WATCH: NBA DRAFT UPDATE – TOP 3 PICKS
The NBA played its annual game of ping-pong on Tuesday night, and for the first time ever the Celtics prevailed as winners, followed by the Lakers and the Sixers.
The draft is still over a month away, but now that we know who the picks belong to, it’s mock draft time. Here’s my top-10.
1. Boston Celtics
Markelle Fultz, Combo Guard, Washington (Freshman)
If you’re the Celtics, you don’t over-think this. You finally won the lottery, and it happened to come the night before you square off for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Although I’m high on a lot of players in this draft, Fultz has the best chance to become a superstar, and that’s exactly what Boston needs to add. At 6’4” with a wingspan close to seven feet, Fultz’s combination of size/speed/shooting/athletic ability gives him the potential to be special.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
Lonzo Ball, Combo Guard, UCLA (Freshman)
It’s almost too obvious. Magic was dancing on stage because he knows Ball is about to become a Laker. Leave his father out of the picture … he’s blinding many to how good Lonzo actually is. He’s a full 6’6” and is a do-it-all type talent. His jump shot may be crooked, but it’s also lethal. Ball could easily be one of the best passers in the NBA to go along with his range, while his size allows him to rebound and play defense. It’s tough to imagine Lonzo not finding success in the NBA.
3. Philadelphia 76ers
Jason Tatum, Forward, Duke (Freshman)
This is a really tough pick as there are a handful of directions Philly could go. PG is definitely the position of need, and Fultz or Ball would be snatched up right away if they were on the board. The Sixers have said they will run Ben Simmons out there at PG, so Tatum gives them another big body, and maybe the most NBA-ready body in the draft. Tatum has elite inside-out scoring ability, which this team doesn’t have.
4. Phoenix Suns
Josh Jackson, Forward, Kansas (Freshman)
Jackson also has the potential to be an elite wing scorer, and after using both of their top-10 picks on bigs last summer (Bender and Chriss), the Suns would love another wing to put next to Devin Booker. Going this route probably makes more sense than trying to replace Eric Bledsoe, and you never know what Jackson could turn into. Some feel he could be the best player in this draft. He’s very long and lanky and plays with a ton of energy. He would be a fun piece to add to what the Suns have in place.
5. Sacramento Kings
De’Aaron Fox, Point Guard, Kentucky (Freshman)
I feel like this is probably as far as Fox can slip, and the Kings should be thrilled if he does. Fox isn’t quite the shooter Fultz and Ball are, otherwise his name would be right up there at the top with those guys. If you watched him play at Kentucky, he probably left you impressed, as Fox is a real floor general. He makes the correct plays and timely plays to help his team win. Fox is going to be a very good NBA PG, a position of great need for the Kings.
6. Orlando Magic
Malik Monk, Shooting Guard, Kentucky (Freshman)
Fox’s counterpart in the backcourt last season was Monk, who can absolutely fill it up when he gets hot. Orlando has some solid pieces, but the GM was just fired for a reason. The team wasn’t making great decisions. They have a clear-cut hole when it comes to a scorer, and Monk would help solve that. He’s a little undersized at 6’3”, but I wouldn’t be too worried about that given his game. Monk dropped 47 points on UNC last season, so this kid knows how to get his buckets.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves
Jonathan Isaac, Forward, FSU (Freshman)
Isaac is very raw, but he also has the potential to be very good. The Wolves have an obvious core-four they want to build around: KAT, Wiggins, LaVine and Dunn. Isaac would fit beautifully at the PF position with that crew. He’s super long at 6’10” with a 7’1” wingspan, so he can hold it down on D, rebound and has shown the ability to hit shots. This just feels like a great fit.
8. New York Knicks
Dennis Smith, Point Guard, NC State (Freshman)
The Knicks have Porzingis and a whole bunch of nothing. They need the best player on the board, and that’s Smith. He’s a very athletic guard at 6’3” who reminds me a lot of Eric Bledsoe. Smith’s a legit scorer with solid court vision, the ability to rebound and the athleticism to play defense. He’s an obvious downgrade from the PGs ahead of him in this draft, but don’t completely write him off because of that.
9. Dallas Mavericks
Zach Collins, Center, Gonzaga (Freshman)
Dallas is in a tough spot in this draft, as I feel like there two top tiers, each with four prospects in them. That leaves pick No. 9 as the odd man out. Collins is a really good prospect in the sense that his floor is very high, but his ceiling is high as well. He can definitely contribute at the NBA level, it just remains to be seen if he has star potential.
10. Sacramento Kings
Lauri Markkanen, Forward/Center, Arizona (Freshman)
The Kings are double dipping in the top-10, and if they get Fox the first time around, they’d better look to add a big man with their next pick after the void left by Boogie. Markkanen is a stretch big who can really score from the outside, but he’s in trouble if he doesn’t learn how to play in the paint and lockdown on defense. He’s a project, but one the Kings should consider.
Hit me up on Twitter with comments or questions: @julianedlow.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.