This is one of my favorite parts of the NBA. The draft. The countless potential scenarios and trades that could happen before the draft or on draft night make this event so anticipated by NBA fans and experts alike. The success of Draft Lottery with its new changes this year have made the draft a must-see program for any NBA fan.
I am no College Basketball or draft expert, so this list is just based on what I have heard around news outlets and scouting reports. I will do the lottery (up to the #14 pick).
Pick 1 (New Orleans Pelicans): Zion Williamson (Duke)
It’s Zion, a consensus number one pick among anyone who knows basketball. New Orleans will be a top dog in a few years. Imagine Jrue, Lonzo, BI, Zion, and Randle (if he signs with the Pels during FA). Also, David Griffin is amazing at his job.
Pick 2 (Memphis Grizzlies): Ja Morant (Murray State)
Ja was a big surprise after only having a few D1 offers. But, he showed everyone in the basketball world that he is the consensus number two pick among basketball experts. His speed and playmaking ability will be the start to a potentially great Memphis rebuild. Mike Conley will fit as a great mentor for Morant, unless he’s traded to the Celtics (fingers crossed).
There are some trade rumors around this pick, but a trade is not happening.
Pick 3 (New York Knicks): RJ Barrett (Duke)
I had some trouble with this one. The report about Darius Garland working out with the Knicks made things very difficult, but I feel good about this pick. It has been the consensus pick for a while now. The Knicks are a bad franchise, but truthfully, they don’t draft that terribly (Porzingis, Hardaway). I don’t really trust Barrett to be honest. He’s going to have to prove his worth to me. I think many teams are confident that the Knicks are taking Barrett, which is why there is a fight over the number four pick, which can turn into Garland or another great pick.
TRADE: New Orleans trades #4 pick, Josh Hart, Solomon Hill, E’twaun Moore to Washington for Bradley Beal
There has been a lot of discussion around this pick after New Orleans received it in the AD trade from the Laker. The Celtics, Bulls, Suns, and Hawks have discussed deals regarding this pick which will likely turn into anyone from Garland, Deandre Hunter, or Jarrett Culver. New Orleans are having a great rebuild so far and Beal adds even more depth to this Pels squad.
Pick 4 (Washington from New Orleans): Jarrett Culver (Texas Tech)
If Washington gets this pick, I think it makes more sense to take a great shooting guard, than a great center, like Deandre Hunter. The loss of Beal will give Washington to develop Culver as a guard under the guidance of John Wall. Washington has Dwight for now, but should like to build its team more. Washington needs a lot.
If New Orleans keeps this pick, it makes sense to take Deandre Hunter and keep Jrue Holiday. However, the Pelicans will be a team that will have the three-point line to guard them.
Pick 5 (Cleaveland): Deandre Hunter (Virginia)
A versatile defender is what Cleaveland could use, along with an assortment of other pieces. But that’s for them to figure out. LeBron playing in Cleveland made the Cavs not really think about their future. Of course, they couldn’t really predict Kyrie and LeBron leaving, but still. Collin Sexton has given the Cavs some hope, but they need a full rebuild, which means Kevin Love should also leave.
Pick 6 (Phoenix): Darius Garland (Vanderbilt)
I’m now realizing that my mock is very similar to a lot of experts’ mocks, which was not my goal, but I’ll change it up after this.
Garland is the right pick for Phoenix. Tyler Johnson feels more like a six man than a starting point guard. Everyone right now is saying “D-Lo to the Suns!” with Kyrie leaving, and the chemistry between D-Lo and Booker is there with them being best friends. But I don’t really see that as a good move with both being pretty ball-dominant players. Garland’s speed and playmaking ability along with his shooting will go well with the Suns system.
Pick 7 (Chicago): Sekou Doumbouya (Limoges CSP)
I told you I would change it up. This my boldest pick so far. A lot of the experts will have Coby White (a UNC PG who broke MJ’s scoring record) or Cam Reddish (a great Duke center) at this spot, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense. The Bulls already have promising players at the PG and C position with Lavine, Dunn, and Wendell Carter, respectively. So, why not take another forward to match up with another international forward in Lauri Markkanen?
Pick 8 (Atlanta): Cam Reddish (Duke)
I love the Hawks. They are young and exciting. Trae Young and John Collins have the chance to become a great duo, but now add Reddish to the mix. Although inconsistent, he has the talent and size to be great. He is the missing piece to the Hawks equation.
Pick 9 (Wizards): Jaxson Hayes (Texas)
This is just a good pick. Hayes has the size and potential to be a traditional center/power forward. I said before that the Wizards need a big man along with a guard if Beal is traded. Well, this is it.
Pick 10 (Atlanta): Rui Hachimura (Gonzaga)
This could potentially be one of the best picks in the draft. He has risen to great heights in his last two seasons with the Zags. His size and work ethic has showed in his college playing time as one of the best stories of college basketball. I think he can be one of the best players in the draft because he is a teachable player with a great shot and comparisons to Giannis.
Pick 11 (Minnesota): Coby White (UNC)
Okay, I let him drop enough. Coby White is a great player and proved it after breaking none other than Michael Jordan’s school scoring record. Right there, you can see the reason teams might want him. He is a quick guard who will make plays in transition. The Timberwolves have ran a pick and roll offense, which is what White thrives in, and Ryan Saunders may change that up as head coach, but I like this pick for the Timberwolves.
Pick 12 (Charlotte): PJ Washington (Kentucky)
There’s a lot of different picks that can be made here. Charlotte is a very average team. PJ Washington will not be a star player that puts the Hornets over the edge, but certainly has a lot of potential. He is a versatile player who can score is different ways with a jump shot or near the rim.
The Hornets can take others like Brandon Clarke, Nassir Little, Bol Bol, Michael Porter Jr, or others.
Pick 13 (Miami): Nassir Little (UNC)
This season for Miami has been all about Dwyane Wade’s Farewell Tour. But, Miami needs a lot of help. They have insane contracts on some players. News came out saying Whiteside would stay. They are some future in Bam and Winslow, but they need a star player while also clearing out some contracts. That star could be in Nassir Little. He has raw talent that can be converted into a star. Unfortunately, he won’t have Wade to mentor him, but Little can still become a great player.
Pick 14 (Boston): Brandon Clarke (Gonzaga)
Boston is talked about being a team that could trade up in this draft and make some moves with their assets. But Brandon Clarke is the smart pick here. He is on the older side, but has the ability to be a solid player to go with Boston’s young core. Horford (WHEN he signs back with the Celtics) will mentor Clarke’s offensive game, as he already has a great defensive ability. I’m betting on a FUTURE lineup of Smart, JB, Tatum, Clarke, and the Timelord. This will be a great team.
Players for the Celtics to look at the 20 and 22: Tyler Herro, Bol Bol, Kevin Porter Jr, Goga Bitadze