Over half of the team facilities have opened for NBA players, and the Association seems on the brink of finalizing plans to play at Disney World with no fans — just Mickey and Goofy. That means the NBA may be just weeks away from finishing the regular season — at least enough to guarantee local TV money — and just a few more weeks away from the draft lottery. So it's the perfect time to revisit Yardbarker's mock draft, even though the players themselves can't visit any teams.
While we still have to speculate about whether Onyeka Okongwu can hit a three-point shot or Killian Hayes still looks good in an NBA workout, we won't speculate about the draft order. We're going to leave that to a random lottery simulation, courtesy of Tankathon. Sorry Golden State: The Warriors may be the worst team in the league, but in this version of the lottery, they're picking fourth.
The Pistons' top draft need is "everything." So it makes sense to take the player who has the best chance at stardom. Edwards is big (6-foot-5, 225 pounds), built like a linebacker and relentless when it comes to attacking the rim. His shooting percentages weren't great his freshman year, but he was the only offensive option on a Bulldog team that had little spacing. But he's young and he's a great shot maker, and playing alongside Blake Griffin should get him a lot of open looks. The Pistons just have to hope their first top-two pick since Darko Milicic doesn't follow his career path.
The Wizards defy the odds and move up to No. 2 in our lottery and select a backcourt partner for Bradley Beal. Ball is a 6-foot-7 playmaker who showed uncanny court vision in his truncated season in Australia. The NBL is a far cry from the NBA, but Ball held his own against much older players, showing amazing passing skills and good defensive instincts, although not always good defensive effort. Still, Beal is going to love his passing and unselfishness, and while Ball's jumper looks ugly now, his brother Lonzo's jumper also looked ugly in college, and he just shot 38.3 percent from three-point range in his third season.
This could be a little high for Okoro, but the Hawks want wings who can play defense alongside Trae Young, and Okoro is the most promising perimeter defender in this draft class. He’s only 19, but he does little things and makes winning plays like a veteran. The Hawks will hope that Young's presence and Cam Reddish's steady improvement will let them be patient with Okoro's shot and that Okoro's defense can clean up some of Young's defensive lapses.
The Warriors are still likely to trade down out of this spot to get a veteran, given their rapidly closing window of contention and a gigantic trade exception courtesy of Andre Iguodala. If they stay put, Haliburton could be a great fit. He's skinny (only 180 pounds at 6-foot-5), but he's the type of long-armed, cerebral player the Warriors thrived with when Shaun Livingston was coming off the bench. His efficiency, block and steal numbers were off the charts, and he was deadly spotting up from long distance, even if his shot looks strange. The combination of passing, basketball IQ and ball handling makes him the best immediate fit for the Warriors.
Avdija is the best international prospect in the draft, a smart offensive player and skilled passer who could play either forward position. His passing will open up Cleveland’s offense, and he moves so well without the ball that he complements the ball-dominant guards, Colln Sexton and Darius Garland, in the backcourt. They could go for James Wiseman here, but Cleveland already has $72 million tied up with three centers (Andre Drummond, Larry Nance and Kevin Love), and it’s not a coincidence that GM Koby Altman spent six days scouting Avdija earlier this year.
Toppin was the best player in college basketball this season, scoring at will near the basket (he led the nation in dunks), making shots from the perimeter and passing well. His defense is a question, as he shows effort but not a lot of lateral quickness, so he'll fit in great alongside D'Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns! Minnesota has already traded next year's first-round pick and is desperate to keep Towns happy, so the 22-year-old Toppin fits the team's win-now focus as well as its emphasis on outside shooting. The defense may be a sieve, but the Wolves should put up a ton of points.
A late-season surge answered questions about Hayes, who was already well established as a quality ball handler and passer and who won’t turn 19 until July. His outside shooting improved and he cut down on his turnovers, which were the biggest knocks on his game besides a slow first step. Would the Knicks be gun-shy about picking another French point guard after Frank Ntilikina disappointed? They shouldn't, because Hayes could become a star in "la Grosse Pomme."
Wiseman is a polarizing prospect, a physical marvel at 7-foot-1 who runs well but whose athletic attributes haven’t translated to on-court results yet. Due to eligibility issues, he played only three games in college this season, but he flashed the potential to be an outstanding defender and finisher on pick-and-rolls. Even with Wendell Carter in the fold, Wiseman's star potential is too enticing to pass up at No. 8, since, more than anything, the Bulls need stars.
The Hornets would be thrilled if USC’s star freshman drops to them. Okongwu had an excellent first season and has a ton of defensive potential. He put up 16.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and almost three blocks a game, plus he's a smart, hustling rebounder who can handle the ball. He's a little small for a center at 6-foot-9, but Michael Jordan will love watching how hard Okongwu plays — on an iPad while drinking a giant glass of tequila, of course.
Maxey is a 6-foot-3 playmaker from Kentucky who is one of the best players in this draft in terms of getting his own shot, and his floater game is beautiful. For the Suns, it’s important that he’s a solid and competitive defender, because they’ll need that alongside Devin Booker. Maxey is smart and athletic, and he makes a good backcourt partner for Booker or Ricky Rubio.
Vassell has been moving up on mock drafts throughout the offseason, perhaps as people realize how valuable his three-and-D skills are in the modern NBA. He's a good one-on-one defender, and he's also excellent in his defensive rotations. His offensive game is a bit limited, especially on drives, but he can pass and shoot threes off the dribble. But a smart wing defender who's skinny and shoots threes seems right up Coach Pop's alley, though if he had a wine cellar or European citizenship he'd be absolutely perfect for the Spurs.
The Kings are in an unusual position in that their starting five is set, and they’re well-covered for big men. This allows them to take a flyer on a prospect like Hampton, who played in New Zealand instead of in college last year. Hampton didn’t do much in an injury-shortened year, but he can play both guard spots and he’s an excellent ball handler. This young team is about to get expensive when De'Aaron Fox signs an extension, so Hampton could be the perfect economical reinforcement.
What type of player should New Orleans be surrounding Zion Williamson with? A guy like Nesmith, who shot a scorching 52.2 percent from deep in his 14 games last season. He’s big and strong enough (6-foot-6, 213 lbs.) to contribute right away off the bench and make teams pay when they inevitably double Zion.
Anthony's dad, Greg, played for some good Blazers teams at the tail end of his career, and his son could be a great fit in Rip City. Anthony had a rough year for a terrible North Carolina team last year, but his lack of spacing disguised how good his shot-making can be. Anthony can handle the ball, hit step-back jumpers and fly up and down the court. He'd be a huge upgrade on Anfernee Simons at the backup guard spots, and while he's not a great passer, he should be able to get buckets right away.
Just from a picture of McDaniels, you would assume he's going to Orlando, where GM John Hammond always tries to take the tallest, rangiest athletes available. He’s a 6-foot-10, 200-pound guy who can do a little bit of everything — shoot, pass, handle the ball — but just none of it particularly well yet. But if the Magic get him in their system and he starts to defend, there’s a lot of upside with McDaniels.
Minnesota needs defense and shooting at small forward, and that's exactly what Bey brings. Plus, a guy coming out of Villanova's system may provide a welcome upgrade in defensive awareness for the oft-confused Wolves defense.
Maledon is a 6-foot-5 point guard from France who isn’t going to overwhelm anyone with his athleticism. Instead, he’s going to carve out a spot in the league with his outside shooting and his unselfish ball distribution, perfect for a team like Boston where he’s not going to be a second or even third option anytime soon. And if a salary crunch sends Marcus Smart out of town, he may get a chance to play some minutes off the bench.
Achiuwa had an excellent freshman year at Memphis, where he played center in James Wiseman’s absence, which showed off what should be his primary pro position. He’s 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-2 wing span and plays with an incredible motor on both ends. Dallas has a good track record of getting big men to shoot, which would make Achiuwa really useful in the future. In the short term, he could be effective rolling hard to the rim in a two-man game with Luka Doncic.
The Bucks are an absolute powerhouse this season, but there’s always room for improvement, especially when it comes to shooting from their guards. Enter Ramsey, the long-armed combo guard who hit 42 percent of his three-pointers at Texas Tech. So far that’s his primary skill offensively, but it’s also the main thing he’d be asked to do next season. Ramsey likes to run the floor, just like the Bucks do, and at 6-foot-4, he has a solid 6-foot-6 wingspan, even if he doesn't always know what he's doing on defense.
This pick may come down to whomever co-GMs Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant want to draft, but with the Nets set at point guard, they should go with the best wing available. That’s likely to be Williams of Florida State, a solid defender for an 18-year-old on a good college team. Williams may not have star upside, but this Brooklyn team needs good role players. If Williams is at all skeptical about the roundness of the Earth, he could be a great fit in Brooklyn.
Denver proved it wasn't afraid to take a skilled big man with an ultra-skinny frame when it drafted Bol Bol last year, and the 7-foot, 200-pound Pokusevski is a similarly intriguing package in a decidedly non-NBA body. Of course, he's only 18, and dining with fellow Serb Nikola Jokic should help him put on weight. Pokusevski has great ball skills and perimeter shooting for a 7-footer, passing like no other 7-footer in the league besides, well, Jokic. He may need to spend his entire rookie year in the weight room, but Pokusevski has a ton of upside.
The younger brother of Tyus, Tre Jones shot quite well off the catch at Duke, including some extremely clutch shots. He’s a good playmaker and won Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the ACC. The knock on him is his ability to create for himself, but his spacing is much more crucial for the Sixers while he’s backing up or playing alongside Ben Simmons.
With Kelly Olynyk a possible casualty as Miami hoards cap space for 2021, Smith could be a nice replacement. He showed a Myles Turner-esque skill set last year, blocking shots and making 36 percent of his threes. If he can continue to protect the rim in the NBA, that's a combination that Erik Spoelstra and the Heat really love.
The Jazz add another Australian player to replace Dante Exum and give Joe Ingles someone to eat Vegemite with. Green plays tough defense and sets screens, and while he has a weird-looking jumper, it was good enough for him to make 36 percent of his threes last season.
Though he didn’t finish the season well for Arizona, Mannion still has a lot of potential as a prospect, with a great deal of shot-making ability. His draft stock fell, but OKC might not be able to pass on his potential. Plus, as always, the Thunder need more outside shooting.
Carey, Jr. had an excellent freshman campaign (17.8 points, 8.8 rebounds), even if a lot of it was based on his feasting on post-ups. But it's hard to knock him for playing so effectively, even if it might not translate to the next level. Carey simply has too much upside for the Celtics to pass on here. If he can expand his shooting range, Boston’s the perfect situation for him to develop as a defensive big.
Yes, it’s a second point guard for the Knicks, but they need playmakers, and Lewis could be a good one. He’s extremely fast, gets a lot of steals and shot over 36 percent from three as a sophomore. If the Knicks decide they want to run with R.J. Barrett and Mitchell Robinson, Lewis is the perfect guard to push them to it.
In college, Tillman already looked like a Raptor. He defends hard in the post, but he can switch onto the perimeter. He sets screens, blocks shots and shoots well. The reason he dropped this far is that he’s already 21 and seemingly hit his ceiling, but this is a guy who’s a useful backup big right now.
Stewart was once the No. 2 recruit in the country, and while his stock has fallen, he had an excellent year with a mediocre Huskies team. While he won’t feast on post-ups the way he did in college, he’s tough and competitive, and his excellent hands and shooting potential could make him an excellent target for LeBron James.
Tyrell Terry is potentially a transcendent shooter who hit 48 percent of his catch-and-shoot threes last year at Stanford. He has seemingly unlimited range, moves well without the ball and makes up for his small frame (he's only 160 pounds) with creative finishing moves. What's the knock on him? He's very small (6-foot-2) and not very strong — just look at those arms! But the Celtics have had success with small scoring guards before (see: Isaiah Thomas), and their roster is so loaded that they can wait for Terry (they've also had success with Terrys) to figure it out.
Sean Keane is a comedian residing in Los Angeles. He has written for "Another Period," "Billy On The Street," NBC, Comedy Central, E!, and Seeso. You can see him doing fake news every weekday on @TheEverythingReport and read his tweets at @seankeane. In 2014, the SF Bay Guardian named him the best comedian in San Francisco, then immediately went out of business.
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