This mock draft will take post-lottery positioning as well as perceived team needs into account. I am using my own rankings of the players available – not DX’s or anybody else’s.
On to the picks:
1. Timberwolves: Karl Towns, C, Kentucky
19 yrs, 7’0″, 248 lbs.
It would have made sense to have Minnesota select Okafor here, but those three and half weeks Pekovic is healthy lead me suspect they’ll value Towns’ defense more than Okafor’s potent offensive game. Towns should be able to fit into the rotation nicely, even when Pek is healthy, possibly playing some PF.
2. Lakers: Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke
19 yrs, 6’11”, 272 lbs.
Maybe this is just wishful thinking on the part of a Celtics fan but having the opportunity to witness two bigs as terrible defensively as Okafor and Julius Randle run for the Lakers is just too good to pass on. Current wisdom says the Lakers will be taking the big Minnesota passes on, so I’m not going off the reservation with this pick.
3. Sixers: D’Angelo Russell, PG/SG, Ohio State
19 yrs, 6’5″, 193 lbs.
Despite the entire basketball world wishing them ill, Philly nabs the perfect player for them in Russell. His lack of defensive aptitude should be dimmed by the presence of the Noel/Embiid tandem. Russell will fill the Sixers biggest needs: Shooting and playmaking.
4. Knicks: Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Seville
19 yrs, 7’0″, 220 lbs.
By all rights, the Knicks should trade this pick and try to get Porzingis a few picks later or go further down in the lottery and get Frank. Either Porzingis or Frank will fit Phil’s ideal of what a big man should be in the triangle. My best player available here is Stanley Johnson, whose size/heft will not allow him to play minutes at SG, which reduces his value to the Knicks. The only other option I debated here is Miles Turner, another big man who can shoot the basketball. My feeling is Turner is too raw for the Knicks at present.
5. Magic: Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona
18 yrs, 6’7″, 242 lbs.
While absolutely terrible, the Magic appear to have most of the pieces they want for a young starting five, with the exception of a power forward. This is unfortunate for them, given the dearth of power forwards worth a damn in this draft. Aaron Gordon may eventually turn into something but his day is not today. So, without the ability to fill a clear need, the Magic pick the best player available in Johnson, hoping he quickly surpasses Tobias Harris.
6. Kings: Emmanuel Mudiay, PG/SG, Crab Rangoon
19 yrs, 6’5″, 200 lbs.
The Kings need a PG. While I’m not convinced Mudiay is actually a PG, I’m guessing Pete D’Alessando and company will be, by the time they get a gander at what’s available in this draft at the position. My best player available is Myles Turner and Boogie plays the pivot in SacTown.
7. Nuggets: Justise Winslow, SF, Duke
19 yrs, 6’7″, 222 lbs.
The Nuggets need a lot of things but they clearly need shooting. I’m skeptical about Winslow being able to create his own offense but last season proved he can shoot the ball. He will be a clear upgrade over Alflalo and Wilson Chandler at the SF position, offensively and defensively. Best player available Turner gets passed over again with the Nuggs believing in Nurkic.
8. Pistons: Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky
21 yrs, 7’1″, 242 lbs.
I agonized over this one. In losing Greg Monroe this summer, the Pistons will have a glaring hole at PF next season. While he isn’t really a PF, Cauley-Stein can at least guard them, and combined with Andre Drummond, should make for a formidable defensive front court for Detroit.
9. Hornets: Myles Turner, C, Texas
19 yrs, 7’0″, 239 lbs.
Turner provides Charlotte with shooting, three point shooting and a defensive presence at the rim, all of which they are in desperate need. Even if you don’t have Turner rated as highly as I do, you just have to see the fit here.
10. Heat: Tyus Jones, PG, Duke
19 yrs, 6’2″, 185 lbs.
Miami is in desperate need of a point guard and while my rankings see Jones as a bust, a lot of others do not. I am guessing the Heat reach for Jones to fill that need.
11. Pacers: Frank Kaminski, C, Wisconsin
22 yrs, 7’1″, 231 lbs.
The Pacers are going to have a serious need at Center if Roy Hibbert doesn’t opt in with his player option. Even if he does, Indiana could use help in the pivot – especially someone who can open the lane up with outside shooting. Frank should provide this, if nothing else.
12. Jazz: Delon Wright, PG, Utah
23 yrs, 6’6″, 181 lbs.
It really matters here exactly how married the Jazz are to playing Dante Exum as a PG. If that is really the case going forward, this is a different pick but I’m going on the assumption they will realize Exum is more of a SG.
13. Suns: Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky
18 yrs, 6’6″, 206 lbs.
After their deadline moves last season, the Suns could use a pure SG and the shooting that comes with it. Booker is pretty much a blank slate at present, but if he hits, he’ll be a good one.
14. Thunder: Mario Hezonja, SG/SF, Barcelona
20 yrs, 6’8″, 200 lbs.
It’s bullshit the Thunder are in the lottery. It’s double bullshit they waltz into a potentially really good player this late in the lottery. This pick could go any number of ways, from Hezonja to mystery man Kelly Oubre to a defense and energy guy like Bobby Portis. I’m guessing the Euro-lure gets OKC to pick Hezonja.
15. Hawks: Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas
20 yrs, 6’11”, 246 lbs.
Paul Milsap is a free agent this summer. After the kicking they just took from LeBron and the Cavs, this might not be as complete a team as the win-loss record would have us believe. If the feeling is they are losing Milsap, they will replace him with Portis. If they feel Milsap will re-sign, I’d guess they would go for someone like Oubre here.
16. Celtics: Kelly Oubre, SF, Kansas
19 yrs, 6’7″, 203 lbs.
Position of weakness? Check. Best player available? Maybe. Oubre will bring some size and athleticism to Boston’s SF position. Is he worth the pick? He played for Bill Self, so who knows?
17. Bucks: Trey Lyles, PF, Kentucky
19 yrs, 6’10”, 241 lbs
Really, who cannot use a stretch PF? Sure, I think he’ll be a bust, but that never stopped anyone from picking them year after year.
18. Rockets: Jerian Grant, PG, Notre Dame
22 yrs, 6’5″, 198 lbs.
Houston really needs replacements for Jason Terry and Houston is one team where Jerian Grant would actually fit well, if he can fix his shooting. I also contemplated dumping Sam Dekker on them.
19. Wizards: Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin
21 yrs, 6’9″, 219 lbs.
The Wizards will likely need to replace Paul Pierce this summer and will think they just lucked into a player like Sam Dekker falling to them. Unfortunately for them, Dekker is fool’s gold.
20. Raptors: Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA
19 yrs, 6’9″, 222 lbs.
Toronto needs rebounding and that is one thing Looney can give them. The APBR guys love Looney but I remain skeptical.
21. Mavericks: Cameron Payne, PG, Murray State
20 yrs, 6’2″, 183 lbs.
With Rajon Rondo and Tyson Chandler free agents this summer and Rondo’s return highly unlikely, Dallas turns to Cameron Payne to staunch the bleeding. I’m not seeing him being much more than a backup.
22. Bulls: Montrezl Harrell, C, Louisville
21 yrs, 6’8″, 253 lbs.
With Carlos Boozer off the books, an opening appears for Harrell, who, while short, should bring some energy alongside Joe Kim in Chicago’s front court.
23. Blazers: Robert Upshaw, C, Wedontwant U
21 yrs, 7’0″, 258 lbs.
The Lamarcus Aldridge decision looms huge for Portland this summer. The Blazers are also in danger of losing Robin Lopez. This leaves a massive void in the Portland front court. Channeling their bad boy past, they select Upshaw from the Land of Misfit Toys. If Upshaw pans out, it could be a tremendous pick here.
24. Cavaliers: Christian Wood, PF, UNLV
19 yrs, 6’11”, 216 lbs.
Player options for Kevin Love and JR Smith loom large for Cleveland. While Wood sort of duplicates Tristan Thompson’s strengths, I see Cleveland drafting for upside here, rather than fit.
25. Grizzlies: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, Arizona
20 yrs, 6’7″, 211 lbs.
Tony Allen is getting a bit long in the tooth and Memphis has seen first-hand that Jeff Green sucks. The hope is that Hollis-Jefferson fits in as a defensive swing man. Whether he can actually perform said job is up to debate.
26. Spurs: Dakari Johnson, C, Kentucky
19 yrs, 7’0″, 265 lbs.
I see no reason for the Spurs not to go best player available here. They always do and it almost always works. Johnson should be a nice fit defensively for the Spurs going forward.
27. Lakers: Jerell Martin, PF, LSU
21 yrs, 6’9″, 239 lbs.
Everybody has Martin going to the Lakers, so who am I to buck a trend? Even with Randle and Okafor, size will still be welcome to the Lakers.
28. Celtics: Rashad Vaughn, SG, UNLV
18 yrs, 6’5″, 199 lbs.
Boston goes best player available here and selects Vaughn, everything their current crop of shooting guards is not. The athletic Vaughn should press Avery Bradley for minutes from go.
29. Nets: Cliff Alexander, PF, Kansas
19 yrs, 6’9″, 239 lbs.
Brook Lopez and Thad Young might opt out this summer. Bye bye front court. The Nets try and mitigate this by selecting Cliff Alexander, high school phenom.
30. Warriors: Mouhammadou Jaiteh, C, Nanterre
20 yrs, 6’11”, 247 lbs.
Golden State is fielding an all-time great team right now. There are no real needs for these guys, so I’m guessing the look for a draft and stash type player, like Jaiteh. Now, Jaiteh may be French for “toothpick” but he’ll have a couple years to fill out by the time he’s ready to come over.