Let’s not waste time or precious cliches by reminding you what time of year it is, what’s at stake Thursday, how one life and/or NBA franchise can be changed in an instant. Blah, blah, blah.
You’re here for a Mock Draft, so here’s how you read the positions on this one:
- PG = Point Guard
- CG = Combo Guard
- W = Wings
- F = Forwards
- P = Posts
- ATH = Athletes
Want to know how and why we define players differently? Read our 10 Commandments of NBA Draft Scouting for the scoop. Want more content and detailed breakdowns on many of the key players below? Check out our NBA Draft Bible.
Now, let’s draft:
1. New Orleans Pelicans – ATH – Zion Williamson, Duke
This is essentially a “no-brainer”. The New Orleans Pelicans have been on the clock for a month, although the decision has been made looooooong since then. Zion Williamson could be the best player in just about any organization from day one, and his athletic prowess and strength make him a generational talent.
2. Memphis Grizzlies – PG – Ja Morant, Murray State
The Memphis Grizzlies get to choose between Ja Morant and RJ Barrett, and all signs point to Morant going here. He can be the focal point of an offense early in his career. He’s an outstanding passer with both hands, a freak athlete for someone his size and a high-caliber scorer. Many pundits believe his defensive issues are not likely to continue in the NBA as he shoulders less of the scoring load.
That is counter-intuitive to me: Drafting a player because he can carry an offense while simultaneously dismissing his defensive disengagement due to that role. Morant is a guy you can pencil in at No. 2 to a Grizzlies team in need of offense and young talent, but you will definitely have to figure out the rest.
3. New York Knicks – W – RJ Barrett, Duke
A match made in heaven, Barrett has stated his desire to join the New York Knicks. Of course, the Knicks need a scorer that can get it done on every level, and Barrett may easily be the top scorer in this draft class when all is said and done. He has a lot more upside as a passer than his college season indicates: He’s not always “willing” but has the tools to make every read to open teammates.
As the Knicks eye free agency and a shot at a few max free agents, a player like Barrett certainly helps ease the burden if they strike out. The sample size against elite talent is highest for Barrett among all top draft candidates, so Knicks fans should at least feel comfortable knowing what they’re getting. He may be a one-way player right now, but he’s extremely good at it.
4. New Orleans Pelicans – PG – Darius Garland, Vanderbilt
The unknown portion of the draft seems to start at No. 4, where the Pels are on the clock again after their recent trade with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Pels could keep this pick, or they could flip it for considerably more assets as many teams seem to covet Darius Garland. He fits with the Pels long-term as well, and is the second-best player on my big board, so I feel comfortable in saying he goes here one way or another.
Garland is an elite shooter with deep range—one of the best change-of-pace dribbles from a teenager I’ve seen and strong pick-and-roll upside. Teams are assuming that the small sample size from his injured season at Vanderbilt shouldn’t scare them away in a draft light on top-tier offensive talent.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers – CG – Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech
Another candidate to trade down, the Cleveland Cavaliers are in desperate need of talent and best players available. After Garland, I feel fairly comfortable saying that the next four guys will go 5 thru 8, but Jarrett Culver is the best compliment to Collin Sexton of the group.
He’s a fantastic passing and defending guard that has upside as a shooter. As new coach John Beilein values multiple ball handlers and secondary playmaking, a guy like Culver should have a great deal of upside with a coach that develops talent as well as any.
6. Phoenix Suns – PG – Coby White, North Carolina
The Phoenix Suns are the one team in the lottery most saddled by a position of need. A Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton combination has some frontcourt role players next to it but needs someone to defend at the point, provide shooting around Ayton and handle the ball so Booker doesn’t always have to.
Coby White not only checks all those boxes but should not be considered a stretch to be drafted here. He’s fantastic in up-tempo situations, and his development timeline fits the Suns. He and Booker would make a fantastic long-term backcourt, and Booker’s playmaking alleviates some concerns around White’s pure point guard skills.
7. Chicago Bulls – F – De’Andre Hunter, Virginia
The best defender in the top tier of players falls to the Chicago Bulls at No. 7, and they shouldn’t think twice about taking him. De’Andre Hunter is a prototypical athlete for this generation, combining length and quickness with great instincts. He can cover ground in a hurry and guard multiple positions. While the Bulls already have a full cupboard in the frontcourt, Hunter is a great defensive piece to love. If he isn’t on the board, the Bulls will no doubt look for a backcourt mate for Zach LaVine.
8. Atlanta Hawks – W – Cam Reddish, Duke
Atlanta Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk is undoubtedly seeking to move up a bit higher to consolidate some of the franchise’s three first-round picks, but if they are still in the 8-spot, Cam Reddish from Duke is the type of gamble they should be making. A tad polarizing after an offensive inefficient season, Reddish has a beautiful shooting stroke and a seven-foot wingspan. He’s a better ball handler than he gets credit for, and his potential could be unlocked in an unorthodox system featuring Trae Young.
9. Washington Wizards – ATH – Sekou Doumbouya, France
If the Washington Wizards were wise, they would smell the full-on rebuild approaching their franchise. Their cap sheet is a mess and they are devoid of young talent, strapped down by a few large deals. A long-term piece like Sekou Doumbouya would be an incredible fit here: He’s a long-term mismatch forward that projects as a strong shooter. The Wizards are difficult to predict due to the unknown nature of their front office, but as they wrestle with a direction, taking a swing on an athlete like this makes a ton of sense.
10. Atlanta Hawks – P – Jaxson Hayes, Texas
The Hawks are back on the clock already, and they should take the long-term route as well. Jaxson Hayes could be their center of the future, and I like his fit next to Young better than the litany of other bigs vying for the back-end of the lottery. Hayes is an unbelievable athlete and pick-and-roll big whose gravity on dives is already evident. There’s a lot of growth ahead, but the combined gravity between Hayes and Young could be a lethal combination for years to come.
11. Minnesota Timberwolves – ATH – Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga
Three names make a great deal of sense for the Minnesota Timberwolves: Doumbouya, North Carolina’s Nassir Little and Gonzaga’s Brandon Clarke. For the life of me, I cannot see the Wolves passing on a player whose fit next to Karl-Anthony Towns is better than Clarke’s. While I’m not super high on a 23-year-old going this high to a team that likely isn’t in the playoff race soon, the two mask each other’s deficiencies so perfectly that it’s hard to pass on the opportunity. Clarke moves well as an athlete and defensive presence; He’s exactly what the Timberwolves need.
12. Charlotte Hornets – P – Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga
While Rui Hachimura is lauded by many for his ability to be an athletic mismatch forward who can score on the interior, I think of him as a super-mobile 5-man. He is long enough, (with a plus-seven-foot wingspan), to guard a 5, and doing so prevents him from the frequent perimeter situations where he struggles. The Charlotte Hornets could use a piece that helps them adjust to the modern game. While I’m not incredibly high on Hachimura, he could be the smaller, up-tempo stretch-5 they need.
He’s also a polished scorer, providing offense to a team in desperate need of it.
13. Miami Heat – W – Nassir Little, North Carolina
Another polarizing prospect, Little has reworked his shot during the pre-draft process and made a great deal of progress in tightening up his glaring weakness. He is an extraordinary athlete that plays in transition and above the rim. In a system with as much spacing as the Miami Heat’s, Little could realize his potential and become a strong two-way player. He had a disappointing season at North Carolina, but there is still a lot to like about his upside. This is the type of swing the Heat must hit on if they are to return to the top of the East.
14. Boston Celtics – F – PJ Washington, Kentucky
Falling to the Boston Celtics is my favorite defensive prospect this year. PJ Washington can be a mismatch 4 or small-ball 5, as he shot above 38 percent from three last season while proving a versatile and impactful defender. This could be the short and long-term replacement for Marcus Morris.
The Celtics surely want to trade up into a range where they can get one of the top point guards like White or Garland, so this pick could be on the move. But with so many positional needs and the roster in flux, predicting what the Celtics do is a very difficult task.
15. Detroit Pistons – CG – Romeo Langford, Indiana
If Romeo Langford is still available at 15, the Detroit Pistons should be rejoicing. He and the Motor City are a match made in heaven for their timeline, positional needs and desires to swing on long-term perimeter scorers that have tremendous upside.
Despite a poor season shooting from three at Indiana, Langford was once touted as a top-five pick in 2019 due to his immense scoring prowess coming out of high school. If he fixes a little bit of his shooting form, he could be the guy we look back on and wonder why he fell outside the lottery in what is considered a weak draft class. He’ll be in play at 13 with the Heat as well.
16. Orlando Magic – CG – Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Virginia Tech
Another match made in heaven, Nickeil Alexander-Walker made great strides last season at Virginia Tech. He fits the mold that the Orlando Magic look for thanks to his length and defensive prowess. They also need another playmaker, and Alexander-Walker could be that guy. He’s a tremendous passer, particularly with his left hand, and is a good enough shooter to survive off-ball. It’s not a sexy pick oozing home run potential, but there’s synergy between talent and organization here.
17. Atlanta Hawks – ATH – Talen Horton-Tucker, Iowa State
This may seem like a stretch, but Talen Horton-Tucker is the type of player Schlenk seems to love and makes sense as a flanker to Trae Young. Horton-Tucker is a long-armed wing that finishes near the basket and can handle as a secondary playmaker. He’s a good enough stand-still shooter to properly space the floor with NBA range. Horton-Tucker is not one of the draft’s seventeen most talented players, but he is a fairly safe pick and a guy that fits their mold in a timeshare or alongside Kevin Huerter. Stranger things could happen.
18. Indiana Pacers – CG – Kevin Porter Jr., USC
With the possibility of roster turnover and a fairly thin backcourt next to Victor Oladipo, the Indiana Pacers may elect to swing on one of the greater boom-or-bust candidates. Kevin Porter Jr. had a frustrating season at USC where he underperformed to his talent level, battled injuries and was relegated to the bench on a poor squad. The talent is clear, though. Porter Jr. can create his own shot and is a smooth shooter. How willing he’ll be to play off the ball or reel in his shot selection will dictate how close he comes to reaching his ceiling. This is a talent-grab for an organization that can likely afford to do so.
19. San Antonio Spurs – P – Goga Bitadze, Georgia
No team drafts better internationally than the San Antonio Spurs. Seeing a potential top-ten pick fall to them at nineteen would be too difficult for them to pass on either. After the Celtics select at 14, there is a run of teams that are likely selecting guards–especially if the Hawks take a post earlier in the draft. Whichever big man falls out of the lottery has a legitimate chance to end up in San Antonio.
Bitadze has long-term hope as a stretch-5, but he’s a strong scorer with decent defensive instincts and solid scoring down low in the interim. This would be a tremendous get for the Spurs, who have a long-term need in the frontcourt.
20. Boston Celtics – CG – Tyler Herro, Kentucky
Joining PJ Washington in Boston is college teammate, Tyler Herro. A shooting threat with quick release, Herro will be sniffed at near the end of the lottery, particularly if Romeo Langford jumps higher than 15. Falling to Boston at twenty would be a gift for the Celtics.
Herro is very good at two things: shooting off the move and mid-range pull-ups. He’s a good catch-and-shoot threat and has upside in the two-man game, making him an ideal complementary piece on offense. The issues come on defense, which is why he could slide in comparison to other backcourt prospects that are better athletes.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder – W – Cam Johnson, North Carolina
While I’m not that high on Cam Johnson, shooting is an obvious area of need for the Oklahoma City Thunder. If Herro is off the board, Johnson is the next-best sniper. He has deep range and a quick release. At 6’9″ he can shoot over nearly any defender, and he’s great on the move. The Thunder are still trying to make their core work, and Johnson spacing around Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams opens up space for everyone else. It’s between him and Matisse Thybulle here.
22. Boston Celtics – P – Bol Bol, Oregon
If the Celtics do indeed take three bites at the apple in the first round, one of them will be a crazy, swing-for-the-fences move that Danny Ainge is known for taking. Bol Bol fits that mold: He’s a polarizing prospect but has tantalizing potential. As the Celtics prepare for the possibility of needing a long-term center replacement for the rumoredly departing Al Horford, Bol could be the upside play. He’s likely a few years away from making an impact, but there isn’t a ton of high-upside talent still available at this point.
23. Utah Jazz – F – KZ Okpala, Stanford
This pick is reportedly on its way to the Memphis Grizzlies as part of the Mike Conley trade, and the Grizzlies should be looking for long-term talent with high upside next to Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. The organizational imperative seems to be on length and versatility.
KZ Okpala could be super intriguing in that role thanks to his athleticism. He’s long and lean, attacks closeouts well and is acceptable as a spot-up shooter. Okpala would give Memphis an open-court dimension that many teams lack. He’s another name that is somewhat polarizing, (and could fall out of the first-round entirely), but has the typical age and athletic characteristics that teams tend to spend late first-round selections on.
24. Philadelphia 76ers – W – Matisse Thybulle, Washington
The Philadelphia 76ers are in “win-now” mode, and Thybulle fits both their organizational timeline and position of need. The elite “3-and-D” prospect remaining on the board, he could be a poor man’s Robert Covington. He has little upside as a playmaker, but he’ll blend in nicely with many Sixers already existing as alpha initiators. Philly needs a defensive backcourt complement to Ben Simmons and shooting around Joel Embiid. No matter who is left on the board, the franchise must prioritize the floor spacing part above all.
25. Portland Trail Blazers – P – Mfiondu Kabengele, Florida State
Some projections have Mfiondu Kabengele going in the mid-teens. Getting him at 26 would be a major win for the Portland Trail Blazers. He’s a legitimate stretch-5 and pick-and-pop big that has perhaps the best shooting form of any post in the draft. He’s a good athlete too, holding his own on the glass and as a rim protector. But Kabengele does not have a lot of feel for the game and isn’t a playmaker. For a team that saw great success with Meyers Leonard spreading defenses in the Western Conference Finals, having another piece like this makes Kabengele a great complement to Jusuf Nurkic.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers – W – Keldon Johnson, Kentucky
Slow and steady wins the race for the Cavaliers’ rebuild. No player fits that mantra more than Keldon Johnson, a shooting wing that has little projectable upside as a main option in an offense. He’ll space the floor well and would be a good fit within the John Beilein system, however. Nothing sexy about this pick, but a solid one for the Cavs.
27. Brooklyn Nets – F – Grant Williams, Tennessee
An organization that drafts largely with character in mind, the Brooklyn Nets could grab one of Draft Twitter’s darlings. Grant Williams projects as a mismatch 4 with a thick body that can brutalize undersized forwards in the paint. Many also believe he has the touch to stretch out defenders and open the lane. Williams is a high-level scorer, but he’s ready to be a role player in the NBA.
The Nets could go so many different directions here, and Williams isn’t what the Nets typically go for from an athletic standpoint. But something about this fit seems intriguing, particularly on a team with a great deal of shooting already.
28. Golden State Warriors – CG – Ty Jerome, Virginia
The NBA Finals exposed the Golden State Warriors’ lack of depth, particularly with shooters. With multiple injuries to their planned core, a guy that is ready to play now should slide up the priority list.
Enter Ty Jerome, a severely underrated playmaker who would be an unbelievable fit next to Stephen Curry. He can fill in for Klay Thompson during the interim on offense while being the perfect piece as the backup combo guard to both in 2020-21. He’s a better defender than he gets credit for, too. Jerome is a winner and would be a great fit within a winning organization.
29. San Antonio Spurs – P – Nic Claxton, Georgia
Call this wishful thinking, but nothing would be greater than seeing Nic Claxton go to the Spurs.
He has flashes of Marvin Bagley III with his unique blend of athleticism, fluidity and size. He can also be successfully deployed in any defensive scheme: switching and guarding the perimeter, aggressive pick-and-roll coverage or dropped back and protecting the hoop. What Claxton lacks is feel for the game despite his natural tools, and his jumper is a bit unreliable. Put him with Spurs renowned shooting coach Chip Engelland and, in a few years, we could see one of the most unique and impactful chess pieces any coach could get their hands on.
30. Milwaukee Bucks – F – Luka Samanic, Croatia
The Milwaukee Bucks are reportedly looking to get out of this pick by packaging it with Tony Snell or Ersan Ilyasova in order to unload salary. Teams that absorb those pieces must have cap space, and they are also ones that don’t have aggressive win-now timelines. Adding a high-upside pick like Luka Samanic would make sense for those teams.
Even if Milwaukee keeps the selection, Samanic makes some sense here. He’s a good shooter and the type of versatile talent the Bucks can use in multiple ways around Giannis Antetokounmpo as either a stretch-4 or 5.
31. Brooklyn Nets – ATH – Chuma Okeke, Auburn
32. Phoenix Suns – P – Bruno Fernando, Maryland
33. Philadelphia 76ers – F – Darius Bazley, G-League
34. Philadelphia 76ers – ATH – Eric Paschall, Villanova
35. Atlanta Hawks – W – Deividas Sirvydis, Lithuania
Chuma Okeke and Bruno Fernando are guys that can easily go in the first round. Okeke’s injury likely drops him to the second instead. The Nets love athleticism and length, so he fits that mold.
Fernando is a solid backup to Ayton in Phoenix and is a good passer out of the low post. He’ll be a solid reserve for years to come.
Philadelphia has two selections here, and two later in the round. They’ll likely get out of at least one second-rounder, but these are too valuable to give up on now. To balance a long-term and short-term window, they should take one of each. Eric Paschall is a Philly guy that spaces the floor, defends multiple positions and is an underrated passer. He’s ready to play now. Darius Bazely is the long-term play as an elite athlete the Sixers would love to have flanking Embiid in their frontcourt.
At 35, the Hawks add their fourth selection of the night. This will be a long-term play, which is why they go international with Deividas Sirvydis, a smooth lefty shooter with size and upside.
36. Charlotte Hornets – CG – Luguentz Dort, Arizona State
37. Dallas Mavericks – CG – Carsen Edwards, Purdue
38. Chicago Bulls – PG – Joshua Obiesie, Germany
39. New Orleans Pelicans – ATH – DaQuan jeffries, Tulsa
40. Sacramento Kings – W – Dylan Windler, Belmont
A few names pop up here that could sniff the end of the first-round. Dylan Windler and Carsen Edwards each provide shooting to teams that could use more floor spacers.
The interesting name is Luguentz Dort, a player that received lottery interest early in the season and could still end up in the late 20s. Dort is a fantastic athlete, and the type of prospect many teams should throw a dart at in the second-round. There seems to be a fair drop-off in the late-30s, so he likely won’t fall as far as the 40th selection.
41. Atlanta Hawks – P – Jontay Porter, Missouri
42. Philadelphia 76ers – F – Isaiah Roby, Nebraska
43. Minnesota Timberwolves – ATH – Admiral Schofield, Tennessee
44. Atlanta Hawks – CG – Jalen Lecque, Brewester Academy
45. Detroit Pistons – P – Daniel Gafford, Arkansas
A team with multiple second-round picks like the Hawks or Sixers should take the risk and draft Jontay Porter, who is a legitimate lottery talent. The knee injuries and multiple ACL surgeries are worrisome, but his upside is too tantalizing to pass on. If he’s available at 41, I’d be disappointed if the Hawks didn’t take the chance.
There are other intriguing role players here as well. Isaiah Roby and Admiral Schofield are long and have a ton of defensive upside. Jalen Lecque is another perfect swing-for-the-fences prospect for the Hawks, who have time to develop him in the G-League.
Daniel Gafford to Detroit gives them a role player with upside behind Andre Drummond.
46. Orlando Magic – CG – terence Davis, Ole Miss
47. Sacramento Kings – PG – Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s
48. Los Angeles Clippers – P – Tacko Fall, UCF
49. San Antonio Spurs – W – Marcos Silva, Brazil
50. Indiana Pacers – F – Ignas Brazdeikis, Michigan
51. Boston Celtics – PG – Jordan Bone, Tennessee
52. Charlotte Hornets – W – Louis King, Oregon
53. Utah Jazz – CG – Adam Mokoka, France
54. Philadelphia 76ers – W – Yovel Zoosman, Israel
55. New York Knicks – PG – Tremont Waters, LSU
56. Los Angeles Clippers – F – Jalen McDaniels, San Diego State
57. New Orleans Pelicans – W – Charles Matthews, Michigan
58. Golden State Warriors – CG – Jordan Poole, Michigan
59. Toronto Raptors – F – Robert Franks, Washington State
60. Sacramento Kings – P – Naz Reid, LSU
Some intriguing names at the tail end of the draft are worth noting. Terence Davis and Shamorie Ponds both fit their potential organizational cultures in Orlando and Sacramento, respectively. Davis is a long facilitating guard cut from the same cloth as Wesley Iwundu. Ponds gives a long-term backup option to De’Aaron Fox.
I also like the fit of Tacko Fall with the Clippers. Yes, he’s legitimately a draftable prospect, and the Clips had previous success with similarly supersized Boban Marjanovic. They could be inclined to spend a second-rounder on his archetype.
Another shooter with length, Robert Franks goes to the Toronto Raptors while Jordan Poole would give the Warriors an additional playmaker and solid shooter in the backcourt.
Though Charles Matthews is injured and may miss the entire season next year, he’s a good enough defender to warrant a draft selection. A team with many second-rounders and a patient timeline, such as the Pelicans, could be the team that takes the risk.
Adam is a TBW staff writer and college basketball coach at Dickinson College. He loves watching for offensive schemes while specializing in individual skill development, shooting technique and coach-speak. Born in New Hampshire, Adam grew up as a Celtics fan but now claims to just love “good basketball”, which does not include mid-range jumpers.