It’s hard to believe we’re just nine days away from draft night. Alas, we are. And as you may have gathered, it’s a good opportunity to update our mock draft, which we’ll keep as current as possible going forward based on the information at hand.
While many elements of the big picture have begun to crystallize in the weeks since the combine, the prevailing thing to keep in mind is to expect a lot of trade movement going forward. Last week, the Nets and Hawks swapped picks and contracts to further their respective off-season agendas, and the strong sense leaguewide is that much more action is going to follow. Beginning with the Pelicans’ pending Anthony Davis decision and working downward (and also noting how many teams have multiple picks) there’s no way the sequence of teams hold constant as it is right now. While admittedly, it does feel like there’s trade anticipation every single year, there seems to be more concrete legitimacy this time around.
SI’s Jake Fischer contributed additional reporting.
New Orleans Pelicans
Having Williamson gleefully in hand in going into draft night makes life much easier for the Pelicans, whose primary focus has become weighing trade possibilities for Anthony Davis. There’s a healthy market and significant incentive for star-chasing teams to acquire Davis before courting other free agents. Accordingly, league sources expect New Orleans to maximize its own leverage and flexibility by moving Davis prior to the draft.
The Knicks and Lakers are among the Davis suitors, and hold the third and fourth picks, respectively, and other teams continue to circle. The Pelicans can and will ask for a significant return, hoping to pair Williamson with young, All-Star caliber talent while also strengthening their long-term position with future picks. Watch New Orleans carefully as the draft nears.
According to league sources, Memphis’s leadership has not come to a firm decision on this pick yet, with R.J. Barrett still a candidate for No. 2. The widespread expectation at the draft combine in May was that the Grizzlies had zeroed in on Morant with this selection. Morant recently had a minor knee procedure done and won’t be working out for anyone, but he did visit with the Grizzlies at their facility on Sunday. Although Barrett will not work out for the Grizzlies, the thought is that it won’t keep them from making the pick, if they deem him the best choice—Memphis did just that when selecting Jaren Jackson a year ago.
Morant still appears to be the likely choice for the Grizzlies at this point in time, but things could still shift over the course of the next week. He may take a season or two to adjust to the speed of the NBA game, but his innate playmaking ability, elite athleticism and unique improvisational qualities give him a chance to be special. In other news, Memphis continues to take calls on Mike Conley, although the timeline on a possible trade doesn’t appear immediate.
New York Knicks
To nobody’s surprise, the Knicks are widely expected to grab whichever of Barrett or Morant falls to them here. New York is transparently star-chasing going into July, so it’s possible whoever they take ends up going to another team via trade. Barrett’s hard-wired scoring mentality would be a strong fit with the Knicks, although it’s fair to wonder whether how coming in and playing second fiddle to an established star player would affect him developmentally. He can at times be aggressive to a fault, but the hope is that his decision-making becomes more team-oriented as he matures, and that his outside shot improves. If those things happen, Barrett should be a valuable building block, wherever he lands.
Los Angeles Lakers
This pick is the draft’s first big inflection point, given that it’s most valuable to the Lakers as a trade chip. No. 4 would figure to be a major piece of any Anthony Davis trade package, and there’s heavy impetus for Rob Pelinka and his front office to accelerate the team’s winning timeframe. They could also use this spot to move down in the draft, aggregating more talent and/or picks and offering other teams a chance to move in front of the pack to select Garland or Jarrett Culver. Garland still isn’t fully healthy after tearing his meniscus in the fall, but is clearly one of the more promising shot creators in the draft and fits well next to Lonzo Ball. If L.A. keeps this pick, Garland is thought by many around the league to be their preference.
Culver would make a lot of sense as a long-term building block for Cleveland if he makes it to this spot. It’s not the prevailing school of thought, but there are some around the league who prefer Culver’s defensive acumen and all-around feel to R.J. Barrett’s offensive upside. He would be a valuable long-term piece next to Collin Sexton, who can alleviate some of the pressure in terms of facilitation. The Cavs are also thought to be high on De’Andre Hunter, who should be available at this spot, but could also be on the board for them if they decide to move down later in the Top 10.
According to league sources, the Suns are known to be extremely high on Jarrett Culver, and while this spot is his realistic floor, he may not make it this far. According to reports, the Suns have been weighing trading this pick, but it does seem likely that either White or Darius Garland will be available at this spot, which would give then a chance to address their long-standing hole at point guard. Given the Suns’ intention to keep Kelly Oubre and the presence of Mikal Bridges, Phoenix would be better off trying a long-term solution at guard here than adding to their glut of forwards, which also includes T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson. White’s outside shooting, developing playmaking skills and size that might allow him to defend both backcourt spots would be a strong fit next to Devin Booker.
The Bulls are undoubtedly hoping to nab White or Garland, given that point guard is their primary area of long-term need. It’s possible neither makes it to their pick at No. 7. In that event, Hunter’s defense-oriented, no-nonsense approach would fit what the Bulls value, and while his upside isn’t considered to be tremendous, they’re are in position where they can double down and add more depth at forward. Chicago could add him to their rotation off the bench immediately, and he’d provide valuable defensive cover for Lauri Markkanen. Cam Reddish might be in play here as well, but the Bulls don’t necessarily need to hit a home run with this pick.
According to league sources, Atlanta has been angling to move up in the draft by packaging their various picks, and continue to explore possibilities there. Their primary target would seem to be Jarrett Culver, and they would likely have to get ahead of Phoenix to get him. After dealing with the Nets to add Allen Crabbe’s salary and acquire two first-round picks, Atlanta owns a league-high six selections in this draft, and is exploring all its options. If the Hawks do stay put at 8, it seems likely Reddish will be available to them. Teams are all over the board with their opinions on him, and his inconsistent season has inspired some healthy skepticism, but Reddish fits nicely with Trae Young and the Hawks’ other pieces. Depending on what happens with these Atlanta picks, there’s a chance he could fall out of the Top 10.
The Wizards remain in front-office limbo, having yet to name a permanent GM to replace Ernie Grunfeld. Tommy Sheppard has been running basketball operations for the past two months and will be prepared to grab the best prospect available. Doumbouya’s tools and physical upside has him penciled into this range of the draft, and after participating in a pro day for teams over the weekend, he figures to land somewhere between here and the back of the lottery. Doumbouya is thought to be far off from a maturity and standpoint, and his skill set is still being fleshed out, but his athleticism, strength and shooting touch are tangible, and he showcased appealing defensive versatility over the course of the season in France. The tools are enough to gamble on, but he’ll require some patience. It’s unclear at this stage if the Wizards will be willing to take their time.
Atlanta Hawks (via Mavericks)
Again, it’s not clear whether the Hawks will keep this pick, but Bitadze would be a solid fit here, helping to immediately stabilize their frontcourt. He’s a relatively safe choice and pretty clearly the most NBA-ready big man in this draft, coming off a strong year overseas in which he won multiple MVPs and the EuroLeague’s Rising Star award. His impressive productivity as a teenager bodes well, and his size, interior skills, physicality and developing jumper are legit. Bitadze’s ceiling might be capped a bit defensively, as he won’t do much guarding the perimeter, but he should bring enough to the table scoring and rebounding that scheme can help cover up some of those issues. His ability to space the floor fits nicely with Atlanta’s personnel, and he’d be a strong pick-and-roll partner for Trae Young.
Rival teams have come to believe that Hachimura recently secured a promise in the late lottery, with suspicion centering on the Timberwolves. Hachimura skipped the combine, but did participate in his agency’s pro day at the end of May, dispelling the notion of a hard commitment at that point. In recent days, league-wide speculation has ramped up with regard to Minnesota. Hachimura is thought to be in play for Washington at No. 9, but this spot may well be his floor. He fills a positional need for the Timberwolves, possesses strong physical tools and has significantly more room to grow as a scorer.
Hayes’ combination of physical tools and defensive upside have put him in the late lottery mix, and his range seems to begin with the second Atlanta pick at No. 10. He’s not going to contribute big minutes immediately, but Hayes might be closer to NBA-ready than perception suggests: if he gets stronger and continues to work on fundamentals, he should be able to make an impact as a defender and rim-rummer at some point on his rookie contract. Hayes does comes with some risk due to iffy rebounding numbers and the fact he’s so raw, but the upside is such that someone will happily take a chance. His defensive instincts and untapped upside are certainly intriguing. Charlotte is in sore need of rim protection, and this would be a strong fit.
Washington had been injured and unable to participate in pre-draft workouts until last week, but his range begins in the late lottery. He’s a strong fit in Miami, where his versatility and inside-out potential would work well next to Bam Adebayo long-term. He’s made strides skill-wise and profiles as a solid frontcourt piece, particularly if his jump shot continues to improve. Washington seems to be jockeying for position with Jaxson Hayes and Brandon Clarke in this range, and he’s the most offensively skilled of that trio.
Boston Celtics (via Kings)
Herro has become a viable option for teams in the late lottery due to his potent jumper and developing off-dribble game. At this point, his floor is thought by some to be Orlando at No. 16. He’s one of the better perimeter scorers in the draft, and one of the few who couple outside shooting with some legitimate long-term upside. With three first-rounders and some forthcoming roster uncertainty, safe to say Boston will have a lot of options on draft night, and likely won’t make all their selections. Adding another shooter to the mix here might be a prudent place to start.
The Pistons have a clear need on the wing that they should be able to address with this pick. Johnson’s draft stock has been stabilized by his intangibles, and teams think his competitive makeup bodes well, giving him a good chance to find a useful role somewhere and add value. He’s not a great off-dribble creator, but he’s strong, can score at all three levels, and defends willingly. At the moment, Johnson seems like a good bet somewhere in the Top 20, and is firmly in this mid-first round group of wings. Teams are curious to see in which order the three Kentucky players are actually drafted.
With a host of recent lottery picks still developing in the frontcourt, expect Magic to shore up the perimeter with this selection. Alexander-Walker possesses an excellent complementary skill set, shoots and moves the ball well, and would be a strong partner alongside Markelle Fultz, who will get a career reset when he makes his Magic debut next season. Orlando tends to favor bigger guards, and Alexander-Walker’s versatility vibes nicely with what they’re building. This fit makes a lot of sense.
Atlanta Hawks (via Nets)
Atlanta just acquired this pick from Brooklyn, and it’s possible they repackage it via another trade if they end up moving upward in the lottery. The Hawks won’t keep all six of their selections, at any rate. But Clarke makes much more sense in this range, where some of the financial investment and overall risk is mitigated. He’s a favorite of analytic models around the league and was hyper-efficient at Gonzaga, although granted, a huge majority of his shots came directly around the rim. Teams like his energy and intangibles, but there are some valid questions about translation, given that he’s so small for his position, and may not be able to hit threes at a sustainable clip. But in Atlanta, he’d fit well as defensive cover and a lob target for Trae Young.
Little is also in play as high as the late lottery, but it’s also possible he ends up falling into the teens, as he’s a bit further off from contributing than some of the others in this range. He’s a powerful athlete with an undeniably appealing physical profile at forward, but teams continue to dig into his struggles at North Carolina, and still have their concerns. His limited off-dribble game and bouts of tunnel vision as a scorer make him more of a project than most expected at this stage. Still, Little has some upside and would be a solid value pick here, filling a need for the Pacers on the wing.
San Antonio Spurs
Kabengele has been a notable riser over the course of workouts and appears to be sitting pretty safely in the first round. He’ll turn 22 this summer, but he’s big, athletic, shoots with touch, and was exceptionally productive scoring and rebounding on a per-minute basis at Florida State. He’s not much of a passer and is strictly a high-energy guy who finishes plays, but there’s plenty of utility in that. Following his medical at the combine, teams seem to feel comfortable about the state of his knees, which had been a concern after he wore bulky braces all season. The Spurs have two first-rounders and need to beef up their frontline, and this could be a good spot to do it.
Boston Celtics (via Clippers)
The Celtics can afford to take a big swing here, with three first-rounders in hand. Porter has a wide variance of outcomes right now, but would be a fascinating risk-reward pick for them here. The sense right now is that his range begins at the end of the lottery with Charlotte and Miami, but myriad concerns regarding off-court issues at USC and his overall maturity are hurting him a bit. On ability alone, he’s totally justifiable in the lottery, teams just have to feel comfortable that they can put him in a positive environment to help him get acclimated and avoid distractions. Boston might have the right type of roster to help insulate his development path early on.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Word around the league is that the Thunder, who continue to live in the luxury tax, have been exploring attaching this pick to a contract in trade scenarios to help offload salary. The feeling around the league continues to be that Langford will slip out of the lottery on draft night, and there’s a possibility he falls a bit further than that. He played through injuries during the season and does have a strong long-term track record as a scorer, and the uneven season he had has positioned him as more of a buy-low opportunity for someone. Langford’s jumper remains a big question, and he has to improve his game off the dribble, but there’s a good chance he’s better than what he showed at Indiana.
As we reported Monday, Bol will work out for select teams in private on Wednesday, according to league sources. After skipping medicals at the combine, it’s imperative that Bol demonstrates that he’s made progress physically after fracturing his foot during the season at Oregon, and even then, teams have real worries about his long-term health. Ultimately, his landing spot will hinge on who has access to his medical information, and how confident they feel taking the risk. Boston is thought to be an interested party, and Bol should be on the board for them at No. 14, but the concerns about the injury as well as his work ethic are tangible enough that he could still be available in the 20s. The upside tied to his three-point shooting and shot-blocking ability remains intriguing.
There’s some thought that Utah could end up trading this pick, but if they stay put, they should have a number of options they can address positionally. Claxton has risen steadily since the end of the season, and appears to have parlayed a strong combine showing into some draft security. His defensive versatility at his size is extremely promising, and he’ll make for an interesting project on offense with some ball-handling skills and touch shooting from outside. The Jazz could go a number of directions here, but they sorely need some depth up front, and Claxton’s tools hold some real intrigue.
Philadelphia needs as much shooting as it can get, and Johnson fits them to a T as an experienced college player who could comfortably plug in on the wing sooner than later. He’s 23 and comes with an injury history, but the age factor might be appealing for the Sixers, who have to explore low-cost pathways to improve their star-heavy roster, with the hope being to retain Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris. Johnson is an outstanding catch-and-shoot player with little to prove in that regard, and seems like a natural fit at this pick.
Portland Trail Blazers
Okpala is all over the board for teams, but it seems likely he ends up in the first round somewhere with his size, length and athletic gifts. He’s a late-blooming player who seems to still be adjusting to his body, and while his career was up and down at Stanford, he has a strong mix of workable skills and nice slashing ability. Okpala has to get stronger, but could be extremely versatile on both ends as his body matures. He’d be a nice low-cost development piece for the Blazers going forward.
Cleveland Cavaliers (via Rockets)
This is a pick that makes sense on a number of levels. Jerome has won teams over with his intangibles and quick decision-making, and his fit next to Collin Sexton is solid. He figures to be a useful role player, and his height and well-rounded skill set helps compensate for what he lacks athletically. Cavs GM Koby Altman is extremely familiar with what Jerome brings to the table, dating back to Altman’s time as a college assistant at Columbia. Cleveland feels like a nice potential landing spot, and Jerome will be a fit for what John Beilein wants to do.
Brooklyn Nets (via Nuggets)
The thought was that the Nets were targeting bigs at No. 17, and after trading that pick away, they should still be able to address that need at 27. Fernando is jockeying for position in a tier of bigs that includes Mfiondu Kabengele, Nic Claxton and Daniel Gafford, and it’s still possible he goes higher than this. He’s coming off a strong season at Maryland and continues to make individual strides, with solid physical tools and productive play backing up his case this high. While his ceiling isn’t extremely high, the fact he plays hard consistently creates some degree of floor.
Golden State Warriors
It’s no surprise that outside shooting is going to come at a premium in this draft, and Windler’s skill set has put him in consideration starting in the back part of the first round. The Warriors are believed to be one of the teams with serious interest, and it seems likely he’ll be available to them here. He has a smooth, consistent stroke from outside, and despite his lack of great strength, plays with some toughness and is willing to compete on the glass. Golden State needs their role players to hit shots, play hard and stay out of the way, and Windler would be a match here.
San Antonio Spurs (via Raptors)
There’s been a lot of speculation Thybulle has a promise somewhere in the 20s, dating back to his decision to skip the combine, although opinions vary as to where, and at this stage it’s still a bit unclear. He does seem like the type of prospect the Spurs can work with, given his strong defensive instincts and athletic gifts. If someone can develop his catch-and-shoot game and help him become a passable offensive player, Thybulle feels like a no-brainer rotation guy at worst. San Antonio does have a track record of trying out similar experiments.
Samanic is the type of big, versatile forward that makes sense next to Giannis Antetokounmpo, making him a nice fit here. Right now it seems likely he ends up somewhere in the 20s, with his skill level and size helping set him apart from the pack, and the hope being he develops into a useful stretch big who can play a variety of roles. Samanic has to keep getting stronger to handle the physicality of the league, and he probably needs a year to get up to speed, but his talent level is certainly evident. I’m told he intends to come over and be a roster player next season, as opposed to being stashed in Europe for another year.
31. Brooklyn (via New York) - Luguentz Dort, G, Arizona State
32. Phoenix - Eric Paschall, PF, Villanova
33. Philadelphia (via Cleveland) - Daniel Gafford, C, Arkansas
34. Philadelphia (via Chicago) - Talen Horton-Tucker, G/F, Iowa State
35. Atlanta - Chuma Okeke, F Auburn
36. Charlotte (via Washington) - Jalen Lecque, G, Brewster Academy
37. Dallas - Naz Reid, C, LSU
38. Chicago (via Memphis) - Carsen Edwards, G, Purdue
39. New Orleans - Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee
40. Sacramento (via Minnesota) - Louis King, SF, Oregon
41. Atlanta (via Lakers) - Darius Bazley, SF, Princeton HS
42. Philadelphia (via Sacramento) - Jordan Poole, SG, Michigan
43. Minnesota (via Miami) - Admiral Schofield, SF, Tennessee
44. Atlanta (via Charlotte) - Deividas Sirvydis, SF, Lietuvos Rytas
45. Detroit - Jontay Porter, F/C, Missouri
46. Orlando (via Brooklyn) - Isaiah Roby, PF, Nebraska
47. Sacramento (via Orlando) - Terence Davis, SG, Mississippi
48. LA Clippers - DaQuan Jeffries, G/F, Tulsa
49. San Antonio - Adam Mokoka, SG, Mega Bemax
50. Indiana - Jaylen Nowell, SG, Washington
51. Boston - Joshua Obiesie, G, Bamberg
52. Charlotte (via Oklahoma City) - Miye Oni, G/F, Yale
53. Utah - Tremont Waters, PG, LSU
54. Philadelphia - Marcos Louzada Silva, SG, Franca
55. New York (via Houston) - Zach Norvell, SG, Gonzaga
56. LA Clippers (via Portland) - Jaylen Hoard, SF, Wake Forest
57. New Orleans (via Denver) - Ignas Brazdeikis, F, Michigan
58. Golden State - Alen Smailagic, F/C, Santa Cruz Warriors
59. Toronto - Jordan Bone, PG, Tennessee
60. Sacramento (from Milwaukee) - Quinndary Weatherspoon, SG, Mississippi State