NBA mock draft 2025: Cooper Flagg leads loaded class that will start tank race

The 2024 NBA Draft never had a consensus No. 1 overall prospect at any point in the cycle. That won’t be the case next year. Duke freshman forward Cooper Flagg feels like a lock to go first in the 2025 NBA Draft, and his looming entrance to the league is about to set off a race to the bottom for teams who realize they aren’t good enough to make the playoffs.

Now that the 2024 draft has come and gone, and it’s time to look ahead to the 2025 NBA Draft. Flagg is the clear top prospect entering the cycle, but he’s far from the only big-time talent. The 2025 class is significantly stronger than the 2024 class throughout the lottery, with more potential All-Star talent available and greater depth throughout the first round.

I’ve been lucky enough to cover the NBA Draft for SB Nation for more than a decade, and every year I drop my big board for next year the day after the draft. You can go back and read my early boards for a fun trip down memory lane from 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, and 2024 here.

The 2025 NBA Draft looks like one of the stronger classes I’ve evaluated a year out. Here’s our first way-too-early projection of the class.

NBA Draft 2025 preseason board

Rank Name From Position Age
Rank Name From Position Age
1 Cooper Flagg Duke F Freshman
2 Ace Bailey Rutgers F Freshman
3 Dylan Harper Rutgers G Freshman
4 Nolan Traore France F Born 2006
5 Khaman Maluach Duke C Born 2006
6 VJ Edgecombe Baylor G Freshman
7 Liam McNeeley UConn F Freshman
8 Tre Johnson Texas G Freshman
9 Rocco Zikarsky Australia C Born 2006
10 Ian Jackson North Carolina G Freshman
11 Egor Demin BYU G Freshman
12 Jalil Bethea Miami G Freshman
13 Donnie Freeman Syracuse F Freshman
14 Will Riley Illinois G Freshman
15 Hugo Gonzalez Spain F Born 2006
16 Michael Ruzic Croatia F Born 2006
17 Noa Essengue France F Born 2006
18 Collin Murray-Boyles South Carolina F Sophomore
19 Isaiah Evans Duke G Freshman
20 Boogie Fland Arkansas G Freshman
21 Dink Pate USA G Born 2006
22 Asa Newell Georgia F Freshman
23 Milan Momcilovic Iowa State F Sophomore
24 Flory Bidunga Kansas C Freshman
25 Derrion Reid Alabama F Freshman
26 Drake Powell UNC G/F Freshman
27 Kwame Evans Jr. Oregon F/C Sophomore
28 Jarin Stevenson Alabama F Sophomore
29 Izan Almansa Spain C Born 2005
30 Tucker DeVries West Virginia F Senior

Cooper Flagg is the clear-cut No. 1 prospect in the 2025 NBA Draft

The 2025 NBA Draft class is deep with talent, but Flagg is in a tier by himself as the top prospect in the class. The incoming Duke forward will be college basketball’s biggest one-and-done superstar since Zion Williamson. He’s a legitimate franchise-altering talent, and his skill set is perfect for modern basketball.

Flagg’s greatest gift is his versatility. At 6’9 with a 7-foot wingspan, he can vacillate between a variety of roles at both ends of the floor, and perform at a high level in all of them. His athleticism, IQ, and motor are all off the charts, and his skill level is getting there, too.

Flagg is an elite defensive prospect. He moves his feet incredibly well on the perimeter for someone his size, showing the ability to switch across the positional spectrum in most matchups. He’s equally adept at being a wing stopper on the perimeter or manning the backline as a secondary rim protector. His shot blocking ability might be his strongest individual skill right now: he gets off the floor so quickly as a leaper, and can absorb contact in the air while still contesting the shot. He’s the type of player who can erase mistakes by his teammates as a help defender, force turnovers that lead to transition opportunities, or stand strong as a point-of-attack defender.

Flagg can fit into any offense right now in a connector role, and he has the potential to be so much more than that down the line. He has a high offensive baseline as a big forward who can space the floor, hit spot-up threes, make quick passing reads, and attack the basket with power in transition or as a cutter. Flagg’s upside gets scary as he starts to develop with the ball in his hands, and he made major strides in that regard as a senior at Montverde Academy. Flagg looked comfortable ripping pull-up threes, getting into his mid-range bag, and attacking in isolations. He’s going to be such a load going downhill as his handle develops. He looks like he should be able to skillfully play either side of the pick-and-roll.

Flagg is extremely young for his grade after reclassifying to essentially skip his senior year of high school. With a Dec. 2006 birthday, he’ll only be 17 years old to start the season for Duke, and won’t turn 19 years old until halfway through his rookie season. There’s going to be some early growing pains for any player that young as they jump up a level, but Flagg is only in this position already because he really is that talented. Victor Wembanyama aside, it’s hard to remember the last draft prospect who had this many different ways of impacting the game.


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Dylan Harper and Ace Bailey vie for No. 2 overall at Rutgers

Rutgers has hadn’t had a player selected in the NBA Draft since 2010. That’s about to change in a big way next year after landing the No. 2 and No. 3 overall recruits in the class of 2025 in Dylan Harper and Airious ‘Ace’ Bailey.

Harper is the son of long-time NBA guard Ron Harper, and the younger brother of former Rutgers star Ron Harper Jr. At 6’5 with a 6’10 wingspan, Dylan Harper is a bulky combo guard with an advanced feel for the game and the ability to play on- or off-the-ball. The lefty plays with good pace as a lead ball handler, and he’s able to use his big frame to carve out space going downhill. He’s a skilled finisher with either hand, and will showcase some advanced footwork on drives. He’s also an active mover and good cutter off the ball with flashes of real shooting versatility. Harper shoots confidently from range whether he’s taking a pull-up or spacing the floor as a spot-up shooter. He’s not an elite athlete or the best shooter, but he’s relatively strong in both areas while having plus positional size and the ability to read the floor as a live dribble passer. Even if the shot isn’t falling, Harper adds value as a rebounder and transition threat. It will be interesting to see how quick he looks defensively (is he better at defending guards or wings?) and where his shot-making numbers come in at.

Bailey is just oozing with talent as a tall wing with excellent athleticism and deep shooting range. Listed at 6’10, 200 pounds by Rutgers, Bailey has takeover scoring ability when his jumper is hot. He’s so big that it’s hard to contest his shot, and he shoots it effortlessly off pull-ups and quickly off spot-ups. Bailey makes some extremely difficult looks, which feels like both a gift and a curse. It would be nice to see him get downhill more with his dunk contest-worthy athleticism, but to this point he likes to settle for jumpers. Bailey could stand to improve his ability to read the floor as a passer and tighten his ball handling ability, but he has gifts you just can’t teach. It’s also worth noting he’s extremely young his class with an Aug. 2006 birthday, meaning he’ll still be 18 years old on draft day in 2025. He’s likely going to be awesome in transition, he should contribute on the offensive glass, and as he gets stronger he should provide some secondary rim protection. He will have a high-floor as a deadly off-ball threat with his size and shooting, and it’s possible his shot-making gives him significant upside beyond that. Bailey is far from a finished product, but his upside feels like the second highest in the class right now even if there will be some frustrating moments along the way.

The pairing between Bailey and Harper at Rutgers will be fascinating to watch, and should be a mutually beneficial context for both players.

France is back with more potential lottery prospects

The French have been all over the NBA lottery in recent years. Killian Hayes (2020), Ousmane Dieng (2022), Bilal Coulibaly (2023), Victor Wembanyama (2023), Alex Sarr (2024), Zaccharie Risacher (2024), and Tidjane Salaun (2024) have all been lottery picks in recent years. The French connection isn’t going away any time soon.

The international class for the 2025 NBA Draft looks like a strong group, and French guard Nolan Traore currently feels like the cream of the crop. Traore is a 6’5 point guard who bypassed offers from top college programs (including Duke) to stay with his club team Saint-Quentin in the top French pro league. He’s been on an absolute heater to open 2024 with strong showing at Nike Hoop Summit and a record-setting 45-point display at the Adidas Next Generation Tournament Finals. The arrow is only trending up from here.

Traore is a big lead guard who feels like he’s in full control of the game. He’s at his best in the pick-and-roll, where he can use his bust to get past the first line of defense, and then threaten the defense with his scoring or playmaking. Traore isn’t the type of guard who throw down a huge dunk in traffic, but he has tremendous scoring craft in close with floaters and touch shots over contests. He’s also an impressive live dribble passer who looks comfortable making a variety of reads. Traore appears comfortable self-creating his own looks from three-point range, and did so on high volume this past season, but the percentage hovered around 30 percent. If he shoots it better, he’ll have a chance to go as high as No. 2, and feels like a safe bet to ultimately land in the top-10.

Noa Essengue is another talented French prospect who will earn lottery looks in 2025. The 6’9 forward is long and athletic and consistently plays with a high motor. He’s attacks the basket with an impressive amount of power and touch as a roll man or cutter. He should have tremendous defensive versatility, and some ability to be a small ball big man. He looks very good as a rebounder and defensive playmaker who can generate transition opportunities for his team. He’s not much of a shooter or playmaker yet, but has a high floor as an energy guy with real NBA size and athleticism who has been productive in big settings.

The 2025 NBA Draft is deep with talent throughout the lottery

  • VJ Edgecombe, G, Baylor: Edgecombe is a super athletic guard who succeeds with slashing, transition scoring, and defensive playmaking. While he’s a tad small for an off-ball player (he measured at 6’3 with a 6’5 wingspan), Edgecombe’s blend of speed, power, and agility is made for getting into the paint and finishing above the rim. He can force turnovers as an aggressive defender, and no one is stopping him on the break. It will be interesting to see where his playmaking ability and shooting comes in.
  • Liam McNeeley, F, UConn: McNeely is a perfect fit in UConn’s whirling offensive system. The 6’9 forward is first and foremost expected to be one of the best shooters in this class after reportedly hitting better than 44 percent of his threes each of the last two years while playing with Cooper Flagg at Montverde. He also looks comfortable attacking the defense on closeouts with impressive footwork and some ability to read the floor as a passer while on the move. No one does a better job of accentuating his players’ strengths than Danny Hurley, so it feels like a safe bet he’s going to have a very good season.
  • Khaman Maluach, C, Duke: Malauch has monster physical tools as a 7’2 center with a 7’5 wingspan and strong 250 pound frame. Players that big should not move as well as Malauch does. His mobility with this level of power and length makes his long-term ceiling sky-high. He just still seems to be very raw in terms of feel for the game on both ends. How big of a role Duke will trust him to play this year remains to be seen, but with a good season he should be the first big off the board.

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