Charlotte Hornets

The Observer’s NBA mock draft of Thursday’s first round

LSU’s Ben Simmons is considered the favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday’s NBA draft.
LSU’s Ben Simmons is considered the favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday’s NBA draft. AP

The Observer’s Rick Bonnell makes his NBA mock draft predictions for Thursday’s first round:

1. Philadelphia 76ers, LSU forward Ben Simmons: He’s a terrific passer of a point-forward type and the 76ers certainly need to improve their passing and ball handling.

2. Los Angeles Lakers, Duke forward Brandon Ingram: The Lakers have a big hole to fill at small forward with Kobe Bryant retiring.

3. Boston Celtics, Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield: The Celtics have a solid enough roster to go in any direction; Hield can have immediate value as a bench scorer.

4. Phoenix Suns, Washington forward Marquese Chriss: Phoenix is in good shape in the backcourt; Suns need more depth at forward.

5. Minnesota Timberwolves, Kentucky guard Jamal Murray: A scorer who has potential to play both shooting guard and point guard at the NBA level.

6. New Orleans Pelicans, Providence point guard Kris Dunn: A big point guard who would be insurance against Jrue Holiday suffering more injuries.

7. Denver Nuggets, Croatian pro Dragan Bender: A 7-foot-1 forward who made 36 percent of his 3-pointers last season.

8. Sacramento Kings, California forward Jaylen Brown: A big, physical forward who could serve as heir apparent to Rudy Gay.

9. Toronto Raptors, Utah center Jakob Poeltl: The Raptors have a history of drafting European big men. Bismack Biyombo could leave in free-agency.

10. Milwaukee Bucks, Marquette forward Henry Ellenson: A big-time scorer and rebounder in his single college season. Highly skilled big man.

11. Orlando Magic, Kentucky forward Skal Labissiere: He didn’t take to being a post-up big man his one season at Kentucky, but the Haitian has good size and good hands.

12. Utah Jazz, Vanderbilt point guard Wade Baldwin: A 40-percent shooter from 3-point range. He has a strong upper body, which helps him hold up driving to the rim.

13. Phoenix Suns, Michigan State center Deyonta Davis: Additional frontcourt depth for a Suns team a long way from playoff contention.

14. Chicago Bulls, Syracuse guard Malachi Richardson: Improved dramatically second half of last season. Would provide quality depth at shooting guard behind Jimmy Butler.

15. Denver Nuggets, Gonzaga forward Domantas Sabonis: Son of a former NBA star, Sabonis will help the Nuggets’ post-up offense quickly.

16. Boston Celtics, Washington guard Dejounte Murray: Would provide a bigger alternative at point guard behind Isaiah Thomas.

17. Memphis Grizzlies, Turkish pro Furkan Korkmaz: He is among the best shooters in this draft and Grizzlies have long needed better 3-point range.

18. Detroit Pistons, North Carolina forward Brice Johnson: Coach-general manager Stan Van Gundy in win-now mode. Johnson, who spent four seasons at UNC, is prepared to contribute.

19. Denver Nuggets, French pro Timothe Luwawu: Shooting guard is a position of strength in this draft. This is a value pick.

20. Indiana Pacers, Baylor forward Taurean Prince: Has good size for small forward and a physically mature body to handle contact in the lane.

21. Atlanta Hawks, Michigan State forward Denzel Valentine: A highly skilled small forward as both a scorer and a passer. Some teams concerned about his knees holding up.

22. Charlotte Hornets, Florida State shooting guard Malik Beasley: With Courtney Lee possibly leaving in free agency, the Hornets might want another shooting guard.

23. Boston Celtics, Maryland center Diamond Stone: It wouldn’t be a big surprise if the Celtics trade this pick for a future pick or a veteran.

24. Philadelphia 76ers, Notre Dame guard Demetrius Jackson: The Sixers seem in constant pursuit of help at point guard.

25. Los Angeles Clippers, Kansas forward Cheick Diallo: He has a 7-foot-4 wingspan. He’ll need time to adapt to the NBA.

26. Philadelphia 76ers, Saint Joseph’s forward DeAndre Bembry: He’s a scorer and a passer. Needs to work on improving his outside shot.

27. Toronto Raptors, Nevada-Las Vegas guard Patrick McCaw: Has good size at 6-7 for the shooting guard position. Needs to work on shooting mechanics.

28. Phoenix Suns, Spanish pro Juan Hernangomez: He has a versatile scoring touch. Might go much higher in this draft.

29. San Antonio Spurs, Vanderbilt center Damian Jones: He suffered a pectoral injury requiring surgery. Hopefully he’ll heal in time for training camp.

30. Golden State Warriors, Croatian center Ante Zizic: He could stay in Europe another season or two, saving the Warriors a roster spot.

Bonnell: 704-358-5129; @rick_bonnell