Nothing brings my blogging out quite like the NBA draft. And with the NBA lottery out of the way, it's time for the first wild and highly unlikely NBA mock draft! I'll just go with the lotto picks for now.
1. Boston Celtics: Markelle Fultz
The Celtics will take Fultz #1. That much I'm sure of. Will he stay in Celtic green for long? I believe so but that could change. But with the Celtics' #1 priority being signing Gordon Hayward away from Utah, I'd be stunned if they made a deal on draft night. (I'd also knock Paul George off the target list unless he is willing to sign an extension, which I doubt happens.) Reports said that Ainge and Co. are enamored with Fultz and the C's have enough assets to make a trade without giving up the #1 so I think Fultz will be a Celtic for a long time to come.
2. Sacramento Kings (via Lakers): Lonzo Ball
I think Vivek wants a marquee name so badly that he agrees to deal the #5 pick and the expiring deals of Arron Afflalo and Langston Galloway for the #2 and Luol Deng (and his monster contract.) Deng actually could be a good veteran leader for the young Kings and there's no way Vivek won't be giddy about Ball and Hield lobbing alley-oops to Skal and Trillie. Lavar might not be happy in the Cali capital but Vivek has enough money to invest a little in Big Baller Brand, which could smooth things over.
The Lakers drop down to clear up even more cap space for their big push next off-season.
3. Chicago Bulls (via Phoenix via Philadelphia 76ers): Josh Jackson
Suns GM Ryan McDonough is on the hot seat and his Win Now plan kicks off with an all-in deal for Jimmy Butler. In a three-team deal, the Suns get Butler and Philly's #36 pick, the Bulls get #3, Dragan Bender (or Marquess Chriss), and Tyler Ulis (or TJ Warren), while the Sixers drop down a spot and nab Brandon Knight for their troubles but also have to eat Jared Dudley's contract.
With the Killer B's of Bledsoe, Booker, and Butler running the show, McDonough sets his eyes on a fourth B - Blake (Griffin). Or if the alliteration doesn't work out, Paul Millsap is another potential target as the Suns attempt to join the upper echelon of the Western Conference.
It takes a big offer to get John Paxson to give up on his current Bulls squad but I think this deal does it. Jackson could be the best player in the draft and a Jimmy Butler 2.0. Both Bender and Chriss still have a ton of upside while Tyler Ulis proved he was a legit NBA point guard (and potentially a starting point guard) at the end of the season. Not taking any major salary back opens up their books to make a run at top free agents this year and, especially, next year. Cap space and a new youth brigade of Ulis, Valentine, Jackson, and Bender or Chriss isn't a terrible way to kick of Baby Bulls 3.0 (or is it 4.0)
As for Philly...
4. Philadelphia 76ers (via Phoenix): Malik Monk
If Sam Hinkie was in charge, Josh Jackson would be a Sixer. But I think Bryan Colangelo is going to overlook the risky Best Player Available and opt to add a veteran point guard with a great work ethic in Knight as well as filling the major shooting void with Monk. There's a very real chance Monk is more Jamal Crawford than Devin Booker but this just seems like a Colangelo move. Jared Dudley adds a strong veteran presence (who they could dump for a pick at the trade deadline) and even with adding Knight and Dudley's contracts, the Sixers still wouldn't be at the salary floor yet and would be around 40 million under the cap.
5. Indiana Pacers (via Lakers via Kings): De'Aaron Fox
With Paul George not making the All-NBA team, the Pacers can not offer him the supermax, which basically means there's no way he's staying in Indiana. All signs point to the Lakers being the frontrunner and potentially only runner in the race for PG13. So why make a deal? I think Indy comes to them hat in hand and offers George for #5, #28, Julius Randle, and Timofey Mozgov.
This move doesn't just dump Mozgov's contract, it cuts 4 million in salary this year and helps make the Lakers players in THIS offseason; they won't have to wait until next year. While I know many Laker fans will still prefer waiting, I think the possibility of landing Paul George while dumping the two awful Kupchak farewell moves is too good to pass up.
As for the Pacers, they salvage something out of a deal that was turning into vapor and Kevin Pritchard locks down his floor general for the next decade. In Portland, Pritchard went after Andre Miller and Jerryd Bayless so I don't think Fox's lack of a shot will bother him.
6. Orlando Magic: Jayson Tatum
The Magic are thrilled to land Tatum. He can take over the small forward spot, leaving Aaron Gordon to play at his more comfortable power forward position. They could opt for one of the point guards and call it a day on the Elfrid Payton Era but I think Tatum is too good of a fit to pass up here.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonathan Isaac
I can't imagine that Tom Thibodeau wants to get younger. I think he makes another a run at Jimmy Butler but the Suns outbid him. Lauri Markkanen makes some sense offensively but the Wolves can't really afford to get even weaker on defense. Now, I'll never put it past Scott Layden to make a bad trade but for now, I think the Wolves stand pat and nab the best player available, which is Isaac, whose upside is through the roof.
8. New York Knicks: Frank Ntilikina
The Knicks need a point guard and between Frank and Dennis Smith, I just feel like the Belgian is the one who Phil Jackson will think he can mold into a triangle-type player. Also, he has the potential to be a defensive menace, which the Knicks desperately need. Going for the foreigner with upside worked with Porzingis; maybe lightning can strike twice.
9. Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Smith
Again, Lauri Markkanen makes sense here but I have to think that Mark Cuban is still hoping to make a playoff run in what might be Dirk's final season. Adding a point guard to bolster the backcourt makes more sense than bringing in Dirk's potential replacement. A trade is certainly possible but, at some point, Cuban has to realize that it's time to focus on the future.
10. Sacramento Kings: OG Anunoby
The Kings add a potential 3&D forward to team with the rest of their youngsters.
11. Charlotte Hornets: Lauri Markkanen
Let's be frank, Kaminsky ain't that good and Markkanen offers most everything that Frank did except he seems like he might actually be able to deliver. Also, I think the drafts top tiers end at #10 so the Kings did the Hornets a favor by letting one of that ten fall into their lap. Markkanen and Kidd-Gilchrist could also pan out to be perfect complements.
12. Detroit Pistons: Donovan Mitchell
I think that Terrance Ferguson could be a guy who works his way up draft boards with good workouts but I think Van Gundy and Co. go with the safer bet, which is Mitchell, a kid who could replace and eventually improve upon what Kentavious Caldwell-Pope brought to the Pistons.
13. Denver Nuggets: Zach Collins
I wouldn't be stunned if the Nuggets finally dealt Kenneth Faried and Emmanuel Mudiay this year but, for this pick, Collins seems like the consensus choice as he could be a nice complement to Nikola Jokic in the frontcourt.
14. Miami Heat: Harry Giles
The Heat were one of the hottest teams in the second half of the season but they face a couple of key free agent decisions in James Johnson and Dion Waiters. And, once again, the team is waiting on Chris Bosh; they are now able to release him and his entire contract would come off of their cap (although it would be reinstated if he were to play 25 games for another team next season.)
While there are some intriguing names available at 14, I think the Heat swing for the fences and nab Giles, a kid who was the #1 recruit in the nation but has dealt with severe injury issues.