NBA Mock Draft 1.0: Warriors’ No. 1 pick plan, Knicks will snag UNC star
With the NBA season suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s impossible to even know when the lottery will be held, or how far back the draft — slated for June 25 at Barclays Center — will get pushed.
But if the order stays the same, here is The Post’s first stab at a mock draft of the lottery picks — as well as later first-round picks by the Knicks and Nets.
Anthony Edwards (G, Georgia)
If the Warriors win the lottery, adding Edwards — the presumptive No. 1 pick — would be very on-brand. They’re dominated with 3-point shooting and positional flexibility. In that sense, the Georgia freshman who averaged 19.1 ppg makes more sense than an old-school rim-runner like James Wiseman for a team that goes center-by-committee.
Still, the real question isn’t who they take at No. 1, but whether they trade the pick for a star to help Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, and get them get right back to the top in 2021. Or move down and grab a more finished product like Obi Toppin?
Deni Avdija (F, International)
After the Cavs filled their hole in the middle by dealing for Andre Drummond, they went .500 with him in the lineup. GM Koby Altman will want to keep him, and for the moment let’s assume Drummond opts in. Combo forward Avdija can pass, dribble and guard both forward spots just well enough to get by with Drummond protecting the rim.
Avdija is still just 19 but has already played 30 Euroleague games, 50 in the Israeli BSL (12.3 points) and been named MVP of the FIBA U20 European Championship. The best international in the draft, he makes more sense here than Wiseman with $72 million committed to centers.
LaMelo Ball (G, International)
The next Ball Brother on tap, he could always score the rock, but a year abroad has let him perfect his innate passing ability. He sits atop Tankathon’s Big Board, and that’s no stretch. His basketball IQ is off the charts. Granted, he shot just 27.9 percent from deep in the NBL, and pairing his porous defense with D’Angelo Russell (and Karl-Anthony Towns) could leave the T’wolves in some nightmarish matchups. But don’t expect to see him fall out of the top five or get to the Knicks.
Obi Toppin (F, Dayton)
Wiseman won’t be needed here after Atlanta traded for Clint Capela. That leaves the logical pick as Toppin, who was averaging 22.8 ppg and 8.6 rebounds as the best player in college basketball before the season got shut down.
It’s still a little unclear what position he’ll guard, and at 22 it’s unsure what his ceiling is. But the floor is a skywalker who poured in 23.4 ppg on 67.7 percent shooting over his final five games and was pointed straight up.
James Wiseman (C, Memphis)
It wasn’t that long ago when Weisman was being touted as the presumptive top-overall pick. He ended up playing just three games after he left Memphis amid an eligibility battle with the NCAA. He won’t have that issue in the NBA — where his size, athleticism, shot-blocking and rim-running will shine. If his motor and basketball IQ improve, he’ll be a steal here.
Cole Anthony (G, North Carolina)
Assuming Ball is gone, Anthony seems like the pick here. No, he didn’t quite live up to all the hype he arrived in Chapel Hill with. But don’t let that obscure the talent here. He averaged 19 points and four assists in carrying a talent-starved UNC team.
A point guard who can both get his own shot and lead others is always useful, and it happens to be the Knicks’ biggest need. Though new president Leon Rose could go international with Killian Hayes, would they take another Euro guard gamble? Having Anthony follow in father Greg’s footsteps in the Garden just makes too much sense.
Onyeka Okongwu (F/C, USC)
Okongwu forced his way into the lottery with a strong freshman season. He rebounds better than his 6-foot-9 size would indicate, can finish with either hand and defend bigger players. In short, exactly what the Bulls need. He can dunk and protect the rim. Now he just needs to learn how to play away from it, but his rapid improvement shows how coachable he is.
Isaac Okoro (G/F, Auburn)
A safe, reliable, glue guy with a high floor. He can defend and give the Hornets an athletic, energetic defender in the rotation even at the tender age of 19. He’ll probably never be a great passer or playmaker, but he’s actually got some upside if he can hone his shooting touch.
Killian Hayes (PG, International)
Still just 18, but a good year playing in Germany has him as a legitimate lottery pick. The Wizards would likely love to have Okoro or Okongwu fall in their laps, but don’t think the presence of Bradley Beal and John Wall mean there isn’t room for Hayes. Hayes is a developmental player whose 6-5, 187-pound size would let him fit in perfectly in any multi-guard lineups in Washington.
RJ Hampton (G, International)
OK, before we talk about the idea of Hampton and Devin Booker as a defensive backcourt, just picture the matchup nightmares they could cause on the other end. Hampton is a 6-5 combo guard who is one of the fastest and most athletic perimeter players in the whole draft.
Tyrese Haliburton (G, Iowa State)
Old-school spot-up game, versatile, can play off the ball and catch-and-shoot. High basketball IQ and smart passer. So basically on-brand for the Spurs and coach Gregg Popovich, who will likely find a way to get Haliburton’s hot-and-cold defense to stay locked in at all times.
Devin Vassell (G/F, Florida State)
He averaged 15.9 points and 6.3 boards for FSU, but most important is a solid deep shooting stroke that will serve him well paired with legitimate 6-7 height that will let him guard not only shooting guards but small forwards as well. He’s a young sophomore at 19, and was a big part of the Seminoles’ elite defense.
Precious Achiuwa (F, Memphis)
With tons of young talent on the roster around Zion Williamson — and a not clearly determined timeline — the Pelicans don’t have a hard-and-fast need on the roster. But both Derrick Favors and Jahlil Okafor are pending free agents, and Achiuwa is a nice high-energy big man who can switch all over the frontcourt defensively.
14. Trail Blazers
Saddiq Bey (SF, Villanova)
The Blazers have excelled drafting best available and Bey seems like a strong fit in Portland. At 21 and well-schooled at Villanova, he’s closer to being on the timeline and able to contribute immediately. He’s a solid spot-up shooter, a strong defender and plays with a high IQ on both ends of the floor.
Tyrese Maxey (G, Kentucky)
On the surface, with Kyrie Irving, Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie, it would seem the last thing the Nets need is another point guard. But one never knows what roster moves get made in the offseason pursuit of a third star, and if Maxey falls out of the lottery, he’d be too good to pass up — especially with Irving and LeVert’s injuries woes, and Maxey’s own defensive grit and strength (200 pounds).
If Maxey is gone, a small forward like Aaron Nesmith, Josh Green or Patrick Williams would be a fit.
Patrick Williams (F, FSU)
The Knicks likely will look to land their scoring point guard of the future with their lottery pick. On a team that’s nowhere near contention, this second first-rounder should be best-available. They could see a nice shooting wing flike Nesmith or Green fall into their laps, but teenage defender Williams is more likely.
* from 76ers; ^ from Clippers
Source : Brian Lewis Link