NBA Mock Draft 1.0

(Photo via USC Athletics)

*Note – Only the Top 10 will have player comparisons*

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Cade Cunningham – G/F, Oklahoma State
    Player comparison: Grant Hill

    Cunningham has met every expectation set up for him in his first year at Oklahoma State. On top of that, he came into College as a below-average 3-point shooter but has been much more than that shooting 44% from outside. He has elite playmaking ability as a Wing player and still has a lot of upside as a player. He can improve on defense as well as toning down his turnovers, but that can also be attributed to being a high-usage player on an average team. This draft has a lot of really good players, but Cunningham is the cream of the crop.

  2. Detroit Pistons: Jalen Suggs – G, Gonzaga
    Player Comparison: Jason Kidd

    You’re probably thinking why the hell would the Pistons take a Guard with a lottery pick for the 2nd straight year? The thing is, Suggs and Killian Hayes are both guys who can play the 1 & 2 and would solidify their backcourt for years to come. Coming into Gonzaga as a Top-10 recruit, Suggs has been everything we thought he would be. Elite playmaker at the Point Guard position, deadly in transition, physically tough, etc. He has helped lead Gonzaga to be the #1 team in America so far and has a great chance to help lead them to a National Title. You can easily make the argument for Evan Mobley here for Detroit with Blake Griffin seemingly done and Mason Plumlee is not the long-term solution there, but Suggs is the best player available at #2.

  3. Houston Rockets: Jalen Green – SG, G-League
    Player Comparison: Zach Lavine

    Evan Mobley is my 3rd best player in this draft, but the Rockets seem to be content with having a smaller lineup. Otherwise, he would be a deadly duo with Christian Wood in the frontcourt. Instead, the Rockets go with Jalen Green who skipped college to head to the G-League and has insane leaping ability. The biggest question with Green coming out of high school was his shooting ability and so far through 10 games, he’s shooting 37.3% from 3-pt range and 48.1% overall. Green catching lobs from John Wall and running in transition with Wall and Christian Wood would be a sight to behold for years to come in Houston.

  4. Orlando Magic: Evan Mobley – C, USC
    Player Comparison: Bam Adebayo

    Mobley has everything you want in a modern Big-Man. Elite defender and rebounder who has great athleticism which allows him to be a rim-runner. He has the ability to improve as 3-pt shooter and with Vucevic and Gordon being in trade rumors, it makes sense for the Magic to get a franchise player of Mobley’s caliber.

  5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jonathan Kuminga – F, G-League
    Player Comparison: Shawn Marion

    Kuminga possesses some of the best physical attributes in this draft. He has a great wingspan & elite athleticism that allows him to be a 3 or 4 in the NBA, but he has to get more consistent shooting the ball to fully maximize his potential. The Cavs have everything but more depth along their wing spots so they go with Kuminga.

  6. Sacramento Kings: Ziaire Williams – G/F, Stanford
    Player Comparison: Rudy Gay

    Ziaire Williams is another prospect coming out of College with really high upside due to his elite athleticism and Basketball IQ. Like Kuminga, he has to be a more consistent jump shooter. Williams is a guy who is going to take time to develop and cannot be rushed into a contribute-now situation.

  7. Washington Wizards: Moses Moody – G, Arkansas
    Player Comparison: Tim Hardaway Jr.

    Moody has been a huge surprise for Arkansas this year by being one of the better scorers in the nation as a Freshman. He’s really good at moving around without the ball, but other than that he doesn’t posses a ton of upside. He lacks athleticism and doesn’t do much with the ball on offense, and doesn’t show much with defense either. Moody also needs to fill out his frame more and become stronger to expand his game on both sides.

  8. New Orleans Pelicans: James Bouknight – G, UCONN
    Player Comparison: Dillon Brooks

    James Bouknight has proven to be a really good scorer for the Huskies this season averaging just over 20 Points Per Game and with JJ Redick and Lonzo Ball hitting free-agency, the Pelicans are going to need a consistent 3rd scorer next to Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.

  9. Oklahoma City Thunder: Scottie Barnes – F, Florida State
    Player Comparison: Jabari Parker

    Barnes is a really good playmaker and athlete that would fit perfect next to someone like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in OKC. The Thunder have a really bright future with the plethora of draft picks along with SGA running the show at Point Guard. Adding Barnes would allow them to do a multitude of things on both sides of the floor, although he can use some definite improvement shooting the ball.

  10. Atlanta Hawks: Jalen Johnson – F, Duke
    Player Comparison: Paul Pierce

    With John Collins set to hit Free Agency, the Hawks are going to need a formidable 4. Johnson still has incredible upside and despite all the negativity surrounding him due to his Opt-Out in the middle of the season, he can still provide instant support on the Offensive end next to Trae Young. He can shoot, drive to the basket, and has some real nice athleticism which can prove to be deadly in the pick and roll with Young.

  11. Indiana Pacers: Keon Johnson – F, Tennessee

    Elite scorer and athlete but does not consistently shoot the ball and doesn’t do much on defense. Johnson is similar to the likes of Malik Monk and will take some years to develop.

  12. Chicago Bulls: Sharife Cooper – PG, Auburn

    The Bulls go with Sharife Cooper who is averaging a near Double-Double (20.2 PPG & 8.8 APG) and will allow Zach Lavine to play the 3 and Coby White to be a traditional off-ball Guard. Cooper will have to improve his 3-pt shooting, but his ability to drive and hit mid-range jumpers will bring a much needed boost to the Bulls.

  13. Toronto Raptors: Cam Thomas – G, LSU

    Kyle Lowry is going to be a free agent which will leave a huge void at the Guard spot. VanVleet can slide over to a full-time Point Guard role and allow Norman Powell to start at the 2 and Cam Thomas can develop behind Powell. Great scorer and although his 3-Pt% is not great, his FT% (87.9%) suggests that improvements can be made in that area quickly.

  14. Charlotte Hornets: Kai Jones – C, Texas

    2 things are true here: One is that Texas has been producing a ton of talented big men in the last few years and Secondly, the Hornets have been searching for a big man in the last few years as well. It’s a match made in heaven and Kai Jones can knock down open 3’s, rim-run, and play good defense. The only problem is that he started only 2 games so far this year so it’s not a certainty he can handle the starting job in the NBA right away.

  15. Miami Heat: Franz Wagner – F, Michigan

    Wagner is a gritty, hard-working player that has a ton of upside and can also step into a starting role right away. He is the perfect player to replace Andre Iguodala who has seemed to have hit father time. Wagner can hit 3’s, rebound, drive to the basket, and plays elite defense.

  16. Memphis Grizzlies: Corey Kispert – F, Gonzaga

    You can never have enough shooters and Kispert is just that. He is having an unreal season for Gonzaga this year shooting 46.3% from 3 and is also a good enough defender.

  17. New York Knicks: Josh Christopher – G, Arizona State

    Christopher is a big-time talent that has suffered through some injuries this year, but when healthy he produces at a high level. He’s the type of guy that can provide a huge spark off the bench and has a very young Iman Shumpert feel to his game.

  18. Golden State Warriors: David Johnson – G, Louisville

    With uncertainty surrounding Klay Thompson and his ability to be the same player again, the Warriors go with Johnson who is shooting 39.2% from 3 and would instantly fit the Warriors system.

  19. Boston Celtics: Greg Brown – F/C, Texas

    Another big man from Texas goes in the 1st-Round and this time, he is going to Boston. Tristan Thompson has been a disappointment and David Theis is a matchup problem against bigger and faster players. Greg Brown can hit open 3’s, is super athletic, and can defend pretty well which can help the Celtics out instantly.

  20. Dallas Mavericks: Marcus Bagley – F, Arizona State

    Bagley is a 3 & D player with tons of upside that can bring much needed wing depth to Dallas. Really nice future as a bench player and a possible fringe starter on a bad team.

  21. San Antonio Spurs: Usman Garuba – F/C, Spain

    Death. Taxes. Spurs draft a Foreign player. Garuba is an elite athlete with great length and with LaMarcus Aldridge becoming a free-agent, the Spurs will definitely need some depth in the Frontcourt.

  22. Denver Nuggets: Ayo Dosunmu – G, Illinois

    Dosunmu is a very Tyrese Haliburton-like player who can similarly hit open 3’s, play good D, & be a great playmaker. With Gary Harris struggling and being a disappointment for Denver, Dosunmu can step in and make an impact in his place right away.

  23. Portland Trail Blazers: Terrence Shannon Jr. – F, Texas Tech

    Carmelo Anthony is nearing the end of his career so the Blazers need to find some more wing depth and Terrence Shannon Jr. provides that. Tremendous athlete who is a great slasher and defender. He will need to improve on his outside shooting, though he has improved a little since last year.

  24. Milwaukee Bucks: Jaden Springer – G, Tennessee

    Jaden Springer is an outstanding defender and scorer with the ability to knock down open 3’s. He’s at his best off the ball and slashing to the basket and would fit well on the Bucks as a key role player.

  25. LA Clippers: Davion Mitchell – PG, Baylor

    It’s kind of surprising that Mitchell isn’t higher on more mock drafts since he can defend, shoot 3’s, and be a playmaker at the Point Guard position. He has helped Baylor to being one of the top teams in College this year and with the Clippers needing a true playmaker at Point Guard, Mitchell can step in immediately and help LA out.

  26. Brooklyn Nets: Isaiah Jackson – F/C, Kentucky

    Brooklyn lacks a big man presence aside from DeAndre Jordan and Nic Claxton so they go with Isaiah Jackson who is a rim-running big who can rebound and defend. Jackson will provide the Nets with much-needed depth around the rim to help on both sides of the ball.

  27. LA Lakers: Charles Bassey – C, Western Kentucky

    The Lakers are missing Dwight Howard & Javale McGee down low and will be needing a long-term solution at that position. Bassey can score in every way in the post and can occasionally hit an open 3 as well being a ferocious rebounder and formidable as a defender.

  28. Philadelphia 76ers: BJ Boston – G, Kentucky

    The 76ers are loaded with depth so they can afford to take on a “project” player in Boston. He has been a major disappoinment for Kentcuky this year, but still possesses a ton of upside as an elite scorer.

  29. Phoenix Suns: Jared Butler – G, Baylor

    Another Baylor player that should be higher on most draft boards due to his versatility as a 3 & D payer and ability to be a playmaker. CP3 is set to be a free agent after the 2021-22 season and the Suns will need a high-floor player to help alleviate that loss.

  30. Utah Jazz: Daishen Nix – PG, G-League

    Nix was another high-level player out of high school to take the G-League route. He posseses a lot of upside as an elite level pure Point Guard and defender due to his long and lanky frame, but outside of that has not shown much. It will take some years for him to develop, but the Jazz are able to wait with the amount of depth they have.

MVP Race 2.0

Photo via Skysports.

  1. Lebron James – Lakers
    Last Week’s Ranking: #1
    25.6 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 8.0 APG, 50.2% FG, 35.1% 3P

    The Lakers are currently on a 4-game losing streak over the past week. Over that span, LeBron has seen his stats take a slight decline and it’s quite obvious that LeBron and the Lakers are missing Anthony Davis & Dennis Schroeder. He has a chance to separate himself from the rest of the pack while AD recovers from a Calf Strain, but LeBron is not off to a good start with the Lakers struggling so much. There are still another 3 months left in the regular season so there is plenty of time to solidify the MVP case, but he does have to step it up a notch if he wants the award.

  2. Joel Embiid – 76ers
    Last Week’s Ranking: #2
    29.6 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 3.1 APG, 51% FG, 40.5% 3P

    While his rebounding numbers took a big leap, Embiid’s overall shooting percentage took a pretty big decline in the last week. Joel had an unbelievable 50-point performance vs Chicago last Friday, but the 3 games after that he shot 26.4% from the field on 17.7 Field-Goal Attempts. Even though his defense was great in those games, it was the other way around on offense. If it weren’t for missing 6 games so far he would be in 1st place right now, but if Embiid can stay on this pace for the rest of the year and limit his games he is sitting out, he can easily win the MVP.

  3. Damian Lillard – Blazers
    Last Week’s Ranking: #3
    29.6 PPG, 8.0 APG, 4.4 RPG, 44.7% FG, 37.9% 3P

    Portland is on a slump that is reminiscent of the Lakers’ slump. They are on a 3-game losing streak and Lillard didn’t play up to his standards from this year. It doesn’t help that McCollum and Nurkic are still out, but on a positive note I do think that Lillard has played the best of the Top 3 candidates over the past week and has helped close the gap a little more.

  4. Steph Curry – Warriors
    Last Week’s Ranking: #5
    30 PPG, 6.3 APG, 5.5 RPG, 47.9% FG, 41.6% 3P

    Steph has played pretty well over the last week and his team performed at a .500 level. He rises in the rankings over Jokic and is on pace to have another great season. James Wiseman should be coming back soon so the Warriors can only get better from here on out.

  5. Nikola Jokic – Nuggets
    Last Week’s Ranking: #4
    26.9 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 8.4 APG, 56% FG, 41.9% 3P

    As stated last week, Jokic would likely find himself in the top 2 or 3 in the MVP race if it weren’t for the Nuggets being a disappointment so far this year. After a bad loss to the Wizards last night, the Nuggets have now lost 4 of their 6 games. Despite that, Jokic is still playing at a really high-level (52.9% from 3-pt range) over the last week. If the Nuggets don’t start winning more games, Jokic won’t even crack the top 3 let alone winning the MVP.

  6. Giannis Antetokounmpo – Bucks
    Last Week’s Ranking: #7
    28.9 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 5.9 APG, 55.5% FG, 1.3 BPG

    The reigning 2-time MVP is once again having an unreal season and the Bucks are beginning to take off with being a 4-game winning streak. It’ll be hard for Giannis to win another MVP due to voter fatigue, but it’s really hard to keep him from rising up the rankings.

  7. Kawhi Leonard – Clippers
    Last Week’s Ranking: #6
    26.7 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 4.9 APG, 51.0% FG, 38.4% 3P

    Kawhi is always consistent and over the last week his numbers were very similar to what he has been doing all year. He stays the same at #6 with the Clippers splitting their last 4 games.

  8. James Harden – Nets
    Last Week’s Ranking: UR
    24.9 PPG, 11.1 APG, 7.5 RPG, 47.8% FG, 39.8% 3P

    Harden catapults to 8th in this week’s update with Brooklyn on an 8-game winning street and having averaged a near Triple-Double. The Nets are playing at the highest level in the league and doing so without Kevin Durant. It’ll be interesting to see how the Big 3 will play together consistently going forward.

  9. Luka Doncic – Mavericks
    Last Week’s Ranking: #8
    28.5 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 9.0 APG, 47.4% FG, 35.3% 3P

    The Mavericks had some games cancelled due to COVID protocols, but have 2-1 since their return. Luka has been leading the way and even improved from 3-pt range over that span. He’s very close to being able to break-through and climb steadily up the rankings if he can continue to play well and Dallas continues to improve.

  10. Donovan Mitchell – Jazz
    Last Week’s Ranking: #9
    24.1 PPG, 5.3 APG, 4.6 RPG, 42.5% FG, 38.6% 3P

    Utah has the best record in the league this year, but there hasn’t been one player that has stood out as the clear-cut best on the team. Rudy Gobert has a case for that title along with Mitchell and it doesn’t help that Mitchell hasn’t done much to help put himself over the other guys on this list. Still, he is having another really good year and is a big reason why the Jazz are contenders this year.

3 Trades the Lakers need to make by the Trade Deadline

Photo by Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

The Lakers are now 1-2 since Anthony Davis went down with a Calf Strain that will keep him out of action over the next month. Even before that injury, the Lakers were not the same team as the previous year when they won the NBA Title. They lack the Rondo-like playmaker off the bench for when LeBron comes off the floor, they miss the defensive presence inside of Javale McGee and Dwight Howard, and they also miss the extra wing defender in Danny Green that can take on the opposing team’s best Shooting Guard and Small Forward. The Lakers have issues and losing Anthony Davis for a month just makes these issues come to light even more, so the following 3 Trades are moves they need to make before the Trade Deadline hits.

  1. Lakers trade Kyle Kuzma, Wesley Matthews, & Alfonzo McKinnie to Houston for P.J. Tucker & DeMarcus Cousins.

    According the Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Lakers have been ‘Active in the Trade Market’ and P.J. Tucker is one player they’re very interested in. Although his numbers have not been great this year, it has to do with wanting out of Houston and wanting to be on a contender. Tucker has consistently been one of the best Wing Defenders in the League and is also an unreal 3-Point shooter from the corner, which is one of LeBron’s favorite spots on the floor to pass it to. For Kuzma, he would be a tough guy to let go of for LA but with the Lakers having a win-now mentality, he makes perfect sense as the guy to go back for Tucker. Lastly, he’s not what he used to be but Cousins is a big man presence for the Lakers down low that they desperately need right now. He provides veteran leadership and toughness you need off the bench for a Championship team.
  2. Lakers trade Talen Horton-Tucker, Quinn Cook, & a 2023 2nd-Round Pick to Detroit for Wayne Ellington & Svi Mykhailiuk.

    Trading THT would upset Laker fans, but getting Ellington and Mykhailiuk would shore up not only their wing defending but also their 3-Point shooting as well. Both guys are free agents at the end of the year as well and could definitely come back as they would not cost the Lakers a ton, and for the Pistons this allows them to continue to play more young guys and they would get back a guy in Horton-Tucker who has a lot of upside, but just doesn’t bring much to the table offensively like Ellington and Mykhailiuk do right now.
  3. Three-Team Trade:
    Lakers get: George Hill, Luguentz Dort, Jaxson Hayes, & a 2022 2nd-Round pick
    Thunder get Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, & Talen Horton-Tucker
    Pelicans get Dennis Schroder, a 2021 2nd-Round pick, & a 2023 1st-Round Pick (lottery protected) & 2nd-Round pick.

    This is in the department of “WTF” and “Unlikely” trades department – But when it comes to winning now, we have seen crazier things happen. First lets start with the Lakers portion of the deal. George Hill gives them a better defender and 3-Point shooter than Schroder while having the playmaking ability next to Lebron and while Lebron goes to the bench for rest. Lou Dort made a name for himself last year in the bubble for his defense on James Harden in the playoffs and also his defense on Lebron earlier this year.

Dort would most assuredly provide the Lakers with elite defense, becoming their best defender they have in an instant. For Jaxson Hayes, he has fallen out of the rotation for the most part in New Orleans with the emergence of Willy Hernangomez. He is still very young and needs to be coached up, but his elite athleticism and size is not to be ignored.

Then we have the Thunder. They get a guy in Lonzo Ball having a career year and has become a very good 3-Point Shooter. Due for an extension after the year ($16-18M AAV rumored), he is the perfect guy to place next to SGA in the backcourt. Lockdown defenders in both and elite playmaking ability as well. Talen Horton-Tucker brings a presence on the defensive side of the floor, though not as good as Dort’s, but it is still very respectable. Kuzma is still young and seems to be a better player when he has the ball in his hands and gets to go make buckets.

Lastly, the Pelicans are not going to re-sign Ball for what he will command on the open market so they get an expiring in Schroder which they can either flip or buyout, and they also get draft capital which is always valuable in this league.

Also want to mention 3 buyout candidates for the Lakers to look for to help their quest for a 2nd-straight Title:

  • Javale McGee – C, Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Andre Drummond – C, Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Trevor Ariza – F, Oklahoma City Thunder

MVP Race 1.0

  1. Lebron James – Lakers
    25.7 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 7.9 APG, 50.4% FG, 37.8% 3P
    LeBron is at it again in Year 17 staying around the same in Points Per Game and increasing his Rebounds Per game, although his Assists have taken a big dip this year. He has played the 4th most minutes in the NBA this year and has not shown any signs of slowing down. He would also likely be 2nd or 3rd on my list if it weren’t for Embiid having missed 5 games and the Nuggets being disappointing this year. With Anthony Davis out until post All-Star break with a Calf Strain, Lebron has a chance to really widen his lead and be on his way to a 5th MVP award.
  2. Joel Embiid – 76ers
    29.7 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 3.1 APG, 54% FG, 39.7% 3P
    I think that Embiid has been the best player in the NBA this year, but the problem is he has already missed 6 games and seems to be on pace to miss more. It’s been since Bill Walton won in 1978 that a player has won the MVP and missed 17 games or more. Although it is a shorter season (72 games), Embiid is on pace to miss that many games if it were a regular 82 game season. Aside from that, he has been unreal on Offense and tapping into his potential and not to mention the great defender he has been as well. The 76ers are the best team in the East and most of that can be accredited to the emergence of an MVP level player.
  3. Damian Lillard – Blazers
    29.8 PPG, 7.7 APG, 4.4 RPG, 45.1% FG, 38.4% 3P
    Lillard has led the Blazers to 4th place in the West and doing that without his backcourt mate in CJ McCollum & big man Jusuf Nurkic. He’s one of the most clutch players of this generation and has put Portland on his back this year. Another thriller of game last night vs New Orleans where he had 42 & 16, including the game-winning 3-pointer. Logo Lillard is having arguably his best season of his career so far, and he is steadily on his way to being in the Top 2 conversation on his current pace.
  4. Nikola Jokic – Nuggets
    27.4 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 8.6 APG, 57% FG, 40.2% 3P
    Jokic would likely find himself in the top 2 or 3 in the MVP race if it weren’t for the Nuggets being a disappointment so far this year. They’re currently 8th in the West and it’s clear that they miss Jerami Grant, who is having a breakout year of his own in Detroit. Still, Jokic is putting up Godly numbers for Denver this year and his impact on the court is visible in all aspects. One of the better passers in the game as a big man, he sets up the offense for the Nuggets and is the main reason for them being in the playoff race. If Denver can figure out their defensive woes and start winning some more games, Jokic can easily creep his way back up this race.
  5. Steph Curry – Warriors
    30 PPG, 6 APG, 5.3 RPG, 49.2% FG, 42.5% 3P
    If Steph weren’t playing out of his mind for the Warriors this year, they could have been looking at another Top 3 pick this year. Curry has the Warriors in the thick of the playoff race and they are getting better as each game goes. Though he likely won’t win the MVP this year, there’s no doubt Steph is showing how valuable he is to the Warriors.
  6. Kawhi Leonard – Clippers
    26.7 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 5 APG, 51.3% FG, 38.9% 3P
    Kawhi is once again having his usual statistical season this year with an improvement in his overall Field Goal percentage. He is also another victim of having missed quite a few games (7) that is keeping him out of the top 5. Still playing defense at a high level and keeping the Clippers afloat in 3rd place along with Paul George.
  7. Giannis Antetokounmpo – Bucks
    28.2 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 5.8 APG, 56.3% FG, 1.3 BPG
    The Greek Freak is once again putting up great numbers, but the regular season success of the Bucks has not been great as the last 2 years. This is mainly due to the fact that the Bucks have a lot of new pieces in their rotation. Despite all that, he has kept the same level of play from his previous 2 MVP seasons on both offense and defense. Giannis certainly has the ability to move up higher once they begin to click better and the Bucks begin to start winning more games.
  8. Luka Doncic – Mavericks
    29.1 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 9.4 APG, 47.5% FG, 33.5% 3P
    After a bit of a slower start to the year, Luka has really picked back up where he left off from last year and the Mavericks have been performing better as of late. An increase across board in his stats besides a slight dip in Rebounds, Doncic has suddenly began to creep back up in the conversation. At this pace, he’s bound to finish Top 5 this year.
  9. Donovan Mitchell – Jazz
    24.2 PPG, 5.1 APG, 4.4 RPG, 42.7% FG, 39.1% 3P
    You can make a case for Mitchell being higher with Utah being in 1st place, but this is the Most VALUABLE Player award and I think he and Gobert are pretty much equal in terms of value. Mitchell is having his most efficient season of his career so far and is only getting better. It’ll be interesting to see if the Jazz can keep up this level of success throughout the year and into the playoffs.
  10. Rudy Gobert – Jazz
    14.2 PPG, 13.4 RPG, 2.7 BPG, 64% FG
    Similar to Mitchell, Gobert is equally as responsible for why the Jazz are the best team in NBA record-wise. A monster on defense, but he is also underrated in his offensive ability with pick and rolls and being a rim runner. It’s really good to see the Jazz doing so well this year.