Conference tournament season is upon us in college basketball, and with more basketball on TV now than ever, the visibility of all of the elite prospects is higher than it has been all year. Games between the top-tier prospects don’t happen every day in the current landscape of college basketball, so being able to watch those prospects go at each other in both a team aspect, but also in an NBA Draft analysis aspect. With that being said, here is my mock draft, version 3.0, conference tournament edition.
- Memphis Grizzlies – DeAndre Ayton, F, Arizona, Freshman
As Marc Gasol grows older, the Grizzlies will be looking for his replacement eventually, and Ayton looks to be the most talented big man in the draft by a good margin, so it’s logical for the Grizzlies to take what could be their next great big man for the future.
- Phoenix Suns – Luka Doncic, G/F, Real Madrid, 18 years old
Doncic is a 6-8 guard that has elite level ball-handling skills and with the Suns having traded Eric Bledsoe and refusing to play Brandon Knight, who still has two more years on his deal after this season, finding that long-term option at lead guard next to Devin Booker is what they should look to do, and Doncic is a strong choice to do so at this point in the draft.
- Orlando Magic – Jaren Jackson Jr., F/C, Michigan State, Freshman
Jackson has really risen up draft boards due to his well-rounded game from the post position, and with Nikola Vucevic aging and Bismack Biyombo struggling to be consistent, the Magic finding a long-term piece to put next to Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac in the frontcourt should be one of the top priorities in this draft.
- Dallas Mavericks – Marvin Bagley III, F, Duke, Freshman
The Mavericks are looking for an offensive mate for Dennis Smith Jr., and with Dirk’s impending retirement, finding the next offensive star in Dallas should be a top priority. Enter in Bagley, who is the top offensive big man in this class, and the Mavericks have a nice young core to build around as Dirk rides off into the sunset.
- Sacramento Kings – Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri, Freshman
The SEC tournament brought only the second appearance this season for Michael Porter Jr., and while his performance wasn’t the most impressive scoring wise and his team lost, the physical tools are definitely present and there were flashes of the talent on display in their one and only game. The injury history is concerning, but if he can stay healthy, he’ll be a special player for a long time in the NBA.
- Atlanta Hawks – Collin Sexton, G, Alabama, Freshman
The Hawks still have Dennis Schröder to run their point guard position, but there is a general feeling around the organization that Schröder isn’t the future at the position. After Sexton’s dynamite performance at the SEC Tournament and the late-season floundering of Trae Young and Oklahoma, Sexton has eclipsed Young as the top point guard on my board. He can play both on and off ball on offense and would be a nice addition for the Hawks if they want to move on from Schröder.
- Cleveland Cavaliers – Mohamed Bamba, F/C, Texas, Freshman
One of the best rim protectors in this draft class, Bamba would fit in next to Kevin Love in the Cleveland frontcourt, as would set the Cavaliers up for success in the future, whether or not LeBron James leaves for greener pastures. If LeBron is set on leaving, the Cavaliers could look into drafting Miles Bridges as the Lebron replacement, but if James is unclear of his intentions, the Cavaliers should draft their rim protector of the future.
- Chicago Bulls – Wendell Carter Jr., F, Duke, Freshman
Carter Jr. is the big man that the Bulls need to pair with rookie sensation Lauri Markkanen, with the size, strength, and athleticism to compete with most big men in college, as well as the offensive skill to score around the basket at will. If the Bulls want to believe in Kris Dunn as the point guard of the future, they’ll grab a big man to put around that young core of Dunn, Zach Lavine, and Markkanen, and Carter is the perfect candidate at this spot to continue the rebuild.
- New York Knicks – Trae Young, G, Oklahoma, Freshman
The hype on Trae Young has lost quite a bit of steam as the season has progressed and Oklahoma has regressed in their success, but there is no denying the talent that he possesses from outside the arc. Young is a perimeter threat from anywhere on the court, and is a great distributor when driving into the paint. The New York spotlight will be bright for Young, but the Knicks will finally have their point guard after they barely missed out on drafting Steph Curry in 2009.
- Charlotte Hornets – Miles Bridges, F, Michigan State, Sophomore
The Hornets need the best player available on the board, and Bridges is that guy at this point in the draft. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist isn’t the player that the Hornets exactly hoped for coming out of Kentucky, so the Hornets should be looking for his potential replacement, and with former GM Rich Cho being ousted from his job following the season, the new regime will look for their first draft pick in this draft.
- Los Angeles Clippers – Robert Williams III, F, Texas A&M, Sophomore
The Clippers are trying to rebuild their front court after the trade of Blake Griffin before the trade deadline, and Robert Williams is one of the best players available in this spot. Williams has issues with motivation on the floor, and can get lost at times on the floor, but when he gets inspired, he can do a lot of productive things as far as getting energy rebounds, scoring points on dunks and layups, and blocking shots at a high rate.
- Philadelphia 76ers – Mikal Bridges, F, Villanova, Junior
Bridges is the typical 3-and-D wing that every team needs in some form or fashion, and the 76ers are lacking one of those players on their roster, given the lack of a jumpshot from Justin Anderson. Bridges is a local kid at Villanova and fills a position of need for the 76ers, so this fit makes sense for them at this juncture.
- Utah Jazz – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G, Kentucky, Freshman
A long point-guard with shooting range and high IQ for a freshman, Gilgeous-Alexander will fill a void at backup point guard that the Jazz have had problems with. Letting Donovan Mitchell have less of a ball handling role in the Jazz offense will allow him to give the Jazz a scorer that doesn’t have to have the ball in his hands, and Gilgeous-Alexander can set up his teammates well, so look for the Jazz to go guard here as they look to set up their backcourt of the future.
- Denver Nuggets – Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky, Freshman
A long forward that can score from all levels of the floor, Knox is what the Nuggets should be looking for, since they are looking for a replacement for Wilson Chandler and Will Barton, who are both impending free agents this upcoming offseason. Knox has a pure stroke from all areas of the floor, and at that size, he can be a key cog in the offense in Denver.
- Phoenix Suns – Lonnie Walker IV, G, Miami (FL), Freshman
A long shooting guard that has slasher potential and a shot from all areas of the court, Walker definitely has the skillset, the physical tools, and the body to be a productive NBA player, and with the Suns lacking guard depth, even with them draft Luka Doncic, the Suns could use another guard to pair up with him and Devin Booker.
- Phoenix Suns – Daniel Gafford, F/C, Arkansas, Freshman
With Alex Len going to free agency and Tyson Chandler aging by the minute, the Suns need to draft the next big man that can give them talent up front that they haven’t had since Amare Stoudemire, and while Gafford probably isn’t the pick and roll threat that Stoudemire was, he still is a serviceable big man with high upside and athleticism, and gives the Suns a big target to throw it to on offense.
- Los Angeles Clippers – Troy Brown, G, Oregon, Freshman
A 3-and-D wing with playmaking skills on ball and shooting ability, Troy Brown can be what Sindarius Thornwell was unable to be as a 2017 second round pick for the Clippers. Austin Rivers isn’t what the Clippers hoped he’d be on the contract that he’s on, so the Clippers will be looking for other options in this draft.
- Philadelphia 76ers – Dzanan Musa, F, Cedevita, 18 years old
Musa is a potential draft-and-stash player for the 76ers, but if Musa does come over immediately, he provides another wing option with a high IQ that the 76ers can use in their constant pursuit of the playoffs.
- Minnesota Timberwolves – Jontay Porter, F/C, Missouri, Freshman
One of the smartest players in the draft, Jontay Porter is league-ready coming in, and with the Timberwolves not having much at the power forward position, Porter could come in and compete for the starting 4 job with Taj Gibson and Nemanja Bjelica early.
- Atlanta Hawks – Mitchell Robinson, C, Chalmette High School, 18 years old
The Hawks need a big man in this draft, and if the best available bigs are gone off the board and they take a guard early, look for them to pick a high-upside big man to go next to John Collins. Robinson is very raw as a prospect, but can develop in Hawks University, the Hawks’ development program, and turn into a big man that can hold his own on both ends of the floor.
- San Antonio Spurs – Khyri Thomas, G, Creighton, Junior
Thomas is regarded as one of the best on-ball defenders in the draft, and with Patty Mills and Manu Ginobili aging, finding a capable replacement is important for the future success of the Spurs, and Derrick White isn’t quite the answer, so Thomas makes sense in this spot.
- Indiana Pacers – Aaron Holiday, G, UCLA, Junior
Holiday has been special in his junior season, and even with his snub from National Player of the Year consideration, he has been otherworldly, leading UCLA almost singlehandedly into the tournament with his ball handling skills and creation ability. The Pacers could use another guard to replace Corey Joseph when Joseph hits free agency, and Holiday is a good shot to take with a few years of development.
- Washington Wizards – Hamidou Diallo, G, Kentucky, Freshman
Diallo is a great slasher and scorer from the wing position, and the Wizards need depth at the guard positions behind John Wall and Bradley Beal. Look for Diallo to come in and potentially earn a bench role that carries a good amount of minutes on a playoff team as the Wizards look to penetrate the Eastern conference finals.
- Chicago Bulls – Bruce Brown, G, Miami (FL), Sophomore
Brown has been sidelined for a significant portion of the season due to a foot injury, but the talent that was seen during his freshman campaign will make him a first round pick despite the injury. A slasher type with shooting ability, Brown can provide an option off the bench for Fred Hoiberg as the Bulls look to fill out their young core.
- Los Angeles Lakers – Chimezie Metu, F/C, USC, Junior
With Julius Randle hitting restricted free agency and Brook Lopez hitting unrestricted free agency, the Lakers can’t afford to keep them both, especially if they want to pursue high-level free agents in LeBron James and Paul George, so drafting a high-energy center that has elite athleticism and skill, Metu is the pick as a local kid that can be valuable to the Lakers that are looking to take a major step forward in free agency.
- Portland Trail Blazers – Gary Trent Jr., G, Duke, Freshman
The Trail Blazers are thin at the guard positions behind Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, so drafting a player that can play either guard position and provide an offensive threat to take some of the load off of the starters is important to the Blazers, and Gary Trent is very good at that. He can shoot the lights out of the ball at times, so taking a chance on that shooting upside is very intriguing for the Blazers.
- Boston Celtics – Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV, Freshman
One of the more impressive bodies in the draft, McCoy is physically imposing and has the skills to be a capable NBA rotation player, and with the Celtics needing an upgrade to Aron Baynes at the center position, taking a chance on McCoy’s upside is a very promising choice and could prove to be the piece that makes the Celtics the best team in the Eastern conference.
- Brooklyn Nets – Keita Bates-Diop, F, Ohio State, Junior
Bates-Diop is a hybrid 3/4 with length and defensive upside, as well as shooting ability out to the college three-point line. With time in the right system, he will be able to round out into a solid 3-and-D wing with positional versatility in the NBA, but he’s going to need time to get to that point. For now, he’s a defensive stopper with length that can play, but he has the potential to round out into a capable shooter from NBA range.
- Golden State Warriors – Melvin Frazier, G/F, Tulane, Junior
Frazier has a rare combination of length and athleticism, being 6-6 with a 7-2.5” wingspan, which allows him to be an elite level defender in the AAC. With Andre Iguodala aging, the Warriors could use their next 3-and-D wing, and with Frazier’s length and athleticism on both ends of the floor, Frazier could come in and be effective in the Warriors system, even with his three-point shot not being the most consistent.
- Atlanta Hawks – Killian Tillie, F, Gonzaga, Sophomore
Tillie is a very talented stretch-four that can play both the four and the five at times, and with the Hawks buying out Ersan Illyasova and having uncertain futures with Dewayne Dedmon and Mike Muscala, finding depth behind John Collins will be a top priority, and with Mitchell Robinson and Killian Tillie coming into the fold for the Hawks, they have a young frontcourt with the potential to develop down the line.
- Memphis Grizzlies – Anfernee Simons, G, IMG Academy, 18 years old
- Phoenix Suns – Chandler Hutchison, F, Boise State, Senior
- Dallas Mavericks – Nickeil Alexander-Walker, G, Virginia Tech, Freshman
- Orlando Magic – Shake Milton, G, SMU, Junior
- Atlanta Hawks – Jacob Evans, F, Cincinnati, Junior
- Dallas Mavericks – Devonte’ Graham, G, Kansas, Senior
- Philadelphia 76ers – Jarred Vanderbilt, F, Kentucky, Freshman
- New York Knicks – Vince Edwards, F, Purdue, Senior
- New York Knicks – Moritz Wagner, F, Michigan, Junior
- Orlando Magic – PJ Washington, F, Kentucky, Freshman
- Detroit Pistons – Tyus Battle, G, Syracuse, Sophomore
- Brooklyn Nets – Jalen Brunson, G, Villanova, Junior
- Brooklyn Nets – Billy Preston, F, BC Igokea, 18 years old
- Houston Rockets – Landry Shamet, G, Wichita State, Sophomore
- Los Angeles Lakers – De’Anthony Melton, G, USC, Sophomore
- Utah Jazz – Grayson Allen, G, Duke, Senior
- Dallas Mavericks – Yante Maten, F, Georgia, Senior
- Philadelphia 76ers – Rodions Kurucs, F, FC Barcelona, 20 years old
- Oklahoma City Thunder – Kevin Hervey, F, UT-Arlington, Senior
- Minnesota Timberwolves – Alonzo Trier, G, Arizona, Sophomore
- San Antonio Spurs – Isaac Bonga, F, Frankfurt, 18 years old
- Indiana Pacers – Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, G/F, Kansas, Senior
- Washington Wizards – Jaylen Adams, G, St. Bonaventure, Junior
- New Orleans Pelicans – Wenyen Gabriel, F, Kentucky, Sophomore
- Charlotte Hornets – Jalen Hudson, G, Florida, Junior
- Dallas Mavericks – Goga Bitadze, C, KK Smedervo, 18 years old
- Oklahoma City Thunder – Arnoldas Kulboka, F, Orlandia Basket, 20 years old
- Phoenix Suns – Bonzie Colson, F, Notre Dame, Senior
- Denver Nuggets – Keenan Evans, G, Texas Tech, Senior
- Philadelphia 76ers – Jevon Carter, G, West Virginia, Senior