Hardwood Houdini: NBA 1st Round Mock Draft

Jan 25, 2017; Tempe, AZ, USA; Washington Huskies guard Markelle Fultz (20) looks on against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the second half at Wells-Fargo Arena. The Sun Devils won 86-75. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 25, 2017; Tempe, AZ, USA; Washington Huskies guard Markelle Fultz (20) looks on against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the second half at Wells-Fargo Arena. The Sun Devils won 86-75. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

The ping pong balls have been drawn and the draft order is set. You know what that means. It’s NBA mock draft season.

The NBA draft is a chance for struggling teams to add talented young players to their rosters and hopefully kickstart the franchise. That is the case for most of the teams picking in the top 10 below.

The Los Angeles Lakers have missed the playoffs four years in a row and even though they’ve been picking near the top of the draft lately, it doesn’t seem to be getting any better for them. Entering the draft lottery on Tuesday night, they had a chance of losing their pick to the Philadelphia 76ers if it fell out of the top three. Luckily for them, the draft lottery gods were kind and they can draft a franchise changing player.

Speaking of luck, it was about darn time that the Boston Celtics got some luck of their own in the lottery. Speak of the rich getting richer. Boston finished the season as the #1 seed in the east and is currently battling it out with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the conference finals. Now they get to add another dynamic player to an already strong roster.

There are bound to be some trades leading up to the draft as well as on draft night, but as of now, here’s how it could go down. Happy mocking!

The Celtics already have a plethora of guards, but when you’re picking #1, you need to pick the best player available. The best player available is Markelle Fultz. He can score from anywhere, rebound, and dish the rock. Boston could have an all-Washington backcourt next season with Fultz and Isaiah Thomas.

This is a match made in heaven. Ball played college ball in Los Angeles and everything about this family screams Hollywood. The Lakers already have a deep backcourt but Ball is the playmaker this team needs. They can slide D’Angelo Russell over to the SG spot where he played a little last season.

I was leaning De-Aaron Fox here but with the Philadelphia 76ers claiming that Ben Simmons will run the point, I’ll give them the wing player they need to compliment Simmons. Jackson is the best overall wing player in this draft. A dark horse pick here would be Malik Monk if Philly wants to grab a shooter.

There are a lot of guards and big men on this Phoenix team so a good fit would be a small forward like Jayson Tatum. Tatum is a solid all-around player that should fit in nicely here.

Sacramento’s current group of point guards isn’t getting it done. It would be beneficial to Sacramento to grab a point guard like Fox who can drive and create open shots for Buddy Hield.

Orlando doesn’t lack depth anywhere, but they do lack quality shooters. Monk is the best shooter in this draft and would be a nice fit with the other young pieces in Orlando.

Minnesota is another team that doesn’t have a glaring positional weakness. They don’t need a point guard so I envision them passing on the next two guys below. Jonathan Isaac would provide them with a solid rebounding forward that can also stretch the floor and give Karl-Anthony Towns a little space down low.

The New York Knicks are a disaster. Their frontcourt seems set and as of now, Carmelo Anthony is still on this roster. What they could use is a passer to get Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis some open looks. Smith fits the bill.

The Mavericks have some decent wing players but lack a long-term point guard. Ntilikina is the last of the top group of point guards in the draft so I don’t expect him to fall past here. They also have some good history drafting European players with that Dirk Nowitzki fella.

After landing the point guard they needed, expect Sacramento to go after a big man to replace DeMarcus Cousins here. Markkanen is a big body that can also shoot from the perimeter.

The Hornets are set at center and point guard, so expect them to look for a wing here that can shoot. Jackson raised his stock with a strong tournament showing and really has blossomed as a shooter and overall scorer.

The frontcourt of Detroit outside of Andre Drummond is uninspiring. Collins would pair nicely with Drummond and form a formidable low post duo. He could also be Drummond’s replacement if he is dealt this offseason.

Danilo Gallinari is probably leaving via free agency so look for Denver to try to replace that production. Mitchell might be a slight reach here but Denver has enough players to let him develop for a year or two.

There are a lot of guard and wing forwards here so Miami might look to go big as there are no great point guard options at this stage of the draft. Allen is a quality low-post big that Miami can pair up with Hassan Whiteside.

Portland has a lot of depth at guard and the wing positions, so a big man seems like the way they’ll go. Anigbogu is raw but possesses the talent to become a franchise center Portland can build around.

Dwyane Wade isn’t getting any younger and the Bulls lacked shooters outside of Jimmy Butler. Kennard seems to be a perfect fit as a replacement for Wade.

Milwaukee needs a center in a bad way. Patton is a near seven-footer with a good low post game that the Bucks currently lack.

One of the worst kept secrets around is that Paul George is likely leaving Indiana when he becomes a free agent after next season. Anunoby isn’t a finished product yet but should develop into an athletic small forward.

With Dwight Howard’s back problems and Paul Millsap potentially leaving via free agency, the Hawks should look for a solid forward to help with their frontcourt depth.

The Trail Blazers have the luxury of having three first round picks. That gives them the flexibility to draft a long-term project with upside like Terrance Ferguson.

As great as he is, Russell Westbrook cannot do it all himself. There aren’t many great scoring options at this point so the Thunder should look for a point guard. Jackson could allow Westbrook to play off the ball a little more and ease his load.

With Brooklyn being many years away from competing, it makes sense to take a high-upside player at this point in the draft. Kentucky’s Bam Adebayo fits that mold perfectly.

The Raptors could look for a guard with Kyle Lowry testing the free agent waters, but a seven footer like Jeanne could be too tempting to pass up.

Rabb is a solid power forward that can back-up Utah‘s frontcourt duo of Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors until one of them leaves via free agency.

In his two years at Syracuse, Lydon developed into a solid shooter and overall scorer. He can also rebound pretty well.

Portland is just adding depth at this point. Kurucs is a player that they can stash while he develops in Spain for a couple years. There’s some solid upside here as an athletic wing player.

Brooklyn needs to swing for the fences with upside picks, since they don’t have their 1st round pick next year. Diallo is freakishly athletic and could help the Nets in a few years.

The Lakers could definitely use a big center. They also can afford to let a player like Giles develop while they rebuild.

No matter where the Spurs are picking, which is usually in the high 20’s, it always seems like they land a good player. With the age of their frontcourt, expect them to grab a big man they can groom while backing up LaMarcus Aldridge and company. Bradley is raw but could turn into a formidable low post player.

Next: Celtics Need LeBron James to be a Shooter

Basically every guard on the roster has underperformed expectations. Look for the Jazz to draft a guard with a solid college pedigree like Florida St wing Dwayne Bacon.