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-3 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 Sacramento Kings are on the clock!
With the 10th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings select …
Dennis Smith, Point Guard, NC State (Freshman)
2016-17 averages: 18.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.9 steals
This would be both a great fit for multiple reasons. Sacramento desperately needs a PG, but after the Boogie trade, what they need most is simply talent. This kid provides both. The ultra-athletic Smith would fit very well alongside Buddy Hield in the backcourt, but he would need to work on his skills as a passer. He tried to do it all in college, but he will need to improve now that he would have (somewhat) capable teammates to rely on.
Smith reminds me a lot of an Eric Bledsoe type player, which is no doubt a nice find at 10th overall. In fact, some mock drafts had Smith being the top overall pick at the beginning of the college basketball season. At the same time, as talented as Smith is, he doesn’t strike me as a franchise changer — just look at how Bledsoe’s Suns finished this season.
Smith’s downside as a playmaker and defender are a risk, but they won’t knock him out of the top-10 in this draft. He’s athletic enough and gifted enough to develop both of these areas of his game, and the upside is that he’s already a capable NBA scorer in the lane and in transition. Smith’s jumper is also solid, although it could use a bit of work. His explosiveness is undoubtedly the highlight of his game, the only thing to take caution of is a torn ACL from his high school days.
From a fantasy perspective, Smith could be one of the most productive players selected in the top-10 next season if he winds up a King. This team was a mess the last couple months of the season following the Boogie trade. Smith could wind up the starting PG and one of the top-three leading scorers in Sacramento, and thanks to the minutes, his rebounding and assist numbers should be respectable too.
Smith is going to go somewhere in the 8-10 range in this draft in my estimation. He’s not quite talented enough to crack the top-5, and Orlando and Minnesota are unlikely to snag a PG at No. 6 or No. 7. The only way the Kings pass on Smith if he’s there at No. 10 is if one of the elite PGs drops to them at No. 5 (they pick twice in the top-10). But as this mock draft unfolds, you’ll see the Kings do quite well for themselves with both of their picks.
With the 9th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Dallas Mavericks select …
Lauri Markkanen, Forward/Center, Arizona (Freshman)
2016-17 averages: 15.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 42.3% 3-point FG
You know who’s career is winding down in Dallas? Dirk’s.
You know who some people think Markkanen reminds them of? Dirk.
Now, I don’t actually think Markkanen will be as good as the Hall of Fame act he may follow, but he does have a similar skill-set. What this kid can do is shoot, there’s no question about that. At seven feet tall he’s got a silky smoother jumper that extends to the NBA 3-point line. He plays kind of like a guard in the sense that he can also shoot off the dribble, and given his size, he can also get into the lane and score off the drive. These skills will easily translate to today’s NBA.
The downside is probably exactly what you’re expecting. Markkanen thinks he’s a guard, so he plays that way. That means he needs a ton of work scoring from the low post, and needs to make his presence felt much more on the boards and defensive end. The rebounding potential is there due to his size, but he barely blocked shots at Arizona and will need to in order to stay on the floor in the league.
Markkanen will take some time to develop in the NBA, so his fantasy outlook for next season isn’t really something to focus on. But down the road, even if he doesn’t turn into half the player Dirk is, this is a solid role player that can stretch the floor.
With the 8th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks select …
Frank Ntilikina, Point Guard, France (Strasbourg)
2016-17 averages: 5.8 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 41.4% 3-point FG
Personally, I feel like this is where Smith should go in the draft, but the Knicks don’t have time to play things safe. They’ve mismanaged their assets and only have one good thing going for them — Kristaps Porzingis. You may recall he was booed on draft night back in 2015 … well, this pick might get a negative reaction again, but it’s sounding like New York is going to try and repeat its home run by going for another foreign player who’s upside is a complete mystery.
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News has reported that this is the Knicks’ guy, and they have someone overseas “babysitting” Ntilikina up until draft night. With Derrick Rose almost certainly out the door after that failed experiment, the Knicks have a huge need at PG.
Here’s what we know about “Frank” (as I’ll call him from now on to prevent multiple typos). He’s basically the exact opposite of Smith. Frank is 6’5” with an extremely long wingspan, so he has terrific size for the position. His offensive game just isn’t there yet, and playing professionally in France makes it a little more difficult to tell what it might become. He’s come on strong of late in the French finals, though, posting a 13/4/3 line in 24 minutes in Game 2. The upside is clearly there.
The reason he’s an NBA player right now is his defense and hustle. He’s ready to defend multiple positions in the league, and do so with integrity. This is an effort player that’s also smart and knows how to play the game. At just 18-years old, the mystery of Frank’s upside has the Knicks ready to pair him with ‘Staps.
As for his fantasy potential next season … who knows? The Knicks would be smart to sign some kind of veteran PG presence to help bring Frank along, but like I said, his defense/hustle will earn him minutes. It’s tough to see him carrying much of a scoring load right away, though. And as long as ‘Melo is still jacking up shots at the Garden, he won’t have a chance to. Marcus Smart (if he played fewer minutes) could be a good fantasy production comparison for the early going.
With the 7th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select …
Jonathan Isaac, Forward, FSU (Freshman)
2016-17 averages: 12.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.5 blocks
Some feel Minnesota will actually go with a guard in this spot, but I feel like it’s the perfect opportunity to snag an ideal fit at PF here. Look, it’s too early to give up on Kris Dunn after one season playing behind Ricky Rubio, we still need to see what Zach LaVine looks like post-injury, and Andrew Wiggins is already a very good wing player that’s only going to get better (despite not completely living up to the hype). With KAT holding down the center spot, the versatile 6’11” Isaac could be the final piece to the puzzle.
It’s hard to find a comparison for Isaac. If he could handle the ball a little better and create his own shot we’d be comparing him to Kevin Durant like we were with Brandon Ingram last season. But Isaac brings much more as a big man than Ingram did at this stage. He’s a very good defender and uses his length to block shots and get steals. He just doesn’t have the instincts to get out and lead the break like Ingram can, despite having a decent handle.
Isaac can be a bit clumsy and doesn’t have the best basketball IQ, but he can certainly improve. He’s an inside-out scorer that can catch and shoot from the perimeter, which at his size, combined with his defensive potential, is a scary mix.
If I’m the Wolves, I’m throwing this kid into the fire and letting him learn to play with that core of the future that’s already in place. I can’t stress enough how good of a fit it has the potential to be.
That said, NBA coaches don’t always think that way. Minnesota has potential to sneak into the playoffs out West next season, which means easing Isaac in. This kid is raw, so he’s unlikely to have a big fantasy impact right away. Down the line, however, Isaac could be a huge piece for any team. Versatility can make him a good fantasy option even if he never develops into the scorer draft gurus hope he can.
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.