With draft season rapidly approaching, the Talking About Podcast did a full 36-pick mock draft this past week (in order to get in those first two second-round picks for the Sixers) between Daniel Olinger and Jackson Frank. Daniel took all the odd picks, with Jackson taking the evens.
For those of you who couldn’t catch last episode and want to see our mock draft again, we’ve written it up here for you, along with brief explanations as to why we made each pick.
This definitely won’t be like most “mainstream” mock drafts you’ve seen, as we drafted based on what we would do as GM’s, not on what we think will happen. Feel free to give us your thoughts on how we did down below and we hope you enjoy!
1. Minnesota Timberwolves - LaMelo Ball, Illawarra Hakws
Daniel Olinger: The fit with D’Angelo Russell isn’t the cleanest, and even though I’m higher on Ball’s defense than most, it’s true that his presence doesn’t exactly fix the Wolves’ abhorrent play on that end. However, with no trades available in our mock, I’m defaulting to who I think is far and away the best player in this class. LaMelo is an absolute passing savant, capable of creating advantages with shifty handles, and understanding how to manipulate off-ball defenders with his eyes. He shot a poor percentage on 3s, but partly due to his good touch on floaters and previous shot-making abilities at lower levels, I’m confident that he just has some poor shot selection, but is overall a talented shooter. No prospect is perfect in this below average draft class, but LaMelo is the guy to me and worthy of the number one pick.
LaMelo Ball is a freaking genius pic.twitter.com/iSqxZxkak5— Daniel Olinger (@dan_olinger) October 29, 2020
2. Golden State Warriors - Anthony Edwards, Georgia
Jackson Frank: Anthony Edwards serving as a secondary offensive weapon and operating off of the advantages Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green forge seems like a rather congruous fit. For a prospect who struggles with decision-making, Golden State presents a home to simplify his options and role, allowing him to space the floor, attack closeouts and brandish his instinctive cutting prowess. The occasional on-ball reps will arise, but Edwards’ development can be brought along slowly and the Warriors can ensure he is not overextended offensively.
3. Charlotte Hornets - Killian Hayes, Ratiopharm Ulm
Olinger: After picking 11th in the draft on what feels like an annual basis for the past two decades, the Hornets finally caught a break in sliding up to three in this draft. This kind of opportunity behooves a swing for the fences in my opinion, and the highest upside play is a shot creator who can run your offense, and Killian Hayes has the best chance to do that at the third pick. His athleticism and pop isn’t always there, and the 3-point shot is a lot more promise then product at this point, but Hayes is a top-five passer in this class, and has top-tier foot work on step backs and side steps. At the very least, he projects as a reliable perimeter defender and ball mover, giving him a baseline of a Tomas Satoransky type (again, that’s a worse-case scenario type of projection). Killian might be a star, and it’s worth a shot for Charlotte.
Killian Hayes plays aesthetically pleasing basketball pic.twitter.com/YcfxDzcoIx— Daniel Olinger (@dan_olinger) November 8, 2020
4. Chicago Bulls - Aleksej Pokusevski, Olympiacos
Frank: Chicago needs to find its franchise star. I like Wendell Carter Jr. as a second or third fiddle, but it is unlikely he blossoms into the centerpiece for the Bulls. The 7-foot Aleksej Pokusevski, who boasts the offensive fluidity of a wing, presents a chance to become that guy, riding his versatile shooting — both off screens and off the dribble — defensive playmaking and passing creativity to stardom. His severe lack of strength and defensive discipline may prevent him from actualizing the offensive goodness he oozes, but he’s the best chance for Chicago to reroute itself toward a bright future.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers - Onyeka Okongwu, USC
Olinger: The Cavs have embraced the curious strategy of having almost zero functional wings in the modern NBA, so I’m tempted to take one of Vassell, Okoro or even Pat Williams here. However, I don’t think any of them quite have top-five value, so I’ll go with my top guy on the board here in Okongwu. Hopefully the Cavs can soon move on from both Kevin Love and Andre Drummond to clear up their front court, and Okongwu can be the defensive anchor to a team that has been historically bad on that end the last two years.
6. Atlanta Hawks - Tyrese Maxey, Kentucky
Frank: A simple or more logical conclusion might be Okoro or Vassell, but I’m going to give them Maxey as a secondary handler. I think you can never have too many handlers and I like the idea of Maxey taking on more of that on-ball defensive load.
7. Detroit Pistons - Isaac Okoro, Auburn
Olinger: The Pistons are building from the ground up, so a high upside swing is the way to go. Okoro’s shooting is a big concern as he shot under 30 percent from 3 and 4-for-25 on non-at-rim two’s per BartTorvik. However, he’s an awesome perimeter defender and will be from day one, and offensively, if he can develop his shot, he already has the needed size, speed and handles to get to the rim and take advantage of closeouts.
Love this seal in the post from Isaac Okoro, rare to see this from guards/wings. Have a feeling he'll be very fun to watch for basketball nerds like me for years to come. pic.twitter.com/0x5AoRXxAH— Daniel Olinger (@dan_olinger) November 12, 2020
8. New York Knicks - Kira Lewis, Alabama
Frank: One of the things the Knicks need is someone who can shoot from outside and run the offense for you at some level. Some of the pull-up ability he’s flashed is impressive, being, roughly, if memory serves correct, 70th percentile as a freshman and 75th percentile as a sophomore according to Synergy. Defensively he has a thin frame and is not very vertically explosive, but he competes on that end and can space the floor for RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson, which is the most important thing for New York.
Olinger: A great defensive wing who shot well this past year (concerning videos on Twitter be damned). He can help you out right away as a real great 3-and-D wing prospect and a smart off-ball player on both ends.
10. Phoenix Suns - Cole Anthony, North Carolina
Frank: I’m pretty optimistic about him in spite of his rough season. I really like his pull-up shooting ability, and to me, his decision-making improved throughout the season. He’s an up-and-down defender, but I think a lot of that can be coached better, and I liked a lot of the interior rotations he made. It could be an unnecessary presence as a long-term ball handler for the Suns should they trade for Chris Paul, but I think he fits the Suns well.
11. San Antonio Spurs - Patrick Williams, Florida State
Olinger: Great athlete with shoulders that would make power lifters jealous and some interesting pull-up shooting ability. For a team like the Spurs with a trio of interesting guards and a young big man I like in Jakob Poeltl (should they keep him as an RFA), I think a high upside wing like Williams is the right play for them, betting that one of the youngest players in this draft can provide value for them long-term.
12. Sacramento Kings - Deni Avdija, Maccabi Tel Aviv
Frank: A bit of a fall for Deni, but he makes sense here. The Kings should be playing fast and he works well there as transition passer who can get out and help them. He could work well with De’Aaron Fox sharing some creation burden but not having too much to bear. He also makes some nice interior rotations as a defender, even if he’s a bit limited length-wise as a rim protector.
13. New Orleans Pelicans - Tyrell Terry, Stanford
Olinger: Definitely a reach in terms of his overall talent and my evaluation of him, but in my opinion, Terry is the best fit for the Pelicans at this point. Haliburton reminds me too much of Lonzo, and for James Wiseman, I don’t want to pair Zion with a big who can’t shoot but wants the ball. To me, Terry has true potential to serve as a shot creator going forward and just an elite floor spacer, which is the biggest need for the Pelicans in my view. If trades were allowed, I probably would have looked to move down, but that’s not the case, and thus, I opted in favor of what I thought was the best fit for the Pels.
14. Boston Celtics - Desmond Bane, TCU
Frank: The Celtics need more shooting and a little more competent ball handling, especially coming off their bench. I like the fit here with Bane as a really good off-ball shooter, shooting off movement. His passing got better this past year as well, and he’s an instinctual, aware team defender who will work on that end, even if he doesn’t have great athletic tools.
15. Orlando Magic - Grant Riller, Charleston
Olinger: A guard with an absolutely dynamic first step and a toolbox full of counters when driving to the rim. There’s some credible worry about the competition level he so thoroughly dominated, and defensively, he’s just not that good. But the Magic definitely need some pop to their offense, and Riller provides that in spades as a shooter.
16. Portland Trail Blazers - Obi Toppin, Dayton
Frank: Similar to Deni, he suffers a big fall here, as Daniel and I are a lot lower on some of these guys compared to mainstream draft coverage. He’s a really versatile player for Terry Stotts to use on offense, as a shooter, lob finisher and even some creation as a passer. I’m not super high on him as a creator, but if you can insulate him with Jusuf Nurkic as your defensive anchor, I think he makes a lot of sense.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves - Josh Green, Arizona
Olinger: With LaMelo secured at the first pick, I just want to give the Wolves as many functional wings as possible. Green is a fast, strong defender who will hold up on that end. Offensively he’s limited, but flashes some really good passing as a connector and shot the ball well from 3 despite having some issues with his form.
18. Dallas Mavericks - Isaiah Joe, Arkansas
Frank: An awesome shooter on incredible, historic volume for a high-major guy in his two years, and a really good pull-up shooter and space creator. He bulked up some this past year too, and showed some pick-and-roll passing. He’s really slight of frame and gets bullied a lot, but if you have confidence in your strength program you might be able to fix that, and he just makes a lot of sense as a high volume, versatile shooting wing slotted in next to Luka Doncic in that offense.
Isaiah Joe understands how to weaponize three point shooting very well pic.twitter.com/gegh5Ku2xe— Daniel Olinger (@dan_olinger) November 14, 2020
Olinger: Haliburton won’t need the ball in his hands too much at the next level, which fits well alongside Kyrie and KD. He can be a great spot-up shooter and a linking passer around the perimeter that gets the ball moving. He is trustable on defense even if he’s not great, and just someone I think a contending team like Brooklyn can trust right away. I thought about Wiseman here, and I do think of him as a legit top-10 prospect, but the teams I’ve had over the last few picks (San Antonio, New Orleans, Orlando, Minnesota) are just ones where I hate the fit with Wiseman in every way. He has probably slid too far, but with Brooklyn’s center combo of DeAndre Jordan and Jarrett Allen, Wiseman just isn’t the right pick to me.
20. Miami Heat - R.J. Hampton, New Zealand Breakers
Frank: He makes a lot of sense with them as an organization that’s really good with development. Improved his decision-making and ball-handling in the NBL which was encouraging, even if the shot isn’t really there yet. A bit of a mess defensively navigating screens and positioning off the ball, but I think Miami can help him out a lot in that area, and I really buy him as a slasher and upside play for the Heat.
21. Philadelphia 76ers - Malachi Flynn, San Diego State
Olinger: The bad thing about Jackson and I doing this is that we both value off-the-dribble shot makers more than a lot of other archetypes, which made guys like Riller, Terry and Bane unavailable at this spot. Malachi is the next best in this role, which makes him the pick. He’s a masterful pick and roll orchestrator who can hit 3s when a team drops or simply create them off step backs, and while not a great passer, he is more than acceptable in that area. Defensively he’s small and not explosive, but makes great rotations and clearly competes every second he’s out there. A mature guy who led one of the best teams in college basketball last year at SDSU, Flynn is a very safe bet to contribute positively to a team’s offense in the NBA.
This is just a phenomenal pass from Malachi Flynn. Pick-and-roll maestro pic.twitter.com/pdpCbY5hfC— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) November 6, 2020
22. Denver Nuggets - James Wiseman, Memphis
Frank: I don’t like Wiseman very much, but he is huge and he can do some things very well in a limited role, which it would be in Denver. He’d be a big defender to set screens and finish lobs, while also wrangling with bench bigs. He’s a great replacement in case they don’t retain Mason Plumlee, and Wiseman makes a lot of sense here as a plug-and-play guy for Denver without giving him significant offensive creation, which is where his decision-making shortcomings prominently announce themselves.
Olinger: A subpar shooting “big” might seem like an awkward fit with the Jazz here, but in my view, Utah desperately needs competent defenders after last year’s defense bogged down to “Gobert please save us” as they paired him with a trio of small guards. Tillman posted monstrous advanced stats on defense at Michigan State and was practically immovable in the post. Add in some underrated mobility that allows him to switch at times, and creative passing in the short roll, and Tillman at the very least can be a quality rotation big for the Jazz.
Here’s Xavier Tillman setting a bunch of monster screens. Best screener in the class: pic.twitter.com/Z5hVb9Mfhn— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) November 14, 2020
24. Milwaukee Bucks - Killian Tillie, Gonzaga
Frank: I’m biased as someone who attended Gonzaga the last four years and watched him play, but Tillie without the injuries is a lottery-level prospect. Obviously, you can’t ignore said injuries, but he is a really good passer, shooter and a smart defender. His knee and ankle issues have sapped some of his quickness, but he is still fine on that end and has the perimeter mobility to switch at times. One of the best passing big men in this class behind Tillman and Toppin, he can work off pick and pops really well and shoot off movement at times, and could fill that linking player role for the Bucks.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder - Aaron Nesmith, Vanderbilt
Olinger: Nesmith is not going to be a 52 percent 3-point shooter in the NBA. He did that in 14 games against meh competition for Vanderbilt before his injury, and if the shot isn’t above 40 percent, he’s probably a lost pick as someone who doesn’t do much else on offense and is yet to utilize his physical tools on defense. But OKC has a lot of freedom with the treasure trove of picks they’ve acquired this past year, so taking an upside swing that Nesmith could develop into a versatile shooter who weaponizes off-ball movement and handoffs is worth it this late in the first round.
26. Boston Celtics - Theo Maledon, ASVEL
Frank: Maledon makes a lot of sense as a secondary handler for the Celtics, and he’s one of the better upside shooting bets in the class. He doesn’t have a ton of creation ability, but can do a little bit of that with his off-beat cadence. He can make some good passes even if he’s a little slow as a processor, but he makes sense as a late-first-round option.
27. New York Knicks - Saddiq Bey, Villanova
Olinger: One of the highest-floor, lowest-ceiling prospects in the draft, Bey is basically a guaranteed plug-and-play forward who can shoot spot-ups. His rigidity in movements limits how you can weaponize his accurate shot as well as his defensive versatility, though he’s strong enough and smart enough to perform on that end. The most important thing for the Knicks to do is get floor spacers that can not actively hurt R.J. Barrett’s development, and Bey fits that bill.
28. Los Angeles Lakers - Nico Mannion, Arizona
Frank: A bit of a down year relative to expectations, but I think he offers a lot with secondary ball handling, which the Lakers could use even with how well Rondo played in the playoffs. He makes quick reads offensively and I buy him as a shooter. He makes sense in LA within an ecosystem that can mask his driving and creation deficiencies.
29. Toronto Raptors - Zeke Nnaji, Arizona
Olinger: I’m higher on Nnaji than most, and should the Raptors not bring back one of Gasol or Ibaka, he could step in right away as a nice replacement. By all accounts he’s a really great teammate and person, competes like his life depends on it with constant yelling and demonstrations of emotion and has some really promising upside as a shooter that could extend his range. He’s a bit undersized, and while mobile, probably needs to improve to truly impact winning on the defensive end. But I’m willing to bet he figures it out.
30. Boston Celtics - Nate Hinton, Houston
Frank: I had a few different options that I liked, but I really like Hinton as an off-ball and on-ball defender at 6-foot-4, but plays like a four, bigger than his size. He has an uncanny ability to grab offensive rebounds from any area on the court. He’s a good spot-up shooter, keeps possessions alive, and defensively, can immediately make an impact as a good perimeter defender.
Olinger: A draft-and-stash candidate as he’s said that he wants to spend another year playing for Barcelona, Bolmaro is that coveted secondary ball handler the Mavs could pair next to Luka. He has great handles, can pass with the best of them, and is a surprisingly great defender, making smart rotations off-ball and using his large frame to compete and get in guys’ jerseys at the point of attack. The shot is a mess, and you wish he could produce a little more at this stage, but come second round, taking the best player available (which I think Bolmaro qualifies as) is the right pick.
32. Charlotte Hornets - Tyler Bey, Colorado
Frank: With Killian Hayes already in Charlotte hypothetically, they could just use more all-around talent. I like Bey as a rim protector and defensive playmaker. He has some weird moments and lapses in off-ball defense, but he is a really impressive leaper, rim protector and finisher. He didn’t shoot a ton of 3s in college, but I’m pretty confident he can serve as a spot-up shooter in the NBA. The Hornets are rebuilding, so just taking the best player available and a physically talented guy in Bey is the best move in my opinion.
33. Minnesota Timberwolves - Jalen Smith, Maryland
Olinger: “Stix” is a very divisive prospect, but one I think you could play with KAT as Smith has almost no desire to post up and will simply space the floor on offense while running around and protecting the rim on defense. He does still have some questions guarding players on the perimeter due to some rather stiff hips, but a reliable shooter who might be able to play with Towns is a decent second-round investment.
34. Philadelphia 76ers - Ty-Shon Alexander, Creighton
Frank: Alexander is a very good on-ball defender, can move laterally and is pretty strong. He is a pretty good shooter to space the floor (39.3 percent from 3 this last year) and can demand at least some attention from the defense, which the Sixers desperately need. He’s someone you can trust spotting-up, cutting, and if you value guard defense, a guy like him can navigate screens and know what he’s doing off-ball, greatly helping the Sixers.
35. Sacramento Kings - Mason Jones, Arkansas
Olinger: I strongly considered Elijah Hughes at this spot, but given Jackson already gave the Kings a plug-and-play wing in Avdija, I’ll take a very unusual prospect in Mason Jones. Jones has upside as a creator due to his super slow, but somehow effective, on-ball play. He can shoot, create space with great footwork, and finished a ridiculous 75 percent at the rim. No guarantee he makes it, but I’m fine with a team investing a second-round pick to bet on this unique prospect.
36. Philadelphia 76ers - Cassius Winston, Michigan State
Frank: Just going to go with more shooting and passing here, even with Flynn heading to the Sixers earlier. He’s really proficient off of screens and has really good mechanics. He can shoot versus pressure even though he’s only six-feet flat. Winston is a really smart player with savvy handles, and even if I’m a little lower on him as a passer due to his being too daring for his ability to pass, you can’t take too many cracks at guys who can space the floor like Cassius can.