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Gary Washburn’s NBA mock draft: Who will go where in the search for talent?

Freshman forward Jabari Smith averaged 16.9 points and 7.4 rebounds for Auburn last season.Eakin Howard/Getty

The NBA Draft is Thursday night, beginning at 8 at Barclays Center in New York. As things stand, the Celtics do not have a first-round pick (they will select at No. 53 in the second round). Here is one projection on how the first round will go:

1. Orlando — Jabari Smith, Auburn

The Magic have been in the lottery so often that they don’t have a glaring draft need; they just need more talent. Smith becomes the third cornerstone, with Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony, giving the Magic a promising young core. Smith has the ability to dominate both sides of the ball and is already a polished scorer.


2. Oklahoma City — Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga

Holmgren is perfect for the Thunder. He is a Kevin Durant clone who will get plenty of time to develop since the Thunder remain in the midst of their youth movement. He is a prolific scorer and a potential All-Star who needs polish and physical development.

3. Houston — Paolo Banchero, Duke

There was a reason why the Rockets sent Christian Wood to the Mavericks; they have had their eyes on Banchero for months. He is physically imposing, with the ability to score in the paint and from the perimeter. He’s one of the most NBA-ready prospects in the draft and could elevate the Rockets to playoff contention next season.

4. Sacramento — Keegan Murray, Iowa

If you haven’t heard of Murray, you’re not alone. He quietly became one of the best players in the country, and when he had a chance to showcase his skills on the national stage during the NCAA Tournament, the Hawkeyes were bounced in the first round. Murray is a potential plus defender with a smooth shooting stroke.

5. Detroit — Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona

Watch out for the Pistons. They are building a talented young core, and Mathurin, considered one of the toughest players in America, will add to their talent base. He gives coach Dwane Casey another backcourt option or he could play small forward in smaller lineups. The Pistons are compiling lottery picks and eventually they’re going to break through.


6. Indiana — Jaden Ivey, Purdue

The Pacers may be interested in moving this pick for more veteran help, but if the local player falls to them here, they’ll take him. Ivey is a smooth scorer and superior athlete who will boost the Indiana backcourt. The Pacers are making changes, with Malcolm Brogdon and Myles Turner on the trade block. Ivey offers optimism for the future.

Jaden Ivey (right) drives on a Yale player during a first-round NCAA game in March.Patrick McDermott/Getty

7. Portland — Dyson Daniels, G League Ignite

The Trail Blazers are in a difficult situation, trying to rebuild around 32-year-old Damian Lillard but still needing depth on the roster. Daniels is a talented prospect who can give the Blazers another budding star. Bringing back Anfernee Simons as a restricted free agent is the team’s first priority.

8. New Orleans — Shaedon Sharpe, Kentucky

The Pelicans have drafted enough in the lottery to pad their roster with prospects, and now those prospects are developing. Still, with the Lakers’ pick from the Anthony Davis trade, they take someone who can eventually back up CJ McCollum. Sharpe is one of those Kentucky players who’s sure to have a better pro career than college.

9. San Antonio — Jeremy Sochan, Baylor

The Spurs are just trying to pack their roster with more young talent as they try to speed up the rebuild. Sochan has star potential and is a plus defender. The Spurs need more impact players in the frontcourt, and Sochan could help immediately. But does Gregg Popovich have the patience for developing a one-and-done?

Forward Jeremy Sochan (right) averaged 9.2 points and 1.3 steals for Baylor as a freshman.Tom Pennington/Getty

10. Washington — Johnny Davis, Wisconsin

The Wizards are looking for backcourt help, and Davis is a tough-minded scorer who could help veteran Bradley Beal. Washington’s real need is at point guard, and that could mean a draft-night trade and getting out of the first round.


11. New York — AJ Griffin, Duke

If the Knicks actually use this pick, Griffin is a great choice considering he’s a rising prospect who could become a cornerstone. The Knicks are trying to improve immediately, so this pick is up for trade. They don’t really need another prospect after scoring well in the draft the past few years.

12. Oklahoma City — Jalen Duran, Memphis

The Thunder may be looking to trade out of this pick because they have so many first-rounders, but Duran could become a solid starter at center and add to the plethora of young players for the Thunder. He could be a keeper.

13. Charlotte — Mark Williams, Duke

He is the defensive-minded center the Hornets have needed for years. Although the team still does not have a coach, team management will take the rim protector, who has a good touch around the basket. He is comparable to Robert Williams with his defensive impact, and the Hornets need improvement on defense.

14. Cleveland — Ochai Agbaji, Kansas

The Cavaliers are becoming stacked with young talent, but Agbaji is a knockdown shooter who can help their offense with his perimeter game. Cleveland had trouble scoring in the second half of the season, and Agbaji should emerge as a contributor.

15. Charlotte — Ousmane Dieng, New Zealand Breakers

Dieng is a versatile forward who will not need to play immediately because of the Hornets’ depth. There is a level of mystery about him, as he played last year in New Zealand, but he’s a bona fide lottery pick who should help soon.


Ousmane Dieng, 19, is a native of France who averaged 8.9 points in 23 games in New Zealand this past season.Chris Hyde/Getty

16. Atlanta — Walker Kessler, Auburn

The Hawks may be looking to deal Clint Capela to upgrade their frontcourt. Kessler starred this past season at nearby Auburn as a premium shot blocker. He would help the Hawks upgrade their defense and give them a legitimate post presence.

17. Houston — Tari Eason, LSU

A solid swingman with the ability to shoot the 3-pointer, Eason gives the Rockets yet another solid prospect who can compete for playing time. The Rockets could be active on draft night because, like many teams, they are loaded with youngsters but not veterans. So this pick could be up for trade.

18. Chicago — Jalen Williams, Santa Clara

The Bulls could use more scoring from the wing position, and Williams is intriguing. There are not many NBA players from Santa Clara — Steve Nash is the most notable — but Williams is a proven scorer (40 percent on 3-pointers). He could help the Bulls’ struggling offense, especially if Zach LaVine leaves via free agency.

Jalen Williams, a 6-foot-6-inch guard, played three seasons at Santa Clara.Young Kwak/Associated Press

19. Minnesota — TyTy Washington, Kentucky

The Timberwolves need an upgrade at point guard, and Kentucky has produced recent standouts such as Tyrese Maxey and Immanuel Quickley who have shown to be better pros than collegians. Washington could be the next. The Timberwolves are a standout point guard away from being a top contender in the Western Conference.

20. San Antonio — Malaki Branham, Ohio State

A one-and-done who is a polished scorer, Branham gives the rebuilding Spurs another quality scorer and a possible replacement for Lonnie Walker, who is a free agent. Ohio State players have made steady pros, and the Spurs need more scoring punch.


21. Denver — Blake Wesley, Notre Dame

The Nuggets don’t need help at shooting guard right away with Jamal Murray returning, but they could use a future piece. The one-and-done Wesley enjoyed a standout freshman season for the Irish but needs to work on his efficiency. Had he stayed in school another year, he’d have been a likely lottery pick.

22. Memphis — Dalen Terry, Arizona

The Grizzlies take a swingman who flourished in the combine portion of the predraft process. Of course, they could invest in a point guard with the likely free agent departure of Tyus Jones, but Terry may be the best player available at this point.

23. Philadelphia — E.J. Liddell, Ohio State

The 76ers are looking to move this pick for a veteran player who can help them win immediately. If they decide to use it, Liddell could step in right away and contribute at power forward. The 76ers could use toughness, scoring, and rebounding.

24. Milwaukee — Wendell Moore, Duke

The Bucks need a bench upgrade and could use Moore’s versatility. He did a little bit of everything at Duke and could blend into the rotation in case Bobby Portis and Pat Connaughton leave via free agency. The Bucks also could use shooting, and Wake Forest’s Jake LaRavia could be on their list.

25. San Antonio — Jaden Hardy, G League Ignite

Another shooting guard prospect for the Spurs, Hardy probably should have spent another season in the G League, but some team, especially one with multiple picks, will take a chance on his potential. He needs to show more maturity but his path is similar to that of Dejounte Murray, a late first-rounder who turned into an All-Star.

26. Houston — MarJon Beauchamp, G League Ignite

Again, if Beauchamp stays with the G League one more season, he’s a likely lottery pick. But he has the potential to be a cornerstone with the proper tutoring. The Rockets have a load of first-round picks, so they can take some chances on late bloomers.

27. Miami — Peyton Watson, UCLA

The definition of a long-term prospect, he averaged just 3 points per game at UCLA, unable to get on the floor because of the team’s depth. So why is he a first-round pick? He has the athleticism and potential to be an NBA contributor, and the Heat love to develop young players into rotation pieces.

28. Golden State — Jake LaRavia, Wake Forest

LaRavia is a prototype stretch-4 who could blend into the Golden State program because he’s a plus 3-point shooter with the size to play multiple positions. The Warriors don’t need anything from him this year or even next, so he can take time learning the system. They also could move out of this pick altogether.

29. Memphis — Andrew Nembhard, Gonzaga

Nembhard could be the point guard the Grizzlies need to back up Ja Morant. Tyus Jones may be too expensive for them to retain, and Nembhard could step in immediately. He impressed scouts in the combine and thrust himself into the first round.

30. Denver — Christian Braun, Kansas

Again, this pick could be moved by the Nuggets, but Braun is a versatile player with championship experience. He is the type who will step in and find an immediate role. The Nuggets are trying to improve the core around Nikola Jokic, and Braun could be a solid piece.

Gary Washburn is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at gary.washburn@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GwashburnGlobe.