NBA Mock Draft 1.0: Lottery Only


Lottery-bound NBA Chet Holmgren celebrating after another victory on the court.

by Ethan Diamond, Staff Writer

  1. Houston Rockets: Chet Holmgren, C, Gonzaga

Holmgren is unlike any NBA prospect we’ve ever seen. The Gonzaga big man is essentially a guarantee to be off the board by the second or third pick and would be a perfect fit in Houston alongside Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun. When was the last time we saw someone seven feet tall that can play as well as Holmgren off the dribble? The only potential issue lies in his frame, but if he can get significantly stronger in the coming years, Houston could be a powerhouse for years to come.

  1. Orlando Magic: Jaden Ivey, G, Purdue

Ivey probably isn’t a top-two prospect, but he fits like a glove in Orlando alongside a potential future backcourt partner in Jalen Suggs. The frontcourt, led by Franz Wagner, Jonathan Isaac, and Wendell Carter Jr., looks bright, leaving the Magic to focus on grabbing another guard. Ivey is one of the best shot-creators in this class and is already one of the most explosive players in the country. A future backcourt rotation of Ivey, Suggs, Cole Anthony, and Markelle Fultz would be a matchup nightmare four years down the line.

  1. Detroit Pistons: Jabari Smith Jr., F, Auburn

Arguably the best player in this entire draft class, Jabari has already thrived on an Auburn team with no true playmakers. He should be even better when working with last year’s #1 pick, Cade Cunningham. Smith is extremely versatile on defense as well and can efficiently guard almost every position. He thrives on the perimeter, making him the perfect prospect in today’s NBA, and probably won’t fall past the third overall spot, no matter what team is picking.

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder: Paolo Banchero, F, Duke

Banchero has everything you want in an offensive-minvhvvhded forward. Measuring in at a surprising 6’10’, Banchero is a matchup nightmare for smaller wings and has the shiftiness to get past bigger defenders as well. The one-and-done Duke standout gets most of his work done near the post, which could cause spacing issues for young guards Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey, but Banchero and the young Thunder have more than enough talent to make it work.

  1. Indiana Pacers: AJ Griffin, F, Duke

Just like Banchero, Griffin is one of the top scorers in this year’s class, but he prefers to get his buckets in a different way. As a wing, Griffin is excellent on the perimeter, shooting a ridiculous 48 percent from deep, and he’s no pushover on the defensive end either. The Duke alum would form an elite trio with Tyrese Haliburton and Chris Duarte for years to come.

  1. Sacramento Kings: Keegan Murray, F, Iowa

Murray is something of a late bloomer, as he was only a 3-star prospect coming out of high school, but he has really come into his own as a scorer and all-around prospect at Iowa. He has a great feel for the game and would fit right into the starting lineup alongside De’Aaron Fox, Davion Mitchell, and Domantas Sabonis. 

  1. Portland Trail Blazers: Jalen Duren, C, Memphis

Duren is one of the youngest players in this year’s class, but has experience beyond his years. He made a living at Memphis by playing elite defense, most notably holding Chet Holmgren to only nine points in their recent loss to Gonzaga. Duren can jump out of the gym and is extremely explosive for his size, but doesn’t really have the shooting touch most NBA teams are looking for. The upside is there, however, which makes him perfect for a rebuilding team like Portland.

  1. San Antonio Spurs: Jeremy Sochan, F, Baylor

Sochan isn’t the most talented prospect, but he just screams San Antonio. The former Baylor standout is arguably the best defender in the entire class and would fit perfectly as a wing in coach Gregg Popovich’s system with his potential as a two-way standout. While he might not be the greatest scorer, he more than makes up for it with his elite playmaking ability and rebounding as well.

  1. Portland Trail Blazers (via NO): Shaedon Sharpe, G, Kentucky

Portland is on track to have two picks in the top ten, and after going with a big man at seven, I think they’ll look at the wing position with their second choice. The backcourt is pretty much figured out, with perennial All-Star Damian Lillard and the surprisingly gifted scorer Anfernee Simons leading the charge, making Sharpe an easy pick for the Blazers. There’s a chance Sharpe stays at Kentucky to refine his game after missing this season, but should he declare, odds are he’ll end up somewhere in the lottery.

  1. Washington Wizards: Bennedict Mathurin, G, Arizona

The former Arizona standout is a virtual lock to declare, and would fit perfectly into any guard-needy offense. Should Washington move on Bradley Beal in the offseason, Mathurin would be an excellent replacement with his ability as a slasher and a perimeter shooter. The defense needs some work, but his offensive upside alone is enough to take him in the top ten.

  1. Memphis Grizzlies (via LA): Ochai Agbaji, F, Kansas

Memphis is one of the most flashy teams in the league, and drafting a gritty defender like Agbaji can help give them the best of both worlds. The four-year Kansas standout has a tremendous feel for the game and made a living in Lawrence by locking down star players. Agbaji does his job on offense as well, knocking down the occasional three and providing difficult matchups for undersized wings.

  1. New York Knicks: Johnny Davis, G, Wisconsin

New York’s first target in this draft should be the aforementioned Mathurin, but if he’s off the board, Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis is probably the next-best choice. Davis has a lot of room to improve as a shooter, but would fit perfectly in head coach Tom Thibodeau’s offense as a scorer and lockdown perimeter defender. His inconsistency is an issue, but just like most of the other lottery selections, the upside makes him a worthy pick.

  1. Atlanta Hawks: TyTy Washington, G, Kentucky

Trae Young is one of the best on-ball players in the entire NBA, making Washington a near-perfect fit alongside him with his pass-first, off-ball mentality. Washington is still a bit raw as a prospect, but his playmaking ability is off the charts and him and Young should mesh perfectly as their backcourt of the future.

  1. Charlotte Hornets: Walker Kessler, C, Auburn

The young, up-and-coming Hornets are arguably a rim protector away from being serious Eastern Conference contenders, and nobody does it better in this draft class than Auburn 2standout Walker Kessler. His shot-blocking ability is elite and Kessler can finish inside as well. He works well off the pick-and-roll as well, making him the perfect teammate for All-Star point guard LaMelo Ball.