As the ping pong balls of the NBA Draft Lottery settle, the mock drafts begin to be updated in a flurry. New names fly up big boards after the Draft Combine, teams targeted needs pivot after the playoffs, and everyone has the same sleeper pick. It can really the best time of the NBA season for college hoops fans as we watch our beloved players get ready to take their next step.
Now this year’s drafts features roughly the normal number of mid-major prospects, but is certainly heavier on the front end than it usually is. With all the madness going on, I decided to sit down and take a look at all these mock drafts and highlight what’s really important: where will my favorite mid-major players be drafted? I scoured through mock drafts and developed a highly complex algorithm* that predicts the most likely destination for all these standout players that are expected to hear names on draft night.
*In the name of transparency in journalism, I feel as though I should disclose my “algorithm” is really just a Microsoft excel sheet where I entered the names of a bunch of talented mid-major players in the 2019 NBA Draft class and filled out where I saw them landing in various mock drafts in the corresponding columns while eating an unholy amount of Fig Newtons.
The “Consensus Franchise Player” Tier
Mid-major prospects typically don’t pop up on this tier. Even when they do, it’s usually met with great surprise, such as when the Cleveland Cavaliers took Anthony Bennett with the first overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft.
Ja Morant, Murray State, Most Likely Destination: 2nd Overall to the Memphis Grizzlies
In case you’ve been hit in the head with a rock since March, I just want to give you a little reminder that Ja Morant is very, very good. While there was much debate throughout the season over who will be taken after Z*on W*lliamson, it seems that Morant may have established himself as the most likely candidate for the second overall pick. It is expected that Murray will take torch from long-time Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley, and share it with last year’s fourth overall pick Jaren Jackson Jr. as the two become the new faces of the franchise.
“McCollum, Dame, Curry - they opened doors for guys like me.”— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) May 15, 2019
Ja Morant (@igotgame_12) is ready to be the next mid-major guard to become a star in the league.
(via @NBATV) pic.twitter.com/xf2c7oxANi
The “Anything (The Lottery) is Possible” Tier
The “Anything (The Lottery) is Possible” Tier has made one thing clear, no one in the world of basketball can reach a consensus on where the hell former Gonzaga Bulldogs will be drafted.
Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga, Most Likely Destination: 13th Overall to the Miami Heat
Rui has led to some extraordinary conflict in mock drafts. The forward has been picked as high as 4th overall in some drafts, and as low as 26th pick in others. The most common outcome I have seen on my algorithm for Hachimura has him slipping out of the lottery to the Pacers at 18th where he would join another former Bulldog, Domantas Sabonis. However, sometimes in basketball we need to against what the computers tell us and go with our guts, and my gut that which is heavily under the influence of Fig Newtons at this time sees Hachimura going 13th to the Heat. Regardless of harrowing debate of whether or not to trust man or machine, there is a less than 1% chance of Hachimura sliding out of the first round. This means history will happen as Rui becomes the first Japanese player taken in the first round of the NBA draft.
Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga, Most Likely Destination: 14th Overall to the Boston Celtics
Most NBA teams picking in the lottery are looking for young prospects stuffed with potential. Since the one-and-done phenomena started, it’s fairly uncommon to see a 22 year old be picked in the Lottery. However, Brandon Clarke will be that 22 year old anomaly. Clarke to the Celtics makes sense. He can flourish as a small-ball, athletic center along with Al Horford in the frontcourt. Although it is possible Clarke comes off the board earlier in the Lottery, the Timberwolves who hold the 11th pick could decide to pick Clarke and use him at the power forward alongside Karl Anthony Towns.
The “Is There Really That Big a Difference Between the Late First Round and Early Second Round” Tier
After looking at contracts of the 30th pick and the 31st pick I learned there is actually about a $3 million difference between being a late first round pick and early second round pick. But I really like the name of this tier, so onward and upward!
Jalen McDaniels, San Diego State, Most Likely Destination: 28th Overall to the Golden State Warriors
The former Aztec has been springing up big boards across the country. McDaniels has an NBA body at 6’10 which pairs well with his prowess around the perimeter on both sides of the ball, which makes him a great potential center for the modern NBA. McDaniels is just starting to pop up on the first round of NBA mock drafts, and this is a trend I expect to continue throughout these next couple months.
Dylan Windler, Belmont, Most Likely Destination: 33rd Overall to the Philadelphia 76ers
Heyo! The Ohio Valley Conference should see another one of it’s players land just outside of the first round. Windler to the 76ers makes sense as he provides wing depth and three-point shooting, both of which are serious needs for Philly. The only mock draft where I have seen Windler appear in the first round so far comes from Bleacher Report, who had him at 29th going to the Spurs. While at this moment, Windler seems to be considered an early second round pick, it would not be the most shocking sight to see him selected in the first round on draft night.
Thanks Rashad...we like our guy too @BelmontMBB Dylan Windler pic.twitter.com/LEGP1tgnr5— Belmont Basketball (@BelmontMBB) May 13, 2019
The “Hey Manu Ginoboili was Drafted This Late” Tier
The late second round is full of gems, it’s just like looking for a needle in the haystack. At the end of the day one of these guys could find success at the next level, but they should all no trouble finding careers at the next level of basketball whether it’s in the NBA, the G-League, or overseas.
Charles Bassey, Western Kentucky, Most Likely Destination: 50th Overall to the Charlotte Hornets
Bassey is one year removed from being the sixth best recruit in the class of 2018 according to 247 Sports, but now finds himself being projected into the late second round in the majority of mock drafts. NBAdraft.net still projects Bassey in the first round, going to the Spurs at the 19th pick, but they seem to be the loaner in the mock draft cafeteria. Bassey very well could be a first round talent, which makes him a potential second round gem.
Miye Oni, Yale, Most Likely Destination 54th Overall to the Philadelphia 76ers
Oni is working to become the first Ivy Leaguer drafted since Jerome Allen of Penn. Not too long ago, Oni was a D3 commit turned D1 walk on hopeful, and eventually worked his way into a scholarship player for Yale. Oni has an NBA guard body at 6’6, a knack for scoring, and showed great effort and hustle on the defensive end make him a potential NBA player.
Justin Wright-Foreman, Hofstra, Most Likely Destination: 60th Overall to the Sacramento Kings
It’s basketball’s version of Mr. Irrelevant. The last time the Sacramento Kings had the last pick of the NBA Draft, they selected future all-star Isaiah Thomas. Now the Kings can get another undersized guard who can absolutely score like crazy. As the NCAA’s second leading scorer last season, I’m surprised Wright-Foreman is not graduating with a degree in bucketology (I checked, he’s a Rhetorical Studies major). Luckily for Wright-Foreman, he’s had a great mentor throughout his stay in Hempstead. Former Hofstra standout and NBA champion Speedy Claxton has been there to guide Wright-Foreman on his path to becoming one the NCAA’s premier scorers and NBA prospects.
Justin Wright-Foreman is the Markus Howard of the CAA.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) March 12, 2019
Drops a tournament record 42 as Hofstra survives against Delaware.
The Pride will play for an NCAA berth on Tuesday in Charleston.