The NBA Draft is just nine days away, and we finally have a mostly confirmed pool of players with which to work from after the international early entry deadline as come and gone.
Particularly, you will see a pretty heavy international flair with these selections, as nearly one-third of the selections in this two-round mock draft played outside of the United States last season in professional settings. Everyone from Dragan Bender to Gracin Bakumanya has an interesting story here, and variant levels of potential success at the next level.
The key notes from this draft season include that it's a particularly deep international class to pair with a particularly weak domestic class. That means teams won't be particularly keen to waste roster spots on domestic players they don't truly believe in, setting the ton for plenty of players outside of the United States to be picked.
NBA Mock Draft
|1. Philadelphia 76ers
|Ben Simmons, SF, LSU: Still going with Simmons at No. 1. I'm not buying into the worry that Simmons still hasn't worked out for the Sixers. For other franchises, it may be a concern, but the Sixers have a better understanding of him than most due to Brett Brown's connection with him. They likely already know whether or not they're going to go with him, regardless of meeting with him.
|2. Los Angeles Lakers
|Brandon Ingram, SF, Duke: I also don't buy that the Lakers will go in a different direction than Ingram when it comes down it in the end. I think it's important to do your due diligence on players, but at the end of the day Ingram is the clear pick here at No. 2 for them, and they shouldn't try to overthink this one and outsmart themselves by going a different direction.
|3. Boston Celtics
|Jamal Murray, SG, Kentucky: Look, the Celtics don't need Murray. I think that Danny Ainge finds a way to move this pick before it's selected. The Celtics just have too many assets, and if they really want to move it they should have no problem getting the right compensation for the pick. I've gone with Murray here, as I think he'd be the most likely candidate someone would trade up to acquire.
|4. Phoenix Suns
|Dragan Bender, PF, Israel: The Suns will likely get to pick up a stretch-four here to help their floor spacing. Bender is the top guy on my board, and the clear selection for them. Marquese Chriss will also be in play though, and his upside may prove too much for the Suns to pass on. The team should also consider Jaylen Brown as an athletic wing next to Devin Booker.
|5. Minnesota Timberwolves
|Marquese Chriss, PF, Washington: Chriss is this draft's lottery ticket. Not only does this fit a position of need to Minnesota -- a stretch-four that could eventually be starting quality -- but it also fits with their core ceiling and age group, as Chriss would join Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins as one of the youngest players in the NBA. He's not this high on my board, but it should not be a surprise to see his name called this high.
|6. New Orleans Pelicans
|Kris Dunn, PG, Providence: For my money, Dunn is the best guard in the draft, and Pelicans get him here at No. 6. He also hits a solid position of need for the team, as the team's three core backcourt pieces -- Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday -- are either free agents this year or next year. Just a perfect marriage here.
|7. Denver Nuggets
|Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma: The Nuggets get the shooter they desperately need here in Hield to pair with Emmanuel Mudiay. Hield's ability to consistently stretch the floor would be a massive boon for Mudiay and open up all sorts of lanes inside for the terrific point guard. For his part, Hield could step in soon and become the kind of threat teams like Denver need to make the playoffs.
|8. Sacramento Kings
|Jaylen Brown, SG, California: This isn't the best fit, necessarily. He's kind of redundant with Rudy Gay. But if I'm the Kings, I'm going with Brown as one of the final remaining players in this tier and not thinking twice. You can always move Gay if you get a solid offer, and Brown represents the kind of athletic forward that should work well in Dave Joerger's defensive scheme
|9. Toronto Raptors
|Jakob Poeltl, PF, Utah: The Raptors are likely going to lose Bismack Biyombo in free agency. They also need a stretch-four badly. Here, the team goes with Poeltl. The Utah center is closer to helping the contending Raps than any of the stretch-fours in this area are, and he represents the end of a tier for me in terms of talent. He makes perfect sense.
|10. Milwaukee Bucks
|Deyonta Davis, PF, Michigan State: Davis isn't necessarily exactly what the Bucks need, but he's a strong fit next to nearly every forward combination that they can run out there -- something that can't be said for most of the players available in this region. For his part, Davis is a productive rebounder, solid rim protector, defensive player, and could become an energy guy that can shoot in time.
|11. Orlando Magic
|Skal Labissiere, PF, Kentucky: The Magic decide to bite the bullet and take the plunge with Labissiere, a tremendously high upside player who is still trying to figure out how to play basketball. Coach Frank Vogel has experience with a high-impact recruit that disappointed in college in this same player type with Myles Turner, and could get the best out of Labissiere. Plus, the team has a solid D-League foundation.
|12. Utah Jazz
|Ante Zizic, C, Croatia: This might be a bit earlier than many have Zizic going, but most NBA folk that I talk to are quite high on Zizic's skill and think he should be more in the early-to-mid teens area instead of the 20s. The Croatian is a high-motor player with size, length, and touch around the basket. He also has great hands, and you can trust him to be mobile in the pick-and-roll on both offense and defense. He'd be a nice backup for Utah early.
|13. Phoenix Suns
|Furkan Korkmaz, SG, Turkey: Korkmaz decided to stay in the draft after being unsure early in the process. That means you can feel confident that he's likely going somewhere in the top-16 or so. Phoenix makes as much sense as any, as the team could use another true wing and can afford to stash a player if necessary due to their three first round picks. Or he could come over immediately. Regardless, this is a smart pick talent and fit wise.
|14. Chicago Bulls
|Henry Ellenson, PF-C, Marquette: Coach Fred Holberg has always had a terrific, playmaking big man on his Iowa State teams. First, it was Royce White. Then, it was Georges Niang. Now, the Bulls can take Ellenson and see if he can recreate some of the magic with his superb basketball sense, potential to shoot the basketball, and solid passing ability out of both the low and high posts
|15. Denver Nuggets
|Timothe Luwawu, SG, France: The Nuggets seem like the perfect fit for Luwawu. The team needs length on the wing badly, and he can provide that in spades to pair with solid athleticism. The key will be whether or not he can develop as a shooter. If he can do that, he has potential to really be an elite role player in his NBA future.
|16. Boston Celtics
|Domantas Sabonis, PF, Gonzaga: The Celtics here select Sabonis, who is the kind of smart forward that Brad Stevens has had success with thus far in his career. The 6-10 son of Hall of Famer Arvydas, Domantas is a terrific talent who can really rebound the heck out of the ball, has terrific touch around the rim, and plays with fire seen by few in the NBA.
|17. Memphis Grizzlies
|Wade Baldwin IV, SG, Vanderbilt: Baldwin fits a couple of needs here for Memphis. If Mike Conley leaves in free agency, he can be the ready-made replacement. However, if Conley stays, it's not hard to imagine the two playing together as Conley's tenaciousness and Baldwin's length should be enough to get by against all but the biggest wings. I like this one here for Memphis.
|18. Detroit Pistons
|Denzel Valentine, SG, Michigan State: Valentine could experience a bit of a fall on draft day. But it would still be a surprise if the Pistons -- who could use a player off the bench to score, distribute and make plays offensively -- passed on the kid from right up the road at Michigan State. He was just so tremendous this season that he'd fit perfectly.
|19. Denver Nuggets
|Malachi Richardson, SG, Syracuse: And to completely re-shape their situation on the wing, the Nuggets go ahead and take the upside freshman in Richardson. I'm not quite there on Richardson as a top 20 pick due to his inefficiency this season, but plenty of NBA people like him due to his quick feet, great shooting stroke both on the move and off the catch, and size and length
|20. Indiana Pacers
|Demetrius Jackson, PG, Notre Dame: The Pacers go with the kid from Notre Dame, as Jackson fits a solid need at point guard. George Hill has been a stalwart since arriving from San Antonio, but the team could use a player with a bit more explosiveness occasionally. That's where Jackson comes in, as he's a great scoring point guard due to his shooting and athleticism.
|21. Atlanta Hawks
|Damian Jones, PF, Vanderbilt: The Hawks could really use a solid center just in case Al Horford leaves in the offseason. Jones represents a bit of an upside pick despite his age, as the 7-footer can really move for his size. Scouts around the league do not believe he was utilized in the best possible manner at Vanderbilt, and that he could easily turn into a solid player in the NBA.
|22. Charlotte Hornets
|Taurean Prince, SF, Baylor: The Hornets may lose Marvin Williams in the offseason as a free agent. Prince would be a really solid replacement as a stretch forward who can shoot the 3, create a bit off the dribble, and have the potential to defend solidly due to his size, power, and length. Overall, this is just a pretty perfect fit.
|23. Boston Celtics
|Ivica Zubac, C, Croatia: The Celtics are going to have to stash some picks, potentially even in the first round. Zubac may or may not be willing to be a stash, but if the Celtics can convince him to spend another year in the Adriatic League it would give them some flexibility later as well as a really good prospect who at 7-foot-1 could turn into a physical force down low.
|24. Philadelphia 76ers
|Dejounte Murray, PG, Washington: Do I think there's any situation on planet Earth where I would select Murray over Kentucky point guard Tyler Ulis? No, I don't. But it's a pretty distinct possibility in the NBA Draft, where Murray is seen as a solid potential guard who can really score it and pass well. However, he's still inefficient, can't shoot, can't finish around the rim, and makes poor decisions. There would be upside, but he has a ways to go to reach it.
|25. Los Angeles Clippers
|DeAndre' Bembry, SF, Saint Joseph's: Bembry, who lost his brother this weekend in a shooting, is one of the more complete prospects in this draft on the wing. Really, all he can't do is shoot it. If he can improve that jump shot, he has a shot to become an NBA starter. For now though, everyone wishes him the best in getting through what has to be an incredibly trying time in his life.
|26. Philadelphia 76ers
|Cheick Diallo, C, Kansas: It would seem the Sixers are going to trade at least one of Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel. Regardless, Diallo makes sense to draft here, as the center is a high-upside player as a rim-runner in transition, offensive rebounder, and potentially highly versatile defender due to his athleticism. He'd be a nice option to pair with Ben Simmons in the frontcourt.
|27. Toronto Raptors
|Brice Johnson, PF, North Carolina: This is probably a bit lower than where Johnson should go. The 6-10 forward was one of the most productive players in college basketball this past season, and led North Carolina to a national title game berth. But he'd actually be relatively lucky to fall here, as he'd be able to contribute to a winning team relatively early and possibly even step into a big role as the team is starved for a competent 4 outside of Patrick Patterson.
|28. Phoenix Suns
|Thon Maker, C, Australia: I don't know that I'd take Maker in the first round, but I do think that's where he ends up in this draft. The 7-footer who has tremendous skills but also quite a few questions settles to Phoenix here, a situation that could use something of a stretch-four or five. Yeah, this would be a lot of projects and youth in a single draft for Phoenix, But there's a lot of upside too if they can make everything work.
|29. San Antonio Spurs
|Tyler Ulis, PG, Kentucky: Yup, San Antonio gets incredibly lucky here and takes a player with basketball IQ that is just beyond reproach. Ulis is about as smart a player as you'll find on the basketball floor, able to buzz in and out of little openings and play unselfishly due to his tremendous vision. He'd be an interesting option as a potential replacement for Tony Parker, who is getting up there in years.
|30. Golden State Warriors
|Juan Hernangomez, PF, Spain: The Warriors get a bit richer here as they pick up the ACB league's young player of the year in Hernangomez. With the team set to lose Marreese Speights in the offseason, they could stand to pick up a shooting forward who can stretch the floor and play smart on the glass.
|31. Boston Celtics (from PHI via MIA)
|Zhou Qi, C, China : Zhou has a shot to go in the first round based on commercial potential alone, but here he settles into the second round with Boston who will be happy to stash him for another year.
|32. Los Angeles Lakers
|Diamond Stone, C, Maryland: I have quite a few centers placed ahead of Stone on my board, but the guy is still a young player with good hands who could eventually turn into something.
|33. Los Angeles Clippers (from BKN)
|Malik Beasley, SG, Florida State: Beasley falls just a touch here as questions about the metal rod in his leg continue. He's a really nice player though, and this would be a steal.
|34. Phoenix Suns
|Paul Zipser, SF, Germany: The exact type of athletic combo forward the Suns need. Zipser is coming off of an MVP performance at the Adidas Eurocamp in Italy, and could go in the first round.
|35. Boston Celtics (from MIN via PHX)
|Rade Zagorac, SF, Serbia: Another stash option for Boston. Zagorac has a terrific offensive game due to his ability to handle the ball at 6-foot-8 and knock down shots on the move.
|36. Milwaukee Bucks (from NO via SAC)
|Chinanu Onuaku, C, Louisville: The Bucks get very lucky here, and Onuaku is a tough, physical big man who defends well and is still quite young.
|37. Houston Rockets (from NY via SAC)
|Guerschon Yabusele, PF, France: Yabusele put up terrific numbers in France, and his ability to shoot 3s as a 4 will appeal to the Rockets.
|38. Milwaukee Bucks
|Petr Cornelie, PF, France : Cornelie had a tough decision, but ultimately decided to stay in the draft. The Bucks could use a big shooter, and take the risk here.
|39. New Orleans Pelicans (from DEN via PHI)
|Isaia Cordinier, SG, France: Cordinier also had a tough call, but decided to stay in the draft. The Pelicans worked him out on Monday, and it's easy to see them as interested.
|40. New Orleans Pelicans (from SAC)
|Malcolm Brogdon, SG, Virginia: Whereas Cordinier won't be ready for at least a year, Brogdon is basically as plug-and-play as second rounders get. Toss him into an NBA game now, and he wouldn't look out of place in the slightest.
|41. Orlando Magic
|Ben Bentil, PF, Providence: The Magic could use another big guy with the potential to shoot it. The rugged Bentil fits that criteria well.
|42. Utah Jazz
|Caris LeVert, SG, Michigan: Utah could use a big, athletic wing. LeVert makes sense in that capacity. He would be a clear first round pick if healthy.
|43. Houston Rockets
|Georgios Papagiannis, C, Greece: Papagiannis somewhat surprisingly will stay in the draft. He has a shot to go late first, but will probably fall to the second.
|44. Atlanta Hawks (from WAS)
|Michael Gbinije, SG, Syracuse: The Hawks have had success with experienced players in the second round, and Gbinije works well as a good player that's had a lot of success.
|45. Boston Celtics (from MEM)
|Patrick McCaw, SG, UNLV: McCaw would give the Celtics a little something different on the perimeter as a long, lanky player who can distribute and guard point guards.
|46. Dallas Mavericks
|A.J. Hammons, C, Purdue: The Mavericks take a shot on another semi-lottery ticket. If you strike gold with Hammons, he might become a starter.
|47. Orlando Magic (from CHI)
|Gracin Bakumanya, C, France: Bakumanya is staying the draft at 19, so it's hard for me to believe he doesn't have a promise. I'm taking a 1-in-30 shot on guessing who it's from.
|48. Chicago Bulls (from POR via CLE)
|Gary Payton II, PG, Oregon State: Payton is the type of athletic, strong point guard that could work well as a backup in Chicago.
|49. Detroit Pistons
|Isaiah Whitehead, SG, Seton Hall: The Pistons take on further offense off the bench here by selecting Whitehead, a microwave scorer who can also pass a little.
|50. Indiana Pacers
|Stephen Zimmerman Jr., C, UNLV: The Pacers need a big man badly. It's hard to get a read on where Zimmerman is, but you have to think this represents near his floor.
|51. Boston Celtics (from MIA)
|Pascal Siakam, PF, New Mexico State: The Celtics take on an athletic, high-motor big man to see if they can make something of him.
|52. Utah Jazz (from BOS via MEM)
Andrey Desyatnikov, C, Russia: Desyatnikov is fine. He's 7-3 and will continue to get looks for that reason alone.
|53. Denver Nuggets (from CHA via OKC)
Jarrod Uthoff, SF, Iowa: Uthoff is able to knock down shots from distance plus is a sneaky good defender. He'd work well if the Nuggets decide to trade Danilo Gallinari.
|54. Atlanta Hawks
|Kyle Wiltjer, PF, Gonzaga: My guess is the Hawks try to stash an American here. Wiltjer's father played in Europe and knows the area well. Maybe Kyle would be willing to start his time there as well?
|55. Brooklyn Nets (from LAC)
|Kay Felder, PG, Oakland: The Nets need a point guard badly. Felder fits the bill well as an explosive scorer and passer.
|56. Denver Nuggets (from OKC)
|Anthony Barber, PG, NC State: Plenty of teams around the league really like Barber's scoring ability.
|57. Memphis Grizzlies (from TOR)
|Joel Bolomboy, PF, Weber State: The Grizzlies seem to value high-rebounding big men. A flier on Bolomboy makes sense.
|58. Boston Celtics (from CLE)
Jake Layman, SF, Maryland: Layman is a great athlete and is worth a flier due to his size and shooting ability.
|59. Sacramento Kings (from SA)
|Yogi Ferrell, PG, Indiana: Ferrell wasn't invited to the combine, but he can really play and would help the Kings at the point.
|60. Utah Jazz (from GS)
Sheldon McClellan, SG, Miami: McClellan is an efficient wing who would add shooting and athleticism to the Jazz.