The chatter about the possibility of the Pelicans moving into the top three of Thursday’s draft to select Scoot Henderson has “died down in recent days,” Jeremy Woo writes in ESPN’s latest mock draft (Insider link). While New Orleans could still look to make a deal involving the No. 14 pick, Woo says the team seems reluctant to move either Zion Williamson or Brandon Ingram and the Hornets appear unlikely to move off of No. 2.
As for the Trail Blazers, they continue to talk to various teams about the No. 3 pick, but they also seem content to select whoever is available between Henderson and Brandon Miller, per ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. Sources tell Givony that unless Portland gets an offer it can’t turn down, the club may just hang onto that pick.
Elsewhere in the top half of the lottery, the “intel has shifted” regarding the Pistons‘ pick at No. 5, according to Givony, who says Cam Whitmore no longer looks like a safe projection at that spot. A trade down seems increasingly viable, given that Detroit likes several players who would probably be a reach at No. 5, including Taylor Hendricks, Gradey Dick, Jalen Hood-Schifino, and Cason Wallace.
Givony identifies the Jazz – who hold the ninth, 16th, and 28th overall picks – as one possible trade partner for the Pistons, writing that Utah is exploring many trade scenarios and has been frequently linked to forward Jarace Walker. The Jazz would likely have to move ahead of the Pacers at No. 7 to have a shot at Walker, Givony adds.
Here’s more from ESPN’s draft experts:
- Anthony Black returned to D.C. over the weekend for a second workout with the Wizards, Woo reports. Multiple recent reports have linked Black to the Wizards, who hold the No. 8 overall pick. Woo says he’s “strongly in the mix” but also names Ausar Thompson and “dark horse” Kobe Bufkin as targets to watch for Washington.
- Bufkin is a hot name to watch in the back half of the lottery, according to Givony and Woo, who suggest there has been speculation that the Michigan guard received a promise from a team like the Raptors (No. 13). Speaking of Toronto, Givony has heard from sources that free agent center Jakob Poeltl prefers not to be on a rebuilding team next season. While the Raptors aren’t considered likely to blow up their roster this summer, that’s a factor to take into account as they weigh potential paths.
- A “large swath” of the league has called the Mavericks about the No. 10 pick, according to Woo, who writes that Dallas is still weighing its options. The Mavs are fond of some prospects in that range and would like to stay in the draft but are also seeking win-now pieces, Woo notes.
- The Hornets have “made overtures” to some wings projected to be picked before No. 27, which is an indication that they may be exploring a trade up from No. 27 using one or more of their second-round picks (Nos. 34, 39, 41), Givony writes. The franchise’s incoming owners aren’t expected to have a major impact on Charlotte’s draft selections, but Givony wonders if the new ownership group could influence Charlotte’s plan with restricted free agent Miles Bridges, who missed all of last season following domestic violence charges.