Zion Williamson tops Yahoo Sports mock draft




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With the NCAA tournament in full swing, there is no better time for Yahoo Sports’ first mock draft.

The NBA draft is June 20 at the Barclays Center in New York.

1. New York: F Zion Williamson, Duke

This isn’t coming as a shock to anyone, but Zion is going first overall. His electric personality, ability to impact the game without the ball, and sky-high potential make him a lock to go first overall. Williamson still has areas to improve (mainly his shooting), but he’s in a class of his own this year and one of the best draft prospects of all time.

2. Phoenix: G Ja Morant, Murray State

Phoenix is still looking for their PG of the future, and although Ja has his flaws, he does slide in pretty well as a creator for Phoenix’s offense. He absolutely has to improve his defense, in addition to his shooting ability — Devin Booker’s playmaking duties have gone up this year, so playing off the ball is key — and decision-making. But if Phoenix doesn’t get a chance to draft Williamson and keep the second pick, it is going with Morant.

3. Cleveland: G/F R.J. Barrett, Duke

Cleveland needs another perimeter creator, and Barrett fits that bill. His ability to mesh with Collin Sexton will be something to watch, as both players are currently better with the ball in their hands and both need to improve their shooting, but they are both hyper-competitive and play to win. I personally like Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver more, but Barrett’s “pedigree” around NBA circles has him penciled in higher.

4. Chicago: G Darius Garland, Vanderbilt

Chicago has Zach LaVine at the two, Otto Porter at the three, Lauri Markkanen at the four, and Wendell Carter Jr. at the five. The only position the Bulls have left to fill is point guard. Garland is a super-quick, dead-eye shooter with the ability to play on or off the ball. If LaVine is going to be a primary creator going forward, having someone who can shoot as well as Garland can is key.

5. Atlanta: F/G Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech

Culver is a long and strong, high-IQ, two-way wing who appears to be a plug-and-play player. With Trae Young initiating the bulk of the offense, and Kevin Huerter looking like a nice secondary tertiary creator, adding another secondary tertiary creator could be a nice match. On the defensive side, Culver is the strong perimeter defender the Hawks are currently lacking.

6. Memphis: F/G Cam Reddish, Duke

It was admittedly hard to put Reddish in the top six because of his maddeningly inconsistent season, but Memphis needs a young wing to pair with Jaren Jackson Jr. and Reddish’s ceiling is arguably the highest of any players left. If the offensive flashes he showed this year at Duke are nothing more than flashes, then it is still safe to pencil him in as an effective 3-and-D player. Plus, with the 2020 draft looking like it will be strong in perimeter creators, if that pick stays in the top six and out of Boston’s hands, the Grizzlies can add someone then as well.

7. Atlanta (via Dallas): F/C Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga

After taking Culver, Atlanta might be looking for another defensive stalwart. Clarke is that player and more. On top of being one of the top defenders in college basketball, with a plethora of skills that translate going forward, Clarke is also a high-level rebounder and a great passer. He needs to improve his jumper, but he is a high-level finisher (98th percentile around the basket) and his touch around the paint (93rd percentile on runners) and improving free-throw percentage bode well for his jumper long term.

8. Washington: F De’Andre Hunter, Virginia

After trading Otto Porter to the Bulls, the Wizards have a hole at SF. Hunter is a high-IQ player on both ends, can create a little for himself out of the mid-post/high-post area, and has great length and strength that project well as a switchable defender. His shot is not particularly versatile. He likely won’t be running around many screens, but he is a good catch-and-shoot player (90th percentile) and plays within his role.

9. New Orleans: C Jaxson Hayes, Texas

With Anthony Davis likely on his way out, New Orleans will be looking to fill the void. Hayes is not as skilled offensively as Davis, but he is a great rim-runner and vertical spacer, is a very fluid athlete (he can really tight-rope the lines well), and can protect the rim. Jaxson can be a cornerstone at the five who will help lead the Pelicans into their next era.

10. Los Angeles Lakers: G/F Kevin Porter Jr., USC

This is probably a little too high, but I can see Los Angeles being intrigued by him. He’s 6-foot-5, long, strong, very athletic and has shown some nice flashes this year. There are some off-the-court concerns and his decision-making needs to improve, but his shot and ability to play with LeBron James make him an interesting fit in L.A.

11. Minnesota: G Coby White, North Carolina

Coby White has played at a high level all season while improving his point-guard skills. He also can fit with Tyus Jones as an off-guard in smaller lineups. White should continue to rise as the tournament goes on and his level of play remains consistent, but if he falls to Minnesota, he is a seamless fit with Karl-Anthony Towns.

12. Charlotte: F/G Romeo Langford, Indiana

Regardless of Kemba Walker’s future in Charlotte, the Hornets can use another secondary creator. Langford is a skilled offensive player with the ability to finish on the inside (87th percentile around the basket and 55th percentile on runners) and has shown a few flashes on defense. He only ranked in the 21st percentile on catch-and-shoot opportunities this year, but in the 67th percentile on off-the-dribble jumpers, so there is some reason for optimism. But he should look to tweak his form ever so slightly because he looks to have a slightly unnatural wrist action/flexion on his release.

13. Orlando: F/G Talen Horton-Tucker, Iowa State

Horton-Tucker is long, flashes some unbelievable touch on his finishes, and has shown the ability to hit the outside jumper. Orlando needs a point guard, but Horton-Tucker does have other things Orlando has been looking for in recent drafts, most notably length and positional versatility. Next year’s point-guard class is looking good right now, so instead of reaching for another one here, Orlando should stand pat and take the upside play.

14. Boston (via Sacramento): C Bol Bol, Oregon

From a talent perspective, Bol can spread the floor, protect the rim, and finish in the paint with his long limbs and soft touch. However, there are injury concerns, issues with his thin frame, and questions about how well his athletic ability will translate to the next level. He has immense potential, and Boston seems like it could roll the dice on one of the highest upside players in the draft.

15. Miami: F PJ Washington, Kentucky

Washington is a hard-nosed, skilled, two-way player who can slide right in next to Bam Adebayo as a key frontcourt piece. Coach Erik Spoelstra and his staff do a great job developing players and should help iron out some of the inconsistencies in Washington’s game, which have been quelled somewhat this season.

16. Detroit: G/F Keldon Johnson, Kentucky

With Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond manning the four/five positions, Detroit will likely be looking to add floor spacers with smaller roles. Johnson ranks in the 87th percentile on jumpers and 74th percentile on runners, which highlight his touch and shooting potential. He still needs to work on his defense, but he’s long, has solid strength with a good frame, and plays tough.

17. Brooklyn: F Nassir Little, North Carolina

Little has the tools you want for a modern-day three/four, but needs more refinement. He came into the season as a high lottery prospect, but has been plagued by inconsistent play on both ends of the court. Coach Kenny Atkinson and his staff can develop youth and maximize talent, so GM Sean Marks might be willing to take a risk here.

18. Boston: F Sekou Doumbouya, France

Sekou, who just turned 18 in December, might be a draft-and-stash player. He needs to iron out the rough edges in his game, but he has potential as a combo-forward defender with shooting ability. With Boston going all in now, it might not make sense to take a project, but he also might be worth it a few years down the road.

19. San Antonio: F Grant Williams, Tennessee

Williams’ style and IQ match up with the Spurs perfectly. He plays both ends of the court, can pass, shows touch in the paint and shooting potential. But most important, he is a hard worker, a team-first guy, and has a very high basketball IQ. Although he might be a bit undersized, his strength (especially in the lower body) and high release point help alleviate those concerns.

20. Oklahoma City: G Tyler Herro, Kentucky

Herro is a skilled scorer, can shoot from the outside (he loves pulling up while going left when defenders close hard), and tries on defense with active hands and feet. Though he isn’t a great athlete and doesn’t have a great frame, Herro can help add scoring punch when either Paul George or Russell Westbrook is on the bench.

21. Utah: F Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga

Utah is currently 15th in the NBA in offensive efficiency, and Rui can absolutely score. Hachimura can hit from mid-range, shows potential shooting from 3-point range (though he might need to add a bit more arc on his shot), and can finish in the paint. His best position will likely be the four, so he can slot next to Rudy Gobert or Derrick Favors when either one is manning the five. He needs to continue to work on expanding his range, defense, and passing ability.

22. Boston (via Los Angeles Clippers): C Goga Bitadze, Republic of Georgia

This might be a head-scratcher after taking Bol, but with Bol’s injury concerns and Goga’s talent, Boston might not want to pass up on this opportunity. Goga is strong and physical, has improved his range to the 3-point line, can rebound, pass a little, and protect the basket. There are definitely some lateral-quickness concerns and questions of how he’ll defend in space, but he is a skilled offensive player who has a safe floor.

23. Indiana: G Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Virginia Tech

Alexander-Walker is a playmaking two with the ability to shoot, finish (though he still needs to improve), and create for himself and others. He also can play on and off the ball with his ability to catch and shoot (79th percentile), although his form does not project well to shooting off a lot of movement. Defensively, he needs to get stronger, but his point-of-attack defense has improved this year. His ability to play with Victor Oladipo makes him a nice fit.

24. Portland: F Cameron Johnson, North Carolina

Johnson is one of the best shooters in the country and watching him space the floor with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum would be something to see. There are some injury concerns, but adding another floor spacer with a quick release and the ability to shoot off movement will open up the middle for more drives and more room to operate in the post.

25. Cleveland (via Houston): C Bruno Fernando, Maryland

Fernando is an athletic big who has flashed some passing ability and a jumper this year. He also has a nice post game and a soft touch around the rim. Fernando needs to improve his feel and awareness on both ends, but he is a rim-running, athletic big who should fit well with what the Cavs are building.

Washington’s Matisse Thybulle has the potential to be an elite defender. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

26. Philadelphia: G/F Matisse Thybulle, Washington

Thybulle has unbelievably active hands and helped anchor Washington’s zone this year. If his shot becomes more consistent, he should help Philadelphia as a low-usage 3-and-D wing. There are questions about the transition from zone to man in the NBA, but Thybulle’s 8.1 block percentage and 6.6 steal percentage are historic marks for a wing.

27. Brooklyn (via Denver): F KZ Okpala, Stanford

Okpala is a toolsy 6-9 combo forward with an improved shot, some passing ability, and potential on defense. He moves well laterally, but needs to improve his strength and ability to turn his hips to change direction. It’s another developmental pick, but one that could pay off if Okpala continues to progress.

28. Golden State: F Eric Paschall, Villanova

Paschall is a strong four who can hit from deep, finish in the paint (93rd percentile around the rim), pass a little, and defend. He comes from a winning program and has been the primary option in the offense, as well as a role player. There are size concerns (6-8, 255), but it’s tough to bet against what he can provide now, his winning pedigree, or his team-first attitude.

29. San Antonio (via Toronto): F Dylan Windler, Belmont

Windler is a knockdown shooter, great rebounder (and plays a bit stronger than his size at 6-8, 200), good passer, and has a nice IQ. He’s not a great isolation defender, but is solid positionally and schematically, which is just as, if not more, important. The Spurs are last in 3-point attempts per game and sixth to last in makes, and adding Windler could bump those numbers up a bit.

30. Milwaukee: G Tre Jones, Duke

Building around Giannis Antetokounmpo means you need players who know their role, defend, and hit jumpers. Though Jones’ jump shot needs a lot of work, he is a fantastic defender, can create for others, and he plays his low-usage role perfectly. If his shot comes around, he is a great fit next to Giannis.

Second round

1. Brooklyn (via N.Y.): G, Luguentz Dort, Arizona State

2. Phoenix: F Admiral Schofield, Tennessee

3. Philadelphia (via Cleveland): G Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois

4. Philadelphia (via Bulls): F/C Mfiondu Kabengele, Florida State

5. Atlanta: G Ty Jerome, Virginia

6. Dallas: C Daniel Gafford, Arkansas

7. Chicago (via Memphis): F/G Deividas Sirvydis, Lithuania

8. Charlotte (via Washington): G/F Joshua Obiesie, Germany

9. New Orleans: G Adam Mokoka, France

10. Sacramento (via LAL): PF Luka Šamanić, Croatia

11. Atlanta (via Minnesota): F Jalen McDaniels, San Diego State

12. Atlanta (via Charlotte): F Darius Bazley, Princeton (Cincinnati) High School 2018

13. Sacramento (via Orlando): C Charles Bassey, Western Kentucky

14. Minnesota (via Miami): F/G Brian Bowen, Sydney Kings (National Basketball League) via U.S.

15. Philadelphia (via Sacramento): G Carsen Edwards, Purdue

16. Detroit: G Jordan Poole, Michigan

17. Orlando (via Brooklyn): G Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s

18. San Antonio: F/G Charles Matthews, Michigan

19. Boston: F/G Miye Oni, Yale

20. Utah: C Neemias Queta, Utah State

21. Charlotte (via Oklahoma City): C Naz Reid, LSU

22. Los Angeles Clippers: F Yovel Zoosman, Israel

23. Indiana: F Isaiah Roby, Nebraska

24. Los Angeles Clippers (via Portland): G John Konchar, Purdue Fort Wayne

25. New York (via Houston): G Quentin Grimes, Kansas

26. Philadelphia: F Louis King, Oregon

27. New Orleans (via Denver): G Jalen Lecque, Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N.H.) 2018

28. Golden State: G Terence Davis, Ole Miss

29. Toronto: C Sagaba Konate, West Virginia

30. Sacramento: F Zylan Cheatham, Arizona State

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You can find Spencer Pearlman and his videos and Synergy stats on Twitter at @SKPearlman.

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