Gary Washburn’s mock NBA Draft
Zion Williamson, PF, Duke
The easiest pick of the night, with the Pelicans getting a chance to reboot with the most intriguing prospect in the past 15 years. Williamson has the strength, skill set, and size to become a superstar, and the Pelicans got enough talent from the Anthony Davis trade to become a contender in the coming years.
Ja Morant, PG, Murray State
One of the more dynamic point guards to emerge in the past few years, Morant became a sensation as he carried the mid-major Racers to the NCAA Tournament. He has freakish athleticism, stellar passing skills, and the ability to score from long distance. He’ll serve as a perfect replacement for Mike Conley for the new-look Grizzlies.
RJ Barrett, SF, Duke
Barrett was actually the No. 1 prospect entering last season, before Williamson emerged, and still has the ability to be a perennial All-Star and impact player. And he wants to play in New York. He isn’t Williamson, but this is a good second option for the Knicks, who need all the talent they can get.
Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt
This pick is the Lakers’ but will go to the Pelicans when the Anthony Davis deal is official. Garland is the point guard the Pelicans need to pair with Williamson and give them a formidable club for the next several years.
Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech
Culver was a steady riser because of his ability to defend and develop into a reliable scorer. The Cavaliers, with new coach John Beilein, are still trying to acquire talent in their rebuild, and Culver could play both forward positions and defend the way Beilein likes.
Coby White, PG, North Carolina
White enjoyed a solid freshman season at North Carolina and has been overshadowed in this draft by Garland and Morant. But he’s a quality guard who could develop into a star. Phoenix has long searched for a point guard and is likely to add a veteran to the mix, but White will be a solid backup.
Cam Reddish, SF, Duke
Chicago would like one of those premium point guards, as it is not sold on Providence product Kris Dunn, but Reddish gives them another potential star in their crop of youngsters. At this point, the Bulls are just trying to add more talent.
De’Andre Hunter, SF, Virginia
Atlanta traded Taurean Prince to the Nets in the Allen Crabbe deal, opening up a slot for a combo forward like Hunter, who relishes playing defense. Pair him with John Collins, and the Hawks are suddenly strong defensively.
Sekou Doumbouya, PF, France
Washington needs young talent, and Doumbouya has a tremendous upside and could help immediately. It probably won’t go over well with a fan base hungry for a winner that the club is taking the first European, but eventually this could work out. The Wizards are operating without a permanent general manager.
Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas
The success of Myles Turner and Jarrett Allen, one-and-done centers from Texas, greatly helps Hayes, the latest Longhorn freshman entry. The Hawks need a young center, and Hayes can grow and develop with the rest of his baby-faced teammates. He’s a ways away, but the Hawks, with three first-round picks, can afford to take a chance.
Nassir Little, SF, North Carolina
The Wolves don’t really need another young player who could take a few years to develop, but here they are. They thought they’d be past this lottery thing by now. But Little has the potential to be a standout player although he was wildly inconsistent with the Tar Heels.
Rui Hachimura, PF, Gonzaga
Charlotte has a poor drafting history, and there’s a reason why it is not likely to re-sign Kemba Walker — because paying all that money with little support for Walker doesn’t make sense. So the Hornets will try to reboot and take the most talented forward remaining in Hachimura, who will become the first Japanese player ever drafted.
P.J. Washington, PF, Kentucky
Miami desperately needs young forwards, with James Johnson and Udonis Haslem their lone power forwards from last season. Washington can pair with potential standout Bam Adebayo to form a strong defensive combination for years. But the Heat will need more than that to contend.
Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana
The Celtics need an explosive guard, and they need someone with immense potential. Langford is not going to knock you over with his personality (think Kawhi Leonard) but he has the potential to be a standout shooting guard. He comes from Brad Stevens’s home state of Indiana and he played last season with a torn hand ligament.
Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky
What did the Pacers need most in their playoff loss to the Celtics? Shooting. Herro can help out with that, and he has the athleticism to become a fixture as a swingman. He also could serve as a combo guard for a team that desperately needs help in the backcourt with Darren Collison a free agent and Tyreke Evans suspended.
Keldon Johnson, SG, Kentucky
The Magic seem enamored with Kentucky players, and Johnson could be a good addition to their backcourt as they try to get to that next level. Markelle Fultz has been working out in Orlando and should be ready to go next season. The Magic need a pinpoint shooter in the backcourt, and Johnson has those tools.
Goga Bitadze, C, Republic of Georgia
The Hawks, like the Celtics, don’t want three rookies in training camp to join their already young crew, so they’ll take a flyer on Bitadze and likely stash him in Europe for a year or two. Atlanta is reaching a point where it will need to add veteran free agents to blend with its youngsters.
Matisse Thybulle, SF, Washington
The defensive ace should work well in coach Nate McMillan’s system and should be able to help out Victor Oladipo because he can guard multiple positions. The Pacers are looking to get younger in the backcourt because their frontcourt is set with Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner.
Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland
The bruising big man will be welcome for the frontcourt-thin Spurs, who feel as if they can make a big jump in the West with Lonnie Walker healthy for a full season and LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan back after playing a full season together. Fernando has an NBA body and could flourish under coach Gregg Popovich.
Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC
He comes with baggage — questions about his attitude — but his talent cannot be denied. With Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier likely gone, the Celtics will desperately need dynamic backcourt players. Danny Ainge will take a major chance on one of these picks, and he’ll nab Porter before he gets taken later in the first round.
Cameron Johnson, SF, North Carolina
The Thunder desperately need shooting, and Johnson is the best shooting big man in the draft. They also need someone mature (he’s 23) and can come in and help immediately. The Thunder are so much over the salary cap, it’s going to be difficult to bring in a quality free agent, so Johnson will have to serve as such.
Carsen Edwards, PG, Purdue
Remember, Brad Stevens is an Indiana native and keeps tabs on all college players there, while former Celtics assistant Micah Shrewsberry is a Purdue grad and now the assistant coach there. So they had to give Edwards rave reviews. It was a few years ago that the Celtics thrived when led by an undersized guard who could score in bunches. Remember him?
Mfiondu Kabengele, PF, Florida State
The Grizzlies are in total rebound, so why not take an athletic center to pair with Jaren Jackson Jr.? This pick is like found money because it was Utah’s before the Mike Conley trade, so the Grizzlies will make sure to get another young, tough player to fit into their system.
Eric Paschall, PF, Villanova
Philadelphia likes to draft local players, and Paschall will be a fan favorite. He is physically ready to play in the NBA and won’t have too much responsibility besides scoring and rebounding. The 76ers will have so much salary tied to their main players, they will need help from rookies.
25. TRAIL BLAZERS
Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga
Portland could use a frontcourt boost, and Clarke is a well-coached, talented player who could contribute immediately. He is nearly 23 and played at two colleges, so he’s seasoned and skilled. Should blend into the Blazers’ system well.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Virginia Tech
The Cavaliers are looking for a backcourt mate for Collin Sexton. Alexander-Walker, like most players in this draft, could develop into a gem but probably could have used another year of college. He showed signs of being a standout college player but he managed only 15 total points in the Hokies’ final two tournament games.
KZ Okpala, SF, Stanford
Okpala is a player whose professional career could be better than his college career. He is a virtual unknown because his Stanford teams did not reach the NCAA Tournament in either of his two years. But he’ll get a chance to develop under Kenny Atkinson and become a reliable swingman.
Luguentz Dort, SG, Arizona State
Dort is a one-and-done but is physically ready for the rigors of the NBA. The Warriors need players who are ready to contribute now, considering the injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson and their subpar drafts the past few years. Dort could be one of the stars of this draft. He was overshadowed playing in the Pac-12.
Bol Bol, C, Oregon
The Spurs know Bol is a project, and with Popovich astute at grooming big men, Bol could turn into a standout player. But at 208 pounds, it’s going to take a while. Best-case scenario is that Bol becomes a stretch-5 who can score, rebound, and defend the rim with his 7-foot-3-inch height.
Ty Jerome, SG, Virginia
With Malcolm Brogdon likely gone to free agency, the Bucks need a dependable backup point guard behind Eric Bledsoe, and Jerome, the Final Four hero, could develop into that player. His stock has risen during the draft process and he could come in and help a team next year.