Welcome to another mock-ery draft.
This year’s NBA draft, which will be held on Thursday night, figures to be one of the craziest ones in recent memory. And that’s primarily because of the shaky status of two, prime-time draft prospects: Michael Porter and Trae Young.
Both Messrs. Porter and Young appeared to be sure-fire Top 5 selections just days ago. But now there are grave concerns about Porter’s problematic back and Young’s willowy frame, concerns that could possibly drop them out of the top 10.
What’s more, a rash of team are open to trading their pick, including Chicago, Memphis, Milwaukee, Denver, Atlanta and Utah.
So, without further ado, here’s how the first round could unfold:
- PHOENIX – The Suns have two glaring holes: center and point guard. They fill one by taking Arizona center Deandre Ayton.
- SACRAMENTO – There are more than a few NBA officials who believe Duke forward Marvin Bagley is the best player in the draft. The Kings won’t argue.
- ATLANTA – The Hawks would have one nice, young frontcourt if Michigan State big man Jaren Jackson Jr. were to join Taurean Prince and John Collins. But gifted multi-positional playmakers like Luka Doncic don’t come along very often. One other note on the Hawks: they have entertained some tantalizing offers for the pick and could trade back a few spots.
- MEMPHIS – The Grizzlies are definitely contemplating moving back a few spots, but wouldn’t be upset “settling’’ for Jackson, who may have the biggest upside of any player in the draft. Duke power forward Wendell Carter is also drawing keen interest from the Grizzlies.
- DALLAS – The Mavs had to be tempted to take Michael Porter, who could be a star, before his troubling back issues arose. And I’m told they still could take Porter — if owner Mark Cuban gets his way. But the Mavs can’t afford to take that major risk and opt for Texas center Mohamed Bamba over Carter.
- ORLANDO – While Bamba and Carter are clearly in the mix — the Magic are working to move up to land Bamba — they desperately need a point guard. Oklahoma’s Trae Young, Alabama’s Collin Sexton and Kentucky’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are some nice options. Sexton may have the edge.
- CHICAGO – There are whispers the Bulls want to move up in the draft to secure Bamba. But if they fail in their attempts, Villanova’s Mikal Bridges would be a nice forward bookend with Lauri Markkanen. Carter is also on the Bulls’ shortlist.
- CLEVELAND – With LeBron likely heading to Tinseltown, the Cavs need high end talent. Porter will certainly be considered but Carter would be a much safer pick.
- NEW YORK – Do the Knicks roll the dice on Porter, if he’s still available, or play it safe and take Kentucky forward Kevin Knox or Miami shooting guard Lonnie Walker? We’ll say the latter. There’s also some whispers Toronto covets this pick and is offering Kyle Lowry as part of a potential deal.
- PHILADELPHIA – Could the Sixers ship this pick to San Antonio as part of a package for Kawhi Leonard? If they keep the pick, adding a small forward like Knox will just further solidify their exceptional core of young players. Texas Tech shooting guard Zhaire Smith is also gaining some traction with the 76ers brass.
- CHARLOTTE – The Hornets allegedly want to bolster their backcourt, especially if they jettison Kemba Walker. Gilgeous-Alexander makes a lot of sense as do Boston College’s Jerome Robinson and Young. Our pick: Young.
- L.A. CLIPPERS — The scuttlebutt is the Clippers want to use their back-to-back first-round picks on a frontcourt and backcourt player. Texas A&M power forward Robert Williams is a possibility, despite chatter of a free fall, but Michigan State small forward Miles Bridges appears to have the inside track.
- L.A. CLIPPERS –The Clippers may take the safe route and select Boston College shooting guard Jerome Robinson in this spot. but Porter, if he falls, could pay off big-time in the long run..
- DENVER – Besides Jerome Robinson, the Nuggets are intrigued the highly athletic Smith. Knox, if he unexpectedly slid, is another strong candidate.
- WASHINGTON – The Wizards could use another big like Williams, or even Michigan’s Mo Wagner or young Mitchell Robinson. But Walker, who could slide, and BC’s Robinson could develop into quality starters. Let’s go with Robinson.
- PHOENIX – After opting for Ayton with the first pick, the Suns plug their other hole – point guard – with Gilgeous-Alexander, if available, or UCLA’s Aaron Holiday.
- MILWAUKEE – League sources insist the Bucks are quite receptive to trading this pick, possibly for a veteran wing man. They have also explored ways to move back (Atlanta has picks 19 and 30). And, yes, the Bucks are also actively shopping veteran guard Eric Bledsoe (to Charlotte for Kemba Walker?). However, if the Bucks stand pat, they’ll likely have their choice of several good but not great shooting guards: Robinson and Smith could be gone, but Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo, Duke’s Grayson Allen, Oregon’s Troy Brown and Maryland’s Kevin Huerter figure to be available. Other potential picks include Williams and Mitchell Robinson, who shunned going to college, and Aaron Holiday. Wagner could be a “sleeper’’ pick. Put Williams’ name here, for whatever team has this pick. Lastly, the Bucks are looking hard into acquiring a second-round.
- SAN ANTONIO – Oregon shooting guard Troy Brown has been linked to the Spurs for a while, which makes sense. Robinson, if he slips, would also be a good fit. And they’ve shown more than a little interest in Williams as well.
- ATLANTA – The Hawks are looking to package this pick and move up in the draft. If they retain this pick, Holiday might get the nod over France point guard Elie Okobo and Mitchell Robinson.
- MINNESOTA – The T-Wolves clearly could use a long-range shooter and Huerter fit the bill. Pick: DiVincenzo.
- UTAH – Rumors have been rampant that the Jazz want to move this pick. If they can’t, they may dip into this shooting guard rich draft and take someone like Huerter or perhaps Duke’ Grayson Allen. Pick: Huerter.
- CHICAGO – The scuttlebutt is the Bulls made a “promise’’ to Boise State small forward Chandler Hutchison. We believe the rumors.
- INDIANA – The Pacers could shore up their point guard situation with Elie Okobo of France.
- PORTLAND – The Blazers appear in the market for a wing play and have shown interest in DiVincenzo, Hutchison, Cincinnati’s Jacob Evans, Bosnia’s Dzanan Musa and Anfernee Simons. Simons’ potential will be tough to pass on.
- L.A. LAKERS – The Lakers are Simons’ fans, but they also need a big and Mitchell Robinson and Villanova’s Omari Spellman could still be on the board. Pick: Robinson.
- PHILADELPHIA – Sixers wouldn’t mind having another perimeter threat (see above for candidates) could wind up taking Allen.
- BOSTON – The Celtics wouldn’t mind seeing DiVincenzo slide to them, and they also seemingly have interest in Spellman, Allen and Miami guard Bruce Brown. Let’s go with Spellman.
- GOLDEN STATE – The Warriors are enamored with 3-point shooters, which means Creighton’s Khyri Thomas and Duke’s Gary Trent Jr. and Allen are on their radar. Michigan power forward Mo Wagner would fit in nicely as well. We’ll say Warriors go with Thomas.
- BROOKLYN – The Nets are still in a rebuild mode, so Simons figures to pique their curiosity. But Ohio State forward Keita Bates-Diop could still be on the board and would be tough to pass on.
- ATLANTA – The Hawks are ready to unload this pick, although Michigan’s Mo Wagner could shore up their power forward/center positions.
- — Photo of Robert Williams courtesy of Texas A&M athletics