The Pistons were the fortunate franchise that won the lottery — and now the job of general manager Troy Weaver is easy. The pick should be Cade Cunningham, a point guard with size who can shot-create, play-make, score from all three levels and just generally take over games when the situation requires it, which he showed time and again in his one season in the Big 12.
The Rockets have had and lost stars like James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul in recent years — so the franchise is in desperate need of another one. And though I do think there are arguments to be made for Evan Mobley and Jalen Green, the pick should be Jalen Suggs, a great competitor and top-shelf athlete who can be an All-Star level player if his 3-point shot becomes more reliable.
The Cavaliers have young talent in their backcourt thanks to the presence of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, but they could use a frontcourt star to go with them. That’s why the pick here should be Evan Mobley, a one-and-done center who is perfectly suited for the modern NBA given that he’s a true rim-protector who is capable of making plays off the bounce or shooting jumpers from the perimeter.
The Raptors were big winners on lottery night when they bounced into the top four and earned the right to select whichever top-tier prospect drops to them. In this mock draft, it’s Jalen Green — an elite scorer with explosive athleticism who would flourish playing next to Fred VanVleet in Toronto’s backcourt.
Most believe there’s a clear top-five in this draft with Jonathan Kuminga being the fifth-best of those five prospects. So assuming he’s available here, the Magic would be wise to select him and add an offensively gifted athletic wing to a young core of R.J. Hampton and Cole Anthony.
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Oklahoma City’s rebuild should have general manager Sam Presti focusing on nothing but adding young prospects with high upsides. At this point in this mock draft, the best player who fits that description is Scottie Barnes, a versatile combo forward who is guaranteed to be Florida State’s next one-and-done lottery pick.
There’s a strong belief that the Warriors will try to package this pick and move it for a veteran who is better equipped to help a core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green compete for another title next season. But if they can’t get that done, an intriguing option would be Davion Mitchell, a tenacious on-ball defender whose playmaking ability — and shotmaking ability — just helped Baylor win its first national title.
If the Magic add Mobley with the third pick, they might look to go with a wing prospect here. Moses Moody was the leading scorer and second-leading rebounder for Arkansas — and one of the biggest reasons the Razorbacks made the Elite Eight for the first time since 1995.
The Kings finished with the worst defensive rating in the NBA this season, which suggests they could use a prospect who adds something on that end of the court. Keon Johnson was a terrific on-ball defender in his one season at Tennessee and projects as a nice two-way player in the NBA for many years to come.
The Pelicans still need to surround Zion Williamson with shooting — and adding Tre Mann would accomplish that goal. He shot 40.2% on 4.7 3-point attempts in his final season at Florida, where he also played and guarded multiple positions.
Gordon Hayward has missed 48 regular-season games the past two seasons, which is among the reasons the Hornets need to add depth on the wing. The selection of Josh Giddey would do just that and give Charlotte a perimeter player with size who has already proven himself against professionals in the same league where Charlotte star LaMelo Ball also played before coming to the NBA.
The midseason buyout of LaMarcus Aldridge left San Antonio with zero great options in the frontcourt. So using this pick on a big like Isaiah Jackson — whose block percentage of 12.7 ranked eighth nationally (according to KenPom) in his one year at Kentucky — could possibly help the Spurs find their next special rim-wrecking athlete.
The Pacers need to add depth on the wing, which makes Franz Wagner an obvious option. His 3-point shot must improve for him to meet expectations, but the fact that he shot 83.3% from the free-throw line this past season at Michigan suggests he’s capable of being an above-average perimeter shooter in time.
With or without James Wiseman in Golden State’s plans, the Warriors are pretty light in the frontcourt. Adding Alperen Sengun, a throwback center who has been a professional in Turkey since 2018, would qualify as a sensible move and give Steve Kerr someone who is already very comfortable catching the ball at the elbow and using a face-up game to score and draw fouls.
Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal combined this season to give Washington one of the NBA’s best starting backcourts, but there’s very little quality or creativity on the bench. James Bouknight could provide the Wizards with an extra guard who was offensively overwhelming for defenses in spurts during his final season at UConn.
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Oklahoma City has so many picks — in this draft and future drafts — that it can afford to take a big swing on a prospect like Kai Jones. It’s a bet on his upside, sure, but the two-year product from Texas has a chance to be a stretch-big at the next level considering he made 13 of the 34 3-pointers he attempted this past season.
The Grizzlies ranked 20th in 3-point field goal percentage this season and thus need to add shooting, which is something Chris Duarte could provide. The former National Junior College Player of the Year made better than 42% of the 5.5 3-pointers he attempted per contest this past season at Oregon, and there’s little doubt he has a game that’ll translate to the NBA.
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The Thunder are in a total rebuild and should be focused on trying to add prospects who have a chance to be special. Ziaire Williams fits that description given that he’s a one-and-done wing with athleticism who was a consensus top-10 prospect coming out of high school.
It’s unclear if the Knicks will want to keep both of their first-round picks given the depth currently on the roster, but, if they do, adding a prospect like Jalen Johnson could be a great long-term play. He’s a former five-star prospect who shot above 44% from 3-point range over a span of 13 games before quitting Duke’s team midseason.
Cameron Thomas is a big-time scorer who led the SEC in points per game in his one season at LSU. The efficiency numbers weren’t great, but that’s largely because he was responsible for creating an unusually high percentage of the Tigers’ offense, which obviously wouldn’t be the case in Atlanta because of the presence of Trae Young.
Greg Brown is such a bouncy athlete that he’s worthy of first-round looks based on potential alone. If his 3-point shot continues to improve to the point where he’s a legitimate big who can stretch the floor, he could solve some long-term issues for the Knicks.
The Lakers are always looking to add shooting around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Corey Kispert, who made 44.0% of the 6.5 3-pointers he attempted per game this past season at Gonzaga, is arguably the best shooter in this draft.
Sharife Cooper is a little on the small side, which will likely be the thing that prevents him from being seriously considered for the top 10. But he’s such a gifted passer and playmaker that he would be a reasonable option here for a Houston franchise in a multiyear rebuild.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl was the leading scorer and rebounder for a Villanova team that won the Big East by multiple games. He’s not the best athlete, but his understanding of how to play, and his ability to be a pick-and-pop 4, could allow him to become a core piece for the Rockets, who are still probably years away from competing for a postseason spot.
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Ayo Dosunmu improved enough as a shooter in his third season at Illinois to lock up a spot in the first round. The regularity with which he took over games in the Big Ten suggests he can be a big-scoring guard who could provide depth in the Clippers’ backcourt and help them win immediately.
Jaden Springer made above 43% of his 3-point attempts in his one season of college, which is an encouraging stat even if it was on limited attempts. Among the youngest players in this draft, he could develop into an important piece that upgrades Denver’s backcourt.
The Nets are obviously incredible offensively (when completely healthy) — but they still need to improve defensively, which is why selecting Usman Garuba would make some sense. He’s a versatile high-level defender who could help as a rookie and perhaps eventually develop into one of the best defensive bigs in the world.
Trey Murphy had no problem adjusting to the ACC after spending his first two years of college at Rice. He’s proven over the span of three seasons to be a consistent high-level shooter, one who could be a floor-spacer for a Philadelphia franchise that still needs more 3-point threats.
If the Suns decide to add some backcourt depth, Miles McBride would be a reasonable option. He’s a guard who gets after it defensively and shoots it reliably — evidence being the fact that he shot 41.4% from 3-point range this past season, and 81.3% from the free-throw line while leading West Virginia to a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The Jazz are at a point with their roster where they can afford to take a gamble on an intriguing prospect like Josh Christopher. He’s a guard with size who, in a limited number of games, showed a real ability to shot-create and score in ways that translate to the NBA.