunoby has good size for a forward, standing at 6’8″ with a 7’3″ wingspan while being fast on his feet. One has to wonder how his ACL recovery is going but he would be a tough pass here. At a time where the NBA is going very small, Anunoby could be the perfect five in one of those small-ball units.
17] Milwakuee Bucks select Jarrett Allen from Texas
Allen provides Jason Kidd with another option in the front court, as Thon Maker is still developing. Allen showed good patience on defense, timing his counterparts shots well to contest them while averaging a block and a half per contest. Allen needs to do some work on offense and letting the game come to him naturally.
18] Indiana Pacers select John Collins from Wake Forest
With Paul George’s future in limbo, Indiana takes the most efficent player in college last year, as Collins averaged 19.2 points in just 26.6 minutes of action, hitting 62.4% of his field goal attempts and grabbing just under ten rebound a night. Collins was solid on the defensive end as well with 1.6 blocks (as compared to 1.8 turnovers!) and could be a perfect fit with Myles Turner up front.
19] Atlanta Hawks select Ike Anigbogu from UCLA
Anigbogu didn’t get as much burn during his freshman campaign, as most would have hoped, but when he did, he put in work. Ike’s strength and athleticism allowed him to be a defensive presence, though he has a long ways to go. The potential to be a solid anchor on defense is definitely there for the youngster. With Dwight Howard on the roster, Ike will have time to come along as opposed to being thrown to the wolves.
20] Portland Trail Blazers (via Memphis Grizzlies) select Bam Adebayo from Kentucky
With the second of three first rounders, Olshey goes with a defensive big that can work well with Nurkic, or anchor the second unit and help keep the lead built by Lillard and company. Like Anigbogu, Adebayo is athletic and strong, leading scouts to circle him as a potential elite defensive option.
21] Oklahoma City Thunder select Donovan Mitchell from Louisville
Russell Westbrook had a great season but he needs all the help he can get to help Oklahoma City take the next step. Mitchell is a physical specimen, with amazing athleticism and a jumper that just continues to improve.
22] Brooklyn Nets (via Washington Wizards) select Harry Giles from Duke
The Nets may very well have the bleakest outlook of any franchise, and they hope to hit a home run with Giles, who was sidelined with injuries. But hey, the last time a Duke player missed time due to injury, he ended up pretty decent.
23] Toronto Raptors (via Los Angeles Clippers) select Tyler Lydon from Syracuse
24] Utah Jazz select Luke Kennard from Duke
25] Orlando Magic (via Toronto Raptors) select Rodons Kurucs from Latvia
26] Portland Trail Blazers (via Cleveland Cavaliers) select Anzejs Pasecniks from Latvia
27] Brookyln Nets (via Boston Celtics) select Dillon Brooks from Oregon
28] Los Angeles Lakers (via Houston Rockets) select Jordan Bell from Oregon
29] San Antonio Spurs select Jawun Evans from Oklahoma State
30] Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors) select Jonathean Jeanne from France