1. 76ers - Ben Simmons, F, LSU
Originally I was thinking that the 76ers would go with Brandon Ingram because Simmons would be an odd fit on their roster and Ingram fills a bigger need. Now as it looks like the team is trying to open up room in their frontcourt by moving either Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor, it seems like they are trying to open up space for the Australian. The unique skill-set for a player of his size is very intriguing and are why many project Simmons to be a star at the next level. He may not be the best shooter in the world but he more than makes up it with the awareness and the playmaking ability of a point guard and some impressive athleticism.
2. Lakers - Brandon Ingram, F, Duke
Los Angeles will take whichever player the Sixers do not take and with the top pick projected to be Simmons, I think the Lakers would happily select Ingram should they stay at this pick. After all, he would seem to be a good schematic fit for what we would think new coach Luke Walton would like to run as well as fit right in between Deangelo Russell and Julius Randle. Ingram needs to get bigger and stronger but he is a terrific shooter and he has got the size and the length to be a very good defender. The fact that he got better over the course of his sole season in Durham certainly helps.
Even though Chriss could have been helped by returning to Seattle for at least another year, he has found himself soaring up draft boards after coming out of nowhere with a very nice freshman campaign. He still is very raw, will probably need some seasoning in the D-League and had trouble staying out of foul trouble but he is a terrific athlete and showed some potential for a jumper with range out to the perimeter. Considering that the Celtics already have a solid roster and may be willing to take a risk on a boom-or-bust guy, Chriss could be their guy.
4. Suns - Dragan Bender, F, Israel
Considering that at the moment, the Suns have zero power forwards under contract, that is why you have seen many folks look at either Bender or Marquese Chriss. I think that Bender is the superior prospect and given that the organization appears to be trying to do their due diligence with him, I think he could be the guy. I have heard some comparisons to Toni Kukoc and he's said to have a great work ethic. He is certainly raw and not ready to play at a high level right away, his perimeter shooting and his defensive versatility make him a good fit for the modern NBA.
5. Timberwolves - Buddy Hield, G, Oklahoma
Even as the team has high hopes after a strong rookie season from Karl-Anthony Towns, the continuing rise of Andrew Wiggins and the hiring of coach Tom Thibodeau, the Wolves still lost over 50 games and have plenty of holes still to fill. One of them is perimeter shooting and Hield should certainly help in that regard as he is only the top shooter in this draft. Hield may never be much of a defender and he is already 22 years old but his scoring and shooting abilities should make him an instant contributor.
6. Pelicans - Jamal Murray, G, Kentucky
The Pelicans have a big need both for depth in the backcourt, particularly as New Orleans had durability issues there last year, as well as for perimeter shooting and Murray should be able to help in both regards. He didn't get a ton of time at the point this past season but he showed some impressive scoring abilities thanks, in part, to a very nice stroke from beyond the arc. One thing he does have to improve upon is taking care of the orange as he can be turnover-prone.
7. Nuggets - Jaylen Brown, G/F, California
The Nuggets do have a number of wing players already in the mix but given that both Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari have injury issues, it may not be a bad idea to bring in more talented wings that can grow alongside Emmanuel Mudiay. Brown is really fun to watch in the open court thanks to his combination of speed and athleticism and he has got a better jump shot than some think. Brown also should be a solid rebounder and a pretty solid defender in the NBA as well. The concern with him was with his sole season at California, one in which his level of play fluctuated from time to time.
8. Kings - Kris Dunn, G, Providence
Rajon Rondo had himself a very nice bounce-back campaign and Darren Collison has always been a nice player but with Rondo being a free agent this offseason and Collison next offseason, the Kings could use more of a long-term option at the position. Dunn should be a solid fit for new Kings head coach Dave Joerger thanks to his skill and effort defensively and he should be able to contribute right away. To be honest, this is probably about the lowest that Dunn could go in the draft.
9. Raptors - Jakob Poeltl, F/C, Utah
Considering they are coming off the top season in franchise history, the Raptors really don't need to be picking in the top ten but hey, who didn't love the Andrea Bargnani trade? But the team could have a need for another big man with Bismack Biyombo hitting free agency after his big postseason, perhaps making him too expensive for the team to bring back. He should be able to contribute right away defensively because he is not afraid of contact down low. He is still raw on the offensive end, however but he was an efficient player during his time in Salt Lake City.
10. Bucks - Henry Ellenson, F/C, Marquette
11. Magic - Skal Labissiere, F/C, Kentucky
Amid high expectations for his rookie season after being one of the most highly touted recruits, it is pretty safe to say that Labissiere's time in Lexington was a disappointment. He never seemed to get fully comfortable until late in the season and while there is no question that he is a highly skilled player, he needs to build his confidence. That said, folks are optimistic after his promising workout in Chicago. They've got a good player development coach in Frank Vogel and they still have to work out their frontcourt so Labissiere could be worth a shot.
12. Jazz - Wade Baldwin IV, G, Vanderbilt
Utah has itself a young and talented ballclub with a lot of intriguing pieces in the mix but one thing that they still lack is a quality point guard. Dante Exum has seen his developmental process stagnate somewhat thanks to a serious knee injury so you don't know what you'll get out of him while Trey Burke is overmatched as a starter. Baldwin may not be a natural point, although his size and length are intriguing for the position, but he is a very solid defender and is good at hitting shots from the outside. You could also play him at the two if you wanted.
13. Suns (from Wizards) - Deyonta Davis, F/C, Michigan State
Even as this past season was a fiasco for the Suns, they do have some pieces in the mix. What they do lack is a power forward after Markieff Morris got dealt to the Wizards and I could see them targeting that position early in this draft, perhaps even a project like Davis. You don't see too many one-and-done guys in East Lansing but that's what we got here. Davis had his moments with the Spartans but they weren't strung together. He has got the tools to be a quality rim protector while also having a nice offensive game but he needs polish.
14. Bulls - Timothe Luwawu, G/F, France
After a disappointing first year under Fred Hoiberg, who knows what to expect from the Bulls this offseason and in this draft. What we do know that they do need is more help on the wing as much of their perimeter players were mediocre this offseason. This Frenchman is not ready to contribute right away considering he lacks experience against quality competition but he is an intriguing three-and-D player with his plus size and athleticism.
15. Nuggets (from Rockets) - Furkan Korkmaz, G, Turkey
If they keep all of their picks, looks for the Nuggets to take at least one guy they can stash overseas considering how young their roster is. Korkmaz would certainly apply as he is only 18 years old and not ready to step onto an NBA court this fall considering he lacks experience against quality competition. He has got himself a nice offensive game with one of the top perimeter shots in this draft, something that will always come in handy on an NBA roster.
16. Celtics - Domantas Sabonis, F/C, Gonzaga
17. Grizzlies - Demetrius Jackson, G, Notre Dame
I am now back to projecting the Grizzlies to utilize this pick on a point guard as Mike Conley will be hitting the open market this offseason and even if he does return, the team needs a backup point guard in the worst way. So at this point, it just depends on which point guard that will be available at this juncture. Jackson has the ideal size for an NBA point guard and he has the desired athleticism for the position as well, but he can also knock down an open jumper so you could feasibly play him off the ball.
18. Pistons - Denzel Valentine, G, Michigan State
Valentine may have a knee injury that could hurt his draft stock but I don't see him falling much further than the 18th selection and not just because taking a local kid is always a popular selection for the fanbase. Valentine may not have the highest ceiling considering he is already 22 but he showed during his days at Michigan State a versatile game despite the fact that he isn't particularly big or athletic. He is a pretty good passer thanks to plus vision and he can knock it down from outside as he is the kind of playmaker the Pistons need on the perimeter.
19. Nuggets - Ante Zizic, C, Croatia
Do the Nuggets need another center (and another one from Eastern Europe)? Not really but considering all the picks they have, they can afford to take some chances. Zizic is only 19 and thus there is no need to bring him over right away. The potential for him is there considering he is tough, has good hands, is athletic and can run the floor pretty well. He does play hard and with some time, he could turn into a useful NBA player. However, he does need to show that his game is more than just hustle and energy.
20. Pacers - Brice Johnson, F, North Carolina
The Pacers have been a consistent playoff team for several years now in the Eastern Conference but as the Frank Vogel era ends while the Nate McMillan era begins, they will be looking to remake their roster a little and it starts with adding some more depth to their frontcourt. Johnson is a four-year guy so he should be able to play right away after finishing off his UNC career with a brilliant senior campaign. He showed some scoring ability and some better-than-advertised ability on the glass and he should be able to dig out a nice NBA career.
21. Hawks - Malachi Richardson, G, Syracuse
Richardson, the hero of the Orange's epic comeback victory over Virginia in the Elite Eight, is probably a reach at this point of the draft but there has been some buzz with him of late so it could be feasible that he go here. He wasn't a particularly productive player at Syracuse but was a very streaky shooter but he has got the measurables and the athleticism to be a productive wing player in the NBA. Kyle Korver isn't getting any younger so the Hawks could be looking to add more depth to the wing positions.
22. Hornets - Diamond Stone, C, Maryland
The Hornets bounced back in a big way this season as they returned to the playoffs and a big reason why was much-improved shooting from the perimeter. That they were able to do with Al Jefferson suffering from injuries for a good chunk of the season was even more impressive but with Jefferson being a free agent, the team could look to get some insurance at the five. Stone is very talented but will he be able to adjust to the NBA game after an inconsistent season in College Park? That's why working with a good big men coach like Steve Clifford could be helpful.
23. Celtics - Juan Hernangomez, F, Spain
This should be a draft-and-stash selection for Danny Ainge considering how many picks they have in this draft (unless they do some wheeling and dealing) simply because this is a team that doesn't need three first round picks. Hernangomez could probably step right in and get some burn considering he played very well in a tough Spanish league and he has got intriguing measurables thanks to his size, wingspan and athleticism. He also looks like a potential quality face-up power forward but his offensive game still needs polish.
24. 76ers (from MIA via BOS) - Tyler Ulis, G, Kentucky
Sooner or later, the 76ers have to address a pathetic backcourt. Pathetic may be too strong considering that Ish Smith played relatively well late in the season for them but ultimately, he's not a long-term answer at the point. Ulis may be too small to regularly start at the next level (dude is only 5-9) but he does a great job of taking care of the basketball and is seemingly never afraid to push the ball up the court. The Colangelos have long been proponents of uptempo basketball and that should fit Ulis very well.
25. Clippers - DeAndre' Bembry, F, Saint Joseph's
The Clippers could really use more depth on the wing and one of their bigger positions of need has to be at small forward as they failed to get consistent play from there last season. One of the guys they could target is Bembry, who has been on the rise after a strong performance at the draft combine. He may not be much of a shooter but he is a versatile player, one that could even play a little point forward, and he can do a whole bunch of things on both side of the ball.
26. 76ers (from OKC via CLE & DEN) - Thon Maker, F/C, Sudan
Even with a roster as barren as Philadelphia has, they should look to take a chance on a potential draft-and-stash guy with a high ceiling and quite frankly, nobody may be more of an unknown than Maker. His mixtapes are certainly fun but he is tremendously raw and definitely a few years away. Maker has got the athleticism and the skills to make it look like he can be an NBA player but who really knows? But for a team that has only one season above .500 in the past decade, why not take a chance?
27. Raptors - Cheick Diallo, F, Kansas
The Raptors don't have a ton of needs and have an experienced roster so they could take a flier on some higher-upside guys, Diallo included. Diallo wasn't able to get a whole lot of playing time for a solid Kansas team but he has got nice size (although he may be stuck in between positions), a terrific wingspan, and he has the potential to make a big impact on defense and on the boards. He likely will have to hit up the D-League but this late in the first round, that's fine.
28. Suns (from CLE via BOS) - Ivica Zubac, C, Croatia
Phoenix already has one Eastern European center in the mix in Alex Len so why not take another with the 28th selection. Zubac is only 19 years old and another season over in Europe would only be helpful for his development but he has got the size and mobility to do some good things in the paint and in transition. He also has got the skill to make some plays down low on the offensive end of the court while also being useful defensively to boot.
29. Spurs - Jarrod Uthoff, F, Iowa
Just by watching the way Uthoff played with the Hawkeyes, one could get the inclination that he would be a good fit for a team like the Spurs. He has great size for a forward but he is not particularly athletic and since he is already 23, his ceiling may not be all that high. Uthoff did show off some nice offensive skills this season thanks to a very solid jump shot and he should be able to contribute working on the glass as well.
30. Warriors - Pascal Siakam, F, New Mexico State
The Warriors could go a couple of potential directions with this selection. They could take a shot in the dark at somebody who may not be able to play right away but could turn into a steal or they could take a guy more suited to playing right away. If it is the later, then Siakam makes sense as another forward to add to the mix. He plays hard and should be a good defender thanks to his effort and his length and athleticism. His offensive game can be a little over the place.
For more mocks, check out the NBA mock database at WalterFootball.com.