What do we need after a history making NBA Finals? The NBA Draft 4 days later of course. Lets do a mock draft and mock the draft at the same time.
1) Philadelphia 76ers- Ben Simmons (F) LSU.
“The Process” yielded a number one overall pick one year late for the Sixers. Simmons is a very good prospect with a well rounded game who has just enough warts to scare the daylights out of NBA GMs. The potential for greatness is there but so is the potential for a flame out because of lingering attitude and work ethic concerns. If you’re Philly GM Bryan Colangelo, you swallow hard and draft this kid because he possesses number one overall talent. And then you pray.
2) Los Angeles Lakers- Brandon Ingram (F) Duke.
Ingram is long and lean with a Kevin Durant type of body and can flat out score. Those thinking they’re a Durant facsimile will be severely disappointed but Ingram can play. Defense will be a work in progress but he’s very young and will work hard. The physicality of the NBA is a concern because of his slight frame, but it’s a no brainer pick for LA.
3) Boston Celtics- Dragan Bender (F) Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Bender is a little bit of a project but he delivers that shooting/size combination that Kristaps Porzingis gives the Knicks. He’ll never be a physical player but he has a chance to be a dynamic scorer and has enough lateral quickness to be adequate as a perimeter defender even though he’s not going to be a dominant shot blocker. Boston needs some quality size and this kid is a Brad Stevens kind of player.
4) Phoenix Suns- Marquese Chriss (F) Washington.
This is a reach for the Suns but they have a need at the position and with $140 million invested in point guards Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight, taking Kris Dunn or Jamal Murray doesn’t make a ton of sense. Chriss is a project but he has power forward size and athleticism and he can shoot. Unfortunately right now, he can’t do much else. He wont be an immediate contributor to the Suns and is a major gamble at 4.
5) Minnesota- Timberwolves- Kris Dunn (PG) Providence.
Everything is coming up roses these days for the Wolves. It would be an ideal scenario if Dunn falls to them. They could use a dynamic point guard and Dunn is certainly that. He needs to take care of the ball better, but he can have an immediate impact. His shooting needs some work also but he can get into the paint at will. He also has good size and will be a good NBA defender.
6) New Orleans Pelicans- Buddy Hield (SG) Oklahoma.
Hield’s perimeter scoring ability would make a nice compliment to Anthony Davis. He’s a big time scorer with a competitive steak. His defense certainly needs some work, but he’ll contribute immediately and the Pelicans don’t plan on being in the lottery for very long. With Eric Gordon being a free agent with a low likelihood of returning, so there’s a starting spot waiting with Hield’s name on it.
7) Denver Nuggets- Jamal Murray (PG) Kentucky.
Murray is a shoot first guard with decent size He’s a good shooter and has a ton of confidence. He can be a dynamic scorer off the bounce but isn’t much of a playmaker which is why he’d be a good fit next to their first round pick last year, Emmanuel Mudiay. Murray is a bit of an overgambler but has the potential to be a decent defender. This would be a gift for Denver.
8) Sacramento Kings- Jaylen Brown (F) California.
Brown is a great athlete but there’s not much else there. He’s an animal attacking the basket and should be a good perimeter defender, but he can’t shoot….at all. If he throws a bag of garbage off a pier, he can’t hit the water. For the Kings, they could use his defense and they need help on the wing, but a wing that can’t score at all for them doesn’t solve a wealth of problems.
9) Toronto Raptors- Domantas Sabonis (F) Gonzaga.
Sabonis is an animal. Has good size for a power forward and plays with a nasty edge. He has a very useful skill for today’s NBA, which is that he defends pick and roll very well. This will sustain him as a rotation player while he develops a perimeter jumper and enhances his ability to finish at the rim. The Raptors need some help at big forward and this is the right kid for them with the right kind of attitude.
10) Milwaukee Bucks- Jacob Poeltl (C) Utah.
Poeltl is a nice player without a ton of upside. He can run the floor well and finish around the hoop. He likes physical contact and can be decent defender. He’ll never be an All Star but with the Bucks need at center and the lack of depth in this draft, this is a sound pick. This is not a spot for the Bucks to shoot for the moon. Sometimes the draft is about finding a player who will help instead of potentially dominate. Poeltl will certainly help.
11) Orlando Magic- Deyonta Davis (F/C) Michigan St.
Davis has two skills that will translate well to the NBA. He’s a relentless offensive rebounder and can protect the rim. Although his offensive skills are raw, he is a very good athlete with good size and a long wingspan. Has some promise as a pick and roll defender. He does need to learn to be a more disciplined rim protector but all the tools are there. He’s definitely a little bit of a project but he can help a little at the initial stages of being a work in progress.
12) Atlanta Hawks- Wade Baldwin (G) Vanderbilt.
Baldwin is a good shooter who’s still developing as a point guard prospect. With the trade of Jeff Teague, Atlanta could use to replenish some backcourt depth and a combo guard like Baldwin who can play for or with Dennis Schroder is a good fit. He’ll never be anything more than just a rotation player but in a league that puts a premium on shooting, Baldwin can stroke it.
13) Phoenix Suns- Henry Ellenson (PF) Marquette.
Ellenson”s biggest strength is as a pick and pop big man. He can rebound but he can’t defend at all which will limit any ceiling he has. For Phoenix, Ellenson can replace Mirza Teletovic as a bench shooter at a much lower price. The problem is he’s not as good as Teletovic. Between Chriss and Ellenson, the Suns have a chance at getting at least one useful big forward.
14) Chicago Bulls- Skal Labissiere (PF) Kentucky.
Labissiere is a kid who should have stayed in school. He was lost in college and the NBA will be a lot worse. He’s a great athlete but that’s about it. He’s not physically tough enough or mentally handle the NBA at this stage. The Bulls need some help up front are primed to make a mistake like this.
15) Denver Nuggets- Timothe Luwawu (G/F) Mega Leks.
Luwawu is a nice 3D prospect. With a little seasoning, he could be a nice NBA wing. Shoots it well with form that indicates he could improve. Needs some work on defense but all the tools are there. He’d be nice value for Denver here.
16) Boston Celtics- Denzel Valentine (F/G) Michigan St.
Valentine is a complete offensive player who can shoot, handle, and pass. The problem with Valentine is that he’s going to struggle defensively. AT this stage of the draft, he’s good value for Boston because he has a great feel for the game and can contribute immediately. His defensive issues and below average athleticism will put a ceiling on his potential.
17) Memphis Grizzlies- Malachi Richardson (G/F) Syracuse.
Richardson is a nice wing prospect for a team that really needs wings. He’s a big threat off the dribble and attacks the rim aggressively. He’s also a good perimeter defender for a one and done prospect. He definitely needs work on his shot and may need his form deconstructed which is a big reason why he lasts until 17.
18) Detroit Pistons- DeAndre Bembry (F/G) St. Josephs.
Bembry is a great athlete and a very good slasher who attacks the rim aggressively. He’s also going to be a very good perimeter defender day one in the league. In a league that’s playing faster, a guy who excels in transition like Bembry has a lot of value. The problem with Bembry is that he can’t shoot from the perimeter. Nonetheless, he’s a great fit in Detroit where Stan Van Gundy values versatility and the ability to defend.
19) Denver Nuggets- Malik Beasley (G) Florida St.
Beasley is a thin scoring guard with a good shot and good quickness. He’s not much of a passer or a defender but in a league that values shooting a ton, Beasley should carve out a role as a bench scorer and will eventually help in Denver even though he’ll be behind Gary Harris and Will Barton.
20) Indiana Pacers- Brice Johnson (PF/C) North Carolina.
Johnson will make a great complement to last year’s first round pick Myles Turner. Where Turner is a good perimeter shooter, Johnson is an inside big man. He’s athletic, explosive, and an extremely efficient offensive player. Also shows potential to be a good rim protector. He’s mature and can contribute immediately, which is very attractive to the Pacers.
21) Atlanta Hawks- Juan Hernangomez (PF). Estudiantes.
Hernangomez is a good pick and pop big forward with some roll ability. He is a decent mid range shooter with potential to have some three point range. He’s an active defender, although needs some discipline. This would be nice value for the Hawks. He could end up being better than Henry Ellenson.
22) Charlotte Hornets- Demetrious Jackson (PG) Notre Dame.
If Jackson can keep his weight down, he’s got the skill set to be a good backup NBA point guard. He can get in the paint and score although not much of a distributor and he plays hard nose defense. Although if he packs on a few extra pounds, no way he’ll have the lateral movement to last in the league. He’s a good fit in Charlotte because they’re going to lose Jeremy Lin in free agency and could use the depth.
23) Boston Celtics- Furkan Korkmaz (G/F) Anadolu Efes.
Korkmaz can flat out shoot the three. Not a bad penetrator either and is also an athletic scorer. Has some potential as an NBA defender but he’s painfully thin. He’s going to need to add strength to have a decent NBA career. A team like the Celtics can afford to be patient with him.
24) Philadelphia 76ers- Taurean Prince (F) Baylor.
Prince has a chance to be a good #D wing and with his size, could double as a stretch 4 in small ball lineups. He’s not a wonderful ball handler, but should be able to handle himself quite well on the defensive end. He’d be a nice addition to the Sixers. Could be a real sleeper in this draft.
25) Los Angeles Clippers- Chieck Diallo (C) Kansas.
DIallo is another player who should have stayed in school. He’s certainly athletic enough but when you blame the NCAA (and It was a bogus ruling) for a galling lack of production, its not a good sign. Diallo could have been a lottery pick if he stayed in school and had a good year. At 325, he doesn’t carry a lot of risk and certainly can be a pogo stick rim protector who finishes in pick ad roll. He just hasn’t shown it on the court yet, which makes being selected in the first round a dicey proposition at best.
26) Philadelphia 76ers- Caris Lavert (F) Michigan.
Lavert has spent the latter portion of his college career hurt but if could ever get himself healthy, there’s slashing wing in there who can shoot the rock. At 26, this is a great risk to take because even though Lavert is almost 22, he could be an impact guy if healthy.
27) Toronto Raptors- Thon Maker (C) Australia.
Maker definitely should have enrolled in college instead of entering the NBA draft. Although probably not as raw as Diallo, he’s close. Could he be a shot blocking pick and roll diving center? Sure. He’s got al the tools, but because of his lack of refined skills and experience, drafting Maker is the equivalent of putting money on red or black at the roulette table.
28) Phoenix Suns- Dejounte Murray (G) Washington.
This kid is a very good athlete with a good dribble drive game but that’s where it ends. He’s going to have trouble translating his game to the NBA level because he can’t shoot and he’s a turnover machine. He may end up being a decent defender if he can put on some weight but the warts in his game run deep and could keep him from having a significant impact.
29) San Antonio Spurs- Tyler Ulis (PG) Kentucky.
Ulis is a talented point guard who is a legitimate floor general. He’s a pass first point guard who uses his shot just enough to keep defenses honest. He’s good defender and never lacks for effort and leadership. The big issue is that he makes Peter Dinklage of Game of Thrones look tall. In the words of the great Bobby Bacala from The Sopranos; “He has tremendous moxie for his size.” These are the types of players the Spurs find value with.
30) Golden State Warriors- Diamond Stone (C) Maryland.
Stone is a traditional post up center with good size. There are several warts in his game including his average rebounder and his lack of willingness to pass out of the post. If Stone can straighten out his attitude, there’s a productive NBA big man hiding somewhere in there. Golden St can afford to take a risk on a big man that they needed very badly in the NBA Finals when Andrew Bogut got hurt. Potentially, Stone could develop into that guy of he wants to.
Viable 2nd Rounders
Gary Payton III