16 teams are in the midst of battling for an NBA championship. Those teams’ selections from 15-30 are set. The other 14 teams will be battling for the first overall pick in the NBA Draft during the lottery on May 15th. Many trades are contingent on how the lottery balls bounce but, for now, we’ll keep everyone’s picks where they are most likely to fall. Here’s one attempt at a mock draft.
1. Phoenix Suns: DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona
The 7-foot-1, 250-pound center averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game in his only season at Arizona. His post game is already complete and he has shown he can shoot (34.3% from three and 73.3% from the foul line). He’ll join the Suns young core of Devin Booker, T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson. Ayton’s offensive game, stature and defensive potential make Joel Embiid a solid comparison.
NBA comparison: Joel Embiid
2. Memphis Grizzlies: Marvin Bagley III, F/C, Duke
The last time the Grizzlies had a draft pick this high they selected Hasheem Thabeet in the 2009 NBA Draft. This time around should work out a little better. Bagley averaged similar numbers to Ayton, 21.0 points and 11.1 rebounds, but his size is a little smaller at 6-foot-11, 230 pounds. Bagley uses a bouncy, athletic and fluid game to get up and down the court, grab boards and attack as the roller in the pick-and-roll.
NBA comparison: Lamar Odom
3. Dallas Mavericks: Luka Doncic, G/F, Real Madrid
The Mavericks won a tiebreaker with the Hawks for the third best chance to win the lottery. The 6-foot-7 European guard would make perfect sense in Dallas. Teaming him with Dennis Smith Jr. would create a young, dynamic back-court beaming with star potential. The Mavericks also have the greatest European NBA player in history in Dirk Nowitzki. He could show him the ropes. Per SportingNews, Doncic is averaging 21.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 6.7 assists per 36 minutes on a 60.4 true shooting percentage between EuroLeauge and Liga ACB play. I’ve only been able to watch highlights but the popular Manu Ginobili looks like it suffices.
NBA comparison: Manu Ginobili
4. Atlanta Hawks: Jaren Jackson Jr., C, Michigan State
The Hawks need help anywhere they can get it and adding a 6-foot-11 big who runs the floor, plays defense and has shown the ability to shoot from three will bring more than help. Plus he’s only 18 years old. Jackson would be a welcome addition to the young core of Dennis Schroder, Taurean Prince and John Collins.
NBA comparison: Serge Ibaka
5. Orlando Magic: Trae Young, G, Oklahoma
Young burst onto the college basketball scene in his freshman season. He cooled down as the year went on but averaging 27.4 points and 8.8 assists to become the first player to ever do this as the college level and making the NCAA tournament is a success for a freshman. His shooting and court vision fits the NBA and it will be interesting to see how he will do with a roster filled with NBA-talent. Trae Young-Aaron Gordon alley-oops would be fun to watch.
NBA comparison: Mike Bibby
6. Chicago Bulls: Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri
At the beginning of the season, Porter’s name was etched at the top of many mock drafts. He’s still near the top but a back injury that kept him out all except three games his freshman season prevents him from being the No. 1 pick. Still, Porter has the size of Ben Simmons (with a little less weight) and the game of Joe Johnson. He could be the steal of the draft if the injuries are behind him. Pairing him with Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine seems like a good idea.
NBA comparison: Ben Simmons/Joe Johnson
7. Sacramento Kings: Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas
The 7-foot Bamba is an elite rim protector with an enormous wingspan and reach. He may need to add more strength and improve his offensive game but he’s about as sure a prospect could be on the defensive side. The Kings already have a similar player in Willie Cauley-Stein but they usually don’t have a problem crowding the same positions with young talent, for better or worse.
NBA comparison: Rudy Gobert
8. Cleveland Cavaliers via Nets: Collin Sexton, G, Alabama
Dennis Smith Jr. fell to No. 9 in last year’s NBA Draft and the Mavericks could not have been happier. Sexton (19.2 points per game in college) resembles Smith Jr. (18.9) with his relentless energy, aggressiveness and athletic ability. Sexton scored 40 points and almost led Alabama, who was playing 3-on-5, to a victory over Minnesota this season. LeBron would welcome that.
NBA comparison: Eric Bledsoe/Dennis Smith Jr.
9. New York Knicks: Mikal Bridges, G/F, Villanova
With bigs Enes Kanter and Kristaps Porzingis and developmental guards Frank Ntilikina and Emmanuel Mudiay on the roster, it makes sense for the Knicks to go with a do-it-all player. Bridges is exactly that. He misses out on going to his hometown team by one spot.
NBA comparison: Otto Porter Jr.
10. Philadelphia 76ers via Lakers: Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky
Note: This pick will go to the Celtics if it falls between picks 2-5.
After missing out on Bridges, the Sixers could go in a couple different directions. They need a player who can play off both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and, don’t forget, they drafted someone to do this exact thing with the No. 1 pick last season in Markelle Fultz. Knox is the best player available who is versatile enough to fit into the lineup for Philadelphia at this point in the draft. He can shoot from multiple spots on the floor and guard multiple positions.
11. Charlotte Hornets: Wendell Carter Jr., F/C, Duke
Carter Jr. could very well be taken as high as No. 4 to the Hawks. The Magic, Bulls and Kings are also potential suitors. He seemed to take a backseat at times to Bagley III at Duke and likely would have put up better numbers if he was the star of a team. Having said that, he still averaged 13.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. At 6-foot-10, 260 pounds he’s physically ready for the NBA. Carter is a polished post player but a little advice on defense from Hornets center Dwight Howard would help.
NBA comparison: Al Horford
12. Los Angeles Clippers via Pistons: Miles Bridges, F, Michigan State
Note: The Clippers receive this pick from the Pistons if it falls out of the top four.
Michigan State seems to always churn out a tweener where nobody knows what position to slot them at in the NBA. . Draymond Green has worked out while Chicago’s Denzel Valentine is still trying to find his niche. The 6-foot-6 Bridges will bring explosiveness to a team right away but making improvements to his ball-handling and passing would make him more likely to be successful like Green.
NBA comparison: Draymond Green/Denzel Valentine
13. Los Angeles Clippers: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G, Kentucky
Gilgeous-Alexander is a long, athletic guard who plays quality defense and can make plays through driving and passing on the offensive end. He vastly improved his draft stock by helping Kentucky win the SEC tournament and then continuing his solid play in the NCAA tournament. He is a decent shooter now but if he improves it and adds some muscle, he could be the Clippers’ point guard of the future. If the Clippers hit on their back-to-back lottery picks, they could be right back in the playoffs after a 42-win season wasn’t enough this past year.
14. Denver Nuggets: Robert Williams, F/C, Texas A&M
Williams provides what NBA teams love in a big man in today’s game. He has the abilities to run the floor, finish at the rim, block shots and grab rebounds on both ends of the floor. He has good size at 6-foot-9 and a long wingspan. The Nuggets have youth and talent riddled throughout their roster including at point guard (Jamal Murray), shooting guard (Gary Harris) and center (Nikola Jokic). Adding a player like Williams will add another talented youth to the front court.
NBA comparison: Clint Capela