This is essentially a mock draft and a big board blended into one – with a heavy emphasis on fit.
1. Philadelphia 76ers – Markelle Fultz
Comfortable playing on or off the ball, the accomplished scorer and dimer from Washington joins Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Robert Covington, and Dario Saric to form one of the best young cores in the league.
2. Los Angeles Lakers – Lonzo Ball
Ball’s infectious and inspired passing won’t lead L.A. back to the playoffs immediately, but he will keep the good vibrations flowing for a young team that has a lot to figure out.
3. Boston Celtics– Josh Jackson
Boston has a bevy of reliable wings, but you can never have enough of those. Perhaps Danny Ainge isn’t done dealing though.
4. Phoenix Suns – Jonathan Isaac
The Suns are in desperate need of a stopper, and Isaac is the most versatile defender in the class.
5. Sacramento Kings – Jayson Tatum
An inside-out go-to scorer such as Tatum should fit well alongside a three-point bomber like Buddy Hield.
6. Orlando Magic – Dennis Smith Jr.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves – OG Anunoby
Tom Thiboddeau’s Timberwolves need serious help on defense, not another high-volume shooter or point guard prospect.
8. New York Knicks – Frank Ntilikina
Phil Jackson’s only applaudable move thus far was drafting Kristaps Porzingis, so going with a young international point guard who projects as a solid fit for the triangle offense seems smart.
9. Dallas Mavericks – Malik Monk
With Mark Cuban and company planning to do whatever it takes to retain restricted free agent center Nerlens Noel, the Mavs opt for the best backcourt shooter in the draft over the best frontcourt one.
10. Sacramento Kings – De’Aaron Fox
Fox’s Chuck E. Cheese floater shot is a thing of beauty, and his ability to attack the paint, dish, and defend makes him an ideal fit next to Hield, Tatum, and Skal Labissiere.
11. Charlotte Hornets – Donovan Mitchell
Charlotte needs a two-way wing more than anything besides a backup center, and Mitchell could potentially sneak into the starting lineup immediately next to Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Cody Zeller.
12. Detroit Pistons – Lauri Markkanen
If Stan Van Gundy doesn’t deal this pick away, Markkanen makes some sense as an eventual Andre Drummond replacement.
13. Denver Nuggets – Jonah Bolden
Nikola Jokic needs to play alongside a power forward who can defend along the perimeter and protect the rim. Bolden offers versatility and upside on both ends of the floor, and could be an absolute steal for the Nuggets at No. 13.
14. Miami Heat – Zach Collins
Collins has been impressive while playing in a backup center role for several years in a row – both in high school and college. If he’s still available at this point, I’d be surprised to see the Heat pass on him – as he could be the yin to Hassan Whiteside’s yang.
15. Portland Trail Blazers – Jarrett Allen
Portland has more than enough offensive firepower, but they need to do something about their defense. Thus Allen’s athleticism and freakish measurements make him a prime target for the Trail Blazers.
16. Chicago Bulls – Derrick White
If the Bulls don’t trade Jimmy Butler, they need to do something about the point guard position. After drafting D.J. Valentine last summer, management might be iffy about selecting a senior point guard, but a steady leader with 3-and-D skills and solid athleticism should be enough to make Chicago think twice here.
17. Milwaukee Bucks – Justin Jackson
Milwaukee could use more depth along the wing, and Jackson’s three-point shooting makes him an obvious fit for the Bucks.
18. Indiana Pacers – D.J. Wilson
Based on the Paul George trade rumors, Indy can afford to make an upside selection. Wilson and Myles Turner could prove to be an excellent pairing at the 4 and 5.
19. Atlanta Hawks – Justin Patton
Atlanta has enjoyed some mild success over the last decade – thanks mostly to big men who could stretch the floor (Al Horford, Paul Millsap). And Patton is one of the top (if not the best) two-way center prospects in this draft.
20. Portland Trail Blazers – Jordan Bell
Since Allen is probably closer to being a project than an NBA-ready big, Portland doubles down on defense and snags the most versatile defensive center in the class, Oregon’s Jordan Bell.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder – Semi Ojeleye
OKC has so many players who are good on either offense or defense, but very few who thrive at both. Ojeleye fills a position of need at the 4, and his versatility on both ends would be warmly welcomed by Russell Westbrook.
22. Brooklyn Nets – Harry Giles
Looking for upside, the Nets snag Giles in hopes that he can still fulfill the potential that made him an elite prospect not long ago.
23. Toronto Raptors – Wesley Iwundu
Iwundu is a jack-of-all trades wing who will gladly roll up his sleeves and do the dirty work. With DeMar DeRozan set to run the show if Kyle Lowry leaves, that’s just what the doctor ordered for Toronto.
24. Utah Jazz – Cameron Oliver
Trey Lyles has been up and down during his first few years in the league, which could convince the Jazz to take a chance on a stretch 4 with legitimate NBA athleticism.
25. Orlando Magic – Sindarius Thornwell
Thornwell is much more of a Frank Vogel type player than Dennis Smith, and it shouldn’t be a surprise if the senior from South Carolina hears his name called in the first round.
26. Portland Trail Blazers – Anzejs Pasecniks
With so many picks and so few roster spots, Portland makes the first draft-and-stash selection on a 5 with guard skills on offense.
27. Brooklyn Nets – Tony Bradley
Brooklyn goes with another mobile big man with upside in UNC’s Tony Bradley, who could eventually play alongside Harry Giles.
28. Los Angeles Lakers – Ike Anigbogu
L.A. needs to upgrade its defense as much as any team in the league, and a rim protector with Anigbogu’s measurements and potential won’t fall past the first round. If the Lakers leave the draft with Bruin teammates Lonzo and Ike, they should be happy.
29. San Antonio Spurs – Sterling Brown
A 3-and-D wing with an underrated ability to create for himself and others off the bounce, he’s a Spurs sleeper through and through who could eventually spend some time at both guard spots.
30. Utah Jazz – Jawun Evans
With George Hill and Gordon Hayward entering free agency and Dante Exum still developing, the Jazz may take a shot on a point guard with offensive firepower in case they miss out on the market of available talent this summer.
31. Atlanta Hawks – Devin Robinson
Robinson offers undeniable upside as a versatile 3-and-D forward, and Atlanta has long been known for sculpting those players.
32. Phoenix Suns – Bam Adebayo
Adebayo might be a tad undersized at center in the NBA, but he could also turn out to be a valuable small-ball 5 if all goes well.
33. Orlando Magic – Josh Hart
Another hard-working, well-rounded wing player that Vogel would probably love to add.
34. Sacramento Kings – Frank Jackson
The Kings take a second Blue Devil and a second point guard.
35. Orlando Magic – T.J. Leaf
Leaf can help space the floor for the Magic as a backup 4 behind Aaron Gordon.
36. Philadelphia 76ers – Alpha Kaba
If you include Markelle Fultz, the Sixers already have 12 guys under contract for 2017-18 – and that’s if they decline options for Gerald Henderson ($9M) and Shawn Long ($1.3M). So I have Philly taking international prospects for the rest of the night. Kaba isn’t a fit for the roster, but he has the talent, measurements, and upside to sneak all the way into the late first round.
37. Boston Celtics – Johnathan Motley
Boston needs interior toughness, and Motley brings that in spades without sacrificing speed.
38. Chicago Bulls – Terrance Ferguson
Chicago’s search for shooting stars continues in the second round.
39. Philadelphia 76ers –Alberto Abalde
A high-IQ forward who can shoot and defend, Abalde might be another late first-round candidate.
40. New Orleans Pelicans – Davon Reed
The Pelicans need help along the wing, and Reed offers a nice blend of length, athleticism, and perimeter shooting.
41. Charlotte Hornets – John Collins
The Wake Forest product might be caught between the 4 and 5 positions at the next level, not quick enough on defense or rangy enough on offense to play the 4 and not a good enough rim protector to man the 5. It’s more likely he settles in as an athletic small-ball center if he sticks in the league long-term, but he’ll need to improve quite a bit defensively to do that.
42. Utah Jazz – Luke Kennard
Like John Collins, Kennard is a player I’m much lower on than most. I’m not sure who he’ll be able to cover on most nights, and it seems unrealistic to expect him to score at a similar clip against NBA wings. With that being said, I’ve been comparing him to soon-to-be free agent Joe Ingles since the beginning of the season.
43. Houston Rockets – Kyle Kuzma
Kuzma could become a solid two-way stretch 4 in time, and that might be Houston’s biggest area of need.
44. New York Knicks – Andrew White III
White went to Syracuse, so the Knicks have had plenty of opportunities to witness his three-point shooting barrages.
45. Houston Rockets – Damyean Dotson
The Rockets take a Houston native who has 3-and-D potential but needs to work on the defense part.
46. Philadelphia 76ers – Isaiah Hartenstein
Another potential first round pick if a team decides to draft-and-stash late in the first round, Hartenstein has some small-ball 4 skills on offense, but he doesn’t do enough to warrant being selected that high.
47. Indiana Pacers – V.J. Beachem
The four-year Notre Dame star stays within a few-hour drive of his college campus.
48. Milwaukee Bucks – Tyler Dorsey
Dorsey could be a great piece off the bench for the Bucks who provides knockdown shooting and secondary playmaking while covering opposing point guards. He’d be a good fit on any team with a non-traditional point guard.
49. Denver Nuggets – Ivan Rabb
Rabb could be a decent small-ball 5 down the road if he improves on defense, and it’s hard to imagine him falling much farther.
50. Philadelphia 76ers – George De Paula
Another day, another draft-and-stash.
51. Denver Nuggets – Monte Morris
Morris is a steady ball-handler and distributor who has to improve his consistency and range as a shooter, but could be a reliable backup.
52. Washington Wizards – Caleb Swanigan
The Wizards could use some spacing at the 5 and Swanigan brings that, albeit with slow-footed defense.
53. Boston Celtics – Mathias Lessort
Draft-and-stash big man.
54. Phoenix Suns – Thomas Bryant
If Bryant falls deep into the second round, the Suns are among the teams in the league starving for a center with two-way upside.
55. Utah Jazz – Tyler Lydon
Lydon can shoot the trey from the stretch forward position, but he needs to improve a ton on defense.
56. Boston Celtics – Vlatko Cancar
Draft-and-stash big man.
57. Brooklyn Nets – Frank Mason
The Nets can afford to shoot for the stars, and they hope to find the next Isaiah Thomas in Frank Mason.
58. New York Knicks – Edmond Sumner
Sumner has great size, a high floor on defense, and good overall feel for the game. He’ll be drafted at some point despite the season-ending injury.
59. San Antonio Spurs – P.J. Dozier
A hard-nosed, defensive-minded forward who will likely wind up playing for Gregg Popovich and the Spurs one way or another.
60. Atlanta Hawks – Dwayne Bacon
Bacon brings it home with the last pick in the draft as the Hawks look to add offensive firepower off the bench.
*Notable Undrafted Players*
Alec Peters, Dillon Brooks, Jonathan Jeanne, L.J. Peak, Jaron Blossomgame, Nigel Williams-Goss, Jake Wiley, Kadeem Allen, Aleksandar Vezenkov, Luke Kornet, Amida Brimah, Isaiah Briscoe, Derrick Walton, Ognjen Jaramaz, Kobi Simmons, Rolandis Smits, Deonte Burton, Malcolm Hill, Nigel Hayes, Michael Young, Eric Mika, James Blackmon, Melo Trimble, Antonius Cleveland, Chris Boucher, Peter Jok, Chance Comanche, Jamel Artis, Kennedy Meeks, Antonio Blakeney, Moses Kingsley