It is never too early to start speculating over the next NBA draft, and college basketball is filled with exciting prospects that will turn into stars once they become professionals.
The draft order is far from certain at this point, although the Washington Wizards seem like a safe early bet to get the No. 1 pick.
To determine the order for this mock draft, teams were first sorted according to current winning percentage. Their rank was then added to where they landed on Marc Stein’s latest power rankings.
For example, the Los Angeles Lakers have the 16th highest winning percentage and Stein ranked them eighth. Adding those numbers together gives them a score of 24, which is the 11th-lowest among NBA teams.
This gives them the 20th pick and at least partially accounts for the early season slump that most NBA fans believe they will come out of by the time the postseason arrives.
Now that the order is set, here is where the prospects will fall.
Note: traded pick details courtesy of RealGM.com.
1. Washington Wizards: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
Ketucky’s latest five-star recruit has a remarkably similar skill-set to Anthony Davis. He even has a hair gimmick, but it will be his versatility and athleticism that will lead to him being the top overall pick.
2. Toronto Raptors: Shabazz Muhammad, SG, UCLA
With incredible athleticism and the ability to dominate defensively, Muhammad is set to dazzle this season. He is remarkably similar to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who was drafted in this position in 2012.
3. New Orleans Hornets: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana
Zeller’s family name carries weight in basketball circles, but he is the most exciting prospect yet among his brothers. Few big men can shoot, pass and run the floor like he can.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: James Michael McAdoo, PF, North Carolina
After looking lost in many games as a freshman, McAdoo is finally displaying the talent that made him a top recruit. His ability to dominate in the paint will ensure that he does not slip out of the Top 5.
5. Detroit Pistons: Alex Poythress, SF, Kentucky
John Calipari will have a giant grin on his face once again as multiple Wildcats have their names called early in the draft. Poythress is another explosive athlete in the MKG mold.
6. Sacramento Kings: Alex Len, C, Maryland
Teams must draft based on value this high in the draft. Len has excellent size at 7’1” and a complete skill set for a big men. He will not fall further than this.
7. Orlando Magic: Isaiah Austin, PF, Baylor
Given his size, he should dominate more down low. But any team picking at this point in the draft will jump at the chance to take him due to his perimeter game and athletic ability.
8. Phoenix Suns: Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky
With a lack of scoring perimeter players at the top of the draft, Goodwin will be a prized commodity in the Top 10. He will be yet another Kentucky player to become a high draft pick.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Tony Mitchell, SF, North Texas
Having a long, athletic swingman who excels in transition and can lock down multiple positions on defense is becoming increasingly necessary in the NBA. There are several prospects who fit this description, but Mitchell is one of the most appealing among them.
10. Indiana Pacers: Rudy Gobert, PF, France
7’1” power forwards who can run the floor and explode towards the rim like Gobert do not come around often. He is still a raw prospect, but is certainly worth waiting for.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke
Plumlee is the type of skilled big man who can add depth to any frontcourt. He has a fantastic motor and a smooth mid-range game, making him an ideal role player.
12. Houston Rockets: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
New Zealand is not known as a hotbed for basketball talent, but Adams certainly looks like a top prospect, despite his home country. With ideal size for a low-post player and an edge to his game, Adams will be a lottery pick.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
The mid-range game is a dying art, but not with this talented sophomore. He is a smart, savvy player who has the ability to fill up a stat sheet.
14. Utah Jazz: B.J. Young, PG, Arkansas
Young has the talent to turn into a quality point guard in the NBA. But even if he is unable to cut it as a floor general, his ability to get the ball in the basket will make him a valuable scoring presence for any second unit.
15. Chicago Bulls: Dario Šarić , SF, Croatia
Šarić has the potential to be the steal of this draft. He may not have the bulk and athleticism of an elite prospect, but he is incredibly dangerous with the ball in his hands due to his height, dribbling skills and passing.
16. Miami Heat (from Philadelphia 76ers): Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
Smart has all the intangibles and teams with established veterans looking to make a championship run will target him. He is a productive scorer who gives maximum effort at all times.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: Adonis Thomas, SF, Memphis
There is no doubt about Thomas’ athleticism, and he is certainly explosive enough to be a force in the NBA. But a lack of ball-handling and shooting skills mean he is not ideal for either forward spot, and he will fall in the draft because of this.
18. Chicago Bulls: Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA
Anderson may be a 6’9” player capable of running the point, but this does not make him Magic Johnson. Still, he has a versatile skill set that will make him intriguing to teams in the middle of the first round.
19. Utah Jazz (from Golden State Warriors via Brooklyn Nets): Le’Bryan Nash, SF, Oklahoma State
If Nash is able to prove this season that he is willing to give full effort on both ends of the court, then his elite strength and complete offensive skill set will ensure that he is taken well before the first round is over.
20. Phoenix Suns (from Los Angeles Lakers): Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV
Despite being undersized, Bennett’s versatility and athleticism make him an attractive prospect. He is productive on the glass and can score from anywhere on the floor.
21. Boston Celtics: Ben McLemore, SF, Kansas
McLemore needs time to develop, and this will cause him to go later in the first round. With time to learn the nuances of the NBA game, McLemore will be able to put his athleticism to full use.
22. Denver Nuggets: C.J. Leslie, PF, North Carolina State
Although he lacks the strength to make an impact in the post, Leslie is a unique athlete. His speed and leaping ability make him the type of player who would be devastating in a fast-paced offense.
23. Brooklyn Nets: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville
Deng is a force in the paint on defense, although he is not much of a factor on the other end of the court. Still, his shot-blocking and rebounding skills will make him a first-rounder.
24. Los Angeles Clippers: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh
McCollum may not have elite athleticism, but he can score at an elite level. He is a senior and a mature player who is willing to chip in and do the little things that help his team win.
25. Atlanta Hawks: Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas
With all the attributes a team should look for in a point guard, Kabongo will not fall into Round 2. He has the ability to have a long, successful NBA career.
26. New York Knicks: Michael Carter Williams, SG, Syracuse
Now that Syracuse’s backcourt isn’t so crowded, Williams will show off his talent. His complete offensive skill set will generate buzz among NBA scouts.
27. Oklahoma City Thunder: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
An inconsistent jump shot will hurt Harris’ draft stock, but his fearlessness and ability to finish at the rim will earn him more than a few admirers. He will be snatched up late in the first round.
28. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Miami Heat): Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
There are very few sharpshooters in this draft, and this will make Caldwell-Pope attractive to many teams. But he lacks variety in his offensive skill set, and that will cause several franchises to pass on him.
29. San Antonio Spurs: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State
Franklin knows how to shoulder the scoring load for a team and has the ability to become a productive sixth man.
30. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Memphis Grizzlies via Houston Rockets): Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
Seven footers who can move are always intriguing prospects, but Withey’s lack of strength and offensive skills are concerns.