With the NBA Draft just a week away, things are starting to become clearer. Following the list of green room invites being released, and the early entrant lists being finalized, here is our third look at an extended mock draft.
1. Detroit Cade Cunningham 6-8 220 PG/SF Oklahoma State Fr.
Cunningham came into the season as the prohibitive favorite to go number one overall. And his play did nothing to change that over the course of the season, as he was clearly the most impressive prospect from a consistency and production standpoint. A case could be made that he doesn’t have the highest ceiling among this year’s draft class, however he likely has the highest floor. He figures to be a “culture” changer and brings a level of confidence and maturity that should allow him to overcome a bad situation and thrive. Cunningham has a strong, calm demeanor and never seems to become rattled or thrown off his game. His focus and determination are keys to his success and should allow him to be an elite facilitator with size in the mold of Luka Doncic. While he doesn’t have quite the killer instinct or facilitating ability of Doncic, he’s a better shooter than Luka entering the league.
Why the Pistons take Cade Cunningham: The Pistons first time winning the lottery since they made Darko Milicic one of the biggest busts in NBA history with the 2nd overall pick in 2003. Cunningham is the obvious choice here, and while he lacks the upside of some other guys like Mobley, Suggs and Green, he has the highest floor of any player with his polished shooting ability, size and maturity. Music to the Pistons ears as they’re lacking stability and a culture as much as they are talent. Cunningham may not be able to turn around Detroit the way Luka Doncic has in Dallas, but he can be a key piece if they are able to add another franchise level talent in the near future. The selection of Cade also likely means they will look to move fifth overall pick from last year Killian Hayes, as he’s not a great shooter and likely doesn’t fit alongside Cade as both are ball dominant guards.
NBA Comparison: Jayson Tatum
2. Houston Jalen Green 6-6 180 SG G-League Fr.
Green has some freakishness to his athleticism and combines that with a very smooth and polished floor game. He certainly doesn’t lack for sizzle, with a sick repertoire of crossovers and the ability to mesmerize opponents and create offense for himself on the perimeter. He figures to go in the 3-5 range after a solid season playing for the Ignite in the G-League. Green, along with fellow G-leagers: Jonathan Kuminga, Daishen Nix and Isaiah Todd were the NBA’s guinea pigs, with players being recruited away from their college teams in some instances and given the opportunity to play in the G-League before being drafted. The G-League “experiment” appears to be a success in the midst of the pandemic, paving the way for future players (Jaden Hardy for instance) to follow in their footsteps.
Why the Rockets take Jalen Green: Green arguably gives the Rockets the player with the most upside here. Green shows not only elite athleticism but the ability to be a high level shooter and scorer. He’s certainly not the safest pick, as there have been concerns surrounding him for over a year. But he seemed to have matured during his season in the G-League. The Rockets moved on from James Harden, and should they select Green, will hope they have found his predecessor with similar potential to impact games in Green.
NBA Comparison: Bradley Beal
3. Cleveland Evan Mobley 7-0 215 PF/C USC Fr.
Mobley is the first player since Anthony Davis to win Conference, Freshman, and Defensive Player of the Year awards. And Davis is a name that gets linked to Mobley as they’re both freak athletes with defensive and scoring ability. What seems to separate AD from Mobley is his consistency and focus. On top of everything, Mobley has intriguing ball handling skills. His defensive ability as both a rim protector and perimeter defender gives him a lot of potential, and makes him extremely intriguing. Based on pure upside, Mobley is probably the player with the highest ceiling in this year’s draft. So why is he projected to fall past 1? Mobley’s demeanor concerns some scouts due to his lack of consistency with regard to intensity and focus. Mobley does not always illustrate ideal body language and shows a tendency to defer at times instead of taking over. With an obvious talent like Mobley, perhaps that is nitpicking. But there is a fine line between being a high level NBA player and being a generational bigman that impacts a team’s ability to contend for titles.
Why the Cavaliers take Evan Mobley: The Cavs have Jarrett Allen and could pair him with Mobley and have a talented young frontcourt to build around. Suggs would be a possibility as well, but they are already facing a logjam in the backcourt with Sexton and Garland. Then again, if they determine Suggs is the player with the most upside, the current back court situation should not factor into their decision. As past draft history has shown.
NBA Comparison: Pau Gasol
4. Toronto Jalen Suggs 6-4 205 PG Gonzaga Fr.
Suggs hit arguably the biggest shot in NCAA history considering the stage, Final Four, degree of difficulty, and number of eyes on him. Suggs is sure to benefit financially from the brand name he’s cultivated at the college level. He has ideal leadership and toughness, having been a five star quarterback in Minnesota high school. He’s a dominant athlete with impressive size at the point guard position. He came into college as a borderline top 10 recruit, and quickly established himself as a player that could contend to be the top pick. He lacks Cade Cunningham’s skill level as a scorer, granted they were used in different roles in the freshman seasons. And it’s clear Cade is the superior shooter with more length. Where Suggs gets the edge is his speed and athleticism and defensive potential.
Why the Raptors take Jalen Suggs: .Toronto has an extremely talented point guard in Fred Van Vleet on a long term deal. So the question is whether Suggs would fit in well playing alongside Van Vleet. With Van Vleet”s great shooting and ability to play off the ball, they would seem to be a great paring as Suggs likely has the size to guard 2s. Whether Suggs’ shooting ability convinces Toronto is likely the question. There’s also the possibility that another player like Jonathan Kuminga or Scottie Barnes factors into their plans. There are rumors that the team would like to move on from Pascal Siakam, in which case a forward could be selected as his eventual replacement.
NBA Comparison: Jason Kidd
5. Orlando Jonathan Kuminga 6-8 205 SF/PF G-League Fr.
Kuminga has as much raw talent as any player in this draft. He’s a freak athlete with an NBA frame at 19, great versatility, and possessing the ball skills to run the break as well as create offense for himself. He shut down his season a few games early coming off a minor injury, but showed flashes that should insure he’s a high lottery pick. He can still improve in a number of areas including shooting and defense, but his potential is considerable if he lands in the right situation and applies himself. Kuminga has a chance to be a standout at the next level and has a ceiling amongst the top 2-3 overall players in this year’s draft.
Why the Magic take Jonathan Kuminga: Kuminga gives the Magic the kind of talent they need at this pick. There’s always the chance that the Raptors surprise everyone and take Kuminga at 4. In which case Orlando surely would jump all over Jalen Suggs here. Kuminga is less of a sure bet and probably will take more time, but the upside he possesses is exactly what Orlando was looking for when they selected Aaron Gordon at number four in 2014.
NBA Comparison: Jaylen Brown
6. Oklahoma City Scottie Barnes 6-8 225 SF/PF Florida St. Fr.
Barnes is a tricky prospect to project since the NBA’s game has shifted so heavily to shooting, and it’s clearly Barnes biggest weakness. Barnes does a ton of things to help his team win. He’s a thoroughbred with a 7’2 wingspan and plays at times as a point forward with the ability to defend positions 1-through-4. He’s got some parallels to Draymond Green with his skill set and while very few can match Draymond’s passion for the game, Barnes is a high level competitor with intangibles in his own right.
Why the Thunder take Scottie Barnes: The Thunder have stockpiled numerous first round picks over the next few seasons, and Barnes would be a nice start to the rebuilding effort. There’s a chance that Barnes will be taken at 5 to Orlando, but we feel there’s a very good chance that Suggs and Kuminga end up being the picks at 4 and 5 in some order. There are rumors that Boaknight is also in play here, but it is difficult to see the Thunder taking him over Barnes. Barnes gives the Thunder a two way player with excellent versatility to pair with SGA.
NBA Comparison: Draymond Green
7. *Golden State James Bouknight 6-5 190 SG UConn So.
Bouknight was one of the breakout stars of the season, coming off a promising freshman year at Storrs. While he doesn’t have elite length, he has sneaky athleticism and had numerous highlight plays at the rim. He shows a lot of grit and determination with a crafty skill set that has shown excellent improvement. He showed just how lethal a scorer he can be with his 40 point performance in an OT loss to Creighton in December. Bouknight fell short of expectations with just a 6-8 wingspan at the combine measurements, but remains intriguing as high as 7 due to his dynamic play making and scoring ability.
Why the Warriors take James Bouknight: The Warriors could look to package their two first rounders and try to move up. They also could look to use their picks in a bigger trade, perhaps targeting an established veteran that could help their current team make a push for a title over the next few seasons. James Wiseman could also be added to a deal if his value is considered good enough to net a player that fits their up tempo system better. The Warriors would love to see Barnes fall to them. But that appears unlikely right now. Bouknight is a talented athlete and scorer who would give their backcourt depth along with sixth man Jordan Poole.
NBA Comparison: CJ McCollum
8. *Orlando Keon Johnson 6-5 185 SG Tennessee Fr.
Despite struggling to score consistently in the early part of the year, Johnson improved as the season went along and found ways to contribute. He was probably the NCAA leader in highlight plays, and had what most considered the dunk of the year. He’s an above average athlete with excellent versatility and upside. While he’s a bit of a project, the fact that he’s such a talented athlete and hard worker gives his outlook a lot of promise. He’ll likely begin his career as somewhat of a project, and defensive specialist, but if his offensive game clicks, he’s got star potential. Johnson showed what a phenomenal athlete he was with his 48 inch vertical at the NBA combine.
Why the Magic take Keon Johnson: .The team is essentially building from scratch after dealing away both Vucevic and Aaron Gordon at the trade deadline. Point guard appears to be the one position (Fultz and Anthony) where they have some talent. After parting ways with Evan Fournier, the team is in need of a 2-guard. Gary Harris was added, but it remains to be seen whether he is the team’s long term answer at the 2. Johnson is certainly a long term project type, but the Magic are a team that just blew everything up, so they are likely looking at a long rebuild and players such as Johnson would be given more leeway to make mistakes and develop with playing time. Coming away with Kuminga and Johnson, two swing for the fences picks would be a great start towards adding talent to this roster. The key will be making sure they have a top notch player development staff working with them.
NBA Comparison: Latrell Sprewell
9. Sacramento Franz Wagner 6-9 220 SF/PF Michigan So.
Wagner struggled in March. And depending on how much importance you put into tourney performance, may have hurt his stock as much as any prospect with his lackluster play. He has tremendous passing and vision for a 6-9 forward, and his feel for the game and basketball IQ are real selling points. He’s got solid quickness, and while he’s not going to blow anyone away with his athleticism, his dexterity and composed game makes him intriguing to scouts. He didn’t light it up as a scorer in his sophomore year, but after Isaiah Livers went down towards the end of the season, he rose to the challenge, and helped lead Michigan to their first Elite Eight in years. Lateral speed and perimeter defensive potential are a big selling point for Wagner.
Why the Kings take Franz Wagner: The Kings should have a number of quality options here and will have to decide which player brings them the most value. Wagner possesses an intriguing combination of size and shooting ability and should continue to improve both his skill set and athleticism. His ability to play stretch four would give the Kings a scoring weapon to add to their talented back court.
NBA Comparison: Nemanja Bjelica
10. New Orleans Jalen Johnson 6-9 220 SF/PF Duke Fr.
Jalen Johnson is one of the draft’s big wildcards. Johnson did himself no favors by quitting on the Duke team when things got difficult, and making the decision to “focus on training for the upcoming draft”. But it’s unlikely that he will slide too far considering the upside and how highly rated he was entering college. He’s got an intriguing combination of athleticism and versatility to play some point forward and also slide over to the PF position as a modern face up 4. One of the real polarizing picks with some scouts seeing him closer to where he entered the season, around 5-6 range, while others see him falling out of the lottery and possibly even further. Johnson will excite coaches with his versatility and skill set having the ability to use as a match up problem going small ball.
Why the Pelicans take Jalen Johnson: Rumors persist that New Orleans is shopping the pick and doesn’t want any more young players with such a young group already in place. So it remains to be seen if they can pull off a trade for a veteran that they consider of equal value. Johnson makes sense as a player teams could look to move up for, as well as a player the Pelicans could utilize with his versatility at the forward positions.
NBA Comparison: Stephen Jackson
11. Charlotte: Kai Jones 6-11 220 C Texas So.
Jones is from Nassau, Barbados and is in his fourth year in the US having come over prior to his junior year of high school. He’s obviously raw considering his usage rate and background, but shows a solid feel for the game, all things considered. The fact that he’s such a quality shooter and also such a fluid and bouncy athlete, at his size, gives him a great deal of intrigue. While there’s obviously a long road ahead with his development, and the floor and ceiling have tons of space between them, he’s likely to get plenty of looks at the end of the lottery and stands a good chance of being drafted in the 10-15 range.
Why the Hornets take Kai Jones: .Jones is a long term project but his outside shooting and athleticism gives him a lot of intrigue. The Hornets struck gold with LaMelo Ball at 3 last year after trying to trade up for James Wiseman. They could potentially land their center of the future at 11 with Kai Jones. Jones needs time, but would benefit playing alongside a passer like Ball. Rumor has it the Hornets are high on Kentucky center Isaiah Jackson, who they could trade down 5-7 or so spots to target.
NBA Comparison: Jaxson Hayes
12. San Antonio Josh Giddey 6-8 205 PG Australia Intl.
Similar to Scottie Barnes, Giddey is able to impact the game in a number of ways despite shooting limitations. Giddey is a legit point guard at 6-8, and has the ability to elevate those around him with his great vision and passing skills. He’s not the most explosive athlete, but he’s got solid foot speed and understands how to set up defenders with fakes and hesitation moves. He benefits from the outstanding rookie season from LaMelo Ball, as it further legitimizes the Australian league, in terms of level of competition to gauge a player’s ability.
Why the Spurs take Josh Giddey: Giddey has natural playmaking skills rarely found in a 6-8 player and the Spurs have shown both the ability to draft international players extremely well, but also take players in need of improved jumpshots and develop them. Giddey shows some promise as an outside shooter, but struggled this season as his shot is flat.
NBA Comparison: Joe Inglis
13. Indiana Davion Mitchell 6-1 200 PG Baylor Jr.
Mitchell was Baylor’s best player and is likely to benefit most from Baylor’s run to a National Title. He took the Bears on his back and carried them as their fearless, emotional leader. He also showed impressive ability to impact the game on both ends all season. Mitchell is a blur with the ball in his hands, and has the physicality to play through contact and impose his will against weaker opponents. He has a chance to be a lock down defender at the next level and despite his age, granted he may not be able to cover 2-guards with the same level of success on switches. Mitchell stands a good chance to find a spot in the late lottery area.
Why the Pacers take Davion Mitchell: Mitchell going 13 doesn’t seem so crazy when you consider the lack of need for point guards in the mid to late lottery area. The Pacers have a solid point guard in place with Malcom Brogdon. But Brogdon has the size to cover most shooting guards and could probably form a solid backcourt with Mitchell. Mitchell would be excellent value at 13, despite his age. He carried Baylor to a national title and his tough nosed style would figure to fit in well with the Pacers. Unless a team decides to move up for him, there’s a good chance Mitchell could be a player that provides excellent value where he’s selected.
NBA Comparison: Ty Lawson
14. Golden State Ziaire Williams 6-9 190 SG/SF Stanford Fr.
Like most of the freshman class, Williams had an up and down season and how much of that is attributed to COVID-19 and the lack of development for younger players depends on who’s making that judgement. Williams had quite possibly the most challenging situation of anyone on this list considering the team was playing in a county with the most stringent COVID-19 regulations and it kept the team from practicing as well as having to stay in a hotel off campus. Not an ideal set of circumstances. Williams has good shooting ability, but struggled to show it, and was seen by some as a potential top 10 pick coming into the season. He’s got solid length and fluidity, and could easily be undervalued on draft night due to aforementioned circumstances. The talent is clear, but adding strength and consistency, plus better shooting, will be key for him.
Why the Warriors take Ziaire Williams: The Warriors could go in a number of directions here. Should Kuminga somehow miraculously fall to the Warriors at 7, then taking a more NBA ready guy like Duarte or Kispert here makes more sense, Ziaire gives them a potential replacement for Kelly Oubre and a player with the length to play multiple positions. He struggled to shoot to his abilities at Stanford. But he’s an intriguing upside pick due to his athleticism and shot making ability. There’s a real chance the Warriors decide that having two rookies to develop along with Wiseman is too much and move out of this pick.
NBA Comparison: Rashard Lewis
15. Washington Chris Duarte 6-5 195 SG Oregon Sr.
Despite being one of the oldest players in the draft, Chris Duarte has a lot of first round intrigue due to his breakout senior season and impressive combination of athleticism and skill level. His shooting became a real strength and he took over as Oregon’s number one option offensively and team leader as a senior. His athleticism really stood out and he improved his three point shooting from 33% to 42%.
Why the Wizards take Chris Duarte: Washington has a star studded backcourt, and would like to make another playoff push next season. Duarte is one of the most NBA ready players and has been on the rise. He received a green room invite and scouts feel he’s in the mix to be the first senior to come off the board. Duarte would give the Wizards a solid third guard to ease the scoring load and give quality minutes off the bench when Beal and or Westbrook are out of the game.
NBA Comparison: John Starks
16. Oklahoma City Trey Murphy 6-9 205 SF Virginia
Murphy passes the eye test with an NBA body and a very smooth and athletic frame and ability to move. He’s a Rice transfer and took a little while to adjust to the jump in level of competition. he has a bit of a blender personality and will likely need to be encouraged to be more aggressive in order to become the scorer and player that he can. He’s a bigtime shooter, and combine that with his great frame and athleticism and he could really turn into great pick down the road.
Why the Thunder take Trey Murphy: The Thunder are in a position to take the best player available with all of their picks. Murphy needs playing time to develop and that’s certainly the case at Oklahoma City. Murphy is a long term project who needs to continue to gain confidence and experience against high level athletes, but could benefit from the opportunity of playing in OKC with a long term rebuild underway.
NBA Comparison: Robert Covington
17. Memphis Corey Kispert 6-7 225 SG/SF Gonzaga Sr.
Kispert had a breakout senior season and elevated his stock considerably to becoming a potential lottery pick. He obviously struggled shooting in the NCAA tournament and lost some ground, however he remains an intriguing prospect due to his elite level shooting ability. Kispert lacks great speed and is just average athletically. But his steady improvement throughout his college career and his dedication to strength and conditioning are obvious. He was very dependable as a clutch shooter throughout much of his college career, and he stepped up as Gonzaga’s main bucket-getter throughout their near perfect season.
Why the Grizzlies take Corey Kispert: Memphis is a team on the rise with a budding star at point guard in Ja Morant. Kispert is one of the draft’s top shooters and figures to be one of the most ready to contribute considering his age and experience. He could help spread the floor and split time with Grayson Allen.
NBA Comparison: Joe Harris
18. Oklahoma City Moses Moody 6-6 210 SG/SF Arkansas Fr.
Moody was one of the most productive freshmen in the country, displaying a very polished shooting stroke. And although his three point numbers dipped some over the course of the season, it’s clear he has high level shooting ability. Moody ended up hitting just 36% from three on the year, but developed the reputation as a quality outside shooter in high school and was comfortable in the role of go to scorer at Arkansas. While not the most explosive run jump athlete, he possesses a huge 7′ foot wingspan, which allows him to defend and get shots off more effectively than most players his height. Moody’s lack of speed, athleticism and ball handling ability are concerns and he’s fallen in minds of some from a top 10 pick to a possible mid first rounder.
Why the Thunder take Moses Moody: Moody gives the Thunder excellent value at 18 with his length and shooting ability. While some teams like the Warriors would probably opt for a more NBA ready player like Kispert or Duarte (at 14), the Thunder’s main focus is long term potential, which Moody possesses more of considering his age.
NBA Comparison: Glen Rice
19. New York Miles McBride 6-2 200 PG West Virginia So.
McBride is a player that for much of the season was not expected to be in this year’s draft and may still ultimately opt to return to West Virginia. But he had a breakout season including strong showings in his two match up with projected number one pick Cade Cunningham. McBride has above average size and athleticism, as witnessed by his above the rim finishes on the break. And he’s also a promising shooter from the perimeter. He’s got to work on his point guard skills and nuances of the position, but he’s clearly learned solid defensive fundamentals after two seasons under Bob Huggins.
Why the Knicks take Miles McBride: .The Knicks have finally found success being constructed as a defensive minded team with Coach Thibs, and McBride comes from a defensive minded system at West Virginia. With Derrick Rose and Elfred Payton both free agents and uncertainties, point guard is an obvious position of need for the Knicks. Resigning Rose for another season (or someone like Kyle Lowry) and bringing on McBride as an apprentice would seem like an ideal situation for them.
NBA Comparison: Derrick White
20. Atlanta Cameron Thomas 6-4 210 SG LSU Fr.
Thomas lit up the SEC in his freshman season and is a natural born scorer. He was the fourth leading scorer in the country at 23 points per game, and the leading freshman scorer by nearly three a game. While there are some obvious limitations to his game, being an undersized and unathletic 2-guard, the fact that he is so proficient on the perimeter in a shooter’s era helps his cause. He has a solid wingspan in the 6-7 neighborhood, making up for being potentially an inch or so shorter than listed.
Why the Hawks take Cameron Thomas: Hawks GM Travis Schlenk has shown the foresight of building a team around shooters in today’s game. And Thomas is one of the draft’s best shooters making him an excellent fit here. The Hawks have been the big surprise of this year’s playoffs and Trae Young is proving that he has the altruism to put the team over the individual that teammates gravitate towards. And he has proven to be a Stephen Curry type of weapon that makes leads evaporate in short order. Thomas would give the Hawks more offensive firepower as an instant offense scorer off the bench.
NBA Comparison: E’Twaun Moore
21. *New York Isaiah Jackson 6-10 205 PF/C Kentucky Fr.
Isaiah Jackson is one of the most impressive run/jump athletes in the draft and draws intrigue with his potential as a shot block and rim runner. While his offensive game is still a long ways away, he did show the ability to face up and hit mid range shots at times. Jackson was one of the few bright spots for an extremely disappointing Kentucky team that started off the year 1-6 and failed to make the tournament. While Jackson struggled to make a huge impact in college, he shows intriguing upside. Whether his position/skill set combination has been severely downgraded at the next level is debatable, but his fluidity to defend on the perimeter is a positive.
Why the Knicks take Isaiah Jackson: The Knicks have a clear Kentucky connection, and the fact that Jackson received the last green room invite indicates that there’s a good chance the Knicks intend to surprise no one by selecting a Kentucky player with one of their picks. Jackson is a bit of a project, but with two picks they can afford to use one of them on upside. The Knicks are a defensive minded team, so the fact that Jackson shows solid potential as a defender, provided he puts on strength, helps his cause.
NBA Comparison: Nicolas Claxton
22. LA Lakers Josh Christopher 6-4 215 SG Arizona St. Fr.
Christopher was another highly rated freshman that showed flashes but struggled with consistency. He’s a high motor, high intensity player and has excellent explosiveness and scoring ability. The biggest concern with Christopher is not whether he has enough confidence but whether he has too much confidence. He is in the “Swaggy P”, Nick Young class of colorful personalities, so the challenge will be to get him to focus all the “creativity” and swagger into the right avenues. Christopher has incredibly thick legs and is super explosive. He’s got the added benefit of having professional basketball brother Patrick to lean on for guidance.
Why the Lakers take Josh Christopher: The Lakers would love to add a more NBA ready player like Duarte or Kispert, but they would need to move up from 22 in order to do so. Christopher is less ready and more of an upside pick, so whether they would be able to use him with such a short window with their nucleus is the question. Christopher is an LA native, so it would surely be a dream to play for his hometown Lakers.
NBA Comparison: Norman Powell
23. *Houston Alperen Sengun 6-9 240 PF/C Turkey Intl.
Sengun has come a long way having lost a great deal of weight in recent years and dominating in lower tier level Turkish league with his youthful exuberance. He has been extremely productive for a teenager and drawn a lot of fanfare and hype in the process. He is a bull in a China shop and reminiscent of a smaller Jusuf Nurkic with his physicality. Whether his game translates as well as the all the optimism remains to be seen. He’s definitely a player with a great deal of determination and has an outside shot that looks a lot better than the results have shown.
Why the Rockets take Alperen Sengun: The Rockets have multiple picks and can afford to roll the dice on a player like Sengun that will require time to develop. Sengun joins a rebuild and can be given plenty of minutes, playing for a team that is likely 2-3 seasons away from contending for a playoff spot.
NBA Comparison: Bobby Portis
24. *Houston Nah'Shon Hyland 6-3 170 PG/SG VCU So.
Most scouts see “Bones” in the 25-40 range and is shaping up to be one of the draft’s more interesting sleepers. He showed nice potential with his ability to create offense for not only himself but teammates. Hyland has an impressive repertoire of offensive skills with a tremendous handle and polished shooting/scoring ability. Despite a lack of size and strength, Bones could offer an instant offense for a team off the bench, at least early in his career. With a playground flare to his game, Hyland is ultra quick and athletic and makes a lot of highlight plays. Hyland put his skills on display at the NBA Draft combine and lit the gym on fire with 17 points knocking down three 3s in a row.
Why the Rockets take Nah’Shon Hyland: The Rockets are starting from scratch but would be adding a real sleeper in Hyland who could learn behind John Wall and be a valuable scorer off the bench for them. Hyland is one of the top shooters in the draft and is being criminally underrated as a second rounder by some. Look for a wise NBA decision maker such as Jerry West to end up with Hyland on draft night. Hyland needs strength, but has attributes and skills that should make him a valued asset at the next level.
NBA Comparison: Jordan Clarkson
25. LA Clippers Joshua Primo 6-5 190 SG Alabama Fr.
Primo is a versatile guard with excellent ball handling and scoring ability. He sustained an injury that knocked him out of action but was able to bounce back quickly and finish the season. Primo has excellent size and athleticism and a very smooth skill set with the ability to create shots off the dribble He was a bit of a surprise to enter the draft but has really impressed with his play in the Pre-Draft build up, and it looks as if he will
Why the Clippers take Joshua Primo: .The master Jerry West has put his imprint on the Clippers each season. But with Kawai expected to miss all of next season, including the playoffs, optimism for the team has stalled. There would seem to be less urgency to take an NBA ready player here, so a guy like Primo could be a solid fit with his ability to shoot and develop into a contributor over the next 2-3 seasons.
NBA Comparison: Gary Trent Jr.
26. Denver BJ Boston 6-7 190 SG Kentucky Fr.
Boston is no longer being projected as a first round pick by most as he struggled mightily as a freshman. He was a consensus top 10 pick entering the year, but really struggled with efficiency and a lot of that was due to a lack of core strength to absorb contact on drives. Give him a year or two in a NBA strength and conditioning program, and he could really begin to take flight. He’s a bigtime slasher and shows a real knack for scoring. He developed a reputation as one of the top wings in the country while in high school, but failed to meet the expectations at Kentucky.
Why the Nuggets take BJ Boston: .Denver has shown an uncanny ability to find gems in the mid to late first round, not to mention second round (Jokic). Boston could turn into another late steal for the Nuggets. They could feel some pressure to take a more NBA ready player, considering their current roster make up. Boston likely would take some time to contribute, but has the kind of upside to make a late first round pick pay off.
27. Brooklyn Jaden Springer 6-4 200 SG/PG Tennessee Fr.
Springer doesn’t fit the mold of a traditional guard at either position. But he should find a role as a combo, and continue to improve on his weaknesses. While he lacks elite athleticism and offensive skills, he plays with a great deal of determination. He has a very scrappy style of game, attacking the basket and playing a high level of intensity on both ends. He’s an extremely hard worker and will look to fill a role similar to Marcus Smart for Boston for a team as a defensive stalwart with toughness and physicality.
Why the Nets take Jaden Springer: Brooklyn is in win now mode with their three headed injury prone monster. Springer gives them toughness and defense and potentially a role player type that could contribute some valuable minutes off the bench. After the Harden trade, the team no longer has the depth it once did, so finding a player that can give them a contribution here would be beneficial.
NBA Comparison: Jerryd Bayless
28. Philadelphia Tre Mann 6-4 180 PG/SG Florida So.
Mann was a highly rated prospect coming out of high school and while he may not have busted out as a star in college, he slowly emerged as a key player and had a clutch shooting performance in the tournament. He’s viewed as a combo, but has solid ball skills. He’s got excellent size if he evolves at the point guard position and shows very good ability to create shots for himself in ISO situations. He fits the mold of the instant offense sixth man.
Why the Sixers take Tre Mann: Philly can look for depth in the backcourt here with their late first round pick. Mann is unlikely to contribute much for a few seasons, but his upside is intriguing considering his size and playmaking ability. The Sixers still must decide what to do with Ben Simmons following his playoff meltdown and Philadelphia fans growing sense of displeasure with his unwillingness to take outside shots.
NBA Comparison: Jordan Poole
29. Phoenix Jared Butler 6-3 195 SG/PG Baylor Jr.
Butler figures to add some value to a team in the late first round as a big time shooter with a championship pedigree. He Is a hard nosed combo and really more of a shooting guard than a point at 6-3, which decreases his value some. Add in the fact that his athleticism is well below standard at the next level and it’s hard to see him climbing too high, but end of first round seems realistic. He gets a boost due to the fact that he has a good deal of experience at the highest level and has proven to be a clutch performer and defender.
Why the Suns take Jared Butler: The Suns have a solid and deep backcourt with Devin Booker and Chris Paul as the starters and guys like Cameron Payne and Jevon Carter plus Torrey Craig backing them up. Payne becomes a free agent after this year, so it will be interesting to see if he gets a huge offer and decides to leave town. Butler could provide some help if that were to happen playing both guard spots and adding a Championship pedigree and proven clutch shooting ability to a team that looks set to contend for the title for the next few seasons.
NBA Comparison: Bryn Forbes
30. Utah Joel Ayayi 6-5 180 PG/SG Gonzaga Jr.
Ayayi was a solid contributor for Gonzaga showing the ability to both knock down shots as well as facilitate. He’s on the thin side at 180 lbs, but has very good length and speed for a combo guard. He elected to skip the combine drawing some speculation that he may have a first round promise in place. Ayayi’s ability to defend multiple positions as well as score and pass make him an intriguing option in the late first round area.
Why the Jazz take Joel Ayayi: The Jazz had the best record in the league last year and will be selecting last in the first round. Adding Ayayi could give their backcourt some depth, which would be helpful considering the injury woes they sustained, both Conley and Mitchell missed time. Ayayi figures to bring some value immediately and should only improve as his body gets stronger over the next few seasons.
NBA Comparison: Nickeil Alexander-Walker