This is my favorite time of year. March Madness is on the horizon. Not only does the NCAA tournament provide us with shocking upsets and buzzer-beaters, but it’s also a good time to watch some of the top NBA Draft prospects.
However, this year is a little different. As a matter of fact, of the top 4 players in this very mock draft, zero of them will be playing in March. While the parity in college basketball has made this season incredibly entertaining, there’s no denying the lack of high-end talent in the sport.
But don’t fret! You’ll get to watch plenty of potential first rounders in the tournament this year. Dayton’s Obi Toppin is the frontrunner for National Player of the Year, and he will be a lottery pick. Onyeka Okongwu’s USC Trojans should be in the tourney. And don’t forget about top notch veteran Point Guards Tre Jones, Devon Dotson, Cassius Winston, Malachi Flynn and Ashton Hagans.
With that being said, let’s get into it!
(Draft lottery simulated using Tankathon’s lottery simulator. Besides lottery, rest of the order is determined by standings as of March 7.)
- New York Knicks: LaMelo Ball – Guard – Illawarra Hawks
Will LaVar speak Melo to Madison Square Garden into existence? It’s impossible to know. If the Knicks do end up with the #1 overall pick, it’s hard to see them passing up on the uber-talented 6’7” Point Guard.
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Deni Avdija – Forward – Maccabi Tel Aviv
After a relatively slow start to the season, Avdija has put himself in discussion for the #1 overall pick. His defensive toughness and offensive craftiness have both been on full display for a very good Maccabi Tel Aviv squad.
- Washington Wizards: Anthony Edwards – Guard – Georgia
The John Wall-Bradley Beal duo will be back next year, but why not add another scorer to the mix? Edwards is still learning the game, so putting him in a situation where he doesn’t need to carry a team’s scoring load immediately is ideal.
- Atlanta Hawks: Killian Hayes – Guard – ratiopharm Ulm
The Hawks already have Trae Young, but adding a backcourt-mate isn’t a bad idea. The lefty playing in Germany right now will be one of the best passers in the league the second he steps onto an NBA court.
- Golden State Warriors: Onyeka Okongwu – Center – USC
The NBA should be scared of a healthy Warriors team next year. Golden State will be even scarier if they can add USC big man Onyeka Okongwu, who is one of the best shot blockers in the country.
- Cleveland Cavaliers: Obi Toppin – Forward – Dayton
Drafting Obi Toppin will not help the Cavs defensively. However, he’s probably the best player in college basketball and the mini-Zion comparisons are real.
- Detroit Pistons: Cole Anthony – Guard – North Carolina
The Pistons are a Blake Griffin-trade away from a full-fledged rebuild. Cole Anthony hasn’t had a great season for UNC, but I think that NBA spacing will help him out a lot.
- Chicago Bulls: Isaac Okoro – Forward – Auburn
The Bulls have plenty of score first players in Zach LaVine, Coby White, and Lauri Markkanen. Okoro has elite defensive potential, and his passing is extremely advanced for a wing.
- Charlotte Hornets: James Wiseman – Center – Memphis
Wiseman is the mystery man of this draft, and I expect him to fall further than expected. The physical tools are obviously there, but his basketball IQ and motor are questionable.
- Phoenix Suns: Tyrese Maxey – Guard – Kentucky
Like Devin Booker, Tyrese Maxey is also a Kentucky Wildcat. The two would make an electrifying scoring tandem in Phoenix.
- New Orleans Pelicans: Nico Mannion – Guard – Arizona
Nico Mannion has had an up-and-down season at Arizona, but nobody can deny that he is a fantastic playmaker. If the Pelicans don’t feel good about investing in Frank Jackson, Mannion can take over as Lonzo Ball’s backup.
- San Antonio Spurs: Devin Vassell – Guard/Forward – Florida State
Vassell has burst onto the scene for Florida State this year. He’s an active, versatile defensive player who’s shooting 41.7% from three. Could he be the Spurs’ next Danny Green?
- Sacramento Kings: Tyrese Haliburton – Guard – Iowa State
I can’t see the Kings reaching for a Center here, so they may as well go with the best player available. Haliburton is a smart offensive player and has the length to be a nice defender as well.
- Portland Trail Blazers: Patrick Williams – Forward – Florida State
Pat Williams doesn’t have the numbers that would warrant a lottery selection, but his untapped offensive potential and top-notch athleticism earn him a spot in the top 14.
- Orlando Magic: RJ Hampton – Guard – New Zealand Breakers
Orlando is a frontcourt heavy team, so I can’t see them passing on a Guard in the first round. Drafting Hampton would give the Magic another young Point Guard to groom alongside Markelle Fultz.
- Minnesota Timberwolves (via Brooklyn): Saddiq Bey – Forward – Villanova
If Markus Howard and Myles Powell didn’t exist, Saddiq Bey would probably be the Big East’s player of the year. The Timberwolves need to add more shooters, and Bey is shooting 44.7% from downtown.
- Boston Celtics (via Memphis): Tyler Bey – Forward – Colorado
Tyler Bey is one of the few players in this class that I think could start in the league today. He’s already an incredibly versatile defensive player, and if he can continue to improve his outside shot, Bey could become a premier role player in the NBA.
- Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia): Jeremiah Robinson-Earl – Forward – Villanova
Nobody is a bigger Robinson-Earl supporter than me. He doesn’t score a lot of points, but he’s thrived in Jay Wright’s system as a playmaker and rim protector.
- Milwaukee Bucks (via Indiana): Aleksej Pokusevski – Center – Olympiacos
I know that I mentioned earlier that James Wiseman is the mystery man of this class. I take that back. Pokusevski is 7’0”, handles the ball, shoots, and passes at a high level, but he’s also only 200 lbs.
- Dallas Mavericks: Aaron Nesmith – Forward – Vanderbilt
Nesmith only appeared in 14 games this season, but he showed enough in his limited time to land him in the top 20. The Forward hit 4.3 threes per game at a 52.2% clip.
- Philadelphia 76ers (via Oklahoma City): Jaden McDaniels – Forward – Washington
Philly takes a swing on one of the most physically gifted players in the class. McDaniels has struggled to find his groove for a Huskies team that finished the season last in the Pac-12.
- Utah Jazz: Theo Maledon – Guard – ASVEL Basket
Maledon doesn’t have one defining skill, but he is extremely well rounded. I don’t expect him to be the heir to Mike Conley, but he figures to be a solid backup in the league for a long time.
- Miami Heat: Paul Reed – Forward – DePaul
DePaul looked like a tournament team in December, but they collapsed in conference play. Reed was a bright spot for Blue Demons, displaying his defensive versatility and rebounding.
- Denver Nuggets (via Houston): Josh Green – Guard/Forward – Arizona
Josh Green plays hard on the defensive end, has a nice touch around the rim, and is an elite athlete. He could be a better version of Will Barton in Denver.
- Oklahoma City Thunder (via Denver): Isaiah Stewart – Center – Washington
Isaiah Stewart is a beast, and he has been one of my favorite players to watch this season. However, he’s extremely dependent on his physical strength, and his back-to-the-basket style of play doesn’t fit the modern NBA well.
- Boston Celtics: Precious Achiuwa – Center – Memphis
Achiuwa has led the James Wiseman-less Tigers valiantly. His decision-making is poor, but he’s hyper-athletic and could be the perfect small-ball center for the Celtics.
- New York Knicks (via Clippers): Cassius Stanley – Guard/Forward – Duke
It’s no secret that Cassius Stanley is an athlete, but he’s developed into a threat as a long-range shooter as well. LaMelo Ball and Cassius Stanley? That would bring a lot of energy to the Big Apple.
- Toronto Raptors: Vernon Carey Jr. – Center – Duke
I haven’t been the biggest Vernon Carey Jr. fan this season, but there are some things that I like about his game. He’s a nice passer, and he’s shot well from the foul line as of late.
- Los Angeles Lakers: Tyrell Terry – Guard – Stanford
Tyrell Terry has one thing working against him: his size. He’s only 165 lbs. I expect him to return to Stanford next year and bulk up, but he still belongs in this year’s first round discussion due to his offensive skill.
- Celtics: Ashton Hagans – Guard – Kentucky
What do the Celtics do with this pick? This is their 5th first round pick in the last two years. They already have young talent at every position, so why not take Ashton Hagans, who may be college basketball’s equivalent to Marcus Smart.
- Dallas Mavericks: Leandro Bolmaro – Guard – Barcelona
- Charlotte Hornets: Joel Ayayi – Guard – Gonzaga
- Philadelphia 76ers: Zeke Nnaji – Center – Arizona
- Philadelphia 76ers: Jahmi’us Ramsey – Guard – Texas Tech
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Cassius Winston – Guard – Michigan State
- Sacramento Kings: Daniel Oturu – Center – Minnesota
- Washington Wizards: Tre Jones – Guard – Duke
- New York Knicks: Jordan Nwora – Forward – Louisville
- New Orleans Pelicans: Kira Lewis Jr. – Guard – Alabama
- Memphis Grizzlies: Desmond Bane – Guard – TCU
- New Orleans Pelicans: Killian Tillie – Forward/Center – Gonzaga
- San Antoinio Spurs: Marcus Zegarowski – Guard – Creighton
- Orlando Magic: Devon Dotson – Guard – Kansas
- Boston Celtics: Jared Butler – Guard – Baylor
- Sacramento Kings: Grant Riller – Guard – Charleston
- Portland Trail Blazers: Jalen Smith – Forward/Center – Maryland
- Chicago Bulls: Ayo Dosunmu – Guard – Illinois
- Indiana Pacers: Keyontae Johnson – Guard/Forward – Florida
- Philadelphia 76ers: Isaiah Joe – Guard – Arkansas
- Golden State Warriors: Malachi Flynn – Guard – San Diego State
- Oklahoma City Thunder: John Petty Jr. – Guard – Alabama
- Golden State Warriors: Nick Richards – Center – Kentucky
- Sacramento Kings: Robert Woodard II – Forward – Mississippi State
- Atlanta Hawks: Xavier Tillman – Forward/Center – Michigan State
- Brooklyn Nets: Abdoulaye N’Doye – Guard – Cholet
- Los Angeles Clippers: Markus Howard – Guard – Marquette
- Charlotte Hornets: Myles Powell – Guard – Seton Hall
- Toronto Raptors: Payton Pritchard – Guard – Oregon
- Philadelphia 76ers: Tres Tinkle – Forward – Oregon State
- New Orleans Pelicans: Paul Eboua – Forward – VL Pesaro