Final Mock Draft
Here we go. The draft is here, trades have been made, and fans are excited (at least I am). There were some big moves with Philadelphia and Boston swapping picks and the Lakers acquiring another first round pick (likely to use to get Paul George). There will likely be more moves made tonight during the draft but as of now here is how I think the draft should fall
1. Philadelphia 76ers: Markelle Fultz
Fultz has been the consensus top pick for most of the year, fits in great with the 76er’s roster, and was practically having his bobble head sold five minutes into his workout. Fultz has ideal size for a guard and can score without dominating the ball. This will allow Simmons to be the play-maker and Fultz to feed off of him while still being able to create when needed. He will be able to contribute right away on offense but will need to focus and increase his effort on defense. Get ready to see a lot of these three over the coming years.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball
Ball is from LA, played at UCLA, had his dad proclaim he would be a Laker, and has been the assumed pick for them all year. With the Lakers trade of D’Angelo Russell to the Nets, it is all but confirmed that the Lakers will be taking Ball. Ball is a great passer and makes his teammates better. When given room he is a deadly shooter. With his unconventional release and lack of natural athleticism though, he will likely have trouble scoring off the dribble.
3. Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum
The Celtics were happy to trade back because they had the top four prospects graded out pretty similarly. Tatum is the best fit here as he provides instant scoring and offensive help for Isaiah Thomas. Tatum is a stretch four who can score in the post, off the dribble, or out on the wing. His length will help defensively to contest shots and passing lanes. He needs to work on his interior defense and passing as he was often a ball stopper at Duke. Under Brad Stevens’ tutelage, Tatum could turn into the best player in this draft. Jackson is also very possible here but I think he already does a lot of what Jae Crowder and Jaylen Brown do for the Celtics. Also don’t sleep on the Celtics taking Jonathon Isaac here as well.
4. Phoenix Suns: Josh Jackson
The Suns desperately need wing help and pairing Jackson with Devin Booker and Eric Bledsoe will immediately quench that need. Jackson will be an elite defender and will excel at playing above the rim. He is one of the best athletes in this draft. The biggest concern is if his shot will develop. He was inconsistent at Kansas and did not shoot free throws well at all which is very concerning. He could either develop into Kawhi Leonard or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. If the Celtics take Jackson then I would expect Tatum to go here.
5. Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox
Fox is one of the most explosive athletes and mature players in the draft. He is a great defender with elite speed. He will be able to drive and finish in the lane and create opportunities for his teammates. He will help instill a healthy culture and be a leader from day one. Like a lot of prospects, his shot is his biggest concern. In high school he was an average shooter but in college it was less than ideal. He wasn’t asked to be much of a shooter, so hopefully it is something that can be tinkered with to bring him up to an average shooter. As long as Fox is available I don’t see the Kings going with anyone else.
6. Orlando Magic: Jonathon Isaac
Isaac has great length and potential. Worst case scenario, he will be a good defender who can guard multiple positions. Best case scenario, he develops into a form of Giannis. He needs to work on his shot and continue to increase his strength. With John Hammond (the exec that drafted Giannis) now in Orlando, I would be shocked if Isaac wasn’t taken here. Malik Monk and Dennis Smith are other possibilities here.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves: Zach Collins
The Timberwolves could go a few ways here and have been linked to Markkanen a lot. While Markkanen is great offensively, I think his utter lack of defensive ability would put Thibs in jail for murder. Collins is a good rim protector who can stretch the floor at the other end. He will be able to help on both ends right away. I could easily see Markkanen or even Monk going here but I think Collins is the best fit.
8. New York Knicks: Malik Monk
With all of the rumors around the Knicks trading Porzingas, you know that top draft pick that has proven he is a player to build around, who knows what the Knicks are going to do. Monk is one of the best prospects in this draft and could really go anywhere in the top ten. He will be able to provide instant offense as he can knock down shots from anywhere and can use his athleticism to finish above the rim. He can get complacent on defense but isn’t bad when he decides to lock in. The Knicks have also been linked to Ntilikina and Markkenen at this spot but I think Monk is too good to pass up.
9. Dallas Mavericks: Frank Ntilikina
Ntilikina is one of the rawest prospects in the draft. His length and athleticism will help him be a defensive stopper from day one and he has a great feel and understanding for the game. His ball handling and passing can get sloppy and inaccurate but he is usually making the right decision. Rick Carlisle should be able to help him develop on the offensive end and turn him into a really good point guard as the Mavs transition into a new era. Dennis Smith is also a possibility here but I think Carlisle would lose patience with his lack of effort defensively.
10. Sacramento Kings: Lauri Markkanen
Markkenen is likely the most skilled big man in the draft. He can easily score from the perimeter and off the dribble. I imagine him running a pick-and-pop with Fox (Kings fifth pick) and dissecting defenses. Defensively, Markkenen is practically useless. He isn’t strong enough to establish position in the post and has too poor of footwork to defend anyone on the perimeter. Dennis Smith and OG Anunoby are also possible here if the Kings look to help solidify their wing positions.
11. Charlotte Hornets: Luke Kennard
Kennard may be the best shooter in this draft. He has great range and is more than just a pure shooter. When needed, his great feel for the game and high basketball IQ will let run the point and initiate the offense. Defensively he has very little upside. He works hard on defense but lacks the length and athleticism to make an impact.
12. Detroit Pistons: Dennis Smith
Smith has been rumored to go almost anywhere in the lottery and could end up being one of the steals of the draft. Smith is a top level athlete with great handles and creativity around the rim. He has shown inconsistent shooting and effort on defense. There are some concerns about his attitude at NC State but given the circumstances, I think that he will be just fine in the pros. Smith could be a great start for the Pistons to move on from Reggie Jackson. Donovan Mitchell is another strong pick here but if Smith falls this far I can’t see the Pistons passing on him.
13. Denver Nuggets: OG Anunoby
OG is going to be a risky pick in the lottery due to his injury last year. Getting hurt early in the season led to a small sample size and a whole lot of guess work on Anunoby, but he has the potential to be a top level 3-and-D wing in the NBA with his great length and athleticism. He needs to work on his shooting mechanics and offensive fundamentals, but he hasn’t shown anything too glaring to fix. In Denver, he won’t be rushed which will help him fully recover and develop as a rookie.
14. Miami Heat: Donovan Mitchell
Mitchell is one of the best defensive guards in the draft. His strength, length, and large hands help him lock down defenders. He has shown he can score at will but needs to develop more as a point guard. He took too many forced shots and was often too sloppy with his ball handling and passing. If he can tighten those up he will be a very good two-way guard.
15. Portland Trailblazers: John Collins
Collins is an extremely raw big man. He is great at scoring in the post which will help give the Trailblazers some balance on offense. He works well in the pick-and-roll and gives a lot of effort on defense. Despite his effort, he is still not a good defender. He often gets caught out of position or reaching too frequently. As he develops his fundamentals, he should improve defensively.
16. Chicago Bulls: Jarrett Allen
Allen has great size which helps succeed at protecting the rim. His handles and footwork allow him to score around the rim and make timely cuts for easy baskets. He isn’t a very good shooter but will be able to succeed on offense by being a rim runner. Overall, he doesn’t have a great feel for the game. His lack of awareness often leads to him being late on help defense and making the wrong pass.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: Justin Patton
Patton’s length and athleticism will fit in great with this Bucks team. He will require some patience to develop, but the Bucks have proven they are ok with easing a player in. He will be able to excel in the pick-and-roll at both ends of the floor. His wide frame and ability to handle the ball will make him versatile on offense, while his nimble footwork and long arms will help him guard the perimeter. He is extremely raw and will need to work on his fundamentals to improve rebounding, passing, and setting screens. I could see Leaf or Anigbogu going here too.
18. Indiana Pacers: TJ Leaf
Leaf is a sneaky good athlete (classic white guy description but I couldn’t help myself). He can score from anywhere on the floor and is an extremely good passer. Defensively he leaves you wishing for more. He is often out of position and a step late to react to the play. His average rebounding isn’t ideal but overall he should be a nice complement alongside Myles Turner in Indiana.
19. Atlanta Hawks: Ike Anigbogu
Anigbogu is a freak. He has a 7'6" wingspan which helped him be one of the top shot blockers in the country this year, he is athletic enough to switch on screens, and he can throw down some nasty dunks. He isn’t as skilled as Dwight Howard but could be a nice replacement as Howard has been shipped out and Millsap may also be leaving. He needs a lot of work on his ability to score besides dunks and has poor touch on his shot. Adebayo would also be a nice fit here.
20. Portland Trailblazers: Edrice Adebayo
Adebayo is a great energy guy with high athletic ability. He will excel as a rebounder and has high potential to improve defensively. He has poor shooting ability and needs to work on his defensive awareness. Too often he loses focus when off-ball and can get caught flat footed. Portland could go with a wing like Ferguson or a versatile forward like Wilson.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Justin Jackson
The Thunder are in desperate need of help on the wing. They were one of the worst shooting teams in the league this year and Jackson will be able to help with that. He will be able to score spotting up or off the dribble. He has the ability to space the floor and open up the offense more. Needs to work on his ability to get to the rim and increase his strength to guard bigger players.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Harry Giles
Giles is a really unfortunate story. Coming into college he was the number one recruit and bullied the guys ahead of him on this list before he tore his ACL. We weren’t able to see all of what Giles has to offer this year as he was never fully healthy. He is a good defender who will be able to alter shots and keep guys out of the paint. He needs to develop his interior scoring but will have the time to work on it in Brooklyn.
23. Toronto Raptors: DJ Wilson
Wilson had a breakout year at Michigan showcasing his versatility. He is a stretch four who showed he has the ability to play some defense. His handles and athleticism allow him to easily drive and finish at the rim. He isn’t a great rebounder and can lose his guy on defense. He will be able to slide into and help the rotation if they lose Ibaka and/or Tucker.
24. Utah Jazz: Semi Ojeleye
Ojeleye is an athletic forward with the versatility to play multiple positions. He is strong enough to guard bigger players in the post and quick enough to lock down the opposition on the perimeter. He has a smooth release that will translate to the range in the NBA and is a very good at-the-rim finisher. His ball handling and creativity need some work, as does his effort on defense. Ojeleye is 22 so he likely won’t develop much more but the Jazz will be getting a good wing to help replace Hayward if he decides to leave.
25. Orlando Magic: Terrance Ferguson
Like a lot of players in this range of the draft Ferguson is a great athlete with streaky shooting. He has proven to be a pure scorer with high defensive upside based on his lateral quickness and length. He has shown the smoothness of his jumper but is very inconsistent with his mechanics. He will need to work a lot on his overall fundamentals and feel for the game. If the Magic are patient, Hammond has proven patience before in Milwaukee, then Ferguson could turn into a solid 3-and-D wing for them.
26. Portland Trailblazers: Derrick White
White is an extremely mature point guard who has been rising up a lot of draft boards due to strong workouts. He is a dynamic scorer with a great feel for the game. He has shown the ability to change his pace and pull up off the dribble or come off a screen and knock down the shot or creatively finish at the rim. He is also a great passer who works hard at rebounding. He isn’t the best athlete which hinders his ability to get to the rim and his handles can be a bit sloppy at times. White is a rare senior in this draft which is why he will fall this late but his maturity and basketball IQ will help him fill in for Lillard and/or McCollum when they go to the bench.
27. Los Angeles Lakers: Anzejs Pasecniks
Pasecniks has been shooting up draft boards recently due to some strong workouts. He is a very mobile center who does a good job finishing around the rim. The potential for improving the mid-range jumper is there with the high release and soft touch he already has. His lack of length and pure athleticism won’t make him a great rim protector and he needs to work on his rebounding. Pasecniks will be a nice fit at center for the Lakers as they look to move into the new era, especially if they end up moving Randle.
28. Los Angeles Lakers: Jonah Bolden
Bolden will be a nice fit at the wing to go along with Ball and George (if/when he comes to LA). His fluidity allows him to finish at the rim off of lobs and cuts. He has proven to be a productive shooter at the NBA range with his smooth, high release which will likely only get better. When he is engaged, he is a strong defender and rebounder. The issue is that he isn’t always that engaged. His ball handling is very sloppy and he needs to work on his post-game to punish smaller defenders.
29. San Antonio Spurs: Josh Hart
Hart is a classic Spurs player. He doesn’t do anything great; instead he does a lot of things really well. He is a good spot-up shooter who counters that with well-timed cuts and a strong ability to work the pick-and-roll. His intangibles are off the chart and will be a great role player for a contender. His lack of creativity and pure athleticism make it hard for him to beat defenders off the dribble. He needs to tighten up his shooting mechanics and ball handling to really be able to make an impact.
30. Utah Jazz: Tony Bradley
Bradley has great length and mobility for a center in today’s high paced game. He is a great rebounder who does a very good job of altering shots at the rim. He needs to work on making more of those blocks but that could be hard with his lack of explosiveness. He isn’t a good shooter but has nice touch and ability to finish around the rim. He should prove to be a solid role player off the bench to help give Gobert some rest.