The NBA draft is two weeks away, on June 22, and the Utah Jazz have picks near the beginning, middle, and end of the first round, which will put them in the midst of all the action.
Trying to figure out how it all will unfold mostly remains an exercise in futility, albeit a fun one. We’ve covered six options the Jazz might consider at No. 9. Followed by eight options with the 16th pick. Then a dozen more possibilities at No. 28. Two weeks ago came an initial attempt at discerning how the 30-pick first round will play out.
The thing is, even with no new games taking place for a couple of months now, draft status sometimes feels like a living thing, with ebbs and flows. This week’s big riser can become next week’s old news. What’s passé now can suddenly become the next big thing.
And so, with the NBA draft two weeks away, here’s a second futile attempt at figuring out how it might go.
1. San Antonio Spurs: Victor Wembanyama, Metropolitans 92 (France)
You know those “Banking with Capital One is the easiest decision in the history of decisions” ads? Where a slow-pitch softball team picks Derek Jeter to pinch-hit? And some local band selects Slash during guitarist auditions? Yeah, this is kind of like that.
2. Charlotte Hornets: Brandon Miller, Alabama
While Scoot Henderson could be a great complement to LaMelo Ball, the Hornets’ lack of quality wings does make Miller — a dynamic shot-maker, set-up man, and switchable defender — a more seamless fit right now.
3. Portland Trail Blazers: Scoot Henderson, G League Ignite
Henderson isn’t quite as clean a pairing with Damian Lillard. But the Blazers are trying to trade this pick for a vet anyway, and if Henderson lasts until No. 3, someone will happily move up to get a guy being compared to Derrick Rose.
4. Houston Rockets: Ausar Thompson, Overtime Elite
While twin brother Amen has generally been ranked higher because of his ball-in-hand skills, Ausar’s superior shooting, elite athleticism, and secondary playmaking have him moving ahead on some boards.
5. Detroit Pistons: Jarace Walker, Houston
Detroit has taken a lot of flyers lately on young bigs (Jalen Duren, Isaiah Stewart, James Wiseman, Marvin Bagley), but Walker might have the best overall skillset among them, as a physical specimen who also can pass and shoot 3s a bit.
6. Orlando Magic: Amen Thompson, Overtime Elite
Though the Magic could reeeeeally use some shooters, and have invested heavily at PG with Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs, it’d be tough to pass up a playmaker with great size, athleticism, and the potential to be a superstar.
7. Indiana Pacers: Taylor Hendricks, Central Florida
Indy’s cadre of forwards is pretty underwhelming, so taking Hendricks fills a need and gives the Pacers another young guy with tons of upside. He’s a bit raw, but he’s already a good 3-point shooter with a ton of defensive versatility.
8. Washington Wizards: Anthony Black, Arkansas
Turns out neither Monte Morris nor Johnny Davis was the floor general of the future. So the Wiz try again with Black, an intelligent decision-maker who is great defending at the point of attack. Outside shooting and offensive aggressiveness need some work, though.
9. Utah Jazz: Cam Whitmore, Villanova
Could he really slide this far? He’s a good athlete, has a great combo of size (6-foot-8/235 pounds) and speed for a small forward, and at 18 years old, Whitmore has lots of upside. However, there apparently is some growing concern that he doesn’t excel at any one thing.
10. Dallas Mavericks: Dereck Lively II, Duke
The Mavs are lacking in quality bigs, and in defense across the board. Enter Lively, who had mediocre offensive production as a freshman but has been showing off improved shooting in workouts. Oh, also, he’s a 7-1 rim-runner who averaged 2.4 blocks.
11. Orlando Magic: Gradey Dick, Kansas
After taking Amen Thompson earlier, Orlando continues adding guards/wings with size, while also finally putting someone on the roster capable of burying 3-pointers with any kind of consistency. Dick might be the best shooter in this draft.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Bilal Coulibaly, Metropolitans 92 (France)
There’s a rumor that Wemby’s teammate has a lottery promise. He’s really impressed during his team’s playoff run in the French league; in the NBA, he can make an instant impact as a defensive wing with a 7-3 wingspan.
13. Toronto Raptors: Jalen Hood-Schifino, Indiana
The Hoosiers combo guard has been shooting up draft boards, as teams become increasingly enamored of playmaking guards with size. JHS could be insurance for Toronto given its free agents in the backcourt.
14. New Orleans Pelicans: Keyonte George, Baylor
While he was fairly inefficient and turnover-prone last season, he’s also been climbing recently, as teams increasingly value his offensive creativity and come to believe he can be a true table-setter.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Jordan Hawkins, Connecticut
Atlanta’s backcourt depth behind Trae Young and Dejounte Murray is lacking — as is its outside shooting. Hawkins, who excels at Richard Hamilton/Klay Thompson-style off-ball movement to get open shots, would kill two birds with one stone.
16. Utah Jazz: Nick Smith Jr., Arkansas
Yes, he mostly underwhelmed during an injury-plagued year, but adding the former No. 5 overall prospect who, when healthy, has shown creative playmaking, scoring skills off the bounce, and whose high motor defensively is augmented by a 6-8 wingspan probably couldn’t hurt.
17. Los Angeles Lakers: Cason Wallace, Kentucky
Wallace perhaps is not the best choice to address their dearth of outside shooting. But considering the Lakers might be set to lose myriad backcourt guys, going for a combo guard who might be the best perimeter defender in this class makes some sense.
18. Miami Heat: Leonard Miller, G League Ignite
The 6-10 Miller excelled as the season went on, showing rebounding prowess and the ability to attack the rim. He’s very raw offensively, but you could see Miami gambling on his traits, and bringing him along slowly.
19. Golden State Warriors: Kobe Bufkin, Michigan
He’s a feisty defender, but a bit lean. He’s a crafty scorer, but a bit unproven shooting off the dribble. If he can shore up those areas, the combo guard could wind up being an absolute steal in this range.
20. Houston Rockets: Olivier-Maxence Prosper, Marquette
He’s been rising up draft boards owing to a stellar combine performance and some reportedly fantastic workouts. The 6-7/212-pounder is a tremendous athlete and would give the Rockets some of the defensive doggedness they’ve been sorely lacking.
21. Brooklyn Nets: Noah Clowney, Alabama
Just 18 years old, he’s 6-10 with a 7-3 wingspan, and has shown himself to be a good rebounder and a willing defender. Given that Brooklyn is exceedingly thin with its frontcourt depth and too often got killed on the boards, those are some skills they could make immediate use of.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Brandin Podziemski, Santa Clara
The Nets could also use some extra ball-handling and 3-point shooting. Podziemski has become something of a recent cult hero as his offensive exploits become better-known. He’s a knockdown shooter, a crafty scorer, and a good playmaker. Not much athleticism, though, and he’s an absolute negative defensively.
23. Portland Trail Blazers: Kris Murray, Iowa
If the Blazers keep this pick, they’ll want someone ready-made to contribute. Keegan Murray’s twin is nearly 23 years old, a good spot-up 3-point shooter, solid passer and screen-setter, and a physical and cognizant on-ball defender.
24. Sacramento Kings: Rayan Rupert, New Zealand Breakers
The Kings need wings — preferably ones that can play defense. Rupert is 6-6 with a 7-2 wingspan, and the Frenchman has the skills and motor to be a lockdown defender from Day 1. He has good handles and court vision, but has been a streaky shooter.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Colby Jones, Xavier
A plug-and-play guy with two-way skills? Sounds like a great fit for a Grizz team that will be looking to replace Dillon Brooks. Jones filled many roles as a connective player for his team, and has shown some ability as a passer. He improved to 38% from 3, but just as importantly, he’s a tone-setter with defensive energy.
26. Indiana Pacers: Bobi Klintman, Wake Forest
With him pulling out of the combine, there became speculation that some team had made him a first-round promise. Why the fuss over a guy who averaged 5.3 points and 4.5 rebounds? Well, the Swedish native is a 6-10/235-pound wing with legit guard skills and defensive switchability.
27. Charlotte Hornets: G.G. Jackson, South Carolina
Charlotte’s in a position to take a swing on upside, and the youngest player in this draft class has that. He needs a ton of work in some areas — notably bad shot selection and too-frequent turnovers — but he was a good scorer with nice handles. And when he’s engaged defensively, he has real ability on that end.
28. Utah Jazz: Dariq Whitehead, Duke
A top prospect in high school, a fractured foot wrecked much of his college season. However, the 6-6, 193-pounder finished strong, showing an ability to score inside, as well as hitting 42.4% from deep. He’s a heady off-ball defender, too. Just had a second foot surgery, but is expected to be ready for training camp.
29. Indiana Pacers: Jett Howard, Michigan
He was once thought to be a potential lottery pick, but a lack of lateral quickness and defensive awareness has proven problematic. Still, he’s more than worth a gamble at this point. Howard is a 6-8, high-IQ wing who shoots well on the move, and who came up clutch often for the Wolverines.
30. Los Angeles Clippers: Brice Sensabaugh, Ohio State
Sensabaugh is one of the more efficient scorers in the draft, partly because he shot 40.5% from 3, but also because of his wide array of old-school midrange moves. Will that translate to the NBA? He’s had a couple of meniscus injuries, doesn’t have great athleticism, and doesn’t have the ability to generate much space.
New to mock draft 2.0: Bobi Klintman, Wake Forest; Olivier-Maxence Prosper, Marquette; Brandin Podziemski, Santa Clara.
Out from mock draft 1.0: Sidy Cissoko, G League Ignite; Jaime Jaquez Jr., UCLA; Maxwell Lewis, Pepperdine.
Others who just missed: Amari Bailey, UCLA; Trayce Jackson-Davis; James Nnaji, Barcelona; Ben Sheppard, Belmont.
Biggest risers: Bilal Coulibaly +12; Dereck Lively +9; Ausar Thompson +4; Keyonte George +4.
Steepest declines: Dariq Whitehead -11; Brice Sensabaugh -10; Jett Howard -8; Cason Wallace -6; Leonard Miller -6.
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