This originally started as a piece that would be done by the whole staff. Life and plans got in the way for all of us, so I will be doing this myself. However, expect the final version to be staff-wide come pre-draft night where we play the part of multiple teams and their GMs. For now though, this is just a mock draft with no trades whatsoever. This is a mock where, instead of predicting what the teams are GOING to do, I am predicting what they SHOULD do.
…well, sort of. If it was up to me, I would not touch Bol Bol or RJ Barrett with a 50 foot pole, and that is reflected in this. I have to keep this somewhat realistic, so even though it will pain me to do some picks, I will make them. I won’t do any trades in this, but I will note where they should if it applies.
1) New Orleans Pelicans – PF Zion Williamson
Can I get a “Duh” here? Might be the easiest pick ever. No need to explain since every outlet covers him like it is their job (R.I.P. Goga Bitadze’s pre-draft presser).
2) Memphis Grizzlies – PG Ja Morant
Another “Duh” moment here. Ja is the most complete prospect to come out this year, and he reminds me a lot about how the dynamic was last year. Even though Luka Doncic was the best player in the draft, he still dropped due to knocks against the level of his competition. Same can be said for Ja. Sure, he may have played in a weak conference all year, but that doesn’t discount what he did in the tournament. He is the first guard since Dwayne Wade to have a triple-double in the NCAA tourney. That is no slight thing, considering the next round he was triple teamed and his other 4 teammates couldn’t beat the 2 guys guarding them.
3) New York Knicks – SG/SF RJ Barrett
I will absolutely hate this selection. Is it because I hate RJ Barrett? Nope, love the guy, think he may be one of the nicest people in this draft. However, I do not see the how the hype relates to the production. Zion shot better than him from 3; he can’t drive right; he shows an inability to pass due to his horrible assist rate; he shows horrible decision-making due to the fact he always took the last shot in every close game instead of Zion. Personally, I think the Knicks would be better served to draft this guy I have slotted at #7 instead, but the Knicks are a horrible franchise. Can’t expect logical decisions from one of the worst owners in the NBA. Comp is Josh Jackson, and stats back in up (+/-, Synergy, literally any stat).
4) Atlanta Hawks – SF DeAndre Hunter
An amazing defender capable of getting his bucket whenever he wants, he is capable of playing the 3 or the 4 in the NBA. He can play on or off the ball, and essentially won Virginia the championship this past year.
5) Cleveland Cavaliers – SG Jarrett Culver
Culver is not going to drop out of the top 5 in no way, shape, or form. The Cavs will take the defensive wing if he drops to them, and that seems like an inevitable thing. They can place the ball-dominant guard next to Sexton, providing relief for the 2nd year point guard in terms of playmaking and spacing.
6) Minnesota Timberwolves – PG Coby White
The Twolves need a point guard more than I need a haircut (which I always seem to need, but I cannot cut the glorious mullet just yet). The Wolves SHOULD take Garland here. White is good though, and will be able to provide additional playmaking and shooting, alleviating the burden slightly off of Tyus Jones and Jeff Teague.
7) Chicago Bulls – PG Darius Garland
Reports have been coming out that, even though the Bulls love White, they won’t be able to get him due to White “receiving promises from a team above the Bulls that they will take him”. So yeah, expect them to land Garland, who was regarded as the best point guard in this draft before going down with an injury earlier this year. He has a Kyrie Irving handle and shot-making ability, and he apparently does not believe the Earth is flat. Sounds like a win to me, especially considering that the Bulls need someone else besides Lavine to create shots for them.
8) New Orleans Pelicans – SF Cameron Reddish
Good size, good shooting, and willing to not be the first option? I’d personally like to have the next player with this pick, but this is not how I would do it, but how others are going to do it.
9) Washington Wizards – PF Sekou Doumbouya
I could expect the Wizards to drop down in the draft in order to save a bit on their projected tax bill. Maybe go down to Miami or Boston’s pick. Until them, expect to take the French Stretch in the draft. Many comps (comparisons) have him likened to Pascal Siakim or Serge Ibaka. I view the Serge mold more, seeing as he is not as athletic as Pascal. However, stretch big is definitely in his future.
10) Atlanta Hawks – C Jaxson Hayes
I also don’t think Hayes is the best center in this draft, but the NBA media seems to (sorry Goga). A lengthy center with a reach that can block out the sun, Hayes projects as a rim-running shot blocker. Can’t really rebound or score, but he can block shots…then again, with Zion, do you really need to rebound or score? Think of Rudy Gobert as his comp.
11) Phoenix Suns – SG/SF Nassir Little
Suns desperately need a wing option that can score, and Nassir is the best one available.
12) Charlotte Hornets – PF Brandon Clarke
Better defender than Rui, and a lot younger. Fits their projected rebuild they will have to do in 4 years.
13) Miami Heat – PF Rui Hachimura
The Heat desperately need a better defense and a new big, seeing as Olynyk and Whiteside are kind of “meh”. Rui gives them switch ability on the defensive end AND also the ability to run the court more.
14) Boston Celtics – SG Tyler Herro
Herro has been skyrocketing up the boards today. I do not know if the Celtics will be able to take him, seeing as the Heat and Hornets do need shooters. He would fit well into their lineup, since they desperately need a bench scorer/three point bomber on their team.
15) Detroit Pistons – SF Keldon Johnson
The Pistons desperately need a small forward, seeing as they don’t have one on their roster. Easy pick to be honest, would get a lot of minutes for them.
16) Orlando Magic – SG Nickeil Alexander-Walker
Another easy pick. Nickeil has been dipping recently, and I would rather see him go to the Celtics. He would get a lot of minutes in their lineup, and may even turn out to be their point guard. I see a lot of Donovan Mitchell in his game, potential, and this situation.
17) New Orleans Pelicans – C Goga Bitadze
The best center in this draft may slip this far, yes. Perfect situation though. Zion needs another center on his roster at the end of this draft. Unfair for the future NBA that the next Jokic and the next LeBron may be on the same team after this draft.
18) Indiana Pacers – PF PJ Washington
Pacers need someone to replace Thad Young, and PJ is the best one. He will be amazing in the Pacers system.
19) San Antonio Spurs – PF Nicolas Claxton
Perfect Spurs player, and one that I can see enjoy playing in San Antonio. Dejounte Murray and Derrick White with the former best player from Georgia? Sounds deadly.
20) Boston Celtics – C Bol Bol
Boston loves Bol Bol, and I don’t get it. I see the benefits of taking him, but he cannot play center in a conference that has big centers. Think he can play bully ball with Embiid, Griffin, Drummond, Whiteside, and Vucevic? Doubt that he could even beat up Myles Turner. Good luck with this pick.
21) Oklahoma City Thunder – PF Eric Paschall
They need someone that can shoot the three, and Paschall is the best available unless they want to go the Romeo Langford route.
22) Boston Celtics – C Mfiondu Kabengele
I am saying this solely because they probably will not trust Bol Bol and Robert Williams to stay healthly. Kabengele is a good rim protecting center.
23) Memphis Grizzlies – SG Kevin Porter
Capable guard that can get buckets? Perfect for a team in desperate need of a rebuild.
24) Philadelphia 76ers – PG Ty Jerome
Wing defender that has the potential of hitting the three? Yes please.
25) Portland TrailBlazers – SF KZ Okpala
Definitely need a wing defender that is better than Evan Turner, and that is what this pick is.
26) Cleveland Cavaliers – SF Darius Bazley
I think the Cavs will go with an outside shot that can switch with Cedi Osman on the defensive end. He’s a bit better than the remaining for what the Cavs need, seeing as they already drafted a defensive stopper in Culver.
27) Brooklyn Nets – PF Luka Samanic
Again, another outside shot. They need a PF that can score after having dealt with RHJ’s (Rondae Hollis-Jefferson) unproductive a** on the offensive end.
28) Golden State Warriors – SG Matisse Thybulle
They will take the best available, and that is who Thybulle is. Defensive wing/guard that has the potential to develop a three point shot.
29) San Antonio Spurs – C Bruno Fernando
They need a center that can at least give them better minutes at backup center than Poeltl. I do think they could take SF Isaiah Roby here too.
30) Detroit Pistons – SG Romeo Langford
They just need a scorer desperately here.
Outside Looking In: The Notables That Dropped
– SF/PF Chuma Okeke = Another great kid that has nothing bad against him at his time in college. While the former Auburn Tiger would have easily been the best option at SF/PF for a lot of teams in this draft, his leg injury will keep them all away. I still hope he gets drafted though, since he is an amazing player.
– PF Jalen McDaniels – I am not really buying a lot of the hype surrounding the PF from San Diego State. However, all I have watched so far are his highlights, so I will have to do more digging. However, his stats are pretty good, he has good size for his position, and he was able to beat up his bad conference.
– PF Grant Williams – Another great guy that I hope gets drafted. Even being a Kentucky fan, I did love me some Grant and Admiral. While I don’t think he will have a good NBA career, I still think it is noticeable he isn’t going in the first round. He should land on a decent team that needs a really good bench player, and I think Grant can be that.
– SG Admiral Schofield – I absolutely love Admiral Schofield. I completely see the old Marcus Smart kind of player that will absolutely dominant in the NBA. I think Admiral is better on the offensive end than Marcus, I still think that the Schofield’s defensive potential mirrors that of Smart when he initially went to the league. I will see him off the board early in the second round, and probably before his counter-part from Tennessee.
– SF Isaiah Roby – Just like with McDaniels, I am not buying the hype around Roby. I see Roby as a capable bench player in the 24-28 minutes a game range. He has a good range on both ends of the floor, but is too foul-happy for my taste. However, he would be perfect for a team like the Brooklyn Nets, Portland Trailblazers, or Oklahoma City Thunder. However, lots of people are saying he is quick enough to be a 3 in the NBA. I’ll check the tapes more.
– SF Ignas Brazdeikis – As a pure-blood Ohio State fan, I already despise this guy. However, Ignas is a super skilled player. He has nothing to show on the defensive end, but he is one of the most talented offensive ones to be in this draft. He led the Wolverines on the offensive end, being their option in the clutch moments of a game multiple times. While I am terrified that my Cavs may be stupid enough to draft this man with the 5th pick since they hired his college coach, I’ll just keep my fingers crossed on draft night.
– SG Kyle Guy – If Kyle Guy wrote a book, I would not only buy it, but invite him on my (upcoming) podcast to talk about it. The man has a story that needs to be heard, and I recommend you seek it out. However, many NBA teams may not seek him out due to his size. He may be THE BEST three point shooter in the draft, him being 6’2″ will pose a lot of issues to many teams. I hope he can stick on a roster as a corner specialist or something of that ilk, since I know he will be a great player wherever he lands.
– PF/C Jontay Porter – Another guy I am not buying the hype for. Coming from the horrible gene pool the Michael Porter, Jr. is from, Jontay played like 5 minutes for Mizzou this year. I do find it concerning that the Porter family keeps getting hurt, but I do not know whether that is due to their vegan diet or bad genes. However, the 6’11” Porter is just as skilled as his brother. A team will take a flyer on him late solely for the family name, but the injury history is showing signs of making him slip in the draft process.
– SG Terance Mann – Terance Mann is another player I view like Marcus Smart in this draft. Terance is super athletic and talented, and I don’t see lasting long in the second round. I don’t know if his speed or shooting will be the factor that keeps some teams away from him, but he will be worth the risk for some. Many are saying he is going to climb the boards, and I can see it happen.
– SF Brian Bowen – I hope Brian Bowen doesn’t slide outside the first round. I think he is amazing, and he unfortunately took the fall for the whole Under Armor fiasco. He is super athletic, super talented, and super fresh since he didn’t play a single minute last year. I would consider him a steal right now wherever he goes, but that is subject to change right now.
– PG/SG Aubrey Dawkins – Dawkins played well on the biggest stage, and I hope teams remember that. He comes from a basketball family, and he was THE guy on his team (sorry Tacko). He’s a good combo guard, and I am viewing him a bit like D Rose when he was at Memphis. He is going to slip, and a team will be very lucky to acquire him. I think he has the drive to become a solid bench player in his rookie year, and that would be great for a lot of teams.
– SG Fletcher McGee – He is a guy I bought the hype for in the tournament, but am now selling out. He jumps into his shot in workouts, and he couldn’t perform on the biggest stage. I see a touch of Jimmer in his game, and I think the NBA is rightfully apprehensive of those guys.
– C Tacko Fall – I love Tacko. I want him to succeed. But the best thing people are saying about him is, “He moves really well for a guy his size.” However, I do think his tape against Zion will only help his stock. I think he will get the proverbial cup of coffee with a team and move on. I keep circling back to Yao and Boban molds, but I do not know how Tacko will do. He’s not fast enough and doesn’t have the best endurance. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for him though.