For the third consecutive year, Hoops Prospects held a group mock draft, a true collective effort that involved a lot of work from the entire staff.
The 30 NBA teams were divided among five HP writers/analysts, including myself. Below are the results of both rounds, including comments from the person who made the pick. Trades were permitted as long as they were approved by the majority and fit under the salary cap. As a guide, we used a composite draft board, consisting of rankings from seven different sites, including HP. We did it this way to better represent how NBA teams may be thinking.
- Drew Barton (DB): Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Golden State, and Sacramento
- Hugh Baxter (HB): Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, LA Clippers, LA Lakers, Orlando, and San Antonio
- Rich Harris (RH): Houston, Indiana, Miami, Milwaukee, New York, Philadelphia, and Toronto
- Cam Riehl (CR): Denver, Detroit, Memphis, New Orleans, Phoenix, and Washington
- Connor Youngberg (CY): Brooklyn, Minnesota, Oklahoma City, Portland, and Utah
This year’s group mock was a part of the HP Podcast. The first round was split between two episodes (S1-E19 and S1-E20), which were recorded on June 15. The second round was recorded a week later (HPP S1-E20). It must be noted that shortly after we recorded the first round, there was a significant trade made between Dallas and Houston, which had implications for our first round. We made the appropriate adjustments after the trade, and those adjustments are reflected below. From there, we carried on with the second round.
Lastly, this group mock differs from the site’s official mock draft, which is done by only me.
As Jabari is the No. 1 prospect on the HP Draft Board, he is the answer to the Jabari-or-Chet discussion for the Magic. While they have a young and promising core (Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter Jr., and Jonathon Isaac), Smith will likely turn out to be the best of the bunch. If the team can get healthy and stay that way, the Magic will be an exciting team to watch and could be in the playoff mix in the near future.
A stretch big with flawless shooting mechanics, Smith was a All-SEC 1st-Team selection, the SEC Rookie of the Year, and an All-America 2nd-team selection. He averaged 16.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.1 SPG, and 1.0 BPG, with excellent shooting splits (.429/.420/.799). He finished in the top 10 of the SEC for win shares, plus-minus, PER, offensive rating, and defensive rating, demonstrating that he is a complete, two-way player, despite being barely 19 years old.
|2||Oklahoma City||CY||Chet Holmgren||C||Gonzaga||7’0″||195||7’6”||20.1|
With Jabari Smith off the board, the Thunder gladly take Chet Holmgren. The Gonzaga freshman is a seven footer with the ability to handle the ball and stretch the floor, while being arguably the best rim protector in all of college basketball last season. Holmgren averaged 14.1 points along with 9.9 rebounds and 3.7 blocks while shooting 60% from the field, including 39% from behind the arc. Holmgren adds much needed size and shooting to a young OKC team, and he will pair terrifically with Thunder standouts Josh Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
On the podcast, I selected Jaden Ivey at this spot, but since making that selection, a number of things have changed or have come to light that have convinced me that Banchero will go to the Rockets at No. 3. First and foremost, I have been taking one last look at many prospects, and after watching more of the top four, I moved Banchero to No. 2 overall, leaping over both Ivey and Holmgren. Also, the trade of Christian Wood to Dallas, and the fact that the trade took place just hours after Banchero worked out for Houston are two more significant factors pointing to the Duke forward becoming a Rocket.
The best half-court scorer in this draft class, Banchero can put the ball in the basket at all three levels and he does so in a variety of ways. He also handles and passes the ball very well for a big man. He is not an elite athlete or defender, but he is more than serviceable in both departments. On the season, he averaged 17.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 3.2 APG, and roughly one steal and one block per game. He had good shooting splits (.478/.338/.729), and ranked no worse than 59th percentile for points per possession (PPP) in eight of ten of the major offensive categories on Synergy, ranging from 88th percentile on cuts to the 43rd PCTL when spotting up. Best of all, the 19-year-old improved as season progressed, and he played his best in the NCAA Tournament, averaging 19 PPG while shooting 50 percent from the floor and 53 percent from deep.
With the fourth pick, the Sacramento Kings are in a position where the tough choices have been made for them. Jaden Ivey profiles as the best available player coupled with some of the highest potential in the draft. This stems from his elite athleticism that could cause opponents nightmares when trying to account for him and De’Aaron Fox. There are concerns about roster construction, given that the Kings field a relatively small backcourt with Fox standing 6’3’’ and Davion Mitchell at 6’0’’. Even his electric leaping ability can’t hide the fact that Ivey is 6’4’’, and there are concerns in regards to his three-point shooting, playmaking, and right-hand dominance.
With the Kings ranking 19th and 15th in fast-break points per game and scoring efficiency, respectively, there is a lot to love about the thought of easy points coming in transition with a dynamic trio of young guards. Still, the addition of Domantas Sabonis could make the team relevant again, and with a sixteen-year absence from the playoffs looming, the Kings should look to potential trade partners. Taking Ivey makes sense from the standpoint of best available talent, but even the Purdue standout may take time to help lead a franchise on a playoff run. Reportedly, the Knicks and other clubs have interest in the No. 4 overall pick.
Mathurin has a unique combination of length, athleticism, and ball skills that make him an enticing wing prospect. This season, the Arizona sophomore averaged 17.7 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and 2.5 APG, with shooting splits of .450/.369/.764, and he ranked at the 86th percentile for overall PPP. His frame and athleticism should allow him to operate as a switchable lead guard on defense. Perimeter defense is becoming increasingly important in today’s NBA. The more length teams can introduce to their back-court, the better.
As a combo guard, Mathurin displays on ball creation as a scorer and a playmaker. Much talk has been made about the standout athleticism of Jaden Ivey, but Mathurin is every bit as explosive. Mathurin also excelled off the ball in his most recent season at Arizona.
Mathurin should fit right in as a secondary option next to Cade Cunningham. He will provide some on-ball scoring and give Cade the opportunity to work off the ball on occasion. More importantly, Mathurin is an angry and explosive cutter (87th PCTL for PPP). He and Cade alone should cause teams heartburn in transition next season. Mathurin is more than an athlete, however; he possesses a smooth, high-release jump shot. Over his two years with Arizona, he made 38 percent from deep on five attempts per game, and this season, he ranked at the 72nd percentile for PPP with off-the-bounce jumpers.
The Pacers need a power forward in the worst way, and Keegan Murray is the consensus fifth-best player in this draft, making this an easy decision. Murray should help offset the loss of Domantas Sabonis; the Iowa star is a more perimeter-oriented big, who may better complement Myles Turner.
A Consensus All-American, Murray features a sweet shooting stroke, great end-to-end speed, the ability to rip and run in transition, and a strong inside game. This past season for PPP, he ranked no worse than the 85th percentile via transition, post-ups, and spot-ups. He finished his sophomore year with superb shooting splits (.554/.398/.747), while ranking ninth in the nation for scoring (20.7 PPG). He also did something that is rare, leading the country in all three of the major overall metrics: PER (37.8), win shares (8.7), and plus-minus (15.7). On the other hand, Murray is nearly 22 years old, meaning that his upside will likely not be as great as most other lottery prospects. Additionally, he is not an elite player off the bounce in the half court, and he is not much of a playmaker (1.5 assists per game).
With the uncertain future revolving around unrestricted free agent Jusuf Nurkic, the Trail Blazers opt to use the seventh overall selection to get their center of the future. Duren averaged 12 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game in his freshman year at Memphis. He is the youngest player in this year’s draft and has plenty of time to develop into a dominant center in the league, but he will also bring immediate help to a Blazer team in desperate need of size and talent around Damian Lillard. With potential free-agent options like Zach Lavine and Bradley Beal, it makes sense for the Blazers to solidify their frontcourt through the draft. Duren has a massive 6-foot-11, 250-pound frame that makes him a force on the block and the perfect pick-and-roll man for Lillard.
|8||New Orleans||CR||AJ Griffin||W||Duke||6’6″||222||7’0”||18.8|
Via the Lakers, New Orleans is going to take a shot at a wing who can play alongside its young core and provide more scoring without sacrificing defense. AJ Griffin has an elite frame to go along with an excellent jump shot. He is among the best spot-up shooters in the draft. The rangy and muscular wing from Duke struggled with nagging injuries early in his freshman season with the Blue Devils. However, Griffin showed flashes of his full potential as the year progressed, and he is tantalizing enough to go here at 8, maybe even earlier.
For the season in a complementary role, Griffin averaged 10.4 points and 3.9 rebounds on 23.9 minutes per game, with outstanding shooting splits (.493/.447/.792). His strength was his jump shooting, which accounted for 68 percent of his half-court offense. In terms of points per possession, he ranked at the 95th percentile for both off-the-catch and off-the-bounce jumpers.
The most common comp on Griffin has been lofty: “Jimmy Butler with a jumper.” Butler he is not. Griffin is not nearly the same level of athlete as Butler, nor does he have Mr. Bucket’s motor.
What Griffin does have is an elite frame for a shooting guard, and an absolutely sweet shooting stroke. Griffin, like Butler, is adept at using his broad shoulders to open driving lanes and to push around smaller guards in the mid-post. What makes the Duke freshman unique is the 44.7 percent clip with which he splashes threes. He excels in open space off pin down screens, and he also has that elusive ability to create his own threes off the dribble as well. Griffin has the tools to be an elite scorer in the NBA if he continues to develop as a ball handler.
|9||San Antonio||HB||Ousmane Dieng||F||NZ Breakers||6’10”||215||7’1”||19.1|
Ousmane Dieng, one of the highest upside guys in the draft, now finds himself in the perfect position to develop under a quality coaching staff and organization. The Spurs continue to look toward the future and build toward title contention the right way, through the draft. Dieng has a clear feel for the game, and his comfort handling the ball for his size, plus a mechanically sound jumpshot, scream future All-Star, if developed correctly.
In his first professional season overseas, Dieng’s numbers were underwhelming this season. Just 19 years old, the Frenchman produced 8.9 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and 1.0 APG while playing 21 minutes per game in the Australian NBL However, he played significantly better in his last 12 games, averaging 13.3 points and 4.1 rebounds, with solid shooting splits (.484/.351/.696). It appears that Dieng is only scratching the surface of what could be unlocked under this Spurs leadership.
Tari Eason from LSU could have the highest ceiling of any player outside of the top five. He has a unique blend of athleticism, size, and strength. I believe that Eason has the highest upside of the available prospects, and similar to Patrick Williams in 2020, he goes way before expected.
16.9 PPG | 6.6 RPG | 1.0 APG | 1.9 SPG | 1.2 BPG | 35.9% 3FG | 52.1% FG | 80% FT
The defensive potential with Eason is remarkable. At 6’8”, there are few matchups in the league that will be unfavorable for him. He has the strength and leaping ability to defend bigger players, and the length and quickness needed to switch onto NBA guards. With averages of 1.9 steals and 1.2 blocks per game, Eason has the big-play ability to create fast break points for his team.
Eason has tremendous two-way potential as well. He averaged just shy of 17 points per game in his sophomore season at LSU. After transferring from a struggling Cincinnati program last summer, he went to work on transforming his jump shot. He swiftly moved up to 80% from the free-throw line, and his perimeter game followed suit, as the 21-year-old averaged 35.9% from three-point range, which was more than enough to force teams to respect his shot.
As defenses are forced to guard Eason more tightly on the perimeter, driving lanes will become more readily available to him. Eason, who already excels in transition (90th PCTL for PPP), has the potential to do the same in the half court. His combination of size and speed allow him to blow by slower defenders and manhandle smaller defenders. However, it is his improving handle that could allow him to score against the best defenders the NBA has to offer. As of now, he tends to be turnover prone in traffic.
|11||New York||RH||Dyson Daniels||PG||GL Ignite||6’7”||195||6’11”||19.3|
With the Wizards unexpectedly skipping Dyson Daniels, the Knicks should be ecstatic about getting him at 11. Due to his suspect shooting (30% from deep and 53% from the foul line), the 19-year-old might not be the franchise type of point guard that the Knicks have been seeking, but he does fit their mold — a hard working, intelligent, and competitive player, a tough defender, and a good playmaker. Despite struggling as a shooter this season, the Australian native averaged 11.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 2.0 steals per game, and he ranked at the 78th percentile for points and assists per possession. He also ranked at the 86th percentile as an overall defender.
|12||Oklahoma City||CY||Shaedon Sharpe||W||Kentucky||6’5″||198||6’11”||19.1|
This pick is via the Clippers.
Shaedon Sharpe is perhaps this draft’s most confusing prospect. The odd circumstances of his collegiate career (or lack of it) and some recent lackluster workouts must have some of the top teams in the draft considering avoiding Sharpe. On the other hand, Sam Presti and the OKC Thunder will likely be more than willing to take a chance on the 19-year-old at No. 12 because of his tremendous potential. Though not there now, Sharpe projects as a good defender, with a 6’11” wingspan and the athleticism to guard multiple positions. However, his main appeal is his scoring ability. Sharpe has a nice handle and is great at creating his own shot off the dribble, but he does settle for too many jumpers. If the Thunder can land Sharpe, he could develop into a phenomenal secondary or primary scoring option down the line for a young team filled with untapped potential.
Sochan may not be NBA ready as an offensive player but his defensive intensity is primed to help a team. Therefore, he is a natural fit in Charlotte, as the Hornets were one of the league’s bottom defensive units last season. They allowed the third highest points per game and were bottom third in defensive rebounding, 3-point percentage allowed, and field-goal percentage allowed.
The energetic Sochan is ready to impact the defense in all these areas as a good rebounder who can play on the perimeter and in passing lanes as well as possessing the strength to bang into the post. Charlotte hopes to re-sign its top scorer, Miles Bridges, and has an ascending playmaker in LeMelo Ball. Sochan should mesh nicely, scoring on hustle plays, cuts, and rim runs, similar to his offensive game at Baylor, where he averaged 9.2 points, 6.4 boards, 1.8 assists, and a combined 2.0 steals and blocks per game, with modest shooting splits (.474/.296/.589).
After attempts to send this pick away for a more established guy, the Cavs take the best player available, Johnny Davis. Last season at Wisconsin, he produced 20 PPG, 8 RPG, and 2 APG. The reigning Big Ten Player of the Year and a first-team Consensus All-American, Davis has an uncanny ability to make difficult shots. Much of his offense is generated from working off screens, and he thrives as a midrange scorer. He is physical and not afraid of contact, and he is a good, but not great, athlete. The main concerns are his suspect ability to create space at the next level and his poor shooting from deep (33% for his career). At the same time, the sophomore is a smart, competitive player, an energetic defender with good instincts, and an excellent rebounder.
Cleveland’s front office may be disappointed to see Sochan go one pick ahead of them because a long-wing defender is what the Cavs should acquire. While Davis is clearly a talented player and has plenty of promise, the Cavs already have a plethora of options at shooting guard with Isaac Okoro, Caris LeVert, and a now-healthy Colin Sexton on the roster.
This pick is via New Orleans.
With the 15th pick the Hornets take Mark Williams from Duke. The 7-footer will give the Hornets a legitimate prospect at center where they only have Mason Plumlee and Nick Richards available. With Sochan and Williams added to the mix, the Hornets have their frontcourt of the future, with the expectation they extend Miles Bridges’ contract.
Williams, arguably the best pure center in the draft, is a great fit. At Duke, he showcased strong rim protecting instincts (2.8 blocks per game) and was highly efficient offensively at 72% from the field. He was so efficient that he ranked at the 100th percentile for PPP, and he paired that with a defensive ranking at the 84th percentile for PPP allowed.
A Williams, Sochan and Bridges front court is full of rebounding, switchability, and rim protection. And each brings a unique package to the table. While Williams might not be the highest upside pick, there is reason to see a very high floor and a clearly defined role that Charlotte desperately needs.
With the 16th pick the ATL Hawks select TyTy Washington from Kentucky. Despite needing defensive help along the perimeter, the Hawks could lose Delon Wright and Lou Williams. Without another point guard on the roster, Washington should help stabilize the Hawks’ offense when Trae Young sits; last season, their offensive rating plummeted by 7.4 points when Young rested. While TyTy was forced into more of a secondary playmaking role in college, he could really pop in a high-powered offense like Atlanta’s. At Kentucky, the freshman averaged 12.5 points and 3.9 assists per game, with an assist-turnover ratio of 2.4, and he also ranked at the 81st percentile for points and assists per possession, and was at the 68th percentile for PPP (including passes) as a pick-and-roll handler. Atlanta needs serious defensive help, and KU’s Ochai Agbaji was in consideration for this pick, but it will likely be easier to fix the team’s offensive woes than defensive. Atlanta is one of the highest salaried teams so they will need the draft to make additions, assuming John Collins is not traded.
This pick is via Brooklyn.
Unable to trade down a few spots and make the same pick, the Rockets go with Walker Kessler to fill a need; the best player available, Malaki Branham, would create a logjam at guard. Last season, Houston ranked last in the league for defensive rating and points allowed in the paint, and Kessler (4.6 BPG) will add much-needed rim protection.
The reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Kessler is a traditional center, who has shown some flashes of being able to stretch the floor, but he has much to prove in that department, making just 25 percent of his jumpers this past season, including 10 of 50 from deep (20%). And though he is fairly light on his feet, especially for his size, it’s questionable how effective he will be as a perimeter defender in the NBA. Around the basket on the offensive end, he is highly efficient as a roller and a cutter. In terms of PPP this past season, he ranked at the 96th percentile, and he also ranked fourth in the SEC with a field-goal percentage of 60.8.
MOCK TRADE: Chicago will be making this pick for Detroit. The Bulls receive Jerami Grant, Kelly Olynyk, Killian Hayes and the 46th pick, while the Pistons receive Nicola Vucevic, Coby White, and the 18th pick.
Ochai Agbaji has long had the athleticism that NBA scouts covet in wing prospects, but there were concerns about his basketball instincts, aggressiveness, and overall skill level. Our very own Richard Harris spoke to Agbaji at the 2021 NBA Combine, and the KU prospect admitted that he settled for too many jump shots and had to improve his handle and finishing at the rim. In his senior season, Agbaji achieved his goals and silenced the skeptics by becoming an all-around threat and leading the Jayhawks to the 2022 National Championship.
18.7 PPG | 5.1 REB | 1.6 AST | 0.92 STL | 47.5% FG | 40.9% 3FG | 2.1 TO |
Agbaji has successfully developed his offensive game during his four years at Kansas. Notably, he boosted his three-point percentage to 40.9 this season. At the same time, the versatile wing harnessed his athleticism and developed his handle. Agbaji turned his speed into a weapon, slashing into the lane and attacking the rim. This past season, he made 65 percent of 191 shot attempts within seven feet, compared to 58 percent of 92 attempts in 2020-21.
Ochai is gifted at playing off the ball. He is among the best lob threats in this draft, especially among wings. With the development of his shot, the 22-year-old is now also a threat to shoot off split action and pin down sets. When defenders begin to chase him or cheat over the screen, Agbaji is able to get free toward the rim. The KU senior should be an excellent fit next to Cade Cunningham or Luka Doncic, whose high usage style of play works best alongside players who can be effective without the ball in their hands.
Agbaji also projects as an excellent defender at the NBA level. His frame is similar to that of Mikal Bridges, both possess extremely long arms for their frame. Agbaji should be able to switch 1-4, especially with his leaping ability, which allows him to protect the rim in scramble situations, similar to Andrew Wiggins in this year’s championship run.
|19||Minnesota||CY||EJ Liddell||F||Ohio State||6’7″||243||7’2″||21.5|
The Timberwolves have been searching for a frontcourt mate for Karl-Anthony Towns for a while now, and Liddell could be their guy. The Ohio State junior has NBA-ready size, standing 6’7” and weighing 243 pounds. He also has a 7’2” wingspan, which helps him on the defensive side of the ball. Liddell should provide the defensive versatility that Towns can’t bring, but the 21-year-old is also great on the offensive side of the ball. He improved in every major statistical category over his three years at Ohio State, reaching 19.4 points per game in his junior season. He’s also developed into a three-level scorer, shooting 37.4 percent from three this past season. Liddell is an underrated prospect in this year’s draft and he’ll provide productivity on both sides of the ball for whatever team drafts him, in this case the Minnesota Timberwolves.
|20||San Antonio||HB||Jalen Williams||W||Santa Clara||6’5″||209||7’2″||21.2|
This pick is via Toronto.
San Antonio takes Jalen Williams after an impressive showing at the NBA Combine, which boosted his stock. Among other things, the Santa Clara junior posted a 39’’ max vertical, and measured with a plus-10 wingspan. Once again, the Spurs will see him as a first-round gem who they can develop into a quality NBA player. At a minimum, Williams can be a 3-and-D guy in the league, and at his ceiling, he could be a wing creator who affects all areas of the game positively, thanks to his passing and ball-handling prowess. Williams is a late bloomer, who is just now uncovering both his defensive and offensive potential, following a significant growth spurt during high school, and he is still only 21 years old. The Spurs also follow the trend of stockpiling wings who can defend and are switchable in the modern NBA.
|21||Denver||CR||Malaki Branham||W||Ohio State||6’5″||194||6’10”||19.1|
The Nuggets are looking to fill positions of need for a deep playoff run. With Tim Connelly making his move to Minnesota, the rest of the draft room staff is going to keep things simple this year. Branham is a guy that is widely expected to go in the top 15, and it just so happens that he fits a position of need for the Nuggets. The Ohio State freshman is a beefy shooting guard with a very smooth game. He reminds me a little bit of Caris Levert, one of those scorers who isn’t going to carry your team over the course of the season, but every once in a while, he will give you an efficient 25-plus night.
Branham is a blue-chip prospect with a sweet shooting stroke and the size necessary to play at the two spot in the NBA. It’s extremely encouraging that the 19-year-old plays with great poise on the offensive end. He rarely forces his shots; he is more likely to move the ball to a teammate rather than loft up a bad look. Branham very much plays at his own pace; he does not blow you away with athleticism and speed like Anthony Edwards or Jalen Green. To draw a comparison, Branham is more of a Harden-esque scorer, who likes to lull the defense to sleep with his dribble then use his strength and change of speed to force defensive mistakes.
Branham is an adept shooter, especially in spot-up situations from three-point range. More intriguing, the youngster thrives at creating his own shot in the mid-range. He loves the Iverson cut and dribble hand-off actions because they allow him to catch the ball in motion. Branham carries his momentum into the drive and has the length to finish among the trees. What differentiates Branham in these situations is the precision with which he can transition into his high-release jumper off the drive.
Branham should introduce some scoring into a roster that has lacked depth in recent years as a result of injuries to key players. His offensive polish will allow him to contribute right away for a Denver team that has championship expectations next season.
|22||Memphis||CR||MarJon Beauchamp||W||G-League Ignite||6’6″||196||7’1″||20.7|
With the 22nd pick, which was originally Utah’s, the Grizzlies will take another promising wing/forward to develop alongside Zaiare Williams. Beauchamp epitomizes everything that the grit-and-grind era of Memphis basketball was all about. His defensive potential is really tantalizing for a team that needs to find a way to be more effective on that end when Ja Morant is on the court. At his ceiling, I can imagine Beauchamp as one of those all-time defensive specialists, such as Tayshaun Prince, who can just envelop scorers with their length and quickness.
Offense is the name of the game right now in the NBA, and Beauchamp has a long way to go on that side of the game. He did not shoot the ball well with G-League Ignite, hovering around 27 percent from three. However, he did find some success as a cutter and slasher, especially on off-screen plays and handoffs. Even with his abismal three-point shooting, Beauchamp managed an impressive clip from the field, shooting 57.1% over the course of the Ignite season, by being efficient around the basket. Beauchamp should be able to contribute enough offensively to stay on the court while harassing opposing scorers.
|23||Philadelphia||HB||Blake Wesley||G||Notre Dame||6’4″||190||6’9”||19.3|
MOCK TRADE: Philadelphia will be making this pick for Orlando. The Sixers trade pick 23 and Matisse Thybulle to Orlando for RJ Hampton and picks 32 and 35.
After the trade, the Magic see Blake Wesley as a player who can immediately come in and fill the hole created by the departure of RJ Hampton (traded in this mock). The Notre Dame freshman should continue to grow as an offensive player, whose speed can break down defenses and hopefully lead to making the right plays.
Wesley has the potential to be a primary ball handler and playmaker, but he was plagued by inconsistency this past season. The 19-year-old averaged 14.4 points and 2.4 assists per game, but he also committed 2.2 turnovers per game and had subpar shooting splits (.404/.303/.657). He was at his best in transition (77th percentile for PPP) and in the pick-and-roll (72nd PCTL, including passes), but he was horrendous around the rim, making just 43 percent of his half-court shots within seven feet. Given that he has above-average vertical pop and great length, there is a very good chance that he will make significant strides as a finisher.
Wesley has an unpredictable style of game that keeps defenders guessing, and he could be a great energy player coming off the bench in short stints, as he continues to grow and develop. Defensively, he gives great energy and uses his wingspan to reac havoc in passing lanes and inspire others around him. Paired with the acquisition of Thybulle (mock trade), the Magic will have two reserves who can contribute significantly to Orlando’s defensive identity.
|24||Milwaukee||RH||Jake LaRavia||F||Wake Forest||6’7”||227||6’10”||20.6|
Milwaukee could use depth nearly everywhere. Jake LaRavia has versatility on both ends of the court, and should blend in nicely with the Bucks due to his shooting and passing skills. This past season, he topped the ACC with an effective field-goal percentage of 60.6, shot 38.2 percent from deep, and finished eighth in the conference with 3.7 assists per game. On an analytic level, the Wake Forest junior ranked at the 96th percentile for points and assists per possession, and ranked better than the 70th percentile for transition, post-up, spot-up, off-cut, and isolation scoring. In other words, he can score from all over the floor. One concern is that a high number of his assists came from the post, and he needs to improve as a passer from the perimeter. Defensively, LaRavia was an excellent spot-up defender (82nd percentile), an area where the Bucks struggled last season.
|25||San Antonio||HB||Kennedy Chandler||G||Tennessee||6’0”||172||6’5”||19.8|
This pick is via Boston.
After already taking two promising wings in this draft, the Spurs pass on Nikola Jovic and decide to take Kennedy Chandler, with the hopes of him becoming a solid backup lead guard who can shoot, make the right play, and be a defensive spark behind Dejounte Murray. Chandler excels at playing without the ball, which will allow him to be plugged into the unselfish Spurs system right away. Also, he shot 40.5 percent on 79 catch-and-shoot attempts, so he can immediately help space the floor. Lastly, the speedy 19-year-old gets downhill into the paint to create opportunity for others. This past season, he averaged 4.7 assists per game with an assist-turnover ratio of 1.9, and he ranked at 89th percentile for points and assist per possession.
OFFICIAL TRADE: Dallas will be making this pick for Houston as part of the recent Christian Wood deal.
After using their first two picks on big men, the Rockets should look to bolster the wing spots, ideally with a shooter. Another option would be a pure point guard, but at this spot in the draft, it will be difficult to find good value at that position. Dalen Terry may not be the answer for Houston’s 3-point woes (21st in the NBA at 34.9 percent last season), but he will provide depth at the wing spot, and could even be used at the point. He brings great size, passing, defense, and efficiency on offense.
This past season, Terry was a glue-guy for a star-filled Arizona squad. How valuable was the young sophomore? He tied Ben Manthurin for fifth in the PAC-12 with a plus-minus rating of 8.0. Terry averaged just eight points per game, but stuffed the stat sheet in a variety of ways, averaging 4.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. He also had nice shooting splits (.502/.364/.736), but took just 6.2 attempts per game. Can he be as efficient on higher volume, and more importantly, will he be asked to shoot at a higher volume?
A true two-way player, Terry excels as a scorer in transition (91st percentile for PPP), but he is truly most effective as a scorer and passer combined. This past season, he ranked at the 98th percentile for points and assists per possession and ranked at the 78th percentile for PPP as a pick-and-roll handler, including passes. On defense, the 19-year-old can wreak havoc with his length and athleticism, and he is extremely switchable. He finished the season ranked at the 85th percentile for PPP allowed.
The Heat have a big need for size and front depth. Combine that with the fact that forward Kendall Brown is clearly the consensus best player available at this spot, and the choice is pretty easy. Brown is athletic and has a lot of upside, especially as a defender, which fits with the Heat.
A five-star recruit, Brown is a raw product on offense, but a highly efficient one at the same time. The Baylor freshman ranked at the 89th percentile for overall PPP this past season. Of his 226 shot attempts, 66 came in transition (83rd percentile for PPP) and 94 came from half-court shots within seven feet (FG% of 68.1), which totals to 71 percent of his shots. He is an outstanding lob threat and excels as a cutter (94th PCTL for PPP). As a jump shooter, the 19-year-old made just 30 percent of his attempts, including 14 of 41 from deep (34%). His mechanics could use some work, but his shot doesn’t appear to be broken.
Defensively, Brown has some fine tuning to do. Unlike his exceptional vertical explosiveness, the youngster is not special in terms of speed and quickness. As a result, he tends to give ball handlers and shooters too much space, and doesn’t make many impact plays, averaging just 1.4 combined steals and blocks per game. Even so, he has the tools to be a highly switchable defender, and it would be premature to discount that.
|28||Golden State||DB||Christian Braun||W||Kansas||6’5”||209||6’6”||21.2|
A 6’5’’ wing, Braun projects as a jack-of-all-trades player on offense and a solid team defender. His willingness to crash the glass, (thirteen games of eight rebounds or more this season), defend with effort, and a workable three-point shot will inject energy into the Warriors’ second unit.
A highly confident player, Braun has recently seen his stock rise due to strong performances in both the NBA Combine and the NCAA Tournament. He impressed with great athletic measurables, finishing first or second in both vertical tests. He also showcased his ability to be a positive force even during an off-scoring night. His eleven rebounds, seven assists and six steals in two combine games highlight a player capable of making an impact without scoring.
Lastly, a three-year college player and a National Champion, Braun understands how to fill a role and brings a winning pedigree. He specialized in playing off the ball at Kansas, and ranked at the 91st percentile for PPP as a half-court jumper shooter this past season. For a team like the Warriors, financial restraints will force the team to seek minor improvements for a marginal cost. Braun has been coached by Bill Self and can remedy minor issues without attempting to play above his means.
The Grizzlies will look to shore up their interior presence with their second first-round pick in the ‘22 draft. The playoff series vs. Golden State proved that Jaren Jackson Jr. will likely never be the full-time center that the Memphis front office had hoped that he would become. Steven Adams seems to have lost a step, so finding a long-term option at center that compliments the skills of Memphis’ young core will be key to the team’s continuing development.
The PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Koloko is, without a doubt, one of the best center prospects in this draft class, and is a serious value pick late in the first round. The Arizona junior is perhaps the most switchable big man in this crop of talented centers. He has quick feet for a guy his size, similar to JaVale McGee or Tyson Chandler. Koloko’s shot blocking prowess (2.8 blocks per game) combined with that of Jaren Jackson Jr. will make for an imposing traditional defensive look for the Grizzlies.
Koloko has some real offensive upside as well. He has excellent touch for a guy his size, and he is a solid foul shooter (74%), who can punish opposing teams for fouling him on the block. He has shown good feel in the pick-and-roll game, which is key to fitting in with Ja Morant and the Grizz ecosystem. The Arizona big man has also shown flashes of a basic post game, with a nice jump hook over the left shoulder and a ton of vertical pop off the drop step, finishing dunks with ease over smaller defenders in the post.
|30||Denver||CR||Nikola Jovic||F||KK Mega||6’10”||223||7’0”||19.0|
This pick is via Phoenix.
Denver moved real assets to acquire a second first-round pick in this draft. It doesn’t take a genius to make the connection between Nikola Jovic and his fellow countryman (the back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic). It will be a joy to see Jokic and Jovic trash talking back and forth in their native language next season. We could even see Denver opt for Jovic with pick 21 to assure that they roster him for next season.
Beyond bridging the language barrier, Jovic has some intriguing upside. The 19-year-old came on to the scouting scene after a standout performance in the 2021 FIBA U-19 World Cup, where he showed his ability to shoot and handle the ball at a high level. His performance stood out even more thanks to the fact that Jovic is a 6-foot-10 prospect demonstrating real playmaking and shooting potential.
Shooting has been one of the selling points of Jovic’s game. However, he struggled from the field this past season in the Adriatic League, hovering around 35 percent from three. Defensive ability is another question mark with Jovic, as scouts question his foot speed and effort on that end.
That being said, we have seen European prospects make easier and easier transitions to the NBA style of play. If Jovic can defend well enough to stay on the court, he could be a scary high-upside player to add into the Nuggets’ rotation. The possibility of fielding a line-up including yet another 6’10” shooter/playmaker alongside Michael Porter Jr. and Jokic is a bit scary, and few teams would be able to match up with that combination of skill and size.
|31||Indiana||RH||Jaden Hardy||SG||GL Ignite||6’4”||200||6’9”||20.0|
With the 31st pick (via Houston), the Pacers select Jaden Hardy, who was once considered a lottery selection. The Pacers could certainly use more quality depth and firepower, and in Hardy, they are getting a player who can provide instant offense off the bench. The 19-year-old is a bucket getter. He averaged nearly 20 PPG this season in the G League, along with 3.6 assists per game. He did struggle from deep (31%), was turnover prone (3.4 per game), and wasn’t the most attentive defender, but his offensive skill set gives him significant upside.
Via a mock trade in the first round, Orlando selects Wendell Moore for the 76ers. The Duke product is efficient offensively, a very good passer, and intelligent, and he also boasts a plus-8 wingspan. The only downside may be that he doesn’t have outstanding athleticism, but he is certainly not a bad athlete. A young junior, Moore is more than a blue-collar type. He can score at all three levels and initiate the offense. This past season, the 20-year-old ranked at the 96th percentile for points and assists per possession. Moore is a potential replacement for the injured Danny Green.
Toronto (via Detroit) selects Nebraska wing Bryce McGowens at No. 33. The Raptors really need firepower coming off the bench, and McGowens, a third-team All-Big Ten selection as a freshman, should eventually become a reliable scorer. Not especially athletic or long, McGowens is a bucket getter, who averaged nearly 17 PPG this season. He can score at all three levels, handle in the pick and roll, and create his own shot, and he is also an excellent free-throw shooter. He shot less than 28 percent from deep at Nebraska, but his shot is not broken.
|34||Oklahoma City||CY||Ismael Kamagate||C||Paris||6’11”||230||7’3”||21.4|
The Thunder couldn’t leave the draft without at least one international player, and they’ll take Ismael Kamagate, the 21-year-old center out of France. Kamagate has great size at 6’11”, around 230 pounds. Kamagate projects as an effective big man in the pick-and-roll game and an athletic lob threat that fits with OKC’s need for size. Kamagate averaged 11.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks while shooting 64.3% from the field this past season with Paris Basketball. Kamagate will end up in the perfect landing spot for him, with great playmakers and a team that can take time to develop him into a good player.
|35||Orlando||RH||Jean Montero||PG||OT Elite||6’2”||172||6’5”||18.9|
Completing the mock trade, Orlando selects Jean Montero for Philadelphia. The speedy 18-year-old guard played in Overtime Elite this past season, but he gained true pro experience in Spain between 2019 and 2021. Montero is a score-first point guard, but also displays very good playmaking potential. Last year in the Spanish LEB Silver League (mid-major caliber), he excelled, averaging 18 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 4.4 APG, and 2.5 SPG. He not only proved to be an effective triple threat, but he also showed that he can be a very pesky defender, ranking at the 72nd percentile for PPP allowed. The main concerns are his lack of size and inefficiency from deep (30% from deep in two years in Spain at all levels combined).
|36||Portland||CY||Patrick Baldwin Jr.||F||Milwaukee||6’10”||231||7’2”||19.6|
At pick 36, the Trail Blazers select Patrick Baldwin Jr. He was one of the more disappointing college basketball players this past season at Milwaukee, but Portland is willing to take a chance because they know that former 5-star recruit has tremendous upside. Baldwin Jr.’s 6-foot-10, 231-pound frame gives him the ideal size for a modern-day power forward at the NBA level. Although he might not be a rotational piece right away, the Blazers will hope that the 19-year-old can regain his health and form and develop into the star he was supposed to be.
At 37, the Kings select Alabama guard Keon Ellis. As a senior, he was selected to the SEC All-Defensive team while averaging two steals per game as well as posting a solid three-point percentage (36.6) and elite free-throw shooting numbers at 88 percent. He had the highest plus minus rating on Alabama, the sixth highest in the conference and the second highest at the NBA Combine. Ellis knows how to impact the game even when his shot isn’t falling, and the Kings are clearly trying to push towards relevancy. With Donte DiVincenzo and Jeremy Lamb heading towards free agency, Ellis could slide into the rotation as a three-and-D wing who can contribute to a Kings team which was twenty-fourth in 3-point shooting efficiency and twenty-seventh in overall defensive efficiency.
|38||San Antonio||HB||Trevor Keels||G||Duke||6’4″||225||6’7″||18.8|
Via the Lakers, San Antonio selects guard Trevor Keels. Just 18 years old, the Duke product is an excellent secondary playmaker, and has the potential to become a three-level scorer. He needs to get in shape to improve his athleticism, which will take time to develop; however, San Antonio can be the perfect place to oversee and accelerate his development and conditioning. Keels already has a solid base with broad shoulders which he utilizes as a physical driver, so adding more of the right strength can bring that physical dribble attack to the pros, as well as improving his lateral quickness and understanding of angles on defense. Additionally, he is a smart and solid playmaker who makes simple reads out of the pick and roll and can manipulate the defense. Given their plethora of young talent at the guard and wing positions, as well as their first-round picks, Keels will see time developing with the Spurs’ G-league team.
Via the Spurs, the Cavs will select Justin Lewis from Marquette. He boasts a plus-7 wingspan, and he projects as a guy who can guard both inside with his length while being more than capable to switch out on the perimeter and move his feet with guards. Offensively, he excels in transition where can use his vertical pop to explode over the top of defenders to the basket, as well as on cuts without the ball in the halfcourt. The 20-year-old also showed promise, shooting 36 percent from deep last season, to become a serviceable three-and-D wing or a pick-and-pop threat. His scoring came in bunches at Marquette so becoming a more consistent shooter and finisher are the next steps for Lewis’ game.
Via the Wizards, the Timberwolves select Andrew Nembhard from Gonzaga. With D’Angelo Russell’s future uncertain, and Patrick Beverley on the books for only one more year, the Wolves are looking for a talented playmaking point guard. Nembhard could fill that spot perfectly for the Wolves, at least as a backup. Spending four years in college at Florida and Gonzaga, the 22-year-old averaged 10 points and 5.3 assists throughout his college career, winning the WCC Tournament MVP this past season with the Zags. A true floor general, Nembhard ranked at the 97th percentile for points and assist per possession as a senior, and he boosted his draft stock a lot through the NBA Combine, posting 26 points and 11 assists in his only scrimmage game.
|41||New Orleans||CR||JD Davison||G||Alabama||6’2”||192||6’6”||19.7|
A five-star recruit, JD Davison came to Alabama with lofty expectations. He became a sensation in high school thanks to his jaw-dropping athleticism and scoring prowess. Unfortunately, he struggled to translate those skills to the college level last season as a freshman. It also should be noted that he tested poorly in the athletic drills at the NBA Combine, but the eye test says differently — I have to assume that he just had a bad day.
Davison’s athleticism is still impressive to say the least. He possesses the sort of explosiveness and speed that made John Wall and Derrick Rose truly special talents coming out of college. In transition, Davison is a streak of lightning, grabbing the defensive rebound and flying down the court to find open shooters, draw fouls, and finish at the rim. The question is, will the 19-year-old be able to translate his athleticism and IQ to the half court? Against set defenses, Davison often turns the ball over, and he does not have a great feel for creating his own shot. When he does try to create, he is prone to turning the ball over (2.9 TO per game). That is a brutal clip.
Davison’s offensive game will expand quickly if he is able to tune his jump shot. It seemed to be slightly improved at the combine; however, Davison made less than 32 percent of his half-court jumpers (from any distance) during his time at Alabama. He managed just 30 percent from three-point range. His athletic gifts and driving ability are hampered by his wildly inconsistent shooting. There is hope, though, as he clearly has touch, and his form is far from broken — he simply needs time with an NBA shooting coach to develop this part of his game. But, he will likely never be a 40% shooter from range
Even if Davison never finds his stride as a scorer, he has promising skills for an NBA role player. His athleticism allows him to compete against bigger players on defense, and he is also a competitive rebounder on both sides.
|42||New York||RH||Max Christie||W||Michigan State||6’5”||189||6’9”||19.3|
MOCK TRADE: Redoing the mock trade that was in the podcast version of the first round, Utah will receive the draft rights to Dyson Daniels (#11), Evan Fournier, Cam Reddish, Quentin Grimes, and the Knicks’ 2023 first-rounder (protected for picks 1-5 for three years). New York will receive Donovan Mitchell.
With pick 42, New York selects Max Christie. After the mock trade with Utah, the Knicks’ depth is depleted, especially at the wing spots. An excellent athlete, Christie is far from being ready to contribute, but he should eventually be a very good defender. If the 19-year-old can develop into a consistent shooter (32 percent from deep as a freshman), this pick could be a steal.
|43||LA Clippers||HB||Hugo Besson||G||NZ Breakers||6’5″||180||6’5″||21.2|
At pick 43, the Clippers select Hugo Besson, a Frenchman who played for NZ Breakers last season in the Australian NBL league. Besson is a crafty scorer, who shows the ability to make shots at all three levels and has a bag of tricks to get a bucket. He is incredibly comfortable using step backs and combo dribble moves on his threes, which should transfer immediately to the league. However, this often can lead to poor shot selection, and that is mainly why he shot 30 percent from three in New Zealand on six attempts per game. Besson does have a good feel for the game and uses that to create easy shots for his teammates at the rim or behind the three-point line. The Clippers will like his ability to score in bunches and can use him in quick high-energy spurts to minimize his defensive shortcomings.
With pick 44, the Atlanta Hawks select Jabari Walker from Colorado. Following a disappointing end to the 2021-2022 season, the Hawks may look to finally move on from John Collins, who has been in trade rumors for the better part of the year. With the second largest cap hit in the league, moving his twenty-five million yearly salary should open possibilities to get Trae Young some reinforcements.
With floor-spacing potential and a nose for rebounding the ball (9.4 RPG this season), Walker provides a similar skillset to Collins. If his late season shooting percentages indicate his potential from three, Walker could outperform his draft slot. He shot 47 percent from behind the arc over the last month of his season (40% for his career). While some of his advanced metrics such as player efficiency rating and true shooting percentage dropped from his freshman year, the sophomore has ability to play alongside a guard such as Young, who should make Walker’s strengths as a floor spacer and rim runner really shine.
MOCK TRADE: The Clippers will receive Terry Rozier and Nic Richards. The Hornets will receive Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris and the Clippers’ 2025 second-rounder.
With pick 45, the Charlotte Hornets select Ryan Rollins from Toledo. After the mock trade above, which included sending Terry Rozier to the Clippers, the young Hornets have some veteran depth at both the point guard and forward positions, with Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris, respectively. At the same time, shooting guard is now the shakiest position on the roster, as Kelly Oubre and James Bouknight, who underperformed as a rookie, are all that remain on the depth chart. Rollins adds a shot maker and overall scorer, who can also take on some secondary ball-handling responsibilities. He performed relatively well at the NBA Combine in terms of athletic testing, but his three-point shooting remains a concern (32% career shooter from deep). If he is unable to reliably stretch the floor, he will struggle to make the rotation.
|46||Detroit||DB||Gabriele Procida||G||Fortitudo Bologna||6’6’’||192||6’8’’||20.1|
MOCK TRADE: This is a part of the mock trade from the first round, and in that scenario, Detroit would be making this pick for Chicago. However, shortly after we recorded the second round picks on the podcast, it was announced that the Pistons were actually trading Jerami Grant to Portland, and that trade included swapping this pick and pick 36.
Gabriele Procida displayed a knack for scoring the ball in a variety of ways and was measured as one of the bigger guards at the NBA Combine, with solid measurables and testing results. In the top league in Italy this season, he posted strong percentile rankings as an overall points-per-possession scorer (87 PCTL) and as a P&R ball handler (95 PCTL). He also excelled in transition (80th PCTL), making good use of his well-above average speed, and he posted excellent shooting splits (.522/.383/.784) while playing at a high level of competition. The only area where Procida didn’t excel is shooting off the dribble (36th PCTL for PPP), as he is not an elite ball handler/shot creator.
|47||Memphis||CR||Alondes Williams||G||Wake Forest||6’5″||209||6’7”||23.0|
Via Cleveland, Memphis selects Alondes Williams from Wake Forest with the 47th pick. The reigning ACC Player of the Year in 2022. Williams is an experienced player, with a mature body, and with Tyus Jones’ contract expiring, the Grizz could use another playmaker to back up Ja Morant on a rookie deal.
On the Hoops Prospects Podcast, we have talked extensively about Williams’ passing expertise. He is a very intelligent and fundamental passer in the half court. Notably, Williams is an ambidextrous passer, which is a highly coveted skill in the NBA because it allows for greater offensive flexibility. Williams is also a maestro when it comes to precise cross-court skip passes. His ability to identify the skip is remarkably fast, and he is able to make the skip read without being double teamed.
Williams is also on the larger side for guards of his type. You could compare his body and athleticism to that of Marcus Smart. The Wake Forest “super” senior loves to create contact in the paint and leverage driving lanes with his shoulder. He has a sneaky quick first step that he uses to get feet in the paint and dish to teammates or finish over the top.
Shooting may be one of the biggest concerns with Williams. He was not overly efficient from deep in his senior season, shooting just 28 percent from three. Guards with such low efficiency from range are few and far between in the NBA. He will need to improve his outside jumper to carve out a major role at the next level. However, with his combination of IQ and athleticism, Williams could be an awesome depth piece for any team to add in the late second round.
With pick 48, the Wolves select Caleb Houstan out of Michigan. The five-star recruit had an extremely underwhelming freshman season. He averaged 10.1 points per game, but shot just 38.4 percent from the field. Known mainly as a shooter, he was solid in that department (36% from three and 78% from the FT line), and he ranked at the 70th percentile for points per possession in transition. Most of the rest of his offensive and defensive numbers were average at best, and he struggled mightily with jumpers off the dribble (9th PCTL for PPP).
Per usual, some NBA team will think the glass is half full because of Houstan’s reputation before college. In this case, the Wolves draft him as a depth piece, but are also intrigued by his size for a wing and his potential. Hopefully, with the right development, the 19-year-old can become a good NBA player.
Via Chicago, the Sacramento Kings select Arkansas big Jaylin Williams. The Kings frontcourt situation needs to be addressed with Trey Lyles and Maurice Harkless being the primary forwards soaking up minutes, and a host of nondescript reserves backing up Domantas Sabonis. Williams, who can play at the four or the five, is a high-energy player, who excels at defending the interior, rebounding, and making hustle plays to make his impact on the game. He led the NCAA in charges drawn, was the second best rebounder statistically in the SEC (9.8 RPG), and was selected to the conference’s All-Defensive team. The 20-year-old is a very good passer, boasting an A/T ratio of 1.42. The main concern is the sophomore’s lack of foot speed and athleticism in general, both of which could make him a liability as a perimeter defender. However, his high motor and willingness to do the “dirty work” should help a Sacramento team that has long been stuck in mediocrity.
While we here at HP have argued a return to Arkansas would have helped vault Williams into the first round, there is comfort in knowing that NBA teams are constantly in need of hustle players. Many of the top teams in the league employ players like Williams, such as the Warriors’s Draymond Green, the Timerberwolves Patrick Beverly or the Heat’s P.J Tucker.
|50||Minnesota||CY||Dereon Seabron||G||NC State||6’5″||182||6’9″||22.1|
Via Denver, the Wolves select Dereon Seabron, who played terrific at the NBA Combine, which followed a breakout season (17.3 PPG) at NC State as an older sophomore. A fearless rim attacker, the 22-year-old features great speed and is a very good overall athlete. He is on the skinny side, and where can play at the next level is somewhat uncertain. He has the height of a wing, but struggles as a shooter (25% from deep for his career). With the Wolfpack, he mainly served as a lead guard but his playmaking skills (A/T ratio of just 1.31) are probably better suited for him to be a secondary ball handler. On the other hand, in terms of PPP, he ranked no worse than the 63rd percentile as a scorer in isolation, on cuts, in transition, and on putbacks, which was a big plus because he is an excellent rebounder (8.2 per game this season).
With three Minnesota guards hitting free agency within the next two years, Seabron could stick as a promising bench player. Ultimately, his long-term success as a pro will be tied to his improvement as a jump shooter.
|51||Golden State||DB||Josh Minott||F||Memphis||6’8||205||6’11||20.4|
Via Toronto, the Warriors select Memphis forward Josh Minott. Despite playing limited minutes as a freshman this season, he flashed great defensive potential, averaging 10.3 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.8 blocks per 40 minutes. His raw athleticism helped make him a weapon on the defensive side of the ball and also allowed him to be a very efficient scorer (84th PCTL for PPP). Of course, most of his points came around the basket, and as a jumper shooter, he made just 24 percent of his attempts from any distance (7 of 29). His offensive game will require refinement for sure, but Golden State’s strong player development team will help get him on track to be a solid contributor. At worst, he profiles as a high-energy defender who will help crash the glass and inject a spark in the second unit.
|52||New Orleans||CR||David Roddy||F||Colorado State||6’5’’”||260||7’0’’||21.2|
The Pelicans have this pick via Utah.
David Roddy slipped late into this mock draft, but let me assure you that it is not from a lack of talent. The reigning MWC Player of the Year averaged 19.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, and ranked in the top 16 in the nation for PER (30.3), win shares (6.3), and plus-minus (11.1).
The 6-foot-5 Roddy played center for much of his career at Colorado State; that is right, 6’5”. Before he committed full time to basketball, Roddy was an all-state high school football player in Minnesota. He chose basketball in part because college programs believed he would be a better fit at defensive dnd than he would at his natural position — quarterback.
Roddy is more than just a supremely built (in some eyes overweight) prospect. The junior is perhaps the most versatile offensive player in this draft. In CSU’s offense, he received offensive touches as a roll man, pick-and-roll ball handler, cutter (including handoffs), spot-up shooter, and isolation scorer. He can do just about anything on the court offensively, especially in the post. Roddy posted a higher post touch rate than Joel Embiid did last season. Though he is certainly talented in the post, Roddy will be forced to transition his game to the perimeter in the NBA, which is where the question marks arise.
Defense is also a question mark with Roddy. Analytics will tell you that he was serviceable in his junior season; however, it has yet to be seen if he has the foot speed to stay in front of the much faster wings and guards of the NBA. He did test very well at the NBA Combine, and he boasts a plus-7 wingspan.
If he is going to stick, Roddy will need to establish himself as a switchable defender. He has often been compared to Grant Williams of the Celtics, who came into the league with similar accolades and positional question marks. Roddy is already a better shooter than Williams, coming into the league shooting at 43.8% from three; his handle is far superior as well. If Roddy can transition his game and continue to improve, we could be looking at a huge second-round steal.
At No. 53 the Celtics select Ziga Samar. The 21-year-old Slovenian had been pretty much off the radar until this season. The 6-foot-5 point guard played 30 games in the Spanish ACB, averaging 7.6 points, 2.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.0 steals in only 20.7 minutes a game. He produced excellent shooting splits (.485/.471/.769) and had a superb assist-turnover ratio of 2.84.
Samar is a Villanova-like player. He has very good size for a point, which allows him to play at positions 1-3. He is not a flashy passer, or spectacular in terms of athleticism and handle, but he is very effective offensively because he plays smart. He sees the floor well, makes the right reads, takes good shots, doesn’t force passes, and knows how to use screens. Definitely below average in terms of NBA athleticism, Samar is not adept with one-hand passes, especially with his left, which is a concern. His shooting form is smooth, although it’s a tad on the slow side, and he is capable with step-backs and pull-ups.
Defensively, Samar plays with alertness and energy, is fairly aggressive on the ball, and is not afraid of getting physical. He also has a great team defense understanding in terms of timely helping, switching, and recovering. With quick hands, he is also a threat in the passing lanes.
The Celtics have a need for a smart, pass-first guard, and Samar is that. However, it is questionable if he has enough skill and athleticism to play at the NBA level.
|55||Miami via PHI||Forfeited|
This pick is via Dallas.
Heading to UCLA, Peyton Watson was touted as a top-15 recruit in his freshman class. Last summer, draft observers expected that NBA teams would be clamoring to pick Watson in the lottery. After his freshman year at UCLA, however, there is a good chance that he will fall to the end of the second round, or perhaps, not be drafted. The 19-year-old struggled to find minutes for the talented Bruins, never finding a complementary role. Many were shocked that the freshman opted to remain in the draft, but in recent weeks, his stock has surged after some eye-popping workouts.
From what we saw of Watson in college, he certainly has the physical tools to make it in the league. He is 6’7” and has a plus-6 wingspan, and he also moves like an NBA wing in spite of his large frame. He flashed his defensive upside at UCLA, with a very impactful but usually brief, stints at UCLA. Watson could develop into a perfect NBA four, able to switch and defend multiple positions while handling the ball and function more like a wing on offense. He can certainly impact the game with his length and athleticism.
If we look back to his high school days, Watson was the definition of a blue-chip prospect. He was a lengthy primary scorer with real three-point range. Watson impressed in a more central offensive role; perhaps he was simply misused in his lone season at UCLA, and we have not seen the best of what he has to offer. A second-round pick with lottery potential is hard to come by. Watson will almost certainly be drafted on potential alone, but is a genuine sleeper.
|57||Golden State||DB||Yannick Nzosa||C||6’11||215||7’6||18.6|
With pick 57, the Warriors select Yannick Nzosa, one of the youngest players in this draft class and the definition of a project/raw prospect. Having started playing basketball just four years ago, the more skill-oriented aspects of his game (shooting, post moves & passing) will need work. But his upside lies in his length and impressive athleticism, which could lead to a strong career as a rim protector and roller to the basket. There are flashes of a solid shooting form when he steps to the free-throw line. However, if he wants to fulfill his potential, Nzosa must prioritize getting stronger, as he finished in the 67th percentile as a pick-and-roll finisher in the Spanish ACB this past season, which is not quite good enough for a player who doesn’t possess a diverse half-court skill set on offense. The Warriors could either stash Nzosa while he gains experience overseas, or allow their coaching staff to oversee his growth in the States.
Via Miami, the Cavs select Collin Gillespie. The Big East POY and Scholar Athlete of the Year, his character and personality showcase that he really cares about winning. He was a standout at Villanova and was the clear floor leader of some incredibly productive teams.
This past season, Gillespie ranked at the 96th percentile for assists and points per possession, and he ranked higher than the 85th percentile for PPP via the pick-and-roll, spot-ups, post-ups, off-screen plays, and handoffs. He can shoot the lights out (41.5% on 7 attempts per game and 90% from FT line), and plays the game the right way. The “super” senior is an underrated athlete with soild speed and quickness, plays incredibly hard, and has a great feel for when to look to score and when to make plays for others. On the downside, he lacks length and vertical pop, which impacts his ability to finish and defend. While Gillespie could take time to adjust to the speed, size, and physicality of the NBA, the 23-year-old could eventually become a useful backup, much like Boston’s Payton Pritchard.
|59||Portland||CY||Khalifa Diop||C||Gran Canaria||6’11’’”||230||7’2’’||20.4|
With the penultimate pick in the draft (via Memphis), Portland will select Khalifa Diop. The Senagalese native won the EuroCup’s Rising Star award this year, and he’ll provide much needed depth at the center position for the Trail Blazers. The mobile big man played a total 54 games in the Spanish ACB and EuroCup this past season. Mainly a roll man/rim runner with Gran Canaria, he made 62.1 percent of his shots from the field. He also ran the floor well, and was excellent at finishing in transition (95th PCTL for PPP). Despite good numbers (REB% of 17.0 and BLK% of 5.6), he is not always dominant around the basket on either end due to a lack of physicality, aggression, and effort at times Diop is definitely more of a project player, but this late in the draft, it’s pretty good value. He should develop into a rim running threat and a rim protector, as a rotational player at the backup center position in a few years.
This pick is via the Suns.
Even at pick 60, the Pacers should be thinking about selecting the best player available; the additions of Keegan Murray and Jaden Hardy in this mock are very nice, but the club is far away from being competitive and lacks quality depth. Looking at who remains available, St. John’s wing Julian Champagnie is the player most ready to immediately contribute, while power forwards Moussa Diabate (the defensive option) and Michael Foster (the offensive option) have the most upside. Ultimately, I am going with Diabate, who can also play center, and he may have an opportunity for minutes sooner than later, if Myles Turner is traded, which continues to be discussed rather frequently in Indiana.
In my opinion, Diabate may be the most underrated player in this draft class. He has a very developed body, the athleticism of a wing, and all the tools to be a defensive standout. Playing mainly at the power forward as a freshman this past season, he averaged nine points and six rebounds, with a field-goal percentage of 54.4, while playing 25 minutes per game. Like most bigs his age, he lacks a diverse offensive game, limited to mainly post-ups, cuts, and rolls in the half court; in terms of PPP, he was better than average in all three categories. Thanks to his athleticism, Diabate was excellent in transition (91st PCTL), and even more impressive was his production as a pick-and-roll man (94th PCTL). At the same time, he has a lot of work to do as a jump shooter, making just 26 percent of his 51 attempts (from any distance).
Sources, Credits, and Acknowledgements
Drew Barton, Hugh Baxter, Cam Riehl, and Connor Youngberg all contributed to this article.
Statistics used in our scouting reports come from RealGM.com (international stats), Sports-Reference.com (NCAA stats), and Synergy Sports Technology (special analytics), Other outside sources are noted with links to the source. Click here to see the statistical abbreviation key.