With the NBA Draft only a few days away, EndAroundSports will be releasing multiple mock drafts as more information is available and as the draft gets closer.
1. Phoenix Suns- Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona
Deandre Ayton believes he’ll go #1 to Phoenix, and we do too. The only other viable option at #1 is Luka Doncic, and his stock has fallen since the end of the CBB season. Ayton is the best player avalaible, fills a need, and played college basketball in Arizona. This shouldn’t be a tough pick for Phoenix unless they consider Doncic.
2. Sacremento Kings- Marvin Bagley III, F, Duke
Luka Doncic and Deandre Ayton were equally favored to go #1 overall after the NBA Draft Lottery, and after it became evident that the Suns were most likely going to pick Ayton, many predicted Doncic would go to Sacramento. But, reports have surfaced that Sacramento and Atlanta would prefer to go with an American player rather than Doncic. The Kings have a solid backcourt in place for the future, but their frontcourt is shaky, as I wouldn’t consider Willy Cauley-Stein a franchise player. The combination of Sacramento’s needs, Doncic’s draft leverage (could go back to Europe if he doesn’t like Sacramento), and pressure on the Kings front office should force them to select Bagley.
There’s also been rumors that the Kings are interested in Michael Porter Jr. I think #2 is a huge reach for a guy who didn’t play most of this season and still isn’t 100%. If they try and draft him, I’d expect them to trade down.
3. Atlanta Hawks- Luka Doncic, F, Real Madrid
The Atlanta Hawks were also included in rumors that suggest that they would be interested in either Jaren Jackson Jr. or Marvin Bagley III before Luka Doncic. Doncic brings valuable EuroLeague experience to the NBA which gives him a high floor. He will be able to produce at a higher level than most rookies at first, but outside of Deandre Ayton, there’s no other prospects that have the floor and the ceiling that Luka Doncic has. Even if the Hawks need a frontcourt player more, GM Travis Schlenk made it clear that they are drafting the best player available: and that is Doncic.
4. Memphis Grizzlies- Mo Bamba, C, Texas
If the draft was 2 weeks ago, Jaren Jackson Jr. would’ve been the pick here. But, Mo Bamba’s stock has skyrocketed. After averaging 4 blocks a game at Texas this year, Bamba posted insane numbers at the NBA Combine which includes a 7’10” wingspan and a 9’7″ standing reach. Bamba also has been working on a jumpshot (that you can see here). Also, many have been impressed with Bamba’s interviews and personality. With Marc Gasol’s future with the Grizzlies uncertain, Memphis could draft a soon-to-be need and arguably the best player available because of his potential.
5. Dallas Mavericks- Jaren Jackson Jr., F/C, Michigan State
Although the Mavs are rumored to be interested in a few centers this free agency, there’s a clear dropoff after the first five selections. Jackson’s defensive potential would be much needed for Dallas because of Nerlens Noel’s likely departure and Dirk Nowitzki’s old age.
6. Orlando Magic- Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma
After trading Elfrid Payton to the Suns this season, the Magic are in desperate need of a point guard. Trae Young is arguably the best player available at this point, and he fills a gaping hole for the Magic. Young’s style of play would draw a few more fans to the arena and hopefully win the Magic more games next season.
7. Chicago Bulls- Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri
Michael Porter Jr.’s stock has fallen significantly after injury his back this season. While Porter Jr. says he’s back to 100%, Porter Jr. suffered a minor hip injury during a recent workout, showing how fragile he’s proven to be. But, Porter Jr. has arguably one of the highest ceilings in the draft, and if he’s able to stay on the court, Lauri Markkanen, Zach Lavine, and Porter Jr. would make a nice trio.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers- Mikal Bridges, G/F, Villanova
If the Cavs were 100% certain LeBron James was departing, I think they’d be aggressive in pursuing either Trae Young or Michael Porter Jr. (by trading up a pick or two). But, with a chance that LeBron could stay, the Cavs have to make sure they surround James with more talent after getting embarrassed in the NBA Finals. Bridges could step in immediately and play a key role regardless of whether LeBron stays or leaves. Bridges has a high floor because of his college experience, but also a good ceiling because of his 3-and-D ability.
9- New York Knicks- Wendell Carter Jr., C, Duke
Because of Marvin Bagley’s star season at Duke, a lot of Wendell Carter Jr.’s solid performances went under the radar. While Bagley racked up 694 points this season, Carter Jr. did a lot of the dirty work: covering up Bagley’s poor defense and rebounding. Carter Jr.’s offensive game wasn’t featured much in the Duke offense, so I expect him to produce more in the NBA. While Porzingis is returning from injury and Enes Kanter proves to be an extreme defensive liability, Carter Jr. could play a big role in year one for the Knicks.
10. Philadelphia 76ers- Miles Bridges, F, Michigan State
Miles Bridges is often overlooked for his decision to return for his sophomore season. Despite having to share a frontcourt with Jaren Jackson Jr., Bridges’ stats from last year and this year were very similar and very impressive. Bridges’ versatility on the wing gives the 76ers more depth, and his length and ability to score could make him an impact player for the 76ers.
11. Charlotte Hornets- Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama
At this point, Collin Sexton is clearly the best player available. After a stellar SEC tournament where he scored 27 points versus Texas A&M, 31 points versus Auburn, and 21 points versus Kentucky, Sexton proved his ability to carry a team and make big shots when his team needs it. Sexton’s bulldog mentality can provide a spark to a Hornets team that has been mediocre (or less) for a while. Current PG Kemba Walker is a free agent next season, and with a 12 million dollar salary for next season, Charlotte (who has already listened to offers) could get a hefty return for Walker if they both won’t commit to a long-term deal. If Walker is traded, Sexton could be the next face of the franchise, and even if he isn’t, he will still be a nice addition for the Hornets.
12. Los Angeles Clippers- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky
I’d be surprised if the Clippers kept both #12 and #13, for I expect them try and trade up or trade for a player like Kawhi Leonard. But, assuming they keep this pick, Gilgeous-Alexander would be a great fit for LAC. Not only do I think he’s the best player available at #12, but he also fills a hole at PG that’s been inconsistent ever since Chris Paul was traded last offseason. Gilgeous-Alexander’s P&R and finishing abilities will make a nice duo with either Deandre Jordan (if he’s re-signed) or pick #13…(see below)
13. Los Angeles Clippers- Robert Williams, C, Texas A&M
Deandre Jordan is a free agent this summer and while LA is a prime spot for free agents, Jordan could leave to pursue a championship (or maybe just the playoffs). Williams, who stands 6’9″ tall, plays larger than his size. The sophomore was a great rim protector for Texas A&M this season, where he averaged 2.5 blocks per game and had 7 blocks versus Alabama in the SEC tourney. Williams showed freaky athletic ability especially in the NCAA tournament, where he windmilled on a fastbreak (yes, as a center). If Jordan departs, Williams could play a solid role for LAC next season, and if he stays, Williams can sit and learn from one of the league’s best centers.
14. Denver Nuggets- Zhaire Smith, SG/SF, Texas Tech
Zhaire Smith could be the Donovan Mitchell selection of this draft. Mitchell was selected 13th overall by the Jazz (who acquired the pick from DENVER) and had a monster rookie season, as he used his athleticism and quickness to lead his team to the second round. Although Smith and Mitchell have different play styles, both possess elite athleticism and an ability to finish at the basket. Zhaire Smith was a capable shooter (45% from three), but he made his mark at the basket, where he dunked on many poor defenders and showed off acrobatic moves in the air.
Smith also was an above-average rebounder and rim protector as a guard. Smith can give Denver’s already playoff-ready roster a boost as they try to rebound after missing the playoffs on the last night of the season. While Denver swung and missed by trading away the rights to Donovan Mitchell last year, hopefully they can rebound this year by selecting Smith.
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