1. PG Markelle Fultz WASHINGTON
Fultz has remained the favorite to be selected number one in this year’s NBA Draft. Fultz has good size for the point guard position and provides the Celtics or any team that would draft him with an athletic playmaker who can find teammates and score the ball. Fultz has star potential and for a team that reached the Eastern Conference Finals, adding a key young piece and possibly a talented player like All Star Gordon Hayward in free agency could push them back towards that point once again and possibly further.
This selection will be a very tough one for the Lakers to make. Many believe that UCLA’s Lonzo Ball will be drafted number 2, but I don’t think that is a guarantee by any means. Kansas prospect Josh Jackson has great two-way potential and could be a good Three-and-D type of player if he can improve on his shooting ability. The defensive potential that Josh Jackson has as opposed to Lonzo Ball should elevate Jackson to the Lakers at number 2 and give them a player who could be a jack of all trades type of player down the line.
The Sixers have a bunch of options depending on what happens with the first two selections in the draft. If the Lakers take Josh Jackson like I am predicting, I see the Sixers selecting Lonzo Ball with the third pick. Some might question Lonzo’s fit as many people have reportedly stated, including Head Coach Brett Brown that Ben Simmons would be playing point guard. I like the idea of playing Simmons at the three and bringing in a player like Ball to run the point. Ball is a great playmaker that can score if needed, but were he really excels is with his passing ability. Ball is also a very good shooter, albeit with an unorthodox release, but as long as he is making it, it shouldn’t matter. Concerns over Lonzo’s outspoken father LaVar is a concern, but it shouldn’t deter teams from selecting Lonzo. Teams are drafting the player, not the parent and talent evaluation should be the primary focus. Simply stated, Ball is probably regarded as too good of a player for the Sixers to pass on at number three.
Tatum will get a look from the Sixers, but I think that Phoenix will select him with the fourth pick. Tatum provides a safe bet in regards to a player that should be able to be inserted right into a lineup, whether it is as a starter or a key reserve off the bench. His shooting is very enticing; especially for a lineup that already has a great shooter and scorer in Devon Booker.
Fox was one of the best freshmen in the country in his lone season at Kentucky. Fox improved as the season went on and outplayed Lonzo Ball. I think that all four previous teams, with the exception of maybe the Celtics, all give Fox a good hard look and see if they feel his potential outweighs the potential of the other prospects. The Kings will be drafting the best player available and a player that has potential to be a great guard in this league if he can develop a more consistent jumper in a league that relies upon most guards being able to shoot the ball.
Another prospect from Kentucky is what I am predicting with this selection. Malik Monk is a streaky shooter, but when he is making his shots, he is arguably the most valuable offensive weapon available in this year’s draft. Monk will provide the Magic with a much-needed scoring option and one who can shoot the ball at a high rate. Taking good shots will be a major key for Monk. If he can work on his strength, it could benefit him against more physical players that he will see at the professional level.
Isaac has been an under the radar prospect with arguably the greatest potential in this draft. Isaac is a great selection at this point in the draft if he is still available. Isaac is falling a bit under the radar because he didn’t really stand out much at Florida State. He showed flashes of what he could become. Isaac could become a very good stretch four if he can continue to develop his jump shot. He has the potential to be a two-way star that can get it done on the offensive and defensive end of the floor and should fit in quite well alongside Karl Anthony-Towns.
The first international prospect will be taken off the draft board at number 8 via the New York Knicks. The Frenchman is a versatile guard with great size and a nice skill set. At 18 years old, he is still very young, but his intangibles are right up there with some of the other top prospects in this draft. Ntilkina is going to be a guard that can provide playmaking for others, good outside shooting, and the ability to post up shorter and smaller defenders. Another player that could be in play here is Dennis Smith Jr. from NC State.
The Mavs have a very tough choice here between two players that could benefit their team. The Mavs will probably debate between Smith Jr. and Lauri Markkanen from Arizona, but Smith Jr. will be the selection. The Mavs could really use a guard like Smith Jr. who can play with the ball in his hands or off the ball as a scorer. Smith Jr. showed some inconsistencies in his lone season at NC State, but the potential for him to be a good pro is definitely there.
If the Mavs select Markkanen, the Kings would select Smith Jr. as they would probably regard him as the best player available. I think that the Mavs will select Smith Jr. as I previously mentioned and will select Markkanen, who is widely regarded as the best shooter in this draft. Big men who can shoot the ball are highly coveted in today’s NBA and adding a player like Markkanen would greatly benefit the Kings. If the Kings select both Fox and Markkanen, they could end up being the winners of the draft, at least on paper.
Will Hornets owner Michael Jordan draft another fellow Tarheel with the 11th pick? I think that he very well might do so. Jackson greatly improved his outside shot and was probably the best player from the 2017 National Champion North Carolina Tarheels. Jackson provides more experience to a team like Charlotte who is only a season removed from their last playoff appearance. Jackson could be a starter or key piece off of the bench and selecting him would be a good idea. This is a smart and safe pick in my opinion.
The Duke prospect is one of the best shooters in the draft and a player that could be an important piece for a team that doesn’t have a center that can stretch the floor that well. Drummond is a good player, but he is more of a traditional big man who plays in the paint. Drummond drawing double teams in the post could lead to good looks for a player like Kennard. Donovan Mitchell from Louisville could also be a very good option with this pick.
Donovan Mitchell has continued to rise up draft boards and could even be in play for teams in the top ten. Mitchell looks like he will be a very good shot maker and will be one of the best players in this draft and arguably the steal of the draft in my opinion. Also, Mitchell measured at a 6’10” wingspan at the NBA Draft Combine and also recorded the highest standing vertical. Mitchell would be a great pick and a great player to add to a talented young team. The Nuggets are very close to the playoffs and adding a player like Mitchell to go along with Nikola Jokic and his continued improvement could help them sneak in as a 7th or 8th seed in the Western Conference Playoffs.
The Gonzaga prospect looked good in the short amount of time that he played per game in his freshman season and he showed a pretty versatile game for a big man. Markkanen would have been a good fit for the Heat to stretch the floor next to a more inside presence like Hassan Whiteside, but it is highly unlikely that he would be available for the Heat with the 14th and final lottery pick of the 2017 NBA Draft. Zach Collins is a high upside and high potential type of pick who would be a solid backup to Whiteside and a player who is going to continue to improve throughout the season. Big men typically take longer to develop their games, but Collins potential to be one of the top players in this draft is definitely there.