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NBA Mock Draft 2.0

1) Boston Celtics – Markell Fultz, Point Guard (Washington)

Let’s look at this draft pick more than the selection of who the Celtics may or may not take.  Boston has several options here.  They could trade the pick for a Paul George or a Jimmy Butler.  They could also possibly trade this to the 76ers for the 3rd overall pick and next year’s Lakers pick, which the 76ers have.  They could also deal it to Sacramento for the 5th and 10th picks this year.  There are a ton of scenarios here for the Celtics, but I think staying pat and selecting Fultz is the best thing for their franchise.  

They added Brown last year, they have next years’ Brooklyn’s pick, as well as their pick this season.  That’s three lottery level talents to build around for the future.  That would excite me more as a Celtics fan, especially after the Cavaliers dismantled every single hope and dream of this years’ Celtics.  There is a reason Fultz is considered the best player in this deep draft class as well.  Having him become the future of the team with Jaylen Brown is intriguing.

2) Los Angeles Lakers – Lonzo Ball, Point Guard (UCLA)

Lonzo Ball, best known as the son of Lavar Ball, has made it clear that he wants to be a Laker.  The Lakers have a high chance of getting this talented point guard from UCLA. But the Celtics could throw a wrench into what appears to be a match made in heaven.  The Celtics could either trade their pick to a team that really covets Lonzo Ball’s abilities and skill set, or they could take Ball first and make the Lakers trade for him.  Regardless, I think all the different scenarios here might make the Lakers sweat a little more than usual.  Ultimately, though, I think the Big Baller Brand is headed to the Staples Center.

3) Philadelphia 76ers – Josh Jackson, Small Forward (Kansas)

Josh Jackson is a solid shooter who could play the two or the three position.  Coach Brown is determined to play Ben Simmons at point so that’s why I looked away from point guard De’Aaron Fox.  Malik Monk is another interesting name here for the 76ers, but I think with Jackson’s size, the Sixers could cause havoc in the Eastern Conference in the next few years. And that is something we can now say about this team, without laughing out loud.

4) Phoenix Suns – De’Aaron Fox, Point Guard (Kentucky)

Fox has all the tools you want in a point guard, except his streaky three-point shooting.  I know that the Suns have a loaded backcourt of Ullis, Bledsoe, Knight and Booker, but Fox is probably the 2nd most talented of those four behind Booker.  Also, every one of those four guards went to Kentucky, and that’s exactly where Fox went.  I think the Suns have it bad for guards from the Kentucky Wildcats.  Fox and Brooks will be a tandem nobody wants to face in 3-5 years.  

5) Sacramento Kings – Malik Monk, Point/Shooting Guard (Kentucky)

The Sacramento Kings traded their starting All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins for a scoring guard by the name of Buddy Hield. The Kings clearly are in rebuild mode right now, and I think they take a gamble here on Malik Monk.  I only call this a gamble because both Monk and Hield like to shoot.  We have seen recently, though, that you can have two scoring guards and make it work (insert Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum). The Kings could be a really fun team to watch with Monk and Hield taking turns putting the ball in the basket.

6) Orlando Magic – Dennis Smith, Point Guard (North Carolina State)

I think it’s safe to say the Elfrid Payton experiment didn’t work.  With so many guards, specifically point guards going off the board so early, I think the Magic reach a little here and draft Dennis Smith.  Smith has been compared to former NBA guard, Steve Francis, and current NBA star, Damian Lillard.  Smith is loaded with talent and I think the Magic fan base would enjoy a backcourt of Smith and Fournier.  

7) Minnesota Timberwolves – Jonathan Isaac, Small/Power Forward (Florida State)

The majority of NBA Mock Drafts have Isaac falling into the hands of Coach Thibs and the Minnesota Timberwolves with the 7th overall pick.  Isaac seems like a perfect fit in this system because he can play a little 3 and he can play the four as well.  I think he will take a few years to really develop into the players the Timberwolves want. But he could be a terrific fit playing with Townes and Wiggins. He will have to get mentally and physically stronger, though, if he wants to reach his full potential.

8) New York Knicks – Jayson Tatum, Small Forward (Duke)

I think many people would be shocked to see Tatum fall this low in the draft, but I would tell you otherwise.  I love the way Tatum plays, but with this draft being point guard top heavy, Tatum may slide a little.  The NBA comparison for Tatum has ranged from Harrison Barnes to Paul Pierce.  In the triangle type of offense, I can see Tatum playing a lot of small forward with Porzingis.  The Knicks are still looking to deal Carmelo Anthony, and once they do that, there will be a glaring hole at the small forward spot.

9) Dallas Mavericks – Frank Ntilikina, Point Guard (France)

The Mavericks have had some success in taking foreign players and I think they’ll take another gamble here.  While Yogi Ferrell provided a mid-season spark for this team, I think Yogi will find himself getting minutes with the 2nd unit.  I think the Mavericks go after the defensive minded point guard Frank Ntilikina here.  

Frank is comfortable shooting off the dribble, knocking down the three, and playing off the ball.  I see Rick Carlisle written all over this guy, because Carlisle could exceed Frank’s abilities to the maximum.  Mavericks fans will be extremely happy with his pick.

10) Sacramento Kings – OG Anunoby, Guard-Forward (Indiana)

My first major shake up to this NBA Mock Draft comes here.  I have the Kings taking a huge gamble on OG Anunoby.  The Kings have already invested previous draft picks in centers, so I decided to insert a guy who can guard positions one through five.  Anunoby has had injury problems that could scare teams off, but he is a guy who could be a game changer.  I think he is a bit awkward in the way he plays, but I also believe he has the abilities to become a starter in this league.  His floor to me is comparable to Al-Farouq Aminu, with his ceiling being comparable to Kawhi Leonard.

11) Charlotte Hornets – Zach Collins, Center (Gonzaga)

The Hornets need to improve their front court, as they seem locked into the back court of Kemba Walker and Nic Batum. Zach Collins is probably the rawest talent of big men in the draft.  He doesn’t have much to show for how talented he is, but he was the guy who stepped up big for the Bulldogs as they took down the Gamecocks to reach the NCAA Championship Game.  Collins was only a freshman last year and if you look at players in recent drafts (Myles Turner) who came off the bench but entered the draft as a freshman, I think you would be optimistic for what this player could become.  

12) Detroit Pistons – Lauri Markkanen, Power Forward (Arizona)

The Pistons have a few holes in their roster but the biggest hole to me is power forward.  Markkanen averaged 16 points and 8 rebounds as a freshman while shooting 84% from the free throw line.  Drummond is best suited playing with guys that can shoot, and that’s what Markkanen does well.  I also like his ability to defend the perimeter and switch onto smaller guards without being completely taken advantage of. There is a lot to love here, but many people don’t see Markkanen dropping this low.

13) Denver Nuggets – John Collins, Power Forward (Wake Forrest)

I absolutely love John Collins.  Collins developed into one of the most dominant forces in the ACC.  He continued to grow throughout the season and that is why he averaged 28.8 points and 14.8 rebounds, becoming the ACC’s Most Improved Player.  He is overlooked sometimes because he is 6’10” but his wingspan is only 6’11”.  The Nuggets could use an upgrade in point guard, but there isn’t one worth gambling on here.  That’s why I think they’ll look to Collins.  The forward spot next to Jokic is occupied by Faried, but if they inserted a guy who could become more of a scorer than the Manimal, they’d be better off.  The Nuggets will be big buyers in free agency, though, so they might look to take a gamble on someone else come draft day.

14) Miami Heat – TJ Leaf, Power Forward (UCLA)

We saw the Heat come alive in the 2nd half of the season and they missed the playoffs by only one game.  I like the fact that TJ Leaf can really stretch the floor for the Heat.  They went small ball this season and with a dominant presence in Hassan Whiteside, the Heat will benefit from having shooters and scorers around him.  Lonzo Ball brought a lot of good out in TJ Leaf at UCLA, and I think Dragic can do the same thing in Miami.  Leaf will probably come off the bench, but when you add a guy who is able to spread the floor out like a Ryan Anderson, you take a gamble on him.  I think 12-14 is the highest Leaf gets picked, but I do think he could fall to the late 20’s.  

15) Portland Trailblazers – Terrance Ferguson, Shooting Guard (Australia)

The Blazers have three picks in the upcoming draft, so I expect them to take a gamble here at 15.  Terrance Ferguson is only 18 years old and, instead of going to college, he decided to play pro ball in Australia.  While he’s still a work in progress, there are a lot of things to like.  He is a spot-up shooter, who hits 39% from 3-point range.  He likes to shoot from the corner three, because it is his most consistent shot.  He is a 6’7” guard who is an athletic machine.  He doesn’t love dribbling and he is always looking to involve his teammates on the court.  The Trailblazers could really take a risk here on this kid, since they have 2 more selections afterwards.  One more thing: I love the comparison of the Bucks drafting Giannis at number 15.  Giannis has become one of the most dominant forwards in the East, so who knows what Ferguson could become in the West.

16) Chicago Bulls – Donovan Mitchell, Shooting Guard (Louisville)

With Dwyane Wade pending free agency and on the latter end of his NBA career, the Bulls need someone who can help score the basketball next to Jimmy Butler.  Butler has been in several trade rumors but don’t put the cart before the horse.  I like what Mitchell brings to the table here at pick 16. Mitchell can not only score the ball but he defends at a high level too.  He is undersized for a two but has a 6’11” wing span.  I wouldn’t be shocked if whatever team drafts him plays him at the point guard some, because when Louisville’s starting point guard went out to injury, Mitchell stepped in and shined.

17) Milwaukee Bucks – Luke Kennard, Shooting Guard (Duke)

The Bucks are one of the most interesting teams in the Eastern Conference.  They are extremely young and have a good chance of becoming one the most dominant teams in the East, with Giannis leading the way.  One thing Milwaukee needs more than anything is shooting.  Khris Middleton, Matthew Dellevadova, and Mirza Teletovic were the best shooters for the Bucks from outside.  They need to add some depth in that department.  That’s why I think they take Kennard here.  Kennard is a lot like former Duke Blue Devil, JJ Redick.  Kennard will hit a number of tough shots and can really make another team pay by his ability to orchestrate the offense, as well.  He isn’t explosive and his speed isn’t the highest, but he has become a consistent finisher, hitting floaters with both the left and right hand at an efficient rate.  I love this pick by the Celtics.

18) Indiana Pacers – Harry Giles, Power Forward (Duke)

The knock on Giles is his injury concerns.  Giles has dealt with knee injuries heading into the draft, but that won’t keep the Pacers away.  The Pacers took a risk with Myles Turner in the draft after he was criticized for his running abilities.  Giles had 3 surgeries throughout his last two years of high school and his freshmen year at college.  The potential in Giles exceeds a top 5 pick, but he has really killed his stock with the injuries as a concern.  

I think whoever drafts Giles in the late teens, possibly the early twenties, will get the steal of the draft.  Giles runs the floor well, attacks the glass, has incredible leaping ability, has good hands, doesn’t shy away from contact in the post, moves his feet well, and has really good lateral quickness. He will impress the Pacers scouting teams and front office members, because he is full of charisma that will carry over into the community.  Giles’ knee injuries again must be noted here, because team’s will be extremely cautious when selecting him.   

19) Atlanta Hawks – Jarrett Allen, Center (Texas)

The Hawks have a very interesting summer ahead of them.  I am not sure if they are going to retool the roster or try to be competitive with Howard and Milsap again.  Last year they invested in point guard Dennis Schroder and drafted Baylor’s forward, Taureen Prince.  I think the Hawks should look to go after a backup center who could eventually replace Howard.  There will be a lot of guys available here, but I like Jarrett Allen.  Allen is a lot different than Howard because he is more of a scorer than a defender.  He has a soft touch around the basket and is a rebounder.  His face-up game is something that opponents should look to take away from him because he thrives in that type of game.  Former Texas big men LaMarcus Aldridge and Myles Turner are effective face-up big men in the NBA today, and Allen could be the next to follow.

20) Portland Trailblazers – Justin Patton, Center (Creighton)

The center that intrigues me the most in the 15-30 range is Justin Patton.  I think as we get closer to draft day his stock will rise.  He really does everything you look for in a Center, and he can be a nightmare for opponents on the defensive side.  He will switch on to guards in the pick and roll and stay with them.  He thrives in the pick-and-roll game, as a diver to the basket.  With Portland’s Evan Turner and Justin Patton running the second unit pick-and-roll, surrounded by shooters, I think the Blazers will have a lot of success. However, it is very likely that it takes Patton a year or two to develop into the player we are predicting he can be.  His overall skill set is possibly the best in the draft for centers, but it’s up to Patton to reach that ceiling by putting in the work.

21) Oklahoma City Thunder – Justin Jackson, Small Forward (North Carolina)

The Thunder could use a guy with college experience here at number 21.  Jackson is an interesting player who could go early in the draft, but he could fall late.  He was named the ACC player of the year and was the leader of his National Championship team.  He still has areas to improve upon, as he is a 22-year old junior with a thin frame.  If he wants to handle the wear and tear of an NBA small forward, he will have to bulk up.  On the plus side though, he has a terrific feel for the game and a high IQ.  I expect him to be a contributor wherever he goes, but his role could be enlarged if he puts in the effort.  

22) Brooklyn Nets – Hamidou Diallo, Shooting Guard (Kentucky)

Diallo didn’t play a single game with the Wildcats so you probably don’t know much about him.  While many members of the NBA media are saying the Draft Combine is a waste of time, they leave out that it creates opportunities for guys like Diallo.  Diallo is all potential here, as teams will have to bank on his high school tape and his work at the combine.  He is long and athletic, with the ability to defend at a high level.  I like this pick for the Nets, as they are in rebuild mode.  They have to take risks on potential players late in the Draft, because their front office is still paying for the God-awful trade with Boston in 2013.  

23) Toronto Raptors – Bam Abedayo, Center (Kentucky)

With the Raptors being swept in the 2nd round of the Playoffs to Lebron James and the Cavaliers, the Raptors have some huge questions heading into the off-season.  It appeared that Valanciunas was lost in the mix against the Bucks and Cavaliers, who are athletic at the center position and pulled away their opponent’s rim protectors.  Abedayo is a solid center who can guard perimeter players off a pick and roll by switching onto the ball handler.  There are a lot of potential guys Toronto could go with, but getting a guy who can help you out defensively (especially since Biyombo signed in Orlando last year) would be a good start.  The real question for Toronto is, what will Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka do in Free Agency.

24) Utah Jazz – Frank Jackson, Point Guard (Duke)

For some reason, I like Jackson fitting in here with the Utah Jazz.  This seems like a perfect Quinn Snyder guy.  He is what many call a “tweener”, being able to play both guard positions.  He had an inconsistent freshmen stent with the Blue Devils, but he showed enough flashes to raise his stock.  This draft is top heavy with point guards, so the Jazz may take a late flier on him.  George Hill could very well be gone next season, and the Jazz will need to find a backup to Dante Exum.

25) Orlando Magic – Dwayne Bacon, Shooting Guard/Small Forward (Florida State)

Orlando seems pretty solid in the front court with Biyombo, Gordon and Vucevic. So solid that I think they will look to find another scorer.  Dwayne Bacon from Florida State would be a solid pick-up here late in the 1st round.  The Seminoles were once again lackluster in the Tournament, but Bacon showed all year long why he is a scoring machine.  He has the build like a Dwyane Wade/Brad Beal type player, but he will have to really work hard to reach that level.  I honestly believe with his ability to defend and score, he could end up starting over Evan Fournier down the road.  If you look at the beginning of this Mock Draft, I have the Magic selecting point guard Dennis Smith with the 6th overall pick.  If you could draft your future starting back-court this season, that would be mighty impressive.

26) Portland Trailblazers – Tyler Lydon, Power Forward (Syracuse)

I won’t lie, I made this pick based on who I have the Blazers selecting at 15 and 20 earlier in the draft.  I like the versatility that Lydon adds to the group.  He is best known for playing the 4, but he can play the 3 as well.  Lydon was a solid NCAA shooter and would really fit into the Blazers style of play.  I think he might wind up in the D-League this season, but overall, he could be productive in the league if he continues knocking down his three-point shot and using his athleticism to defend at a competitive level.

27) Brooklyn Nets – Ivan Rabb, Power Forward (Cal)

I really hate listing Rabb so low, but I think he could fall out of the first round.  His biggest knock is that he can’t shoot the ball, which is almost a no-no if you’re a power forward in the league.  He is, however, known for his ability to defend and rebound.  There is always a place in the league for guy like that, but he failed to statistically improve from his freshman campaign to his sophomore campaign.  His coaching staff at Cal, however, played the second slowest pace in the Pac-12, which limited his ability to move in the open floor.  He isn’t a back to the basket big man, but he can run the open floor well.  The Nets will more than likely want to play a faster brand of basketball.  I think Rabb could find minutes next to Lopez, or coming off the bench playing the 4 or the 5.   

28) Los Angeles Lakers – Ike Anigbogu, Center (UCLA)

It’s no surprise that Magic Johnson probably wasn’t a fan of the Timofey Mozgov signing.  However, he could take a center who didn’t have the sexy stats, but was a factor for the UCLA Bruins.  In the beginning of this Mock Draft, I had the Lakers taking Lonzo Ball.  It would really be kind of interesting to see Ball have a guy who’s been with him all season join him for his Rookie Year. Many people believe that Lonzo brought out the best in his teammates, so I think Ike could benefit once again from being paired with his former college teammate, Lonzo Ball.

29) San Antonio Spurs – Jonathan Jeanne, Center (Nancy)

The Spurs have been patching the center position all season long with David Lee, Dwayne Dedmon and Pau Gasol.  I think the Spurs invest in the French Sensation, Jonathan Jeanne.  Jeanne could rise here in the next few weeks, but it would be smart for San Antonio to invest in yet another talented European player.  The Spurs desperately need a center for the future with Kawhi and Aldridge manning the frontcourt.  Dedmon could suffice for the time being, but Popovich didn’t sem too enamored with his post-season play.  That’s why I take a risk on Jeanne with the 29th pick in the draft.  He could be a typical draft and stash player for the Spurs.

30) Utah Jazz – Rodions Kurucs, Small Forward (Barcelona 2)

There is a lot to like about Kurucs here.  He is an offensive weapon that, with time, can really become a contributor right away.  I think he has the potential to go as early as 13 to the Denver Nuggets, but ultimately will fall to the latter part of the Draft.  I think a team with multiple picks take a gamble on Kurucs’ potential, and it makes sense why they would do that.  Kurucs brings a ton of skill to the table.  He is a smart passer who can also score the basketball.  It will take time for him to fully develop into the guy the experts are predicting he could be, so patience would be the key word for any team drafting the small forward from Barcelona 2.

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