NBA draft day is here. Now, good luck trying to figure out how it will shake out.
While the league’s annual selection show is always an unpredictable adventure, this year’s edition is far crazier than normal. Although the top selection, Arizona center DeAndre Ayton, has been solidified for some time, the rest of the draft could go in a variety of directions. Which only increases the difficulty in trying to decipher what will happen.
But that won’t stop us from trying. Here, then, is our final mock draft before NBA Commissioner Adam Silver takes the stage at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Thursday night to announce all 30 first-round selections.
1. Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona
The combination of Ayton being a physical freak who put up impressive stats in his lone collegiate season and owner Robert Sarver being a massive Arizona booster makes this one of the few certainties in this draft.
2. Sacramento Kings: Marvin Bagley III, PF/C, Duke
Sacramento has shown a preference for guys who want to be there. Bagley has done that, including a workout in Sacramento last week. Being talented doesn’t hurt, either.
3. Atlanta Hawks: Luka Doncic, SF, Real Madrid
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said late Tuesday that Atlanta has moved Doncic to the top of its board. He is, for our money, the best player in the draft, making him a great pick here — though Jaren Jackson has been linked to the Hawks for weeks.
4. Memphis Grizzlies: Michael Porter, SF/PF, Missouri
If the first three picks go this way, there’s no telling what Memphis would do. Trading down with someone trying to nab Jackson would make the most sense. In lieu of that, though, we’ll say Memphis takes a swing on a guy who would’ve been a top three pick before a back injury and subsequent surgery.
5. Dallas Mavericks: Mohamed Bamba, C, Dallas
This is a tough call between Bamba and Jackson, who wasn’t supposed to be on the board at this point. We’ll go with Bamba, the impossibly long-limbed center who also has shown three-point shooting touch.
6. Orlando Magic: Jaren Jackson Jr., PF/C, Michigan State
The Magic likely would do cartwheels in this situation. While some have advocated for Trae Young here, a front office led by Jeff Weltman and John Hammond — who have spent their careers drafting long, athletic guys — gets another prototype.
7. Chicago Bulls: Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma
Imagine trying to guard a pick-and-roll on the break with Young and Lauri Markkanen? This would make Chicago into a very fun team to watch in very short order — even if it isn’t able to defend anyone.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Brooklyn Nets): Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama
Wendell Carter Jr. remains on the board, but it’s hard to know what the Cavaliers, who have been linked to several players, will do here. We’ll give them Sexton, one of the players linked to them.
9. New York Knicks: Kevin Knox, SF/PF, Kentucky
Knox reportedly had a strong workout with the Knicks and is the kind of high-upside swing that New York should take here. Carter also could be the pick, but he is falling farther on our mock instead.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (from Los Angeles Lakers): Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova
If Bridges is on the board, it feels like an automatic fit. He can contribute immediately as a defender and shooter on the wing for a rising playoff team.
11. Charlotte Hornets: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky
The Hornets could go in two directions: a potential long-term option at center in Carter, or a potential long-term option at point guard in Gilgeous-Alexander. We gave them the latter.
12. Los Angeles Clippers (from Detroit Pistons): Wendell Carter, PF/C, Duke
This is a dream scenario for the Clippers, who get a top eight player in this draft with the 12th pick. They’ll be running to hand the card in if this happens.
13. Los Angeles Clippers: Miles Bridges, SF/PF, Michigan State
Bridges isn’t the top five pick he was expected to be, but he should make an immediate impact for Doc Rivers.
14. Denver Nuggets: Lonnie Walker, SG, Miami
It’s hard to predict exactly what direction Denver would go in here, so we’ll give them a long, explosive athlete in Walker to add to their stable of young guards and wings.
15. Washington Wizards: Zhaire Smith, SF, Texas Tech
The Wizards hit with Kelly Oubre in a similar place in the draft three years ago, and Smith — a tantalizing prospect with big-time athleticism — could be a similar success story.
16. Phoenix Suns (from Miami Heat): Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA
The Suns passed on Doncic at the top of the draft, need a point guard and brought Holiday back in for a second workout. That’s enough to get him to this spot.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: Troy Brown, SG, Oregon
Another team whose plan is unclear, the Bucks will instead opt for another long athlete here in Brown, who seems likely to go in the middle of the first somewhere.
18. San Antonio Spurs: Jerome Robinson, PG, Boston College
Robinson has kept moving up draft boards and could go even higher. But a long, high-IQ guard who can play on and off the ball seems Spurs-y.
19. Atlanta Hawks: Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M
It wasn’t long ago that Williams was expected to be a lottery pick. But now he finds himself falling to Atlanta, which, in this scenario, took Doncic instead of a big, and thus has an opening for Williams alongside last year’s first-round pick, John Collins, in Atlanta’s frontcourt.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Oklahoma City Thunder): Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova
The Timberwolves need wing players and ideally someone who can shoot from the perimeter. Enter DiVincenzo, who impressed in workouts and cemented himself as a first rounder.
21. Utah Jazz: Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland
If Huerter is on the board here, it sure seems like he will be the pick. Only question is whether he goes higher.
22. Chicago Bulls (from New Orleans Pelicans): Grayson Allen, SG, Duke
Hard to tell exactly what direction Chicago will go in here, but Allen, who has impressed during the pre-draft circuit, would give them another guard to inject into their rotation.
23. Indiana Pacers: Elie Okobo, PG, Pau-Orthez
Okobo is an intriguing French guard that has gotten helium in the weeks leading up to the draft and seems fairly certain to land in the first round. For Indiana, which needs a point guard, the fit makes sense.
24. Portland Trail Blazers: Josh Okogie, SG, Georgia Tech
Portland desperately needs wing help and players who can play defense alongside Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Okogie can provide both.
25. Los Angeles Lakers (from Cleveland Cavaliers): De’Anthony Melton, PG/SG, USC
Melton has been linked to the Lakers, and for a team that could potentially be adding a lot of high-profile scoring this summer, he could immediately provide some cheap defensive help.
26. Philadelphia 76ers: Keita Bates-Diop, SF/PF, Ohio State
Dzanan Musa could be an option here to give the Sixers, who have a bunch of picks, an opportunity to stash a talent overseas for a year. But with Bates-Diop still on the board, Philadelphia adds a second rangy “3-and-D” wing in this draft who can step right in and play — precisely what Coach Brett Brown will be hoping for.
27. Boston Celtics: Dzanan Musa, SF, Cedevita (Croatia)
With a roster full of players who can play now, this would be a play for the future for the Celtics. Mitchell Robinson could be a factor here in a similar way if Boston wants a big guy instead.
28. Golden State Warriors: Jacob Evans, SF, Cincinnati
The Warriors need a wing player, and Evans can play right away for Golden State — something Coach Steve Kerr has said they want in this draft.
29. Brooklyn Nets (from Toronto Raptors): Chandler Hutchison, SG, Boise State
Brooklyn has been rumored to have promised Hutchison, who they have scouted extensively. For a team that’s loaded up on wing players, that would make sense.
30. Atlanta Hawks (from Houston Rockets): Melvin Frazier, SF, Tulane
Hawks General Manager Travis Schlenk came from Golden State and is going to be looking for players who fit in the modern game. Frazier is one of those talents and could actually contribute next season.
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