Blakely's NBA Mock Draft 4.0: C's add another gritty defender
BOSTON -- The fog is starting to be lifted from the seemingly never-ending smokescreens thrown up by teams leading up to tonight’s NBA draft.
The top players coming into the draft are still high atop most leaderboards.
But beyond the top five or so prospects, there’s a considerable amount of movement that becomes more about preferences than potential superstars. That’s a good thing for the Celtics if they decide to stand pat with the 27th pick in tonight’s NBA draft.
Boston remains open to moving up in the draft if a player it really likes starts to slide. But short of that, the Celtics are expected to use their own pick for a player they believe has a chance to contribute sooner rather than later.
Who will that be? No one, not even the Celtics, know who that will be. But based on conversations with multiple league executives and scouts, there’s going to be a couple of pretty good players still on the clock near the end of the first round.
Here’s NBC Sports Boston’s Mock Draft 4.0.
1. Phoenix – DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona
Throughout the draft process, Ayton’s status as the top pick in this year’s draft never changed.
2. Sacramento –Marvin Bagley III, Duke
The Kings will think long and hard about taking Luka Doncic here but ultimately they’ll go with Bagley, who provides some much-needed frontcourt depth and appears likely to contribute in a big way immediately.
3. Atlanta – Luka Doncic, Slovenia
The Hawks can not screw this one up. No international player has come into the NBA with such a proven track record of success, at such a young age. They can’t get this wrong, can they?
4. Memphis – Jaren Jackson Jr., F/C, Michigan State
The Grizzlies would have loved to have Doncic at this point. Instead they take one of the bigger risers among players already pegged as lottery picks.
5. Dallas – Trae Young, G, Oklahoma
You certainly worry about Young’s lithe frame and overall ability to defend, but shot-makers with his range and confidence makes him too attractive a talent for the Mavericks to pass on.
6. Orlando – Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas
He has legit upside as a scorer. Combine that with his rim-protecting skills and you have a player that with tremendous upside towards being a star in this league.
7. Chicago – Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri
They were hoping Trae Young might be on the board at this point. But adding Porter Jr. instead is not a bad consolation prize.
8. Cleveland – Collin Sexton, G, Alabama
This pick isn’t going to be what keeps LeBron James in Cleveland. But he has talent, he’s young and he plays an aggressive brand of basketball – the kind of qualities Cleveland needs more of regardless of what James decides to do.
9. New York Knicks – Mikal Bridges, F, Villanova
A tough defender who can knock down 3’s, the Knicks add one of the most improved players in college basketball last season.
10. Philadelphia – Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky
Adding a wing player who can score from the three major zones on the floor, is the kind of depth the Sixers need to come away with in this year’s draft.
11. Charlotte – Wendell Carter Jr., F, Duke
With the Hornets trading away Dwight Howard, adding Carter Jr. gives them a more athletic option offensively and better rim-runner in the frontcourt, than Timofey Mozgov.
12. Los Angeles Clippers –– Robert Williams, F, Texas A&M
Adding some frontcourt muscle has to be a priority for the Clippers. They meet that need with Williams, one of the better rebounding-shot blockers in this year’s draft.
13. Los Angeles Clippers – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G, Kentucky
More of an upside pick than a proven commodity, don’t be surprised if this pick is moved on to another team.
14. Denver – Lonnie Walker, G, Miami
The Nuggets may not be able to re-sign Will Barton this summer, so adding another wing scorer like Walker is huge for Denver this summer.
15. Washington – Miles Bridges, F, Michigan State
The Wizards add one of the draft’s best athletes, someone who has the potential to guard three positions and, just as important, is a tough-minded kid. Washington needs more of those on its roster.
16. Phoenix – Troy Brown, G, Oregon
Has ideal size (6-7) and wingspan (about 7-feet) for an NBA wing. Needs to add strength to his wiry frame, but should be able to contribute early on as a multi-positional defender.
17. Milwaukee – Donte DiVincenzo, G, Villanova
The Bucks steer away from adding length, and instead take one of the more underrated athletes in the draft whose strength as a high impact role player in college will help his transition to the NBA.
18. San Antonio – Omari Spellman, C, Villanova
Not ideal size for a center at 6-9, but has a nice pick-and-pop game that shows promise at the next level which works well in this small-ball era.
19. Atlanta – Zhaire Smith, G, Texas Tech
Super athlete whose game still needs some refining. He’ll get that opportunity as part of the Hawks’ rebuilding efforts.
20. Minnesota – Jerome Robinson, G, Boston College
One of the better shooters in this draft, the Timberwolves could use his services with Jamal Crawford (free agent) unlikely to be re-signed.
21. Utah – Gary Trent Jr., G, Duke
He’s a really good catch-and-shoot guy, the kind of player that should thrive playing with a pass-first playmaker like Ricky Rubio.
22. Chicago – Chandler Hutchinson, G/F, Boise State
There’s not a lot of love for four-year college players in this year’s draft, but Hutchinson’s body of work and potential to step in and contribute immediately will make him the exception to that line of thought.
23. Indiana – Kevin Huerter, G, Maryland
The Pacers hit a home run with this pick, landing arguably the draft’s best catch-and-shoot player which appears to be a nice fit with this on-the-rise club led by All-Star Victor Oladipo.
24. Portland – Khyri Thomas, G, Creighton
The Blazers have lots of perimeter firepower to speak of, adding Thomas provides a much-needed defender on the perimeter who can also drain 3-pointers (he shot better than 40 percent from 3-point range last seas0n).
25. Los Angeles Lakers – Grayson Allen, G, Duke
The Lakers need to add some perimeter toughness, better shooting to the mix. Allen provides the best combination of those two skills, at this point in the draft.
26. Philadelphia -- Josh Okogie, G, Georgia Tech
Fortifying their perimeter is one of the goals for the Sixers during this offseason. Okogie, who had a strong showing at the pre-draft combine last month in Chicago, looks the part.
27. Boston – Jacob Evans, G/F, Cincinnati
Even if the Celtics do re-sign Marcus Smart, adding a gritty, tough-minded defender like Evans whose game in many ways mirrors that of Smart, makes this a worthwhile pick-up so late in the first round.
28. Golden State – Jalen Brunson, G, Villanova
Completes the first-round trifecta for Villanova despite being the most decorated of the trio.
29. Brooklyn – Mitchell Robinson, C, USA
At this point in the draft, selecting Robinson is a high-reward, low-risk proposition for the Nets.
30. Atlanta – Aaron Holiday, G, UCLA
Excellent end-to-end speed, does a good job of getting his teammates involved consistently. Don’t be surprised if the Hawks trade this pick as part of a bigger deal on draft night.