While basketball fans have been focused on the NBA Finals, NBA general managers have been preparing for the upcoming NBA Draft. This year, the draft is on Thursday, June 25th at 7 PM EST at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn. Until then, there are many questions to be answered. Will Karl Anthony-Towns or Jahlil Okafor go #1? Which teamS will take a risk on some of the international phenoms? Which teams are looking to trade up and what teams want to trade back? Keep checking back here for all the latest NBA Draft news and rumors. Today we release our first mock draft which is sure to be adjusted plenty before the NBA Draft starts.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: C Karl Anthony-Towns, Kentucky
This does not appear to be one of the years where the #1 pick is set in stone. Minnesota’s Flip Saunders is rumored to be in love with Jahlil Okafor. He told ESPN’s Colin Cowherd that Okafor is the most polished offensive big man to enter the draft since Tim Duncan. The majority of the Timberwolves draft are said to be in favor of Towns and Saunders is reportedly more on board after a recent workout.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: C/PF Jahlil Okafor, Duke
Several reports have emerged this week saying that Okafor is the man for Los Angeles. Okafor is also said to be pushing hard to end up in Los Angeles. If Minnesota decides to go with Okafor #1, it will be interesting to see if the Lakers select Towns. In that scenario, they could also take a long look at a guard like D’Angelo Russell.
3. Philadelphis 76ers: G D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State
Who knows what the 76ers will do? They certainly have shown “patience” when it comes to winning now. They have taken injured players such as Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid. They traded for European star Dario Saric, who stayed in Europe this past season. Could they take another project with potential such as Kristaps Porzingis? Russell has the most star potential in this year’s draft. Although, there are some rumors that Los Angeles might be offering Russell a guarantee after he canceled his workout with Philly, I don’t see that happening. The crazy thing about this team is once all the players are able to play together they will be a force to be reckoned with. A potential starting line-up of Embiid, Noel, Saric, Wroten and Russell? That could become one of the best line-ups in the NBA.
4. New York Knicks: G Emmanuel Mudiay, China
Knicks fans were disappointed when the draft lottery revealed they did not get a top-3 pick. However, they can still get a player to build around at #4. This week, rumors emerged that Mudiay could fall on draft night. Justise Winslow and Kristaps Porzingis are also in play here. Right now, I see them going with Mudiay. He is a physical guard who has experience playing against professionals. He is less of an unknown than Australian Dante Exum was last year since he played high school basketball in the United States so scouts are more familiar with his game.
5. Orlando Magic: SF Justise Winslow, Duke
The Magic are in an interesting spot. Who they pick depends largely on who is available at #5. Porzingis could be in play here with his offensive ability, particularly his long-range shooting. However, can the Magic afford to wait on him to develop? Winslow has all the makings of GM Rob Hennigan type of player. He is long, athletic and has the potential to be a lock-down NBA defender. His ceiling is a player like Kawhi Leonard and his floor is Tony Allen. It is a safe pick, but still begs the question of who will score for the Magic?
6. Sacramento Kings: PF/SF Kristaps Porzingis, Latvia
The Kings need more talent and Porzingis offers the most potential of any player left. ESPN’s NBA Insider Chad Ford thinks is Porzingis had played in the States this year he would be in the conversation to be the second player off the board. The potential is there with his athletic ability and shooting touch. However, he needs to get stronger if he is going to succeed at the NBA level. Porzingis is this year’s international man of mystery.
7. Denver Nuggets: SF Mario Hezonja, Croatia
The Nuggets need just about everything. Unlike Porzingis, Hezonja is ready for the NBA physically. Rumors have swirled that he is not team friendly and has a massive ego. We will see if it is enough to scare teams away on draft night.
8. Detroit Pistons: C Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky
The Pistons could go in a variety of directions here. Cauley-Stein gives them an experienced, athletic big man who can block shots. With Greg Monroe’s upcoming free agency, Cauley-Stein gives the team some depth down low in case they cannot retain Monroe.
9. Charlotte Hornets: SF Stanley Johnson, Arizona
The Hornets were on the cusp of making the playoffs this season. Johnson provides athleticism, defense and intangibles. Many believe Johnson is one of the safest picks in the draft.
10. Miami Heat: PG Cameron Payne, Murray State
The Heat continue their efforts with life after Lebron. Miami already has a solid group of guards with Dwayne Wade, Goran Dragic and Shabazz Napier. Payne’s stock is skyrocketing and may already be drafted by the time the Heat pick. However, the Heat need to continue to acquire assets and Payne is just that. It also gives the team depth in light of Wade’s injury history.
11. Indiana Pacers: PF Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin
Pacers’ President Larry Bird reportedly loves Willie Cauley-Stein. However, if he want him he is likely going to have to move up in the draft to snag him. If not, Kaminsky is a solid option at #11 and still gives the Pacers another big man.
12. Utah Jazz: PF/C Myles Turner, Texas
The Jazz are quietly assembling an extememly talented team. Especially, if last year’s lottery pick Dante Exum can contribute more in his second season with the team. Turner gives the Jazz an athletic big man who can shoot to pair with rim-protector Rudy Gobert. With his 7’4″ wingspan combined with Gobert’s massive size, teams will want to steer clear of the paint.
13. Phoenix Suns: SF Kelly Oubre, Kansas
Oubre is one of the more intriguing players in the draft. The athletic ability, physical skills and potential are there for Kelly to be an NBA player. The question is his consistency. One of the teams in the teens will likely gamble on his upside and could make sense for the Suns at #13.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder: SG Devin Booker, Kentucky
The Thunder were plagued by injuries this past season, particularly with stars Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Booker provides needed guard depth off the bench as well as long-range shooting. Many experts have Booker going top-10 but if he slides he makes sense for the Thunder.