As we’re nearing the Conference Finals, it’s time to reveal the final eight selections of the NBA Match-Making Mock Draft.
Remember: This is an exercise that solely focuses on team need, as opposed to normal BPA (Best Player Available) mentality.
23. Utah Jazz – Cameron Johnson, North Carolina – SF/PF
The Utah Jazz need agile combo forwards, and Cameron Johnson fits the bill. The 23-year old has a very compact and highly efficient jump shot that resulted in a 45.7 percent hit rate on 5.8 attempts from downtown this season. The 6’8″ wing is slight (210 lb.), but that won’t prevent him from playing minutes as a stretch-four in today’s NBA.
Johnson’s shooting ability is by far his biggest strength, but a team like Utah should have some available minutes for giving star guard Donovan Mitchell more scoring help. Johnson’s 135-game experience in college (split between Pitt and UNC) will make him one of the more NBA-ready prospects in the draft.
24. Philadelphia 76ers – Matisse Thybulle, Washington – SG/SF
There are plenty of already-spoken-for shots in Philly these days, so finding someone who doesn’t demand them and is even more interested in being a defensive stopper will be a welcomed addition for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Matisse Thybulle is an extremely intriguing athlete, standing 6’5″ with a 7-feet wingspan and great body control. His 2.2 blocks and 3.5 steals are video game-like, though his Thybulle’s defensive aggressiveness is likely to carry over to the next level.
Thybulle isn’t as offensively inept as some other defensive-oriented players; He canned 35.8 percent of his 4.0 three-point attempts over a four-year career at Washington. His 85.1 percent from the free throw line this season also indicates he won’t become an offensive liability at the next level. Thybulle fits Philly’s second rotation like a glove. He can move off the ball hunting spot-ups and will serve as a defensive anchor off the bench.
25. Portland Trail Blazers – Keldon Johnson, Kentucky – SG/SF
The Portland Trail Blazers have plenty of guard depth, but could afford to upgrade their wing corps. Keldon Johnson is a robust 6’6″, 215 with a solid three-point shot (38.1 percent on 3.2 attempts) who’ll help out on the glass (5.9 in 30.7 minutes) and plays a physical brand of basketball. The 19-year old got himself to the line 4.2 times a game (70.3 FT percent) and rarely turned the ball over (1.6 tpg.), which are all numbers that point in the right direction.
The Blazers have four young players waiting in the wings, and adding a stable scorer like Johnson to that group would give them a youthful secondary rotation that could come in and replace Enes Kanter and Rodney Hood’s minutes, both of whom may move on due to cap restraints after strong playoff showings.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers – Daniel Gafford, Arkansas – C
The Cleveland Cavaliers need everything, and a productive big late in the draft wouldn’t be a bad get.
Daniel Gafford is an old-school, high-scoring center who is comfortable rim-running and scoring near the rim. He shot 66 percent from the field this season and averaged 16.9 points in just under 29 minutes per game. He’s big, agile, athletic, and knows how to clog the line to disrupt opposing offenses. His 6’11″, 240 lb. frame and 7’2″ wingspan takes up a lot of space on both ends, and teams can’t leave him alone near the rim.
Gafford would make an interesting pick-and-roll partner for Collin Sexton, both as an alley-oop target, but also as someone who can clean up on Sexton’s sporadic out-of-control drives.
27. Brooklyn Nets – Isaiah Roby, Nebraska – SF/PF
With D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert already on the roster, the Brooklyn Nets should be looking to add a combo forward.
Isaiah Roby is an intriguing option, as he’s got multiple layers to his game. The 6’8″ combo forward can score in the post, attack off the bounce and hit the occasional three—the latter of which is his primary offensive weakness these days. His shooting mechanics are fine and fluid, however, and his 33 percent hit rate acceptable. He won’t be a liability from the outside. Defense is where he’s the most NBA-ready, as he’s able to switch onto both bigger and smaller players while establishing himself as a shot-blocker (1.9) and using his quick reaction time to cover multiple assignments.
Roby would get a fair amount of offensive and defensive responsibility off the bench, especially if DeMarre Carroll doesn’t return. He isn’t going to be a star but should be a solid complementary player.
28. Golden State Warriors – Carsen Edwards, Purdue – PG
As dominant as the Golden State Warriors can be, their bench is a far cry from being offensively productive. Carsen Edwards solves this as arguably the best offensive back-up they’ve had in the championship era. He was one of the most potent offensive players in the nation, averaging 24.3 points on the year and draining 135 triples in just 36 games.
The 6’1″ scoring guard would lead Golden State’s second unit into a new era, where they can count on offensive production coming off the bench over at least a four-year period.
29. San Antonio Spurs – Charles Bassey, Western Kentucky – PF/C
LaMarcus Aldridge isn’t getting younger, and the San Antonio Spurs have a few young playmakers lined up. But they’re gonna need someone to pass to!
Charles Bassey is raw and unpolished but does a lot of things at an NBA level already. He’s a high-volume rebounder and shot-blocker (10.0 & 2.4), scores efficiently (62.7 FG percent & 76.9 FT percent) and is able to absorb contact. While he didn’t play against great competition, there’s enough there for Gregg Popovich to mold.
Bassey would be tailored to fit around Derrick White and Lonnie Walker, as the Spurs have no major big man prospects currently waiting in the wings.
30. Milwaukee Bucks – Bruno Fernando, Maryland – C
The Milwaukee Bucks really don’t need anything, but having another guy with size and touch can’t hurt. Bruno Fernando is a 6’10″ center with a wicked 7’4″ wingspan who can score inside (13.6 points) hit free throws (77.9 percent), rebound at a high rate (10.6) and block or change shots (1.9).
He’s not a long-range shooter, but his mechanics are trending in the right direction for him to drain the 15-17 foot jumper, maybe even by next season.