Who will the Celtics take at No. 3? Will a surprise prospect crash the top 10? SI.com dishes its final Mock Draft ahead of the NBA's big night.
The NBA Finals gave us some of the most dramatic basketball we've seen in years, but now it's time to enjoy the other side of the NBA. This will get weird.
LeBron had his moment. It's Furkan Korkmaz season now. Deyonta Davis is ready for his close-up, and Ivica Zubac and Timothe Luwawu are here to make you fall in love with the Mega Leks. Fans all over America are about to become way too invested in whether their team lands Patrick McCaw or Brice Johnson. Danny Ainge came here to chew bubblegum and try to trade six first–round picks, and he's all out of bubblegum. THE DRAFT IS HERE.
Half the teams in the lottery have spent the past few weeks trying to flip their pick for a veteran. Everyone has too many assets, and meanwhile, nobody in the league knows quite what to expect from free agency when the salary cap jumps to $94 million this summer. Also, Derrick Rose is on the Knicks now? Are the Hawks tanking? All of this feeds into the festivities tonight.
As for the draft itself, the first two picks are set, and the Celtics are the wild card now. Ainge has spent the past month trying to parlay assets into a star, and at the same time, Boston has feigned interest in no less than five players (Jamal Murray, Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss, Jaylen Brown, and most recently Kris Dunn) in an attempt to gin up interest for the No. 3 pick. Whether they succeed remains to be seen, but whoever goes at No. 3 will have a ripple effect throughout the top eight, and we have no idea who the Celtics want.
A few notes before we jump in:
• This mock draft is based on team needs, consensus among other experts, and my own stubborn biases as a longtime draft nerd. It's not rooted in any scoops, and fans can take this seriously at their own peril.
• The toughest first–round omissions: Damian Jones, Brice Johnson, Guerschon Yabusele, A.J. Hammons and Petr Cornelie.
• Best second round steals: Malcolm Brogdon, Robert Carter, Chinanu Onuaku, Isaia Cordinier, Gary Payton II, Isaiah Cousins and Kay Felder.
• Big picture: Last year spoiled everyone with a draft full of future All-Stars, and this year appears to be a case of the market correcting. The more I've studied this draft, the less excited I am about the star potential of the top–15 picks.
• On the other hand, if 1-15 is weaker this year, 15-45 is full of potential rotation players and possible starters. That's where this draft will get fun (and completely unpredictable).
Likewise, even the worst drafts—looking at you, 2011—can still feature guys like Klay Thompson (No. 11), Kawhi Leonard (No. 15), and Jimmy Butler (No. 30) hiding in plain sight. So, you never know.
And on that note... Here we go.