The NBA Draft is a courting process. The NCAA season and international play act as the profile, which hopeful draftees set up in order to attract interest from their potential suitors. Once there is mutual interest (and both swipe right), then workouts become the dating process where players and teams find out a little more about each other. Dates might multiply and interest might grow, where eventually things might turn into a more serious long term situation.
In that process, the top end talent has more suitors than they know what to do with and have to hone their search down to those who are in their league. AKA; Best Player Available. However for the rest, it can come down to that ‘perfect match’. This can be due to common interests and location or even quite often for those desperate enough, just simply filling a need.
On the eve of the big day at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, let’s play matchmaker and see just how many perfect fits we can predict in tomorrow’s draft.
Picks: 19, 41, 60.
Need: Long Term Dwight Replacement
Match: Jarrett Allen (Texas) – C
With Dwight Howard recently traded and only a Plumlee brother coming back in return, the Hawks are in need of a new franchise big. Lucky for them, pick 19 is in the sweet spot for potential game changing big men. Jarrett Allen could be just the start the Hawks need after engaging in a full rebuild and he would pair up quite nicely with Schroder and a ton of young wings in ATL.
Picks: 3, 37, 53, 56.
Need: To Stash One Late Pick
Match: Andzejs Pasecniks (Gran Canaria) – C
With three Second Round picks at their disposal, it’s hard to imagine the Celtics will use them all on roster slots for next season. Pasecniks fits the recent mould of young Euro C’s that the C’s themselves like to draft and keep in Europe. With Danny Ainge not locked in to any big not named Al long term, there is still very much a need to find some handy 7 footers for the future.
Picks: 22, 57.
Match: Harry Giles (Duke) – C
Having finally traded away Brook Lopez, the Nets will be on the look out for a fresh young C. Sean Marks has done a brilliant job with the bad hand he was dealt, but most of his young talent now sits in the guard or wings slots. The new Nets front office have shown a willingness to take a risk to land top-end talent. A guy with multiple knee surgeries and ‘former #1 player in the country’ on his resume, certainly fits the bill.
Picks: 11, 31.
Match: Luke Kennard (Duke) – SG
Kennard has seen his stock rise ever since the NCAA tournament ended. Whilst Pick #11 would certainly be on the high side for him, it cannot be ruled out due to the natural fit. Charlotte has been crying out for a second playmaker since losing Jeremy Lin and they also lack shooting from multiple positions. Kennard won’t have to move very far from his College base, even if it’s the wrong colour for Owner Jordan.
Picks: 16, 38.
Match: Donovan Mitchell (Louisville) – SG
With Picks 16 & 38, who knows what the Bulls might do. Butler wants to stick around (for now), Wade has opted in (cash cow) and Rondo might be coming back (but how?). There are a bunch of other guards on the roster too, so of course the Bulls will draft another one at #16. At least he can shoot, and a year apprenticeship under Wade might be the best thing that’s ever happened to him.
Need: K-Love Backup Plan
Match: Luke Kornet (Vanderbilt) – PF/C
The Cavs are one of one four teams without a pick currently in the draft. Whilst they could look to trade or buy (blank check Gilbert) their way in, it’s far more likely they will be looking at the FA market of undrafted rookies. If Cleveland are serious about moving one of Love or Frye, Luke Kornet is a raw big man who has the tools to shoot from deep and also protect the rim.
Need: Dirk Succession Plan
Match: Lauri Markkanen (Arizona) – PF
This could be Dirk’s last ever season in the NBA and the Mavs will likely not be all that good. It could be a helluva season watching him mentor someone with the offensive gifts of Lauri Markkanen. The Finnish product out of Arizona can shoot the lights out of the rock but not much else. Dirk’s final gift to Dallas could be teaching the young fella how to survive in the NBA by maximising what you’ve got.
Picks: 13, 49, 51.
Need: Draft And Stash
Match: Vlatko Cancar (Mega Bemax) – PF
Much like Boston, don’t expect Denver to use picks #49 and #51 on roster spots. The already crowded roster doesn’t need any more youth and the Nuggets may look to stash one or possibly even both picks. Long term, Nikola Jokic may need a frontline partner and Cancar’s shooting ability may be a good foil. For now, Denver have shown a knack for stashing Euro big men who need to work on their body.
Need: SVG’s New PG
Match: Dennis Smith Jnr (NC State) – PG
If Dennis Smith Jnr somehow slid all the way to Pick #12, SVG would run on stage himself to announce the pick. Reality is he won’t and Detroit may have to trade up to nab him. All signs do point to the Pistons wanting a new lead guard and Smith has the potential to be the best player in the draft. If SVG could get his hands on him and turn Drummond around, things would look much better in a hurry.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
Need: High Reward Rookies
Match: Chris Boucher (Oregon) – PF
With no picks and a salary cap crunch coming like never seen before, cheap labour will be at a premium for GSW. They will continue to land Vets on minimum deals but for the sake of the long term, they will need to hit on rookies just as frequently. Oregon’s Boucher would be a certain draftee if not for a knee injury and his potential on both ends of the floor is too hard to pass up for a team with limited resources for youth.
Picks: 43, 45.
Need: Patrick Beverley Insurance
Match: Frank Mason (Kansas) – PG
Patrick Beverley might be getting traded. He is open to it and although he has one of the best contracts in the league, Houston seem to be exploring it too. It is likely such a move would be to chase another high level free agent, but it may also open up an opportunity for someone like Mason. His stock sits right around Houston’s two picks of #43 & #45 and his game is similarly in the Rockets wheelhouse.
Picks: 18, 47.
Need: A Turner Sidekick
Match: Frank Ntilikina (Strasbourg) – PG
With Paul George all but out the door in Indiana, it’s time for Kevin Pritchard to rebuild the Pacers. Luckily for them, they already have one decent building block in Turner and giving him a small sidekick would be a great kickstart to the future. Ntilikina is very likely to be gone by Pick #18, however the Pacers should look to move up or add a higher draft pick in order to secure his intriguing set of skills.
Need: CP3 Backup
Match: Nigel Williams-Goss (Gonzaga) – PG
The third team without a pick, the Clippers probably have one eye on July. If they are able to retain CP3 however, they would be smart to finally find him a decent backup. Not since Eric Bledsoe, have LAC had a young PG worthy of rotation minutes but Williams-Goss is an intriguing prospect. If he slips too far into the second round, he may force his way out of the draft and into a situation he prefers.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Picks: 2, 27, 28.
Need: A New Leader
Match: Lonzo Ball (UCLA) – PG
The Lakers dumped D’Angelo Russell, there is literally no other way to put it. Now, just like LaVar proclaimed, the Lakers are in desperate need of a new leader. Lonzo Ball is a floor general, born and bred in LA, with all the qualities needed to handle the bright lights. There is a clear opening on the roster for him now and one has to think both Magic and Walton are salivating at the thought of untapping his potential as a PG.
Need: The Next Tony Allen
Match: Sindarius Thornwell (South Carolina) – SG
The final team without a pick, the Grizzlies are also in a situation where FA’s may leave them with more than a few holes in the roster. Thornwell could be likened to a young Tony Allen and coincidentally it may be time for Allen to go elsewhere. Another guy who may go undrafted by choice and choose his own destiny. Memphis would be a great choice.
Need: Stretch Big
Match: Zach Collins (Gonzaga) – PF/C
The Heat have one shot in this draft to get better. Not overly enamoured with the draft, Pat Riley & Co need to get this choice right. Armed with Whiteside in the middle, Dragic running the point and an army of wings to platoon off the bench – there is one clear need; a stretch four. Zach Collins is that guy and if Miami can draft him at #14 or move up to guarantee things, that would be a clever play.
Picks: 17, 48.
Need: The Missing Center Piece
Match: Ike Anigbogu (UCLA) – C
Looking at a potential MIL starting 5, they
have had 4 out of the 5 positions sorted. Brogdon is the perfect fit next to Giannis, with Middleton at the 2 and Jabari Parker the 4. They have been looking for the Center piece this entire time. Now with Parker injured again, Monroe and Maker look to be potential PF options for next season at least but a 5 for the future is still hidden. Anigbogu could be that guy and picking him at #17 would be a Bucks mini-reach if ever I saw one.
Need: D –
Match: OG Anunoby (Indiana) – SF/PF
Although OG’s stock has risen quite a lot over the last few months, it has never quite been as high as #7. With that in mind, it would be a huge reach for the Wolves to take the Indiana forward at that spot. However, taking draft position out of the equation just think about how perfect the fit is. A true defensive presence for Thibs to unleash, who would allow the Wolves to switch a lot of sets and does not need the ball. He’s the anti-everything the Wolves currently are.
NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
Need: Ready Help On Wings
Match: Wesley Iwundu (Kansas State) – SG/SF
The Pelicans have one pick and not a lot of time. Thanks to the Boogie trade, assets are at a minimum as is time before Boogie may bolt. The Pelicans have a number of holes but none bigger than on the wing, where they need someone to contribute right away. Iwundu is a Senior who is multi-skilled and can help in a number of ways. Whether that be a defender of multiple positions, knocking down open shots or as an extra facilitator when needed.
NEW YORK KNICKS
Picks: 8, 44, 58.
Need: To Bring The Passion Back
Match: Jonathan Isaac (Florida State) – PF/SF
The New York Knicks are quite close to being the laughing stock of the whole NBA. The Garden is losing it’s mystique and the fans are turning on those who run the franchise. The Knicks need a catalyst for change and that could very well be drafting Jonathan Isaac. A kid from the Bronx, Isaac would not be booed by the hometown crowd when his name is read out and the length of he and Porzingis up front would frighten the hell out of those visiting the Garden of Madison Square.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
Need: Shooting, Shooting, Shooting
Match: Justin Jackson (North Carolina) – SF
The only way Season 2017/18 turns out any different to 2016/17 for the Thunder, is if they can add more shooting. It will be almost impossible for Westbrook to replicate what he achieved but either way he needs much more help. Poised to let Roberson walk, it’s time for OKC to get smarter from the 3 spot. That’s the position in the lineup and on the floor. Drafting Justin Jackson will go a part of the way to helping build the right team around Mr MVP.
Picks: 6, 25, 33, 35.
Need: A New PG?
Match: Derrick White (Colorado) – PG
As we have seen already in Los Angeles and Atlanta, new Front Office staff bring new ideas and they are no longer tied to the players of the old regime. If the Magic don’t go a PG early in the draft, then they are almost certain to with one of their three mid draft picks. Derrick White is a far more modern lead guard than what the Magic currently have and would be a great choice for a team that desperately needs shooting.
Picks: 1, 36, 39, 46, 50.
Need: Ready Made Shooting
Match: Josh Hart (Villanova) – SG
The Sixers are another team in desperate need of some shooting. Not that the state of the team is anything to panic about but with so many key pieces set in stone, shooting from the SG and PF spots in particular is of high importance. After Fultz at #1, Philly should consider Hart at #36. Furthermore, they are very unlikely to use all their choices so package them to move up and guarantee getting your man.
Picks: 4, 32, 54.
Need: Two Way Wing
Match: Josh Jackson (Kansas) – SG/SF
Perfect matches don’t get much easier than this. The Phoenix Suns have been crying out for an elite two-way wing for years, continually getting beaten by opposing wings putting up ridiculous lines and also struggling for a go-to bucket getter in the crunch. Jackson would step straight into a position of need and be given all the minutes he could handle early on his career.
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
Picks: 15, 20, 26.
Need: Game Changing Big
Match: Justin Patton (Creighton) – C
The Blazers may have smartly lucked into Jusuf Nurkic, however they cannot take that as a Big 3 set in stone. Nurkic is injury prone and also a soon-to-be FA, so the Blazers need to continue to look to add a key third piece to their team. Justin Patton rose up boards as the season went on after some huge outings and could be the next big man on the trail. Whether they use #15, #20 or #26, they need to nab him.
Picks: 5, 10, 34.
Need: A Wannabe King
Match: De’Aaron Fox (Kentucky) – PG
The Kings have been a mess, there is no easier way to put it. They have been armed with high draft choices in the past but failed to secure workouts or attract interest from player agents. The Kings also need a long term PG option. Enter Fox. The man who actually wants to be a King, has worked out for the team and publicly stated his want to play for the franchise. Draft that man, Sacramento.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
Picks: 29, 59.
Need: Long Term Athleticism
Match: Terrance Ferguson (Adelaide) – SG/SF
After taking the unusual route of playing professionally in Australia, Ferguson still needs a lot of work. He played reduced minutes down under and although super athletic, his skills need refining. Luckily for him, the Spurs are the masters of refining and it may just pay off for all involved. San Antonio needs to get younger and more athletic, particularly at the Guard spots, and Ferguson would be a great start.
Need: Patrick Patterson Insurance
Match: Tyler Lydon (Syracuse) – PF/SF
The Raptors have four key free agents about to hit the market and simply cannot retain them all. All signs point to Lowry and Ibaka being prioritised over the Patterson/Tucker duo, which will open up time at predominately PF. The Raptors may have to let the two Vets go but may be able to easily replicate what they needed from them with a player like Lydon. He can bring much needed shooting and underrated D to The Six.
Picks: 24, 30, 42, 55.
Need: More Shooting Please
Match: TJ Leaf (UCLA) – PF
Shooting really seems to be the common denominator around the league at the moment. Blame the Warriors. When you have a dominant inside guy like Gobert, you can maximise his value with a shooter that may be below average on D. Truth is, Utah have been wanting to move away from Favors for a while and where Lyles hasn’t been able to win the spot, Leaf might. A super efficient scorer, TJ would be a great fit in Utah.
Need: A Backup PG
Match: Monte Morris (Iowa State) – PG
With one lone choice at #52, the Wizards need to target their greatest position of need. Reduced to giving Brandon Jennings the backup minutes in the playoffs (with zero positive effect), it’s time for Washington to find Wall’s understudy. Morris, a Senior at Iowa State, is ready made and can contribute right away as the floor general the Wizards need.
Dating all the way back to January 16th, when Sam posted his first draft piece, TFPP have covered the 2017 NBA Draft Class extensively from top to bottom. Now the big day is finally here and it is time to see just how right we have been. Truth be told, it will likely take year’s before we truly know but there is nothing like the instant gratification of nailing a certain pick.
So without further ado, the Final TFPP Mock Draft consisting of the first 30 picks.
#1 – PHI – Markelle Fultz
#11 – CHA – Malik Monk
#21 – OKC – Tyler Lydon
#2 – LAL – Lonzo Ball
#12 – DET – Donovan Mitchell
#22 – BKN – Bam Adebayo
#3 – BOS – Jayson Tatum
#13 – DEN – OG Anunoby
#23 – TOR – Derrick White
#4 – PHX – Josh Jackson
#14 – MIA – Luke Kennard
#24 – UTA – Frank Jackson
#5 – SAC – De’Aaron Fox
#15 – POR – Justin Patton
#25 – ORL – Semi Ojeleye
#6 – ORL – Jonathan Isaac
#16 – CHI – Justin Jackson
#26 – POR – Ike Anigbogu
#7 – MIN – Lauri Markkanen
#17 – MIL – Jarrett Allen
#27 – LAL – DJ Wilson
#8 – NYK – Frank Ntilikina
#18 – IND – John Collins
#28 – LAL – Jordan Bell
#9 – DAL – Dennis Smith Jnr
#19 – ATL – Harry Giles
#29 – SAS – Terrance Ferguson
#10 – SAC – Zach Collins
#20 – POR – TJ Leaf
#30 – UTA – Ivan Rabb
NEXT IN LINE
3 – Anzejs Pasecniks
5 – Wesley Iwundu
2 – Tony Bradley
4 – Jonah Bolden
6 – Caleb Swanigan