Today, I will give you my first NBA mock draft of the season. This year’s draft is interesting as after the top two players are gone, there is a drop off between prospects, but you do not know who will land at each spot. It is clear Brandon Ingram and Ben Simmons will either go one or two in any order. So that means, the draft starts at pick number three, which is just like the NFL Draft. This is not the final draft order as the draft lottery has not arrived yet. Lastly, the teams with the highest amount of first round picks this year include the 76ers, Nuggets, Celtics, and the Suns with three apiece.
- Philadelphia 76ers – Brandon Ingram – SF – Duke
17.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.0 apg
Ingram is the next Kevin Durant, according to many experts and I can see why. He is tall and long. Shoots the ball well and does it all. The 76ers need that number one scorer that they lack. Okafor can score, but you need a guy that can put the ball through the net from any spot on the court.
- Los Angeles Lakers – Ben Simmons – PF – LSU
19.2 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 4.8 apg
Simmons is listed at a power forward, but if Julius Randle is on the court with him, then the Australian moves to the small forward spot or the Lakers get creative with small ball. Simmons is another prospect that does it all. He is supposed to be the next be thing in the game of basketball. He impacts the game with or without the ball in his hand. He has that it factor skill set. Russell, Clarkson, Simmons, Randle, and whoever they place at the center position will be a nice young starting five.
- Boston Celtics – Buddy Hield – SG – Oklahoma
25.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.0 apg
The Celtics have a nice roster, but they lack a true scorer. Well they land the best shooter in college basketball in Buddy Hield. The senior was a threat on every possession. Can hit any shot, but is deadly from the three point line, which is perfect due to the fact that the NBA is turning into a three point league.
- Phoenix Suns – Domantas Sabonis – PF – Gonzaga
17.6 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 1.8 apg
Don’t you love it when a big man can do everything on the court? Well the Gonzaga product can. He is going to be a problem for the opposition. Hits mid-range shots with ease, but is good down low in the post. With Mirza Teletovic and Jon Leuer set to hit the open market, the Suns have to fill that hole by splitting power forward minutes between Alex Len and now Sabonis.
- Minnesota Timberwolves – Jamal Murray – PG – Kentucky
20.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.2 apg
He is a natural point guard that played at the two guard because they had Tyler Ulis starting at the point. Murray developed off the ball skills and did well. He will have to be versatile in Minnesota as he will play both. He is a great clutch shooter. I like Murray a lot and I think he will have a great career. Lives for the big moments.
- New Orleans Pelicans – Kris Dunn – PG – Providence
16.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 6.2 apg
Dunn is the best point guard in this draft for me and as for that, the Pelicans need another guard after this miserable year after most of their guards were out with injuries and that they need a future all-star at the point guard position. Eric Gordon is a free agent and that helps Dunn pick up more minutes. He can shoot the ball, but needs to continue to work on his shot if he wants to be a big player, but he is great defensively.
- Denver Nuggets – Dragan Bender – PF – Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
2.1 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 0.6 apg
First off, Bender is just like Porzingis, but actually scouts say he is better in a way. He is supposed to be a better shooter, but is less strong and needs to build up some more muscle to be successful inside the pain at the NBA level.
- Sacramento Kings – Furkan Korkmaz – SG – Turkey
2.7 ppg, 0.9 rpg, 0.5 apg
This wing guard is the Mario Hezonja of this year’s draft. Big spark plug time of player with vicious and filthy dunks as he has won multiple dunk contests. Very explosive in driving in the paint. Defense is a huge question as he does not have incredibly quick reactions, so great scorers that create their own shots seem to be a challenge.
- Toronto Raptors – Jaylen Brown – SG – California
14.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.0 apg
Demar DeRozan will be a free agent if he opts out and if he does, then it is tough to tell if he will be in a Raptors jersey next season. So they get a big two guard that could play the three spot too. Brown is just like DeRozan. The Golden Bear product is a terror on the open floor, utilizing his superior speed, athleticism and raw power to get to the rim. His jump shot is underrated despite average percentages. His floor game continues to progress, and he’s begun to put together moves to get by opponents, which makes for a deadly mix with a chance to become a high character superstar.
- Milwaukee Bucks – Jakob Poeltl – C – Utah
17.2 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.6 bpg
The Bucks have had a big need at the center position since Larry Sanders retired. They tried to bring in Greg Monroe as the center, but that has not worked as it looks like they will try to ship him off this off-season. Monroe is a natural power forward and now they replace him with a true power center that can man the paint. Poeltl is going to be a solid two-way player in the NBA.
- Orlando Magic – Brice Johnson – PF – North Carolina
17.0 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 1.5 bpg
The Magic are one of the weakest teams in the league at defending the paint, plus they struggle rebounding the ball as well. Brice Johnson had a great senior season. He does it all. Knocks down mid-range shots, makes big dunks to get a crowd going, rebounds to perfection, and lastly, he is an underrated defender when it comes to protecting the rim (blocks).
- Utah Jazz – Deyonta Davis – PF – Michigan State
7.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.8 bpg
With Favors missing tons of games with the back injury, it hurt the Jazz when he went out due to the fact that Booker does not bring the same play like Favors. Booker is a free agent after this season, plus small ball is the new style nowadays, so you could see Lyles and Davis play the four and five spots. Davis is the first freshman since Zach Randolph to leave the Michigan State basketball program under Head Coach Tom Izzo. Davis has the potential to be very good at the NBA level due to his highlight reel plays, height, length, size, and strength to make a presence in the paint.
- Phoenix Suns – Denzel Valentine – SF – Michigan State
19.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 7.8 apg
The Suns have a nice guard rotation with Bledsoe, Knight, and Booker. Well, now they get a dominant wing player that can help them on both sides of the court. Valentine can also shoot the ball, like he did in college. Tucker will most likely opt out of his player deal to get more money and instantly the Suns replace him with a much more talented player.
- Chicago Bulls – Skal Labissiere – PF – Kentucky
6.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.6 bpg
With Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah on their way out and Taj Gibson looking like this off-season will be the year the Bulls trade him will mean they need another power forward to play big minutes. Labissiere could play the center spot with Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic swapping starting minutes at the four spot. Skal is going to help the Bulls build that defense back up. He reminds me of Nerlens Noel.
- Denver Nuggets – Dejounte Murray – PG/SG – Washington
16.1 ppg, 4.4 apg, 6.0 rpg
The Nuggets have a developing star in Will Barton, who can play the 2 guard or the small forward spot. Also, he is also joined by Gary Harris. Now they draft a versatile shooting and point guard. Murray has to work on turning the ball over less, plus develop into a better shooter than shown, but he can be a superstar if he fixes his problems.
- Boston Celtics – Henry Ellenson – PF – Marquette
17.0 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 1.8 apg
Ellenson is one of the better stretch four type in this draft class. He reminds me of Luis Scola. Can play the mid-post and low-post game. Will develop and learn more his rookie year than contribute right away. He is weak defensively.
- Memphis Grizzlies – Malik Beasley – SG – FSU
15.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.5 apg
The Grizzlies need scoring guards to complement the defense guards. Beasley is a guard with decent size who is a tremendous athlete and good-enough shooter that made 37.8% of his 3-point attempts at FSU. No one talks about his explosiveness, but never count it out. He is an artist due to the fact that he can create his own shot.
- Detroit Pistons – Malachi Richardson – SG – Syracuse
13.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.1 apg
Richardson had a great March Madness that got his name out to the public. He can play in big games and without him, Syracuse would have not gotten that far. Needs to be a more consistent shooter though. Prefer if he stays one more year in college to work on his flaws, but overall, he is good enough to still land in the first round. Pistons would have one of the league’s better shooting guard duos with KCP and Malachi “Big Game” Richardson.
- Denver Nuggets – Demetrius Jackson – PG – Notre Dame
15.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 4.7 apg
Shows the ability to flourish in the pick-and-roll while being a respectable shooter — he shot at a nicer than 41 percent form 3-point range in his freshman and sophomore years — should allow him to be an NBA starter. Can take over a game when he wants to and he also lives to play on the big stages.
- Indiana Pacers – Marquese Chriss – PF – Washington
13.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.6 bpg
Myles Turner had a great year as being the team’s center. Now they get their next young stud in Chriss. He’s a long and athletic forward with as much upside as almost anybody in this draft. His jumper is quite sound for an 18-year-old and his explosiveness could bode well for star potential down the road. Turner being a good defender will help Chriss out around the rim.
- Atlanta Hawks – Timothe Luwawu – SG – France
14.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.6 spg
Luwawu is a wing with good size who is an above-average athlete and defender. Those things alone would get him selected, probably. But the fact that he also shoots about 40 percent from 3-point range. The ability to hit threes, will help him last for a long time in the NBA as that is how the game is won nowadays. Hawks have not replace the lost of Demarre Carroll, who did the same exact thing as Luwawu.
- Charlotte Hornets – Stephen Zimmerman – C – UNLV
10.5 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.0 bpg
The Hornets are losing Jefferson to the open market as it is a possibility, plus Kaminsky can either start at the 4 or 5, which should allow Zeller to play many more minutes. Zimmerman can play at the next level, plus he does it all.
- Boston Celtics – Damian Jones – C – Vanderbilt
13.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.6 bpg
He is not just a center. He’s an athletic center that is versatile enough to play the four spot. Athletic 7-footers tend to find and keep jobs in the NBA. Brad Stevens would love to have a talented big man like him.
- Philadelphia 76ers – Anthony Barber – PG – North Carolina State
23.5 ppg, 4.5 apg, 4.6 rpg
One of the ACC’s better players, Barber’s potential starts with his speed and ability to use it with the ball in his hands, as he is easily one of the quickest players in this draft class. Moves to perfection. When he goes downhill, he is tough to stop as he usually finishes anything near the rim. 76ers need a young point guard to be the future at that position for them. Can hit jumpers and can hit threes when he needs to.
- Los Angeles Clippers – Wade Baldwin IV – SG – Vanderbilt
14.1 ppg, 5.2 apg, 1.2 spg
Jamal Crawford is a free agent and the Clippers will need to replace his production and they do so by starting to match the Warriors with three pointers. Baldwin in college this past season shot 41.4% behind the arc.
- Philadelphia 76ers – Caris LeVert – SG – Michigan
16.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.9 apg
LeVert is a solid two-way player. Can shot the ball effectively. The injury that the Wolverine substained did hurt his stock and it has shown with him being rumored to go in the second round, but if healthy, he is a steal at number 26 to a young 76ers team.
- Toronto Raptors – A.J. Hammons – C – Purdue
15.0 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.5 bpg
Hammons was a monster in college and I think he will be at the NBA level as he can protect the rim, score from a post-up position, and rebound viciously. Hammons won’t replace Jonas Valanciunas, but he will provide solid bench play and maybe he can play alongside Big Val in the future.
- Phoenix Suns – Diamond Stone – C – Maryland
12.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.6 bpg
The Suns have Alex Len and Tyson Chandler under contract, but I like Len at the four spot that would allow Stone to receive a good amount of minutes as the backup center. Stone is raw, but is worth the gamble here.
- San Antonio Spurs –Tyler Ulis – PG – Kentucky
17.3 ppg, 7.0 apg, 1.5 spg
One of the grittiest players in this year’s draft heads over to a powerhouse in San Antonio. He will be Tony Parker’s replacement, plus Ulis knows how to run an offense. Ulis would have a more successful career in San Antonio as he seems to be a system guy at the next level, which is why I think he falls and not due to his size or height. The Spurs could go and draft a young power forward, but there are rumors flying around that they will most likely land Pau Gasol.
- Golden State Warriors – Taurean Prince – SF – Baylor
15.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.3 spg
Prince is a versatile wing player that can score or play defense. He is Harrison Barnes 2.0, but that he plays better defense. Prince has the ability to make 3-pointers. He is an 82% free-throw shooter. Prince is an above-average rebounder for his position, too. So he can do a lot of different things to contribute while on the court. He fits the Warriors because he plays like the Warriors.