This Thursday we will see the lives of 60 young men change forever, finally reaching their dream of being drafted into the NBA. In today’s mock draft, we will be focusing on the most valuable picks: the Lottery picks, #1 – #14. I will be pinpointing the best fits for both the team picking and for the prospect being selected, not necessarily who we believe the teams will pick but more so who they should pick.
Without further ado, let’s begin.
#1. Detroit Pistons – Cade Cunningham (FR, Oklahoma State, PG/SG/SF)
Essentially the consensus #1 overall prospect, Cunningham is one of the cleanest, most complete prospects to enter the draft in the past decade. Cade is a 3-level scorer who can create his own shot just as easily as he can create one for his teammates, splendid rebounding with natural defense instincts while also taking full advantage of his length in the passing lanes. If there is one complaint of Cade it would be that he is a good, not great athlete and can be a bit Careless with the basketball, averaging four turnovers during his lone year at Oklahoma State. Having an NBA ready body at 6’8, 225lbs, being every bit of a 2-way player and having the playmaking abilities of a lead guard, he would slot in on almost any team, especially one devoid of talent such as the Detroit Pistons. Detroit has needs at every position except PF with Jerami Grant taking the leap this past season. A high floor, high ceiling prospect such as Cade is just what Pistons fans have been waiting for to lead their storied franchise back to the promise land.
Draft Grade: 95/100
NBA Comp: Grant Hill with a jump shot
#2. Houston Rockets – Evan Mobley (FR, USC, PF/C)
The draft truly begins at pick #2 with the Rockets being in a favorable position to begin their rebuild after trading away former MVPs Russell Westbrook and James Harden in the past year. While I was contemplating plugging in G-League standout Jalen Green, With the emergence of Kevin Porter Jr the fit isn’t quite there and the skill sets would be rather redundant, Mobley just makes too much sense for Houston. A rare talent in his own right, Mobley has all the tools NBA teams are looking for in a modern big man, starting with his diverse offensive portfolio. A capable ball handler with both his left and right hand who has advanced passing IQ for a big man, excelling in dribbling hand-offs, and making live reads. In terms of scoring, he can score from all over the court in the half court setting and fast break. Mobley has been praised for his jump shot and has developed a consistent mid-range J but has work to do with his three ball to become a true threat from deep. All this about his offense and we haven’t even gotten to his
best trait, being an anchor on defense. Having the switchability desired for modern bigs thanks to his smooth hips and elite length as a true 7-footer with a whooping 7’4” wingspan, He uses these same traits as a high-end rim defender, averaging 2.9 blocks per game and most impressively for me, only being called for 2.1 fouls per game. My biggest knock on him is his lanky body type, he needs to add muscle and mass to his frame to continue his development and maximize his impact. All in All, Evan Mobley is the prototype for what NBA executives are looking for in today’s game.
Draft Grade: 92/100
NBA Comp: Myles Turner/Bam Adebayo Hybrid
#3. Cleveland Cavaliers – Jalen Green (2002, G-League Ignite, SG)
Possibly the most explosive player in this draft class, Jalen Green has all the tools needed to be one of the top scorers in the league. Green possesses elite athleticism, which can best be seen on display in the fast break and an outstanding leaping ability that rivals the likes of Aaron Gordan and Zach LaVine. With his physical tools he has a knack of getting to the rim and putting some electric jams on display. While not the best shooter, he has a smooth base and form to his jumper along with the ability to create space to let it fly from anywhere on the floor. He does, however, tend to get complacent and settle for the jumper too often which can be frustrating at times, especially when he has the clear athletic advantage to blow by his defender 90% of the time. Jalen owns a wicked handle which is just amplified by his quick twitch athleticism, having an arsenal of step backs, crossovers and hesitation dribbles that leave his defenders frozen on the court. In terms of play making, he is more of a natural SG with the ability to initiate an offense but can’t necessarily be counted on to be a floor general. On the negative side, despite his physical gifts, Jalen has had a negative impact on defense, lacking the base fundamentals and having the tendency of getting lost when trying to navigate through screens. The hope is that with the proper coaching he can improve on that side of the ball. For the Cavs, this selection, to the dismay of their fans, would most likely spell the end of the SexLand era in Cleveland as Collin Sexton has been on the trade block this offseason, as reported by Five Reasons own Adam Borai and Greg Sylvander in late June, and bringing in Jalen Green may be the final nail on the coffin.
Draft grade: 90.5/100
NBA Comp: DeMar DeRozan/Zach LaVine
#4. Toronto Raptors – Jalen Suggs (FR, Gonzaga, PG)
After a great run in the March Madness tournament, highlighted by his iconic game-winning shot to eliminate UCLA in the final 4, Jalen has shot up draft boards and, in our mock, finds himself as the successor to Kyle Lowry in Toronto. Suggs, an exceptional athlete in his own right, uses his quick first to relentlessly attack the basket with a rare combination of grace and
power plus he has the bounce to put anyone on a poster if you aren’t careful. He excels in the
fast break putting pressure on the defense while always on the lookout for an open teammate. His jumper is good, not great and it can be expected to improve as he develops in the league, but if the defense leaves him too much space, he can make them pay. He is a great playmaker using his court vision to find the open man in various ways and not scared to throw into tight windows. Jalen’s calling card, however, is his defense. Displaying excellent defensive IQ, can navigate through an ocean of screens and is a bulldog with his on-ball defense, never shying away from playing up on D and being a menace in the passing lanes. With the probability that Kyle Lowry is on his way out this offseason, Suggs slots in perfectly in his role and will be someone that Raptors fans will grow to love.
Draft grade: 92/100
NBA Comp: Kyle Lowry/DeAaron Fox
#5. Orlando Magic – Jonathan Kuminga (2002, G-League Ignite, SF)
This is the spot in the draft where it gets a bit messy. With the top four prospects gone, prospects #5- #10 are all similar in terms of talent, and each having their own warts that might scare teams off. Jonathan Kuminga, while talented, falls into this group. A plus athlete with a NBA ready body, attacks the basket and cuts to the rim with reckless abandon, once he gets a full head of steam it is increasingly difficult to stop him from getting to the rack. Obviously, he is a wrecking ball in the fast break showcasing his straight-line speed and covers up ground rather quickly. Kuminga’s problem is he hasn’t developed much since entering the G-League, he has been battling lower leg injuries for the past year and a half which always makes GMs rather hesitant. He lacked natural defensive instincts to consistently be reliable on that end, seems to lack interest on that end as he has been caught being lackadaisical off ball and lazy on-ball. His poor shooting splits (39%/25%/62%) make it clear he has a lot of work to do before he can be considered a 3-level scorer or have defenses respect his jumper. Kuminga has all the physical, natural gifts to be an impact player and potentially an all-star in the NBA, but he needs to make drastic changes to his offensive skill set, and he needs to apply effort and interest on the defensive end. He will be an interesting project that may pay dividends for Orlando, who will be heading to their 2nd official rebuild since the Dwight Howard Trade.
Draft grade: 88/100
NBA Comp: Jaylen Brown Lite
#6. OKC Thunder– Scottie Barnes (FR, Florida State, SF/Point Forward)
OKC can go a multitude of directions with this pick, and I honestly don’t think they have a set gameplan or preference since the Big-4 prospects have been selected. With the treasure chest of draft picks only seen on 2k rebuilds, GM Sam Presti has his work cut out for him.
Scottie is a legit 1-4 defender with the length and frame needed to guard centers in spots. Plays with a lot of passion and effort which makes life near impossible for opposing ball handlers when he is guarding them one-on-one and has no problem switching on screens. Has great discipline and is engaged off the ball where he takes advantage of his length in the passing lanes, making him a great fit in any defensive scheme. On offense, he was tasked as the play initiator and playmaker and he excelled in that spot, showcasing his ball skills, court vision and overall basketball IQ. The biggest negative for Barnes is his lack of scoring in the half court, not having a reliable jumper, doesn’t have a quick first step to blow by defenders, his ball handle is adequate but not enough to freeze defenders and he has trouble creating space and getting his own shot, even if does find space his jump shot from anywhere on the court is non-existent at the moment. He is the type of player that OKC has been taking chances on to develop in recent years and he fits in nicely, having the chance to develop his offensive game with the proper coaching and putting in the hours in the gym. If he can develop a respectable stand still jumper in catch and shoot situations, he will have a long career in the NBA as one of the scariest 3&D players around.
Draft grade: 86/100
NBA Comp: OG Anunoby/Draymond Green Hybrid
#7. Golden State Warriors – Franz Wagner (SO, Michigan, Forward)
The Golden State Warriors are in a sticky situation. With the core of Steph, Klay and Draymond entering the final stages of their careers, they need to either trade their picks for an All-star level talent, or draft quality NBA Ready prospects they believe can help them right now. In this mock
we don’t do trades, therefore we are slotting in Forward Franz Wagner. Franz is every bit of a two-way player, being a Swiss army knife that can cover a variety of roles. An instant impact defender, he has a natural feel for the game and reads defense well enough to at times beat his man to his spot. Offensively he can be trusted to use his size and court vision to execute dribble handoffs and keep the ball moving and make accurate passes. He has a sweet stroke from downtown, being the ideal 3&D player the moment he steps on the court. very efficient with the basketball and someone who will benefit greatly from playing alongside the two greatest shooters in NBA history.
Draft grade: 83/100
NBA Comp: Shane Battier
#8. Orlando Magic – Moses Moody (FR, Arkansas, SG/SF)
After the selection of a boom or bust prospect in Jonathan Kuminga, we see the Magic taking a safer, more surefire player in Moses Moody. Moody is one of the more Physical guards in this draft, having an excellent frame and wingspan to make the lives of opposing guards a misery.
Very active on ball defender and displays his defensive IQ when roaming off ball and never looks lost on defense. Offensively he has a reliable jumper from 12-18 feet and has a decent standstill jumper form 3. Moody can get to the rim but is not a very good finisher and can’t be relied on as a 1st option at the next level mainly due to the fact he struggles to create his own shot against good defenders. Excellent rebounder has a nose for the ball once it’s in the air.
Draft grade: 82/100
NBA Comp: Elfrid Payton/Andre Iguodala Hybrid
#9. Sacramento Kings – Kai Jones (SO, Texas, C/PF)
Kai Jones is a raw but talented big man who with proper coaching can have a long career in the NBA. Regardless of how the league evolves and transforms, there will always be a demand for rim protectors and Jones provides just that while also having the mobility to switch between screens on to smaller players. He does however still need to improve his defensive IQ, having picked up basketball deep into his teens, he at times gets lost on rotations. He is an ok rebounder, and he doesn’t have the physicality you would want but he will get there once he fills out his frame at the next level. The shooting mechanics aren’t there just yet, but I project he will be a decent 3-point shooter as he progresses. With the likely departure of Richaun Holmes this offseason, Kai will be able to eventually take care of that starting center spot for Sacramento.
Draft grade: 82/100
NBA Comp: Dewayne Dedmon/Nerlens Noel
#10. Memphis Grizzlies – Josh Giddy (2002, Adelaide 36ers, Combo Guard)
Well, this pick was formerly of the New Orleans Pelicans until they traded it to off-load Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams on to the Grizzlies along with a 2022 top-10 protected Laker pick and pick swaps. I originally had Sharpshooter Chris Duarte slotted in here for the Pelicans, a team that is in dire need of some floor spacing for Zion and co. for Memphis though, i like the fit of Josh Giddy for them. Josh played in the same league LaMelo Ball did, the NBL in Australia. In his lone season on the 36ers, he put on display his exceptional playmaking ability, especially considering he is 6’8. His height helped him pull down 7.1 REB per game, so expect him to be a triple double threat one he gets settled in the NBA. offensively Giddy gets to the basket with ease and had an excellent finishing rate of 64.1% at the rim in the half-court setting. His jumper needs some work as it isn’t very consistent, mainly from beyond the 3pt arc. Defensively, although he has the size advantage over move guards, he tends to get blown by on the regular, not being able to keep up with shiftier players. He has shown glimpses of an adequate off-ball defender and he should improve with age and experience. I think the fit is there next to Ja Morant in Memphis, allowing Ja to be able to focus on getting buckets while he and Giddy share playmaking duties.
Draft grade: 82/100
NBA Comp: Lonzo Ball/Jalen Rose
#11. Charlotte Hornets – Davion Mitchell (RS Junior, Baylor, SG/PG)
The selection of Kai Jones by Sacramento in this mock draft would be disastrous for the Hornets, as that is the perfect play to plug in at the 5 spot. The good news for them is they might have gotten a bit of a steal picking up Davion Mitchell. I’ve seen mocks with Mitchell going as high as #7, which just highlights his talent. Mitchell continues the theme we’ve seen in this draft class, a high-level defender with excellent off ball IQ on defense. Can easily create his own shot and can put his opponents on skates with his wide array of dribble moves. Gets to the rim with ease despite his size (6’0) and is a nice playmaker who can handle the pressure of a double team and tight on ball defense. Some teams may be skeptical of his 3-point shooting this year due to the fact he is a below average free throw shooter and he shot 31% from beyond the arc in his RS Sophomore season. In Mitchell, LaMelo Ball has his long-term running mate at the guard spot being able to carry the load on the defensive side and making both Terry Rozier and Devonte Graham expendable.
Draft grade: 84/100
NBA Comp: Mo Cheeks/Avery Bradley Hybrid
#12. San Antonio Spurs – Alperen Sengun (2002, Turkey, C/PF)
The Spurs have been floating around in purgatory for the past few seasons, and this seems to be the offseason where they hit the hard reset with the departure of Lamarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan’s pending free agency. San Antonio has historically had great results drafting international players, with a list that includes Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili & Tiago Splitter. Now they get a chance to continue the legacy with Turkish prospect Alperen Sengun. I’m going to be very honest, as much as I love basketball, I don’t spend too much of my time following the Turkish Super League, I do have YouTube though, so this pick and assessment is based completely off YouTube highlights, welcome to the 21st century. Alperen does have some buzz as a high-end offensive player with potential to improve defensively one he fills out his frame a bit as at the moment he’s a bit of a tweener, not to sure if he’s a center or power forward right now which in the modern NBA isn’t too much of a problem. There is always a fear with these euro prospects, a fear of the unknown as an NBA fan not knowing what to expect and a fear of drafting the next Darko Milicic. However, with the developmental program the spurs have in place, I believe this young man will have at the least a decent NBA career, and if he can put all the tools together… look out.
Draft grade: 83/100
NBA Comp: Jahlil Okafor/Domantas Sabonis
#13. Indiana Pacers – Usman Garuba (2002, Real Madrid, PF/SF)
The Pacers are another interesting team to pick a prospect for because they have so much talent on this team but faced a mountain of injuries this past season and with new coach Rick Carlisle, are seemingly looking to make a playoff push. Indiana allowed the 6th most PPG last season with 115.35, already having a bevy of offensive talent so I believe Usman is the perfect fit to grow on this team. High effort player, he is a nightmare on defense roaming around the court and causing deflections, contesting shots and intercepting passing lanes. On offense he can be trusted to find the open man and has a dependable handle if you’re not asking him to do too much. Offensively there is a lot of work to be done and Indiana has the staff to help him, plus with players like Caris LeVert, Domantas Sabonis and Malcom Brogdon around, Usman should be able to focus on what he does best, wreak havoc on opposing offenses.
Draft grade: 80/100
NBA Comp: Dennis Rodman/Precious Achiuwa Hybrid
#14. Golden State Warriors – James Bouknight (SO, UConn, SG/PG)
Golden State just has a Knack for having prospects fall to them on the draft board, and it happens again in this mock with James Bouknight. A very talented combo guard, James was the engine of the UConn offense this season with a usage rate of 32%. He will not be getting anywhere close to that usage rate with the warriors for the next few seasons, but that may be to his benefit as he focuses on working on the weaker parts of his game like his three ball and on ball defense. James has an incredibly quick first step, applying pressure on opposing defenses to protect the paint and alongside his slick handle, makes for a lot of fun to watch scoring possessions. A threat in the passing lanes, he has shown he can be engaged on the defensive end and has the athleticism to be a plus on-ball defender with time. In my honest opinion, I don’t believe James or Wagner, drafted #7 in this mock, play for the Warriors this season as I sense they are looking to make a major upgrade on the roster for one last playoff push. However, if they are unable to and end up with a young core of James Wisemen, Franz Wanger and James Bouknight, they will be hands and in good position to pounce if and when a star is made available during the season.
Draft grade: 84/100
NBA Comp: Collin Sexton/Jamal Crawford
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