With the Draft Lottery being announced last night it's finally time for the first version of my Mock Draft. Keep in mind this doesn't represent where these players are ranked on my Big Board, this is just my prediction of how things will fall.
1. Orlando Magic – Jabari Smith Jr. | 19 | Auburn| Forward | 6’10 | 220
From a fit standpoint, Smith is the best move for the Magic here. The Magic could use another versatile wing scorer and Smith is a guy who is very capable of being an off-ball threat which is perfect for Orlando’s guard-heavy roster. A lineup featuring Anthony, Fultz, Wagner, Smith, and Carter would be entertaining to watch.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder – Chet Holmgren | 20 | Gonzaga | Big | 7’0 | 195
Sam Presti couldn’t be happier here with Chet Holmgren falling into his lap at 2. Presti has long been in love with the idea of a “unicorn” type player and the thought of pairing Holmgren with his other pet project Aleksej Pokusevski is too much to overcome. Chet gives the Thunder the rim protector they desperately need and should get the freedom in OKC to grow his versatile offensive game. This would be an ideal fit for both sides.
3. Houston Rockets – Paolo Banchero | 19 | Duke | Forward | 6’10 | 250
Banchero is the player leftover from the “Big 3” of this draft and is too good for the Rockets to pass up although I’m not sure if this is the ideal fit for either side. Banchero’s offensive game reminds me a lot of Carmelo Anthony (Banchero is a much better passer) and he will be most effective creating for himself which may clash a bit with the games of Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. Banchero also tends to have some mental lapses on defense which has been the Achilles heel of the Rockets.
4. Sacramento Kings – Shaedon Sharpe | 19 | Kentucky | Guard/Wing | 6’6 | 200
This is theoretically where you could see the first trade of the night if someone is interested in moving up to get Jayden Ivey. I’m going to assume the Kings hold on to the pick though and if they do Shaedon Sharpe is the guy. Ivey is higher on my board but he just isn’t a great fit for a Kings team that already has DeAaron Fox and Davion Mitchell. The Kings get a guy in Sharpe who should be able to be an effective off-ball scorer as well as someone who can step in and create when needed. It would definitely be a gamble selecting Sharpe this high but I wouldn’t put it past the Kings to bet on his potential.
5. Detroit Pistons – Jaden Ivey | 20 | Purdue | Guard | 6’4 | 195
This would be the ideal situation for the Pistons who have to be disappointed at the way the lottery fell but still manage to land their top target (if recent reports are to be believed). Ivey paired with Cade Cunningham would give the Pistons a dynamic backcourt that would be as tough to guard as any in the Eastern Conference. I do wonder about Ivey’s ability to play off-ball but Cade has shown enough catch and shoot ability that they would both be able to get their turns running the offense.
6. Indiana Pacers – Keegan Murray | 21 | Iowa | Wing | 6’8 | 225
Murray gives the Pacers a potential replacement for TJ Warren in the lineup and is someone who should be able to step in and be pretty effective from Day 1 with his ability to score from all over the floor.
7. Portland Trail Blazers – Bennedict Mathurin | 20 | Arizona | Wing | 6’6 | 210
Another spot where you could see a trade. Depending on where they are at with the Damian Lillard situation I could see the Blazers attempting to package this pick to get a veteran starter. Assuming they do make the pick the Blazers will still be looking for someone who can step in and help Dame right away and Mathurin is that guy. While he is still a year or two away from being able to effectively create for himself he should be able to step into a role as a strong 3 and D guy from the jump. He needs to get more attentive in on-ball situations but has shown the potential to do so.
8. New Orleans Pelicans – AJ Griffin | 18 | Duke | Wing | 6’6 | 225
Griffin is the best pure shooter in this draft and fits ideally with a New Orleans team that already has the centerpieces of the franchise but needs some effective role players. Griffin will probably never be a star unless the athleticism he showed pre-injury in High School returns to him, but as he showed this past season at Duke he is a guy who is very comfortable being in the supporting cast.
9. San Antonio Spurs – Leonard Miller | 18 | Canada | Wing/Forward | 6’11 | 210
Miller might be the most mysterious prospect in this year’s draft. He has come out of nowhere the past few months as a potential first-round pick and NBA teams are absolutely in love with his physical traits. I’ve been hearing that it wouldn’t be a shock to see him climb into the lottery. Miller is incredibly raw so it will probably be 2-3 years at least before you see any significant contribution out of him. Still, I could see the Spurs “reaching” on his potential here ala Josh Primo a year ago.
10. Washington Wizards – Johnny Davis | 20 | Wisconsin | Guard | 6’5 | 196
The Wizards need someone to pair with Bradley Beal in the backcourt and Davis gives them someone who can create for himself and others and take on the tougher defensive matchups.
11. New York Knicks – Dyson Daniels | 19 | G-League Ignite | Guard | 6’6 | 199
The Knicks' backcourt is pretty heavy with scoring-minded guards so an unselfish player with the vision of Daniels would be the perfect fit here.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder – Jalen Duren | 18 | Memphis | Big | 6’11 | 250
This may be viewed as kind of an odd pick considering the Thunder already selected a “Center” with the second pick in the draft but hear me out. While Holmgren is 7’0 he is not a traditional big while Duren is the exact definition of a traditional big. Chet figures to be more of a perimeter player offensively so I don’t think clogging the lane would be an issue with both of these guys on the floor. Ultimately if Duren were to slip this far his potential as a Dwight Howard type is too much for OKC to pass on.
13. Charlotte Hornets – Mark Williams | 20 | Duke | Big | 7’0 | 242
As Lee B. and I discussed last week on The Fast Risers Podcast, Williams is exactly the type of player the Charlotte Hornets need on their roster. He is a beast of a rim-protector and while still raw offensively, he is athletic enough to give you a constant rim running threat.
14. Cleveland Cavaliers – Jeremy Sochan | 19 | Baylor | Wing | 6’9 | 230
The Cavs add to their stable of defensive studs with another long athletic defender in Sochan. The offense is still pretty raw but he showed flashes of being an effective connector type piece.
15. Charlotte Hornets – Tari Eason | 21 | LSU | Forward/Wing | 6’8 | 215
Could be an effective replacement for Miles Bridges if the Hornets let him walk in Free Agency.
16. Atlanta Hawks – Ochai Agbaji | 22 | Kansas | Wing | 6’5 | 214
17. Houston Rockets – Kendall Brown | 19 | Baylor | Wing | 6’8 | 210
This is where the board starts to get a little jumbled up and I could see Houston taking a flyer on someone like Brown who has elite defensive potential as a wing.
18. Chicago Bulls – Malaki Branham | 19 | Ohio State | Guard | 6’5 | 180
The Bulls could be looking to replace Zach Lavine’s scoring from the 2 spot and Branham would be a solid fit as the guy. He isn’t anywhere near the athlete that Lavine is but Branham just finds ways to put the ball in the basket. His contested shot-making ability is second to none in this draft.
19. Minnesota Timberwolves – TyTy Washington | 20 | Kentucky | Guard | 6’3 | 197
20. San Antonio Spurs – Ousmane Dieng | 19 | New Zealand | Forward | 6’10 | 200
21. Denver Nuggets – EJ Liddell | 21 | Ohio State | 6’7 | 243
22. Memphis Grizzlies – Kennedy Chandler | 19 | Tennessee | Guard | 6’0 | 171
23. Brooklyn Nets – Walker Kessler | 20 | Auburn | Big | 7’0 | 245
24. Milwaukee Bucks – Blake Wesley | 19 | Notre Dame | Guard/Wing | 6’5 | 185
Wesley could be a huge steal for the Bucks if he makes it this far. I have him 10 on my big board but have heard he is very polarizing for NBA teams. Wesley is a guy with an all-star ceiling and could be the Robin to Giannis’ Batman for the Bucks in the future.
25. San Antonio Spurs – Jaden Hardy | 20 | G-League Ignite | Guard | 6’4 | 205
26. Dallas Mavericks – Bryce McGowens | 19 | Nebraska | Wing | 6’7 | 179
27. Miami Heat – MarJon Beauchamp | 21 | G-League Ignite | Wing | 6’6 | 199
28. Golden State Warriors – Wendell Moore Jr. | 20 | Duke | Wing | 6’5 | 213
29. Memphis Grizzlies – Jake LaRavia | 20 | Wake Forest | Forward | 6’8 | 235
30. Oklahoma City Thunder – Nikola Jovic | 19 | Serbia | Forward | 6’10 | 209