After a whirlwind of a trade deadline day, the dust has settled and suddenly the Los Angeles Lakers walk out with a first-round pick this season.
For Lakers fans who haven’t paid much attention to the draft, boy was it a good year not to have to worry about tanking. Entering Friday night’s games, eight teams are within two games of the top pick and four teams are within one game. It’s madness!
With that in mind, the order at the top of the draft is ever-changing. I started this mock draft immediately after the trade deadline on Thursday and wouldn’t you know it, the order changed. Considering how volatile that situation is, we’ll just run with the order listed for now.
If you want to keep up to date on the order of the draft and play around with lottery simulations, be sure to check out Tankathon.com.
1. Dallas Mavericks – DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona
In my opinion, the top rough 8-9 guys in this draft are virtually interchangeable. At the top of the draft, there’s some variety of about five people who could be the number one pick based on which site/outlet/writer you choose.
Ayton is a physical specimen that doesn’t look like he belongs in college. The Mavericks have long chased big men to lock down as the franchise cornerstone (DeAndre Jordan, Nerlens Noel, etc) and Ayton can be that guy.
2. Atlanta Hawks – Luka Doncic, G, Real Madrid
The Hawks need a player to get excited about that. John Collins is exciting, but he doesn’t command attention outside of the Hawks’ fanbase. Doncic is that guy.
3. Sacramento Kings – Michael Porter, Jr., F, Missouri
Porter’s back injury feels like it happened ages ago, but if reports are to be believed and Porter can return for the season, he’ll have ample time to remind people why he was considered the top prospect in this class at one point.
4. Orlando Magic – Trae Young, G, Oklahoma
I’m all-in on Trae Young. He might be my favorite prospect in this draft and I’m a full believer that he’s going to be a stud at the next level. With the Magic ending the Elfrid Payton experiment, they’ve opened up room for Young to take over the franchise.
5. Phoenix Suns – Marvin Bagley III, F, Duke
The worst thing to happen to Bagley’s stock is playing next to Wendell Carter and, at times, Marques Bolden. They have three big men that don’t complement one another and play them together in some combo all game. I really, really like Bagley’s potential at the next level, especially in the modern NBA.
6. Memphis Grizzlies – Jaren Jackson Jr., F/C, Michigan State
Given the Grizzlies’ draft history, I expect whatever pick they make to not work out in spectacular fashion. Or they draft the right guy (i.e. Kevin Love) and then trade him for the wrong guy (i.e. OJ Mayo).
7. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Brooklyn) – Collin Sexton, G, Alabama
Somehow, Sexton has somewhat flown under the radar with Young stealing the spotlight for incredible guard performances. If you need to be sold on Sexton, watch him nearly will his team to a win against Minnesota this season PLAYING 3 ON 5.
8. Chicago Bulls – Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas
Mo Bamba has a 7’9″ wingspan and, like Sexton has been lost in Young’s shadow, he has been lost in Ayton’s shadow. He’s an incredible prospect who Chicago would be thrilled to land.
9. Philadelphia 76ers (via Lakers) – Miles Bridges, F, Michigan State
Bridges took a risk coming back this season and it looks like it’ll pay off. He’s going to be a top-10 draft pick and should give the Sixers another impressive wing to build toward the future with.
10. New York Knicks – Wendell Carter, C, Duke
To me, Carter is one of the more underrated prospects in the draft. He’s a great, great defender and has recently shown range out to the three-point line. If the latter aspect continues to progress, he’ll be a stud at the next level.
11. Charlotte Hornets – Mikal Bridges, F, Villanova
The second-best Bridges in the draft, Mikal Bridges is the top prospect on the board and I’d imagine the Hornets are simply drafting best player available (BPA).
12. Utah Jazz – Robert Williams, F/C, Texas A&M
Another prospect who surprisingly returned to college, Williams’ gamble hasn’t quite worked out like Miles Bridges’. But going to Utah is great for him as they have a history of developing big men.
13. LA Clippers (via Detroit) – Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky
I’m lower on Knox than most but having picks back-to-back means the Clippers can basically draft BPA and I think Knox is that.
14. LA Clippers – Dzanan Musa, F, Cedevita
Musa, meanwhile, is someone I’m VERY high on. He’s the epitome of irrational confidence and he’s 18 years old. He’s 6’9″ and hitting 33 percent from three in league play against grown men already. Count me in.
15. Philadelphia 76ers – Troy Brown, G, Oregon
Hopefully the Sixers won’t ruin the form of Brown like they have Fultz.
16. Phoenix Suns (via Miami) – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G, Kentucky
Somehow, the Suns continue to amass picks and about 1 in every four appears to be working out.
17. Chicago Bulls (via New Orleans) – Lonnie Walker IV, G, Miami
At the start of their rebuild, the Bulls just need the BPA and Walker, who is raw, fits that bill.
18. Portland Trailblazers – Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State
Bates-Diop is another player I’m really, really high on. Draft Express is lower on him and has him in the late 20s, making him a potential Laker target. He’s a favorite to win Big Ten Player of the Year, is a do-it-all forward and can help the Blazers’ volatile wing rotation.
19. Denver Nuggets – Trevon Duval, G, Duke
If there’s a Duke guard who needs another year, I think it’s Duval, who has had some big holes in his game revealed. Nonetheless, he has plenty of positives and the Nuggets, who have moved on from Mudiay, could try again with Duval.
20. Indiana Pacers – Chandler Hutchinson, G, Boise State
Gary made me do it.
21. Minnesota Timberwolves (via OKC) – Bruce Brown, G, Miami
A lack of guard depth can be addressed by adding Brown, who is a good defender who will have to build up endurance to play 42 minutes a night for Thibs.
22. Milwaukee Bucks – Khyri Thomas, G, Creighton
Thomas has a 6’11” wingspan, so he’ll fit in perfectly for the Bucks.
23. Washington Wizards – Hamidou Diallo, G, Kentucky
Everyone on Kentucky is having a down year, but Diallo might be the guy I’m highest on. He’ll have big shoes to fill replacing Jodie Meeks.
24. LA Lakers (via Cleveland) – Gary Trent, Jr, G, Duke
I’m really high on Trent and think he’ll be the best current Duke guard in the NBA. He is a solid scorer and can provide the Lakers with badly-needed shooting.
25. Atlanta Hawks (Minnesota) – Bonzie Colson, F, Notre Dame
Colson’s stock has slipped a bit due to injury but I think he’d fit great next to Collins. Years ago, Colson would probably be considered a “tweener” but now, he’s perfect for the modern NBA.
26. San Antonio Spurs – De’Anthony Melton, G, USC
Melton has been essentially shut down by college basketball’s FBI investigation, but he could be a steal for the Spurs. Naturally.
27. Brooklyn Nets (via Toronto) – Mitchell Robinson, C, None
Robinson, on paper, is a great prospect. But he elected not to play college basketball this year. And the Nets are in a position to draft BPA, especially if its a big man.
28. Boston Celtics – Daniel Gafford, C, Arkansas
He’s a Celtic draft pick, so he’ll probably be a bust.
29. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston) – Anfernee Simons, G, None
Simons is an interesting prospect. Spending the year out of college basketball, Simons is an intriguing prospect but is a while away from contributing. It’s a good risk for Atlanta.
30. Golden State Warriors – Landry Shamet, G, Wichita State
All you need to know is Shamet is shooting 44.6 percent from three this season. He’s built for Golden State.