All the time I got to spend so far talking to draft experts Rafael Barlowe of NBA Draft Junkies, Stone Hansen of Draftsite.com, and Michael Visenberg of The Stepien, Viseland, and Prospective Insight on the Lakers Fast Break podcast have left me with quite a few opinions on this year’s upcoming draft (including up above as we did our first-round mock draft for NBA Draft Junkies). With that being said, my friend LakerTom at lakerholics.net recently challenged me to come up with my own mock draft. So without further delay, let’s get into it with my thoughts (with the changes in positions noted up or down from the previous mock drafts in a written form you can find HERE (1.0), HERE (2.0) and HERE (3.0) and catch the video version of 4.0 on NBA Draft Junkies HERE and HERE) on what NBA teams are going to do in this year’s draft (Videos provided by Rafael Barlowe of NBA Draft Junkies. Draft order is post-lottery and stats provided by the good folks at ESPN and Tankathon):
1. Minnesota Timberwolves- (+1) PG LaMelo Ball |6’7″ 190lbs. |Illawarra Hawks |18 years old |(17.0 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 6.8 apg) |Biggest Strength: Distribution |Biggest Weakness: Shooting- The player who is being talked about the most (but not universally) at #1 may be this Ball brother who is unquestionably the best distributor in this year’s draft. His unique passing ability (which has been argued as being better than brother Lonzo’s) has kept LaMelo at or near the top of everyone’s draft boards. Any team who winds up winning the lottery that’s looking at a playmaker is likely leaning in his direction. But to reach great heights, he must shore up deficiencies in shooting and overall defense. Is this a perfect fit? No. But he may offer the team the best trade option.
2. Golden State (NC) C James Wiseman |7′ 1″ 237 lbs. |Freshman |Memphis|19 years old |(30.8 ppg, 16.7 rpg, 4.7 bpg) |Biggest Strength: Upside potential |Biggest Weakness: Experience- Let’s be clear, among draft pundits from all over James Wiseman is probably the most divisive player at the top of the draft. Some still have him as a clear #1 with his combination of raw power and athleticism backed by a touch from both inside and out. Others still question his maturity and drive after a brief three-game stint at Memphis brought more questions than answers. That being the case, whoever selects Wiseman could have the biggest steal of the draft, or the biggest bust, depending on Wiseman’s motivation to reach that next level. Will Golden State trade this pick? Should they keep it? Either way the Warriors are looking at being in an enviable position now that the lottery is done and the NBA Draft is on the horizon.
3. Charlotte Hornets (-2) SG Anthony Edwards |6’5″ 225 lbs. |Freshman |Georgia|18 years old |(19.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.8 apg) |Biggest Strength- Superstar athleticism |Biggest Weakness- Feel for the game- Anthony very well may be the best athlete in this year’s draft and has the highest superstar potential. The questions still being asked lie in improving his court awareness and drive to truly fulfill his potential. Should he land with the right team, his development could far exceed anyone else from this year’s draft.
4. Chicago Bulls (+3) PG Tyrese Haliburton |6’5″ 175 lbs. |Sophomore |Iowa State|20 years old |(15.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 6.5 apg) |Biggest Strength: Passing |Biggest Weakness: Aggression- A skilled playmaker, Tyrese has the ability to emerge as one of the best young point guards in this year’s draft. Could he be the building block to work around for the New York Knicks? His height and excellent basketball awareness have allowed him to become a hot name in the draft. Any team that selects him, however, must attend to his lack of aggression and confidence in his jumper so that he can reach his full potential.
5. Cleveland Cavaleirs (+1 ) SF Deni Advija |6’9″ 215 lbs.| Maccabi Tel Aviv| 19 years old| (4.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.2 apg) |Biggest Strength: Versatility |Biggest Weakness: Shooting- Even though the Hawks dropped a couple of spots, Advija could be a great pick to help the Hawks. With size, skill, and a good feel for the game, Deni could become a plug and play replacement in the mold of a Dario Saric. He does need to improve his strength and shooting ability from both the free throw (55.7%) and the 3-point line (27.7%) if he is to develop into becoming a “glue guy” for an NBA contender.
6. Atlanta Hawks (+3) SG/SF Isaac Okoro |6’6″ 225 lbs. |Freshman| Auburn |19 years old |(12.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.0 apg)| Biggest Strength: Potential defensive stopper |Biggest Weakness: Potential offensive stopper- Isaac is that special defensive player, that if selected, could provide shut down defense against either guard or small forward position. But his below-average efficiency (29% on 3-pointers, 67% at the free-throw line) could be cause for concern and essentially leave a team playing four on five on the offensive end. He must substantially develop his skill-set so he can become an asset on both sides of the court instead of a liability on the offensive end.
7. Detroit Pistons (+4) SF Patrick Williams| 6′ 8″ 225 lbs. |Freshman |Florida State| 18 years old |(9.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.0 spg) |Biggest Strength: Premiere athlete |Biggest Weakness: Inconsistency- At his size, Patrick could develop into a small ball Power Forward/Center which a great deal of NBA teams are coveting. With the size and athleticism that he has, Patrick could be a major key to a team’s success if he develops. His outstanding free throw shooting translates to a strong chance he can develop his currently shaky outside shot. Patrick must also develop his on-ball defensive skills if he is to make it in the league as a much desired “3-and-D” wing player.
8. New York Knicks (NC) PG/SG Killian Hayes| 6’5″ 187 lbs. |Ratiopharm Ulm| 18 years old (12.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 6.2 apg) |Biggest Strength- Playmaking Ability |Biggest Weakness- Shooting: A fast climber among draft experts, Killian’s stock has risen due to his stellar play overseas. His outside shot needs to improve (29% in 3-pointers), but his free-throw percentage (88%) projects that should happen. May never become a star in the league but most think he will be a solid starting point guard in the years to come.
9. Washington Wizards (-4) PF/C Onyeka Onkongwu |6’9″ 245 lbs. |Freshman |USC |19 years old |(16.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2.7 bpg) |Biggest Strength: Defensive stalwart |Biggest Weakness: Turnover prone- NBA teams, in the current state of devaluing the center position, are always desperately looking for that one special big who can match up defensively and not be run off the floor by smaller players. Onyeka looks like he can fit the bill as a rim-running, multi-defending cornerstone that can guard multiple positions. Could this be enough for teams in need of some defensive adrenalin like the Cavaliers? We will have to wait and see…
10. Pheonix Suns (-4) PF Obi Toppin |6’9″ 220 lbs. |Sophomore |Dayton|22 years old |(20.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.2 bpg) |Biggest Strength: Efficiency |Biggest Weakness: Man to Man Defense– College Basketball’s player of the year is bound to get some major interest from teams drafting in the lottery. His ability to be an inside-out threat makes him very desirable even though his ceiling may not be as high as his younger counterparts. Even though he must improve his defensive positions, Toppin may very well be the readiest to play now prospect in the draft. With the Bulls moving up after the lottery, Toppin might just have enough developed talent to help the team win sooner than expected.
11.San Antonio Spurs (+1) SG/SF Devin Vassell |6’7″ 194 lbs. |Florida State|Sophomore |19 years old |(12.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.4 spg) Biggest Strength- All-Around ability |Biggest Weakness: Playmaker- Devin has an above-average rating on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. A solid shooter (41% from the 3-point area) and smart defender, Devin has quite the array of tools he can utilize. For him to succeed, he must show confidence in those tools to make a bigger imprint in his games and learn how to develop his playmaking skills. If he puts it together, he can become the two-way threat so many teams are desperately searching for.
12. Sacramento Kings (-2) SF Aaron Nesmith |6’6″ 213 lbs. |Vanderbilt |Sophomore |20 years old |(23.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.4 spg) |Biggest Strength: Shooting |Biggest Weakness: Defense- Widely regarded as the premier shooter in this year’s draft, Aaron’s stroke from long range (52% on 3’s) projects him to be a contributor on a team for many years. If his shot fails him at the next level, he could quickly find himself out of the league due to a lack of athleticism and poor defensive position that will leave him as a target for opposing clubs while he’s on the floor. The Spurs or anyone else looking for a long-range sharpshooter should look Nesmith’s way because his consistent performance at Vanderbilt points toward a future in the NBA, and not somewhere else.
13. New Orleans Pelicans (NC) PG Kira Lews Jr. |6’3″ 165 lbs. |Alabama |Sophomore |19 years old |(18.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 5.3 apg) |Biggest Strength- Quickness |Biggest Weakness- Finishing At The Rim- Probably one of the fastest players in the draft, Kira combines his blazing speed with a solid all-around court ability that on the surface shows few glaring weaknesses. He can shoot, drive to the basket, has quick hands-on defense, and can fill up the box score positively in almost every stat column. The question after seeing quite a bit of footage of him is his willingness to do so much at Alabama led to poor shot selection, high turnovers and inability to be consistent going to the rim. If he doesn’t put too much on his shoulders at the NBA level, his fast-rising stock can be truly realized.
14. Boston Celtics (NC) SF Saddiq Bey |6’8″ 216 lbs. |Sophomore |Syracuse| 21 years old| (16.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.7 apg)| Biggest Strength- The catch and shoot part |Biggest Weakness- The defending part- As a potential 3-and-D player, Saddiq has at least the “3” part off to a good start. At a robust 45% shooting overall and 51% in the catch and shoot option from beyond the arc, his outside shooting translates well at the next level. It’s the “D” part that’s the issue as his lack of quickness and defensive awareness had him getting beat by smaller opponents on too many occasions. If he is to become that elusive 3-and-D wing so many teams covet, that “D” part of the equation must also stand for development as he has to gain a true commitment to the defensive end in order to find prosperity in the league.
15. Orlando Magic (NC) PG/SG RJ Hampton| 6’5″ 188 lbs. |New Zealand Breakers |19 years old |(8.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.4 apg) |Biggest Strength- Ball-handling |Biggest Weakness- Shooting- What we have here is a versatile player with good size (6’8″ wingspan) who can compete on both ends of the floor and at both guard positions. What we have here is a skillful tactician that can rise to the basket with ease and can also find the open man. What we unfortunately also have is a poor shooter (29% from the 3-point line while playing in Australia) that needs to develop to become a major contributor to an NBA team.
16. Portland Trailblazers- (Re-Entry) PF Jalen Smith |6’10 200 lbs.| Maryland |Sophomore |20 years old| (15.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 2.4 bpg) |Biggest Strength- Athleticism |Biggest Weakness- Decision-making: As the search for many teams continues for that elusive “small ball five”, one name that keeps getting mentioned within that context is Jalen Smith. With size, length (7’2″ wingspan), and athletic ability to spare, it’s easy to see why a team may fall in love with him. He may be even able to prove his value even further as an outside shooter if his numbers (37% from three, 75% on free throws) continue to rise. He must improve his ball-handling and decision making in order to stay on the floor, otherwise, he may just be that 15-20 minute a game rim-runner that’s never on the court at the end of the game.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Brooklyn) (NC) SF/PF Precious Achiuwa |6’9″ 223 lbs. |Freshman |20 years old| (15.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 1.9 bpg) |Biggest Strength- High motor |Biggest Weakness- Free throws- As someone who can come in and hit the boards with toughness, run the lane in the fast break, and be very effective in the pick-and-roll, Precious has great promise in filling that bill. His style and potential fit in the league has often be compared to Clint Capela or Montrezl Harrell. While adding a consistent outside shot would prove to be a bonus, he must focus more on developing better free throw accuracy to maximize his effectiveness in a half-court offense.
18. Dallas Mavericks- (-2) PF/C Aleksej Pokusevski |7’0″ 200 lbs. |Olympiacos B| 18 years old |(9.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.8 apg) |Biggest Strength- Upside|Biggest Weakness- Lack of Strength- “Aleksej P” as he is often referred to has a variety of skills that on the surface would make it very hard for an NBA team to pass on. Height and length? Check. Can he stretch the floor? Check. Team defender with shot-blocking skills? Check. Is he a good passer? Check. His skill set checks off a lot of boxes but at only 200 pounds, to say Aleksej is paper-thin is probably doing the paper an injustice. He must go to a team that’s willing to help him build his strength while honing his potential. If they do, he could be one of the biggest surprises in this draft.
19. Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia)– (+3) SG Desmond Bane|6’5″ 215 lbs.| TCU|Senior| 22 years old| (16.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.9 asg)|Biggest Strength- Strong shooting|Biggest Weakness- Age– One of the best shooters in the draft, Desmond can be counted on from the outset to fill a specific role because his court savvy and experience already in the college game. Can become a quality role player in the league but due to him being one of the older players in the draft, his ceiling and potential may not be higher than the most. For a team that’s ready to win now, Desmond Bane could be a good fit for their plans.
20. Miami Heat- (-1) SG Jahmi’us Ramsey |6’4″ 195 lbs.| Freshman |Texas Tech |19 years old |(15.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.2 apg)| Biggest Strength- Defensive efficiency| Biggest Weakness- Inconclusive shot- With Jahmi’us, you’re really not sure what you’re going to get. You can get a player who can play as an effective on-ball or team defender (93.2 defensive rating per 100 possessions). You also can get a player who shot well from beyond the three-point line (43%) in college. Why he isn’t higher on this draft board stems from questions on how effective his shot will be in the NBA with a currently shaky (64%) experience from the free-throw line. Add to this some inconsistency with his playmaking and driving to the basket, and what you may get is a puzzle where all the pieces may not add up. But if a team figures how to put it together, Jahmi’us may be a valuable asset on a championship team.
21. Philadelphia 76ers (via Oklahoma City)– (NC) PG Tyrell Terry| 6’1″ 160 lbs.| Stanford | Freshman |19 years old |(14.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.2 apg)| Biggest Strength- Shooting |Biggest Weakness- Size: Crafty, shifty, slick, creative. Those were often the words I saw and heard when it comes to Tyrell Terry. Tyrell has found many different ways to pick apart opponents in a half-court offense. His willingness to find the open man is only superseded by his ability to shoot the basketball (40% from three, 89% free throws). But at 6’1″ is Tyrell talented enough to take aim at the NBA like other smaller guards (i.e. Trey Young, Fred Van Vleet) that are currently flourishing the league. Can he also play well enough defensively to resemble what we see from Van Vleet, and not what we see from Young? The jury may be out on that but what talent that is already there may be too good for a team to resist.
22. Denver Nuggets (vis Houston)- (+3) SG Josh Green| 6’6″ 206 lbs. |Arizona| Freshman |19 years old |(12.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.6 apg)| Biggest Strength- Defensive length| Biggest Weakness- Touch around the basket- While his numbers don’t particularly stand out, there’s a lot to like when it comes to Josh Green. With a 6’10” wingspan, solid shooting mechanics, and good athleticism, it’s easy to see why Josh was a top-10 rated prospect (#7 with Rivals) coming out of high school. His length often creates turnover opportunities in the half-court and helps serve him well when it comes to one-on-one defense. The key for Josh will be if he can continue to develop his offensive skill set. If he does, a potential late-round steal could be in the making.
23. Utah Jazz- (NC) PG Theo Maledon |6’4″ 174 lbs. |ASVEL |19 years old |(7.3 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 2.7 apg)| Biggest Strength- Potential |Biggest Weakness- Experience- As I watched the footage and videos available on Theo out there on the internet, a little voice sounding very much like former Manhattan coach and long-time ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla kept speaking to me inside my head. Nothing too detailed, nothing too in-depth, just one of his most famous lines ever uttered when he was reporting at the 2014 NBA Draft. Like the player drafted at the time Bruno Caboclo, Theo has the promise and look like he can become a player one day in the NBA. But his lack of time and experience out on the court for ASVEL leads me to believe (just like Fran said about Bruno) that “He’s two years away from being two years away.” Whatever team drafts Theo is going to have to be patient, and possibly contemplate having the bulk of his time spent in the G-League or developing as a “draft and stash” overseas.
24. Milwaukee Bucks (via Indiana) (NEW) SF Robert Woodard II |6’7″ 230 lbs.|Mississippi State|Sophomore|21 years old| (11.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.3 apg) |Biggest Strength- Length and Versatility | Biggest Weakness- Free Throw Shooting- Robert has been a buzz-worthy name due to his ability to play both forward positions, athletic ability, and a reach (7’1″) that allows him to be a player who can play effectively right away on the defensive end. A developing playmaker, his improvement from the 3-point area (43%) didn’t match his stagnant accuracy at the free-throw line (64%) in his final season at Mississippi State. A player that has a nice combination of upside potential and college experience, Robert has all the makings of a solid role player for years.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Denver)- (-1) SG Tyrese Maxey| 6’3″ 198 lbs.| Kentucky| Freshman |19 years old| (14.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.2 apg) |Biggest Strength- Hand-in-your-face defender |Biggest Weakness- Outside shot– Again here we have another five-star recruit (#10 on Rivals) that endured through a disappointing freshman season and his draft stock has plummeted because of it. He showed glimpses of NBA-level talent on his on-ball defense and his driving to the basket. Teams looking at him as a prospect will probably do so gambling on the now relied upon formula that a good free-throw shooter (in this case 83%) can work his way into being a competent three-point threat.
26. Boston Celtics- (-8) PG Cole Anthony| 6’3″ 184 lbs. |Freshman| North Carolina |20 years old |(18.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.0 apg) |Biggest Strength- Confidence |Biggest Weakness- Overconfidence- With North Carolina’s basketball team hitting a rare sour note, as one of the high profile recruits Cole was supposed to lead the team to a different conclusion. Yes, he was injured for part of the year, but despite the ability to score and make plays as good as advertised, his perceived belief he could bring the team up all by himself led to a consistent string of poor decisions on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Can he put it together on the next level and be the player many thought he would be coming out of high school? Yes. But whether it was the team’s poor performance or Cole’s willingness to do everything, his development (similar to Kira Lewis Jr.) hinges on him grasping a better feel for his own game, and the team he ultimately ends up getting drafted on.
27. New York Knicks (via LA Clippers)– (NC) PF Jaden McDaniels |6’9″ 184 lbs. |Washington| Freshman |19 years old |(13.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.1 apg)| Biggest Strength- Potential| Biggest Weakness- Commitment- Coming out as the top-rated power forward (and #7 overall) out of high school according to Rivals.com, Jaden had a ton of expectations headed his way. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned as he, fellow prospect Isaiah Stewart, and the rest of the team failed to live up to some lofty predictions. A great concern has come over McDaniels and Stewart over their lack of growth in their time at Washington. Any team drafting either player has to be warned that although the talent to be a skillfully, playmaking big man is there, the lack of desire to grow further at Washington could also hold him back in the NBA.
28. Los Angeles Lakers (NEW) PG Malachi Flynn|6’2″ 185 lbs.|San Diego State|Junior| 22 years old| (17.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg. 5.1 apg) | Biggest Strength: Playmaking Ability | Biggest Weakness: Athleticism- Also a late-riser in draft profiles, Malachi’s ability to make plays on both sides of the ball and leadership skills could have him become a steadying force in the league. A smart team defender, his three point shooting has improved (37%) and projects to get better due to his free-throw shooting (86%). His size and below-average athletic ability could prevent him from being a standout, but he’s a player who brings intangibles which is hard to gauge but also very difficult to reproduce.
29. Toronto Raptors– (RE-Entry) PF Isaiah Stewart |6’9″ 245 lbs. |Washington |Freshman |19 years old| (17.0 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 2.1 bpg)| Biggest Strength- Length| Biggest Weakness- Shooting touch: When talking about the fall from grace that Jaden McDaniels has had, an even worse one can be said for Isaiah Stewart. Coming into his freshman year at Washington, many were thinking that by the end of it, this highly-regarded #2 Rivals prospect would end up being the #1 pick in this draft. But Isaiah has had an even steeper decline to some severe holes in his game showing up during his time in Seattle. While still incredibly (7’4″ wingspan) long for his size, his development seemed to go sideways as his year there didn’t help his three-point shot (25%), nor did it improve on his footwork and defensive positioning. It almost seems like for him (and McDaniels) it was a lost year for their growth, which leaves both of them playing catch up in more ways than one.
30. Boston Celtics (via Milwaukee)- (NC) SF Tyler Bey|6’7″ 215 lbs| Colorado| 22 years old| (13.8 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.2 bpg)| Biggest Strength: Defense| Biggest Weakness: Offensive limitations- Experienced, athletic, and with a great defensive background, Tyler has got all the makings of a player you can plug right in and become a defensive fireplug for your time. With a decent touch from the perimeter and the ability to be effective on the pick-and-roll, Bey could become a key peice to a winning organization. Working on his limitations of ball-handling and playmaking will come when entering the NBA, so as long as a team are more relaint on his off-the ball skills and his defensive prowess, Tyler could become the glue guy to help everthing come together for a championship-minded club.
OUT for the 2nd Round- Grant Riller, Leandro Bolmero, Tre Jones