2025 NBA Draft: ESPN releases first way-too-early mock draft

On3 imageby:Andrew Graham02/26/24


NBA Draft
(Sarah Stier | Getty Images)

ESPN NBA Draft analyst Jonathan Givony took a stab at a mock draft recently — for 2025. And despite being more than a year away, it’s an interesting glimpse into where things stand for some of the top prospects heading for college or other courts come fall and winter.

The challenges are myriad: The draft order is likely to be different than the one presented, some prospects could forego the draft and keep playing at lower levels, unexpected risers are sure to come, and there’s always the possibility of serious injuries or unforeseen circumstances. Also, some of the top players potentially playing in college in 2024-25 have yet to commit.

So, with more than a year until the 2025 NBA Draft, here is the best stab from Givony at who the NBA will be after in the lottery and beyond next summer.

1. Washington Wizards: Cooper Flagg, Duke

Naismith Trophy
(Photo Credit – Dan Fritz)

Roundly considered the top prospect in his signing class, it’s not a shock that Flagg is also the early pick to headline his draft class, too. With size, shooting ability and a frame that can probably add a bit of strength and mass, Flagg might hit the best of both worlds for teams, coming with a high floor and a higher ceiling.

What he does in the 2024-25 season at Duke could cement Flagg as the top prospect for NBA teams. And short of unmitigated disaster, it’s a safe bet that Flagg will be at a minimum a Top 5 pick for the 2025 NBA Draft.

2. Charlotte Hornets: Airious “Ace” Bailey, Rutgers

Five-star Rutgers commitment Ace Bailey / Player submitted photo

Bailey has already made waves without even stepping on campus, with his commitment to Rutgers marking the highest-ranked basketball prospect the school has signed. And joining as part of a star-studded class, Bailey and Co. could keep making noise.

And Bailey still has yet to turn 18 — his birthday is in August. That means he won’t be 19 until after the 2025 NBA Draft.

3. Portland Trailblazers: Khaman Maluach, NBA Academy Africa

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The first player not planning to play college basketball in 2024-25 came off Givony’s board quickly, with the Trailblazers adding the center out of NBA Academy Africa. Standing taller than seven feet, Maluach has all the size and physical abilities NBA teams want.

And much like Bailey, he’s very young, not turning 18 until September.

4. Chicago Bulls: Jalil Bethea, Miami

Jalil Bethea
Five-star shooting guard Jalil Bethea (photo credit – Dan Fritz)

Miami won big in landing Bethea on the recruiting trail, and Givony expects the talented young guard to be a one-and-done in South Florida. With a chance to go in the Top 5 of the draft, it’s an understandable outcome. At 6-foot-4, Bethea has oodles of length and good athleticism, but he’s a bit undersized.

A year of maturation and college seasoning should have him in a better spot after the 2024-25 season, and one that will probably have NBA teams lining up.

5. San Antonio Spurs: Hugo Gonzalez, Real Madrid B

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich

The San Antonio Spurs stay true to form this mock draft exercise, nabbing an international up-and-comer in the early selections of the draft in the form of a Spanish small forward. He’s no Victor Wembanyama, but Gonzalez is the sort of smooth, playmaking small forward that NBA teams covet.

And with more Top 10 picks coming in this mock, the Spurs keep adding international talent.

6. Detroit Pistons: Dylan Harper, Rutgers

Five-Star Plus+ guard Dylan Harper (Photo Credit: Dan Fritz)

The other crown jewel of Rutgers’ 2024 signing class, Harper brings NBA bloodlines with him as the son of five-time champion Ron Harper. Unlike his dad, though, Harper plays guard and enters college as one of the most heralded prospects in the country.

And perhaps to the chagrin of his father, who most famously played alongside Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls, Harper is projected to land with the Detroit Pistons.

7. Houston Rockets (from BKN): VJ Edgecombe, Baylor

Five-Star Plus+ shooting guard VJ Edgecombe (Photo credit – dfritzphotos/IG)

Much like the four prospects that Givony has coming out of college ahead of him, the logic with Edgecombe is simple: Top 10, five-star prospect goes Top 10 in the draft after a year of college. And the 6-foot-4 guard has all the talent necessary to make an instant impact at Baylor.

How he and the other guards in college from this list shake out in the draft order will be a fascinating trend to watch.

8. San Antonio Spurs (from TOR): Tre Johnson, Texas

Tre Johnson
Five-Star Plus+ shooting guard Tre Johnson (photo credit – Texas mbb)

Johnson is staying fairly close to home, heading to Austin from Dallas, where he’ll likely slot in to the starting lineup immediately. And standing at 6 feet, 6 inches tall, Johnson has great length for a shooting guard.

Assuming he doesn’t have a disastrous campaign, Givony has the freshman getting picked up by another Texas team, heading to San Antonio.

9. San Antonio Spurs (from ATL): Egor Demin, Real Madrid B

Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

A double-dip of international talent in the first round for the Spurs, as Givony has them taking a second small forward from Real Madrid B in Russian Egor Demin. Between the two international players and a 6-foot-6 shooting guard, Givony has the Spurs loading up on length and wing playmaking ability.

Whether the Spurs actually end up with three picks in the Top 9 picks of the 2025 NBA Draft remains to be seen, though.

10. Utah Jazz: Drake Powell, North Carolina

2024 Drake Powell
(photo credit – Jamie Shaw)

A five-star wing prospect, Powell rounds out Givony’s Top 10 after spending a year in Carolina Blue. Jackson jumps past a few slightly higher-rated prospects to land in the Top 10, but as the No. 12 overall prospect in the 2025 signing class, according to the On3 Industry Ranking, Powell is an easy pick here.

It’s also possible one of his soon-to-be teammates at North Carolina gets picked here.

Picks No. 11 through 30 of the ESPN 2025 Mock Draft

11. Oklahoma City Thunder (from HOU): Liam McNeeley, Indiana
12. Golden State Warriors: Michael Ruzic, Joventut
13. Memphis Grizzlies: Isaiah Evans, Duke
14. Atlanta Hawks (from SAC): Nolan Traore, Pole France
15. New Orleans Pelicans (from LAL): Motiejus Krivas, Arizona
16. Oklahoma City Thunder (from MIA): Will Riley, uncommitted
17. Brooklyn Nets (from PHX): Flory Bidunga, Kansas
18. Orlando Magic: Ian Jackson, North Carolina
19. Indiana Pacers: KJ Lewis, Arizona
20. New Orleans Pelicans: Derrion Reid, Alabama
21. Dallas Mavericks: Carter Bryant, Arizona
22. New York Knicks: Kanon Catchings, Purdue
23. Utah Jazz (from CLE): Noa Essengue, Ratiophram Ulm
24. Utah Jazz (from MIN): Karter Knox, uncommitted
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (from PHI): Johann Grunloh, Rasa Vechta
26. Los Angeles Clippers: Milan Momcilovic, Iowa State
27. New York Knicks (from MIL): Adou Thiero, Kentucky
28. Brooklyn Nets (from OKC): Joson Sanon, uncommitted
29. Orlando Magic (from DEN): Rocco Zikarsky, Brisbane
30. Boston Celtics: Tyrese Proctor, Duke

From Duke to Duke, there’s your way-too-early 2025 NBA Draft first round.