Final projections after Scouting Combine

NBA Analytics Network

If you’re a fan of a rebuilding team, you’re probably ready for the end of the NBA playoffs. After all, the journey is just around the corner.

The anticipation kills some people. Of course, it is easy for others to cope. For example, the San Antonio Spurs already know who they are going to select.

Victor Wembanyama could be a bummer. On the other hand, there’s plenty of intrigue surrounding this year’s draft. The order of the lottery created some interesting situations.

Will the Hornets draft Scoot Henderson with LaMelo Ball on the roster? Will Portland trade their choice? Will the Rockets make their roster with James Harden’s return in mind?

This is how we expect the design to go.

No.1 – San Antonio Spurs: Victor Wembanyama

There is no intrigue here. Victor Wembanyama is the most anticipated NBA candidate since LeBron James. The Spurs will select him with the first overall pick.

No. 2 – Charlotte Hornets: Brandon Miller

In stark contrast, there is much speculation about this choice. Still, the latest sound suggests the Hornets are leaning toward Miller over Scoot Henderson. With a superstar point guard on the roster, that’s a defensible decision.

No. 3 – Portland Trail blazers: Scoot Henderson

Here, the Blazers are a stand-in for whoever they trade their choice to. Henderson won’t make it past three. That being said, if the Blazers just wanted to select him and trade Damian Lillard, that would make sense too.

No. 4-Houston Rockets: Amen Thompson

Is Harden coming back? We don’t know and we don’t care. Thompson is a typical boom-or-bust prospect, but the Rockets are in no position to pass his advantage. It may have the second highest ceiling in this entire design.

No. 5-Detroit Pistons: Cam Whitmore

In some ways, that’s where the fun really begins. There is no definitive fifth overall outlook. The Pistons could easily go with Ausar Thompson, but we got them on the higher floor of Whitmore. His combination of power, burst, and vertical makes for obvious half-orbit-creating skills.

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No. 6-Orlando Magic: Ausar Thompson

This one is a bit tricky. With Franz Wagner looking as promising as he does, Thompson may not be the right choice. The Magic should also be shot – they could justify choosing Gradey Dick. Here we have them in Best Player Available mode.

No. 7-Indiana Pacers: Jarace Walker

The Pacers need a 4. This choice should come down to one of Jarace Walker or Taylor Hendricks. We think Walker’s superior passing and open play give him a higher offensive ceiling.

No. 8 – Washington Wizards: Anthony Black

Should the Wizards draft for team need or advantage? It does not matter. Anyway, they take the 6’7 point guard with elite floor vision.

No. 9 – Utah Jazz: Gradey Dick

The Jazz is in an interesting position. This team was somewhat competitive this year when they were expected to tank. If they plan to continue down that path, Dick is a good choice. This is the best shooter in the draft and a day one contributor.

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No. 10-Dallas Mavericks: Taylor Hendricks

The Mavericks are another team that gets to make their choice. On the other hand, Hendricks might be NBA ready as a solid 3-and-D winger. If Dallas is open to keeping their pick, this is the pick.

No. 11-Orlando Magic: Keyonte George

Will Orlando keep both lottery picks? Maybe they want to consolidate. On the other hand, this team needs a guard who can create attacks on the half court and create space on the floor. George is the choice when they decide to get those needs met at age 11.

No. 12-Oklahoma City Thunder: Cason Wallace

On the one hand, the Thunder may have its future backcourt in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey. On the other hand, there have been some layoffs between the two. Here they take the best offensive point defender in the draft in Wallace.

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No. 13-Toronto Raptors: Nick Smith Jr.

The Raptors can get cute here and select Leonard Miller. He is Canadian and exactly the type of defensive wing they have been looking for in recent years. Here we have finally granted them the need for shot-creating guards. Nick Smith fills a lot of holes for this team.

No. 14 – New Orleans Pelicans: Jordan Hawkins

No doubt the Pelicans ended up in the lottery only because of injuries. They want to participate next season. Why not add a sniper like Hawkins?

No. 15-Atlanta Hawks: Dariq Whitehead

Whitehead is a somewhat confusing prospect. He looked like a star in high school, but injuries curtailed his one season with Duke. Here the Hawks place more value on early assessments of his game.

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No. 16 – Utah Jazz: GG Jackson

The Jazz already played it safe with their lottery choice. Why don’t you swing for the fences here? There are real concerns about Jackson’s maturity and commitment, but if he overcomes those issues, he could become a star.

No. 17-Los Angeles Lakers: Jett Howard

It’s hard to know what the Lakers will do this summer. Apparently, LeBron James could retire. If he doesn’t, they might as well choose an explosive athlete with hitting potential like Howard.

No. 18 – Miami Heat: Jalen Hood-Schifino

The Heat has had a remarkable run in these NBA playoffs. That said, Kyle Lowry’s age has sometimes shown. Here they take the best remaining point guard. Hood-Schifino has the body of a winger, but he passes like a seasoned NBA floor general.

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No. 19-Golden State Warriors: Kobe Bufkin

Here the Warriors go for the best available prospect. Bufkin is a centipede. He may not be a master, but his versatile skills should suit this Warriors team.

No. 20-Houston Rockets: Dereck Lively III

When the Rockets hired Ime Udoka, he cited the need to acquire a big man to contrast with Alperen Sengun’s skills. Why not Vivid? He’s very raw on the offensive end, but he’s arguably the best defensive big in the draft.

No. 21 – Brooklyn Nets: Bilal Couliably

This is an upward hold for the Nets. Couilably may be raw, but Victor Wembanyama’s most famous teammate has an athletic profile that could indicate next-level shots.

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No. 22 – Brooklyn Nets: Brice Sensabaugh

Frankly, Brooklyn is lucky here. We dropped Sensabaugh from other mocks. The Nets pick up a three-level scorer with an NBA-ready body at 22.

No. 23 – Portland Trail blazers: Rayan Rupert

We assume Portland will trade the third overall pick. With that in mind, they might as well take a chance on 23. In all likelihood, they would put Rupert on their new G-League team. This is a potentially elite defensive player with a wingspan of 7’3.

No. 24-Sacramento Kings: Kris Murray

Are we mocking Murray to the Kings for already employing his twin brother Keegan? A little. At the same time, any team could stand to double up on versatile, floor-distance forward.

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No. 25-Memphis Grizzlies: Noah Clowney

When you get to this point in the draft, you’re probably not talking about day one contributors. Clowney has the physical profile of a good defensive forward, but it can take a while for his three-ball to start dropping regularly.

No. 26-Indiana Pacers: Leonard Miller

Yes we have the Pacers taking two players who will play the 4. That’s fine. While Walker could be a day one starter, Miller needs development time. Yet he is a hyper-athletic striker with an impressive wingspan. The Pacers get a player with some semblance of star potential here at 26.

No. 27-Charlotte Hornets-Maxwell Lewis

Lewis is a 6’7 wing with explosive jumping ability. He hasn’t been very productive with Pepperdine this season either. Again, we have a team that is upside down.

No. 28 – Utah Jazz: Colby Jones

Jones is a great point guard who should be versatile on the defensive end. He’s also a solid playmaker. This is the safest prospect on the board.

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No. 29 – Indiana Pacers: Brandin Podziemski

Yes, the Pacers have their point guard of the future in Tyrese Haliburton. This is the 29th choice. Here the Pacers look at their backup point guard from the future in Podziemski.

No. 30-Los Angeles Clippers: Emoni Bates

This is a range. At one time, Bates was considered one of the best prospects in the world. Since then, he has fallen out of the first round in most mocks. As an organization on the move, the Clippers would have to bet on the remaining advantage he might have.

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