Four months ago, we all knew who the first-overall pick would be in the 2017 NBA Draft: Harry Giles. We expected the Duke freshman to pick-up where he left off following another knee surgery. That has not been the case. Since returning to the court over a month ago, Giles has only played more than 19 minutes once. Making matters worse, he looks like a shadow of himself athletically.
With Giles’ stock plummeting, Washington point guard Markelle Fultz has started to garner all the attention. Averaging 23.7 PPG on 49.1-percent shooting from the field, Fultz has shot to the top of many draft boards. He’s not the only point guard shining. Lonzo Ball, Dennis Smith Jr., and Frank Ntilikina have all been making their respective cases, as well. But a point guard hasn’t gone first overall in the NBA Draft since 2011 (Kyrie Irving). Can Fultz or one of the other extremely talented point guards eligible in 2017 break that drought? Get the odds to go first overall, along with a mock draft for the rest of the lottery picks.
Odds to go first overall in the 2017 NBA Draft
Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington: 2/1
Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA: 9/2
Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas: 7/1
Jonathan Isaac, PF, FSU: 8/1
Dennis Smith Jr., PG, NC State: 8/1
Harry Giles, PF, Duke: 19/1
Trailing Fultz is fellow point guard Lonzo Ball out of UCLA. Ball has displayed his supreme passing ability all season and has been lethal in transition. The freshman leads the nation in assists and is currently shooting 43.1-percent from behind the arc.
Kansas small forward Josh Jackson has the best chance to spoil the point-guard party at the 2017 NBA Draft. Jackson has all the physical features to shine in the NBA, but scouts would like to see him work his range. The freshman forward is only shooting 31.9-percent from downtown.
If the team that holds the first selection is front-court needy, Jonathan Isaac has tempting length and athleticism. Then there is always the chance that Giles puts it all together and climbs back up the board with a strong performance in the big dance.
2017 Mock Draft: Lottery Picks
1. Boston Celtics (from BKN) – Markelle Fultz, PG (Washington)
Already possessing All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics could use more help elsewhere. But Fultz is too talented to pass on and could succeed playing off the ball as well. I could see Boston moving down a few spots if the offer is there.
2. Los Angeles Lakers – Lonzo Ball, PG (UCLA)
If the Lakers fall out of the top-three, this pick will belong to the 76ers. If LA remains in this spot, Ball seems like a good fit. His vision and up-tempo game would create a lot of opportunities for the other budding Lakers. D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson could each benefit from playing off the ball.
3. Phoenix Suns – Josh Jackson, SF (Kansas)
Jackson is drawing comparisons to Kawhi Leonard for his defensive efforts and endless athleticism. The freshman would be a major upgrade at small forward for the Suns.
4. Miami Heat – Dennis Smith Jr., PG (NC State)
There’s a good chance the Heat trade Goran Dragic before the deadline, and will be left with a void at point guard. Even if they don’t, the gap between Smith and the previous two point guards is not much. He’s the next best player on the board.
5. Dallas Mavericks – Jonathan Isaac, PF/SF (FSU)
The Mavericks need a lot of help in more than one place. Now that Dirk Nowitzki is well beyond his prime, Dallas no longer has a potent post-player. Isaac can step in right away and has the ability to stretch the floor. He’ll need a little pro-polish, though.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves – Harry Giles, PF (Duke)
The Timberwolves’ talented roster has yet to put it all together. This is likely the highest you’ll see Giles on any draft boards, but I believe Minnesota would be willing to reach for his potential. The idea of a healthy Giles and Karl-Anthony Towns in the same front-court is downright scary.
7. Orlando Magic – Frank Ntilikina, PG (France)
If the Magic want to make a playoff push this season, they may address their point guard position before the trade deadline. Ntilikina may not have the explosion of the rest of the point guard crop, but his vision and ability to use varying speeds will make him a fine pro.
8. Philadelphia 76ers – Malik Monk, SG (Kentucky)
The 76ers’ lacking backcourt is about to get a big boost from rookie Ben Simmons, who will likely assume the majority of the ball-handling duties when he makes his pro debut. Now they need a scorer to pair him with. Monk would make opposing defenses pay from the outside for doubling-down on Joel Embiid.
9. New Orleans Pelicans – De’Aaron Fox, PG (Kentucky)
The Pelicans need a point guard who can get Anthony Davis the ball. Fox has the quickness and aggression to get to the rim at will, and would work nicely with Davis in pick-and-roll situations. He’s a notch below the other PGs on the list because he can’t shoot. (Seriously, he’s averaging 17.9-percent from three.)
10. Sacramento Kings – Miles Bridges, SF (MSU)
At some point, the Kings will start drafting players who actually fit around DeMarcus Cousins. At this point, all the worthy point guards will be off the board, so Sacramento will be forced to go with the best available. Bridges can score from all over the court and would play nicely off “Boogie.”
11. Portland Trail Blazers – Lauri Markkanen, PF (Arizona)
The Blazers are very weak in the front-court and need help defending the paint. Markkanen may not solve their defensive woes, but his ability to shoot from all over the floor as a seven-footer would be a perfect fit with Damian Lillard.
12. New York Knicks – Jayson Tatum, SF (Duke)
The Knicks are in need of a rebuild. Trading Carmelo Anthony is becoming more and more realistic, and they would be silly to give Derrick Rose the max-contract he’s after. Kristaps Porzingis is the future and they need to find players who can play off him. Tatum has struggled from behind the arc (29.5-percent) and needs to build some shooting range. But he’s a superior athlete who can play great defense when he wants to.
13. Detroit Pistons – T.J. Leaf, PF (UCLA)
Leaf is a versatile power forward who would complement Andre Drummond in the front-court. The Bruin has shown range and an ability to score in a variety of ways.
14. Milwaukee Bucks – Ivan Rabb, PF/C (California)
Milwaukee needs help with three-point shooting, but there might not be good options at this point in the draft. Rabb is a very good defender and would make Greg Monroe expendable. The Bucks could then use Monroe on the trading block to net some shooters in return.
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