NBA Draft Lottery Prediction: Detroit Pistons

 

Detroit Pistons – #12 Pick 2017 NBA Draft

Needs: Shooting, quality depth
The Pick: Luke Kennard – Duke
Other options: Donovan Mitchell (Louisville), Lauri Markkanen (Arizona), Zach Collins (Gonzaga)

The Pistons have been one of the worst outside shooting teams in the league over the last few seasons and they desperately need help. The two players who were considered to be cornerstones of the rebuild, Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond, have plateaued in their development over the past 12 months. Along with that, players like Jackson and Drummond make it easier for opposing defenses to game plan; “Pack the Paint.” The lack of shooting has suffocated spacing and in turn the offense has struggled to get to the next level and secure the Pistons as a playoff team in the Eastern Conference. Falling below expectations during the 2016-2017 season has led to rumors of Detroit dealing the pick. Stan Van Gundy has been clear that virtually no one is safe from being moved this off-season via trade. All moves are being considered to get the Pistons to the next level.

If they keep the pick the Pistons need to select the best shooter in the draft to help address the lack of shooting, and that is why I have them taking Luke Kennard. Kennard’s ability to shoot and score the basketball will help give the Pistons another offensive weapon, and also could set them up with a long term replacement for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (or KCP as he is known to us here in Detroit) should he explore other options in Free Agency this summer. I can see Detroit taking a long look at guys like Zach Collins and Lauri Markkanen if they are still available, but that would also serve as a strong signal that they have given up on Henry Ellenson. If a guy like Dennis Smith Jr or Donovan Mitchell falls the Pistons should take a look at both because of their upside, but the Pistons need shooting and at 12 will address this issue by selecting Kennard.

NBA Draft Lottery Prediction: Dallas Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks – #9 Pick 2017 NBA Draft

The Pick: Frank Ntilikina – France

Other Possible Options: Dennis Smith – NC State, Zach Collins – Gonzaga

The Dallas Mavericks are slowly transitioning into a Dirk Nowitzki-less era. Despite Nowitzki’s age, and several holes on their roster, the Mavs biggest need comes at Point Guard. Last season they had JJ Barea, Seth Curry and Yogi Ferrell under contract to man the point. They caught lightning in a bottle when Ferrell turned a 10 day contract into a two year deal, but they can’t rely on that. Luckily they should find an answer to their problems even at number nine.

The Mavs have been rumored to be interested in France’s Frank Ntilikina. Ntilikina is a French guard who last played for Strasbourg of the LNB Pro A League. His biggest strength is his size for a point guard. Ntilikina stands at 6’6 and has a wingspan of seven feet. This translates well defensively, where he is very disruptive. As a rotation player for Strasbourg, he is also able to play on and off the ball at the guard spot. While his size, athleticism and defense is something of intrigue, Ntilikina is very raw, and likely not a rookie who will make an extreme impact next season. In a draft where numerous players can make noise from the get go, Ntilikina may prove his worth in a big way a couple years down the road.

NBA Draft Lottery Prediction: New York Knicks

New York Knicks – #8 Pick 2017 NBA Draft

The Pick: Dennis Smith Jr.

Needs: Pretty Much Everything

Other Possible Picks: Malik Monk (If Available) Frank Ntilikina

It’s no secret that the New York Knicks need a long term solution point guard. Derrick Rose is not the answer, and this organization is in desperate need of someone who can lead this team in a positive direction.

Dennis Smith averaged an impressive 18 points and 6 assists this season at NC State, however it is his performances outside the NCAA that have impressed people the most. He has blown away almost every team he has worked out for, including the Lakers, Celtics and Timberwolves. Smith possesses raw athleticism that could allow him to develop into a player similar to Jeff Teague.

Smith, like Teague, is incredibly fast with or without the ball, so he can run in transition and finish strong above the rim, or convert on crafty shots off the glass. He also has proven to be effective in the half-court, thanks to his great ball handling skills and effective pick and roll play. Smith very well could be the third offensive weapon the Knicks need to compliment Melo and Kristaps Porzingis, as he would help alleviate some of the pressure on the two stars. His sheer athleticism also will help him on the defensive end, as he shows great footwork and a tireless work-rate.

Granted that Malik Monk is still on the board, he is a talented scorer, but he is a volume shooter, which would be a nightmare for the Knicks offense. Ntilikina shows a lot of potential, as he has the size and frame similar to Lonzo Ball and is incredibly raw. Thus, he may not be the best option for a Knicks team who can no longer afford to take risks in the draft. New York needs a point guard who can be generally reliable and consistent, and Dennis Smith is the closest thing to this that they will find with the 8th pick. However, this could change if the trade rumors swelling around Kristaps Porzingis allow the Knicks to move up and possibly take DeAron Fox instead.

NBA Draft Lottery Prediction: Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota Timberwolves – #7 Pick 2017 NBA Draft

The Pick: Jonathan Isaac – Florida State

Other Possible Picks: Lauri Markkanen – Arizona

The Minnesota Timberwolves hit the jackpot when they were awarded the #1 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. Two seasons removed from Rookie of the Year, Karl Anthony-Towns leads a group of young talent out in Minnesota. Between promising youth and good health, the T’Wolves have a great nucleus of players to build upon. Four of their top six scorers are under 25. Their top two, KAT and Andrew Wiggins, are 21 and 22 years of age respectively. Zach LaVine also averaged 19 points a game before having his season cut short due to injury.

Jonathan Isaac is the perfect fit for this up and coming Wolves roster. A Power Forward is a must in this draft. And although Isaac is listed as a Small Forward, he is 6’10 and the most versatile player in the 2017 NBA Draft. In an NBA where teams are adjusting to “small ball,” Isaac is the perfect fit. Lauri Markkanen can also fill this gap nicely, but Isaac gives Tom Thibodeau more diversity to alter line ups. While he may not compare talent wise, Isaac has the potential to cause as much disruption on both ends, as Kevin Durant did in this past NBA Finals. His ability to score, shoot from the outside, rebound and block shots makes him a great piece to add to two budding superstars in Minnesota.

NBA Draft Lottery Prediction: Orlando Magic

Orlando Magic – #6 Pick 2017 NBA Draft

The Pick: Malik Monk – Kentucky

Other Possible Picks: Jonathan Isaac – Florida State, Lauri Markkanen – Arizona

The Orlando Magic were hit with the injury bug last season that found them the winners of the sixth overall pick in this years draft. A youthful front court of Nikola Vucevic, and high-flyer Aaron Gordon give them a solid foundation to build on. With this pick, the Magic should look to add to a back court that averaged 27 points a game last season. Thus, we get to the pick: Malik Monk, out of the University of Kentucky.

Let me start by saying I think Jonathan Isaac is a better player than Malik Monk, but Orlando’s shooting woes will have them looking at Monk with the sixth pick in the draft. We saw Monk put up big numbers at Kentucky, including 47 against North Carolina and 33 against Florida. Monk was good for 39% from behind the arc in Kentucky. Only one Magic player was able to top that last season (Jodie Meeks shot 40%.) Monk’s ability to catch fire from deep and score in bunches will give Orlando something they have lacked for quite sometime. Questions about his defensive ability remain an issue, but the Magic could find themselves their next leading scorer with this pick.