Mark is a co-founder & contributor to The Five By 5.
1. Phoenix Suns
Passing on Luka Doncic would be a bold move for the Suns, but Ayton is a much better fit for their current roster than Doncic, and it’s not as if Ayton isn’t worthy of being taken 1st overall. Ayton is an absolute monster and has the highest upside in the draft. He’d be the Suns best big man big a huge margin on day 1, and with Devin Booker spacing the floor for him, he could be a devastating force in the paint. The Suns future core of Payton, Booker, Jackson and Ayton is one that could make some noise in the near future if they can figure things out.
2. Atlanta Hawks
It’s hard to think of a better landing spot for Luka Doncic out of this years bottom feeder teams than the Atlanta Hawks. Mike Budenholzer is a smart coach whose system and player development program will match perfectly to Doncic’s high skill set, basketball IQ and work ethic. The Hawks would still need a lot of help before getting back into playoff contention, but starting their rebuild with a core of Luka Doncic and John Collins is certainly a huge step in the right direction.
3. Dallas Mavericks
Jaren Jackson Jr.
Jackson is known as an elite and versatile defender, but he’d be absolutely devastating in the pick and roll with Dennis Smith Jr. Out of the pick and roll, Jackson can dive and finish explosively at the rim, or he can pop out to the 3-point line to space the floor. His Kevin Garnett like defense wouldn’t the hurt the Mavs either. The 1-2 punch of Dennis Smith Jr and Jaren Jackson Jr just might be too much fun, especially with Rick Carlisle at the helm.
4. Orlando Magic
The Magic are in desperate need for a point guard, especially after trading their starting point guard (Elfrid Payton) for a measly 2nd round pick. Enter Trae Young. Despite having a rough go lately, Young is still the best point guard prospect of the draft class by a wide margin. He’s an elite level shooter and playmaker and has the personality to be the leader in the Magic’s too often despondent locker room. His lack of athleticism, length and defense goes against John Hammond and Jeff Weltman’s past draft philosophy, but Trae is just too good and makes too much sense to pass up.
5. Sacramento Kings
Michael Porter Jr.
The Kings are infamous for taking big men in the draft and already have a glut of them on the roster (WCS, Skal and Giles), so taking someone like Bagley or Bamba doesn’t make much sense. MPJ is a much better fit. His season ending back surgery will scare away a lot of teams at the top of the draft, especially with the top being so loaded with other high end talent, but that shouldn’t dissuade the Kings from taking him here. He has top 3 talent and all-star potential that will help fill the seats of the Kings new arena if he can stay healthy. His fit alongside of Fox, Bogdanovic, Skal and WCS makes a lot of sense as a 3/4 combo.
6. Memphis Grizzlies
Marvin Bagley III
Marvin Bagley is both the best talent left on the board and the best fit for the Grizzlies at this stage of the draft. Bagley could be a devastating offensive force when running pick and rolls with a (hopefully) healthy Mike Conley next season, and Marc Gasol should be able to space the floor well enough that Bagley can operate in the paint (which is where he’s most effective at this stage of his career). Gasol will also provide a defensive safety net for Bagley who’s still developing on that end of the floor. Bagley’s high potential and high motor play will also be a nice infusion into the Grizzlies aging rotation.
7. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Nets)
Bamba is often compared to Rudy Gobert for his ability to create a “no fly zone” in the paint and at the rim with his absurd length and shot blocking instincts. And for a team that’s been horrendous on the defensive end of the floor for the past couple seasons, that’s too attractive of a skill set to pass up. Regardless of if LeBron chooses to stay or go, Bamba has the potential to be a core piece for the Cavs moving forward as the captain of their defense. He should be a big upgrade over Tristan Thompson and his fir next to Kevin Love and/or Larry Nance Jr. is interesting.
8. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls already seem to have a loose construct of their future core with Dunn, LaVine and Markkanen. Miles Bridges, who’s a versatile forward capable of playing either the 3 or 4 positions, makes a lot of sense. Bridges’ improved outside shooting paired with Markkanens’ would allow the Bulls to play 5 out and space the floor for Dunn and LaVine if they choose to play him at the 4. Bridges would also be a dynamic ball handler in 4/5 pick and rolls with Markkanen. He’d be a nice replacement for the recently traded Nikola Mirotic, and if Bobby Portis demands starting minutes at the 4, Bridges should be capable of sliding over to the 3 spot.
9. New York Knicks
The Knicks drafted Frank Ntilikina last year, and although he’s looked promising at times this season, the Knicks are still in desperate need of a point guard. Sextons’ fiery competiveness will be a welcomed sight in New York, and he has the personality to handle the New York stage. He’d also make for a very dynamic guard combo playing alongside of Ntilikina; a pairing that could give opposing teams nightmares with their defensive pressure and intensity. Let’s just hope that at least one of them can figure out how to shoot from 3 consistently.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via Lakers)
Arguably the best 3&D prospect in the draft, Mikal Bridges is the perfect fit for the 76ers. Mikal wouldn’t have to worry about creating off the dribble (which is the weakest part of his game) next to Simmons and Embiid, and he could provide the 76ers with instant perimeter defense and outside shooting (both of which they desperately need). Even without Fultz, the 76ers core of Simmons, Bridges, Covington, Saric and Embiid would be a handful for many years to come.
11. Charlotte Hornets
Knox has the skills, physical tools and athleticism to be an elite level stretch 4 in the modern NBA, and should pair well with Kemba Walker and Dwight Howard with his ability to space the floor. Marvin Williams and Batum would be excellent mentors for him as he’s likely to fill a similar roll as them, and coach Clifford should be able to get him on the right player development track. If Knox can learn how to defend consistently at a high level and better create off the dribble: watch out.
12. LA Clippers (via Pistons)
Wendell Carter Jr.
With the future of DeAndre Jordan in question, it makes sense for the Clippers to go with the talented Wendell Carter Jr. He’s a far cry from the defensive anchor that DJ has been for the Clippers, but he’s a versatile offensive player who can post-up, roll or pop in pick and rolls, and has shown the potential to space his game out to the 3 point line. He’s also an underrated passer and has really stepped up in a big way since Bagley went down with a knee injury, so there’s a lot there to like with him.
13. Utah Jazz
Lonnie Walker IV
The Jazz aren’t likely to stay in the lottery after their most recent 11 game winning streak, so this is more of a dream pick than anything else, but Lonnie Walker would be a near perfect fit for the Jazz. He’s a tough nosed defender with a strong personal character that would fit perfectly with Utah’s organization. Walkers’ offense has been very up and down so far this year, but his buttery smooth shooting stroke and his elite athletic tools lead one to believe that he could develop into a starting caliber player (or better) in the right situation and with the right coaching staff. Both of which are things that Utah can provide. He, Mitchell and Exum (assuming he can stay healthy) would be an electric guard rotation for the Jazz moving forward.
14. LA Clippers
The Clippers could look to go with a high upside pick here by taking Shai, who’s a long and athletic guard that plays with a style best described as “slithery”. He loves to snake his way to the basket off the dribble and has shown flashes of playmaking. He’ll need to develop into a more consistent defender and shooter, but if does, he could be a very respectable starting guard (or better).
15. Phoenix Suns (via Heat)
Gary Trent Jr.
Not much of a defender, but Gary Trent Jr is arguably the best shooter in the draft class, and for a Suns team that just drafted DeAndre Ayton and needs more floor spacing, Gary makes a lot of sense for them. He’s also one of the younger players in the draft class, so the Suns will have plenty of time to work with him to improve his defense and playmaking. He’s also big and strong enough that he could end up playing some minutes at the 3 in case Josh Jackson never figures things out.
16. Chicago Bulls (via Pelicans)
The Bulls could look to add some toughness and rim protection to their frontcourt with Robert Williams. He’s not a shooter, but he is an elite shot blocker and rebounder with the potential to develop into a DeAndre Jordan type center in time. Pairing him next to Markkanen makes a lot of sense as a defensive anchor.
17. Philadelphia 76ers
With the mystery of Markelle Fultz’s shot still… well… a mystery, the 76ers could look to add a point guard in the draft as a backup. In that case, picking up Landry Shamet makes a lot of sense. He’s got a lot of George Hill to his game and has exceptional length to go with his knock down spot-up shooting. He doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be effective, so his fit alongside of Ben Simmons and the 76ers young and established core makes a lot of sense.
18. Portland Trailblazers
Maybe considered to be a reach at this stage, the Blazers could look to add Metu to their chronically weak frontcourt. Metu has a lot of LaMarcus Aldridge to his game with a good mid range shot that can be stretched out to the 3-point line on occasion and a polished post game (both back to the basket and in face-ups). He’s also a great athlete and pretty good defender (more so than LMA ever was during his time in Portland). However, similarly to LMA, there are questions about Metu’s personality, but he’s well worth the risk for the Blazers at this stage in the draft who need the kind of talent that Metu brings to the table.
19. Denver Nuggets
Jokic is obviously the future for the Nuggets frontcourt. But Gafford, who’s an exceptional athlete with a budding skill set on both ends of the floor, could be a really interesting fit alongside of Jokic as a defensive anchor. His shot blocking instincts are already there, and if he can just figure out how to rebound more consistently and turn his potential on offense into something tangible, Gafford could end up being the steal of the draft. His upside alone is worth the pick at this stage.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Thunder)
The Wolves are in desperate need of bench help, and Hutchison, who’s one of the most versatile forwards in this draft class, could provide an immediate impact for them off the bench. He’d also make for a great backup plan in case they decide to trade Andrew Wiggins in the near future. He’s older than a lot of prospects and his shot isn’t as good you’d like it to be, but should be able to contribute on day 1 with his defense, passing, slashing and rebounding.
21. Milwaukee Bucks
Wilkes reminds me a lot of Harrison Barnes, and with the Bucks looking like they’ll have to make a financial decision between Kris Middleton or Jabari Parker in the near future, he’d be a great backup plan to have on the roster to help replace either of those guys. He can shoot, defend, rebound and does some nice things off the dribble at times. Combine that with his NBA body and athleticism, and the Bucks have themselves a nice prospect with good upside.
22. Indiana Pacers
He’s a little bit older, but Thomas is a high character guy that’s also a knock down shooter and lockdown defender. He’d fit really well alongside of Oladipo as he doesn’t need to have the ball in his hands to be effective, and he could defend the best guard on opposing team, allowing Dipo to spend the majority of his energy on offense. His ability to play point guard is in question, but he has the potential to be an Avery Bradley type 3 & D guard.
23. Washington Wizards
Keita Bates-Diop is a versatile defender that can guard 2 through 4, and is a capable shooter with good 3 & D potential. He’s a bit older, but that shouldn’t be an issue for the Wizards who’d like to see him contribute on day 1. Not only should he be able to contribute immediately, but he’d also be a nice guy to have on the roster if the Wizards decide to move Otto Porter Jr. as he could fill a similar roll as OPJ.
24. Atlanta Hawks (via Wolves)
One of this years mystery men, Simons is essentially coming straight out of high school due to a little know loophole in the CBA that will allow him to bypass college (if he so chooses) before being drafted. As such, there are a lot of questions about how his game will translate to the NBA, but his potential as an explosive shot-making guard is undeniable. The Hawks, with their player development program, would be a nice fit for Simons. His game has a lot of Damian Lillard to it.
25. San Antonio Spurs
Arguably a lottery level talent, Musa would be a great value pick for the Spurs at this stage in the draft. There’s some serious health concerns with him, especially with his small frame and history of back issues, but the skills and talent are there. If he can stay healthy, Musa would be a versatile wing that can run the offense and make shots alongside of Kawhi Leonard.
26. LA Lakers (via Cavs)
The Lakers could swing for the fences at this stage of the draft by going with Mitchell Robinson. Robinson is a very tall and athletic center that decided to forego college to focus on preparing for the draft. His decision to forgo college remains controversial, and it doesn’t help quell the concerns about his personality, but his outlier physical tools and athleticism provide a strong foundation to build on. Most see him as a defensive anchor type center, and the Lakers could certainly use that to pair with all their offensively gifted, but defensively deficient young core pieces.
27. Boston Celtics
Jacob Evans III
Evans is a guard/forward combo that won’t blow you away with any one thing that he does, but he does everything pretty well. He can shoot, play defense, rebound, run the pick and roll, cut off ball, etc. and he’s tough. His versatility and toughness is something that matches to what the Celtics look for in prospects, and with how obsessed they are with building a team entirely made of wings, he makes a lot of sense for them. He’d be an interesting replacement for Marcus Smart if the Celtics choose to not re-sign him this offseason. He’s not as big or strong as Smart, so he couldn’t guard bigs like Smart can, but he’s better on offense and could provide good perimeter D.
28. Brooklyn Nets (via Raptors)
The Nets have done a good job loading up on young talent the past couple seasons, but they could still use more help on the wing. Melvin Frazier would make a lot of sense for them, as he’s an extremely athletic and explosive wing that’s already an NBA caliber defender. His shot mechanics aren’t the most ideal, but he’s improved his shooting a lot over the past few seasons showing that there may still be some untapped potential there. He’s also an underrated playmaker with above average vision.
29. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors could use some more guard depth with Patrick McCaw’s development stalling out, and Shake Milton could be the answer. He’s a versatile guard that can do a lot of things for his team on both ends of the floor, and his high-level 3-point shooting would certainly fit into the Warriors game plan. His positional size and length is also an attractive feature to plug-in to the Warriors switch defense.
30. Atlanta Hawks (via Rockets)
Brown isn’t much of a shooter or an elite level athlete at this stage of his career, but he has an NBA body and brings a lot of versatility to the table with the other parts of his game. He’s an above average rebounder for a guard, and has shown a propensity to make plays for others off the dribble. He’s also long and strong enough to defend multiple positions (potentially 2 through 4). His upside is still fairly high despite his limitations, and he’s one of the younger prospects in the entire draft, so he’s well worth picking up this late in the draft.
31. Atlanta Hawks
The younger brother to current NBA guard Jrue Holiday, and it shows. His play style is very similar to Jrue's, although he's smaller than his older brother. He's having a great year for UCLA this season, and with his high basketball IQ, he has strong backup potential with starter upside.
32. Phoenix Suns
He's not playing this season due to USC trying to avoid the wrath of the FBI probe as much as possible, but Melton is a lockdown defender with great length for his size. His shooting is questionable, but he has a lot of upside.
33. Dallas Mavericks
He started the year strong but has really taken a nose-dive lately, and he's had some questionable body language throughout the year. However, his foundational physical and athletic tools are undeniable and his shooting has been better than expected, so he's definitely worth picking up in the early 2nd round. He has lottery level upside with his game having some Andrew Wiggins to it, but there's still a lot of work left to do in terms of skill development and polishing.
34. Sacramento Kings
There's some health concerns with Kurucs, but he's a shooting specialist with decent athleticism and can play multiple forward positions. His defense is still a big question mark too, but his stock is largely dependent on how his medical reports turn out.
35. Orlando Magic
He started the year with a bang and has slowed down a bit since, but Trier is still a lethal shooter and scorer that has remained one of the most efficient high volume scorers in all of college basketball this season. He has an NBA body and decent enough athleticism to go with high level scoring instincts and shooting. Defense, playmaking and attitude are question marks, but he's a very good value pick in the 2nd round.
36. Memphis Grizzlies
The younger brother of top draft prospect Michael Porter Jr, Jontay has surprised many this season with his high IQ and advanced skill set. The advanced stats love his game despite him not being a great athlete and being a bit short on the height and length department for a center, but his IQ and skill sets are advanced enough that he's worth an early 2nd round (and maybe even late 1st round) pick. He's also the youngest player in the entire draft class, so there's plenty of time for him to continue to develop, but we'll have to wait and see how his game translates to the NBA when he faces bigger, stronger and smarter players.
37. Philadelphia 76ers (via Nets)
With his tremendous frame, length and 3 point shooting, Jackson was a bit of a late riser in last years draft before deciding to go back to school. However, unfortunately for Jackson, he saw drops in most of his numbers and had his season ended early by injury. Despite his disappointing season, there's still too many things about Jackson to like as a high level 3 & D prospect that has the potential to guard 2 through 4 to pass up at this stage in the draft.
38. New York Knicks (via Bulls)
He plays for Syracuse, so his defense is automatically a huge question mark, but Battle is as good as any guard in this class at creating/attacking off the dribble. His shooting is also a question mark, but he has the tools and attitude to turn into a good player in the right situation.
39. Philadelphia 76ers (via Knicks)
Bruce Brown Jr.
Projected to be drafted much higher in most mock drafts, but with his numbers taking dips across the board this season (especially his 3 point shooting) and with a recent foot surgery, it's questionable whether or not he's worth a 1st round pick in this years draft. He's a tough dude that always plays hard and can do a lot of things on both ends of the floor, but he's a bit undersized and doesn't show enough playmaking to be trusted as a point guard in the NBA. He also struggles to finish in traffic and against length, so combine that with his below average shooting, and it's hard to see a role in which he can be a successful NBA player. However, he's a hard worker and had a better showing last season when he was injury free, so he's probably worth the pick at this stage in the draft.
40. Brooklyn Nets (via Lakers)
Maybe one of the most under the radar prospects in this draft class, Alexander-Walker is a lengthy freshman that has a surprisingly diverse offensive game with high defensive upside. There's a strong chance he goes back to school for another year, and if he does so, he's likely a 1st round pick in next years draft. But if he stays in the draft this year, he's more than worth a early to mid 2nd round pick.
41. Orlando Magic (via Hornets)
He had a strong start to the season, but has struggled ever since. His assist to turnover ratio has sky-rocketed, his shooting has fallen off a cliff and his deficiencies on the defense end have become more and more apparent. There's a chance he goes back to school for another season to try and improve his draft stock, but with Duke's loaded recruiting class, he may decide to jump in this year. Either way, he's probably not worth a 1st round pick unless you really believe in his ability to improve the gaping holes in his game, but he still has enough upside to that he's a high value pick in the 2nd round.
42. Detroit Pistons
Another late riser in last years pre-draft process, Alkins returned for another year at Arizona to try and improve his draft stock even more. The decision was probably the right thing to do, but the results have been hit and miss. He started the year with a foot injury that kept him sidelined for some time, and since returning, his production has been all over the map. However, he's still a serviceable shooter with above average passing and a big strong and explosive frame.
43. Houston Rockets (via Heat)
Maybe one of the more controversial guys in this years draft class, McCoy is putting up huge numbers on a terrible UNLV team. There's also major questions about his personality and love for the game, but being a legit 7 footer with a surprisingly good skill-set that's producing at a high level consistently; it's going to be hard for teams to pass on him.
44. Utah Jazz
Vanderbilt is a very poor shooting, high energy forward that has an NBA body and athleticism. He has a lot of potential as a playmaking 4 with his size, rebounding and above average passing, but his terrible shooting really limits his NBA upside. However, if a team believes in his ability to develop, his upside is worth a pick in this years draft.
45. Denver Nuggets (via Clippers)
Maybe one of the more underrated NBA prospects in this years class, Graham has put together a tremendous year for the Kansas Jayhawks this year and remains a solid guard prospect. He can shoot, create for others and play some defense. He's a little undersized for an NBA guard, but he has strong backup guard potential with limited starter upside.
46. New Orleans Pelicans
Hudson has an NBA body with decent athleticism and has great scoring instincts. His shot is solid, albeit inconsistent, and he projects well as a potential rotational guard who can play decent defense and make some shots. Although he could some improving on his off ball defense and playmaking.
47. Philadelphia 76ers
He's arguably the best on ball defender in this draft class, but Carter is much older than most of his fellow prospects and he's a bit undersized with only average athleticism. It's also questionable how well his defense will translate to the NBA when guarding bigger and more athletic guards, but his offense is good enough, particularly his shooting, and he's shown enough on defense that he's worth a 2nd round pick with backup guard potential.
48. LA Lakers (via Nuggets)
Another very under the radar draft prospect, Konate has been the defensive anchor for one of college's best defenses this year with his absurdly good shot blocking. He's also shown a surprisingly high skill level on offense with a greatly improved mid-range shot and footwork in the post. He could end up being a steal at this stage in the draft if his shot-blocking translates and his offense continues to improve.
49. Dallas Mavericks (via Blazers)
After a great tournament run last season, Wagner has put together a solid season so far this year and has been getting overlooked by many mock drafts. He's not an elite level athlete, and he's slightly undersized, but he's a tough nosed player that's willing to do the dirty work in the paint. He's also improved his outside shot enough to stretch his game out to the 3 point line, so he has some good potential as a stretch 5.
50. Oklahoma City Thunder
Foster is a veteran guard that can go get you buckets. He has an NBA body with decent athleticism and has proved for several seasons that he can really score the ball. He's a very good shooter, can attack off the dribble and has shown flashes of playmaking for others. He's older and transferred after a disappointing sophomore season, but he's not someone that should be overlooked in the 2nd round as it appears that he's figured things out.
51. Phoenix Suns (via Bucks)
Okobo is a somewhat undersized guard that's more of a 2 than a 1, but he's shown an ability to produce at a high level against good overseas competition for quite some time now. His intangibles are also very strong, and if he can develop his point guard skills a bit more, he has strong backup guard potential.
52. Indiana Pacers
He's not much of a shooter, but Johnson is a hard worker and elite rebounder for a wing player. If he can figure out his shooting, the tools are there for him to become a unique rotational wing player in the NBA.
53. Washington Wizards
Okogie has tremendous length for a 2 guard and has had explosive scoring at times throughout the last couple seasons, but he's inconsistent and lacks a certain level of focus and effort far too often. He has all the right tools and skills, it's just a question of whether or not he'll focus and what's required night in and night out to make it as a rotational NBA player.
54. Minnesota Timberwolves
He's a veteran forward that has put up big numbers consistently the past few seasons. However, he's a bit undersized to play the 4, which is his most natural position, and he's not much of a play-maker. And with his 3 point shooting has taken a major dip this season, it's not clear what his role would be in the NBA. But his consistent high level production is probably too much to pass up on late in the 2nd round.
55. San Antonio Spurs
It's very likely that Bonga goes much earlier in the draft as he's got tremendous upside as an oversized, lengthy guard. But with major question marks about his shooting, consistency and overall polish and basketball IQ, there's a chance he slides to the late 2nd round. But either way, with his upside being that of a unicorn, he's more than worth a pick in the 2nd round.
56. Charlotte Hornets (via Cavs)
Johnson isn't the greatest athlete, and he hasn't put up huge numbers throughout his college career, but he's just a really solid player. With an NBA body and decently polished skill set across the board, he's a good value pick late in the 2nd round with rotational upside.
57. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Celtics)
Another decently polished and overall solid wing player, Kulboka has rotational wing upside. However, he'll need to prove he can defend NBA athletes and he'll need to add significant strength to his body if he wants to make a career in the NBA.
58. Phoenix Suns (via Raptors)
This is probably too late in the draft for the likely college player of the year, but as good as Brunson is, he's still an undersized guard by NBA standards, and his ability to produce against NBA talent is a big question mark. But with that being said, he's just too good to not draft, and if nothing else, he'll always be a great locker room guy to have around. His veteran like presence and mature attitude alone is probably worth a 2nd round pick.
59. Denver Nuggets (via Warriors)
The younger brother to the Bucks big man Thon Maker, Matur is built similarly to his older brother with a long and very thin frame. However, he plays with a high motor and has a surprisingly good skill set. His upside is well worth a late 2nd round pick.
60. Philadelphia 76ers (via Rockets)
Noua is a 6'8" french power forward that has put together a nice season so far showcasing a fairly polished skill set. He's a decent, but not great athlete and his ability to guard NBA players, especially when switched onto the perimeter, is a big question mark. But he'd make for a nice draft and stash player late in the 2nd round.
Trae Young: Rob Fergusson - USA Today
We do not claim ownership of any of the photo's used. All photo's have been used under the "fair use" guidelines.