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Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

NBA mock draft

Posted by Eric Fisher On June 20

Predicting the NBA Draft is nearly as difficult as picking the right players in the draft. When the draft commences Thursday (7 p.m.), the overwhelming majority of the first 10 selections are expected to be 19-year-olds who have completed one season of college basketball – and some haven’t even done that.

NBA teams are drafting potential. That’s why players with barely any accomplishments in college will be drafted long before Villanova’s Jalen Brunson, a junior guard who won national player of the year awards while leading the Wildcats to the national championship.

Predicting which players will fulfill that potential is the most difficult task for NBA general managers. Should a team pick a reliable player with a lower ceiling or gamble by taking a young player with huge boom-or-bust possibilities, such as Trae Young or Michael Porter Jr.?

Creating a mock draft is particularly difficult this year. There are enough question marks about some of the top prospects that teams appear willing to trade down a few spots in the top 10. Teams such as the Sixers, Clippers, Hawks, Suns and Bulls also have multiple first-round picks, which makes trades more likely.

Another factor that makes predicting this year’s NBA Draft particularly difficult is the possibility of a blockbuster trade involving the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard. A Leonard trade could shake up the draft.

With all of those caveats, here is my best attempt to predict the first-round selections during Thursday’s NBA Draft.

  1. Suns: Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona This is one of the safer predictions. The Suns can’t pass up the 7-foot, 260-pounder who averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds as a freshman.
  2. Kings: Marvin Bagley, F/C, Duke The Kings can’t afford to take too big of a risk. They need as close to a “sure thing” as they can find, and that’s the 6-10, 235-pound Bagley, who averaged 21 points and 11.1 points as a freshman for the Blue Devils.
  3. Hawks: Luka Doncic, Real Madrid It might be possible to pry this pick lose from the Hawks. The problem is that, with four picks in the top 34, they don’t need more picks. For example, the Mavericks reportedly want to move up from No. 5 to select Doncic, a playmaker whom many consider to be the most NBA-ready player in the draft, but what do the Mavericks have to entire the Hawks to switch places (except cap room to take a player such as guard Dennis Schroeder)?
  4. Grizzlies: Jaren Jackson, C, Michigan State At 6-11, 235-pounds, Jackson boasts versatility at both ends of the court that would be difficult to pass up.
  5. Bulls: Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas Unable to move up to get Doncic, the Mavericks trade back two spots, sending the Bulls the fifth and 33rd picks in the draft in exchange for the 7th and 22nd picks. The Bulls take Bamba, a 7-foot, 225-pound defensive force.
  6. Hornets: Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama With Bamba and Jackson, players they had hoped would fall to them at No. 6, off the board, the Magic trade back, sending the 6th and 35th picks to the Hornets for the 11th overall pick and guard Kemba Walker. The Hornets select Sexton (19.2 points), while the Magic figure they can still get a decent point guard at No. 11.
  7. Mavericks: Wendell Carter Jr., C, Duke The Mavericks have no regrets about trading down after finding this intelligent 6-10, 250-pounder with few weaknesses.
  8. Cavaliers: Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri The Cavaliers have their choice of two high-risk, high-reward players in Trae Young and Michael Porter Jr. They opt for Porter (6-10, 210 pounds), who has a tremendous upside but only played 3 games for Missouri because of back problems.
  9. Knicks: Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma The Knicks are thrilled to get the nation’s top scorer (27.4 points) and assist leader (8.8). Young needs vast improvement defensively, but he will bring some excitement back to Madison Square Garden.
  10. Sixers: Mikal Bridges, F, Villanova Bridges seems like the perfect fit for the Sixers’ style. He plays terrific defense, can shoot from the outside and doesn’t need the ball to be effective.
  11. Magic: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky The Magic are thrilled that the 6-6 Gilgeous-Alexander (14.4 points, 5.1 assists) is available at No. 11. If Gilgeous-Alexander turns out to be a better point guard than Sexton and Young, the Magic’s decision to trade down will look like a shrewd move.
  12. Clippers: Robert Williams, C, Texas A&M The Clippers select Williams (10.4 points, 9.2 rebounds) as insurance in case DeAndre Jordan tests free agency. But the Clippers would like to move their 13th overall pick, so …
  13. Hawks: Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky The Clippers find a taker in the Hawks, who send the Clippers the 19th overall pick and guard Dennis Schroeder, who has some attitude issues and a hefty contract, but is only 24 years old. The Hawks are thrilled to select Knox, who would not have been available when they picked at No. 19.
  14. Nuggets: Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech The Nuggests would consider trading out of this spot, but the Suns wouldn’t be willing to give up the 16th and 31st pick just to move up 2 spots. The athletic Smith primarily played forward in his lone college season, but, at 6-3, would have to make a transition to guard. The Nuggets believe his upside is worth the risk at No. 14.
  15. Wizards: Miles Bridges, F, Michigan State It will be tempting to take Lonnie Walker with this pick, but the Wizards need forwards far more than they need guards, so Bridges is the choice.
  16. Suns: Lonnie Walker, SG, Miami The Suns can’t get to the podium fast enough when they see that Walker is available at No. 16.
  17. Bucks: Jerome Robinson, G, Boston College The versatile Robinson is a nice fit for the Bucks’ style, which doesn’t have traditional positions. As a junior, Robinson isn’t a project for the future, which also fits into the Bucks’ desire to be a playoff competitor sooner rather than later.
  18. Spurs: Donte DiVincenzo, G, Villanova The Spurs should love DiVincenzo’s hustle, shooting and willingness to play within a team concept.
  19. Clippers: Troy Brown, F, Oregon Having drafted a center at No. 12 and getting a guard in exchange for moving down from No. 13 to 19, the Clippers go for a forward with this pick.
  20. Timberwolves: Chandler Hutchison, F, Boise State A rare senior among first-round picks, Hutchison is seasoned enough to help the T-Wolves as a rookie.
  21. Sixers: Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland The Sixers send the 26th overall pick and back-to-back second-round picks (Nos. 38 and 39) to the Jazz so they can jump up and select Huerter, one of the best shooters in the draft. The Sixers imagine a future with Ben Simmons driving to the basket and being able to kick the ball out to Huerter and Mikal Bridges on the wings.
  22. Mavericks: Melvin Frazier, G, Tulane The Mavericks were salivating at the thought of drafting Huerter before the Sixers swooped in and got him, but they also like the defensive ability of the 6-6 Frazier, a junior who should find ways to contribute as a rookie.
  23. Pacers: Jalen Brunson, G, Villanova The Pacers need a point guard. Brunson (18.9 points, 4.6 assists) may not be a star, but he’s a smart, effective player who knows how to run an offense.
  24. Nets: Dzanan Musa, F, KK Cedivita The Nets send the 29th pick in the first round and a second-round pick (No. 40 overall) to the Trail Blazers in order to move up and pick this 6-9 sharpshooter.
  25. Lakers: Mitchell Robinson, C, W.Kentucky The Lakers would have loved to move up to select Kevin Huerter, but they couldn’t move up without parting with one of their developing young players. Without a sure-fire contributor available, the Lakers take a flyer on the 6-1, 230-pound Robinson, who didn’t play college basketball. At No. 25, it may be worth the risk.
  26. Jazz: Omari Spellman, F, Villanova With the possibility of Derrick Favors leaving via free agency, and with the depth at guard being superior to the depth at forward, the Jazz grab the 6-9, 250-pound Spellman at No. 26 and plan to pick up guards with the two second-round picks (Nos. 38 and 39) that they received from the Sixers for swapping the 21st pick for this one.
  27. Celtics: Grayson Allen, G, Duke What would make the Celtics more unlikable to Sixers fans than to add the surly Allen, a 37-percent shooter from 3-point range.
  28. Warriors: Josh Okogie, SG, Georgia Tech An athletic player who can defend on the perimeter and has the ability to drill 3-pointers, the 6-4, Okogie (18.2 points, 6.3 rebounds) seems like a natural fit with the Warriors who could one day replace Andre Iguodala.
  29. Trail Blazers: Jacob Evans, F, Cincinnati Could be a solid starter or rotation player, which is all you can hope for at No. 29.
  30. Hawks: De’Anthony Melton, USC A tough defensive player, Melton could add some much-needed grit to the Hawks.
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