• If you are a regular reader, you may have seen my previous mocks and questioned my mindset when I propose certain players falling in this upcoming draft.  To be fully transparent, I must disclose that neither I nor any other mock draft writer knows the intricate workings of the minds that make up the NBA front offices.  That being said, I do believe certain front offices take various approaches to the draft based on multiple factors.

    These factors include current team composition, future contract terminations, the depth of positions available in the league and prospect personality fit.  To provide guidance to readers for both my past and future mocks, I thought it best to provide some insights on my thoughts for this draft.

    Positional Depth

    I believe this year’s draft will be mostly dominated by forwards, both small and power.  The reason for this is the flexibility that these players provide in the changing NBA world.  Small forwards can play down as shooting guards to provide extra length on defense or can play up to power forward in small ball lineups utilized by several teams in the league.

    In addition, the ever-increasing importance of the 3-ball has forced teams to looks for power forwards that can play both inside and out and are shifting away from traditional centers.  This makes power forwards move valuable in that they may be used at center in certain sets.  I also believe this will be a tough year for true point guards.  For example, Kris Dunn was widely considered a top draft pick at the end of the NCAA season.

    However, it is becoming more apparent that few teams are seeking a true floor general near the top of the draft and Dunn has fallen closer to the 7th to 10th pick range.  Combo guards will stand to benefit from this and other undersized guards will fall further than expected.

    Size Matters

    While undersized players may have been very dominant at the college level, they will meet a different level of competition in the NBA where their shortcomings will be more of an obstacle to overcome.  Forwards classified as “tweeners” often struggle as they are too short to play power forward, but too slow to play small forward.

    Today’s NBA is experiencing a shift in point guard style where the position is more focused on scoring, rather than distributing.  Due to this, we are seeing more point guards with favorable height at the position given opportunities.  Tyler Ulis, Kay Felder and Demetrius Jackson are some examples of quality college point guards that may slip in the draft simply because of their height.  All three players measured under 6’0″ and under without shoes at the NBA Draft Combine.

    Drafting Need or Value

    The reason so many mock drafts are pinning Brandon Ingram as the number one pick this year is because of the seemingly perfect fit with the 76ers.  It makes much more sense for the 76ers to fill their small forward spot with a potential star and let their trio of recently drafted bigs find their niche on the team at power forward and center.

    The problem here is that many NBA front offices would much rather draft the “best player available”.  If the 76ers go with Ben Simmons as the top pick, it would be because they believe Simmons is the top talent in the draft and could provide the most future value as a franchise cornerstone or potential trade bait.

    When a team is so far behind the other teams in the league, a common strategy is to take the top talent and move other players when possible in an attempt to rebuild the franchise.  This value based draft strategy also applies to players with potential skill level growth, like Cheick Diallo.

    Diallo rarely played any minutes for Kansas during the college season, but his combine numbers and potential are more appealing to NBA front offices than those of players like college teammate Perry Ellis, who is less likely to experience much growth from his current skill level.

    Teams Without Picks

    Various teams traded away their picks for this draft, as it appears that NBA front offices do not value this draft class as much as previous classes.  Some playoff teams traded away first round picks in an attempt to fill team holes in hopes of a title run.  Some non-playoff teams moved first round picks as well, allowing playoff teams like the Celtics and Raptors to improve their already impressive rosters.

    Draft Night Trades

    As mentioned above, several teams previously traded away picks in this year’s draft.  This also means several teams have a surplus of picks.  I do not expect teams like the Suns, 76ers and Celtics to keep all of their picks.  I believe these teams, and possibly others with several second round picks, will trade away picks as the draft gets closer.

    We will likely see several draft night trades as well.  With these potential trades on the horizon, it makes it difficult to generate a sensible mock draft with future trades taken in to account.

    Once a trade is made, teams may pick different players than the previous holder of the pick would have taken given various team needs and draft strategies.

    Mock Draft 3.0

    My next mock draft will be releasing in the coming weeks and I hope to add a full second round soon. For the time being, I felt the need to explain my draft thoughts to better support my mocks.  Hopefully readers find time to read this post and make sense of all past and future mocks.  Keep following the site for updates and news regarding this summer’s draft.

Fantasy News

  • Jeff Hornacek - Team - Sacramento Kings

    Sam Amick of the Athletic is reporting that former Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek had an interview with the Kings for the lead assistant coach job.

    Sacramento has already hired Luke Walton to be their new coach but the news about the sexual assault allegations he faces might put his status in danger. Walton should be able to assemble his coaching staff once he is out of the woods but we should know more once the NBA concludes with their investigation of the matter.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Luke Walton - Team - Sacramento Kings

    Sam Amico of the Athletic is reporting that Luke Walton still has the Kings' support, despite the sexual assault allegations the newly-hired coach is facing.

    The Kings are working with the NBA to investigate allegations made against Walton by his former colleague at Time Warner Cable, Kelli Tennant. The report adds that the two sides are moving forward with their working relationship and there doesn't appear to be any momentum toward firing Walton, who was hired earlier this month just three days after he parted ways with the Lakers. The Kings confirmed that they were not aware of the accusations until TMZ reported the news and that they will wait for the facts before making a decision on Walton's future. The investigation has been delayed because all parties haven't been able to access Tennant's lawsuit so more information should merge soon.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Jaren Jackson Jr. - F/C - Memphis Grizzlies

    Jaren Jackson Jr. said that he wants to improve his "motor", his ball-handling skills and his shooting mechanics entering year two and he hopes to work with Kevin Garnett over the coming months.

    Jackson and Garnett spent time together last summer and again in February when Garnett visited Memphis to feature Jackson’s game for his segment on TNT. "He has a work ethic that is a throwback that I'm very appreciative of," Garnett said in the segment. "I love working with him. He is the future. I look forward to him becoming the leader of Memphis." The rookie had an impressive season before getting shut down due to a bruised thigh, averaging 13.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.4 blocks, 0.9 steals and 0.9 triples per contest. He has tremendous upside and owners in dynasty leagues should feel great about him.

    Source: Memphis Commercial Appeal

  • Ivan Rabb - F - Memphis Grizzlies

    Ivan Rabb plans to spend much of his offseason in the weight room as he tries to bulk up and show that he has NBA-level defense to pair with his expanding offensive game.

    For all the charm of Rabb's smooth offensive repertoire, he knows his defense needs to improve. It was especially evident in an April 3 loss at Portland when Enes Kanter torched Rabb and the Grizzlies in the post for 21 points and 15 rebounds. Rabb posted almost identical statistics this season to those he posted in 36 games as a rookie, but the second-year post player knocked down 37 percent of his 3-pointers in the G League, showing a comfort level from beyond the arc previously missing from his game. Rabb's deal is non-guaranteed, so the Grizzlies could move on from him if they want but he is only 22 years old and has shown enough potential to likely warrant another season at the relatively low price tag of $1.6 million. Keep him in your radar as he might have an important role next season in what might be a rebuilding year for the Grizzlies.

    Source: Memphis Commercial Appeal

  • Clint Capela - C - Houston Rockets

    The Rockets hope that Clint Capela has benefited from two more days of treatment for the virus that has sapped his energy through much of their first-round matchup against the Jazz.

    Since opening the series with 16 points on 8-of-13 shooting, Capela has averaged just 7.3 points on 47.4 percent over the past three games. He was 1-of-6 with seven rebounds on Monday while the Rockets got outscored by 20 points when he was on the floor. "He's trying to battle through it," Mike D'Antoni said. "I think he's been great because he's been able to play. Each day that passes, the virus passes and he'll feel better. Hopefully next game, he's back to almost 100 percent.” The Rockets will try to close out the series on Wednesday night in Houston and they are going to need their starting center to show some signs of life.

    Source: Houston Chronicle

  • Jason Kidd - Team - Los Angeles Lakers

    Bill Plaschke of the LA Times is reporting that the Lakers interviewed Jason Kidd only as a favor to his agent, Jeff Schwartz, who is also the agent for Lakers forward Brandon Ingram.

    Kidd doesn’t really seem to have a chance at the gig and the fact that he lobbied for the job even while Luke Walton held it is a tremendously bad look for the former All-Star guard. Jeannie Buss looks like she has no plans, at least not yet, to support current GM Rob Pelinka with bright, young personnel as he instead is being assisted in this coaching search by Kurt Rambis. The Lakers continue to target Monty Williams, Ty Lue and Juwan Howard and the list doesn’t seem likely to expand.

    Source: LA Times

  • Enes Kanter - C - Trail Blazers

    Enes Kanter suffered a separated left shoulder in the first quarter of Game 5 on Tuesday night, but he received an injection at halftime and gutted his way through despite clearly being pain at times.

    “I just tried to play through it," Kanter said afterward. "We'll see what happens in the future." The Blazers will have at least through Saturday off as they await the winner of the Nuggets-Spurs series. Kanter’s teammates and coaches were impressed with his ability to play with pain but this looks like a serious injury and it remains to be seen if the Turkish big will be forced to miss any time.

    Source: ESPN

  • Damian Lillard - G - Trail Blazers

    Damian Lillard put up an instant classic performance featuring a game-winning deep three, 10 total triples and a 50-spot in Tuesday's 118-115 closeout win over the Thunder in Portland.

    Lillard started off Game 5 with 34 first-half points while playing all 24 minutes. He finished with seven boards, six dimes, three steals and a block while shooting 17-for-33 from the field and 6-for-8 from the line. Despite a big second-half Thunder run, Lillard kept it going all the way until the buzzer as his shot from near the logo fell, giving him an even 50 and a series win as he waived goodbye to the Thunder.

  • CJ McCollum - G - Trail Blazers

    CJ McCollum put up 17 points (8-of-19 FGs), two rebounds, two assists, one triple and two blocks in 32 minutes in Tuesday's closeout win over the Thunder.

    McCollum sat a little more than usual in the first half after getting his third foul early, though he also ended with three fouls in another example of why coaches should just leave players in until they get their fourth or fifth. McCollum had been on fire in this series, averaging over 26 points per game coming into tonight's game. He and the Blazers now wait to see if they'll get the Nuggets or the Spurs in the next round.

  • Enes Kanter - C - Trail Blazers

    Enes Kanter toughed out a 13-point, 13-rebound double-double over 32 minutes in Tuesday's Game 5 victory over the Thunder.

    Kanter also had four assists and a block while shooting 6-for-9 from the floor tonight. He got pretty banged up in the first half, injuring his shoulder which was heavily wrapped after the game. Kanter averaged over 13 points and 10 rebounds in under 30 minutes for the series and he looks like one of the best mid-season signings in the league at this point.