A few weeks ago, I wrote my first mock draft for the NBA Draft that takes place tonight. Well, since then, a lot has happened that has drastically changed the potential outcome of the draft.
Anthony Davis was finally traded, where the Lakers gave up their young core in Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart, as well as numerous first-round picks. Among those first-round picks lies the number four pick in this year’s draft, giving the Pelicans the first and fourth selection Thursday.
Ever since that trade, there have already been numerous trade talks for that fourth overall selection. The Pelicans are presumably supposed to be selecting Zion Williamson first overall, which will leave them a hole at the center position. There are some solid big men in this draft, but the Pelicans may feel they might be reaching at the four-spot for the best available big, so they may either try to trade back or trade for a young center that fits their timeline.
Along with the AD trade, the Grizzlies traded away Mike Conley to the Utah Jazz for their 23rd overall pick, as well as Grayson Allen, Kyle Korver, Jae Crowder, and another future first-round pick. Though this doesn’t affect the lottery much, it does seemingly end any thoughts on who the Grizzlies will select at second overall. So on that note, let’s jump into my second mock draft.
New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson, Duke
This pick hasn’t changed, and wouldn’t have changed no matter what happened from the time of the lottery till tomorrow. Zion is the most coveted free agent in a while, and will be hearing his name first come Thursday.
Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant, Murray State
Again, this pick hasn’t changed. If anything, since my last mock, this pick seems more safe now. There were talks that the Grizzlies would potentially take R.J. Barrett with this pick to pair with Conley, even though Morant was widely regarded as the better prospect. A fit issue would surface having both Morant and Conley together. Now that Conley is out of the picture, Morant seems like the likely choice.
New York Knicks: R.J. Barrett, Duke
Once more, nothing has changed with this pick. This draft is widely regarded as a “three player draft”, with the top three prospects really separating themselves with the rest of the field. Though there may be some hidden gems later in the draft, the draft after these three really shakes up.
New Orleans Pelicans: Trade
Here’s where things get interesting. I really don’t see the Pelicans keeping this pick. To me, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to. Their biggest need is a big, so unless they decide to trade one of their guards like Jrue Holiday or Ball to draft a guy like Jarrett Culver or Darius Garland, then it makes sense for them to move back in the draft to get a big and stockpile more picks. Or trade straight up for a big man in the league now. So, with this pick, instead of predicting just who will be selected here, I’m going to throw out a couple of trade scenarios that could happen by tomorrow.
Pelicans get: 14th pick, 20th pick, and 22nd pick.
Celtics get: 4th pick.
Pelicans trade away this pick to stockpile more picks in the first round, and the Celtics would be an ideal trading partner for that. They would move back and keep one pick in the lottery, along with two other shortly following it. The Pelicans could grab their big man they need at 14, and a pair of role players off the bench at 20 and 22. As for the Celtics, they can find their replacement for Kyrie Irving in Garland, who can fit well in the timeline of their other young players like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.
Pelicans get: 8th pick and 10th pick.
Hawks get: 4th pick.
This has been thrown around a lot too, but I’m not too sure this will happen. The Hawks were reportedly trying to make this same trade to the Knicks for the third overall selection. Though it’s only one pick back, as mentioned before, Barrett is that last player of the “three player draft”, and if he’s gone, the Hawks may keep these two picks. If they like a guy like Culver or De’Andre Hunter, they made be willing to move up to grab him since they have three picks in both the first and second round. The Pelicans would be able to grab a quality big man and another quality piece to go along with him.
Pelicans get: Aaron Gordon.
Magic get: E’Twaun Moore, Solomin Hill, and 4th pick.
This one is an interesting one. Here, the Pelicans would get another athletic big to pair up with Zion, and the Magic would be able to sort of start fresh. They would be able to work around Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac, Mo Bamba, and the number four pick, while also getting Gordon’s contract off their hands. This may help open up the possibility of resigning Nikola Vucevic, though he may just want to sign with a contender at this point. Pelicans would have a nice, young core of players, and some uber-athleticism with Zion and Gordon that may be a Lob City 2.0 with Ball running the offense.
Pelicans get: Myles Turner.
Pacers get: Solomon Hill and 4th pick.
This is another unlikely one, but makes sense for both teams. The Pacers may not have given up on Turner, but him and Domantas Sabonis just don’t gel together, and for the purpose of this trade, Sabonis wouldn’t be enough to get the third pick, though he would fit a need for the Pelicans. The Pacers would be able to unload the contract of Turner, while also drafting their point guard of the future in Garland. Pelicans would land that “young-vet” at the center position in Turner, who is also one of the best shot-blockers in the league.
Cleveland Cavaliers: De’Andre Hunter, Virginia
This pick widely regards on who is picked before this (duh), so depending on who trades for that fourth pick, that will affect whether or not the Cavs land Hunter or someone else. In my previous mock, I had Hunter falling to the Lakers at four and the Cavs taking Cam Reddish, but now I have Hunter falling here and a team in needs of a point guard drafting before the Cavs.
Phoenix Suns: Coby White, North Carolina
So previously I had Garland falling here to the first team in need of a point guard, but with the proposed trade ideas, I’m assuming a team will draft Garland before this spot, so the Suns will go with the next point off the board, that being White.
Chicago Bulls: Cam Reddish, Duke
We are starting to see the domino effect of the AD trade now. Each team seems to be a pick behind the player they want. The Bulls also need a point guard, and with the two best point guards off the board, the Bulls may be reaching for the next best player at the position, so they’ll likely take the best available here if they don’t trade.
Atlanta Hawks: Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech
If the Hawks don’t trade this pick, they’ll likely take best player available here in their first of three selections in the first round. Look for the Hawks to make some moves in this draft, having six total selections, so I can definitely see them either moving up in a package of picks, or stockpile more picks in later drafts.
Washington Wizards: Bol Bol, Oregon
There could be some movement here as well. The Wizards have already been in talks about potentially moving Bradley Beal, so this pick may be packaged with it, or may have a selection earlier in the draft affecting this choice.
Atlanta Hawks: Jaxson Hayes, Texas Tech
With their second selection of the lottery, I have them again selecting Hayes, the rim-running big who can also be a force on the defensive end. This is the player I can easily see the Pelicans trading back for, so they would likely need to trade back in this area in the draft for him.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Sekou Doumbouya, France
Doumbouya is the top international prospect in the draft, and will likely be a late lottery pick. Minnesota is also involved in numerous trade talks, and are likely trying to find a way trade away Andrew Wiggins, in which Doumbouya would be a solid substitute for him.
Charlotte Hornets: Kevin Porter Jr., USC
Surprisingly, it’s looking like Kemba Walker may resign with the Hornets. I know he can make a lot more money there, but they just seem stuck in mediocrity with that current roster and numerous bad contracts. Either way, I think Porter Jr. will be their best selection here, where they have a lot of holes with or without Walker on the team next year.
Miami Heat: Romeo Langford, Indiana
Like the Hornets, this is another team without a lot of trade assets and lot of bad contracts that find themselves stuck in mediocrity. So I’ll have them again selecting Langford. Langford was a highly touted talent out of high school, but couldn’t quite seem to put it all together in his lone year at IU. Maybe next level coaching can help him put the pieces of his game together.
Boston Celtics: Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga
As mentioned before, this could be the Pelicans selecting here, but Clarke would be a big they could use off the bench behind Jahlil Okafor. Either way, Clarke may be the best player on the board at this point, and makes sense for either team.
Detroit Pistons: Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga
Hachimura is a solid talent at this point in the draft, and the Pistons desperately need some help at the wing, making him a great fit at this spot.
Orlando Magic: Nasir Little, North Carolina
This may be packaged in a potential trade to move up for Garland, so a different team may be selecting here. If the Magic keep this pick, Little would be a great long-term prospect for a rebuilding team. Little has a lot of upside, but his frustrating performance in college may have him drop in the draft.
Atlanta Hawks: P.J. Washington, Kentucky
Again, I can definitely see a different team here come tomorrow with Atlanta’s abundance of picks in this draft. For the sake of this article, I see the Hawks taking the best player available here.
Indiana Pacers: Grant Williams, Tennessee
Depending on if the Pacers pull the trigger on the proposed trade above, then they would have their point guard of the future. A point guard at this spot seems like reach still, so even if they don’t, I can see the Pacers adding some depth, meaning best player available. Williams isn’t super athletic, but has a high motor and could play a little bit of both the SF and PF spot.
San Antonio Spurs: Goga Bitadze, Georgia
Tell me if this sounds familiar; the Spurs selecting a international player in the draft. It seems like they do it every year, but this makes sense for them. With DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge the two stars of the team, as well as complimentary pieces in Derrick White and Dejounte Murray, the Spurs could use another big man at this spot.
Boston Celtics: Nickheil Alexander-Walker, Virginia Tech
Again, Celtics have three picks in the first round, so this could be one of those picks that get shipped somewhere else, so best player available here.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Tyler Herro, Kentucky
Herro is one of those guys I can see going earlier in this draft for teams will value his shooting stroke. If he falls here, OKC will swipe him up. They’ve desperately needed some shooting to surround Russell Westbrook and Paul George with.
Boston Celtics: Cameron Johnson, North Carolina
Another player with an excellent shot from deep, he could be a player that is selected a bit earlier than here. Whether or not the Celtics are picking here or not, Johnson would be a great pick at this point.
Memphis Grizzlies: Keldon Johnson, Kentucky
After adding Morant with the second selection, and adding some role players in the Utah trade for Conley, looks like the Grizzlies could add some shooting to help with Morant’s playmaking ability. Insert Johnson, who has an excellent stroke from distance.
Philadelphia 76ers: Mfiondu Kabengele, Florida State
The Sixers will have an interesting free agency ahead of them with the looming decisions of both Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris. Either way, with both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in the fold, they will likely want to add depth, and Kabegele will be a solid big off the bench who can also stretch the floor.
Portland Trailblazers: Matisse Thybulle, Washington
Portland made a strong run to the NBA Finals, but fell short after falling to the Warriors. Having Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, they will look to add a forward to help with the two. Thybulle is one of the better defensive wings in the draft, and has the potential to be a strong three-and-D player, an ideal fit with the two Portland guards.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Ty Jerome, Virginia
This will be the second selection for the Cavs, and since they have a lot of holes on this roster, they will look for best player available. Jerome may have played point guard in college, but him and Collin Sexton would be great fits alongside each other. Jerome and Sexton both are excellent three-point shooters, so each will compliment each other well with or without the ball.
Brooklyn Nets: Eric Paschall, Villanova
Brooklyn has an interesting free agency ahead too. They are already linked to Irving, and would have another max slot to potentially sign another star if they decide to let D’Angelo Russell walk. Either way, with their plethora of wing players, they’ll likely add a big here. Paschall was a strong contributor for Villanova, and could slide in at the PF position that seems to be the one glaring hole on this up-and-coming team.
Golden State Warriors: Nicolas Claxton, Georgia
Warriors fell short of the championship, and to make matters worse, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant both suffered major injuries, making their summer quite cloudy. Essentially I’ll see the Warriors selecting best overall, especially at this point in the draft, so Claxton could be the next rotational big they need to eat some minutes here and there.
San Antonio Spurs: KZ Okpala, Stanford
Spurs will make another selection in the first round here late, but I could also see them shipping this pick out for more picks in the future. Okpala is an intriguing prospect, who stands at 6’10” and lanky, but is athletic and shoots very well. He could compliment well with DeRozan and Aldridge.
Milwaukee Bucks: Bruno Fernando, Maryland
Milwaukee had an incredible regular season, but a disappointing end to the season with a 4-2 loss to the eventual champs in Toronto Raptors. They have a lot of questions to answer, like resigning Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez. Lopez is likely the odd man out between the two, so they will need to address the center position. Fernando isn’t quite the floor-spacing big that Lopez is, so Milwaukee may look elsewhere with this pick.