The countdown to tonight’s draft has begun, with a flurry of possibilities and action reverberating around the NBA. There remains a good deal of uncertainty around the league as the draft draws closer, with the Magic and Thunder working to obscure their intentions atop the draft, and the potential for trades at several key junctures in the first round putting a wide range of scenarios in play.
As usual, the SI mock aims to predict what the draft would look like if it took place on a given day (which, as you may have realized by now, happens to be today). These projections are heavily informed by intel from around the NBA and ongoing conversations with executives, scouts and others around the industry, in addition to my own personal evaluations of players, which in many cases date back years.
Note that these are *not* prospect rankings: for that, take a look at our final Big Board. I’ll continue to update the mock throughout the day to account for new intel and any trades that might take place.
LAST UPDATE: 7:12 p.m. ET
1. Magic: Jabari Smith Jr., F, Auburn
Height: 6′ 10″ | Weight: 220 | Age: 19 | Freshman
As of Thursday afternoon, the top three picks felt a bit more certain, with Smith the likely selection here for the Magic. There’s been radio silence out of Orlando for the entire predraft process, but it doesn’t feel like a shocker is in the cards, and Smith is viewed by many around the NBA as the draft’s best prospect. The Magic have done extreme diligence—and president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman is also thought to be a big fan of Holmgren—but signs continue to point to Smith as the top choice. His selection significantly raises the ceiling of Orlando’s roster, and his versatility on both ends of the floor gives the Magic immense flexibility moving forward.
The Magic have several good pieces in place, including Franz Wagner, but don’t have a true focal point of their rebuild yet. Smith’s impeccable jump shooting, versatile, high-energy defense, and room to improve both physically and skill-wise make him an incredible player to build around. He’s a legitimate culture-setting player with his work ethic and attitude, his strengths are easily translatable, and he could accelerate toward stardom pretty quickly as he matures physically and becomes a more comfortable ball-handler.
2. Thunder: Chet Holmgren, F/C, Gonzaga
Height: 7′ 0″ | Weight: 190 | Age: 20 | Freshman
With less than 24 hours until the draft, the general suspicion around the NBA remains that Oklahoma City will select Holmgren at No. 2. Teams drafting behind the Thunder have prepared for the unexpected, and with the way OKC operates, they’d be remiss not to. I have yet to find someone around the league who’s willing to call this pick a lock, and I still wouldn’t rule out Jaden Ivey or Paolo Banchero. But it feels like this is going to be Holmgren, who’s thought to welcome the prospect of landing here. His unique skill set, size and mobility fall in line with what the Thunder tend to prefer in prospects, and they can be patient and have playmakers on the roster who can help facilitate his growth as a scorer. The fit makes sense, but the odds are that we likely won’t find out what’s actually happening here until Oklahoma City is on the clock.
Holmgren will face a pretty steep adjustment to the physicality of the league, but has succeeded in spite of his slender build at each stop. If he delivers on his promise as a defensive anchor and versatile offensive cog, the fit here is strong. Oklahoma City wants to play big, skilled lineups, and he certainly matches the criteria, with an extremely rare combination of size and ball skills that will make him a fascinating player to track over the next few years. He’s so unusual that it’s easy to understand the variance of opinion, but Holmgren’s upside remains tantalizing.
3. Rockets: Paolo Banchero, F, Duke
Height: 6′ 10″ | Weight: 250 | Age: 19 | Freshman
This pick is believed to be Banchero’s backstop, with a surprise decision ahead of this feeling less likely as of Thursday afternoon. Of the projected top three prospects, Banchero was the only one to work out for Houston, and he’s thought to be comfortable landing with the Rockets, who appear to be his backstop. His unique mix of power, skill and passing chops let him operate all over the floor as a playmaking fulcrum, and pairing him with Jalen Green in two-man situations offers a lot of creative possibilities. There aren’t many players his size with his level of coordination, and he should be able to create plenty of mismatches if deployed creatively.
Banchero’s jumper comes and goes at times, but he had a strong freshman season on the whole and should be prepared to help contribute on a rebuilding team immediately. He’s not a rim protector, but some of the defensive concerns with him are otherwise a tad bit oversold. The Rockets seem prepared to try him with Alperen Sengun up front, although that may not be an ideal pairing as far as defending the paint is concerned. Regardless, Banchero’s feel for scoring and finding teammates should take him a long way, and if his shot-making and defense trend up, there should be All-Star caliber seasons in his future.
4. Kings: Keegan Murray, F, Iowa
Height: 6′ 8″ | Weight: 225 | Age: 21 | Sophomore
Scroll to Continue
The Kings have continued to discuss trade possibilities involving this pick, with a wide range of teams intrigued by the potential availability of not only Jaden Ivey, but Murray at this spot. Sacramento has been listening, with a well-known organizational interest in improving the roster and making the playoffs next season. It’s entirely possible a trade could materialize as the draft draws closer and the Kings start to whittle down their options. So, this pick figures to be one of Murray and Ivey, but it could legitimately go either way. The Pacers and Spurs are believed by rival teams to be Murray suitors, while teams like the Knicks and Wizards are thought to be chasing Ivey in trade-up situations.
While there’s a valid argument to simply take Ivey based on his immense upside and figure things out, as I understand it, Ivey has not worked out for Sacramento and appears to be comfortable landing elsewhere. The Kings could certainly draft him anyway, but they’re also serious fans of Murray, and there’s the option to stand pat and simply take him. Murray has plenty of upside in his own right and splits the difference between winning now and building for the future. He’s good at pretty much everything, and improved playmaking and jump shooting would make him even more dynamic. Teams love Murray’s serious-minded, no-frills approach, and he’s an excellent fit in a smaller market. His floor remains Indiana at No. 6.
5. Pistons: Jaden Ivey, G, Purdue
Height: 6′ 4″ | Weight: 200 | Age: 20 | Sophomore
As reported by ESPN, the Pistons traded Jerami Grant to Portland on Wednesday for a return headlined by a lightly protected Milwaukee 2025 first-round pick. The Pistons and Blazers also swapped second-rounders in that deal. That trade gives Detroit $43 million in cap space entering free agency. While it’s not a sure thing Ivey is available at No. 5, the Pistons would be thrilled if he falls here. This would lock in their long-term backcourt plans alongside Cade Cunningham and make them a more dynamic offensive team right away. If Ivey comes off the board earlier than this, keep an eye on Bennedict Mathurin, who’s known to be a favorite of GM Troy Weaver.
Detroit needs to get more athletic and bolster its offense as it builds out the roster around Cunningham, and stands to benefit from the pace and firepower Ivey should immediately supply. Ivey should immediately be a force in transition and attacking the paint with NBA spacing, but he’s still refining his game as a playmaker and learning to defend with intent. His strengths should take pressure off Cunningham to create every shot, and conversely, he’ll be able to cover for Ivey’s shortcomings in the halfcourt. In tandem, they could become one of the league’s best backcourts.
6. Pacers: Bennedict Mathurin, SG, Arizona
Height: 6′ 6″ | Weight: 210 | Age: 19 | Sophomore
It’s not much of a secret around the NBA at this point that the Pacers strongly covet Keegan Murray, with their preferred outcome being one where he falls to No. 6. There’s been chatter as of Thursday morning that the Pacers remain interested in trading up to No. 4, and rival teams think Murray would be their likely target. If they’re unable to find a deal, the other player most frequently connected to Indiana is Mathurin, who seems poised to come off the board here. In an alternate scenario, if Jaden Ivey goes at No. 4 I think the Pistons could very well opt for Mathurin ahead of Murray.
Mathurin has had a strong predraft process and doesn’t figure to be on the board very long. He is in play all over the top 10. He is young for a sophomore and will immediately bring some shooting and physicality on the wing. He’s still expanding his handle and playmaking and he can become a more consistent defender, and while that gives some teams pause, it also leaves a ton of room for growth. As an elite athlete who can shoot on the move, Mathurin offers plenty of upside, and this pick is essentially seen as his floor.
7. Trail Blazers: Dyson Daniels, G/F, G League Ignite
Height: 6′ 7” | Weight: 195 | Age: 19
This pick has become a critical swing spot in the draft, with the rest of the league waiting to see if Portland decides to make a deal. As evidenced by Wednesday’s acquisition of Grant from Detroit, the Blazers are trying to jump-start their pathway back to the playoffs around Damian Lillard. Portland has been signaling to other teams that it’s happy to stand pat and make this pick, but I think the Blazers would happily strike for the right type of deal, particularly if their rumored interest in Toronto’s O.G. Anunoby is any indication. Rival teams also continue to speculate on the possibility of a swap with Oklahoma City, which would see Portland move back to No. 12.
If Portland keeps the pick, this feels like a clean landing spot for Daniels, although it’s worth noting the Blazers have done a ton of homework on Shaedon Sharpe and are also thought to have interest in Jalen Duren. Daniels is one of the more well-rounded prospects in the draft and can help thread the needle between finding short-term help and sustainably transitioning into a rebuild. His feel and ability to initiate offense and defend all over the floor would work nicely in tandem with Lillard. He seems destined to be a valuable playoff contributor with his versatility and smarts, even if he doesn’t turn into a top-flight shooter or scorer.
8. Pelicans (from Lakers): Jeremy Sochan, F, Baylor
Height: 6′ 8″ | Weight: 220 | Age: 19 | Freshman
The Pelicans’ intentions at this spot have been difficult for other teams to read, as they don’t have a defined area of need on the roster and are also thought to be considering various trade opportunities. Whoever New Orleans drafts won’t be under pressure to contribute immediately, and it has future first-round picks still incoming from the Lakers and Bucks. There’s a case here to simply select and take the long view with a prospect. This may be the very top of Sochan’s range, but he has many of the intangibles the Pelicans have shown they value. His defensive grit and versatility would stack nicely with the players already in the fold. If they keep this pick, I would also keep an eye on Ousmane Dieng and Shaedon Sharpe, who fit the bill as high-upside developmental additions.
Sochan is one of the most intriguing defenders in the draft, as a tough, switchable forward who supplies energy and attitude and plays a fearless style of basketball. His offensive game is more of a work in progress, but he’s a good ball-handler and passer for his size, and there’s a pretty reasonable chance he becomes a passable three-point shooter. While there are some developmental what-ifs here, there’s a lot to like, considering how advanced he is for his age from a feel standpoint.
9. Spurs: Jalen Duren, C, Memphis
Height: 6′ 11″ | Weight: 250 | Age: 18 | Freshman
With the 20th, 25th and 38th picks also in hand, the Spurs are in a flexible position here, able to take whoever they like most and focus on positional contingencies later. With Dyson Daniels and Jeremy Sochan off the board, the upside of players like Shaedon Sharpe or Ousmane Dieng might be tempting, but San Antonio could also turn to Duren here. This is the high end of his range, which is thought to end with Charlotte at No. 13, but he’s likely to be the first center drafted. The Spurs appear open to finding a long-term solution up front, and Duren’s youth and physical gifts make him a fascinating development proposition as someone who could anchor the interior on both ends.
Although Duren is more of a traditional center, he holds some appeal as a long-term piece worth developing, particularly as one of the youngest players in the draft. He’s a powerful leaper with a mature frame, good hands and feet, and some untapped skill potential. Teams have long held concerns over his inconsistent motor and occasionally questionable instincts, but if he puts everything together, he could become an upper-echelon player at his position, if perhaps not a true star.
10. Wizards: Johnny Davis, SG, Wisconsin
Height: 6′ 5” | Weight: 195 | Age: 20 | Sophomore
The Wizards continue to explore trade options with this pick and have shown interest in upgrading their backcourt as they look to improve the roster around Bradley Beal. They’ve been tipped as a team with interest in trading up for Jaden Ivey, but realistically may not have enough to offer to actually get that high. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see Washington move back or out of the draft entirely, depending on what caliber of player they can acquire in that type of deal. But Davis makes a lot of sense if he’s available here as someone who can help fill the need and provide the type of extra scoring and playmaking the Wizards could badly use.
Davis took a major leap last year and became one of the best players in college basketball, all while playing through injury and in a structured Wisconsin system. He boasts an unusually adept mid-range touch that teams hope will lead to more consistency from deep, and his rapid development points to even more room for growth, considering how seriously he takes his craft. While he could wind up slipping a bit, it’s hard to see him falling out of the lottery entirely.
If they stay here, Sharpe’s scoring ability, athleticism and intriguing potential to create shots could make him too strong a value proposition to pass up.
11. Knicks: Shaedon Sharpe, SG, Kentucky
Height: 6′ 5″ | Weight: 200 | Age: 19 | Freshman
The Knicks have popped up all over as a possible trade candidate, but it presently seems more plausible that New York would trade back from here than up the board. Also: in yesterday’s column, I noted that it felt more likely the Knicks would re-sign Mitchell Robinson than select a big. Based on what I’ve heard since then, I’m going to slightly change my stance on that: I actually think it’s possible New York could keep Robinson and still draft a center anyway, in the interest of creating depth at the position moving forward. Whether or not that’s actually a good idea is entirely fair to ask, but I wouldn’t rule out Jalen Duren if he’s here on the board at No. 11. But I also think the Knicks would be legitimately torn if Sharpe and A.J. Griffin were both on the board here, which remains a possibility.
Sharpe’s workouts have been a hot topic around the league over the past few weeks, and while teams have appreciated his willingness to compete against other prospects in three-on-three settings, the sense I get is that he hasn’t moved the needle enough to solidify a spot at the very top of the draft. Teams have expressed concerns about his motor and the fact he hasn’t logged many high-level minutes, and Sharpe hasn’t necessarily assuaged those issues behind the scenes. But he remains a potential trade target for teams looking to move into the 6-to-8 range, and could certainly hear his name called higher than this. His upside might be hard for New York to pass on.
12. Thunder (from Clippers): Ousmane Dieng, F, New Zealand Breakers (France)
Height: 6′ 9″ | Weight: 185 | Age: 19
Dieng has become one of the hotter names circulating as the draft draws closer, with some chatter going around that he might sneak into the top 10. The Thunder would likely be thrilled if he were available here. But it’s also possible that Oklahoma City winds up trading up from here into the top 10, with Portland’s No. 7 pick a potential move-up spot. As mentioned in yesterday’s column, Shaedon Sharpe and Dieng fit the bill as potential targets. Oklahoma City is also thought to be intrigued by Jeremy Sochan, who could also be off the board by No. 12.
Although Dieng isn’t ready to contribute at a high level yet, his combination of youth, size and skill level help set him apart and portend untapped upside. He’s displayed strong passing feel and shooting potential, and wings with his type of all-around ability are always in high demand. Some teams have valid questions about his athleticism and are a bit concerned with how small his sample size of positive play has been. But if you can afford to give Dieng some time, this is a pick that could pay off.
13. Hornets: A.J. Griffin, G/F, Duke
Height: 6′ 6″ | Weight: 220 | Age: 18 | Freshman
The Hornets hold the keys to the back half of the first round and are thought to be weighing a range of trade possibilities involving this pick and No. 15. It remains unlikely that the Hornets use both of them, with other teams having expressed interest in moving up. Charlotte’s need for a long-term center is well-known around the league, and if they don’t acquire one by other means, one of these two picks will presumably be a landing spot for Jalen Duren or Mark Williams. Theoretically, if the Hornets keep 13 and trade 15, they could prioritize a center here. But if Duren comes off the board earlier, that means at least one of the trio of Griffin, Johnny Davis and Shaedon Sharpe will fall to Charlotte here, all of whom would have to receive strong consideration as the top prospect available. Jalen Williams is a dark horse for this pick and could also figure in.
So, depending on what the Hornets decide to do on the trade front, they could be picking between one of those guys and Mark Williams. In a world with no trades, they could simply take a wing, let the Cavs select, and then pick Williams at No. 15. But it’s not that simple. Griffin has become a potential value pick, considering he’s still only 18 and one of the better three-point shooters in the class. There were times where he looked physically limited at Duke, particularly on the defensive end, but the hope is Griffin will get his body right and wind up closer physically to where he was a couple years ago. He likely won’t fall much further than this.
14. Cavaliers: Jalen Williams, G/F, Santa Clara
Height: 6′ 5″ | Weight: 210 | Age: 21 | Junior
It’s well-known in league circles that the Cavs are a suitor for Ousmane Dieng, but it feels increasingly unlikely he actually makes it to their pick at No. 14. Rival teams have speculated that Cleveland could attempt to move up the board and select him, but they may need to get ahead of Oklahoma City to do that. Otherwise, considering the Cavs are set up front with Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, it will likely target the best perimeter talent on the board. There’s a need here for a wing who can make plays for teammates and shoot, and Williams fits that description. It’s easy to envision him fitting in pretty much anywhere, and he’s drawing interest from teams picking higher than this spot.
Williams ended the college season as a prospect many teams were hoping would fly under the radar, but following the combine, the entire league has caught on, and his stock has skyrocketed. His versatility, length and ability to play on and off the ball should allow him to fit into a rotation right away. He’s had a really strong predraft process on all accounts, and there’s a real chance he could sneak into the lottery, perhaps higher than this.
15. Hornets (from Pelicans): Mark Williams, C, Duke
Height: 7′ 2” | Weight: 240 | Age: 20 | Sophomore
As mentioned previously, it feels like the Hornets probably won’t use both of their picks in the teens, with the possibility of moving back or out on the table. But the expectation remains they’ll likely grab a big at one of those spots. Williams projects as a reliable rim-protecting presence due to his athleticism and sheer size, and his lunchpail approach to rim-running duties has gradually endeared him to scouts. He’s huge, he’s not a stiff, and he figures to be an above-average two-way player, although his lack of a jumper and potential struggles defending in space may cap his upside. He’s an outstanding fit in Charlotte, where he’d be the recipient of lobs from LaMelo Ball and help stabilize the defensive end.
16. Hawks: Blake Wesley, G, Notre Dame
Height: 6′ 5″ | Weight: 185 | Age: 19 | Freshman
The Hawks continue to weigh trade opportunities and have been connected to draft picks as high as Sacramento’s No. 4 selection. John Collins, Clint Capela and Kevin Huerter have all surfaced as trade possibilities, particularly Collins, who is one of the more talented players openly known to be available on the market. If Collins gets moved and the Hawks keep this pick, I’d keep an eye on Tari Eason as an option. Otherwise, Atlanta has primarily been connected to guards, with their eyes on adding a bigger, athletic ball-handler to pair with Trae Young.
Wesley didn’t have a ton of high-level experience prior to college, so he is at an early point in his development and has shown some flashes of brilliance. He’s still quite raw and profiles better as a scoring combo guard than a true point, but he did a pretty good job carrying Notre Dame’s offense, all context considered. He’ll need to become a more effective catch-and-shoot player and sharpen his decision-making to make a smooth transition. His range starts at No. 16 and likely ends somewhere in the early 20s.
17. Rockets (from Nets): Tari Eason, F, LSU
Height: 6′ 8″ Weight: 215 | Age: 21 | Sophomore
Yes, the Rockets are probably taking a power forward at No. 3, but that may not stop them from rolling the dice on someone like Eason here, as Houston is in a phase where they can and should be throwing as many developmental darts as possible. The Rockets should be in a flexible position if they decide to keep this pick, with No. 26 now also in the fold after trading Christian Wood to Dallas. Houston rostered four rookies last year, and it stands to reason they may not want to carry three more, so it’s logical to think this pick could still wind up elsewhere.
Eason’s offensive productivity, analytics-friendly profile and disruptive capabilities on the defensive end would make him a strong fit in Houston, where he won’t have to do much creating and can be tasked with wreaking havoc and playing with energy. He’s more of a work in progress than your typical 21-year-old prospect, and he’s an acquired taste from team to team, due more to concerns about his maturity and feel than his skillset. Eason’s impressive physical tools and the strength of his breakout year make him worth a long look in this range.
18. Bulls: Ochai Agbaji, SG, Kansas
Height: 6′ 5″ | Weight: 215 | Age: 22 | Senior
As I understand it, the Bulls have continued to engage in trade discussions surrounding this pick, with a number of teams interested in trading into the teens. The unexpected availability of a plug-and-play prospect like Agbaji or Mark Williams could also lead Chicago to keep it.
Agbaji would fit nicely here as a reliable shooter and defender who can hit shots and play off teammates. He’s one of the more ready-made contributors in the draft, having earned the respect of NBA teams with the leap he made this season and his role in Kansas’s title run. While he likely won’t create much offense for himself, his three-point shooting and low-maintenance game make him a pretty safe option. His range begins in the late lottery and runs here into the teens.
19. Timberwolves: Wendell Moore, G/F, Duke
Height: 6′ 5″ | Weight: 215 | Age: 20 | Junior
With Patrick Beverley approaching his mid-30s and entering a contract year, Minnesota is thought to have interest in finding a young guard to flank Anthony Edwards. Considering that this is a thin point guard draft, one alternative could be Moore, who can play on the ball in a pinch to similar effect while also defending several positions. He has a pretty ideal skillset for a modern role player and gradually won teams over with his consistent play.
Moore could be a valuable addition here, supplying role versatility and strong instincts on both ends of the floor. He doesn’t profile as a volume scorer, but his unselfish passing, transition play and improving jump shot should help him carve out a niche in support of star talent. Moore had a terrific junior year, and his efforts often went underappreciated, but he’s a winning player with the type of well-rounded game that fits particularly well next to established stars, two of which the Timberwolves have in Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns.
20. Spurs (from Raptors): Malaki Branham, SG, Ohio State
Height: 6′ 5″ | Weight: 195 | Age: 19 | Freshman
Keep in mind that the Spurs may not wind up using all their picks to select players, as they value the flexibility of trying to move around in the draft. That being said, this feels like about as far as Branham can fall, and he’d be a nice fit with San Antonio as a crafty scorer. If the Spurs grab a big at No. 9, I would expect them to target a perimeter player later in the first round, and I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of combining Nos. 20 and 25 to move up from here.
Branham is one of the higher-upside prospects potentially available outside the lottery, factoring in his youth and current trajectory. He is a bit undersized for a scoring wing and isn’t extremely explosive, but he is crafty, smart and should shoot it at a high clip. He was a nice surprise for Ohio State, and while it’s hard to expect him to step in early and help a team, he’s a worthwhile development pick in this range.
21. Nuggets: Dalen Terry, G/F, Arizona
Height: 6′ 7″ | Weight: 195 | Age: 19 | Sophomore
The Nuggets have a strong core in place and can approach this draft creatively, having also obtained the 30th pick from Oklahoma City via trade. A big, versatile playmaker like Terry would add a different dimension to their assortment of perimeter players and help grease their offense around their stars. Terry played the predraft process well and has enticed teams with his size, passing and connective skills. He’s not going to score a ton on a regular basis, but he is an athletic, creative player who excels in the open floor and should become a capable defender. Terry has maturing left to do and has to improve as a jump shooter to maximize his value. He’ll require some patience, but appears to be on a good trajectory at the moment.
22. Grizzlies (from Jazz): Christian Braun, F, Kansas
Height: 6′ 7″ | Weight: 210 | Age: 21 | Junior
One thought I’ve heard circulate in the lead-up to the draft was that the Grizzlies would select a more experienced, NBA-ready player at No. 22, and then make a more development-oriented selection at No. 29. And while Memphis has made attempts to trade up, the Grizzlies value the draft, have picked well in recent years, and it’s possible they simply make both selections. Braun has worked his way into the first-round picture, endearing himself to teams as a potential role player with his toughness, athleticism and defensive grit. There’s some mixed opinion about his shooting and actual skill level, which affects how you ultimately feel about his upside. But his ability to play in transition and high-energy style would be a fit in Memphis, which may need to start turning over its forward spots as Kyle Anderson hits free agency and with Dillon Brooks a year away.
23. 76ers: Jake LaRavia, F, Wake Forest
Height: 6′ 8″ | Weight: 235 | Age: 20 | Junior
There’s a strong belief around the NBA that Philadelphia ends up trading this pick, likely attaching it to either Danny Green or Matisse Thybulle as they look to shore up their supporting cast around Joel Embiid and James Harden, and also potentially save some money. Considering Daryl Morey’s past distaste for using draft picks, it wouldn’t be surprising if someone else selects here.
LaRavia seems to be drumming up a good bit of interest and appears entrenched in the first round. His passing and off-ball smarts are broadly useful strengths, and he should be able to supply passable minutes at either forward spot as a rookie. He endeared himself to teams over the course of the season with his competitiveness, efficient scoring and steady defense, building an analytics-friendly profile and gathering momentum as a potential first-rounder. LaRavia isn’t super explosive and isn’t going to create a ton of offense off the dribble, but he’s a smart passer and ball-mover who can accentuate talent around him.
24. Bucks: Andrew Nembhard, PG, Gonzaga
Height: 6′ 4″ | Weight: 195 | Age: 22 | Senior
The Bucks are gauging their options with this pick, sources said, and have been mentioned as a candidate to both trade up or trade back from this spot. They’re looking for rookies who are closer to contributing, and are among the teams interested in Nembhard, who is one of the more NBA-ready options available in a thin point guard class. He’s a poised playmaker who makes teammates better, and whose size should enable him to defend either backcourt spot in certain situations. He is one of the most experienced guards in the class and should have a pathway as a long-term backup in the league if he continues to make strides as a shooter. He could inherit George Hill’s role in Milwaukee.
25. Spurs (from Celtics): MarJon Beauchamp, SF, G League Ignite
Height: 6′ 6″ | Weight: 200 | Age: 21
As mentioned previously, the Spurs may not actually roster all four of their draft picks, but in this scenario, they grab a wing after taking a big and a guard with the first two. Beauchamp’s stock has been in flux of late, but he has enough fans around the league that he may still come off the board in the 20s. His athleticism and length would be a good addition off someone’s bench, and he’d be walking into a stable situation where he won’t be asked to overstretch himself as a scorer. He has prototypical size and length on the wing, and if he can develop into a consistent shooter, there’s a reasonable chance he becomes a nice 3-and-D rotation player. The fact Beauchamp is still somewhat raw and inexperienced for his age has been a holdup for some, but he plays hard and looks the part.
26. Rockets (from Mavericks): Jaden Hardy, SG, G League Ignite
Height: 6′ 4″ | Weight: 200 | Age: 19
Houston acquired this pick in last week’s trade that sent Christian Wood to Dallas, giving them three first-rounders to mess around with. The Rockets should have some options to think about with No. 17 and No. 26, and are thought to be open to trading this one. While one could argue Houston has one too many scoring guards already, the Rockets tend to gamble on talent, and developing another talented player like Hardy might be enticing. His stock fluctuated heavily this year, but he ended the season on a positive note and has a lot to offer on the offensive end, particularly if he’s able to adjust his shot selection and become more efficient. He is a talented shot-maker, has a good frame at his size, and it should help that he’s already been tested by the G League. Hardy becomes a nice value play in this range of the draft and supplies enough upside here that it’s worth finding out.
27. Heat: TyTy Washington, PG, Kentucky
Height: 6’ 3” | Weight: 195 | Age: 20 | Freshman
Word around the league is that Washington could be sitting in the green room for a while tonight, with Miami’s pick viewed as a potential soft landing spot, but not necessarily a floor. Word is he hasn’t overwhelmed on the workout circuit and could be in for a bit of a slide. Despite an uneven freshman year, there’s still some optimism surrounding Washington’s context, as he played through injury and Kentucky guards have often fared better in the NBA. Still, he isn’t a great athlete or overly tall for a combo guard, and he’s a little bit polarizing, factoring in that he was quite old for a freshman. Washington may ultimately benefit from the fact this is a pretty thin guard draft, and he profiles as a potentially solid rotation option.
28. Warriors: Peyton Watson, F, UCLA
Height: 6′ 8″ | Weight: 200 | Age: 19 | Freshman
While the Warriors have explored trade opportunities with this pick, as previously noted, it sounded more possible as of Wednesday that Golden State would end up making a selection after all. Watson is the type of toolsy player with strong high school credentials that the Warriors have generally loved to take swings on, and he comes with big potential on the defensive end and a good deal of upside once you get to this part of the draft. The shine has worn off a bit after Watson entered the year projected in the lottery and struggled to contribute much at UCLA, but there are certainly teams who see his frame and mobility and are willing to look past the bad context. A team like Golden State, which uses its G League affiliate effectively and has had some development success stories in recent years, could certainly see the value in taking a chance.
29. Grizzlies: Patrick Baldwin Jr., PF, Milwaukee
Height: 6′ 10″ | Weight: 220 | Age: 19 | Freshman
Rival teams say Memphis has preferred to hold onto this selection in its various trade scenarios, giving them an opportunity to select a cost-controlled player in this range of the draft. Baldwin remains an acquired taste due to his injury history and frustrating year in college, but continues to draw first-round interest based on his size and potentially elite three-point shooting. He needs to be able to stay healthy, improve his conditioning, regain his confidence and string games together, but it’s hard to imagine things can get much worse for him than they did in college. Teams will have to understand the context and feel comfortable to actually take the leap. Baldwin’s athleticism, defense and lack of physicality have inspired concern, but there are only so many knockdown shooters at his size, and most of them are valuable. The Grizzlies love to take discounted fliers on players with his type of profile.
30. Nuggets (from Suns): Nikola Jovic, F, Mega Basket (Serbia)
Height: 6′ 11″ | Weight: 220 | Age: 19
Yes, Nikola Jovic going to the Nuggets would be a pretty funny coincidence. Denver acquired this pick (which originally belonged to Phoenix) from Oklahoma City last week, in a deal that also shed JaMychal Green’s salary in exchange for a future first-rounder. Adding a jumbo shooter like Jovic who could develop into more might be an interesting upside play, even though his stock has dipped a bit on the workout circuit. He holds appeal as a big forward with perimeter skills, plus passing vision and a sweet jumper. He’s also a below-average athlete and likely to be a defensive liability, which are real concerns for teams. As I understand it, Jovic intends to come over to the NBA next season, so he won’t necessarily be a stash pick.
31. Pacers (from Rockets): Walker Kessler, C, Auburn | So.
32. Magic: Justin Lewis, F, Marquette | So.
33. Raptors (from Pistons): Bryce McGowens, SG, Nebraska | Fr.
34. Thunder: Jaylin Williams, C, Arkansas | So.
35. Lakers (from Pacers): E.J. Liddell, F, Ohio State | Jr.
36. Pistons (from Trail Blazers): Trevor Keels, G, Duke | Fr.
37. Kings: Josh Minott, F, Memphis | Fr.
38. Spurs (from Lakers): Caleb Houstan, F, Michigan | Fr.
39. Cavaliers (from Spurs): Kennedy Chandler, PG, Tennessee | Fr.
40. Timberwolves (from Wizards): Max Christie, SG, Michigan State | Fr.
41. Pelicans: Moussa Diabate, F/C, Michigan | Fr.
42. Knicks: Kendall Brown, F, Baylor | Fr.
43. Clippers: Ismael Kamagate, C, Paris Basket
44. Hawks: Christian Koloko, C, Arizona | Jr.
45. Hornets: John Butler, F, Florida State | Fr.
46. Trail Blazers (from Nets): Gabriele Procida, G/F, Fortitudo Bologna
47. Grizzlies (from Cavs): Tevin Brown, SG, Murray State | Sr.
48. Timberwolves: Ryan Rollins, G, Toledo | So.
49. Cavaliers (from Bulls): Karlo Matkovic, F, Mega Basket
50. Timberwolves (from Nuggets): Dominick Barlow, F, Overtime Elite
51. Warriors (from Raptors): Hugo Besson, G, NZ Breakers
52. Pelicans (from Jazz): Khalifa Diop, C, Gran Canaria
53. Celtics: David Roddy, F, Colorado State | Jr.
54. Wizards (from Mavs): Matteo Spagnolo, G, Vanoli Cremona
55. Warriors: Jordan Hall, G/F, St. Joseph’s | So.
56. Cavaliers (from Heat): Isaiah Mobley, F, USC | Sr.
57. Trail Blazers (from Grizzlies): Jamaree Bouyea, PG, San Francisco | Sr.
58. Pacers (from Suns): Ziga Samar, G, Fuenlabrada
More NBA Draft Coverage:
• The Case for Drafting Jabari Smith No. 1
• Is Chet Holmgren the Future of Basketball?
• NBA Draft Big Board: Final Top 100 Rankings
• Mark Williams Is Here to Kill Small Ball
• Victor Wembanyama Is Why the NBA Is Already Eyeing 2023