In the wake of the Warriors domination over LeBron, many teams are already looking forward to building their team in the free agency and collecting all the information they need to hopefully pick the right prospect to help them get closer to winning a title.
With so much talent in the draft, especially at the guard position, it will be exciting to see how many of these players’ careers develop in the NBA. Also because of the immense talent coming in, there are so many different directions each team could go with their picks and no telling who can be a gem or a bust for a team.
Can any of these players be that breakout star so many of these teams desperately need? Who will go where and how will that team look next year? And lastly, which potential star will come out on top and who will be drafted lower than expected?
All of this is still up for discussion and everyone seems to have different opinions with a lot of speculation of what is to come. Here’s a mock draft to make sense of it all.
No. 1 Pick: Philadelphia 76ers – Markelle Fultz (PG) Washington
This trade between the Celtics and 76ers came as a shock to me and just shows no matter how much you can speculate, you never know what’s going on in that front office. Regardless, I still cannot see Markelle Fultz not going first.
The 76ers have shown strong interest and Fultz is likely the reason they even traded up in the first place. He is going to be the first pick and the 76ers will be one of my favorite teams to watch next year. Trusting the process has paid off.
No. 2 Pick: Los Angeles Lakers – Lonzo Ball (PG) UCLA
The Ball family has been all over the media since Lonzo caused waves at UCLA showing his spectacular court vision and ability to shoot from anywhere on top of making every player on his team better.
Lonzo is everything you want from a point guard and can make a huge difference to a struggling young Laker squad. D’Angelo Russell getting traded to the Nets last basically assures that they’ll take Lonzo with the second pick. The Lakers are going to be a very, very interesting team to watch next season and has so much potential to be a superstar team.
No. 3 Pick: Boston Celtics – Josh Jackson (SG/SF) Kansas
Even though the Celtics traded down, the player being chosen at 3 for me doesn’t change. Josh Jackson is a top 3 pick to me because of his standout offensive and defensive capabilities and has many teams impressed.
It’s even possible that the Lakers might take him if they are not convinced on Lonzo Ball. The Celtics want Jackson or Jayson Tatum who both play the 3 and could be major improvements in that department for them since they have two strong guards already.
They traded down from the first pick, which could’ve allowed them to get the best guard in the draft so that to me is an indication going for a top forward is the direction they want to go.
No. 4 Pick: Phoenix Suns – Jayson Tatum (SF) Duke
Duke star Jayson Tatum started as a top two pick in many early mock drafts as he lived up to expectation in his freshman year. But with all of the talent in this draft, Tatum’s draft stock fell slightly.
Ironically, the Suns were second in the draft lottery but fell down at the actual drawing. Missing out on the top 3 is tough, but getting Tatum isn’t a bad thing at all. He can do a lot and has shown potential.
No. 5 Pick: Sacramento Kings- De’Aaron Fox (PG) Kentucky
De’Aaron could be a top 2 pick if the Lakers didn’t get the second pick. He has that true talent that every team wants.
He has so much potential, maybe he’s even the player that can turn the Kings franchise around. With the 10th pick in this draft, the Kings could really begin to build a competitive roster.
No. 6 Pick: Orlando Magic – Jonathan Isaac (SF/PF) Florida State
The downside to picking at number 6 is that the Magic probably wanted to pick someone that could become a franchise player for them. But the upside is they need a forward and Isaac would be a good pick to fill a need.
Isaac led the Seminoles to their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2012 and finished his freshman year with a strong 25.1 player efficiency rating. He can help the Magic build towards the future and take a step towards the right direction.
No. 7 Pick: Minnesota Timberwolves – Malik Monk (PG/SG) Kentucky
This pick can go two ways depending what the Timberwolves front office wants to do, draft Dennis Smith Jr. or Malik Monk. Obviously Ricky Rubio isn’t the PG for the future as the Minnesota front office has already begun looking for a new PG to build around their existing young, talented team.
With that in mind, Dennis Smith Jr. and Malik Monk will probably be on the board still. If the rumors are true and the Timberwolves are looking to sign Derrick Rose, then it would make more sense for them to draft Malik Monk over Dennis Smith because of Monk’s ability to play combo guard.
Monk may be a bit undersized for a SG since he is only 6’4″. But he can hit from anywhere and could possibly be the best shooter in this draft on top of his natural athleticism that can make him become a top defender too.
No. 8 Pick: New York Knicks – Dennis Smith Jr. (PG) NC State
The Knicks fan base is getting sick and tired of not having a winning team and you can see the frustration in Porzingis.
They need a point guard because Derrick Rose is not the solution and they need to prove that this franchise is going somewhere. At the 8th pick, the best point guards in the draft will most likely be picked already.
There is rumored to be 2 point guards that the Knicks are looking at, Dennis Smith Jr and Frank Ntilikina. Dennis Smith Jr. was highly regarded as the top PG his senior year until he tore his ACL and his draft stock took a dive.
There is worry that he will never be the same again. Comparing him to Ntilikina, he doesn’t fit Phil Jackson’s triangle but has an explosive play style and excellent ability to finish at the rim.
The Knicks need a player like him who could make an immediate impact on the floor and bring some life back to the Garden.
No. 9 Pick: Dallas Mavericks – Lauri Markkanen (PF) Arizona
Lauri Markkanen is a perfect fit for the Dallas Mavericks and here’s why. Dirk Nowitzki is one of the best power forwards we have ever seen in the league up to this point and with Markkanen’s unlimited potential, he could help him develop as a player.
He would be a fantastic player of the bench for them and eventually, sooner rather than later, take the starting position.
No. 10 Pick: Sacramento Kings – John Collins (PF) Wake Forest
John Collins has developed into an offensive threat at Wake Forest and could be what the Kings are looking for.
Despite his small wingspan for his height, he has the top PER in the draft class and has a 67% true shooting percentage, also he can fit in numerous lineups because of his versatility at both ends of the floor.
If the Kings pick Fox at 5, these two can drastically improve their offense.
No. 11 Pick: Charlotte Hornets – OG Anunoby (SF/PF) Indiana
OG Anunoby is one of the potential sleeper picks in this draft. He has the size to play both forward positions and shown in his past 2 seasons at Indiana that he can thrive on the defensive end.
Despite his occasional lack of aggressiveness on the floor and an injury that ended his sophomore year early, there will still be strong interest as Anunoby has plenty of upside.
No. 12 Pick: Detroit Pistons – Frank Ntilikina (PG) France
Frank Ntilikina is highly regarded as the top international player in this draft because of his skilled perimeter scoring and excellent court vision he has, despite only being 18.
The Pistons are struggling to build around Drummond who is clearly the face of the franchise at the moment, but may have hit his ceiling. Ntilikina is known to play down-tempo rather than explosive and acts as a second option rather than a 1st and while this is a weakness, it can work with the Pistons with Drummond there to be the top scoring option.
Ntilikina can excel here off of Drummond who is an elite offensive big man.
No. 13 Pick: Denver Nuggets – Luke Kennard (SG) Duke
With Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets were close to the playoffs and he has shown extraordinary improvement and has the potential to be a true star in the future.
The Nuggets are looking for a shooter and Luke Kennard has shown his excellent ability to have incredible range. With development, he could be a great shooting guard and has excellent value at 13.
No. 14 Pick: Miami Heat – Zach Collins (PF/C) Gonzaga
The Heat had an impressive season given the fact that Chris Bosh suffered career-ending blood clots and the team’s lack of depth. Preferably they need help in the PG position and could use one of the potential stars in this draft to make a huge difference.
They could trade up to get a better pick but if they choose not to, then Zach Collins is the best pick here.
His freshman year at Gonzaga had its ups and downs but he showed to be an explosive defender that could help the Heat with their already existing strong offensive presence of Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters.
No. 15 Pick: Portland Trail Blazers – T.J Leaf (PF) UCLA
Lonzo Ball might have had an impressive season at UCLA but so did T.J Leaf.
He has the size to play the 4 and at his time in UCLA he showed his ability to finish at the rim and work well of a ball-dominant player. He can be a good fit in Portland with Lillard and C.J McCollum making him a better player and Leaf’s skills improving the team.
No. 16 Pick: Chicago Bulls – Justin Patton (C) Creighton
Patton redshirted his freshman year, so coming into his sophomore year we didn’t know what to expect. Imagine the surprise as he launched himself as one of the top big men in this draft.
The strength of the Bulls this season came from great scorers Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade and it seems that Wade will be staying another year at Chicago so they could use some help at the center position.
Patton isn’t going to be starting material right away but his height and PER is impressive enough to be a good pick here at #16.
No. 17 Pick: Milwaukee Bucks – Terrance Ferguson (SG) Australia
Terrance Ferguson opted to head overseas after high school and play in Australia instead of going to college.
His draft stock took a big hit, but he could provide solid depth at the 2, which is something the Bucks need since they have chosen to run Malcolm Brogdon at the 1. The Bucks still are looking for answers at the guard spots so Ferguson seems like a logical fit.
No. 18 Pick: Indiana Pacers- Justin Jackson (SF) UNC
At this point in this draft the picks could go several ways, depending who each team think who is the best available player.
As we get closer to the draft, the prospects will move up and down in mock drafts and it gets a pit tricky from here.
I like Justin Jackson to be picked here as he has a lot of potential to be a strong choice as a wing, especially if the rumors of Paul George going to LA are true. But it should be noted this pick could be used as a trade asset for them if they want to build a more experienced team to make it work without PG13 now.
No. 19 Pick: Atlanta Hawks- Jarrett Allen (C) Texas
Allen is a questionable pick as he struggled early on in his freshman year and is a bit undersized for a pure center but has shown efficiency at the rim and has the potential to grow and develop.
After dealing Dwight Howard, the Hawks could use some depth in the front court, even if they can resign Paul Millsap. Allen could be a strong pick here but there are also many other options they could elect to go in this department.
No. 20 Pick: Portland Trail Blazers – Ike Anigbogu (C) UCLA
Another top center, Ike Anigbogu was a teammate of Lonzo Ball who thrived off of Ball’s style.
Anigbogu is an aggressive rebounder and has the quickness and playing style that NBA teams are looking for. He would be a great fit with Portland, especially if they elect to draft T.J Leaf earlier at 15 and build on existing chemistry.
No. 21 Pick: Oklahoma City Thunder – Harry Giles (C) Duke
Harry Giles was the No.1 player in the class of 2016 entering college but injuries set him back and he has been working his way back up ever since.
He struggled at Duke his freshman year behind a more experienced veteran center and didn’t have the impact that was expected. Giles may never be the same as he once was, but he still holds the size and agility needed to play his position in the modern NBA.
Oklahoma could pick him here as the best player available or use this pick in a trade offer to help build their team around Russell Westbrook.
No. 22 Pick: Brooklyn Nets – Isaiah Hartenstein (PF/C) Germany
Hartenstein is a risky pick here but his size and toughness make him appealing. Teams may be scared off by how raw of a product he is. He has some holes in his game that can obviously be fixed.
Regardless, this feels like the right pick since the Nets already lose their pick next year and will have the time to grow and figure things out for the future.
No. 23 Pick: Toronto Raptors – Semi Ojeleye (SF/PF) SMU
Toronto has a strong team at the moment and would benefit more off of the free agency than drafting this late.
This pick could be a trade asset but if they decide to keep it, Semi Ojeleye has been a rising prospect as of late because of his versatility. Ojeleye is a strong stretch forward that could be a strong player off the bench for them. Semi Ojeleye could be a sleeper pick and I’m interested to see what he can do at the NBA level.
No. 24 Pick: Utah Jazz- Tyler Lydon (SF/PF) Syracuse
All the talk with the Jazz has been around Gordon Hayward who has shown to have All-Star caliber play and can easily be a good fit to any team looking to contend and build a strong core to challenge the GSW.
However, the Jazz just aren’t there yet and Hayward who, at the age of 27, is in the middle of his prime, may be looking for a new home. It’s definitely something of concern and has to play a part in what the Jazz will be looking to do in this offseason.
Regardless of where Hayward goes next season, they could use someone to play the stretch forward position off the bench and at #24 Tyler Lydon is a good pick for that.
Despite his dramatic dive in his draft stock and disappointing sophomore year at ‘Cuse, he is still an offensive tool that could grow into an answer off the bench for Utah if they elect to go with him.
No. 25 Pick: Orlando Magic – Rodions Kurucs (SF) Spain
The Magic are in full rebuild mode and have a young squad to grow from. They are far away from being the team they want to be and picking at 25 doesn’t leave the Magic with a lot of options to develop the team further. Rodions Kurucs is the best fit here and would be my pick if I was them.
No. 26 Pick: Portland Trail Blazers – Bam Adebayo (C) Kentucky
This will be the Trail Blazers 3rd pick in the first-round this draft and they already have a 15 man roster with better picks earlier on. They’ll be looking to add depth, and with Bam Adebayo they certainly do that. Adebayo is the best player on the board in my eyes and would be a solid center for them.
No. 27 Brooklyn Nets – Derrick White (PG/SG) Colorado
Derrick White is one of the most impressive stories this year. He started his college career in Division 2, before transferring to Colorado and now he has a chance to be a first-round pick.
The Nets could use a solid combo guard and lose their opportunity to pick a potential franchise star because of the infamous trade for Paul Pierce in the past, so picking the best guard available is the logical way to go.
No. 28 Los Angeles Lakers – D.J Wilson (PF) Michigan
D.J. Wilson had an impressive run in March and launched himself to be a first-round pick. The Lakers are loaded with young talent and the rumors for them are endless.
D.J. Wilson could be a good role player or even a sleeper pick for them that adds even more assets to their team. Coming off the bench, Wilson could be a strong edition if he develops well in the system
No. 29 San Antonio Spurs – Jawun Evans (PG) Oklahoma State
The Spurs are a strong team and have the time to develop but their old stars are reaching retirement soon and the Spurs will begin building a bench of young studs to help their stars out to stay competitive with the league.
Jawun Evans can be a start for them to help Manu Ginobili who won’t be able to play the amount of minutes he once was able to.
They can start developing players now and who knows what talent they can create from these young players under the right system with the legendary Coach Gregg Popovich.
No. 30 Utah Jazz – Caleb Swanigan (PF/C) Purdue
Finally at the last pick, I have one of the players who impressed me throughout this season.
He is a bit older and there are younger, rawer players that teams might value more, but Swanigan had stellar performances throughout his career in Purdue and someone I want to see go into the League and shock everyone.
I like his athleticism and hustle on defense and that can also force a mismatch and shoot better than most big men in college.
If he can translate his play into the NBA and continue to improve, it’ll be fun to watch him play.