NBA Mock Draft 4.0
As another great season of college basketball comes to a close, plenty of players have important decisions to make regarding their futures in basketball, whether it be returning to school for another season or jumping ship to the professional ranks of either the NBA or another professional league overseas. The NCAA tournament has really raised and lowered the stock of players as it has progressed, so we’re going to take another look at where players look to be drafted as the draft gets closer and closer but remains so far away.
1. Phoenix Suns – Luka Doncic, G/F, Real Madrid, 18 years old
Doncic has been special all season for Real Madrid in Spain, and with DeAndre Ayton’s stock going down after an early exit from the tournament, the dynamic guard/forward from Lithuania has taken over the top spot in this mock draft, and he has certainly earned that right, with his dynamic playmaking ability and shot making in the ACB League, as well as EuroLeague competition.
2. Memphis Grizzlies – DeAndre Ayton, F/C, Arizona, Freshman
Ayton’s uninspiring performance in Arizona’s opening-round NCAA tournament loss to MAC champs Buffalo has put into question his ability to lead a team to victory, but the talent and size is there from the bona fide 7-footer. His ability to rebound, score from all areas on the floor, and block shots around the rim makes him an intriguing prospect from a pro perspective.
3. Atlanta Hawks – Jaren Jackson Jr., F/C, Michigan State, Freshman
Jackson, despite the second-round exit in the tournament, has been very impressive throughout the season, seeing a dramatic rise up most draft boards due to his NBA-ready body and two-way play, doing the little things on both ends of the floor that make special players at the next level.
4. Orlando Magic – Marvin Bagley, F, Duke, Freshman
This might not be the best fit for what the Magic will be looking for in the draft, but at this point in the draft, they need to go with the best available player, which is Bagley. Bagley is a very talented offensive player with defensive issues that will need to be corrected at the next level, but the offensive talent is undeniable, so I can definitely see the Magic building around Bagley.
5. Dallas Mavericks – Wendell Carter Jr., F/C, Duke, Freshman
Carter was one of the best players in the NCAA tournament, showing off his offensive versatility from all levels of the floor and his rebounding prowess. The Mavericks are looking for a replacement for Dirk and Nerlens Noel, and Carter Jr. is a very capable player to slot in to the new regime next to Dennis Smith Jr.
6. Sacramento Kings – Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri, Freshman
Porter Jr. had a short tournament run, and he definitely looked rough around the edges as he worked his way back into the rotation for Missouri. Still, NBA executives have seen enough of Porter Jr. to pick him very highly, but there is a genuine concern about his medical history. The Kings need talent, and Porter is the best player available on the board at this point.
7. Cleveland Cavaliers – Collin Sexton, G, Alabama, Freshman
Sexton has not formally declared for the draft, but the general consensus is that he will leave Alabama and go to the NBA, where his competitive fire will make him fit right in to a championship contender like the Cavaliers. Sexton has an affinity for playing hard and making plays off the dribble, which seems like the perfect archetype to play next to a player like LeBron James.
8. Chicago Bulls – Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas, Freshman
The Bulls have a franchise big in Lauri Markkanen, but Robin Lopez is not the long-term option at the center position. Slide in Mohamed Bamba, the lanky center from Texas that has extremely long arms and can defend the rim, and the Bulls could have their frontcourt of the future along with Kris Dunn and Zach Lavine in the backcourt.
9. 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.
10. Philadelphia 76ers – Mikal Bridges, F, Villanova, Junior
As Villanova advanced through the tournament, eventually winning a national championship, it became more and more apparent that, while Jalen Brunson was the team leader, Mikal Bridges was their most talented player, showing off a package of shooting and defensive length that not a lot of players in college basketball have. The hometown kid going to play for the pro franchise would be a great story, and the fit works too, as the 76ers are looking for wing players that can complement Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
11. Charlotte Hornets – Miles Bridges, F, Michigan State, Sophomore
The Hornets need the best player available on the board at this point in the draft, especially after Malik Monk flopped in his first season in the NBA. Enter in Miles Bridges, who can come in and contribute right away off the bench behind Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Nicholas Batum, and perhaps earn a starting spot later on in the season with the right amount of development in the Hornets system.
12. Los Angeles Clippers – Robert Williams, 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.
13. Los Angeles Clippers – Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky, Freshman
Knox has very good positional size for a combo forward, and with the scoring ability that he has demonstrated throughout his one season at Kentucky, he definitely projects into an NBA system as a stretch forward from both the 3 and the 4. If his defense rounds into form, Knox can be a successful role player early for the Clippers looking for young talent.
14. Denver Nuggets – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G, Kentucky, Freshman
A tall point guard at 6’6”, Gilgeous-Alexander comes from a long line of Kentucky point guards that have been set up for success in the pros. The length that Gilgeous-Alexander has makes him very intriguing as a prospect and when combine that with his shooting and decision-making and he can certainly fit next to Jamal Murray and Gary Harris in the Nuggets backcourt that is looking to make a deep playoff run next season.
15. Phoenix Suns – Dzanan Musa, F, Cedevita, 18 years old
The Suns don’t have a ton of roster space to work with, and with the best international prospect outside of Doncic still on the board, they could go draft-and-stash with Musa, who is a combo forward with good size and shooting ability.
16. Phoenix Suns – Mitchell Robinson, C, Chalmette HS, 18 years old
I don’t necessarily think that the Suns will keep this pick, but if they do, they could use a center, and with Daniel Gafford going back to Arkansas, Robinson slots into being the next best center on the board. He has the same tools that Gafford does, but is a little more raw all around, partially due to his skipping his freshman season at Western Kentucky. I can see the Suns taking a chance on Robinson at this point in the draft, since they have plenty of shots at turning the ship around in this draft.
17. Washington Wizards – Lonnie Walker, G, Miami, Freshman
It was unfortunate for Walker’s draft stock that the Hurricanes got eliminated early by Sister Jean and Loyola, especially since the last college memory that scouts have of him is him losing the ball out of bounds, setting up Loyola to win the game in heartbreaking fashion. Walker can still provide a scoring punch behind Bradley Beal, which is something that the Wizards have been lacking for years, so look for the Wizards to pick the highest shooting guard on their board, which could be Walker or someone else along the lines of Bruce Brown, Troy Brown, or Hamidou Diallo.
18. Chicago Bulls – Troy Brown, G, Oregon, Freshman
After picking Mohamed Bamba with the 8th pick, the Bulls go for a guard that has positional versatility in Troy Brown. At 6’6”, Brown can play anywhere from the 1 to the 3, and with that versatility, he provides another legitimate backcourt option that can mix and match with Zach Lavine and Kris Dunn.
19. Atlanta Hawks – Hamidou Diallo, G, Kentucky, Freshman
With the Hawks having picked Jaren Jackson Jr. with their first pick, they should look to a wing scorer, which Hamidou Diallo certainly is. His length at 6’6” is a matchup nightmare, and if all goes well with his development, he can slot into the starting two guard spot after Kent Bazemore moves on at the expiration of his contract.
20. Utah Jazz – Anfernee Simons, G, IMG Academy, 18 years old
Simons is officially not going to college after signing with an agent, ending the speculation on his future, whether it be in the college or pro ranks. He provides guard depth that the Jazz have lacked this season from their backup guards, so drafting a highly talented, but raw guard to potentially develop for down the line usage, given the advancing age of Ricky Rubio, is a smart move for the Jazz.
21. Minnesota Timberwolves – Zhaire Smith, G, Texas Tech, Freshman
An athletic freak that can play either the 2 or the 3, Smith was one of the fastest risers on draft boards from conference play to the end of the tournament. Smith is most notable for his 360-alley-oop dunk that he put down in Texas Tech’s first-round matchup against Stephen F. Austin. Smith’s elite-level athleticism and workable frame at 6’8” make him a highly intriguing prospect at the end of the first round, if he does end up declaring.
22. San Antonio Spurs – Jontay Porter, F/C, Missouri, Freshman
Porter is one of the most intelligent players in this draft class, which fits the profile of what the Spurs generally look for in draft prospects, and with the increasing age of LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol, finding a young replacement that can plug and play early, as well as develop for the eventual retirements of Aldridge and Gasol down the line.
23. Indiana Pacers — Aaron Holiday, G, UCLA, Junior
The logic here is simple: The Pacers need a point guard that can develop more that Joe Young did. They can’t sustain the level of performance that they are at with Darren Collison and Cory Joseph manning the back court next to Victor Oladipo, and Holiday is one of the best point guards on the board at this juncture. Holiday will have time to develop behind those capable point guard options, but the plan should be to get a guy into the system and develop him to take over the job in a few years.
24. Philadelphia 76ers – Moritz Wagner, F, Michigan, Junior
The 76ers are very long in the tooth when it comes to their frontcourt, and with his impressive tournament performance, after leading Michigan to the national title game, Moritz Wagner, or “Mo” for short, has seen a dramatic rise in his draft stock as a highly skilled big that can stretch the floor out. With Ersan Illysova most likely on the way out, the 76ers can afford to fill that position in the draft.
25. Los Angeles Lakers – Keita Bates-Diop, F, Ohio State, Junior
The Lakers need frontcourt talent that compliments Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, and with Bates-Diop, who was a bona fide star at Ohio State, would be the perfect fit if he can stretch his shot out to three-point range. At 6’7”, he’s a bit undersized for the 4, but he played it in college and can do so at the NBA level in smaller lineups. Bates-Diop is a piece that connects the other pieces of an organization together, and the Lakers can certainly use him here.
26. Portland Trail Blazers – Gary Trent Jr., G, Duke, Freshman
The Trail Blazers need a backup 2 guard that can shoot from the outside behind CJ McCollum. Enter Trent Jr. into the equation, a guard with good size and a high-level three-point shot from all areas and the Blazers have a perfect fit. If Trent can develop his game to be more well-rounded, he can certainly be a piece for many years to come for whatever organization he plays for, whether it be the Blazers or someone else.
27. Boston Celtics – Chimezie Metu, F, USC, Junior
The Celtics are a title contender, so it’s hard to find them something that they really “need”, but they do have a weakness in the frontcourt, and with this late first-round draft pick, they can take a shot on a player in Metu that has a low floor and a high ceiling. Metu can jump out of the gym, which is a nice change from Al Horford, who primarily plays below the basket. Getting some more athletic bodies to put next to the already established players into Brad Stevens’ hands should be a scary thought for the rest of the NBA, and if the Celtics draft Metu, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
28. Brooklyn Nets – Tony Carr, G, Penn State, Junior
Tony Carr has had an incredible second half of his season, leading Penn State to an NIT title over Utah in Madison Square Garden. He won’t be playing in “The World’s Most Famous Arena”, but he will be playing just across the East River at the Barclays Center as a backup to D’Angelo Russell (assuming Spencer Dinwiddie moves on). He brings a steady presence to the backcourt of whatever team he’s on, and he’ll continue to do that in Brooklyn.
29. Golden State Warriors – Bruce Brown Jr., G, Miami (FL), Sophomore
The Warriors are currently employing Nick Young as their backup shooting guard, which isn’t going to be sustainable for a championship team, and with Klay Thompson’s contract coming up soon, the Warriors need to find a shooting guard that they can develop into a player. Brown is coming off of a foot injury that has sidelined him for most of the season, but the talent is undeniable, and if the Warriors can get his medicals in order, he can develop into a player for the championship-contending Warriors.
30. Atlanta Hawks – Shake Milton, G, SMU, Junior
Milton is a combo guard that has good size and skill on both ends of the floor. He will hit 3’s, play defense, and control the ball in the half court from the point guard position, and with Malcolm Delaney’s contract expiring, the Hawks will be looking for a backup point guard to Dennis Schröder, and Milton can certainly do that, with a different skill set than Delaney, given that Milton is 6’6”.
31. Phoenix Suns – Khyri Thomas, G, Creighton, Junior
32. Memphis Grizzlies – Chandler Hutchison, F, Boise State, Senior
33. Atlanta Hawks – Killian Tillie, F, Gonzaga, Sophomore
34. Orlando Magic – Jalen Brunson, G, Villanova, Junior
35. Dallas Mavericks – Isaac Bonga, G/F, Frankfurt, 18 years old
36. Dallas Mavericks – Trevon Duval, G, Duke, Freshman
37. Philadelphia 76ers – Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV, Freshman
38. New York Knicks – Caleb Martin, F, Nevada, Junior
39. New York Knicks – Rui Hachimura, F, Gonzaga, Sophomore
40. Brooklyn Nets – Austin Wiley, C, Auburn, Sophomore
41. Orlando Magic – Jacob Evans, F, Cincinnati, Junior
42. Detroit Pistons – Kenrich Williams, F, TCU, Senior
43. Brooklyn Nets – De’Anthony Melton, G, USC, Sophomore
44. Houston Rockets – Devonte’ Graham, G, Kansas, Senior
45. Dallas Mavericks – Landry Shamet, G, Wichita State, Sophomore
46. Los Angeles Lakers – Robert Franks, F, Washington State, Junior
47. Washington Wizards – Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, G/F, Kansas, Senior
48. New Orleans Pelicans – Jalen Hudson, G, Florida, Junior
49. Minnesota Timberwolves – Goga Bitadze, C, Mega Bemax, 18 years old
50. Utah Jazz – Omer Yurtseven, C, North Carolina State, Sophomore
51. Oklahoma City Thunder – Alize Johnson, F, Missouri State, Senior
52. San Antonio Spurs – Jaylen Adams, G, St. Bonaventure, Senior
53. Indiana Pacers – Shamorie Ponds, G, St. John’s, Sophomore
54. Philadelphia 76ers – Rodions Kurucs, F, FC Barcelona, 18 years old
55. Charlotte Hornets – Malik Newman, G, Kansas, Junior
56. Dallas Mavericks – Billy Preston, F, BC Igokea, 21 years old
57. Oklahoma City Thunder – Allonzo Trier, G, Arizona, Sophomore
58. Phoenix Suns – PJ Washington, F, Kentucky, Freshman
59. Denver Nuggets – Justin Jackson, F, Maryland, Sophomore
60. Philadelphia 76ers – Rawle Alkins, G, Arizona, Sophomore