Joe Cowley’s annual ‘Mock Draft Surely to Go Wrong by Pick No. 4’

The Bulls have done a great job of keeping their draft intentions a secret, but do they get bold and go after the point guard in LaMelo Ball — father LaVar and all — or does Arturas Karnisovas flex his Euro muscles?

SHARE Joe Cowley’s annual ‘Mock Draft Surely to Go Wrong by Pick No. 4’
Will LaMelo Ball wind up with the Bulls?

Will LaMelo Ball wind up with the Bulls?


Few executives know the EuroLeague better than Bulls executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas.

Karnisovas started his front-office career in international scouting and was the director of the Adidas EuroLeague camp for years.

If versatile forward Deni Avdija has star potential, Karnisovas knows it. If his game is too flawed, Karnisovas knows it. What makes the NBA Draft on Wednesday unique is that the pandemic has made it almost impossible to get a great read on players in what is thought to be an underwhelming class.

The Karnisovas regime’s first huge test will come when free agency starts, but the draft is a heck of a pop quiz. So here it is, the annual Mock Draft Sure to Go Wrong by Pick No. 4 (which includes a deal):

1. Timberwolves

Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia: With no real trade partner to move down, the Timberwolves select the most explosive backcourt scorer in the draft.


LaMelo Ball, PG/SG, Illawarra (Australia): “Interviewing LaVar Ball daily. Interviewing LaVar Ball daily. …” I’m going to speak it into existence. New regime stays aggressive and trades up for the versatile guard.

3. Hornets

James Wiseman, C, Memphis: Surprise, surprise. Perhaps the best player in the draft falls into owner Michael Jordan’s lap.

4. Warriors

Deni Avdija, SF/PF, Maccabi (Israel): The Warriors get the versatile forward, who is more focused on playmaking than on being a scorer.

5. Cavaliers

Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton: The high-flying Toppin stays in Ohio, giving the Cavs an athletic frontcourt player to go along with their collection of point guards.

6. Hawks

Onyeka Okongwu, C/PF, USC: No team needs interior defense more than the Hawks, who add another piece to their puzzle.

7. Pistons

Isaac Okoro, SG/SF, Auburn: The Pistons are an organization that needs everything and might try to beat the Bulls to the Ball punch. They will settle, however, for a great perimeter defender.

8. Knicks

Patrick Williams, SF/PF, Florida State: An elite defender who can play from Day 1? Hmmm, new Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau might like that.

9. Wizards

Tyrese Haliburton, PG/SG, Iowa State: The Wizards will have the replacement for Bradley Beal ready to go when they trade him soon.

10. Suns

Devin Vassell, SG, Florida State: The Suns’ backcourt depth has thinned out after the Chris Paul trade, and Vassell brings some much needed perimeter defense to the Valley of the Sun.

11. Spurs

Killian Hayes, PG, Ulm (Germany): A French point guard playing in San Antonio? Sounds familiar.

12. Kings

Saddiq Bey, SF, Villanova: Point guard De’Aaron Fox could use some scoring help, and Bey is lethal from long range.

13. Pelicans

Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama: With Jrue Holiday on the move and Lonzo Ball in need of help in the backcourt, the speedy Lewis slides right in.

14. Celtics

Precious Achiuwa, PF/C, Memphis: This versatile defender is raw on the offensive end, but he will have time to develop because of all the scorers the Celtics have in the frontcourt.

15. Magic

RJ Hampton, PG/SG, New Zealand: Few teams in the East need immediate backcourt scoring like the Magic, and this is the guy to provide it.

16. Rockets

Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky: The dismantling of the Rockets is underway, so they grab the best backcourt player available and start their rebuild.

17. Timberwolves

Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt: An elite shooter. Now all the Timberwolves need is a real NBA coach and some heart.

18. Mavericks

Desmond Bane, SG, TCU: Luka Doncic would love to have a 43% three-point shooter to pass the ball to.

19. Nets

Cole Anthony, PG/SG, North Carolina: Anthony gets to learn about overdribbling, coach-killing and why the earth is flat from Kyrie Irving.

20. Heat

Josh Green, SG/SF, Arizona: A tough perimeter defender who can knock down the three-pointer. South Beach feels like the right place for him to be.

21. 76ers

Jalen Smith, PF, Maryland: Doc Rivers loves his defense, and with Joel Embiid as injury-prone as he is, another big man is welcome.

22. Nuggets

Aleksej Pokusevski, C, Olympiacos (Greece): The ultimate stash player who could be ready to surprise the league in two years.

23. Jazz

Theo Maledon, PG, ASVEL (France): After expecting to have a season that put him in the running to be a lottery pick, Maledon was a bit of a disappointment. But he won’t be as a backup for the Jazz.

24. Pelicans

Leandro Bolmaro, SF, FC Barcelona (Spain): A second first-round pick gives the Pelicans a chance to stash Bolmaro away for a few years.

25. Thunder

Jaden McDaniels, F, Washington: He has raw scoring ability but slides because of a disappointing shortened season.

26. Celtics

Tyrell Terry, PG/SG, Stanford: The rich get richer, adding depth behind Kemba Walker and another three-point threat.

27. Knicks

Isaiah Stewart, C/PF, Washington: A high motor and a nasty disposition? Thibs will love this guy.

28. Thunder

Malachi Flynn, PG, San Diego State: Flynn’s stock is on the rise. He proved to be a pick-and-roll maestro in college and has ridiculous shooting range.

29. Raptors

Zeke Nnaji, PF/C, Arizona: He has added 15 pounds of muscle just in time to creep into the back end of the first round.

30. Celtics

Robert Woodard II, SG/SF, Mississippi State: Why not add more outside shooting?

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