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2016 NBA Mock Draft: Consensus Ver 3.0

Each week, four of Basketball Insiders’ experts will do a 2016 NBA Mock Draft. Here are their third mocks.

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Each week, four of Basketball Insiders’ top writers will break down the latest news and notes surrounding the 2016 NBA Draft. Included is an updated mock draft that reflects how each writer sees the draft landscape based on the latest news, workouts and information from the pre-draft process.

 

Alex’s Notebook: Former Utah center Jakob Poeltl has cracked the top 10 in three of our mock drafts this week, which isn’t very surprising considering he’s one of the best big men in this draft.

Last season, Poeltl averaged 17.2 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.6 blocks per game, while shooting 64.6 percent from the field (eighth-best in the nation). Poeltl’s 31.1 Player Efficiency Rating was the ninth-best in the nation and first among prospects who are projected to go in the 2016 first round. He was also ranked eighth in the country in Effective Field Goal Percentage (.646) and 15th in Win Shares (6.8).

He made huge strides as a sophomore, not only emerging as the Utes’ go-to player, but becoming one of the most productive players in college basketball – as his advanced analytics suggest. He led Utah in scoring (nearly doubling his freshman average), rebounding and shot-blocking and was a major reason Utah won 27 games (including a victory in the NCAA Tournament).

At the moment, Poeltl seems like a lock to be selected in the lottery. Steve Kyler has Poeltl projected the highest of all our writers, slotting him in as the No. 6 overall pick to the New Orleans Pelicans.

At the NBA Draft Combine, Poeltl measured in at 7’1 in shoes with a 7’2.75 wingspan. While he weighs just 239 lbs. and will need to put on weight in the NBA, his 5.8 percent body fat was very impressive. All of these measurements show that Poeltl has a build that’s very similar to that of Sacramento Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein (as our friends at DraftExpress noted).

Poeltl had plenty of dominant games throughout his sophomore campaign. Here were some of his most impressive performances:

  • Against Temple, he had 32 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks and two steals while hitting 10-12 shots from the field and 12-14 free throws.
  • Against BYU, he had 26 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks while hitting 11-16 shots from the field.
  • Against #7 Duke, he had 19 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks in just 28 minutes while hitting 8-11 shots from the field.
  • Against USC, he had 29 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and four steals while hitting 11-13 shots from the field.
  • Against Fresno State, he had 16 points, 18 rebounds and four assists to help Utah advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Poeltl is a very intriguing prospect, so don’t be surprised to hear his name called sooner than later on draft night.

Joel’s Notebook: With four different teams owning three first-round picks (Boston, Phoenix, Philadelphia and Denver), I find myself struggling to figure out what, exactly, they’re going to do with all of those selections. As I’ve done these mocks, I’ve found myself using the third of those picks on a project or international player because it’s hard to imagine three rookies all making big influences on their new teams, but that led to me doing some really odd things this time around.

Denver, for whatever reason, got the oddest treatment this week. There’s no way they’re drafting Kris Dunn for themselves at No. 7 now that we know Emmanuel Mudiay is for real, but when Jamal Murray, Buddy Hield and Jaylen Brown all went right ahead of Denver’s pick at No. 7, I couldn’t justify passing on the most talented guy left on the board just because he didn’t fit a need. Dunn would absolutely not be happy playing behind Mudiay, and in fact he’d be wasted there, but I don’t see how else Denver could make the most of their pick at that point than to just pick Dunn. Ellenson, Davis, Labissiere and Poeltl represent a big drop-off for me.

Cheick Diallo at No. 19 is probably my biggest stretch this week, but it’s the third of Nuggets’ three picks and they can take a risk at that point. I’m of the belief that Diallo is actually really good and just couldn’t crack Bill Self’s vet-heavy rotation at Kansas after returning from his early-season suspension. Had he actually played this year, we’d probably be talking about him as a lottery pick, so him at #19 isn’t as crazy as it looks. He has a higher ceiling than Prince, Ulis and Johnson.

Ulis-Johnson-Beasley at 24, 25 and 26 would be amazing for the Sixers and Clippers, by the way. Any of those three could be the steal of the round if they drop that low.

Moke’s Notebook: Similar to last year, there still seems to be a bit of a split among the observers as to who will go first overall to the Sixers. Either way, at this point, we know who the top two selections will be in the draft – with most beginning to tab Dragan Bender as the consensus third pick. Where things get interesting, to me, is what transpires after that.

I have been a fan of Buddy Hield for quite some time and he is one of the players I have been mentioning as having the ability to crash the top five. The biggest wildcard in all of this, though, is what the Phoenix Suns and Minnesota Timberwolves do at four and five, respectively.

The Timberwolves seem to have a promising young core already, and I personally think Skal Labissiere would fit nicely next to Karl-Anthony Towns. Labissiere hasn’t been tabbed as a “top five” talent for quite some time, though, and drafting him over a player whose perceived value is higher (such as Kris Dunn or Jamal Murray) may be too risky of a proposition for Tom Thibodeau to co-sign with the exercise of his first pick as the head cheese in Minneapolis. Still, I wouldn’t discount the possibility of the Timberwolves reaching for Labissiere and completely destroying everyone’s first-round projections. The Pelicans are in a fairly decent position at number six and will likely take a wing player who can contribute in the areas where Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon have mostly failed.

Timothe Luwawu and Furkan Korkmaz are both interesting, as well. I expect those guys to eventually round out the lottery, with Wade Baldwin being one of the better players selected in the top 20. Toward the end of the first round, I think both Diamond Stone and Malachi Richardson will have a shot to sneak in, with Thon Maker and Zhou Qi also possessing the same sort of round-busting potential as Bender and Labissiere.
Truth be told, in the weeks immediately following the NBA Draft Combine and lottery, there is a lot of conjecture or “smoke screening.” For the most part, we begin to get clarity as to what teams are thinking once the NBA Finals begin. Fortunately, that’s in the not-so-distant future.

Steve’s Notebook: Pro days are about to begin. This is becoming a bigger and bigger part of the NBA Draft process, just as it has become huge in the NFL. A pro day is agent-controlled access to draft eligible players and that starts with organized workout days where teams are invited to see those players work out in very controlled conditions. Those will get under way this week across the country.

To pull back the curtain on that a little, agents leverage team interest in upper-tier prospects to not only limit who gets access to those players, but also to showcase some of their other clients who may not be draft worthy or, in some cases, are current free agents.

The controlled nature of the workout is interesting because what agents are looking for is a stronger sense of who is genuinely interested, rather than sending their client on 15 or 20 individual workouts.

These controlled workouts are also a means for some agents to filter out undesirable situations. While agents play a big role in the process, there is still some selling even the agent has to do. Let’s say a team has a logjam at a position, but has expressed interest in the agent’s player. They can get face time with the player and explain to him how he’d fit in their situation. This becomes helpful for teams as they decide whether they would trade a player they already have to free up minutes for the prospect they want – if that player agrees to a workout and, more importantly, agrees to shut down his workouts with other teams in favor of a draft promise.

Which then bring us to the next part: the promise.

What most agents are seeking is a firm understanding of a player’s floor – the team that player will not get past on draft night. Knowing the lowest point a player could get drafted helps an agent shape a workout schedule so they can try to help that player’s stock.

Just because one team commits to drafting a player does not mean that player is guaranteed to go there, but it gives all involved a sense of things. More and more NBA teams are asking players and their agents to shut down workouts and access in exchange for the firm commitment.

Last year, the Thunder asked Cameron Payne to shut down workouts and, for the most part, he did. He only worked out for teams in the top 10 and did not meet with teams past the Thunder’s pick at 14.

Neither side is bound to a commitment; a team could change their mind if a particular player falls to them and there is always a chance a different team takes the player earlier than the promise. Players and their agents have to weigh if the fit is good enough to warrant shutting down workouts and meetings and if the situation is ideal enough to not try and move up.

The name of the game is to get drafted in the best situation possible, not only in terms of the rookie-scale deal, but in the long-term so the player can get a big pay day when it’s time for the first big contract.

While players want to be drafted as high as they can for a lot of reasons, finding the right fit has become more and more a part of the process even if that means they’re picked six or seven spots lower.

The gamesmanship of the draft is a big part of the process and, for many players, that will get underway seriously over the next few weeks.

Who are these guys anyway? Steve Kyler is the Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 18 seasons. Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last nine years. Moke Hamilton is a Senior Writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered basketball for the last six years. Joel Brigham is a Senior NBA Writer and has covered the NBA for the last 11 years.

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Mock Drafts

2019 NBA Consensus Mock Draft – Final

For the last seven weeks, four of Basketball Insiders’ top writers have been breaking down the latest news and notes surrounding the 2019 NBA Draft, here is their final look at all 60 picks.

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For the last seven weeks, four of Basketball Insiders’ top writers have been breaking down the latest news and notes surrounding the 2019 NBA Draft. Each week they provided an updated mock draft that reflected how each writer saw the draft landscape based on the latest news, workouts and information from the pre-draft process as well as a notebook, outlining each writers’ thoughts, observations and reporting on the draft.

Keep in mind we are trying to find commonalities, which is why it is called the Consensus. The writers involved do not see each other’s selections until these are posted. It is done deliberately to make sure each writer is not influencing the others.

Here is the Final Consensus Mock for the 2019 NBA Draft:

*** The 30th pick in the first round was traded to the Detroit Pistons, and the picks made reflect that trade, which will not happen until after the player is selected

***The 32nd pick in the second round was traded to the Indiana Pacers, and the picks made reflect that trade, which will not happen until after the player is selected

***The 41st pick in the second round was traded to the Golden State Warriors, and the picks made reflect that trade, which will not happen until after the player is selected

Version: 1.0 | 2.0 | 3.0 | 4.0 | 5.0 | 6.0

Jesse’s Notebook Some recent trades, including the trades for Anthony Davis and Mike Conley, as well as a few other transactions have shifted the draft board yet again. First-round picks are being moved around after a period in which prying away a first-rounder from another team was basically a non-starter. With the way the last few days have unfolded, and with the Western Conference seemingly wide open, I am predicting there will be several major trades on draft night. Add in the uncertainty surrounding several star free agents, and it’s simply impossible to predict with much precision what will happen on Thursday. However, this is the sort of environment that excites fans almost as much as the actual playoffs and NBA Finals, and I am not one to complain.

What is interesting about this is the fact that this draft seemingly drops off a cliff (arguably) once we get to the ninth pick. It would be more understandable to anticipate major moves on draft night with a loaded class, but that simply isn’t the case this year. My draft board has moved around wildly throughout this process, and I am bracing myself to be off the mark on draft night. All it takes is one trade for things to get thrown off in a major way, and I am anticipating at least a few major moves.

Throughout this process, I was looking for a handful of players to grab my attention and never let it go. Last season, that player was Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and I was very interested in seeing where Michael Porter Jr. would ultimately land given his talent and injury issues. That player never really emerged this year, however. I think Cameron Reddish is one of the more intriguing players in the class considering his talent and upside, but shaky college record.

I look forward to revisiting this draft a few years down the road. At least one general manager is going to get a steal somewhere in the middle or backend of the draft. Considering how comparable the talent is throughout the board once we get past the lottery, it’s hard to say who the steal of the draft may be. Again, I am fully prepared for draft night to go off script in a major way. I recommend all NBA fans do the same.

Drew’s Notebook After months of planning, the 2019 NBA Draft is finally upon us. And per the usual, the closer we get, the harder it is to differentiate between fact and fiction given the number of smokescreens generated by agents and teams.

The Grizzlies appear dead set on Ja Morant. And rightfully so considering they traded away Mike Conley. The Knicks have continued to do their due diligence having worked out Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland just yesterday – and those close to Garland say the interest is real. On the flip side of the Knicks’ decision, RJ Barrett claims to have made considerable improvements since we last saw him at Duke – take that with a grain of salt. But the Knicks still appear to be the first team with a real decision to make.

We also hear that Nassir Little could go as high as nine to Washington and that Sekou Doumbouya might have a guarantee from Orlando at 16. So watch out for those curveballs, too.

As far as teams looking to consolidate their picks are concerned, the Hawks have resisted the idea of packaging the eighth pick along with 10 and/or 17, which may prohibit them from moving up as high as they would prefer. Atlanta owned six picks coming into the draft process – 8, 10, 17, 35, 41 and 44. They’ve already dealt 41 to Golden State and 44 to Miami. We’ll see if they continue moving/consolidating picks in hopes of mitigating the number of rookies they bring into training camp.

We’ve also heard that the Celtics would like to package their picks to move up, but it seems as though they’ve struggled to gain any traction – probably because teams can’t accurately predict who will be available with their selections (the Celtics’ first selection is 14). Boston may have to wait for some names to come off the board before others decide if trading back for multiple selections is the right move.

Draft night will inevitably deliver a number of surprises to the Brooklyn crowd. I expect heavy trade activity tomorrow night in advance of another wild free agency period, beginning June 30.

Spencer’s Notebook The day is here, folks! Tonight marks the official date of the 2019 NBA Draft, which will begin potentially one of the most hectic summers the association has ever seen.

In past notebooks from different versions of our Consensus Mock, I surmised that much of the shakeout would depend on what happened with Anthony Davis in New Orleans. Well, that situation resolved itself this past week when the Los Angeles Lakers made a franchise-altering trade with the Pelicans to land “The Brow” in Hollywood.

New Orleans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin now holds significant draft capital, as the team has both the first and fourth pick in this upcoming class. He also swindled three more first-rounders along with The Big Easy’s new upstart talents in Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart. Due to the abundance of young guard/wing talent, and multiple teams vying to trade up using different packages, there’s a reason for the Pelicans to deal away No. 4.

And because of the uncertainty of what will happen at that slot, it’s difficult to predict how the draft will ultimately shake out. For example, if New Orleans decides to hang onto it, they could take Darius Garland, or RJ Barrett (if he falls) or whomever they deem fits their organization. However, if a team like the Atlanta Hawks jumps the Cleveland Cavaliers to draft Jarrett Culver or De’Andre Hunter, it could cause a domino effect that may completely alter everybody else’s plans.

Just in the past 48 hours, we learned about developments in New York. According to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, the Knicks brass is seriously considering Garland at No. 3 and worked him out Wednesday. Whether this is actual interest or a way to drive up an asking price for their draft pick in order to make a deal of their own, we don’t actually know. The same thing could be said for Cleveland, who despite having Collin Sexton, is intrigued by the dynamic point guard.

At this point in the process, the real information could differ completely from what’s being leaked. Smoke is already filling up the room. It’s almost impossible to predict what will happen in this year’s draft, especially when most people around NBA circles believe that, at the tail end of the lottery, there could be draft picks moved every which way.

This is like throwing a dart blindfolded. As I tweeted last night, we might be burning our mock drafts at the rate we rip up brackets in the month of March.

The Utah Jazz and Milwaukee Bucks already moved their first-round picks in separate deals. That could only be the beginning. Who knows what the Hawks and Boston Celtics will do with three first-round selections in such a difficult class to differentiate player talent?

We won’t have to wait much longer to find out. Enjoy draft night, everyone!

Steve’s Notebook The 2019 NBA Draft is tonight in Brooklyn, New York, and while the suspense at the top of the draft board looks unchanged, there is a lot of potential for movement everywhere else.

As things stand today, Zion Williamson will be the top overall pick with almost no surprise there.

At number two, there continued to be talk last night that New Orleans was trying to pry the number two pick out of Memphis to grab Duke’s RJ Barrett, which would push Memphis back to the fourth spot and catching either Murray State’s Ja Morant or Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland, after the Knicks select at three. While these talks remain fluid, it does not appear at this point there will be a deal, but as is true with all trades, the right combination of assets changing hands can often turn a “No” into a “Yes.”

The New York Knicks have done their fair share of waffling on what to do at number three. While RJ Barrett remains the odds on favorite, the Knicks did take a long look at Garland on Wednesday in New York, as well as having surveyed executives from other teams for their views on Barrett, which is common due diligence, but also shows there may be some doubt on the long-term fit of Barrett.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have also been busy working on trade scenarios that could include in the fifth overall pick, the partially guaranteed cap clearing contract of JR Smith and their second pick at 26. The narrative around Cleveland is that they want to build around last year’s pick Collin Sexton, but the potential availability of Garland could test that commitment. Since the NBA Draft Combine, the Cavs have been linked to Duke’s Cam Reddish in trade down scenarios. There has been a belief that if Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver is there at five, the Cavs may grab him and flip him to the Atlanta Hawks for either of the eighth or tenth picks and the Hawks pick at 17 which they obtained from the Brooklyn Nets.

As for some of the notable teams:

The prevailing thought is the Chicago Bulls are grabbing either Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter or UNC’s Coby White at 7.

The Washington Wizards seemed to have three guys in their sights: White, UNC’s Nassir Little and Limoges CSP’s Sekou Doumbouya.

The Hawks seem to be where Mega Bemax’s Goga Bitadze is going to land, likely at the ten spot.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are said to be extremely high on Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura, although things could get interesting if Texas big man Jaxson Hayes is still on the board.

The Miami HEAT seem very open to trading their pick at 13, and there was talk in New York that Darius Bazley may be the HEAT’s guy, even as high as 13 if they keep the pick. The Pistons are also believed to be very high on Bazley.

The 2019 NBA draft is shaping up to be one of the turbulent drafts in recent years. A typical draft will have 15 to 18 transactions, most involving moving picks around. This year’s draft may double that when all the trade volume is done, so don’t get too attached to anyone your team may draft – they may not be there long.

Who are these guys anyway? Steve Kyler is the Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 21 years. Jesse Blancarte is a Senior NBA Writer and Deputy Editor for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last five years. Spencer Davies is also a Senior NBA Writer and Deputy Editor for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last three years. Drew Maresca is an NBA Writer for Basketball Insiders and is finishing his first season covering the NBA.

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @TommyBeer, @jblancartenba, @SpinDavies, @JamesB_NBA, @MattJohnNBA, @DrewMaresca, @JordanHicksNBA, and @Ben__Nadeau .

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Mock Drafts

NBA Daily: 60-Pick Mock Draft – 6/18/2019

The 2019 NBA Draft is Thursday and things seem to be taking shape at the top of the draft board. However, the middle of the draft could be wildly unpredictable. Steve Kyler offers up another 60-pick Mock Draft.

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The NBA Draft is upon us, and while there still seems to be a lot of things in play in the middle of the draft, the top of the board seems to be settling in on a defined order.

Assuming the top 10 picks stay where they are, the draft could go pretty much as scripted. After the top 10, it seems this could be a wildly unpredictable draft, with what’s shaping up to be a lot of pick movement, especially as certain guys rise or fall.

Here are some of the situation to watch:

The New Orleans Pelicans, fresh off their agreed Anthony Davis trade with the LA Lakers, are still exploring moves that could involve the fourth overall pick. The prevailing thought is if New Orleans can flip the pick for a solid veteran they would, but there has also been recent talk that they would like to try and trade up to grab Duke forward RJ Barrett in front of the Knicks. It doesn’t seem likely that Memphis would do such a deal unless they were assured they would get Murray State’s Ja Morant at four. The Knicks have been pretty locked in on keeping the third pick and have made it clear to local media that they would be happy with either Barrett or Morant, likely killing any traction on a Memphis-Pelicans swap.

The Cleveland Cavaliers had been linked to the Atlanta Hawks in a deal for the fifth overall pick, but traction on that seems to have died off once the Pelicans got control of the fourth pick and seem to have zeroed in on Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver if they keep the pick. The Hawks have been exploring options on moving one of their middle first round picks, either the 10 or the 17, which they will receive from Brooklyn as part of the pending Allen Crabbe salary dump. League sources doubt the Hawks keep all of their picks, but it’s unclear where those moved picks would land as of today.

Speaking of moved picks, the Boston Celtics have been exploring options on their three first-round picks; it is believed the Celtics will ultimately deal the player they select with the 20th overall pick, although league sources say Boston is open to moving all of them if the return is right.

There could be some teams to watch in terms of trading into the draft; The Houston Rockets have explored deals that would get them into the late lottery, it does not seem like there is traction on anything as of today, but it’s a situation to watch.

The Denver Nuggets have also explored deals to get into the first round, mainly to obtain inexpensive bench players. The Nuggets could be one of the teams to watch for with one of the Celtics or Hawks picks.

With all of that in mind, here is the latest NBA Mock Draft. You can look for the Final Consensus Mock Draft tomorrow.

UPDATED: 6/18 - 4:00pm

Stay tuned to Basketball Insiders for the latest news and rumors surrounding the 2019 NBA Draft and instant reaction pieces on all the picks in the first round.

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @TommyBeer, @jblancartenba, @SpinDavies, @JamesB_NBA, @MattJohnNBA, @DrewMaresca, @JordanHicksNBA, and @Ben__Nadeau .

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Mock Drafts

2019 NBA Consensus Mock Draft – Ver 6.0

With one week left, four of Basketball Insiders’ experts take a look at the draft class and weigh in on what they are seeing and hearing in the march up to the 2019 NBA Draft.

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Each week, four of Basketball Insiders’ top writers will break down the latest news and notes surrounding the 2019 NBA Draft. With every new version, you’ll see an updated mock draft that reflects how each writer sees the draft landscape based on the latest news, workouts, and information from the pre-draft process as well as a notebook, outlining each writers’ thoughts, observations and reporting on the draft.

Keep in mind; we are trying to find commonalities, which is why it is called the Consensus. The writers involved do not see each other’s selections until these are posted. It is done deliberately to make sure each writer is not influencing the others.

As this process plays out, the mocks will evolve, so look for a new Consensus each Wednesday, all the way up to draft day on June 20th.

Here is this week’s Consensus Mock:

Version: 1.0 | 2.0 | 3.0 | 4.0 | 5.0

Jesse’s Notebook: My board remains relatively intact from Ver 5.0, but I now have Darius Garland going to the Lakers with the fourth overall pick. Steve Kyler has reported that Garland may have a promise from the Lakers, which makes sense considering the team’s roster construction and Garland’s skill set.

I still predict the Knicks selecting RJ Barret with the third overall pick, but Jarret Culver seems intent on pushing for that slot by hyping up his defensive impact. Where I think things will get interesting is the fifth pick. Of course, what the Cavaliers ultimately do with the fifth overall pick depends on what happens with picks 1-4, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Cleveland takes a chance on someone who isn’t necessarily on our radar at this point.

Atlanta is emerging as one of the teams I am particularly interested in. Their front office is smart and aggressive collectively, so I am eager to see what they do on draft night. Atlanta is building an intriguing core of young talent, so a strong draft could catapult them another step forward in their rebuild.

While we are quickly coming up on draft night, I still don’t have a clear picture of what will happen after the 10th pick. My board continues to shift on a day-to-day basis and I would not be shocked if the draft ends up in chaos, with at least a few players making big leaps up the board and others suffering big drops.

Spencer’s Notebook: In the most up to date version of this mock draft, things have changed a bit. We learned about the first big trade prior to June 20, with the Brooklyn Nets sending Allen Crabbe, their current 17th pick to the Atlanta and a protected 2020 first-rounder for Taurean Prince and a future second round pick. Brooklyn offloaded a heavy contract to free up cap space for the upcoming summer of free agency, while the Hawks gained a meaningful extra selection.

It doesn’t quite shake things up in the lottery much yet, but that could certainly change. With three picks in the top 17 range of this draft, it wouldn’t be surprising for the Hawks to package together some picks to move up the board. It also offers flexibility for Atlanta with the amount of assets they possess.

Who knows what the Los Angeles Lakers do with that fourth pick, but if it’s kept, it could come down between Darius Garland and Jarrett Culver. The latter worked out for the team recently and the returns were impressive.

On another player I haven’t discussed much yet to this point – Nassir Little is a prospect that, before the NBA Draft process began, was expected to go at No. 15 at the highest after one year at North Carolina. His defensive ability comes into question, as does his outside shooting. It was all-in-all an underwhelming showing for a five-star high school prospect who—despite playing his role well—ended up as the Tar Heels’ sixth man.

However, there is no denying the athleticism and pro-ready frame, which will be Little’s ace in the hole heading into the draft. At the NBA Combine, he took an opportunity to show those elements off and ran with it. Put the former McDonald’s All-American in the right situation and the team who takes him might be getting a player with top-ten potential.

Drew’s Notebook: This past week looked like it would be a quiet one, and then the Nets traded the 17th overall pick and Allen Crabbe to the Hawks for Taurean Prince and a protected 2020 pick. So gone is the idea that Brooklyn will be drafting a backup big man. Instead, the Nets appear poised to make a play for at least one max-level free agent (if not two) in the very near future.

But the Nets aren’t the only team well-positioned following their trade. The Hawks now have three first-round picks. They can consolidate them via trade or they can opt to use all three. Either way, the Hawks are primed to add at least one top-flight rookie. Be on the lookout for the Hawks to discuss packaging all three picks in a deal with the Cavs and Bulls.

I am also interested in monitoring the New York Knicks’ interest in Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver. Rumors have been circulating for the last week or so about their fascination with the 6’6″ shooting guard, which could indicate interest in trading down; Culver was projected between the fifth and ninth pick in last week’s Basketball Insiders’ 2019 NBA Consensus Mock Draft — Version 5.0.

The Knicks represent an inflection point in this year’s draft. What they choose to do with the third pick sets the tone for at least picks four through eight. They can either select RJ Barrett, pick Culver or whomever else they feel best fits their team and philosophy, trade down for additional assets or package the pick with other assets in exchange for a superstar-caliber player. Their interest in a deal with the Hawks could be significant now considering the Hawks have a third 2019 first-round pick to trade.

Regardless of what the Knicks choose to do, all of the teams that pick after them must have a number of strategies fleshed out to ensure complete preparedness. And with the draft less than two weeks away, all of the teams picking in the lottery should be prepared for chaos.

Steve’s Notebook: If you have followed me in previous drafts (this is the 15th draft I have covered professionally), there is usually a point in which I lose faith in everything I think I know. Maybe it’s information overload after the Combine, the Pro Days and the workouts, but it seems every year I get to a point where I don’t trust what I am hearing.

Does Garland really have a promise to the Lakers? Jarrett Culver’s camp doesn’t think so.

Are the Cavaliers trading the 5th pick? Atlanta seems to think they have the inside track on a deal that would allow them to keep the 8th pick while picking up the 5th pick, but is that deal hinged on Cleveland landing Cam Reddish; who they have coveted since before the Draft Lottery?

Are the Bulls getting Lonzo Ball from the Lakers in exchange for the 7th pick? It seems they might if that additional pick nets the Lakers Anthony Davis from New Orleans, or will Chicago swoop and scoop all of the Davis suitors and land him in Chicago for themselves and keep the 7th pick?

The Celtics seem to be open to moving most of their first-round picks, but who is buying? Denver seems like they want into the first-round, so does Houston.

If the chatter around this draft is illustrating anything to me, it’s that the bulk of the picks currently being held in the 6 to 26 range could change hands, it seems that crazy at this point, but that may simply be a by-product of so many teams exploring what their draft options are.

If you are grading the draft process at home, please be kind, I am not sure how much I really know at this point, and sadly, that’s not uncommon.

Things usually take much firmer shape on the Tuesday before the draft, which thankfully is just a few days away.

Who are these guys anyway? Steve Kyler is the Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 21 years. Jesse Blancarte is a Senior NBA Writer and Deputy Editor for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last five years. Spencer Davies is also a Senior NBA Writer and Deputy Editor for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last three years. Drew Maresca is an NBA Writer for Basketball Insiders and is finishing his first season covering the NBA.

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @TommyBeer, @jblancartenba, @SpinDavies, @JamesB_NBA, @MattJohnNBA, @DrewMaresca, @JordanHicksNBA, and @Ben__Nadeau .

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