The Finals may be over, but draft season is rapidly approaching. Few things are more fun than mock drafts, so we decided to one of our own. We alternated picks, making the 14 lottery selections and critiquing each choice.
Max: The 76ers, after years of losing and tanking, finally have the No. 1 overall pick. They have to take the guy with the best chance of becoming a superstar and Simmons is that guy. I, like many others, worry about his jumper and work ethic, but he has a few elite skills- passing, ballhandling, basketball IQ- and can definitely be the offensive fulcrum Philadelphia needs.
Kelly: I think Simmons is the obvious choice here and the only thing that would surprise me is if they didn’t take him.
Kelly: Brandon Ingram is a versatile offensive weapon and defensive player who can guard the perimeter, drive to the basket, shoot from the outside and pair nicely with D’Angelo Russell and other members of the Lakers young core like Julius Randle. Just tell Russell to stay away from Snapchat…
Max: Agree, that’s a no-brainer. I really the idea of Ingram and Russell together, though I’m sure they’ll give up roughly a billion points.
Max: I don’t think Danny Ainge wants to make this pick and at least part of the reason is there’s no clear-cut choice. I like Bender and he could be a great big man for the modern NBA, but it’s so hard to know how his game will translate. The Celtics can afford to wait and find out, especially with more Brooklyn picks on the way, and I do think he could be better than Jonas Jerebko by January.
Kelly: I actually think if the Celtics keep this pick this could work out well for them. I think the team has guards to store for the next few years, so some big men would be fantastic for a team on the rise.
Kelly: The Suns hit the lottery (pun intended) last year with young Devin Booker. Now they have a chance to improve arguably their worst position with another young Wildcat. While the Suns do need a wing to play besides the aforementioned Booker, however I think they mean depth down low.
Max: That is a bold pick, to be sure. But I’m in favor of as many of John Calipari’s former players as possible playing together and Labissiere definitely fills a need for Phoenix. It feels like a bit of a reach, but if Labissiere rediscovers the game that made him the nation’s’ top college recruit, it will be a steal.
Max: I do think the Wolves should look hard at Jamal Murray here and Buddy Hield is in play too, but I think new coach Tom Thibodeau is already worried Zach LaVine is going to drive him crazy and wants a backcourt defender. Dunn fits that bill perfectly. He’s a big guard, considered by many to be the best point guard in the draft, and Thibodeau will love the effort he makes on defense. It would be very hard to score on a Rubio-Dunn-Wiggins-Towns-Dieng lineup.
Kelly: I really like Jamal Murray here – I think putting him next to Rubio, Wiggins and Towns would be a great lineup and would cause problems in the Western Conference. And the youth! I don’t hate the Dunn pick as shooting guard is a valid need. I just like Murray’s raw talent more.
Kelly: I’m telling you Buddy and the Brow I can see it now. New Orleans needs offense pretty badly after last year and most importantly Anthony Davis needs some help. Hield can draw some defenders away from Davis whose constantly battling two and three guys because the team had literally no one else. I think Hield, who can also handle the ball when needed, is an ideal wing player for this team – and he’s about Davis’ age which helps so they don’t have to wait 4-5 years for this guy to develop and grow into his body while Davis gets older.
Max: New Orleans drafting Buddy is my dream as well. But I still worry that this scenario- where Murray is still available- will make it too easy to for New Orleans to pass on Hield. Please, oh please let me be wrong.
Max: I think the Nuggets landed in the best spot in this draft. They will happily take whomever of Dunn, Hield or Murray falls to them, add him to their young nucleus and be the most sneaky-fun team in the NBA.
Kelly: If Murray falls this far, the Nuggets have to take him. Best player available. Period.
Kelly: So. I’m gonna take some heat for this pick, but please hear me out. Rajon Rondo has seen his prime come and go. Seth Curry isn’t his brother. Demarcus Cousins for all the drama that he is needs some guard play to help him out – similar to Anthony Davis. LaVert is a versatile guard who can create and score on offense and bring some youth to a position that is in high demand in the NBA.
Max: In Kelly’s defense, the Kings are probably screwed here. I’ve no idea who they should take and, given their recent franchise turmoil, I doubt they do either. They need guard help but are caught way in between. Maybe they try and move down?
Max: The Raptors just made the Eastern Conference Finals, so they can afford to take a swing on the player with the most potential in the draft. Chriss could become anything from Jeff Green, to Marvin Williams to Amar’e Stoudamire. The Raptors need a young forward, especially with Bismack Biyombo likely to move on, and Chriss is a great pick here.
Kelly: The first time I did a mock draft I totally forgot about Chriss. He would fit the Raptors nicely, if Biyombo leaves. If not there’s a bunch of guys in the same position, and a little bit of a roster bunch up.
Kelly: The Bucks are doing all kinds of crazy things with a no-position lineup that Jason Kidd is advocating for, ala point-Giannis. Jaylen is a versatile wing player who can fit nicely next to the Bucks young duo of Giannis and Jabari Parker.
Max: The more I read about Brown, the more I like him. He’s smart and athletic and I can see him becoming an Andre Iguodala type player. That’d be great for Milwaukee.
Max: The Magic need help protecting the rim and Poeltl is one of the most polished big men in this draft. He can score and play great interior defense and gives the Magic needed size.
Kelly: I have to admit it – I know little to nothing about the Magic outside of Victor Oladipo, and that they have a stockpile of guards. I think a big man makes sense in that context.
Kelly: The Jazz may have picked a power forward last year, but that doesn’t mean they can’t add another. I like their guards more than most and still think that Trey Burke can be a factor so I would emphasize height and strength here for them to add to their 4s and 5s.
Max: I’m still looking for Utah to trade this pick, but I agree that it’s Davis here if they’re unable to. He’s young and has upside both as a rim protector and low-post scorer. He may take time, but the Jazz can wait.
Max: The Suns don’t need another big man thanks to Kelly, so they’ll go for a wing here. Luwawu has potential as a great 3-and-D wing; the perfect complement to young Devin Booker.
Kelly: You’re welcome Phoenix. I agree with Max they need a wing player so at this point I think you go best available and that might very well be Luwawu.
Kelly: This is a little bit of a reach here again, but I think that with all of the uncertainty surrounding Derrick Rose they could use to add another guard who at the very least could spell Jimmy Butler, if not eventually learn to play alongside of him. The Bulls have a strong core to help teach and mold a young, raw player.
Max: I’m with Kelly here. The Bulls need to find their next point guard and I love Jackson. He’s a dynamic ballhandler who can also play off the ball and make plays defensively. His shot is a bit of a question mark but, given the way he developed in three years at Notre Dame, I can see it getting better.