I am not sure if the new lottery reform will prevent or accelerate tanking, but what an exciting night the lottery was!
Unofficially, 233 American players, and another few dozen foreign prospects, declared for the draft. Because of the sheer number of players, I am only including prospects who officially hired an agent in this mock. The deadline to withdraw from the draft is May 29.
1. New Orleans Pelicans (33-49)
SF/PF Zion Williamson, Fr, Duke
6’7, 285 lbs
22.6 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.1 apg
First of all, how pathetic is ESPN for all of the Zion Williamson pandering during the lottery show? Yeah, he is going to be the first overall pick, but come on. Do not make it so obvious that Williamson is your new meal ticket once LeBron James retires. At least pretend to show the other young kids a little bit of respect.
On to the Pelicans. This is a godsend for a franchise that is about to turn a new page. Now they can move on from Anthony Davis and rebuild the team and image around a very marketable and likable personality and great player.
Zion Williamson has NBA superstar written all over him. He reminds me so much of a young Charlotte Hornets-era Larry Johnson. The toughness and explosiveness is just off the charts. He seems to have the drive, determination and love for the game to be great, though there will be questions on how his game could translate to the NBA. Still, a no brainer first overall pick, and the hopeful new face of the New Orleans Pelicans franchise.
2. Memphis Grizzlies (33-49)
PG Ja Morant, So, Murray State
6’3, 195 lbs
24.5 ppg, 10.0 apg, 5.7 rpg
Losing out on Zion Williamson really hurts, but Ja Morant would be a nice consolation prize for the rebuilding Memphis Grizzlies. Long built around Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, the new look squad will be led by center Jaren Jackson Jr. and point guard Morant.
Portland’s current back court consists of Weber State and Lehigh alumnus. The other bench has a former Davidson point guard. The point is, talent is talent no matter where they play college ball, and Ja Morant has it by the boatload. His game is very well suited for the current NBA, and he should help accelerate a Mike Conley trade and full blown rebuild in Memphis.
3. New York Knicks (17-65)
SG/SF RJ Barrett, Fr, Duke
6’7, 202 lbs
22.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 4.3 apg
The lottery reform claims it’s first victim, though things could have been much worse for New York. This is a three man draft, and fortunately, the Knicks will get to draft the last leg of that race. Of course, New York has visions of grandeur and could move this pick in hopes of landing a superstar (how has that worked out the past 20 years?) instead of actually rebuilding.
I am not a huge RJ Barrett fan, but he is a pretty safe bet to become a 20 point per game scorer in the NBA, and those guys are always welcome additions. It is easy to compare him to Andrew Wiggins, but that is a bit unfair at this point. No matter which direction the Knicks go in the future, having a wing scorer will always be a strong fit.
4. Los Angeles Lakers (37-45)
PG/SG Coby White, Fr, North Carolina
6’5, 185 lbs
16.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.5 apg
It is hard to call the Los Angeles Lakers “losers,” due to the fact the team jumped half a dozen spots into the top four, and will now be picking ahead of many worse teams. The draft falls off after the top three, but this pick could still be somewhat valuable in a trade.
If Los Angeles decides to keep it, I think Coby White is the best bet here. A bit of a tweener, he still showed solid scoring instincts, and could be a good spot up shooter for LeBron James and company. I still sincerely doubt this picks remains with Los Angeles, though.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers (19-63)
SG Jarrett Culver, So, Texas Tech
6’5, 195 lbs
18.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 3.7 apg
Cleveland could not replicate it’s three time ping pong ball luck and land yet another top overall pick. In fact, just the opposite, as the team fell all the way to pick number five.
Jarrett Culver did not have a good Final Four run, but I do not think that will effect his stock all that much. He reminds me a bit of a poor man’s Bradley Beal. He needs to add some serious muscle, but his shooting and scoring should translate quite well to the NBA. Cleveland has a long way to go, but a back court of Culver and Collin Sexton is not a bad duo to build around.
6. Phoenix Suns (19-63)
PG Darius Garland, Fr, Vanderbilt
6’2, 175 lbs
16.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.6 apg
You have to be quite unlucky to win 19 games and end up picking sixth in a bad draft, but that is the way the ping pong balls now bounce.
Point guard is the obvious need in Phoenix. So much so that they should draft for need, even as a bad team. Fortunately, Darius Garland is still available, and he should be an instant starter. Garland will have to prove that he is over his serious injury, but he is athletic, and run the floor and has the potential to be a nice scorer at the NBA level.
7. Chicago Bulls (22-60)
SF/PF Cam Reddish, Fr, Duke
6’8, 218 lbs
13.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.0 apg
How good is Cam Reddish really? He struggled bad as the third fiddle in Duke’s offense, but he was a top recruit. That will be up to scouts to determine, but here he would be a decent gamble. This is a really bad draft, of course, which makes the question mark a little easier to swallow. Jim Boylen will run his offense like it is 1961, so maybe that “structure” will help Reddish.
8. Atlanta Hawks (29-53)
SF/PF Rui Hachimura, Jr, Gonzaga
6’8, 230 lbs
19.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.5 apg
With two top ten picks, and a promising season led by Trae Young, things are looking up in Atlanta.
Rui Hachimura gets the Tobias Harris comp from me. He really developed his offense this year, even showing a bit of three point touch. He looks to be an ideal 2019 power forward, though he could get exposed a bit on defense thanks to less than ideal athleticism. It will be up to the Atlanta coaching staff to build that part of his game.
9. Washington Wizards (32-50)
SF/PF De’Andre Hunter, So, Virginia
6’7, 225 lbs
15.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.0 apg
Washington could be on the lookout for 3 and D players to replace recently traded Otto Porter, and De’Andre Hunter could fit that bill. Fresh off a 27 point, 9 rebound game in an NCAA championship win, Hunter should be a mid late to lottery lock. He may never be an All Star, but the Wizards should have a long time starter on their hands.
10. Atlanta Hawks (29-53) (from DAL)
C Bol Bol, Fr, Oregon
7’2, 222 lbs
21.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 2.7 bpg
The Hawks are still in the beginning stages of a rebuild, and will have two top ten picks, so they could be one team that gambles on Bol Bol in the late lottery. Lower body injuries for big men are always scary, but Bol was rolling before his injury. Atlanta could always choose to redshirt him in 2019-2020.
11. Minnesota Timberwolves (36-46)
SF/PF Sekou Doumbouya, France
6’9, 230 lbs
6.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 0.5 apg
Sekou Doumbouya has not developed as hoped, but still could be a late lottery draft and stash prospect, due to the lack of talent in this class. The Timberwolves have plenty of young players to develop, and could choose to keep Doumbouya overseas for a year or two in hopes he can harness his immense potential.
12. Charlotte Hornets (39-43)
C Bruno Fernando, So, Maryland
6’10, 240 lbs
13.6 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 1.9 bpg
Charlotte has one of the softest, sorry, I mean “most finesse” front courts in the NBA. Bruno Fernando may top out as a poor man’s Steven Adams, but those guys are valuable shot blockers and rebounders who can clog the paint defensively.
13. Miami Heat (39-43)
SG/SF Keldon Johnson, Fr, Kentucky
6’6, 211 lbs
13.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.6 apg
Keldon Johnson is a decent shooter and a solid scorer. Not much of a defender but what do you expect at this point in the draft? The Heat have a ton of free agent wingmen, so there could be a few minutes available for Johnson.
14. Boston Celtics (49-33) (from SAC)
C Daniel Gafford, So, Arkansas
6’11, 233 lbs
16.9 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.0 bpg
Scouts continue to focus on what Daniel Gafford cannot do as opposed to what he can. He is not a shooter, and might not be strong enough to bang for 30 minutes per game. However, he is a very athletic and hard working big man who could work his way into a decent starting center for the Celtics.
15. Detroit Pistons (41-41)
SG Romeo Langford, Fr, Indiana
6’6, 215 lbs
16.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.3 apg
Detroit has spent a lot of first round picks on wing players in recent years, with mostly negative results. There is still need, so keep throwing those darts and hope one hits bullseye. Romeo Langford had an underwhelming college career but has the talent to develop into a mid range starting shooting guard.
16. Orlando Magic (42-40)
SG Nickeil Alexander-Walker, So, Virginia Tech
6’5, 205 lbs
16.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 4.0 apg
Good for the Magic for making the playoffs. It was short lived, of course, but it represents a nice next step for the long suffering franchise. Nickiel Alexander-Walker’s miserable NCAA Tournament could hurt his stock a bit, but he is still a solid shooter and teams always need that. Plus he can play some point guard, making him a nice fit as a backup combo guard in Orlando.
17. Brooklyn Nets (42-40)
SG Tyler Herro, Fr, Kentucky
6’5, 195 lbs
14.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.5 apg
The Nets made the playoffs, but it came at the wrong time, as the team finally gets its first round picks again. Tyler Herro was the fourth or fifth highest recruit for the Wildcats, but might have been the team’s most impressive freshman. He has hired an agent, and will stay in the draft, and thanks to that one skill that translates; shooting, he should be a first round draft pick.
18. Indiana Pacers (48-34)
C Goga Bitadze, Republic of Georgia
6’11, 250 lbs
11.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.5 bpg
I had the Georgia big man in the late lottery during my last mock. That may be a bit high, but this is not a good draft and it would not surprise me. Goga Bitadze has drawn some Jusuf Nurkic comparisons for his bruising game and spark plug attitude. He could work his way into a starter, though it may not be in Indiana.
19. San Antonio Spurs (48-34)
PF/C Mfiondu Kabengele, So, Florida State
6’10, 250 lbs
13.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.5 bpg
Mfiondu Kabengele used a strong NCAA Tournament (and weak draft class) to go from an unknown to probable mid to late first round pick. The Canada native has a nice all around offensive game, and teams love guys who can rebound on one end of the court and shoot all the way out to the three point line on the other. San Antonio’s front court is a mess, there will be minutes available.
20. Boston Celtics (49-33) (from LAC)
PF/C Jaxson Hayes, Fr, Texas
6’11, 220 lbs
10.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.2 bpg
Jaxson Hayes has been great in small doses, but guys like him usually do not make much of a difference in the NBA. A lot of mocks have him in the top ten, but the mid to late first round makes more sense. If the Celtics can coach him up and develop him, they could have a decent starting center who can get rebounds and block shots, though it will take quite a while.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder (49-33)
SG/SF Nassir Little, Fr, North Carolina
6’6, 220 lbs
9.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 0.7 apg
Nassir Little had a pretty nice NCAA Tournament run, but there is just not enough to go off of to ensure a lottery selection. He would be a solid choice in the teens though, due to theoretical upside. At this point in the draft, the reward outweighs the minimal risk.
22. Boston Celtics (49-33)
PG Carsen Edwards, Jr, Purdue
6’1, 200 lbs
24.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.9 apg
Boston will likely not want three first round rookies on the books, but this is not a good draft for European draft and stash guys.
What a show Carsen Edwards put on during the NCAA Tournament. He will probably be limited to a scorer off the bench, but he should be able to hang with the big boys at the NBA level, at least in smaller doses.
23. Utah Jazz (50-32)
PF PJ Washington, So, Kentucky
6’8, 228 lbs
14.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.9 apg
PJ Washington improved his game in basically every way during his sophomore season at Kentucky. Unfortunately, he is undersized and not great at any one thing, which could limit his draft stock and ultimately his NBA potential. Still, he could work his way into the Jazz rotation as a backup big man.
24. Philadelphia 76ers (51-31)
C Charles Bassey, Fr, Western Kentucky
6’11, 245 lbs
14.6 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 2.4 bpg
Another old school big man who could be a bit lost in today’s fast paced game, Charles Bassey has the ability to be a solid backup big man who can do the dirty things in the paint. The Sixers need just that behind Joel Embiid.
25. Portland Trail Blazers (53-29)
SF Louis King, Fr, Oregon
6’9, 205 lbs
13.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.3 apg
Louis King was a late arrival to the Oregon roster, but had a nice freshman season. He could stick around as a bench scorer, with a nice ability to cut to the basket and hit the occasional jump shot, like current Trail Blazers find Rodney Hood.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers (19-63) (from HOU)
SG Matisse Thybulle, Sr, Washington
6’5, 195 lbs
9.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.5 spg
One of my favorite pure role players in this draft, Matisse Thybulle is this generation’s Tony Allen. He is a defensive whiz who was among the nation leaders in steals, and blocks, as a 6’5 guard. He will never be asked to contribute much on offense, but could become a defensive pest.
27. Brooklyn Nets (42-40) (from DEN)
C Jontay Porter, So, Missouri
6’10, 240 lbs
The basketball gods have not been kind to the Porter brothers. Jontay may follow his brother Michael as a rookie redshirt, but the patience could pay off with a future starter. A team with multiple first round picks like the Nets could take the plunge. There is little risk late in the first round.
28. Golden State Warriors (57-25)
SF Dylan Windler, Sr, Belmont
6’8, 200 lbs
21.3 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 2.5 apg
Kyle Korver, anyone? Dylan Windler is a supremely confident shooter with the percentages to back it up. The jump in competition will obviously be a challenge, but shooting is shooting, and that is all the Warriors will ask from him.
29. San Antonio Spurs (48-34) (from TOR)
PG/SG Kyle Guy, Jr, Virginia
6’2, 178 lbs
15.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.1 apg
Most people expect Ty Jerome to go around this spot, but do not count out his college teammate, Kyle Guy. Guy has a lot of experience, and is a great shooter, two things that championship squads always want off their bench. The upside is might not be that high, but for a team with two first round picks, why not?
30. Milwaukee Bucks (60-22)
PG/SG Ty Jerome, Jr, Virginia
6’5, 200 lbs
13.6 ppg, 5.5 apg, 4.2 rpg
Make it back to back Virginia Cavaliers guards to round out the first round. Ty Jerome is a lot like former Bucks guard Matthew Dellavedova. Not the most athletic, but savvy, Jerome could become a decent backup guard who can hold down the fort for 10-15 minutes per game.
31. Brooklyn Nets (from NYK) – SF Jalen McDaniels, So, San Diego State
32. Phoenix Suns – SG Kevin Porter Jr., Fr, USC
33. Philadelphia 76ers (from CLE) – SG/SF Iggy Brazdeikis, Fr, Michigan
34. Philadelphia 76ers (from CHI) – PF Luka Samanic, Slovenia
35. Atlanta Hawks – SF Jaylen Hoard, Fr, Wake Forest
36. Charlotte Hornets (from WAS) – PG Shamorie Ponds, Jr, St. John’s
37. Dallas Mavericks – PF Chuma Okeke, So, Auburn
38. Chicago Bulls (from MEM) – PF Dedric Lawson, Jr, Kansas
39. New Orleans Pelicans – SF Kris Wilkes, So, UCLA
40. Sacramento Kings (from MIN) – SG Adam Mokoka, France
41. Atlanta Hawks (from LAL) – PF Borisa Simanic, Serbia
42. Philadelphia 76ers (from SAC) – PF/C Naz Reid, Fr, LSU
43. Minnesota Timberwolves (from MIA) – SG Luguentz Dort, Fr, Arizona State
44. Atlanta Hawks (from CHA) – C Felipe dos Anjos, Spain
45. Detroit Pistons – PG Lamar Peters, Jr, Mississippi State
46. Orlando Magic (from BKN) – SG Aubrey Dawkins, Jr, UCF
47. Sacramento Kings (from ORL) – SF/PF Eric Paschall, Sr, Villanova
48. Los Angeles Clippers – PG/SG Quentin Grimes, Fr, Kansas
49. San Antonio Spurs – PG/SG William McDowell-White, Australia
50. Indiana Pacers – SF Darius Bazley, United States
51. Boston Celtics – C Tacko Fall, Sr, UCF
52. Charlotte Hornets (from OKC) – SG Charles Matthews, Jr, Michigan
53. Utah Jazz – PG Lamar Peters, Jr, Mississippi State
54. Philadelphia 76ers – SG/SF Brian Bowen, United States
55. New York Knicks (from HOU) – SG D’Marcus Simonds, Jr, Georgia State
56. Los Angeles Clippers (from POR) – SG CJ Massinburg, Sr, Buffalo
57. New Orleans Pelicans (from DEN) – SG Zach Norvell Jr., So, Gonzaga
58. Golden State Warriors – PF/C Nick Ward, Jr, Michigan State
59. Toronto Raptors – PF/C Ethan Happ, Sr, Wisconsin
60. Sacramento Kings (from MIL) – SG Miye Oni, Jr, Yale