With the National Basketball Association season just over the quarter-mark, this is a decent time for my first mock looking ahead at the top 10. With a draft that is expected to be a complete 180 of the predecessor, in a year where scouting continues to be altered by the Covid-19 pandemic, it will be quite interesting to see how things turn out. I will be utilizing teams current records and using the simulator over at Tankathon to determine the draft order.
1] New York Knicks (via Dallas Mavericks) select Evan Mobley from USC
A reward of the criticized Kristaps Porzingins trade, the Knicks here have a golden opportunity to select a perfect big man for the modern day league. Mobley is having a spectacular freshman season in Southern California, where his older brother Isaiah Mobley is in his sophomore campaign. Evan is averaging 16.8 points and a notch below 9 rebounds and 3 blocks a contest while converting 58% of his attempts from the field. Perhaps, the most impressive, Mobley only commits 1.6 fouls a night. Mobley would give RJ Barrett a spectacular partner, and his ability to hit the jumper will allow him to spend time with Mitchell Robinson on the floor. However, I’d be shocked if Dallas remained in the lottery, meaning, this isn’t a likely scenario. At least, with the Dallas pick.
2] Orlando Magic select Cade Cunningham from Oklahoma State
Magic jump up three spots, settling for the Cowboys guard, who might be the front runner for Freshman of the Year at this point in Division 1. Cunningham has shown an ability to score at all three levels with consistency, as he converts 46.6% from the field and 38.9% from behind the college arc. Cunningham has scored in double figures in 17 of the Cowboys 18 games on the year with averages of 18.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists a night.
3] Minnesota Timberwolves select Jonathan Kuminga from G-League Ignite
Wolves get lucky and maintain their top-three protected pick they ignorantly gave up in the Andrew Wiggins-D’Angelo Russell swap, and are put in a tough spot. Jalen Suggs might be the better player and prospect as versus Kuminga, however, after having taken Anthony Edwards last season, the Wolves might look for a springy athlete that boasts the potential to be an elite defender that could shore up the weaknesses of Edwards, Russell and the Wolves franchise big, Karl-Anthony Towns.
4] Oklahoma City Thunder (via Miami Heat) select Jalen Suggs from Gonzaga
Like the Knicks in this scenario, OKC acquired this pick in the Paul George trade. Also like the Knicks, I don’t foresee Miami remaining in the lottery for the Thunder to get this lucky, however, for draft sakes, Suggs has to be the hands-down pick here. With Shai Gilgeous-Alexander seeming to be en route to a perennial all-star contender, Suggs could be the perfect mate for him in the back-court. With fiery leadership, Suggs is an integral part of the Bulldogs undefeated season, putting up 13.5 points, 5.3 boards and 4.5 dimes. His shooting splits are rather impressive, hitting 51.4% from the field and 36% from behind the arc.
5] Detroit Pistons select Jalen Green from G-League Ignite
Like Kuminga, Green is a part of the debutant G-League Ignite, giving top prospects a chance to play professional basketball and get paid versus heading over to the college game. Due to the pandemic, we have yet to see either of the two play, however, Green was arguably the top player of his high school class for a few years, and there was good reason behind it. If he can hone his handles, Green will end up being one of the best penetrators for years to come.
6] Washington Wizards select Ziaire Williams from Stanford
Williams is built for the modern day game, with his lanky body and his awareness allowing him to telegraph what is coming. He has a tendency to finish around the rim despite contact, with a jumper that is respectable from arc, not allowing defenders to sag off of him. His best ability on offense, however, is his ability to hit the mid-range jumper with ease, a lost modern art.
7] Chicago Bulls select Moses Moody from Auburn
Moody is one of the biggest threats from range in the entire draft, helping give Zach LaVine more space to attack the basket. At 6’6″, Moody has great size for the shooting guard slot, but also can play the three when on the court with LaVine while being servicable enough on the defensive end not to be a negative.
8] New Orleans Pelicans select Jaden Springer from Tennessee
Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson are the building blocks for the Pelicans, and they desperately need someone that is, not only willing to let it fly from range, but can drain the shots to give the those two space to work in the post. Springer is just the guy that they need, with a deadly mid-range jumper, ability to absorb contact and finish while knocking down over half of his attempts from the arc. Granted, Springer is only hoisting up one attempt from range, with confidence, and space, he will definitely spike that number up.
9] Toronto Raptors select James Bouknight from Connecticut
Requiring surgery on his left elbow cut Bouknight’s sophomore season short, to just six games, but the 6’5 guard had a phenomonal start to the season. Bouknight averaged 20.3 points a night with shooting splits of 45/32/81 while grabbing 5.3 rebounds a night. Bouknight’s ability to dribble and pull up is ready for the next level, and gives the Raptors a scoring threat to put with Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and Chris Boucher.
10] New York Knicks select Sharife Cooper from Auburn
Having taking their four-man of the future, the Knicks take a swing on Cooper, who has been a bright spot in the Tigers otherwise subpar campaign. Cooper is averaging above 21 points a night while getting to the line nearly 10 times a night and converting 80.8%. He does need to shore up his handles, as he averages 4 turnovers a game, and more consistency on his jumper wouldn’t hurt either.