Lauri Markkanen

Why is nobody talking about Lauri Markkanen?

We all knew there was something special about this draft class. This group was just loaded with talent, so much so that Malik Monk fell to No. 11. A player of his caliber is almost always a top five selection.

Throw in Ben Simmons playing his first NBA season and the “rookie” class gets that much better. Simmons is the frontrunner for rookie of the year now, but there are so many other rookies having exciting seasons.

Jayson Tatum has stepped up in Boston to fill the hole left by Gordon Hayward. The third overall pick is averaging 13.7 points and 5.7 rebounds a game and been a key part of why the Celtics have the best record in the NBA.

De’Aaron Fox is also looking impressive so far this season. The fact he is on the Kings has not kept fans from seeing his production. With averages of 12.3 points and 5.5 assists per game, it is a wonder he has only started two games. He also just hit a game-winning shot to beat Simmons and the 76ers.

Fox’s former teammate, Malik Monk is also looking nice. He started off slow, but is now averaging almost 10 points per game with the Hornets. He has had some explosive performances like his 25 points in 23 minutes against the Bucks and 21 points in 27 minutes against the Knicks.

The most talked about rookie in this class has definitely been Lonzo Ball, but not because he has been one of the top rookies in this class. Sure, the No. 2 overall pick has had some nice games like his almost triple-double in his second game, but he only has topped 10 points once since then.

Ball’s fellow rookie teammate, Kyle Kuzma, is also looking good. Kuzma is third amongst rookies in scoring at 14.8 points per game and is also grabbing 6.5 rebounds.

Dennis Smith Jr., Donovan Mitchell, Mike James, John Collins, Josh Jackson and Bogdan Bogdanovic are also averaging double figures in points per game. This class has been truly amazing.

I purposely left a name out of that list though, and you may not have noticed because of how little he has been talked about. That name would be Lauri Markkanen.

Quietly dominating

If you remember the draft, Markkanen was picked seventh overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves, but then was traded along with Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn for Jimmy Butler.

Lauri Markkanen

Markkanen has quietyly been the most successful player from this year’s draft. (Photo by Getty Images)

In his one season at Arizona, Markkanen averaged 15.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game while shooting 49.2 percent from the field and 42.3 percent from behind the arc.

He has put up similar stats in his 10 games with the Bulls, as he is averaging 15.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Those numbers are both good for second amongst rookies behind, you guessed it, Ben Simmons.

With all the hype surrounding Simmons, the struggles by Ball and Markelle Fultz and Tatum and Boston being so successful, Markkanen’s production has seemed to go unnoticed.

It more than likely has something to do with the fact that he is playing with the Bulls. With so little star power in Chicago, why would anyone talk about them? They also are second to last in the Eastern Conference. It is hard enough to get talked about in the East with all the stars playing in the West and getting all the attention.

Scouting report

Let’s take a look at what Markkanen’s draft profile said about him. According to Draft Express, Markkanen’s biggest strengths were his shooting ability and size.

He’s definitely a good shooter. Known as a stretch big at 7-feet, 230 pounds, Markkanen’s field goal percentage is 42.6 and his 3-point percentage is 36.1. Not bad numbers for a rookie big.

For comparison, Kristaps Porzingis had a 39.8 field goal percentage and 21.4 3-point percentage through his first 10 NBA games. Porzingis has obviously improved since then. But in today’s game, you have to be able to shoot around 40 percent from deep, and that percentage should only improve for Markkanen as his career progresses.

Markkanen’s size puts him right up there with guys Porzingis, Kevin Love and Dirk Nowitzki. Obviously they aren’t exact in height and weight, but they are all big men that can stretch the floor and open lanes for their teammates. You have to respect their shot because they all can hit 3-pointers.

One of the bigger weaknesses in his draft profile was his defense. His lack of weight and length prevents him from being physical inside and blocking shots. Guys like Porzingis and Anthony Davis got a whole foot of length more than him with their 8-foot wingspans.

This is not as big of a concern to me though. A lot of the rookies coming in had question marks about their defensive abilities. This is also something that can be improved over time.

I’m also not going to let something like length determine if a guy can be good in this league or not because Love and Nowitzki also don’t have significant length.

Of course you can’t make assumptions this early on in a rookie’s career. Fans love to declare guys future Hall of Famers or busts early on in the season. But you cannot judge a guy that early. Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged less than seven points per game in his rookie season. Now he is the leading candidate for MVP in his fifth season.

Maybe Markkanen peaks at his rookie season. Maybe he continues to improve. Maybe we will see him in the 2020 All-Star game playing in front of his home crowd in Chicago. What we know for sure is he has exploded onto the NBA scene faster than his fellow members of this draft class.

So why is no one talking about Lauri Markkanen? I have no clue, but the numbers speak for themselves. This guy is ballin.

 

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NBA season preview: Pacific division

The Pacific Division is the home of the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors have the best team in basketball and everyone else is chasing them.

Three of the top five picks in the last draft find themselves suiting up in the Pacific division. The Suns and the Kings are currently in the midst of a rebuild but have formed solid foundations that look bright moving forward.

Finally, both of the teams in LA shook up their rotations in big ways this year by trading away one of their best players. The Pacific Division will be interesting due to the new faces in the division.

Here are the win predictions for all five teams in the Pacific division for 2017-2018.

Golden State Warriors

Pacific Division

The Warriors celebrate, Photo Courtesy of USA Today.

2016-2017 record: 67-15

2017-2018 prediction: 64-18

This record doesn’t really show too much. The Warriors are the best team in basketball and they return nearly the same team. They add Nick Young and Jordan Bell (through the draft) this offseason to an already strong bench.

Ian Clark leaves the team but Patrick McCaw has emerged as a role player this summer and could possibly play some of the minutes that Clark did.

The record is pretty much up to Golden State here. Ultimately there’s an extremely high chance that the Warriors make the playoffs so it is just up to Steve Kerr on how many games they truly want to win in the regular season.

Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson will always take this team deep into the playoffs if they are all healthy.

Los Angeles Clippers

2016-2017 record: 51-31

2017-2018 prediction: 44-38

Chris Paul wanted out of LA, but the Clippers somehow managed to get a very solid return for him.

Lou Williams and Patrick Beverley lead the charge out of the backcourt while the Clippers also added Danilo Gallinari and Sam Dekker. They lose Jamal Crawford and Chris Paul but have an interesting set of Gallinari, Griffin and Jordan forming.

A starting lineup of Beverley, Rivers, Gallinari, Griffin and Jordan with Williams coming first off the bench could be very interesting and doesn’t strike you as a team that just lost a superstar.

If Gallinari and Griffin can stay healthy this team looks like they could find a playoff spot in a tough Western Conference.

Los Angeles Lakers

Pacific Division

Jordan Clarkson, Photo Courtesy of LA Sports Hub.

2016-2017 record: 26-56

2017-2018 prediction: 36-46

The Lakers shook their roster up in a big way by getting out of the Timofey Mosgov contract. They also lost their best statistical player from last season in D’Angelo Russell.

However, in comes Brook Lopez, Lonzo Ball, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma. Kuzma and Ball were drafted by the Lakers this season and showed lots of promise in the summer league.

Brook Lopez is the big addition this offseason. An All-Star and proven low post scorer, Lopez adds something that’s rare in the NBA. The Lakers attempted to get away from their guard heavy rotation, thus getting rid of D’Angelo Russell to make way for Lonzo Ball and Jordan Clarkson.

No one knows how good the Lakers will be but they will be much better than the product they had on the floor last season.

Phoenix Suns

2016-2017 record: 24-58

2017-2018 prediction: 28-54

The Suns turned their lottery pick into another young player with lots of potential. They are not necessarily in win now mode but more waiting a few years for their young talent to develop.

The Suns have grabbed a lot of former Kentucky guards to bolster their young backcourt. Josh Jackson, Devin Booker and Marquese Chriss show promise in moving the Suns in the right direction.

The Suns continue to draft players that they find value in and put them on the floor. The Suns are getting a good young core together and could be a playoff team in the near future.

Sacramento Kings

2017 Sacramento Kings draft class, Photo Courtesy of Real Sport 101.

2016-2017 record: 32-50

2017-2018 prediction: 30-52

I don’t think the Kings have gotten worse at all, the Western Conference has gotten better. The Kings have mixed seasoned veterans in with great young talent.

Skal Labissiere, Willie Cauley-Stein, Buddy Hield, De’Aaron Fox, George Hill, Georgios Papagiannis, Harry Giles and Justin Jackson are just some of the talent that is in this loaded rotation.

The Kings are a team quickly on the rise and have done it specifically through the draft. With adding established veterans, the Kings are working to bridge the gap between putting a competitive product on the court as well as developing their younger guys looking to win in years to come.

Kings fans have a lot to look forward to moving forward, but for right now this is the Warriors division.

 

Featured Image Courtesy of philstar.com.

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Sacramento Kings’ future is bright

Prior to the 2017 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings seemingly had no stars and no direction. After Trading DeMarcus Cousins in the middle of the 2016-17 season, the Kings were immediately backtracking.

Knowing full-well that winning in a loaded Western Conference takes more than one star, they decided to start the rebuilding process over again. The Kings then looked to rebuild their roster through the NBA Draft.

This offseason, the Kings have put themselves in great position, and look poised for a bright future.

How they got there

Cousins was traded to the Pelicans in the middle of February.

Sacramento Kings future

Demarcus Cousins, Photo Courtesy of Latin Times.

The Kings received Buddy Hield and what ended up being the 10th pick in the 2017 draft (traded later).

Hield is a 23-year old-guard who was an offensive star in his four years of college.

In the NBA he has slowed down a bit. However, post All-Star break, he managed to shoot 42 percent from three and added strong defensive value.

On draft night, the Kings traded the 10th pick for two later first round picks and set themselves up to have four picks in the draft, three of which were picks in the first round.

What started as a small return for Cousins turned into three players that could play a roll in the 2017-18 Kings’ lineup.

2017 NBA Draft

Sacramento Kings future

De’Aaron Fox, Photo Courtesy of USA TODAY Sports.

Draft night brought in four players that all have many accolades and skillsets to improve the Kings.

De’Aaron Fox: The fifth pick of the draft is an electric guard out of Kentucky who can change the pace of the game. Fox would compliment Hield due to his ability to draw defenders to the paint.

Justin Jackson: The Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year is a great scoring small forward. Jackson can be a strong two-way player who will help spread the floor to open up Fox.

Harry Giles: The No. 1 player in the country out of high school, Giles become the 20th pick in the draft. Giles is a player who saw injuries ruin his lottery chances. However, if he could go back to his pre-injury days, he would be a steal for the Kings.

Frank Mason III: Mason III is the National Player of the Year, and a proven scorer. Mason can provide a solid back up for Fox and can score the ball off the bench.

Free Agency

Sacramento Kings future

George Hill, Photo Courtesy of Purple and Blues.

Most teams who are rebuilding make the mistake of trying to make a big splash and overpaying for a star but end up striking out.

The Kings brought in three veteran players to mix in with their young talent.

They did that by signing George Hill (three years, $57 million), Zach Randolph (two years, $24 million) and Vince Carter (one year, $8 million).

By signing more experienced players for shorter contracts, the Kings open up the chance to go after a strong free agent in three years.

Once the veteran contracts expire, they can pursue an established free agent to match with their growing young talent.

Moving Forward:

The Kings are looking to the future. With their nucleus of young stars, they are poised to make a run at the playoffs sooner than expected.

And for the first time in a while, the Kings finally have a foundation and a direction.

Obviously the group doesn’t have a lot, if any playing experience together, but for the time being, there is a lot to look forward to in Sacramento.

 

Featured Image Courtesy of NBA.com

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My Best Fit 4: Four players drafted who are perfect fits for their respected teams

After an extremely hyped up 2017 NBA Draft, it is time to look at players who will gel right away with the teams they were selected by. The four players chosen have the chance to be immediate impact players, based on depth charts, and team needs.

THE FOUR

Lonzo Ball (LOS ANGELES LAKERS)

After sending former #2 pick D’Angelo Russell to Brooklyn, it was clear that Lonzo Ball would be the guy for the Lakers. While getting many comparisons to Jason Kidd, Ball did not disappoint as a Bruin. As a freshman, Lonzo had over 50 more assists than Kidd did as a freshman at the University of California. An incredibly gifted passer, Ball’s 8.1 assists per 40 minutes ranked 2nd out of all players eligible for the draft. This will immediately help a Lakers team that finished 26th in assists during last year’s season. Shooting 73% from inside the three-point line, Ball’s scoring is often overlooked because of his ability to make plays on both ends of the floor. In fact, Ball’s unorthodox release led him to a very modest 41% from deep. Ball’s ridiculous vision is what sets him apart. Part of the reason for the Lakers struggles was due to the fact that they were 26th in turnovers. His 4.1 to 1 assist to turnover ratio proves how efficient he can be while running the show.

Lonzo controlling the Bruins offense (Sports Illustrated)

As a 6’6’” point guard, Ball’s physical gifts will be a blessing to guys like Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram. While the Lakers are still a work in progress, Ball will make an immediate impact as the starting point guard. He turned a 15 win UCLA team into a 31 win squad, which included a Sweet Sixteen appearance. The guy is a winner and impacts the game in so many ways. Lonzo’s father, Lavar, predicted the Lakers to be back in the playoffs by next year. While this may seem like a stretch, never count out a team with Lonzo running the point.

 

De’Aaron Fox (SACRAMENTO KINGS)

One of the quickest players in the draft, Fox will immediately put up big numbers for the Kings. The constant John Wall comparisons are exactly what Sacramento fans want to hear. A Houston native, Fox averaged 16.7 points per game as a Wildcat. An explosive player who loves to attack the rim, Fox made nearly 60% of his shots in the paint. De’Aaron is also an elite rebounder and passer for his size. Per 40 minutes, Fox averaged 6.2 assists and 5.3 rebounds. His elusive pick and roll game will fit in nicely with Koufos and Cauley-Stein. Fox is developing as a playmaker and will help get Buddy Hield, and Rudy Gay (if resigned) good looks to keep the offense moving. His quickness, size and strength are major reasons as to why he will also be a great defender for the Kings. His 5.9 points per game on fast-break scoring was good enough to rank first out of all the power-conference players.

After making just 31% of his pull up jumpers, Fox has some work to do as a shooter. At only 19 years old, Fox is a gym rat who will continue to improve his ability to shoot the basketball. In the Sweet Sixteen, Fox led his Kentucky Wildcats with 39 points over Ball and the UCLA Bruins, proving his ability to shine when the lights are brightest. With impeccable athleticism and quickness, De’Aaron Fox will be special for the Kings. Don’t be surprised if his numbers are good enough for 2017-18 NBA Rookie of the Year.

 

Luke Kennard (DETRIOT PISTONS)

After 10 freshmen and one international player were chosen, sophomore Luke Kennard was selected by the Detroit Pistons. A lethal shooter, Kennard will have the chance to be the starting shooting guard for Detroit. With Kentavious Caldwell-Pope most likely leaving as a free agent, Kennard can play a major role in the offense. Coming off finishing 28th in three-point percentage, Detroit needed shooters. So why not get the best shooter in the draft? During his sophomore campaign, Kennard averaged 19.5 points per game, which was the second most in the ACC, and shot 43.8% from deep. He also averaged 5 rebounds a game.

An athletic player at 6’6”, Kennard moves very well off the ball. He is also able to score off the dribble with ease. Kennard’s ability to pull up from all over the floor will be extremely beneficial to starting point guard Reggie Jackson. An intelligent player, Kennard will space the floor, knock down shots, and develop into a nice playmaker for Detroit.

 

Bam Adebayo (MIAMI HEAT)

Bam throwing it down with authority (KyForward.com)

At 6’10”, 250 lbs, Bam Adebayo will fit in perfectly with Miami. Although he is a physical giant, Adebayo moves well and is surprisingly athletic. He is a perfect fit for Goran Dragic on pick and roll plays. At Kentucky, Bam averaged 13 points and 8 rebounds per game on 59.9% shooting. Playing alongside Hassan Whiteside, who averaged 17 points and finished first in the league with 14.1 rebounds per game, Bam will not have worry too much about offense.

As a great defender, both in the paint and on the perimeter, Adebayo will help Miami move up the charts in rebounds, as they finished 15th in the NBA during the 2016-17 season. In fact, his 4.1 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes is among the best in the draft. His 1.5 blocks per game at Kentucky will help keep the Heat among one of the best shot blocking teams in the NBA. With a Dwight Howard build, look for Bam to become a more athletic and agile DeAndre Jordan.

 

BONUS

 Frank Jackson (NEW ORLEANS PELICANS)

Depending on whether the Pelicans keep Jrue Holiday, Jackson could be the sleeper of the draft. Surrounded by talent at Duke, Frank Jackson was often overlooked, but has the potential to be an elite offensive weapon for New Orleans. With Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins, Jackson has little pressure to immediately impact the offense. An extremely efficient scorer, Jackson averaged 17.6 points per 40 minutes, on 47.3% shooting, during his only year at Duke. His 42-inch vertical leap is a key reason as to why he is such an explosive player. Jackson shot 48% on floaters, and his 39% shooting on three point shots makes him a threat as a perimeter player.

An incredible athlete, Jackson has the ability to turn into a Russell Westbrook type player. During the combine, Jackson finished first in the shuttle run, second in the max vertical leap, and third in the standing vertical leap.

Featured image by Sporting News

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De’Aaron Fox 2017 NBA Draft: The highest ceiling of all players

History has shown us that quick, explosive guards can wreak havoc on opposing NBA defenses. De’Aaron Fox is no exception.

Background

De'Aaron Fox 2017 NBA Draft

Photo: USA Today Sports

De’Aaron Fox is a 6-foot-3, 190 pound 19-year-old point guard coming off a one-and-done stint with the Kentucky Wildcats. The one knock on him is that he is an inconsistent jump shooter, shooting just 24.6 percent from 3 per 40 minutes. Despite that, he still shoots 52.1 percent inside the three point line and averaged 16.7 points and 4.6 assists to go along with 4.0 rebounds.

His assist to turnover ratio is nearly 2/1 and he shoots 73.6 percent from the free throw line. Fox is an electric point guard who loves to turn up the pace. He loves to get out in transition and put pressure on defenses which is when he’s at his best.

Performance against top prospects

Obviously against a few of the top prospects Fox isn’t guarding them directly, however, he does show up in big games against tough competition. In two games against Lonzo Ball and UCLA, the prospects split the two games. Lonzo finished the two games averaging 12 points, 7.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds. Fox finished with an average of 29.5 points, 6.5 assists and 2.5 rebounds, effectively dominating his two matchups with UCLA’s star guard.

De'Aaron Fox 2017 NBA Draft

Former Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox, photo courtesy of Sports News Empire.

 

In a tough road loss against Louisville, Fox outplayed prospect Donovan Mitchell. Fox scored 21 points had three assists, two rebounds while Mitchell had 13 points, four rebounds and one assist.

 

He also had a let down game against top-five prospect Josh Jackson. Fox had just 10 points, two assists and two rebounds in a home loss to the Kansas Jayhawks. Jackson capitalized and had 20 points, 10 rebounds and three assists, outplaying Fox in every category.

Ultimately, showing he can play in big games and on a big stage is important to NBA owners. Fox has shown that when the lights are brightest he puts some of his best games together.

Comparison

De'Aaron Fox 2017 NBA Draft

Former Kentucky guard John Wall, photo courtesy of ESPN.

Another Kentucky Wildcat comes to mind when watching Fox play. John Wall was a fast paced one-and-done player that lacked a jump shot coming into the NBA. He is now one of the top point guards in the league and has steadily improved his 3-point shot every year since his collegiate days.

The freshman year statistics for both are eerily similar. Fox averaged .1 more points per game while Wall averaged 1.9 more assists, .3 more rebounds a game and shot 1.8 percent better from the free throw line.

Fox shot 1.7 percent better from the field than Wall and had a higher assist to turnover ratio (Fox:1.9/1, Wall:1.63/1). Both are extremely close in almost every statistical category and both led their teams to the Elite Eights.

Best Fit

Obviously Fox has a lot to prove. He is a surefire lottery pick that seems destined to go top five in the draft.

Fox’s best fit in the draft is at the fifth pick to the Sacramento Kings and would join an aging back court with Darren Collison and Ty Lawson. This creates an opportunity to take the reigns for years to come. 

Fox, along with guard Buddy Hield would look to form a young nucleus. The two would look to create a backcourt that could be lethal for years to come. Fox would get an opportunity to play in his first year and raise his NBA value as soon as he gets into the league.

De’Aaron Fox might not be the best player in the draft pool at this point but he is quickly on the rise and full of potential. There have been countless players who have developed a jump shot throughout their years in the NBA and Fox is a jump shot away from being an All-Star for years to come.

 

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2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

The Golden State Warriors are the 2017 NBA champions. Now that the Finals are over, the entire basketball community will be focusing on the upcoming NBA Draft on June 22. This is a prime opportunity for teams to either deepen their roster or build playoff caliber teams. Here is Hagan’s Haus 2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0.

1: Boston Celtics: Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington

2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

(Photo Credit: Elaine Thompson/AP)

The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers are working on a trade so that the 76ers can select Markelle Fultz. Even if the trade doesn’t get finalized Fultz will be the number one overall pick in this draft.

2: Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA

Los Angeles is not going to pass on a player who will make those around him better and has the star power that Lonzo Ball has. These rumors floating around about the Lakers falling out of love with Lonzo is all a smokescreen. The truth of the matter is that the first two picks have been decided and they are just trying to keep people interested and on their toes.

3: Philadelphia 76ers: Josh Jackson, SG/SF, Kansas

This pick is just like the first overall pick. It is likely going to be Boston drafting in the third position and they will take Josh Jackson. This is a sign that the Celtics may put all their faith in Isaiah Thomas as their point guard. Jackson can fit right into the culture they are building in Boston and he will help them get closer to compete for a championship.

4: Phoenix Suns: Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke

The Suns are just unlucky. Phoenix was supposed to have a top three pick but fell to fourth when the lottery took place. Now they are going to miss on Josh Jackson by one pick. Jayson Tatum is flying under the radar but will be a very good NBA player.

Tatum has a polished isolation game and can score from anywhere on the floor. Tatum will be a solid second option to Devin Booker.

5: Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky

2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

(Photo Credit: http://www.zimbio.com)

Reports coming out of Sacramento say that the Kings are absolutely in love with De’Aaron Fox and are even willing to trade both the fifth and tenth pick to move up just one spot to get him.

Fox should be around at five and the Kings can draft their franchise point guard. Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox would be a promising backcourt that would help the Kings get closer to the playoffs.

6: Orlando Magic: Johnathan Issac, F, Florida St.

Orlando has been terrible ever since Dwight Howard left. Johnathan Issac has been recently compared to Kevin Durant, but he is not the scorer that Durant is. Issac will bring tons of athleticism to the Magic. He has proven he can play an all-around game but has been very inconsistent. If developed correctly, Issac can become one of the best two-way players in the NBA and an All-Star.

7: Minnesota Timberwolves: Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky

The Timberwolves are already loaded with young talent and in a perfect world, Tom Thibodeau would like to acquire more veterans in the locker room. Minnesota might be looking to make a trade in the future and will take the best available player which will be Malik Monk. Monk is a scoring machine capable of going off at any moment. He is the best scorer to come out of college since Kevin Durant and will easily average 20 points per game in the NBA.

8: New York Knicks: Frank Ntilikina, PG, France

New York has always been a city of immigrants. The Knicks are going to follow that mold it seems, as they already have Kristaps Porzingis and are in love with Frank Ntilikina.

Ntilikina has excellent size for a point guard. He is listed at 6-foot-5 and 190 pounds. Ntilikina is a pass-first point guard with a high I.Q. He has developed a mid-range game and excellent floater but is a really inconsistent shooter. Ntilikina also has great lateral quickness that makes him an elite defender.

9: Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Smith Jr., PG, NC State

2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

(Photo Credit:http://bleacherreport.com)

Dennis Smith is arguably a top five player in this class. The Mavericks have a chance to find their franchise point guard who can help lead them back into the playoffs. Smith can score, pass and rebound with the best of them while in college. He also has the insane athleticism that allows him to posterize defenders.

10: Sacramento Kings: Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona

The Kings currently have two core pieces in Buddy Hield and Willie Cauley-Stein. If they take Fox earlier in the draft then it becomes an even better core. Lauri Markkanen could then take this team to even better heights.

Markkanen is a 7-foot stretch big who will be able to shoot the three in the NBA. He has all the intangibles to become a power forward like Dirk Nowitzki. He can stretch the floor or go inside. Markkanen would fit alongside Cauley-Stein because he can stretch the floor.

Getting Fox and Markkanen would make the Kings one of the best young teams in the NBA.

11: Charlotte Hornets: Donovan Mitchell, SG, Louisville

Donovan Mitchell was projected to be a late-first round pick around a month ago but has lately been flying up draft boards. Teams who have worked Mitchell out have been really impressed by the 6-foot-3 shooting guard. Mitchell is a shot creator and that is something the Hornets need. Charlotte could create a dangerous backcourt by pairing Mitchell with Kemba Walker.

12: Detroit Pistons: Harry Giles, PF, Duke

Detroit needs a big man alongside Andre Drummond. Picking Harry Giles would be a shock here, but could be a huge steal. Giles was considered the best player coming out of high school and was projected to be the No. 1 pick before he began having injury problems.

We have not seen what Giles is fully capable of, but his potential is through the roof. He is an athletic finisher who can be molded into a great defender.

Giles has had a lot of injuries but if he can get healthy he has the skill and potential to be the best player in this draft class.

13: Denver Nuggets: Zach Collins, PF/C, Gonzaga

2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

(Photo Credit: http://www.zimbio.com)

Denver is really close to becoming a playoff team in the tough Western Conference. Their young guards just need more experience and will continue to develop.

Collins is a good rebounder and shot blocker. Pairing him up with Nikola Jokic could create one of the most dangerous frontcourts in the NBA. Collins needs to mold his offensive skills, but because Jokic is so skilled offensively, Collins’ defensive skills would create a perfect combination.

14: Miami Heat: T.J. Leaf, PF, UCLA

The Heat were amazing in the second half of this season. Hassan Whiteside is a franchise centerpiece at center. Their guard play has been tremendous, and Justise Winslow is really coming into his own. That leaves the power forward position as their biggest need.

T.J. Leaf has a high motor and can play both inside and out. Miami would get a player who could be molded into a star by Erik Spoelstra.

15: PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS: JOHN COLLINS, PF, WAKE FOREST

John Collins could be a valuable piece around Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Collins has a good offensive game that would help take pressure off their guards to score. He has a post-up game that most bigs don’t have. His impressive footwork allows him to beat even the best of defenders. If he develops his defense, he could become a top power forward in the NBA.

16: CHICAGO BULLS: JUSTIN PATTON, C, CREIGHTON

2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

(Photo Credit: Chris Machian- The World Harold)

Building around Jimmy Butler seems to be the top priority for the Chicago Bulls. Robin Lopez is serviceable, but he is not a center that will help a team reach a title.

Justin Patton may be one. He is a 7-foot monster that averaged 12.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game as a freshman at Creighton.

NBA coaching could turn Patton into a dominant center in an era of outside shooting. There will be few players capable of defending him once he grows into his own. The Bulls would be lucky to get Patton.

17: Milwaukee Bucks: Bam Adebayo, C, Kentucky

The Milwaukee Bucks are building something special. Giannis Antetokounmpo is looking like a future MVP and Khris Middleton is a stud. Drafting Adebayo will give Milwaukee a presence inside to make the Bucks even more dangerous. The talent they already have and can acquire with Adebayo will allow the Bucks to get closer to the Eastern Conference finals.

18: Indiana Pacers: Luke Kennard, SG, Duke

Luke Kennard fits the new style of the NBA. He is a pure shooter and can be a valuable scorer in the NBA. Kennard isn’t going to be a guy who changes a franchise but as a sidekick to Paul George, he could thrive. George wants the Pacers to add talent so they can compete for a title adding Kennard would help go a long way in the Pacers effort to keep Paul George when he becomes a free agent.

19: Atlanta Hawks: Jarrett Allen, C, Texas

Dwight Howard is aging and no longer a top center in the NBA. The Hawks must prepare for the future and that could be in the form of Jarrett Allen. Allen is a beast on the boards and has the potential to become a solid post-up big man.

20: Portland Trailblazers: Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina

Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum need help and Justin Jackson would fit perfectly with this team. Jackson would be the piece to help get the Blazers back into the playoffs.

He has great length and can stretch the floor. Jackson played great for most of the tournament. He had a subpar performance in the title game, but can still become a good NBA starter.

Jackson needs to add weight but is a versatile defender capable of guarding multiple positions. His mid-range jumper is well-polished.

21: Oklahoma City Thunder: OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana

2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

(Photo Credit:http://hoosierstateofmind.com)

OG Anunoby will improve the Thunder on the defensive end of the floor immediately. In college, Anunoby was able to defend all five positions and that kind of versatility will make him a valuable player.

He also shot 36 percent from three in his career and will help take some pressure off of Russell Westbrook.

22: Brooklyn Nets: Ivan Rabb, C, California

The Nets will not be good for a long time which means they can be patient with the development of Ivan Rabb. He has lots of potential to grow offensively.

Rabb is already a good defender, and even though he only averaged about one block per game in his career, he altered plenty of shots. His inconsistency at Cal is what hurts him, but he has shown flashes of brilliance and that is what the Nets will try and bottle up and turn into a consistent output.

23: Toronto Raptors: Isaiah Hartenstein, PF, Germany

Isaiah Hartenstein is a bit of an unknown but is an old school big man. He plays an extremely physical style and is a great rebounder. Hartenstein is also a great shot blocker and the Raptors really need an inside presence. He has very little experience but the success of Kristaps Porzingis helps Hartenstein.

Isaiah Hartenstein will need a lot of developing on his offensive game but with the Raptors current roster, he can fill the role of rebounder and rim protector without having to rush his offensive development.

24: UTAH JAZZ: CALEB SWANIGAN, PF, PURDUE

The Jazz are in almost as good of a position as the Celtics. They finished as the fifth seed in the tough Western Conference and have two first-round draft picks.

Swanigan can come right into the NBA and contribute off the bench. Depth is what the best teams have, and that is what Utah is going to get in picking Swanigan.

25: ORLANDO MAGIC: Terrance Ferguson, SG, Australia

Terrance Ferguson has been very hyped up as of late. He attacks the basketball and can also be a spot up shooter. Ferguson will need to develop defensively but would be a good fit with the Magic who need some more scoring.

26: Portland Trailblazers: Semi Ojeleye, F, SMU

Semi Ojeleye is an athletic freak. Ojeleye can handle the ball, shoot threes, create his own shot and get to the rim. Semi Ojeleye is going somewhat underrated in this draft because of his lack of perimeter defense. The Blazers have enough picks to take a shot on Ojeleye to continue building the depth needed to compete in the West.

27: BROOKLYN NETS (VIA BOSTON): JORDAN BELL, PF, OREGON

2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0

(Photo Credit: http://247sports.com)

Jordan Bell was a second-round pick before the tournament. Bell was a huge reason Oregon reached their first Final Four since 1939. The Nets would get a solid rebounder who brings in a heavy motor and will give you everything he has. The Nets need these high energy type of players to change the culture in Brooklyn.

28: Los Angeles Lakers: Josh Hart, SG, Villanova

Josh Hart is a leader and a winner, and the Lakers could use some of that in their locker room.

Hart improved his scoring each season at Villanova, and that should translate into the NBA. Hart doesn’t have to be a starting shooting guard to make a big impact. Every team needs a bench scorer and Hart can fill that void for the Lakers as they continue to build towards a championship.

29: San Antonio Spurs: Thomas Bryant, C, Indiana

Any player that the Spurs take should celebrate as if they won the championship. The Spurs will develop Thomas Bryant into a solid NBA starter. Bryant is an excellent rebounder and has a knack for getting offensive boards. He has some decent low post moves and with Gregg Popovich coaching him up he can turn decent into dominant.

30: Utah Jazz: Tyler Lydon, F, Syracuse

Tyler Lydon has improved vastly from his freshman season to sophomore season. Lydon improved his points, rebounds, assists and free throw percentage. At 6-foot-9, Lydon can stretch the floor and he would be a great fit in Utah as a solid role player.

Second Round

31: Atlanta Hawks: Dillon Brooks, SF, Oregon

32: Phoenix Suns: Dwayne Bacon, SF, Florida St.

33: Orlando Magic: Jawun Evans, PG, Oklahoma St.

34: Sacramento Kings: Rodions Kurucs, SF, Latvia

35: Orlando Magic: DJ Wilson, PF, Michigan

36: Philadelphia 76ers: Tyler Dorsey, G, Oregon

37: Boston Celtics: Johnathan Motley, PF, Baylor

38: Chicago Bulls: Devin Robinson, F, Florida

39: Philadelphia 76ers: Derrick White, G, Colorado

40: New Orleans Pelicans: Frank Mason III, PG, Kansas

41: Charlotte Hornets: Tony Bradley, C, North Carolina

42: Utah Jazz: Mathias Lessort, F/C, France

43: Houston Rockets: Kyle Kuzma, PF, Utah

44: New York Knicks: Frank Jackson, SG, Duke

45: Houston Rockets: Ike Anigbogu, C UCLA

46: Philadelphia 76ers: Anzejs Pasecniks, C, Latvia

47: Indiana Pacers: LJ Peak, SG Georgetown

48: Milwaukee Bucks: Alec Peters, PF, Valparaiso

49: Denver Nuggets: Jaron Blossomgame, F, Clemson

50: Philadelphia 76ers: Jonah Bolden, PF, Australia

51: Denver Nuggets: Alberto Abalde, SF, Spain

52: Washington Wizards: Cameron Oliver, PF, Nevada

53: Boston Celtics: PJ Dozier, SG, South Carolina

54: Phoenix Suns: Nigel Williams-Goss, PG, Gonzaga

55: Utah Jazz: Sindarius Thornwell, SG, South Carolina

56: Boston Celtics: Aleksandear Vezenkov, F, Bulgaria

57: Brooklyn Nets: Edmund Summer, PG, Xavier

58: New York Knicks: Sterling Brown, SG, SMU

59: San Antonio Spurs: Monte Morris, PG, Iowa St.

60: Atlanta Hawks: Wesley Iwundu, SG, Kansas State

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Kings

Sacramento Kings 2017 NBA Draft Profile

Day five of our 2017 NBA Draftmas special is here and it is time to look at one of the most dysfunctional organizations in sports: the Sacramento Kings. The Kings have been stuck in mediocrity for a decade, although the 2017 draft could generate a change of tides in Sac Town.

Summary

Kings

Dave Joerger will need more talent to have any chance of success with Sacramento. (Photo by Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports)

The Kings have failed to finish above .500 since the 2005-06 season. They are arguably the worst franchise in professional basketball. Over the last ten seasons, they sport a winning percentage of .343 and have had a revolving door of eight different coaches.

Their current coach, Dave Joerger, was hired after three seasons of being a head coach with the Memphis Grizzlies. During Joeger’s tenure, the Grizzlies made the playoffs every year, but failed to make it past the Western Conference semifinals, which eventually lead to his firing.

In his first season with the Kings, Joerger lead the team to a 32-50 record, while being ranked 24th in points per game and 18th in points allowed. As much as I personally like Joerger, there is clearly plenty of room for improvement.

The Kings’ roster is mediocre at best. Without a true superstar, or All-Star for that matter, the Kings have no chance to compete in the Western Conference whatsoever. They will look to build upon their current young core, including two top 10 draft picks in Buddy Hield and Willie Cauley-Stein.

Hield was a major piece of the trade that sent DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans back in February. With Sacramento, Hield averaged 15.1 points and 4.1 rebounds in 29.1 minutes per game. He also shot 48 percent from the field and 42.8 percent from behind the arc. He seems like a perfect wing scorer to build around moving forward.

Cauley-Stein began the year in a bench role, averaging only 13 minutes per game before the All-Star break. After the team traded away Cousins, Cauley-Stein’s minutes per game rose to 31. His post-All-Star break averages were 13 points, eight rebounds and two assists per game on 50 percent shooting. The 23-year-old is an athletic and versatile big man who will be the Kings defensive stopper and offensive anchor for years to come.

The Kings’ have many needs, so with two top-ten picks, this is their opportunity to turn the franchise around.

Picks & Needs

The Kings have four picks in the 2017 draft, including two top-ten picks in both the first and second rounds.

First Round: No. 5, No. 10 (Via NO)

Second Round: No. 34 (Via NO), No. 38

Sacramento has plenty of needs, including a floor general to replace Darren Collison, a wing to replace Rudy Gay, depth scoring and defense. With four draft picks, the Kings can address many different needs this offseason.

Targets & Thoughts

Kings

De’Aaron Fox lead his Kentucky Wildcats to a 32-6 record and a Sweet 16 appearance. (Photo by Zagsblog.com)

Pick #5: De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky

The superstar point guard took the NCAA by storm, leading a young Kentucky team to a 32-6 record and an Elite Eight appearance in just his freshman year. Fox’s skill set has drawn comparisons to former Kentucky guard John Wall, as they both possess elite quickness, explosiveness, ball handling and playmaking ability.

The one thing that makes Fox stand out is his defense. The 6-foot-3 guard has great length and averaged 1.5 steals per game in college. He most notably held top prospect Lonzo Ball to only 10 points in their Sweet 16 matchup. Fox’s length, quickness and basketball IQ will allow him to make a smooth transition from guarding college guards to NBA All-Stars.

The only knock on Fox is his 3-point shooting ability, as he shot only 24.6 percent. There were similar knocks on point guards like Wall and former MVP Derrick Rose, who both shot under 35 percent from 3-point range in their college careers. In today’s NBA, the 3-point shot seems like a necessity, although a player like Fox does not need to rely on 3-point shooting to score.

If the Kings are lucky enough to land Fox, they will have their floor general for the next decade and will eventually return to the playoffs.

Pick #10: Jonathan Isaac, F, Florida State

Isaac, another freshman, has drawn comparisons to Kevin Durant because of his 6-foot-10 frame and shooting ability. Durant averaged 25.8 points per game in his freshman year, whereas Isaac only averaged 12. However, they both possess similar skill sets. Isaac is lethal from mid-range and has no problem stepping out and hitting 3-pointers.

He is also an above average defender and rebounder, as he recorded 7.8 rebounds and over one steal and block per game. His size and athleticism will allow him to be an extremely versatile piece for any NBA team.

If he lands with the Kings, he will immediately become one of their top three scoring options, rebounders and defenders.

Kings

Edmond Sumner is declaring for the 2017 draft even after missing the last two months of the season with a torn ACL. (Photo by WKRC.com)

Pick #34: Edmond Sumner, G, Xavier

Sumner, a 6-foot-6 combo guard out of Xavier, was forced to redshirt in his freshman season after suffering a head-on collision that left him motionless on the floor for about 10 minutes. After playing a full season in 2015-16, Sumner suffered a torn ACL that cut his sophomore campaign short.

His injury history has him dropping down draft boards, although his size and skill set project him to be an all-around guard who can contribute with or without the ball on offense. He is also long enough to defend the one through three positions.

Pick #38: Semi Ojeleye, F, SMU

Ojeleye, a former Duke Blue Devil, is a freak athlete who carried his team to the NCAA tournament. He averaged 19 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, which was good enough to win AAC Player of the Year (AAC). Ojeleye is flying under the radar as the AAC has been labeled as having lesser talented competition.

The 6-foot-7 junior would be a great second-round pick for the Kings, as he is an inside-outside scoring threat who also adds a necessary toughness factor that may have been lost with the exit of Demarcus Cousins.

Conclusion

The Kings need to address a large group of needs. By adding De’Aaron Fox, they will address their point guard position for the next decade. With Jonathan Isaac, the team is adding an all-around versatile scorer who can impact the game on both ends of the floor. With their second round picks, they need to add as much talent as possible. With Edmond Sumner and Semi Ojeleye, they are adding two older players who can impact the game offensively and defensively right away.

Thanks for checking out the Sacramento Kings 2017 NBA Draft profile and tune in tomorrow for day six of NBA Draftmas to see what the Orlando Magic may do.

NBA Draftmas Day 4: Phoenix Suns

NBA Draftmas Day 3: Philadelphia 76ers

 

(Featured Image by NBA.com)

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

2017 NBA Mock Draft

2017 NBA Mock Draft V. 3.0 (Post-Lottery)

The lottery has finally passed and the draft order is now officially set. As the Finals approach, so does the draft season. All but the final four teams are focused solely on the draft, which means The Game Haus is too.

This mock draft will take a look at where players may go in late June. Also, if you loved Draftmas for the NFL draft, be on the lookout for the hardwood version of Draftmas coming soon here at The Game Haus.

For now, here is Hagan’s Haus 2017 NBA mock draft, version three.

1: BOSTON CELTICS (VIA BROOKLYN): MARKELLE FULTZ PG WASHINGTON

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Boston is in great position after winning the lottery. It is also obvious the Celtics do not need a point guard. Isaiah Thomas has proven his worth time and time again in the NBA. Any player can be a bust out of college, but I.T. is a proven commodity. It is still unlikely that Fultz will be a bust, but he has not proven anything yet in the association.

Boston needs a second scoring option. They play great team defense and find themselves in trouble with Thomas being their only viable option on offense. Boston will take Fultz, but it could be because they plan on trading him for another scoring superstar. The pick here seems to clearly be Fultz, but it is unclear if he will ever play a game for Boston.

2: LOS ANGELES LAKERS: LONZO BALL PG UCLA

LaVar Ball and the rest of his family got exactly what they hoped for in the lottery. The Lakers came away with the second overall pick. LaVar has made it clear that he wants his son to be the next Laker great. He has even said that his son, Lonzo, will not work out for the Celtics. Lonzo is from L.A., and not only is it his dream, but he believes it’s his destiny, to rock purple and gold.

There are also rumors swirling that teams are putting together trade packages in hopes of acquiring D’Angelo Russell, who may be on his way to bigger things. You can read about how well he has actually progressed as a player here.

LaVar may be onto something when talking about how good his son can be. Sticking strictly to Lonzo and his basketball ability, it is clear that he is a consensus top-three prospect. Ball is a great playmaker and passer with a high basketball I.Q.

Ball will be a floor general capable of running an NBA team and becoming an on-court coach. He showed at UCLA that he can make everyone around him better and that will translate into the NBA.

Many scouts compare him to Jason Kidd, which is a pretty accurate comparison. Having a Kidd-like career would be an amazing accomplishment for anybody. The Lakers need a franchise player and that is exactly what Lonzo Ball will be. The Lakers have a difficult decision ahead of them, but pairing Ball with Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle could lead to more parades in Hollywood.

3: PHILADELPHIA 76ERS: MALIK MONK SG KENTUCKY

Trusting the process hit yet another bump in the road this season. Joel Embiid suffered another injury after appearing in just 31 games. If that wasn’t enough, last year’s first overall pick, Ben Simmons, didn’t make his debut this year either. The 76ers still believe those pieces will result in playoff appearances and maybe even titles.

Reports came out that the Philadelphia brass believes Simmons will be the point guard. That is why they will use this pick on Malik Monk.

Monk has proven to be a flat-out scoring machine and that will translate to the NBA. Drafting Monk will allow the Sixers to develop Simmons as their point guard while putting a scorer in the backcourt beside him.

Creating a powerful backcourt could be the key to a deep postseason run. They already have a great frontcourt player in Embiid.

4: PHOENIX SUNS: JOSH JACKSON SF KANSAS

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Josh Jackson could prove to be a valuable wing alongside Devin Booker. Jackson averaged 16.3 points per game at Kansas. He is a two-way player capable of becoming a superstar. Jackson has a good feel for the game and is dangerous on offense. He can score both inside and out and is a very underrated passer.

Pairing him with a future superstar like Booker is only going to lead to success for Phoenix. Having a core of Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker and Josh Jackson will make the Suns a threat in the West in two to three years.

Jackson doesn’t have to be a franchise player in Phoenix. He just has to be Robin to Batman, which makes him a perfect fit in the desert.

5: Sacramento Kings: JAYSON TATUM SF DUKE

The Kings need to start from scratch. Buddy Hield seems to be the guy that Sacramento will build this team around. It looks like Willie Cauley-Stein will be the man up front with DeMarcus Cousins now out of the picture.

Jayson Tatum could grow to be an NBA superstar. Tatum has a well-polished iso game that is NBA ready.  He can score anywhere on the floor due to his ability to create off the dribble.

One of his biggest weaknesses is his shot selection. Due to his height and ability to shoot over defenders, Tatum tends to settle for difficult shots. Shot selection will improve over time and he could become a nice addition to the team in Sacramento.

6: Orlando Magic: DE’AARON FOX PG KENTUCKY

The Magic seem to have an unclear direction. Orlando hasn’t made the playoffs for five straight years in a very weak Eastern Conference. Frank Vogel has improved the team, but they need more talent outside of Aaron Gordon. At this point, the best thing the Magic can do is pick the best available player, which in this position would be De’Aaron Fox.

Fox doesn’t get the hype that Fultz or Ball get, but is definitely going to be a force in the NBA. Fox did nothing but help his stock in the tournament, especially when he dropped 39 points against Lonzo Ball and UCLA in the Sweet 16.

Fox is left handed, which is sometimes hard to defend because defenders are so used to right-handed players. He is also extremely quick, and defenders may have trouble keeping up with him. Fox will need to work on shooting with more consistency, but has proven he can control a game.

7: MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES: LAURI MARKKANEN PF ARIZONA

Minnesota has a franchise center and small forward in Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. They have young guards in Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn. The Timberwolves need experience and veteran leadership more than anything, so it is tough to predict what they will do with this pick. Lauri Markkanen would be a perfect option for the Timberwolves.

Markkanen is a 7-foot stretch big who will be able to shoot the three in the NBA. He has all the intangibles to become a power forward like Dirk Nowitzki. He can stretch the floor or go inside.

Markkanen can also play the center position to spell Towns. Markkanen needs to add some weight, but could really help the Timberwolves become a playoff team.

8: New York Knicks: Dennis Smith JR PG N.C. State

2017 NBA Mock draft

(Photo Credit: WILLIAM HOWARD/ICON SPORTSWIRE)

The Knicks badly need a franchise point guard to pair with Kristaps Porzingis. Dennis Smith is a top-five talent who will fall a bit due to some of the other needs teams have since not all are looking for a point guard.

The Knicks would get a player like Russell Westbrook by drafting Smith. He can score, pass and rebound with the best of them in college. He also has the insane athleticism that allows him to posterize defenders.

The Zen Master needs to make the most out of this pick to win back the love of the Knicks’ fan base, and Dennis Smith could bring that love to the Big Apple.

9: DALLAS MAVERICKS: ISAIAH HARTENSTEIN PF GERMANY

From one German to the next.  Isaiah Hartenstein would be a great fit in Dallas. He is a versatile, left-handed player who can score inside and outside. Hartenstein is a great passing big man with a high basketball I.Q.

The downside with Hartenstein is his immaturity and lack of experience against tough competition. However, his potential makes him a lottery pick.

Sitting him behind Dirk for a year would be the perfect step in developing Hartenstein. He could easily relate to Dirk. He could really learn how to become a great pro.

10: SACRAMENTO KINGS (VIA PELICANS): JONATHAN ISaAC PF FLORIDA STATE

Jonathan Isaac would be a great fit with this team. Isaac is a great rebounder and can run the floor well for a big man. He also shoots well from all areas of the floor. Isaac could play at small forward or power forward in today’s NBA. The Kings would find a great player with lots of potentials, who could grow into a solid NBA starter.

11.CHARLOTTE HORNETS: JUSTIN JACKSON SF NORTH CAROLINA

The G.O.A.T., Michael Jordan, loves him some Tar Heels. Justin Jackson would be a terrific fit in Charlotte. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has never lived up to the hype of a second overall pick. Jackson would be the piece to help get the Hornets back into the playoffs.

He has great length and can stretch the floor. Jackson played great for most of the tournament. He had a subpar performance in the title game, but can still become a good NBA starter.

Jackson needs to add weight, but is a versatile defender capable of guarding multiple positions. His mid-range jumper is well-polished. Charlotte would improve by drafting Jackson.

12: DETROIT PISTONS: HARRY GILES PF DUKE

Detroit needs a big man alongside Andre Drummond. Picking Harry Giles would be a shock here, but could be a huge steal. Giles was considered the best player coming out of high school and was projected to be the No. 1 pick before he began having injury problems.

We have not seen what Giles is fully capable of, but his potential is through the roof. He is an athletic finisher who can be molded into a great defender.

13: DENVER NUGGETS: Zach Collins F Gonzaga

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports)

Denver is really close to becoming a playoff team in the tough Western Conference. Their young guards just need more experience and will continue to develop.

Collins is a real good rebounder and shot blocker. Pairing him up with Nikola Jokic could create one of the most dangerous frontcourts in the NBA. Collins needs to mold his offensive skills, but because Jokic is so skilled offensively, Collins’ defensive skills would create a perfect combination.

14: MIAMI HEAT: T.J. LEAF PF UCLA

The Heat were amazing in the second half of this season. Hassan Whiteside is a franchise centerpiece at center. Their guard play has been tremendous, and Justise Winslow is really coming into his own. That leaves the power forward position as their biggest need.

T.J. Leaf has a high motor and can play both inside and out. Miami would get a player who could be molded into a star by Erik Spoelstra.

15: PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS: JOHN COLLINS PF WAKE FOREST

John Collins could be a valuable piece around Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Collins has a good offensive game that would help take pressure off their guards to score. He has a post-up game that most bigs don’t have. His impressive footwork allows him to beat even the best of defenders. If he develops his defense, he could become a top power forward in the NBA.

16: CHICAGO BULLS: JUSTIN PATTON C CREIGHTON

Building around Jimmy Butler seems to be the top priority for the Chicago Bulls. Robin Lopez is serviceable, but he is not a center that will help a team reach a title.

Justin Patton may be one. He is a 7-foot monster that averaged 12.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game as a freshman at Creighton.

NBA coaching could turn Patton into a dominant center in an era of outside shooting. There will be few players capable of defending him once he grows into his own. The Bulls would be lucky to get Patton.

17: MILWAUKEE BUCKS: BAM ADEBAYO PF KENTUCKY

The Milwaukee Bucks are building something special. Giannis Antetokounmpo is looking like a future MVP and Khris Middleton is a stud. Drafting Adebayo will give Milwaukee a presence inside to make the Bucks even more dangerous.

18: INDIANA PACERS: FRANK NTILIKINA PG FRANCE

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit:http://www.draftexpress.com)

One thing is clear in the NBA: teams need a franchise point guard. The Pacers have Jeff Teague, but he has not really proven to be a franchise point guard.

Ntilikina has excellent size for a point guard. He is listed at 6-foot-5, 190 pounds. Ntilikina is a pass-first point guard with a high I.Q. He has developed a mid-range game and excellent floater, but is a really inconsistent shooter. Ntilikina also has great lateral quickness that makes him an elite defender.

All the skills are there for Ntilikina to become a franchise point guard.

19: ATLANTA HAWKS: IVAN RABB C CALIFORNIA

Dwight Howard is no longer a top center. Atlanta needs to think about the future, and Ivan Rabb is the future at center.

He has lots of potential to grow offensively. Rabb is already a good defender, and even though he only averaged about one block per game in his career, he altered plenty of shots. His inconsistency at Cal is what hurts him, but he has shown flashes of brilliance.

20: PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS (VIA MEMPHIS): TYLER LYDON PF SYRACUSE

Tyler Lydon has improved vastly from his freshman season to sophomore season. Lydon improved his points, rebounds, assists and free throw percentage. At 6-foot-9, Lydon can stretch the floor and he would be a great fit in Portland.

21: OKLAHOMA CITY: DILLON BROOKS SF OREGON

It is clear that Russell Westbrook needs help. He is an animal but can’t do it on his own.

Dillon Brooks is one of the most underrated players in all of college basketball. Brooks is capable of being the second option to Westbrook and a true sidekick that Westbrook desperately needs. Filling the small forward spot is of utter importance to the Thunder.

22: BROOKLYN NETS (VIA WASHINGTON): LUKE KENNARD SG DUKE

Luke Kennard is a scoring machine. Brooklyn needs a lot of help, even though they played better late in the year.

Kennard isn’t going to be a guy who changes a franchise, but he can be a 20-point-per-game scorer in the NBA. Every team needs that type of player, and the Nets can’t get a franchise-changing player in the early 20s. They will have to settle for finding solid role players until they can get a franchise changing player.

23: TORONTO RAPTORS: DWAYNE BACON SF FLORIDA STATE

If Kyle Lowry is truly leaving, then Toronto is going to need a point guard. At this point in the draft, there aren’t any point guards capable of starting.

The Raptors may have to let Cory Joseph be the guy and draft a wing player here. Bacon can come in and be a solid rotation player, allowing the Raptors to deepen their bench as they continue to chase a championship.

24: UTAH JAZZ: CALEB SWANIGAN PF PURDUE

The Jazz are in almost as good of a position as the Celtics. They finished as the fifth seed in the tough Western Conference and have two first-round draft picks.

Swanigan can come right into the NBA and contribute off the bench. Depth is what the best teams have, and that is what Utah is going to get in picking Swanigan.

25: ORLANDO MAGIC (VIA LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS): JOSH HART SG VILLANOVA

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Josh Hart could bring a culture change to the franchise. He is a leader and a winner, and the Magic could use some of that in their locker room.

Hart improved his scoring each season at Villanova, and that should translate into the NBA. If they put together a backcourt with De’Aaron Fox and Josh Hart, the Magic could make the playoffs as early as next season.

26: PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS (VIA CLEVELAND): RODIONS KURUCS SF LATVIA

Kurucs is a project, and Portland can afford to draft a developmental player this late in the first round, especially with it being their third pick in the first round. Kurucs is versatile and can be a valuable scoring option in the NBA off the bench. Anything more than being a role player would be a huge win for the Blazers.

27: BROOKLYN NETS (VIA BOSTON): JORDAN BELL PF OREGON

Jordan Bell was a second-round pick before the tournament. Bell was a huge reason Oregon reached their first Final Four since 1939. The Nets would get a solid rebounder who brings in a heavy motor and will give you everything he has. The Nets need these high energy type of players to change the culture in Brooklyn.

28: LOS ANGELES LAKERS (VIA HOUSTON): DONOVAN MITCHELL SG LOUISVILLE

The Lakers have youth on their side and drafting Mitchell will allow them to continue to build assets as trading blocks so that they can get superstars back in Hollywood. Mitchell is a solid shooting guard who can be a solid sixth man in the NBA.

29: SAN ANTONIO SPURS: Jarrett Allen C Texas

The Spurs are like the Patriots. They know what they are doing and you don’t question them.

LaMarcus Aldridge has been average at best since signing with the Spurs. With Kawhi Leonard being a two-way star, the Spurs need a big man who can play as Robin to Leonard. Jarrett Allen is a beast on the boards and has the potential to become a solid post-up big man.

30: UTAH JAZZ (VIA GOLDEN STATE): JOHNATHAN MOTLEY PF BAYLOR

Utah needs some frontcourt athleticism. Derrick Favors has only had one really productive season and looks to be on the decline. Motley’s offensive I.Q. makes him a perfect fit in Utah to be a solid role player on a solid playoff team. The Jazz continue to build depth at hopes of a deeper postseason run.

 

Featured Image by Yahoo Sports

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Kentucky Basketball: The Manufacturer of NBA Players

Coach John Calipari has the top-ranked recruiting class of 2017. This isn’t a surprise, considering the nature of his program. Coach Cal had the second-ranked recruiting class in the nation last year that included Malik Monk, De’Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo.

These three players have declared for the 2017 NBA Draft and are forgoing the rest of their college eligibility. They also led the team statistically in many areas and were the reason for a lot of the team’s success. This isn’t a new trend, and Kentucky will continue this process with the 2017 recruiting class.

Looking back

In six of the past seven years, the Wildcats have had at least two players go in the first round of the draft. Three out of those seven years, a Wildcat was the No. 1 overall pick. Those players were John Wall, Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns.

The statistics speak for themselves. Kentucky knows how to manufacture NBA players. Whether this process is moral or not, isn’t what I want to discuss. I just want to look at why it happens and how it impacts college basketball as a whole.

Kentucky Basketball Manufactures Players for NBA Draft

Karl-Anthony Towns who previously played for Kentucky Wildcats (Photo by en.yibada.com)

More specifically, I’d like to discuss the amount of freshmen that are one-and-done. In 2015, Skal Labissiere and Jamal Murray played their freshman year and were both drafted in the first round.

The same applied for 2014, as Towns, Trey Lyles and Devin Booker were drafted after their freshman season. Towns was also the No. 1 pick as previously noted.

If you don’t see the trend yet, take a look at 2013. Nerlens Noel and Archie Goodwin were two additional freshmen that declared for the draft after their first year. Goodwin was the leading scorer for the Wildcats that year, as well as Freshman All-SEC.

This is all to make the point that Kentucky brings in top-notch recruits and sends them to the NBA.

SEC and NCaa tournament success

The Wildcats are a powerhouse, and this is why they draw in so many high-caliber recruits. It’s inevitable that everyone will talk about the morality of one and done. Kentucky is the team that takes advantage and has produced a winning program that attracts these players. Duke is another school that takes part in this type of recruiting, but not as much.

The Wildcats took first in the SEC with big production from their freshmen this year. Malik Monk lead the team, averaging 19.8 points per game. De’Aaron Fox lead the team in assists per game with 4.6. Finally, Bam Adebayo had the top field goal percentage of 59.9 percent and averaged over 30 minutes per game for the Wildcats. These three players led the charge for Kentucky.

Malik Monk, freshman at Kentucky who recently declared for 2017 NBA Draft (Photo by CBSsports.com)

However, a program that relies solely on freshmen is bound to have some problems. Leadership is evident but not prevalent.

These guys are 18-20 years old and haven’t played in big-time games yet, but their team still relies on them. This leads to uncharacteristic losses like the loss to Indiana in the second round in 2016. However, once these true freshmen get to play on the big stage, they usually don’t look back.

Kentucky is quite successful in the tournament. The Wildcats have played in four Final Fours since 2011. They won the 2012 title back when Anthony Davis was a freshman and Doron Lamb ruled the court.

2017 Recruiting Class

Looking ahead, the trend should continue. Kevin Knox just announced his commitment to Kentucky for the 2017 season and he is the No. 9 prospect in the country. Knox joins P.J. Washington (No. 11), Nick Richards (No. 16), Jarred Vanderbilt (No. 18), Quade Green (No. 23), and Hamidou Diallo.

However, Diallo will not be playing on the college stage next year. He enrolled in January of this year and declared for the draft without playing in a true college game.

What does all of this mean? Unless the one-and-done rule changes anytime soon or Coach Calipari is involved in a major scandal, Kentucky will continue to dominate. That is, dominating the NBA through the amount of players they send after one year of college ball.

 

(Featured Image by Sportingnews.com)

 

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Kentucky Recruiting Class

Kentucky Lands a Stacked 2017 Recruiting Class

Just when you think the Kentucky Wildcats can’t get any stronger, they do.

The Wildcats recently landed five-star commit Kevin Knox on Saturday. He is the No. 9 prospect in the class of 2017. Knox committed to Kentucky over Duke, Florida State, North Carolina and Missouri.

The addition of Knox adds to Kentucky’s already stacked recruiting class for next year. Kentucky, who already had the No. 1 ranked recruiting class before Knox, will add yet another five-star prospect.

Kentucky

Kevin Knox the No. 9 recruit in the 2017 class is just the most recent addition of John Calipari’s stacked recruiting class (Photo/ Brian Rothmuller).

Knox took an official visit to all five of his finalists as well as another visit to Duke in October and visits to Florida State, Kentucky and North Carolina in January and February.

Missouri came back into the running late when they signed Michael Porter Jr., the No. 1 overall ranked recruit. However, Kentucky prevailed as the top dog as usual.

Knox joins other five-star recruits P.J Washington (No. 11), Nick Richards (No. 16), Jarred Vanderbilt (No. 18), Quade Green (No. 23) and Hamidou Diallo.

Diallo enrolled in Kentucky in January and has been practicing with the team ever since, but never appeared in a game. He has also entered his name in the NBA draft, but did not sign with an agent.

“When I decided to enroll in school in January, my plan was to come to Kentucky to work on my game and to focus on school,” Diallo said in a release. “At the end of the season, I knew I wanted to see where I was in the draft process and go through that so I could get a proper evaluation.”

Diallo said his plans are still the same, but he wants to see where he stands among other NBA prospects.

“That plan hasn’t changed, and that’s why I am declaring for the NBA draft,” he said. “I do not plan on hiring an agent at this time. I want to see where my game is and explore my options.”

There is a chance Diallo isn’t with the Wildcats next year. However, if he does come back, it will be another dangerous addition to this 2017-18 Wildcat squad.

On top of the five-star recruits, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (No. 33), Jemarl Baker (No. 63) and a couple of four-star recruits also join the 2017 Wildcat class. There could be more coming too. Mohamed Bamba, the top uncommitted prospect, is still yet to choose between Kentucky, Duke, Texas and Michigan.

Kentucky lost freshmen De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo to the NBA draft. The Wildcats also lost sophomores Isaiah Briscoe and Isaac Humphries in addition to potentially Diallo.

If there’s one thing we know about Kentucky, it’s that they can restock fast. The 2017 recruiting class is just another example of that.

Come the start of the 2017 season, the Wildcats will most likely be the No. 1 ranked preseason team again and favorite to win the National Championship.

 

(Featured Image by Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos)

 

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