Pre-Lottery NBA Mock Draft (6 through 10)

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The 2017 NBA Draft has been hyped for a while as a stacked class. Before the basketball gods inflict their wrath — NBA Draft Lottery takes place on May 16 — here is how I think the 2017 Draft will shake out, with picks six through 10. For the first five, click here.

No. 6: Minnesota Timberwolves – Lauri Markkanen, PF

This draft selection will be crucial to suring up the Timberwolves’ identity. With Karl-Anthony Towns holding down the interior and beef jerky market, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine on the wing, and Kris Dunn serving as the distributor, the Wolves need another big man. Drafting a guard muddies the plan for last year’s fifth overall pick (Dunn) and delays the team’s development further. Lauri Markkanen gives them a 7-foot shooter to pair with KAT and doesn’t admit failure with last year’s top selection.

No. 7: New York Knicks – De’Aaron Fox , PG

The Knicks need someone who can defend and distribute. De’Aaron Fox excels at both. He has explosive speed, which will help New York on the fast break — they ranked 24th in the league in fast break points this year and dead last in 2015-16.

No. 8: Sacramento Kings – Jayson Tatum, SF

Jayson Tatum solves a bevy of problems for the Kings. He’s a versatile scorer and fits the mould of a small-ball power forward. His confidence with the ball is years ahead of many 19-year-olds. It will be interesting to see how he develops against elite talent. A lot of years, his potential would make him a Top-3 pick, but this is guard-heavy class.

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No. 9: Dallas Mavericks – Dennis Smith Jr., PG

Lauri Markkanen going to Dallas would be a great story; he could develop under Dirk Nowitzki before assuming the throne when Dirk retires. But the narrative doesn’t work out this time. Dennis Smith Jr. is an absolute playmaker who will provide a spark to an NBA offense. Injury concerns might have him fall to this spot, but he is still a high-reward talent.

No. 10: Sacramento Kings – Frank Ntilikina, PG

Someone will need to take a chance on the mysterious Frank Ntilikina from France. Still only 18 years old, Ntilikina is a lanky guard with plenty of room to develop. He averaged 3.2 steals per game during the 2017 FIBA Europe U18 Championships, so defensive potential is definitely there.

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