NBA Mock Draft: Knicks Landing Duke Forward?

Thursday night’s NBA Draft will be like no other in history.

Never before have we seen a run-up to a draft in which every other player believes they’re worthy of the No. 1 pick.

“I know I’m going No. 1,” said Arizona center Deandre Ayton.

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“I definitely believe I’m the No. 1 pick,” said Duke forward Marvin Bagley III.

“I think I’m the best overall player in this draft,” said Oklahoma guard Trae Young.

“I know without a doubt that I’m the — I played against all these guys, they’re all great players — but I’m the best player in this draft,” said Missouri swingman Michael Porter Jr.

Even Dzanan Musa, a small forward from Bosnia who is projected to be a late 1st-round pick, has stated his case to go higher. “I think I’m a lottery pick for sure,” said Musa.

Scratch ‘Humble Pie’ from the menu in the player’s Green Room.

There are some very talented players in this deep draft. Just ask them.

When Bagley was asked about Ayton likely being chosen by the Phoenix Suns, who have the No. 1 pick, he said, “It’s disrespectful and I use it as drive every single day.’’

This wasn’t the case last year when Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball were neck and neck to be taken first. Neither shaded the other or boasted about being No. 1.

LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 01: UCLA guard Lonzo Ball (2) greets Washington guard Markelle Fultz (20) before their college basketball game between the Washington Huskies and the UCLA Bruins on March 1, 2017, at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, CA. Fultz is injured and did not play. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“I want to be the No. 1 pick really bad,” said Fultz, who did go No.1 to the 76ers. Ball said he would prefer to play for the Lakers, rather than being the No. 1 pick. L.A did use the second pick on Ball.

This year?

Well, it seems as if Ayton, a 7-footer who could do for the Suns what Joel Embiid has done for Philadelphia, likely will be the player Phoenix takes to tip off the draft Thursday night. Having played at Arizona he has a fan base in the state and the potential to be a franchise player.

After that, there are no guarantees. MSGNetworks.com offers this mock draft as a guide to help you tune out the noise.

In keeping with our theme, we believe this is the No. 1 mock draft.

1. SUNS

Ayton, Fr. 7-foot, PF/C, Arizona – Makes too much sense. The Suns need a franchise player. Having played in Tucson, he sells tickets in Phoenix.

TUCSON, AZ – DECEMBER 09: Deandre Ayton #13 of the Arizona Wildcats reacts after scoring against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first half of the college basketball game at McKale Center on December 9, 2017 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

2. KINGS
Bagley III, Fr., 6-foot-10, PF, Duke – Might be the most well-rounded player in the draft. Just ask him. Is he Jayson Tatum? That’s too much to ask. Or is it?

3. HAWKS
Jaren Jackson, Fr., PF, 6-foot-11, Michigan State – Hawks like PF John Collins, but the goal is to acquire as much of the best talent possible.

4. GRIZZLIES
Luka Doncic, Intl. PG, 6-foot-8, Real Madrid – Doncic is considered the most NBA-ready player ever to come out of Europe. Play him alongside Mike Conley Jr.

Real Madrid Luka Doncic during Liga Endesa Finals match (1st game) between Real Madrid and Kirolbet Baskonia at Wizink Center in Madrid, Spain. June 13, 2018. (Photo by COOLMedia/Peter Sabok/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

5. MAVERICKS
Mohamed Bamba
, Fr., C, 7-foot, Texas – He’s been working out with Embiid, which is perfect because he can be for the Mavs what Embiid has been for Philly.

6. MAGIC
Young, Fr. PG, 6-foot-2, Oklahoma – Some think he’s the second coming of Steph Curry. Others question if the 176-pounder can handle the rigors of the NBA.

7. BULLS
Porter Jr., Fr. PF/SF, 6-foot-10 – Missouri – If any team can be assured about Porter’s back it’s Chicago, where his agent is based. Pairs with PF Lauri Markkanen.

8. CAVALIERS (via Nets)
Miles Bridges
, So., SF/PF. 6-foot-6, Michigan State – If the Cavs truly believe (we do) that LeBron James is leaving, they need to roll the dice. Bridges has a body like LeBron’s.

9. KNICKS
Wendell Carter, Jr., Fr, C, 6-foot-10, Duke –– This 258-pound manchild embraces the dirty work and offers a great counterbalance to Kristaps Porzingis. If Carter is gone, Kevin Knox, one of the youngest players in the draft, bolsters the talent pool.

10. 76ERS (via Lakers)
Mikal Bridges
, Jr. SF, 6-foot-7, Villanova – The Sixers have plenty of young talent. Bridges, who won 2 national titles on the Main Line, has the maturity to accept his role.

11. HORNETS
Knox, Fr., SF, 6-foot-9, Kentucky – Instead of dangling the classy Kemba Walker, why not give the mercurial PG some finishers? We entertained Knox going to Knicks at 9 and believe it could happen. Imagine Knox, KP and Frank Ntilikina.

12. CLIPPERS (vi Pistons)
Collin Sexton, Fr, PG, 6-foot-2, Alabama – Clippers begin their post-Chris Paul/Blake Griffin era knowing the Lakers could be poised to assemble a dream team.

13. CLIPPERS
Lonnie Walker IV
, Fr., SG, 6-foot-4, Miami – Voila! Instant NBA backcourt. Walker IV is one of the most athletic players in this draft and he has a shooter’s mentality.

14. NUGGETS
Robert Williams, So, C, 6-foot-10, Texas A&M – Is he the second coming of Clint Capela or the second coming of a young DeMarcus Cousins?

15. WIZARDS
Zhaire Smith, Fr., SG-SF, 6-foot-7, Texas Tech – Smith surprised with great frosh year. He can be an offensive upgrade over Kelly Oubre Jr. behind Otto Porter Jr.

16. SUNS (via Heat)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
, Fr., PG, 6-foot-6, Kentucky – In Devin Booker, the Suns have one of the league’s best young shooters. Make it an all-Kentucky backcourt with SGA.

17. BUCKS
Donte DiVincenzo
, So., SG 6-foot-5, Villanova – The Bucks have to find supporting options for Giannis. DiVincenzo’s NCAA Tournament play was not an anomaly.

SAN ANTONIO, TX – APRIL 02: Donte DiVincenzo #10 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts after a shot in the second half against the Michigan Wolverines during the 2018 NCAA Men’s Final Four National Championship game at the Alamodome on April 2, 2018 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

18. SPURS
Troy Brown, Fr., SG, 6-foot-7, Oregon – Wanted: A Kawhi Leonard replacement. No rookie fits that bill, but Brown is a high-character player that fits in San Antonio.

19. HAWKS (via Timberwolves)
Aaron Holiday, Jr., PG, 6-foot-1, UCLA – Hawks can move PG Dennis Schroder for another pick. Holiday is the younger brother of Jrue and Justin. Tenacious defender.

20. TIMBERWOLVES (via Thunder)
De’Anthony Melton, So., SG, 6-foot-3, USC – After a terrific freshman season, Melton sat out as a soph as the FBI investigated the recruiting woes in college hoops. A team loaded with young talent adds another baller.

21. JAZZ
Khyri Thomas Jr
., SG, 6-foot-3, Creighton – Love the way this kid competes on both ends. If you’re going to play for Quinn Snyder, you better be tough.

22. BULLS (via Pelicans)
Jerome Robinson Jr., PG, 6-foot-5, Boston College – The Bulls reportedly are unhappy with PG Kris Dunn. Robinson is a high-IQ player. Handle needs improvement.

SYRACUSE, NY – JANUARY 14: Jerome Robinson #1 of the Boston College Eagles dribbles up the court against the Syracuse Orange during the first half at the Carrier Dome on January 14, 2017, in Syracuse, New York. Syracuse defeated Boston College 76-53. (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)

23. PACERS
Elie Okobo, Intl, PG, 6-foot-3, France – Indy set at SG (Victor Oladipo). PG Darren Collison is not spectacular. Okobo led his team in scoring, assists and 3-point shooting.

24. TRAIL BLAZERS
Chandler Hutchison, Sr., SF, 6-foot-7, Boise State – Hutchinson declared for the draft last year, but returned for a senior season in which he averaged 20 pts & 7.7 rebs.

25. LAKERS (via Cavaliers)
Mitchell Robinson
, 20, C, 6-foot-11, No college – Why not take a flier on Robinson, who had 14 points, 3 rebounds & 3 blocks in the 2017 McDonald’s All-America game?

26. 76ERS
Keita Bates-Diop
, Sr. SF, 6-foot-7, Ohio State – Instant competition and increased maturity. Bridges and Bates-Diop push each other and add a steadying presence.

27. CELTICS
Josh Okogie
, So., SG, 6-foot-4, Georgia Tech – Celtics have Kyrie Irving’s contract to consider after next season, meaning that might lose Marcus Smart. Okogie slides in.

CHICAGO, IL – MAY 15: NBA Draft Prospect, Josh Okogie poses for a portrait during the 2018 NBA Combine circuit on May 15, 2018, at the Intercontinental Hotel Magnificent Mile in Chicago, Illinois. Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

28. WARRIORS
Musa, Intl, SF, 6-foot-9, Bosnia – Warriors have no holes to fill. Musa is young and aggressive. Perfect place to learn the American game from Steve Kerr.

29. NETS
Jalen Brunson, Jr., PG, 6-foot-3, Villanova – Reminds me of former Knicks’ ROY Mark Jackson in terms of the way he thinks the game. May never be a star but will a pro.

30. HAWKS (via Rockets)
Jacob Evans, Jr., SF, 6-7, Cincinnati – The Hawks rebuild netted a PF and PG. Now it’s not about need but adding competition. Evans is as tough as any player.

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