With only about a month left in the regular season of college basketball, we are inching closer and closer to draft time. There is still plenty of basketball to be played and draft stocks will continue to rise and fall. This mock draft, as well as updated versions made in the future, will be made as if the season had ended today. With that being said, lets get right to it.
The Celtics receive the Brooklyn Nets pick this year, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Nets. This year’s draft is seemingly loaded with talent, and the prize is Markelle Fultz from the University of Washington. Although his team has been very underwhelming, Fultz is a scoring machine without much help around him. He can shoot from deep, take it to the basket, and finish through contact. He would ideally fit in better on a team looking for a go-to scorer, but the Celtics would be foolish to pass on a guy like Fultz, even with Isaiah Thomas on the roster.
2: Phoenix Suns – Josh Jackson – SF
The Suns have whiffed on a few of their more recent draft picks. While they did draft future star Devin Booker, they also drafted guys like Alex Len and Dragan Bender way too high. This year, it should be obvious who they should draft. Josh Jackson fills a position of need for them, and has incredible upside as a prospect. He is long, athletic, quick, and has a developing jump shot. Many have compared Jackson to Andrew Wiggins, which I agree is an accurate comparison. There should be no second guessing for the Suns front office.
3: Los Angeles Lakers – Malik Monk – SG
The Lakers will have a very difficult decision to make if they wind up in this position. They already have D’Angelo Russell, but Lonzo Ball is currently playing like the next Jason Kidd. The team also needs a shooting guard, as it is not realistic to think Nick Young will be the starter of the future. This alone is enough of a reason to draft Malik Monk, who has been a scoring machine for Kentucky. Monk excels from behind the arc, and can seemingly hit from anywhere on the floor. Monk also has sneaky athleticism to keep defenses honest.
4: Philadelphia 76ers – Lonzo Ball – PG
“Process” believers are finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Embiid is a stud, Simmons returns to the court after the all-star break, and the team is already one of the best defensive units in the league. All they need is a guard (or two) that can space the floor and create opportunities for the other rising stars around him. Lonzo Ball would be a perfect fit in Philadelphia because he can shoot, he is an extremely talented distributor, and he can play off the ball when Ben Simmons brings the ball up.
5: Minnesota Timberwolves – Jonathan Isaac – SF/PF
This was supposed to be the year the young Timberwolves team take the next step and get their feet wet with a playoff birth. So far, the opposite has occurred. The bright side is that the team gets to add another young potential star to their roster. Jonathan Isaac is a tall, long, athletic forward who can play the three or the four. He has range to the three point line, and plays excellent defense. He can play stretch four for the Wolves and move Towns to the center position, creating one of the longest, quickest defensive units in the entire league.
6: Orlando Magic – Jayson Tatum – SF
The Magic have been experimenting with Aaron Gordon at small forward for most of the season, and so far it doesn’t seem like it will work out. He is shooting below 30% from three, which is terrible for small forwards. Gordon would be best suited at the power forward position. Tatum, however, is a prototypical small forward. He has the necessary size, strength, and footwork to transition well to the NBA. His jump shot is not that much better than Gordon’s, but it at least is technically sound and shows room for improvement.
7: New Orleans Pelicans – Dennis Smith Jr. – PG
Jrue Holiday has been rumored to be out the door for a while now. He has been involved in multiple trade rumors, and if he is not dealt by the trade deadline he will more than likely leave in free agency. Luckily for the Pelicans, this is one of the best point guard drafts in quite some time. Dennis Smith Jr. would have been the best point guard prospect in almost every other draft in the previous five drafts, but this year he could fall right into the Pelicans’ lap. Smith has elite athleticism, a serviceable jump shot, and can attack the paint with ease. He has been compared to a young Russell Westbrook, which is high praise no matter how you look at it.
8: Dallas Mavericks – Frank Ntilikina – PG
The Mavericks are an aging roster desperately in need of some youth. Dirk is on the verge of retirement, and Deron Williams is no where close to as talented as he was in his Jazz days. The Mavericks will be more than likely going after a point guard in the draft, and Ntilikina could be a steal people look back on and think “how did he fall this far in the draft?” He is a long, athletic player who will get his teammates open looks and knock down threes when he is open. He is a mysterious prospect due to him playing overseas and the lack of game film, but he has all of the tools to succeed. Then again, so did Dante Exum.
The Kings are notorious for flopping in the draft. Every year, Demarcus Cousins finds himself scratching his head about how the team gets so many top draft picks without finding any players that can contribute to success. Darren Collison has already heard his name come up in trade rumors, so Fox would work well to replace him. The funny thing is that Fox is very comparable to another point guard on the Kings roster, Ty Lawson, in that he is extremely fast, finishes well around the rim, and needs to work on his jump shooting range. Lawson never found consistency on his jump shot, but Fox still has plenty of time to work out the kinks.
10: New York Knicks – Justin Patton – C
Joakim Noah has not made nearly as big of an impact on the defensive end as the Knicks have hoped. The Knicks will be looking for a new anchor in the middle if they hope to find future success after the disappointing season they’ve had this year. Patton has had a surprising emergence on the college scene, and NBA scouts have taken notice. He is a seven footer who can stretch the floor, score in the post, and protect the rim. He will need to add some muscle to excel at the next level, but his upside is high.
11: Miami Heat – Harry Giles – PF
The Heat have been on a roll recently, which can be seen as a positive and a negative. Obviously they are happy with the success on the court, but in a year in which they were seemingly rebuilding, they are ruining their draft position. At this point, the Heat would probably be willing to take a chance on someone with star potential like Giles, even though he has shown almost none of that potential so far at Duke. Once the bonafide top pick on the draft, Giles’ draft stock has been plummeting. At this point, he is a high-risk/high-reward pick, and the Heat might be willing to take that chance to make up for their “unfortunate” on the court success.
12: Milwaukee Bucks – Terrance Ferguson – SG
Ferguson chose to go the Brandon Jennings route by playing overseas instead of at an American university. He is an explosive athlete that has shows tremendous defensive potential. He plays best attacking the rim, but has a serviceable jump shot that can be relied on in catch and shoot situations. The Bucks currently have Tony Snell starting at shooting guard, and while he has been a pleasant surprise for the team, he is not the long term solution.
13: Portland Trail Blazers – Miles Bridges – SF
The Evan Turner signing has not quite worked as well as the Blazers hoped it would, and Turner would probably work best as a sixth man. The team could certainly use a guy like Miles Bridges, who shoots 40% from three, 50% from the floor, finishes around the rim well, and defends positions two through four. Bridges is also very athletic, and would fit right in with the already exciting duo of Lillard and McCollum.
14: Charlotte Hornets – TJ Leaf – PF
The Hornets have fallen in love with the lanky, but also very skilled, big men in recent drafts. However, Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky have not quite lived up to what the team hoped they would become. TJ Leaf has the highest upside of the three, as he is an ultra-athletic big man who can stretch the floor, score in the post, and play above the rim. The ability to play above the rim separates him from Kaminsky and Zeller, which the Hornets will love.
15: Denver Nuggets – Ivan Rabb – PF
The Nuggets are probably the biggest surprise this season, as they are currently the eight seed in the Western Conference. They will be looking for depth in the draft, and Ivan Rabb would provide a very solid reserve behind Kenneth Faried. He is a very good rebounder, an efficient scorer in the paint, and can occasionally step out and hit a three.
16: Detroit Pistons – Justin Jackson – SF
The Pistons are as deep as a team can be at power forward and center. What they need is depth ad the guard and wing positions. It is too late in the draft to get a quality point guard. As a result, the Pistons would pick a player like Justin Jackson who has a good jump shot, is crafty in the paint, and is a good team defender. Jackson would be a very good backup to Caldwell-Pope and Johnson.
17: Chicago Bulls – Jarrett Allen – C
Jarrett Allen has shows flashed of brilliance this season, but he has also shown his inexperience. He is a very raw talent who still lacks the proper footwork to be a dominant big man in the NBA. He has a good mid range jumper, and can crash the glass very well for a player his size, but he is also very young and could definitely use a few years learning under a veteran like Robin Lopez to his advantage.
18: Indiana Pacers – Robert Williams – PF
Williams is a prospect that so far has shown he is more of a defensive presence than of offensive presence. He is long, bouncy, and explosive, but needs to refine his skills. He would provide more depth for the Pacers who already have a talented young big man in Myles Turner.
19: Oklahoma City Thunder – Luke Kennard – SG
The Thunder’s biggest issue is that they lack perimeter shooters that can spread the floor for Russell Westbrook. Kennard is easily the best shooter in the draft, and would have an immediate impact on the team. He is a sub-par defender, and needs to work on creating his own shot, but his elite shooting ability makes it too hard for the Thunder to pass him up.
20: Atlanta Hawks – Isaiah Hartenstein – PF
With Millsap continually finding himself in the midst of trade rumors, the Hawks would be smart to look for a replacement. Hartenstein was the second most impressive prospect in the FIBA U-18 championship. He is seven feet tall, moves well for his size, and has shows the potential to be able to stretch the floor to the three point line.
21: Washington Wizards – Bam Adebayo – C
The Wizards starting lineup has been playing like a championship contending team recently, but the bench has been below average the entire year. They have almost no solid depth with big men, and Bam Adebayo could anchor the second unit well. He has been compared to a young Dwight Howard but smaller, and has been a defensive force for kentucky this year. He does not have much of an offensive game, but rim protectors are too important in today’s game to go without, and Gortat can’t be continually be playing heavy minutes.
22: Memphis Grizzlies – OG Anunoby – SF
Chandler Parsons has not played up to his massive contract at all so far this season. The Grizzlies might not be ready to move on from him yet, but it would be smart to try to draft a guy who could replace him down the road. OG Anunoby was a surefire top 10 pick before he got injured, and might be worth taking a chance on. He is a dominant defensive presence who can attack the basket and play above the rim. This would also be a good addition in case the team decides not to resign Tony Allen.
23: Toronto Raptors – Josh Hart – SG/SF
Josh Hart is the current player of the year favorite in college basketball for good reason. He has developed a trustworthy outside jump shot, is a terrific defender, attacks the basket at will, and can rebound very well for his size. He is not necessarily the quickest or the most athletic player, but he can contribute on both ends of the court. The Raptors could use a player like Hart off the bench over players like Terrence Ross and Norman Powell.
24: Toronto Raptors – Johnathan Motley – PF
Both Jared Sullinger and Patrick Patterson are free agents this offseason, and it is unlikely the Raptors re-sign both of them. Motley is a high motor, crash the glass player that works hard on both ends of the floor. He is working on developing a mid range jumper, and is a threat in the paint every time he touches the ball.
25: Utah Jazz – Donovan Mitchell – SG
The Jazz are already built for success, but with Shelvin Mack and George Hill becoming free-agents this offseason, it couldn’t hurt to draft a scoring threat at the guard position for depth.
26: Brooklyn Nets – John Collins – PF
The Nets are looking for the best available player at this point in the draft, and Collins is a very talented player. He is very efficient around the rim, can defend three positions, and is also a great athlete.
27: Houston Rockets – Monte Morris – PG
The Rockets are one of the most exciting teams in the league with one of the most efficient offenses in the league. The one glaring issue with the Rockets is their lack of a backup point guard capable of running the second unit. Morris is certainly an upgrade over Tyler Ennis.
28: San Antonio Spurs – Tyler Lydon – PF
The Spurs love players who are fundamentally sound and skilled. Lydon has a very good jump shot for his size, and with Gregg Popovic coaching him, he could become a very good rotation player in the NBA
29: Portland Trail Blazers – Caleb Swanigan – C
The Trail Blazers current center, Mason Plumlee, is a good defensive presence but has almost no offensive ability at all. Swanigan can score in a plethora of ways on offense. He has good post moves, range to the three point line, and is a force in the paint.
30: Utah Jazz – Dwayne Bacon – SG
Bacon is a shooting guard who can create his own offense off the dribble and is a very good athlete. He needs to improve his knowledge of the game and play smarter at times, but he is a very talented player that could give the Jazz good backcourt depth.