Coppola’s Column: NBA Mock Draft: Top five picks post-March Madness 

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March Madness concluded with a resounding victory for the UConn Huskies, who rolled through the tournament with relatively no trouble. Following the tournament, we’ve seen athletes begin to place their names in the upcoming draft, including UConn’s own Jordan Hawkins. While he isn’t expected to be a top-five pick despite a stellar individual tournament performance, many of those expected to be top of the draft have solidified their positions. Here is my mock draft of the top five picks in this upcoming draft. 

1. Detroit Pistons: Victor Wembanyama, F, Metropolitans 92 

Wembanyama has been the consensus No. 1 pick since mock drafts began coming out. The most notable aspect of his game is, unsurprisingly, his size. He boasts a 7-foot-2 height, though many believe he’s even closer to 7-foot-4, along with a near-eight-foot wingspan. Wembanyama’s size comes with insane athleticism and defense, which certainly helps him collect three blocks per game over in France this season. 

He’s touted as the greatest prospect since LeBron James, and his potential certainly matches those expectations. There are nearly no weak points in his game, scoring at all three levels, rebounding effortlessly and remaining shockingly quick on his feet. The only downside for the 19-year-old is his strength, though that is much easier to fix than many of the other issues he could have otherwise been stuck with. Detroit will select Wembanyama, as it’s just not often you get a guy like this. 

2. Houston Rockets: Brandon Miller, F, Alabama 

Miller has dealt with quite a lot over the past few months. He’s dealt with pretty serious character issues off the court, ones that would alienate him from many scouts. That is, if he wasn’t so superb on the court. It is worth mentioning that he was very poor shooting the ball throughout the tournament, which could drop Miller to third or even fourth when combined with his questionable judgment. 

Despite this, Miller has a near perfect game for the NBA. He’s 6-foot-9 with an excellent wingspan, amazing athleticism and defense plus a nearly-complete offensive arsenal. There are concerns regarding his leadership, shot selection and handling the ball, but all three could be ironed out quickly given the right direction. 

3. San Antonio Spurs: Scoot Henderson, G, G League Ignite 

With the play of both Wembanyama and Miller, it puts Henderson in a unique position. He is certainly good enough to be talked about as a future star in the league, yet is overshadowed by the pair. Much of this is due to significant questions surrounding his game — he’s not as complete as the top two prospects are. His defense is, to put it simply, pretty bad, and his fouling doesn’t help. His efficiency, with both shooting and turning over the ball, is equally as questionable.  

Of course, for him to be this high he must have significant bright spots as well. Despite his size he is one of the best rebounding guards in the draft, averaging over five boards per game in the G League. His passing is even more impressive, often making up for the high turnover numbers. He is a high risk, high reward player. If he can just improve his efficiency and choice making, Henderson could become a dominant guard in the league. As of now, that’s still very much an if. 

4. Charlotte Hornets: Taylor Hendricks, F, UCF 

The top three is basically set in stone, though of course the order of the second and third selections might be up for debate. The best of the rest is another hotly contested position, but the upside of Hendricks is why he is most likely to go fourth off the board. It’s all about the pre-draft process with him, as his barely .500 UCF team didn’t do much to improve his standing. His athleticism and defense is off the charts, while his scoring (including nearly 40% from deep) could develop into something truly special. 

Hendricks is certainly more of a project, with him being less NBA-ready than most of the players that will be taken around him. Strength and post skills are his weakest points, which as a power forward isn’t exactly ideal. Where he will be taken is entirely up to how teams view his potential, so while he’s No. 4 on this list, a fall out of the top ten wouldn’t be out of the question either. 

5. Portland Trail Blazers: Amen Thompson, G/F, Overtime Elite 

Thompson is almost undoubtedly a lock for the top five thanks to his raw athleticism. The 6-foot-7 guard is explosive and fast, with amazing court vision and unmatched on-ball defense. He can shoot lights out inside the arc with a variety of methods, while perfecting his ability to draw a double and find the open shooter. 

The issues lie with his turnovers and shooting from deep. Thompson’s three turnovers a game is better than Henderson’s, but that’s still not something to brag about. His three-point percentage is only 23%, and that is before he has to shoot from a deeper range in the NBA. His free throw shooting also needs work, with him barely reaching 65% from the stripe. Thompson’s game is just so impressive outside of shooting that it warrants his selection inside the top five. If he can improve his range, he could be the most complete player in the draft not named Wembanyama. 

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