- Magic: Paolo Banchero
- Thunder: Chet Holmgren
- Rockets: Jabari Smith
- Kings: Jaden Ivey
- Pistons: AJ Griffin
- Pacers: Shaedon Sharpe
- Blazers: Jalen Duren
- Pelicans: Johnny Davis
- Spurs: Keegan Murray
- Wizards: Dyson Daniels
- Knicks: Ben Mathurin
- Thunder: Tari Eason
- Hornets: Jeremy Sochan
- Cavaliers: Ochai Agbaji
- Hornets: Mark Williams
- Hawks: Blake Wesley
- Rockets: Ousmane Dieng
- Bulls: EJ Liddell
- Timberwolves: Kendall Brown
- Spurs: Malaki Branham
- Nuggets: MarJon Beauchamp
- Grizzlies: Jaden Hardy
- 76ers: Christian Braun
- Bucks: Alondes Williams
- Spurs: Patrick Baldwin Jr.
- Rockets: TyTy Washington
- Heat: Kennedy Chandler
- Warriors: Jalen Williams
- Grizzlies: Wendell Moore Jr.
- Nuggets: Vince Williams Jr.
With the NBA season finally coming to a conclusion with a Golden State Warriors finals victory, fans of all 30 teams have turned their full attention to the offseason; particularly the NBA draft, which is just days away. What makes this draft particularly interesting is that the #1 pick is still seemingly down to 3 candidates, whereas in recent drafts it had pretty much been known weeks/months ahead of time how the top of the draft would look.
Before we get into the mock, we should establish exactly what type of mock this is. This is NOT supposed to be the most accurate prediction possible of what will actually happen, but realism was definitely factored in to a certain extent. It is also NOT exclusively what I would do at every pick, although I certainly mixed in my opinions and preferences with certain choices. What this mock IS meant to be is a combination of the two, where I combined what I think will happen with what I would personally do, and weighed the two fairly equally. Also, if you haven’t already, you can check out the SB Nation managers draft here.
Now that we have that out of the way, here’s the mock:
#1) Orlando Magic: Paolo Banchero (Forward, Duke)
Although arguments can be made for Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith at this pick, Paolo is the clear best fit with Orlando’s current core while also having a very strong argument for being the best player in the class regardless. While Chet and Jabari would make the Magic very intriguing defensively, on-ball creation is where Orlando is really lacking and those two don’t project to be nearly as good as Paolo in that facet.
At 6’10 with a polished mid-post arsenal and the ability to facilitate for others, Banchero’s versatile creation ability should help the rest of Orlando’s young talent slide into more complimentary roles, which they’re probably better suited for in the long run. That combination of size, scoring polish, and playmaking ability + a seamless fit with the current core makes Paolo the best option for the Magic with the #1 pick.
#2) Oklahoma City Thunder: Chet Holmgren (Big, Gonzaga)
As the clear cut best defensive prospect this class has to offer, Chet Holmgren would give the Thunder a true anchor for their defense in the long term. With a primary offensive engine that struggles with defensive consistency in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as the current headliner for OKC’s rebuild, Chet’s ability to cover ground and erase mistakes defensively while also being a complimentary offensive piece makes the two an ideal pairing to build around.
His versatility on both ends will make future roster construction easier as well, which is sure to be a plus for a Thunder team absolutely loaded on future picks and assets. Offensively speaking Chet’s ability to shoot, make decisions, and put the ball on the floor make him a fit in almost any lineup, and on defense he’s one of the rare defenders that can operate as either a primary rim protector and P&R defender when playing the 5, or be an elite secondary rim protector from the weak side if you pair him with another big. That monster versatility and uniqueness on both sides of the ball make Chet arguably the best prospect in the class, and someone OKC should be very happy about with the 2nd pick.
#3) Houston Rockets: Jabari Smith Jr. (Forward, Auburn)
While Jabari Smith has gotten a lot of buzz as a potential #1 pick this year, #3 is probably a little more appropriate spot for Smith, who doesn’t have the same offensive upside as Paolo and lacks the truly elite defensive ability of Chet. That shouldn’t distract from what Jabari does bring to the table however, which is an awesome mix of shooting and on-ball defense that you don’t often see at someone his size.
Playing next to some of the Rockets young creators (specifically Jalen Green) should ease the burden asked upon Jabari offensively, where he can focus on being an elite off-ball shooter at the PF position that can occasionally score over smaller defenders in the mid post when he has a switch. He’ll also have an argument for being Houston’s best perimeter defender as soon as his rookie season, and that combination of skills in a 6’10 19 year old would make him a strong pick for the Rockets here.
#4) Sacramento Kings: Jaden Ivey (Guard, Purdue)
This is where things start to get controversial, as the Kings just drafted Davion Mitchell in the lottery last year and arguably have bigger needs at other positions. However, picking this early in the draft Sacramento really just should be looking for the best talent they can get their hands on as long as they at least fit with De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, and Jaden Ivey fits that bill.
Ivey and Fox would immediately become the most athletically dynamic backcourt in basketball, and Jaden’s experience playing off the ball at Purdue will help the two co-exist together. Sabonis in particular would be a great asset for Ivey to play with, as he’s much better at attacking off movement than having to create from a standstill, and Domas is arguably the best DHO big man in the NBA.
#5) Detroit Pistons: AJ Griffin (Wing, Duke)
One of the best freshman shooting prospects over the last couple years, AJ makes a lot of sense for a Pistons team that seriously lacks shooting outside of Saddiq Bey. He’ll benefit a lot from playing with a primary ball handler like Cade Cunningham, who can generate open shots and advantages for Griffin before he’s comfortable creating for himself against NBA defenses.
The real upside with AJG comes if/when he is able to develop his on-ball skill set. He didn’t get a ton of opportunities with the ball in his hands at Duke, but he did flash the ability to string together moves off the dribble. He also boasts a really intriguing combination of strength and high end scoring touch, so there’s definitely some untapped potential there. If he’s able to progress as a creator and improve athletically as he moves further away from his pre-college injuries, Griffin could end up being the perfect style of offensive wing to pair with Cade long term.
#6) Indiana Pacers: Shaedon Sharpe (Wing, Kentucky)
While there’s definitely some valid question marks about Shaedon, it’s hard to argue against him having as high of a ceiling as anyone still available at this pick; and for an Indiana team presumably building around 22 year old Tyrese Haliburton, taking a high end upside play on the wing makes a lot of sense for their situation.
Shaedon is a dynamic athlete at the rim that’s also shown the ability to make tough shots on the perimeter, although his first step explosiveness and overall process as a driver are areas of improvement. The
Pacers will have to be patient with his development, but if things go right Sharpe projects to be a strong scoring wing that fits well with Halliburton long term.
#7) Portland Trail Blazers: Jalen Duren (Center, Memphis)
With Jusuf Nurkic struggling to stay healthy the last few years, Duren would make a lot of sense here at #7 as his long-term replacement. He’s still a bit raw in certain areas (as most 18 year old bigs are), but his explosive athleticism and NBA-ready frame should let him be able to produce in a rim running/protection role pretty early in his career.
The appeal of Duren isn’t just as a traditional rim running big though; he’s flashed the ability to be more than that. He has similar levels of strength/athleticism/coordination to someone like Bam Adebayo, and he’s actually a better passer than Bam was at the same stage. Duren has also showcased some touch in the mid range at times, and as one of the youngest players in the class it’s not hard to be optimistic about his development in these areas.
#8 New Orleans Pelicans: Johnny Davis (Guard/Wing, Wisconsin)
Although Johnny Davis seems to be slipping a bit down draft boards lately, he still makes a ton of sense for a team like New Orleans to take at #8. One of the best players in college basketball last season, Davis should be ready to plug-and-play for a Pelicans team that isn’t THAT far away from having legitimate championship aspirations.
If Johnny hits, he projects as the type of role player that adds tremendous value in the playoffs. He’s incredibly polished as a shot creator inside the arc, and although he didn’t shoot well from 3 last year (30.6%), he should be fine taking spot ups in a much reduced role in the league. And at nearly 6’6 with an NBA ready frame, high IQ, and a hot motor, he shouldn’t take anything off the table for New Orleans defensively. This combination of NBA readiness on both ends and long term creation upside should make the Pelicans plenty happy with the 8th pick in the draft.
#9) San Antonio Spurs: Keegan Murray (Forward, Iowa)
While Keegan has been mocked to go as high as #4 to Sacramento, San Antonio should be elated if the teams above them elect to roll the dice on younger and more dynamic options and let Murray slide to them. He would easily be the best player available in the minds of many here, and would give San Antonio a strong, versatile piece to add to their frontcourt.
Some of the concerns around Keegan are tied to his lack of true high end upside, as he’s nearly 22 and doesn’t really have any singular elite NBA skill, but by the 9th pick that doesn’t matter nearly as much. As a big forward that can shoot it, punish mismatches, and defend at a respectable level both on and away from the ball, Murray has all the makings of someone who will start 5-10 years in the NBA.
#10) Washington Wizards: Dyson Daniels (Guard/Wing, G League Ignite)
One of the recent risers in this draft, Dyson is another prospect who combines a high floor with an intriguing ceiling. At nearly 6’8 with a 6’11 wingspan and fluid movement skills, he has all the tools to be a high end defender and can provide value in multiple areas on offense. And while Daniels is a strong bet to at least be a solid role player, there’s still some upside as a big guard creator if he can improve in a couple areas on the ball.
What could make Dyson especially attractive to Washington is that he’s an excellent fit next to Bradley Beal if the Wizards choose to continue building around him long term. He projects to be able to handle tough defensive matchups on the perimeter, and his ability to be a secondary handler and passer will help prevent Beal from being overburdened on the other end. And if Washington does choose to move on from Beal, Dyson still has the youth and on-ball upside to make sense for that timeline as well. All things considered, Daniels’ mixture of long term fit and value would make him a great option for Washington with the 10th pick.
#11) New York Knicks: Ben Mathurin (Wing, Arizona)
As one of the best shooters and off-ball scorers in this class, Ben Mathurin would add a strong floor spacing presence to the Knicks roster. The versatility Mathurin has getting his shot off stands out in particular, as he’s comfortable shooting off a full sprint and adjusting his body in the air. His overall athleticism would also be a welcome addition for a New York team that lacked a bit in that area on the perimeter last year.
There’s also some untapped potential as a creator here too that the Knicks should hope to develop. Mathurin currently doesn’t have the most advanced handle or counter moves, but he does have the athletic tools to create his own shot and was restricted by the lack of spacing around him at Arizona. If he can develop into a legit secondary creator in addition to his other strengths, he’s a great value at pick #11.
#12) Oklahoma City Thunder: Tari Eason (Forward, LSU)
After drafting Chet with the 2nd pick, Tari Eason would make a lot of sense here as a physical forward to pair with Holmgren and give the Thunder their potential frontcourt of the future. At 6’8 with a 7’2 wingspan and an impressive blend of instincts, toughness, and athleticism, Tari has all the makings of an impact defender at the 4 spot. His strength and toughness in particular will be an asset next to Chet, who could certainly benefit from playing next to a bruiser in the frontcourt.
The offensive side of the ball is where things are a little dicier for Tari, although there’s still reason for optimism. He doesn’t have the cleanest release on his jumper, but still managed to can over 38% of his spot up jumpers last year (per Synergy). And while the process on his drives can be head scratching at times, his raw ability to self create rim attempts at his size is impressive nonetheless. Overall, Tari’s high end defensive upside + workable foundation of offensive tools make him a strong pick towards the end of the lottery.
#13) Charlotte Hornets: Jeremy Sochan (Forward, Baylor)
After finishing 23rd in the league in defensive rating last year the Hornets should be looking to add an impact defender to their young core, and no one available here fits the bill for that more than Jeremy Sochan. The 19 year old out of Baylor is already an impressive team defender, and at 6’9 230 with fluid mobility he’s also a strong and versatile on-ball defender as well.
The real question with Sochan comes down to his jump shooting. He shot under 30% from 3 and 60% from the free throw line in college, and his release isn’t exactly fluid. The good news is he at least wasn’t afraid to take shots from the perimeter, and he has some interesting ball skills that can potentially be developed, even if he isn’t the most explosive off the dribble. There’s some areas for improvement, but Sochan’s intersection of size, IQ, and defensive value make him an intriguing target in the late lottery.
#14) Cleveland Cavaliers: Ochai Agbaji (Wing, Kansas)
Fresh off an impressive senior season where he was a consensus All-American and the NCAA tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, Ochai Agbaji should be able to slide into Cleveland’s wing rotation from day 1. With his blend of dynamic off-ball shooting and impressive physical tools, Ochai can provide the spacing in the halfcourt that Isaac Okoro doesn’t while having the length and athleticism to take on the on-ball defensive matchups that Lauri Markkanen and Cedi Osman can’t.
And from Agbaji’s perspective, going to a team with a lead playmaker like Darius Garland would certainly benefit him. One of the bigger knocks on Ochai is that he doesn’t have the handle to be much of a creator at the next level, so playing on the wing off of Garland (and potentially Collin Sexton) high P&R’s would be an ideal NBA role for him.
#15) Charlotte Hornets: Mark Williams (Center, Duke)
Following two seasons of having one of the worst center rotations in the NBA, Duke big man Mark Williams makes a lot of sense for Charlotte here at pick 15. Williams would immediately boost the Hornets rim protection, as he blocked a whopping 7 shots per 100 possessions last year and measured out at a massive 7’0 without shoes to go along with a near 7’7 wingspan at the draft combine. He’s also a good vertical athlete, which combined with his length makes him a premier lob target on the offensive end as well.
There are some valid concerns about just how high Williams’ ceiling as a pro is with his traditional skillset, but when you’re making your 2nd pick of the draft and are now past the lottery it’s a little more understandable. Overall his combination of fit and positional need would make him a sensible pick for Charlotte here.
#16) Atlanta Hawks: Blake Wesley (Guard/Wing, Notre Dame)
A 4-star recruit out of high school, Blake Wesley surprised a lot of people in his freshman year en route to being the leading scorer for a Notre Dame team that made the NCAA tournament. He flashed the ability to impact the game on both ends, as he typically guarded the opposing team’s best perimeter scorer in addition to having to create for himself and others on the offensive side.
There’s definitely some things Wesley will have to clean up in order to be a good pro, notably finishing around the rim and being more consistent as a jump shooter, but he fits the exact mold of the type of player the Hawks should be looking to pair up with Trae Young in the backcourt. If he pans out he’ll likely be a strong on-ball defender that can operate as a secondary creator on offense and take pressure off Trae, and with the 16th pick, that might be worth taking a gamble on.
#17) Houston Rockets: Ousmane Dieng (Wing/Forward, New Zealand Breakers)
After taking Jabari Smith at #3 overall it would make sense for the Rockets to take a swing on a creator with their 2nd selection, and Ousmane Dieng has as much upside in that department as anyone left on the board. At 6’9 with legit P&R chops and a smooth looking jumper, Ousmane has the makings of a big ball handler that can slide on or off the ball. He could stand to improve his aggressiveness and physicality, but for someone who will be 19 years old his entire rookie season there’s time to improve that.
Dieng is also a good fit with the Rockets current core. If they continue to experiment with the KPJ/Jalen Green backcourt, having an extra handler and decision maker on the floor would definitely benefit those two. He also is a strong complement to Jabari Smith, as the two of them have pretty different skill sets and cover for a lot of each other’s weaknesses. All things considered, Ousmane’s upside in a role that the Rockets could really use makes him a worthwhile pick here.
#18) Chicago Bulls: EJ Liddell (Forward, Ohio State)
One of the best defensive forwards in this draft, EJ Liddell would be a great pick for the Bulls at 18. Chicago likes to run an aggressive defensive scheme, so adding an elite weakside shot blocker like Liddell that can help clean things up on the backline makes a ton of sense. He also would give the Bulls a much needed big wing defender in the frontcourt, as Patrick Williams is the only person on the roster who fits that role right now and he’s struggled to stay on the floor so far in his short NBA career.
Liddell’s offensive translation to the NBA is probably the biggest question mark around him, as he was an extremely productive scorer in college but operated on a heavy amount of slow tempo mid post touches that he’s unlikely to get at the next level. The swing skill for his likely NBA role is 3pt shooting, where he’s improved every year since high school but still presents some minor concerns. Regardless, Liddell’s mixture of defensive impact and offensive skill makes him an intriguing option at pick 18.
#19) Minnesota Timberwolves: Kendall Brown (Forward, Baylor)
Once projected as a top 5-10 pick early in the season, Kendall Brown’s stock slipped a bit over the second half of the year as his production dipped and his limitations on both ends showed up a little more frequently. He still boasts an impressive set of strengths however, as he’s a nuclear athlete above the rim at 6’8 and displayed intriguing flashes as both an on-ball defender and passer.
There’s definitely some things Brown will have to develop at the NBA level to be an impact pro, but there’s a ton of potential here for a 19th pick. He showed the ability to guard multiple positions on the ball, and even though he hasn’t showcased it yet he absolutely has the physical tools to be an effective secondary rim protector (an especially valuable skill to have next to Karl Anthony-Towns). The shooting is another swing skill that will have to be worked on, but if Kendall develops correctly he absolutely can outperform this draft slot in the long run.
#20) San Antonio Spurs: Malaki Branham (Guard, Ohio State)
Malaki Branham had quite the freshman season at Ohio State, as he continually got better over the course of the year on the way to being named the Big 10 Freshman of the Year. The main factor for his success was his prolific shooting ability, as he finished the year shooting a scorching 43.6% on off the dribble jumpers in addition to an equally impressive 45.8% off the catch. He also got increasingly more comfortable as a ball handler and facilitator as the year went on, although he still has strides to make in those areas.
The defensive end is more where questions pop up for Malaki, as he wasn’t an impact defender at Ohio State and doesn’t necessarily have the strength or lateral quickness you’re ideally looking for in a guard defender. The good news is he does have a 6’10 wingspan and is barely 19 years old, so there’s plenty of room for him to grow into a competent defender down the road. If he’s able to do so, Branham’s offensive ability will make him a value pick at #20.
#21) Denver Nuggets: MarJon Beauchamp (Wing, G League Ignite)
After having some of the worst perimeter defense in the NBA last season in addition to a general lack of size on the wing, it would make sense for the Nuggets to target a bigger perimeter defender like MarJon Beauchamp with their first round pick. At 6’6 with a 7’1 wingspan, MarJon has the ideal size and athleticism on the wing that the Nuggets have been missing recently.
Denver would also be a great spot for Beauchamp offensively, as he (along with everyone else in the world) would benefit a lot from playing next to Nikola Jokic. He profiles as one of the best cutters in this class, a skill that’s always enhanced playing next to an elite passing big. MarJon still needs to become more consistent as a 3pt shooter, so the good looks Denver’s offense generates would help with that as well. Everything considered, MarJon’s seamless fit on both ends makes him a no-brainer pick here for the Nuggets.
#22) Memphis Grizzlies: Jaden Hardy (Guard, G League Ignite)
With one of the deepest and most well rounded rosters in the NBA, there’s not many pressing needs on the Grizzlies roster. They could stand to add another shot creator however, as a majority of their core around Ja Morant is better suited in complimentary off-ball roles rather than being asked to do too much with the ball in their hands. That’s why Jaden Hardy would make a lot of sense with the 22nd pick.
Once projected as a top-5 pick in the 2022 draft class, Hardy’s stock plummeted a bit due to a rough start to the G League season and questions about his lack of high end athleticism. While some of these concerns are valid, Hardy is still one of the premier shooters in the class. His ability to toggle on and off the ball should be especially interesting for the Grizzlies, as he’s comfortable operating as both an off-ball movement shooter or creating for himself and others off the dribble. Combine that with defense that is better than he often gets credit for, and Hardy is still well worth a pick in the back half of the first round.
#23) Philadelphia 76ers: Christian Braun (Wing, Kansas)
With an electric big 3 of Tyrese Maxey, James Harden, and Joel Embiid already in place, Christian Braun is the perfect type of bigger defensive minded role player Philadelphia should be looking for to compliment their stars. Despite having a short wingspan (6’6 ½) for a wing defender, Braun’s combination of size, athleticism, motor, and high feel still make him one of the most well rounded defenders in this class.
On the offensive end the key for Braun will be finding a role to fit into. He doesn’t have the burst or handle to be very effective as a creator against set defenses, and while he’s a good spot up shooter his release is a little slow and he can be hesitant to let it fly at times. Luckily Philly’s star power on that end would make life much easier for Braun, as Harden and Embiid both generate a lot of open looks for their teammates and will let him play in the off-ball role he’s best suited for.
#24) Milwaukee Bucks: Alondes Williams (Guard, Wake Forest)
Following a tough playoff exit to the Boston Celtics in which an injury to Khris Middleton exposed the Bucks severe lack of creation outside their stars (especially off the bench), Milwaukee should be all over Alondes Williams if he’s available at pick 24. Alondes is one of the best on-ball playmakers in this year’s draft, and his ability to consistently beat defenders off the dribble and set up teammates could definitely add a new element to Milwakuee’s attack.
Although his lack of high end shooting would likely limit him from ever starting with the Bucks current roster construction, it’s pretty easy to see him sliding into a bench role and being the lead creator for their 2nd unit. Another benefit that Alondes adds is his size as a ball handler (6’5/210), which will make him harder to target on the defensive end than a lot of Milwakuee’s other non-Jrue Holiday guards. All things considered if the Bucks are able to land Alondes at #24, he definitely has a chance to end up as one of the best value picks of this draft.
#25) San Antonio Spurs: Patrick Baldwin Jr. (Forward, Milwaukee)
After a rough season playing under his dad for the Milwaukee Panthers, in addition to poor athletic testing at the draft combine, there might not be a player in this class whose stock has dropped more over the past year than Patrick Baldwin Jr. His situation on a bad team did him no favors, but his poor defense and inability to create clean looks off the dribble was alarming in college. He still should have some appeal to NBA teams at the back end of the first round however, as his blend of high end shooting pedigree and height (6’10 in shoes) is still enough to draw intrigue.
The vision for PBJ is that you can hopefully develop him into a big, versatile off-ball scorer, similar to guys like San Antonio’s own Doug McDermott and (a more extreme example) Michael Porter Jr. He’ll need to prove he can stay on the floor defensively and translate his tough shotmaking and smooth shooting form into consistent %’s, but by the 25th pick a lot of the concerns around Baldwin are less pressing than when he was being projected as a lottery pick.
#26) Houston Rockets: TyTy Washington (Guard, Kentucky)
After flipping Christian Wood for a package headlined around the 26th pick, the Rockets now have their 3rd selection in the first round this year. This pick is very likely to be traded as there’s almost no way the Rockets actually draft 3 players in the first round this year after selecting 4 last year, but if they do decide to keep the pick Kentucky PG TyTy Washington would make a lot of sense.
TyTy is already a polished ball handler and shot creator off the dribble, and should be an effective P&R ball handler fairly early into his career. He also projects as a reliable defender, which should give him an advantage over a lot of NBA scoring guards. There are some valid concerns over his lack of ability to get to the rim against a set defense, but as an otherwise well rounded guard on both ends of the floor it’s easy to see him sticking as a rotation player.
#27) Miami Heat: Kennedy Chandler (Guard, Tennessee)
With Kyle Lowry on the decline and Gabe Vincent profiling more as an off-ball guard on the offensive end, Miami could use a PG prospect like Kennedy Chandler to start developing. Despite standing at just around 6’0, Chandler uses his electric speed and athleticism to cause havoc on both ends of the floor. His defense is especially impressive for a small guard, as his quickness combined with elite hands and a non-stop motor create havoc on that end of the floor.
His most valuable skill to the Heat however, should be his ability to break down defenses in the halfcourt. Miami’s offense was prone to stalling a little too frequently this year, and it was hard to ignore how little creation they had outside of Jimmy Butler in their conference finals loss to the Celtics. Chandler could definitely add a spark to the Heat’s offense with constant rim pressure that he brings both when initiating himself and when attacking off the catch on a pass from a teammate. That offensive punch plus pesky defense and toughness could make this one of the best pairings of the draft for both sides at pick #27.
#28) Golden State Warriors: Jalen Williams (Guard/Wing, Santa Clara)
Arguably the hottest riser in this draft since the season ended, Jalen Williams has gained traction over the recent weeks thanks to his freakishly long arms (7’2+ wingspan) and well rounded skill set on both ends of the floor. He should be a popular target for contending teams looking for cost controlled depth that they don’t need to sit and wait to develop.
The main knock on Williams’ is that he’s not elite in any one area, but the flip side to that is that he can fill in different roles depending on what’s needed from him. He’s reliable as both a ball handler or shooter depending if he’s playing on or off the ball, and he’s also competent on the defensive end. Even without one individual stand out skill, Williams’ all-around game should make him an attractive target for Golden State this deep into the first round.
#29) Memphis Grizzlies: Wendell Moore (Wing, Duke)
Even after taking a similarly sized player in Jaden Hardy with their earlier selection, Wendell Moore would be hard to pass up on this late in the first round. It does help that Moore has a much different skill set than Hardy, as he adds value with strong on-ball defense in addition to being a secondary ball handler and slasher on the offensive end, but lacks the high end shooting ability that Hardy possesses.
The path to playing time in Memphis would definitely be a bit foggy for Moore, but that’s true of any prospect that they’d draft in this spot. He could be used as a potential trade chip in a bigger move down the road, as his skillset is a fit on most teams in the league, or used as a depth piece if some of the guys ahead of him in the rotation are moved instead. Regardless of their plan for him, Moore’s tools and versatility make him hard to pass up on here.
#30) Denver Nuggets: Vince Williams Jr. (Wing, VCU)
One of the more under the radar wings in the class, Vince Williams would make a lot of sense at pick #30 for a Nuggets team that needs to continue stocking versatile wings. Despite never topping more than 15 PPG across 4 college seasons, Vince’s combination of shooting (2.2 3pt makes a game), passing (5.5 assists/100 possessions), and defensive playmaking (6.7% STL + BLK%) in his final year at VCU gives him an attractive blend of skills for a modern day wing.
Just like virtually anyone, Vince is a real intriguing fit in Denver’s offense. His movement shooting and smart cutting + extra passing give him a clear role as an off-ball cog in the offense when Jokic is on the floor, and he has some underrated ball handling and facilitating abilities if the Nuggets want to use him on the ball more with bench lineups. Add in reliable team defense, and Vince is just the type of wing that Denver should be looking for.