NBA Mock Draft: Mavericks grab Lauri Markkanen to learn under Dirk Nowitzki
Celtics still sticking with Markelle Fultz at No. 1, but Dallas gets a steal with Markkanen at No. 9
The NBA conducted a process earlier this week that established the lottery odds -- plus the draft order outside of the lottery -- for teams that finished with identical records. Not much changed. But some things did. And this mock draft is designed to reflect those changes. The Celtics are still projected to get the No. 1 pick. And I still believe that pick would be used on Markelle Fultz -- the one-and-done star from the Pac-12 who didn't garner the same type of attention as UCLA's Lonzo Ball but remains higher on most franchises' draft boards, I'm told. How Fultz would fit with Isaiah Thomas is a question for another day, if only because it shouldn't really matter. With the No. 1 pick, you should always take the best talent. In this draft, that's Fultz.
|Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington: The Celtics should wisely opt for the best prospect regardless of position or need. To most, that's Fultz -- the one-and-done point guard who averaged 23.2 points, 5.9 assists and 5.7 rebounds while shooting 41.3 percent from 3-point range. Fultz was off of the national radar much of this season because Washington was so bad. That's unfortunate. But he did nothing to damage his reputation with NBA scouts.|
|Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas: The Suns could obviously go many directions with this pick. But if they don't take one of the elite point guards the selection should be Jackson. The 6-8 wing is a top-shelf athlete who averaged 16.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists in his lone season in college. He projects as a high-level contributor on both ends of the court.|
|Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA: Ball was raised in the Los Angeles area and has made it clear he would prefer to be a Laker. Whether he can transform that franchise the way he transformed UCLA by averaging 14.6 points, 7.6 assists and 6.0 rebounds is up for debate. But the 6-6 point guard becoming the face of Magic Johnson's franchise would be quite the storyline.|
|Dennis Smith Jr., PG, NC State: The Sixers have interesting pieces in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. But the point guard position could use an upgrade. Smith is an obvious upgrade. He averaged 18.1 points, 6.2 assists and 4.6 rebounds in one season at NC State. He tore an ACL in high school. But you would never know that by watching him now.|
|Malik Monk, PG, Kentucky: The Magic need shooting in the worst way and Monk would provide it. The athletic combo guard made 39.7 percent of his 3-point attempts in one season at Kentucky while averaging 19.8 points. Why he doesn't use his athleticism to get into the lane consistently is a mystery. But if Monk ever does that, he could be an All-Star.|
|Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke: Tatum closed strongly and developed into Duke's most dynamic player this season. He averaged 16.8 points and 7.3 rebounds while leading the Blue Devils to an ACC Tournament title. He should be a high-level scorer at the NBA level pretty quickly.|
|De'Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky: The Knicks need all sorts of help, including point guard help. And Fox would provide it. He was sensational in Kentucky's Sweet 16 win over UCLA. The only thing missing is a reliable jumper, which can theoretically be developed over time.|
|Jonathan Isaac, SF, Florida State: Isaac averaged 12.0 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks for a team that won 26 games. He has one of the biggest upsides in this draft because he's a long forward who can play around the rim or all the way out to the 3-point line.|
|Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona: Marrkanen is a modern-day stretch-4 who shot 42.3 percent from 3-point range this season. It's hard to imagine him slipping outside of the top 10 and, frankly, I won't be surprised if he ends up going in the top five. Either way, wouldn't it be cool to watch him work under Dirk Nowitzki for a year or two?|
|Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina: Jackson shot a career-high 37 percent from 3-point range this season, which greatly enhanced his NBA stock. He's a talented wing and national champion who should be able to contribute immediately.|
|Justin Patton, C, Creighton: Patton is the rare one-and-done redshirt freshman. The 7-foot forward averaged 12.9 points and 6.2 rebounds in just 25.3 minutes for Creighton this season. He's a work in progress but a player with an undeniably high ceiling.|
|Frank Ntilikina, PG, France: Ntilikina should be the first international player off the board. He's a big and strong point guard who signed his initial professional contract at the age of 15. The only reason he could be available outside of the top 10 is because of the quality of the American point guards in this draft.|
|Zach Collins, PF, Gonzaga: Collins is the first one-and-done player in Gonzaga history. The 7-foot forward shot 47.6 percent from the 3-point line on the season -- and finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks in the Zags' national semifinal win over South Carolina.|
|OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana: Anunoby suffered a season-ending knee injury, 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.|
|TJ Leaf, PF, UCLA: Leaf averaged 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds while shooting 46.6 percent from 3-point range. He was overshadowed by his point guard at UCLA but still a statistical monster. He's a perfect stretch-4 for the modern-day NBA.|
|Terrance Ferguson, SG, Australia: Ferguson is the Arizona signee who skipped college and accepted a pro contract in Australia. No, he didn't produce at a high level. But that reality -- i.e., American teenagers failing to be relevant overseas -- has never prevented anybody from being drafted in the first round. Brandon Jennings is the best example.|
|Donovan Mitchell, SG, Louisville: Mitchell 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.|
|Jarrett Allen, C, Texas: 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.|
|John Collins, PF, Wake Forest: Collins was ranked 230th in the Class of 2015, according to 247Sports. Still, he averaged 19.2 points and 9.8 rebounds this season and emerged as a legitimate prospect -- which makes him one of basketball's wildest stories.|
|Harry Giles, PF, Duke: At some point somebody will take a flyer on Giles and rationalize it by stating he would've been a top-five pick a year ago. Will he ever become what so many projected -- i.e., the next Chris Webber? I'm not sure. But he might. So he's worth a gamble.|
|Isaiah Hartenstein, PF, Germany: Hartenstein should be the second non-American international player off the board. The 7-footer moves well for a player his size and could be a legitimate threat from the 3-point line, like Marc Gasol is now, in time.|
|Ivan Rabb, PF, California: Rabb returned to California for his sophomore season in part so he could improve his stock. That didn't really happen. But he's still a first-round talent and intriguing prospect. The 6-11 forward averaged 14.0 points and 10.5 rebounds this season.|
|Tyler Lydon, SF, Syracuse: 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 should be capable of cracking a rotation as a rookie thanks to that reliable jumper.|
|Luke Kennard, SG, Duke: Kennard was among college basketball's biggest breakout stars. He averaged 19.5 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 43.8 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore. In a league where shooting is invaluable, Kennard is a desired commodity.|
|Semi Ojeleye, SF, SMU: Ojeleye started his college career at Duke, where he was just a bit player. But the 6-7 forward was tremendous at SMU. He averaged 19.0 points and 6.9 rebounds while leading the Mustangs to the AAC title.|
|Rodions Kurucs, SF, Spain: The Blazers have three first-round picks. So they could use a draft-and-stash option. Kurucs, a 19-year-old from Latvia, is a solid candidate for exactly that.|
|Josh Hart, SG, Villanova: Not every junior who returns for his senior year actually improves his reputation with NBA scouts. But Hart did. He averaged 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds while shooting 40.4 percent from 3-point range for a Villanova team that won 32 games and was the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.|
|Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA: What Anigbogu lacks in offensive skills he makes up for with tenacity and toughness. He's a raw but interesting prospect who is still just 18 years old.|
|Caleb Swanigan, PF, Purdue: There has to be a place for anybody who produces at the high-major level the way Swanigan did. The 6-9 forward averaged 18.5 points and 12.5 rebounds for the Big Ten champions and was a consensus First-Team All-American.|
|Bam Adebayo, C, Kentucky: Adebayo doesn't have the skill set most NBA franchises prefer from power forwards these days. But he's a good rebounder with a great motor who finishes exceptionally around the rim. Throw it up, and he'll dunk it.|
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