3Double Mock Draft: Version 1

With the NBA draft order being set, lets take a look at how the draft might go. This mock will only cover the 14 lottery picks, other versions of the mock draft will include all 30 picks.

 

  1. Phoenix Suns – Luka Doncic: The Suns have a tough choice to start the draft: do they go for DeAndre Ayton, the massive center with a unique set of skills and local ties, or do they take Doncic, the Slovenian sensation who has played for their new coach? Ultimately, I think they opt for Doncic because new head coach Igor Kokoskov coached Doncic to a championship for Slovenia in EuroBasket 2017. Doncic is an elite playmaker to pair with Devin Booker. Despite being about 6’8″, Doncic can be the Suns’ primary ballhandler and playmaker. Doncic.jpg
  2. Sacramento Kings – DeAndre Ayton: The Kings moved up five spots and now have the luxury of getting one of the best two players in the draft. Ayton is my number one prospect, and he fits the Kings’ existing roster. Drafting Ayton gives the Kings a chance to pair a lot of their solid young players (Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic, De’Aaron Fox) with a franchise player. Ayton
  3. Atlanta Hawks – Jaren Jackson Jr.: The Hawks moved up a spot in the lottery and are now in an interesting position. The Hawks could go in a lot of directions, but I’m mocking Jackson to them. The prospect out of Michigan State is the ideal modern big man: he can shoot, he can play tough inside, and he can play good defense and protect the rim. New head coach Lloyd Pierce said he wants to instill a defensive culture in Atlanta, and that’s why I gave Jackson the nod.
  4. Memphis Grizzlies – Marvin Bagley: The poor Grizzlies. After a season of awful injury luck, the Grizzlies fell two spots in the draft. On the brightside, Bagley is a good fit for the Grizzlies. Bagley is a springy power forward/center who has an opprotunity to be the team’s leading scorer. Pairing Bagley with veterans Mike Conley and Marc Gasol might make the Grizzlies a contender for a playoff spot.
  5. Dallas Mavericks – Mo Bamba: While the Suns resisted the temptation of grabbing a guy with local ties, the Mavericks are happy to select Mo Bamba out of the University of Texas. Bamba has the height and wingspan (7’0″ and 7’10” respectively) to make a huge impact on defense. Bamba projects to be an elite rim protector, and he is working on developing an outside shot. If Bamba puts it all together, he might wind up being the best player in the draft.
  6. Orlando Magic – Trae Young: Young is my third favorite prospect, and the Magic desperately need a point guard. It’s a match made in heaven. Young has the potential to be the next Steph Curry. He is undersized and his defense will never be great, but Young can shoot from anywhere on the floor and is a great fit for the Magic. Young
  7. Chicago Bulls – Michael Porter Jr.: The Bulls could go in a lot of different directions here, but Porter has the most upside of the players left. ESPN ranked Porter second in the 2017 high school class, citing his scoring ability as a primary factor. Porter missed most of the college season with a back injury, and his draft stock has taken a dive as a result. Despite a disappointing college career, Porter is still a high upside play who has potential to be a franchise player if he puts it all together.
  8. Cleveland Cavaliers – Collin Sexton: This is perhaps the biggest wildcard spot in the draft. The Cavaliers will not know if LeBron James will be returning by the time the draft rolls around, so their selection will certainly be interesting. It would not be surprising if the Cavaliers ultimately trade this pick for a veteran player to try to help LeBron. However, for now I have them selecting Sexton, an explosive point guard out of Alabama. Sexton isn’t my favorite prospect here, but the Cavaliers could use a point guard as George Hill is not in their future plans.
  9. New York Knicks – Mikal Bridges: Bridges’ draft stock has risen a lot this past college season. He’s 21 years old, and will be 22 before the start of the NBA season. It’s rare to see a junior be selected in the top 10 picks, but Bridges has proven shooting ability and is a good defender.
  10. Philadelphia 76ers – Wendell Carter Jr.: The 76ers would love to see Mikal Bridges fall to their pick, but with him off the board they select the best player available. Carter is often compared to Al Horford. He isn’t the most athletic guy, but he can shoot from outside pretty well and is a good rebounder.
  11. Charlotte Hornets – Miles Bridges: The Hornets could use help in all areas. It seems doubtful that Kemba Walker is on the team by the start of the season. It appears that it is time for the Hornets to blow it up and start fresh. Given that, they pick Bridges, who can be a small-ball power forward. Bridges played his sophomore season out of position at Michigan State. Being able to play his natural position along with better spacing should make Bridges the best prospect available at this point. I expect him to be a better NBA player than a college player.
  12. Los Angeles Clippers – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: The Clippers have back to back draft picks which puts them in good position to trade up. However, if the Clippers do make this pick, SGA should be their guy. SGA is a defensive minded guard who can play on or off ball. Milos Teodosic came over from Europe last year to play point, but he’s already 31 and could be traded.
  13. Los Angeles Clippers – Kevin Knox: With back to back picks, the Clippers select two Kentucky teammates. Knox was not efficient in college, he’s a raw scorer with a lot of potential. With SGA being a bit of a safe pick at 12, why not swing for the fences with Knox with the next pick?
  14. Denver Nuggets – Zhaire Smith: The Nuggets narrowly missed the playoffs this past season, but at least they have a lottery pick. Smith is uber athletic, but he is a project. It’s hard to imagine him getting much run with the Nuggets next season, but he could develop in the G-League. Smith is another “potential” guy, and if you watch his highlights you will see why he is an intriguing prospect.

 

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One for Three? The Kings Admit Their 2016 Draft Was a Disaster

The NBA trade deadline has come and gone, and many moves made. Most will focus on Cleveland’s makeover, sending out six of their current players and getting four new ones, but something peculiar has slipped through the cracks. The Sacramento Kings had three draft picks in the first round of the 2016 draft. After the trade deadline, only one of the players drafted with those picks remains. What happened?

“Who the heck is that guy” was the general reaction from NBA fans when the Kings made their first selection in the 2016 draft. With pick 13, the Kings stunned everyone and took Georgios Papagiannis, a center from Greece. No one projected Papagiannis to go anywhere near that high; I could not find a single mock draft where Papagiannis went in the first round. In Sports Illustrated’s final rankings of prospects for the 2016 draft, Papagiannis was 52. After the draft, Kings general manager Vlade Divac said that Papagiannis “has the potential to be the next Marc Gasol.” Following the 2018 trade deadline, just a year and a half into his rookie contract, the Kings waived Papagiannis.

Papagiannis.jpg

The Kings’ next draft pick didn’t turn as many heads, but it was a bit of a surprise. With pick 22, they selected Malachi Richardson out of Syracuse. Richardson saw his stock rise in a major way after a good performance in the NCAA tournament, and most projected him as a late first round pick. Many people thought the Kings reached for Richardson, but it was nothing shocking like the Papagiannis pick. Richardson was traded to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Bruno Caboclo before the trade deadline, just a year and a half into his rookie deal.

Skal Labissiere was the Kings’ final pick in the first round of 2016, selecting him with pick 28. The Labissiere pick was praised as he was projected to go much higher in the draft. He is the last of the three first round picks remaining on the Kings.

So what happened? How did a franchise, one that hasn’t made the NBA playoffs since the 2005-2006 season, decide to punt on two young players they drafted less than two years ago? The Kings have been bad for a long time

The Papagiannis mistake is inexcusable. The Kings drafted him way too high, guaranteed the next year on his contract, and then waived him less than two years after he was drafted. Papagiannis is only 20 years old. Teams don’t do that. Good teams especially don’t do that. The Kings also guaranteed Richardson’s contract for next year, and traded him for a guy they aren’t going to sign this offseason. That 2016 draft for the Kings was an absolute embarrassment, and their transactions around the trade deadline solidify that.

So while everyone else is going to focus on the new look Cavaliers, or Isaiah Thomas on the Lakers, don’t let Divac and the Kings off the hook. The Kings are the most inept franchise in the NBA, and major changes need to happen for them to turn the franchise around.