I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…the best part of the NBA season is the draft. The regular season, with the exception of the occasional notable game is BORING and PREDICTABLE. The playoffs were thoroughly BORING and predictable.
But the offseason thus far is just the opposite. Crazy trades, rumors, and personnel departures have made Thursday’s draft a must watch.
For now here’s what I do know (yes, know not think):
- Golden State will win the 2017-18 NBA Championship.
- Boston or likely Cleveland will again face the Warriors in the NBA Finals.
- Next Summer, LeBron James will leave Cleveland for a destination in Southern Califonia.
Of course LeBron is leaving Cleveland at the end of next season. And when that happens, not a single Cavs or Cleveland fan should bitch! https://t.co/hhoIQJfbms
— Eric Cohen (@eacohen83) June 21, 2017
- With David Griffin “resigning” as Cavs GM, LBJ now has an “excuse” to leave the city and blame it again on owner Dan Gilbert.
- A top-15 player (or two) will be traded during the draft on Thursday night.
- The Suns CAN’T screw this up.
On to the mock draft top 10 with plenty of projected trades included…
1. Philadelphia 76ers – MARKELLE FULTZ, guard, Washington
This is like the free square in bingo. The Sixers traded with Boston to acquire the #1 pick in order to draft Fultz. Fine decision in my book. They may not be very good next year but the team should be fun to watch.
2. Los Angeles Lakers – LONZO BALL, guard, UCLA
The LA kid with the crazy father gets his wish granted. With the Lakers trading PG D’Angelo Russell to the Nets, this pick is almost a certainty.
3. Chicago Bulls (projected trade with Boston) – JOSH JACKSON, forward, Kansas
The Bulls trade swingman Jimmy Butler to the Celtics for this pick and Avery Bradley. In that case Boston becomes on even par with the Cavaliers to win the East next season and the Bulls get a franchise player for the future.
4. Sacramento Kings (projected trade with Phoenix) – De’AARON FOX, guard, Kentucky
The Suns acquire picks 5 & 10 for #4, T.J. Warren, and a pair of 2nd round picks. With the Suns wanting Jackson who just went before them and the Kings badly needing a point guard and small forward, this deal makes too much sense. Fox, who I think will become the best player in the draft, will revitalize Sacramento’s franchise in the coming years.
5. Phoenix Suns (projected trade with Sacramento) – JAYSON TATUM, forward, Duke
Replacing the traded Warren with a player likely to be better than him right away. Suns fans, despite passing on Fox, end up with a better player in Year 1.
6. Orlando Magic – JONATHAN ISAAC, forward, Florida State
A player the Suns like but don’t need with Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender on the roster. Isaac plays longer than his 6’11” frame and could be 20-10 guy in Orlando if his outside shot can further develop.
7. Dallas Mavericks (projected trade with Minnesota) – Frank Ntilikina, guard, France
Owner Mark Cuban went to see Ntilikina in Italy two weeks ago so he won’t let the Knicks at pick 8 grab him first. Dallas trades #9 and a future lottery protected 1st rounder to Minnesota to grab their future point guard.
8. New York Knicks – MALIK MONK, guard, Kentucky
The Knicks might be tempted by Lauri Markkanen if the Kristaps Porzingis trade rumors are for real, if not, they go for the best true scorer in the draft. Monk should have a fine chance at Rookie of the Year honors in 2017-18 if he ends up next to Porzingis for the rebuilding Knicks.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves (projected trade with Dallas) – LAURI MARKKANEN, forward, Arizona
The T-Wolves trade down, pick up a future 1st round pick, and get the player they wanted at #7. Markkanen and his stretch-4 upside make Minnesota a perennial playoff contender with a ton of young talent.
10. Phoenix Suns (projected trade with Sacramento) – ZACH COLLINS, center, Gonzaga
Tough call with this pick assuming my projected Suns trade happens. I’m going with Collins as the Suns have a tendency to take inexperienced big men high in the draft and the freshman from Gonzaga would be no exception. Look for Phoenix to trade Tyson Chandler, let Alex Len walk in free agency, and roll with a front court rotation of Chriss, Bender, Collins, and Alan Williams going forward. I’m not sure Collins will ever be an All-Star but a solid pro career should be expected.