Welcome to my Mock Draft 3.0! Now that we’re post-lottery we know the order of the draft and there are some interesting changes. We still have a ways to go before June 25th and a lot will surely change before then. Here’s my take on how the first round might shake out if the NBA drafted today.
- Minnesota Timberwolves/Karl-Anthony Towns/C/Kentucky
As much as we keep hearing that Flip Saunders and the T’Wolves may prefer Jahlil Okafor over Towns, I just can’t fathom them actually going that route. Minnesota was absolutely horrendous on defense last season, and by drafting Okafor that would only perpetuate this awfulness. Towns is a stud on both sides of the ball and has superstar potential to pair with Andrew Wiggins; hopefully Flip will do the right thing.
- Los Angeles Lakers/Jahlil Okafor/C/Duke
It’s not crazy to think the Lakers would take D’Angelo Russell in this spot if they fall in love with him in workouts. But Okafor is as much of a sure thing as you will get in this draft; and as terrible a defensive frontcourt as Okafor and Julius Randle will be together, they will assuredly be a very potent scoring frontcourt and one that will wreak havoc on opponents.
- Philadelphia 76ers/D’Angelo Russell/PG/Ohio State
Taking Emmanuel Mudiay, Kristaps Porzingis, or Mario Hezonja sure seems like the Sam Hinkie thing to do here. But maybe for once the Sixers front office won’t think too hard and just take the best offensive prospect on the board who also fits a glaring need. The potential of the Russell/Embiid pick and roll is a tempting proposition.
- New York Knicks/Emmanuel Mudiay/PG/Congo
I would like to say I feel bad for the Knicks getting bounced out of the top two picks after enduring a very horrid season, but I don’t because I hate the Knicks so let’s just leave it at that. Phil Jackson would probably like to play this draft as conservative as possible, and Mudiay is the best player left on the board and also fits a need. He is a freak athlete and has a very high ceiling, although the John Wall comparisons are bit farfetched at this point.
- Orlando Magic/Kristaps Porzingis/PF/Latvia
This pick wouldn’t necessarily be an indictment on Aaron Gordon, but maybe his inevitable role is energy guy off the bench; although the Magic probably weren’t thinking that last year taking him fourth overall. Porzingis is another huge unknown, but his ability to stretch the floor and pair with Nik Vucevic is what makes him the pick instead of taking a wing like Justise Winslow or Hezonja. If Porzingis is able to put on weight and develop an NBA body he could become a unique frontcourt talent.
- Sacramento Kings/Willie Cauley-Stein/C/Kentucky
When you consider Vivek Ranadive’s complete incompetence as an owner, you can’t really rule out any guys for this spot. We also have no clue how new decision-maker Vlade Divac plans to attack this. The Kings are desperate to pair DeMarcus Cousins with another elite front court player and Cauley-Stein is the best rim protector in this draft class. Vivek could certainly outthink himself and force Sacramento to take someone we’re not expecting, but right now Cauley-Stein makes the most sense for the Kings.
- Denver Nuggets/Justise Winslow/SF/Duke
The Nuggets are searching for another wing to pair with Gallinari and Wilson Chandler. Justise has an offensive game that will continue to blossom at the next level, but he is also the best wing defender in this draft; that’s something the Nuggets sorely need.
- Detroit Pistons/Mario Hezonja/SG/Croatia
I think Stan Van Gundy needs to swing for the fences with this pick, and taking Hezonja does just that. Mario Hezonja is a really exciting wing player who can shoot from anywhere, get to the rim, and is an explosive athlete. He has incredible upside and is matchup nightmare as a 6’8″ shooting guard.
- Charlotte Hornets/Stanley Johnson/SF/Arizona
The Hornets desperately need shooters, and although Stanley isn’t exactly lights out from deep he’s clearly the best player left on my board. Charlotte still isn’t in any position to draft for need over best player available. They should take Johnson and figure the rest out later.
- Miami Heat/Myles Turner/C/Texas
Turner is still very raw and in Miami he’ll have time to grow and mature as a player behind Bosh and Whiteside. But having these three in a rotation has a lot of potential. Turner is a great shot blocker and can shoot from outside; he also plays the 4 and 5 spots. The Heat could use another guard or wing player, but Turner at 10 is great value.
- Indiana Pacers/Trey Lyles/PF/Kentucky
The Pacers need to add to the frontcourt due to David West becoming a free agent next offseason. I think I’m a bit higher on Lyles than other power forwards but Trey has a legit face up game that is comparable to West and could easily step into the starter’s role once he leaves Indiana. I also like his overall potential compared to guys like Kaminsky, Portis, and Looney.
- Utah Jazz/Kelly Oubre/SF/Kansas
Oubre was a bit of a disappointment at Kansas, only showing flashes and never becoming a consistent scorer. But his potential is what still makes him a lottery talent. Jazz need to add more shooters and talent in general and Kelly can play the 2 and 3 spots behind Burks and/or Hayward while he develops.
- Phoenix Suns/Frank Kaminsky/C/Wisconsin
The Suns already have a decent young frontcourt with Markieff Morris and Alex Len, but there isn’t really any depth behind these guys. Phoenix wants to spread the floor and some GM’s believe Frank is the best shooter in the entire draft, a huge asset at the center position. The Suns could go developmental wing player here, but I think Kaminsky could excel from the start in Phoenix.
- Oklahoma City Thunder/Rondae Hollis-Jefferson/SF/Arizona
This pick may be a slight reach, but the Thunder need to win now and Hollis-Jefferson may be the best wing defender in the draft next to Justise Winslow. OKC was horrendous defensively last year and RHJ will help immediately. He is able to defend the both wing positions as well as point guards and he will give the Thunder a lot of versatility, and certainly isn’t averse to sitting back and letting Westbrook and Durant take shots.
- Atlanta Hawks/Kevon Looney/PF/UCLA
Atlanta will have to make a couple big decisions regarding impending free agents DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap, and as crazy as it sounds I think they should prioritize Carroll over Millsap. It’s so hard to find talented wing players in the NBA, especially ones who defend as prolifically as Carroll does. If Looney is on the board, he is a high upside pick whose game resembles Millsaps’ and could step in from day one and contribute.
- Boston Celtics/Robert Upshaw/C/Washington
This would definitely be a huge surprise and cause a stir if this happened on draft night, because Upshaw has a ton of negatives and is a risk considering his history off the court. But all of his past transgressions aside he has all the measurable to be an elite rim protector, and if he can stay out of trouble he could become a flat out steal for Boston. To me it’s worth the risk at pick #16, especially for the Celtics who are clamoring for a true rim protector and have been rumored to be interested in trading up for Cauley-Stein.
- Milwaukee Bucks/Devin Booker/SG/Kentucky
The Bucks could really use another versatile big man, but Booker is too good to pass up at this point. He may be the best shooter in this draft and has good size for his position. If they don’t want to overspend on keeping Khris Middleton this off-season, Booker would make a fine alternative and far cheaper.
- Houston Rockets/Jerian Grant/PG/Notre Dame
Patrick Beverley’s future with the Rockets is up in the air, and regardless they need depth at that position. Grant gives them a versatile guard with great size for the position, who can play both spots, and is a great scorer. Outside of James Harden, the Rockets don’t have guard who can get their own shot and contribute offensively.
- Washington Wizards/Sam Dekker/SF/Wisconsin
Dekker is a borderline lottery talent who slipped a little bit in this mock. The Wizards need some youth up front, but Dekker is really good value here. He also fits the new floor-spacing identity they appear to be embracing.
- Toronto Raptors/Christian Wood/PF/UNLV
The Raptors are always trying to swing for the fences (ex. Bruno Caboclo). Christian Wood has a ton of upside as an extremely athletic stretch four who also has the tools to be disruptive force on defense. He’s unpolished, but if he can put all that raw talent together, the Raptors will have something special.
- Dallas Mavericks/Bobby Portis/PF/Arkansas
Dallas will surely be hunting for a point guard to replace Rajon Rondo this off-season, and maybe they do draft one here. But Portis presents great value at 21. Dirk is on the cusp of retirement and the Mavs experimenting with Amare Stoudemire last season after losing Brandan Wright proves they need an infusion of young talent in the frontcourt. Portis has a great face-up game and is a decent rebounder; he could be a nice fit with the Mavs.
- Chicago Bulls/Cameron Payne/PG/Murray State
Regardless of Derrick Rose’s injury history the Bulls need to upgrade the backup point guard spot. Aaron Brooks and Kirk Hinrich aren’t world beaters and they need another player to run the second unit and possibly take over if Rose goes down once again. Payne is a good distributor and decent offensive talent. Some scouts think he may be the best point guard prospect in this draft behind Russell and Mudiay.
- Portland Trail Blazers/Montrezl Harrell/PF/Louisville
The Blazers aren’t going to replace a player like LaMarcus Aldridge by adding a big man late in the first round, and they still have to draft assuming they’ll be able to keep him long term. Still, the rest of the Blazers frontcourt is lacking athleticism and has older players like Robin Lopez and Chris Kaman. Harrell is relentless on the boards and provides non-stop energy on both sides of the ball. He’s still developing his offensive game, but he’s good value at this point in the draft.
- Cleveland Cavaliers/Justin Anderson/SF/Virginia
The Cavs could use another center here but Anderson is a really good value pick, considering he was a borderline lottery pick before his injuries this season. He is a great shooter and holds his own defensively. He can play the small forward spot and knock down jumpers when LeBron plays the four late in games.
- Memphis Grizzlies/R.J. Hunter/SG/Georgia State
The Grizzlies are desperate for outside shooting and this really inhibited them from making a deeper run in the playoffs this season. R.J. is a purely shooter. He has a slight frame and may be a liability on defense, but could become a spark off the bench for this team, before becoming a starter down the road if he develops.
- San Antonio Spurs/Jarell Martin/PF/LSU
I don’t think Tim Duncan is going to retire, and Martin isn’t necessarily a pick to try and replace him down the road (Editor’s note: I mean, who is??). But the Spurs lack a scoring presence from their other guys in their frontcourt. Martin is a very skilled big man and scorer, and could possibly contribute right away before eventually stepping in as a starter.
- Los Angeles Lakers/Tyus Jones/PG/Duke
Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones could pair up again, this time in a Lakers gold and purple. Jordan Clarkson perhaps isn’t enough of a talent that the Lakers should forego drafting another floor general. Jones probably won’t slip this far, but wouldebe great value here. We already know he and Okafor have a ton of chemistry.
- Boston Celtics/Rashad Vaughn/SG/UNLV
Outside of Isaiah Thomas the Celtics don’t have any guards that really strike fear into an opponent offensively. Vaughn is a prolific scorer who is still developing other aspects of his game, and the Celtics could use as many shotmakers as they can get their hands on.
- Brooklyn Nets/Delon Wright/PG/Utah
Wright would certainly go a lot higher if he wasn’t already 23 years old. He is mighty talented and has elite size at the point guard position. The good thing is that he’s still younger than any PG the Nets have, and is a good replacement for Deron Williams once he exits Brooklyn.
- Golden State Warriors/Chris McCullough/PF/Syracuse
McCullough tore his ACL this season and before that was projected to possibly be a top ten pick in 2016. His talent still warrants him to be a first round pick. Golden State can afford to wait on him and get great value out of this pick. And by drafting him in the first round instead of the second, they lock him up for a few years.