NBA Mock Draft: Kings pick North Carolina’s Justin Jackson at No. 10
Sacramento could use a wing who could shoot
Lonzo Ball's refusal to work out for the Boston Celtics in advance of the 2017 NBA Draft makes it more likely that Markelle Fultz will in fact be the first player selected, if only because one of the legitimate alternatives to Fultz has essentially removed himself from consideration.
It's a big headline.
But does it really matter?
On some level, yes. Because there's a scenario where Ball could've blown the Celtics away and made them consider taking him over Fultz. But, I think, that scenario was an unlikely scenario. Workout or no workout from Ball, the Celtics were likely going to take Fultz first no matter what. So, more than anything, Ball is probably just saving himself a trip to Boston.
Gary Parrish's NBA Mock Draft
Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington
Danny Ainge said immediately after the lottery order was set that things haven't been "narrowed down to one or two guys." And I believe him, I guess. But Boston's primary focus has forever been Fultz -- the one-and-done point guard from Washington who has good size for the position, terrific instincts and a reliable jumper. Any concerns about whether he can play with Isaiah Thomas aren't legitimate, I don't think. And, even if they were, it shouldn't matter. With the first pick a franchise should always take the best prospect regardless of need. In this draft, that's Fultz.
Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA
The Ball family -- mostly LaVar, but also Lonzo -- has made it clear they want the Lakers. And their refusal to meet with Boston is a heavy-handed way to make that more possible than it otherwise would've been. So it's not as ridiculous as some have made it out to be. But here's the important question: Is Ball the clear-cut option for the Lakers? My answer: No. I would seriously consider at least three other players here, if I were Los Angeles. But, ultimately, I think Ball will be, and probably should be, the pick.
The fact that Jackson found trouble multiple times at Kansas is a minor red flag -- particularly for a Philadelphia franchise that would mostly surround him with other young players. But Jackson is still the right choice here. The 6-foot-8 wing was tremendous in one season at KU while averaging 16.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and three assists. He projects as a high-level contributor on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. In fact, he's probably the best defensive wing available.
Tatum averaged 16.8 points and 7.3 rebounds and ultimately helped Duke win the 2017 ACC Tournament in his only year of college. The lone thing missing, right now, is a reliable 3-point shot that scouts believe can be developed over time. So that's not a major concern. Put Tatum next to Devin Booker, and the Suns could have the pieces to be good again. If he's available here, Phoenix shouldn't pass.
De'Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky
The Kings are desperately in need of a young point guard with a high ceiling, and Fox is exactly that. At 6-4, he has nice size for the position and is super-fast with the ball. He was sensational in Kentucky's Sweet 16 win over UCLA while finishing with 39 points. And though his 24.6 3-point percentage is a concern, it's neither something that can't be improved nor the type of thing that should prevent Sacramento from selecting him here.
Malik Monk, PG, Kentucky
The Magic shot 32.8 percent from 3-point range this season, which ranked next-to-last in the NBA. So they need shooting in the worst way. And Monk could provide it. The athletic combo guard made 39.7 percent of his 3-point attempts this season while averaging a team-high 19.8 points for a Kentucky team that won the SEC and made the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. Why he doesn't use his athleticism more to get into the lane consistently remains a mystery. But if Monk ever does that, he could develop into an All-Star.
The Timberwolves can take Isaac, play him with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, and now we're talking about something with big potential. Minnesota would then have a core of Isaac, Towns, Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Ricky Rubio. Those are some nice pieces that could soon have the Timberwolves advancing in the Western Conference Playoffs -- especially if Towns develops into an All-NBA player. Remember, he's still only 21 years old.
Dennis Smith, PG, NC State
The Knicks are a mess and in need of basically everything -- including the point guard help that Smith would bring. At 6-3, he has nice size for the position and is explosive with the ball. The NC State product averaged 18.1 points, 6.2 assists and 4.6 rebounds in his one season of college basketball. He could be enough to make Kristaps Porzingis comfortable with a future in New York. And that should be New York's priority right now.
Frank Ntilikina, PG, France
Yes, this means I think four point guards will be picked in the top nine. And, yes, that makes sense considering that position has become the most important position in the NBA -- proof being that three of the four teams that advanced to the Eastern Conference and Western Conference finals have All-Star point guards. So if you need one, and if there's a high-ceiling one available, it's never unwise to draft him. And Dallas needs one. And Ntilikina is certainly a point guard prospect with a high ceiling.
If Sacramento is going to take a point guard who can't shoot with the fifth pick, it makes sense to take a wing who can with the 10th. So Jackson makes sense. The 6-8 former North Carolina star shot a career-high 37 percent from 3-point range this season, which greatly enhanced his NBA stock. He's a national champion who should be able to contribute immediately at a position of need for the Kings.
Markkanen is a modern-day stretch-4 who shot 42.3 percent from 3-point range this season -- and it's possible he could be off the board several spots before the Hornets pick. I wouldn't be surprised if he went in the top six. But it's hard to imagine him slipping further than this. I really do think 11th overall is his floor.
Collins is the first one-and-done player in Gonzaga history and could work well playing next to Andre Drummond. The 7-foot forward shot 47.6 percent from the 3-point line last season -- and finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks in the Zags' national semifinal win over South Carolina. Those numbers and that performance on such a big stage helped secure a place in the top 20 of this draft, guaranteed.
Patton is the rare one-and-done redshirt freshman. He's a 7-foot forward who averaged 12.9 points and 6.2 rebounds in just 25.3 minutes while helping Creighton stay ranked for much of the season despite the loss of Maurice Watson. He's a work in progress, sure. But he's also a player with an undeniably high ceiling.
Anunoby suffered a season-ending knee injury in January, which will cost him with some franchises. But the 6-8 wing remains a lottery talent and should be evaluated as such. He's probably a top-10 pick if not for the medical setback. His ability to guard multiple positions could make him special in time.
TJ Leaf, PF, UCLA
Leaf averaged 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds while shooting 46.6 percent from 3-point range this season. He was overshadowed by his teammates at UCLA but still a statistical monster. He's a perfect stretch-4 for the modern-day NBA. Damian Lillard could use him in Portland the way Kyrie Irving uses Kevin Love in Cleveland.
Terrance Ferguson, SG, Australia
Ferguson, an Oklahoma native, was inconsistent while playing in Australia this season. But that shouldn't affect his standing with NBA scouts too much. He only shot 31.3 percent from 3-point range in 30 games. Not good. But that's not an accurate reflection of how well the former Arizona signee can actually shoot from beyond the arc.
Mitchell had a breakout season and averaged 15.6 points and 4.9 rebounds for a Louisville team that won 25 games. He's an undersized but strong shooting guard with above-average athleticism who could fit nicely next to Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee.
Allen was a better prospect than player in his one year at Texas. But the 6-11 athlete was consistently good from February on and showed flashes of why he's worthy of being selected in the top 20. He and Myles Turner would give the Pacers two nice young bigs to build around -- with or without Paul George.
Collins was ranked 230th in the Class of 2015, according to 247Sports. But he still developed into a player who averaged 19.2 points and 9.8 rebounds this season and emerged as a legitimate NBA prospect. In other words, he's one of this draft's most surprising stories and the type of thing Wake Forest coach Danny Manning can use to influence recruits going forward.
Harry Giles, PF, Duke
Giles has reportedly looked way better in recent workouts than he ever did at Duke, which is encouraging and the reason why somebody will take a flyer on him in the first round. Will Giles ever become what so many projected him to become -- i.e., the next Chris Webber? Honestly, I'm not sure. But he might. So he's worth a gamble in the 20s -- and perhaps even in the teens.
Luke Kennard, SG, Duke
Oklahoma City shot a league-low 32.7 percent from 3-point range this season, which is obviously something Kennard could help improve. The 6-6 guard was among college basketball's biggest breakout stars this season while averaging 19.5 points and shooting 43.8 percent from 3-point range for Duke. Russell Westbrook's ability to draw defenders would lead to open looks for Kennard. And the numbers suggest open looks for Kennard tend to lead to easy points.
Ike Anigbogu, PF, UCLA
Anigbogu only averaged 13 minutes for UCLA, which suggests he's nowhere close to contributing at the NBA level. But he's still an interesting prospect who is only 18 years old. His tenacity and toughness should get him picked in the first round.
Lydon shot 40 percent from 3-point range in two seasons at Syracuse and averaged 13.2 points and 8.6 rebounds as a sophomore. He'll be a stretch-4 in the NBA and capable of cracking a rotation as a rookie thanks to that reliable jumper.
Ojeleye started his college career at Duke, where he was just a bit player. But the 6-7 forward was tremendous at SMU this season. He averaged 19.0 points and 6.9 rebounds while leading the Mustangs to American Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament titles.
Bam Adebayo, C, Kentucky
Adebayo lacks the skillset most NBA front offices desire from frontcourt prospects these days. But he's still a high-energy, explosive forward who produced for a Kentucky team that advanced to the Elite Eight. Throw it near the rim, and he'll dunk it. And, yes, this means I have the Magic selecting a pair of John Calipari's one-and-dones in the first round.
Rodions Kurucs, SF, Spain
The Blazers have three first-round picks. So they could use this last one on a draft-and-stash option. And Kurucs is a solid candidate for such. He's a 19-year-old who can, at 6-8, play either forward position and make shots from the perimeter.
There has to be a place in the NBA for anybody who produces at the high-major level the way Swanigan did this season. The 6-9 forward averaged 18.5 points and 12.5 rebounds for the outright Big Ten champions and was a consensus first-team All-American. And the fact that he shot 44.7 percent from 3-point range suggests he's equipped to step away from the basket at the NBA level too.
Rabb recently worked out for the Lakers and would have to get serious consideration if he were still on the board here. Last year, he was a likely lottery pick. So his sophomore season at Cal cost him short-term money. But Rabb swears he's still OK with his decision. And that's a mature approach that could serve him well in the NBA.
Isaiah Hartenstein, PF, Lithuania
Hartenstein was reportedly just OK at the Nike Hoop Summit and thus didn't do much to enhance his reputation with NBA scouts. Still, it's hard to imagine him not going somewhere in the first round. And San Antonio's history with international prospects suggests he would fit nicely in that organization.
Evans is little and not necessarily a run-the-team point guard. But he's so good in pick-and-roll situations that there's no obvious reason he can't become an instant-offense scorer off of somebody's bench.
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