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- Orlando Magic – PF Jabari Smith, Auburn.
Jabari Smith seems to be the overwhelming favorite to be Orlando’s first round pick. Although I rank him behind Chet Holmgren as a prospect, it probably makes the most sense. Smith should seamlessly fit with Mo Bamba and Wendell Carter Jr. in the Magic front court. He might be the best shooter in this class, regardless of position. Think Rashard Lewis with more defensive ability. Orlando absolutely needs to knock this pick out of the park.
- Oklahoma City Thunder – PF Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga.
Chet Holmgren just seems to have Okalhoma City written all over him. He should be a great fit alongside the Thunder’s driving ball dominant guards. Sure, he has to bulk up, but I do not think that is as huge of a deal as it would have been a decade ago. His offensive game is perimeter oriented. His shot blocking is much needed.
- Houston Rockets – PF Paolo Banchero, Duke.
Houston should not overthink this one. Just select the one of the big three power forwards that is still available. In this mock, that would be Paolo Banchero, possibly the best offensive threat in this draft. He can shoot, score down low, handle the ball and find the open man. He reminds me a bit of a Sycracuse-era Carmelo Anthony.
- Sacramento Kings – SG Shaedon Sharpe, Kentucky.
My mocks are what I think teams will do, not necessarily what I would personally do. I can see the Kings overthinking things in typical Sacramento fashion and going with Shaedon Sharpe over Jaden Ivey. I like Sharpe’s potential, but he simply has not played, and Ivey has. Someone will take the plunge with Sharpe in the top six or seven.
- Detroit Pistons – PF Keegan Murray, Iowa.
This pick depends on whether or not the Pistons are ready to give up on Killian Hayes. If so, this should be Jaden Ivey. Right now I am going with Keegan Murray, who would give Detroit a nice guard/forward duo to build around.
- Indiana Pacers – SG Jaden Ivey, Purdue.
The Pacers are in a good spot. I think this is a six man draft, so Indiana can just sit here and select whoever is remaining out of these top six players. Fortunately for them, it is Jaden Ivey, who is a steal here and would form a lethal back court duo with Tyrese Haliburton. The fact that Ivey is an Indiana native will not hurt either.
- Portland Trail Blazers – SF AJ Griffin, Duke.
There are a ton of players grouped together in my third tier, but I think AJ Griffin could be the first to go. He’s still a project to be sure, and faced plenty of single coverage playing with several other top prospects, but he shot the ball very well and showed nice two way potential. He should be able to fill that open small forward spot in Portland’s starting lineup rather quickly.
- New Orleans Pelicans (from LAL) – SG Dyson Daniels, Australia/G-League.
Dyson Daniels looks a lot like Josh Giddey Part 2. He could be a very creative, very fun future point guard for what is an up and coming New Orleans Pelicans roster.
- San Antonio Spurs – PF Jeremy Sochan, Baylor.
This is quite high for a guy who only averaged 9 points and 6 rebounds as a freshman, but that does not tell the whole story. He is an extremely impressive athlete who could be a perfect modern day big man. The Spurs are flush with guards and have a trio of first round picks, so they can afford to take the risk here.
- Washington Wizards – SG Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona.
Washington usually goes with the best player available and I have them going that route again. Bennedict Mathurin has good size and is a strong scorer from all three levels.
- New York Knicks – C Mark Williams, Duke.
Mark Williams could be to the Knicks what Mitchell Robinson was never quite able to become. Williams is a very good scorer down low, but his bread and butter will be shot blocking and rebounding.
- Oklahoma City Thunder (from LAC) – C Jalen Duren, Memphis.
Jalen Duren is definitely a candidate to plummet down the first round, but there are so many teams with multiple first round picks that I think some team will gamble on the former top 2023 recruit’s upside. He has the ability to be a decent mid range shooter, shot blocker and rebounder. The Thunder could use someone with his toughness as a contract to Chet Holmgren.
- Charlotte Hornets – PF Tari Eason, LSU.
The Hornets are in desperate need of front court talent, especially with Miles Bridges testing free agency. Tari Eason is a bit undersized, but had a tremendous sophomore season. While he is still raw, Eason has the chance to be an intriguing two way player.
- Cleveland Cavaliers – SG Johnny Davis, Wisconsin.
The Cavaliers have one of the better young rosters in the NBA. Johnny Davis would be a nice steal here. He has good size and a sweet shooting stroke, and could be a long term option next to Darius Garland in the Cleveland back court.
- Charlotte Hornets (from NO) – C Walker Kessler, Auburn.
The Hornets could very easily double up on big men here. Walker Kessler might have been the best shot blocker in college basketball, and as an added bonus, he can knock down threes. Lack of athleticism is the biggest worry with Kessler, but there is a lot to like.
- Atlanta Hawks – SG Ochai Agbaji, Kansas.
Ochai Agbaji will never be a star, but he is the kind of role player the Hawks, or any other fringe playoff team, would love to have. He is a strong defender and has developed into a knock down three point shooter.
- Houston Rockets (from BKN) – PG TyTy Washington Jr., Kentucky.
The Rockets do not really have a true point guard on the roster. The term “true point guard” is a bit antiquated, but TyTy Washington should find minutes as a distributor and occasional scorer for Houston.
- Chicago Bulls – SF Ousmane Dieng, France.
The Bulls desperately need front court depth, but the cupboard is pretty dry here, so they go with the best talent available. After a brutal start to the season, Ousmane Dieng really came on strong the past couple of months, showing that he has legit NBA talent, especially as a slasher and defender.
- Minnesota Timberwolves – SG Malaki Branham, Ohio State.
For the first time in a decade and a half, Minnesota fans have something to be excited about. Malaki Branham might not be a starter, but he is a very athletic and confident scorer, and could provide exciting instant offense off the bench.
- San Antonio Spurs (from TOR) – PF Nikola Jovic, Serbia.
Of course the Spurs are going to come out of this draft with at least one European prospect. Nikola Jovic might be the worst defender in this class, but his offensive potential is intriguing. He is a great passer, as you would expect from someone who grew up watching his fellow countryman Nikola Jokic.
- Denver Nuggets – SF Kendall Brown, Baylor.
For a month or two I had Kendall Brown squarely in my top ten. Unfortunately, the breakout never came, as he was the definition of a complimentary piece. There is a lot of potential here, especially as a three and D wing player. That is something the Nuggets are definitely after.
- Memphis Grizzlies (from UTA) – PG Kennedy Chandler, Tennessee.
The Grizzlies are probably going to lose Tyus Jones, and will be on the lookout for a backup for the reckless Ja Morant. Kennedy Chandler might lack the size to handle 30 minutes a night, but he takes great care of the basketball and can knock down jump shots.
- Brooklyn Nets (from PHI) – PF EJ Liddell, Ohio State.
EJ Liddell is the type of prospect that rebuilding teams might not be interested in, but veteran squads looking for cheap bench help will be all over. Liddell did it all as an Ohio State junior, from scoring out to the three point line to playing some serious defense. He should be able to carve out a role for the top heavy Nets.
- Milwaukee Bucks – SF Leonard Miller, Canada.
The Bucks have never been afraid to reach for the sky when it comes to prospects. They hit a grand slam (Giannis Antetokounmpo) and struck out in three pitches (Thon Maker). Leonard Miller is extremely raw, but has the potential to be a solid defender and three point shooter. It will take time.
- San Antonio Spurs (from BOS) – PG Jean Montero, Dominican Republic.
Jean Montero is a huge project, but might be a top five athlete in this class. With three first round picks and a very strong track record of development, San Antonio would be a great landing spot for him.
- Dallas Mavericks – SG Jalen Williams, Santa Clara.
The pre-draft process has been kind to Jalen Williams, and he is looking like a late first round pick as a result. A great athlete with size and three point shooting ability, he is exactly the type of bench player every playoff team is looking for, especially a Mavericks team that needs to surround Luka Doncic with shooters.
- Miami Heat – SF MarJon Beauchamp, USA/G-League.
Of course I am not comparing the two, but MarJon Beauchamp reminds me a bit of Marquette-era Jimmy Butler. The shooting is not quite there yet, but Beauchamp is a tough, rugged scorer with great defensive potential. Should be a perfect fit with the Heat.
- Golden State Warriors – SG Terquavion Smith, NC State.
Terquavion Smith is basically this draft’s version of Bones Hyland. Small and skinny, but an extremely confident scorer. He could learn from the Splash Brothers and Jordan Poole, three of the best shooters in the business.
- Memphis Grizzlies – SF Jake LaRavia, Wake Forest.
Wake Forest has been a bad program for quite a while, but Jake LaRavia is a legit NBA prospect that not many people know about. A great shooter, nice ball handler and solid defender, I think he will squeak into the late first round, with Memphis a great fit.
- Oklahoma City Thunder (from PHX) – C Ismael Kamagate, France.
The Thunder have more first round picks than roster spots, so I think this would be a good spot for a draft and stash prospect such as Ismael Kamagate or Gabriele Procida.
- Indiana Pacers (from HOU) – SG Jaden Hardy, USA/G-League
- Orlando Magic – SF Wendell Moore, Duke
- Toronto Raptors (from DET) – SG Christian Braun, Kansas
- Oklahoma City Thunder – SF Patrick Baldwin Jr., Milwaukee
- Orlando Magic (from IND) – SG Bryce McGowens, Nebraska
- Portland Trail Blazers – C Christian Koloko, Arizona
- Sacramento Kings – SF David Roddy, Colorado State
- San Antonio Spurs (from LAL) – SG Gabriele Procida, Italy
- Cleveland Cavaliers (from SA) – PG JD Davison, Alabama
- Minnesota Timberwolves (from WAS) – SF Justin Lewis, Marquette
- New Orleans Pelicans – SG Blake Wesley, Notre Dame
- New York Knicks – SG Keon Ellis, Alabama
- Los Angeles Clippers – SG Trevor Keels, Duke
- Atlanta Hawks – SF Caleb Houstan, Michigan
- Charlotte Hornets – C Yannick Nzosa, Congo
- Detroit Pistons (from BKN) – SG Max Christie, Michigan State
- Memphis Grizzlies (from CLE) – SG Ryan Rollins, Toledo
- Minnesota Timberwolves – SF Josh Minott, Memphis
- Sacramento Kings (from CHI) – SF Harrison Ingram, Stanford
- Minnesota Timberwolves (from DEN) – SG Hugo Besson, France
- Golden State Warriors (from TOR) – PF Trevion Williams, Purdue
- New Orleans Pelicans (from UTA) – C Orlando Robinson, Fresno State
- Boston Celtics – Jamaree Bouyea, San Francisco
- Washington Wizards (from DAL) – PF Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana
- Golden State Warriors – SG Malcolm Cazaon, France
- Cleveland Cavaliers (from MIA) – PF Jabari Walker, Colorado
- Portland Trail Blazers (from MEM) – PF Moussa Diabate, Michigan
- Indiana Pacers (from PHX) – PF Jaylin Williams, Auburn