2017 NBA Mock Draft (Final Version)

The NBA draft will take place on Thursday and we will do our best to predict where everyone will get selected. Some websites do their mock drafts based on “best player available” but we try to focus on team needs: for example, if a team like Phoenix already has Eric Bledsoe at the 1-spot, then they are probably not selecting a PG with the #4 overall pick. So, please see our 1st round predictions below and then let us know in the comments section what looks good and what might need a re-pick.

1: Philadelphia-Markelle Fultz, PG (Washington/FR)
2: LA Lakers-Lonzo Ball, PG (UCLA/FR)
3: Boston-Jayson Tatum, SF (Duke/FR)
4: Phoenix-Josh Jackson, SG/SF (Kansas/FR)
5: Sacramento-De’Aaron Fox, PG (Kentucky/FR)
6: Orlando-Jonathan Isaac, SF/PF (Florida State/FR)
7: Minnesota-Lauri Markkanen, PF (Arizona/FR)
8: New York-Malik Monk, SG (Kentucky/FR)
9: Dallas-Dennis Smith, PG (NC State/FR)
10: Sacramento-Zach Collins, C (Gonzaga/FR)
11: Charlotte-John Collins, PF/C (Wake Forest/FR)
12: Detroit-Donovan Mitchell, SG (Louisville/SO)
13: Denver-Frank Ntilikina, PG (France/INTL)
14: Miami-Luke Kennard, SG (Duke/SO)
15: Portland-Justin Jackson, SF (North Carolina/JR)
16: Chicago-Justin Patton, C (Creighton/FR)
17: Milwaukee-Jarrett Allen, C (Texas/FR)
18: Indiana-Bam Adebayo, PF/C (Kentucky/FR)
19: Atlanta-Terrance Ferguson, SG (USA/INTL)
20: Portland-TJ Leaf, PF (UCLA/FR)
21: Oklahoma City-Harry Giles, PF/C (Duke/FR)
22: Brooklyn-OG Anunoby, SF/PF (Indiana/SO)
23: Toronto-DJ Wilson, PF (Michigan/SO)
24: Utah-Kyle Kuzma, PF (Utah/JR)
25: Orlando-Ivan Rabb, PF/C (California/FR)
26: Portland-Ike Anigbogu, C (UCLA/FR)
27: LA Lakers-Isaiah Hartenstein, PF (Germany/INTL)
28: LA Lakers-Semi Ojeleye, SF/PF (SMU/JR)
29: San Antonio-Derrick White, PG/SG (Colorado/SR)
30: Utah-Anzejs Pasecniks, C (Gran Canaria/INTL)

Filed Under: CBB

Chatting with the Champ: HoopsHD interviews draft prospect Nate Britt

A lot of players in next week’s draft improved their stock with a memorable moment during the NCAA tourney but only a handful of them have a championship ring.  After watching his brother Kris Jenkins beat him to win the 2016 NCAA title for Villanova with the most clutch shot ever, Nate Britt won his own title last April as part of the Tar Heels.  He was known for playing tough defense and finished his career as 1 of the best free throw shooters in UNC history.  Earlier today HoopsHD’s Jon Teitel got to speak with Nate about his Hall of Fame coach and his family’s 2 titles.

You played for Coach Roy Williams at North Carolina: what makes him such a great coach, and what is the most important thing that you have ever learned from him? His preparation: of all the coaches I have ever played for he did the best job of preparing his team for any situation, so during games we were just acting on instinct and did not need to make a lot of adjustments. He taught me the importance of being a good person and treating people with respect. We had a “thought of the day” at each practice and the 1 that I remember the most was that you cannot control the winds but you can adjust the sails: if you cannot control something then you should not stress out or get off course.

As someone who has been right in the middle of the Duke-UNC rivalry for the past several years, how do you explain it to people who have never seen it before? It is hard to put into words the emotions that get going as we prepared for those games and then played them. It is the most exciting adrenaline rush leading up to the game, and then during the game there is so much excitement that it almost feels surreal. In most games the adrenaline wears off after a few moments, but in that game there each player has an adrenaline rush the entire time.

In the 2014 NCAA tourney DeAndre Kane made a layup in the final seconds and then you took the inbounds pass and sprinted up the court to call a timeout: what the heck happened with the clock, and do you feel that the referees should have put time back on the clock rather than just give Iowa State a 2-PT win? I do think that the refs should have put some time on the clock because it was obvious that we wanted a timeout and Coach Williams was signaling for it. I have never gone back to look back at the film and see if there was any time left when I signaled for a timeout, but I think the problem was that they started the clock late. As a player you always keep an eye on the clock so I thought that there was still time left.

After shooting jumpers left-handed as a freshman you switched to shooting them right-handed as a sophomore (while still shooting FTs from the left side): why did you do that, and how did it work out? I am naturally left-handed but did not shoot well from the 3-PT line as a freshman: my major issue was confidence. I talked to my father and Coach Williams about switching hands because I would sometimes do that during pickup games. I put in a lot of time during that summer to see if the switch would help. I took a whole lot of shots: it was looking pretty good by the time the season started and it has worked pretty well ever since then.

As a sophomore you made 60-68 FT (88.2%), which is 2nd-best in school history: what is the key to making FTs? I finished my career over 80% so I definitely did not want to switch hands and get away from that. It is just about practice: if you put in the time to get better then it will become routine. After I do a drill I try to make 5 FTs in a row before switching to another drill. It is an easy shot from the same distance that is not contested: it will ease your mind because shooting is mostly about confidence.

In the 2016 NCAA title game you scored 2 PTS and your adopted brother Kris Jenkins helped Villanova beat you with the game-winning 3-PT shot at the buzzer: did you think that he was going to make it, and how has that shot changed your relationship (if at all)? I definitely knew the shot was going in: I told people after the game that anyone who knows him knew the game was over as soon as he caught the pass. He did not give me a hard time about it because he knew how hard it was for me to lose that game. It did not change our relationship too much: it just gave him more of a reason to support me last spring when he got knocked out of the tourney early, but I think that he would have been there either way because that is how our family supports each other. We always played on the same team growing up and we still try to watch each other play as much as possible.

Take me through the magical 2017 NCAA tourney:
In the Elite 8 Malik Monk made a 3-PT shot with 2 defenders in his face to tie the game at 73 with 7.2 seconds left, then Luke Maye hit a jumper with 0.3 seconds left to clinch a 2-PT win over Kentucky: how was your blood pressure doing by the end of that game?! It was definitely up and down. When Monk took his shot I thought there was no way it was going in, and then my heart definitely dropped because it was like our game against the Wildcats earlier that season where he made a 3 at the end of the game. It also reminded me of the 2016 title game in terms of each team making a big shot in the final seconds.

In the title game you scored 2 PTS in a 6-PT win over Gonzaga: what did it mean to you to win a title, and what was the reaction like when you got back to campus? Awesome! It meant everything to me. We talked amongst ourselves that it was time for Carolina to win another title.  Being a part of our basketball program puts you in an elite group, but to win a championship makes it even more special. We feel that we finally have a seat at the table along with the other players who have left their mark on the university. It was electric when we returned to campus: we had a welcome party at the Dean Dome. The campus had been extremely dead the previous April after we lost, so to be able to experience that kind of energy with the rest of the student body was great.

You played 151 games during your college career: do you think NBA teams view that as an advantage (experience and spent 4 years learning all the fundamentals) or disadvantage (a 1-and-done guy might have less wear and tear on his body)? It depends. I do not think that anyone would see it as a disadvantage other than the fact that an 18-year old freshman might have a higher ceiling as a “project” based on his ability. It may not be the best option for some teams who want to make a guy into whoever they want but I see it as an advantage.

You wore #0 to prove people wrong who thought you were a “zero”: what # do you want to wear in the pros, and why? My next # will have to be 13: I was born on the 13th so that is my favorite #. I was also a big Steve Nash fan, which has a little bit to do with it as well. I told the UNC fans that I would never wear #0 again because there is no reason to wear it going forward due to all of the support that they gave me.

What would it mean to you to get drafted: a validation of your college career, the realization of a lifelong dream, or other? Almost every kid who plays basketball hopes to make it to the NBA, so being able to put on the hat of the team that picks you would be a dream come true. I have already had a few of my dreams come true: going to Carolina, playing for Coach Williams, winning a national championship, etc. As a 10-year old I just wanted to play for the Tar Heels, but hearing my name called at the draft would be like reaching the top of the mountain.

2017 NBA Mock Draft (Version 2.0)

The NBA draft will take place on June 22 and we will do our best to predict where everyone will get selected. Some websites do their mock drafts based on “best player available” but we try to focus on team needs: for example, if a team like Phoenix already has Eric Bledsoe at the 1-spot, then they are probably not selecting a PG with the #4 overall pick. So, please see our 1st round predictions below and then let us know in the comments section what looks good and what might need a re-pick.

1: Boston-Markelle Fultz, PG (Washington/FR)
2: LA Lakers-Lonzo Ball, PG (UCLA/FR)
3: Philadelphia-De’Aaron Fox, PG (Kentucky/FR)
4: Phoenix-Josh Jackson, SG/SF (Kansas/FR)
5: Sacramento-Jayson Tatum, SF (Duke/FR)
6: Orlando-Jonathan Isaac, SF/PF (Florida State/FR)
7: Minnesota-Dennis Smith, PG (NC State/FR)
8: New York-Malik Monk, SG (Kentucky/FR)
9: Dallas-Frank Ntilikina, PG (France/INTL)
10: Sacramento-Lauri Markkanen, PF (Arizona/FR)
11: Charlotte-Zach Collins, C (Gonzaga/FR)
12: Detroit-Luke Kennard, SG (Duke/SO)
13: Denver-Donovan Mitchell, SG (Louisville/SO)
14: Miami-John Collins, PF/C (Wake Forest/FR)
15: Portland-Justin Jackson, SF (North Carolina/JR)
16: Chicago-Justin Patton, C (Creighton/FR)
17: Milwaukee-Jarrett Allen, C (Texas/FR)
18: Indiana-TJ Leaf, PF (UCLA/FR)
19: Atlanta-Terrance Ferguson, SG (USA/INTL)
20: Portland-Harry Giles, PF/C (Duke/FR)
21: Oklahoma City-Bam Adebayo, PF/C (Kentucky/FR)
22: Brooklyn-Ike Anigbogu, C (UCLA/FR)
23: Toronto-OG Anunoby, SF/PF (Indiana/SO)
24: Utah-DJ Wilson, PF (Michigan/SO)
25: Orlando-Jawun Evans, PG (Oklahoma State/SO)
26: Portland-Isaiah Hartenstein, PF (Germany/INTL)
27: Brooklyn-Rodions Kurucs, SF (Latvia/INTL)
28: LA Lakers-Jordan Bell, PF/C (Oregon/JR)
29: San Antonio-Caleb Swanigan, PF (Purdue/SO)
30: Utah-Ivan Rabb, PF/C (California/FR)

Finally the Finals: HoopsHD interviews Wes Unseld Jr. about his famous father

Since the Finals did not end in a sweep last Friday night and Father’s Day is right around the corner, what better time for an interview with the son of a former Finals MVP.  Wes Unseld won back-to-back Kentucky state high school championships before becoming a 2-time All-American at Louisville.  Drafted by the Baltimore Bullets in 1968, he won Rookie of the Year & MVP in 1969 and was named Finals MVP in 1978 after helping lead the Bullets to a Game 7 road win at Seattle.  In 1988 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame and in 1996 he was named 1 of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history.  HoopsHD’s Jon Teitel got to chat with his son Wes Unseld Jr. about being a great rebounder at Louisville and winning an NBA title.  

Your father was a 2-time all-state performer at Seneca High School and won back-to-back Kentucky state titles in 1963/1964: what did it mean to him to win a pair of titles? I am sure it meant a lot to him: he has lasting memories of that.

He stayed in his hometown of Louisville for college, where he led the conference in rebounding for 3 straight years (1966-1968): how was he able to be so dominant throughout his college career? His mentality when he stepped on the floor, especially when it came to rebounding, was that every shot was a miss so he would always put himself in position to rebound the ball.

What are your memories of the 1968 NCAA tourney (he had 23 PTS/22 REB in a loss to Houston, who was led by Elvin Hayes with 35 PTS/24 REB)? He spoke of that occasionally because he and Elvin later became opponents and then teammates in the NBA. It was an important game because it was the culmination of his college career.

He was named an All-American in 1967/1968: what did it mean to him to win such outstanding  honors? Anytime you get recognized for something that you love to do it is a tremendous honor.

In the summer of 1968 he was drafted 2nd overall by Baltimore in the NBA draft (1 spot behind Hayes) and drafted by Kentucky in the ABA draft: did he see that as a validation of his college career, or the realization of a lifelong dream of reaching the NBA, or other? It was a little bit of both. He had a great support system while he was growing up but college was not an option for everyone in our extended family. I do not think that going pro was something he thought about early on in his life.

In 1969 he averaged 18.2 RPG and became the 2nd player ever to be named ROY & MVP in the same season (Wilt Chamberlain did it in 1960): how was he able to make such a smooth transition from college to the NBA? It was just his approach and the way he played hard. Some of it is about being in the right situation, having good teammates, etc., but rebounding is a skill that translates easily from college to the pros.

Take me though the 1971 playoffs:
In Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals he scored 17 PTS in a 2-PT win at Madison Square Garden over the defending-champion Knicks: how important was it for the city of Baltimore after it had spent such a long time losing to New York teams in almost every sport? I am sure that it was huge. Baltimore is a blue-collar town with passionate fans who really support their teams.

Finals MVP Lew Alcindor had 49 PTS/13 REB/12 AST in Game 2 en route to a 4-game sweep by Milwaukee: where does Alcindor rank among the greatest players that you ever saw? I am unsure if my dad would agree with me but I would say top-5.

In the 1975 season finale he had a career-high 30 REB in a win over New Orleans to win season REB title over Dave Cowens by a margin of .01: did he make a concerted effort to lead the league or was it just a happy coincidence?! If I had to guess it was a combination of the 2. He would go after every single rebound he could get but he never did anything for personal acclaim or to break a record.

In the 1975 Finals his team was swept by Golden State: how big a deal was it for him to play in the 1st championship game or series in any of the 4 North American major pro sports leagues to feature 2 African-American head coaches or managers (Al Attles/KC Jones)? When you are in the playoffs you go into every series with the goal of winning. However, on a personal level, it was certainly of some significance for that to be an African-American milestone.

In Game 7 of the 1978 Finals he scored 15 PTS in a 6-PT win on the road to beat Seattle for the title en route to being named Finals MVP: where does that rank among the highlights of his career? That has got to be up there after getting so close a number of times before winning it. It was a sense of relief to finally lift the weight of the world off of his shoulders.

In Game 7 of the 1979 Eastern Conference Semifinals he scored 8 PTS in a 6-PT win over Atlanta: did he feel like the team was good enough to defend its title? I think so from my recollection…but I was only about 4 years old at the time! They did not have a great record in the regular season the previous year but they clicked in the postseason and came together as a team. Once you have the recipe in place it allows you to get a lot more confidence.

His career average of 14 RPG remains #6 all-time despite the fact that he only stood 6’7”: what was his secret for being a great rebounder? Tenacity: he had a hit-first old-school mentality. You still see a few guys like that today but his frame of mind is that he would not be outworked by anyone on the court.

Finally the Finals: HoopsHD interviews Jim Phelan about Larry Foust

The NBA Finals feature a pair of “super-teams” in Cleveland and Golden State but the concept actually dates back several decades on the college level.  The 1950 La Salle Explorers went 21-4 thanks to a trio of superstars: center Larry Foust (who became an 8-time NBA All-Star), forward Jim Phelan (who won 830 games as a coach at Mount St. Mary’s), and coach Ken Loeffler (who won the NCAA title in 1954 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame a decade after that).  Foust never won a ring in the NBA with any of the 3 teams he played for but made it to the Finals a whopping 5 times during a 7-year span from 1955-1961.  He passed away in 1984, but HoopsHD’s Jon Teitel got to chat with Coach Phelan about his former teammate’s remarkable rebounding skills and whether he should be in the Hall of Fame.

Foust began his career at South Catholic High School in Philadelphia where he scored a last-second basket to help win the 1945 city title over archrival Southern High School: how big a deal was it to have a local hero stay in town to attend La Salle? It was a big deal because Larry was 1 of the biggest guys in the East. Recruiting was not as heavy back then but it was still a great coup for La Salle. I remember when we played against Holy Cross the year after they won the 1947 NCAA title: Larry played great and Bob Cousy was almost a non-factor.

What are your memories of his final college game in the 1950 NIT for La Salle (Foust had a game-high 18 PTS in a 2-PT loss to Duquesne)? We probably let him down in other areas because they did not have the size to match up with Larry.

In the summer of 1950 he was drafted 5th overall by Chicago (2 spots behind Cousy), but after the Stags franchise folded before the start of the following season he joined Fort Wayne: what did it mean to him to get drafted, and how did feel about switching teams? Fort Wayne was the best team in basketball at the time and he fit in well with them right from the start. He played even better in the NBA than in college: he was a 6’10” hulk who weighed 280 pounds.

On November 22, 1950, he made a running hook shot over George Mikan for the winning basket in the final seconds of a 19-18 win over the Lakers, which remains the lowest-scoring game in NBA history: what did the players think of the slow-down strategy? I was a year behind Larry and still in college so I do not know much about that game. He had some great games against Bill Russell and might have even scored 40 PTS against him 1 time. He would bump into Russell so that Bill would not have room to block his shot.

In 1952 he led the NBA with 880 REB and in the 1954 All-Star Game he had a team-high 15 REB in a 5-PT OT loss to the East team: what was his secret for being a great rebounder? He had a huge body and went after the ball. He could play hard against good people, by backing them down and bumping them.

In the decisive Game 3 of the 1953 Western Division Semifinals he scored a game-high 18 PTS in a 2-PT win on the road over Rochester: how was he able to play his best when it mattered the most? He was a solid performer and had just enough shots to make it hard for people to defend him. I never got to play against him in the NBA.

In 1955 he set a record by shooting 48.7 FG% that stood for 4 more years: what was his secret for being a great shooter? Getting close to the basket! He was not a great shooter from long range and was an inconsistent FT shooter but was a tough player who made do with what he had. He had a very soft touch around the basket.

In Game 7 of the 1955 Finals he scored a game-high 24 PTS but George King made a FT with 12 seconds left and then stole the ball from Hall of Famer Andy Phillip with 3 seconds left to clinch a 1-PT win by Syracuse: do you believe the allegations that some of the Pistons conspired with gamblers to blow a 17-PT lead and eventually throw the series? I have heard the same allegations but do not have the vaguest idea if they are true. Larry was a nice fellow and we were very good friends. His father died when he was very young so he was raised by his mother. His younger brother Kenny also died very young.

He is 1 of 5 players who was named to each of the NBA’s 1st 6 All-Star teams from 1951-1956 (Cousy/Dolph Schayes/Ed Macauley/Harry Gallatin), yet he is the only 1 of the 5 who has not been inducted into the Hall of Fame: was he considered 1 of the best players in the league, and why has he not yet been inducted? I do not have any idea: if his numbers were that good he probably should be. Besides Hall of Famer Tom Gola, a lot of La Salle guys have been ignored.

In 1961 he made it back to the Finals before losing to the Celtics for the 3rd straight year: do you consider his playoff career a success (due to making 5 Finals in a 7-year span) or a failure (due to losing all 5 times)? I would consider it a success. I do not know how the rest of his teammates played but Larry was a great player.

He Da Mon: HoopsHD interviews draft prospect Damon Lynn

9 years ago NJIT went 0-29 but only 5 years later they were winning a regular season title…in the Great West Conference.  Now they have a 2000-PT scorer who could be only weeks away from realizing his dream of making it to the NBA.  Damon Lynn proved that he can play with the big boys after leading his team to a 2-PT road upset of Michigan in December of 2014.  His college career came to a sudden end due to an Achilles injury in January of 2017, but not before the 5’11” PG had become 1 of the best 3-PT shooters in NCAA history.  HoopsHD’s Jon Teitel got to chat with Damon about being an All-American and breaking his school’s scoring record.

You are 5’11”: do you see your height as an advantage or disadvantage on the court? I feel that height is not in direct correlation with your basketball skills.  After all, 5’11” is an average height on the street.

You led NJIT with 17.2 PPG as a freshman: how were you able to come in and contribute right from the start? My coaching staff told me that the only difference between high school and college basketball was the speed. They always pressed me to stay confident and play my game.

In December of 2014 you scored 20 PTS including 6 3PM in an upset at Michigan: where does that rank among the biggest wins in your career/school history? It is probably #1 in school history. Michigan was my favorite team growing up: I remember them making it to the NCAA title game in 2013 before losing to Louisville. It was a lot of fun to play on that big stage in Ann Arbor: we put our school on the map.

In the 2015 CIT semifinals you had 16 PTS/4 STL in a 7-PT loss at NAU: how close did you come to making the title game? That was heartbreaking to get all the way to the semifinals and then lose. It was a challenge to play on the road at 7000’ elevation, but we proved a lot to ourselves and had a great season with some great memories.

You finished your sophomore season by being named AP honorable mention All-American: what did it mean to you to receive such an outstanding honor? It means a lot to be recognized because I was under-recruited coming out of high school. It is still motivation for me at the end of the day.

The following season you switched from an Independent to the Atlantic Sun Conference: what was the best part of joining a conference, and what was the worst part? The worst part was that we did not know how things would work during our 1st year. When you face an opponent 2-3 times you have to use your game plan to a T because each team knows what their opponent will be doing. The best part was taking a lot of trips to Florida, which helped bring us together.

On January 21st you tore your Achilles in a game at Florida Gulf Coast: did you think that your college career was over, and how is your health these days? My mind was racing 1000 miles/hour but I eventually told myself that I would be able to come back. I tried to keep a positive mindset and hope for the best. I just started jogging recently and expect to be 100% by August.

Despite your injury you still broke the school record by scoring 2153 PTS: what is the key to being a great scorer, and do you think that anyone will ever break your record? It is a little cliché but the key is just having a short-term memory and keeping an even keel. You need to have a lot of heart because when you are a scorer the defense will throw everything at you. You also need to be a good teammate otherwise your own teammates will not put you in a position to be great. I would love to see someone light it up and break my record someday, but it is hard to do in college.

Your 434 career 3PM is #5 in NCAA history: what is your secret for making shots from behind the arc? Repetition: you have to practice because it makes everything better. I had to play PG as a smaller guy and learn how to get my shot off faster, and I just excelled at it.

What is the next step in your journey, and what do you hope to do in the future? The next step is to find an agent: I have spoken to a few guys and hope to make a decision next week. My goal is to play in the NBA and now I have to plan the route to get there. I have dreamed about it my entire life so I want to chase that dream.