With the conclusion of the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday night, the official NBA Draft order is set pending any trades, so let’s take a look at my first mock draft of the offseason. Note that this mock is mainly what I think should happen.
1. Orlando Magic: Paolo Banchero, PF,
Credit: SLC Dunk
The Magic have a plethora of young guards that they want to build around with Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, and Markelle Fultz, all of whom are under 24 years of age. Orlando also selected small forward Franz Wagner with the eighth pick in last year’s draft, and he showed that he can be a star for the foreseeable future. Wendell Carter came into his own last season, averaging 15 points and 10.5 rebounds on 52.5% from the field. The one weakness on the Magic's roster is the power forward spot, and Paolo can come right in and fill an immediate hole. Banchero he has all the physical tools you want in a modern day 4, checking in at 6'10" 250. Banchero is a beast around the basket and will be a load for forwards to deal with in the NBA. There isn't a real knock on Banchero's game, as he is a very efficient mid-range shooter with a nice three point shot when he sets his feet, as he shot 10/19 (52%) from deep in five March Madness games. Banchero has great handles and passing skills for a big his size, and he moves like a guard but finishes like a big. On defense, Paolo is a really good on-ball defender and can develop into a lockdown guy with his athletic skills, but he struggled with help and weak-side defense. I have viewed Banchero as the best player in this class since early March, with as much upside as anybody due to his freakish blend of size, athleticism, and skills.
2. Oklahoma City
Thunder: Chet Holmgren, PF/C, Gonzaga
Credit Busting Brackets
Last draft Sam Presti was really aggressive, trying to trade up to get Evan Mobley. Presti and the Thunder could not land Mobley, but they instead took one of the NBA’s best playmakers in Josh Giddey, paring him with one of the best young players in the NBA in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Chet Holmgren will slide into an OKC team that is in desperate need of big man play, giving Presti a potential unicorn player to pair with Giddey and Shai. Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren has been viewed as a very similar prospect to Mobley from last year, and Chet is the kind of guy that could develop into a two-way freak if he develops correctly. Holmgren is a 7'1" combo-forward with a 7'6" wingspan, and he plays like a point guard with the ball in his hands. Chet shot 39% from deep and averaged 3.7 blocks per-game in his lone season for the Zags. Holmgren does have one glaring weakness, and that is his thin frame as he is only 190 lb. Many scouts are worried about Holmgren's frame at the next level, but if he can fill that frame out, he could become a very good player for a very long time. On the defensive side of the ball, Holmgren can guard one through five and is the best rim protector in the draft. Chet's ability to switch screens will be invaluable to teams at the next level, and that alone will make him a very valuable defender the second he steps on the court.
3. Houston Rockets: Jabari Smith Jr., Auburn
For the majority of the college season, Jabari Smith was seen as the top prospect in the draft, and he could still be the first guy selected come June 23rd. The top three prospects in the class (Banchero, Holmgren, Smith) could all go off the board in any order, but they are all virtually locked into the top three. Smith falling to Houston at three is not necessarily a bad thing, as he joins forces with Rockets young superstar Jalen Green. Jabari Smith is built very similar to Kevin Durant coming out of college, and he plays like it too. Smith is an elite shooter in this class, and he has the size to be a force on the defensive size. Jabari Smith is a shot maker with a really nice fadeaway and mid-range shot, but he struggles to create his own shot. If Jabari Smith can tighten up his handle and learn to create his own shot, he could be an All-NBA player for a long time. Jabari Smith and Jalen Green could be the duo that gets the Rockets back to their winning ways, as the Rockets would have two franchise cornerstones for at least the next decade.
4. Sacremento Kings: Keegan Murray, PF, Iowa
Credit: CBS Sports
It is anybody's best guess for what the order of the top three will be, but those three prospects are all locked into a top three pick unless something drastic happens. With the fourth pick, there is a really good possibility that Sacramento elects to add Keegan Murray to a core that features De'Aaron Fox, Davion Mitchell, and Domantas Sabonis. Like I said at the top of the article, this mock is who I think should get picked, not who I guess they will pick. Logically, you don't think that Sacramento would draft another guard and trade their lottery pick from the prior class who was an extremely promising offensive player and one of the best defenders in the game. Well, they did it to Tyrese Haliburton who was the best player on the team, so they could just as easily do it to Davion Mitchell. Say whatever you want about the Haliburton-Sabonis trade, the Kings had to give up value to get a fit. Haliburton did not fit with Fox, as both are points that need the ball in their hands. Davion Mitchell is great with the ball in his hands, but he can play off the ball as well. Keegan Murray may not be one of the three best players available at this pick but adding him to this roster makes a lot of sense. Murray is the perfect forward to put next to Sabonis, as he can play inside-out. Murray averaged 23.5 points per-game on extremely efficient shooting splits. Murray does not have the upside that some of these prospects do, but he is somebody that you know exactly what you are getting out of. If Sacramento is committed to making a playoff push like they have expressed, adding Keegan Murray is the best pick.
5. Detroit Pistons: Jaden Ivey, Guard, Purdue
Credit: Detroit Free Press
Detroit hit gold with Cade Cunningham in last year’s draft, giving them their franchise player. Now, they need to build alongside him. Even though Jerami Grant is likely going to find a new home, Detroit already has Saddiq Bey and Marvin Bagley at the two forwards spots with Isaiah Steward at center, so what better time to add Cade's backcourt running mate. Detroit could go with either Jaden Ivey or Shaedon Sharpe at this pick, but I think they elect to take Ivey due to his collegiate experience compared to Sharpe. Ivey is the most explosive player in the class, and he is extremely reminiscent of Ja Morant. Ivey would automatically be one of the most athletic and explosive players in the NBA, and he has that knack for hitting big shots in big moments. He is not a perfect prospect though, as he can be too one-dimensional on offense and disappear at times. Pairing Jaden Ivey and Cade Cunningham together would be a great fit because Ivey can play of the ball, and it could completely rejuvenate the Pistons franchise.
6. Indiana Pacers: Shaedon Sharpe, SG, Kentucky
Sharpe is the biggest wildcard in this entire draft, and here in this mock I have the Pacers taking a big swing. In one world, Sharpe is the most athletic player in the class and has all the making to be an NBA star, as he is reported to have recorded a 49-inch vertical, which would be the highest NBA vertical of all time. In another world, we have not seen Sharpe play since high school, so he could be a flat out bust and not pan out at the next level. The Pacers are a team that is entering a rebuild, and they already are ahead of the curve with Tyrese Haliburton who is one of the best young guards in the league, not to mention 2022 Second Team All-Rookie Chris Duarte. The Pacers were in a lot of close games but lost the most "close games" in the NBA due to not having that go-to guy in crunch time. After Haliburton got traded to Indiana, he showed he can be that guy with time, but the Pacers are looking to add a player with tremendous upside in Shaedon Sharpe and pair him with one of the best playmakers the NBA has to offer.
7. Portland Trail Blazers: A.J. Griffin, SF, Duke
Credit: ABC News
Portland is in a weird spot, as they have a 31 year-old Damian Lillard who is still among the NBA's best, but they have a lot of young pieces around him in Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little to go along with the seventh pick. There has been speculation about Portland trying to trade the pick for a star player, but if they elect to keep this pick and make a selection, there are several intriguing names. Portland has their backcourt figured out with Lillard and Simons, so it wouldn't make sense to take one of the top guards at this pick. Jalen Duren is an another extremely intriguing name, but Jusuf Nurkic is the guy at center for the time being. This brings me to A.J. Griffin, who is one of the best shooters and natural scores in this draft. Griffin is extremely athletic, but his handles are very loose, and he hasn't fully gaged when to be aggressive or passive. His defense also leaves a lot to be desired, but the potential Griffin brings on the offensive side of the ball as a scorer is very intriguing for a team like Portland.
8. New Orleans Pelicans: Jalen Duren, C, Memphis
The Pelicans have their core with Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, and C.J. McCollum. If Memphis can get Jalen Duren and let him learn behind Jonas Valanciunas, he could be the long-term answer at center for the city of New Orleans. Duren is your old style center that won't handle the ball or shoot threes, but man is he strong. Duren is one of the strongest players in college basketball, drawing comparisons to Dwight Howard. Duren doesn't have the hops Howard did, but the raw strength is there. Duren was also one of the best rebounders in college basketball, and he could be a big time post threat and rebounding machine next to Zion Williamson.
9. San Antonio Spurs: Bennedict Mathurin, SG, Arizona
Credit: Sporting News
The Spurs have a lot of young intriguing wings like Josh Primo, Lonnie Walker, and Devin Vassell to go along with their All Star point guard Dejounte Murray. I think San Antonio dips right back into the well of wing players, taking Bennedict Mathurin from Arizona. Mathurin is the best perimeter defender of anyone selected so far, and he is great in isolation situations. Mathurin has a solid three ball that is streaky at times, but he has shown it can be lethal from deep. The most intriguing part is the raw athleticism that Mathurin possesses. Mathurin can get up and finish with the best of them around the rim, and he has the potential on both sides of the ball to develop into a very good two-way player in a situation like San Antonio.
10. Washington Wizards: Johnny Davis, SG, Wisconsin
Credit: 247 Sports
Johnny Davis was one of the best mid-range scores and shot creators in college basketball this past season, but his efficiency took a dip towards the end of the season due to injuries and a heavy workload. Davis does not have the athleticism to be a top or even second scorer at the NBA level, but he can be a solid third option for a team. If Washington decides to retain or move Beal, they need to get an impact player with this pick and Johnny Davis is that.
11. New York Knicks: Dyson Daniels, G-League Ignite
Credit: Sporting News
The Knicks are in desperate need of another playmaker with the ball in their hands. R.J. Barrett took massive strides torward to being that this season, but they still need another playmaker that can create a shot for himself and set up others. Dyson Daniels is a very intriguing prospect because he is a 6'8" 200 lb point guard that can guard the one through four. Daniels is a very good playmaker and can be a nice secondary ball handler next to R.J. Barrett.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jeremy Sochan, PF, Baylor
Credit: New York Post
Sam Presti added Chet Holmgren to the roster with the second pick, and at 12 he elects to take another extremely versatile defender to pair with Chet. If they develop correctly, the Thunder could have one of the most dangerous defensive trios in the game with Dort, Holmgren, and Sochan. Jeremy Sochan is a sound offensive player that is a solid driver and can score in the paint. He also has a solid shot and upside as a shot creator and shooter.
13. Charlotte Hornets: Ochai Agbaji, SG, Kansas
Credit: Yahoo! Sports
We could likely see the Hornets take a center with this pick, but they pick again at 15 and the Cavaliers don't have a need at the center position, so I have Michael Jordan selecting Ochai Agbaji. Agbaji saw his draft stock rise increasingly high after an amazing senior campaign at Kansas, fueled by a National Championship run. Agbaji is an extremely sound and smooth athlete with an amazing three point shot, and he is great coming off screens and knocking downs triples. Agbaji would go into Charlotte and automatically push for starting minutes next to LaMelo Ball in the backcourt. Of all the players selected, Agbaji might be the most NBA ready next to Paolo Banchero.
14. Cleveland Cavaliers: Tari Eason, SF, LSU
Credit: LSU Wire
The Cavs seemed like an almost lock to make the playoffs this season, but injuries to their entire starting group late in the season led to a collapse in the Play-In against the Hawks. Cleveland already has a top front court in the NBA, and they have one of the top young guards in Darius Garkand. In this mock, I have them taking LSU's Tari Eason for the size and athleticism he possesses on the wing. In the Play-In, Cleveland lacked sufficient scoring and defense from the wing, which is exactly what Eason brings to the team. Eason has seen his name rise up draft boards, and I would not be shocked to see him land in the top-ten, so Cleveland is getting tremendous value at this pick.
15. Charlotte Hornets: Mark Williams, C, Duke
16. Atlanta Hawks: Kendall Brown, SF, Baylor
17. Houston Rockets: Nikola Jović, PF, Serbia
18. Chicago Bulls: Walker Kessler, C, Auburn
19. Minnesota Timberwolves: Ousmane Dieng, SF, NZ Breakers
20. San Antonio Spurs: E.J. Liddell, PF, Ohio State
21. Denver Nuggets: TyTy Washington Jr, PG, Kentucky
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Blake Wesley, SG, Notre Dame
23. Brooklyn Nets: Jaden Hardy, SG, G League Ignite
24. Milwaukee Bucks: Malaki Branham, SG, Ohio State
25. San Antonio Spurs: Kennedy Chandler, PG, Tennessee
26. Dallas Mavericks: Trevor Keels, SG, Duke
27. Miami Heat: Wendell Moore Jr, SG, Duke
28. Golden State Warriors: Jabari Walker, PF, Colorado
29. Memphis Grizzlies: MarJon Beauchamp, SG, G League Ignite
30. Oklahoma City Thunder: Patrick Baldwin Jr, SF, Milwaukee