The shape of the draft took its first major turn over the weekend, as the Pelicans dealt Anthony Davis to the Lakers for a motherlode of assets, including the No. 4 pick. Said pick will be made three days from now, and as the draft looms Thursday, the picture will continue to clarify as teams bunker down and make their final preparations. As such, it’s time for another update to our mock draft, which we’ll keep current as the week rolls on.
Overall, the intrigue begins with New Orleans, who will select Zion Williamson at No. 1, but according to league sources, will explore all their options with the No. 4 pick. The Pelicans could extract even more value, given the current market for the selection as teams angle to move up in the draft. Beyond that, the Hawks and Celtics control three first-round picks each, and teams appear to be keeping their options as fluid as possible going forward. Most around the league expect a lot more movement in the coming days, which will, predictably, continue to throw this mock draft into flux.
SI’s Jake Fischer contributed reporting.
PF | Duke | Freshman
New Orleans Pelicans
There’s a case to be made that Williamson is the individual winner in the blockbuster Anthony Davis trade. All that’s left to do is walk across the stage on Thursday, and he’ll officially become the centerpiece of one of the NBA’s most favorable long-term situations, after New Orleans made out with nearly all of the Lakers’ long-term draft assets, in addition to Lonzo Ball (who in particular complements him stylistically), Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart and the No. 4 pick in this draft, which the Pelicans may still choose to move.
We’ve written plenty on Williamson’s individual talent dating back to the fall and will spare the full breakdown in this space, but safe to say New Orleans is in a close to optimal position to engineer a winning team around his unique abilities going into the 2020s (a decade everyone has to think about now). Like any other teenage prospect, his game comes with holes, but surround him with smart players who can shoot threes and play uptempo, and you’ve got a start. So, as it’s all turned out, the Pelicans under Alvin Gentry and EVP David Griffin have become perhaps the softest possible landing spot for Williamson to begin his pro career. It’s a promising marriage.
PG | Murray State | Sophomore
The general expectation dating back to the combine has continued to be that the Grizzlies will select Morant here and pair him with Jaren Jackson Jr. as their primary building blocks. Morant has visited with Memphis and New York, but barring an unexpected turn, this pick won’t come with much suspense. Morant recently had a minor knee procedure done and won’t be working out for anyone, but it’s not thought to be a serious concern.
Morant may take a season or two to adjust to the speed of the NBA game, but his innate playmaking ability, elite athleticism and unique improvisational qualities give him a chance to be special. In other news, Memphis continues to take calls on Mike Conley, although the timeline on a possible trade doesn’t appear to be immediate.
G/F | Duke | Freshman
New York Knicks
To nobody’s surprise, the Knicks are widely expected to grab whichever of Barrett or Morant falls to them here. It now seems much more likely that Barrett remains a Knick, with Anthony Davis off the board, Kevin Durant injured and in an uncertain spot and Kyrie Irving seemingly locked in on joining the Nets in free agency. New York had big designs on this offseason, and there are routes to improving the team, but the Knicks might be better off staying patient and continuing to try and develop their young talent.
The fact New York couldn’t gain much traction in the end with Davis trade talks is a definite referendum on the leaguewide valuation of the Knicks' young assets, and Barrett may walk onto the roster and be their most promising piece out of the gate. Barrett’s hard-wired scoring mentality would be a strong fit with the Knicks, and he’ll be able to grow into a bigger offensive role and take his lumps next season. He can at times be aggressive to a fault, but the hope is that his decision-making becomes more team-oriented as he matures and that his outside shot improves. He may not be the franchise savior, but players of that caliber are few and far between. Expect Barrett to work hard and maximize his individual ability, and if he makes the right adjustments in playstyle, there’s strong upside here.
SG | Texas Tech | Sophomore
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans and Lakers agreeing to terms on the Davis deal with time to spare before the draft means New Orleans now has time to weigh its options with this pick. In a vacuum, it’s going to be more valuable to another lottery team with trade ammunition to spare, with the ability to leapfrog several spots to land the guy it most covets. While it’s possible New Orleans also looks to package this for a more established player to beef up the current team, realistically, the Pelicans should be inclined to build through the draft, and there’s no clear best-fit prospect among a relatively even tier of players expected to be on the board at this spot.
There’s going to be a market for this pick: we’ve previously reported the Hawks’ interest in moving up, and the guard-needy Suns and Bulls could ensure they secure the guy they want by coming up to 4. Both Atlanta and Phoenix have interest in Culver, and the Hawks have a significant amount of draft capital to spare if they want to move up—feasibly, they should be able to make the Pelicans the best offer for No. 4, if they want it badly enough. There are strong indications right now that New Orleans will aim to maximize the value of this pick.
If New Orleans keeps it, keep an eye on Culver, who in my opinion would be the best player on the board, with the only hesitation being the question of on-court fit. Culver is savvy and plays both ends, but the patience necessary as he refines his jump shot and the fact that the Pelicans now have a perimeter playmaking trio of Jrue Holiday, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram lessens the need for another secondary playmaker to some extent. If the pick doesn’t move, I’d still keep an eye on him here. If it does move, Culver and Darius Garland would likely be the two guys in play for whoever makes the best offer here.
F | Virginia | Sophomore
The two teams that have come up most frequently as having real interest in Hunter are Cleveland and Atlanta. Over the past week, it’s begun to look unlikely Hunter makes it to the Hawks’ first pick at No. 8, which is essentially his floor. The question is where the Hawks would have come up in order to get him, and also whether they’d prefer Jarrett Culver. Hunter is valued for his defensive acumen and relatively easy projectability amid an uncertain lottery class.
Cleveland is thought to value Hunter highly, and although this spot might be a bit high for him in a vacuum, this might be what makes the most sense at this stage. Speculatively, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Cavs looked to trade down from this spot, either, given they’re positioned in front of the guard-needy Suns and Bulls, and now there are scenarios firmly in play where Darius Garland and Coby White are both available at No. 5. They could conceivably move down incrementally and still end up with someone they like.
PG | Vanderbilt | Freshman
Being able to pick between Garland and White at No. 6 would be a pretty solid scenario for the Suns, although reports have indicated Phoenix would prefer a more experienced option at point guard next to Devin Booker next season. White fits well there, noting his size defensively, but Garland is craftier off the dribble and closer to being a feasible setup man who can get more out of the Suns’ other players. There’s enough interest there that he might be someone other teams target via trade at 4 or 5.
As we reported last week, the Suns are known to be extremely high on Jarrett Culver, and this spot is his realistic floor. To ensure they get him, Phoenix may have to move up themselves. Now that the Pelicans have No. 4, the lottery trade scenarios should become clearer over the next few days.
G | North Carolina | Freshman
The Bulls would probably be pretty happy with either of White or Garland making it to them at No. 7, given that point guard is their primary area of long-term need. White is a strong fit in that he could play alongside Zach LaVine as well as Kris Dunn next season, supplying additional shooting and playmaking as he continues to learn his position.
Whether Chicago would try to move up to pick the guard they want is unclear, but with the Lakers moving out of No. 4, it’s at the very least more feasible that one of the two might fall into their range now. White has some untapped potential as a lead guard, good size for his position and his outside shooting gives him a strong development base. He will work out for the Wizards, who hold the ninth pick, on Monday, which is an interesting development given that they’re beneath his probable range.
SF | Duke | Freshman
Atlanta continues to remain active in exploring all its options with six draft picks in hand, and packaging Nos. 8 and 10 to move up to No. 4 or No. 5 remains a possibility. Jarrett Culver and De’Andre Hunter are the names that come up most often in those scenarios, and right now it seems unlikely either player falls to No. 8. The Hawks won’t roster all these rookies, and based on their recent history, seem to be comfortable deferring draft assets into future options, as well. Depending on what happens with these Atlanta picks, there’s a chance Reddish could fall out of the Top 10, but if they stay put, he’ll be an option at both of these selections.
Reddish would be a positive fit in Atlanta, and while the Hawks have been linked to some extent with pretty much everyone in the lottery who isn’t a point guard, it would be a low-pressure development situation for him, where he can play off of Trae Young and others. Still, teams are all over the board with their evaluations of Reddish: his statistics and performance at Duke unto themselves were uninspiring, and it would be easier to buy into him if he simply showed up to play on a more consistent basis. He floats in and out of games and seemed comfortable just fitting into the background, which would be more palatable if his play had been better. At any rate, with the first seven players appearing to have settled in in some order, Reddish’s range seems to begin here.
F | Limoges | International
The Wizards remain in front-office limbo, having yet to name a permanent GM to replace Ernie Grunfeld, and with Masai Ujiri rumors now swirling. Tommy Sheppard has been running basketball operations for the past two months and will be prepared to grab the best prospect available. It could make sense for Washington to move down from here if they have the ability to add draft capital and pick a bit further down, particularly given that the roster could use an injection of younger talent.
If the Wizards stay put at No. 9, Doumbouya is an option for them, with appealing physical tools and potential versatility at forward. He’s thought to be far off from a maturity standpoint, and his skill set is still being fleshed out, but his athleticism, strength and shooting touch are tangible, and he showcased appealing defensive versatility over the course of the season in France. The tools are enough to gamble on, but he’ll require some patience. Doumbouya has also been linked to the Hawks and Cavaliers. At this spot, he’s a big swing worth considering.
C | Texas | Freshman
Atlanta Hawks (via Mavericks)
Hayes’s combination of physical tools and defensive upside have put him in the late lottery mix, and his range seems to begin with the second Atlanta pick at No. 10. Granted, it’s not clear whether Atlanta will make this pick or if it moves, but he could be someone teams target at this spot. He’s not a perfect fit with the Hawks unless you believe in his ability to eventually knock down open threes—spacing is going to be imperative going forward here—but in the late lottery, the upside with him is going to be enough.
While Hayes shouldn’t contribute much immediately, he might be closer to NBA-ready than perception suggests: if he adds strength to his above-average frame and continues to work on fundamentals, he should be able to make an impact as a defender and rim-rummer at some point on his rookie contract. He does come with some risk due to iffy rebounding numbers and the fact he’s so raw.
PF | Gonzaga | Junior
Suspicion continues to swirl around Hachumura and the Timberwolves at this pick. Hachimura skipped the combine, but did participate in his agency’s pro day at the end of May, dispelling the notion of a hard promise at that point. Many teams now believe he has a commitment somewhere in this range, specifically here. He’s not great from an analytic perspective, which is where a lot of the divide seems to lie, and the counterpoint to the fit here is that Minnesota would seem to be shifting toward a more data-minded approach with Gersson Rosas at the helm. Still, Hachimura fills a positional need for the Timberwolves, possesses strong physical tools and has significantly more room to grow as a scorer.
PF | Kentucky | Freshman
Hornets GM Mitch Kupchak said publicly this week that the team has explored ways to move up from this pick to improve the roster, and would like to get higher in the draft. What’s implied there is that the Hornets are either targeting someone specific, or that they’re simply hoping to get up into what seems to be a higher tier of the draft. They have two second-rounders, Nos. 36 and 52, which could help facilitate that, in addition to their own future firsts and multiple seconds in the 2020 and 2021 draft. It’s feasible that Charlotte can offer enough to get up from here into the 8–10 range.
Washington seems to have enough fans that it’s easy to see him winding up anywhere in the late lottery, worst-case being a soft landing spot in the teens. He’s made strides skill-wise and profiles as a solid frontcourt piece, particularly if his jump shot continues to improve. Teams view him as a relatively safe bet to be a contributor, and he’s athletic and versatile enough to fit into different types of lineups. The Hornets stand to get younger up front, and this pick can present a pathway to that end.
SG | Kentucky | Freshman
Miami has several areas of need, and could go a few different directions here. Speculatively, this pick could present an opportunity for the Heat to try and offload some salary, by attaching a contract to it via trade. Otherwise, they’ll pick from this next group of prospects. Herro would be an attractive fit given the lack of a great three-point shooter on their roster, and he’s become a viable option for teams in the late lottery due to his potent jumper and developing off-dribble game. His stock is considered to be pretty safe in this range. Herro is one of the better perimeter scorers in the draft, and one of the few who couple outside shooting with some legitimate long-term upside.
C | KK Buducnost | International
Boston Celtics (via Kings)
Although the Celtics ended up left out of the Anthony Davis pursuit, expect them to be active in exploring their various options with three first-round picks in hand. Signs obviously point to Kyrie Irving being on his way out. Al Horford has a player option for this season, Gordon Hayward has one for next season and Terry Rozier is a restricted free agent. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are the key long-term pieces for Boston, who are in a bit of flux after a disappointing season.
Bitadze is considered by some to be the best center in the draft, and is pretty clearly the closest to making an impact in the NBA. If Boston is thinking best player available at this pick, he’d be a nice option. He comes off a strong year overseas in which he won multiple MVPs and the EuroLeague’s Rising Star award. His impressive productivity as a teenager bodes well, and his size, interior skills, physicality and developing jumper are legit. Bitadze’s ceiling might be capped a bit defensively, as he won’t do much guarding on the perimeter, but he should bring enough to the table that scheme can help cover up some of those issues. He’d fit well as a long-term solution at the five.
G/F | Kentucky | Freshman
The Pistons have a clear need on the wing that they should be able to address with this pick. Johnson’s draft stock has been stabilized by his intangibles, and teams think his competitive makeup bodes well, giving him a good chance to find a useful role somewhere and add value. At the moment, he seems like a good bet to land somewhere in the Top 20. Johnson isn’t a great off-dribble creator, but he’s strong, can score at all three levels, and defends willingly. He won’t be a sexy pick, but he might be a pro for a long time. His skill set also makes sense playing off of Blake Griffin, who’s under contract through 2021-22 and whose presence will probably prevent Detroit from going full teardown. Guys like Nassir Little and Romeo Langford will likely be in the mix here, as well.
SG | Virginia Tech | Sophomore
With a host of recent lottery picks still developing in the frontcourt, it would make sense for the Magic to shore up the perimeter with this selection. Alexander-Walker possesses an excellent complementary skillset, shoots and moves the ball well and would be a strong partner for Markelle Fultz, who will get a career reset when he makes his Magic debut next season. There is no way to maximize Fultz without putting reliable shooters around him, and Orlando is hoping to rehabilitate his value, acquiring him at a very palatable price (primarily, a Top-20 protected first in next year’s draft).
Scoring-oriented wings like Romeo Langford and Nassir Little could be on the board here, but neither one is a great fit with Fultz, or with Orlando’s roster in general. As a bigger guard who defends, can make plays for others and will be at his best working off of another perimeter creator, Alexander-Walker’s versatility vibes nicely with what they’re building.
PF | Gonzaga | Junior
Atlanta Hawks (via Nets)
After acquiring this pick from Brooklyn, Atlanta could still repackage it in another trade if it chooses. The Hawks have tons of options, and won’t keep all six of their draft picks. Clarke’s range would seem to begin with Minnesota at No. 11, but if they don’t grab him there, it’s possible he slips into the teens. He would be a very strong fit for the Hawks, but perhaps not a necessary commitment at Nos. 8 or 10. At this pick, some of the financial investment and overall risk when it comes to his game translating is mitigated.
With a wildly productive season under his belt, Clarke is a favorite of analytic models around the league and was hyper-efficient at Gonzaga. Teams like his energy and intangibles, but there are valid questions about translation, given that he’s so small for his position and may not be able to hit threes at a sustainable clip. He’s heavily right-hand dominant, will be challenged to play in taller crowds in the NBA, and his effectiveness as a scorer was buoyed on some level by his elite athleticism and feel, as a 22-year-old college player. The most probable outcome for Clarke falls somewhere in the middle, but his shot-blocking, rebounding and smarts give him something to hang his hat on. In Atlanta, he’d fit well as defensive cover, as a transition-oriented player and as a lob target for Trae Young.
F | North Carolina | Freshman
Little is also in play as high as the late lottery, but it’s also possible he ends up falling into the teens, as he’s a bit further off from contributing than some of the others in this range. He’s a powerful athlete with an undeniably appealing physical profile at forward, but teams continue to dig into his struggles at North Carolina, and still have their concerns. His limited off-dribble game and bouts of tunnel vision as a scorer make him more of a project than most expected coming into the season. Still, Little’s tools present some obvious upside, and he would be a solid value pick here, filling a need for the Pacers on the wing.
F/C | Georgia | Sophomore
San Antonio Spurs
Claxton opted to end his workouts for teams early, and, feels secure with where he stands range-wise going into draft night, per a source. That range now begins somewhere in the teens, as he’s been one of the more notable risers during the past six weeks, and has been able to showcase his versatility and tools during workouts. There’s some real optimism around the league that he can do some ball-handling and become uniquely useful on the perimeter as more of a forward than a center. His defensive capabilities are also extremely promising, as he’s mobile enough to switch on the perimeter and also help on the inside.
Claxton is just starting to tap into his ability, and finding someone with his upside in this range of the draft is appealing. He feels like a Spurs-y project, and San Antonio needs to get younger up front. It’s worth noting two names that come up frequently in connection with the Spurs are Nassir Little and Luka Samanic—they might have to move up a bit from here to grab Little, and Samanic could be available at No. 29.
Kevin Porter Jr.
SG | USC | Freshman
Boston Celtics (via Clippers)
If the Celtics keep these later picks, they’ll be able to bet on talent, and Porter certainly has that. He comes with a wide variance of outcomes, but would be a fascinating risk-reward pick for them. It’s possible he could be in play for them at No. 14, but there’s also a chance he slips down toward their other picks, and at this point in the draft, he’s going to have to be a serious consideration. The sense I get is that Porter’s range begins at the end of the lottery, with Charlotte and Miami both showing a degree of interest, according to league sources.
The myriad concerns regarding Porter’s off-court issues at USC and his overall maturity have hurt him a bit, but he’s capable of some things most players can’t do with the ball in his hands. Porter isn’t considered to be a bad egg, but it will take some insulation early on to help keep him on track and focus on becoming a pro. On ability alone, he’s totally justifiable in the lottery, teams just have to feel comfortable that they can put him in a positive environment to help him get acclimated and avoid distractions.
SG | Indiana | Freshman
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder, who continue to live in the luxury tax, have been exploring attaching this pick to a contract in trade scenarios to help offload salary. if Langford bounces back after an uneven freshman season, he could certainly return value at this spot in the draft. He could be selected higher than this, but it won’t be a total shocker if he does fall a bit, as teams seem to be having some trouble talking themselves into him to a point, and there are players who we have slated ahead of him who are viewed as safer options.
Langford played through injuries during the season and does have a strong long-term track record as a scorer, and he’s positioned as a buy-low opportunity for someone. It’s just that he has no true elite skill to sell right now. His jumper remains a big question, and he has to improve his game off the dribble, but there’s still a good chance he’s better than what he showed at Indiana. OKC could add him to their mix on the wing here at minimal cost, although if the shooting doesn’t come around, his fit is questionable. Still, he’d likely benefit from lessened pressure here.
SF | North Carolina | Senior
Again, who knows what happens with these Boston picks—rostering three first-round rookies seems like a long shot—but Johnson does make some sense for them as a plug-and-play shooter. Johnson is 23 and comes with an injury history, but the age factor won’t matter as much for the Celtics, whose roster already skews on the younger side. He makes sense with their competitive window, and can be had on an affordable contract in this part of the draft.
Johnson is an outstanding catch-and-shoot player with little to prove in that regard, and has legit size for his position. He seems likely to fall in the 20–24 range, with all these playoff teams conceivably having a use for him immediately. The upside isn’t massive, but he’s a safe bet to space the floor in above-average fashion, provide adequate defense, and rebound a little bit.
C | Oregon | Freshman
With just days until the draft, Bol remains a tricky case to peg—he did receive an invitation to the green room, which likely bodes well, but the perception remains that he’s essentially a dart throw, for better or worse. According to league sources, Bol’s much-anticipated private workout ran for just 30 minutes last Wednesday, and while he displayed his coordination and ability to shoot from outside, the showcase may not have moved the needle a whole lot. It would seem he’s getting healthier, but he’s talented to the point that it’s hard for him to look bad in a 1-on-0 setting.
Ultimately, Bol’s landing spot will depend on how confident a team can feel relative to the opportunity cost and financial risk of rostering him. In the 20’s, he’s much easier to take a flier on. The real question is which teams have his medical information, which remains unclear, and he skipped that portion of the combine in Chicago. The upside tied to his three-point shooting and shot-blocking ability remains intriguing, and for a team like Utah, he could warrant a roll of the dice. The Jazz have been exploring their options as far as trading this pick, according to league sources, possibly as a means to offload salary or add assets as they attempt to maximize their competitive window while Donovan Mitchell remains on a rookie deal for the next couple of seasons.
SG | Washington | Senior
There’s been a lot of leaguewide speculation that Thybulle has a promise somewhere in the 20s, dating back to his decision to skip the combine. As of right now, it’s still not clear where that guarantee may have come from, but based on how quiet everything has been with him, the smart money is on him having one. With this pick and four second-rounders in hand, Philly should have enough to move up in the draft if it feels the need. It values flexibility, so it’s wholly unclear if Philly is the team that did it, but Thybulle is a fit with them on paper, and we’ll pencil him here for now.
With strong instincts for forcing turnovers and athletic gifts that could make him immediately impactful on that side of the ball, Thybulle is a worthy option in this range. If a team can develop his catch-and-shoot game and help him become a passable offensive player, he feels like a no-brainer rotation guy at worst, and seems like a natural choice here. The franchise’s hope is that they can retain Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, although it’s possible both players walk. Thybulle makes some sense regardless.
C | Florida State | Sophomore
Portland Trail Blazers
Kabengele has been a notable riser over the course of workouts and appears to be sitting pretty safely in the first round. He’ll turn 22 this summer, but he’s big, athletic, shoots with touch and was exceptionally productive on a per-minute basis at Florida State. He’s not much of a passer and is strictly a high-energy big who finishes plays, but there’s plenty of utility in that. Following his medical at the combine, teams seem to feel comfortable about the state of his knees, which had been a concern after he wore bulky braces all season.
The Blazers will be in position to grab the best player available here, and if it’s someone who can help them next season, even better. They have primarily worked out wings for this pick, but given Jusuf Nurkic’s health situation, adding another big who can space the floor and rebound makes sense on some level.
G | Virginia | Junior
Cleveland Cavaliers (via Rockets)
This is a pick that makes sense on a number of levels. Jerome has won teams over with his intangibles and quick decision-making, and his fit next to Collin Sexton is solid. He figures to be a useful role player, and his height and well-rounded skill set helps compensate for what he lacks athletically. Teams seem to think he will end up somewhere in the 20s, and any of the playoff teams picking in front of the Cavs here might be able to use him.
Cleveland GM Koby Altman is extremely familiar with what Jerome brings to the table, dating back to Altman’s time as a college assistant at Columbia. This feels like a nice potential landing spot, and Jerome would be a fit for what John Beilein wants to do. There’s a legitimate possibility the Cavs could walk out of the draft with two Virginia products, with Jerome and De’Andre Hunter both on their radar.
C | Maryland | Sophomore
Brooklyn Nets (via Nuggets)
Fernando is jockeying for position in a tier of bigs that includes Mfiondu Kabengele, Nic Claxton and Daniel Gafford. Claxton and Kabengele appear to be moving to the front of that group, given that their skillsets fit more neatly into the modern NBA. Fernando has fans around the league and could feasibly land in the teens, but it’s also possible he falls a little bit. He’s coming off a strong season at Maryland and continues to make individual strides, with solid physical tools and productive play backing up his case this high. While his ceiling isn’t extremely high, the fact he plays hard consistently creates some degree of a floor.
The thought was that the Nets were targeting bigs at No. 17, and after trading that pick away, they should still be able to address that need at 27. Fernando would offer solid value here, and give them a potential backup for Jarrett Allen going forward. They also hold a valuable selection at No. 31.
SF | Belmont | Senior
Golden State Warriors
It’s no surprise that outside shooting is going to come at a premium in this draft, and Windler’s skill set has put him in consideration starting in the back part of the first round. The Warriors are believed to be one of the teams with serious interest, and it seems likely he’ll be available to them here. He has a smooth, consistent stroke from outside, and despite his lack of great strength, plays with some toughness and is willing to compete on the glass.
Golden State needs its role players to hit shots, play hard and stay out of the way, and Windler would be a match in that regard. It’s worth wondering how injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson might alter its draft plans, but the Warriors value these picks highly and will in all likelihood try to mine a useful player here. Windler would be a nice fit.
F | Olimpija | International
San Antonio Spurs (via Raptors)
Per sources, the Spurs are among the teams who have shown real interest in Samanic, and while he could feasibly be in play for them at No. 19, if he falls this far in the first round, this spot could be a match. His mixture of skill level and size at his age help set him apart from the pack, the hope being that he develops into a useful stretch big who can play a variety of roles, and even playmake a little bit on the perimeter.
Samanic has to keep getting stronger to handle the physicality of the NBA, and he probably needs a year to get up to speed, but his talent level is certainly evident. I’m told he intends to come over and be a roster player next season, as opposed to being stashed in Europe for another year. He fits the Spurs to a T.
SF | Stanford | Sophomore
It still feels like Okpala ends up in the back part of first round somewhere given his size, length and athletic gifts. He’s a late-blooming player who seems to still be adjusting to his body, and while his career was up and down at Stanford, he has a strong mix of workable skills and nice slashing ability. Okpala has to get stronger, but could be extremely versatile on both ends as his body matures. He’s not there yet.
For the Bucks, Okpala would present the sort of development opportunity they should embrace—given that they’re in win-now mode, it’s unlikely they’re plugging in a rookie anyway, and these late first-round picks are Milwaukee’s best opportunity to add talent on a budget. The Bucks are already going to be pressed to keep all their guys, and can fill out their rotation targeting low-cost veterans in free agency.
31. Brooklyn (via New York) - Luguentz Dort, G, Arizona State
Dort would be nice value for someone if he falls into the early second round, and his physical attributes help make up for his shortcomings as a shooter in this part of the draft. The Nets could conceivably have him in the mix at 27. It won’t be a surprise if he ends up going in the 20s.
32. Phoenix - Eric Paschall, PF, Villanova
There are some teams with late first-round grades on Paschall, and others who view him as more of a second-round talent. He could feasibly be a fit for teams in the 25-30 range, and if not, he’ll likely not fall far. The Suns could use his toughness and floor-spacing potential, although he doesn’t come with a ton of upside.
33. Philadelphia (via Cleveland) - Daniel Gafford, C, Arkansas
The Sixers could use a backup center and can address that in the 30s if they keep these picks. It may be Gafford who slips into the second round, with guys like Nic Claxton and Mfiondu Kabengele having grabbed teams’ attention. He’s a feasible fit here.
34. Philadelphia (via Chicago) - Chuma Okeke, F Auburn
Okeke has a case to go in the first round, and before his season-ending ACL injury, he was tracking in that direction. Now, he could end up going in the 20s, and he seems unlikely to fall out of the 30s, at worst. He could be a big-time value pick for someone in this range, and fits nicely with the Sixers as a floor-spacing forward. If not for the knee issues, there would likely be much more buzz here.
35. Atlanta - Darius Bazley, SF, Princeton HS
Bazley is viewed by teams as a project, but at the combine, he did appear to have put helpful time in developing his body while sitting out this season. His feel is a work in progress, but his athleticism has begun to take off a bit, and there’s some appeal with him as a long-term project. He will benefit from G League time next season.
36. Charlotte (via Washington) - Jalen Lecque, G, Brewster Academy
Lecque is making the leap to the pros directly from a prep year at Brewster, and showed well enough at the combine to shut it down after one day. His athleticism and flashes of playmaking ability will get him picked in this range as an upside play. I’m personally airing on the side of the optimism with him, and a year in the G League will be telling.
37. Dallas - Naz Reid, C, LSU
Although teams began to come around on Reid a bit after a strong finish to the season at LSU, it’s been tough to find a place for him in the first round, with the other available bigs all making pretty good cases. When he played hard, he was almost always impactful in college. If a team can get the most out of him, he could be a value pick here.
38. Chicago (via Memphis) - Carsen Edwards, G, Purdue
We have a late first-round grade on Edwards, but looking at the shape of the draft, it’s tricky to find a spot for him—conceivably, if a team really loves him, he could go in the 20s. If he makes it this far, he’s a terrific value pick, with legitimate microwave scoring ability, and impressive strength and toughness that help cover for his lack of size.
39. New Orleans - Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee
Williams is another experienced college player who could end up in the 20s, but it’s also possible he falls a bit here just based on the way the second round tends to work, and the overall discrepancy in how teams view the 20-40 range this year. He’d be a strong bet by the Pelicans at this spot if he makes it this far. Teams have doubts about his outside shot and perimeter defense translating to the NBA, which has kept his value deflated despite a strong statistical case.
40. Sacramento (via Minnesota) - Talen Horton-Tucker, G/F, Iowa State
Horton-Tucker’s stock has cooled a bit, and teams have their doubts about his body type, shooting and athleticism translating. It still seems like he won’t fall much further than this, and the pivotal thing for him will be landing with an organization that’s invested in his growth. The Kings have been exploring a move up into the 20s, but if they don’t, landing Horton-Tucker here would be a nice consolation prize.
41. Atlanta (via Lakers) - Jontay Porter, F/C, Missouri
The injury history with Porter will undoubtedly scare some teams off, but he would likely have been a first-rounder if he’d been able to put together a healthy season. He’ll be a nice value play anywhere in the second round, and a team with young talent and tons of picks like the Hawks can afford to wait him out.
42. Philadelphia (via Sacramento) - Jordan Poole, SG, Michigan
Apparently, Poole has been working out notably well for teams, but the lack of consistency at Michigan has deflated his stock a bit. That said, he’s an interesting second-round option for any team that needs shooting. Spending time in the G League to cultivate his guard skills might be helpful next season. The Sixers also have a ton of picks, and this is a spot they could look to send elsewhere for future value.
43. Minnesota (via Miami) - Admiral Schofield, SF, Tennessee
The Timberwolves are going to place a premium on character, and while this is about the back end of Schofield’s range, he’d be a nice option for them here. Concerns with him come defensively and attacking the basket against better athletes, but he brings enough to the table from an intangibles perspective to see him sticking on rosters for a while.
44. Atlanta (via Charlotte) - Deividas Sirvydis, SF, Lietuvos Rytas
Speculatively, this would be a stash pick for the Hawks, given they hold six selections. It’s possible Atlanta looks to sell or trade away their second-round excess. Sirvydis’s shooting ability, size and feel make him a viable second-round option in a thin international class.
45. Detroit - Louis King, SF, Oregon
This is a bit of a fall for King, but teams have concerns about his thin frame and positional fit at forward. He has size and shoots it well, but may not view himself as a role player. If he does buy in, he could be terrific value, but there are also some maturity concerns teams have with him that may drive down his range a little bit.
46. Orlando (via Brooklyn) - Isaiah Roby, PF, Nebraska
If Roby falls this far, he’d be a classic Orlando pick, and a gamble on length and athleticism over positionality. It’s hard to see him falling much further than this, although teams have questions about his toughness and physical strength. He’s surprisingly skilled for a guy his size, and would be a strong option if he slips into the 40s.
47. Sacramento (via Orlando) - Terence Davis, SG, Mississippi
Davis has done enough for himself over the course of the predraft process to solidify himself as draftable—he was solid at the G League Elite Camp and in the combine, can knock down shots and plays with energy. He’s not particularly big for a two-guard and has no elite skill to sell, so a team would be betting on his tools and aggression paying off and turning him into a usable role player. His shot selection might eventually become an issue if he doesn’t make an adjustment.
48. LA Clippers - DaQuan Jeffries, G/F, Tulsa
Jeffries has a good shot to be drafted, but from my understanding has not worked out anywhere since the combine due to a hip injury. It’s possible that could be masking some type of second-round or undrafted guarantee. But he’s got role player potential as a strong, tough wing who can hit shots, and would be viable in the 40s.
49. San Antonio - Tremont Waters, PG, LSU
Waters’s impressive basketball IQ and overall chops that belie his small stature make him an interesting fit if he slips to the Spurs here—it’s possible he goes in the 30s. Second-round ranges tend to skew wide. This would still be a nice fit.
50. Indiana - Jalen McDaniels, PF, San Diego State
This is the part of the draft where things get particularly hard to peg, as many picks are determined via pre-agreed back deals that lock players into two-way contracts or specific contractual guarantees. McDaniels’s height and shooting potential seem likely to get him drafted, but his range is wide, and his skinny frame may be a real impediment to him carving out a niche. Regardless, he‘s a possible upside play here.
51. Boston - Jaylen Nowell, SG, Washington
Nowell is a bucket-getting ball-handler whose NBA fit will hinge on whether he can refine his game enough to play that role going forward. There’s a high bar to clear, and a lot of guys like him wind up in the G League. Still, he’s young enough, shoots it OK and has good enough tools to think he’ll deserve a shot in the second round.
52. Charlotte (via Oklahoma City) - Adam Mokoka, SG, Mega Bemax
Due to an overall thin international class and the newfound viability of offering two-way deals to players in the second round, there may not be many draftees from overseas. Mokoka, an athletic French wing, should be one of them based on the interest he’s drawing from teams.
53. Utah - Miye Oni, G/F, Yale
Oni has appealing tools, and has likely done enough to get himself drafted, with the type of length and shooting ability that make him a feasible role player with added development. He’s the type of no-frills player that often suits the Jazz.
54. Philadelphia - Zach Norvell, SG, Gonzaga
With nice size and a promising jumper, Norvell fits the prototype the Sixers have been eager to target as they cycle through shooting specialists alongside Ben Simmons. This would be a nice fit if he makes it this far.
55. New York (via Houston) - Shamorie Ponds, PG, St. John’s
A New York native, Ponds would be a solid value pick here. There are doubts about his ability to defend in the NBA, but he’s a natural, creative player, and is on the younger side for his class. The Knicks have done well finding value in the back end of the draft in recent years.
56. LA Clippers (via Portland) - Jaylen Hoard, SF, Wake Forest
Hoard’s stock has been all over the place, but it does seem a fair bet that someone drafts him in the second round, just based off his physical tools. Wake Forest was a bad on-court situation for him, and in a smaller role, he might be able to help himself under new circumstances.
57. New Orleans (via Denver) - Ignas Brazdeikis, F, Michigan
While Brazdeikis isn’t a lock to get drafted, he’s probably shown enough over the course of the year to warrant a selection, potentially on a two-way contract. His shooting ability and toughness have some appeal, even though his defensive fit is a major concern.
58. Golden State - Alen Smailagic, F/C, Santa Cruz Warriors
Many around the league expect the Warriors to select Smailagic, who spent the past year playing for their G League affiliate and aroused some suspicions that Golden State was trying to keep him for themselves long-term. He’s young and skilled enough that this is a viable move for them if he’s available here. The Warriors have already invested time in him.
59. Toronto - Jordan Bone, PG, Tennessee
Bone was probably the most underrated piece of Tennessee’s team this season, and he couples elite athleticism with leadership, toughness and passing chops. He’d be a strong two-way candidate in this range.
60. Sacramento (from Milwaukee) - Quinndary Weatherspoon, SG, Mississippi State
Weatherspoon is one of my personal favorite sleepers in the draft, and while it’s not a lock to get picked, he’s a good bet to deliver value somewhere. He’s athletic, can play with or without the ball, has some feel, plays active defense and can knock down outside shots.