Connect with us

Mock Drafts

NBA Saturday: A New NBA Mock Draft

An expanded look at the latest NBA Mock Draft including the logic behind each pick and the latest rumors on which ones could be traded… The role medical plays in the NBA Draft.

Steve Kyler

Published

on


Explaining The Latest Mock Draft:  Every week all the way up to the 2014 NBA Draft, we will drop what we have always called our “Consensus Mock Draft,” and while some poke fun at the idea that the four personalities powering the multi-opinion mock rarely agree and have a “consensus,” the idea is what is the “consensus of the draft” and what we often find is there really isn’t one.

Recently, more and more of you have asked for a deeper dive into mock drafts with explanations behind each pick. We have built some pretty elaborate draft tools to organize the process, and those tools were not built with detailed explanation in mind. We’ll work on that going forward, but for now I’ll break this out manually for you and give you at least my thoughts on the latest mock draft version.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Every week I introduce a new variable in my process. Until we really start to get a sense of which players a team is narrowing in on, I play the wrinkle game. I ask myself: What does the draft look like if this event happens? That changes from week to week.

If you wonder why I do it this way, it’s because this is how NBA teams do it. This is how teams prepare for every eventuality. Believing that one guy has to go number one and the next guy absolutely has to go number two is how you end up unprepared on draft night. Teams play through every draft scenario possible, so I try and do the same with my mock drafts.

With that in mind, here is this week’s mock:

#1 – Cleveland Cavaliers

Joel Embiid – C – 7’0″ – 240 – 20

This draft was filed before the news surfaced that Embiid may have had issues in his medical review with the Cavaliers. If the report of “numerous” issues is true, you can safely say Andrew Wiggins slides into the number one spot and Embiid takes a tumble. The problem with this lone report of issues is that none of the other media outlets in Cleveland or the top news breakers in the business are following suit on this story. So for the time being, until more is known on Embiid, the assumption is that he is healthy and his workout and medical review went as initially as reported. He is the top guy until medical reports to the contrary rule him off the board.

#2 – Milwaukee Bucks

Jabari Parker – SF/PF – 6’8″ – 241 – 19

There is a real chance that Dante Exum lands here. However, for the purposes of this week’s mock draft wrinkle, Exum slides and the Bucks take the safest bet on the board. A lot of this pick is going to come down to new ownership. There is a sense that they are willing to “dare to be great,” but at the same time they want to see progression in their new asset and adding Parker gives them a better “win-now” chance than taking Exum. Wiggins is very much in play here as well, but Parker seems to be a more natural fit with what the Bucks already have on the roster.

#3 – Philadelphia 76ers

Andrew Wiggins – SG/SF – 6’8″ – 197 – 19

If Embiid goes one and Parker goes two, then Wiggins lands at three. For months there have been reports that the 76ers really were high on Wiggins and that they would have taken him number one overall had they landed the pick. If Wiggins is there at three, he is Philly’s guy. The dark horse here is Exum, although this week’s mock assumes he tumbles, so down the board he goes.

#4 – Orlando Magic

Marcus Smart – PG – 6’3″ – 227 – 20

Smart has been in to the see the Magic twice already, and while some have read that to be they have him first on their board and some say they might, there is another school of thought and that is his first workout was not what both expected hence the second visit. The Magic are keeping things very close to the vest, so it’s unclear if Smart had a poor workout, or was unable to compete for some reason, which has been suggested. The Magic were linked to Smart last year and while Exum theoretically would still be on the board here, this week’s mock assumes he falls, and that means Smart is Orlando’s guy.

#5 – Utah Jazz

Noah Vonleh – PF/C – 6’9″ – 247 – 18

There are a few things floating around about Vonleh. The biggest being that Noah has opted to change his shooting mechanics; the net result is he is not shooting the ball as fluidly in workouts as he did at Indiana. It was a puzzling move for sure and it’s one he is clearly pushing back on in workouts. The Jazz seem poised to draft a four man if they stay in the fifth pick. There have been several indications from teams lower on the board that Utah might be trying to trade down on draft night. If the Jazz stay at five, Vonleh looks like their man. There have been some comments about Vonleh’s conditioning, but it does not seem to bother teams enough to warrant his stock taking a hit. Julius Randle is a real option here too, however with reports that he may have a foot issue that could require surgery at some point, Vonleh may be the safer, more opportune pick.

#6 – Boston Celtics

Aaron Gordon – PF – 6’9″ – 220 – 18

Last year there was a sense that the Celtics were going to come away from the draft with Kelly Olynyk, and while the C’s did not draft him, they did trade around and ultimately landed him. There is that same buzz going around about Aaron Gordon. The Celtics could take Randle here, but there is a real sense that the Celtics have locked in on Gordon, so for the purposes of this mock he lands in Boston at six.

#7 – LA Lakers

Dante Exum – PG/SG – 6’6″ – 196 – 18

The wrinkle in this week’s mock was that Exum falls out of the top tier. The truth is if Exum is still on the board at No. 5, there may be some trading taking place. However, if Exum is there for the Lakers at seven, he is their guy. Julius Randle could get some play here as well.

#8 – Sacramento Kings

Nik Stauskas – SG – 6’6″ – 207 – 20

The Kings are said to have three players very high on their board: Marcus Smart, Nik Stauskas and Elfrid Payton. Smart should be long gone by the time the Kings pick at eight, leaving Stauskas and Payton. This one really is a coin flip. There is a case for Stauskas as a perimeter threat and backup combo guard, but there is also a case that Payton could be the point guard of the future. The Kings are very much in the market to trade around, especially if they can nab additional assets. Eight might not have a lot of appeal before the draft, but if a key player starts to tumble, they could be in business. A dark horse here for the Kings is Randle, so that’s one worth noting.

#9 – Charlotte Hornets

Doug McDermott – SF – 6’8″ – 218 – 22

There is a belief that the Charlotte Hornets won’t let McDermott get past them. However, if Randle is still on the board that might be too much to pass on. The Hornets are open for business on the ninth pick and would be willing to move it for the right veteran player. However, this mock assumes the Hornets draft and McDermott seems to be their guy. If Stauskas is still around at nine he could be a Hornet as well.

#10 – Philadelphia 76ers

Julius Randle – PF – 6’9″ – 250 – 19

At some point risk gets outweighed by reward, and Randle becomes too attractive at 10 to pass up, especially for a Philly team that was patient with Nerlens Noel last year. If Randle is off the board, then Dario Saric, Jusuf Nurkic and possibly James Young become possibilities depending on what is on the board at 10.

#11 – Denver Nuggets

James Young – SG/SF – 6’7″ – 213 – 18

The Nuggets have a few options available to them. They are said to be very high on Stauskas and Gary Harris, but Young might present the most dynamic option for them at No. 11. There has been some talk about a package deal with the Bulls that could see Chicago picking at 11, so that’s one to watch.

#12 – Orlando Magic

Dario Saric – SF/PF – 6’10” – 223 – 20

Assuming the Magic draft a point guard at number four, there is a chance they go with big guy like an Adreian Payne or Nurkic, but there have also being some rumblings that the Magic might go with a “draft-and-stash” at 12, meaning Saric becomes an option here. Assuming the Magic do not trade out of the 12, which is a real possibility, Saric might be the best draft-and-stash option. There has also been some talk about Zach LaVine at 12, which might make sense if Arron Afflalo is moved this summer.

#13 – Minnesota Timberwolves

Adreian Payne – PF – 6’10” – 239 – 23

There have been three names strongly linked to the Timberwolves: Stauskas, Young and Payne. In this mock, two of the three are gone, so Payne is the guy. With the inevitability of the Wolves having to trade Kevin Love, Payne is ready to play at the four spot. He’s not Love, but he could hold his own from day one, hence his appeal.

#14 – Phoenix Suns

Rodney Hood – SF – 6’8″ – 208 – 21

The Suns need perimeter scoring and that’s what Hood will provide in the NBA. There are a couple of other options here but Hood looks to fit the team’s culture and the biggest need. The Suns hold multiple picks so there is a chance they grab Nurkic as a best talent “draft-and-stash” here and hope for Hood later.

#15 – Atlanta Hawks

T.J. Warren – SF/PF – 6’8″ – 220 – 20

The Hawks proved last year that are willing to be patient with draft picks so Nurkic, Kristaps Porzingis or even Zach LaVine become real options here. With that said, the best fit for the Hawks today might be T.J Warren. Warren is an elite level scorer and could contribute right away for a Hawks team that showed this season they are not that far away when healthy.

#16 – Chicago Bulls

Zach LaVine – SG – 6’6″ – 181 – 19

The Bulls could go a number of ways here including Payton or Tyler Ennis. However, if LaVine is here, and the Bulls have not traded up as some suggest they might, he might have too much upside and athleticism to pass.

#17 – Boston Celtics

Elfrid Payton – PG – 6’4″ – 185 – 20

There are likely four teams above the Celtics that could pluck Payton or trade up to grab him. It’s unlikely he is here, but if he is word is the Celtics would draft him at 17. The question becomes will he be there at 17? Porzingis is said to be a strong option as is Saric if he is there. If Nurkic is still on the board, this could be his landing spot too.

#18 – Phoenix Suns

Clint Capela – PF – 6’11” – 222 – 20

With their earlier pick, the Suns solved their top need with Hood; at this pick they start looking at draft-and-stash. That puts them on Nurkic, Porzingis and Capela. Capela seems like the choice, although it really is a coin toss.

#19 – Chicago Bulls

Tyler Ennis – PG – 6’2″ – 182 – 19

The Bulls are said to be very high on Ennis and view him as their answer at backup point guard and in some situations as part of a Ennis-Derrick Rose backcourt. If Ennis is here and the Bulls still hold the pick, this is likely where they go. With their earlier pick we had them with LaVine, so it could be interchangeable.

#20 – Toronto Raptors

K.J. McDaniels – SF – 6’6″ – 196 – 21

The Raptors are said to be very high on Payne, but this mock has him gone to the Wolves, which leaves them looking for a defensive-minded wing and the best of the bunch may be K.J. McDaniels. This could also be where Nurkic, Porzingis or Capela land if they are still on the board.

#21 – Oklahoma City Thunder

Kristaps Porzingis – PF – 7’0″ – 220 – 18

The Thunder are said to covet Porzingis and may trade up to ensure they get him. He has a $1.6 million dollar buyout on his deal, so going higher would help him land in the NBA next season. Expect the Thunder to look at picks a little higher in a package of their two lower-tier selections. If the Thunder miss on Porzingis, look for them to consider Nurkic and Jarnell Stokes at some point before it’s done.

#22 – Memphis Grizzlies

Gary Harris – SG – 6’4″ – 205 – 19

The Grizzlies want a perimeter scorer, and while this is really low for Harris there are some scouts that are low on him. They feel on draft night he could be primed to slip, especially if other guys start to slide down the board. There is a real chance Harris is gone to Chicago in the teens, but if he is here at 22, he is what Memphis is looking for. Cleanthony Early is an option here as is McDaniels.

#23 – Utah Jazz

Kyle Anderson – SF – 6’8″ – 230 – 20

The Jazz are not likely to make this pick when it’s said and done. However, assuming they are drafting here, Kyle Anderson offers an interesting package of size and ball handling. He is not viewed as the most athletic guy in the bunch but his high basketball IQ and the mismatches he could create at point forward make him an interesting wrinkle for the Jazz.

#24 – Charlotte Hornets

P.J. Hairston – SG – 6’5″ – 229 – 21

Assuming the Hornets are in this pick, this is likely where Hairston lands for a number of reasons. As a franchise, the Hornets have taken some players with character flags, and when it comes down to it Hairston might the most ready option left on the board. He can flat out score and if they are still in this pick, and Hairston is still there, that’s the perfect fit for both.

#25 – Houston Rockets

Jerami Grant – SF – 6’8″ – 214 – 20

The Rockets covet a long, smart perimeter player and Grant may be the best option left on the board. The Rockets are always tough to read because they work out more than 60 players every year, but Grant seems to fill the biggest need and may be the best talent left on the board. Early and Nurkic are also options with this pick.

#26 – Miami HEAT

Jarnell Stokes – PF – 6’8″ – 263 – 20

Stokes continues to float around the bottom of the first in several team’s draft scenarios. A lot about Stokes will be who is there when teams with the last five start picking. Stokes had a great work out with the Miami HEAT and it’s believed that he is fairly high on their board, however if guys like Nurkic, Early and Napier are still there, things may change.

#27 – Phoenix Suns

Jusuf Nurkic – C – 6’11” – 280 – 19

Nurkic may be one of the top-15 most talented options in the draft. Factor in that his contract buyout isn’t silly and that he could be in the NBA right away, he may be gone well before the Suns pick at 27. That said, there have been some questions about Nurkic off the court and that has some teams pausing on his potential. It’s highly likely that Nurkic is gone significantly higher, but if he is here at 27, he’ll be gone to Phoenix.

#28 – LA Clippers

Cleanthony Early – SF – 6’7″ – 209 – 23

There is a real chance the Clippers go point guard here, especially with guys like Shabazz Napier and Jordan Clarkson on the board. That said small forward was a problem for the Clippers all year and Early, if still on the board, might be the best talent and solution for the Clips, who can look for a backup point guard in trade or in free agency.

#29 – Oklahoma City Thunder

Shabazz Napier – PG – 6’1″ – 175 – 22

There are a lot of places the Thunder could go with the 29th selection, and the most likely is they bundle it with No. 21 to move up and the 29 belongs to someone else. However, with Reggie Jackson poised to join the starting line up at point guard next season, the Thunder will need some spark from the bench and Napier could be that guy. There are a few other options to watch, namely Walter Tavares, Stokes and Spencer Dinwiddie.

#30 – San Antonio Spurs

Walter Tavares – C – 7’3″ – 265 – 22

The Spurs are likely playing the best future upside card here and that’s where Tavares, Artem Klimenko and even Vasilije Micic get some consideration. Of the bunch Tavares at a legit 7’3 might present the most potential to be a solid NBA player. The Spurs continue to look a year or two ahead when drafting toward the bottom and with last year’s first round pick Livio Jean-Charles likely joining the team this year, there is no urgency on this pick playing right away.

There will be two more Consensus Mock Drafts before the actual NBA Draft on Thursday, June 26. They will drop on Wednesday the 18th and a final one on Wednesday the 25th. Basketball Insiders will publish a final Mock Draft on Draft Day in this format, featuring all 60 picks and the logic behind each selection.

Until then, if you want to know everything you can know about the 2014 NBA Draft – make sure to get your copy of the 2014 Basketball Insiders Draft Magazine – it’s available for both Android and Apple mobile devices and from a web-platform for virtual any device you have.

Medical And Its Role In The Draft:  Over the last week there have been two high profile stories about medical issues and draft picks. The easy response is to say ‘there is too much talent, you can’t pass’, but the truth is botching a draft pick or having a pick fail out for medical reasons is an avoidable mistake, one teams take seriously.

There was a report out of Cleveland this week suggesting that Kansas big man Joel Embiid did not do well in his medical exam with the Cavaliers and that he had a “number of physical ailments.”

This report has been in conflict with other reports suggesting Embiid’s workout and medical went fine and there were no issues.

So which report is true? Honestly we won’t likely know until after the draft, as the Cavs likely signed confidentiality agreements in exchange for getting Embiid into their doctors.

Kentucky big man Julius Randle is undergoing something similar. Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Randle would likely need foot surgery to remove a screw inserted in his foot after a bone break in high school. Randle has since denied this story and has gone on the offensive to say his foot is fine.

So what are we to believe? Here is how it plays out:

Most players, Embiid, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker excluded, go through intense medical review at the annual NBA Draft Combine. This includes MRI’s, full blood panels and heart and health testing. These results are then made available to all 30 NBA teams, who have their medical staffs review and “flag” anything notable or of concern.

These “flagged” players then get discussed among the training staff and the decision makers. The idea behind it is to understand what’s going on with the player. How it could manifest itself if drafted, and whether or not the medical and training staff believe it could impact a player’s career, both in the short-term and in the long-term.

In 2005, many outsiders marveled that current Clipper Danny Granger was still on the draft board into the teens, ultimately getting drafted at 17 by the Indiana Pacers. What was not really talked about was that Gragner was flagged with a knee issue and many teams knew that he would have problems with that knee eventually. Fast forward to 2014, and Granger has been plagued by knee problems for most of his career.

The Pacers medical and training staff believed they could manage Granger’s knee and that at 17 there was too much upside to pass on and they drafted him.

Having an injury, or being red flagged does not kill a player’s chance to be drafted, although there have been some players whose draft staff took a massive blow after medical issues surfaced in the draft process.

The question always comes down to risk versus reward. Can a team accurately predict the injury probability, can the team’s doctors and training staff manage the problem effectively and is there a better option on the board without issues? Those are the questions the Cavaliers are likely asking themselves with regards to Embiid, and many teams are likely asking about Randle.

Randle’s issue is more procedural in nature, so it’s not as alarming as some long-term or structural issues. However, there is risk anytime a player needs surgery. Grant Hill thought he was having a routine procedure in 2000, and he was never the same after playing the next 12 seasons in and out due to issues.

In Embiid’s case it’s a little trickier. During the NCAA Tournament, Embiid was diagnosed with what’s believed to be Spondylolysis, or a stress fracture in the back. These are very common in athletes and usually clear up with rest and rehab. That’s the good news. The bad news is there is another form of this issue called Spondylolisthesis, which is a defect in the back in which lumbar vertebra “shift” and press against nerves. This one is scary for teams, because it usually requires spinal fusions, which could be career threatening.

Because of the confidential nature of medical information, it’s unlikely anyone is ever going to say specifically what they have seen in Embiid’s back, but that issue alone is very scary despite his immense talent and upside, especially for the Cavaliers drafting number one overall. The best modern example would be the Portland Trail Blazers knowing that Greg Oden was going to have the knee issues that have derailed his career, and drafted him anyway, passing on Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant.

The Cavs find themselves in the same situation. There are potentially three all-NBA type talents available to them with the top pick, and if Embiid genuinely has long-term flags around his health, the Cavs have to look at players that may not have as much risk.

The other thing to know about medical issues in the draft process is that most teams do not see things the same way. One team’s medical staff may see an issue and say ‘this is a big problem’ another teams staff may say ‘it is not that big of a deal’. The Phoenix Suns and Indiana Pacers have a long history of drafting players other teams may have flagged, simply because their medical and training staffs believe they can rehab an injury and those franchises take more risks.

Equally teams that are looking down the road may be more open to players with risks than teams that need their draft pick to produce right away. The Philadelphia 76ers traded for injured big man Nerlens Noel, despite being less than six months post-op on an ACL surgery. Wisely, Noel had his surgery done by Dr. James Andrews, one of the leading knee and ligament surgeons in the country, and made him openly available to teams with issues or questions about Noel’s knee.

The big red flag with Embiid is that his camp has not done that with his back, adding more intrigue and questions to the process. It is believed Embiid saw noted spinal surgeon Dr. Robert Watkins while at Kansas, however it’s unclear if Embiid’s camp is allowing concerned teams to talk with him about Embiid’s prognosis going forward.

While Embiid and Randle are the two names in this draft class being talked about the most, historically there are usually a dozen or more players flagged in some capacity. Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday was flagged with an elbow issue in 2009, which saw his draft stock tumble into to 17, despite some teams in the top six expressing interest in drafting him.

The medical process plays a big role in who gets drafted and where, not because teams believe a player will fail; it’s usually because there is a similar option talent wise on the board that does not have issues. There are no certainties or guarantees in this process either and it is far from an exact measure. But as teams try and decide where to spend their picks, the medical information weighs into it in a significant way, not just in the short-term of can he compete in camp, but what are his potential long-term issues?

No two teams see the draft the same way. It is an eye of the beholder process. Some teams are willing to take more risks than others and some teams may view a problem more seriously than another. There is always a point in which the risk associated gets outweighed by the reward.

Both Embiid and Randle will be drafted, that’s an almost certainty. The question becomes how much will injuries weigh down their draft stock, and that’s really a team by team consideration.

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, @AlexKennedyNBA, @TheRocketGuy, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @SusanBible @TommyBeer, @JabariDavisNBA , @NateDuncanNBA , @MokeHamilton , @JCameratoNBA and @YannisNBA.

Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

Advertisement




Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Mock Drafts

2018 NBA Consensus Mock Draft – Final

For the last eight weeks, four of Basketball Insiders’ experts have offered up their views on the 2018 NBA Draft, here is their Final 60-pick Consensus.

Basketball Insiders

Published

on

For the last eight weeks, four of Basketball Insiders’ experts have offered up their views on the 2018 NBA Draft, here is their Final Consensus, with notebooks to follow:

Version: 1.0 | 2.0 | 3.0 | 4.0 | 5.0 | 6.0 | 7.0

Benny’s Notebook: It’s finally here — whew.

This is our last set of mocks and mine is mostly the same over the first 30 picks. One week after dropping Luka Dončić down, I’m moving him back up to No. 2 with Sacramento. Obviously, Marvin Bagley III appears to be the popular favorite here, but Dončić has just continued to impress during his never-ending season with Real Madrid. Truthfully, the Kings can’t really go wrong here — but Dončić is the type of do-it-all prospect that the franchise could really use moving forward. For now, the jury is out on Willie Cauley-Stein, Buddy Hield, and Skal Labissiere but pairing Dončić with De’Aaron Fox feels incredibly shrewd.

Elsewhere, Jerome Robinson has been a late riser and will head into the draft night as a hot topic. The Hawks own three first round picks and walking away with Bagley, Robinson, and Grayson Allen would be a no-doubt success. They’ll have plenty of intriguing options in each slot, so watching how they mix-and-match their selections by position and current roster talent may be one of the draft’s most interesting narratives.

Another team with picks to shuffle around are the Brooklyn Nets — current holders of No. 29, No. 40 and No. 45. While reports have indicated that the Nets would like to move up, it’s tough to see them giving up any future picks after finally leaving the Billy King era behind. Some combination of those picks could see them snag a higher selection, but nominally at best. No matter what picks they end up with, look for general manager Sean Marks to swing for the fences as usual.

Ultimately, a full 60-pick mock will come with some second-round guesswork — but I feel confident about those names included here. As I mentioned last weekend, international players will almost certainly get selected, and I’ve included five of them here: Rodions Kurucs, Isaac Bonga, Issuf Sanon, Arnoldas Kulboka and Tryggvi Hlinason. Embrace the overseas journey!

Moke’s Notebook: We’ve finally arrived at the final mock draft, and there are a few poorly-kept secrets that we can relay with some confidence on the day before the 2018 NBA Draft. First, unless there is a late change of heart, the Phoenix Suns will draft DeAndre Ayton. We have a similar amount of certainty in the Sacramento Kings’ love with Marvin Bagley III, but the draft will basically have two completely separate permutations based on what the Atlanta Hawks opt to do with the third pick. The word on the street is that the Hawks like Trae Young, but are reluctant to take the risk on him at third with so many “can’t miss” prospects available in the top five. Aside from the Hawks infatuation with Young, we also have been led to believe that both the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies covet Luka Doncic. Considering the fact that the Grizzlies have been rumored to be open to trading back, though, it suggests that there isn’t really one prospect for whom they’re head over heels, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Grizzlies actually walk away with Mo Bamba. That second permutation of the draft will likely come to fruition if the Mavs do leapfrog the Grizzlies for Doncic after executing a deal with the Hawks…

Aside from that drama right at the top of the draft, we’ve known for several weeks that the Knicks covet Michael Porter, Jr., and I’ve been led to believe that he and Kevin Knox are the two prospects most likely to wind up as Knicks with Collin Sexton sitting at third on the depth chart.

What’s important to understand about the pre-draft process and the mock drafts that we do is that the entire monthlong process between the Combine and the draft is a period of discovery where teams (as well as us) are consistently getting new information that changes our predictions. And at the end of the day, that’s all these are—predictions. So while we do have a high degree of certainty with respect to which prospects are coveted by which team, one player being drafted much higher than initially thought (keep an eye on Kevin Huerter and Wendell Carter, each of whom have lottery-busting potential) or one slipping (I’ve heard that Trae Young or Michael Porter could fall to the backend of the lottery) could literally change everything.

At the end of the day, the Clippers are going to walk away with a player that would have gone top 10 in a lesser-talented class. Aaron Holiday, Keita Bates-Diop and Moritz Wagner are the mid-to-late first rounders that I think will have fruitless careers.

It all ends tomorrow night, and I can’t wait.

Jesse’s Notebook: The 2018 NBA Draft is almost here! We enter the draft with a lot of open questions and some uncertainty. As of yesterday, the Atlanta Hawks are now leaning toward drafting Luka Dončić if he is still on the board at No. 3. Some reports suggest that Michael Porter Jr. has a generally good medical outlook, though that does not seem to be a consensus opinion. Porter Jr. is in play to go No. 2 overall but also could slip a bit as well. I still have the sense that big trades could throw off the projections and create significant chaos. I am keeping an eye on the Los Angeles Clippers, who have the 12th and 13th overall picks. They could try to trade up for a top prospect (they have been linked to Luka Dončić in some reporting), but could ultimately stand pat. The Clippers should be positioned to add two talented players that can bring added youth and talent to positions of need.

The Kawhi Leonard situation continues to be a factor that certain teams have to consider in every move they make. Leonard reportedly met with Gregg Popovich last night and seemingly has not changed his insistence in being dealt out of San Antonio. It’s not clear this will have any impact on how teams go about their business on draft night, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Steve’s Notebook: With draft day upon us, there seem to be some answers at the top of the draft board, and a lot more questions in the middle, so let’s start with the top overall pick to the Phoenix Suns. Sources close to the process said last night that the overwhelming belief is the Suns will draft DeAndre Ayton number one. This isn’t a huge shock, but it seems it would take something earth-shattering for him not to be the top pick.

The Sacramento Kings at number two are still a little bit of wild card; the word is that several members of the Kings front office believe strongly that Michael Porter Jr will be an elite player in the NBA and that while he has questions surrounding his back, its worth the risk. It’s unclear if that will win out in the room, but Porter Jr is still firmly in the mix in Sacramento at number two. The conventional wisdom says the Kings will pass on the risk, which puts their next guy on the board in Marvin Bagley III in a Kings draft hat on Thursday.

The Atlanta Hawks seem to be tipping their hand that Euro sensation Luka Dončić is moving into the top spot on their draft board with the Hawks having done some aggressive background on Luka recently and may be ready to take him number three overall. The Hawks are said to be equally high on Bagley and Michigan State big man Jaren Jackson Jr. The Hawks seem to have moved off Trae Young despite weeks of signals that he was their guy. The Hawks are still considered a team to watch in trade down situations, but it’s looking more likely they will use the third pick, and Dončić could be their guy if Bagley is off the board at number two.

The fourth pick is said to be very much in play with the Grizzlies continuing to explore deals to shed contract money (Chandler Parsons) and picking up rookie scale talent or picks later in the draft. The Grizzlies struggled to get top level players to come in for visits and workouts, and many believe they’d rather trade down than draft a player that may not want to be there. If the Grizzlies keep the pick, the belief is it will be Jackson, although his camp has reportedly refused to provide medical information to the Grizzlies and that’s a huge red flag.

The Dallas Mavericks at five have a few options with both Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba being the likely targets. There is a scenario in which Dallas grabs not only the Grizzlies pick at four but retains their own pick at five and takes on Parson who they have a history with. The Mavericks have explored deals all over the place to leverage their existing cap room to obtain talent and assets.

The Orlando Magic at six seem to be all over the place; there were reports that the Magic may have Collin Sexton higher on their board than fan favorite Trae Young, which would line up with commentary that started around the team in early April. The Magic have kept their process somewhat quiet, but there is a real chance the Magic grab Sexton at six if the draft plays out as currently scripted.

The Chicago Bulls at seven could catch a lot of interesting options including both Porter and Bamba. The Bulls were the first team to see Porter and their medical staff did the physical that was circulated to teams. While the upside on Porter is very real, there isn’t a sense the Bulls are ready to pull the trigger despite what Bulls fans may want so that it could be an interesting scenario to watch.

The Cleveland Cavaliers at eight could find themselves with a lot to choose from. The Cavaliers had a last-minute clandestine workout with Trae Young this week and have been rumored to be very high on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. If the draft plays out as scripted the Cavs could have their choice of Young, Porter or Bamba and that would be a massive win for the Cavs.

On the trade front league source have pegged Orlando, Charlotte, Dallas, and Miami as teams to watch on the trade front, all of them seem to be willing to make big moves if deals present themselves.

There were reports last night that the San Antonio Spurs and disgruntled star Kawhi Leonard were able to meet face to face. There still is not a sense that the Spurs will pull the trigger on a trade, expect that to take shape today if they decide to open the phones on Leonard.

The Basketball Insider NBA Draft Diary is up: http://www.basketballinsiders.com/2018-nba-draft-diary/ – it will have all the latest news, rumors and trades as they are happening, so it you want to see everything going on in one place, bookmark the Diary and hit it early and often.

Who are these guys anyway? Steve Kyler is the Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 19 years. Moke Hamilton is a Deputy Editor and Columnist for Basketball Insiders and has covered basketball for the last eight years. Jesse Blancarte is a Senior NBA Writer and Deputy Editor for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last four years. Benny Nadeau is an NBA Writer and has finished his first season covering the NBA for Basketball Insiders.

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, @joelbrigham, @TommyBeer, @MokeHamilton , @jblancartenba, @Ben_Dowsett, @SpinDavies, @JamesB_NBA, @DennisChambers_, @mike_yaffe, @MattJohnNBA, and @Ben__Nadeau .

Continue Reading

Mock Drafts

2018 NBA Consensus Mock Draft – Ver 7.0

Each week, 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 2018 NBA Draft.

Basketball Insiders

Published

on

Each week, four of Basketball Insiders’ top writers will break down the latest news and notes surrounding the 2018 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.

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

Benny’s Notebook: Fine, I’ll relent: Luka Dončić, sadly, finally drops in my mock. There’s too much noise to ignore it any longer. While I’m willing to admit that there’s plenty to like about DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, and Jaren Jackson Jr., I still believe that Dončić will be the best player in this class. If he does fall to Memphis, how great of a fit would that be? Even if there are doubts about Dončić’s ceiling, putting his NBA-ready game in alongside Mike Conley and Marc Gasol would be an instant victory for the Grizzlies. At just 19 years old, Dončić has already won most of what Europe had to offer — he’d be an excellent catch for Memphis after their nightmare season.

I suppose there is only one mock draft left before the real deal and I really thought I would have moved Michael Porter Jr. up by now. His volatility could shake up the entire lottery — but his workout in Chicago went extremely well, apparently. Out of all the names in the mix for a top seven selection, Porter Jr. remains the one with most intrigue — expect lots more to come here over the next week. Finally, the New York Knicks are doing their due diligence ahead of their pick at No. 9 overall, working out Lonnie Walker, Robert Williams, Aaron Holiday, Kevin Knox, Miles Bridges and others as of late. With Kristaps Porzingis out for the foreseeable future, this is certainly an important selection for New York.

Moke’s Notebook: We’ve had quite a bit of action the past week, with the Suns seemingly going out of their way to give us some drama at the top of the draft. I’ve been told by a few people in the know that they’ve settled on DeAndre Ayton as their guy, but that they’re doing their “due diligence” on other prospects, most notably Jaren Jackson, Jr. and Trae Young. I can’t see the Suns passing on Ayton for either of those guys, so I’ve still got him tabbed as my top overall pick.

Jackson’s stock has risen quite dramatically, and whether the Kings hold on to their pick or trade back (which they’ve been rumored to be considering), I could see him and Bagley III swapping places as the second and third players drafted. Luka Doncic probably won’t slip past the Grizzlies at four, but it’s worth noting that stock of Michael Porter, Jr. has risen incredibly high. There was an ESPN report out of New York this past week that’s consistent with what I’ve been saying since the Combine: Porter is the dream scenario for the Knicks. I could see them engaging the Hawks on a trade involving the 9th pick and Frank Ntilikina for the 3rd pick. That wouldn’t surprise me in the least, though I’m sure the Knicks would prefer to include a player like Trey Burke.

As we get to the mid-to-late lottery, I won’t lie, there’s quite a bit of guessing. The main reason why is because most teams covet the same players, and to a large extent, the teams in the latter half of the lottery will be forced to settle on the second of third ranked prospects on their big board. Two guys who might get drafted much higher than we’re projecting, though, are Lonnie Walker and Jalen Brunson.

After this week, we’ve got one more shot at a solid mock draft, as we are just eight days away from the real thing. Hopefully, we’ll get some additional intel.

Jesse’s Notebook: While workouts continue and players like Luka Dončić commit to staying in the draft, there are still a wide range of scenarios that can play out. The Sacramento Kings have scouted Dončić but they reportedly have strong interest in other players and could look to trade down to extract more value in the draft. There seem to be several viable trade scenarios that could shake up the board and throw all mock drafts off the rails. The Clippers, armed with the 12th and 13th picks, could push to trade up in the draft and acquire a top-10 player. However, it looks like Los Angeles will have some notable talent to choose from when they are on the board.

There is still no consensus on the overall health of Michael Porter Jr. It appears that he continues to round into shape but the long-term concern is something teams have to consider. There seems to be little risk that Porter Jr. drops out of the top-10 at this point, but it’s tough to pin down where he may ultimately land. If Porter Jr. overcomes his health issues, the team that selects him could end up with the best player from this draft class.

Elie Okobo has generated some positive momentum and seems likely to be selected in the first round. Okobo has potential on both ends of the floor and could be a surprisingly effective player if he ends up with a team that puts particular emphasis in building up his overall skill set.

Steve’s Notebook: As things are starting to take some shape at the top of the 2018 NBA Draft, there are some things to watch in the final week of the draft process. It seems the Phoenix Suns are locked in on DeAndre Ayton. The Suns have been leveraging the power of the top overall pick to get looks at the other top names in the class, but the overwhelming belief in NBA circles and what’s coming out of Phoenix is Ayton is the guy.

The Sacramento Kings at number two still seems fairly wide open. The prevailing thought in NBA circles is the Kings have serious eyes for Michael Porter Jr., however that’s far from locked in according to sources close to the process. The shortlist in Sacramento seems to be Porter, Jaren Jackson Jr., Marvin Bagley III, and Luka Dončić. The Kings don’t seem to be locked in on Dončić, but sources close to the team say he is still very much in the conversation.

The Hawks at number three get interesting because they still seem to be open to trading their pick, but only if they can net Trae Young in the process and gain more assets, either additional picks or young guys on rookie scale contracts. There is a sense that the Hawks are trying to move Dennis Schröder around the draft. It’s unclear if there is any real value to have for the Hawks, but they seem more than open to it. It is not out of the question the Hawks take Young at three, so that could be an interesting draft domino.

Some other draft scuttle is that UCLA guard Aaron Holiday may have a promise in the mid-teens; word is he has been invited to the NBA Draft Greenroom.

Kentucky forward Kevin Knox could be the Cavaliers’ guy at number eight. His floor is expected to the be the Clippers at 12.

The Lakers, Clippers, and Celtics have all explored move-up options, but at this point, it does not seem like any of them are willing to pay a hefty premium to move up, but they are situations to watch as the draft unfolds, especially if players start to fall in a very unexpected sequence.

There will be one more Mock Draft on Wednesday of next week, so stay tuned.

Who are these guys anyway? Steve Kyler is the Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 19 years. Moke Hamilton is a Deputy Editor and Columnist for Basketball Insiders and has covered basketball for the last eight years. Jesse Blancarte is a Senior NBA Writer and Deputy Editor for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last four years. Benny Nadeau is an NBA Writer and just finished his first season covering the NBA for Basketball Insiders.

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, @joelbrigham, @TommyBeer, @MokeHamilton , @jblancartenba, @Ben_Dowsett, @SpinDavies, @JamesB_NBA, @DennisChambers_, @mike_yaffe, @MattJohnNBA, and @Ben__Nadeau .

Continue Reading

Mock Drafts

2018 NBA Consensus Mock Draft – Ver 6.0

Each week, 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 2018 NBA Draft.

Basketball Insiders

Published

on

Each week, four of Basketball Insiders’ top writers will break down the latest news and notes surrounding the 2018 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.

Version: 1.0 | 2.0 | 3.0 | 4.0 | 5.0

Benny’s Notebook: It’s June! Draft month is finally upon us, which means the player pool is set and boards are starting to solidify. For now, my top half of the draft remains unchanged — but if there’s a late riser left, look no further than Lonnie Walker. He’s been impressive throughout the draft process thus far, so, needless to say, this is not an unpopular opinion. Walker only averaged 11.5 points and 1.9 assists as a freshman at the University of Miami, but the NBA-worthy skillset is apparent. His uber-athletic and explosive first step makes Walker difficult to defend and his 6-foot-4, 200-pound fame only adds to that scoring prowess. At just 19 years old, Walker could become one of the best guards in the draft, which is high praise considering the others around him.

After that, there’s a pair of highly-touted European prospects worth checking in on, Džanan Musa and Élie Okobo — both of whom seem destined for late first-round selections. Although Musa has slipped a little of late, the 6-foot-9 Bosnian sharpshooter could be an absolute force with the right coaching. His defense certainly needs work, but Musa can already score in a whole variety of ways. Imagine getting him under the tutorship of Brad Stevens or Gregg Popovich — then the possibilities are truly endless.

Okobo, on the other hand, has been a recent riser and it’s not hard to see why. In France, he averaged 12.9 points and 4.8 assists on 39.4 percent from three-point range. Last summer, Okobo won a bronze medal at the FIBA Europe U-20 Championship and seems poised to become a regular on the senior team soon enough. Oh, and he also dropped 44 points on 8-for-11 from deep in a postseason game against AS Monaco in May. At 20 years old, Okobo looks like he might be just scratching the surface — so which team will take the plunge?

Moke’s Notebook: Things are starting to get very, very interesting. Although my lottery picks are mostly the same as they were last week, there’s a growing sense among those with whom I’ve spoken that Trae Young has a shot at going as high as third to the Atlanta Hawks. If the Orlando Magic do indeed lose out on Young (I’ve been told he’s in consideration for them) then I wouldn’t be surprised to see them land on either Kevin Knox (whom they had in for a workout this week) or Michael Porter, Jr. There’s still a fair amount of reservation surrounding Porter, though, but the general consensus seems to be that he won’t get past the Knicks at ninth. The Knicks are said to be looking for the either Young or Porter to fall to them, and if not, then Knox and Colin Sexton would be the next two on their depth chart. Either way, it’s still pretty early in the process, as most of the top prospects are just beginning to do their individual workouts.

While I do think this draft is rich with talent, from a depth standpoint, the general thought is that there are five players who have star potential, another five who will be solid role players and quite a few diamonds in the rough. Nobody knows who those diamonds are yet, which is why you’ll see a fair amount of volatility once you get outside of the lottery.

It’s looking like Keita Bates-Diop and Donte DiVicenzo will be available in the 20s, and I think either would present good value at those spots.

If Wendell Carter falls to the Clippers at 12th (definitely possible if the Mavericks take Mo Bamba), they might have cause for celebration.

This is how I see things stacking up based on what I’ve heard. Let’s see where we are next week.

Jesse’s Notebook: There is still no consensus clarity on what the Sacramento Kings will do with the second overall pick but I now think there’s a solid chance they pass on Luka Dončić. If Dončić falls to No. 4, expect the Memphis Grizzlies to take him. The Grizzlies want someone who can step out onto an NBA court and contribute immediately, and that’s Dončić.

We are starting to get some more clarity on how things may shake out after the Lottery picks but things could change a lot from now until draft night. This draft has a lot depth in terms of potential role players, but it doesn’t feature many prospects outside of the Lottery who have star potential. Thus, team need and fit is likely going to be a determining factor more than overall talent once we get outside of the top-14 picks (or around that area). So if a couple of teams decide to reach on a player or two, it could throw off the entire board and throw off projections.

The most interesting group of players to keep an eye on are the wing players. There is plenty of depth at this position and teams could start zoning in on their preferred wing players as they come in for workouts.

Steve’s Notebook: With less than two weeks remaining until NBA teams must lock in on their picks, things are going to get real from here. Most of the marquee players are either scheduled to visit or have started to visit NBA teams, and many are holding their own “controlled” Pro-Days. Teams are often mixed on the value of a Pro-Day, mainly because they are typically run by the player’s personal trainers and are designed to showcase not only the player, but the trainer too.

Marquee level players also rarely workout against anyone. So, what do you really learn from a guy running drills he runs every day against a chair or thin air? Hence the draft myth of how good a player did against the chair or worse yet, when he fails to perform and loses to the proverbial chair.

A good agent will tell you the worst thing you can do is get a silly contact-related injury prior to the draft. NBA Draft history is littered with high-level prospects who get a significant injury while training and can’t workout for teams at the level or frequency they would need to solidify a higher draft position.

The other part of the Pro-Day is using the audience a marquee player draws from NBA scouts and executives to showcase lesser draft prospects that may be represented by the same agent or have the same trainer. This can be an added value for those players that might not have gotten a top tier decision maker to really look at them.

Once the Pro-Day cycle ends things will get serious. For some players, this is when they will start asking for firm commitments to establish a “floor,” or the lowest point in the draft a player might go. If a player doesn’t have a floor going into next week, they may be in for a long draft night.

It is not uncommon for players at the top of the board to agree to a workout a little outside their projected range to ensure they have a floor they are comfortable with. So, look for the odd workout or team meeting to surface next week as players try to lock in a floor.

Specific to this draft, Michael Porter Jr.’s Pro-Day seems to be the key to who he will ultimately share medical with and workout out for. The narrative around his situation is once teams see him and are ready to commit, they will make their decision on who to visit and who they will share medical information with.

On the surface, all of this sounds too calculated, but in reality, there is a business behind the draft. For the players and agents involved, there is a desire to work the process to the best of their ability, because at the end of the draft where you get drafted, usually isn’t nearly as important as the fit of the situations. Searching for the right fit is why so many agents and players work the process to ensure they land in the best situation to have a long and fruitful career.

Who are these guys anyway? Steve Kyler is the Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 19 years. Moke Hamilton is a Deputy Editor and Columnist for Basketball Insiders and has covered basketball for the last eight years. Jesse Blancarte is a Senior NBA Writer and Deputy Editor for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last four years. Benny Nadeau is an NBA Writer and has just finished his first season covering the NBA for Basketball Insiders.

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, @joelbrigham, @TommyBeer, @MokeHamilton , @jblancartenba, @Ben_Dowsett, @SpinDavies, @JamesB_NBA, @DennisChambers_, @mike_yaffe, @MattJohnNBA, and @Ben__Nadeau .

Continue Reading
Advertisement

NBA Team Salaries

Advertisement

Trending Now