As promised this past week on both the Lakers Fast Break and the Locked on NBA Draft podcasts, here is the latest mock draft on what I think the trends are right now for what direction NBA teams are looking at for players. Mind you, this is without any pending transactions that could (and most likely WILL) be on the way, but let’s just suppose for a minute that no one else makes a move. Here then is what we have for a mock draft coming out of the 7/7 decision deadline for players who decided to go back to college…
1.Detroit Pistons: Cade Cunningham (G) 6’7″, Fr., Oklahoma State, 19 years old (NO CHANGE)- In what many experts consider to be a five-player draft, Cunningham has continuously stood head and shoulders (OK maybe jumped) ahead of even the top tier of draft hopefuls. With unique versatility on both sides of the ball and elite-shooting skill (40% on 3’s, 85% on FT’s), Cade checks off virtually all the boxes for any NBA team and outside of his higher turnover rate, makes an unequivocal choice for the lottery-winning Pistons at #1.
2.Houston Rockets: Evan Mobley (PF/C) 7’0″, Fr., USC, 19 years old (NO CHANGE)- Featuring a rare combination of size and skill, Mobley’s defensive presence can transform any team’s frontline instantly. If he improves his shooting touch (30% 3-PT, 69% FT) and shows consistent aggression at the NBA level, Evan can be the model of what the modern NBA big-man will be for the next ten years.
3.Cleveland Cavaliers: Jalen Green (SG) 6’6″, G-League, 19 years old (NO CHANGE)- Jalen, with his elite athleticism and his knack for efficient scoring (61% True Shooting), projects to be a high-level point-getter in the NBA. His performance in the games in the G-League bubble showed a great deal of improvement and if can continue that upward climb, his future as a 20-point+ a game player may come sooner than a lot of people think. The laboring back and forth between Green and Mobley at #2 because both are so close could potentially alter the course of the entire NBA Draft.
4.Toronto Raptors: Scottie Barnes (F) 6’9″, Fr., Florida St., 19 years old (UP 1)- A versatile forward who projects to be a top defender and playmaker, Barnes star potential has him shooting up into the top five previously thought to already have a hard consensus of by pundits. He’s shooting high on many draft boards based on his ability to distribute (5.9 assists) and defend (2.1 steals) and make impressions on both sides of the court. Seeing how fellow FSU-alum Patrick Williams (who went as a surprise in 2020 at #4 to the Bulls) has progressed in his rookie season, many are looking at Scottie to follow a similar path. How much of an impact player he becomes relies on developing an outside shot (28% from 3, 62% FT at FSU) and allowing his already adept passing and defensive skills to help him to land a spot in an NBA rotation.
5.Orlando Magic: Jalen Suggs (PG) 6’4″, Fr, Gonzaga, 19 years old (DOWN 1)- Topping off a fantastic Freshman season with a great run in the NCAA tournament, Suggs provided consistent leadership with rare versatility and play-making skill that propelled Gonzaga to an (almost) perfect season. Many see Jalen as a player that whatever his shortcomings are now (3-point shooting, turnovers), are traits that can be improved upon and that he will end up be a major component of a future NBA champion.
6.Oklahoma City Thunder: Jonathan Kuminga (SF) 6’8″, G-League, 18 years old (NO CHANGE)- Joining Jalen Green in the G-League bubble was Kuminga, who impressed many early on with play-making potential. His shooting faltered (25% 3-PT, 62% FT) as the bubble continued however and that’s an area in dire need of improvement for Jonathan, who many foresee being more than just a really good 3-and-D wing. His game overall is raw, but if given the proper surroundings, can flourish as a potential multi-time all-star.
7.Golden State (From Minnesota): Davion Mitchell (G) 6’2″, Jr., Baylor, 22 years old (NO CHANGE) – The player whose performance in the NCAA tournament benefitted from the most, Mitchell has skyrocketed up the mock drafts due to his efficiency (44% on 3’s) and his defensive prowess. There will be some who are concerned about his height, but as Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Kemba Walker have proved, experienced under-sized combo guards coming out of the draft can thrive in today’s NBA.
8.Orlando (From Chicago): Keon Johnson (SG) 6’5″, Fr., Tennessee, 19 years old (NO CHANGE)- Athletic and very aggressive to the rim, Johnson looks to be someone that will get fans excited with his highlight-reel dunks. As a two-guard, Keon’s strength is clearly as a slasher, with the possibility of becoming a lockdown defender at the other end of the floor. A very shaky jump shot (27% from 3) will have opponents playing off of him asking him to put it up from the outside until he can prove to be more consistent from long distance. He tested out well at the combine with the draft’s best vertical leap, and it’s that freakish athleticism that will keep him higher up in the draft.
9.Sacramento Kings: Franz Wagner (SF) 6’8″, So., Michigan, 19 years old (NO CHANGE) – Don’t let one bad performance against UCLA in the NCAA Tournament dictate what was a fine sophomore season. As a skilled playmaking forward with all-around ability and promise, Franz projects well in several categories for his position including rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals. With his nearly 85% Free-Throw rate projecting him as a solid shooter, he could develop into a second or third playmaker so many teams covet in today’s NBA. His lack of quickness and athleticism however may have some questioning on how well he can defend or drive on opponents at the next level, but given the right team Franz could play a valuable role and shake off bad memories of a tourney misstep gone by.
10.New Orleans Pelicans: Moses Moody (SG) 6’6″, Fr., Arkansas, 18 years old (NO CHANGE) – What’s not to like about Moody’s game? He projects to be an above-average shooter with great length for his size. He’s aggressive to the basket, shoots well from the free-throw line (81%), and is a solid defender. Moses looks to be that “3 and D” wing player so many teams are looking for. If he improves his passing and ability to finish around the rim, Moody figures to have a long NBA career ahead of him as a valued rotation player.
11.Charlotte Hornets: Alperen Şengün (PF/C) 6’10”, Besiktas, 18 years old (UP 1) – Considered as one of the top international prospects, Şengün’s role as a small-ball four or five becomes paramount in today’s NBA. He was able to excel in some of Europe’s top-level competition, including the Champions League and BSL in Turkey. Combines strength and power in the post (19.6 PPG), is a good rebounder (9.2), and shoots free-throws at a very acceptable rate for a big man (79%). He also has developed some adept play-making skills for someone still not yet 19 when draft night hits. Questions about his athleticism and if he can extend his range will persistently dog him at the NBA level, but Alperen is a talent who can be a force down low filling up the stat sheets in a positive way for years to come.
12.San Antonio Spurs: James Bouknight (SG) 6’5″, So., Connecticut, 20 years old (UP 2)- A high-level scorer (19 PPG) and rebounder (6 RPG) with good size and ball-handling skills, James looks to contribute at the next level to provide instant offense and potentially good defense with a 7’0″ wingspan and strong athleticism. While his measurements come out to be very strong, his regression in his long-distance shooting (to under 30% from 3 as a Sophomore) does call for some concern and an area in need of returning to a higher level in order for him to be a consistent starter in the NBA.
13.Indiana Pacers: Josh Giddey (PG) 6’8″, Adelaide, 18 years old (UP 1)- Questions abound with who many are projecting as one of the highest international prospects. A potential triple-double waiting to happen, Giddey’s vision as a floor general has few peers in this draft, with the top-level passing ability and play-making skills. His questionable outside shot (31% from 3), average athleticism, and concerns with his on-the-ball defense prevent him from being a top-5 pick. But as a possible big point guard who can distribute like few others, Giddey has a place for many landing inside the lottery. Whether involved in a trade or kept by whoever takes Josh at this point, the intangibles point to a successful career in the NBA.
14.Golden State Warriors: Kai Jones (PF/C) 6’11”, So., Texas, 20 years old (DOWN 3) – Kai will be that polarizing big man who some see going higher, and some see going much lower. With raw athleticism and the ability to hit the outside shot (38% from 3), Kai brings some intriguing talent to the NBA but not without his flaws. If he’s going to play heavy rotation minutes, he needs to be much more of a defensive and rebounding presence. Otherwise, teams will consistently attack him in the paint and offsetting any production he gives on offense.
15.Washington Wizards: Jaden Springer (G), 6’4″, Tennessee, 18 years old (UP 1)- One of the younger prospects in the draft, Jaden’s potential shines as a developing 3-and-D prospect. With good shooting numbers (43% from 3, 81% FT) and an aggressive defensive mindset, Springer’s future is among the brightest beyond the top 5 in the draft. A team will have to be patient, and if so, could have a multiple-year starter on their hands.
16.Oklahoma City Thunder (From Boston): Jalen Johnson (F) 6’9″, Fr., Duke, 19 years old (DOWN 1)- Leaving Duke after 13 games has many uncertain about his true standing in the draft. His potential as a top prospect stems from the already NBA-level physique and athleticism he already possesses. Brief flashes that were shown at Duke hinted at someone who could fill the stat sheet in several areas. The limited on-the-floor action in college and unimpressive interviews at last week’s combine could see some (like the Warriors) shy away after the less than inspiring start James Wiseman has seen. But on the other hand, the potential may be too good to pass up.
17.Memphis Grizzlies: Corey Kispert (SF) 6’7″, Sr., Gonzaga, 22 years old (NO CHANGE) – With Kispert, it’s never going to be about his shooting efficiency (44% from 3, 87% FT). But as the elder statesmen on a team that went one game shy of perfection, other questions loom as his draft status has fallen as of late. As Gonzaga was dominating teams left and right during the season, Kispert’s draft stock was continuing to rise as well. Any team who drafts him will expect him to be a gunslinger capable of knocking down threes from all over the court. But some underwhelming performances in the NCAA tournament, combined with his draft age have left many unsure if his stock will still remain that high.
18.Oklahoma City Thunder (From Miami): Ziaire Williams (SF) 6’8″, Fr., Stanford, 19 years old (UP 2)- One of the top-ranked high school players coming into college, the future looked bright with a clear place high in the lottery. A rocky year at Stanford however changed the perspective for a lot of scouts and pundits, with now Zaire in the position needing something to prove as he enters the draft. His size and versatility may be too hard to pass up for a team higher in the draft. But he must improve shooting from both short and long distances (29% from 3, 37% overall) and make better choices on what he does with the ball (almost 3 turnovers a game) in order for him to reach the level once projected upon him when he left high school.
19.New York Knicks: Usman Garuba (PF) 6’8″, Real Madrid, 19 years old (UP 2)- Physical and athletic, Garuba projects as a high-motor pick-and-roll specialist with a stern commitment on the defensive end. In his limited time at Real Madrid, he provided hustle, strong rebounding, but also showed he has a long way to go to be anything more than a dunker (31% 3-pt, 65% FT) on the offensive side of the ball at the next level.
20.Atlanta Hawks: Sharife Cooper (PG) 6’4″, FR., Auburn, 19 years old (NO CHANGE)- Cooper represents one of the more polarizing prospects in this year’s draft. As someone who can eat up a majority of the ball-handling responsibility, Sharife’s ability to score (20.2 PPG) and pass (8.1 Assists) are augmented by his unique ability to get to the free-throw line in abundance. His detractors however point to his inability to shoot from distance (23% from 3), and high turnover rate (4.2 turnovers per game) as reasons why to pass over Cooper for another choice. His free-throw percentage (83%) suggests he can eventually extend his range but with so many for and against selecting this play-maker, it leaves many unsure of exactly what spot he may eventually land on. If he has however measured up to 6’4″ (up from 6’1″) as what is being reported from the early Draft Combine reports, his stock could rise rapidly.
21.New York Knicks (From Dallas): Tre Mann (PG) 6’5″, So., Florida, 20 years old (-3) – Is Tre Mann a point guard at the next level? That seems to be the burning question for many scouts and analysts who eye Tre as more of an off-guard or a scoring threat at both backcourt positions. In a league always hungry for good shooters, Mann’s accuracy (40% from 3, 83% FT) will be highly coveted by many teams. An above-average rebounder, Mann needs to work on becoming a more willing passer, shot creator, and consistent defender to show teams he can develop into more of an all-around threat if he is to become more than a high-level specialty player in the NBA.
22.Los Angeles Lakers: Chris Duarte (SG) 6’6″, Sr., Oregon, 24 years old (NO CHANGE)- A smooth, heady player, there’s much to like when it comes to what Duarte can do out on the court. A skilled shooter (42% from 3) who takes good shots (53% overall FG), keeps his teammates involved, and is a solid team defender (2.0 Steals Per Game), Chris would normally look to find himself much higher in the draft. But his age (24) and his lack of potential ceiling may keep him lower in the first round to a team more committed to winning now. At this point, he’s a player who is ready to be a key part of a rotation, instead of someone who can develop into a superstar later.
23.Houston Rockets (From Portland): Ayo Dosunmu (G) 6’5″, Jr. Illinois, 21 years old (NO CHANGE)- A solid playmaker, Ayo projects to be an interchangeable combo guard at the next level. His above-average rebounding (6.3) and assists (5.4) were accentuated with solid numbers across the board as a scorer and shooter. His size and quick first step will allow him to make up with so-so athleticism and any concerns there might be for him on the defensive end.
24.Houston Rockets (From Milwaukee): Isaiah Jackson (PF/C) 6’10”, Fr., Kentucky, 19 years old (UP 2)- Projected as a force on the defensive end, with a 7′ 3″ wingspan allowing for a high rate of blocks and rebounds, Jackson needs to strengthen other parts of his game in order to be able to stay on the court in NBA pressure situations. His future as a rim-running big man at the next level is there, but his propensity for fouls and lack of refined offensive repertoire may prevent him from making major contributions.
25.Los Angeles Clippers: Josh Christopher (SG) 6’4″, FR., Arizona State, 19 years old (DOWN 1)- Scoring well both on and off the court in the recent NBA Draft Combine, Christopher’s status as a fringe first-round talent seems to have given him a push into a more steady standing. Scouts were already convinced about his capability to score (14.7 PPG) and rebound (4.7) averaging 30 minutes at Arizona State. But in the combine, he showed a larger focus on defense and passing, and if his shot selection and three-point shooting improves (based on 80% FT), he could become a good rotational fit for a team in need of a scorer.
26.Denver Nuggets: Trey Murphy III (F) 6’8″, Jr., Virginia, 21 years old (UP 2)- With Murphy, you’re looking at a 3-and-D rotational team player with shooting (43% from 3-PT, 93% from FT), and one-on-one defense being his most dynamic skills. He’s not a high-level creator for himself and others as of yet and needs to improve his aggression and rebounding but Murphy does show signs of becoming a great part of some team’s rotation in the not too distant future.
27.Brooklyn Nets: Quentin Grimes (SG) 6’5″, Jr., Houston, 21 years old (NO CHANGE)- No one helped their draft stock more in Chicago at the NBA Draft Combine than Grimes. With his ability to shoot (40% from 3-PT) already a known quality, it was his ability to create for others and dominate that has had his name skyrocket into a possible first-round selection. Having completely turned his game around since his disappointing start at his previous school Kansas, Grimes is quickly becoming a hot name that could rise even further as we get closer to the draft.
28.Philadelphia 76ers: Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland (G) 6’3″, SO., VCU, 20 years old (DOWN 3)- One of the darlings on the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, Hyland impressed with his ability to both shoot from long range, score in deep with confidence, and create shots for others. Hyland’s ability to score (19.5 PPG), hit from long range (37% from 3-PT, 86% from FT), and get steals (2.1 SPG) will allow him to be a very versatile option despite any concerns over his slight build.
29.Phoenix Suns: Filip Petrušev (PF/C) 6’11”, Mega Bemax, 21 years old (NEW)- After spending some time at Gonzaga, Filip returned to Europe to hone his game even further and has come back as an interesting prospect. An extremely skilled low-post scorer (23.0) for Mega Bemax in Serbia, Petrušev combines that with a surprisingly sharp eye from the outside (44% from 3 in limited attempts). Yes, he has good size and skill, but his limitations on the defensive end will have some shying away from a player who can be an effective go-to player in the post in the right matchup. Any team that is looking for a backup center at this point in the draft could point to Petrušev as someone who can fill the void nicely.
30.Utah Jazz: JT Thor (F) 6’9″, Fr., Auburn, 18 years old (NEW)- Athletic with a ton of potential, JT slides into the first round with similar optics as those gazed upon Greg Brown from Texas. Those that look JT’s way might see that even though both are elite shot-blockers, JT did demonstrate better ball-handling skills and more discipline on the defensive end to stay out of foul trouble. Thor and Brown ultimately will often be grouped together by scouts looking for an athletic wing at the end of the first round/early second, and as of now, JT’s impressive combine may have pulled him slightly ahead.
Fallen out: Johnny Juzang (Return to School), Greg Brown
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