We crowned a NBA champion live in the bubble Sunday night. It's time to start looking forward to the Draft which is in just a few weeks happening on November 18th. In this mock, I will attempt to figure out what your favorite team needs and a bit of a scouting report on what you can expect from them. It's tough to figure out trades, so I will try to find them but they won't be included per say. This is a fascinating draft with a ton of uncertainty and a lot of back end talent. Lets jump in...
1. Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia: Edwards compliments the young tenacious core Minnesota is creating. His ability at the 2 to create off the dribble, shoot from anywhere and high flying athleticism works there. Alongside KAT and Russell the future is bright. He reminds me a lot of Donovan Mitchell. I've heard stories about Edwards work ethic, he has some polishing to do, especially from 3, but sometimes working harder than most translates. Coming out of college, Kawhi Leonard had things to refine, now look at him. Edwards is a special player and his work ethic will shine through in Minnesota.
2. Warriors: James Wiseman, C, Memphis: It obviously wouldn't surprise me if Golden State trade this pick. I've watched Wiseman since he was in high school at Memphis East, where he followed his coach Penny Hardaway to Memphis. His lob potential in the half court and in transition sounds fascinating alongside Stephen Curry. For awhile, the Warriors have lacked that. A player of this ceiling in the Bay Area is unfair really. His defensive potential will be used right away and he has the five tool abilities of a old school center with freakish athletic traits.
3. Hornets: Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton: I'm one who believes the Hornets aren't as far off as some may think. Are they going to win the title next year? No… but Toppin gets them closer to competing plus he adds the high flying must see highlight reels that belong on old school bedroom posters. He screams Kenyon Martin to me and will contribute for Charlotte immediately. He's NBA offense ready. He can play multiple positions and has a near automatic jump shot. He shot nearly 39 percent last season from 3. The issue he has is on the defensive end. Frankly I'd target him, but like Michael Porter in Denver, his offensive abilities can overshadow it.
4. Bulls: Lamelo Ball, PG, Australia: If you know me, you know I adore Lamelo Ball. He's had quite the last few years. From 90 plus in high school games, to his families ascension, to Lithuania, to 5 million plus followers and a career in Australia. Now he enters the world of the NBA with much fanfare. On the court, his abilities to create at the point trumps anyone in the draft this year and for the Bulls who need a playmaking point guard that brings some excitement back to a basketball loving city, Ball fits extremely well. I know Big Cat and the Chicago boys may have some reservations, but he's a knockout selection for the Windy City.
5. Cavaliers: Onyeka Okongwu, PF/C, USC: Face it, Cleveland needs a lot. My thought and I think the thought there is that Sexton and Garland provide a future in the backcourt and finding them a piece in the front court to pair with Drummond is what they want. He's a very mobile big that can work out of the pick and roll, defend at a high level, rebound and finish and hustles and can clean things up. Okongwu was overshadowed being on the Ball Brothers Chino Hill High team, but I found myself plenty last season staying up to watch USC games. You will hear a lot of Bam comparisons. Don't sleep on the kid from USC. If he can add a jumper to his game, look out.
6. Hawks: Isaac Okoro, SF, Auburn: The Hawks are exciting, we all know that. Trae Young is terrific and when you pair him with John Collins and Clint Capela, the possibilities are endless. They lack wing depth and a tenacious defender. Enter Isaac Okoro, one of the best defenders in this draft with good offensive abilities. He doesn't take bad shots and has one of the highest defensive IQ's you'll see. He will help the Hawks considerably, a team that was 27th in the league in defensive efficiency last year.
7. Pistons: Killian Hayes, PG, France: When looking at Detroit's depth chart, it becomes clear they need guards. Hayes is a big guard whose a bucket getter. He's extremely efficient with the ball in his hands and his IQ is high level. He just creates on the offensive side of the ball. His size for a PG will help in defending guards and wing players at the next level. He's strikingly reminds me of Manu Ginobli. He's even left handed. He to me, is the best overall player in the draft.
8. Knicks: Devin Vassell, SG, Florida State: I know the Knicks could be a team that may trade up or trade down. If I'm them I stay put and take something they desperately need, a 3&D player. Vassell is one of the best shooters in this draft and helps a team that was among the worst 3 point shooting teams in the league. He also is among the top defenders in the class with great size and athleticism and can defend multiple positions. The Knicks were also among the bottom defensive teams in the league last season as well. He's a better version to me of Robert Covington.
9. Wizards: Precious Achiuwa, PF, Memphis: The kid from the Bronx, by way of Nigeria goes down to the nations capital! What a possibly great situation for him. Bradley Beal and likely John Wall are both back and the thought of Rui and now Precious make for a fringe playoff team. They played honorably in the bubble and are in need of front court help. Achiuwa fills that need. He is raw and still developing but the thought of him in the pick and roll with Wall is exciting. He's a strong kid and really active on the block. I first got wind of his abilities in high school at Montverde Academy and I remember him leading all scorers in the McDonalds All American Game. He will fit well in DC.
10. Suns: Deni Avdija, SF, Maccabi Tel Aviv: If you followed me in NBA this year, you knew my affinity for the Suns. I'm extremely high on the ceiling they have. I love Booker, enjoy Rubio running the show and think Ayton is a star on the block. I did want them to find a player that can do a bit more than just defend. Someone that could play multiple positions, attack if needed with reckless abandonment and can give them a wing three. Avdija fits that mold. The real possibility is creeping in that Kelly Oubre is likely gone and Avdija can be a fix. He possesses great handle and has a good court vision. He reminds me a lot of teammate Dario Saric. Avdija is a much better defender though!
11. Spurs: Saddiq Bey, SF, Villanova: The infusion of youth and quickness to the generally veteran led for Spurs has been a fun one to watch. The new age look has kept Pop feeling young again and provided us with a burgeoning stable for the future. One thing they are lacking is a wing that can defend 1-4 and has the ability to create and hit shots. The thing I like about the Spurs is the guard play and Bey gives them a type of player on the wing who is coveted that can cover a lot of ground defensively and make shots. Keep in mind Bey was 4th in the country last season shooting the 3. I also believe Demar Derozan may be moved and with Rudy Gay as a still capable backup, I like Bey to slot right in.
12. Kings: Patrick Williams, PF, Florida State: You'd have to envision that Sacramento may look a whole lot different in 2021. They have multiple guys that could be on the move and with everyone not named Fox likely possible to move they are one of the tougher teams to forecast. My thought is that the guard play isn't in bad shape. If you go into the season with Fox and Hield you have to love the future. Marvin Bagley will return in the middle and Patrick Williams makes a lot of sense here. He is the pogo stick freakish athlete of the lottery. An athletic big that can defend and is lethal in transition but can also hit shots. He's also a gritty kid that won't give up on plays. Would compliment De'Aaron Fox well.
13. Pelicans: Aaron Nesmith, SG,SF, Vanderbilt: The Pelicans have plenty of talent, we know that. But one area I think they need to address is the wing. JJ Redick is 36 and no team doesn't want young shooters that can defend like Nesmith. Before going out last season at Vandy with an injury Nesmith was blistering from 3 and would've been one of the best shooters in the country. Keep in mind in the 14 games he played, he made 4 or more threes in 9 of them. We also know one issue Redick has always had has been his inability to defend. To me, Nesmith is a perfect selection for them. The only concern is the elephant in the room, the fact that he's coming off an injury.
14. Celtics: Kira Lewis Jr, PG, Alabama: The Lou Williams of this draft! Boston has 3 picks in the first round and while I do think they have needs at center, you can find that a bit later. Lewis a speedy water bug of a guard that can attack attack attack and provide instant punch off the bench. Obviously he isn't going to be a starter, but Boston could use someone like Lewis to spell Kemba and provide some difference from a game speed standpoint in the second unit.
15. Magic: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State: Yes, he was my guy to drop a bit. There's always that player but I just felt most of the early lottery was full of good wings and possibly just better fits. The Magic looked stale offensively for large parts of the season last year didn't they? They really need a big guard who can keep up with their defensive team prowess but that can provide an offensive injection. Haliburton fits well. He is really good with the ball in his hands and a solid shooter. They can defend like few others, but the Magic were 23rd in offensive efficiency last year. Haliburton is the selection.
16: Blazers: Isaiah Stewart, PF, Washington: The Blazers grab a kid from the Pacific Northwest and go with my personal favorite player in the country last year in Stewart. Stewart is a physically imposing elite defender and rim protector. He's possibly the best rebounder in the draft and has a motor that never stops. I found myself at times last year watching him defend and said "wow" multiple times. He has a solid shooting ability and think he will improve as his career develops. I really like his pillow soft touch at the line and in the key. Haasan Whiteside is not likely to be back and he can be paired with scoring bigs in Nurkic and Collins. He played very well vs Gonzaga last year and DESTROYED Oregon. My favorite player in the draft.
17. Timberwolves: Josh Green, SG/SF, Arizona: After taking Edwards with the first pick, look for Minnesota to keep adding wings around him. Green makes sense in a role with Russell. He can handle the duties of the tougher defensive assignment as Russell take on the more offensive role. He's someone that I think will turn into a real defensive stopper for a team that sorely needs it. I also like his ability to shoot and score. Minnesota was 28th in the league last season from distance and Green was solid shooting the ball at Arizona and can also play multiple positions. He's not going to wow you on offense but with a little seasoning I'm hopeful. A solid role player for them with a ceiling for more.
18. Mavericks: Tyrese Maxey, PG/SG, Kentucky: The plan is simple for Mark Cuban and crew. Find players that compliment Luka Doncic. This pick seems like a perfect fit. Maxey is best off the ball and can finish in a variety of ways. His vision and overall court demeanor will suit them and his shot though not great at Kentucky has potential after finding success in high school. Some refining of it and a terrific coach behind him in Rick Carlisle, Maxey should be well received in the Big D.
19. Nets: Theo Maledon, G, France: The Nets are a team that will obviously look way different with Kyrie Irving back, a healthy superstar in Kevin Durant and Spencer Dinwiddie who missed a lot of the season as well. They will be set at most positions and were able to create a ton of depth this season. My guess is they take a player like Maledon with a ton of potential and maybe give him one more year to expand his game. He's a good shooter and plays a very natural point guard position. He's also got great size as well where he can defend smaller guards on the perimeter. One big plus many rave about is his quick hands that make for a lot of steals and run out opportunities. Stash and bring over down the road.
20. Heat: Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina: Fresh off a Finals run, I expect Miami to be very busy in the offseason. I have to think they make a run at another superstar especially with being such a desirable landing spot. The Heat have been also one of the premier drafting teams in the league over the last five years. Most of the team is built through elite selections and scouting. One issue though is Goran Dragic isn't getting any younger and there is a bit of a need at PG. This is where Anthony falls too. The problem for Cole isn't on the court, it's off. He has developed a reputation of not being the greatest teammate. I think that's what allows him to fall, it will be worth the wait though. With a great culture in Miami, I think he shakes out of it and becomes a very capable heir to the PG throne for Miami. He's uber talented, can shoot and has crazy potential, but sometimes he can be a bit overconfident.
21. 76ers: Tyrell Terry, PG/SG, Stanford: We go from the Heat who are proficient year after year in the draft to a team that's failed miserably! Philadelphia has a new coach and the questions are abound on whether they will move Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid. Don't be surprised if that happens. The Sixers need shooters and there aren't many better than Terry. He was a dead eye marksman with a quick release and also is a crafty finisher. The Sixers have been known to like small guards and while Terry has some issues at 6'2, they have the personnel to mask a lot of the deficiencies. He's a sniper they desperately need after not retaining Redick in 2019. He is a top 3 shooter in this class. Bar none. I see some Trae Young in him. Look at him snipe..
22. Nuggets: Zeke Nnaji, PF, Arizona: When looking at the Nuggets, they have a plethora of talent. Jokic and Murray are superstars and they made a run without Will Barton and Gary Harris for most of it. One glaring concern I see is Paul Milsap. He's 35 and only averaged about 24 minutes last season. A capable big like Nnaji makes sense here. While raw with some room to grow, he's not needed to come in and perform right away. He has great footwork in the paint and finishes strong. I also love his ability to rebound which will help a team in Denver that's struggled with that. He's a good enough defender and will develop into a very good bench player for them. Just not right away. But with talent stocked up and a contending team, you can take shots with high ceiling players.
23. Jazz: Jaden McDaniels, PF, Washington: Last season we saw a different Jazz defense. One that looked open and swiss cheese like especially against Denver in the playoffs. They need to get back to what made them and now that they have a capable offense I think they address that here. Royce O'Neale while good defensively lacks anything on offense and they need more. McDaniels is a tenacious wing defender, can handle the ball and has a quick release. He truly is positionless and can fit anywhere. One key to his game is his ability to rebound and clean up around the rim which has lacked for the Jazz outside of Gobert in recent years. The Jazz also outside of Rudy are mostly under sized and not very athletic. McDaniels changes that considerably and gets them better defensively. The Jazz are another team already competitive, surrounding the current rotation with long athletes may put them over the top.
24. Bucks: Jahmi'us Ramsey, PG/SG. Texas Tech: Unlike other teams that are contenders, the Bucks have less ability to draft and stash or find someone with a ceiling. This team has roster issues and needs immediate help evident in the lack of deep playoff "runs" over the last few years. They also don't have a second round pick which hurts. That makes this selection all the more important. Ramsey makes a ton of sense here due to the fact that they value perimeter defenders and lack 3-D players currenly. He's improved considerably as a shooter and become deadly as a catch and shoot shooter. We also know being at Texas Tech, he can defend at a very high level. Being paired with Eric Bledsoe and Giannis will benefit him considerably. Danny Green like.
25. Thunder: RJ Hampton, PG/SG, Australia: A lot of people believe Hampton is a lottery pick. I'm not so sure, I think he drops and plays right into the OKC's hands. In watching the Thunder in the playoffs, some things were clear. They aren't great offensively, play great defense and have good young core infused with veterans like Chris Paul and Steven Adams. They play with speed and ball movement and Hampton fits. That's how he likes to play. He's got great length and is an elite ball handler, something you see from players from Down Under. One thing OKC does really well in the half court is get to the foul line and that's something that Hampton excels at. At the 2019 Nike EYBL he averaged 29 points a game over the final 4. He can create and will help an offense that lacks for scoring punch at times. This could be too low for him, but his season last year hurt him just a bit, ill bank that he's still around.
26. Celtics: Aleksej Pokusevski, C, Serbia: I had the Celtics taking a bucket getter with their first pick. Now it's time they address the block and maybe with another late pick in the round address a draft and stash here. Pokusevski is a fascinating player that continues to wow scouts. He's truly the biggest shot you're taking. Could work and you get a star, might not and he never plays in the states. But he has potential and the Celtics can take a shot or two. He passes like a point guard and has a strikingly good jump shot and has freakish size that he will only grow into. He's about as raw as it gets and looks like he plays in high school gyms. He'd really benefit from the G League to get reps and work his way up, but he does have Porzingis vibes to him. His lanky build will take time to work in the league and hopefully a good strength coach refines him. He's interesting to think about, the possibilities are endless. See for yourself:
27. Knicks: Daniel Oturu, C, Minnesota: In the lottery, I had the Knicks adding a knock down shooter in Devin Vassell. With the late pick I think they look for a big here. Oturu is a skilled old school big type of player. But he can go out a knock down a jumper as well. With an aging Taj Gibson and Mitchell Robinson whose more of a defensive big, Oturu fits. He a thick defender and can hold his own against better bigs. he defends and will do a lot of cleaning up under the basket. Will give them 10/6 off the bench nightly. Solid player. Was double double machine against Big Ten competition in college.
28. Lakers: Malachi Flynn, PG, San Diego State: The Champs have a couple expiring contracts coming up and you'd have to imagine KCP and Green will be gone. They NEED shooters. None of their guards are score first type of players. Flynn is. Also regardless of winning, they lacked for shooting. Flynn addresses that as he's a proficient outside shooter and is a terrific on ball defender. One underrated part of his game is his ability to rebound. There aren't many things better than a guard than can rebound. I remember him destroying Nevada last year:
29. Raptors: Tyler Bey, PF. Colorado: Toronto is another team that will likely be without some major pieces in the front court. We know they want guys that can play great defense and can be sneaky in the halfcourt offensively. Bey fits that mold. He's intriguing as a center and defensive upside is something that makes total sense here. Can guard anyone on the court and his on ball defense is high level. One strong aspect of his game is he's an great rebounder. That will help a Raptors team that was in the bottom half from a rebounding perspective.
30. Celtics: Jalen Smith, C, Maryland: The Celtics round out the first round with the final of their 3 picks. Smith is a prototypical big in Stevens system. He wants a big that can move around and also space the floor. He can also get on the block and has a great skill set. He's very much the new type of big. Can rebound and clean up but can also go out and knock down a jumper. Has very good defensive prowess as well. Averaged 2.5 blocks per game last year at Maryland. Will help in Boston who has a lack of a front court.
As the draft gets closer, stay tuned for my props list. Not many better ways to make money in this business than draft props. Stay tuned!
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