NBA Mock Draft 7.0: Is LaMelo Ball destined to join the New York Knicks?

LaMelo Ball, (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)
LaMelo Ball, (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images) /
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The NBA has a plan and a schedule for the draft and our latest NBA Mock Draft looks at player fits and potential stars like LaMelo Ball.

NBA basketball is back, with scrimmages being played and regular-season games picking up next week. But there’s always time to smash the “Sim Lottery” button at Tankathon and imagine the possibilities. This week’s simulated lottery was a wild one, putting the Charlotte Hornets at the top and keeping the New York Knicks in the top 3.. Armed with insights from a new Step Back Big Board, I did my best to make everyone happy and keep it interesting, while answering the big question on everyone’s mind…

Are the New York Knicks destined to land LaMelo Ball in the NBA Draft?

The analysis of each individual player here relies heavily on the insights of our own draft experts, Trevor Magnotti, Ben Pfiefer and Jackson Frank. Each pick is not necessarily a guess at who each team will or even should take, just a hopefully insightful match between prospect skill and upside and each team’s need.

And if you’re looking at any of these picks wondering what the heck I was thinking, just remember that mock drafts are made to be mocked.

Nico Mannion. 30. player. 18. . Guard. Boston Celtics

The Celtics have three first-round picks and the chance to add depth in all sorts of places. Mannion’s ceiling might be as a high-level bench player but his passing and shooting could make him useful in several different roles.

Learn more about Nico Mannion with our full scouting report.

player. 20. . Guard. Los Angeles Lakers. Theo Maledon. 29

Maledon has some rough edges to his game but his high-level European experience makes him more of a plug-and-play than some other 19-year-olds. His defense is a question mark but the Lakers could use his size, shooting and complementary playmaking in the backcourt.

Toronto Raptors. Grant Riller. 28. player. 81. . Guard

If the Raptors lose Fred VanVleet in free agency this summer, their backcourt could use a boost of playmaking and shooting. There are questions about his defensive upside but Riller is as close an offensive approximation of VanVleet as Toronto is likely to find.

. Guard. New York Knicks. Tre Jones. 27. player. 27

The Knicks are taking a swing for the fences near the top of the first round so this pick is about getting some steady depth who can help scaffold development. If Jones can really hit the 3, he’s a high-level bench player. If not, he still could be useful situationally as one of the best point guard defenders in the class.

R.J. Hampton. 26. player. 18. . Wing. Boston Celtics

Hampton might have lottery-level talent but I have him sliding here because he’s such a developmental prospect, with slashing as his only defined NBA-level skill right now. Boston has the infrastructure to help him take it slowly and grow into a key rotation player down the road.

Learn more about R.J. Hampton with our full scouting report.

25. player. 149. . Big. Oklahoma City Thunder. Jalen Smith

The Thunder roster is loaded with veterans who will eventually turn over. Smith might not be a future starter, but his shot-blocking and potential floor-spacing make him worth a look as a pick-and-roll partner for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

118. . Forward. Utah Jazz. Paul Reed. 24. player

Reed is a bouncy, disruptive forward with potential as a shooter and pick-and-roll finisher. He has a tendency to make things more complicated than it needs to be, but with some refinement, he could be a valuable and versatile contributor.

Learn more about Paul Reed with our full scouting report.

23. player. 110. . Big. Miami Heat. Tyler Bey

Bey probably doesn’t have the strength to be a full-time frontcourt starter but, situationally, his rim protection and vertical explosion could make him a useful bench contributor.

Tyrell Terry. 22. player. 93. . Guard. Philadelphia 76ers

Terry’s lack of strength limits his potential as a defender and finisher and might cap his ceiling somewhere below “starting point guard.” Luckily the 76ers already have that spot filled and mostly need shooting. Terry is one of the best shooting prospects in this class, able to hit on spot-ups, off movement or off the dribble.

Learn more about Tyrell Terry with our full scouting report.

Denver Nuggets. Saddiq Bey. 21. player. 73. . Forward

On paper, Saddiq Bey could grow into Torrey Craig’s role but with a bit more shooting ability. He’s a reliable spot-up threat who can defend 3s and 4s and plays with plenty of physicality.

147. . Wing. Brooklyn Nets. Aaron Nesmith. 20. player

Nesmith might have a fairly one-dimensional game but his shooting ability, both spotting up and running off screens, could be a useful addition next season with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant drawing so much offensive attention.

Milwaukee Bucks. Xavier Tillman. 19. player. 89. . Big

There may not be an immediate place for Tillman in the Bucks’ rotation but at some point, their role players will need to be turned over. Tillman looks like a fantastic team defender who should be extremely successful in Milwaukee’s drop coverage scheme. He’s also a very good passer who would be a useful offensive cog in a few different ways.

Isaiah Joe. 18. player. 79. . Guard. Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks desperately need shooters around Luka Doncic and Joe is one of the best and most versatile in the class. There are defensive and playmaking question marks but those aren’t pressing enough to keep Dallas from gambling on his jumper.

James Wiseman. 17. player. 18. . Center. Boston Celtics

Wiseman was an elite high-school prospect but his limited run at Memphis raised a lot of questions about his decision-making and defensive awareness. He has outlier physical tools and the Celtics can afford to let him develop at his own pace.

Learn more about James Wiseman with our full scouting report.

Tyrese Maxey. 16. player. 86. . Guard. Minnesota Timberwolves

Maxey is a lottery-level talent who slides here because of teams (me) prioritizing fit. If we were running this by best player available he’d go much higher. His shooting is still a question mark but Maxey’s high energy game would be a fantastic fit in the backcourt with D’Angelo Russell and he probably helps on defense as well.

Learn more about Tyrese Maxey with our full scouting report.

Wing. Orlando Magic. Desmond Bane. 15. player. 38.

The Magic could use point guard depth as well but Bane’s NBA-ready, 3-and-D-and-a-little-more package is too good to pass up here.