The NBA Draft is on June 21 and Luka Doncic, and other non-NCAA players, have until June 11 to stay in the draft.
Here’s hoping for at least a couple right picks…
1.Phoenix Suns– DeAndre Ayton
The Suns were the worst team in the NBA in 2018 and through the lottery secured the first overall pick. While a lead guard is a need that Luka Doncic would fill very well, DeAndre Ayton should be the pick here with Doncic’s indecisiveness about the NBA next year. Ayton is huge and absolutely overpowers opponents on the offensive side and the floor and on the boards, grabbing 21.4% of all available rebounds in this freshman season at Arizona. He has a solid post game and an NBA ready body to control the paint from day one. He also possess the ability to step out and shoot the basketball from both the mid range and potentially from 3, where he made 12 of 35 attempts last season. Although he blocked just under 2 shots a game last year, he still needs to improve as an overall defender, but with his size and athleticism the potential is there. The Suns also have a clear need at center which Ayton should fill nicely.
2. Sacramento Kings – Luka Doncic
If the Suns go Ayton at 1, Doncic would appear to be the easy pick at 2. Doncic, who at just 18 years old last season, won the Euroleague MVP playing for Real Madrid. At 6’8″ Doncic plays point guard in a forward’s body. He is built well weighing in at 228 lbs, and has a frame ready to take on the NBA grind. His ability to handle the basketball, see the floor, and shoot make him an ideal NBA lead guard. He has however been knocked for his below average athletic ability and will most likely need to be hidden on defense against slower wings due to his lack of lateral quickness. Although, he may be more difficult to compare to other prospects having not played in the United States, he has played higher competition for a longer time than his American counterparts. His ability to do it all offensively and his great feel for the game should allow him to mesh nicely with King’s 2017 1st round pick, De’Aaron Fox.
3. Atlanta Hawks – Mohamed Bamba
Mo Bamba wowed at the combine with a 7 foot 10 inch wingspan that bested former wingspan king, Rudy Gobert, by about 1.5 inches. Bamba could have a similar defensive impact as the “Stifle Tower” has had in Utah. He has a great ability to block shots and is quick on his feet to switch onto smaller opponents and stay in front defensively. His great reach also helps when he manages to get beat off the dribble. Offensively he has a nice touch on his jump shot and fits well as a roll man on the PNR. However, he does lack a developed post game at the moment. His frame is very slight and he will most likely be physically over matched right out of the gate and adding weight and strength will be crucial in his development. His raw potential and already impressive skill set should fit with the full rebuild mode Hawks.
4. Memphis Grizzlies – Wendell Carter Jr.
Although Wendell Carter’s Duke teammate, Marvin Bagley, had a more statistically productive freshman year, I like Carter’s all-around game better. Carter’s offensive game is pretty well rounded, showing the ability to shoot away from the basket with a smooth stroke, play in the post and utilize both hands, as well as pass the ball effectively and find open teammates. Defensively, he manages to both challenge shots at the rim as well as play good defense against post ups. He has a well built frame weighing 251 lbs at the combine, however he did measure just under 6’9″ without shoes making him slightly undersized at the 5. His all around game should fit well next to Marc Gasol in Memphis.
5. Dallas Mavericks – Jaren Jackson Jr.
Jackson’s youth and potential make it hard to see him slip outside the top 5. His wingspan exceeds 7’5″ while also having the ability to shoot from beyond the arc, defend multiple positions and put the ball on the floor from time to time. His ability to defend is perhaps his most impressive quality, showing good defensive instincts, the ability to close out well on shooters, and block shots around the rim. He might possess the highest ceiling of any prospect in this class and could be the future at the 4 or the 5 in Dallas.
6. Orlando Magic – Trae Young
Trae Young should be the first ball handler off the board in this draft not named Luka Doncic. The range on his jumpshot is what first really jumps off the screen when watching him. He has a very quick release, and when you couple that with his range and somewhat low release, comparison could be made to Steph Curry. However, Young is a much more ball dominant guard. His floor vision and ability to make tough passes is impressive. His tendency to turn the ball over needs to be addressed as NBA defenses will look to expose this weakness in his game. Size and strength is also an issue for Young as he measured just over 6’0″, without shoes, and weighed in at just 178 at the combine. Marvin Bagley III is also very much in play here at 6, if he is still on the board. However, if Orlando wants to retain Aaron Gordon in RFA this summer, Bagley will not make much sense. After moving on from Elfrid Payton at last year’s deadline and only having DJ Augustin and Shelvin Mack as lead guards, at this point for next year, point guard is a clear need that Young could fill.
7. Chicago Bulls – Marvin Bagley III
This is probably the lowest Bagley could fall in this year’s draft. His ability to both score, 21 PPG a year ago at Duke, from all over the court and rebound on both sides, 4 ORPG / 7.1 DRPG, is almost unmatched by any other prospect in this draft. His incredible production was even more impressive given he reclassified in HS and just turned 19 in March. His deficiencies as a player lie in his poor defensive ability, inability to use his weak hand offensively, and relatively short wingspan. Bagley was such a defensive liability that Duke resorted to playing a lot of 2-3 zone to cover up his weakness. His wingspan, that has been reported at around 7 feet long, is shorter that the average NBA big and will not help make up for his already poor defensive instincts and ability. He will most likely never be a serviceable rim protector because of this. He probably translates to being a slightly better shooting Julius Randle. Who is not a bad player, but Bagley probably has a lower ceiling than the other elite bigs in this draft and I see him being the last picked of these top tier bigs. As Lauri Markkanen develops, and continues to improve defensively, he should be able to play the 5 and Bagley can work as a 4 next to him.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Nets) – Robert Williams
It’s always interesting when a playoff team picks in the lottery. Should they choose the best player available, or try to fill an immediate need to win now? With LeBron’s upcoming free agency, this selection becomes an even tougher one for the Cavs. Cleveland finished the 2017-18 regular season as one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA, the dreadful Suns were the only team to have a worse defensive rating. They also finished 17th in defensive rebound percentage and per 100 possessions they finished second to last in blocks and allowed the 6th most points in the paint. While this class is big men heavy, it thins out after the top tier. Robert Williams is probably a reach here at 8, but he could help this current Cavs team out tremendously. He possesses an unofficial 7’6″ wingspan and has an NBA ready build. He rebounds on both sides of the ball, 2.4 ORPG / 6.9 DRPG, and protects the rim well, averaging 2.6 blocks a game. Offensively, he has some touch around the rim and can extend to the mid range at times. He has not always been consistent in college and his desire has been questioned, but there is still a ton to like about Williams and he fits this current Cavs team with LeBron perfectly. Williams may be a bit of a reach at 8, but with or without LeBron, I still think he has enough upside to justify picking him this early and fills a huge hole in this team.
9. New York Knicks – Mikal Bridges
The Knicks are reportedly targeting a wing with this pick and Mikal Bridges makes sense for this selection. Bridges is explosive on both ends of the floor due in large part to his long wingspan and high vertical jump. Most of his offensive comes from back cuts and catch and shoot 3’s, where he shot at a 43.5% clip behind the arc on 6 shots per game. His pull up shot in the lane is also very effective, but he will not often look to create his own shot. He is dynamic on the defensive side where he averaged 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks a game last year. Due to his physical gifts, he has the potential to be a lockdown defender at the next level, but he is not there yet. His combination of offense, defense, and winning mindset, having won 2 National Championships at Villanova, can fit well pretty much anywhere. He can slide in nicely as the Knicks small forward and could develop into a hybrid of Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo in the NBA. The Knicks just picked a point guard in Frank Ntilikina just last year. However, I think Ntilikina showed with his defensive skills, size, and fluid three point shot that he can play off the ball and guard NBA shooting guards. Ntilikina was also a selection of the previous regime, that was selected based on his ability to run Phil Jackson’s triangle offense. With the trade for Emmanuel Mudiay and signing of Trey Burke, the Knicks appear to still be in the market for a point guard. It does not seem like either of these guys will be the long term solution and a point guard, either Shai Gilgeous-Alexander or Collin Sexton, could be in play for the Knicks at 9.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via Lakers) – Lonnie Walker IV
Like the Cavs, the Sixers are another playoff team that has found its way into picking in the lottery. The Sixers are one of the more unique teams in the league with the amount of height they roll out onto the floor on any given night. Although they have one of the best perimeter defenders in the league in Robert Covington, it is necessary they find someone quick enough to cover opposing teams point guards. This is especially true with many playoff battles with Kyrie Irving and the Celtics to come in the near future. With Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Dario Saric sharing the floor, floor spacing will be crucial for the young Sixers. With his lengthy 6’10.25″ wingspan and impressive shuttle run and lane agility measurements at the combine, Lonnie Walker can give them someone who has the athletic ability and defensive potential to cover opposing point guard. Despite just shooting 34% on just over 5 attempts from 3 in his freshman year at Miami, Walker has good shooting mechanics and should develop into a very good 3 point shooter. He should be able to become the ideal 3 and D combo guard to fit with this young group.
11. Charlotte Hornets – Michael Porter Jr.
Michael Porter Jr. has star potential however, his health and lack of playing time in college last year still appear to be a huge question mark surrounding him. However, his size, 6’9.5″ height without shoes and a wingspan over 7 feet measured at the combine, and pure shooting stroke are both impressive and his game shows some similarities to Celtics’ rookie Jayson Tatum. In limited time with Missouri, Porter showed a great feel for the game offensively and a very good ability to move off the ball to find open spots for shots. He is maybe the most unknown player at the draft, as he hardly played in college, but there is a reason he was so highly touted out of high school. He could give the Hornets some scoring on the wing and form a formidable 1-2 punch with Kemba Walker.
12. Los Angeles Clippers (via Pistons) – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
The Clippers need a franchise point guard and Kentucky’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the best point guard prospect, after Trae Young, in this class. The first thing that stands out is his nearly 7 foot wingspan and his 6’4.5″ height without shoes measured at the combine. When you mix his natural size and length with with an exceptional feel for the game, great court vision, outstanding body control, ability to penetrate, and ability to run a team and it’s clear why Gilgeous-Alexander is a tremendous prospect. His reach also allows him to really harass opposing ball handlers on the defensive end. His shot is not he most fluid and he only attempted 1.5 3-point attempts per game at Kentucky, however he did shoot 40.4% on those shots. Last year, he coexisted in two point guard lineups with Kentucky’s Quade Green, and despite not being a deadeye 3 point shooter, I think Gilgeous-Alexander could share the floor with either of the Clippers current point guards, Beverly or Teodosic, who can both play off the ball.
13. Los Angeles Clippers – Miles Bridges
The second M. Bridges of this draft should not have to wait too long to be picked and he makes sense for one of these Clippers’ picks. Bridges can come in as a do it all wing player who should be ready to make an impact for the Clippers right away. He is able to guard multiple positions defensively and will find most his offense on catch and shoot opportunities. He has a good feel for the game and should be able to blend in with an NBA squad right away. He should fit in at forward next to Tobias Harris in LA. The Clippers could be in the market for a center if DeAndre Jordan rejects his player option and leaves in free agency this summer. Jordan’s fellow Texas A&M Aggie, Robert Williams, could definitely be in play here if he is still on the board.
14. Denver Nuggets – Collin Sexton
This pick is very much in play to be traded as Denver looks to dump Kenneth Faried, so I’ll slot Sexton here as the next best available prospect at this point. His best skill is his ability to drive the lane and his quickness and speed is tough to contain. Shooting, 33.6% on 3’s in his freshman year at Alabama, and creating for others, 3.6 assist to 2.8 TO, might restrict his offensive game at the next level in the short term. However, his talent, athleticism, and ability to take over games can not be denied. He measured just 6’0.5” without shoes at the combine, but his 6’7.25” wingspan helps compensate for his shorter stature. He can be a pesky defender due to his quickness, but his size does restricts his defense ability. If Denver does hold onto this pick, I could see them targeting a 3, like Kevin Knox with this pick rather than a point like Sexton. However, Sexton and fellow point guard prospect Shai Gilgeous Alexander should both be gone, at worst, after the Suns pick at 16.
15. Washington Wizards – Kevin Knox
The Wizards could really use a modern big to play behind Marcin Gortat, and eventually replace him, but they also have a need on the bench for a wing that could be filled by Kevin Knox. Knox measured 6’7.75″ without shoes and had a 6’11.75″ wingspan at the combine. Although he lacks toughness and tenacity inside to be a 4 man in the NBA right away, his size and length make you think he could fit as a stretch 4 in the future. His offensive game is smooth with a pure jump shot. Right now, there is not much versatility to his offense and he does not rebound or defend very well, but his young age, he will not turn 19 until late in the summer, and length makes you think he should develop well. He could give the Wizards some much needed depth and bench production immediately and could step into the starting lineup as a stretch 4 down the road.
16. Phoenix Suns (via Heat) – Jalen Brunson
This may be a bit high for the 2x National Champ and former National Player of the Year, but assuming the Suns grab Ayton at 1, they should try to address their other glaring need at point guard at 16. Brunson may not have as much upside as the other point guards taken in the lottery but his basketball smarts, shooting ability, and ability to control the tempo of games should keep him in the league, at least as a solid backup, for a long time. Brunson’s ability to play off the ball should allow him to mesh nicely with Devin Booker and his winning pedigree and maturity, which his former coach Jay Wright raves about, should help the NBA’s worst team from a year ago. Brunson does lack some physical tools, measuring at just 6’1″ without shoes with a 6’4″ wingspan at the combine, and may struggle at times defensively at the next level, but he has the build and enough foot speed to at least compete defensively.
17. Milwaukee Bucks – Aaron Holiday
Holiday can play both guard positions and could be an effective bench scorer for Milwaukee. The former UCLA guard gets into the lane at will and has a good shooting stroke that extends to NBA range. However, Holiday averaged 3.8 TO a game last year in an expanded role and can play a bit out of control at times. He measured under 6 foot without shoes at the combine and his athletic numbers were fairly unimpressive. His 6’7.5” wingspan is a big plus however. His offensive prowess should help the Bucks and take pressure off Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton who shouldered a heavy scoring load in the playoffs.
18. San Antonio Spurs – Khyri Thomas
Khyri Thomas is a lockdown defender evident by his back-to-back Big East Defensive Player of the Year awards in each of the last 2 seasons. His nearly 6’11” wingspan contributes to his defensive prowess and contributed to his 1.7 steals a game a year ago at Creighton. He also features a vastly improved jump shot that will allow him to slot in nicely as a 3 and D guy in the modern NBA. The Spurs have some question marks on the wing and Thomas could fill some holes there and fit the Spurs defensive identity from day one.
19. Atlanta Hawks (via Timberwolves) – Zhaire Smith
The Hawks have a lot of needs, so it makes sense to go after a guy with a high upside. Smith is a phenomenal athlete and uses his great 41.5 inch vertical very effectively. Most of his offense comes from around the rim as his jump shot is still developing. However, he did manage to shoot 45% on 1.1 attempts a game at Texas Tech last year. Where his game really shines is on the defensive end where his skills are elite. He covers multiple positions and often covered many different types of offensive players in a single game, from point guards to bigger wing players and forwards. At the combine he stood just under 6’3″ without shoes, but his wingspan stretched to just under 6’10” and its shows defensively. Drafting Smith and Bamba at 3 should create a new defensive identity in Atlanta.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Thunder) – Kevin Huerter
The Timberwolves finished last season 19th in 3 point shooting and they need guys to space the floor for Jimmy Butler, Andrew Wiggins, and Karl Anthony Towns. Huerter should help there, but he is far from a one dimensional player. His 38 inch vertical was one of the best at the combine and at Maryland he showed a good feel for the game and displayed excellent court vision. Defensively he may struggle a bit and, excluding his great shot, his offense game is not dynamic, but he is not totally helpless when creating his own offense.
21. Utah Jazz – Keita Bates-Diop
The Jazz need some more scoring and are a little thin on the wing. The former Ohio State Buckeye and last year’s Big Ten Player of the Year should help in both these departments. Ideally the Jazz could find a 4 man that would stretch the floor and fit well next to Rudy Gobert at this spot, making Omari Spellman a name to watch here. However, Bates-Diop could fit as a 4 for Utah. At the combine Bates-Diop’s height was measured at over 6’7″ without shoes and his wingspan exceeded 7’3″ giving him the length to play the power forward in the modern NBA. With Bates-Diop’s ability to score from all over the floor, he should help take pressure off Donovan Mitchell in Utah’s half court sets.
22. Chicago Bulls (via Pelicans) – Chandler Hutchinson
Hutchinson cut off workouts with teams and withdrew from the combine after working out for Chicago and Portland, who picks at 24. It seems he has some kind of promise from one of these teams and it is expected that he will go somewhere in the early to mid 20s. The Boise State product has a legit NBA forward frame and can score all over the floor with good touch around the rim and the ability to shoot a bit from distance. As a shooter, Hutchinson just shot 36% from 3 last year, and his senior year was the only year he shot over 70% at the free throw line. Turnovers can be a problem as he averaged 3.4 a game last year.
23. Indiana Pacers – Landry Shamet
Landry Shamet can help space the floor, shot 44% from 3 on 5.9 attempts a game, and be another reliable ball handler for the Pacers. He is a skilled passer who limits turnovers, evident by his 2.5 assist/TO ratio. He has good size at 6’4″ without shoes and a wingspan just under 6’7″. He measured well athletically at the combine with a vertical just under 40 inches. The Pacers do not have any glaring needs and the Wichita State guard should fit in seamlessly for any team. With his combination of athleticism, poise, and shooting ability, Shamet should not be on the board too late into the first round and 23 may be the latest we could see him go on draft day.
24. Portland Trail Blazers – Donte DiVincenzo
DiVincenzo is a do it all guard who is very athletic. He used his combine best 42 inch vertical to rebound his position very well, averaging 4.8 a game last year. He has a sweet jump shot, both pulling up off the dribble or spotting up, and most of his offense comes from beyond the arc. 54% of his field goal attempts were from 3 last year. However, he does also has the ability to penetrate the lane and finish at the rim. He is an energetic player who makes his presence felt the second he steps on the floor. He can handle the ball a little but most likely should not be used as a team’s primary ball handler at any time as he is prone to turnovers and silly mistakes. He should develop into a reliable defensive player down the road due to his elite athleticism. With a playoff losing streak that has reached 10 games, and a disappointing first round upset exit this year, the Blazers have some work to do this off-season. Drafting a versatile player like Donte DiVincenzo would be a good place to start.
25. Los Angeles Lakers (via Cavaliers) – Bruce Brown
Bruce Brown is a combo guard who should be able to play some point behind Lonzo Ball. He claims to model his game after Russell Westbrook and it shows. He is at his best when aggressively attacking the rim and running the PNR. However, his game lacks finesse and he can get out of control at times. He had poor shooting percentages at Miami but his shooting form is not too bad and his percentages should improve playing in a NBA offense with a legitimate pass first point guard. He has good size at 6’3.5″ without shoes and a 6’9″ wingspan with a 38″ vertical at the combine.
26. Philadelphia 76ers – Gary Trent Jr.
The Duke freshman should give Philly another shooter on the wing to space the floor for their star players. Trent’s shot is lethal as he shot over 40% on over 6 3-point shots a game last year and over 87% at the line on over 2 attempts a game. He can find his shot in many different ways off the wing, but does not always take the right shot. He has the build to defend on the wing and measured will at the combine, just over 6’4″ without shoes with a nearly 6’9″ wingspan, but he is not quite an elite athlete.
27. Boston Celtics – Troy Brown
Troy Brown from Oregon is a playmaker on the wing offensively who has good size and is able to defend multiple positions. He struggles a bit to shoot from the perimeter, 29% a year ago on over 3 3-point attempts a game, and did not impress athletically at the combine. The Celtics have no obvious holes and Brown makes sense for them as the next best available player who fits their defensive identity.
28. Golden State Warriors – Grayson Allen
The Duke graduate is an excellent athlete and performed very well at the combine finishing with a vertical over 40″ and the best lane agility time. He has a good shooting stroke and has the ability to facilitate from the wing. He does not finish around the rim particularly well and his defense leaves a little to be desired. His shooting ability should fit with the Warriors and his athletic ability and Warrior’s defensive system should help him become a fairly reliable defender.
29. Brooklyn Nets – Omari Spellman
Omari Spellman is a versatile big whose greatest skill is his ability to stretch defenses with his 3 point shot, making him an ideal stretch 4. Spellman can also score a bit in the post but does not utilize this part of his offensive repertoire often. He measured just 6’8″ without shoes at the combine, but he has showed the ability at Villanova to cover guys bigger than him, while also having the quickness to switch onto and keep up with smaller guards. The Nets need big guys and Spellman could fit next to Jarrett Allen to form the future of the Nets frontcourt.
30. Atlanta Hawks (via Rockets) – Josh Okogie
Okogie measured well at the combine at 6’3″ without shoes and a 7’0″ wingspan. At the combine he matched Donte DiVincenzo’s combine best 42 inch vertical. Okogie has the ability to be a 3 and D guy at the next level and with his length and athleticism he can defend multiple positions. He attacks the rim well but shows poor shot selection at times. He should be a sleeper guy for the first round, with a pretty high upside for the rebuilding Hawks.