NBA Mock Draft 4.0: LaMelo Ball is headliner, but he might not be No. 1
If there’s anything we know about this NBA draft it’s that it will be unlike any that preceeded it, and LaMelo Ball has been the headliner.
Held in the middle of a pandemic with no offseason and training camp around the corner, there’s sure to be plenty of twists.
Here’s where we think things stand as of now after a couple of pre-draft trades:
1. Minnesota: Anthony Edwards, SG, 6-5, 225, Georgia
There was a lot of buzz about LaMelo Ball at No. 1. Here’s guessing it was a smokescreen to try to generate interest in the pick. The Timberwolves go with a player more suited to fit in with their core.
2. Golden State: James Wiseman, C, 7-1, 240, Memphis
If the Warriors don’t move back (or if Charlotte doesn’t move up), Wiseman would be the best fit. Golden State wants to compete now, but the chance to take a future cornerstone is too good to pass up.
3. Charlotte: LaMelo Ball, PG, 6-7, 181, Chino Hills High
The Hornets might be tempted to grab a big man if the board shakes out this way, but Ball gives them a chance at having a real star in the fold.
4. Chicago: Patrick Williams, F, 6-8, 225, Florida St.
The latest buzz around the NBA is that Williams has shot all the way up here, with NBA teams banking on his high ceiling. He’s young, long and could end up being the best two-way player in the draft.
5. Cleveland: Deni Avdija, F, 6-9, 215, Israel
With Cleveland investing in scoring guards the last two drafts, getting a player as selfless as Avdija fits in well with what the Cavaliers are trying to do. Dayton’s Obi Toppin would be an option here too.
6. Atlanta: Tyrese Haliburton, G, 6-5, 175, Iowa State
The Hawks are rumored to be in on virtually every free-agent guard, Rajon Rondo included, but those plans could change if a mature player like Haliburton is around to fill out their backcourt.
7. Detroit: Isaac Okoro, SF, 6-6, 225, Auburn
The Pistons were rumored to have promised this spot to Patrick Williams, but with him off the board, they grab another wing with some two-way potential. They also need a point guard and could trade up for LaMelo Ball.
8. New York: Obi Toppin, PF, 6-9, 220, Dayton
The Knicks are full of big men, but Toppin’s fit is too good to pass up. There are connections to the city and the Knicks’ front office galore.
9. Washington: Onyeka Okongwu, C, 6-9, 245, USC
The Wizards would love to get a big man. Medical concerns with Okongwu might keep him on the board for the Wizards.
10. Phoenix: Devin Vassell, SG, 6-7, 195, Florida State
The Suns don’t need a point guard anymore after dealing for Chris Paul so they can grab one of the best 3-and-D guys in the draft.
11. San Antonio: Sadiq Bey, F, 6-8, 216, Villanova
He’s a smart player from a good program with a lot of skill as a shooter on Day 1. With his length and IQ, there’s no reason to think he can’t be effective on defense too.
12. Sacramento: Aaron Nesmith, SF, 6-6, 213, Vanderbilt
Nesmith might be the best shooter in the draft, and the Kings need more skill on the perimeter. He could allow Sacramento to move on from Buddy Hield.
13. New Orleans: Killian Hayes, PG, 6-5, 192, Germany
The Pelicans have a lot of draft capital to spend, so why not use it on a high-upside combo guard just in case Lonzo Ball isn’t the answer.
For three years the former Chino Hills High star has been a vagabond, traveling to Lithuania, Ohio and Australia to play. He’s proven able to adapt each stop.
14. Boston: Jalen Smith, PF, 6-10, 225, Maryland
Smith has some work to do to defend at the next level, as some scouts think is possible, but he can really shoot the ball for a big man.
15. Orlando: Kira Lewis Jr., PG, 6-3, 165, Alabama
The Magic have a lot of needs and Lewis seems like he’d fit great next to Markelle Fultz. He’s a speedster guard with a gear few can get to.
16. Houston: RJ Hampton, PG/SG 6-5, 185 pounds, Little Elm (Texas) HS
Who knows what Houston wants to do after reportedly acquiring this pick from Portland? With an eye to the future, why not look at one of the higher upside players left.
17. Minnesota: Aleksej Pokusevski, PF-C, 7-0, 195, Serbia
With two first-round picks, Minnesota can swing for the fences on Pokusevski, a player with tons of size and perimeter skill with a body that needs quite a bit of work.
18. Dallas: Precious Achiuwa, PF-C, 6-9, 225, Memphis
The Mavericks could use a bruiser inside with a big-time motor, and Achiuwa is always active.
19. Brooklyn: Tyrese Maxey, SG, 6-3, 198, Kentucky
A hard-nosed guard with great scoring instincts, Maxey seems like the kind of player who could crack the rotation on a winner.
20. Miami: Tyrell Terry, PG, 6-2, 160, Stanford
Of the point guards in the draft, Terry might be the best shooter. And while he’s small, he’s a competitor who will work to fight on defense.
21. Philadelphia: Cole Anthony, PG, 6-3, 190, North Carolina
This pick makes a ton of sense for Doc Rivers — legacy name, legacy school and fits a need for an offense-starved backcourt.
22. Denver: Leandro Bolmaro, PG, 6-7, 185, Argentina
The Nuggets could leave Bolmaro overseas or they could bring the playmaking guard over and try to develop him in-house like they did with Michael Porter and Bol Bol.
23. Utah: Malachi Flynn, PG, 6-1, 185, San Diego St.
Flynn is held in high regard by scouts and is pushing up draft boards. He could run a team sooner than later.
Tyrese Haliburton and Malachi Flynn are top NBA draft prospects represented by CAA, which created a “bubble” in Las Vegas that was all business and camaraderie.
24. New Orleans: Josh Green, SG, 6-6, 210, Arizona
The Pelicans really need some defensive attitude, and Green’s got a lot of skills on that side of the ball.
25. Oklahoma City: Jaden McDaniels, PF, 6-10, 200, Washington
Thought to be a lock for the lottery, his struggles at Washington have forced him to rebuild his stock. He’s a gamble, but the Thunder have time.
26. Milwaukee: Desmond Bane, SG, 6-6, 215, TCU
A catch-and-shoot specialist who won’t need to create for himself with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown around.
27. New York: Cassius Winston, PG, 6-1, 185, Michigan St.
A versatile shooter and a really smart player should be a plus on a roster early in camp with his IQ and attitude.
28. OKC (via Lakers): Theo Maledon, PG, 6-5, 180, France
A big guard who would fit next to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as the Thunder try to build their backcourt of the future. Trading up is a possibility too.
29. Toronto: Xavier Tillman, F, 6-8, 245, Michigan State
A versatile big man, Tillman has really helped himself during the pre-draft process by showing more outside range than people thought he possessed.
30. Boston: Tre Jones, PG, 6-3, 185, Duke
If the Celtics use all their picks, it’s hard to think they won’t snag a point guard with one of them.
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