We are just hours away from the NBA draft and I’ve broken down the lottery as things stands for now (assuming nobody is to trade up/trade down) according to the best player available at the respective position and what I feel is the best fit between Player and Team.
I love this draft as there are many teams in the lottery that have an atrocious history when it comes to drafting right in the lottery. Five years from now, teams will look back to this draft and will reflect upon whether their picks worked for them or try to analyze where things went horribly wrong for them.
No. 1: Phoenix Suns – Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona
It certainly sounds like there is no way the Arizona product is not going first. I may look really dumb in a few years but I would not take him if in the Phoenix front office. The tool that he lacks is consistent hard work and this is a major red flag, coupled with a low defensive IQ. He is going to be the starting center for the Suns and he has long ways to go when it comes to protecting the rim and reading the floor.
With this pick I would either take Luka Doncic or Jaren Jackson Jr. In the modern NBA, the two best qualities in a big man are being able to spread the floor and protect the rim. Ayton is an old school back to the basket player who can easily come in an average 20 and 10 right off the bat similar. Similar to a young Demarcus Cousins, he can have an impact by filling the box score but whether his numbers will have a significant impact on winning it something only time will tell.
No. 2: Sacramento Kings – Marvin Bagley III, PF/C, Duke
For weeks now it the Suns have shown every indication that they will draft Ayton with the number 1 pick. The draft will really start here. The Kings have shrouded their intentions so far meaning few within the organization know who their pick is going to be. Recent reports suggest that the Kings have gained interest in the Duke Center and are likely to take him with the number 2 pick. Bagley is a high IQ player coming in from the Coach K system though many are concerned about his defensive instincts and positional issues. All that being said, he would immediately become Sacramento’s best frontcourt prospect.
No. 3: Atlanta Hawks – Luka Doncic, SG/PG, Real Madrid
The Hawks are in a similar predicament to that of the Kings. However, with the most accomplished resume of all the prospects coming into this draft, Luka is by far the safest pick of the draft. Reports have now surfaced the new head coach of the Hawks, Lloyd Pierce, likes the potential Doncic had to elevate the level of play of the entire Hawks roster with his playmaking ability. He is a high IQ player with tremendous upside should be improve on this athletic abilities and footwork
No. 4: Memphis Grizzlies – Jaren Jackson Jr., C, Michigan
This is the hardest spot to project after the Kings at No.2. The Grizzlies have a torrid record of drafting and have been unable to convince the top draft prospects of in for a workout except for Wendell Carter Jr. The team met which Michael Porter Jr. in Chicago. Jackson, on the other hand, has refused to work out to send his medicals to the Grizzlies. Notwithstanding, the 6-11 center is among the best in his position in this draft. He has a reliable 3 point shot and has the ability to defend smaller players at the perimeter. Pairing with Marc Gasol, Jackson would fit as a power forward at the defensive end of the floor and at the 5 on offensive with Gasol being stretched out to the perimeter. If drafted by the Grizzlies, Jackson is solid fit next to the Spaniard before growing to eventually replace him. Memphis is likely to take the best available – every indication suggests that Jackson will be the best player left – and figure the rest out from there.
No. 5: Dallas Mavericks – Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas
Currently viewed by many as the next Rudy Gobert with a 3 point shot, Bamba is not the only big man that Mavericks have expressed interest in. Ayton. Bagley, and Jackson are all likely to be taken and the team will have to settle with Mamba. The 7-footer has the potential to be monster pick-and-roll partner with the Mavs’ current point guard, Dennis Smith Jr. His tremendous 7-10 wingspan give him tremendous upside on the defensive end of the floor. Videos have cropped up showing Bamba working on his 3-point shot. While this has all been in an empty gym, he has established a genuine platform with his shot mechanics though time will tell if he can translate this into the NBA.
No. 6: Orlando Magic – Wendell Carter Jr., C, Duke
Very little information has come out of Orlando hence making their selection among the toughest picks to project. This makes sense as there multiple scenarios that could work in favor of the Magic. Carter had been brought in for a workout and while the Magic are in need of a point guard – like Trey Young – the 6-10 Duke product is a potential frontcourt centerpiece that the Magic could build around once the contracts of Biyambo and Vucevic run out. Carter possesses a versatile offensive game and will be an exemplary fit in the modern NBA.
No. 7: Chicago Bulls - Michael Porter Jr., SF/PF, Missouri
I just hope that this is not another Greg Oden or Derrick Rose situation where a transcend talent is unable to realize his potential as he is hampered by injuries. Assessments of Porter’s back injury – which forced him to miss all but three games of his only college season – has reportedly varied and his camp has selectively sent his medicals. Teams have expressed varying degrees of concern with some being troubled by his injury history while others are less worried.
The 6-11 forward was once the presumptuous number 1 overall pick in this year’s draft till his back injury. He has tremendous upside on the offensive end and Chicago is in need of a young star to fit alongside Lauri Markkanen. Unless one of the teams with top six picks takes Porter, he is best available player for the Bulls to take. Plus, Chicago has had their medical staff conduct an in person medical of Porter.
No. 8: Cleveland Cavaliers (via the Brooklyn Nets) – Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma
The Cavaliers are in the uncoveted position of having a lottery pick before LeBron James has unveiled his offseason plans. Fortunately for them, Trae Young is a player that had long-term upside and can fit alongside LeBron. The 6-2 point guard lit the college basketball scene by leading all players in scoring and assists. With comparisons to Stephen Curry, Young is a sniper that needs to picked up from half court. LeBron has always been at his best with another ball handler who can create shots for himself and can knock down 3 pointers.
Trey Young has one of the biggest Boom or Busts potentials. His weaknesses were highlighted in the second half of the college season. He has elite intangibles in terms of his mental toughness and competitive drive though many are skeptical about his abilities at the professional level. Is he capable of getting to and finishing at the rim against NBA level defenders? Can his jump shot reach a level of consistency that will allow him to dominate in the NBA? Regardless if LeBron stays or not, he is a great fit for the Cavs and is likely to be a building block for their future.
No. 9: New York Knicks – Kevin Knox, SF/PF, Kentucky
Knox is said to have performed well in a work out for the storied New York franchise is the prototypical player that every NBA needs. A 6-9 forward has an arsenal that encompasses and maximizes his shooting, size and youth. His length and athleticism give him the potential to have a solid defensive platform that can allow for him to defend multiple positions. He slots in perfectly with a healthy Kristaps Porzingis as a front court partner with intangibles that complement the Unicorn.
No. 10: Philadelphia 76ers (Via the Los Angeles Lakers) – Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova
The Sixers have been strongly linked with the Jay Wright product, the Villanova junior is a perfect fit in today’s NBA. A 6-7 3-and-D wing, Bridges is a rich man’s Robert Covington in a roster built around Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Kevin Knox and Zhaire Smith are also potential picks for the 76ers if Bridges gets drafted with one of the earlier picks. They all possess intangibles that NBA teams are looking for in their wings.
No. 11: Charlotte Hornets – Shai Gilgeous Alexander, PG, Kentucky
Not much has been said about the Kentucky point guard since the combine and it appears that he has gone off the radar since the combine, at least in regards to workouts in the public sphere according to ESPN. It is likely that he will either share a backcourt spot with Kemba Walker or serve as his replacement in the event that Michael Jordan and the Hornets use the All Star point guard to get Batum’s contract off the books. Regardless, he is likely to fill well the current Hornet’s squad and is capable of running a functional offense.
No. 12: Los Angeles Clippers (via the Detroit Pistons) – Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama
If the Magic or the Cavalier do not select point guards with their picks, it is inevitable that Sexton will be available the Clippers. He has the right foundation to establish himself as good starting point guard in the NBA and his mental fortitude and competitive fervor is undeniable. However, the abilities to finish at the rim is questionable as his is jump shot.
No. 13: Los Angeles Clippers – Lonnie Walker, SG, Miami
Walker has worked out with the Clippers and would give the team another shot creator whose raw athleticism has impressed many in the league. He has had a tough season with Miami after being hampered with injuries, but he is talented enough to be productive player in the NBA with multiple facets to his game. His combined athleticism and shot-making is a rare commodity among the shooting guards of this class.
No. 14: Denver Nuggets – Miles Bridges, SF/PF, Michigan State
Like his brother, Miles is the kind of switchable Swiss army knife player that is desired by teams in the modern NBA. He does not have the eye catching box score metrics like many of his compatriots in this class, but Bridges has shown that he can be shot creator and shot maker. Denver needs a long-term fix for the gaping hole that they have in the wing position and younger Bridges brother is likely to be of help for them.