By Hocine Loukkaf on 9/16/2020
As no one is considered a safe pick at #1, the Wolves and the other teams picking in the top 5 will have hard choices to make. Let’s start this potential last mock before the actual draft.
1.James Wiseman, 7-1 C, Memphis, FR (19.7pts 10.7rbds 3bl in 23min)
With Anthony Edwards strugging with his shot selection and Lamelo Ball a very bad fit next to Russell as a bad defender with work to do on his shot selection, I decided that Wiseman was the man. The Memphis freshman may not fit the Wolves but he’s the best prize of this draft and could allow them to get a good package. Charlotte (Rozier and pick 3), Boston (Smart and picks/players) or trading down targeting players like Haliburton/Achiuwa and players/picks could be options.
2. Lamelo Ball, 6-6 PG, Illara Hawks (Australia), 2001 (17pts 7.4rbds 6.8as)
With Curry and Klay coming back from injuries, the Warriors need a piece to help them win immediately. If Wiseman is available, it would be risky not to pick him as his physical tools/athleticism are elite. If he’s not, the Warriors may trade for vets or pick Lamelo, who could come from the bench and learn how to become Curry 2.0 with more size.
3. Anthony Edwards, 6-5 SG , Georgia, FR (19.6pts 5.4rbds 2.9as)
With forwards Bridges and Washington still having their chance to prove they were good picks, Charlotte may try to grab an elite C (Zeller/Biyombo are ok but limited) or a SG who could be more efficient than Monk. Wiseman would be the easier pick but as he’ll probably not be there at 3, Edwards seem the obvious choice. The potential #1 pick has elite tools but has been a bit disappointing with poor shot selection. Yet, he’s one of the few who has could become a star in this League.
4. Deni Avdija, 6-8 SF, Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel), 2001 (4pts 2.6rbds Euroleague 12.4pts 6rbds 2.5as in Israeli BSL)
Chicago seems to have potential starters at every spot but needs another leader to help Lavine and win games. The Bulls could pick Hayes or Haliburton as White seems more of an elite sixth man but that would probably be a reach. As Porter’s contract is coming to an end, Avdija could become the starting SF and bring his versatility and professionalism coming from one of the top organisations in Europe.
5. Onyeka Okongwu, 6-10 PF/C, USC, FR (16.2pts 8.7rbds 2.7bl)
With an efficient and diminutive starting backcourt and Drummond probably not part of the franchise’s future, the Cavs have many problems to fix. As KPJ could be the solution to make the backcourt bigger, SF and C seem the spots to target. If Avdija is available, he seems the best fit but Chicago could also want him. Okongwu has the potential to be a defensive anchor and room to become a nice offensive player down the road (who at least will make his free throws).
6. Tyrese Haliburton, 6-5 PG, Iowa State, SO (15.2pts 6.5as 5.9rbds 2.5st 50% fg 42% 3pt)
With Young, Collins and Capela, Atlanta has a nice core of young stars. On the wings, Reddish and Hunter will have another year to prove they were good picks. Haliburton could be a nice addition behind Young in the backcourt with his versatility and defense.
7. Killian Hayes, 6-5 PG, Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany), 2001 (12.8pts 6.2as in Eurocup, 11.5pts 5.2as in German BBL)
With Wood the only potential starter at considering that Griffi’s career is going downhill, Detroit could grab help basically at every spot. With the 7th pick, they may fill a need at PG with French PG Killian Hayes. Hayes decided to move from French powerhouse Cholet to Ulm in Germany where he was trained by Euroleague standout Jaka Lakovic. His size and friendship Sekou Doumbouya could revitalize the Pistons.
8. Cole Anthony, 6-3 PG, UNC, FR (20.2pts 5.8rbds 4.1as)
With a roster full of dysfunctional players who can’t make the team win, it’s hard to imagine the Knicks finding a gem at 8. Toppin would be a steal but he won’t address the main weakness, which is the PG spot. Cole Anthony is not a lottery pick for me but he’s clearly someone the Knicks could pick because of his background and their need.
9. Isaac Okoro, 6-6 SF, Auburn (12.9pts 4.6rbds 2.1a
The Wizards lack toughness and if they consider Rui a PF (I would play him at SF), they have to find a tough SF to pair him with. Okoro is not the best offensive player you will find but could become nice two-way player down the road.
10. Obi Toppin, 6-9 PF, Dayton, SO (19.8pts 7.6rbds 2.1as 1.3bl)
The Suns have been specializing in drafting steals. While there is few chances that Toppin will be available at 10, it would allow the Suns to fit their biggest need. Toppin could learn from Saric and showcase his tremendous athleticism in the Suns offense.
11. Daniel Oturu, 6-10 C, Minnesota (20.3pts 11.6rbds 2.5bl)
The Spurs are loaded with outside players but they lack rim protectors and bigs that can score alngside the aging Alridge. Oturu is under the radar but he had a very productive year in one of the toughest conferences, showcasing his defensive ability and stretch-five potential.
12. Jalen Smith, 6-10 PF, Maryland, SO (15.4pts 10.5rbds 2.3bl)
A bit like Oturu, Smith has been considered a late first round choice despite bringing two main assets to the table, his shot blocking ability and his improvement from three (37% on almost 3 att per game).
13. Precious Achiuwa, 6-9 PF, Memphis, FR (15.6pts 10.4rbds 2bl 42% 3pt)
New Orleans has plenty of outside scorers but few players behind Williamson. Achiuwa is a versatile big who can play the four and the small five. If he can be a consistent shooter, he could but a very valuable addition to the Pelicans’ roster.
14. Theo Maledon, 6-4 PG, ASVEL (France), 2001 (7.4pts 3.1as 1.2rbds Euroleague, 6.8pts 2.2as in french Jeep Elite)
Another underrated player, Maledon has seen consistent playing time in the 2nd toughest league in the World with almost 18min per game in Euroleague at one of the best young prospects in Europe. He is a nice creator, a good shooter with nice size and could be a great pick down the road.
15. Devin Vassell, 6-7 SG/SF, Florida State, SO (12.7pts 5.1rbds 41% 3pt)
With Fournier a free agent this summer, the Magic may have to find a replacement. It’s hard to imagine Vassell will slip that much, but if he’s there, his combination of shooting and defense would be a great fit next to Fultz.
16. Patrick Williams, 6-7 PF/SF, Florida State, SO (9.2pts 4rbds)
Despite Carmelo’s nice performance, he’s not a long term solution at either SF or PF spot. With Little still in the mix to become the starting five within 2/3 years, the Blazers could pick Williams as the future stretch four alongside Nurkic. Williams has been projected very high due to his athleticism and shooting potential but his lack of length and his good but not exceptional season have me projecting him in the teens.
17. Aaron Nesmith, 6-7 SG/SF, Vanderbilt, SO (23pts 4.9rbds 52% 3pt)
If it wasn’t for his foot injury, Nesmith would be projected higher. Yet, the eventuality to have such a shooter in its roster (50% on 8 attempts from 3), if he heals well from his injury, could convince many teams to draft Nesmith. The Wolves could have one more shooting weapon in their roster with the Vanderbilt alumni.
18. Jahmi’us Ramsey, 6-4 SG, Texas Tech, FR (15pts 4rbds 2.2as 43% 3pt)
Despite the fact that this draft is supposedly average in the top 10, some nice prospects could be available in the mi-late first round. Dallas will have tough decision to make between talent like Pokusevski (even more with Porzingis again injured), and address needs at the PG, SF or C spot. I decided to pput aside the need at PG as Luka is the main creator and go with a mix of need and talent with Ramsey. A local product, Ramsey coudl be a perfect fit alongside Doncic with his toughness, athelticism and shooting. He has also the potential to be an elite SG a la Donovan Mitchell and could turn into a steal.
19. Aleksej Pokusevski, 6-11 PF/SF, Olympiakos, 2001 (10.8pts 8rbds 3as 1.8bl in Greek 2nd division)
Maybe the most polarizing prospect this year, Pokusevski combines elite length with fluidity and skills for someone his size. Yet, he’s very weak physically and has not dominated at all in the poor Greek second division. He’s basically a boom or bust potential who is worth the gamble at 19.
20. RJ Hampton, 6-5 SG/PG, New Zealand Breakers, 2001 (8.8pts 3.9rbds 2.4as)
The Heat could take a flyer on Hampton if he’s available at 20 with Dragic aging despite his good performances . His experience in the NBL was limited by an injury and thus he was not able to showcase he was a potential top 10 pick. Needs to work on developing a consistent J to get a consistent playing time in the League.
21. Kira Lewis, 6-3 PG, Alabama, SO (18.5pts 5.2as 36% 3pt)
As the youngest freshman in college basketball last year, Lewis proved it was a good choice to reclassify. A nice athlete and shooter, his ability to improve his shot selection and be a reliable defender will determine if he can become a starter in the NBA. He cold help a lot the Sixers as a true PG with scoring ability.
22. Tyrese Maxey, 6-3 SG/PG, Kentucky, FR (13.9pts 4.1rbds 3as)
With the Nuggets set at every position, they could use Maxey as a microwave from the bench a la Lou Williams. A no-risk pick in the 20s for Denver.
23. Tyler Terry, 6-2 PG/SG, Stanford, FR (14.6pts 40% 3pt)
With Conley soon to turn 33, Utah could try to find a gem in that late first to be their future PG. A very fundamentally sound player with range, Terry still has to work on his consistency and strength. Yet, he has the talent to be a starting PG in the League in a near future.
24. Saddiq Bey, 6-8 SF, Villanova, SO (16.1pts 4.7rbds 2.4as 45% 3pt)
Bey lacks the athletic ability of other wing prospects like Okoro or Vassell but he may be the most advanced player of the pack. He would bring versatility on defense and shooting next to Middleton
25. Paul Reed, 6-9 PF, DePaul, JR (15.2pts 10.4rbds 3.5bl 1.6st)
After a successful end of the season in the Bubble, the Thunder could use the draft to find a hard-nosed PF to learn the game behind Gallinari, a more natural SF. Reed is not the most conventional player but his defense and shooting potential could help him being picked in the late first round.
26. Tyler Bey, 6-7 PF/SF, Colorado, Jr (13.8pts 9rbds 1.2bl 1.5st)
The Celtics could use Bey as a versatile defender at the 3 and 4 spot. Ife he can become a reliable 3pt shooter, he could develop as a poor man Shawn marion.
27. Jay Scrubb, 6-6 SG/SF, John Logan College (Juco), SO (20.8pts 5.8rbds 2as)
If the Knicks can pick a PG with their first pick, they could take a gamble with their second. The Louisville commit has all the tools to be a top scorer in the NBA with long arms, a 40in vertical leap and a sweet stroke. He had an average season in Juco but like Kevin porter Jr last year, he could be a steal and a great complement to Barrett.
28. Nico Mannion, 6-3 PG, Arizona, FR (14pts 5.3as)
Once a projected top 10 pick in this draft, Mannion has not been consistent and struggled physically in the Pac 12. Maybe slipping for a better team in the late first could help him flourish without too much pressure on his shoulders.
29. Vernon Carey Jr, 6-11 C, Duke, FR (17.8pts 8.8rbds 1.6bl)
Gasol has struggled during the playoffs and the Raptors need a solid big man who is willing to mix it up inside. What Carey lacks in term of upside, he may make up for it with his consistency. Carey Jr is a safe pick for a team in need of a big. He’s also improved a lot his free-throw shooting during the year, a good indication that he can develop as a stretch big.
30. Desmond Bane, 6-6 SG, Richmond, Sr (16.6pts 6.4rbds 3.9as)
If the Celtics ever use this third pick for themselves, they could go for best player or prospect available. Bane is far from being the flashiest player but his incredible shooting and passing ability could be useful behind Brown and Smart.
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