Updated Nov 5, 2020
With the NBA Draft on Nov 18th and it’s time for a very belated Mock Draft 1.0. The Mock Draft I’m compiling is based on what I’m hearing in conversations with NBA scouts and general managers and player agents. It’s not based on what I would do on draft night. I’ll put out a couple more of these as we get closer to the draft.
It’s a confusing draft. Lots of teams looking to trade down, out or up in the draft. It could be a very turbulent draft night.
The Wolves are shopping this pick heavily and interest will likely increase as we get closer to the draft. But assuming that they can’t trade the pick on draft night, I still expect them to take the player they think will have the most trade value down the road. No, Ball doesn’t fit next to D’Angelo Russell and Karl Anthony-Towns. Forget about offense, it would be a defensive nightmare. But neither does Anthony Edwards (there aren’t enough shots for him) nor James Wiseman. So they take the player with the most trade value.
As far as fits go … Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton and Dayton’s Obi Toppin would be much better compliments to what the Wolves already have. Would new GM Gersson Rosas be willing to just suck it up and take the best player for them?
The Warriors are also trying hard to trade the pick. There isn’t really anyone in this draft that could step in and contribute the way the Warriors need the help. They have a two to three year window to win a championship and rookies often aren’t going to be much help.
So if the Warriors can’t find a trade partner, they may make a long-term play for a player like James Wiseman and start rebuilding for the future while still competing for a championship. And hopefully, he’ll be able to give you some blocks, lobs and rebounds.
Two other sleepers worth looking at in Golden State: USC’s Onyeka Okongwu (who might be more NBA ready than Wiseman, but with a higher floor) or. Tyrese Haliburton to play a Shaun Livingston esque role on the team.
There has been a lot of buzz about Okongwu going here at three. He’s a fit. There is significant upside and it’s not really that much of a reach. But if Edwards somehow slides to three, it’s going to be hard for Michael Jordan and company to pass on a player with all the physical tools to be a star. The Hornets have desperately pined for one for years and while I’m a bit of a Edwards skeptic, no one can deny his athleticism, size and strength at the position. If his lack of feel is due to his age and late start, could be a steal here.
There’s significant buzz here about Israel’s Deni Avdija landing in Chicago because of new president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas role in drafting international players in Denver. But others close to Chicago say that’s all speculation and that shoring up the culture in Chicago is of bigger concern. The Bulls backcourt is quite crowded, but no one on their roster has the long-term potential of Haliburton and he may be the best culture player in the draft. Ulm’s Killian Hayes is also a sleeper here I’m told.
The Cavs are a weird team with two key veterans in the front court, two inconsistent young players in the backcourt and glaring hole at the wing. There is a lot of back and forth among sources between Avdija and Auburn’s Isaac Okuro here. Avdija is clearly the more talented offensive player, Okuro may be the best wing defender in the draft. I’m not sure which way they’ll land, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t one of these two players unless somehow LaMelo or Edwards slips to five.
When Tre Young is your point guard, you need to try extra hard to provide some defensive support. Okuro seems like a logical fit for the Hawks given his defensive prowess. Don’t count out a trade for Atlanta either. Sources say they’ve been very active in trade talks. They want to field a playoff team next year.
The Pistons need help everywhere and there are several good potential prospects for them left on the board. But of the players left, Okongwu’s defensive abilities and potential offensive upside seem like the cleanest fit. With that said Hayes, Toppin and Florida State’s Patrick Williams are in the mix here too.
The Knicks are the most obvious team to move up in the draft if they can. They have coveted LaMelo Ball and he covets playing for them. The question is whether they really have the assets to make a deal happen.
If they can’t move up there will be a ton of pressure to take Toppin if he’s here. He’s high profile, is repped by CAA and seems like great value here at 8. But with a plethora of power forwards on the roster, will they really add another?
Hayes is the best value. His versatility, ability to defend both backcourt positions and his high basketball IQ would be a great fit next to R.J. Barrett in the backcourt. But after the Frank Ntlikina experience backfired, I’m not sure how much taste they have in another international point guard from France. Don’t count out Florida State’s Devin Vassell here as well.
The Wizards are one of the few teams that have been trying to move up in the draft. There have been various names attached to them, but the one I hear most consistently is Okongwu. They desperately need a versatile athlete in the front court. If they can’t move up and he doesn’t slide, things get a little tougher.
No one knows whether John Wall will ever be John Wall again. And even if he is, adding Hayes and his versatility to the backcourt would be a huge boon for the Wizards.
I’m told the Suns are hoping that Hayes falls to them at No. 10. They think he’d be a great compliment in the backcourt to Devin Booker. But if he’s off the board, getting a versatile 3 and D wing like Vassell is a really strong get for the Suns.
Williams has a lot of buzz, but whoever drafts him will have to be patient. The raw tools are all there, but they need lots of polishing. No one has proven better at doing that job than the Spurs. Landing Williams at No. 11 would be a major win for both the franchise and Williams.
There aren’t many swing for the fences prospects left on the board, but Hampton, is one of them. His elite athletic ability is a huge draw. If he can prove that he can shoot, he’s a steal at 12. Given what else is available for Sacramento, I think he’s worth the risk here.
Smith’s draft stock has been rising throughout the past few months and cracking the lottery would be a small surprise. But when you think about his size, shooting ability and fit next to Zion Williamson in the front court, he feels like a good fit.
The Celtics already have one little point guard, but don’t expect them to be deterred from Lewis, who may be the fastest player, end to end, in the draft. He’s also a young sophomore, shot the ball well at Alabama and has a lot of analytics pointing in his favor. I think this might be a small steal for the Celtics if he’s still on the board.
This is a reach, but the Magic, led by John Hammond, aren’t afraid to reach. After Ball, Edwards, Wiseman and Hampton are off the board, I don’t think there’s a player with higher upside than McDaniels. He also has significant question marks which could ultimately cause him to slide much further down the board. But in a draft weak on potential star power, I could see Orlando making the grab here.
I put out my Big Board 2.0 a couple of weeks ago and the most consistent feedback I heard from teams is that I had Bey too low. Significantly too low. Consider this mock a start in the correction process for him. But he may not be done rising. There are teams in the late lottery that are considering him as well. Finding wings with his size, shooting ability and defensive versatility are a priority for many teams. I know a few teams in the 20s that are going to be trying to move up to get him.
Is Nesmith the best shooter in the draft? That’s what teams are trying to figure out right now. Was his 52 percent shooting from three the real deal? If the answer is yes, he could easily go five spots higher on the board, but given the premium that NBA teams put on shooting and given the needs the Wolves have, I doubt he slips past here.
Bolomaro is a bit of a polarizing prospect … his unique approach to the game turns some teams off and has other teams pegging him as the next Manu Ginobili. His contract situation with Barcelona means that he’s likely to spend a year, maybe two, in Europe before coming to the NBA. The Mavs front office has the best international scouting outfit in the NBA and don’t be shocked if they nab him, let him develop for a year or two overseas and then plug him into the starting line-up down the road. He’s really, really grown on me since my first Big Board.
Achiuwa is one of the most versatile defenders in the draft. If his offense was anywhere close to his defense, he’d be 10 spots higher on the board. With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving providing all the offensive firepower in Brooklyn next year, Achiuwa’s defensive versatility could help anchor a defense which Durant and Irving cover for his offensive deficiencies.
Placing yet another Kentucky player in Miami may feel a bit trite, but Maxey has many of the intangibles Pat Riley looks for in a guard and if he can play on the ball at the point as some scouts project (something he struggled with in Kentucky) he could be a real steal this late in the draft.
Terry might rival Nesmith for best shooter in this draft. His slight frame and lack of elite size have made some scouts question his NBA readiness, but others that have seen him lately feel he’s gotten stronger and is one of the more underrated players in the draft. For a team like Philly, that will likely prioritize shooting more than ever now that Darry Morey is the captain of the ship, this is a great place to land.
Pokusevski is one of the more challenging prospects in the draft to project. The combination of talent and size is off the charts, but his slight frame and lack of high level experience make him a major work in progress. The Nuggets have never been shy about drafting for potential and taking the time to wait. Pokusevski’s talent may be worth it.
The Jazz are in win now mode and will be looking for a player that can give them something now. He already plays like a veteran, was a knock down shooter this year and is a tough defender. He’s a perfect role player fit in Utah.
Anthony was projected as a lottery pick but a rocky freshman season at North Carolina made scouts question whether he’s peaked in college. At this point in the draft, the reward may outweigh the risk. There’s clearly talent there and Eric Bledsoe doesn’t appear to be the long-term solution in Milwaukee.
Green is a Thunder player all the way. Tough, high IQ, excellent facilitator, 3-and-D type wing that just doesn’t do one thing great enough to get him much higher on the board.
There’s no way the Celtics keep all three first round picks. Some of these picks will either be traded or used as draft-and-stash options. Maledon could use another year or two to develop in France, but his size and versatility are interesting.
If the Knicks pass on a point guard with their first pick, they shouldn’t with the 27th pick. There are several really good options here, but. I really love Flynn. He can just flat out play and pops when you watch him on film. I think he may already be better than the all of the more hyped point guard prospects the Knicks have tried to develop over the past few years.
Dotson’s speed and scoring ability are a huge plus for an off-the-bench microwave scorer. His lack of great size or court vision lower his stock a bit. But he could be a Lou Williams type player in the NBA.
Reed’s versatility, defensive and rebound ability fit in with the type of culture Masai Ujiri has created in Toronto. His offense is a question mark, but at this point, I think Reed is actually a steal.
It’s doubtful the Celtics keep this pick, but if they do, Stewart’s upside may prove too much to pass on. Ten years ago, he’s a lottery pick. The game has changed, but I do think there’s still room for big men like Stewart and the Celtics do have a need.