The draft lottery is less than a month away and we've got our player pool for the draft. That makes it as good of a time as any for another mock draft. Let's jump right in.
Usual disclaimer: This mock is just my opinion and not predictions. Be sure to let me know how much you disagree and present all your fake trades in the comments!
1. Philadelphia "#RIPTHEPROCESS" 76ers: Ben Simmons, SF/PF, LSU, Freshman
In order for Simmons to go No. 1 in a mock I write he's going to need to go to a team that doesn't have a dominant ball handler. The Sixers definitely qualify, with a mix of Ish Smith, T.J. McConnell and Isaiah Caanan at point guard.
Simmons is not getting minor flaws overanalyzed. He can't and didn't want to shoot past the free throw line, he got worse as a defender in 2016 and failed to step up repeatedly in big games for LSU. With that said, he's a tremendous package of athleticism, basketball smarts, ball handling and playmaking.
If he can correct his defense -- only a 6'11" wingspan so there's a strong chance of him getting mauled at PF -- or his shot, he'll be fine, and will be better off on a team where he can have the ball as much as possible. Who knew the Sixers could be a fantastic fit for a prospect?
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Brandon Ingram, SF, Duke, Freshman
Ingram is No. 1 on my board and he falls to No. 2 here to Los Angeles. His frame, height and wingspan are similar to Kevin Durant and the release on his shot is high and quick enough to remain deadly at the NBA level. My favorite part of his game is his passing. He understands the way defenses move and react to him when he gets the ball and is capable of most passes the defense allows.
The defense is progressing much better than Simmons' and he does more on the floor than you'd think. His complete scoring game has shown brief flashes and is going to take a while to get to where it needs to be, but if that develops enough he's going to be better than Simmons. The appeal of that is he's nearly 15 months younger than Simmons. A great pickup for the Lakers, who played this entire season without anything remotely promising at small forward.
3. Boston Celtics (via BKN): Dragan Bender, PF, Croatia
The Celtics have a lot of interesting pieces on the perimeter and Kelly Olynyk has some pop to his offense, but there isn't much to tout about Amir Johnson, Tyler Zeller and Jared Sullinger.
Enter Bender, who has ridiculously high upside and is one of the most unique draft prospects this decade. At over seven feet tall, Bender is a far better perimeter defender than on the interior because of his freaskish athleticism and how he moves like a wing at his height.
The key skill for him is his shooting and while it isn't a pure stroke like the unicorn Kristaps Porzingis', it looks good to go for the next level. The key for him is going to be strength and not being a liability as both an occasional rim protector and rebounder. His slashing is miles away, but he has the passing and vision to eventually develop an off the dribble game and is the youngest player in the process, which is the element that makes him so fascinating.
4. Phoenix Suns: Jaylen Brown, SF, California, Freshman
With long-term gem Devin Booker looking like he could possibly be an average defender over time, the Suns need a good wing defender and that's probably not going to be T.J. Warren. That could easily be Brown, who is getting far too scrutinized in my opinion for trying to be a primary scorer at Cal when his offensive game is far too one-dimensional at this point.
Brown is a better athlete than Stanley Johnson and Justise Winslow (which is saying something), but he's not a better prospect. The tools are all there for him to be a great defender, but his play both off and on the ball leave something to be desired. Like Johnson, there's enough there on offense as a slasher and a shooter to become good enough to start in the NBA while the defense reaches its true potential (Johnson was phenomenal off the ball on his man, but struggled in other areas).
(Just to address this... I love Dunn and enjoy Murray, but the Suns have far more pressing needs at forward, even in the much-fantasized scenario across the Suns interwebs of trading Brandon Knight.)
5. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jamal Murray, SG, Kentucky, Freshman
I think Ricky Rubio is good so let's give the absolutely frightening Timberwolves core a shooter who could turn out to be much more.
Murray is an elusive, crafty and dynamic scorer with a premium floater and jump shot. Just because he's a good passer does not make him a point guard, however, and that's fine.
He has enough height to play the 2 and could give the Timberwolves some much-needed shooting while the rest of his game improves. The dream scenario for his development would be what happened to Klay Thompson in Golden State, even if their games aren't that similar.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Kris Dunn, PG, Providence, Junior
The Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans extravaganza is nearing its conclusion, and what better way to exit that then by bringing in Dunn.
The Russell Westbrook comparisons for what he does on the court are fair. He's a phenomenal athlete with size, tries to do too much all the time, takes wild shots, is somehow in control when attacking most of the time and could be a lockdown defender on defense if he wasn't a maniac at times.
I'm all in on him. Dunn is simply too electric with the ball in his hands to go past a team without a future point guard at this point in the draft. Taking a year behind Holiday and Evans while compacting his game into a more controlled state is a great win for New Orleans.
7. Denver Nuggets (via NYK): Timothe Luwawu, SG/SF, France
For the second straight year the Nuggets roster makes it very difficult to mock. They have a long-term piece at every position except small forward, which gives us the selection of Luwawu.
Luwawu is much more than a 3&D prospect. He looks to be right on the edge of having a great all-around offensive game. A quick first step and a great feel for passing situations are great compliments to his ability to shoot off the dribble and finish at the rim. If his shooting and defense meet NBA standards he could be the steal of the draft.
8. Sacramento Kings: Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma, Senior
This was easy to see coming right? I'm much more hesitant on Hield being a top 10 pick than most, but there's no doubt about how good of a scorer and a shooter he was this past college basketball season. I have big questions about his defense, passing and if his shooting is just a massive improvement or a year when he couldn't miss (check his shooting %'s for all four years).
Regardless, Hield could be a wonderful scorer off the bench and the Kings could use that and his shooting at guard.
9. Toronto Raptors (via DEN): Henry Ellenson, PF, Marquette, Freshman
At a certain point, Ellenson's flaws as an athlete and a defender need to be overlooked. In this draft, it's right around here.
Ellenson is a very smooth power forward who can handle the ball very well and has a beautiful looking jumper out of nearly any scenario. The surprise is down low, where he's very solid with his back to the basket and makes him a serious offensive weapon.
The problem is on defense. He's not strong or quick enough to have much success there in the NBA. His 7'2" wingspan and a great motor should save him enough on the glass, but you have to worry about how much it impacts him everywhere else on the floor.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Jakob Poeltl, C, Utah, Sophomore
A poor defensive big man like Greg Monroe would fit well with Poeltl. The Austrian is tremendous at what you want from your average big. Protecting the rim, rebounding, defending the pick-and-roll, hitting the occasional midrange jumper and he has terrific hands and ability as a passer.
He's not a guy to give it to in the post, but he's going to do virtually everything else well and his athleticism will translate to this new breed of DeMarcus Cousins' and Karl-Anthony Towns'. The way Domantas Sabonis handled him in the NCAA Tournament, however, set off some alarm bells and probably correctly set his course to more of a role player Robin Lopez type. That's not a bad thing at this point in the draft.
11. Orlando Magic: Skal Labissiere, PF/C, Kentucky, Freshman
Like Denver, the Magic have long-term plans at nearly every position. A stretch four who could protect the rim would be a wonderful compliment to Nik "Vucci Mane" Vucevic and that's what Labissiere could be. He has tweener issues and needs to continue to prove that he can bang down low, but he's a decent gamble at this point in the draft.
12. Utah Jazz: Deyonta Davis, PF/C, Michigan State, Freshman
The Jazz roster is like Denver and Orlando's except it's actually pretty good at basketball. Davis is a solid alternative to Trey "the third guy you can't believe the Hornets passed on for Frank Kaminsky" Lyles. He relies on making his impact on the glass and around the rim on defense, but the development of his jumper could give him decent significance on offense. I rate Marquese Chriss higher, but he seems like too much of a project for a team that is ready to start winning in the playoffs now like Utah.
13. Phoenix Suns (via WAS): Marquese Chriss, PF, Washington, Freshman
Hello there! Chriss jumps out more than any other draft prospect for the right and wrong reasons. He's a crazy leaper, understands how to block shots, has a basic post game, can hit threes and even has something to his game off the dribble. There's also how completely lost and disinterested he looks at times on both ends, leading the NCAA in fouls and simply needing more time playing basketball.
This draft and the Suns' current situation lines up perfectly for Phoenix to take a huge gamble, and that's what Chriss would be. Sign me up.
14. Chicago Bulls: Tyler Ulis, PG, Kentucky, Sophomore
I'm pretty sure this is the third straight year I've mocked the Bulls a replacement for Derrick Rose. Ulis is a pure point guard with lightning speed that always has a purpose when he's moving with the ball anywhere on the court. He's tough on defense, can shoot and understands what a point guard is supposed to do on a basketball team. The only problem is he's 5'9". At some point in this draft, he gets taken because of how good he is and for me, that's at the end of the lottery.
15. Denver Nuggets (via HOU): Furkan Korkmaz, SG, Turkey
I really doubt the Nuggets keep all these picks so here's the cop out international selection. Korkmaz offers something different than all of their current guard options and has some fun upside.
16. Boston Celtics (via DAL): Denzel Valentine, SG/SF, Michigan State, Senior
Evan Turner replacement? Valentine is not Draymond Green. He's a balanced and skilled offensive player who works just hard enough to get away with his size at shooting guard and small forward. He's not very good on defense and an undersized wing with athleticism issues is a ginormous football field-sized red flag to me.
17. Memphis Grizzlies: Demetrius Jackson, PG, Notre Dame, Junior
Mike Conley, Mario Chalmers, Russ Smith, Ray McCallum, Xavier Munford, Bryce Cotton and Briante Weber all played point guard for the Grizzlies and aren't on the books for next season. I'm not as high on Jackson as some, but he has a bundle of NBA tools that could make him either a steal or a bust at 17.
18. Detroit Pistons: Wade Baldwin, PG/SG, Vanderbilt, Sophomore
Baldwin's combo guard skills, shooting and potential defensive ability are a great fit for Stan Van Gundy's gritty Pistons team. He's about an 8.6 on the tweener chart, so watch out for that.
19. Denver Nuggets (via POR): Domantas Sabonis, PF/C, Gonzaga, Sophomore
I don't even know what to do with the Nuggets anymore. Sabonis is my BPA here so they get him. He's got exquisite footwork and passing down low combined with some surprising strength and a motor that has him winning far more battles than he should in the key. Is he something like Donatas Motiejunas? Probably, and that seems like good value here.
20. Indiana Pacers: Damian Jones, C, Vanderbilt, Junior
I'm not buying the drop on some boards of Jones. As The Ringer's Jonathan Tjarks pointed out on twitter in March, Jones has a clear role at the next level and that's the exact opposite of how Vanderbilt used him. The Pacers have Ian Mahinmi -and Jordan Hill headed to unrestricted free agency.
21. Atlanta Hawks: Thon Maker, C, Australia, HS Senior
The Hawks do not have a good amount of young talent and that makes them an ideal fit for Maker. Your opinion on Maker is based on how raw you think he is, and that's why you see him rated from the lottery to the second round. If you look back on how many top-rated high school prospects never sniff being drafted in the NBA and how many were busts before the rule change that's why there's concern here. His skills are attractive enough to be selected in the end of the first round in my opinion.
22. Charlotte Hornets: Taurean Prince, SF, Baylor, Senior
Charlotte is a fascinating team to watch this summer with Al Jefferson, Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams and Courtney Lee all headed to unrestricted free agency. Prince is the best wing on the board and is ready to be a 3&D contributor now. He's a great fit for playoff teams.
23. Boston Celtics: Cheick Diallo, SF/PF, Kansas, Freshman
The last thing the Celtics need is another 5th-9th man. That brings us to Diallo, who could become an elite and unique role player if it all comes together. He works his tail off, has a 7'4" wingspan, the athletic ability to defend four positions and is a dangerous player in transition on both ends. The problem is he doesn't really have a clue what he's doing out there most of the time. Having a coach like Brad Stevens makes reaching on a talent like Diallo easy in my book.
24. Philadelphia 76ers (via MIA): Mailk Beasley, SG, Florida State, Freshman
I'm surprised about the lack of buzz and intrigue surrounding Beasley. He has bounce, is no slouch on defense, can shoot the ball and has the agility to separate from defenders and create his own shot. Most importantly, he finishes well at the rim and shows no fear despite his size. He's only 6"4", his wingspan doesn't do him any favors and it's a raw overall package, but I feel like he's going to move up a lot of boards the closer we get to June.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: DeAndre Bembry, SF, Saint Joseph's, Junior
The Clippers need more depth badly and at the same time, need players that can play now. That lands them on Bembry. He should translate well as a player who isn't asked to do too much on the floor for a team with the point god.
26. Philadelphia 76ers (via OKC): Patrick McCaw, SG, UNLV, Sophomore
McCaw might be the best 3&D prospect in the draft. He has enough ball skills to be passable enough in other areas to let his shooting and defense shine.
27. Toronto Raptors: Juan Hernangomez, SF/PF, Spain
Hernangomez has a solid offensive game and is a smart player that will get on your nerves. He has a very good chance of being a positive role player in the NBA.
28. Phoenix Suns (via CLE): Dejounte Murray, PG/SG, Washington, Freshman
This is the third straight talent grab for the Suns. Murray has NBA size and athleticism and his chances in the NBA will rely on how well his playmaking and ability on defense compliment his effectiveness as a slasher. His jumper is the big question and that makes this dangerously close to Archie 2.0.
29. San Antonio Spurs: Petr Cornelie, PF, France
Cornelie is the type of active and athletic big man you try to combine with a star player like Kawhi Leonard. He has some of the highest two-way upside around this portion of the draft. Sound familiar?
30. Golden State Warriors: Stephen Zimmerman, C, UNLV, Freshman
Kevon Looney was a lottery talent asked to do too much in his only year at UCLA and should have a long NBA career with a defined and smaller role in Golden State after some patience in his development. That's exactly what Zimmerman could use. He's an athletic big man with a lot of all-around skill, but he needs to change his mentality inside and grow as a center.