The draft order is finally set, so it’s time for the first official mock draft. Players who have yet to sign an agent that I think should return to school are not considered (i.e. Moe Wagner, Tony Bradley, D.J. Wilson, Andrew Jones, etc.)
- Markelle Fultz (Washington, Fr. PG)
Fultz is a dynamic offensive weapon that put up 23.2 points and 5.9 assists a game on a terrible Washington team. At 6’4 with a 6’10 wingspan, Fultz can effectively guard shooting guards in the NBA if asked to play off the ball in Boston. The 19-year-old has a low ego that will allow him to co-exist with Isaiah Thomas. Boston can form one of the NBA’s most dangerous backcourts by selecting Fultz.
- Lonzo Ball (UCLA, Fr. PG)
LaVar got his wish. Lonzo will bring the Showtime element that the Lakers have lacked. A terrific passer (7.6 apg), Ball is an advanced playmaker. Deep range and his 6’6 frame may allow his unorthodox release to work from three, but he needs work on creating his own shot inside the arc. His unselfish style of play can transform the Lakers and attract free agents, even if they have to deal with constant headlines about his dad.
- Jayson Tatum (Duke, Fr. SF)
Philly’s biggest need is shooting and guard play. If Ben Simmons is really going to run the point, he needs shooters and scorers around him. Tatum is the best wing scorer in the draft and a 20 point per game type of talent. The 76ers don’t have a go-to perimeter scorer on the roster so the Duke prospect may be their answer. Once he gets comfortable hitting NBA threes, Tatum could be a vital piece of The Process.
- Josh Jackson (Kansas, Fr. SF)
Phoenix hasn’t had a solid two-way small forward since Shawn Marion. Jackson is the best defender in this draft. With Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker in the lineup, Jackson will have time to polish his jump shot while focusing on locking up on the perimeter. Jackson has All-Star upside with the floor as a defensive stopper.
- De’Aaron Fox (Kentucky, Fr. PG)
The Kings need help all over the court, but point guard is a good spot to start. Fox has blazing speed and can get to the rim at will. If you need a testimonial, just ask Lonzo Ball, who he lit up in the NCAA Tournament. His defensive pressure is ahead of other guards in the class as well. Fox has a ways to go with his jump shot, but he can be Sacramento’s franchise point guard.
- Malik Monk (Kentucky, Fr. SG)
Monk is a bucket. Putting up points is in his DNA. His playmaking ability is often overlooked, so playing some point guard is not out of the question, especially considering his height (6’4 in shoes). His athleticism and length should defuse any talk that he will struggle to score against size. Orlando shouldn’t have to rely on Evan Fournier to carry the offensive load, so Monk makes sense.
- Jonathan Isaac (Florida State, Fr. SF)
At this point, Isaac is an upside pick. He’s a smooth 6’11 wing that could develop into a versatile two-way player. He has a tendency to disappear, which is unacceptable for a player that skilled. Part of that could have been deferring to the high volume shot takers on his Florida State team. Minnesota could run out a frontcourt with Isaac, Andrew Wiggins, and Karl-Anthony Towns. At the very least, Isaac would provide the defense that Thibs wants.
- Dennis Smith (NC State, Fr. PG)
NC State was a mess this year, but Smith’s NBA potential didn’t go unnoticed. The explosive 6’3 point guard plays like a young Derrick Rose. I know Knicks fans probably don’t want to hear that name at this point, but Smith is an exciting penetrator. Smith will need more consistency from three, though he shot 36 percent on nearly five attempts a game. A Smith-Porzingis P&R could give New York and Porzingis a reason to be optimistic.
- Lauri Markannen (Arizona, Fr. PF)
Markannen is the new model for NBA big men. He’s 7 feet tall, agile, and is a knockdown shooter (41% three). Although he’s not the most explosive athlete, his skill on the offensive game is rare. With Dirk on his way out of the door in Dallas, Markannen can step in to be a post piece for the future.
- Zach Collins (Gonzaga, Fr. PF/C)
Collins went off in an NCAA Tournament run, highlighting his value as a mobile post presence. He averaged 10.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks in only 17 minutes while proving to be one of the best rim protectors in this draft. Sacramento lack frontcourt scoring and rebounding, both of which the Gonzaga freshman provides.
- Justin Patton (Creighton, Fr. C)
Charlotte was expected to be a playoff team, but injuries and inconsistency landed them in the lottery. Their defense was spotty for much of the season. Patton, a 7 footer, runs the court like a gazelle and shows the ability to be a defensive anchor. As his freshman season went on, he also displayed a shooting stroke that extends to the arc. The Hornets need the defensive help.
- Detroit – Frank Ntilikina (France, PG)
Stan Van Gundy doesn’t normally draft foreign players. However, Ntilikina would be too good to pass up here. The French 18-year-old is 6’5 with a crazy 7’0 wingspan, allowing him to be a hound on defense. He doesn’t stand out anywhere on offense yet, but his instincts hint towards a lot of development in the future. Parting with Reggie Jackson will be much easier with Ntilikina on the team.
- OG Anunoby (Indiana, So. SF)
Injuries derailed Anunoby’s sophomore season that many anticipated would be a breakout year. He is a strong, athletic defender that can already handle wings in the NBA. Denver is likely losing Danilo Gallinari and was one of the NBA’s worst defenses last year. If healthy, the 6’8 wing should help fix that.
- Justin Jackson (North Carolina, Jr. SF)
Jackson finally put it all together, leading the Tar Heels to a national title. Miami needs help on the perimeter, both offensively and defensively. Jackson can score from all three levels, with a floater that will be his go-to in the NBA. He has also shown that he can frustrate opposing ball-handlers with his length.
- Jarrett Allen (Texas, Fr. C)
Portland continues to struggle with consistent frontcourt play. The addition of Jusuf Nurkic for a full season should help, but that’s not enough. Allen is a long, athletic center that is solid around the rim. His shot-blocking would add another dimension to a Portland bench that struggled to protect the basket.
- Donovan Mitchell (Louisville, So. SG)
The Bulls struggled defensively, especially guarding point guards. Mitchell is an athletic, undersized two-guard that can be an excellent defender. He reminds me of Avery Bradley, with a developing offensive game and ability to guard bigger guys. Mitchell would fulfill the front office’s desire to get younger and more athletic.
- T.J. Leaf (UCLA, Fr. PF)
After another early playoff exit, the Pacers will look for a player to surround Paul George. Leaf was the leading scorer for the nation’s most explosive offense, thanks to his offensive rebounding and a soft touch from all three levels. He profiles as an effective receiver in the pick-and-roll game and a versatile floor spacer that can handle the ball.
- Isaiah Hartenstein (Germany, PF/C)
Very few 7’1 players possess the combination of power and speed that Hartenstein brings. The German lefty can give Milwaukee a physical frontcourt player that fits into their up-tempo style. Hartenstein is good operating at the high post and has a nice outside shot to open up the lane for the Greek Freak.
- Luke Kennard (Duke, So. SG)
One of the glaring weaknesses for the Blazers is their lack of perimeter shooting next to Lillard and McCollum. Kennard is the best pure shooter in the draft with the ability to get to the basket if defenders overcommit. The key will be guarding bigger wings, as he’s only about 6’5 and a decent athlete at best.
- John Collins (Wake Forest, So. PF)
I fully expect Paul Milsap to be suiting up for a new team next year. Drafting an offensive-minded forward like Collins will help soften the blow. He broke out this year, averaging 19.2 points and 9.8 rebounds a game. He didn’t show it much, but I think his jump shot should be able to extend with work.
- Terrance Ferguson (Australia, SG/SF)
OKC’s outside shooting is garbage. Ferguson is the prototypical 3-and-D prospect. The former Arizona commit spent last year playing in Australia against grown men where his role was just that. The Thunder will no longer have to play wings that can only defend or only shoot.
- Harry Giles (Duke, Fr. PF)
The former top recruit is still highly rated by some teams. His knee injuries will also scare some teams away. Brooklyn is in the position to take some chances as a team many years away from relevance. Giles is an elite rebounder that could start to show his offensive promise after a year removed from surgery.
- Ivan Rabb (California, So. PF)
A likely lottery pick a year ago, Rabb will hear his name called later. That’s more a testament to this draft’s depth and less to his progress. Rabb is a skilled low post scorer with a good face-up game. Utah is in position to add depth to a weak second unit frontcourt.
- Ike Anigbogu (UCLA, Fr. C)
UCLA’s most unheralded freshman has terrific upside. He is a quick leaper with a 7’5 wingspan and good defensive instincts. Anigbogu will be a force finishing lobs and protecting the rim, even if he never develops a post game. Toronto is on the brink of a transformation so they can wait for his growth.
25. Tyler Lydon (Syracuse, So. PF)
Over the last few years, Orlando has tried to get more athletic and add some shooting. Lydon would add both as a stretch four that defends. He had the highest body fat percentage at the combine, which he can hopefully transform into muscle to maximize his natural athleticism.
26. Rodions Kurucs (Latvia, SF)
With their third first rounder, Portland may choose to go international. Kurucs is a lanky slasher that is still very young. He’s a good shooter too, though he’s only shooting 32% from three this year. Once he gains more strength, the Latvian could be a good scorer that frustrates ball-handlers with his length.
- Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky, Fr. SG)
Without playing a single game in college, Diallo could end up going as early as the late lottery. After recording a near 45 inch vertical, Diallo cemented his status as one of the elite athletes in the draft. He is a freak in transition, though his jumper is still coming together. His development would be accelerated by being able to compete for playing time in Brooklyn.
- Anzejs Pasecniks (Latvia, C)
The Lakers’ weakest position is the center spot. Even at 7’2, Pasecniks is an effortless athlete that runs and jumps well. He has shown a willingness to take and make jumpers, something that could give him more value this late in the draft. If he stays overseas for a few years, he will join the Lakers as a stronger, more polished player ready to compete for minutes.
- Jordan Bell (Oregon, Jr. PF)
San Antonio may lose an aging Pau Gasol this offseason. Bell won’t be able to match his offensive production but he is a high-energy athlete that will seamlessly fit into the Spurs. A dominant defender with aggression on the glass is bound to intrigue Greg Popovich.
- Devin Robinson (Florida, Jr. SF)
Robinson is just one of a few legitimate 3-and-D players in this draft. The bouncy Florida product would give the Jazz some security in case Gordon Hayward leaves through free agency. If not, Robinson could complement Hayward as a floor-spacing stretch four in certain lineups.
- Dwayne Bacon (Florida State, So. SG)
Atlanta has a bevy of big wing defenders, but not many are consistent outside threats. Bacon is a natural scorer that can create his shot in a multitude of ways. His defensive effort is often lacking despite solid physical tools. Is Mike Budenholzer can get him to commit to that end, Bacon will be a value pick here.
- Jonathan Jeanne (France, PF/C)
The lanky 7’1 frame and hometown connection have caused some to compare Jeanne to Rudy Gobert. While not as dominant defensively, Jeanne has an outside jumper that guards may envy. Still rail thin, but a few more years overseas could allow him to come to the Suns as a huge stretch 4.
- Jawun Evans (Oklahoma State, So. PG)
Evans being undersized shouldn’t take away from that fact that he can be a good point guard in this league. One of the best at changing pace in this draft, Evans would be a reliable guard that can score and control the P&R of Orlando’s second unit.
- Semi Ojeleye (SMU, Jr. SF)
A strong season elevated Ojeleye into the first round conversation. Sacramento is losing Rudy Gay from an already shallow small forward core. Ojeleye is a physical forward that will be able to create mismatches on the perimeter.
- Kostja Mushidi (Germany, SG)
After impressing scouts with his outside stroke at the Nike Hoop Summit, Mushidi opened some eyes to his shooting progress. Already considered a solid defender and athlete, there will be a role for the German guard if he can consistently knock down shots.
- Frank Jackson (Duke, Fr. PG/SG)
I was shocked that Jackson decided to leave school this year. Even so, his combine performance must have led some teams to view him as a lock to be picked. Philadelphia is weak on guards, giving Jackson a spot to earn minutes as a scoring combo guard that can defend both spots.
- Caleb Swanigan (Purdue, So. PF/C)
Swanigan was a monster at Purdue this year. At 6’9, he is a bit undersized, though long arms and mass allow him to succeed. He will need to keep working on his body to make the most of his powerful low-post game.
- Jonah Bolden (Australia, PF)
Bolden left UCLA early to pursue a professional career where he made great strides. He shot 42% from three over 25 games in a solid league. Bolden is probably best suited as a stretch four with the quickness and size to guard multiple positions. The Bulls don’t have a big that runs and shoots like Bolden.
- Monte Morris (Iowa State, Sr. PG)
The 76ers will need a point guard to run their second unit if Sergio Rodriguez ends up starting with Ben Simmons. Morris takes control of the ball (1.2 turnovers a game) better than anyone in the last few drafts. Teams will pass on him for lacking athleticism and size, but a team like Philadelphia will be able to switch point guards without missing a beat with Morris.
- Derrick White (Colorado, Sr. PG/SG)
New Orleans won’t go anywhere without solid guards. White has the size and athleticism to play both guard spots. He would definitely be a steal this late, as a guy that can guard and score on a nightly basis (18.3 ppg). White seems ready to step in and be a role player from the start.
- Josh Hart (Villanova, Sr. SG)
The Villanova guard could be a safe pick from the standpoint that you know exactly what you’re going to get. Hart is an experienced player that will work on the defensive end and make the right plays on offense. Charlotte would probably make this pick looking for depth on the wing.
- Edmund Sumner (Xavier, So. PG)
Despite a torn ACL, Sumner decided to enter the draft. Without being able to do any workouts, he will be picked based on his prior body of work. He has great size as a 6’6 point guard with good end-to-end speed. Utah has no guarantee of George Hill’s return, so Sumner is worth a look this late.
- Frank Mason (Kansas, Sr. PG)
Mason will be another undersized bucket-getter in the NBA. He is money from outside (47% from three), fitting into Houston’s style of chucking. Mason can defend and play off the ball as well, giving him plenty of areas to impact the Rockets rotation.
- Bam Adebayo (Kentucky, Fr. C)
Part of the crapshoot that is the New York Knicks is their lack of size. Adebayo isn’t very skilled, but he’s good for rebounding and finishing off lobs, which is more than enough to get minutes right now.
- Johnathan Motley (Baylor, Jr. PF)
Motley would get to stay in Texas here. The Rockets aren’t likely to keep all of these picks, but trying to find some help in the frontcourt is a good option. Motley is long, active, and can hit outside shots with time. He could see time at center in Houston.
- Laurynas Birutis (Lithuania, C)
Alright, the Sixers have enough picks. Unless they want to fill a D-League team with their rookies, they will want to trade or stash players. Birutis is good long-term stash as a 7’1 center that moves well and has just scratched the surface of his potential as a finisher.
- Cameron Oliver (Houston, So. PF)
Like Motley, this is an attempt to strengthen the frontcourt. Oliver has a ton of potential as a stretch four with a lot of bounce. Chances are that Oliver or Motley would develop into a rotational player.
- Kobi Simmons (Arizona, Fr. PG)
Simmons has a ways to go with his decision making, though the tools are there. At 6’5 with a quick first step, the former 5-star recruit can create shots well. His willingness to dig in on the defensive end and work on his jumper could give him a shot with the Pacers.
- Sindarius Thornwell (South Carolina, Sr. SG)
Thornwell erupted during the NCAA Tournament. Milwaukee could always use another scorer off the bench or in case Khris Middleton gets hurt again. Thornwell should have no issue being asked to shoot.
- Tadas Sedekerskis (Lithuania, SF)
Sedekerskis is a legit 6’10 wing player that is active on both ends. Still only 19, he may spend more time overseas to allow the 76ers to figure out their roster makeup. He could benefit from working on his handle and outside stroke to give him a shot at contributing down the line.
- Kyle Kuzma (Utah, Jr. SF/PF)
Offensive versatility has always been what stuck out about Kuzma. At the combine, he shot better than I expected, giving teams a glimpse of his stretch 4 potential. Denver would have nothing to lose picking him here.
- Thomas Bryant (Indiana, So. C)
A massive 7’6 wingspan allows Bryant to play much bigger than his height. I still question his attitude and ability to listen, but there is no guaranteed money this late. Marcin Gortat was invisible in the last few games, so Bryant could backup and possibly improve Gortat’s performance.
- P.J. Dozier (South Carolina, So. PG/SG)
I know, another guard for Boston. Dozier is more of a wing than a natural point guard though so he could find value as a slasher who scores in transition.
- Vlatko Cancar (Slovenia, SF)
If there is one foreign team that has been bringing in NBA talent the last few years, it’s Mega Leks. Cancar isn’t the most exciting prospect, but he is a long, 6’8 finesse small forward that gets the job done. He will need to be more physical to thrive in the NBA, but there is time to grow abroad.
- Alec Peters (Valparaiso, Sr. PF)
Peters has value as a stretch four that can score the ball. He isn’t very big or overly athletic, yet he finds a way to produce. Phoenix is low on shooting, making this a logical match.
- Alpha Kaba (France, PF)
Another Mega Leks guy, Kaba is a strong, rebounding four who has a 7’5 wingspan. After working to add a jumper to his game, Kaba is worth a flier if he can’t make an impact right away.
- Davon Reed (Miami, Sr. SG)
Miami’s senior leader is going to surprise some people. Reed will end up on an NBA roster because of his maturity, defensive consistency, and outside shooting. He could carve out a role with the Nets coming off the bench and guarding opposing scorers.
- James Blackmon (Indiana, Jr. SG)
One of the weaknesses for the Knicks is their shooting consistency. Blackmon is a reliable marksman from deep, capable of going on outbursts. There is a chance that Blackmon develops a role if he is able to contribute in another area.
- V.J. Beachem (Notre Dame, Sr. SF)
Sacramento should add shooting at some point in the draft. So far, they have filled other needs. Beachem is a 6’8 shooter with the athleticism to attack closeouts off a couple dribbles. If nothing else, Beachem would space the floor on the Kings’ pick-and-rolls.
- Nigel Williams-Goss (Gonzaga, Jr. PG)
Williams-Goss led Gonzaga to the national title game. He’s an average NBA athlete that doesn’t stand out in any area. Defensively he could be an asset using his strength and lateral quickness to stay in front of guards.