Now that we know the official lottery order of one of the most star studded draft classes in recent memory, NBA teams have a lot more clarity of draft candidates that will be in their draft range, so now NBA teams can and are doing deep dives on those prospects. Now that we have the combine completed as well, there are some players who have really seen a rise in their draft stock, there is also an equal amount of players that saw a slippage in their stock, which is the nature of draft season.
Even though we will have a more transparent idea of the direction each team will take as we get closer to draft night, we will never truly know until the moment teams make their picks since this is rumor season, teams want to get leverage by manufacturing reports, rumors, and buzz through the media, teams at the top not named Detroit also have major dilemmas as they need to choose between awesome prospects, knowing the risk of passing on some of these young talents.
There is no such thing as a perfect mock draft, it is impossible to predict the sentiments of 30 GM’s around the league, making every draft unpredictable. But if you want to look at what these teams both could and should do through my lenses, take a look at who I mock each team selecting and why I think they make sense there so you can determine who is the right pick for your team!
- Detroit Pistons- Cade Cunningham (PG, Oklahoma State, Freshman)
The Detroit Pistons were easily the biggest winners of the lottery. After years of constant disappointment and players either underachieving or not worth being excited about, having the opportunity to take a talent like Cade Cunningham, an oversized playmaker that can score from all three levels, defend, make players around him better, elevate when the game matters the most, and just has general franchise player potential, this has to be the most exciting moment for Pistons fans since 2004.
Detroit is also a good fit for Cade, he will have the leeway to be the primary playmaker from the moment he steps on the floor, but he also has a solid amount of talent on the roster. Killian Hayes still has the upside to be a strong secondary playmaker with Cade, Saddiq Bey will be the big time shooter to kick to, Isaiah Stewart was a top 10 rookie, Jerami Grant also can be a serviceable secondary scoring option. Dwayne Casey is also a very good coach that has the experience that will be good for Cade’s development.
The Pistons also had a very similar player to Cade a couple decades ago in Grant Hill, it’s funny how history can repeat itself.
Comparison: Luka Doncic/Jayson Tatum
2. Houston Rockets- Jalen Green (SG, G-League Ignite, 19 years old)
The Rockets surely would have loved to have kept the number one slot to have the chance to draft Cade Cunningham, but they are still lucky to remain in the top two. The Rockets will have to pick between a trio of big time prospects in Evan Mobley, Jalen Suggs, and Jalen Green, but my gut tells me they are going to take Jalen Green.
The reason for that is the Rockets, even without Morey, still have a front office known to prefer shot creation from the perimeter and players with pure upside. And with Jalen Green, you are talking about a guard that’s hybrid athlete that is the best three-level scorer in the draft and honestly has as high of a ceiling as anybody in the draft.
Houston is very early in their rebuild, but adding Jalen Green and their other two firsts (scroll down to see who I have them also taking) to Kevin Porter Jr., Ja’Sean Tate, Christian Wood, and Kenyon Martin Jr. is undoubtedly a very good start.
Comparison: Zach Lavine
3. Cleveland Cavaliers- Evan Mobley (C, USC, Freshman)
If Evan Mobley falls to the third pick, the Cavaliers must be ecstatic because Mobley is the best fit for them.
Mobley’s seven foot frame to go along with the ability to switch on guards and protect the rim on the defensive end, as well as his amazing touch around the basket, pass in transition and out of the post, and hit an open shot makes him as complete of a center prospect we have seen since Karl-Anthony Towns.
Since Mobley is a big, the Cavaliers wouldn’t have to stress about the idea of having to move one of their young stud guards in Colin Sexton and Darius Garland, which Cleveland would likely have to do if they end up with Jalen Green
There could be clashing between Mobley and Jarrett Allen since neither are pure shooters from the outside, but Allen isn’t quite in the tier of being someone you should pass on a Mobley caliber talent to make happy. Also, I do think these two could end up working because of Mobley’s versatility to pretty much play anywhere on the court on both ends of the floor.
With the limitations Garland and especially Sexton have on the defensive end, surrounding them with defensive minded players like Isaac Okoro, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen would be a fantastic way to make up for what those two lack on that end on that end of the floor.
Comparison: Anthony Davis/Chris Bosh
4. Toronto Raptors- Jonathan Kuminga (SF, G-League Ignite, 18 years old)
It is pretty much expected that whoever falls between Jalen Suggs, Evan Mobley, and Jalen Green, the Raptors will take that player. I am not entirely sure at this point. Jonathon Kuminga has one of the highest ceilings in the draft, due to his youth, NBA frame, defensive versatility, and flashes as a three level scorer. Kuminga is simply bound to tear up NBA workouts when meeting with teams.
Toronto is rarely ever this high in the draft, and because of their outstanding player development staff, it would not be stunning to me if they decide to go for a true grand slam at this spot, similar to what the Chicago Bulls did with Patrick Williams did last year. Not to mention, Kuminga possesses similarities to the player that led Toronto to a championship just a couple years ago, Kawhi Leonard.
Kuminga will need some time, but he theoretically should be able to also blend in quite well with Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, and Gary Trent Jr. going forward. If Toronto can stay patient with Kuminga, let him develop at his own pace and help him polish his shooting and shot creation package, this could a player the build a championship around.
Comparison: Young Jaylen Brown
5. Orlando Magic- Scottie Barnes (PF, Florida State, Freshman)
With Jalen Suggs falling this far, it would make sense to just snatch him and figure it out. But Scottie Barnes is beginning to generate buzz as a potential top five pick because of his length, athleticism, defensive versatility, playmaking in transition, and intangibles that make Barnes very similar to Giannis Antetokounmpo and Draymond Green. People say this is a five player class, it will likely be considered a six player after Barnes goes through the draft process.
Because of the log game at the point guard position Orlando is dealing with, adding a Jalen Suggs could be hard for them. Scottie Barnes is right there as a prospect with Suggs and would really make sense adding to their front court rotation.
Comparison: Giannis Antetokounmpo/Draymond Green
6. Oklahoma City Thunder- Jalen Suggs (PG, Gonzaga, Freshman)
Every year, there seems to be somebody that slips and in this mock draft, Jalen Suggs is the guy that does. Even though he falls out of the top five, he is a legitimate top four prospect. He is a big, 6’5″ guard that has tremendous intangibles and motor, he can defend your best ball handler, he is a fantastic playmaker in transition, and he is a solid scorer as he is hard to stop when he slashes, whether it is a floater or he muscles his way to the basket, he also can shoot it alright.
Even though it would be unfortunate to see Suggs slip, this would be the right spot for him. Suggs would be a tremendous back court partner to Shai-Gilgeous Alexander for years to come and they would be the main building blocks of this draft capital rich Thunder organization.
Comparison: Kyle Lowry/Jason Kidd
7. Golden State Warriors- Davion Mitchell (PG/SG, Baylor, Junior)
Whether the Warriors decide to package their two lottery picks this year or not, they are sitting pretty as the depth of this draft allows them to get high-level talent that can contribute right now, but also have the upside to become much better, Davion Mitchell is a prime example of that type or prospect.
Davion Mitchell is one of the three most ready prospects, right there with Cade Cunningham and Jalen Suggs in that regard. He is a big time perimeter defender who simply suffocates whoever he’s guarding. Offensively, he is quick and shifty, which helps him get to the rim, he is an improved shooter who can create from step backs, side steps, and pull ups. Lastly, he is a very good passer that led Baylor in assists.
People may question his upside because he is an older prospect, but his skillset translates to the NBA in a way that could make him a star if he hits. He would be an immediate impact guy on a Warriors team that is looking to compete now and maximize Steph’s window.
Comparison: Patrick Beverley/Donovan Mitchell
8. Orlando Magic- James Bouknight (SG, Connecticut, Sophomore)
The Orlando Magic are a team that is still short on offensive talent that can truly score in bunches, nobody left can score quite like James Bouknight.
Bouknight is a creative and athletic scorer who loves to get to his spots around the basket to finish through and around defenders inside. He also is a capable shooter off the bounce that can really hit tough shots from the outside, despite not being the most efficient from three.
The Orlando Magic still have a long way to go until they have a core that’s capable of being respectable offensively, getting a pure scorer in Bouknight, though, is the right step.
Comparison: Zach Lavine lite/Jordan Clarkson
9. Sacramento Kings- Moses Moody (SF, Arkansas, Freshman)
The Kings could really go a lot of directions at this spot, they do have somewhat of a hole at the center spot, but there isn’t a center available that can help them win immediately, so they look at a win now player in Moses Moody.
Moses Moody is the best “3 and D” player in the draft, he has super long arms and good defensive instincts that give him the potential to be a massive plus on the defensive end, despite not having the freakiest burst. Offensively, he is a floor spacer that doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be effective, he’s also shown some promise as someone that can get his own shot.
Whether the Kings keep Harrison Barnes and Buddy Hield or not, Moses Moody would be able to help Sacramento from start, it doesn’t matter if he starts or not.
Comparison: De’Andre Hunter with shades of Khris Middleton
10. New Orleans Pelicans- Tre Mann (PG, Florida, Sophomore)
Tenth overall may be higher than some people would guess Tre Mann will go, but he’s worthy of going this high and I believe it’s a real possibility he goes in the lottery.
Tre Mann is a 6’5” guard with effortless shot creating ability; he can pull up from the logo, create separation off the dribble and hit tough shots consistently, he has good body control around the basketball, and he has shown the flashes of being a really good passer in the league.
Tre Mann’s versatility on and off the ball would make him a good fit with Lonzo Ball, if New Orleans choose to keep him. His deadly shooting from outside also makes him a good fit with Zion Williamson due to Mann’s ability to create space. With Moody off the board especially, Mann makes too much sense at this spot.
Comparison: Right handed D’Angelo Russell
11. Charlotte Hornets- Kai Jones (C, Texas, Sophomore)
The Charlotte Hornets had one of the worst center rotations in the league last season, they are desperate for talent at that spot, Kai Jones could be that guy. Kai Jones is a raw talent, he averaged under 10 PPG in college and didn’t even play basketball till he was 15 years old, but the upside is very real.
Kai is a super athletic big that can run, he can switch on guards, he can protected the rim, he is a real lob threat as well. There are also some flashes of guard skills for Kai, he showed a strong stroke from three and even hit some threes off the dribble, which is rare for a seven footer.
Kai Jones needs some time, but he would be an awesome fit with Lamelo Ball in transition, he would be very entertaining catching lobs from him.
Comparison: Richaun Holmes/Jaren Jackson Jr.
12. San Antonio Spurs- Alperen Sengun (C, Besiktas J.K, 18 years old)
The Spurs need both general upside on their roster and a center that can be a stable piece for years to come, that makes Alperen Sengun, one of the most productive 18 years old ever in the Turkish League, a great fit here.
Sengun has one of the best ceilings in the draft outside of the top five. He is an absolute stud in the post, incredible feet, multiple moves in his bag, and has natural touch around the rim, he also can really pass, perhaps the best passing European big since Nikola Jokic.
His shooting, even though he shot 82% from the line, and his defense are major question marks, but the Spurs are able to take a wild card on a Sengun because they may be pushing towards a rebuild and they have a stud development staff.
Comparison: Domantas Sabonis Lite
13. Indiana Pacers- Keon Johnson (SG, Tennessee, Freshman)
Keon Johnson really turned heads at the draft combine this year by displaying a combine record breaking 48 inch vertical and because of his good combine, it would be surprising to actually see him fall to 13, but Indiana needs to take him if he falls here.
He is more than just a freak, freak athlete, he has a fantastic motor along with his athleticism that makes him one of the best perimeter defenders in the class. He can really attack the rim and is a threat to put anyone on a poster. He is an underrated passer and even though he isn’t a good three point shooter, he has shown real shot creation potential from the mid range.
Keon Johnson may be a little raw and won’t be a huge impact guy for a team like Indiana that wants to win now, but if they stay patient with him, they have a prospect with star level talent.
Comparison: Isaac Okoro/Jimmy Butler
14. Golden State Warriors- Corey Kisbert (SF, Gonzaga, Senior)
Without Klay Thompson all year, the spacing of the Warriors really took a hit. But with Klay Thompson returning while adding Corey Kisbert to the group, the spacing they lacked last year would quickly come back.
Corey Kisbert is the best shooter in the draft, he is deadly running off the ball through screens and getting it off the catch, he even has a little bit of game off the bounce, he also plays with good energy and is an underrated athlete.
The Golden State Warriors need players that can play right away. If they were to Corey Kisbert and Davion Mitchell, who are 22 years old, NBA ready, and happened to play each other in the national championship, along with the healthier and maturing core Golden State already has, they could be right back at the top of the West very soon.
Comparison: Joe Harris
15. Washington Wizards- JT Thor (PF/SF, Auburn)
JT Thor appears to be one of the highest risers in this draft following the combine. He went from someone that didn’t get much first round buzz to being considered a first round lock that is even working out with multiple teams in the lottery.
The Wizards really could big man help, but they also could use more wing depth with defensive upside and Thor provides that. He has a strong combination go size length, and agility that gives him promise to become one of the better and more versatile defenders in the league. Offensively, he is somebody that can play with stars as he shows promise to be a smooth shooter off the catch from three despite only shooting 30% from downtown this year. He also a really good athlete that is a threat around the basket in transition.
Thor will need to bulk up and continue developing as a shooter, but he is a great fit with this Wizards core regardless of the direction they take going forward.
Comparison: More athletic Al-Farouq Aminu
16. Oklahoma City Thunder- Isaiah Jackson (C/PF, Kentucky, Freshman)
Isaiah Jackson withdrew from the draft combine and according to Chad Ford, it’s because an NBA team, rumor has that team being the Oklahoma City Thunder, gave Isaiah Jackson a draft promise, so he ends up here in this mock draft.
Outside of Evan Mobley, debatably, Isaiah Jackson is the best rim protector in this draft and his feel for the game and his awesome 7’5″ wingspan are the reasons for that. Offensively, he is somewhat limited, but he is a strong threat around the basket that can run and down the court in the fast break.
There isn’t a true rim protector in OKC’s young core, Isaiah Jackson would definitely fill that void.
Comparison: Nicolas Claxton
17. Memphis Grizzlies- Zhaire Williams (SF, Stanford, Freshman)
The Grizzlies have done a fantastic job creating a deep young roster of very good role players around Ja Morant that should make them a threat for the playoffs for a long time, but besides Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. (who has really struggled with health), they don’t have any star upside on their roster that can put them over the hump.
Even though Zhaire Williams is someone with an incredibly low floor and struggled shooting from the field from all three levels at Stanford, he has that long-term star potential as a fluid 6’8″ wing that can create off the dribble and pull up from virtually anywhere on the court.
Memphis doesn’t need to hit on this pick as they have created such a deep nucleus of young talent, so what do they have to lose by taking Williams? If he doesn’t work, people will forget pretty soon, but…. if he reaches his potential, Memphis’ future looks much, much brighter.
Comparison: Cam Reddish
18. Oklahoma City Thunder- Franz Wagner (SF, Michigan, Sophomore)
Franz Wagner is one of the most versatile prospects in the draft and easily could end up in the lottery. He doesn’t do anything great and isn’t a spectacular athlete, which may put a lid on his ceiling, but he does many things well as he reads the floor very well, he shot threes at a 37% clip, he is solid on and off the ball, and can defend multiple positions.
The Thunder don’t need to try to swing for a grand slam on all of their million picks, you still need high floor players that can be versatile and reliable in a rotation and Franz Wagner would do that.
Comparison: Nicholas Batum/Mike Dunleavy Jr.
19. New York Knicks- Josh Giddey (PG, Adelaide 36ers, 18 years old)
The New York Knicks really lack a facilitator that can get others involved and make players around them better, Josh Giddey doesn’t only do that well, he is the best in the draft in that regard… and you combine that with his instincts, rebounding ability and 6’8″ frame, he could easily be looked at in the top 10. The Knicks would be fortunate to have him fall to them.
I do question if Giddey has the upside to be a great player as he isn’t the most athletic and doesn’t quite have the shot creation talent to make up for that offensively, but if you surround him with players who can really score and space the floor, Giddy should be able to thrive as a steady starter on a good team that contributes to winning, which are the kind of players the Knicks should be looking for.
Comparison: Taller Ricky Rubio
20. Atlanta Hawks- Ayo Dosunmu (PG/SG, Illinois, Junior)
As good as the Hawks have been in these playoffs, they should to target another playmaker that can run the offense at times and take weight off of Trae Young’s shoulder.
Ayo Dosunmu is one of the more decorated prospects in this draft, yet he doesn’t get the proper buzz he deserves. He isn’t the strongest and lacks burst, but he is super shifty, he can get to his spots from all three levels, he is a disciplined defender and he really can control the pace of the game at 6’5″.
It is typically a lot to ask a 20 year old to be a real contributor for a team in the caliber of the Hawks, but Ayo is someone that should be capable of doing that really early, whether they want him to run the offense off the bench, or even play him next to Young.
Comparison: Shai-Gilgeous Alexander lite
21. New York Knicks- Chris Duarte (SG, Oregon, Senior)
Even though the Knicks were one of the better shooting teams in the league last season, they could still add more snipers to space the floor for Julius Randle and RJ Barrett.
Chris Duarte may scare some teams off as he is already 24, but getting somebody that can really shoot it from three, that can make plays with the ball in his hands, and bring it on the defensive end is super valuable at this point of the draft.
The Knicks will be looking to make win now moves, Duarte’s spacing and playmaking will provide them a rookie that should be able to help them win early.
Comparison: Kevin Huerter/Landry Shamet
22. Los Angeles Lakers- Jared Butler (PG, Baylor, Junior)
The Lakers’ future with their point guards Dennis Schroader (because he wants a ton of money) and Alex Caruso (who was arrested for possessing 10 pounds of marijuana) are pretty uncertain so landing a Jared Butler makes a lot of sense.
Jared Butler was one of the nation’s best point guards last year, he is a very good playmaker, especially in the pick and roll, that makes players around him better, he can really shoot it, he has a good floater game, and he is an elite defender. He doesn’t have anything unbelievable with his raw talent, but he is a smart guard who plays like a veteran already and can contribute to a good team now.
Butler would could give the Lakers production immediately as a true floor general, which they lack outside of Lebron James, as well as another floor spacer if they choose to play him next to Lebron at times.
Comparison: George Hill
23. Houston Rockets- Jalen Johnson (PF/SF, Duke, Freshman)
Jalen Johnson’s draft stock is one of the mysteries in this draft. Some scouts look at his raw talent and believe that alone should make him worthy for a lottery selection, others question his intangibles and decision to leave Duke early make him someone too risky to take in the first 20 picks or so.
The Rockets currently have nothing to lose by taking Jalen Johnson, a 6’9″ athletic point forward who can defend multiple positions, finish and facilitate in transition, and was able to his an occasional open jumper at Duke, so it is worth it for them to bet on his upside as they are not trying to complete for a championship anytime soon.
Comparison: Deni Avdija
24. Houston Rockets- Nah’Shon Hyland (PG/SG, VCU, Sophomore)
Nah’Shon Hyland is another prospect that really improved his draft stock in the last couple weeks as he lit up his shooting drills and was also the best player in the combine.
Hyland is a very talented combo guard who arguably has the best range in the class, he can hit virtually any shot off the catch and especially off there bounce from anywhere on the court at an efficient enough rate. He also has a tight handle and has good touch around the basket.
Despite not being the strongest yet, Hyland’s raw scoring and shooting makes him a candidate to become one of the biggest steals in the draft. We can see him having a similar impact as Imannauel Quickley did for the Knicks as a rotational floor spacer and shot maker.
If the Rockets hit on at least two of their picks in this draft, this could be a franchise altering night for them.
Comparison: Imannauel Quickley
25. Los Angeles Clippers- Cameron Thomas (SG, LSU, Freshman)
Cameron Thomas is another one that withdrew from the combine early and Brett Siegel reported that he received a first round promise, which led to his withdrawal.
Cameron Thomas is not a very complete player, he is not a freak athlete, not a good defender or passer, but he proved to be an absolute bucket in college as he averaged over 23 PPG for them, even though it wasn’t in the most efficient way.
With the Clippers trading Lou Williams, it makes sense to invest on a prospect with that kind of scoring potential at this point of the draft, even if he doesn’t contribute immediately.
Comparison: Lou Williams/Dion Waiters
26. Denver Nuggets- Trey Murphy (SF, Virginia, Junior)
The one archetype that fits on essentially any roster and contributes relatively early and “3 and D” players, and Murphy is the best 3 and D prospect remaining.
Murphy is a very lengthy wing that can defend wings at an incredibly high level, one of the better perimeter defenders in the class, shot the three ball at an elite level and proved to be an efficient all around offensive player as he had a 50/40/90 season.
Murphy would be a great fit pretty much anywhere and for Denver, he would add more perimeter defense, which they need, plus more spacing for Nikola Jokic.
Comparison: Mikal Bridges lite
27. Brooklyn Nets- Day’Ron Sharpe (C, UNC, Freshman)
One of the more unfortunate takeaways from the Brooklyn Nets season thus year is Deandre Jordan seems to be on a clear decline, so adding young bigs is pretty much a must.
Sharpe is one of my favorite prospects outside of the lottery in the draft, he is a big time athlete that can defend multiple positions defensively, he is one of the best rebounders in the draft, he is a threat around the basket, he can pass very well for a center, and has shown glimpses of someone who could stretch the floor in the NBA at his draft workouts.
Sharpe and Nicolas Claxton are the type of energy bigs that you win in a rotation to compliment multiple superstars from the perimeter.
Comparison: Robert Williams
28. Philadelphia 76ers- Jaden Springer (PG/SG, Tennessee, Freshman)
Jaden Springer is another one of those prospects that draft scouts and junkies have very split opinions of. Not because of character questions like Jalen Johnson, but his upside is the part people have issues pegging and for me personally, I lean on the lower side with him,
Springer is a string 6’4″ guard with an NBA body, he is a very good and engaged defender that offensively can make the open pass, finish around the basket, and could hit an occasional three. Where I have questions with Springer is he is not great in the pick and roll, he doesn’t have much in his shot creation package, and isn’t a very proven shooter from deep, which are three very important tools a lottery point guard should have, in my opinion.
At Philadelphia though, he is a good fit as he would add even more to their defense, he can play off of other playmakers, and he rarely makes mistakes and those kind of role players are what pretty much every contending team needs.
It’s hard to see Doc Rivers play a Springer early on as he historically hasn’t favored rookies, but Springer should have a very steady role in a rotation when he gets a chance.
Comparison: De’Anthony Melton
29. Phoenix Suns- Sharife Cooper (PG, Auburn, Freshman)
It’s not super common to have point guards with Sharife Cooper’s upside fall this far in the draft and if he does, Phoenix needs to take advantage.
Cooper was one of the most productive freshman in college basketball as he averaged over 20 PPG and 8 APG. He is a beyond elite passer with eyes in the back of his head and is arguably the best point guard in this draft at controlling the pace of an offense, which is a trait that makes him worthy of consideration in the lottery. The thing with Cooper is his concerns are pretty big ones. He is very undersized (if the typo of him being listed at 6’4″ was true, his stock would skyrocket) and he is not efficient as a scorer from anywhere on the court, which could limit a lot of what he does great as he can’t see over defenders. The nice thing about Cooper is he shot well from the free throw line in college, so he might have solid upside as a shooter.
Having Cooper learn behind an All-Time great and someone who has some similarities in Chris Paul would do him wonders. If Cooper figures out his shooting, he could be the point guard of the future for the Suns.
Comparison: Chris Paul without the jumper
30. Utah Jazz- Miles McBride (PG/SG, West Virginia)
The Jazz are one of the oldest teams in the league and they are not likely going to have the draft picks to grab super high-level young talent very soon, but Miles McBride could be a steal at this spot.
Miles McBride is one of the most underrated prospects in this draft. He is undersized, but he is an athletic guard that is wired to score, he is a threat in transition, he proved to have one of the best pull-up jumpers in the draft, he is a solid passer, and is a physical guard that can really, really defend.
If McBride improves his decision making and ability to control the pace of the game, which is especially necessary for undersized guards, he could later be looked at as somebody that should have gone in the lottery.
Comparison: Marcus Smart/Kemba Walker lite