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With the NBA Draft Lottery behind us, the playoffs upon us and the NBA Draft ahead of us, the next month is essentially #MockDraftSZN. There will be hundreds upon hundreds of mock drafts that fans will read and endlessly search for.
This draft will not be one of those regular mock drafts. This draft will be different. This mock draft will dive into as many trades as possible. This won’t be a realistic mock draft, but there’s plenty of those around for you to go read if that’s what you’re looking for.
1. Chicago Bulls (via Boston Celtics) – Markelle Fultz, Guard, Washington
Boston Celtics trade pick #1, Jae Crowder and Jaylen Brown to the Chicago Bulls for Jimmy Butler.
The Eastern Conference Finals, save for Sunday night’s collapse, have proven just how big the gap is between the Celtics (and the rest of the East) and the Cavs. Boston could keep skipping along on the current path and wait out LeBron James, but James is a cyborg and it doesn’t appear he’s going anywhere. Instead, they push all their chips into the middle, trade for Butler and go after Gordon Hayward in free agency.
Chicago, meanwhile, jumpstarts a rebuild with Markelle Fultz and two capable rotation players.
2. Sacramento Kings (via LA Lakers) – Lonzo Ball, Guard, UCLA
Sacramento Kings trade picks #5, #10 to the Los Angeles Lakers for pick #2.
The Lakers are a young team with many holes. They need help everywhere and one player isn’t going to solve all their problems. Two plays might, though.
In hopes of getting a lead guard to go with the 47 centers on their roster, the Kings move their two top ten picks for Lonzo Ball, perhaps the most talked-about prospect in the draft who has been linked to the Lakers for months, now and is expected to be their first-round selection. The Lakers get a chance to pick up two quality young players and don’t have to deal with LaVar Ball.
3. Phoenix Suns (via Philadelphia 76ers) – Josh Jackson, Guard/Forward, Kansas
Philadelphia 76ers trade #3 to the Phoenix Suns for Eric Bledsoe
The 76ers badly need a guard. They’ve been heavily linked to Kyle Lowry already and will likely throw a max deal his way. However, age and injury concerns are real in regards to Lowry and could scare off the Sixers.
With Ball and Fultz off the board and first rounders in their pocket in future years, the Sixers cash in and go after Eric Bledsoe, who appears to be on his way out of Phoenix. For the Suns, they themselves get to cash in on Bledsoe’s superb season, netting two top-four picks.
4. Phoenix Suns – De’Aaron Fox, Guard, Kentucky
Imagine the Suns walking out of the draft with a new young core of Devin Booker, Jackson and Fox. It’d be hard to call anyone but Phoenix winners in the draft. Fox is a perfect complement to Booker while Jackson and Fox both can help alleviate the playmaking burden Booker carries.
5. Los Angeles Lakers (via Sacramento) – Malik Monk, Guard, Kentucky
Many prospects, even most of the top ones, enter the league with question marks surrounding them and no one skill that can translate to the NBA immediately. Malik Monk is not one of those prospects.
Monk is already an elite shot-maker and would provide the Lakers an instant amount of spacing that they rarely had on the court last season.
6. Orlando Magic – Dennis Smith Jr., Guard, NC State
We’ll pump the brakes on the trades for a bit and let the draft play out as-is for a bit. The Magic may finally be realizing that the Elfrid Payton experiment didn’t work. Regardless if they realize it or not, they need backcourt players and Dennis Smith Jr. is one of the last guards left this high on the draft board. He would be an instant upgrade offensively at the point guard spot, which isn’t saying much.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves – Jayson Tatum, Forward, Duke
No prospect is more NBA-ready in this draft that Jayson Tatum. Long-term, I see Tatum as a four and that’s where Minnesota could use him. Slotting him between Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns gives the T’Wolves a formidable front court of the future.
8. Minnesota Timberwolves (via New York Knicks) – Frank Nktilikina, Guard, France
Minnesota Timberwolves trade Ricky Rubio to New York Knicks for Lance Thomas, Mindaugas Kuzminskas, #8 pick
Do you realize how hard it is to predict a trade involving the Knicks? Because you have to assume they’re going to badly lose the trade. After a year of Derrick Rose, the Knicks need a new point guard and we know these two sides have discussed a Ricky Rubio trade in the past.
For the T’Wolves, they take on some salary ballast to add another draft pick which they can use on adding an Actually Good point guard in Frank Ntilikina.
9. Dallas Mavericks – Zach Collins, Forward, Gonzaga
The Mavericks are a weird team with weird needs. While they have Nerlens Noel (at least for now), they also have an aging Dirk Nowitzki. Zach Collins is reportedly flying up draft boards so seeing him inside the top ten isn’t too surprising.
10. Los Angeles Lakers (via Sacramento Kings) – Jonathan Isaac, Forward, Florida State
Depending on how you view Jonathan Isaac, he could be anywhere from a top four pick to a lottery selection. I think his range will be somewhere closer to the 8-12 range on draft night, which is where he lands here. Isaac’s crazy length and wingspan make him an intriguing defensive prospect that could pair nicely in the future alongside Brandon Ingram.
11. Charlotte Hornets – Lauri Markkanen, Forward, Arizon
Aren’t they contractually obligated to take the tall white guy?
12. Detroit Pistons – Donovan Mitchell, Guard, Louisville
The Pistons went from up-and-comer to completely lost in one season, a truly remarkable feat. I’m not sure what the future holds for them, but Donovan Mitchell feels like a very Pistons pick.
13. Denver Nuggets – Justin Jackson, Guard/Forward, UNC
A lot of people slot OG Anunoby into this pick under the assumption the Nuggets wouldn’t mind waiting on him to develop. But Denver was nearly a playoff team last year and could be looking for a more instant impact prospect. Justin Jackson is that.
14. Miami Heat – Harry Giles, Forward, Duke
I’m not sold on Harry Giles being a lottery pick, but I’m also not an NBA GM. From everything posted online, it seems like the early returns on Giles are positive, which only means good things for his draft stock. With Miami opening up a hole at power forward with Chris Bosh likely off the books and James Johnson about to get pricey, Giles could slot right in on day one.
15. Portland Trail Blazers – John Collins, Forward, Wake Forest
Post-Jusuf Nurkic trade, the Trailblazers were good. However, their biggest hole is still at the power forward spot. John Collins provides an instant upgrade and could potentially start from day one.
16. Chicago Bulls – Luke Kennard, Guard, Duke
Shockingly, an experiment built on assembling a team that can’t shoot didn’t work well. The Bulls badly need shooters and Kennard might be the best scoring guard in the draft.
17. Milwaukee Bucks – TJ Leaf, Forward, UCLA
The Bucks need to prep for life without Jabari Parker, or at least life with a modified Parker. One knee injury is tough to overcome. Two is an absolute killer.
18. Philadelphia 76ers (via Indiana Pacers) – Terrance Ferguson, Guard, Australia
Indiana Pacers trade #18 pick, Rakeem Christmas to Philadelphia 76ers for Robert Covington
I would not be surprised if the Pacers traded this pick for immediate help for Paul George in a last-ditch effort to create a contender to persuade him to stay. Robert Covington was a name mentioned around the trade deadline as a potential target for Indiana. He has a team option for this season and will become quite expensive soon, so it seems like a wise trade for both sides.
For Philly, walking out of the draft with a new backcourt of Eric Bledsoe and Terrance Ferguson is a huge win.
19. Atlanta Hawks – Jarrett Allen, C, Texas
LOLOLOLOL they really thought Dwight Howard would help solve things.
20. Brooklyn Nets (via Portland Trail Blazers) – Ike Anigbogu, Center, UCLA
Portland Trail Blazers trade Evan Turner, pick #20, pick #26 to Brooklyn Nets for Trevor Booker, Andrew Nicholson
In what is essentially a salary dump, Portland gets out from under the Evan Turner contract in exchange for a couple first rounders this year. Brooklyn happily takes on the contract as they are barren of assets right now.
The Nets use the pick on Ike Anigbogu, who can fill the inevitable void Brook Lopez will leave once he is either dealt or leaves in free agency.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder – Semi Ojeleye, Guard/Forward, SMU
Aside from Russell Westbrook, the Thunder need lots of things. They need other playmakers, they need some defense, and they need shooters. Semi Ojeleye checks off many of those needs. He’s a potential three-and-D guy who, unlike their current one, can shoot a basketball.
22. Brooklyn Nets (via Toronto Raptors) – OG Anunoby, Forward, Indiana
This is 100 percent the type of pick the Nets need to make. Anunoby is a top-ten prospect if healthy and they need to take risks on these types of picks.
23. Toronto Raptors (via Los Angeles Clippers) – Ivan Rabb, Forward, Cal
The back-up big man options in Toronto are sparse, to say the least. Ivan Rabb is a bit of a polarizing prospect, but he was a great rebounder in college and is a skill set that should transfer over to the NBA.
24. Utah Jazz – Justin Patton, Center, Creighton
I’m not quite as high on Justin Patton as others are, but he’s a solid big man who should develop nicely like seemingly every other big man in Utah ever has.
25. Orlando Magic – Isaiah Hartenstein, Forward/Center, Germany
When trying to project this pick, I simply tried to figure out what move would hinder Aaron Gordon’s growth most and went with that.
26. Brooklyn Nets (via Portland Trail Blazers) – Rodions Kurucs, forward, Latvia
Listen, somehow I’ve ended up with Brooklyn drafting 20 players this draft so they have to stash one of them.
27. Brooklyn Nets (via Boston Celtics) – DJ Wilson, Forward, Michigan
Again, I’m not as high on DJ Wilson, but he’s flying up Draft Express’ big board and he helps fill a void in Brooklyn.
28. New Orleans Pelicans (via Los Angeles Lakers) – Sindarius Thornwell, Guard/Forward, South Carolina
New Orleans Pelicans trade 2018 1st rounder to Los Angeles Lakers for pick #28
Even if they hadn’t swapped the #2 pick for two picks, the Lakers were already capped out on young talent. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them move this pick for a 2018 first that they won’t have right now.
For the Pelicans, with the Boogie and Anthony Davis partnership potentially in it’s final year, they need to go all in where ever possible, starting with young, cheap talent.
29. San Antonio Spurs – Josh Hart, Guard, Villanova
This just feels like a very Spurs pick
30. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors) – Juwan Evans, Guard, Oklahoma State
With Dante Exum not producing at a solid level, the Jazz have a need for guard help. Juwan Evans would be a perfect back-up guard, assuming the team re-signs George Hill, and can help shore up some of those issues.