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The Ides of March: NBA Mock Draft 1.2

A wise man once warned us to “beware the Ides of March” so please enjoy this mock draft with the necessary trepidation. I’m no Shakespeare, but thankfully my task is to guess what some NBA teams might do in June instead of depict the life and death of Julius Caesar on stage. A lot has changed since January, and we can expect many more changes before draft night in June. Here is where we stand right now:

*Draft Order was determined by the standings (prior to the games played on March 4)*

  1. Memphis Grizzlies – Luka Doncic, PG, Real Madrid: Congratulations on winning the Doncic Sweepstakes! Enjoy developing the best prospect to enter the league since LeBron. Maybe even run some plays where he takes full-court shots. This is the exact same blurb from the last mock because this is the one pick that remains firmly unchanged, with Doncic locked into a tier of his own.
  2. Phoenix Suns – Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona: I have had my doubts with Ayton’s motor and defensive upside at the next level, but his production is absolutely undeniable. The Suns need to hit with this pick, so expect them to pick Ayton if they feel he is the most likely of the pack of second-tier prospects to have a career filled with multiple All-Star selections.
  3. Dallas Mavericks – Jaren Jackson Jr., PF/C Michigan State: Jackson was outside the top 10 in my last mock. Hopefully I’m not over-adjusting, but his production warrants a spot in the top three right now. The Mavericks will find a role for him right off the bat. His defense makes him an interesting 3-and-D big that could develop into a superstar.
  4. Sacramento Kings – Michael Porter, SF/PF, Missouri: Porter smells like a Kings pick. I can’t imagine them taking another big and Porter may play in some games before the season is over. If he impresses as a playmaker his stock could rise, because scoring has never been an issue.
  5. Atlanta Hawks – Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas: Bamba continues to face questions about his motor and effort, though his size and skill is undeniable. If he drops into Atlanta’s lap with the fifth pick they could pair Bamba with John Collins to form a formidable duo in the paint. Their abilities complement each other on both ends of the floor, so they will not be getting in each other’s way.
  6. Cleveland Cavaliers via Brooklyn Nets – Marvin Bagley, PF, Duke: This will be a curious choice for the Cavaliers, as they have many factors to consider. LeBron’s impending free agent decision defines their team going forward, but their choice will undoubtedly have to be the best player available. A good argument could be made for each of Bagley, Wendell Carter and Trae Young at this spot in the draft, and Bagley is probably the prospect facing the fewest questions right now. The fit with Love will be interesting if they stick to small ball and move Love to the 5. Defense should be a priority but Bamba was already snagged by the Hawks.
  7. Orlando Magic – Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma: Young’s stock has really fluctuated this year. Once the hottest riser, now he is the coldest faller. Is he more Jimmer Fredette or Steph Curry? I don’t expect him to be playing in China, but expecting a unanimous MVP is a sure-fire way to be disappointed.  Young is both a great scorer and playmaker that will need talent around him to shine bright. The Magic traded Elfrid Payton and would be an ideal landing spot to develop a high-ceiling scoring point guard to pair with Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, Nik Vucevic and Evan Fournier.
  8. Chicago Bulls – Wendell Carter, C, Duke: Carter is proving that his shooting is legitimate. As a result his stock is pointing up and scouts are taking notice. A more natural fit for the Bulls would be one of three wings that will come off the board after this pick, but they are not in a position to choose fit over talent. Can Markkanen and Carter play together? I think so.
  9. New York Knicks – Miles Bridges, SF/PF, Michigan State: Bridges enjoyed playing at MSG during the Big 10 tournament, so don’t be surprised if he ends up calling MSG home. Porzingis will need a secondary scoring option to serve as a reprieve from all the double teams he faced this year and Bridges is best served in such a role.
  10. Charlotte Hornets – Kevin Knox, SF/PF Kentucky: Knox came into his freshman season as one of the most “NBA ready” prospects and naturally has spent the last few months getting his game summarily dissected. Knox is very young, but he looks extremely ineffective defensively. Ideally he can develop into a 3-and-D wing but the downside without defensive improvement is a rotational scoring option off the bench.
  11. Philadelphia 76ers via Los Angeles Lakers – Mikal Bridges, SG/SF, Villanova: If Knox is a question mark in terms of wing defense, Bridges is about as known of a commodity as you can find at the position. Mikal will be 22 before he plays his first NBA game, which is why his polished defense and improved long distance shooting will be welcomed on the shallow Sixers wing rotation. If he becomes a more aggressive player taking it to the rack and improves his playmaking skills, he will deserve attention in the top five.
  12. Los Angeles Clippers via Detroit Pistons – Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama: Sexton is the last player left in a tier with the other top prospects drafted above. He is capable of running an offense and carrying the scoring load. The Clippers locked in Lou Williams to be their primary scorer in crunch time for the next few seasons, but if they plan to build around a true floor general I could see them starting Sexton with Pat Beverley playing off the ball.
  13. Utah Jazz – Robert Williams, PF/C Texas A&M: The Jazz already have Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors, but Robert Williams would be a nice addition to their rim-protection rotation. It’s a shame he has not been able to make any progress with his jump shooting, which keeps him in discussion for a late lottery pick instead of top-10.
  14. Los Angeles Clippers – Daniel Gafford, C, Arkansas: Gafford has many of the similar strengths and weaknesses mentioned above for Williams. DeAndre Jordan has a free agent decision to make this summer, which could determine if the Clippers take a shot on a player that could potentially replace Jordan’s production in the future. If they get the sense that Jordan plans on returning, expect the Clippers to go after a wing here.
  15. Phoenix Suns from Miami Heat – Dzanan Musa, SF, KK Cedevita: The Suns have to go for upside with their back-to-back picks in the middle of the first round. Having already drafted Ayton, who seems like a sure-fire starter and possible multiple time All-Star, they will need to surround him with wing scoring. Booker has proven himself to be an elite shooter and scorer, so Musa will be the counterpoint to Josh Jackson at the SF position. Jackson will bring the defense while Musa should develop into an effective shooter at the very least.
  16. Phoenix Suns from Milwaukee Bucks – Troy Brown, SG, Oregon: Brown has really impressed with the Ducks during his freshman season. As with most freshmen his shooting has been inconsistent, but his effort and motor have been impressive. With a nearly 7-foot wingspan Troy’s rebounding, playmaking, and defense are the attributes that NBA teams will be drafting him for. Will need to develop his ball-handling skills to cut down on turnovers.
  17. Denver Nuggets – Mitchell Robinson, C: Robinson hasn’t been playing in competitive games this year, so it will be surprising to see him get lottery consideration despite his talents. The Nuggets would be wise to add his length and rim protection. Jokic and the rest of the current Denver squad have been fantastic on offense, but Jokic isn’t a rim protector. Robinson has a 7-3 wingspan and is showing a consistent jump shot in workouts, which makes him an interesting fit with Jokic.
  18. Philadelphia 76ers – Zhaire Smith, SF, Texas Tech: With Luwawu regressing this season and Korkmaz missing the season due to injury, the Sixers have really struggled with their wing depth. Smith would be an interesting young piece for Coach Brett Brown to mold into a 3-and-D player. His positional defense has been superb, but with his athleticism it would be nice to see him show more aggression on offense.
  19. Indiana Pacers – Trevon Duval, PG, Duke: Oladipo has been a revelation this season for the Pacers and will be the primary option for the franchise moving forward. Duval will be happy to play the role of tempo setter and distributor, essentially what he has been doing with Duke. His shooting, however, has been extremely disappointing, so don’t be surprised to see him drop out of the first round if this trend continues.
  20. Minnesota Timberwolves via Oklahoma City Thunder – Jontay Porter, C, Missouri: Porter being an extremely raw athletic rim protector would require Coach Thibs to show extreme patience with developing him. With Towns, Butler, and Wiggins already set as the Wolves’ key scoring options, Thibs will use his big man rotation as rebounders and defenders. Porter can develop into an elite player in both of those aspects.
  21. San Antonio Spurs – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG/SG, Kentucky: Shai has done a formidable job playing combo guard for the Wildcats. 6-6 guards are a commodity in the league and the Spurs have developed a similar player in Dejounte Murray. Not sure what his one elite skill is right now but his length and defensive ability should make him a rotational guard.
  22. Washington Wizards – Anfernee Simons, Guard, IMG Academy: The Wizards struck gold with Bradley Beal and Simons has some of the smoothness that Beal had coming out of Florida. Unfortunately, Simons does not have any gametape against NCAA competition, so this would be a high-risk selection.
  23. Chicago Bulls via New Orleans Pelicans – Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky: Diallo has really struggled this season and I may be the last one left on his island. 41/33/61 shooting splits in college don’t get you drafted in the first round, so if he doesn’t get his scoring confidence back expect him to become a second round flier. Hamidou still has the length and athleticism to develop into an NBA scorer.
  24. Atlanta Hawks via Minnesota Timberwolves – Grayson Allen, SG, Duke: Allen has enjoyed his senior season being the go-to guy for Duke. His efficiency isn’t spectacular but that happens when you carry an offensive load in the ACC. He has made progress defensively and his athleticism has always been a positive.
  25. Los Angeles Lakers via Cleveland Cavaliers – Chimezie Metu, C, USC: Metu continues to steadily improve all aspects of his game. His defensive presence would be welcomed by Luke Walton, and there could be plenty of playing opportunities if/when Randle and Lopez are gone. I would imagine Laker scouts will be monitoring Metu’s shooting progress closely over the next month.
  26. Portland Trail Blazers – Isaac Bonga, SG/SF, Frankfurt: Bonga is an international prospect that consistently impresses on the international junior level. Recently he has been given consistent playing time with his senior club team and the results have been promising. He has a lot of bounce and will need to rely on his athleticism for defensive production while his raw scoring abilities develop. Wings are a premium right now, especially in Portland.
  27. Boston Celtics – Chandler Hutchison, SG, Boise State:  As a senior Hutchison has developed into an elite college scorer. As the fulcrum of the Boise State offense with the opposing defenses keyed in on him on a nightly basis, he has maintained nearly 20 points a night while rebounding and distributing. In Boston’s offense he would have the ball in his hands a lot less, which is probably a good thing, as he struggles mightily with turnovers.
  28. Brooklyn Nets via Toronto Raptors – Lonnie Walker, SG, Miami: This would be great value for the Nets, who consistently seek out high-potential players during their patient rebuild. Walker has been hyped up by many scouts, leaving me to wonder if my eyes are deceiving me — as his production hasn’t blown me away. The potential is clear: he’s an athletic bucket-getter that can develop into a two-way contributor.
  29. Golden State Warriors – Rawle Alkins, SG, Arizona: Unlike Walker, who is all potential, Alkins is all production. He is an established two-way contributor that could immediately slide in to 10-15 minutes of play on the most talented roster in the NBA, especially if Andre Iguodala or Shaun Livingston become cap casualties next season. This would be a fantastic fit for both player and team.
  30. Houston Rockets –  Khyri Thomas, Guard, Creighton: Thomas has been a fantastic scorer as a Junior on a struggling Creighton team. Despite his Curry/Durant levels of true shooting (66 perecent TS), they haven’t been able to surround him with enough help. Guess what? The Rockets have plenty of other options that would allow Thomas to get even easier looks. His defense is opportunistic. Uses his quick hands to swipe a bunch of steals.

Second Round 

  1. Memphis Grizzlies – Jacob Evans, SF, Cincinnati
  2. Phoenix Suns – Keita Bates-Diop, SF/PF, Ohio State
  3. Atlanta Hawks – Devonte’ Graham, PG, Kansas
  4. Sacramento Kings – Rodions Kurucs, SF, FC Barcelona
  5. Dallas Mavericks  – Shake Milton, Guard, SMU
  6. Orlando Magic – De’Anthony Melton, PG, USC
  7. Philadelphia 76ers via Brooklyn Nets – Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova
  8. New York Knicks via Chicago Bulls – Bruce Brown, SG, Miami
  9. Philadelphia 76ers via New York Knicks – Goga Bitadze, C, Mega Leks
  10. Orlando Magic via Charlotte Hornets – Arnoldas Kulboka, SF, Brose Bamberg
  11. Brooklyn Nets via Los Angeles Lakers – Gary Trent Jr., SG, Duke
  12. Detroit Pistons – Allonzo Trier, SG, Arizona
  13. Houston Rockets via Miami Heat – Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA
  14. Utah Jazz – Justin Jackson, SF/PF, Maryland
  15. Brooklyn Nets via Milwaukee Bucks – Nickeil Alexander-Walker, PG, West Virginia
  16. Denver Nuggets via Los Angeles Clippers – Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV
  17. Los Angeles Lakers via Denver Nuggets – Kostja Mushidi, SG, Mega Leks
  18. Philadelphia 76ers – Borisa Simanic, PF/C, Crvena Zvezda
  19. Indiana Pacers – Jalen Hudson, SG, Florida
  20. Oklahoma City Thunder – De’Andre Hunter, PF, Virginia
  21. Washington Wizards – Ethan Happ, PF/C, Wisconsin
  22. San Antonio Spurs – Vince Edwards, SF, Purdue
  23. New Orleans Pelicans – Kenrich Williams, SF/PF, TCU
  24. Minnesota Timberwolves – Jarred Vanderbilt, SF/PF, Kentucky
  25. Charlotte Hornets via Cleveland Cavaliers – Kevin Hervey, SF, UT Arlington
  26. Dallas Mavericks via Portland Trail Blazers – Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, SG, Kansas
  27. Oklahoma City Thunder via Boston Celtics – Jevon Carter, PG, West Virginia
  28. Phoenix Suns via Toronto Raptors – Josh Okogie, SG, Georgia Tech
  29. Denver Nuggets via Golden State Warriors – Landry Shamet, PG, Wichita State
  30. Philadelphia 76ers via Houston Rockets – LaGerald Vick, SG, Kansas


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