The NBA draft lottery and the NBA draft combine are right around the corner, which means we’re getting closer to draft night.
Teams will find out the order of the NBA draft after the lottery on Tuesday, May 17 in Chicago. Kicking off with the G League Elite Camp, the combine will occur between Monday, May 16 and Sunday, May 22.
Our friends at USA TODAY Sports Media Group’s Rookie Wire keep a running list of prospects who have received combine invitations, which you can view here.
While we will have significantly more clarity about the draft once the lottery and combine have concluded, we wanted to offer a quick barometer of how we believe the draft is shaping up thus far. Since our latest update in March, we now have a new projected No. 1 overall pick.
Meanwhile, many others have declared for the draft but are officially testing the waters. That means they leave the option to play in college if they are not satisfied with their pre-draft evaluation. One of those players is highly-touted Canadian prospect Leonard Miller, who we recently profiled.
We have included a few other players who are testing the waters (e.g. Terquavion Smith, Josh Minott, David Roddy, Jalen Williams, etc.) in this mock draft. But some big names (e.g. Max Christie, Justin Lewis, Harrison Ingram, Jabari Walker, Dalen Terry, Caleb Houstan, etc.) were omitted.
The second group of players would all likely get selected in the NBA draft if they opt to turn pro. But I believe that they would likely earn a better position in the draft if they return to college for another season and instead declare for the draft next year.
One way or another, those testing the waters have until June 1 to decide. Until then, however, here is how I see everything unfolding on draft night:
(Duke Blue Devils: Big, Freshman, 6-10)
The Rockets would be thrilled to pair a player as dynamic as Paolo Banchero with an explosive scorer like Jalen Green.
Banchero is a prospect who will offer NBA athleticism and fluidity from day one as a pro, and as he develops, he will continue to unlock new strengths as well. He was tough to stop, especially on the left baseline, at Duke. He also found ways to add value as an above-average passer and playmaker for his position.
Banchero, with guard-like skills, could easily go No. 1 overall. However, if he falls to lower in the top 5, it wouldn’t shock me, either.
(Gonzaga Bulldogs: Big, Freshman, 7-1)
Although he is one of the most polarizing prospects in this class because he is so skinny, there is little doubt that Chet Holmgren has elite upside.
With a 7-foot-6 wingspan, he has the length that Orlando’s front office typically values, and he is a top-tier rim protector who can swallow his opponents alive in the paint. He had little trouble scoring near the basket, and he was also one of the most productive 3-point shooters when in transition on the trailer.
If he’s willing to constantly work in the gym to fill out his frame, the sky is the limit for Holmgren.
(Auburn Tigers: Wing, Freshman, 6-10)
The pitch for Jabari Smith is fairly simple: You won’t often find a 6-foot-10 prospect who shot 42% on 3-pointers at 18 years old.
If nothing else, he will assuredly help his team as a floor spacer at the next level. But he has a projectable development pathway as a shot creator and plus-defender. His scalability to the next level is seamless, so I don’t see him falling outside the top 3, and he could even go No. 1 overall in this class.
Should he land in Detroit on draft night, Smith and Cade Cunningham would make for a particularly lethal pick-and-pop duo for years to come.
(Kentucky Wildcats: Wing, Freshman, 6-5)
He didn’t play a minute of college basketball, so it’s hard to know exactly what you’re getting here.
But sometimes, the intrigue adds to the value of a prospect like Shaedon Sharpe, the top-rated recruit in his class before he reclassified. The Thunder are a perfect team to take a worthwhile risk on a pick like this one because they have a surplus of first-round draft picks to use over the next few years.
Sharpe is someone who will use his athleticism to stand out during private team workouts, too.
(Purdue Boilermakers: Guard, Sophomore, 6-4)
I love the fit of Jaden Ivey on the Pacers, and not just because he would stay home in Indiana.
He is an explosive scorer capable of both attacking the basket and nailing a 3-pointer at the top of the key. Ivey would instantly bolster Indiana’s offensive identity, and pairing him alongside Tyrese Haliburton would give them an incredibly intriguing backcourt.
Though it wasn’t on display much in the NCAA tournament, Ivey has legitimate star potential.
(Iowa Hawkeyes: Big, Sophomore, 6-8)
Iowa’s Keegan Murray is one of this draft class’s best, most well-rounded prospects. While I’m not sure he projects as someone with star potential in the NBA, he has the makings of an instantaneous contributor on both sides of the ball.
He isn’t going to carry an NBA offense, but he rarely makes mistakes when he is on the floor, and he was the nation’s leader in field goals made at the rim last year. Murray is the only college player on record to make 60 dunks and 60 3-pointers in the same season. Even when lowering that threshold to 45, no other player in a high-major conference has accomplished that in the past decade.
Murray is strictly about basketball, and among the top prospects, he’s the best win-now option. That’s something the Blazers will need so long as they have Damian Lillard on their roster.
(Memphis Tigers: Big, Freshman, 6-10)
After a shocking decision to trade Tyrese Haliburton, the Kings have focused their backcourt around De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell.
They added a legitimately nice piece in the frontcourt in the move to land Domantas Sabonis. After trading away Marvin Bagley, I could easily see Sacramento’s convincing themselves that Jalen Duren is the right player to join him in the post.
Duren is perhaps the most physically gifted prospect in this class, and he is an excellent shot blocker. He looks the part of a top pick, but some scouts have expressed concerns about his motor, and he is a non-factor as a shooter, which limits the spacing for his team.
(Baylor Bears: Wing, Freshman, 6-8)
The Pelicans had three rookies (Herbert Jones, Jose Alvarado, Trey Murphy) in their rotation who were relatively unheralded this season. As someone who exceeded expectations, Baylor’s Jeremy Sochan fits a similar profile as those guys.
Sochan wasn’t a projected one-and-done player, but he will make a living as perhaps the best wing defender in the class. No one is saying that Sochan will be a superstar, but I see him as someone who will have a long professional career.
(Wisconsin Badgers: Guard, Sophomore, 6-5)
After coming off the bench as a freshman, Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis moved into the starting lineup.
From the end of November 2021 until now, I’d argue no player did more to improve their draft stock than Davis. He had three separate 30-point performances in the regular season, including a 37-point game during a victory over Purdue’s Jaden Ivey.
Davis slowed down by the end of the season, and he won’t be afforded as high of a usage rate in the NBA. But he also contributes well as a good rebounder for his position, and he gets to the free-throw line fairly easily. Davis could serve well as a potential replacement for Derrick White in San Antonio.
(Kentucky Wildcats: Guard, Freshman, 6-3)
We have seen the Wizards try to roll out ball-dominant guards (e.g. John Wall and Russell Westbrook) next to Bradley Beal, and now, it’s time to try something else.
Kentucky’s TyTy Washington fits in Washington for more reasons than just his last name. As a freshman, he was a remarkable assist-to-turnover guy, showcasing a great feel for the game. He also hit more than half of his 3-pointers from the right corner, which he will have to do in the NBA.
Maybe he won’t blow anyone away with highlights or stats, but Washington is someone whose game will translate well to the pros.
(Arizona Wildcats: Wing, Sophomore, 6-6)
This mock draft placement is a bit lower than the consensus opinion on Bennedict Mathurin, but it’s not for lack of talent.
After a solid freshman season that caught our attention, Mathurin had a good sophomore campaign for Arizona. He got more opportunities to play with the ball in his hands, and I think he can be a microwave scorer in the NBA.
My biggest concern for Mathurin, though, is his defense. Players with his defensive output tend not to hear their names called very early on draft night, and when they do, it’s rare that they stick around the league.
(Duke Blue Devils: Wing, Freshman, 6-8)
Duke’s AJ Griffin was one of my toughest evaluations. He seems to have lost a lot of the explosiveness that made him such an enticing prospect in high school, but as a collegiate freshman, he had a historically good season when shooting beyond the arc.
The upside is appealing enough that he won’t fall out of the lottery, but frankly, I have concerns — especially due to his defensive limitations and lack of ability to get to the free-throw line.
(Ignite: Guard, G League, 6-6)
Before the season, Australia’s Dyson Daniels wasn’t the most highly touted prospect on the G League’s Ignite roster.
But since then, he has shown the scouting community that he may have the most appealing set of skills to offer an NBA roster. Daniels is a change-of-pace ball-handler who also has some of the most projectable defensive skills among players at his position.
If the Hornets paired him with LaMelo Ball, they would have two plus-sized guards that could allow them to play positionless basketball in the backcourt.
(Ohio State Buckeyes: Wing, Freshman, 6-5)
I’m projecting the Cavaliers take a kid from Ohio who went to St. Vincent-St. Mary High School.
But I’m not just doing that because of the obvious connection to LeBron James. During his sole collegiate campaign, Ohio State’s Malaki Branham proved that he was a more-than-worthy lottery pick. Cleveland already has a stacked frontcourt, and their backcourt is loaded as well.
Branham is a three-level scorer who would give the Cavs a scoring punch on the wing. Among those with at least 60 attempts in each zone, Branham is the only freshman in the past decade to shoot at least 40% at the rim, 40% from midrange, and 40% on 3-pointers.
(SKYCITY New Zealand Breakers: Wing, International, 6-9)
While he had a miserable start to his season in Australia’s NBL, Ousmane Dieng has since turned it around in a massive way.
The 18-year-old has the versatility to play on or off the ball, though he was surprisingly efficient in isolation. He told ESPN he models his game after Scottie Barnes and Nic Batum, and he can guard one through on defense.
Dieng should intrigue teams around the league, though the Hornets are an especially strong target as they have multiple bites at the apple with two first-round draft picks in the lottery range.
(LSU Tigers: Wing, Sophomore, 6-8)
This is another fit that makes almost too much sense for it actually to happen, but if the Hawks could wind up with Tari Eason, their fans should celebrate in the streets. Atlanta’s defense was abysmal last season, and they need to do whatever they can to surround Trae Young with elite defensive players.
As a defensive playmaker, it’s hard to find someone who was this productive. Eason was hitting thresholds only accomplished by Mattise Thybulle (among players in high-major conferences in the past decade).
(Duke Blue Devils: Big, Sophomore, 7-0)
I thought that Duke’s Mark Williams did wonders for his draft stock during the NCAA tournament and some scouts believe he may even be a better pro prospect than teammate AJ Griffin.
He is a defensive specialist, which will be his calling card in the NBA. But one of the reasons I’m sold on Williams is because he made the most of his role at Duke even when the offense did not run through him.
Despite a low usage rate, Williams was efficient when afforded the chance to score. That’s what most NBA teams are looking for in a modern big man, and Williams has already done exactly that.
(Kansas Jayhawks: Wing, Senior, 6-5)
After winning a collegiate national championship, Kansas senior Ochai Agbaji has placed himself firmly on the radar as a projected top 20 pick in the NBA draft.
Like with Iowa’s Keegan Murray, drafting Agbaji is a move to add someone who can help your team win immediately. The Bulls saw instant contributions from a rookie in Ayo Dosunmu last season, and they could do it once more by adding Agbaji to their rotation.
(Tennessee Volunteers: Guard, Freshman, 6-1)
Freshman guard Kennedy Chandler helped himself during the NCAA tournament despite a loss to Michigan.
This class is relatively weak at the point guard position, and scouts could make a solid case that Chandler is one of the top floor generals in the class. He had many of the struggles one would expect from an undersized freshman guard tasked with leading an offense, but the foundation is there for success.
Not only is he an advanced playmaker for his age, but Chandler was also one of the most productive players at his position when it came to unassisted field goals made at the rim. He is a scrappy defender, too, and a good defensive playmaker.
(North Carolina State Wolfpack: Guard, Freshman, 6-3)
Last year, the Spurs took a big wing in the first round and selected Alabama freshman Josh Primo earlier than many expected to hear his name called. My pick for the player who can have a similar trajectory this year is NC State guard Terquavion Smith.
Although he needs to improve his ability to score at the rim, Smith is truly one of the wildest 3-point shooters the college basketball world has ever seen. The freshman could absolutely light it up from beyond the arc, and he shot better than 50% on his 3-pointers from the corner.
Smith has room for improvement, but it’s easy to see why teams would be intrigued.
(Baylor Bears: Wing, Freshman, 6-8)
Although he was a highly-rated recruit coming into the season, Baylor’s Kendall Brown didn’t have a sensational freshman campaign.
Don’t get me wrong. Brown wasn’t bad, either. However, there isn’t a ton he did that jumped off the page. Brown is a great athlete who threw down a ton of dunks for Baylor as a freshman, and I could see him playing a similar role to what Aaron Gordon has provided for the Nuggets. They have similar builds and strengths, and Brown could develop into a solid role player in the NBA.
(Toledo Rockets: Guard, Sophomore, 6-4)
Toledo’s Ryan Rollins looks to join the growing list of mid-major players, like Ja Morant and Damian Lillard, to enjoy stardom in the NBA.
Rollins is an efficient scorer and playmaker, especially out the pick and roll, who rarely turns the ball over. He played well as a do-it-all combo guard during his time in college, and his defense (especially his rebounding) is a bit underrated. Toledo outscored opponents by 20.8 points per 100 possessions when Rollins was on the floor, per CBB Analytics, and they were outscored by 4.0 points per 100 when he was off.
If his jump shot comes along in the pros, an NBA team will get a massive steal in Rollins.
(Ignite: Wing, G League, 6-7)
MarJon Beauchamp did an excellent job using the G League’s Ignite program to improve his draft stock. While he wasn’t on many mock drafts before the season began, Beauchamp is now an easily projectable first-round draft pick.
He does various things at the NBA level already, and he can help provide floor spacing to a contending team like the Brooklyn Nets.
(Auburn Tigers: Big, Sophomore, 7-1)
Auburn’s Walker Kessler, who has drawn comparisons to Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez, had one of the best shot-blocking seasons in college basketball history.
Kessler is an outstanding defender at the basket, and while his performance in the NCAA tournament was underwhelming, he will get looks in the first round.
(Memphis Tigers: Wing, Freshman, 6-8)
Memphis didn’t give Josh Minott a ton of playing time, but I’ve got a first-round grade on Josh Minott if he decides to stay in the NBA draft.
He is especially appealing on the defensive side of the floor, where he put up very rare numbers for a high-major freshman. According to Synergy, when guarding the opposing ball handler in pick and roll, his defense ranked in the 99th percentile. Opponents struggled to score at the rim and at the paint when he was on the floor, per CBB Analytics.
(Paris Basketball: Big, International, 6-11)
This is a relatively weak international class, but Ismael Kamagate is one of the most interesting prospects currently playing overseas.
At 21 years old, the big man is an efficient scorer when rolling and cutting to the rim, and his jumper looks solid. He would be an excellent fit alongside Luka Doncic as a screener in the pick and roll, but he will make his mark on defense. He is a switchable defender who can block shots all over the court, and that’s someone the Mavericks could use.
(Ohio State Buckeyes: Big, Junior, 6-7)
Ohio State’s EJ Liddell is a great fit for the modern NBA. He has drawn comparisons to PJ Tucker and Grant Williams, who are both playing high-level roles for contenders.
He may be available later in the first round due to a perceived lack of upside, but players like Liddell seem to stick around the league for a long time.
(Duke Blue Devils: Wing, Junior, 6-5)
I can’t remember the last time I evaluated the type of year-over-year improvement I saw from Duke’s Wendell Moore. While he was a highly-rated recruit coming out of high school, Moore struggled considerably as a freshman and as a sophomore. But as a junior, Moore took a huge leap forward.
Even though he won’t even be 21 years old on the night of the draft, Moore already has three years of high-level experience playing at Duke.
When he turns pro, he won’t have as big of an offensive role as he did this past season. But as a secondary playmaker who has the right build to play defense at the NBA level, Moore is a solid pick for a contender like the Warriors.
(Wake Forest Demon Deacons: Wing, Junior, 6-9)
Wake Forrest’s Jake LaRavia is one of my favorite prospects in the draft, and it’s easy to see why he’s improved his draft stock of late.
LaRavia was a do-it-all guy during his sole season at Wake Forrest, adding value as a scorer and a rebounder, defender, and playmaker. He shoots well both at the basket and beyond the arc, lived at the free-throw line, and didn’t need a particularly high usage rate to impact the game.
Those are the kind of players who have success and the league, and I’m confident LaRavia will.
(Canada: Guard, High School, 6-11)
I just wrote a long profile on Leonard Miller, so if you’re interested in learning more about the draft’s biggest mystery man, you can read it here. I mentioned a few players on the Thunder in my profile on Miller, but the more I think about it, the more I like the fit.
Oklahoma City has three first-round draft picks to use this offseason, so it’s okay for them to take a home run swing on a guy like Miller. They put a premium on tall ball-handlers who are above-average playmakers like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, and Aleksej Pokusevski. If you featured Miller on the floor with those guys, their combined length would give you one of the most fascinating and weird lineups in league history.
Miller reminds me a lot of Pokusevski in terms of how hard it is to peg down an accurate pre-draft evaluation. I’m not sure what to make of Miller’s long-term trajectory, but it’s hard to imagine Oklahoma City passes on him three times if he stays in this class.
31. Indiana Pacers (via HOU): Alondes Williams (Wake Forest Demon Deacons: Guard, Senior, 6-5)
32. Orlando Magic: Patrick Baldwin (Milwaukee Panthers: Wing, Freshman, 6-10)
33. Toronto Raptors (via DET): Nikola Jovic (Mega Soccerbet: Wing, International, 6-10)
34. Oklahoma City Thunder: Yannick Nzosa (Unicaja Malaga: Big, International, 6-11)
35. Orlando Magic (via IND): JD Davison (Alabama Crimson Tide: Guard, Freshman, 6-3)
36. Portland Trail Blazers: Blake Wesley (Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Guard, Freshman, 6-5)
37. Sacramento Kings: Jaden Hardy (Ignite: Guard, G League, 6-4)
38. San Antonio Spurs (via LAL): David Roddy (Colorado State Rams: Wing, Junior, 6-5)
39. Cleveland Cavaliers (via SAS): Jalen Williams (Santa Clara Broncos: Wing, Junior, 6-6)
40. Minnesota Timberwolves (via WAS): Christian Braun (Kansas Jayhawks: Wing, Junior, 6-6)
41. New Orleans Pelicans: Vince Williams Jr. (Virginia Commonwealth Rams: Wing, Senior, 6-6)
42. New York Knicks: Andrew Nembhard (Gonzaga Bulldogs: Guard, Senior, 6-5)
43. L.A. Clippers: Jaylin Williams (Arkansas Razorbacks: Big, Sophomore, 6-10)
44. Atlanta Hawks: Trevor Keels (Duke Blue Devils: Wing, Freshman, 6-5)
45. Charlotte Hornets: Bryce McGowens (Nebraska Cornhuskers: Wing, Freshman, 6-6)
46. Detroit Pistons (via BKN): Peyton Watson (UCLA Bruins: Wing, Freshman, 6-9)
47. Memphis Grizzlies (via CLE): Jean Montero (Elite: Guard, Overtime, 6-2)
48. Minnesota Timberwolves: Dominick Barlow (Elite: Big, Overtime, 6-9)
49. Sacramento Kings (via CHI): Christian Koloko (Arizona Wildcats: Big, Junior, 7-1)
50. Minnesota Timberwolves (via DEN): Matteo Spagnolo (Vanoli Cremona: Guard, International, 6-4)
51. Golden State Warriors (via TOR): Kevin McCullar (Texas Tech Red Raiders: Wing, Junior, 6-6)
52. New Orleans Pelicans (via UTA): Gabriele Procida (Fortitudo Pompea Bologna: Wing, International, 6-7)
53. Boston Celtics: Trevion Williams (Purdue Boilermakers: Big, Senior, 6-10)
54. Milwaukee Bucks: Forfeited
55. Miami Heat: Forfeited
56. Washington Wizards (via DAL): Khalifa Diop (Herbalife Gran Canaria: Big, International, 6-11)
57. Golden State Warriors: Julian Strawther (Gonzaga Bulldogs: Wing, Sophomore, 6-7)
58. Cleveland Cavaliers (via MIA): Giordano Bortolani (De’ Longhi Treviso: Guard, International, 6-4)
59. Portland Trail Blazers (via MEM): Hugo Besson (SKYCITY New Zealand Breakers: Guard, International, 6-3)
60. Indiana Pacers (via PHX): Jamaree Bouyea (San Francisco Dons: Guard, Senior, 6-2)