The dreams of 60 college and international players will come true on Thursday when they hear their names called at the NBA Draft. This draft is regarded as one of the deepest in the last 10 years. Some teams are looking for their next franchise player, while others are looking for a complementary piece that can bring them closer to contention. Here is a mock draft of the first round for the NBA Draft.
1. Philadelphia 76ers—Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington
The Sixers acquired this pick from Boston to get Fultz. He didn’t get a lot of attention playing for a lowly Washington squad, but he was phenomenal in his one season in college. Fultz averaged 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.9 assists with the Huskies. He is the dynamic point guard that the Sixers have lacked for so many years. He will fit perfectly alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid to form a very intriguing young core.
2. Los Angeles Lakers—Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA
The Lakers have been rebuilding for a few years, but they haven’t found a true point guard. Ball averaged 7.6 assists, and shot 41% from beyond the arc last year at UCLA. If Ball can shoot like that in the NBA, then he will have a very high ceiling. Ball’s defense was shaky in college, but if he can improve that aspect of his game, then the Lakers will strike gold by picking him.
3. Boston Celtics—Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke
There’s a chance that the Celtics will trade this pick. If they keep it, Tatum is probably the most polished player in this draft. And unlike fellow small forward Josh Jackson, Tatum worked out for the Celtics.
4. Phoenix Suns—Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas
Jackson is an athletic, two-way player that will fill a need for the Suns at small forward. Jackson should be a Day 1 starter, and he will provide instant energy on defense.
5. Sacramento Kings—De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky
The Kings are looking for the next face of their franchise after DeMarcus Cousins was traded to New Orleans. Sacramento can start their rebuild by selecting a true floor general in Fox. He needs to improve his jump shot, but Fox has the tools to be a very exciting player in the NBA.
6. Orlando Magic—Dennis Smith Jr., PG, NC State
Smith is another player that didn’t get a lot of exposure because he played on a bad college team (NC State). However, Smith was one of the better point guards in all of college basketball, and the Magic could use a potential replacement for Elfrid Payton.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves—Jonathan Isaac, PF, Florida State
Since Minnesota has a lot of talent on their roster, they can take a risk on a raw prospect like Isaac. Isaac has the physical tools to be a productive player in the NBA, but it’ll take him a couple of years to make a large impact. He can play down low and on the perimeter.
8. New York Knicks—Frank Ntilikina, PG, France
Derrick Rose is certainly not going to be a part of the Knicks future, which means they should draft the best point guard remaining on the board. Ntilikina is the best fit for the Triangle offense, and he has the ability to be a 3-and-D guard. Ntilikina is only 19, and he’s 6’5 with a 7’ wingspan, which are elite physical tools for a point guard.
9. Dallas Mavericks—Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona
With legendary power forward Dirk Nowitzki nearing retirement, Markkanen seems like the perfect replacement for Nowitzki. Markkanen shot 42% from beyond the arc with Arizona. He’ll need to improve his defense, but Markkanen is a 7-footer that can shoot. He’ll make a nice pairing with Nerlens Noel in the frontcourt.
10. Sacramento Kings—Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga
Collins was Gonzaga’s sixth man, playing for about 17 minutes per game. But he broke out during the NCAA Tournament and showed that he can be an elite center. Collins is very athletic, and he can pair with Willie Cauley-Stein to form an intriguing duo at the position.
11. Charlotte Hornets—Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky
The Hornets would do back-flips if Monk fell to their pick, as he is an elite shooter. Monk hit 39% from the three-point line last season, and he has the ability to take over a game. Monk is undersized for his position, but he’ll make up for it with his athleticism. Monk will pair nicely with Kemba Walker and Nick Batum.
12. Detroit Pistons—Donovan Mitchell, SG, Louisville
The Pistons could take a shooter like Luke Kennard, but Mitchell’s athleticism and physical tools are too much to pass up. Mitchell has a 6’10” wingspan, and he has drawn comparisons to a young Dwyane Wade. With Kentavious Caldwell-Pope being a free agent, Mitchell could start for Detroit next year.
13. Denver Nuggets—OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana
Denver will need to be patient with Anunoby, as he is recovering from a torn ACL, and won’t be ready until November at the earliest. Once he returns, the former Hoosier will help a Nuggets team that had the second-worst defensive rating last year. Anunoby has very intriguing physical tools, as he is 6’8 with a 7’2” wingspan.
14. Miami Heat—Luke Kennard, SG, Duke
Kennard was one of the best shooters in college basketball during his two seasons at Duke. Kennard averaged 19.5 points per game, and he shot 43% from beyond the arc. Kennard isn’t great on defense, but his ball handling and shooting make him an intriguing prospect for Miami.
15. Portland Trail Blazers—Harry Giles, PF/C, Duke
Giles has a long injury history dating back to 2013, and that might worry NBA teams. Giles was ineffective during his freshman season last year at Duke, as he only played 11 minutes per game. But he was the top player in the 2016 high school recruiting class and stands 6'11". Giles is an outstanding rebounder, and he can be a great defender.
16. Chicago Bulls—Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina
Jackson played a key role on a North Carolina team that won the National Championship this past season. Jackson improved his three-point shot, as his three-point percentage rose to 37% last year. If he can sustain that success from beyond the arc, he can help a Bulls team that desperately needs shooting.
17. Milwaukee Bucks—John Collins, PF/C, Wake Forest
Collins had a breakout season after being ineffective as a freshman for Wake Forest. He averaged 19.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. He can play both power forward and center, which will create mismatches for opponents. Milwaukee needs someone to play behind Giannis Antetokounmpo and Thon Maker.
18. Indiana Pacers—T.J. Leaf, PF, UCLA
The Pacers will likely lose Paul George, so they need to build around center Myles Turner for now. Leaf averaged 16.3 points and shot 61% from the field with the Bruins last season. His scoring ability will help him fit nicely alongside Turner.
19. Atlanta Hawks—Justin Patton, C, Creighton
The Hawks might lose Paul Millsap in free agency, and Dwight Howard has been traded. Patton is a very raw prospect, but he has great potential to be an impact center in the NBA. He can score around the rim, but he can also shoot from beyond the arc. Patton could develop into a very quality center for the Hawks.
20. Portland Trail Blazers—Jarrett Allen, C, Texas
Allen has an impressive 7’5” wingspan. He averaged 13.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game last season. Allen will be very effective as Jusuf Nurkic’s back-up, and Allen can eventually become an impactful starter thanks to his physical tools.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder—D.J. Wilson, PF, Michigan
Wilson is a raw prospect, but his versatility and shooting should intrigue the Thunder. Wilson is 6’10" and shot 37% from beyond the arc, making him a potential stretch-four.
22. Brooklyn Nets—Terrance Ferguson, SG, Australia
Instead of spending his freshman season with Arizona, Ferguson decided to play professionally in Australia. Ferguson is known for his shooting ability, and he can be helpful to a Nets team that needs weapons. Ferguson has a 38” vertical, which will help him as he tries to become the kind of "3-and-D" player that NBA teams covet.
23. Toronto Raptors—Semi Ojeleye, SF, SMU
With P.J. Tucker potentially leaving in free agency, and DeMarre Carroll being ineffective, the Raptors might want a new small forward. Ojeleye averaged 19 points per game with SMU, and he shot 42% from beyond the arc. Ojeleye is 6’7, and he weighs 235 pounds, which allows him to guard big men. Ojeleye can also guard players on the wing, which makes him a versatile defender.
24. Utah Jazz—Jawun Evans, PG, Oklahoma State
Evans averaged 19.2 points per game, while shooting 43% from the field and 37% from the three-point line. Evans is only 6’1", which will create problems for him on defense. However, Evans had a higher Player Efficiency Rating than Lonzo Ball and De’Aaron Fox last season.
25. Orlando Magic—Bam Adebayo, C, Kentucky
Adebayo averaged 13 points and eight rebounds during his freshman season at Kentucky, which earned him a spot on the SEC All-Conference Second Team. Adebayo provides a lot of energy on defense, and he can step out to guard the perimeter.
26. Portland Trail Blazers—Isaiah Hartenstein, PF/C, Lithuania
The Trail Blazers will likely not keep three first-round picks on their roster next year, so Hartenstein could be a draft-and-stash option. Hartenstein's height (7'1") makes him an appealing project.
27. Los Angeles Lakers—Caleb Swanigan, C, Purdue
After a disappointing freshman season, Swanigan became one of the best players in college basketball. Swanigan averaged 18.5 points and 12.5 rebounds per game as a sophomore. He could be a steal if L.A. can grab him this late in the first round.
28. Los Angeles Lakers—Tyler Lydon, SF/PF, Syracuse
The Lakers need three-point shooting, and Lydon shot 39% from deep last year. He can space the floor while playing at power forward.
29. San Antonio Spurs—Ivan Rabb, PF/C, California
Rabb had the potential to be a lottery pick last year, but after a mediocre sophomore season, Rabb will be picked later in the first round. Rabb averaged 14 points and 10.5 rebounds last year, but he shot 49% from the field. Rabb is a great rebounder, and he’s a high-energy player that can run with teams like Houston and Golden State.
30. Utah Jazz—Jordan Bell, PF, Oregon
Bell averaged 10.9 points and 2.3 blocks per game last season, and he is a high-energy player that can provide a spark. Bell grabbed 12 or more rebounds in every NCAA Tournament game that Oregon played in last year. Bell is only 6’9", but he makes up for his height with energy and athleticism.
(Photo credit: Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE/Getty Images)