NBA Mock Draft 1.0: The Year of the Big Man
This upcoming NBA Draft is one of the best in recent memory from top to bottom. From the depth in big men to the elite level guards, we could look back on this class as being one of the greatest of all time with players that have produced in the NBA. Here’s a first-look at who your team could be targeting with their picks.
1. Atlanta Hawks – Marvin Bagley III, F, Duke
Bagley III is an elite offensive player from all levels of the floor, as well as a high-level rebounder and passer from the high post. His fit next to John Collins will set up the Hawks’ front court for years to come.
NBA Comparison: Kevin Garnett
2. Orlando Magic – Luka Doncic, G/F, Real Madrid
I went between Trae Young and Doncic here, but I think that the Magic aren’t quite ready to give up on Elfrid Payton yet. Doncic is the next best player on the board as a guard/forward that can score from all levels.
NBA Comparison: Manu Ginobili
3. Sacramento Kings – DeAndre Ayton, F/C, Arizona
Ayton is a dominant low-post presence, and can be an instant impact player early in his career. He is one of the best rebounders in the class, and with the Kings being the third-worst rebounding team in the league, they could use Ayton’s interior presence to go along with De’Aaron Fox from the point guard spot.
NBA Comparison: Karl-Anthony Towns
4. Memphis Grizzlies – Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri
Porter Jr., even with his injury, is one of the top prospects in this draft, and can provide a dynamic scoring presence from all three levels. His frame at 6’10” and 220 pounds with his offensive skillset make him very capable to lead an NBA offense.
NBA Comparison: Kevin Durant
5. Boston Celtics (from LA Lakers) – Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas
The best defensive center in the draft, Bamba is a long, rangy defender that can defend the rim very well. With the Celtics lacking a true rim-protector, Bamba makes perfect sense to slot in next to Al Horford at the center spot, while Horford shifts over to his natural power-forward position.
NBA Comparison: Rudy Gobert
6. Dallas Mavericks – Wendell Carter Jr., F, Duke
With Dirk Nowitzki’s impending retirement, the Mavericks need to draft his eventual replacement into the fold, and with this early pick, they certainly can do that with Carter Jr. Carter doesn’t have the range that Dirk does, but he is a capable shooter in midrange, as well as having great size for power forward.
NBA Comparison: Al Horford
7. Chicago Bulls – Jaren Jackson Jr., F, Michigan State
Jackson Jr. is a very good post defender and rebounder, which the Bulls lack on their front line. With Robin Lopez aging, the Bulls need to draft that defensive center that they can put next to their stretch four’s in Lauri Markkanen and Nikola Mirotic.
NBA Comparison: Derrick Favors
8. Phoenix Suns – Trae Young, G, Oklahoma
The most dynamic lead guard that the NBA Draft has seen since the likes of John Wall, Kyrie Irving, and Stephen Curry, Trae Young is truly special as a scorer from all areas of the floor, as well as getting his teammates involved in the pick-and-roll game. The Suns will be on the hunt for a lead guard in this draft, given their trade of Eric Bledsoe to Milwaukee.
NBA Comparison: Stephen Curry
9. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Brooklyn) – Collin Sexton, G, Alabama
The other top guard in this draft, Sexton has elite level strength from the lead guard spot, and can get to the basket nearly at will. With Isaiah Thomas hitting free-agency, Sexton looks to fill in to that lead guard role that the Cavaliers have lacked since the departure of Kyrie Irving.
NBA Comparison: Russell Westbrook
10. Charlotte Hornets – Miles Bridges, F, Michigan State
Bridges returned to school after a breakout freshman season, where he was looking to be a potential top-5 pick in the 2017 draft. That decision in hindsight wasn’t the best, but Bridges still looks to be a top-10 pick as a switchable 3 and 4 that operates along the baseline as a cutter on offense, but can also shoot the three and pass at a high level.
NBA Comparison: Justise Winslow
11. Utah Jazz – Mikal Bridges, F, Villanova
Athletic small forward that can play both on and off ball, but his real strength is creating off the dribble to his right with a dribble pull-up. Built body that can plug in immediately and contribute on both ends of the floor. With the Jazz lacking a true small forward that they can fully trust, Bridges looks to fill right in alongside Donovan Mitchell as the youth movement continues in Utah.
NBA Comparison: Kawhi Leonard
12. New York Knicks – Hamidou Diallo, G, Kentucky
Long, athletic wing that can draw fouls and finish around the basket. Needs to improve his shot selection and shot making ability on shots outside of 10-15 feet, but he has a projectable NBA body and athleticism that will make him valuable for the Knicks, who can utilize him off the bench at multiple positions to start his career.
NBA Comparison: Terrence Ferguson
13. Philadelphia 76ers – Robert Williams, F, Texas A&M
One of the best defensive big men in the draft, Williams slots in as a backup power forward and center that can block shots and rebound at a high level. With Joel Embiid in and out of the lineup with injuries, the 76ers are going to go big with their first selection and improve their depth at that position group.
NBA Comparison: Andre Drummond
14. LA Clippers – Troy Brown, G, Oregon
Tall combo guard (6’7″) that loves to slash to the basket when he catches on the wings. Needs to improve his shot from three-point range, but his stroke is fluent and can translate to the NBA line, with work. Uses his body to draw contact around the basket, and can finish through that contact.
NBA Comparison: Kent Bazemore
15. New Orleans Pelicans – Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky
Good all-around wing scorer with NBA range on his shot. Very thin for being 6’9″, which position locks him to being a small forward, but with his ability to create his own shot off the dribble, he can be a wing that can contribute immediately for a New Orleans team that perpetually needs wing depth.
NBA Comparison: Danilo Galinari
16. Denver Nuggets – Gary Trent Jr., G, Duke
Knockdown shooter from all spots along the three-point line, but can also create his own shot with a variety of shifty moves. Very aware of where to be while cutting off-ball to catch and shoot effectively. Not afraid to shoot the ball, which can come back to bite him at times.
NBA Comparison: Jamal Murray
17. Minnesota Timberwolves (from OKC) – Lonnie Walker, G, Miami (FL)
Unique shotmaker around the rim, attacks the basket at a high rate and skill level. Isn’t an initiator in the half court, but can handle the ball in transition and make good decisions. Can make any shot that he takes within reason.
NBA Comparison: Jamal Crawford
18. Portland Trail Blazers – Dzanan Musa, G/F, Cedevita
Straight-line driver with back cut ability. Uses his body well to create space around the basket and has an innate sense to finish around the basket with great body control. Most effective in the pick and roll. Will be a draft-and-stash prospect, but has upside to become something down the line.
NBA Comparison: Sam Dekker
19. Indiana Pacers – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G, Kentucky
Great distributor in the pick and roll. Can make open shots and shoots a great percentage, but he’s not really a “shooter” due to lack of attempts. Can defend his position very well. Two-way guard that can contribute immediately in the right system.
20. Milwaukee Bucks – Bruce Brown, G, Miami (FL)
Bigger guard that can play both ways. Elite, switchable guard that also can defend off-ball and rebounds at a high rate. Better shooter off the catch than off the bounce as well as a hard cutter. Plays winning basketball and does the little things well.
NBA Comparison: Gary Harris
21. Detroit Pistons – Chimezie Metu, F, USC
Great pick and roll big man. Quick leaping ability reduces the amount of shots blocked by defenders. Very mobile for a big, but has a body that can handle the rigors of post defense. Can be a little careless with the ball, but the physical tools make him intriguing.
NBA Comparison: DeAndre Jordan
22. Washington Wizards – Shake Milton, G, SMU
Great pick-and-roll ball handler, is comfortable on both types of shots out of it as well as passing to the roll man. Can shoot very comfortably off of the dribble or catch-and-shoot. Rangy defender who can closeout to shooters. Ideally a backup 1, although he can play the 2.
NBA Comparison: Tyreke Evans
23. Phoenix Suns (from Miami) – Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV
Even though he attends a non-traditional powerhouse school in UNLV, it doesn’t take much to see that he’s a dominant low-post big man. He put up 33 points and 10 rebounds against DeAndre Ayton, which should tell you all you need to know about his skillset as a traditional back-to-the-basket center.
NBA Comparison: Al Jefferson
24. Cleveland Cavaliers – Tyus Battle, G, Syracuse
Very comfortable spot-up shooter, not afraid to take a shot if there’s even a sliver of room. Likes to take a runner coming off of a pick-and-roll screen in the middle of the paint. Hard to project his defensive ability because of the Syracuse zone. Overall, a solid guard that can score in bunches.
NBA Comparison: Devin Booker
25. Atlanta Hawks (from Minnesota) – Jarred Vanderbilt, F, Kentucky
Hasn’t played a college game due to injury, but can handle the ball in a pick-and-roll situation from the power forward position. Extremely athletic, although that will be a question when he comes back from injury. Handles the ball well, and is a good rebounder, especially on the offensive glass.
NBA Comparison: Lamar Odom
26. San Antonio Spurs – Nickeil Alexander-Walker, G, Virginia Tech
A skilled combo guard that can make plays in the pick-and roll. He can score from multiple levels on the floor, as well as creating offense from the dribble drive. He can fit right into a system almost immediately, which fits the type of player that the Spurs like to draft in the late first round.
NBA Comparison: Tyler Johnson
27. Brooklyn Nets (from Toronto) – Rui Hachimura, F, Gonzaga
A mobile power forward that can put the ball on the floor effectively and score with athletic finishes, as well as distributes to shooters on the wings. Doesn’t really gravitate to the post in the normal flow of the offense, but he doesn’t need to to be productive.
NBA Comparison: Wilson Chandler
28. Atlanta Hawks (from Houston) – Landry Shamet, G, Wichita State
One of the smartest players in the class, which translates to his on-court decision-making. He is cut from the same cloth as former Wichita State point guards from the past, and will make an impact on whatever team he is on for a long time just by limiting his mistakes.
NBA Comparison: Fred VanVleet
29. Boston Celtics – Trevon Duval, G, Duke
A lead guard that can score around the basket, but lacks the shooting ability from outside of 15 or so feet. Hyper-athletic and can score around the basket with relative effectiveness. Projects to be a two-way player in the future, but is a raw talent that, with the right coaching, can make an impact in the future.
NBA Comparison: Kris Dunn
30. Golden State Warriors – Alize Johnson, F, Missouri State
A veteran small-school forward, Johnson can score from all areas of the floor effectively, while also being able to handle the ball in transition after grabbing the rebound. Rebounds at an elite level, which is the main skill that will transfer in his game.
NBA Comparison: Dennis Rodman
31. Atlanta Hawks – Isaac Bonga, F, Fraport
32. Orlando Magic – Nick Richards, C, Kentucky
33. Sacramento Kings – Rodions Kurucs, F, FC Barcelona
34. Memphis Grizzlies – Mitchell Robinson, C, Chalmette HS
35. Brooklyn Nets (from LA Lakers) – Kris Wilkes, F, UCLA
36. Dallas Mavericks – Justin Jackson, F, Maryland
37. New York Knicks (from Chicago) – PJ Washington, F, Kentucky
38. Phoenix Suns – Brandon Randolph, G/F, Arizona
39. Philadelphia 76ers (from Brooklyn) – Goga Bitadze, C, KK Smederevo
40. Phoenix Suns (from Charlotte) – Arnoldas Kulboka, F, Bike-Café Messingschlager Baunach
41. Utah Jazz – Billy Preston, F, Kansas
42. New York Knicks – Devonte Graham, G, Kansas
43. Philadelphia 76ers – DeAnthony Melton, G, USC
44. Los Angeles Clippers – Killian Tillie, F, Gonzaga
45. Chicago Bulls (from New Orleans) – Alonzo Trier, G, Arizona
46. Los Angeles Lakers (from Denver) – Grayson Allen, G, Duke
47. Oklahoma City Thunder – Deng Adel, F, Louisville
48. Denver Nuggets (from Portland) – Marko Simonovic, C, Zenit Saint Petersburg
49. Indiana Pacers – Bonzie Colson Jr., G/F, Notre Dame
50. Phoenix Suns (from Milwaukee) – Jacob Evans, G, Cincinnati
51. Detroit Pistons – Kevin Hervey, F, Texas-Arlington
52. Washington Wizards – Moritz Wagner, F, Michigan
53. Houston Rockets (from Miami) – Aaron Holiday, G, UCLA
54. Charlotte Hornets (from Cleveland) – Khyri Thomas, G, Creighton
55. Minnesota Timberwolves – Isaac Haas, C, Purdue
56. San Antonio Spurs – Vince Edwards, F, Purdue
57. Phoenix Suns (from Toronto) – Jevon Carter, G, West Virginia
58. Philadelphia 76ers (from Houston) – Chandler Hutchinson, G/F, Boise State
59. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Boston) – Raymond Spalding, F, Louisville
60. Denver Nuggets (from Golden State) – Donte Grantham, F, Clemson