The NBA Draft lottery is set for May 15 in Chicago, with 14 teams anxiously waiting to see where they will be picking come June. We know the Phoenix Suns have the best odds at the No. 1 pick with a 25 percent chance. Memphis, Dallas, Atlanta, and Orlando round out the top five.
Until the ping-pong balls are finally put in motion, we’re going to be using ESPN’s lottery machine to determine the order. The Mavericks were the lucky winner of the No. 1 selection this time around. The Kings made the biggest jump, moving from seventh to No. 3.
This is going to be a really fun draft. Let’s mock.
1. Dallas Mavericks - Luka Doncic, G, Slovenia
Doncic separates himself from a talented pack of American prospects because his skill set is so well-rounded and he has consistently brought an ability to make winning plays. Doncic combines excellent passing skills with an advanced feel for the game, a projectable jump shot and a nose for the ball as a rebounder and defender. He’s been remarkably productive as a European pro from an early age. That will continue early in his NBA career.
2. Memphis Grizzlies - Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona
Ayton has the draft’s most imposing set of physical tools. Standing 7’1, 250 pounds with a 7’5 wingspan, the Arizona center offers a rare mix of size and explosiveness. Ayton thrives on raw athletic power, but he also has soft touch both around the rim and on his face-up jumper. Defense is the big question, where both his instincts and production leave a lot to be desired. This is a player with such immense physical gifts that he has no excuse to be poor defensively. If it ever clicks on that side of the ball, Ayton will be a terror.
3. Sacramento Kings - Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke
Bagley is an awkward positional fit in the modern NBA because he’s not exactly a stretch four or a shot blocking five. He is an incredible inside scorer who can put the ball in the basket from a variety of angles because of his advanced football and soft touch. There’s potential for Bagley to make strides as a ball handler and shooter, which makes him worthy of being a top-three pick despite some major defensive question marks.
4. Phoenix Suns - Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma
Phoenix would have so much shooting on the perimeter with Young and Devin Booker in the backcourt. That would give lots of space for Josh Jackson’s drives to the basket, Dragan Bender’s high-post passing and Marquese Chriss’ lobs. Young is turnover prone and will be poor on defense, but there’s no doubt he’s the draft’s best shooter and passer. Those skills translate.
5. Atlanta Hawks - Jaren Jackson Jr., C, Michigan State
Jackson has the best combination of shot blocking and shooting of any of the center prospects. He put up only modest per-game numbers at Michigan State, and he’s also one of the youngest players in this draft. Taking him will require patience but he could eventually develop into everything the NBA wants from a modern center.
6. Orlando Magic - Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri
Porter was ranked as the No. 1 recruit in the country by some entering his season at Missouri, which was immediately wiped out by back surgery. He played only two games and didn’t leave NBA scouts with much to evaluate him on. If healthy, the ideal version of Porter is a 6’10 hybrid forward who can score from all three levels. This pick requires a leap of faith, because the back injury is scary, and because we don’t know exactly where his shooting and ball handling is at.
7. Chicago Bulls - Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas
Bamba has historic length (7’9 wingspan) and great shot blocking instincts. He’s also raw offensively and needs to get much stronger, particularly in the lower body to help build his athletic explosiveness. NBA teams will hope he’s more Rudy Gobert than Hasheem Thabeet.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers - Wendell Carter, C, Duke
Carter is a bruising inside scorer and explosive rebounder who also has touch on his face-up jumper. At 6’10, 255 pounds with a 7’3 wingspan, he’s something of a throwback big who thrives on power over lateral quickness, yet still has the skill level demanded for the modern game. His ability to defend the high pick-and-roll will be the question mark.
9. New York Knicks - Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova
Bridges was being hit with the redshirt when he was the same age as the first eight players drafted ahead of him. He used his four years in college to develop into a knockdown shooter and long-armed, agile defender whose 3-and-D skill set would help pretty much any NBA team.
10. Philadelphia 76ers - Miles Bridges, F, Michigan State
A powerful 6’6 combo forward, Bridges fell in love with his jumper a little too much in his second season at MSU, but has potential to be an energy guy who attacks the rim and fills the lane in transition at the NBA level. He’d fit nicely running the floor with Ben Simmons and would give Philadelphia some additional lineup versatility.
11. Charlotte Hornets - Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky
A 6’6 point guard with a 7-foot wingspan who thrives on forays to the rim thanks to his combination of advanced footwork and touch on his layups. Gilgeous-Alexander will be a multi-positional defender who can get into the teeth of the defense offensively while his outside shot develops.
12. Los Angeles Clippers - Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama
Sexton is hellbent on giving you buckets. He’s a relentless score-first point guard who wants to drive the ball to the rim offensively and hound opposing ball handlers defensively. He isn’t a great shooter or passer yet, but he has intriguing tools and a hyper-competitive mindset that should serve him well in the league.
13. Los Angeles Clippers - Robert Williams, C, Texas A&M
Williams is a long, explosive center who will block shots and catch lobs in the NBA. The Clippers hit a home run on that type of player once upon a time in DeAndre Jordan. Williams can be his heir apparent in LA.
14. Denver Nuggets - Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech
Smith was only a three-star recruit out of high school, but ended up as one of college basketball’s most impactful players by placing in the top-10 of BPM. He’s an ultra-athletic 6’5 guard who can make plays above the rim on both ends of the floor. Putback dunks and chasedown blocks were commonplace during his one year at Texas Tech, and he’s also a determined man defender. If his jumper is as projectable as many believe it is, he’ll be a steal at 14.
15. Washington Wizards - Jontay Porter, C, Missouri
The other Porter brother mostly came off the bench during his one year at Missouri, but gave NBA scouts a lot to like about his game. Namely, a rare combination of shooting and shot blocking with an advanced feel for the game. This is higher than most have Porter because of his athletic limitations and modest freshman year production, but he’s one of the youngest players in this draft and also fits well into the league’s new reality. NBA teams should like that.
16. Phoenix Suns - Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky
An athletic 6’9 combo forward who can hit shots off the dribble and has a decent stroke as a spot-up shooter. Knox will need to improve as a ball handler and decision maker, but there’s a definite rotation spot in the league (at worst) for a player with his tools.
17. Milwaukee Bucks - Dzanan Musa, SF, Bosnia
A 6’9 Euro scorer who can get hot in a hurry but faces defensive question marks. Get familiar:
18. San Antonio Spurs - Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami
Walker is a 6’4 off-guard with a 6’10 wingspan, great bounce and a compact shooting stroke. His numbers were slightly underwhelming after coming back from a preseason meniscus tear, but there’s no doubting his tools. Anyone who saw him tear up Louisville knows how good he can be:
19. Atlanta Hawks - Keita Bates-Diop, F, Ohio State
A four-year college player, Bates-Diop is a 6’7, 235-pound wing who can score inside and out. He should be able to carve out a role as a glue guy thanks to his defensive versatility and well-rounded game.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves - Troy Brown, SG, Oregon
Brown is the definition of a glue guy. He can do a little bit of everything as a 6’7 wing, handling and passing like a point guard but offering the versatility to defend multiple positions. He’s not a big-time scorer and will need his three-point stroke to come around, but he does enough things well to make him a top-20 pick.
21. Utah Jazz - Chandler Hutchinson, SF, Boise State
Hutchinson is a 6’7, 200-pound wing who improved every year at Boise State, ending in a senior season in which he averaged 20 points per game and shot 36 percent from three. He’s agile enough to attack close outs and has gotten better at making plays on the move.
22. Chicago Bulls - Anfernee Simons, G, IMG Academy (HS)
Simons enters the draft as a fifth-year high school player who was projected by ESPN as a top-five pick in the 2019 draft. He’s an explosive combo guard who can shoot off the dribble, drawing some comparisons to Markelle Fultz. Simons is also very skinny and will probably need a year or two in the G League to become accustomed to life as a professional.
23. Indiana Pacers - Shake Milton, PG, SMU
Milton is a break-you-down point guard, but he does have great size (6’6) and a dependable shooting stroke that saw him connect on more than 40 percent of his threes in every season he was at SMU.
24. Portland Trail Blazers - Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton
Thomas is only 6’3 and rarely ran pick-and-roll at Creighton, but he’s a ferocious defender with a 6’10 wingspan and grew into a 41 percent shooter from behind the arc as a junior. He’ll have to make his mark defending opposing point guards and spacing the floor.
25. Los Angeles Lakers - Mitchell Robinson, C
Robinson has the talent to be taken 10 spots higher than this. He’s a classic rim protector/rim runner who can get off the floor quicker than any 7-footer has any right to. He’s also very raw offensively and has a high center of gravity. Team fit and culture will be vital to get the most out of his gifts.
26. Philadelphia 76ers - Gary Trent Jr., SG, Duke
The son of the Shaq of the MAC, Trent Jr. is a shotmaker who hit 40 percent of his threes as a freshman at Duke. The question will be his ability to finish over length at the rim and make an impact defensively.
27. Boston Celtics - Gary Clark, F, Cincinnati
Clark led college basketball in BPM by being one of the most versatile and effective defenders in the country. The 6’6 forward plays bigger than his size. He made major strides as a shooter as a senior at Cincy, hitting 42 percent of his threes on just under two attempts per game.
28. Golden State Warriors - Elie Okobo, PG, France
An athletic lead guard who combines strength and length (6’3 with a 6’8 wingspan) with developing shotmaking ability off the dribble. Read The Stepien’s scouting report on him.
29. Brooklyn Nets - De’Anthony Melton, G, USC
A big combo guard who makes his name on the defensive end, Melton sat out the entire season for USC amid allegations about his involvement in the FBI investigation. He has the size (6’4) and versatility to play either guard spot but needs to improve as a shooter.
30. Atlanta Hawks - Rodions Kurucs, F, Latvia
The 6’9 forward has a score-first mentality. He was considered a potential lottery pick last year but decided to return to Barcelona for another season. Read ESPN on his situation in Europe.