March 4, 2024

By: AJ Ondrey

With less than two weeks away from the June 26th NBA draft, here is my second mock draft. In the third and final version, I will have ceiling and basement NBA comparisons to go along with the projected picks.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Joel Embiid, Center, Kansas A no-brainer as long as the Cavs personal doctor passes Embiid on his back problems. Rim protector, nice touch offensively, sky high potential.

2. Milwaukee Bucks – Andrew Wiggins, F, Kansas Perhaps the highest potential for a wing in recent drafts, Wiggins is superbly athletic and has all the ball skills to be an offensive juggernaut in the NBA. Needs to bulk up a little bit.

3. Philadelphia 76ers – Jabari Parker, F, Duke Parker may be the best player in the draft “right now,” so he falls into the what-you-see-is-what-you-get category. Parker is a very polished player at all aspects of the game, and could go to any of these three teams. Philly has an affection for Dante Exum as well, but until they move Michael Carter-Williams, this is where I see them going.

4. Orlando Magic – Dante Exum, G, Australia Speaking of Exum, the Magic would love to add a guard to their already potential stacked young team. Exum is a scoring guard, draws similarities to Kyrie Irving.

5. Utah Jazz – Noah Vonleh F, Indiana Originally I had Julius Randle here, but I feel that he’s slipping down the draft board each day, especially with the red flags on his foot. Vonleh is a freak athletically, and the Jazz can’t pass that up.

6. Boston Celtics – Aaron Gordon, F, Arizona Gordon is another athletic big that a lot of teams would love to have. I’ve heard that the Celtics love Gordon. There’s no denying the Blake Griffin comparison, but we’ll have to wait and see on that. Huge impact player to help a team.

7. Los Angeles Lakers – Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State What more could the Lakers ask for than a solid point guard prospect to land in their laps? Actually, the Lakers are at the point where they could really use anything, but Smart seems like a perfect fit for the point guard-less Lakers. Smart is like a linebacker at point guard. The “Lake-show” mentality may have them trying to get Blake Griffin 2.0, Aaron Gordon.

8. Sacramento Kings – Julius Randle, F, Kentucky Randle is falling down the draft board, at least in this mock draft. He’s got the tools to be an impact player, but I think teams would rather gamble on the upside of other players than a player who’s already close to his ceiling.

9. Charlotte Hornets – Doug McDermott, F, Creighton McDermott is another one of those NBA-ready studs that will easily translate his game into the association. McDermott is like a more athletic Dirk Nowitzki, but that’s a ceiling comparison. The basement isn’t too low, however. I’d give him a worst case scenario of a shooter like Kyle Korver. He’s had as high praise as any prospect, getting comparisons to Larry Bird and if he becomes an improved rebounder, Kevin Love.

10. Philadelphia 76ers – Gary Harris, G, Michigan State Philly gets a solid scorer and defender at the guard position. There are teams behind them that are going to want Harris, so we may see a trade here as well. Harris should develop into a nice pro.

11. Denver Nuggets – James Young, G/F, Kentucky Young is a very nice scorer from the wing, and that is something that the Nuggets will love to add to their team. Consistency was so-so for Young at Kentucky, but the upside is there.

12. Orlando Magic –Rodney Hood, G/F, Duke Hood has potential to be a top 10 pick in this draft, but for now, we’re just squeezing him into the lottery. A dynamic lefty that can score from beyond the arc and attack the rim. Defense is a question, but the runnin’ Suns can develop him into a better defender.

13. Minnesota Timberwolves –Dario Saric, F, International Saric is said to be one of the most talented international players to come out for a draft in a long time. He has an overall game that has a lot of GM’s drooling, but of course remain cautious because of the translation to the NBA.

14. Phoenix Suns – Tyler Ennis, G, Syracuse As far as pure point guards come, nothing is better in this draft than Ennis. He could turn into an Eric Bledsoe, or Darren Collison, as far as becoming a backup point guard that works his way to a starter.

15. Atlanta Hawks – Nick Stauskas, G, Michigan Some would make the argument that Stauskas played a better point guard position than Ennis, but I think of Stauskas as more of a shooting guard that can make plays for teammates.

16. Chicago Bulls –Shabazz Napier, G, Connecticut  Napier has shot up my draft board four spots. He is the type of player you take because of what he brings to your team immediately. We all saw it in the NCAA Tournament, he’s a fierce leader and can really bring it every single night. Napier could become something of a Steph Curry perhaps. A true Cinderella story.

17. Boston Celtics –T.J. Warren, F, N.C. State Some may have him a little lower, but Warren can fill it up and he can do so against talented players. Maybe a reach, but there is a lot of parity in the mid-first round.

18. Phoenix Suns – Zach Levine, G/F, UCLA Levine is another sleeper in this draft that I think could be worth a much higher pick. This draft is so deep with talent, and between picks 10-25 can be argued to be very similar in talent level. The Suns nab a really nice talent here.

19. Chicago Bulls – Elfrid Payton, G, Louisiana Lafayette Payton could end up being the best point guard in this draft because his game seems to have the potential to translate very well. He can score it, pass it, defend and run the floor. He’s seen the biggest rise as from #28 to #19. In the final mock, he may be even higher. Time is ticking for Derrick Rose to return to form.

20. Toronto Raptors – Glenn Robinson, F, Michigan Climb on up, Glenn. Robinson moves up six spots because he provides many tools that can immediately help a team, and could develop into something special as well.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder – Adreian Payne, F, Michigan State Payne is another versatile big that can shoot it from the outside and has great touch inside. Payne dominated in the NCAA Tournament, and helped carry Michigan State to yet another Elite Eight appearance.

22. Memphis Grizzlies – K.J. McDaniels, G/F, Clemson McDaniels had a very nice season for the Tigers. McDaniels averaged 17ppg and 7rpg at the forward position. Yet again, another solid wing player.

23. Utah Jazz – P.J. Hairston, G, D-League Hairston spent time in the D-League last season and will be draft eligible. He played some solid ball at North Carolina, and is even more NBA-ready because of the D-League experience he got.

24. Charlotte Hornets – Jordan Adams, G, UCLA Yes, another Bruin off the board. Had the talented Bruins not run into a great Florida team, all of these kids would’ve had the opportunity to shine even further. Adams was another great scorer, rebounder (for his size), and defender for UCLA. A steal, perhaps, this late.

25. Houston Rockets – Jerami Grant, F, Syracuse What a perfect fit to add to the Rockets depth. Grant is a lengthy forward who can score and rebound, as well as provide nice defense because of that length. Seems like a great fit to give Chandler Parsons some breathers, or help replace, throughout the season and really contribute to a playoff team.

26. Miami Heat – Kyle Anderson, F, UCLA Another talented and diverse player from UCLA. Anderson played as a point forward (see, LeBron) at UCLA, and can make all the plays offensively and defensively. Another guy I think could go higher than this.

27. Phoenix Suns – Jusuf Nurkic, C, International Sort of an unknown to most, Nurkic is a young, gifted big man. He’s projected higher than this, and could see a move up in the next version of my mock draft.

28. Los Angeles Clippers – Kristaps Porzingis, F/C, International A very dynamic body to work with, Porzingis is a seven-footer, but only weighs in at 220 lbs. Runs the floor very well for a big, and could fit in nicely in Lob City.

29. Oklahoma City Thunder – Bogdan Bogdanovic, G, International Finally, an international guard comes off the board. Think of Bogdanovic like a better version of Marco Bellinelli. A solid overall player with a knack for scoring.

30. San Antonio Spurs – Walter Tavares, C, International Seems like the last pick would’ve been something the Spurs would do. But no, we all know Tim Duncan is going to be gone and it’s time to try and fill that void. Tavares is 7’3″, 265 lbs. A modern giant that could perhaps bring back a bit of old school ball. We know he could protect the paint, that’s for sure. He’s obviously not just a load out there, either. Tavares is very athletic for his size and could definitely be a Spurs’ type project.

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