Now that the NBA Finals are over, it’s time to take a look at the upcoming NBA draft. The Draft will be taking place on Thursday, June 22nd. That gives us just over a week to predict who goes where. I’m going to break down my NBA mock draft into three parts. We’ll first take a look at picks 1-10 in this post, then picks 11-20, and finally picks 21-30.
Over the course of the next week I’ll be breaking down who I think each team will take, also giving a brief reasoning as to why. My predictions only have to do with who currently holds each pick. This doesn’t include any potential trades from a team like the Kings (two top 10 picks) or the Blazers (three first round picks). Let’s take a look at picks 1-10.
1. Boston Celtics: Markelle Fultz – 6’4″ PG – Washington
I don’t think there’s any question as to who the Celtics are going to take at number one. Markelle Fultz is a big guard who can score, pass, and rebound. Point Guard isn’t the primary need for the Celtics, but with the first pick in the draft, they can’t pass on Fultz, who is considered by many to be the best overall player in this draft. What the Celtics need to figure out, is if they’re going to keep Isaiah Thomas. Do they pair Fultz and Thomas together? Or do they let Thomas go and bring Fultz in to run the show?
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball – 6’6″ PG – UCLA
I really wanted to pick someone other than Lonzo Ball in this spot. I’ve got nothing against his talent, but if I were the Lakers I wouldn’t draft him. Yes, it’s primarily because of Lavar Ball. I’m hoping the Lakers pass on Ball, just so Lavar doesn’t get what he wants, but that could end up creating a whole new set of problems. There’s been a lot of rumors about the Lakers passing on Lonzo, but for some reason I just don’t see it happening. As a passer, Ball is one the best. He could step in for the Lakers and run the show. He’s not a great scorer, but he can get some points. His defense could use some work. One example of his poor defense is the two meetings between UCLA and Kentucky. De’Aaron Fox torched Ball in both meetings. It’s for that reason so many have put Fox in this spot over Ball.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Josh Jackson – 6’8″ SF – Kansas
Philadelphia could take De’Aaron Fox at number three, but I think it makes more sense to go with Jackson. Ben Simmons should be returning next season for the 76ers. Simmons is a great play maker, but he struggles shooting. His biggest strength is his passing. De’Aaron Fox is a great player, who I think will be great in the NBA in a few years, but right now he also struggles shooting the ball. The 76ers need someone who can shoot. Enter Josh Jackson. Jackson is probably the best two way player in the draft. He plays fantastic defense and can shoot the ball from almost anywhere on the floor. I think he’s the perfect piece for the 76ers to add.
4. Phoenix Suns: Jayson Tatum – 6’8″ SF – Duke
I also thought about putting Fox in this spot, but I like Jayson Tatum better. Phoenix already has Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe at Point Guard. Adding Fox would create a log jam at the position. They’ve got Devin Booker at shooting guard, who with Knight and Bledsoe, have a pretty good guard combo. They’ve got Marquese Chriss at the Power Forward spot, with Tyson Chandler and Alex Len at Center. T.J. Warren is the primary Small Forward. I think Tatum’s potential is higher than Warren’s. The strength of Tatum’s game is his offense. For a team that ranked 23rd in offensive efficiency last season, Tatum is a nice fit with Phoenix.
5. Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox – 6’3″ PG – Kentucky
Finally we get to the spot where I think De’Aaron Fox will be taken. The Sacramento Kings simply need talent right now. After trading DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings left themselves with pretty much nothing. De’Aaron Fox is the best player available here, so the Kings don’t hesitate to take him. De’Aaron Fox is a great defensive player. He uses his defense and translates it right into offense. He’s quick, and I mean really quick. The way he moves, especially when he drives to the rim, reminds me of John Wall. I think Fox has the same sort of potential as Wall. He may never be a great shooter, but his shot will get better and he’ll be the star of Sacramento for years to come.
6. Orlando Magic: Dennis Smith Jr. – 6’2″ PG – N.C. State
This pick came down to Dennis Smith Jr. and Jonathan Isaac. Head Coach Frank Vogel loves defense, which is why Jonathan Isaac was in consideration here. He’s a near seven foot player who can guard down low or on the perimeter. We’ll talk more about him next. As bad as Orlando was on defense last year (21st in defensive efficiency), they were even worse on offense (29th). Orlando needs players who can score. I know they have Elfrid Payton at Point Guard, but he’s not a shooter. Adding Smith would give Orlando someone who can create their own shot on any play. The way he can attack the rim and score almost at will reminds me of Russell Westbrook. He probably won’t be as good as Westbrook, but if he can get anywhere near that, Orlando will take it.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonathan Isaac – 6’10” SF/PF – Florida State
When is Minnesota going to make it out of the lottery? It seems like every year we expect them to be in playoff consideration. With players like Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, you would think they’d be a better team. The problem isn’t their offense, as they ranked 10th in offensive efficiency. The reason for their lack of success, is their poor defense. They ranked 27th in defensive efficiency last season. Adding Jonathan Isaac can help the Timberwolves fix those defensive problems. He’s just under seven feet tall, but has the athleticism to guard in the post or on the perimeter. He may not be the most polished offensive player, but for now the Timberwolves can leave that to Wiggins and Towns. Pairing Isaac with Towns would give this team a scary combination for the future.
8. New York Knicks: Malik Monk – 6’3″ SG – Kentucky
Much like many of the teams in the top 10, the Knicks just need talent. They have Carmelo Anthony (for now anyway) and Kristaps Porzingis, but after that they don’t have much. Malik Monk’s best skill is his 3pt shooting. He shot 40% from 3pt range at Kentucky last season. I can see Monk being one of the best 3pt shooters in the league in a few years. He’s more than just a 3pt shooter though. Monk can shoot from anywhere. He’s a threat to score from just about anywhere on the floor. The Knicks need better play makers at the guard position, and Monk gives them exactly that.
9. Dallas Mavericks: Lauri Markkanen 7’0″ PF – Arizona
Dirk Nowitzki 2.0? He’s got a similar game to Dirk. He’s a seven footer who can shoot from anywhere. He doesn’t have a problem shooting over anyone because of his height. I think Lauri Markkanen is the perfect fit with Dallas. He can learn from Dirk for a year, maybe two, be a key role player, and then take over for Dirk when he retires. The Mavericks had break out players in Seth Curry and Yogi Ferrell a season ago, who I think will continue to improve. They also have Harrison Barnes and Nerlens Noel, who are still young players with a lot of upside. Those spots are covered for the future. Picking Markkanen would allow them to fill a big hole at Power Forward when Dirk decides to leave the game.
10. Sacramento Kings: Frank Ntilikina 6’5″ PG – France
I know I already predicted De’Aaron Fox going to the Kings, but it’s still just about adding talent. Fox and Ntilikina play the same position, but I don’t see a reason why the two guards couldn’t make it work. Frank Ntilikina can play the shooting guard position if needed. He’s improved his outside shooting and he can guard multiple positions. I think Fox is better suited to run the show, but Ntilikina can be his right hand man. Both players have loads of potential, which could lead to one of the best guard combos in the league down the road. Coming from France, it might take Ntilikina a little while to adjust to the NBA. If he continues to work hard and improve, he’ll be just fine.
Thanks for reading the first part of my three part NBA mock draft. Keep an eye out for part two, predicting picks 11-20, later this week. Don’t forget to leave a comment with who you think your favorite team will draft and why!