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NBA Draft: Final First Round Mock

Nick Whalen

RotoWire's NBA Editor and award winning host of the RotoWire NBA Podcast. Many years ago, Stromile Swift gave Nick his unbelievably sweaty headband after a preseason game. Despite its failure to match his school colors, Nick went on to wear that headband for the entirety of his sixth grade basketball season. Catch Nick on Twitter @wha1en.

1. Philadelphia 76ers (via Boston)



Markelle Fultz, G, Washington
As as Philadelphia completed the trade to move up from No. 3 to No. 1, the Sixers made it explicitly clear who they were going to take. Barring an unforeseen, chaotic twist of events, Fultz is going to be the pick.

2. Los Angeles Lakers


Lonzo Ball, G, UCLA

The Lakers have been hesitant to commit to Ball, and there’s really no reason they should publicly do so. That said, unless LA is offered a mega-deal for a superstar that’s simply too sweet to pass up, all signs are that Ball will be the choice. Dealing D’Angelo Russell to Brooklyn on Tuesday further hammered that home.

3. Boston Celtics (via Philadelphia)


Jayson Tatum, F, Duke

While the general consensus seems to favor Josh Jackson over Tatum, Danny Ainge has never been one to follow the crowd. Ainge may not have wanted to reach for Tatum at No. 1 -- even if, in his mind, it isn’t a reach -- and the Celtics moving back two picks was a clear indication that they’re not sold on Fultz or Ball.

4. Phoenix Suns


Josh Jackson, F, Kansas

Reportedly in pursuit of an established star, the Suns could end up moving this pick, and if Jackson is still on the board, there could be a long list of suitors. However, if we’re to assume Phoenix keeps the pick, Jackson makes the most sense as a versatile defender, not to mention the best player available.

5. Sacramento Kings


De’Aaron Fox, G, Kentucky

Fox to Sacramento has been the popular prediction for several weeks for a reason. With two picks in the top 10, Sacramento is the team best-positioned to make a deal on draft night, but it’s difficult to imagine the Kings passing on the player they’ve reportedly coveted all along.

6. Orlando Magic


Jonathan Isaac, F, Florida State

Maybe the biggest wild card in the lottery, Isaac has the talent and upside of a top-three pick. However, questions about his assertiveness and consistency are valid. Orlando can’t afford to whiff on another significant pick, but Malik Monk and Frank Ntilikina may be even more risky than Isaac, while taking Dennis Smith would likely mean moving on from Elfrid Payton.

7. Minnesota Timberwolves


Malik Monk, G, Kentucky

Like Phoenix, Minnesota could look to move this pick in an effort to accelerate a return to the postseason. The Wolves would also love to get their hands on Isaac and his defensive versatility, but with the Florida State product off the board, they go with another offense-first guard in Monk. With Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns in place, Monk wouldn’t be asked to carry too much of a scoring burden in Year 1, and he’d offer cheap long-term insurance for Zach LaVine, who’s still recovering from a torn ACL.

8. New York Knicks


Frank Ntilikina, G, International

Should Dennis Smith be the pick here? Probably. But Phil Jackson has not exactly inspired faith that he’ll do the right thing. Ntilikina, who New York has kept a close eye on, is the most logical prediction in what’s become a full-on dystopian situation.

9. Dallas Mavericks


Dennis Smith, G, North Carolina State

If we look back in five years and Dennis Smith is a top-three player in this draft, few would be surprised. Still, concerns about his surgically repaired knee and an up-and-down season, from a competitive standpoint, at NC State have prevented Smith from truly entering the top-five debate. Yogi Ferrell was a nice story, but if Smith is on the board at nine, expect Dallas to pounce in a heartbeat.

10. Sacramento Kings (via New Orleans)


Zach Collins, F/C, Gonzaga

After grabbing Fox at five, the Kings fortify their frontcourt for the future, adding Collins to a young core that already includes versatile defender Willie Cauley-Stein and stretchy scorer Skal Labissiere. While Cauley-Stein is a better athlete, Collins may already be the more polished rim-protector, and he wasn’t given much of a chance to showcase his offensive repertoire while coming off the bench at Gonzaga last season.

11. Charlotte Hornets


Donovan Mitchell, G, Louisville

The Hornets have seven players under guaranteed contracts for least the next two seasons, so roster flexibility is at a premium. Mitchell’s upside, athleticism and ability to play both guard spots would be a perfect fit for a team that just traded Marco Belinelli and is likely to let Ramon Sessions walk in free agency.

12. Detroit Pistons


Lauri Markkanen, F/C, Arizona

Admittedly, I’m lower on Markkanen than most, but the seven-footer slipping out of the top-10 wouldn’t be inconceivable. Detroit has made it clear that No. 12 is available to the highest bidder, and if Markkanen is still on the board, more than one team will be looking to move up.

13. Denver Nuggets


John Collins, F, Wake Forest

The Nuggets’ biggest need is upgrading the point guard position, but that likely won’t be feasible unless they find a deal to move up. With Gary Harris and Jamal Murray seemingly in place for the long-term, neither Justin Jackson nor Luke Kennard make a ton of sense for Denver. And while the Nuggets have depth in the frontcourt, they could use a young forward to develop behind, and eventually replace, Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur.

14. Miami Heat


O.G. Anunoby, F, Indiana

As he recovers from a torn ACL, Anunoby hasn’t been able to work out for teams, making it difficult to judge where, exactly, his stock stands. Miami is a forward-thinking organization with a world-class training staff that wouldn’t mind trading the lack of immediate returns for what could be an immensely bright future.

15. Portland Trail Blazers


Justin Jackson, G, North Carolina

Holders of three first-round picks, the Blazers will almost certainly be working the phones for much of the night. If Portland holds onto the pick at 15, Jackson would be a nice bench addition as an understudy to Allen Crabbe.

16. Chicago Bulls


Luke Kennard, G, Duke

The Bulls need help all over the roster, but Kennard’s shooting ability would be put to good use, especially after the mid-season trade that sent Doug McDermott to Oklahoma City. Chicago finished the season ranked 29th in three-point attempts and 24th in three-point efficiency. Kennard is more than just a spot-up marksman, but that figures to be his immediate role as he adjusts to the NBA.

17. Milwaukee Bucks


Justin Patton, F/C, Creighton

The Bucks don’t need another big man, but teams shouldn’t be drafting for need outside of the lottery. Milwaukee has a history of swinging for the fences, and even with a new GM in place, Patton’s combination of athleticism, shooting and passing ability may be too much to resist.

18. Indiana Pacers


T.J. Leaf, F, UCLA

Currently handcuffed by Paul George, the Pacers enter Thursday night in a difficult predicament. At 19, they’re not going to find a superior talent who might convince George to stay, so they’ll go with Leaf, an athletic, outside-in forward with plenty of room to grow.

19. Atlanta Hawks


Jarrett Allen, F/C, Texas

Like Indiana, the Hawks have a playoff-caliber roster, but one that also lacks the talent to truly compete for more than a second-round berth. With Dwight Howard out of the picture, the Hawks could view Allen as a high-upside prospect to develop as their center of the future.

20. Portland Trail Blazers


Ike Anigbogu, F/C, UCLA

Anigbogu is one of the youngest players in the draft, and his freakish wingspan -- one of the longest ever measured at the Combine -- is tantalizing. If the Blazers don’t move this pick, they could see Anigbogu as a domestic draft-and-stash who would likely spend much of next season in the D-League.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder


D.J. Wilson, F, Michigan

Despite an injury keeping him out of the Combine, Wilson opted to enter the draft just before the deadline and has likely solidified in his place in Round 1. As a late-bloomer, Wilson is a high-risk/high-reward prospect, but his ability to handle the ball, defend and shoot at 6’9” is certainly an intriguing skill set at 6’9”.

22. Brooklyn Nets


Harry Giles, F, Duke

Once considered the favorite to go No. 1 overall, Giles’ knee issues have instead made him the riskiest prospect in the draft. If you trust his high school tape and believe he was less than 100 percent as a freshman at Duke, Giles could be well worth the risk in the 20s. The Nets, with virtually nothing to lose in the short-term, are exactly the type of team that should take a chance on Giles.

23. Toronto Raptors


Bam Adebayo, F/C, Kentucky

Toronto is at a crossroads as a franchise but at No. 23 the Raptors could look to get more athletic up front. While no one is quite sure how Adebayo will fare at the next level, his physicality and tenacity in an NBA-ready frame could make him a decent energy big man off the bench, at the very least.

24. Utah Jazz


Tyler Lydon, F, Syracuse

Regardless of what happens with Gordon Hayward, the Jazz may lose Joe Ingles in free agency. Lydon won’t be able to replicate Ingles’ production, but he’d make for a decent long-term replacement.

25. Orlando Magic


Terrance Ferguson, G/F, International

A highly regarded recruit in the class of 2016, Ferguson spent his “freshman” season with an Australian pro team. While he played only a minor role, he remains a high-upside prospect, based mostly on his top-tier athleticism. Whichever team pulls the trigger on Ferguson will do so with the knowledge that he likely won’t be ready to contribute in Year 1.

26. Portland Trail Blazers


Isaiah Hartenstein, F, International

While Hartenstein expects to play in the NBA next season, the Blazers could be looking for another developmental prospect in the unlikely event that they end up making all three of their first-round picks. Hartenstein, who worked out for Portland this week, fits that bill.

27. Los Angeles Lakers (via Brooklyn)


Kyle Kuzma, F, Utah

The Lakers haven’t been shy about looking to package No. 27 and No. 28 in their ongoing pursuit of Paul George. If LA ultimately makes the pick, the versatile Kuzma would be a good fit after a strong showing at the Combine.

28. Los Angeles Lakers


Semi Ojeleye, F, SMU

Built like an NFL middle linebacker, Ojeleye’s potential as a defender is what could vault him into the first round.

29. San Antonio Spurs


Caleb Swanigan, F, Purdue

Swanigan is one of several players whose NBA destiny will be heavily influenced by where he lands. If there’s a team that can maximize his potential, it’s the Spurs.

30. Utah Jazz


Jawun Evans, G, Oklahoma State

I’m higher on Evans than most, and all that seems to be keeping him out of the lottery conversation is his height. Granted, 6’1” is less-than-ideal for a modern NBA floor general, but Evans has long arms and mastered the pick-and-roll for the nation’s most efficient offense last season.
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