The NBA Draft is this Thursday, June 21st at 7 PM so I thought I’d drop a mock draft. This mock draft is a bit different in that I will be providing what I would do with the pick if I were the team’s General Manager.
I will be taking team needs into consideration but I think that the best player available should win out if the talent gap outweighs a team’s need. I will also give who I think a team will take Thursday night below each team’s breakdown.
Let’s get started.
1. Phoenix Suns– Trade back & take Mo Bamba, Center, Texas
The consensus here is that Phoenix is taking Deandre Ayton but I think Ayton is more of a bucket filling big man who thinks he is a stretch-four and struggles on the defensive end of the floor. Bamba is a Rudy Gobert caliber rim protector with developing offensive skills. The Suns aren’t in dire need of scoring with Devin Booker, T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson on the roster but they desperately need to improve upon their NBA worst 113.51 D-Rating from last season. The ideal scenario for me here would be to find a trade down so the team can grab another asset in the trade. Who the Suns will take: Deandre Ayton (Center)
2. Sacramento Kings — Michael Porter Jr., Forward, Missouri
If Ayton is on the board he is the no brainer pick here but I think the Suns will take Ayton Thursday Night. The Kings badly need a go-to scorer and Porter certainly fills that need. He can score from most places on the floor due to a combination of elite athleticism and shot making ability. His ball handling needs to improve to reach his ceiling but DeAaron Fox’ playmaking ability will buy time for Porter to hone that skill. There are also concerns over Porter’s back injury but from what I’ve read there is only a 10-12% chance he will need a repeat surgery. However, the Kings will need patience with Porter as he may not be up to full strength until his second season. Who the Kings will take: Marvin Bagley III (Big)
3. Atlanta Hawks — Jaren Jackson Jr., Big, Michigan St.
Jackson’s ability to switch 1 trough 5 on the defensive end makes him a valuable commodity in today’s NBA. He can defend the perimeter, excel on pick and roll switches in addition to his top-notch weakside rim protection abilities. On offense, Jackson’s shooting range would allow the Hawks to space the floor for rim running lobs if John Collins is paired with Jackson in a big lineup. Atlanta can also play Jackson at the 5 in a smaller rotation. I keep seeing the Hawks mentioned as having strong interest in Trae Young but I think that would be a big mistake. I think Young is more Seth Curry than Steph Curry. Who the Hawks will take: Jaren Jackson, Jr, (Big)
4. Memphis Grizzlies –Luka Doncic, Guard, Real Madrid
The Grizzlies would probably prefer it if Michael Porter Jr. is still available here but my preference here is Doncic. A 6’8 guard with the size to play on the wing would really take pressure from Mike Conley whether Doncic is playing next to or instead of Conley. I don’t think Doncic is as athletic as Gordon Hayward but he is still a powerful athlete who can push and create with aplomb in transition. The Grizzlies could move from a methodical, slow-paced half-court grind to a more fun and creative brand of basketball with Doncic in the mix. What the Grizzlies will do: Michael Porter Jr. (Forward)
5. Dallas Mavericks — Marvin Bagley III, Big, Duke
If the Kings aren’t scared away from Michael Porter Jr.’s medicals, Marvin Bagley may very well still be on the board at the 5th pick. I do have questions about his shot, his size and his defense but the kid is a talented, high-energy scorer who can follow his own shot better than anybody else in this draft and could be a great pick-and-pop option inside the arc. His scoring range is better suited 15 feet in and there are serious questions about his defense which was so bad at Duke that they had to play zone. His lack of wingspan only adds to his troubles trying to defend near the rim. But, he and Dennis Smith would be a dangerous offensive duo that I’d have to take the tweener here. A Bagley pick here wouldn’t give the Mavs the type of defensive impact they’ve been searching for since they acquired Nerlens Noel but I think I can find that type of skill in a role player if I want to move Bagley to the 4 after Dirk Nowitzki retires. Who the Mavs will pick: Mo Bamba, (Center)
6. Orlando Magic — Wendell Carter Jr., Center, Duke
The Magic have had six picks inside the Top 12 over the past 5 drafts but have very little to show for it. They’ve traded away Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis and Dario Saric in various moves. Jonathan Isaac is still a work in progress, Mario Hezonja looks more role player than starter and Aaron Gordon is a restricted free agent who may leave if the right offer sheet lands in his lap. Orlando could use a playmaking point guard but I’m not in love with Trae Young’s overall game and I think Luka Doncic is off the board with one of the earlier picks. The team needs high-end talent but can ill afford another missed pick.
Carter gives Orlando a versatile player who compares to Al Horford. A swiss army knife big who is good at many things but not really great at anything. He would also allow Orlando to possibly pair Nikola Vucevic with theie 35th pick in a bid to get back in the first round for a guard. Who the Magic will pick: Luka Doncic, (Point Guard)
7. Chicago Bulls — Kevin Knox, Wing, Kentucky
The Bulls biggest need would be a rim protecting, verastile defender who can help Lauri Markkanen. As the armhchair GM, I would try to trade up using the 7th pick and Bobby Portis so I can have a chance at Jaren Jackson or Mo Bamba. If nobody bites on an offer, I’m using the pick on an athletic wing who can play D and score buckets. Kevin Knox has improved as a pick and roll ball handler who uses a floater and a solid jumper off the dribble. His overall handle needs to improve but he comps well to Tobias Harris. Who the Bulls will take: Mikal Bridges, (Wing)
8. Cleveland Cavaliers — Lonnie Walker IV, Guard, Miami
For starters, I’m not allowing Lebron to influence any decisions made here. I don’t believe he is here for long even if he opts-in for one more year. There are rumors that James’ camp likes Collin Sexton but I’m going with a player who reminds me of C.J. McCollum and that is the shifty, scoring guard out of Miami. Walker is a bit raw and will eventually need a playmaking point guard next to him but there are plenty of those across the NBA. Acquiring one once Kevin Love is put on the trade block is a legitimate possibility. Who the Cavaliers will take: Wendell Carter Jr. (Big)
9. New York Knicks — Mikal Bridges, Wing, Villanova
The Knicks will be hoping Trae Young is still on the board here but I think the Magic will make the risky decision of selecting the point guard. This could be serendipitous for the Knicks who could also use a “3 and D” wing. Bridges can shoot the ball from beyond the arc, has the ability to create as a slasher versus mismatches and can defend SGs and SFs on the perimeter. Who the Knicks will take: Trae Young (Guard)
10. Philadelphia 76ers — Trade package for Kawhi Leonard
The Sixers are hoping Kawhi Leonard is available to them with the 10th pick and some combination of players. If not, they may be looking at one of two players here. Miles Bridges or Lonnie Walker. I think Lonnie Walker ends up being the better player but his bust rate is higher than Bridges. I also think Bridges fits better on the Sixers. He doesn’t create his own shots well but he can fill it on catch and shoots or spot up jumpers if he has the spacing that someone like Ben Simmons provides. Who the Sixers will take: Miles Bridges, (Wing)
11. Charlotte Hornets– Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Guard, Kentucky
As GM of the Hornets here, I’m looking for a contingency plan if Kemba Walker demands a trade or makes it clear he will not resign with Charlotte after the 2018-19 season. At the same time I would like to add length to the back court after selecting Malik Monk in the last draft. Gilgeous-Alexander fits both needs and can play either guard position should Walker decide to stay. If I like how Gilgeous-Alexander looks early in the season I may be able to use a Kemba Walker trade to add an extra first rounder next season or to shed the Nicolas Batum contract. Who the Hornets will take: Lonnie Walker, (Guard)
12. LA Clippers — Collin Sexton, Point Guard, Alabama
The Clippers are another team who could be vying for Kawhi Leonard but they won’t have a good enough package to outbid the Sixers in those sweepstakes. Looking at LA’s roster there are needs for a future center should DeAndre Jordan leave in free agency but also needs a future point guard.
Sexton brings some competitive fire and toughness to the point guard position. He can score the ball but has decision-making concerns that have to be ironed out by the former guard Doc Rivers. Who the Clippers will take: Collin Sexton, (Guard)
13. LA Clippers — Robert Williams, Big, Texas A & M
Williams is a rim running, lob catcher on the offensive end who can rebound and block shots on the defensive end of the floor. He’s more Clint Capela than DeAndre Jordan but he would step in nicely in Jordan’s absence. My ideal armchair GM scenario would be the market squeezing out Jordan thus forcing him to opt-in for his $24 MM. He can mentor Williams for the early parts of the season and then can be traded to a contender for a pick and a salary. Who the Clippers will take: Zhaire Smith (Wing)
14. Denver Nuggets — Troy Brown, Guard/Wing, Oregon
The Nuggets have been looking for a solid wing defender since the start of last season and Troy Brown certainly fits that description. Brown was a 6’7 combo guard at Oregon but he certainly has the length and athleticism to step in on the wing when asked. His shooting leaves a little to be desired but it won’t hurt having him hang around with Jamal Murray. Who the Nuggets will take: Robert Williams
End of the lottery picks
15. Washington Wizards — Jerome Robinson, Guard, BC
The Wizards will be hoping Robert Williams is still on the board when this pick arrives but I have the Clippers taking him two picks above. If Williams is off the board, the Wizards will move their attention to a back-up point guard. There are several options on the board at the position still but a microwave scorer off the bench who reminds scouts of Jamal Crawford is too much for to pass on here.
16. Phoenix Suns — Elie Okobo, Point Guard, France
The Suns still haven’t figured out their point guard position and there are many who believe Okobo could be the best PG in this draft. With Elfrid Payton in the last year of his contract and Tyler Ulis on a non-guaranteed deal next season, this makes sense. OKobo is more of a score first guard.
7. Milwaukee Bucks — Aaron Holiday, Guard, UCLA
The Bucks need to get as many shooters around Giannis Antetokounmpo as possible and Aaron Holiday gives this roster the shooter it needs. His size and lack of athleticism is a bit of a concern but the Greek Freak should allow for Holiday to get plenty of space for jumpers.
18. San Antonio Spurs — Zhaire Smith, Guard/Wing, Texas Tech
Smith is an ideal type of Spurs player who plays an athletic brand of defense and could benefit greatly from the tutoring of renowned shooting coach, Chip Engelland.
19. Atlanta Hawks — De’Anthony Melton, Guard, USC
Melton is a combo guard who can defend either guard position with a tough brand of defense. Recent reports show Melton is improving his shooting mechanics after working with skills coach Drew Hanlen. That can only help Melton’s cause. Drafting Melton after the Jaren Jackson pick at #3 adds an elemnet of toughness to the Hawks roster.
20. Minnesota T’wolves — Chandler Hutchison, G/F, Boise State
The Wolves need to add pieces to their “3 and D” depth and Hutchison can do both. His shot creation skills have improved and he can shoot the rock from the perimeter.
21. Utah Jazz — Kevin Huerter, Guard/Forward, Maryland
The Jazz are showing a lot of interest in Huerter but will have to be patient after Huerter underwent surgery to repair torn ligaments in his right hand. Once healthy, Huerter profiles as a poor man’s Klay Thompson. He has range for days.
22. Chicago Bulls –Dzanan Musa, Forward, Bosnia
Musa is a scoring wing who can shoot coming off of screens and can finish lay-ups with both hands. He has a sneaky quick Euro-step and an improv style that makes him a fun watch. He would be a nice addition to the Bulls wing depth.
23. Indiana Pacers — Jalen Brunson, Point Guard, Villanova
Brunson is a bit on the older side for a 1st round draftee but his playmaking ability, tenacity and leadership qualities fit into the Pacers need for guys who can step in and help right away. I’ve read some pundits compare him to former Lakers guard, Derek Fisher
24. Portland Trailblazers — Trade pick with an awful contract
The Blazers could use some payroll relief and have a couple of contracts they should move. Since the 24th pick doesn’t have a ton of value they could send this pick to the Nets along with Meyers Leonard and the 2 years, $22 MM remaining on his contract. The Blazers could try to send Brooklyn the Evan Turner contract which has 2 years and $35 MM left on it but may find it difficult. The Nets would then select Keita Bates-Diop out of Ohio State.
Bates-Diop was the Big Ten player of the year in 2018 who dropped 28 on Gonzaga in the Buckeyes second round March Madness loss. He can defend multiple wing positions and shoot from long-range.
25. Los Angeles Lakers — Mitchell Robinson, Center
Robinson skipped college and is more of a G-league project center next season than an NBA contributor but he does have the athleticism to be a rim running, shot blocker.
26. Philadelphia 76ers — Donte DiVincenzo, Guard, Villanova
If a Kawhi Leonard trade happens, the Sixers will most likely be making their first pick in the draft here. They will also likely have had to send out Fultz and Covington in that deal which leaves a need for a shooter off the bench. The “Big Ragu” can be the “3 and D” shooter the Sixers need to come off the pine.
27. Boston Celtics — Josh Okogie, Guard, Georgia Tech
Okogie is a high-motor guard who plays a strong 2-way game. He can elevate above the rim and has the tools to be a capable passer. If Marcus Smart happens to sign a rich offer sheet, the 6’4 guard would be a great backup plan.
28. Golden State Warriors — Grayson Allen, Guard , Duke
Allen is a catch and shoot specialist with limited defensive ability. Much like the Brunson pick for the Pacers, Allen can step in and help the Warriors bench right away. So many fans loathe the Warriors at this point in their dominance that Allen would fit in perfectly.
29. Brooklyn Nets — Melvin Frazier, Wing, Tulane
Frazier is a “3 and D” wing who can fill it on catch and shoots and possesses the ability to dunk in traffic. He has an impressive vertical when he leaps off two feet. His defensive versatilty on the wing along with his offensive upside is something the Nets are lacking on the wing.
30. Atlanta Hawks — Khyri Thomas, Guard, Creighton
Thomas is a tenacious defender who can also shoot the ball. He must find a way to improve his shot creation and ball handling skills to become a more well-rounded player but he’s a glue guy that could certainly help a young team.