Now that the Finals are over, the offseason has officially begun. This is the time of year I love because it’s filled with wild guesses about free agency and it’s usually good for two or three big time trades. I’m sure I’ll be posting some fun trade ideas etc, but let’s start the offseason with the NBA Draft. It’s only a few weeks away, so let’s take a look at The Hard Part’s first annual Mock Draft:
Top 14 Available
- DeAndre Ayton
- Jaren Jackson Jr.
- Marvin Bagley
- Luka Doncic
- Mo Bamba
- Michael Porter
- Mikal Bridges
- Trae Young
- Wendell Carter
- Miles Bridges
- Collin Sexton
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
- Kevin Knox
- Lonnie Walker
1. Phoenix Suns – DeAndre Ayton, University of Arizona
The Suns need a big man. They have an aging starting center in Tyson Chandler and my faith in Marquese Chriss’ development is starting to dwindle. The choice here is obvious… they need to go with University of Arizona product DeAndre Ayton. Ayton has great feet in the post and can step out and hit from the mid-range. He even has some three point range that he’ll continue to develop. His lack of intensity at times was exposed in the first round of the NCAA Tournament this past March, but let’s hope that was an anomaly because the Suns desperately need someone to bring hope and excitement back to Phoenix.
2. Sacramento Kings – Luka Doncic, Real Madrid
Luka is a giant question mark in my book. It’s hard to tell what he really is, based on his European competition. Is he the next Kristaps Porzingis or doomed to be the next Darko Milicic? I would hope that scouts have gotten better at evaluating foreign talent since the days of Darko. We did watch 14 teams pass on Giannis Antetokounmpo just five years ago though, so I could be wrong. Luka has great court vision and the ability to shoot the ball off the dribble, but I have questions about whether or not he’ll be able to adjust to the speed of the NBA. He appears to have a high basketball IQ and the abilities to back it up but he looks sluggish at times. Maybe his craftiness can make up for this, but only time will tell. The Kings have a lot of young moldable talent, so they won’t have trouble finding a place for him.
3. Atlanta Hawks – Marvin Bagley, Duke University
The Hawks need to take the best player available. Dennis Schroder will most likely be traded this offseason because he wants to play for a contender, namely Indiana or Milwaukee. Marvin Bagley has a ton of upside. He’ll have to get bigger to be as effective as he was in the college game, but I have no doubt that he’ll get there. He has a great shooting stroke, even if he relies on the three a little too much and he has the length to eventually defend multiple positions. I can’t imagine him falling out of the top-3.
4. Memphis Grizzlies – Michael Porter, University of Missouri
The Grizzlies have an aging core and need young talent to bring them into their next phase. Conley and Gasol can help develop Porter and teach him to be a pro. Michael Porter has a lot to prove and has claimed that he is the best player in this draft. That remains to be seen, but his potential is worth the number 4 pick in this draft.
5. Dallas Mavericks – Jaren Jackson, Michigan State University
Jaren Jackson is the most complete player in this draft. His length and ability to put the ball on the floor make him a nightmare for most defenders. He’s patient on defense and can hold his own against guards. If he makes it to number 5, the Mavericks will be the luckiest team in the draft.
6. Orlando Magic – Trae Young, University of Oklahoma
Orlando is where young talent goes to die. Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, and Nikola Vucevic are living in Magic purgatory. Trae Young may be able to add some excitement to this ho-hum team, but the Magic aren’t going anywhere fast.
7. Chicago Bulls – Mikal Bridges, Villanova University
I’m holding onto the hope that Mikal will fall to the Sixers but his two-way talent and ability to shoot the ball will ensure he won’t make it to 10. The Bulls are looking for an identity and Bridges is an excellent start. Someone who can play both sides of the ball will be a nice addition to the young talent the Bulls already have. You shouldn’t expect much from Chicago next year but at least they’re heading in a positive direction after a disastrous couple of years.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers – Mo Bamba, Texas University
The biggest question in Cleveland is whether or not LeBron James will be staying or taking his talents elsewhere. The Cavs can’t wait for LBJ to make his decision. They need to go for the best available talent here because, regardless of James’ decision, they have no depth (as shown in this year’s playoffs). Bamba can play alongside LeBron or anchor a rebuilding Cleveland team depending on how this summer goes. He has proven himself as a defensive stopper and is working on developing his offensive game. The biggest story at the combine was his wingspan which measured in at 7’10”. He is also much faster than thought was possible at his size. He reportedly had a faster three-quarter court sprint time (3.04) than Derrick Rose (3.05) and John Wall (3.14) had as rookies. If it’s true, that’s terrifying.
9. New York Knicks – Miles Bridges, Michigan State University
The Knicks might actually be building something positive here. If Bridges can come in and contribute, he’ll be a nice addition to the young core of Porzingis and Ntilikina. I’m not as high on Bridges as some, he reminds me of a guy you’d play pickup ball with at the rec center- but they’re just there for cardio. Guys who can play physical and beat up on smaller guys, but don’t have natural basketball skill because their first sport is football. He seems like that guy. I’m probably wrong but that’s been my impression of him.
10. Philadelphia 76ers – Zhaire Smith
The Sixers were completely exposed by their lack of players who can play both sides of the ball. They have plenty of shooters, but hardly any that can create their own shot or hold their own on defense. The Sixers could be taking a chance on Smith but his potential as a 3 and D guy is exactly what they need. He is a great rebounder and has a knack for finding the ball on defense. This pick might be a reach, but Zhaire has potential.