Folks, it’s time for the NBA Draft. In Mid-November. Just like everyone expected. Get ready for an explosive night of trades, draft surprises, and just about anything you could want from draft night. When you have teams like the Thunder, Celtics, and Pelicans that have an extreme surplus of picks, expect some fireworks, and I’d recommend turning on tweet notifications from Woj and Shams.
I did what I could with this weird-ass draft class. Literally anything could happen with the Top 10 picks, and the prospects from the 20-45 range are basically indistinguishable. So here are my likely very inaccurate predictions for this year’s draft.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves – Lamelo Ball
PG, USA. 6’7”, 190lbs. Wingspan: 6’10”. Age: 19
I’m going to start off this mock draft very strongly by admitting that I have no idea what the Top 5 picks are going to look like tonight. A lot of insiders and writers have come to the agreement that Ball is the best prospect in this draft, and that Minnesota might try to pair him with D’Angelo Russell. I think it would work. Ball is a good enough passer to coexist with anyone, and Russell is honestly a natural shooting guard anyways. Ball is probably one of the best passers we’ve seen in the past decade, and his size provides a floor for his finishing ability and defense. His shot is worrisome, but I like his touch and his confidence, which are two things that his older brother Lonzo doesn’t have.
2. Golden State Warriors – James Wiseman
C, Memphis. 7’1″, 240lbs. Wingspan: 7’6”. Age: 19
Golden State is in desperate need of a big man. I think the pick will be Wiseman, but I really really wouldn’t be surprised if they pulled off a shocker and went with Onyeka Okongwu here, who has much better defensive versatility than Wiseman, and will probably fit the Golden State scheme better However, Wiseman is still a great prospect. He’s very developed on the offensive end, and I expect him to develop an outside game very early in his NBA career. If the Warriors are looking for a piece to help them win a title this year, they should take Okongwu. If they’re looking for someone to give the torch to as Curry and Thompson age, I think Wiseman is a much better option.
3. Charlotte Hornets – Anthony Edwards
SG, Georgia. 6’5”, 225lbs. Wingspan: 6’9′. Age: 19
Anthony Edwards is one of the most polarizing players in this draft class. His athleticism is off the charts, and he’s a very aggressive scorer and defender. Lots of experts are projecting a big man to come to Charlotte, but I wouldn’t rule out any position, simply because their roster is so bad. Edwards is an extremely powerful player when he drives to the rim, and he can score from the outside very well. I like his ceiling about as much as any other player in this draft, but his decision-making and work ethic could be a lot better.
4. Chicago Bulls – Tyrese Haliburton
PG, Iowa State. 6’5”, 185lbs. Wingspan: 6’8”. Age: 20
Haliburton is my favorite guy in the draft. He’s impossible to bust, but his ceiling isn’t crazy though. He’s a fantastic decision maker and playmaker, he has great shot IQ and a good jumper, as well as being solid on defense. I think he would work perfectly alongside Coby White; in an opposites-attract way.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers – Deni Avdija
F, Israel. 6’9”, 215lbs. Wingspan: 6’9”. Age: 19
Avdija is probably the best foreign prospect in this draft. He has great size, and he produced well in Europe at 18 years old. His strengths are in his playmaking ability as a big, and he has a projectable frame.
6. Atlanta Hawks – Patrick Williams
F/C, Florida State. 6’8”, 225lbs. Wingspan: 6’11”. Age: 19
Patrick Williams is an interesting player. His athleticism is off the charts, and he has natural talent on both offense and defense. He’s very raw but the Hawks have time as they try to develop a supporting cast around Trae Young. Any time you have a chance to find a shot creator that can defend most positions, you have to go after him no matter how much of a project he is.
7. Detroit Pistons – Killian Hayes
PG, France. 6’5”, 215lbs. Wingspan: 6’8”. Age: 19
I love Hayes’s feel for the game. He’s one of the smoothest players in this class, and playmaking just comes naturally to him. The Pistons have one of the worst and most confusing rosters in the NBA, but drafting a guard that could eventually create shots for himself and others is a really good place to start. At 6’5’’ with an almost 6’9’’ wingspan, he has the potential to have a size mismatch in about every situation against other guards.
8. New York Knicks – Obi Toppin
F/C, Dayton. 6’9”, 220lbs. Wingspan: 6’11”. Age: 22
Obi Toppin is almost guaranteed to go to the Knicks. He just feels like such a Knicks player. He is so explosive and flashy on the offensive end, but when it comes to defense, he’s almost entirely helpless. He plays defense like he has bricks tied to his feet, but he can still defend vertically. He probably is the most polished offensive big in this draft, and it’s not particularly close.
9. Washington Wizards – Onyeka Okongwu
F/C, USC. 6’9”, 245lbs. Wingspan: 7’1”. Age: 19
Okongwu is super tall and very mobile for his size. He’s a perfect modern big for small ball. Okongwu can be a small ball 5 while providing a size advantage at 6’11, as he can move on the perimeter very well. Because of his mobility both vertical and horizontal, he’s an incredibly versatile defender, which has become quite the valuable attribute in the league these days. He’s not a very diverse offensive player though, although he’s a solid offensive rebounder and lob catcher.
10. Phoenix Suns – Isaac Okoro
Wing, Auburn. 6’6”, 225lbs. Wingspan: 6’9”. Age: 19
Okoro is exactly what the Suns need, now that they’ve traded for Chris Paul. Okoro is probably the best defender in the class, he’s so passionate and skilled on the defensive end. He has offensive upside with good touch, he’s not afraid to take ball into traffic. He has absolutely no perimeter game on offense though. He’s a very similar player to Kelly Oubre or Justice Winslow.
11. San Antonio Spurs – Devin Vassell
Wing, Florida State. 6’7”, 195lbs. Wingspan: 6’10”. Age: 19
Vassell is a total Spurs guy. He tries extremely hard on defense, and is probably one of the best defenders in the draft. His outside shot is developing quickly, which is always a good sign. He’ll be a great piece for the Spurs as they try to navigate their rebuild.
12. Sacramento Kings – RJ Hampton
G, USA. 6’5”, 190lbs. Wingspan: 6’7”. Age: 19
Adding RJ Hampton to the Kings would immediately give them one of the fastest backcourts in NBA history. RJ Hampton is outstanding on the fast break, has a good handle, and can finish at the rim. His jumper is questionable, but his athleticism trumps those concerns.
13. New Orleans Pelicans – Kira Lewis Jr.
G, Alabama. 6’3”, 165lbs. Wingspan: 6’6”. Age: 19
Kira Lewis is a lightning-quick guard who can create shots from almost anywhere on the court. He’s got a great in-and-out game, and is comfortable in the PnR. Solid on defense, but will probably be a liability on switches until he bulks up.
14. Boston Celtics – Saddiq Bey
F, Villanova. 6’8”, 215lbs. Wingspan: 6’10”. Age: 21
Saddiq Bey is a prototypical modern day 4. He has a smooth, reliable jumper, and he is quick and long enough to guard positions 2-5 as soon as he enters the league. Bey is also a Jay Wright product, and if you look at recent Villanova prospects, their transitions to the league are usually seamless.
15. Orlando Magic – Tyrese Maxey
SG, Kentucky. 6’3”, 200lbs. Wingspan: 6’6”. Age: 19
Maxey would be a great value if he falls to the Magic at 15. He’s a jack of all trades kind of player, which is why he’s flying under the radar during this draft process. He’s a natural shot creator, plays hard on defense, and doesn’t have any athletic limitations on either side of the floor. His shooting stats from his year at Kentucky aren’t great, but he’s confident and has a soft touch, which will translate very well into the league.
16. Houston Rockets – Aaron Nesmith
Wing, Vanderbilt. 6’6”, 215lbs. Wingspan: 6’10”. Age: 20
Nesmith is probably the best current three-point shooter in this draft. The man has an absolute clip. He averaged 23 points per game at Vanderbilt this year, while shooting 52 percent from the three point line. He’s not a great passer, not a great defender, but his jumpshot alone will land him in the Top 20 tonight.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves – Precious Achiuwa
F, Memphis. 6’9”, 225lbs. Wingspan: 7’2”. Age: 20
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Achiuwa land with a contender. He fits with the Wolves though, I see him as a mixture between Robert Williams and Montrezl Harrell. He already has a NBA-ready body at 6’9” 230lbs. He has a massive wingspan at 7’2”, which gives him noticeable defensive upside. He has a solid bag of offensive skills within 15 feet, but doesn’t have much touch outside of there.
18. Dallas Mavericks – Jalen Smith
F, Israel. 6’10”, 225lbs. Wingspan: 7’1.5”. Age: 20
Jalen Smith reminds me a lot of Bobby Portis. This sounds like a negative, but it definitely isn’t. Dallas could be the perfect place for Smith. He could develop into a real problem on offense, showing potential to be a threat rolling to the rim, or popping out for as a reliable catch-and-shoot big. He doesn’t have much defensive versatility, but I’d like to see Rick Carslile create the greatest offense in NBA history, so I don’t care about his defensive problems.
19. Brooklyn Nets – Tyler Bey
F, Colorado. 6’7”, 215lbs. Wingspan: 7’1”. Age: 22
This is a slight reach for the Nets, but Bey is exactly what the Nets are looking for as they compete for a title. His body is NBA-ready, and he can be a primary defender of any wing/big man. He competes on the offensive and defensive boards, and he could be the perfect backup for DeAndre Jordan, assuming the Nets move Jarrett Allen.
20. Miami Heat – Robert Woodard II
F, Mississippi State. 6’7”, 235lbs. Wingspan: 7’1”. Age: 20
Woodard is a big, strong wing that has a lot of defensive potential. He plays hard, and he provides depth at forward as Olynyk/Leonard could leave in free agency.
21. Philadelphia 76ers – Tyrell Terry
G, Stanford. 6’2”, 175lbs. Wingspan: 6’2”. Age: 19
Tyrell Terry is a guard that can exist alongside Ben Simmons. I don’t think that’s much more than the Sixers can ask for right now. Terry has a fantastic outside shot, and he doesn’t need to be ball-dominant to score. However, he does have severe defensive limitations, which will cause him to slide tonight I would love to see him in Philly.
22. Denver Nuggets – Isaiah Stewart
C, Washington. 6’9”, 250lbs. Wingspan: 7’4”. Age: 19
Stewart is a former five-star that didn’t exactly live up to expectations in his first year at Washington. However, he’s still a great prospect. While he didn’t showcase a diverse set of moves on offense, he still plays really hard and his height/wingspan/athleticism combo provides a ton of upside on both sides of the floor. He is the anti-Jokic, which somehow could make them great complements.
23. New York Knicks – Cole Anthony
PG, North Carolina. 6’3”, 190lbs. Wingspan: 6’4.5”. Age: 20
I actually think that Cole Anthony has become underrated. He’s fast as hell, and he has the confidence and the skill to create points in several ways. He was thrown into a tough situation at UNC, playing against the best competition in the nation with subpar help around him. He has a smooth jumper and can finish with both hands around the rim. He has limitations on defense.He’d excel at MSG.
24. New Orleans Pelicans – Jaden McDaniels
F, Washington. 6’9”, 200lbs. Wingspan: 6’11.5”. Age: 19
New Orleans has a clear strategy here. They’re taking swings on projects and developmental players in the draft, and they have the cap space to surround Zion with reliable veterans in the meantime. Jaden McDaniels is definitely a project; he’s a raw athlete with a projectable skillset. He can handle the ball very well for his 6’9’’ frame, and he has a natural jumper.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder – Aleksej Pokusevski
C, Serbia. 7’0”, 200lbs. Wingspan: 7’3”. Age: 18
Pokusevski is a super skilled seven-footer. He’s surprisingly agile for his height. He has a great jumper for his height, and he can pass the ball very well too. However, he is listed at 7’, 200 lbs. That is a huge problem. He’ll be an absolute nonfactor on defense as well as in the post on offense, unless he gains weight and muscle. He has a thin frame anyways, so it’s tough to project him in the league.
26. Boston Celtics – Cassius Winston
PG, Michigan State. 6’1”, 185lbs. Wingspan: 6’5”. Age: 22
The Celtics are in need of another playmaker in their second unit. Brad Wanamaker is fine, but Cassius Winston is an almost immediate upgrade. He can handle well, pass well, and his outside shot is NBA-ready.
27. Utah Jazz – Josh Green
Wing, Arizona. 6’6”, 210lbs. Wingspan: 6’10”. Age: 19
Josh Green projects as an undersized 3 and D wing, similar to Gary Harris or Josh Richardson. He probably won’t produce immediately, but eventually he’ll be a solid rotation player.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder – Malachi Flynn
PG, San Diego State. 6’1”, 185lbs. Wingspan: 6’3”. Age: 22
Flynn was an outstanding player at San Diego last season, and he probably would’ve really benefited from an NCAA tournament appearance. He’s a relatively undersized point guard with an arsenal of offensive skills, so he’ll probably end up being a good leader of a bench unit.
29. Toronto Raptors – Desmond Bane
Wing, TCU. 6’6”, 215lbs. Wingspan: 6’5”. Age: 22
Bane is a disciplined player on the offensive and defensive ends. He doesn’t jump off the screen athletically, but he rarely makes bad decisions. He’ll immediately be a solid rotation player for Toronto as a reliable shooter and defender.
30. Boston Celtics – Xavier Tillman Sr.
F/C, Michigan State. 6’8”, 245lbs. Wingspan: 7’1”. Age: 21
The Celtics continue to add size to their rotation with this pick. Tillman is comparable to PJ Tucker in his ability to defend bigs as an undersized big man. He’ll eventually provide versatility for Brad Stevens as a small ball 5. His ceiling isn’t super high, but he does everything that you want a big man to do, and he does it well.