NBA Mock Draft 2.0: Celtics add more frontcourt depth
BOSTON — In the world of college basketball, this is about that time when teams and players start to heat up in order to make a strong push towards March Madness.
And as they play better and gain more notoriety, the end result is often that their stock in the eyes of NBA executives also takes a bit of a bump too.
Here’s a look at some of the top college players likely headed to the NBA next season, as well as a host of international talent that will also be in the draft-day mix in June.
1. Golden State Warriors
James Wiseman, 7-1, Center, Memphis
Already stacked in the backcourt and wing positions, Wiseman provides the kind of size and big-man versatility that can only help jump-start the Warriors’ run towards being an elite team next season.
2. Atlanta Hawks
Anthony Edwards, 6-5, Wing, Georgia
The Hawks get a 2-for-1 special with this pick: an in-state talent who just so happens to be the best player available and addresses the team’s need for another scorer.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
LaMelo Ball, 6-7, Wing, International
Ball falls in line with the future of the NBA; wing players with the ability to score, create for others and initiate the offense.
4. New York Knicks
Cole Anthony, 6-3, Guard, North Carolina
Has the court vision, scoring touch and overall feel for the game that the Knicks could desperately use running their offense.
5. Charlotte Hornets
Jaden McDaniels, 6-10, Forward, Washington
While his lithe frame raises some concerns, his athleticism, basketball instincts and ability to impact games as an inside-out threat makes him an ideal addition for the Hornets.
6. Washington Wizards
Tyrese Halliburton, 6-5, Guard, Iowa State
His wingspan (near 7-feet) allows him to play bigger than he really is. Combine that with a good 3-point shot and solid skills defensively, Haliburton could come in and see immediate playing time.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves
Deni Avdija, 6-8, Wing, International
Has a great feel for the game as far as shooting and making plays for others. And at his size, his flashy ball-handling game while being 6-8 will remind some of the reigning Rookie of the Year, the Mavericks’ Luka Doncic.
8. Sacramento Kings
R.J. Hampton, 6-5, Guard, International
Hampton gives the Kings another player who can effectively attack the rim which should open things up more for their shooters such as Buddy Hield.
9. Chicago Bulls
Obi Toppin, 6-9, Forward, Dayton
The fact that he can play big and has shown the ability to shoot effectively from 3-point range has made him a player who can come in and provide immediate help to the Bulls.
10. Detroit Pistons
Killian Hayes, 6-5, Wing, International
An explosive athlete with elite end-to-end speed, he is an improved jumper away from being a top-five talent in this year’s draft.
11. New Orleans Pelicans
Onyeka Okongwu, 6-9, Forward/Center, USC
A physical player, Okongwu adds some muscle to a Pelicans roster looking to add more depth to its frontcourt.
12. Phoenix Suns
Isaac Okoro, 6-6, Wing, Auburn
A high energy talent who has the ability to run the floor effectively and finish around the rim, Okoro provides the Suns with a player with the potential to get out in transition and get easy buckets.
13. Portland Trail Blazers
Precious Achiuwa, 6-9, Forward/Center, Memphis
A big wing with great length, his athleticism and ability to play multiple positions gives the Blazers some options as far as where to play him at first.
14. San Antonio Spurs
Nico Mannion, 6-3, Guard, Arizona
Excellent playmaker, but needs to prove he can be a better shot-maker than we’ve seen this season (42.4 percent from the field, 32.9 percent on 3’s).
15. Atlanta Hawks (via Brooklyn)
Josh Green, 6-6, Wing, Arizona
He hasn’t lived up to the hype he had coming to Arizona, but Green’s size and strength for the 2-guard position makes him a natural fit in Atlanta to provide more depth in the backcourt.
16. Boston Celtics (via Memphis)
Aaron Nesmith, 6-6, Wing, Vanderbilt
A foot injury will sideline the SEC’s top scorer for the rest of the season, but Nesmith has Klay Thompson-like shooting skills which makes him a steal at this point in the draft.
17. Orlando Magic
Amar Sylla, 6-9, Forward, International
The Senegalese big man has tremendous length (7-2 wingspan) and has shown promise as an effective rim-runner and finisher in the open court. He’s still relatively raw, but the length and upside make him too attractive to pass on at this point in the draft.
18. Oklahoma City Thunder
Jahmi’us Ramsey, 6-4, Wing, Texas Tech
Great competitor, plays with a high level of physicality and toughness which fits in well with the Thunder culture.
19. Houston Rockets
Tyrese Maxey, 6-4, Wing, Kentucky
For a player who is more of a scorer rather than shooter, Maxey’s brand of basketball seems an ideal fit with the way the Rockets play.
20. Milwaukee Bucks (via Indiana)
Theo Maledon, 6-5, Guard, International
One of the more athletic International prospects in this draft, he has a great first step to the basket as well as being a good finisher in transition.
21. Dallas Mavericks
Daniel Oturu, 6-10, Forward, Minnesota
One of the better rim protectors in this year’s draft, Oturo has made notable strides as a scorer this season as well.
22. Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia)
Paul Reed, 6-9, Forward, Depaul
At his best in the pick-and-pop game, Reed has the size and strength to play multiple positions on the floor.
23. Boston Celtics
Isaiah Stewart, 6-9, Forward, Oregon
Strong, tough, gritty banger around the rim with limited range, he provides some much-needed frontcourt depth for the Celtics.
24. Toronto Raptors
Vernon Carey Jr., 6-10, Center, Duke
Marc Gasol isn’t getting any younger, so adding a physical bruiser at this point in the draft who can watch and learn from one of the best bigs in the game can be a big plus down the road for the Raptors.
25. Miami Heat
Isaiah Joe, 6-5, Wing, Arkansas
Isaiah Joe has to put on some weight at the next level, but his spot-on accuracy and super-quick release make him a tough cover for teams.
26. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Denver)
Jordan Nwora, 6-8, Wing, Louisville
Teams love his size at the wing position. Would go higher if teams weren’t as concerned as they are about his long-term potential (He turns 22 years old in September).
27. Utah Jazz
Mamadi Diakite, 6-9, Wing, Virginia
You’ll hear the term “glue guy” often associated with Diakite, whose greatest strength is his ability to potentially defend all five positions in the NBA with some degree of success.
28. Los Angeles Clippers
Jay Scrubb, 6-6, Wing, JUCO
He’s committed to Louisville, but plans to test the NBA Draft waters and will likely stay in the draft when he learns that worst-case scenario has him going somewhere late in the first round.
29. Los Angeles Lakers
Reggie Perry, 6-9, Forward, Mississippi State
One of the stronger players in this year’s draft class, Perry does a good job of protecting the paint in addition to scoring at the rim.
30. Boston Celtics (via Milwaukee)
Aleksej Pokusevski, 7-0, Center, International
On the thin side, but handles the ball well for his size and can also shoot the 3-ball. Don’t be surprised if he’s a draft-and-stash candidate for Boston.