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The Draft is just a few days away, so I’m not going to bore you with the typical pleasantries at the top of the article. Here’s my final mock of the year, with five (count ‘em, five!) trades and more digestible writeups for each player. Make sure you’re following our wonderful team at NBC Sports Edge for additional mocks from Raphielle Johnson and post-draft breakdowns and analysis. Here we go!
1. Orlando Magic: Jabari Smith | Auburn | Forward | Freshman | 6’10, 220
This one isn’t a foregone conclusion anymore. Orlando is doing its homework on Chet Holmgren, and there’s a chance the Gonzaga big man goes first in the draft. Orlando has a recent history of taking length in the draft (Jonathan Isaac, Mo Bamba), and Holmgren’s and Smith’s odds to go No. 1 have gotten much tighter. Still, the silky-smooth shooting Smith is the player with the fewest question marks, and I think he lands the top spot.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder: Chet Holmgren | Gonzaga | Forward/Center | Freshman | 7’0, 195
If Holmgren doesn’t go first, he’ll hear his name called here and land with the Thunder. Concerns about his size are legitimate, as his slight frame would be eaten up by guys like Joel Embiid or Rudy Gobert in the paint. He’ll likely play forward which also raises concerns about athleticism to switch onto quicker defenders. In either case, Holmgren has the skills to be a highly valuable fantasy player from Day 1 thanks to his three-point shooting and shot-blocking.
3. Houston Rockets: Paolo Banchero | Duke | Forward | Freshman | 6’10, 250
Ok, I had my fun mocking Banchero to the Thunder, but it doesn’t look like that’ll be happening. The first two picks in the draft will go to Jabari Smith and Chet Holmgren, leaving Banchero to be selected by Houston. The recent trade of Christian Wood to Dallas leaves Houston’s frontcourt wide open for the offensively-gifted Banchero to get playing time immediately next to Alperen Sengun. Expect both to have exciting fantasy seasons.
4. Washington Wizards (via Kings): Jaden Ivey | Purdue | Guard | Sophomore | 6’4, 195
Trade: Kings receive Kyle Kuzma, No. 10 pick, Wizards receive No. 4 pick
It’s no secret that Washington desperately wants to add a point guard to pair with Bradley Beal, so they trade up here to get one. The hyper-athletic Ivey has drawn comparisons to Ja Morant and Russell Westbrook, Beal’s former teammate. Sacramento wants another win-now player, and they get one in Kuzma, who averaged 17.1 points and 8.5 boards for the Wiz last season. A pretty bland Washington team is suddenly much more exciting with Ivey on the roster. Wizards insider Quinton Mayo recently shared that the Wizards are interested in trading up for Ivey. Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire.
5. Detroit Pistons: Keegan Murray | Iowa | Forward | Sophomore | 6’8, 225
The fit here is too perfect. The Pistons grab a 6’8 offensive-minded forward to replace the 6’8 offensive-minded forward they’ll be trading later in the draft. Murray averaged 24/9 last season at Iowa and shot better than 55% from the floor. He also compiled 3.2 stocks and 1.3 triples per contest. Those numbers won’t translate directly to the NBA, but there’s so much to love about a player who can score, rebound, defend and shoot effectively, especially from a fantasy standpoint. He should get as many minutes as he can handle in Year 1.
6. Indiana Pacers: Dyson Daniels | G League Ignite | Guard | 6’6, 170
The Pacers will be trading one of their guards in just a few picks, and with that in mind, they select Daniels, a player whose stock has continued to rise as we approach Draft night. He’s got work to do as a scorer, but Daniels has the size and length to be a versatile defender, and he can pass and rebound quite well. The pairing with Tyrese Haliburton in the backcourt will be a lot of fun to watch for years to come.
7. Detroit Pistons (via Blazers): Bennedict Mathurin | Arizona | Guard/Forward | Sophomore | 6’7, 210
Trade: Trail Blazers receive Jerami Grant, Pistons receive No. 7 pick
The Pistons move Jerami Grant and add a second pick inside the top-7. Portland is trying to win now with Damian Lillard, and Detroit is trying to add talent to its depleted roster and build a young core for the future. The move makes sense for both sides. In BenMath, the Pistons get a three-and-D wing who uses his length and athleticism to affect the game on both ends of the court. He’s a pretty great passer, too.
8. New Orleans Pelicans (via Lakers): A.J. Griffin | Duke | Forward | Freshman | 6’6, 220
The Pels don’t have any glaring needs, so they take a guy who shot 44.7% from beyond the arc at Duke last season. There are some concerns about Griffin’s health due to a knee injury suffered last season, but obviously, New Orleans knows how to deal with injury-prone Duke players.
9. San Antonio Spurs: Jalen Duren | Memphis | Center | Freshman | 6’11, 250
The Spurs have been linked to drafting a big man for a while, and the rumor mill continues to churn with just days to go until the Draft. San Antonio selects the Memphis big man who showed off his scoring, rebounding and blocking prowess as a rookie and earned AAC ROY honors. He’ll provide some much-needed depth at center and give the Spurs more athleticism and defensive versatility than Jakob Poetl.
10. Sacramento Kings (via WAS): Shaedon Sharpe | Kentucky | Guard | Freshman | 6’6, 200
The Kings trade back and still grab one of the most athletic and high-upside picks in the Draft. The jury is still out on Sharpe after he didn’t play a single minute for Kentucky last season, but high school tape and Pro Day workouts show a ridiculous vertical and high motor.
11. Indiana Pacers (via Knicks): Johnny Davis | Wisconsin | Guard | Sophomore | 6’5, 195
Trade: Knicks receive Malcolm Brogdon, Pacers receive No. 11 pick
The Knicks have been desperate for a PG and of course Coach Thibs doesn’t want to give Immanuel Quickley or Miles McBride too much run, so New York trades for Malcolm Brogdon to bring in a veteran presence at the position. In turn, Indiana snags one of the best scorers in the Draft in Davis. Davis did it all for the Badgers last season, racking up points in bunches with his deep offensive bag and hustling on defense.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Clippers): Ousmane Dieng | New Zealand | Forward | International | 6’9, 185
Dieng is still a raw talent, but OKC isn’t going to be in a position to contend for years to come, so they can take a chance on the NBL prospect. He struggled to start the season but excelled over the final 12 games, showing off his ability to pass, rebound, defend and knock down threes. At 6’9 with plenty of length, he can be a versatile defender and playmaker in the NBA, but don’t expect him to be too involved in the rotation as a rookie.
13. Charlotte Hornets: Mark Williams | Duke | Center | 7’2, 243
With Jalen Duren off the board, the Hornets use this pick on Williams, the Duke center with a 7’7 wingspan and 9’9 standing reach. Charlotte’s weak spot over the last two seasons has been its frontcourt, and taking Williams provides an immediate upgrade over Mason Plumlee and Montrezl Harrell. LaMelo to Williams has “Lob City East” written all over it, and the fantasy fit is just as juicy.
14. Cleveland Cavaliers: Malaki Branham | Ohio State | Guard | Freshman | 6’5, 180
The Cavs have several options here, whether it’s adding size and scoring at guard with Ochai Agbaji, prioritizing defense with Jeremy Sochan or grabbing an efficient scorer. I’ll bet on the latter, as Cleveland takes one of the most efficient scorers in the Draft who averaged 13.7 points per game on 49.8/41.6/83.3 shooting splits last season for Ohio State. He could have some fantasy appeal if he carves out a meaningful role off the bench.
15. Charlotte Hornets (via Pelicans): Jeremy Sochan | Baylor | Forward | Freshman | 6’9, 230
“Little Rodman” has the ever-changing hair color and defensive tenacity and hustle of the Hall-of-Famer plus a solid offensive game to boot. Sochan is a great fit for a Charlotte team that ranked 23rd in defensive rating in 2021-22 and lacked quality frontcourt depth.
16. Houston Rockets (via Hawks): Nikola Jovic | Serbia | Forward | International | 6’10, 205
Trade: Rockets trade No. 17 pick and No. 26 pick (via Dallas) for No. 16 pick
After trading Christian Wood, the Rockets have three first-round picks, and the roster is already a bit crowded. They move the 17th and 26th picks to Atlanta for the chance to move up and get the guy with the most upside left on the board. Jovic makes difficult passes look easy, and he profiles as a point forward with three-point shooting upside. The 19-year-old makes perfect sense for a Rockets team that can afford some time to develop his unique talents.
17. Atlanta Hawks (via Rockets): Ochai Agbaji | Kansas | Guard | Senior | 6’5, 215
Atlanta trades back one spot for the privilege of drafting two more times in the first round, and they land a guy who some are projecting to go in the top-10. The NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, Agbaji averaged 18.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.7 triples per contest in his senior season with Kansas, shooting 42.3% from three during March Madness. The Hawks add another guard who can get a bucket alongside Trae Young.
18. Chicago Bulls: Jalen Williams | Santa Clara | Guard | Junior | 6’5, 209
After a tremendous Combine performance, Williams’ stock is higher than ever. He averaged 18.9 points, 4.4 boards and 4.2 dimes while shooting 39.6% from beyond the arc at Santa Clara last season, and he could be a nice addition for the Bulls who have been shopping guard Coby White.
19. Minnesota Timberwolves: New York Knicks: TyTy Washington | Kentucky | Guard | Freshman | 6’3, 195
Washington falls a bit in the Draft and lands with a team that could utilize him in a prominent role as soon as this season. Both Patrick Beverley and D’Angelo Russell are free agents next summer, and if one or both are traded in the off-season, Washington could see plenty of minutes. His score-first nature makes him an intriguing points-league player in fantasy hoops, especially with the run-and-gun T-Wolves.
20. San Antonio Spurs (via Raptors): Tari Eason | LSU | Forward | Sophomore | 6’8, 216
The “Bucket from the Bayou” averaged 25 points per 36 minutes last season at LSU and compiled 3.0 stocks while leading the Tigers on many fast-break opportunities. The Spurs need some more quality depth in the frontcourt, and they’ll get a two-way stud in Eason who shouldn’t have fallen this far in the Draft.
21. Denver Nuggets: MarJon Beauchamp | G League Ignite | Guard | 6’6, 197
Beauchamp is another of this Draft class’ big guards, who averaged 15.1 points and 7.3 rebounds for the G League Ignite last season. With length (7’0 wingspan) and athleticism, he can finish through contact at the rim, rebound effectively and make an impact as a defender. The plus-sized Beauchamp could be a great fit alongside Jamal Murray in Denver’s backcourt.
22. Memphis Grizzlies (via Jazz): Kennedy Chandler | Tennessee | Guard | Freshman | 6’2, 170
The Grizz make a move on Chandler at 22 and gain a great passer and high-motor scorer who can back up Ja Morant if Tyus Jones packs his bags in free agency. Playing time could be available if he impresses, but Memphis’ ultra-deep roster makes a path to instant minutes a little more difficult.
23. Denver Nuggets (via 76ers): Blake Wesley | Notre Dame | Guard | Freshman | 6’4, 187
Trade: Nuggets receive Matisse Thybulle, Danny Green, Furkan Korkmaz, No. 23 pick, 76ers receive: Monte Morris, Will Barton
Philly uses Danny Green’s $10M expiring contract and the appeal of Matisse Thybulle’s All-NBA defense to land a sold wing scorer in Will Barton and a capable backup point guard in Morris. The Nuggets then use the newly-acquired pick to grab the high-upside Wesley, who made his bones a season ago turning defense into offense with his active hands and skills on the fastbreak.
24. Milwaukee Bucks: Walker Kessler | Auburn | Center | Sophomore | 7’1, 245
Milwaukee already has a dominant frontcourt with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis, but neither Portis nor Lopez are on long-term deals, and the former is only getting older. Bringing in a guy like Kessler (who swatted 4.6 shots per game last season) would give another dimension to Milwaukee’s defense.
25. San Antonio Spurs (via Celtics): Christian Braun | Kansas | Guard | Junior | 6’6, 218
A prototypical three-and-D prospect, Braun fits well with just about any team, but his blue-collar attitude should serve him well under Gregg Popovich. Braun impressed as a member of the NCAA champion Jayhawks, and he wowed in Combine scrimmages. His spot at the end of the first round feels secure.
26. Atlanta Hawks (via Rockets): Jaden Hardy | G-League | Guard | 6’4, 200
Hardy’s stock has tumbled after an unimpressive season in the G-League, but his physicality and upside as a scorer make him an intriguing pick for Atlanta. Hardy has also flashed some excellence as a playmaker, which is something Atlanta could desperately use. The Hawks go for the risk/reward pick after landing this one in a swap with Houston.
27. Miami Heat: Dalen Terry | Arizona | Guard | Sophomore | 6’7, 195
Playing alongside Ben Mathurin at Arizona, Terry stood out as a jack-of-all-trades thanks to his ability to pass, rebound, score and defend. He’s not going to put up 20 a night, but he averaged 10/6/5 and 2.0 stocks per 36 while earning Pac-12 All-Defense honors. Terry shot better than 36% from three as well, so the upside as a 3-and-D wing who can facilitate is obvious. Miami loves players who get after it on defense, so this is a great fit.
28. Golden State Warriors: David Roddy | Colorado State | Forward | Junior | 6’6, 261
“Rowdy Roddy,” the MWC player of the year averaged 19.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.3 stocks in his final year with Colorado State, taking a major leap in three-point shooting, draining 1.5 triples on 43.8% shooting from beyond the arc. Roddy moves well without the ball and has a high basketball IQ, but at his size, he’s not the quickest or most athletic guy on the court. Golden State could mold him into a Draymond Green type thanks to his potential playmaking abilities and his attitude and physicality on both ends of the floor.
29. Memphis Grizzlies: Kendall Brown | Baylor | Forward | Freshman | 6’8, 205
Brown’s size and athleticism should be appealing, even on a team with such a deep roster. Brown will likely struggle to find consistent playing time in Year 1, but he’s got high upside if you want to take a chance on him in dynasty formats.
30. Denver Nuggets (via Thunder): Jake LaRavia | Wake Forest | Forward | Junior | 6’8, 227
LaRavia averaged 14.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.7 dimes, 1.7 steals and 1.0 blocks at Wake Forest last season and showed that he can do a little bit of everything on the basketball court. After trading Monte Morris to the Sixers, the Nugs could realistically target a PG here, but they could also choose to let Bones Hyland develop behind Jamal Murray and use the pick on someone like LaRavia