Just under a month ago, players were pushed to decide whether or not they wanted to continue pursuing a professional career and stay in the draft process, or return to school with the hopes of improving their stock in years to come.
To get you ready for Thursday’s NBA Draft, we put together one final mock selection, with some analysis on the lottery picks, to help get all of us prepared for what to expect.
1. Philadelphia 76ers, Ben Simmons (LSU)
For awhile, it was unclear what the 76ers wanted to do with regards to the top spot. At first, they had indicated no problem in pursuing 6’10 forward out of LSU, even after Simmons denied a workout with the team.
On Tuesday, the 76ers notified Simmons that they will be selecting him with the first overall pick. The only thing that could stop this notion is if any possible trades were to surface before Philadelphia makes their selection.
2. Los Angeles Lakers, Brandon Ingram (Duke)
With Simmons going first, the Lakers told ESPN on Wednesday that they will be picking Ingram.
Often compared to a poor man’s Kevin Durant, Ingram could be the future of the Lakers franchise after the organization lost one of the most iconic players in NBA history in Kobe Bryant.
3. Boston Celtics, Buddy Hield (Oklahoma)
Coming off a Final Four run and second place in the country in scoring, Hield would be an instant behind-the-arc threat for the Celtics, a team that ranked third to last in three-point shooting this past season.
Rumors have circulated that Boston is open to trading the third pick as a package deal to Philadelphia or an exchange of Khris Middleton to the Milwaukee Bucks could be in the mix.
4. Phoenix Suns, Dragan Bender (Croatia)
Out of the Suns’ three consistent big men last year that saw the most minutes (Tyson Chandler, Jon Leuer, Alex Len), none of them averaged double digits in scoring.
The rebounding was there, but with valuable assets at the guard position, the Suns first priority should be enhancing the front court.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves, Kris Dunn (Providence)
Dunn had made it very clear he wants to be a part of the Timberwolves team, a team that has seen the last two Rookie of the Year awards go through Minnesota.
After denying workouts and information to the Suns and Celtics, it would be a shock to see the Timberwolves pass up Dunn at the five spot.
6. New Orleans Pelicans, Jamal Murray (Kentucky)
Murray can offer a great perimeter threat to a team that saw their top leading scorers from last season come from their front court. It is very clear Anthony Davis is the face of the New Orleans franchise and the team’s first priority should be finding ways to compliment his inside presence with outside threats.
7. Denver Nuggets, Jaylen Brown (California)
The Nuggets need help in a lot of areas, so why not start off the first of their three first-round draft picks with one of the most versatile players in the draft.
Brown, who averaged just under 15 points and five rebounds per game as a freshman, holds a lot of raw talent that the Nuggets can mold however they see fit.
8. Sacramento Kings, Marquese Chriss (Washington)
If all else holds true, the Kings sit in a great spot. Chriss has been picked by many to be a top 5-7 pick, with some experts putting him as high as fourth overall. Sacramento already has some stability at the point guard (Rondo, Collison), small forward (Gay), and center (Cousins), and could use someone to fill a gap at the power forward position. Chriss could be that guy if he still available come pick number eight.
9. Toronto Raptors, Domantas Sabonis (Gonzaga)
The looming story that will be surrounding the Raptors this season is whether or not DeMar DeRozan will be in a Toronto uniform next season. Until that is figured out, adding some depth to a front court that finished in the bottom half of the NBA would be a good place to start.
The Raptors do hold another first round pick.
10. Milwaukee Bucks, Jakob Poeltl (Utah)
For the Bucks fans reading this, I’m sure you’re getting flashbacks of a former first round pick the Bucks spent on a center from Utah.
After former Buck center Andrew Bogut didn’t pan out, having a Bogut-like player right now would not necessarily be a bad thing. Poeltl, who averaged 17 points, nine rebounds, and nearly two blocks last season with Utah, would add some much-needed interior defense and rim protection to a team that finished last in opponent field goal percentage a year ago.
11. Orlando Magic, Skal Labissiere (Kentucky)
Labissiere is another player entering the league with raw talent and a huge upside that could enter the Magic’s front court within the next few years and contribute at a high level. Orlando already has a dominant big man in Nikola Vucevic at the center spot but could use some depth at the power forward position, having no player averaging double digits from there this past season.
12. Utah Jazz, Malachi Richardson (Syracuse)
Richardson was a huge part of the Syracuse Orange’s magical Final Four run a year ago and poses and one of the few big three-point threats to go in the lottery.
The Jazz were a middle-of-the-pack team last year when it came to three-point shooting, making around 40 percent of their attempts. Having Richardson would definitely spike their numbers as another perimeter threat would fit right into Utah’s main needs.
13. Phoenix Suns, Furkan Korkmaz (Turkey)
This will be the Suns second pick of the lottery, and if these projections hold true, grabbing a forward and a guard would be prime for their team.
It is unclear what Phoenix will do with their two guards, Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight, but it is likely they will be shipping off one, leaving room for an opening to compete with Devin Booker at the shooting guard spot. Korkmaz, at 6-foot-8 will be a major asset to any team, offering length, height, shooting, and athleticism.
14. Chicago Bulls, Dejounte Murray (Washington)
Rumors in the offseason so far for the Bulls have been whether or not they will be shopping their two star guards Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler. Regardless, those two are going to need help, and Murray will offer an additional perimeter threat for a Bulls team that ranked third in the league in three-point shooting.
Non-lottery mock selections
15. Nuggets, Henry Ellenson
16. Celtics, Deyonta Davis
17. Grizzlies, Wade Baldwin
18. Pistons, Chieck Diallo
19. Nuggets, Denzel Valentine
20. Pacers, Demetrius Jackson
21. Hawks, Malik Beasley
22. Hornets, DeAndre Bembry
23. Celtics, Thon Maker
24. 76ers, Timothe Luwawu
25. Clippers, Ivica Zubac
26. 76ers, Stephen Zimmerman
27. Raptors, Taurean Prince
28. Suns, Damian Jones
29. Spurs, Ante Zizic
30. Warriors, Diamond Stone
The Draft is set to begin Thursday, June 23.