2017 NBA Mock Draft: Top Prospects and 1st-Round Predictions Following Lottery – Bleacher Report

NBA mock drafts received interesting wrinkles after Tuesday's lottery.

NBA mock drafts received interesting wrinkles after Tuesday’s lottery.Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Small-market teams can’t exactly be thrilled after the NBA‘s draft lottery.

Technically speaking, almost everything near the top of the order played out as expected going into the event. But there’s still something a little strange about seeing the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers holding the first two picks.

Alas, these can be strange times when viewed at certain angles. The Lakers and Celtics sit atop the draft order while a franchise well accustomed to the lottery before recent successes—the Golden State Warriors—look like they’re on the way to the Finals.

Tuesday’s lottery has some interesting implications on mock drafts. Below, let’s nail down the finalized order and predict where the top prospects will come off the board.

         

2017 NBA Mock Draft

       

1. Celtics (via BKN): Markelle Fultz, G, Washington

While the official order shakes up a few things here and there, this one isn’t changing—the Celtics need to pull the trigger on Markelle Fultz.

It’s not so much the Celtics need help in the backcourt so much as it is the simple fact the Celtics are in a position where they can take the best player available.

And Fultz is by a long shot.

He’s 6’4″ and 195 pounds coming off a year in which he averaged 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists, not to mention north of a block and steal per game.

Did anybody mention Fultz is only 18?

HoopsHype’s Alex Kennedy hit the proverbial nail on the head:


With the length, range and explosive athleticism to play either guard spot, Fultz would slot in next to Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt just fine.

This isn’t a Jaylen Brown situation—the Celtics can use Fultz right away and trade guys like Avery Bradley if necessary. Boston has made it this far on the back of a deep bench and one transcendent player.

Adding another, at least potentially, might be exactly what the Celtics need to take down the Eastern Conference.

     

2. Lakers: Lonzo Ball, G, UCLA

Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Everybody wins here, even if it is the most predictable thing about the 2017 draft and has been since Lonzo Ball first donned UCLA’s colors. 

Lonzo wins because he’s a California kid who wants to play for the Lakers. His father, LaVar, wins because he gets to take his Big Baller Brand to a gigantic market and prop it up next to the team he’s wanted all along. Fans get to watch the chaos of both the former and the latter, while the Lakers, in theory, get a shot at the playoffs.

Everything else aside, Ball fits well in Los Angeles with the likes of D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle. Given his court vision and game sense, he can actually man point guard while Russell slides to the 2, something he actually did last year (maybe because everyone knew this was happening).

Ball is 6’6″ and 190 pounds with decent athleticism, but he really wins with his ability to get everyone else involved. This is something that, believe it or not based on his father’s booming personality, holds true off the court as well in the character department.

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Here’s what a source told Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding recently: “In the recent years of UCLA basketball, the only player who worked harder on his game was Russ Westbrook the summer between his freshman and sophomore seasons.”

Barring something dramatic, Ball is the obvious choice and the continuation of the Lakers actually sticking to this long-term rebuilding plan. Ball is another young piece who can grow alongside the others in place. 

And who knows? Maybe Ball is the final addition that convinces a free agent like Paul George to come to town after next season.

        

3. 76ers: Josh Jackson, F, Kansas

Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

The third pick is where things start to get really interesting. 

Thanks to T.J. McConnell and others, the Philadelphia 76ers already have an interesting backcourt. Even so, though, a point like De’Aaron Fox or Dennis Smith Jr. would make for some interesting lineups.

Or the 76ers could go with arguably the best player available, Josh Jackson.

Jackson is 6’8″ and 207 pounds of elite two-way talent upside coming off a year in which he shot 51.3 percent from the floor while averaging 16.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.7 steals per game.

There’s a segment of analysis suggesting Jackson struggled with shooting in college. As Paul Hudrick of CSN Philly pointed out, though, he improved as the year went on:


Imagine, for a moment, a fast break with Jackson, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons (remember him?) streaking down the court.

Good luck.

Feel free to imagine the defensive end of the court, too, where Jackson and defensive specialist Robert Covington tackle opposing backcourts effectively.

Talk about the process coming to life. The 76ers have enough in the way of future draft assets to take the best player available. That’s Jackson, who fits almost perfectly into the machine known as the budding 76ers.

         

All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.

2017 NBA Mock Draft: Top Prospects and 1st-Round Predictions Following Lottery – Bleacher Report

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