The NBA Draft is finally here! It’s finally here! I’m antsy just thinking about Adam Silver walking up to the podium to announce the first pick.
Luckily for us, there is a Colorado Buffalo in the draft pool. I’m doubtful Josh Scott will be drafted, but it could still happen. And since there’s a Buff in the draft, we can make a mock draft and sell it to you guys as Buffs content, even though you have no idea whether or not I actually wrote anything about the Buffs or CU players (you’ll have to find out).
If you’re here because you actually want to read a mock draft that includes crazy trades (HEY EVERYONE, THIS MOCK DRAFT HAS CRAZY TRADES. DON’T IGNORE ME.) and discusses how certain prospects fit with certain teams, enjoy.
1. Philadelphia 76ers - Ben Simmons, SF/PF, LSU
Ben Simmons isn’t a perfect fit in Philadelphia, but his upside is too much to pass on. The 76ers have even gone as far to promise this selection. (As always, bold words are links.)
2. L.A. Lakers - Brandon Ingram, SF, Duke
New coach Luke Walton is looking to implement a high-tempo spread offense, not unlike that of the Warriors. Brandon Ingram’s shooting, versatility (on both ends) and potential make him the ideal player for L.A.
3. Chicago Bulls (from Boston) - Jaylen Brown, SG/SF, California
The Boston Celtics have the power to change the draft, and they do just that. Boston sends Chicago the 3rd and 23rd picks in exchange for Chicago’s Jimmy Butler and a 2017 second rounder. Chicago just traded former MVP Derrick Rose to the Knicks and are looking to go full rebuild. They draft Cal’s Jaylen Brown as the obvious replacement for Butler’s physical two-way game.
Meanwhile, Boston has loads of draft picks and without a surefire fit available at No. 3, it makes sense for them to trade for a player that fits their system as well as Butler. Watch for Boston to continue to wheel and deal.
UPDATE: It seems increasingly likely that Philadephia will trade Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel (with a pick) to Boston for this pick. There, they would be all but guaranteed to draft Providence point guard Kris Dunn.
4. Phoenix Suns - Dragan Bender, PF/C, Croatia (Maccabi Tel Aviv)
Dragan Bender is one of the most versatile prospects in the draft and at 7’1, provides massive size and defensive potential at the 4 spot. Bender can grow alongside former top-five pick Alex Len as Phoenix builds a potentially lethal frontcourt.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves - Jamal Murray, SG, Kentucky
I’m not sold on Jamal Murray’s ability as a ball handler, so I’m skeptical he can play significant minutes at point guard. No matter, this is the right pick for Minnesota. Murray should come off the bench as a high-volume gunner. If Minny continues their experiments with Zach LaVine playing point guard, Murray’s (limited but useful) ball handling could take pressure off LaVine.
6. New Orleans Pelicans - Kris Dunn, PG, Providence
New Orleans may be the thinnest team in the NBA, but they should address their chronic need for quality point guard play. Kris Dunn comes in as a starter-ready two-way guard who can thrive running pick and rolls with Anthony Davis.
Also of note, the last two picks can easily flip.
7. Denver Nuggets - Marquese Chriss, PF, Washington
The Denver Nuggets have a legitimate logjam at the power forward and center positions, but as you’ll read shortly, a spot should open up. With an opportunity to get a wing later (their main need), Denver goes with Marquese Chriss, the freak athlete with star potential. They can afford to take a risk and do so without hesitation.
8. Sacramento Kings - Dejounte Murray, PG/SG, Washington
Sacramento surprises everyone and selects Dejounte Murray, the second Husky selected in as many picks. Murray, like Chriss, is a ridiculous athlete with a massive wingspan. He’s a risky pick, but the Kings swing for the fences, as they’re wont to do.
9. Denver Nuggets (from Toronto) - Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma
The Nuggets don’t have the 9th pick right now, but they obtain it in a trade with the Toronto Raptors. In this trade, Denver sends fan favorite Kenneth Faried and the 19th pick in exchange for the 9th pick, Toronto’s 2017 first round pick and former first rounder Delon Wright.
Faried has seemed to fall out of favor with the Nuggets and will likely be traded. Toronto has championship aspirations and want a player they can expect to start at power forward.
10. Milwaukee Bucks - Deyonta Davis, PF/C, Michigan State
Milwaukee signing Greg Monroe last summer is regrettable to say the least. Slow footed and a weak rim protector, Monroe compromises the Bucks’ high pressure defense. Deyonta Davis is a bit raw, but his shot blocking and quick feet make him Milwaukee’s dream center.
11. Orlando Magic - Domatas Sabonis, PF/C, Gonzaga
Domatas Sabonis doesn’t fit perfectly with Orlando (they would prefer a better shooter), but without an obvious pick, they address their additional need for post scoring. Orlando isn’t too bummed, since Sabonis is NBA ready and still has potential to be a quality shooter.
12. Atlanta Hawks - Timothé Luwawu, SG/SF, France (Mega Leks)
Thabo Sefolosha is entering the final year of his three-year deal with Atlanta, and unless he surprisingly resigns, it will be his last. It makes sense for Atlanta to draft and develop Timothé Luwawu, the closest player we’ll ever see to Sefolosha. Luwawu, though, has potential to be a much more dynamic player than his Swiss counterpart, so he’s worth a lottery selection.
Note: Atlanta acquired this pick from the Utah Jazz in a three-team trade yesterday. Atlanta sent the Indiana Pacers veteran point guard (and Indianapolis native) Jeff Teague. Indiana sent veteran point guard (and Indianapolis native) George Hill to Utah.
13. Phoenix Suns - Skal Labissière, PF, Kentucky
Phoenix addressed their biggest need earlier with their selection of Dragan Bender. Here, they shoot for the moon and select Skal Labissière, the high school phenom who disappointed mightily in his lone season at Kentucky. The Haitian international isn’t ready for the NBA, but his potential is off the charts.
14. Chicago Bulls - Wade Baldwin IV, PG, Vanderbilt
Earlier, I briefly mentioned that Derrick Rose is no longer a Bull, but a Knick. Interpret that as you’d like, but Chicago is in need of a point guard. The Bulls did acquire Jerian Grant in the trade, and Spencer Dinwiddie last week, but neither seem to have the ability to start at the NBA level. As such, Chicago drafts Wade Baldwin out of Vanderbilt. Baldwin is 6’4 with a ridiculous 6’11 wingspan and can shoot and pass. I’m no scout, but I see Chauncey Billups potential in him.
15. Denver Nuggets - Furkan Korkmaz, SG, Turkey (Anadolu Efes Istanbul)
Denver doesn’t necessarily need anyone with this pick, so they gamble on a draft-and-stash wing in Furkan Korkmaz. Korkmaz has an NBA-ready offensive game, but he needs to develop his all-around skill set before he sees significant action.
16. Boston Celtics - Jakob Poeltl, C, Utah
Jakob Poeltl is too good of a player to fall out of the lottery, but this is a weird draft. Boston lucks out and is able to address their biggest need — interior scoring — without having to trade up.
17. Memphis Grizzlies - Denzel Valentine, SG/SF, Michigan State
Memphis is always in need of a skilled wing. Luckily for them, Denzel Valentine is available and will provide them with shooting and passing that can allow them to finally open up offensive space. Valentine, a senior, doesn’t offer much upside, but Memphis doesn’t mind.
18. Detroit Pistons - Henry Ellenson, PF, Marquette
I’m split on Henry Ellenson, as are a lot of people. On the one hand, Ellenson is a good athlete for his size and can shoot with ease. On the other hand, he’s not a very good defender and seems to have a low ceiling. He could go much higher or much lower, but Detroit snatches him up as a big man whose game complements Andre Drummond’s.
19. Toronto Raptors (from Denver) - Malachi Richarson, SG/SF, Syracuse
I’m split on Malachi Richardson, as are a lot of people. On the one hand, Richardson has terrific size, athleticism and a solid jump shot. On the other hand, he’s never been able to put everything together and struggles mightily with consistency. NBADraft.net offers player comparisons and lists Richardson’s as Rashad Vaughn. Thanks, guys, a 19-year-old with limited playing time on a non-contending team really helps us look at a 20-year-old prospect.
Whatever, Toronto picks Richardson as a high-upside sleeper.
20. Indiana Pacers - Demetrius Jackson, PG, Notre Dame
After trading for the speedster Jeff Teague, Indiana will likely implement a spread offense that utilizes speed and shooting. If you’re doing that, need a backup point guard and have a history of taking Indiana-natives, why not select Demetrius Jackson, an Indiana-native whose game is built upon speed and shooting and can contribute right away?
UPDATE: The Brooklyn Nets traded Thaddeus Young to the Pacers for the 20th pick. Brooklyn needs to fill virtually every spot on their team, so this trade makes sense for them. Jackson could be a good pick for them, but I'll give them Cheick Diallo, the Malian PF/C who played one season at Kansas. He's raw but has potential to be a game-changer as a shot blocker and rim runner. Brooklyn won't be winning any time soon, so they can take their time grooming Diallo to eventually replace Brook Lopez.
21. Atlanta Hawks - Patrick McCaw, SG, UNLV
Patrick McCraw is one of my favorite players in this entire draft. SB Nation had a great breakdown of his game, but I’ll sum it up. McCraw is very slight at 6’7 and 181 lbs., but he’s a tenacious defender with the potential to be defensive stopper. His offense is impressive too, as he has a smooth jump shot and ball handling skills he developed as a point guard, the position he played before a late growth spurt. As a person, McCraw is unassuming, hard working and content playing in a supporting role. Atlanta needs depth at the wing, so they target the player perfect for them, both on and off the court.
22. Chicago Bulls (from Boston) - Juan Hernangómez, PF/C, Spain (Movistar Estudiar)
This is Chicago’s third first round pick and because they only have so many minutes to develop young guys, they draft Hernangómez as a draft-and-stash. "Juancho" has a promising offensive game that would fit nicely alongside Bobby Portis and/or Nikola Mirotic.
23. Charlotte Hornets - Damian Jones, C, Vanderbilt
Charlotte needs a rim protector, so they draft Damian Jones as insurance in case they fail to lure a top free agent.
UPDATE: I have no idea why, but the Hornets traded this to the Kings for Marco Belinelli fifteen minutes before the draft started. I don't have much time to figure who Sacramento should draft, so I guess
24. Philadelphia 76ers - Malik Beasley, SG, Florida State
Malik Beasley looks like he can be legit 3-and-D weapon in due time. Beasley doesn’t have great size, but he’s a knockdown shooter who plays with great energy on defense. Philly doesn’t have a shooting guard that will be around when they’re done rebuilding (if ever), so they’d be wise to use their pick on a potential starter.
UPDATE: If Demetrius Jackson is available (Indiana traded their pick), the 76ers will probably take him here.
25. Los Angeles Clippers - DeAndre Bembry, SG/SF, St. Joseph’s
Every year during conference tournaments, I fall in love with a player. Last year it was Cameron Payne, and the year before it was Elfrid Payton (they turned out well). This year, it was DeAndre Bembry of St. Joseph’s. I love everything about Bembry; his afro/beard game is flawless, his weird decision to wear No. 43 hits home (I wore 41 for basketball — not for Dirk — and 55 for baseball), and his shooting-guard-with-random-power-forward-skills is just wonderful. I hate to see Bembry go to a team I despise, but the Clippers need a wing to replace Jamal Crawford and/or start in place of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
26. Philadelphia 76ers - Tyler Ulis, PG, Kentucky
May Tyler Ulis forever be underrated. The 5’9 passing genius is somehow still available for the 76ers, and given their desperate need for a floor general, they can’t afford to pass on him.
UPDATE: If the 76ers draft Jackson over Ulis, they won't really need him. Instead I'll say they go back to that Beasley pick.
27. Toronto Raptors - Guerschon Yabusele, SF/PF, France (Rouen Métropole)
I know next to nothing about Guerschon Yabusele (I guess he’s an athletic stretch-4 who can bully people inside), but this draft is incomplete without Toronto drafting a high-upside international prospect that no one has heard of.
28. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Phoenix) - Taurean Prince, SF, Baylor
Cleveland moves into this slot after trading Iman Shumpert and a 2019 second rounder (the less favorable pick from the Lakers or Timberwolves) to Phoenix for the 28th pick. This trade happens on draft night when the Cavs see the opportunity to draft Taurean Prince. Prince is one of the most defensively versatile wings in recent draft memory and can serve as a matchup nightmare (and possible Golden State specialist) while he develops his offense.
29. San Antonio Spurs - Ivica Zubac, C, Bosnia & Herzegovina (Mega Leks)
Ivica Zubac is going to the Spurs in this mock draft only because I did a random drawing using the remaining European centers. Reading up on Zubac, he seems like a very normal Slavic big. The only surprise is that he doesn’t have any accents in his name.
30. Golden State Warriors - Josh Scott, PF/C, Colorado
Just kidding, I just wanted to get your hopes up and validate the click bait.
I’m sorry, that was a mean joke.
(I’m not sorry.)
30. Golden State Warriors - Brice Johnson, PF/C, North Carolina
Brice Johnson tore it up for the Tar Heels this year as a high-energy monster. At 6’10 with decent strength, Johnson could potentially play small-ball 5 for the Warriors down the road, just like Kevon Looney.
Anyway, Johnson is an obvious pick for Golden State, considering he’s used to losing the championship in heart breaking fashion.