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Mock Drafts

NBA AM: Do Mock Drafts Matter?

It’s been suggested that mock drafts hold no value to the process and are meaningless to NBA teams, but that’s simply not true.

Steve Kyler



If someone walks into a crowded room and yells, “Hey stupid!” it’s really on you if you turn around and get offended.

This week Bleacher Report’s C.J. Moore ran a piece on the merits and value of mock drafts, a staple of traffic and interest in the NBA media world.

Moore’s piece was more of a response from Kansas head coach Bill Self, who got on the soap box after a question about freshman Kelly Oubre that was tied to his rankings as a top draft prospect in the 2015 NBA Draft class and his lack of playing time.

To paraphrase the piece: mock drafts are bad, kids change because of them, they don’t matter at all and they are disruptive to the process.

While nothing about this piece was pointed at me, or our team, it was in some ways made to feel like a shot at some really respected people in this business, specifically Jonathan Givony and his excellent team at DraftExpress.

By way of full disclosure, Basketball Insiders has had a business relationship with Givony and DraftExpress for more than a decade and we view DraftExpress as the leader in the draft information space. DraftExpress powers our Top 100 Prospect rankings and we spend a lot of time with them in the field, especially around the draft. We see first-hand how hard they work at their craft and how good they are at evaluating and scouting talent. Their tools are the best in the space and NBA teams value the information they provide.

So while none of the Bleacher Report article was directed at us specifically, I am going to respond to the idea.

In our world, we travel in the same circle with coaches, executives and the people that power NBA basketball, so I reached out to a couple of them to get their thoughts on the value and use of mock drafts inside the NBA.

These two executives are going to remain anonymous because I don’t want the story to be about them or their teams, as much as what they have to say. Some may have a problem with that, but if I say it is general manager X, then it becomes about him and not what he had to say.

But to state the credentials of the sources, both currently work in the Western Conference and have been involved in senior leadership roles for more than two decades. They both have been involved in drafting players, including several top-five players and are actively involved in scouting and drafting players in the upcoming draft class in a senior level capacity.

These two sources are not fringe scouts that watch a few basketball games and file a report; these are the guys who steer the process for two highly successful and respected NBA teams and have done so at every level of NBA basketball.

I spent the time stating this because I wanted the seriousness of their perspective to be clear.

Before we get too far into this, NBA teams do not use mock drafts to base their own draft decisions. They do that all by themselves, hundreds of times during the season leading up the draft.

I have sat with NBA executives and played the mock draft game with them – ‘You take this guy, then that means this guy goes next, then that guy next.’ It’s a common thing done hundreds of times throughout the year; a lot more frequently than any publication would update.

NBA teams don’t need our mock draft, mainly because they are building their own versions dozens of times a week leading up to the draft, with their specific needs and preferences in mind.

One executive, who is now a general manager of a Western Conference team, used to carry a wire bound notebook where he wrote out his mock draft in pencil each week. You could flip through the book and see how the draft evolved, in his view, from the start to finish. It was the least impressive or scientific process you could imagine.

So while NBA teams don’t use media-driven mock drafts as a guide for themselves, they do hold a lot of value to teams in ways you wouldn’t think.

“I use mock drafts only for the names,” one NBA executive said. “I believe there is a lot of people out there, unnamed people we’ll say for example, that don’t go and see games. That they use contacts they have in the league or contacts wherever they can find them to try and come to a consensus of where they’re going to draft people.

“I think a lot guys do a consensus. That being said, I use it just for the names and ranges. I don’t take anything like number one [in a mock] is number one. We do this for a living; I better have my own thought process of who I like 1-60.

“It’s always good to have names because in this industry a lot of information gets passed amongst people, especially at the higher levels. They’ll call a friend and say, ‘Hey my guys are saying that Joe Smith is really good.’ and then they’ll call all the scouts and say, ‘Hey have we seen Joe Smith? Well I hear he is really rising.’ You know that’s based on two or three mock drafts where names appear and he’s not on anyone’s radar. “

That concept was mirrored by the other executive.

“What they are is they’re a good source on getting a feel of what another guy that has experience feels,” another NBA executive said. “I will look at their lists just to see. Say they got a guy 15 and I got him 30 or reverse it, it sparks your attention a wee bit but it’s nothing to interfere my thoughts.

“We do monthly, actually every three weeks; I have my guys put in their top 40. So we’re on top of it and we meet all the time. I think it’s a good information place to go to. It’s interesting to evaluate because every team has a different feel. Some guy they like at number eight might be the same guy another team likes at 20. It’s the same guy. I think it’s the same process; every organization has a different way of doing the draft. Is it a good source to have? Yes.”

The issue most people have with the popularity and implied authority of many of the mock draft publications is that players and their families are making decisions based on where a kid is projected.

Some kids leave college early because ESPN has them ranked here or DraftExpress has them ranked there and they find out the hard way that NBA teams apply their own value structure to players. That’s not something that mock drafts can accurately predict.

“We were just talking about it the other day that whenever a big game is played, like they had North Carolina and Kentucky play, after that game two guys went into the top five based on the one game,” one NBA executive said. “I think it’s more of an indication that the draft is not really as strong as people think and that guys can go from 20 or 30 to two or four or five. Again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it’s what have you done for me lately? The guy plays against a decent team and he does pretty well so he has got to be pretty good now?”

“It’s like an NBA season, its 82 games, a college season is 40 games,” the other NBA executive said. “I mean a guy can get hot for a week, a guy can do pretty well for a while, but can he sustain that effort and that energy and his skill level for the entire season?”

Both executives acknowledged that mock drafts affect how the kids on the list see the world.

“It does affect kids as to where they think they are,” he said. “It affects the parents. It affects the agents that are trying to get involved with them. What happens is an agent will say, ‘You’re 35 and I can help you get up to 15.’ There is some influence in all that.”

The NBA and the Players’ Association have an annual Draft Advisory Committee that disseminates information to would-be draftees and their college coaches. This committee is comprised of highly respected and accomplished executives that break the draft into tiers and offer expert level insight on where certain underclassman may get drafted. It’s usually a range with one kid being ranked a “Top Five” guy, while another might be a “Top 20” guy, with others being dubbed “Second Rounder to Undrafted.” The committee’s track record is pretty good and tends to be a lot more conservative, especially on fringe talents.

College coaches are provided this information so they can share it with the kid and his family.

That doesn’t mean every kid will like what they see or understand the value of that information, because the allure of the NBA is real – especially if your name is out there on a daily and weekly basis.

So this begs the question, are we any good at it? Are the guys powering these mock drafts that have so much implied authority really any good at evaluating who is and who is not an NBA talent?

“I value [some of them] because you see players,” one NBA executive said. “What’s more important than anything is your (the media’s) angle. It’s the players and the knowledge of them [off the court] and the background and the information, that’s invaluable to me.

“[A] team is going to pay a scout to know whether he can go right or left, if he can shoot a jump-hook or defend his position, that’s what they’re paying us to do.”

The idea of the media as background providers resonated with both executives simply because of the investigative side to reporting.

“What [most] media provides, at least for me, is all they’re doing is they’re just regurgitating things they’ve talked to other people that they’re close to,” the same NBA executive said. “They say, ‘I’m going to take your ideas and I’m going to make them mine.’ Those guys I have no time for.”

“The ones who go out, that will sit in the stands and be there, then you know what, there is some validity to, ‘Hey I think this guy is a draftable player.’ I’m going to check his list and make sure I have at least the 60 guys on his list because he’s probably talked to some NBA [people] and he’s probably got close to some names.”

The idea of name gathering and making sure the whole field is covered resonated with both, especially on the international side.

“The thing with [DraftExpress] is just the foreign component,” one NBA executive said. “I think for 90 percent of all NBA teams, they talk about going to Europe and, ‘Oh Europe this and that’, but there are really only four or five teams, and you can track them statistically, that even venture into the foreign market that actually take them. They may see them, but actually draft them?”

There is no doubt that way too much credit is given to mock drafts, especially among fans and the media. However, to say or imply they mean nothing to the process really is not true, especially when you’re talking about industry leaders like DraftExpress.

“The mock drafts are really good. They’re good for people to look at,” the other NBA executive said. “They’re great for the fans. They’re great for interest. They’re great stories. It’s all part of promoting the game and kids like looking at it.”

The irony of Bill Self’s anti-rant about mock drafts is that every college coach uses the same external media to power their own recruiting, whether that’s Rivals, ESPN’s Top 100 or another high school outlet to celebrate their recruiting successes in fundraising and to persuade future kids to attend their program. How many times have you seen a statement about how many four-star or five-star recruits a program has, or where a program’s incoming class was ranked?

It’s a little disingenuous to take shots at the media and then turn around and use that same process for your own means.

There is no doubting that college coaches have to battle massive external influences over their young players, some of which are media driven for sure. But some of that is also self-created during the recruiting process and some of that is just the slimy business of pro sports.

But let’s not blame mock drafts and mock drafters – or worse yet imply that they have no value. Clearly they do, and not just for the fans that power the industry.

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


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Mock Drafts

2020 NBA Mock Draft – First Round – 08/21/2020

The 2020 NBA Draft order is now locked in, however, there are tons of additional questions to be answered in the coming weeks. Here is a look at the first round, in this Basketball Insiders Mock Draft.

Steve Kyler



To say the 2020 NBA Draft has been chaotic is an understatement, however with last night’s NBA Draft Lottery out of the way, things are starting to at least trend in a positive direction.

That doesn’t mean there are not challenges ahead, namely when the actual NBA Draft will take place.

There is a growing sense that the NBA and the players are going to push back the start of the next cap year, which will likely impact when and how the NBA Draft plays out.

Typically, the Draft is a major transaction window for NBA teams, and with so much unknown surrounding how the salary cap will be set, and when trades and transactions typically consummated around the draft would become official, there is a lot of uncertainty, making the 2020 NBA draft wide open on many fronts.

The hope among teams is that some clarity on all of this will surface in the coming weeks, but for now most teams are operating in uncharted waters.

With all of that in mind, here is a look at the 2020 NBA Draft First round, which will be the first of many weekly Mock Drafts we’ll be dropping all the way up to the draft, whenever that finally gets set.

The Basketball Insiders Annual Consensus Mock Drafts will begin in September, as will full 60-pick mocks starting next week, so stay tuned.

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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.

Basketball Insiders



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.

Steve Kyler



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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