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Bronny James is not expected to be a first-round pick in next month's NBA Draft

Nevertheless, he is now expected to remain in the draft after being medically cleared. My take on Bronny is very much the same as it was a year ago. He was never the one-and-done lottery candidate that some suggested. However, he was a physically gifted athlete who shot the ball well from the 3-point line and was a very good defender. In short, he was a player who could impact winning, but not nearly as dynamic as his name suggested. While his production at USC this year was even less than conservative projections from a year ago, that came after the summer's cardiac arrest and subsequently missing the entire preseason. 

From Day 1, I've maintained that I believed LeBron James when he said, repeatedly, that his goal was to play with his son. LeBron rarely says this by accident, especially when he repeats himself. Although he's qualified those statements recently, I still maintain that Bronny to the Lakers, whether that be in the second round or as an undrafted two-way player, is the most plausible scenario. If not the Lakers, you can bet LeBron and Klutch by extension, will be very deliberate about what organizations they allow to be associated with him. Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Golden State are a few that could reportedly get some consideration. But again, my belief is that Bronny will be in the Lakers organization. 

As for players who will be drafted in the first round, the Hawks had a 3% chance of getting the top pick in the NBA Draft. And yet, that's exactly what happened, for the first time in the franchise's history.

The Houston Rockets were improbable winners as well, seizing a roughly 5% chance to land in the top three.

The only bad news for the Hawks and Rockets, is that this wasn't the ideal year to be lucky, as this year's draft lacks much star power atop the class and is instead characterized by a lot of parity.

With very little star power or separation atop the class, my first mock draft with the order set reflects the possibility that you'll see teams think about fit much earlier than normal.

Mock Draft
Round 1
Round 1 - Pick 1
Alex Sarr C
France • 7'0" / 224 lbs
Projected Team
Atlanta
PROSPECT RNK
1st
POSITION RNK
1st
PPG
9.4
RPG
4.3
APG
0.9
BPG
1.3
To be clear, if I'm the Hawks, I'm looking to be very active on the trade market. They mortgaged their future to pair Trae Young with Dejounte Murray, are about to be in the luxury tax and were ten games below .500. Everything should be on the table, from star players to top picks. But whether they make this pick or someone else, Sarr is the favorite. He's a mobile 7-footer with an elastic build, clear defensive versatility and upside, but the offense and rebounding both need to keep evolving.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Connecticut • 7'2" / 282 lbs
Projected Team
Washington
PROSPECT RNK
7th
POSITION RNK
2nd
PPG
13
RPG
7.4
APG
1.5
3P%
25%
The Wizards won 15 games this year and neither one of their two leading scorers, Kyle Kuzma and Jordan Poole, are likely part of their long-term plans. Deni Avdija made a nice jump last year, Corey Kispert looks like a true pro and they're invested in Bilal Coulibaly after taking him in last year's lottery. The biggest hole is up front and, if Sarr goes at No. 1, Clingan could be a fit. This seems high for him, but given his defensive dominance and untapped offensive potential, letting him grow as part of that young group is a plausible scenario.
Round 1- Pick 3
Nikola Topic PG
Serbia • 6'6" / 190 lbs
Projected Team
Houston
PROSPECT RNK
3rd
POSITION RNK
2nd
PPG
15.1
RPG
3.4
APG
5.7
3P%
30.6%
The last thing the Rockets need is another young wing. Both Sarr and Clingan would likely be in play here if they're available, providing a defensive oriented young big to complement Alperen Sengun and provide an insurance policy if he and Jalen Green can't figure out how to be at their best together. The other thing they could use is a point guard to develop behind 30-year-old Fred VanVleet. Topic provides that as a big lead guard and alleged pick-and-roll playmaker, albeit one who needs to become a more reliable shooter to compensate for his lack of explosiveness.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Zaccharie Risacher SF
France • 6'9" / 215 lbs
Projected Team
San Antonio
PROSPECT RNK
5th
POSITION RNK
1st
PPG
10.6
RPG
3.6
APG
1.0
3P%
38.8%
The Spurs have their star for the next generation in Victor Wembanyama. Now, it's about building out the supporting cast and that begins with increased shooting and floor spacing. Risacher, although he's had bouts of being streaky, is a big 3-and-D style wing who should be capable of doing just that. The fact that he is also from France, certainly doesn't hurt either.
Round 1 - Pick 5
Matas Buzelis SF
G League Ignite • 6'9" / 197 lbs
Projected Team
Detroit
PROSPECT RNK
6th
POSITION RNK
1st
PPG
14.3
RPG
6.9
APG
1.9
3P%
27.3%
I hate to subscribe to mock draft groupthink, but Buzelis makes some sense here. Ironically, I'm less optimistic than most about his shooting potential, after making just 27% of his 3-pointers this season, but have always thought his best upside as a playmaking four – which is a void that Detroit currently has amidst their young pieces, thus allowing him to maximize his mismatch potential.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Ron Holland SF
G League Ignite • 6'7" / 197 lbs
Projected Team
Charlotte
PROSPECT RNK
9th
POSITION RNK
2nd
PPG
20.6
RPG
6.6
APG
3.2
3P%
24.0%
I am higher on Holland than most and have him even higher on my personal board than this. He's competitive, with solid wing size and improved shooting. I also think pairing him with Brandon Miller, although counterintuitive at first, could work as Holland's motor, physicality and defensive oriented pedigree could be a nice complement for last year's No. 2 overall pick.
Round 1 - Pick 7
Kentucky • 6'2" / 182 lbs
Projected Team
Portland
PROSPECT RNK
8th
POSITION RNK
1st
PPG
12.5
RPG
4.1
APG
4.5
3P%
52.1%
The big question in Portland is whether or not the trio of Scoot Henderson, Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe is the backcourt of the future. Sheppard provides both an insurance policy if the answer is no and even a valuable complement if the answer is yes, because he has on/off ball versatility, defensive playmaking, ridiculous shooting splits (albeit not in high school) and elite intangibles.
Round 1 - Pick 8
Kentucky • 6'1" / 164 lbs
Projected Team
San Antonio
PROSPECT RNK
4th
POSITION RNK
3rd
PPG
15.2
RPG
2.9
APG
3.9
3P%
44.4%
Dillingham is admittedly not the first guy I would associate with the perception of Spurs culture, but he's as dynamic and skilled a shot-maker as there is in this class. If he buys in, it could unlock some high upside outcomes. An incoming duo of Dillingham and Risacher would immediately improve San Antonio's spacing around Wemby.
Round 1 - Pick 9
Connecticut • 6'6" / 210 lbs
Projected Team
Memphis
PROSPECT RNK
2nd
POSITION RNK
1st
PPG
11.1
RPG
4.7
APG
2.9
3P%
26.7%
The Grizzlies need a center who is capable of making an immediate impact. Clingan may be the only player who fits that description. If he's on the board, they shouldn't hesitate. If not, thay may shop the pick. Otherwise, Castle gives them two-way versatility, one of the better defenders in the class and potential upside if the on-ball creation or shooting ever pops.
Round 1 - Pick 10
Tennessee • 6'5" / 212 lbs
Projected Team
Utah
PROSPECT RNK
11th
POSITION RNK
2nd
PPG
21.7
RPG
4.9
APG
1.8
3P%
39.7%
Holland and Castle are atop my "Danny Ainge type of guys" list. A backcourt of Knecht and Keyonte George concerns me on the defensive end, but Knecht is one of the most NBA-ready perimeter scorers in this draft and so if the aforementioned two are off the board, his talent might be too much to pass up.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Tidjane Salaun SF
France • 6'9" / 207 lbs
Projected Team
Chicago
PROSPECT RNK
14th
POSITION RNK
2nd
PPG
9.5
RPG
3.8
APG
0.9
3P%
31.8%
Even with uncertainty around the future of Lonzo Ball, Zach Lavine and DeMar DeRozan, Chicago has found some long-term pieces on the perimeter with the ascension of Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu. Salaun gives them size, athleticism, energy and upside at a position where they lack a clear long-term option.
Round 1 - Pick 12
Colorado • 6'7" / 178 lbs
Projected Team
Oklahoma City
PROSPECT RNK
16th
POSITION RNK
4th
PPG
11.9
RPG
3
APG
1.6
3P%
41.5%
Big brother Jalen Williams is on the verge of being an all-star in just his second season in the league. The narrative on Cody has always been that he is more naturally talented and farther along at a similar stage. It's hard to envision OKC passing on a chance to see if he ascends at a similar rate here.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Duke • 6'2" / 203 lbs
Projected Team
Sacramento
PROSPECT RNK
13th
POSITION RNK
5th
PPG
14.3
RPG
5
APG
1.9
3P%
41.4%
If they lose Malik Monk in free agency, there could be a notable hole in the backcourt and McCain is the best equipped to attempt to fill those minutes. His shooting, energy and increasing on/off ball versatility make him intriguing in what would be a homecoming of sorts.
Round 1 - Pick 14
Duke • 6'11" / 230 lbs
Projected Team
Portland
PROSPECT RNK
12th
POSITION RNK
3rd
PPG
16.4
RPG
8.3
APG
2.8
3P%
34.8%
Filipowski is a highly skilled big who would give them both a contingency plan behind DeAndre Ayton and a change-up, who could potentially provide some inverted playmaking to highlight their young and developing perimeter scorers.
Round 1 - Pick 15
USC • 6'3" / 205 lbs
Projected Team
Miami
PROSPECT RNK
10th
POSITION RNK
4th
PPG
16.3
RPG
2.9
APG
4.3
3P%
33.8%
Collier is a big and physical lead guard who creates tempo, sees the floor and can thrive in pick-and-roll. The shooting remains a question mark and while he underachieved defensively this year, he has the tools to be effective on that end, especially in Miami's culture.
Round 1 - Pick 16
Baylor • 6'4" / 198 lbs
Projected Team
Philadelphia
PROSPECT RNK
15th
POSITION RNK
3rd
PPG
14.5
RPG
4.4
APG
1.4
3P%
34.1%
Walter has both shooting and defensive potential that could make him a valuable 3-and-D style secondary piece around Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey, assuming that he's able to keep progressing in both of those areas.
Round 1 - Pick 17
Providence • 6'2" / 193 lbs
Projected Team
L.A. Lakers
PROSPECT RNK
21st
POSITION RNK
6th
PPG
19.7
RPG
8.7
APG
3.6
3P%
37.7%
Carter may be the most competitive player in this year's draft. He's not going to back down from the challenge of helping LeBron and company and if the shooting holds up, he may be able to do it right away.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Kansas • 6'8" / 189 lbs
Projected Team
Orlando
PROSPECT RNK
20th
POSITION RNK
6th
PPG
9
RPG
4.9
APG
1
3P%
35.2%
They'd love to get a shooter like Knecht or McCain here, but if they're both off the board, Furphy could make sense. He's still so young and going to require a lot of patience, but has shown an accelerated learning curve.
Round 1 - Pick 19
Virginia • 6'6" / 214 lbs
Projected Team
Toronto
PROSPECT RNK
25th
POSITION RNK
4th
PPG
8.1
RPG
6.9
APG
0.8
3P%
20%
The Raptors have prioritized long athletes in the middle of their lineup for years and yet, suddenly find themselves without many right now. Dunn fits that mold and is one of the truly elite defenders in the draft.
Round 1 - Pick 20
Baylor • 6'11" / 229 lbs
Projected Team
Cleveland
PROSPECT RNK
24th
POSITION RNK
4th
PPG
10.7
RPG
5.6
APG
0.4
BPG
1.5
If Cleveland ever elects to break up their twin towers of Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, this would give them a rim-running, shot-blocking, lob threat waiting in the wings to develop.
Round 1 - Pick 21
Marquette • 6'1" / 197 lbs
Projected Team
New Orleans
PROSPECT RNK
29th
POSITION RNK
7th
PPG
15.3
RPG
4.9
APG
7.7
3P%
38.8%
Kolek is a maestro in the pick-and-roll and was actually a knockdown shooter in high school. He also has elite intangibles and floor vision, which fit nicely with this Pelicans roster.
Round 1 - Pick 22
Pittsburgh • 6'5" / 190 lbs
Projected Team
Phoenix
PROSPECT RNK
31st
POSITION RNK
8th
PPG
13.8
RPG
5.2
APG
4.1
3P%
32.2%
The temptation will be to find someone capable of playing immediate minutes, but if they elect to take a swing given their lack of first-rounders in the future, Carrington has high-upside outcomes down the road that make him intriguing.
Round 1 - Pick 23
Colorado • 6'8" / 217 lbs
Projected Team
Milwaukee
PROSPECT RNK
23rd
POSITION RNK
4th
PPG
16
RPG
5.1
APG
2.4
3P%
39.5%
A well-rounded role player who can space the floor, move the ball and be a scoring threat without much volume, da Silva could be a nice plug-and-play option here.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Kansas • 6'5" / 206 lbs
Projected Team
New York
PROSPECT RNK
39th
POSITION RNK
11th
PPG
18.3
RPG
6
APG
4.1
3P%
33.3%
Tom Thibodeau loves defense and McCullar is as good as anyone here. The overall culture of the current Knicks should be a fit, too, as they could add another versatile, multi-positional guy in the middle of the lineup.
Round 1 - Pick 25
Purdue • 7'4" / 299 lbs
Projected Team
New York
PROSPECT RNK
28th
POSITION RNK
5th
PPG
25.2
RPG
12.2
APG
2
3P%
50%
The Knicks have a two-headed monster at the center position right now, but if they lose Isaiah Hartenstein to free agency, the two-time college basketball player of the year would be a definite option to be their back-up big.
Round 1 - Pick 26
Tyler Smith PF
G League Ignite • 6'9" / 224 lbs
Projected Team
Washington
PROSPECT RNK
27th
POSITION RNK
5th
PPG
13.4
RPG
5
APG
1.2
3P%
36.4%
Smith is a legitimate floor-spacing southpaw and an underrated athlete on top of that. With Clingan and Smith, Washington walks away with two quality long-term assets up front.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Kentucky • 6'6" / 209 lbs
Projected Team
Minnesota
PROSPECT RNK
32nd
POSITION RNK
5th
PPG
8.8
RPG
3.4
APG
0.9
3P%
36.5%
Edwards didn't live up to expectations at Kentucky this year, but showed flashes of what made him a five-star prospect in high school. There are plenty of people who haven't given up on the big lefty wing yet.
Round 1 - Pick 28
Dayton • 6'9" / 236 lbs
Projected Team
Denver
PROSPECT RNK
17th
POSITION RNK
3rd
PPG
20.4
RPG
8.5
APG
2.6
3P%
38.6%
An athletic big who made notable strides with his shooting this year, Holmes could provide a back-up for Nikola Jokic and maybe even slide over to the four at times.
Round 1 - Pick 29
Indiana • 7'0" / 230 lbs
Projected Team
Utah
PROSPECT RNK
40th
POSITION RNK
6th
PPG
15.9
RPG
9.9
APG
1.5
3P%
42.5%
Ware's inside-out talent has been glaring since high school and after showing significant growth this year, he may be worth the risk for a Utah team that has a surplus of draft picks in the coming years.
Round 1 - Pick 30
Sweden • 6'9" / 212 lbs
Projected Team
Boston
PROSPECT RNK
30th
POSITION RNK
6th
PPG
10.2
RPG
4.7
APG
0.9
3P%
33.7%
He's the type of versatile plug-and-play two-way player that can fit a lot of holes and provide roster flexibility for a Boston team that could use some added depth and versatility in their second unit.