The draft order is set. So of course, be prepared for a flood of updated mock drafts! Including this one. Enjoy.
Note: Trying a different, more appealing format. Let me know in the comments if you like it or absolutely hate it. Thank you!
Evan Mobley could also be a good fit, and I am a huge fan of the potential of Jalen Green, but I will keep Cade Cunningham atop my board until I have a real reason to move him off. While not the defender Ben Simmons is, he is already a much better shooter and can fill up a stat sheet. He might remind Pistons fans of a young, much less polished Grant Hill. Whatever you want to say about him, this pick should excite a Pistons fan base that has not had much to get excited about lately.
Wouldn’t it be strange to see a Rockets team build around two big men? I really like Evan Mobley as a new school prospect. Sure, he is thin, but he can run the floor, shoot and block shots. He would be a great fit next to Christian Wood in the Rockets suddenly tall front court.
Depending on how the pre-draft process goes, there is a very strong chance that Jalen Green ends up in Detroit red and blue. He is the definition of an NBA scorer. He can shoot, handle the ball and drive to the rim. The Cavaliers had a guy like that in Kevin Porter Jr., but chose to rid themselves of the headache. He would give a Cleveland team that had trouble scoring the ball an immediate 20 point per game scorer.
Jalen Suggs may not have the mouth watering potential of the players picked ahead of him in this mock, but he may be the best of the group to help the Raptors get back to the playoffs immediately. Depending on what the Raptors do with Kyle Lowry during the off-season, Suggs could either be a super sub of a nice replacement along Fred VanVleet in the Raptors back court. He is a good scorer and distributor, and does not make many mistakes.
Jonathan Kuminga has talent, but I think he is a couple of years away from contributing, and I believe he ranks a tier below the top four. It is another unfortunate turn of events for the Orlando franchise, which really needed to hit a homerun here. While Kuminga is raw, there really is no one else to consider here when it comes to talent and potential. If Kuminga can reach his ceiling and Jonathan Isaac can bounce back from his injury, this would be quite the versatile and talented front court pairing.
After the top five, things are wide open. And I mean WIDE OPEN. The next 12 to 15 prospects are interchangable to me at this point. The Thunder own approximately 936 draft picks the next half decade, and it will be fascinating to see how things unfold. Who do they start out with? Well, Alperen Sengun may not be a household name, but I have been following his game since I started my 2021 mocks and I continue to come away impressed. He is not a three point shooter, but he is a load in the middle that could remind Thunder fans of Steven Adams.
The West has never been more wide open, so if Klay Thompson can successfully return from his injuries, the Warriors should have one more run in them. Drafting a guy like Corey Kispert would help immediately. He is probably what he is at this point, which is a lethal shooter with surprising athleticism. Imagine the open looks he would get playing off Stephen Curry. Kispert is not a fit for every lottery team, since he probably will never be a superstar, but for a playoff team with two lottery picks, he is well worth the selection here.
The Magic back court, already thin to begin with, was decimated by injuries and trades. If healthy, Gary Harris, RJ Hampton, Cole Anthony and Markelle Fultz represent an intriguing set of guards. Orlando is in good position to add even more scoring to the mix, and I like Moses Moody here. He is a good shooter with defensive potential, and is one of the youngest players in this class.
Scottie Barnes is quite the unique prospect. I think he has a lot of Draymond Green in him. A true point forward, he is a great facilitator and passer. He also has the potential to be a decent shooter. A unique talent, he would give the Kings yet another adept ball handler and playmaker to go along with their electrifying back court.
It is hard to be successful in today’s NBA if you do not have multiple shooters. New Orleans really struggled from long distance and needs to add a couple of guys who can get their shot off. James Bougknight struggled with consistency, but I chalk that up to trying to carry a weak team. It happens to a lot of great scorers. He put on some truly spectacular performances in 2020-2021.
Jalen Johnson’s tenure at Duke was nothing short of a disaster. Putting that aside, I still like him as a prospect and would still use a late lottery selection on him. While not a natural scorer, he can shoot well enough to not be a liability. His value lies in his ability to play defense, rebound and handle the ball. The Hornets will most likely take the best front court player available here.
This is not your father’s San Antonio Spurs. This team has a ton of exciting, young talent to build around, and Franz Wagner would fit right in. Wagner is an underrated defender and athlete, and everyone knows about the scoring. Wagner represents an exciting two-way talent with potential.
With all due respect to Davion Mitchell, Jared Butler is the Baylor guard I would want to draft. I have been high on him all year. He may never be an upper echelon starter, but he does absolutely everything you want your main bench guard to do. He shoots well, takes care of the ball and plays solid defense. On paper, the Pacers are set as far as starters go, but the bench needs major help, and Butler would provide that.
I seriously doubt the Warriors will keep both of these picks, but if they do, adding a player with potential, after taking Corey Kispert, could be a smart way to go. Isaiah Jackson is the type of player who could easily flame out, but he is quite athletic and should, at the least, provide energy and defense off the bench for an NBA team. A worthwhile gamble at the end of the lottery.
During the Wizards wild run to the playoffs, they became one of the most fast paced, exciting teams in the league. They have a dynamic back court and a front court full of potential. Usman Garuba would be a good fit, since he does not need the ball in his hands to be effective. Garuba is a big time project who could take some time, with the potential payoff of a great defender and energy guy who can score some buckets.
The Thunder are so far away from competing, and have so many picks, that I will just mock them the best player available. Josh Giddey is a very exciting combo guard, who could be considered the Cade Cunningham of Australia. Blessed with great size and court vision, he could play all up and down the Thunder lineup.
Thanks in part to amazing back to back draft classes, Memphis is one of the deepest teams in the NBA, and can afford to draft for potential here. Jaden Springer quietly put up a very good freshman season for the Volunteers, and possesses the combination of shooting and defense that every team looks for out of their guards.
OKC = BPA. While not flashy or overly athletic, Davion Mitchell is undoubtedly ready to come in and play right away. He can knock down the three point shot, handle the ball well, and is strong and smart. His age and athletic limitations might prevent him from achieving All-Star status, but the bust potential is low. You have a rotation player right away.
Chris Duarte is already 24 years old, which is practically a dinosaur in the NBA rookie world, but I still think he fits well with playoff teams in the back half of the first round. The Knicks are suddenly pretty deep, but every team needs a guy who can knock down shots and play defense.
It is hard to believe (and quite hilarious) that Trae Young was not even an All-Star this year. He is officially an NBA superstar. The Hawks will probably not get an instant contributor here, but Keon Johnson is the type of player that could work well alongside Young. He has a long way to go to improve his ball handling and shot selection, but there is potential here.
Filip Petrusev had a very nice run at Gonzaga, but his decision to turn pro in Europe really helped catapult his NBA draft stock. Petrusev dominated his competition, showing a great inside/outside offensive game. He will never be a great defender, but his offensive potential could make him a starter one day. I do not think the Knicks will want to add two first round rookies to the mix. Perhaps they can convince Petrusev to stay overseas another year or two.
Most of the Lakers back court is entering free agency. Alex Caruso in particular might get a contract too rich for the Lakers to match, so this might be a way to add a cheap reinforcement. Miles McBride is a steady point guard who takes care of the ball and shoots well enough to keep defenses honest. He could be a top backup with the ability to start in a pinch.
Sometimes top recruits struggle in college and go on to have good NBA careers. More often, the college struggles are indications of the type of player they really are. Is Ziaire Williams any good? There is potential here, but he did not show much during his lone season at Stanford. The Rockets have three first round picks, and could easily use one on a guy like Williams, BJ Boston or Greg Brown in hopes they unearth some gold.
The opposite of Ziaire Williams, Sharife Cooper well outperformed his recruiting ranking. His size and lack of defense may limit him to spot minutes, but he is sure to give the Rockets plenty of scoring and energy. A great backup point guard to have on your team.
Even though drafting at the bottom of the first round every year is tough, the Clippers have arguably been the worst drafting team in the NBA. They seem to continuously miss, and famously passed on Michael Porter Jr. twice. Ayo Dosunmu was one of the most productive players in college, and his energy, passion and hard work could be tough to keep out of the lineup, even for a playoff team like the Clippers.
Denver is never afraid to take a chance in the draft, and Daishen Nix could be their latest project. He is raw, but there is a lot to work with here, especially on the defensive end. The shooting should improve, and he is already a quality rebounder and ball handler. With no Jamal Murray, the Nuggets back court could use him sooner rather than later.
The James Harden trade was an easy one to make, but it sapped the Nets of a lot of front court depth. Charles Bassey is the type of player who usually falls into the second round then forges out a nice career, but I would snatch him up here. He should be a very solid starting center who can rebound, block shots and even hit the occasional three pointer. That is all the Nets will ask him to do.
Ben Simmons cannot shoot. There, I mentioned it. Now we can move on. Trey Murphy’s stats do not jump out at you, but digging deep you see an ultra efficient shooter that hardly makes mistakes on the court. He is a leftover of Virginia’s championship team, and should make a very good rotation player.
It is hard to fathom how metoric the Phoenix Suns rise has been. James Jones and Monty Williams have built an excellent culture over there, and this team looks to be built for long term success. Guys like Cameron Payne will probably get some nice paychecks this off season, opening up backup minutes behind Chris Paul. Max Abmas is more than just a Mid Major scoring machine. He is a legitmate NBA prospect who could be an instant offense guy off the bench.
What a season for the Jazz. Unfortunately, injuries took them out earlier than anticipated, but this is a team set up for a nice run in 2022 and beyond. The bench could use some glue guys, and Herbert Jones middle name is Elmers. He has long been on the mind of draft nerds, and he really put everything together during a phenomenal senior season. Think Torrey Craig with better offense. These are the type of guys who hang around for a decade plus thanks to their hustle and defense.