The NBA Draft is finally here and it’s time for celebration. For the fourth time since 2011, Buffs fans get to enjoy the draft as a graduation-type ceremony for a player we’ve grown to love. This year it’s Derrick White, the omnipresent point guard who will likely hear his name in the late first or early second round.
In this mock draft, keep in mind that this offseason has been bonkers and no one really knows what’s going on. The only thing I’m certain about in this draft is the top pick, but literally nothing else in the draft would surprise me. Anyway, here it goes.
1. Philadephia 76ers — Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington
Player comparison: James Harden with defensive potential
Markelle Fultz is the perfect point guard. Fultz has no weakness in his overall game. He’s a terrific three-level scorer, a brilliant passer (especially in the pink-and-roll) and has significant defensive potential. Fultz fits perfectly with Philadephia’s core — featuring Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric — which has to be the most promising in the NBA. This is what Sam Hinkie died for.
2. Los Angeles Lakers — Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA
Player comparison: Jason Kidd without the defense
The Lakers were rumored to be in pursuit of the top pick so they could get Fultz, but since they missed out, they’ll have to settle for the next best guard prospect who just so happens to be as L.A. as anyone could possibly be. Ball is a brilliant passer and can lead a potentially lethal Luke Walton offense, but his defensive shortcomings and ugly shooting mechanics may limit his upside.
3. Boston Celtics (or Bulls) — Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas
Player comparison: Andre Igoudala
The Celtics supposedly traded down to No. 3 because they preferred Josh Jackson to Fultz and wanted to maximize their draft slot value. There’s a chance they could flip this pick for Jimmy Butler or Paul George, but they’ll probably settle for the defensively gifted, playmaking wing from Kansas. If Jackson develops his jump shot, he could be a Kawhi Leonard-type two-way star.
UPDATE: All signs now point to the Celtics drafting Jayson Tatum.
4. Phoenix Suns — Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke
Player comparison: Rudy Gay
Jayson Tatum is one of the most polished freshmen in draft history, and considering his all-around scoring ability with his athleticism, his offensive game should translate effortlessly to the NBA. That said, Tatum suffers from Rudy Gayitis and is suspect on defense, so it’s hard to say how valuable he’ll be, even if he’s a good fit on the Suns.
UPDATE: If Boston does indeed select Tatum, the Suns would most likely take Josh Jackson, who is a perfect fit in Phoenix. Also watch out for the Suns trading this pick to the Knicks in a package for Kristaps Pozingis. (LOL Knicks)
5. Sacramento Kings — De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky
Player comparison: Mike Conley
The Sacramento Kings love De`Aaron Fox, and De`Aaron Fox loves the Sacramento Kings. And I love De`Aaron Fox. The freshman guard is by far the quickest player in the draft and he uses that athleticism to be a dangerous playmaker and nasty perimeter defender. Unfortunately, he’ll suffer offensively until he improves his poor shooting, but he has good mechanics so there is some hope for him. In Sacremento, he’s a great fit next to the Kings’ most promising players, sharp shooters Buddy Hield and Skal Labissière.
6. Orlando Magic — Dennis Smith, PG, NC State
Player comparison: Baron Davis
Dennis Smith is all offense and no defense, and while that limits his upside as a future NBA player, it would be a welcome change for Magic fans who have long dealt with Elfrid Payton’s brick laying. It will also be a great sight for Magic fans and League Pass addicts to see Smith on the same team as Aaron Gordon, another high-flyer capable of making the impossible look routine.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves — Jonathan Isaac, PF/SF, Florida State
Player comparison: Rashard Lewis
The Timberwolves could possibly trade this pick in a package for Jimmy Butler, but I’m not sure how likely that is. If they don’t pull that off, they should look to draft Jonathan Isaac from Florida State. Isaac is the rare prospect who profiles as a stretch-4 on offense and rim protector on defense. Minnesota has another unicorn in Karl-Anthony Towns and the two should be a deadly frontcourt combination.
8. New York Knicks — Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky
Player comparison: Earl Joseph “J.R.” Smith III
Malik Monk is the most dangerous pure scorer in the draft. But scoring isn’t everything and Monk has questions surrounding his defense and playmaking ability. If he develops complimentary skills, he can be an All-Star; if not, he’ll be a J.R. Smith-type cult hero. Whichever he becomes, he’ll be adored by NBA Twitter, and if the Knicks do indeed pick him, we can be among the first to initiate the #FreeMalikMonk movement.
UPDATE: If New York trades Porzingis, they may include this pick, but if they don’t, they will probably pick Lauri Markkanen here. (LOL Knicks)
9. Dallas Mavericks — Frank Ntilikina, PG, France
Player comparison: Dante Exum, smaller Giannis Antetokounmpo
Frank Ntilikina is everything the Mavericks have been hoping for at the point guard position: he’s long, athletic, defensive-minded, and he oozes potential. If he ever develops a jump shot, watch out.
10. Sacramento Kings — Lauri Markkanen, PF/C, Arizona
Player comparison: Channing Frye
Kangz gotta Kangz. For whatever reason, Sacramento drafts Lauri Markkanen, a passive defender and weak rebounder whose only skill is his shooting, which isn’t even that great. I guess the Kings want someone like a worse version of Skal Labissière to back up the real Skal Labissière?
11. Charlotte Hornets — Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga
Player comparison: Cody Zeller
Zach Collins is a prolific shot blocker, a solid rebounder, and has soft hands with a good scoring touch, but he fouls all the time and doesn’t have much range (yet). By drafting him, Charlotte is asking, “Why have one Cody Zeller when you can have two?”
UPDATE: Charlotte traded for Dwight Howard, so they might not be looking for a center anymore. They could still draft Collins or another center, but it’s less likely now.
12. Detroit Pistons — Donovan Mitchell, PG/SG, Louisville
Player comparison: Avery Bradley with less shooting, Lance Stephenson but good
Donovan Mitchell won’t ease the Pistons’ shooting woes (yet), but he does offer potentially elite defense at both guard positions, which is very on-brand for Detroit.
13. Denver Nuggets — OG Anunoby, SF/PF, Indiana
Player comparison: Al-Farouq Aminu
OG Anunoby is the lockdown defender the Nuggets need at forward alongside defensive challenged Nikola Jokic. Anunoby struggles with his shot and he lacks any semblance of advanced offensive skill, but if he develops at all on that end, he can be a terrific 3-and-D starter for Denver for years to come.
14. Miami Heat — Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina
Player comparison: Mike Dunleavy, Jr.
Justin Jackson is a well-rounded three-level scorer capable of filling it up with high-volume. Against top-flight competition at UNC, he held up just enough defensively for his offense to be valuable, but he may be exposed at the next level against better and stronger athletes. Miami is hoping he gets more buckets than he allows, but time will tell if he’s starter caliber or if he’ll be a bench contributor.
15. Portland Trail Blazers — Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA
Player comparison: Clint Capela
Ike Anigbogu can dunk, rebound and block shots, and that’s pretty much it. But the Blazers aren’t looking for anything besides rebounding and interior defense — their biggest weaknesses since Bill Walton left in 1979 — and they should be willing to gamble on a raw prospect like Anigbogu.
UPDATE: The Blazers are somewhat likely to trade one of their three picks (likely this one) to move up into the lottery.
16. Chicago Bulls — Luke Kennard, SG, Duke
Player comparison: Michael Redd lite, taller Trey Burke
If Chicago trades Jimmy “Buckets” Butler, they’ll be looking for some immediate scoring punch. They could find that in Luke Kennard, is a three-level scorer with just enough confidence and creativity to hoist whatever shot he feels like taking. He’s a terrible defender, but he simply gets buckets.
17. Milwaukee Bucks — Terrance Ferguson, SG, Australia
Player comparison: Terrence Ross
If there’s any type of player the Milwaukee Bucks love, it’s the toolsy-but-raw, boom-or-bust enigmas like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Thon Maker. Terrance Ferguson is just that. He’s a high-volume, streaky shooter with the athleticism and build to be a 3-and-D contributor, but he’s plagued by inconsistency and he’s far from polished.
18. Indiana Pacers — Justin Patton, C, Creighton
Player comparison: Serge Ibaka lite
Justin Patton is as talented as can be, but he’s also very raw. His ceiling is an elite shot blocker who can pop threes, similar to Serge Ibaka. His floor, however, is playing in the G-League until he moves on to Europe.
19. Atlanta Hawks — Jarrett Allen, C, Texas
Player comparison: Lucas Nogueira
Jarrett Allen just looks like a Hawk. Maybe it’s because he kinda looks like a young Josh Childress. Anyway, Allen hasn’t quite figured out how to put together his size, skill and rebounding, but if he ever does, he could be a solid two-way big for Atlanta. (Unrelated: Dwight Howard found out over Twitter that he was traded, lol.)
20. Portland Trail Blazers — Semi Ojeleye, PF/SF, SMU
Player comparison: Jae Crowder
Semi Ojeleye is one of the meanest players I’ve ever seen, and I’m in love. I desperately want my Blazers to draft him and I’m OK with them reaching for him here. I just want a versatile forward with his strength and tenacity to shore up Portland’s disastrous defense.
UPDATE: Don’t be surprised if the Blazers trade this pick or the 26th pick to the Brooklyn Nets, which they would trade alongside Allen Crabbe. Brooklyn loves Crabbe and take on his expensive contract, and Portland is looking for some kind of salary dump.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder — Kyle Kuzma, PF, Utah
Player comparison: Marcus Morris lite
The Thunder have a weird tendency to reach for fringe Pac-12 prospects and I could see them doing it again here. Kyle Kuzma is a potential 3-and-D stretch-4 who could be a great fit next to Russell Westbrook, but he has a lot to prove at the next level.
22. Brooklyn Nets — Harry Giles, C, Duke
Player comparison: Bobby Portis
Harry Giles has all the potential in the world, but he can’t seem to stay healthy. He’s already had more knee surgeries than most YMCA pickup basketball players, and he’s only a teenager. The Nets have to gamble on Giles staying healthy because at their current state, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
23. Toronto Raptors — Tony Bradley, PF/C, North Carolina
Player comparison: Ed Davis
Tony Bradley is somewhat of an unknown commodity with unknown upside, partly because he backed up a pair of All-ACC bigs, and partly because UNC head coach Roy Williams may have been intentionally hiding him so that he would return for another season. The Raptors draft him hoping to tap into whatever potential he might have, but they know that even if he doesn’t develop, they have themselves a monster rebounder to contribute off the bench.
24. Utah Jazz — Derrick White, PG/SG, Colorado
Player comparison: Jeremy Lin
Derrick White is magnanimous, omnipresent, flawless, and possibly heavenly. He’s also a solid two-way point guard who profiles well as an offensive-minded, big-bodied playmaker who has room to grow. The Jazz may be losing George Hill, but they mitigate that loss and build for the future by drafting White.
25. Orlando Magic — John Collins, PF, Wake Forest
Player comparison: J.J. Hickson
One way of describing John Collins’ game would be saying that he has an old-school, back-to-the-basket post game that was virtually unstoppable in college. Another way of describing it would be saying the only skill he has is scoring, and even that might not even translate to the pace-and-space ways of the NBA. Collins probably profiles best as a scoring big off the bench, which is good value in the late first round.
26. Portland Trail Blazers — D.J. Wilson, PF, Michigan
Player comparison: Marvin Williams
D.J. Wilson has a unique perimeter-oriented offensive game and has solid defensive potential, but his effort and consistency are lacking. Portland could take him with hopes of improving those aspects of the game — I mean, if I had Damian Lillard on my team hounding me, my effort would certainly improve.
27. Los Angeles Lakers — Jordan Bell, PF/C, Oregon
Player comparison: Darrell Arthur
As anyone familiar with Pac-12 basketball can attest, Jordan Bell is a nasty defender and should continue to be nasty for the duration of his career. He doesn’t have much of an offensive game, but he doesn’t really need one to be productive.
28. Los Angeles Lakers — Jawun Evans, PG, Oklahoma State
Player comparison: D.J. Augustin
Jawun Evans is the definition of a jitterbug. In his two seasons at Oklahoma State, he proved that he’s a great playmaker capable of lighting up the scoreboard. The Lakers could look to draft him as an eventual sixth man and use him as a sparkplug off the bench.
29. San Antonio Spurs — Wesley Iwundu, SG, Kansas State
Player comparison: Kent Bazemore, Tony Snell with more upside
Wesley Iwundu is the archetype of the 3-and-D wing who falls in the draft and eventually develops into a steal. Iwundu is well-rounded, but lacks consistency on his jump shot. Leave it to the Spurs to teach him to shoot and turn him into an invaluable player.
30. Utah Jazz — Jonah Bolden, PF, Australia
Player comparison: Joe Ingles with more athleticism
Just like “Swaggy” Joe Ingles, Jonah Bolden is a fountain of basketball energy. He’s fearless on the court and will go toe-to-toe with anyone in the NBA. Also like Swaggy Joe, Bolden has just enough offensive versatility to be valuable on that end. If the Jazz do indeed lose that Australian legend in free agency, it’s fitting for them to draft his virtual clone.