The Thunder have little to nothing in terms of shooting guard depth, and Porter will help alleviate those problems going forward. Porter has an instinctive ability to create his own shot better than most of the prospects on this list and would take some of the three-point shooting off of Russell Westbrook, which is one of the biggest holes in Westbrook’s game. He may be a bit undisciplined but on a squad that has a lot of veteran presence, growing up quickly shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
With the Celtics final pick in this draft, they will go with arguably the most mature player available. Johnson is the best shooter in this class of power forwards, averaging over 40 percent for his career from beyond the arc during his time with the Tar Heels. The only knock on him is his slight frame, as he is just over 200 pounds and will more than likely be outmuscled by more physical forwards in the NBA. Brad Stevens and the Celtics staff have done an excellent job at developing young talent and Johnson will be going to a staff that can help fill the holes in his game.
The Utah Jazz has cornered the market on foreign players so far (Rudy Gobert, Ricky Rubio, Dante Exum) and they will add another with Samanic out of Croatia. He has relatively good size and can fill the role of a modern-NBA forward, whether it be on a fast break or setting his feet and pulling up for a three. His ability to do everything, despite it being his greatest asset, is also his greatest weakness as he isn’t particularly elite at anything. He could eventually develop into the sixth man that is lacking from the Jazz roster.
The 76ers have expiring contracts on Boban Marjanovic, Tobias Harris and JJ Redick. Harris is the least likely of the three pieces to return to a team that was a lucky bounce away from reaching the Eastern Conference Finals. Bazley was solid recruiting prospecting coming into the season but decided to forgo college to play in the NBA G-League. Having experience playing against players trying to make it into the NBA already gives Bazley some advantages the other prospects don’t have, but now he will have to prove if he can be worthy of being a viable replacement at small forward for Harris.
None of us really know if Jusuf Nurkic will ever be able to return to the form he had before his gruesome leg injury, so I see them taking another tall forward in order to compensate for the loss of Nurkic. At 6’10” he is big enough to play center when the Blazers want to go small, which would give Enes Kanter a break when he is in foul trouble. He is still a raw talent, though, and with only 67-percent free throw shooting, he could become a liability on the line if a team is trailing and trying to come back.
Jerome is a bit undersized as he only has a 6′ 4″ wingspan, but he makes the most of his size and was a solid collegiate defender. The biggest question will be can he keep with players who are faster and stronger than those he faced in the ACC. Fortunately, the team is so loaded at shooting guard that whatever shooting guard they take will have the opportunity to sit and work on the skills that are lacking in their game, and that’s exactly what I believe the Cavs will do with Jerome, who only averaged just under 13 points per game and 5.5 assists per game.
The Nets were the best surprise out of the East this year, but the real question going forward will be can the Nets build upon this. They have a solid tandem of youth with a resurgent D’Angelo Russell and talented center in Jarrett Allen, and now they will build upon it with Alexander-Walker. His three-point FG percentage went down from his first year in college two his second, but he improved his rebounding, free-throw shooting and has a solid effective field goal percentage. Alexander is the piece Brooklyn will likely use in the future to pair with Russell in the backcourt.
Whew, what disastrous end to the Warriors’ season, not only losing the Finals but also losing Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant for presumably all of the 2019-2020 season. Kevon Looney will be rehabbing his collarbone during the offseason and Andrew Bogut is 34 and just an injury waiting to happen, leaving Bitadze as a suitable draft pick for the Warriors, especially since he’s the 17th best prospect according to ESPN’s big board.
With DeMar DeRozan turning 30 soon and Marco Bellinelli already over 30, it would be prudent for the Spurs to take a younger shooter to give them some youth in the backcourt. As we mentioned before, Popovich is a master at finding talent late in the draft and Dort can be a solid contributor off the bench before he becomes a starter. He isn’t the most efficient shooter and struggles from beyond the arc, but the talent development in San Antonio since Pop has been there is one of the best in the league and can mold him into an all-star caliber player.
Much like the Spurs in the previous pick, this pick is all about injecting youth to their oldest position. Brook Lopez is 31 and barring a retirement, Pau Gasol will be turning 39 next season and Claxton has yet to be legally allowed to drink alcohol. Gasol and Lopez will be solid big men to learn the position and can help him fledge out his offensive game, as the sophomore is more proficient on the defensive side of the ball as oppose d to the offensive side of the court. If he can add more weight onto his seven-foot frame and improve his 61-percent free throw shooting, he will be the best player to pair with the Greek Freek for the next decade.
There you have it, our first 30 picks of the NBA Mock Draft. We’ll keep tabs on how well we did on Twitter when the NBA Draft is televised at 8 p.m. on ESPN.