There’s still plenty to be decided before NBA teams start making picks in June’s draft.
Like, the end of this season. And the lottery. And who actually might be entering the NBA draft.
But, ESPN is taking a stab at it, anyway, using its “BPI” to come up with the draft order, and adding to the mix players it believes will declare for the NBA draft by the April 22 deadline in its latest mock draft posted Monday (pay site).
A couple of former Spartans are projected to be lottery picks, with ESPN’s Jonathan Givony slotting Jaren Jackson Jr. to the Atlanta Hawks at No. 3, and Miles Bridges heading to the Charlotte Hornets at No. 11.
ESPN has the Pistons’ pick at No. 12, which would go to the Los Angeles Clippers as part of the Blake Griffin trade.
The 6-foot-11 Jackson, who declared on April 2, averaged 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds as a freshman, setting the MSU record for blocked shots in a season with 106. He was the Big Ten freshman and defensive player of the year.
“The youngest projected first-rounder, Jackson might have the highest ceiling in terms of his ability to affect the game on both ends of the floor,” Givony writes. “He has enviable physical tools, including a 7-foot-4 wingspan and tremendous mobility. Jackson’s ability to space the floor (40 percent from 3 and 80 percent from the line), block shots (5.7 per 40 minutes), switch on every screen and, increasingly, put the ball on the floor from the perimeter makes him an ideal fit for the modern NBA.”
Bridges, meanwhile, led the Spartans in scoring (17.1 points) and was second in rebounding (7.0) in a sophomore season in which he was an All-Big Ten selection and landed on several All-American second teams. He spurned the NBA following his freshman season, before electing on March 28 to head to the NBA.
“Bridges is a freakish athlete who struggled at times to make the full-time transition to small forward,” Givony writes, “but he undoubtedly has potential as a two-way forward who can guard all over the floor and give you enough shooting, ballhandling and passing to get by at one of the most important positions in today’s NBA.”
Michigan center Moritz Wagner, who has not announced plans to enter the draft following his junior season, is slotted to the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 44. Michigan State forward Nick Ward, who has submitted his name for the NBA draft, isn’t listed. Unlike Jackson and Bridges, Ward hasn’t hired an agent, meaning he’s eligible to return to Michigan State for his junior season.
The NBA Draft is June 21.