With just a week until the NBA Draft, the mock drafts are taking shape all over the internet. I don’t want to predict what I think will happen though. Too much of that as it is, and ultimately, trades and poor ownership is going to ruin it anyway.
So let’s pretend every team is run by an ownership/GM/coach combination that knows exactly what they have, what they need and where they are going. We’re getting closer to this place, with more and more information and smarter people in power, so why not project out a bit? This is what every team should do with it’s pick, minus trades. I didn’t write about each pick, just the notable ones. Enjoy!
1. Philadelphia Sixers – Markelle Fultz, Guard – Washington
I love the move up that Philadelphia made. They get a big time centerpiece to essentially complete their “process” and now can begin to turn the corner toward building a contender. As long as Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons stay healthy, this Sixers team will probably be a huge problem in a few years.
2. Los Angeles Lakers – Lonzo Ball, Guard – UCLA
Everything about this makes sense. Ball is probably the second best player in the draft, and given everything his father, Lavar, has spewed for the past 3 months, it will be a win-win. Ball and D’Angelo Russell will make a dangerous backcourt on the offensive end and I think that coach Luke Walton is confident and young enough to bridge the relationship with Lavar. Like it or not, this is a factor. The teams leadership has to hold ground and not get railroaded by Lavar. I don’t think Lonzo cares either way, I think he just wants to play. The Lakers could be a piece (Paul George) or two away from making noise.
3. Boston Celtics – Josh Jackson, Wing – Kansas
I liked the trade down for Boston, as long as they don’t stay put. In my opinion, Jackson doesn’t make sense for Boston. I love the player that he could be, but if the Celtics are sticking with him, Jaylen Brown does a lot of the same things. I hope Danny Ainge isn’t done with this years draft and that he uses this pick to get something more.
4. Phoenix Suns – Jayson Tatum, Wing – Duke
Tatum fits into this Suns rebuild perfectly. They have an influx of guards, some developing young players in the post, and a big opportunity on the wing. Tatum provides the scoring that the Suns could pair with Devin Booker to lighten his load, while allowing the young guys around him to continue to develop. I love Tatum (or Jackson if these two flip) filling the wing spot in Phoenix.
5. Sacramento Kings – De’Aaron Fox, Guard – Kentucky
The Kings need a legit guard to run the offense, and someone who loves the game. Fox is both of those things, and as a bonus, reportedly wants to play for Sacramento. The Kings and the Suns are competing for most Calipari players on their roster, and the Kings take a big step in their rebuild with probably my favorite player in the draft. More on their rebuild later.
6. Orlando Magic – Malik Monk, Guard – Kentucky
Orlando can remain open and versatile with this pick. It appears they have swung and missed on their previous future backcourt (Elfrid Payton, Mario Hezonja) and Monk appears to be the best of both of those players. Uber-athletic and a pretty good facilitator, the Magic can wait to see what other backcourt players they can pick up in the draft to put around Monk or find one in free agency. Either way, I believe Monk can play either spot and can gel into any system.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves – Jonathan Isaac, Wing – Florida State
Isaac is the type of player that can fit into any scheme. A long, 3 and D wing player that has huge upside is basically what the NBA is going toward. Isaac will probably come off the bench in Minnesota to start, but the idea of a lineup of KAT, Isaac, Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Ricky Rubio is pretty scary. Isaac could fit in anywhere, but Minnesota will probably continue to get richer.
8. New York Knicks – Frank Ntilikina, Guard – France
If Phil Jackson is going to insist on running the Triangle, then he needs a point guard to run it. Ntilikina is just what you want – a big guard who can shoot – and with his added length and wingspan, he can continue to develop in the NBA once Jackson either loses his job or decides to let the Triangle die. Either way, at just 18 years old and 170 lbs, Ntilikina is going to have a lot to work on, but the upside is there.
9. Dallas Mavericks – Dennis Smith, Jr., Guard – NC State
Repeat after me Mark Cuban: Stay away from Lauri Markkanen. Stay far, far away. I’m not big on Markkanen, but I don’t think he’s terrible. I just would hate to see Dallas draft him just because he’s got shades of Dirk in his game. And by shades of Dirk, I mean he can shoot threes, is tall and white. Smith is a great value at this point, and could provide the Mavs with a point guard to lead them into the post-Dirk era.
10. Sacramento Kings – OG Anunoby, Wing – Indiana
Back to the rebuild. The Kings have their guard to run the offense, now they need someone to replace Rudy Gay on the wing. Sacramento needs to get young and more athletic. With all the talent they appear to have in the post, filling out the rest of the roster (and getting rid of the dead weight) will launch them into a committed rebuild, which is what they need.
11. Charlotte Hornets – Donavon Mitchell, Guard – Louisville
Mitchell’s stock is rising and for good reason. He’s long, athletic, can shoot and plays nasty defense. He needs to learn how to adjust to contact in the paint and become more disciplined, but pairing him with Kemba Walker and MKG gives the Hornets an interesting 1 through 3.
12. Detroit Pistons – Lauri Markkanen, Big – Arizona
Stretches the floor for the Pistons. Assuming Stan Van Gundy still has dreams of turning the Pistons into his Orlando Magic teams, Markkanen can be a good shooter to put around Andre Drummond.
13. Denver Nuggets – Justin Jackson, Wing – North Carolina
14. Miami Heat – Zach Collins, Big – Gonzaga
I love Zach Collins irrationally, because he definitely has things to work on. He needs to hit the weight room and is a slower defender with his feet. But how fun does a frontcourt of Hassan Whiteside and Zach Collins sound?
15. Portland Trailblazers – Harry Giles, Big – Duke
Giles shouldn’t be drafted this high in a normal situation. But with the Blazers having three first round picks, along with an already strong backcourt, I expect them to take a couple shots on some high upside big men.
16. Chicago Bulls – Luke Kennard, Wing – Duke
Somebody has to replace Doug McDermott.
17. Milwaukee Bucks – Ike Anigbogu, Big – UCLA
The Bucks get longer and more athletic. Jason Kidd is attempting to put together the first NBA team comprised of players not born on this planet.
18. Indiana Pacers – Justin Patton, Big – Creighton
19. Atlanta Hawks – Jarrett Allen, Big – Texas
20. Portland Trailblazers – Terrance Ferguson, Wing – Australia
21. Oklahoma City Thunder – T.J. Leaf, Big – UCLA
Russell Westbrook needs quality around him to make him a willing passer. I’m not one of those people that thinks he’s selfish, he just needs to know that the other player can finish the play. I can’t wait to see Westbrook ally-oops to Leaf.
22. Brooklyn Nets – John Collins, Big – Wake Forest
23. Toronto Raptors – Kostja Mushidi, Guard – Belgium
24. Utah Jazz – Rodions Kurucs, Wing – Latvia
25. Orlando Magic – Isaiah Hartenstein, Big – Germany
26. Portland Trailblazers – Anzejs Pasecniks, Big – Latvia
27. Brooklyn Nets – Jonathan Jeanne, Big – France
28. Los Angeles Lakers – Tony Bradley, Big – North Carolina
29. San Antonio Spurs – Jordan Bell, Big – Oregon
While I think you can’t compare anyone to Draymond Green, I love the thought of Popovich drafting his own version to pair up with Kawhi and Co.
30. Utah Jazz – Bam Adebayo, Big – Kentucky
Bam could be a great reason for the Jazz to cut ties with Derrick Favors. There’s nothing wrong necessarily with Favors, but Adebayo would be cheaper and putting him next to Rudy Gobert is intriguing.