The All-Star break is in full-force, and NBA teams are focused on what changes they need to make in order to build a run over the final months of the regular season. However, for the bottom of the league, the remainder of this season has become about giving younger players more playing time.
Here is my first mock of this draft cycle.
Note: I use Tankathon to simulate the draft order, hence why Minnesota is at the top of the list.
- Timberwolves – Anthony Edwards, Guard, Georgia
Anthony Edwards is a unique scorer with incredible contact balance. Adding him to a core that features D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns is extremely promising. Bringing in Edwards also frees Minnesota from the possibility of paying Malik Beasley over $10M per year as a pending free agent, although they still may elect to bring him back as a sixth man.
- Warriors – James Wiseman, Big, Memphis
As much as I do not like James Wiseman being selected this high, the Warriors are likely to take a center with a team that consists of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. The Warriors also could trade this pick in combination with Andrew Wiggins to get another All-Star caliber player on an already loaded roster. Win-win for Golden State.
- Hawks – Tyrese Maxey, Guard, Kentucky
While Maxey may not be a ‘star-power’ type pick, he brings much-needed defense to a backcourt that features Trae Young. Maxey also has an incredible work ethic and should be ready to start for an NBA team right away. Young/Maxey/Hunter/Collins/Capela is… something.
- Hornets – LaMelo Ball, Guard, USA
The Charlotte Hornets brought in Terry Rozier this past off-season. Devonte’ Graham has also exploded this season. However, Ball is a 6-foot-8 point guard that has incredible vision and world-beating shooting upside. Graham is able to play off-ball and Rozier seemingly could either be moved or come off of the bench. Either way, talent over everything.
- Cavaliers – Deni Avdija, Forward, Israel
With Garland and Porter Jr. being the backcourt of the future for the Cavaliers (along with Drummond coming in via trade), Cleveland needs starting-caliber players at both forward spots. Avdija could be a secondary or tertiary playmaker along with being able to spot-up from anywhere outside the three-point line.
- Knicks – Onyeka Okongwu, Big, Southern California
The Knicks have drafted ball-dominant players with their past two picks. As an RJ Barrett truther, I fully believe he could be an All-Star when surrounded with high-quality role players. Okongwu brings an irreplaceable skill set similar to that of Bam Adebayo. He is extremely mobile, can guard any frontcourt players, and has shooting upside. Okongwu is a plus player on both sides of the court that could help unlock part of the existing New York core.
- Pistons – Cole Anthony, Guard, North Carolina
Cole Anthony is a score-first guard that could jump-start a Pistons rebuild. He is the best shooter in this draft class and has uncanny rebounding ability for a guard. Shooting + athleticism is typically a good combination for a draft prospect and to be able to get someone that has both traits in the mid-lottery is an absolute win for the Pistons.
- Bulls – Isaac Okoro, Forward, Auburn
The Bulls, despite their many flaws, have drafted pretty well in recent years. They have a great tandem in Markkanen and Carter and should be able to hit on either Coby White or Tomas Satoransky as their future point guard. Okoro gives them a long-term option at the three that can do everything. Okoro can be a secondary playmaker, incredible on-ball defender, and step back and knock down shots as well. The Bulls have a dynamic offense already and adding another supporting role player and extremely talented defender cannot hurt.
- Wizards – Tyrese Haliburton, Guard, Iowa State
Haliburton is an interesting player. He’s arguably the best facilitator in this draft class as well as a lengthy guard on defense as well. Even if John Wall is back, Haliburton could find some minutes as either a sixth man or possibly even find himself in the starting lineup if John Wall is traded. Regardless, the Wizards have another long-term guard.
- Kings – Devin Vassell, Wing, Florida State
Vassell is one of the best 3&D prospects in this draft. He could easily become a top role player in the NBA due to his physical attributes and lights-out shooting. The Kings may be losing Bogdan Bogdanovic and have recently benched Buddy Hield. I could very well see them adding another wing like Vassell.
- Suns – Killian Hayes, Guard, France
Ricky Rubio is not the long-term answer for the Suns. While he has been a sufficient starting point guard, Hayes could be a big upgrade. Despite being a similar archetype, Hayes is a drastically better shooter than Rubio already (39% from three and 91% from the FT line).
- Pelicans – RJ Hampton, Guard, USA
The Pelicans have a lot of talent at so many different positions, so it’s difficult to slot players to them. But the Pelicans do need more youth and shooting in the backcourt. Hampton struggled in his short stint in New Zealand, but the talent and upside are clearly there. Griffin has the trust of the Pelicans franchise as well as the respect from the rest of the league.
- Spurs – Paul Reed, Forward, DePaul
The Spurs are typically a very predictable team when it comes to drafting. I know most would slot Theo Maledon here but San Antonio has both Dejonte Murray and Derrick White at the point guard spot. Paul Reed is an offensive-minded forward that has All-Defense team potential.
- Trail Blazers – Jaden McDaniels, Forward, Washington
The Trail Blazers always select the players with the highest upside. McDaniels is clearly that at this stage in the draft. Adding a potential starting forward with shooting upside in the late lottery could pay off, but McDaniels as a whole does have a lot of bust potential.
- Magic – Theo Maledon, Guard, France
- Timberwolves – Nico Mannion, Guard, Arizona
- Celtics – Kira Lewis, Guard, Alabama
- Bucks – Joel Ayayi, Guard, Gonzaga
- Mavericks – Obi Toppin, Forward, Dayton
- Thunder – Isaiah Stewart, Big, Washington
- Nets – Josh Green, Wing, Arizona
- Nuggets – Tre Jones, Guard, Duke
- Heat – Saddiq Bey, Forward, Villanova
- Jazz – Patrick Williams, Forward, Florida State
- Knicks – Jalen Smith, Forward, Maryland
- Thunder – Cassius Stanley, Wing, Duke
- Celtics – Xavier Tillman, Big, Michigan State
- Raptors – Ashton Hagans, Guard, Kentucky
- Lakers – Jahm’ius Ramsey, Guard, Texas Tech
- Trendon Watford, Forward, LSU