1. Philadelphia 76ers – Ben Simmons, F, LSU
It won’t be easy for the Sixers to integrate Simmons, but with the right moves it could work in a beautiful way. Simmons-Embiid pick-and-rolls could someday give nightmares to the rest of the NBA.
2. L.A. Lakers – Brandon Ingram, F, Duke
The Lakers reportedly would’ve targeted Ingram had they landed the first pick. Who knows if that’s actually true, but Ingram does fit in with the current construction of their roster. His ability to space the floor could help offset the rest of the team’s shooting issues.
3. Boston Celtics – Jaylen Brown, F, California
Brown almost has it all. He’s a tremendous athlete who enters the league ready to be a versatile defender and he’s a good ball handler who can both bully or finesse his way to the rim. But he needs to improve his jumper and his decision making to elevate his game to the next level.
4. Phoenix Suns – Marquese Chriss, F, Washington
Chriss’ upside is off the charts, just like his versatility. He looks like he’s bouncing off a trampoline when he jumps. At 6’9, he can also space the floor. He might actually remind Suns fans a little bit of Amar’e Stoudemire.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves – Dragan Bender, F, Croatia
A front court of Karl-Anthony Towns and Bender could be one of the most deadly and versatile in the NBA. Bender’s ability as a 7-footer to switch on defense, protect the rim, pass, handle and shoot is ridiculous. He’s a safe pick with the upside to be special if he’s utilized correctly. The Timberwolves might be the most feared team in the league if they nail this pick.
6. New Orleans Pelicans – Kris Dunn, PG, Providence
Anthony Davis needs a point guard like Dunn, who can create off the dribble with ease and serve as a go-to scorer at the end of shot clocks. Plus, he defends well and is a high-character person.
7. Denver Nuggets – Jamal Murray, G, Kentucky
This is an odd spot for the Nuggets. They don’t exactly need a guard, but Murray is arguably the best player available at this spot. And you should never draft for need in the NBA. He could actually be a solid fit next to Emmanuel Mudiay, who could highlight Murray’s shooting while hiding his defense.
8. Sacramento Kings – Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma
DeMarcus Cousins is the best player on the Kings, but they need a face-of-the-franchise personality, an ambassador, and that’s what Hield can provide. Oh, and he’s also a ridiculously skilled shooter, so that’s a nice bonus too.
9. Toronto Raptors – Domantas Sabonis, C, Gonzaga
Sabonis is like a hurricane on the basketball court, destroying everything in his path. But he’s also disciplined. Don’t be surprised if Sabonis is earning playoff minutes for the Raptors. He’s ready to play.
10. Milwaukee Bucks – Dejounte Murray, PG, Washington
Murray can create off the dribble with ease, except he can’t convert. Things didn’t work out well for Milwaukee with Michael Carter-Williams, but Murray gives them another swing at a high-upside, long point guard.
11. Orlando Magic – Jakob Poeltl, C, Utah
The Magic need a rim protector, and while Poeltl might not offer much upside, he’s ready to play and can contribute right away.
12. Utah Jazz – Furkan Korkmaz, G, Turkey
If the Jazz are concerned about losing Gordon Hayward next summer, Korkmaz could fill a similar role as a scoring wing who can also be a playmaker.
13. Phoenix Suns – Henry Ellenson, F, Marquette
There was a report early this year that in 2015 the Cavs considered trading Kevin Love to the Suns. Well, that didn’t happen. But the Suns can get the next best thing in Ellenson, who’s like a poor man’s Love.
14. Chicago Bulls – Wade Baldwin, G, Vanderbilt
The Bulls need a point guard since Derrick Rose is merely a shell of his former self and Baldwin is a good combo guard. He’s a much better passer than his numbers showed at Vanderbilt, and he’ll give opposing coaches headaches because of his defense.
15. Denver Nuggets – Juan Hernangomez, F, Spain
Hernangomez is a perfect fit for the modern league with his versatility on both ends of the floor. Don’t underestimate his upside, either. He’s improved quickly.
16. Boston Celtics – Timothé Luwawu, SG, France
Luwawu should realistically develop into a 3-and-D role player, but his athleticism and shiftiness gives him the upside to be something much more than that.
17. Memphis Grizzlies – Malachi Richardson, SG, Syracuse
I don’t see the hype with Richardson. He can shoot, but that’s about it. He’s ranked as a second-rounder on the boards of many NBA executives, as he is on mine. But he’s been getting hyped in this range, so he lands on the Grizzlies.
18. Detroit Pistons – Skal Labissière, PF, Kentucky
Labissière drops a few spots and the Pistons are a team with a strong track record of developing prospects, so it’s a good spot for him.
19. Denver Nuggets – Ante Zizic, C, Croatia
This is a draft-and-stash choice for the Nuggets, though center clearly isn’t a position of need for him.
20. Indiana Pacers – Malik Beasley, SG, Florida State
Beasley is a great kid with a tremendous 3-and-D skill set for the modern NBA. He should really go lottery, though he slips here.
21. Atlanta Hawks – Deyonta Davis, C, Michigan State
Davis slips a little bit in this mock, giving the Hawks a potential rim protector on a rookie contract.
22. Charlotte Hornets – Ivica Zubac, C, Croatia
Zubac has the upside to be a very good rotational big man, though his injury history bumps him down a few spots.
23. Boston Celtics – Zhou Qi, C, China
Qi is an upside pick for the Celtics using their third first-rounder. The 7’2 big man offers shot blocking and three-point shooting, but he needs to get stronger.
24. Philadelphia 76ers – Demetrius Jackson, PG, Notre Dame
The Sixers reportedly want to acquire Kris Dunn, but if they don’t there could be plenty of quality point guards available at the end of the first round, like Jackson.
25. Los Angeles Clippers – DeAndre Bembry, F, St. Joseph’s
Bembry has the makings of a classic go-to scorer with his ability to create off the dribble. He needs to improve his jumper, but he has massive steal potential.
26. Philadelphia 76ers – Taurean Prince, F, Baylor
Prince could infuse a defensive attitude into the Sixers’ culture at the forward spot. Imagine all the versatility they’ll have with Simmons, Dario Saric and Prince.
27. Toronto Raptors – Thon Maker, PF, Canada
The mighty Thon Maker is ranked by YouTube as the No. 1 prospect in the draft, so the Raptors are getting a steal here, right? Well, maybe. Maker is a great athlete who plays with tons of energy, but he’s so raw that it’ll take years for his game to develop, if ever.
28. Phoenix Suns – Petr Cornelie, PF, France
This is simply a draft-and-stash pick for the Suns with their third first-rounder. Cornelie does offer upside though as a stretch-shooting 7-footer.
29. San Antonio Spurs – Denzel Valentine, SG, Michigan State
Valentine was ranked sixth on my board prior to the report he has knees at risk of injury similar to Brandon Roy or Danny Granger. That’s possibly bad news for Valentine, but it could turn out to be a blessing in disguise if he’s lucky enough to land on the Spurs. There really isn’t a better fit for him in the NBA.
30. Golden State Warriors – Patrick McCaw, SG, UNLV
McCaw could end up being the steal of the draft. He’s a hound on defense and he’s a much better shooter than his percentages show at UNLV. He’s a potential contributor even as a rookie for one of the NBA’s best teams.