Every year, 30 members of the SB Nation NBA team blogs get together for a mock draft ahead of the actual NBA Draft.
Yet again, I stepped in to take the reigns making picks for the Orlando Magic. Yet again, I tried, and tired again to make moves to make the team, potentially, significantly better. Some of those talks fell flat (looking at you, Sacramento) while others grew some legs and either came close to being completed, or did actually get completed.
That, in turn, is much like what Thursday night’s draft will be like. Teams will talk, and talk, and talk a little more before deciding if they should move up, down, move their pick entirely, or just make their selection.
Now, I made a couple of big runs at picks. I did my best Danny Ainge impersonation and offered a handful of first round picks to our friends at Bright Side of the Sun in an effort to draft Luka Doncic. That didn’t work.
I also almost acquired the fourth pick and Marc Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies, but talks, and packages, fell apart.
Ultimately, much like I expect the Magic to do on Thursday night, I held onto the sixth pick and took... Texas center Mohammad Bamba. I felt, with the players on the board, Bamba was the best selection. He has all the tools to be a high end rim protector, and could become one of the best defensive centers in the league. Pairing him with Jonathan Isaac and Aaron Gordon would give the Magic a formidable defensive unit for many years to come.
I had the chance to draft the likes of Trae Young, Collin Sexton and even Michael Porter Jr, but their red flags all scared me away. Young and Sexton both have a lot of questions surrounding them on the defensive end, and Porter’s highly covered back injury scared me away from him.
Now, I still have a gaping hole at point guard. As the picks continued to trickle in, Sexton began to slide. Kentucky’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander still sat there, as well as French national point guard Elie Okobo.
Holding two picks in the late lottery, the Los Angeles Clippers intrigued me. They had interest in Evan Fournier, and I had interest in one of those picks to move back in and get my point guard.
So, we talked, and struck a deal. I flipped Evan Fournier for the 13th pick, and Danilo Gallinari. While I added some salary in the short term, it potentially opens up $17 million in two years when Fournier will have a fifth-year option on his contract. With the Magic entering yet another rebuild, adding that little bit of salary wasn’t that big of a hit, especially to get the lottery pick to take... Elie Okobo.
I was set on taking Gilgeous-Alexander, but the Clippers took him 12th, prompting me to debate between Sexton and Okobo. Sexton, in a lot of ways, reminds me of the second coming of Elfrid Payton, which ended poorly for the Magic, so I went with a little more of an unknown in Okobo.
Our very own Aaron Goldstone has hyped up Okobo a good bit. Aaron had this to say when I asked him about the French guard.
Okobo has a really nice looking stroke. Left-handed, quick and consistent release. He seems on film to be a really fluid athlete. I like his size at 6-3 as a lead guard.
He’s also been competeting in the top league in France against professionals for two seasons. As long as he can continue to develop his point guard skills, I think he will be fairly ready to play in the NBA.
Seems like he could be a real problem in the pick-and-roll. Adequate vision, great shot, decent ability to beat people off the dribble.
Mostly, I like his shooting/scoring. At the spot you picked him, he’s the proverbial “swing for the fences”. Love the upiside; also I recognize the uncertainty of Okobo and understand he could bust.
At this point, taking a big swing made sense. It freed up the opportunity to take a wing with one of the second round picks, and even possibly move back into the end of the first round for one.
I walked away from the draft happy. I was able to move some long-term money, and get two players who I think can make a real impact on the team.
How do you think we did in this mock? You can see all 30 first round selections below.
- Suns DEANDRE AYTON
- Kings LUKA DONCIC
- Hawks JAREN JACKSON
- Grizzlies MARVIN BAGLEY III
- Mavs WENDELL CARTER JR.
- Magic MO BAMBA
- Bulls MICHAEL PORTER JR.
- Cavaliers TRAE YOUNG
- Knicks MIKAL BRIDGES
- Sixers ZHAIRE SMITH
- Mavs MILES BRIDGES
- Clippers SHAI GILGEOUS-ALEXANDER
- Magic ELIE OKOBO
- Nuggets KEVIN KNOX
- Wizards ROBERT WILLIAMS
- Suns COLLIN SEXTON
- Bucks LONNIE WALKER
- Spurs TROY BROWN
- Hawks DE’ANTHONY MELTON
- Wolves KEVIN HUERTER
- Jazz CHANDLER HUTCHISON
- Bulls JOSH OKOGIE
- Pacers KEITA BATES-DIOP
- Nets GRAYSON ALLEN
- Lakers AARON HOLIDAY
- Sixers JACOB EVANS
- Celtics JEROME ROBINSON
- Warriors KHYRI THOMAS
- Blazers DONTE DIVINCENZO
- Hawks MELVIN FRAZIER