There is no off-season for mock drafts. That’s the good news. The depressing side of the coin is that there’s no tangible reward for getting things mostly correct. You know, outside of the pride and joy it brings. Can’t buy anything with feelings, though.
There’s little debate over who will go first in June’s NBA Draft. What comes after Zion is less clear. Here is how I see things playing out, barring trades, which are sure to happen.
#1 New York Knicks
Zion Williamson, DUKE: There’s no use in overthinking it. The 6-foot-7, 290 pound forward could end up playing any of the five positions. His enormous body will mean immediate impact. It’s been a long time since a physical specimen like this entered the league and picking him first overall is a no-brainer. The Knicks would get him on a rookie contract and potentially pair him with Kevin Durant. While this may not make them favorites in the East, it would put every available Tri-State Area butt in the Garden seats.
#2 Cleveland Cavaliers
R.J. Barrett, DUKE: Yes, the Cavs took Collin Sexton early last year and Barrett represents a similar player. But passing on a sweet-shooting 6-7 guard who can create his own shot and facilitate an offense at such a high level so early would be tough to do. The lefty proved his mettle (22.6 points/game) against the toughest collegiate competition last year.
#3 Phoenix Suns
Ja Morant, MURRAY STATE: Recent scuttlebutt has the Suns preferring Morant over Barrett because of the recent track record of point guard trouble in the desert. Morant is far more refined and a better passer than his Duke counterpart, and could really help Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton take the next step.
#4 Chicago Bulls
Jarrett Culver, TEXAS TECH: Ideally, the Bulls would like a point guard. They’ll have to decide if they want to go best-available player or fulfill a need here. My gut says they opt for the former Texas Tech forward who led the Red Raiders on a deep NCAA Tournament run. Culver is a dynamic two-way player, something that will scratch the grit-minded front office and coaching staff right where they itch.
#5 Atlanta Hawks
Bol Bol, OREGON: Okay, hear me out. Bol played but nine games with Oregon and has serious injury baggage. That’s the bad. The good is that the dude is 7-foot-3 with even longer arms and is a knockdown shooter. There is no other player in the draft like him. Pairing him with Trae Young would mean stretching the court to absurd levels. High-risk but also high-reward.