With the NBA Draft 2017 edition still months away, that hasn't stopped speculation about who will be the top three picks that teams are vying for this June. Among the young stars that NBA franchises are considering at the top of the board are two talented point guards out of the Pac-12 and a small forward from the Kansas Jayhawks. So where will #Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Jackson end up after this summer's draft? Here's the latest look at the #NBA mock draft for these 2017 college prospects ahead of March Madness.
Washington's Markelle Fultz
As of right now, the Washington Huskies star is still considered the favorite to go No. 1 overall. Fultz is currently averaging 23.2 points per game, as just a freshman. That has him ranked No. 6 amongst all college basketball players in the nation. Not only is he a scoring threat, but his other stats look worthy of the top pick too. Fultz grabs nearly six boards and dishes out about six assists per game too.
The consensus at the moment is that the Boston Celtics, who will get the Brooklyn Nets' first-round pick, will end up at the No. 1 spot. It's believed they'll draft the best available player, Markelle Fultz, as a nice addition to their team alongside All-Star Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt.
Pick-and-roll frequency has exploded in the NBA.— Josh Planos (@JPlanos) February 24, 2017
Markelle Fultz holds his own against guards taken in the top 15 over the last 5 years. pic.twitter.com/Xjb6BFLMYs
The NCAA tournament could change team's minds about players. As of right now, Fultz is playing for a Huskies team that is just 9-18 and ranks No. 11 in the Pac-12. Unless Fultz and Washington win their conference tournament, it's unlikely he'll be participating in the Big Dance. Nonetheless, that was also the case for last year's top pick, Ben Simmons out of LSU.
UCLA's Lonzo Ball
Lonzo Ball is receiving plenty of praise, even from people who aren't his father. The UCLA guard is currently leading the nation with 7.5 assists per game, and plenty of teams are eyeing that distribution stat. In addition, the freshman from Chino Hills, California averages 15 points and 6.3 rebounds each game. When glancing at those numbers, is it possible this guy is going to be averaging a triple-double like Russell Westbrook some day?
Ball is considered No. 2 overall in the NBA Draft, as of this moment. That could all change based on how well he does in tournament play. Leading his squad to a Final Four appearance or better could give him the boost he needs to become a consideration for the top draft pick.
Based on how those ping pong balls, Draft Express speculates that Ball might end up part of a rebuilding Phoenix Suns team, becoming a successor to former Suns' point guard greats like Jason Kidd and Steve Nash from seasons ago.
Kansas' Josh Jackson
For much of the college basketball season, Fultz and Ball have been the two guys in the headlines as prospects. However, teams won't sleep on the Kansas Jayhawks' Josh Jackson. The freshman small forward is averaging 16.5 points, seven boards, and three assists. Where he's drafted may depend on where the Lakers land as well as his off-court issues.
Right now, the LA Lakers are listed at many mock drafts, as receiving the No. 3 pick. The logical move there would be for Los Angeles to take the third-best available player. However, Los Angeles only gets to keep a draft pick if they are within the top three when the draft order is determined. Anything lower than the third pick defaults back to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Bleacher Report says that Jackson has the "ceiling potential" to become a player with stats similar to current Golden State Warriors reserve Andre Iguodala, or at worst, similar to Miami's Justise Winslow. Either option is fine for a Lakers team that is young and slowly turning the corner towards contention again.
A Big Dance audition soon
As the regular season winds down, that means March Madness is on the way. First, they'll participate in the obligatory conference tournaments. From there, all or a few of the young players mentioned above will continue to audition themselves for scouts in the Big Dance and then wait for their names to be called on NBA Draft night.