NBA Mock Draft 1.0: Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball go 1-2 to Celtics, Sixers
Imagine Lonzo Ball feeding Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid in Philly
Welcome to Fultz and Friends, a look at the NBA Draft if it were held today. It has been fascinating, given the significant talent at the top of this year's crop of players, how consistently Markelle Fultz has remained at the number one slot.
Some notes about who we have drafted and where: Team order is based on the SportsLine predicted order of finish as of Thursday, Feb. 2; best available and team needs are balanced. And all of this is subject to change, this is just a current snapshot.
| Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington |
The fit couldn't be better. Fultz next to Isaiah Thomas in that back court is a study in complements, taking the sixth-ranked offense in the league to untold heights.
| Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA |
While Ben Simmons conceivably can be the point guard, he shouldn't have to be, and bringing in the kind of distributor Ball is -- generational -- is going to unleash Simmons, Joel Embiid and the cast of rapidly emerging Sixers on an expedited timetable. Ball will thrive with talent around him and the Sixers suddenly have plenty of that.
| Jonathan Isaac, SF, Florida State |
Have seen him going lower, I don't think that holds. Not when he has turned so many of his tools into skills already, stands 6-feet-11 and offers both a high floor and possibly the highest ceiling in the entire draft.
| Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona |
A stretch four to pair with Hassan Whiteside at the five will allow Miami to let Markkanen develop on a more reasonable time frame, not asking him to guard fives or rim protect.
| Dennis Smith Jr., PG, NC State |
Is Jrue Holiday the true second option to pair with Anthony Davis? Buddy Hield has improved since his awful start, but he profiles more as a secondary shooter than a legit wingman to A.D. If the Pelicans don't think Holiday can be that guy, they have to take a chance on letting Smith elevate the Davis Era to where it deserves to be.
| Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M |
Here's what you do with Williams: You let him learn from Tyson Chandler, split time with Alex Len. If Williams becomes what I think he will, he probably supplants them both.
| Frank Ntilikina, PG, France |
The Mavs take the plunge on the international star who could be their cornerstone, since there aren't many other obvious paths for them to navigate the post-Dirk era that's coming, sooner or later.
| Malik Monk, PG/SG, Kentucky |
Time to give Elfrid Payton a legit running partner in that back court.
| Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke |
The Nuggets don't seem sold on Kenneth Faried and Tatum makes more sense in terms of building around Nikola Jokic anyway, which is the only timetable that should matter in Denver.
| De'Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky |
Think the 25th-ranked defense could use a stopper at the one for a league already overrun with top point guards, with more on the way? Fox can be that kind of defender right away. The shooting is an issue, but he's a blur in the open court, a legit play-maker and can score and create in a variety of ways.
| Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas |
I'm not sure there's a more Tom Thibodeau player in this draft, between his defense-first mentality and motor.
| Josh Hart, SG, Villanova |
I'm going to guess the Bulls decide maybe it's time to go out and get a shot-maker for Fred Hoiberg, just to see how it goes.
| Frank Mason, PG, Kansas |
A better than break-even proposition on 3-pointers who can run the offense is precisely what the Knicks need, whether they're still dedicated to the triangle by June or not.
| Justin Patton, C, Creighton |
Maybe Mason Plumlee is the answer. Or maybe Justin Patton, who is already an adept passer and a more efficient finisher than Plumlee, is the counterpart big the back court of C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard deserve.
| Johnathan Motley, PF, Baylor |
Because there comes a time in Andre Drummond's career when you stop trying to force-feed him into postup situations and being what he's not, and give him a four in Motley who can do these things instead, letting Drummond be Drummond.
| TJ Leaf, PF, UCLA |
The Wizards have three cornerstones in Wall, Beal and Porter, so why not bring in Leaf to play the four and provide space for the trio?
| Tyler Lydon, SF/PF, Syracuse |
Apologies to Paul George, but this is Myles Turner's team now, and a second shooter with underrated shot-blocking skills out of that 3/4 slot will make them scarier in a hurry.
| Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina |
Length, versatility and he can play defense like a Steve Clifford player must. What a perfect foil on the wing for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, too.
| Allonzo Trier, SG, Arizona |
He slots in between Giannis and Malcolm Brogdon, a trio of ball handlers who can score like a first option and distribute when necessary, creating impossible matchups for most of the league.
| Isaiah Hartenstein, PF, Germany |
Bring him to the United States, hope he can be the stretch four who makes shots Rudy Gobert never will and doesn't need to.
| Ivan Rabb, PF, California |
It's hard not to dream on what Billy Donovan could do to develop the kind of tools Ivan Rabb possesses.
| Miles Bridges, SF/PF, Michigan State |
The 3-and-D guy the Grizzlies need.
| Ethan Happ, PF, Wisconsin |
Easy to envision Happ further growing into an efficient scorer, strong defender and forceful rebounder playing in that Hawks system.
| Caleb Swanigan, PF, Purdue |
A logical complement to place next to Brook Lopez, whose game is more perimeter-based than ever, and who wasn't a top-shelf rebounder before he started shooting 3s.
| Zach Collins, PF, Gonzaga |
He would give the Clippers a very different look at the five when subbing for DeAndre Jordan, but not one that runs counter to how they play.
| Mikal Bridges, SF/PF, Villanova |
I don't think anyone in Toronto is going to mind having someone to push Terrence Ross a little, especially on the defensive end.
| Tacko Fall, C, Central Florida |
I think someone is going to give this guy a chance. He's just too efficient a scorer and effective a rim protector to fall any further than this, and no one understands the value of what he does better than Daryl Morey.
| Donovan Mitchell, SG Louisville |
No better tutors for Mitchell's combo-guard game than Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.
| Thomas Bryant, C, Indiana |
He gets to come in and learn from his ceiling, which is Pau Gasol, and get taught by Gregg Popovich.
| Terrence Ferguson, SG, Adelaide |
The Texas product skipped college for Australia, and profiles as just the right combination of shooter and ball-sharer to make him a Steve Kerr player. Better yet, he can develop slowly, because who is getting picked 30th and breaking into this rotation, anyway?
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