NBA Mock Draft 3.0: Top-five shakeup, Knicks get playmaker

The NBA draft, considered one of the best in years with a loaded group of prospects at the top and impressive depth throughout, is at last here.

The day has finally arrived after months of hype, intrigue and anticipation. The NBA draft, considered one of the best in years with a loaded group of prospects at the top and impressive depth throughout, is at last here.

Below is how The Post sees the night unfolding:

1. Detroit Pistons

Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State (G/F, 6-8, 220 pounds)

The Pistons won’t repeat 2003, and pass on a sure thing again, like they did that year in taking Darko Milicic instead of Carmelo Anthony. Cunningham has been the pick here for months, a terrific playmaker who has won at every level and is the type of high-character leader capable of positively altering the losing culture in Detroit.

2. Houston Rockets

Jalen Green, G League Ignite (SG, 6-6, 178)

Green became the face of the G League as the first high school prospect to take its new lucrative route, and the gifted offensive guard will be the new face of the Rockets now, too. As the late, great Tom Konchalski — the legendary NYC high school hoops scout — often said, he scores like the rest of us breathe.

Jalen Green went No. 4 in The Post’s previous NBA Mock Draft.
NBAE via Getty Images

3. Cleveland Cavaliers

Evan Mobley, USC (PF/C, 7-0, 215)

One scout said Mobley is a lock to be a star, without any concerns about his motor, work ethic and two-way impact. He’s exactly what the NBA looks for in big men, someone who can stretch the floor and finish above the rim, defend on the perimeter and protect the basket with his 7-foot-4 wingspan

4. Toronto Raptors

Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga (PG, 6-4, 205)

This was the first year Suggs has dedicated himself to one sport after juggling football and basketball before college, scary considering how dynamic this lead guard already is at both ends of the floor.

5. Orlando Magic

Scottie Barnes, Florida State (SF, 6-8, 225)

Barnes’ elite passing ability and defensive tenacity/versatility will immediately help the Magic. If his jump shot — the one concern here — follows, Orlando has a superstar it can build around.

6. Oklahoma City Thunder

Jonathan Kuminga, G League Ignite (SF/PF, 6-8, 220)

Kuminga will need time to refine his raw yet promising game, and the Thunder seem to be in no hurry in their rebuild. Worst-case scenario, the native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a starter on a good team who can defend, finish and rebound at a high level. But if his skills match his athletic gifts, he can be an All-Star.

7. Golden State Warriors (via Timberwolves)

Davion Mitchell, Baylor (PG, 6-1, 202)

A dogged on-ball defender who raised his stock more in the past year than anyone in this draft, Mitchell could be a super-sub for the Warriors. He can guard the best guard on the opposition, and the court-spacing Warriors will give him room to create chaos in the paint.

8. Orlando Magic (via Bulls)

Corey Kispert, Gonzaga (SF, 6-7, 224)

The surprise of the first round. The Magic give Barnes a court-spacing weapon, a first-team Associated Press All-American who shot 44 percent from deep last year.

9. Sacramento Kings

Keon Johnson, Tennessee (G/F, 6-5, 186)

Keon Johnson (#45) playing for Tennessee on March 19, 2021.
Getty Images

The Kings defend like the Knicks did pre-Tom Thibodeau, which is to say extreme effort is optional at that end of the floor. One way to remedy that is by adding someone like Johnson, who takes particular pride in his defense.

10. Memphis Grizzlies (via Pelicans)

James Bouknight, UConn (SG, 6-4, 190)

The deal for Memphis to move up in the draft isn’t official, but it will be, and the Grizzlies use the pick to land Ja Morant’s future longtime backcourt partner in the Brooklyn native. UConn coach Dan Hurley has compared him to CJ McCollum, and Morant and Bouknight can be the Grizzlies’ version of Damian Lillard and McCollum for years to come.

11. Charlotte Hornets

Franz Wagner, Michigan (SF, 6-9, 220)

The Hornets need to surround LaMelo Ball with as many quality shooters and defenders as they can, and the versatile Wagner fits into both categories.

12. San Antonio Spurs

Josh Giddey, Adelaide, National Basketball League (PG, 6-8, 205)

One of the more intriguing prospects in the draft, Giddey has a point guard’s game in a forward’s frame. In Australia’s NBL last season, he thrived (11.3 points, 7.4 assists and 7.1 rebounds), and could give the Spurs a productive playmaker up front.

13. Indiana Pacers

Moses Moody, Arkansas (SG/SF, 6-6, 211)

This could be a plug-and-play selection for the Pacers, a 3-and-D wing capable of contributing right away. He’s Mikal Bridges of the Suns with a bigger upside.

14. Golden State Warriors

Trey Murphy III, Virginia (SF, 6-9, 206)

One of the draft’s big risers, Murphy brings two essential qualities to the Warriors: size and shooting. He has the length teams love (7-1 wingspan) and shot a robust 43.3 percent from deep last year.

15. Washington Wizards

Kai Jones, Texas (PF/C, 7-0, 221)

Jones is the type of unproven prospect teams talk themselves into every year. What he lacks in production, he makes up for in the potential scouts see in his shooting range, rim-protection and finishing skill set.

16. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Celtics)

Alperen Sengun, Besiktas, Turkish Super League (PF/C, 6-10, 240)

The MVP of the Turkish Super League at just 18, Sengun has a polished post game that will translate. Most years, a player of his ilk is a top-10 pick.

17. New Orleans Pelicans (via Grizzlies)

Chris Duarte, Oregon (SF, 6-6, 190)

Want to make Zion Williamson happy, New Orleans? Add an efficient offensive player who defends and makes it more difficult to double-team your franchise player.

18. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Heat)

Ziaire Williams, Stanford (SF, 6-9, 185)

The raw talent is there. So are the question marks about his underwhelming one season in college. In time, it’s easy to see this pick being praised or picked apart.

19. New York Knicks

Sharife Cooper, Auburn (PG, 6-1, 180)

Sharife Cooper playing for Auburn on Jan. 20, 2021.
Getty Images

Yes, his jump shot needs work and there are turnover concerns — Cooper averaged 4.2 in his lone year at Auburn — but the Knicks need a playmaker with this kind of upside at the point. In 12 SEC games, he put up eye-popping numbers: 20.2 points and 8.1 assists.

20. Atlanta Hawks

Jared Butler, Baylor (PG, 6-4, 193)

The NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player improves the Hawks’ bench as someone who can play either guard spot and defend both positions. He can back up Trae Young and allow him to play off the ball on occasion.

21. New York Knicks (via Mavericks)

Usman Garuba, Real Madrid, EuroLeague (PF, 6-8, 229)

He’s not the wing shooter Tom Thibodeau craves, but he’s the next best thing: a physical forward capable of getting on the floor immediately because of his defense and length with a 7-2 wingspan.

22. Los Angeles Lakers

Cameron Thomas, LSU (SG, 6-4, 209)

There are concerns about the SEC Newcomer of the Year’s shooting ability from distance and his defensive limitations, but few players in this draft are ready to make an impact offensively like Thomas.

23. Houston Rockets (via Trail Blazers)

Isaiah Jackson, Kentucky (PF/C, 6-10, 206)

It will take time for the rebuilding Rockets to build a contender, which will allow them to be patient with the raw yet high-ceiling potential Jackson possesses.

24. Houston Rockets (via Bucks)

Jalen Johnson, Duke (SF/PF, 6-9, 220)

Johnson had all the tools to be a projected top-five pick before his one-year flop at Duke. So much, of course, had to go wrong to see him tumble into the mid-20s, from a foot injury to his decision to opt out of the season in mid-February.

25. Los Angeles Clippers

Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois (SG, 6-5, 194)

The AP first-team All-American’s ceiling may be as a third guard, a role he could find himself in instantly with the Clippers. His improved 3-point shooting last season at Illinois elevated him into the first round, complementing his strengths as a defender/scorer with the size and length to play multiple positions.

26. Denver Nuggets

Joshua Primo, Alabama (SG, 6-6, 190)

One of the stars of the NBA combine, Primo showcased ball-handling and shotmaking skills that weren’t evident in college, creating added interest beyond his 3-point stroke.

27. Brooklyn Nets

Miles McBride, West Virginia (PG, 6-3, 195)

The Nets will add a veteran big man in the free-agent market, and instead use this pick on McBride, who they can unleash on opposing guards to improve their suspect defense.

28. Philadelphia 76ers

Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland, VCU (SG, 6-3, 173)

A career 39.9 percent 3-point shooter in college with in-the-gym range, Hyland can team with Tyrese Maxey to give the 76ers a young and explosive guard duo off the bench.

29. Phoenix Suns

Tre Mann, Florida (PG, 6-4, 178)

The Suns will need help in the backcourt even if Chris Paul doesn’t opt out, since Cam Payne, Langston Galloway and E’Twaun Moore are all unrestricted free agents.

30. Utah Jazz

Greg Brown III, Texas (SF/PF, 6-9, 206)

Brown has the tools to contribute defensively as the mobile big man the Jazz lack. If the jump shot develops, Utah could have a steal with the one-time projected lottery pick.

This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Zach Braziller

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