2017 NBA mock draft: Two star point guards. Then what?

The ping-pong balls have bounced. (In the favor of the Lakers — again!) The NBA Finals are quickly approaching. (Golden State vs. Cleveland — again?!)

That all can mean only one thing: the NBA draft is fast approaching. After examining YouTube clips until my eyes went red and poring over roster situations for each of the NBA’s 30 teams, I’ve come up with the first Denver Post 2017 NBA mock draft.

Enjoy. And be sure to properly stretch the fingers before firing off angry emails:

1. Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn), Markelle Fultz, 6-4 PG, Washington: The Celtics aren’t getting through LeBron James and Cleveland without another bonafide star. Boston may dangle this pick in attempt to pull off a blockbuster deal, but the pure playmaking ability of Fultz — not to mention the defensive potential created by a 7-foot wingspan — will ultimately make selecting him the only move for the Celtics.

2. Los Angeles Lakers, Lonzo Ball, 6-6 PG, UCLA: Ball took the Pac-12 by storm in his lone college season with elite vision and uncanny ability to make plays in space: a hallmark of NBA stars. Dealing with his father, megaphone-loud LaVar Ball, may give Lakers brass heartburn. But Ball’s talent speaks louder, and that’s all it will take to keep him in L.A.

Jamie Squire, Getty ImagesLonzo Ball of the UCLA Bruins drives to the basket as Kyle Washington #24 of the Cincinnati Bearcats defends during the second round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament at Golden 1 Center on March 19, 2017 in Sacramento, Calif.

3. Philadelphia 76ers, De’Aaron Fox, 6-4 PG, Kentucky: How quickly the matchup of top college point guards has been forgotten. In the NCAA Tournament last season, Fox scored 39 points to Ball’s 10 in a Kentucky victory over UCLA, completely dominating his higher-regarded counterpart. As he demonstrated in that game, Fox is a fiercely competitive guard with explosive athletic ability. Pairing a talented playmaker alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid could create the big three of the future for Philadelphia.

4. Phoenix Suns, Josh Jackson, 6-8 SF, Kansas: Phoenix fans groaned when their team fell from its No. 2 pre-lottery position in the draft. The consolation prize may be the best two-way player in the draft. Jackson may need some serious work on a jumper full of hitches, but the lengthy forward is versatile enough to step in and defend multiple positions right away. For a team that ranked 28th in defensive efficiency last season, that’s a good place to start.

5. Sacramento Kings (from Philadelphia), Jayson Tatum, 6-8 SF, Duke: Trying to predict the moves of the Kings front office is like trying to navigate through a maze in the dark. That said, Tatum could provide some of the scoring punch Sacramento lost in the (let’s say questionable) trade of DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings could also use an upgrade at point guard and would almost certainly nab Fox if he fell this far. Wait, did we just write “certainly” and “Kings” in the same sentence?

6. Orlando Magic, Dennis Smith Jr., 6-2 PG, N.C. State: The Magic, in perpetual rebuilding mode since losing Dwight Howard in 2011, have plenty of holes to fill. Why not start at point guard, where Smith could make an instant impact with his innate ability to score at the rim, from mid-range and beyond the 3-point line.

7. Minnesota Timberwolves, Jonathan Isaac, 6-10 PF, Florida State: The task for Minnesota is building around burgeoning stars Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Isaac has a versatile defensive profile and a promising outside shooting stroke that could help spread the floor for the team’s big-ticket players.

8. New York Knicks, Malik Monk, 6-4 SG, Kentucky: The high-scoring guard — 19.8 points as a freshman at Kentucky — may not last this long in the draft. If he is still around, his ability to draw attention on the move would be a perfect complement to big man Kristaps Porzingis.

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9. Dallas Mavericks, Frank Ntilikina, 6-5 PG, France: Though Dirk Nowitzki will return for his 20th season in 2017-18, the Mavericks are firmly focused on the future. So Dallas will be patient with an 18-year-old whose size and feel for the game offer great promise.

10. Sacramento Kings (from New Orleans), Lauri Markkanen, 7-0 PF, Arizona: With fellow 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein running to the rim, Markkanen’s strong outside shooting ability could make him a perfect complement, particularly if the Kings were able to land Fox with the fifth pick.

11. Charlotte Hornets, Justin Jackson, 6-8 SF, North Carolina: Surely, Michael Jordan couldn’t pass up selecting the player who just led his alma mater to a national title, right? Reasons beyond the sentimental exist for selecting the versatile Jackson, who could be the scorer Charlotte needs to take some pressure off Kemba Walker.

12. Detroit Pistons, Donovan Mitchell, 6-3 SG, Louisville: The hard-nosed guard, who averaged nearly 16 points per game as a sophomore last season, could infuse a dose of toughness that Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy covets. His athleticism should also give Mitchell the chance to make an impact defensively right away.

13. Denver Nuggets, Zach Collins, 7-0 C, Gonzaga: Collins averaged four blocks per 40 minutes during his freshman season at Gonzaga. The Nuggets have a dire need for a rim protector. His mobility on the interior and his toughness defensively make Collins a wise choice as Denver aims to address a laundry list of issues on that end of the court. Collins also can spread the floor and shoot from the outside, so the Nuggets wouldn’t be running into the same clogged-middle pairing they encountered with Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic.

Ezra Shaw, Getty ImagesZach Collins #32 and Josh Perkins #13 celebrate their 61 to 58 win over the West Virginia Mountaineers during the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament West Regional at SAP Center on March 23, 2017 in San Jose, Calif.

14. Miami Heat, OG Anunoby, 6-8 F, Indiana: The same defensive tools that would make Anunoby a wise choice for Denver will also make him a steal for Miami. But Anunoby’s biggest contribution may come from his raw but promising offensive ability.

15. Portland Trail Blazers, John Collins, 6-10, Wake Forest: Collins would give the Trail Blazers an injection of athleticism in the front court. He’s constantly running at the rim, making him a potential load in the pick-and-roll alongside Damian Lillard.

16. Chicago Bulls, Luke Kennard, 6-6 SG, Duke: The loss of Rajon Rondo in the playoffs hurt. But it was the 29.8 percent shooting from 3-point range that really knocked the Bulls out of the postseason. Kennard gives the Chicago the knockdown outside shooter they desperately need.

17. Milwaukee Bucks, Jarrett Allen, 6-11 C, Texas: There are still some raw elements to Allen’s game, but his physical tools could make him the interior defensive complement to second-team all-NBA forward Giannis Antetokounmpo that Milwaukee needs to take the next step.

18. Indiana Pacers, Ivan Raab, 6-10 PF, California: Indiana needs an infusion of length and athleticism into its front court. Rabb, who made big strides after foregoing the draft following his freshman season, checks those boxes.

19. Atlanta Hawks, Justin Patton, 7-0 C, Creighton: Patton oozes potential, and he’s already a heady open-court player who wears out a path to the rim in transition. He could blossom in a backup role behind Dwight Howard while he expands his offensive skill set.

20. Portland Trail Blazers (from Memphis via Denver and Cleveland), Harry Giles, 6-11, C, Duke: There is a lot of risk with Giles, a player with high upside who has dealt with several major knee injuries, but Portland is in position to take such a gamble with three first-round picks.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder, Terrance Ferguson, 6-7 SG, Adelaide (Australia): The Thunder is in dire need of a playmaker to take some of the load off Russell Westbrook. Ferguson, who passed up a scholarship at Arizona to play one year of professional basketball in Australia, is intriguing enough offensively for Oklahoma City to take a chance.

22. Brooklyn Nets (from Washington), Isaiah Hartenstein, 7-0 PF, Germany: Hartenstein may not be the next Dirk Nowitzki — man, Germany set a high bar — but his mobility and athleticism in space makes him an intriguing project for the perpetually rebuilding Nets.

23. Toronto Raptors (from L.A. Clippers via Milwaukee), Ike Anigbogu, 6-10 C, UCLA: Should the Raptors lose Serge Ibaka in free agency, Anigbogu’s 7-6 wingspan could help cushion the blow on the defensive end.

24. Utah Jazz, Tyler Lydon, 6-10 SF/PF, Syracuse: A player who could consistently knock down outside shots off drives from Gordon Hawyard or kick outs from Rudy Gobert could be just the piece the Jazz need.

25. Orlando Magic (from Toronto), TJ Leaf, 6-10 PF, UCLA: Leaf has often drawn natural comparisons to former UCLA star Kevin Love. If Leaf could approach those lofty heights at the NBA level, he’ll be the steal of the draft.

26. Portland Trail Blazers (from Cleveland) Semi Ojeleye, 6-7 SF, SMU: Ojeleye is still developing as a prospect, but his raw athleticism profiles perfectly for a team with an overflow of first-round picks.

27. Brooklyn Nets (from Boston), Jawun Evans, 6-1 PG, Oklahoma City: The Nets need an answer at point guard, and it’s not Jeremy Lin. Evans has good toughness and playmaking instincts that could develop as the young Nets do.

28. Los Angeles Lakers, Anzejs Pasecniks, 7-2 C, Latvia: To put it kindly, the four-year $64 million contract the Lakers gave Timofey Mozgov hasn’t worked out. This is the perfect spot for the Lakers to take a chance on a big man with some upside, who would come far cheaper.

Cliff Grassmick, Daily CameraColorado’s Derrick White passes off as he drives to the basket in front of Stanford’s Robert Cartwright during the second half of a NCAA college basketball game Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Boulder.

29. San Antonio Spurs, Derrick White, 6-5 G, Colorado: What better way to fill the voids created by the quickly approaching departures of Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker than selecting another all-around guard who carries himself like a veteran?

30. Utah Jazz (from Golden State), Jonathan Jeanne, 7-2 C, France: Jeanne must add muscle to his frame to compete in the NBA, but his length and natural instincts could give the Jazz an intriguing backup to Rudy Gobert.


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