Final 2017 NBA Mock Draft, first round

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We’re just one week away from the 2017 NBA Draft.

So NBC’s Rob Dauster of CollegeBasketballTalk and myself put together our second — and final — mock draft of the first round. We hashed it out during a podcast, which you can listen to below (or find in all the usual podcast locations). Right now we feel confident about the first five falling this way, after that, it gets interesting (and, of course, there will be the unexpected trade on draft night).

Here’s how we see the first round going:

 
Celtics small icon 1. Boston Celtics: Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington. if there’s one certainty in this draft, it’s that the Celtics will draft Fultz No. 1. He can knock down threes, finish above the rim, play in transition, he’s strong on the pick-and-roll, hits midrange pull-ups, and great size for his position. The only questions are defense and how far he can lead a team.

 
Lakers small icon 2. Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA. We’ve all heard the rumors, and Ball has not pulled away as a clear second pick, but the Lakers likely pick him here. He has the gift of incredible court vision and passing, which he puts to use well, in transition. His shot is funky but it goes in consistently. The only questions are about him as a defender, and running slowed-down halfcourt offense.

 

 
Sixers small icon 3. Philadephia 76ers: Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas. He has the potential to become one of the better wing players in the league. Jackson has all the physical tools for a wing, he’s a strong defender who could become lock-down guy, great motor, but needs to improve his shooting (his form needs to be reworked, it’s all over the place).

 
Suns small icon4. Phoenix Suns: De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky. He is moving up the boards and would make a great long-term fit next to Devin Booker. Fox has good size, great speed and athleticism, plus he’s strong defender and could be elite on that end. His shot needs a lot of work.

 
Kings small icon 5. Sacramento Kings: Jayson Tatum, Duke.: The rebuilding Kings need a guy to get them buckets, that makes this the pick. Phenomenal isolation scorer, he can face guys up or post up smaller players. Is he a small ball four, and where does he fit in Kings’ front line remains to be seen. That said, if he ends up on Kings he could get ROY with the numbers he’ll put up.

 
Magic small icon 6. Orlando Magic: Jonathan Isaac, PF, Florida State. This is a smart gamble by a team in need of a star. Isaac is maybe the best athlete in the draft, he’s long and has all the physical tools you want in a modern NBA big man, and he is already a strong defender with elite potential. However, he is incredibly raw on offense. Can Frank Vogel and the Magic develop him?

 
timberwolves small icon 7. Minnesota Timberwolves: Lauri Markkanen, PF/C, Arizona. Picture his as a backup to Karl-Anthony Towns who may also be able to play with him and help with floor spacing. Markkanen is a 7-footer who shot 42.3% from three, and not just spot-ups. Needs to be better defensively.

 
Knicks small icon 8. New York Knicks: Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky. This would be a great get for the Knicks and would be a hit with the fan base. Monk just knows how to score, and he can get red hot for stretches. The question is what else can he do? Is he a future sixth man in the Jamal Crawford/Lou Williams mold?

 
Mavericks small icon 9. Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Smith Jr., PG, N.C. State. He’s a strong playmaker, he doesn’t turn the ball over much, he’s strong in the open court, but had an up and down season where he didn’t seem consistently interested in defense.

 
Kings small icon 10. Sacramento Kings: Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga. This is the pick the Kings got from the Pelicans in the DeMarcus Cousins trade, and with it they get go big. Collins had performances on big stage of NCAA Tournament, he can make threes, score in the post, blocks shots, and can rebound. He came off bench at Gonzaga and is still a work in progress, but if they can develop him the Kings may have something.

 
Hornets small icon 11. Charlotte Hornets: Frank Ntilikina, PG, France. He’s a tall, 6’5″ point guard who is a strong two-way player, someone with a lot of offensive potential. He can develop for a couple years behind Kemba Walker then take over (like Atlanta did with Dennis Schroeder).

 
Pistons small icon 12. Detroit Pistons: Donovan Mitchell, guard, Louisville. Mitchel is an incredible athlete who knows how to use that to defend (the 6’10” wingspan helps there, too). He can create his own shot but and will work off the ball, but his offensive game needs development. That said, he and Kantavious Caldwell-Pope could form a strong defensive pairing in Detroit.

 
Nuggets small icon 13. Denver Nuggets: Luke Kennard, SG, Duke. Efficient offensively, he can shoot, work off the ball, even get buckets in the pick-and-roll — you can see how he fits with Nikola Jokic. Real questions defensively (the area where Denver was weak last season).

 
Heat small icon 14. Miami Heat: John Collins, C, Wake Forest. A bit of a late bloomer (young for his grade,), he’s got good size at 6’11” and was an incredibly efficient scorer around the basket. He’s got to develop his game to do more at the NBA level — space the floor better with his shot, defend, rebound — but the potential is there.

 
Blazers small icon 15. Portland Trail Blazers: O.G. Anunoby, SF, Indiana. He has impressive physical tools for an NBA wing — 6’8″, athletic — who is already a good defender and can become elite on that end of the court (something Portland needs). He’s got a lot of work to do on the offensive end to better take advantage of that athleticism, he’s got to develop a more consistent shot from three, but lots of potential here.

 
Bulls small icon 16. Chicago Bulls: Justin Jackson, SG, North Carolina. Can shoot the three, and when he gets in the lane has a fantastic floater. That said, not great at creating his own shot. He has good size, but his defense has been inconsistent and needs to improve.

 
Bucks small icon 17. Milwaukee Bucks: Harry Giles, C, Duke. He’s had a series of knee injuries which have robbed him of some athleticism and development time. Is he finally healthy, or is he forever diminished (and if so how much)? This is a role of the dice for the Bucks (who like to take those risks), but if he’s healthy and can get back closer to his old self, and if the Bucks can develop him, this would be a steal.

 
Pacers small icon 18. Indiana Pacers:. Jarrett Allen, C, Texas. Not a position of need, but too much potential to pass up at this point. Allen has great size — 6’11” with 7’6″ wingspan — and he’s a tremendous athlete. He could develop into Clint Capella-style NBA big, but he’s got a lot of work to put in to get there.

 
Hawks small icon 19. Atlanta Hawks: Justin Patton, C, Creighton. He’s got a lot of potential, it just needs to be developed by the right team. Patton is a 7-footer with length, he can shoot from the outside a little however he needs shots created for him, and defensive tools need work.

 
Blazers small icon 20. Portland Trail Blazers: Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA. He’s got good size — 6’10” with long arms, he’s very strong — and is quick off the floor, which helps with rebounding and shot blocking, but the rest of his game needs polish.

 
Thunder small icon 21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Semi Ojeleye, PF, SMU. Played as a stretch four last season and showed he has range as a shooter, but he’s undersized for that role in the NBA. Can he play the three? The Thunder will have to see where he fits, but he’s got a great build and looks like a guy who can play at the NBA level.

 
Nets small icon 22. Brooklyn Nets: T.J. Leaf, UCLA. He has great size at 6’10”, and is a fluid athlete who excelled in transition (with Ball feeding him the rock), and can shoot the three. He will get an opportunity to develop on the court in Brooklyn and show those transition skills next to Jeremy Lin, but needs to get stronger and round out his game.

 
Raptors small icon 23. Toronto Raptors: Terrance Ferguson, SG, Australia. A 6’6″ wing with insane athleticism, he’s shown to be good spot up shooter but still has work to do on both ends. Chose to play in Australia rather than college last season, which might have helped his development. He could get time off the bench in Toronto.

 
Jazz small icon 24. Utah Jazz: Bam Adebayo, PF, Kentucky. He’s going to play the four mostly at the NBA level but he has the athleticism to defend on the perimeter. He has a lot of work to do on his shot if he’s going to get consistent minutes. That said, not many places better to go to develop your game than Utah under Quin Snyder.

 
Magic small icon 25. Orlando Magic: Anzejs Pasecniks, C (played in Spain) . He’s a 7’2” center who played well and was very efficient last season in the second best league in the world. He moves well for a big man which makes him dangerous as the roll man. He’s got work to do on his outside shot, but there is potential there. He’s a bit raw but this could be steal this low.

 
Blazers small icon 26. Portland Trail Blazers: Jordan Bell, PF, Oregon. Long Beach’s own, the 6’9” power forward helped his cause at the combine by standing out defensively in 5-on-5 work, plus testing well athletically. His strength and energy lets him guard positions 3-5. He’s fantastic in transition and can finish lobs and plays around the rim, but is otherwise limited offensively.

 
Nets small icon 27. Brooklyn Nets: D.J. Wilson, PF, Michigan. An intriguing stretch-four because there are stretches where he’s awesome, but he’s also very inconsistent. He’s 6’10” and has perimeter skills, plus defensively he can protect the rim (however he’s not much of a rebounder).Wilson is a late bloomer who battled injuries, how much can he improve?

 
Lakers small icon 28. Los Angeles Lakers: Tyler Lydon, PF, Syracuse. He can shoot the three and was a good rim protector (albeit in the Syracuse zone). Was a good stretch four in college but is undersized for that at the next level, still he could play that role off the bench in Los Angeles behind Julius Randle.

 
Spurs small icon 29. San Antonio Spurs:. Isaiah Hartenstein, PF/C, (played in Lithuania). Great size at 7’1″ and a solid athlete who can do a little bit of everything. He has to develop but this is the kind of guy the Spurs draft, keep under wraps for couple seasons, then suddenly he starts looking really good in key minutes for them

 
Jazz small icon 30. Utah Jazz: Derrick White, guard, Colorado. A great story, he was offered no D1 and just one D2 scholarships, but grew five inches in college and last year was an All Pac-12 player. He’s a good shooter, a solid playmaker, plus can defend at the NBA level. Could quickly become solid rotation player.

Report: NBA executives expect busy in-season trade market

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For the first time in years, the NBA feels wide open — more than 10 NBA front offices think they have a shot at an NBA title next season (a few of them are delusional about that, but they believe). It’s one of the reasons we saw such an aggressive trade market last summer, teams thought they had an opening so the Clippers (Kawhi Leonard and Paul George), Lakers (Anthony Davis), Nets (Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant), Houston Rockets (Russell Westbrook), and others were aggressive on the free agent and trade markets to land stars.

Expect that aggressive mindset to carry over to the in-season trade market.

That’s what executives have been telling Sean Deveney of Heavy.com.

“We’ve been getting calls all summer,” one general manager told Heavy.com. “There are a lot of things we are considering. The dust settles a little, you’re aware of your weaknesses and your holes and so you find ways to address that. I think we’re going to see more of that than usual. I think if you look at the market, there is going to be a very brisk trade market this winter for a few reasons.”…

Chief among those reasons is a sense that next spring’s Larry O’Brien trophy is up for grabs, a feeling that took hold during last year’s Finals when Kevin Durant of the Warriors ruptured his Achilles tendon and crystallized when Golden State lost to Toronto, then saw Durant sign with the Nets as a free agent…

The other big driver of the trade market this season figures to be the open, empty crater that the 2020 free-agent class has become. Teams hoping to make significant changes in their direction won’t have free agency to lean on. Trades will be the way to go.

The lack of a decent free agent class in 2020 is why teams are still eyeing and calling Washington about Bradley Beal (and those calls continue to be rejected, Washington is not interested as of now and Beal himself wants to stay because he wants to qualify for the $250 million supermax contract and only the Wizards can give it to him). The only big 2020 free agent is Anthony Davis and nobody around the league thinks he’s leaving the Lakers and LeBron James after all he did to get there. After that, the biggest unrestricted names are Kyle Lowry, Andre Drummond (player option), DeMar DeRozan (player option), Danilo Gallinari, and Goran Dragic. There are restricted free agents such as Brandon Ingram and Jaylen Brown, but they will be expensive to steal away.

With high expectations in a lot of front offices after last summer, when the reality of the season hits and holes in the roster are exposed — or injuries create new ones — teams are going to make moves to fill them. Trade rumors are going to fly around the league and the rumor mill will continue to be on full tilt, something fans love but the league is wary about. Owners and NBA league execs don’t like the focus on player movement being bigger than the games themselves, in part because the games are where the money is made, the teams don’t cash in from trade rumors. Put simply, winning Twitter doesn’t put money in an owner’s pocket.

That’s not going to stop the rumors, expect them to be flying again all season long.

Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball reportedly working out with no restrictions in NOLA

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The New Orleans Pelicans have a bright future ahead of them. This season will be the first for No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson, and the team is expected to be a playoff contender thanks to a solid young core and proven veterans like Jrue Holiday.

But one of the things that could hold the Pelicans back? Health.

Both Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball — two of the cornerstone pieces sent over in the Anthony Davis trade with the Los Angeles Lakers — have battled various ailments. Ingram had a blood clot that knocked him out in March. Ball had been dealing with an ankle injury for most of 2019.

A team with this many fresh faces will need as much time together as they can get, and so it’s good news that both Ingram and Ball are reportedly getting some run in recent practices.

Via ESPN:

New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram and guard Lonzo Ball have been full participants in the team’s voluntary offseason workouts in New Orleans, a source told ESPN on Tuesday.

Neither player has been restricted by the injuries that shut them down last season while members of the Los Angeles Lakers, representing a significant step with training camp around the corner on Oct. 1.

New Orleans is expected to be a challenger in the Western Conference, which has been weakened by the departure of Kevin Durant (and the injury to Klay Thompson) in the Bay Area. Yes, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George represent a formidable force for the Los Angeles Clippers, but the parity in the Western Conference should allow a team like the Pelicans to make some noise.

If his team can get healthy and find some rhythm, it might be a quick turnaround for David Griffin after losing Davis via trade not so long ago.

Joel Embiid says he’s lost 25 pounds this summer (VIDEO)

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The big knock against Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid was that he just wasn’t in shape enough to play NBA basketball. Several times down the stretch last year, and Embiid couldn’t be relied upon to play from a conditioning standpoint.

But all that might be about to change.

In a recent video posted to social media, Embiid could be seen eating extremely hot chip as part of a marketing campaign. As Embiid gulped down the fiery junk food, he mentioned that he had actually lost 25 pounds over this summer.

“This summer I lost about 25 pounds,” said Embiid as he struggled to deal with the heat from the Carolina Reaper-laced chip by gulping down glasses of milk. “I’m about to put it back on with this milk.”

That’s a huge bit of news for Sixers fans who have derided Embiid’s lack of willpower when it has come to his diet. The Cameroonian center famously loved Shirley Temple’s, and there have been stories of him eating huge amounts of Chik-fil-A and up to four milkshakes in one sitting.

A thinner, slimmer Embiid should not only take some weight off of his knees and ankles, but it might also allow Brett Brown to keep his best player in the game for longer stretches in important situations.

Summer in the NBA is rife with news of #musclewatch, but for now here’s hoping that Embiid can keep the weight off. Keep counting those calories, my dude.

Rudy Gobert says lack of Team USA stars in World Cup will continue

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The 2019 FIBA World Cup is over, and the United States did not medal. It was a disappointing showing for Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, and Jayson Tatum, who led the U.S. national team in a year in which several stars did not want to participate.

Instead it looks as though players like Stephen Curry and Draymond Green will play next year in the 2020 Olympics in Japan. Meanwhile, what can FIBA do to entice stars to play in their tournament?

There are lots of issues with how the World Cup works, including the wonky qualifying windows and the fact that the Olympics come in short succession. That’s not to say that folks back in the States don’t want the World Cup to be a big deal — USA basketball head Jerry Colangelo has said that he wants the FIBA contest to be a premier event.

But some, like Utah Jazz and French national team big man Rudy Gobert, don’t ever see that happening. Speaking to the New York Times’ Marc Stein, Gobert said that he doesn’t believe players will join in on the FIBA games thanks to how the modern NBA works.

Via NY Times:

“I wish all the best players would come, but it’s never going to happen,” Gobert said of the modern N.B.A. player’s approach in the Load Management Era. “They think about themselves more than anything — and it’s understandable. It’s a business. We all have families to take care of.”

Although FIBA has been around since 1932, it’s not a part of American culture yet and thus the Olympics seem to be what both players and fans care about in comparison. That the U.S. men’s team didn’t come away with the gold doesn’t even seem to be that big of a deal, culturally.

Gobert has the right idea in terms of the reality of the situation. Until respective national team organizations can entice their own players to join in, it’s not clear what the World Cup will mean for basketball fans in North America moving forward. As such, we are unlikely to see a star-studded World Cup Team USA in the near future.