NBA Draft season is on its way. Some combine news has been buzzing, the deadline to declare is approaching, and the lottery will soon be set. So, a few of us at Vendetta Sports Media decided to jump in the action and put together a mock draft. We recorded the live version on YouTube, so if you’d like to watch that, the link will be at the bottom of the article. Also, our scouting reports for each prospect are linked to the prospects’ names, so check those out as well.
In this mock draft, Trey Daubert, Jackson Law, Jordan Dangle, and myself (Jeremy Rinaldi) acted as GMs of a few teams and made the lottery selections. Using Tankathon’s lottery simulator, we randomized the draft lottery, which resulted to the following;
We each made three selections, and worked as a team for the 13th and 14th picks. Be on the lookout for more NBA Draft content in the future. For now, let’s get into the selections.
Pick 1: Atlanta Hawks (Trey)
Selection: Anthony Edwards, SG Georgia
Trey’s Reasoning: At number one, we are swinging for the fences. Atlanta should continue their trend of drafting based on upside, as they have done the past few drafts. Anthony Edwards is the pick, as he is the best pairing as an off-ball scorer for Trae Young. Edwards is a really athletic guard who has the potential to be a really good scorer. It is not a guarantee that Edwards will pan out, but he’s from Georgia, so that’s a bonus. He only shot 28.0% from 3pt range, but showed flashes of dominance from beyond the arc last season. If he continues to develop his shot and fixes some of his defensive inconsistencies, Edwards and Young will be a dangerous backcourt for a dozen years.
Pick 2: Cleveland Cavaliers (Jeremy)
Selection: Onyeka Okongwu, PF/C USC
My Reasoning: This was a tough pick to make, because my big board is topped out by guards. However, Cleveland has selected guards the past two drafts (Sexton and Garland), so a guard is not needed. Okongwu will fit in well in Cleveland if they embrace the rebuild. Kevin Love is definitely on his way out and Drummond is in need of a big contract, one that Cleveland should be wary of paying. Tristan Thompson might be leaving in free agency, so Okongwu might get a lot of minutes right away. He is an above average rim protector with the potential to step outside of the paint and score. He will also be a huge benefit in the pick and roll game with Sexton or Garland. Onyeka Okongwu is one of the surest prospects in the draft, so Cleveland should be content getting him at two.
Pick 3: Minnesota Timberwolves (Jackson)
Selection: Isaac Okoro, SF Auburn
Jackson’s Reasoning: The Wolves don’t have much of an identity right now. Drafting Isaac Okoro will go a long way in establishing a positive identity. Okoro is arguably the best defender in the draft, and his offensive game, while needing some work, honestly isn’t that bad. The Wolves should take Okoro, trade Karl Anthony-Towns for a haul of talent, and start a mini rebuild centered around defensive studs. The Western Conference is stacked, so a solid defender, especially at the forward position, is a must. Okoro will help the Wolves be more competitive on the defensive end and might even make them an attractive free agent spot if they are able to find their missing identity.
Pick 4: Washington Wizards (Jordan)
Selection: LaMelo Ball, PG Illwarra Hawks
Jordan’s Reasoning: The Wizards are stuck right now. John Wall has been injured the past two seasons and is eating up the majority of their money. There have been talks of a Bradley Beal trade for three years and counting. It’s time for the Wizards to pick one, and, in this mock, it’s Beal who’s the new “guy” in Washington. LaMelo Ball will fit in well next to Beal, as he is a pass-first guy with great court vision and has a tremendous feel for where his teammates are on the court. Ball is a bit thin right now, but that’s nothing that an NBA strength coach can’t fix. Ball can be the next star point guard in Washington and could help the Wizards get over the playoff hump.
Pick 5: Golden State Warriors (Trey)
Selection: Obi Toppin, PF Dayton
Trey’s Reasoning: The Warriors, who are still championship contenders, need someone who could contribute right now and stretch the floor. Enter Obi Toppin, a force on offense who can slide right in as a small-ball 5 or a stretch 4. Toppin’s offensive prowess is already NBA-ready, as he can consistently score from the paint and outside. He won’t replace Kevin Durant, and his defense might be a liability, but his skillset on offense is much needed. Golden State should push all their chips in the middle in favor of Toppin being their missing piece who can take them back to the promise land.
Pick 6: Detroit Pistons (Jeremy)
Selection: Deni Avdija, SF Maccabi Tel Aviv
My Reasoning: Wiseman was considered here, but the Pistons just got rid of Drummond, so I’d be surprised to see them pick another center who can’t yet stretch the floor. Their guard play is improving, but their wing shooting is among the worst in the league (Tony Snell is their starting small forward right now). Avdija has been dominant recently in the Israeli League. He is an above-average shooter and has proven to be a capable defender, which is very important at his position. He’s not Luka Doncic, especially when it comes to ball handling, but he’s almost as sure as it gets from a scoring standpoint. If Sekou Doumbouya can find his footing in his second year, he and Avdija could be a solid combo of forwards for the Pistons.
Pick 7: New York Knicks (Jackson)
Selection: Tyrese Haliburton, PG Iowa State
Jackson’s Reasoning: As what normally happens in the draft, the Knicks got screwed in this simulation. They missed out on their guy, LaMelo Ball. However, drafting Tyrese Haliburton should still be considered a win. Haliburton has a solid all-around game and is NBA ready. He is a really good athlete with a solid build for a point guard at 6’5″. He can score the ball and is arguably at his best when passing and creating for his teammates. The Knicks typically ruin everything they touch, but perhaps Haliburton can be a positive step in the right direction.
Pick 8: Chicago Bulls (Jordan)
Selection: James Wiseman, C Memphis
Jordan’s Reasoning: The Bulls could benefit from adding interior length on a team where most of their bigs are primarily shooters. Last season they made a solid selection in point guard Coby White. This year, they’ll look down low and take James Wiseman, a 7’1″ center with a 7’6″ wingspan. Wiseman is an exceptional presence in the paint and proved that in his three games in Memphis, averaging a double double and three blocks per game. Couple him with Zach Levine, Lauri Markkanen, and Wendell Carter Jr, and the Bulls will be able to stretch the floor while also making sure the defense stays true to their man.
Pick 9: Charlotte Hornets (Trey)
Selection: Killian Hayes, PG Ratiopharm Ulm
Trey’s reasoning: Charlotte is bad right now. They need everything. Terry Rozier was not the answer in free agency, and the Hornets continue to throw money at players who don’t get the job done (remember Nick Batum?). A swing for the fences is necessary, so Killian Hayes is the selection here. This franchise needs a leader, and Hayes could be that guy. He’s an exceptional passer and has shown upside as a scorer. His playmaking ability will make the Hornets better as they continue to rebuild the rest of their roster.
Pick 10: Phoenix Suns (Jeremy)
Selection: Cole Anthony, PG UNC
My Reasoning: The Suns are improving. They have an all-star shooting guard, a quickly improving center, and some solid wing play. Their most glaring need is a point guard who can score the rock. Ricky Rubio is more of a passer, which did not cut in in Utah, which is why he was replaced by Mike Conley. Cole Anthony offers the most upside as a scorer, as he can shoot lights out at times as well as get his shot off in the paint anytime he wants it. Devin Booker has played a lot of point guard recently, another reason why this pick makes even more sense. Critics have said Anthony is best as an off-ball guard, which would be perfect alongside of Booker. Anthony is a guy who shouldn’t slip past the tenth pick, which is exactly where he falls here.
Pick 11: San Antonio Spurs (Jackson)
Selection: Aaron Nesmith, SF Vanderbilt
Jackson’s Reasoning: Aaron Nesmith’s 3-pt shooting was absolutely incredible until an injury sidelined his college career. He’s your typical 3-and-D wing, but is above many in the class in both aspects Last season, he shot the deep ball at 52%, proving that he could be the best deep shooter in this draft. The Spurs should have gotten rid of both LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan this offseason and embraced the rebuild. San Antonio also has enough guards for now and should follow suit with the rest of the NBA and play small ball behind the arc. So, drafting a great shooter and defender makes the most sense for Popovic and the Spurs.
Pick 12: Sacramento Kings (Jordan)
Selection: Devin Vassell, SG/SF Florida State
Jordan’s Reasoning: Vassell at 12 is a steal, especially for Sacramento. The Kings don’t have to worry much about guard play and they are still developing Marvin Bagley III as their big man. Their main focus in this year’s draft is to get players who can spread the floor and shoot. That’s why Devin Vassell is the perfect fit. He is a prototypical 3-and-D player who can step in day one as the King’s best defensive player. The King’s will be lucky to get this easy of a choice come draft night.
Pick 13: New Orleans Pelicans (all)
Selection: Tyrese Maxey, SG Kentucky
Our Reasoning: We all agreed that New Orleans has a pretty solid roster and should soon be playoff contenders. With that being said, you can never have enough guards, so we were all on board with selecting a point guard or shooting guard here. The consensus was Tyrese Maxey, a dynamic scorer from Kentucky who can shoot it from outside and create his own shot in the lane. With Jrue Holiday, Maxey won’t be asked to be the primary ball handler, which should work in his favor. He could be another solid scoring option for the young Pelicans. Other names mentioned here were Kira Lewis Jr from Alabama and Theo Maledon from France.
Pick 14: Portland Trailblazers
Selection: Saddiq Bey, SF/PF Villanova
Our Reasoning: Portland has two great guards and a serviceable front court, with Whiteside and Collins. However, they’ve been looking for a wing player ever since they’ve been a playoff team. We all agreed that a small forward made the best sense, and decided on Saddiq Bey. Bey is another 3-and-D guy who can get the defensive job done against a 2, a 3, and 4. His versatility should come in handy for Portland, as should his ability to knock down the deep ball. Other names mentioned here were Patrick Williams from Florida State and Precious Achiuwa from Memphis.
In addition to the 14 selections, two more names were discussed. Trey mentioned that one of his favorite prospects is Isaiah Stewart, the center from Washington. Trey mentioned that Stewart’s grudge against Coach Boeheim and Syracuse shows his mindset and determination to prove himself on the court. We also discussed Stewart’s offensive profile, and how his strong free throw percentage, 77%, indicates that his outside shot has potential.
I brought up this year’s ultimate high-risk-high-reward prospect, Aleksej Pokusevski, an under-the-radar forward playing for Olympiacos Piraeus of the EuroLeague. He is a 7’0″ playmaker, who can score efficiently and pass incredibly well for someone his size. However, there is so much mystery surrounding Pokusevski and, as none of us have seen too much game film of his, he did not make the lottery. Even so, he is certainly a name to remember.
Be sure to check out the video version linked below, and be on the lookout for our full first round mock draft once the lottery is set next month.