Thomas: NBA Mock Draft #1

R1, P1: Golden State Warriors select James Wiseman, C, Memphis

The Warriors need a playmaker inside, and Wiseman addresses a glaring need at center. Warriors – if they are picking first – are in a weird position as they don’t necessarily face a long rebuild. Wiseman undoubtedly has huge upside that comes with his freakishly athletic frame, but he seems like a great fit in Golden State, which will look to resurrect its dynasty. 

R1, P2: Cleveland Cavaliers select Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia

Cleveland needs help just about everywhere, and I think this pick comes down to Edwards or Lamelo Ball. Ultimately, Cleveland goes for the safety net of college ball, as Lamelo hasn’t played in the States in several years, and Edwards is as pure a scorer as they come. 

R1, P3: Minnesota Timberwolves select Obi Toppin, Dayton

Toppin was lauded as one of the most dominant players in the country this past season, and he looks to join a long-suffering Minnesota squad. The Timberwolves have a bevy of issues to address, and Toppin is the first piece of what promises to be a continued rebuild up north. 

R1, P4: Atlanta Hawks select Isaac Okoro, SF, Auburn

I really like what Okoro brings to the table as an NBA-ready defender, and if he fulfills his potential, he projects as a solid wing for years to come at the professional level. The Hawks don’t have one problem that jumps out more than the other on their roster, but their defense has been an increasing concern, and grabbing one of the draft’s best two-way players at #4 could work very well for Atlanta. 

R1, P5: Detroit Pistons select LaMelo Ball, PG, USA

LaMelo didn’t play college ball, but if the Pistons somehow do see LaMelo fall to #5, they should jump on him right away. He’s the best point guard in the draft and fits a huge need for Detroit. Can Detroit handle the razzle-dazzle, hype, and bright lights that comes with the Ball family? For a team that has floundered offensively for much of the decade, it’s worth the risk. 

R1, P6: New York Knicks select Onyeka Okongwu, C, USC

As per usual, the Knicks have multiple glaring issues to address, so we see them go with one of the best players still available here in Okongwu. I do see Okongwu being a potential #1 pick, as I think he’s more NBA-ready than James Wiseman, so the Warriors may go after him, but if he’s still available here, expect New York to snag the freshman sensation, bringing him to the East Coast. 

R1, P7: Chicago Bulls select Killian Hayes, PG, France

There’s a few different point guards projected as fringe lottery picks, and Hayes is the one I’m the highest one. I think he has huge playmaker potential, and he could combine with Zach LaVine to bring the Bulls back to relevancy. With 72 professional games overseas under his belt, Hayes could be an immediate impact player in the Windy City. 

R1, P8: Charlotte Hornets select RJ Hampton, PG, USA

Hampton projects as a creative player who could potentially run the offense in Charlotte for years to come. He may not be a game-changer, but for a team that hasn’t won a playoff series since 2002 and is picking 8th, he’s pretty solid value here. 

R1, P9: Washington Wizards select Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State

Haliburton rounds out a group of three intriguing point guard prospects. All three have different skill-sets, and I believe Haliburton is talented and fills a big-time need at the position for Washington. He plays his best when he’s alongside a better shot creator, so he may not stick at point guard in the NBA, but the Wizards get one of the highest basketball IQs in the draft in Haliburton.

R1, P10: Phoenix Suns select Deni Avdija, PF, Israel

I could really see Avdija going way higher than this. He’s got lottery talent for sure, but where he goes depends on where NBA teams see him slotting in at the professional level. He’s got a power-forward frame but seems comfortable in a point-guard role. He may go way higher, but if he slides to here, a Phoenix team with a lot of issues to address should jump at the chance to select the Israelian product. 

R1, P11: San Antonio Spurs select Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina

Cole Anthony can create shots with the best of them, but can he become an efficient facilitator in the NBA? That’s one of the major questions that comes with Anthony, along with healthy and streakiness, but he’s versatile offensively, creates space for his own shots, and is one of the best scorers in this draft class. He’ll need to develop another strong tool to complement that, but at #11, he’s great value for San Antonio. 

R1, P12: Sacramento Kings select Theo Maledon, PG, France

This may be one of the bigger darkhorse picks here, but Maledon brings a lot of experience and upside into the draft, and he’s a good pick at #12 for Sacramento. The Kings may have bigger issues in the paint, particularly at center, put I don’t see a player worth reaching for, and Maledon offers some promising tools as well, featuring great size, a solid shot, and very good efficiency. He may not be a long-term point guard in the NBA, but he could thrive if placed in a lineup with a commanding floor general. 

R1, P13: New Orleans Pelicans select Precious Achiuwa, PF, Memphis

Memphis has their second player taken in the first half of the first round, as Precious Achiuwa, a versatile defensive prospect, joins a young core that includes Lonzo Ball and Zion Williamson in New Orleans. Although the Pelicans are involved in the NBA restart playoff bubble, this wasn’t supposed to be their year – the best is yet to come down in Louisiana, and getting a physical power forward who can play defense and shoot the three is a great pick-up. 

R1, P14: Portland Trailblazers select Saddiq Bey, PF, Villanova

Villanova prospects are always interesting, because they truly learn to thrive within Jay Wright’s system at the collegiate level, so it’s a bit of a risk that they can thrive outside that system. He can fill a lot of holes well, but it’s unclear whether he has that impact skill that will land him in a lineup or with a prominent role off the bench. Portland does desperately need reinforcements at power forward, and Bey is the best available at this point in the draft, so the Trailblazers grab the ‘Nova star. 

R1, P15: Orlando Magic select Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona

Mannion is a pretty safe pick at 15 – his skill set looks more or less NBA-ready, although he could add consistency to his three-point shot. There are questions regarding his physicality, but at the very least, he’s a high-IQ player who can facilitate the offense. For a Magic team that definitely needs that to reach the next level, Mannion is a solid selection at the mid-way point of the first round. 

R1, P16: Minnesota Timberwolves select Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt

With their second selection of the draft, the Timberwolves go to the SEC. If, in the unlikely situation that the draft has occurred exactly as I’ve predicted here, the Timberwolves should be selecting between Nesmith and Tyrese Maxey of Kentucky. Maxey may be more dynamic, but Nesmith could make a case for being the best shooter in the draft. There are health issues, but the upside is undeniable if he pans out in Minnesota. 

R1, P17: Boston Celtics select Jaden McDaniels, PF, Washington

It’s no secret that the Celtics will covet a big player in the paint, whether that be a center or power forward. Jaden McDaniels fits the bill here with plenty of defensive upside due to his agility and 8’11 standing reach. He may not be NBA-ready immediately, but McDaniels can work under a great coach in Brad Stevens and a young core in Boston before stepping into the professional spotlight. 

R1, P18: Dallas Mavericks select Patrick Williams, SF, Florida State

Williams is currently ranked the 15th overall prospect by ESPN and may not be available here. If he is, the Mavs should be happy to address one of their bigger needs at shooting forward with a physical prospect with defensive skills and lots of upside out of a top-10 program in FSU. 

R1, P19: Milwaukee Bucks select Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky

Talk about a diamond in the rough. Maxey could very well go late, but after the Timberwolves passed on him in favor of Aaron Nesmith, the Bucks get a physical and versatile prospect out of a true blue-blood in Kentucky. Getting a gem like Maxey this late in the draft would go a long way towards convincing star Giannis Antetokounmpo to stick around for a run at a dynasty. 

R1, P20: Brooklyn Nets select Aleksej Pokusevski, PF, Serbia

Pokusevski is a bit of an unknown in this draft, after being out for three months and playing just 254 minutes in the Greek second division. Pokusevski, however, is the youngest player in the draft class and could be a while away from helping Brooklyn, but he’s got the best upside of remaining paint players, which is a clear area of need for the Nets. 

R1, P21: Denver Nuggets select Jalen Smith, PF, Maryland

Power Forwards could find themselves in high demand in this draft, and that trend continues, as Smith is the sixth taken at his position. The Nuggets are a contending team and don’t have many glaring needs, and Smith addresses their biggest weakness. He’s a great shot-blocker and versatile offensive threats, but questions about his overall defense will need to be addressed before he finds significant playing time in Denver. 

R1, P22: Philadelphia 76ers select Tyler Bey, PF, Colorado

Another one. 22 picks in, and 7 power forwards are off the board. It’s simply an area of need with many teams, as the 76ers pick up one of the better defensive players at the position with pick #22. He has a 7-foot wingspan, making up in some level for his 6’7 height, a short mark for power forwards. He was the Pac-12 defensive player of the year and shot 42% from three, and scouts are high on his ability to continually improve his shooting. 76ers haven’t been a laughingstock in a while, but they need to find their way to break the ceiling now. 

R1, P23: Miami Heat select Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington

The second of two projected Washington freshman first-rounders, Stewart swaps the northwest for the southeast, heading for the beaches of Miami, where he joins a spectacular squad that appears ready for title contention. Stewart would be a great selection here, addressing a position of need, as the Heat continue to show Cleveland how a team moves on from the post-Lebron era successfully (even if it takes a while). 

R1, P24: Utah Jazz select Zeke Nnaji, PF, Arizona

This was a tough selection. It’s unclear if Nnaji will be a first-round pick, but if there is a high volume of power forwards selected early, that could very well happen. The Jazz have studs and solid contributors in Donovan Mitchell (PG), Rudy Gobert (C) , Mike Conley (G), as well as shooting forwards Joe Ingles and Bojan Bogdanovic. The Jazz are entering a win-now mode, and so it makes sense to address their clearest position of need, even if it means reaching a little bit. 

R1, P25: Oklahoma City Thunder select Robert Woodard II, SF, Mississippi State

The Thunder could also use power forwards and centers, but they have more prominent issues, despite a better-than-expected campaign in their first year sans Russell Westbrook. They have a lot of issues to address, and shooting forward is as glaring a problem as any other, so look for OKC to grab the SEC product here in Woodard, who provides great upside and a fairly lethal three-point offering. 

R1, P26: Boston Celtics select Udoka Azubuike, C, Kansas

Another fringe first rounder, Azubuike heads from a blue-blood in Kansas, the #1 team in the nation at the time of the season’s cancellation, to Boston, who looks ready to contend for a bevy of championships in the near future, behind their core of Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, and Jaylen Brown. Azubuike was the most dominant player on the court many times during his time with the Jayhawks, and he was in contention to be named the national player of the year. After dropping to 270 pounds, he was better defensively and can rebound and finish with the best of them. Unclear whether he may be already near his peak, but he could offer the C’s minutes off the bench right away. 

R1, P27: New York Knicks select Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama

Lewis could still return to Alabama, but if he remains a projected first rounder (ranked as the 23rd best prospect by ESPN), I would expect him to keep his name in the draft pool. One of the quickest players in the draft, Lewis features an improving shot, although he faces questions about his physicality and finishing at the rim. He may be a work in progress, but the Knicks are in a constant state of rebuild, so they’ve got time to develop the Alabama star. 

R1, P28: Toronto Raptors select Vernon Carey, C, Duke

Duke rarely waits this long to see a player drafted, but Carey, not projected in some first-round mocks, heads to the Raptors here, offering Toronto a physical presence in the paint. Carey has great agility and rebounding, but there are injury concerns, as well as questions about his polish in the passing game. 

R1, P29: Los Angeles Lakers select Daniel Oturu, C, Minnesota

Oturu gladly leaves the cold Minnesota winters behind for the bright lights of Los Angeles. If he earns a roster spot, he’ll get a chance to play with Lebron James and one of the best teams in the NBA. With DeMarcus Cousins not working out, Oturu does have a path to minutes in L.A. 

R1, P30: Boston Celtics select Devin Vassell, SG, Florida State

The Celtics have already addressed their most glaring needs with their first two picks, and it wouldn’t necessarily be surprising to see them trade the third for other value, but in the case they don’t, I see the C’s just going best available at this point. That best available player is clearly Vassell who has slipped drastically and relatively undeservedly. He’s a mid-first round talent, but the high demand for power forwards sees the FSU wing slip, where he can get a chance to develop behind that aforementioned core in Boston.

NBA Draft Feature: Onyeka Okungu, C/PF, USC

USC was a very young team this season with a lot of potential, and they were just starting to play their best basketball as the season came to a close, sitting at third in the Pac-12 when the coronavirus pandemic swept the nation. Many of their young players emulated the trends of the USC season – promising talent, seemingly peaking at the right time. The Trojans saw this especially in star freshman Onyeka Okongu, who is a projected lottery pick in the upcoming draft. It’s hard to pick out a true weakness in the California product’s game, as, except for a couple of tough games, put up solid numbers for the Trojans all season, and he was looking very smooth in USC’s system by mid-March. Averaging a touch over 16 points and 8 rebounds per game, Okongu combined for at least twenty combined points and rebounds in 10 of his final 12 games. He eclipsed 20 points in four of those games, 10 points in 11 of them, while bringing down enough boards for five double-doubles. Okungu will not spend a lot of time on the draft board, as he will be an enticing prize for many NBA GMs. 

Top Games

Okungu put up some gaudy numbers in non-conference play, but those stats were built up against teams like Long Beach State, Harvard, and Pepperdine. Nothing against those teams, but you don’t become a projected lottery pick from beating up on mid-majors in early-season games. Rather, we’ll focus on two very impressive performances that Okungu put forth in Pac-12 play, starting with their conference opener,
In his first Pac-12 action, Okungu and the Trojans visited Washington State. While the Cougars were not the class of the Big 12, any road game with such a young team was going to be difficult. However, Okungu didn’t shy away from the lights, easily leading USC in scoring with 27 points, ripping down 12 rebounds, and swatting away three shots, en route to a 65-56 victory to start their conference slate. He was a wildly efficient 12-14 from the field.
Just 16 days later, in a home game against Stanford, who finished with 20 wins on the year, USC found themselves in a slog of an overtime battle with the Cardinal. Okungu rallied the Trojans to victory in that must-win contest at home, as he chipped in 22 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and four blocks on the defensive end. 

Projection

As mentioned before, it’s difficult to find a true weakness in Okungu’s game. His ceiling is as high as anyone in this draft class, and his athleticism, strength, and rebounding proficiency all play well into his powerful style on the court. Standing at 6’9, he as decent, if not great, size for an NBA center, but scouts laud his exceptional length as a way to make up for a few of his inches. It certainly seemed to work, as he was one of the best rim protectors and shot blockers in the country. Even if there are concerns about whether he sticks at center long-term, he can also play as a power forward. Scouts’ biggest concern is a need to polish his offensive game, as he is very used to simply overpowering opponents with physical dominance in the paint. However, his defense projects as NBA-ready, and Okungu could slot into an NBA lineup, or at least be a very effective contributor off the bench, right away.

Prediction: Round 1, Pick 1, Golden State Warriors

That’s right. Not Lamelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, or James Wiseman will be going first overall int his draft. It’s Onyeka Okongwu. This is dependent on the Warriors getting the first pick, as they’re one of the few lottery teams with chances at being a playoff team in 2020-2021. This is why Okongwu is such an appealing pick – he can learn from Draymond Green, slotting in as a backup power forward for the once-proud dynasty, or he can challenge for the starting position at center. With Klay Thompson and Steph Curry, the Warriors don’t need offensive stardom from Okungwu, but if he protects the rim, plays solid defense, and chips in with a handful of buckets each game, all things he seems perfectly capable of doing right away in the NBA, he would be a great addition to this Golden State squad.

NBA Draft Feature: Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton

The video in this article was made for collegetalking.com by Bryan Mallet. Please check out Bryan’s YouTube and Instagram pages for more great sports hype and highlight mixes!

In the 2019-2020 basketball season, Dayton power forward Obi Toppin dominated college basketball in a way that isn’t frequently done. Sure, Dayton didn’t play in a Power-6 conference, but that largely meant that Toppin drew double-teams, sometimes triple teams, yet he still put up huge numbers night in and night out. Those numbers (20 points, 7.5 rebounds per game) came even with Toppin averaging 31 minutes per game, often playing under 30 due to Dayton’s blowouts. He was still the Flyers’ leading scorer in 19 of their 31 games, while leading in rebounding 17 times. Toppin garnered high praise from his peers, with Michigan State’s Cassius Winston saying “He made the game look way too easy on a nightly basis” in an interview back in March. Even if the numbers don’t shock you, only watching Toppin play can truly show the ease with which he dominated the game, flushing down powerful dunks, recording massive blocks – 12 games with two or more – and simply fueling the Flyers through their wildly successful season. The mid-major power lost just twice, both times in overtime – once to Kansas and once to Colorado. 

This video was made for Collegetalking.com by Bryan Mallet. Follow him on Instagram @bmalmedia and his YouTube channel to see all of his work

Top Games

Picking just one or two top games from a player as consistent as Toppin is an exceptionally difficult task, but the two contests we’ve decided to highlight are his season opener against Indiana State, and a late-December clash versus North Florida. In the opener, as Dayton gotten their feet under them against the feisty Sycamores, Toppin simply became their answer to every Indiana State charge. Scoring 29 points on 10-16 shooting, collecting twelve rebounds, and finishing out the game with an 8-11 performance from the free throw line in an 86-81 victory to start the season.
Against North Florida, Toppin posted a season-high 31 points, while also notching 8 rebounds in a breezy post-Christmas win. Toppin also showed up in big games, averaging 21.9 points in games decided by less than 10 points. He put up 18 points against Kansas at the Maui Invitational, often while doing battle against Kansas’s Udoka Azubuike, a 7’0 force in the paint. 

Projection

Toppin has a lot of strengths that NBA scouts love, including his ability to avoid fouls as a big man, averaging just 2.2 per game in 2019-2020, and his offensive efficiency is excellent. At 6’9, 220 pounds, Toppin fits in well as an NBA power forward, although he could probably improve his rebounding a little bit. Averaging a touch under eight rebounds per game certainly does not drop any jaws, given Toppin’s size. He still figures to be one of the top power forwards available, and he’s a virtual shoe-in to go within the first ten picks of the draft.

Prediction: Round 1, Pick 7, Chicago Bulls

Toppin could go way earlier than this, but I think a few of the teams projected to draft earlier than the Bulls simply have other needs. The Hawks and Cavaliers will likely look for best available playmakers, like Anthony Edwards or LaMelo Ball, while the Knicks will likely look to target their point guard of the future. There are a few concerns about where Toppin’s ceiling is, and so teams looking for high upside may go elsewhere. If the Warriors pick #1 and are looking for an NBA-ready player for them to surge back into championship contention, I would not be surprised at all to see Steve Kerr bring Toppin to Cali. However, after the Warriors, I think the Bulls are next most logical spot for Toppin to slot in, and he’ll be headed to the Windy City, where he fills a big need for a versatile 3 or 4 type of player to star alongside point guard Zach LaVine.

NBA Draft Feature: Markus Howard, PG, Marquette

The name of the game in the modern NBA is shooting. And few people in college basketball shoot the ball better than Marquette’s Markus Howard. Looking at Howard’s game log feels like you’re reading the stats of a video game character – Howard shoots early and often, averaging 27.8 points per game this past season. It was a career high and his third consecutive year averaging over 20, and the Marquette star graduated as the all-time Big East scoring leader, ending his career on a string of five consecutive 30 point games. Howard drew some criticism due to his role with Marquette, which often involved him taking high volumes of shots. When he was hot, Marquette could hang with anybody, but if he was cold, the Golden Eagles frequently struggled.

Top Games

Everyone knew Howard could shoot coming into the year, but he wasted no time in reminding viewers, dropping 40 and 51 points in two games at the Orlando Invitational, leading Marquette to a 3-0 record at the tournament. Howard displayed his ability to grind out wins when his shot wasn’t on in an early conference victory against #10 Villanova; despite shooting just 3-12 from beyond the arc, Howard dropped 29 points, closing out a 71-60 victory on the strength of a 12-12 effort from the free throw line. In a pivotal road game at Georgetown, Howard torched the Hoyas for 42 points in an 84-80 triumph. 

Projection
Wherever Howard ends up playing at the next level, he won’t have to be the go-to guy anymore, which may allow him to utilize his spectacular, if sometimes streaky, deep shooting to his advantage. As 35-foot three-pointers become almost commonplace in the NBA, Howard’s ability to pull up from virtually anywhere on the court will be a great asset for whoever secures his services. Howard shot 42% from three, and it feels like he could be a valuable sparkplug off the bench early in his career, with the potential to develop into a starter if his shot becomes a little more consistent, and his play a little more efficient. 

Prediction: Round 2, Pick 57, Los Angeles Clippers
Patrick Beverley is a 31-year old point guard for the Clippers, and he’s a defensive stalwart that could help mentor Howard on that side of the floor. Meanwhile, Howard has an NBA-ready shot, and he could fill minutes for Los Angeles as they implement their load management tactics with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. 

NBA Draft Feature: Devin Vassell, SG, Florida State

For our next NBA Draft feature, we’re headed to the ACC and one of the best shooting guards in the country – Florida State’s Devin Vassell. The Seminoles have one of the deepest teams in the nation, so although Vassell’s 12.7 points per game may not pop off the page, it’s actually extremely impressive on a team that runs nine or ten men deep.

Shooting at a 49% clip, Vassell is a versatile and efficient player. He shot 41.5% from three-point range on the season, and he also collected 5.1 boards per contest. Considering he only played a little over 28 minutes per game, Vassell’s numbers are impressive, and the lack of sheer volume has him sitting lower on the draft boards than his worth. Vassell is likely a mid-first round pick, and if you can pick this guy up after the first ten picks, you’ll be getting exceptional slot value.

Top Games

Undoubtedly, Vassell’s best game this season was his season-high 27-point performance against Virginia Tech. Vassell earned his points in his usual efficient manner, but he was particularly on point against the Hokies. Firing on all cylinders, the 6’6 sophomore connected on all seven of his attempts from beyond the arc in leading the Seminoles to a big road victory.
Vassell also posted a double-double (23 points, 11 rebounds) in an overtime victory versus Miami, and he was Florida State’s main source of offense in a defensive slog against Virginia – the Georgia product torched the Cavaliers for 18 points, five rebounds, and three assists in a 54-50 victory.

Projection

Vassell’s role in Florida State’s defensive system, as well as his quietly efficient scoring clip, could help him carve out a role at the next level. His biggest weaknesses according to scouts are scoring volume and assists, but again, much of the volume issues are due to the Florida State system not being conducive to gaudy statistics. His defense and steady consistent play should make him a valuable asset in this year’s draft. He may not be putting up 25 a night, but Vassell has a spot in the NBA, so it’s just a matter of which team takes advantage of his talent.

Prediction: Round 1, Pick 15, Orlando Magic

Obviously, with the draft lottery having not happened yet, the pick order is still a bit of a mystery, so this is based off the records at the time of the sports shutdown. The Magic figure to fall into that mid-first round range that Vassell should go in, and Orlando could use Vassell as an intriguing complement to the offensively talented Evan Fournier. Plus, there’s the added benefit of keeping the FSU guard in-state and comfortable, which can be a big factor in success at the professional level.

2010 NBA Redraft: Top Ten Picks

1. Washington Wizards – Paul George (Original Pick: John Wall)
This one shouldn’t be a question. Paul George has been far and away the best player from this class, but back in 2010, the Fresno State product wasn’t as well known, going tenth overall to the Pacers. He’s averaged 20 points per game for his career, and no disrespect to John Wall, he should have clearly gone #1 overall.
2. Philadelphia 76ers – Derrick Favors (Original Pick: Evan Turner)
This is going to be unpopular, but Favors has been one of the most consistent players of this draft class, playing most of his career for the Utah Jazz. Evan Turner was decent, but I believe the 76ers went for the big-name Ohio State guy, and they missed out on a p 

3. New Jersey Nets – Gordon Hayward (Original Pick: Derrick Favors)
Favors is no longer available at #3, so the Nets get a very solid backup plan in Gordon Hayward. The former Butler star went ninth overall, and he was a franchise player for the Jazz until he reunited with college coach Brad Stevens in Boston. Outside of his horrific injury in his first season with the Celtics, Hayward is averaging 17.3 points per pop this season and 15.3 points for his career, so the Nets would have gotten a cornerstone for their long-suffering franchise in Hayward. 

4. Minnesota Timberwolves – Greg Monroe (Original Pick: Wesley Johnson)
With 13.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, Monroe has been consistent and productive through his career. In reality, Monroe, who was drafted out of Georgetown, went three picks later to the Detroit Pistons, and he averaged over fifteen points per game for five of his first six seasons. He bounced around to five other teams, but his high levels of productivity would have definitely been worth the lottery pick. 

5. Sacramento Kings – Hassan Whiteside (Original Pick: DeMarcus Cousins)
I’ll get to why I wouldn’t want Cousins in the top five picks, but Whiteside was by far the best value pick of this round, going towards the midway point of the second round. Whiteside has averaged a double-double over the course of a very solid career, but his college at the low-profile Marshall University limited his draft stock. The Kings actually snared Whiteside in the second round, but they traded him to Miami, where the mid-major star became a stud.  

6. Golden State Warriors – DeMarcus Cousins (Original Pick: Ekpe Udoh)
The Warriors swung and missed on their 2010 pick, and in our redraft, DeMarcus Cousins is still available at #6. Why? There are a few reasons – namely, Cousins was a lottery pick, and although he put up some impressive individual numbers, he didn’t do much to turn the Kings around, plus he’s been injured for most of the past three seasons. So for durability concerns, he’s going sixth, as the five players taken before him have been far more healthy. Cousins is a great value pick at #6, and he gets a chance at joining the Warriors dynasty that emerged later in the decade. 

7. Detroit Pistons – John Wall (Original Pick: Greg Monroe)
Monroe is no longer on the table for Detroit, so they sacrifice their star for the original #1 pick in this draft, picking up a very capable talent in John Wall. A 5-time All-Star, Wall has averaged 19 points per game over his career, and he was far from a bust at #1 overall – he was just part of a very good draft class, so Detroit happily snatches up the Kentucky product with the seventh pick. 

8. Los Angeles Clippers – Eric Bledsoe (Original Pick: AlFarouq Aminu)
Bledsoe remains a highly underappreciated talent in the NBA, as the 18th overall pick of the 2010 draft took a few years to develop, but he has been a very reliable contributor for much of his career. He’s maybe not a face-of-the-franchise type, but paired with a Giannis or another big name, Bledsoe is a spectacular second option. He’s averaging 14.2 points per game on his career, and he shoots at a 46% clip. The Clippers actually traded for Bledsoe but traded him after three mediocre seasons. Bledsoe emerged with the Suns, and then the Bucks, so it’s too bad the Clippers didn’t stick with him, as he would have been a great selection for them at #8.

9. Utah Jazz – Ed Davis (Original Pick: Gordon Hayward)
The Jazz downgrade with Hayward having been selected third overall, but they still pick up a solid player in Davis. Davis may not have filled the stat sheet, but his consistent, quiet efficiency has been the hallmark of the journeyman’s career. Davis actually currently plays for Utah, but he appears to be reaching the end of his days in the NBA, and the Jazz would have been better off to pick him up here (assuming Hayward was gone). 

10. Indiana Pacers – Patrick Patterson (Original Pick: Paul George)
The Pacers originally got the best player of the draft at #10 overall, but they have to settle in this redraft, as their initial selection was the first name called, leaving Indiana looking for a replacement. Patterson has not been a star by any means, but to get 673 career games and over six points per game out of the tenth pick is not a bad deal, and in this top-heavy re-draft, Patterson is the best available for Indiana, so he will slot in with the Pacers.

Daily Headlines: Viral star McClung withdraws from draft, intends to transfer

The NCAA Basketball transfer market heated up in a big way on Thursday afternoon, as social media superstar Mac McClung decided to not test the NBA Draft waters, removing his name from consideration and entering the transfer portal, opting to leave the Georgetown Hoyas. McClung, a rising junior, was an integral part of the Hoyas, averaging 13.1 points per game in his freshman campaign, before the guard averaged 15.7 points per game, to go with 3.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.4 steals as a sophomore, playing just 21 games due to injury. McClung rose to fame via viral dunking videos during high school, and he figures to eventually be drafted, but for now, he will continue playing at the collegiate level, and he’s certain to have no shortage of teams vying for his services in the 2020-2021 season. 

SEC sets May 22 voting date

The SEC announced that their presidents and chancellors were scheduled to meet virtually and vote on whether to allow their schools to reopen their athletic facilities in June. In the conference’s initial response to the coronavirus pandemic, they shut down all athletic activities through May, but no further announcement had been made by the conference, although a few schools, with Arkansas in particular making headlines, had announced their intentions to start the football season as scheduled. The May 22 vote would allow facilities to re-open, but it was specified that it was too early to determine the potential ability for teams to hold walk-throughs or practices. 

NCAA basketball exploring shot clock replay rule

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee proposed a rule that would ideally cut down on officiating errors, suggesting that referees can review plays which they whistled dead to a shot clock violation. While they are currently allowed to review to see if they failed to call a shot clock violation, they are presently permitted to undo a shot clock violation called. The Rules Committee says it threatens the integrity of the game, particularly by potentially wiping away legal game-winners by a decision that has to be made in a split-second. 

They also suggested resetting the shot clock any time the offensive team retains possession in the front court – the rule currently allows the shot clock to reset if the offense collects a rebound. If the proposed expansion of the rule is allowed, if the ball goes out off a defensive player and the team with the ball retains possession, the shot clock can be reset to 20 seconds or the prior time remaining, whichever is greater. 

NBA Draft Feature: Sam Merrill, Utah State

Up next in our NBA Draft feature series is Sam Merrill of Utah State. Merrill is ranked 68th on ESPN’s Draft board, but beyond his basketball skill, his clutch gene alone is worth taking a late-round flier on this mid-major stud. Merrill was last seen hitting the buzzer-beating game-winner to take down heavily favored San Diego State in the Mountain West conference championship game. Over the course of the season, Merrill posted 19.7 points per game, and he turned it up a notch in the postseason, slapping 27.7 points per game on his opponents in the Mountain West Tournament. A 46.1% shooter, Merrill has been lauded with Mountain West awards, including Player of the Year after his junior year campaign.

Top Games

As mentioned before, Merrill saved his best for the brightest moments of the season. His best game of the season wasn’t even his 27-point performance against SDSU in the title game, but rather, his semifinal contest against Wyoming. Merrill put up 27 points on 9-15 shooting, closing out an upset bid by going 6-6 at the free throw line. Merrill shot 55.7% in the postseason, and he scored in bunches all season long. Merrill’s ability to drill three-pointers and his clutch gene are perfect matches for the evolving style of play in the NBA. 

Projection

Merrill ranks #68 on the draft board, and he is the fourteenth-ranked shooting guard in this draft class. He may not hear his name called during the draft, but teams will regret that, and whoever snares Merrill, be it late in the second round or as an undrafted free agent, will be getting a steal, and a gutsy player with some solid upside. 

Prediction: Undrafted, Signs with San Antonio Spurs
Gutsy and clutch. It’s the type of player that makes me think of Greg Popovich’s system. I like the idea of Merrill playing in that San Antonio system. He may need a little polishing, but if Merrill keeps improving as the lights get brighter, he’ll find himself on an NBA court more often than not.

NBA Draft Feature: Luka Garza, Iowa

We’re kicking off our NBA Draft prospect series with Iowa center Luka Garza. Garza has declared for the draft while maintaining NCAA eligibility. Projected as the #1 returning player if he comes back to college, it’s very possible Garza doesn’t end up turning pro this season, but this feature will assume he does. 

Garza is definitely one of the most underrated players in this draft class, as he absolutely dominated the Big 10 this past season, putting up huge numbers on a Hawkeyes’ that lacked an additional standout talent. Despite constantly drawing the opposing teams’ top defender, and often facing double teams, Garza was unstoppable, particularly in the paint. 

Top Games

Garza started his year off with some decent, if not jaw-dropping, numbers, but he broke out in an early December contest against then #4 Michigan. Although Iowa lost the game, Garza dropped 44 points on a stiff Michigan defense, single-handedly keeping the Hawkeyes within striking distance despite the eventual loss.
A few other notable performances from Garza came in ranked wins over #19 Illinois, when he went 4-9 from three-point range and posted 25 points and 10 rebounds, and #16 Penn State, as Garza tortured the Nittany Lions to the tune of 25 points and 17 rebounds. His most impressive calling-card, however, is his consistency, as the Hawkeyes’ center scored at least twenty points in his final sixteen contests, carrying Iowa to a strong Big 10 performance. Despite his team’s struggles on the road – Iowa went 2-5 in true road games in that twenty-game stretch – Garza averaged just a touch under 25 points per game in those contests, actually higher than his season-average of 23.9 points a game. Garza is an absolute beast, and he was undoubtedly the star of a team that lacked elite talent. He repeatedly powered through top defenses, and he rarely had an off-night. 
Prospect Grade: 5.9

Projection

Despite his impressive collegiate credentials, Garza is currently ranked as the 14th ranked center in the draft class, and many rankings don’t have him even being selected in the two-round draft. Garza’s biggest knock, according to many, is his below average lateral movement, as he sometimes struggled to guard more athletic players. Despite this, Garza is a high-IQ basketball player, with decent playmaking ability, and great finishing ability. Garza could be a solid find at the back end of the second round, or even to sign after the draft, but the money will have to be worth it in order to convince Garza to give up a chance at leading Iowa to the Final Four in his senior season. The prediction below is assuming Garza goes pro, despite the real possibility he heads back to the Hawkeyes for one more ride.

Prediction: Undrafted, signs with New York Knicks
Garza would be an excellent complement for Allen Robinson in New York. Robinson excels defensively, but his offensive contributions are limited to alley-oops and put-back baskets. Garza’s playmaking ability would allow the Knicks to have a more offensive lineup on the floor, while Robinson could be a great defensive option and mentor as Garza adjusts to the pro game.