With the draft tonight, I have decided to make a mock draft right before the draft occurs. Let’s get right into it!
#1: New Orleans Pelicans – Zion Williamson
Zion is a no-brainer #1 overall selection. If they go with Ja Morant, it is also a good selection but at this point it is almost certain the Pelicans go with Zion. Zion Williamson is one of the most hyped up players ever and will look to live up to it probably on the Pelicans court.
#2: Memphis Grizzlies – Ja Morant
Again another no-brainer, Ja Morant is a prospect some say may have more upside than Zion. Not only does Morant have great athleticism, he also has fantastic IQ’s. Memphis traded Mike Conley to make room for Ja Morant, because Morant looks to be a once in a generation type player.
#3: New York Knicks – RJ Barrett
The Knicks select RJ Barrett with the third pick, and this is the third no-brainer and the last no-brainer selection in the draft. Barrett can do a little bit of everything, from shooting to rebounding to defending. He was the second option with Duke, but would become the first option on the New York team barring any Free Agency addition.
#4: Atlanta Hawks – De’Andre Hunter
The Hawks just traded with the Pelicans for the fourth pick and I believe they select De’Andre Hunter, because well, Woj just reported on it. To be fair I did actually have Hunter going at #4 to the Pelicans anyway. So now are the top 4 picks locked? Hunter can fit into the Hawks offense, as he shot 44% from 3 in college while also being fantastic on the defensive end. In fact he actually won the ACC Defensive Player of the Year award. If he develops a more consistent offensive game, he can be a real star in the NBA.
#5: Cleveland Cavaliers – Jarrett Culver
The Cavaliers need someone in the back court with Sexton. Recently Culver has been impressing many teams, and he has gone flying up the draft board. Looking back to Sports Illustrated made on December 15, 2018 they had him going at pick 15! Culver is excellent on the defensive end, as well as an excellent playmaker. The one concern he has is his ability to shoot beyond the arc. If he figures that out along with a few other holes, the sky is the limit for Culver.
#6: Minnesota Timberwolves – Darius Garland
I can’t keep up with these trades. I tried to get this post out at 6 PM but these trades keep coming in. I’m going with Garland just like I did if it was the Suns pick. The Timberwolves need a point guard, and if Garland falls to 6 for them that would be awesome. Garland is a phenomenal player offensively, and can get everyone on Phoenix involved. Garland will have to work on his defense but he is one of the most gifted offensive players in the draft and probably the best ball handler.
#7: Chicago Bulls – Coby White
What has been the Bulls biggest need for the past few seasons? The answer to that is of course the Point Guard position. Coby White is an average playmaker, but it a great spot-up shooter and is extremely fast. Off the pick and roll, White can score many points. Chicago is ranked 29th in offensive rating, so they need desperately need that.
#8: New Orleans Pelicans – Jaxson Hayes
Whether you compare him to Clint Capela, Jarrett Allen, Mitchell Robinson or someone else, he has a lot of potential to be a great center for any team. The Pelicans would gladly use someone like him to play next to Zion, especially with them potentially losing someone like Dedmon in Free Agency. Hayes interior defense is great, and will get even better. He has the physical toolset, but will have to improve on many areas of his game to become a top NBA big man.
#9: Washington Wizards – Sekou Doumbouya
Doumbouya is not a safe pick, so the Wizards may not take this route. However, I feel they may go with a risk because it is kind of what their franchise needs. They need new star power, and they need to blow up their team and begin rebuilding with young talent. They have a great young center in Thomas Bryant, and if the Wizards do trade Beal for a draft pick or two they have more young players to rebuild with. Doumbouya is a high risk high reward player, and will take time to develop. The Wizards have that time, and Doumbouya is just 18 years of age. He has the physical toolset, but needs to work on many areas of his game including shooting and his ball control.
#10: Atlanta Hawks – Cameron Reddish
The Hawks will look to take a high risk high reward player, which is what you get in Reddish. He would be in a situation where he doesn’t have a lot of pressure on him, as he would be playing with Trae Young. However ,any question Reddish’s desire to become a great player, and he would have to step up effort levels. Reddish has good playmaking skills while also having the ability to become great. Reddish used to be predicted as a top 5 possibly even top 3 draft pick, however over the course of this season he has been disappointing. He wasn’t a flop in college and we were able to see the potential he has, and if the Hawks can find that potential he will be a steal at #8.
#11: Phoenix Suns – PJ Washington
PJ Washington was a solid 3-point shooter for Kentucky this season, and he will look to continue that in the NBA. To add on to this, PJ Washington has the work ethic and the motor to get better. We saw a dramatic change in his 3-point shooting, as in his freshman season he shot just 23.8% from deep. With hard work he was able to raise that to 42.3% in his sophomore season. If you take PJ Washington you are taking a guy who is driven to succeed, and a guy who will work harder than many other players. Phoenix could for sure use a guy like PJ Washington, as he fits into the system and fits into different team needs Phoenix has. He is a pretty safe bet in the NBA draft, and I feel will help Phoenix win immediately.
#12: Charlotte Hornets – Rui Hachimura
The Hornets need big men, because they have guys like Kemba Walker and Jeremy lamb(If they resign) in the back court. Hachimura is a risk because of his holes on the defensive end of the court, but his offense is superb. He is the type of player that puts his team first, and will do whatever he can to help out Kemba win games in Charlotte. Also just as a side note, this is great for Charlotte as they can attract Japanese fans, as Hachimura was born in Japan.
#13: Miami Heat – Tyler Herro
Tyler Herro is a guy who might just be the best shooter in the class. For comparisons he is like former Kentucky player Devin Booker and also Kevin Huerter. Herro has a lot of work to do defensively, but at 14, Herro can definitely be a steal kind of like how Booker was. For the Heat, they need someone NBA ready who can come straight into their lineup, and Herro in my opinion can do just that.
#14: Boston Celtics – Brandon Clarke
Brandon Clarke would be a great fit for the Boston considering they need a power forward and could use someone on defense. The Celtics need someone at power forward and Clarke seems to be more of a win now guy that can help Boston. Clarke is probably the best defensive big man in the draft and the Celtics need someone like that, so I say they go with him to end the lottery selections.
#15: Detroit Pistons – Nassir Little
Yes, Nassir Little has fallen pretty far. Some consider him a late top 10 pick, a lot consider him a late lottery selection, but I have him just outside of the lottery at pick 15. This guy is a high risk high reward player. If Miami and Boston were not looking for a win now guy, I think Little probably could of gone in the late lottery. Little is a project, and the Pistons will be able to work with him. Little was very inconsistent for North Carolina this season, and he will have to take time to get NBA ready. He has the athleticism, size, defense and it seems he has potential that still needs to be found. This is a risk for the Pistons but if it works out it would be huge. It seems as if for the Pistons they are due to get that steal as in recent years they just have not got anyone massive out of the draft since 2012.
#16: Orlando Magic – Romeo Langford
Langford could be a sleeper in the draft, because he had a ligament injury in his thumb. We never saw Langford’s true ability in college, and in the NBA we might see a better Langford. These middle first round picks are where you get teams who haven’t made much noise, barely getting into the playoffs. These types of teams need difference makers, and if Langford pans out he can do just that for the Magic.
#17: New Orleans Pelicans – Nickeil Alexander-Walker
The Pelicans have already taken Hayes, and I think with this pick they can select a guard. They have Lonzo and Jrue, but still could use one more guard to join them especially for off the bench production. I have them going with Nickeil Alexander-Walker out of Virginia Tech. This guy is probably not going to be a super flashy guy, he doesn’t really have the potential to get to that all-star level, but maybe I’m wrong. Either way, Alexander-Walker is going to be a great role-player who can do anything from shooting to defending to playmaking. Alexander-Walker can be a stud off the bench for the Pelicans.
#18: Indiana Pacers – Keldon Johnson
Keldon Johnson is very athletic and can also knock down the three ball. He reminds me of a Corey Maggette type player. Sometimes Johnson does have a habit of doing too much instead of taking an easy open shot. I think his IQ’s need a good amount of work on the offensive and defensive end, but those will improve over time. Either way, Johnson is a solid player and can help the Pacers out when Oladipo returns from injury next season.
#19: San Antonio Spurs – Goga Bitadze
We know how much the Spurs love their foreigners. Bitadze is probably the second or third best center in the draft, and overseas he won many awards such as the EuroLeague Rising Star award, the Serbian Super League MVP, and the Adriatic League MVP. Of course with these players you always have to ask if they will be able to make the transition. Bitadze is effective in many areas from defense to offense. For Mega Bermax he averaged 20.2 points per game, 7.9 rebounds per game, and 2.5 blocks per game. Jokic averaged 19.2 points per game, 11.3 rebounds per game, and 1.0 blocks per game with Mega Bermax. I am very high on Bitadze, and I think the Spurs or any team in this draft can do a lot with him.
#20: Boston Celtics – Bol Bol
Even though the Celtics have Robert Williams, if they lose both Aron Baynes and Al Horford this offseason, they could use another young talented center. Bol Bol is probably the biggest risk in the draft, but his reward is unlike anyone else and the Celtics need a big reward to elevate them to the next level. Bol Bol has the size, and he has the jump shot with the ability to space the floor. The biggest weakness to his game is actually probably just his durability.
#21: Oklahoma City Thunder – Cameron Johnson
According to Mike Schmitz and many others, Cameron Johnson is the best shooter in this draft class. He shot a near 46% beyond the arc, and was just fantastic. Cam Johnson’s release is also really smooth and nice. For a team like OKC, they need a player like Cam Johnson who can come straight into OKC’s lineup and shoot the 3-ball. He needs to work on a lot of areas but he is a good option for a kind of late 1st round selection.
#22: Boston Celtics – Kevin Porter Jr.
This is the second high risk high reward selection for the Celtics. Porter Jr didn’t receive an invite to the green room, and that probably has to do with his work ethic as he was quite disruptive in college. Boston is going to have to make sure Porter comes in and shows he is mature enough to earn a roster spot on this team. He is a project, however if it works out you are getting a player that can explode on offense with his great athleticism and great shooting.
#23: Memphis Grizzlies – Mfiondu Kabengele
Mfiondu Kabengele is the nephew of Dikembe Mutombo. Kabengele had a great March Madness with Florida State which shot him up the board. He has the size and athleticism with a lot of potential that a team such as the Grizzlies will look to fulfill.
#24: Philadelphia 76ers – Matisse Thybulle
Thybulle is coming in as probably the best wing defender in the draft. Thybulle is very quick and will help out any team on defense, however his offense is the big question mark. If he can improve on offense, Thybulle can be special in the NBA. Right now he is sort of like Andre Roberson. He does have a lot of time to develop an offensive game, and I think on the 76ers he can benefit and learn an offensive game.
#25: Portland Trailblazers – KZ Okpala
The Trailblazers could use a young shooter, especially due to the fact they might lose Seth Curry in Free Agency. Okpala is tall for a guard at 6’8, and is a very physically gifted player. What he needs to do to get to that next level is to live in a weight room and gain some muscle, gain some pounds. He also needs to improve defensively and be a little more agrressive on that end. If KZ Okpala puts in the work this summer, he can become a great option on the Blazers.
#26: Cleveland Cavaliers – Nicolas Claxton
Claxton is one of those guys where you don’t know if he is going late 10’s, early 20’s or late 20’s. Some even have him early second round. I have him at right at pick 26. Claxton is a great playmaker for a center and is able to handle the ball. Claxton shot the 3-pointer a good amount but needs to improve on his consistency from deep. He is a project but the Cavaliers have time to work with him.
#27: Brooklyn Nets – Grant Williams
Grant Williams is kind of a reach, but again this a guy you don’t really know where he could land. He doesn’t really have the size for the power forward position at just 6’7, and he isn’t that athletic. This guy reminds me a lot of PJ Tucker, he can play the small ball four and his defense is awesome. Even though he lacks athleticism he can still guard many positions. He can also run a pick and roll with whatever point guard is starting on the Nets next season. This guy will probably become a decent starter in the NBA.
#28: Golden State Warriors – Dylan Windler
Dylan Windler is going to be 23 once the season begins. However this is the player the Warriors need if they want to build a good bench for next years road to the Finals. He is one of the most efficient scorers, and it has been said many times he is fit for a team that already has star power. He is a guy who can shoot the 3-point shot and someone who can help out the Warriors second unit.
#29: San Antonio Spurs – Luka Samanic
Samanic is a player out of Croatia with a lot of potential that needs to be found. Samanic can shoot the ball from deep and he also has a lot of strength which can be used in the post. LaMarcus Aldridge can probably help Samanic learn a lot of moves. Maybe Samanic can become an Aldridge type player with a 3 ball, which would be huge.
#30: Detroit Pistons – Ty Jerome
Ty Jerome does not have that much speed however he has such a high basketball IQ and can be a great fit playing with the freak athlete, Blake Griffin. Ty Jerome can be an excellent backup for the Pistons and potentially if he works hard in a few years he can become a starter for them. Jerome has a good jump shot and I think he would be perfect next to Griffin and Drummond, especially due to the fact that the Pistons don’t have a lot of backcourt talent.
That is my mock draft for the draft that starts soon, tonight at 7 PM ET. I am super excited for it, and we will see 60 players get drafted. Hopefully there are also going to be more draft night trades, with teams such as the Hawks, Pelicans and Suns already being active and other teams such as the Warriors that have been rumored to be active around the NBA with potential trades. That will be it for this draft post, and my next post should be on grades for each team in the NBA draft.