Well, for starters, let’s address the multiple elephants in the room before diving into the picks. The huge trade between the Celtics and Sixers now has Philly picking at the top of the draft, while Boston will select third and tack on another potential top-five pick over the next two seasons (from PHI, via LAL or SAC). This changes the top of the draft for me and maybe even alters some of the picks I’ve made in part one of this series. On top of that, we know that Paul George could be on the move this week, so we’ve got something else that could shake up this draft as well. Either way, this is going to be one exciting week of NBA offseason action with so many potential changes!
This NBA mock draft series will be broken down into five parts — picks 7-10, picks 4-6, and then individual features on my projected top-three picks. Each article will give a breakdown on the players I project will be drafted in that spot, as well as what their fantasy outlook would be if they were drafted in that position. The Orlando Magic are on the clock!
With the 6th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic select …
Malik Monk, Shooting Guard, Kentucky (Freshman)
2016-17 averages: 19.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 39.7% 3-point FG
At 6’3”, Monk is a bit undersized for the SG position, but he’s a fantastic scorer with elite shooting ability. You don’t hang 47 points on UNC by accident, this kid can get red-hot from downtown. The big question here will be Monk’s consistency. Is he simply a scoring/shooting threat that can help as a role player like J.R. Smith or Lou Williams? Or is he a sniper that can also carry a scoring load on a nightly basis and be one of the team’s top options like Ray Allen or Reggie Miller?
I feel like he’s somewhere in-between, but we’ll find out. The real fit here is that Monk fills a huge need for a scorer in Orlando. The Magic have been a mess the past couple of season, making irrational decisions, leading to the firing of the GM. There are still nice pieces here in Elf Peyton, Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic, but perimeter scoring is an obvious need.
Much like Ray Allen, Monk gets overlooked as an athlete because he’s labeled as a shooter. Monk can get into the paint and score, run out in transition and should be a dangerous player both on and off the ball in the half court. He’s athletic enough to defend most guards in the NBA, but his lack of size will count against him.
Outside of height, Monk just needs to improve on getting himself into trouble on the court. He can kind of just put his head down and have tunnel vision for scoring, forcing some bad shots or getting caught up in double teams. Ironing out his feel for getting out of these situations will be the best thing he can do to improve his NBA outlook.
In the past, the Magic have taken a while to bring along prospects, but this should be the start of a new era. Monk should fit into the backcourt pretty quickly in Orlando, and he could even be one of its better scorers next season. There’s some fantasy potential right away given the skill-set and the lack of other polished scoring options. It won’t happen right away, but Monk shouldn’t be kept off the court by any better talent once he begins developing.
With the 5th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings select …
De’Aaron Fox, Point Guard, Kentucky (Freshman)
2016-17 averages: 16.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.5 steals
Here’s where we run into some trouble stemming from the trade at the top of the draft. Pre-trade I felt one of the stud wing players (Jayson Tatum or Josh Jackson) could slip to Sacramento at No. 5, which would be a heck of a steal, followed up by selecting a PG in Dennis Smith at No. 10. Now I don’t see that happening. I’ll admit if Fox slides to five the chances of Smith going to the Kings takes a huge hit, but it’d also be surprising not to see that type of talent going in the top-10, so maybe they double down on stud PGs.
Let’s shift the focus to Fox, though. The great thing about Fox is that Buddy Hield and whoever goes No. 10 won’t have any issues fitting in with this speedster. Fox’s ability in the open court immediately reminds you of a young John Wall, and it’s not just the Kentucky uniform. He’ll bring an exciting pace on offense to any team he takes the reigns for, and this Kings team could use a player to set the tone.
Fox is a fantastic athlete that’s impossible to stick with in the open floor, off the dribble or in the pick-and-roll. Speed kills and that is by far Fox’s greatest strength. Fox finishes around the rim, has great vision to set his teammates up, and has great length for a PG, which gives him all the tools to be a great defender.
Fox’s weaknesses are also similar to Wall’s when he entered the league. Despite a good looking jump shot, he just can’t get it to go down at times … he shot a miserable 24.6% from downtown in college last season. Fox swears it was just a down year for him shooting the ball, and if you watch his form you’d believe him, but we need to see him get far more consistent shooting the ball before we can be sure he’ll become a star. Sometimes Fox also is just moving a little faster than he can think, which can lead to sloppy play and turnovers. As Wall did, he’ll figure it out as he gains NBA experience. But he’s going to have to learn by making these mistakes, and obviously, he needs to use his speed to be successful. There will undoubtedly be growing pains, though.
As was the case for Smith, Fox would have some pretty intriguing fantasy potential with the keys to the entire offense in Sacramento. Fox would immediately be the greatest talent on the team, and although there would be an adjustment period, Fox would be in a spot where his team would be counting on him to produce. Just look at the spike we saw from Hield at the end of last season … Fox would be one of the most productive rookies in the league next year if this is indeed where he falls.
With the 4th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Phoenix Suns select …
*UPDATE: Since the Lakers traded away D’Angelo Russell to the Nets, Julian’s Mock draft has been adjusted. Lonzo Ball was previously in this space, but he’s been replaced.
Josh Jackson, Forward, Kansas (Freshman)
2016-17 averages: 16.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.1 blocks
Daily blockbuster trades are making it practically impossible to make a mock draft and stick to it. With the news that the Lakers have shipped D’Angelo Russell to Brooklyn in order to get themselves out from under the Timofey Mozgov contract, we can be almost positive Lonzo Ball will be the guy there. That leaves Phoenix going in another direction.
The Lakers’ return will be the expiring contract of Brook Lopez and the No. 27 pick in the draft. The Lakers analysis will come later, but right now let’s just focus on how crazy it is that it cost the Lakers their No. 2 overall pick from two years in order to get rid of the guy they focused on signing at midnight last summer as soon as free agency began. Wow.
Of course, this also means Los Angeles should have cap room for two max deals in 2018, but on to the Suns.
Ball no longer falls to them, which leaves Josh Jackson as the pick. This might not be a bad thing. Jackson is a lanky wing with a ton of potential and was considered the top prospect in this class just one year ago. The pressure to move Bledsoe right away would be gone with Booker and Jackson filling in the wings in Phoenix now, and the two young bigs from last year’s draft still in place.
Jackson’s ceiling is as high as anyone in this draft in my mind, which makes him a scary good prospect to slip. He’s an explosive athlete that put up much more well-rounded numbers than you’d think. He has go-to scoring potential despite a low release on this jump shot, which really came on strong towards the end of last season. Jackson can score in the lane, catch lobs off the ball, create his own shot … there’s a ton to like here. And he really doesn’t sacrifice anything as a great defender and rebounder that plays hard on every possession. As a passer, Jackson can create for teammates too, which will be crucial as he grows his game as a scorer.
The downside is clear. He can fall in love with his jumper, which can be broken at times. It’s a mystery if he’ll be able to get it consistent, or start from scratch and find a new form that’ll work for him in the NBA. But as it stands right now, something has to happen to Jackson’s shot before he can become a stud in the league. The other issues are all off the court, where Jackson has struggled with some anger management. His negative emotions can show at times on the court, although overall he strikes me as a good kid.
Fit-wise Jackson would get the minutes in Phoenix, but his game will take time to grow. He could wind up a fourth scorer on this team as the roster stands, though, and pending his minutes contribute as a rebounder and defender.
Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter with comments or questions: @julianedlow.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.