With the season drawing to a close (rather quickly might I add) naturally we are starting to turn our attention towards the off-season and most importantly the annual event that kicks it off, the NBA Draft. With the draft being 15 days out the lottery has already played out so we know who’s picking where and the deadline to withdraw has passed so we know the all the entrants. The easy part of course is figuring out where the bodies will land.
As always there are bajillion different narratives surrounding the festivities that will take place on June 24th. Chief amongst them are the ongoing circus created by stagedad supreme LeVar Ball in promoting his son Lonzo Ball as well as the will they won’t they between Markelle Fultz and the Boston Celtics. Not so much in terms of whether or not they will pick him but if they will keep him.
While those two stories leave a lot of room for debate it seems like everyone agrees with the theory that there are no generational talents available this year. Personally, I’m one of those folks but I will say that this is a pretty deep draft class that will age well. So no, maybe no future first ballot Hall of Famers (but you can never tell) but definitely some future All-Stars and plenty of guys that project to be productive players.
1. Boston Celtics – Markelle Fultz – PG – Washington
Far and away the most complete player in the draft. He can score (23 PPG in his one season at Washington) at the rim and is a great shooter, he has size, he’s athletic and is already an NBA level passer. The Cs can’t lose here if they keep him they very well could have landed a franchise player which gives them all sorts of flexibility when making some very hard near future decisions. If they decide to move him you better believe Ainge will get a king’s ransom for him.
2. Los Angeles Lakers – Lonzo Ball – PG – UCLA
I’m putting it hear but this is far from my most assertive assumption but for as much as another dynamic young guard for whom I’ll be talking about soon would be an awesome fit I really think the Lakers won’t be able to help themselves here. But this is far from a bad thing. Ball has the tools to be a damn good point guard for years to come. His 6’6″ frame will be a welcome addition to a smallish Laker backcourt with the exception of DeAngelo Russell as will his shooting. His IQ is also off the charts. There are questions about his motor and defense but if he’s fully committed these are kinks that can be worked out.
3. Philadelphia 76ers – Josh Jackson – SG/SF – Kansas
If there is one thing the Sixers have it is size. Over the past four drafts they have used their picks to bolster the frontcourt. This time around they address the wing. Jackson is a plus defender with a motor out of this world. His shot improved throughout his season at Kansas and if this continues to be the case it will be hard to justify not giving him extended minutes.
4. Phoenix Suns – De’Aaron Fox – PG – Kentucky
The Phoenix Wildca I MEAN Suns may nab the first mini steal of the draft. Fox has the speed and playmaking ability to keep him on the floor right now. He’s a good defender who is always up to the challenge. The biggest question marks with him is his shooting and if he is an NBA level passer on a consistent enough basis. But the kid is a gamer and is fearless and that is probably what the Suns need more than anything right now.
5. Sacramento Kings – Jayson Tatum – SF – Duke
Another year, another anxiety inducing draft for Kings fans. But it doesn’t have to be. Tatum is a ready made offensive talent on a team that is pretty low on scorers. At 6’8″ he has the size to play up to three positions depending on the situation and has a good enough feel for the game to be productive from all of them. So, easy right? Wish it was. Remember, this is the same team that drafted Georgios Papagiannis with the 4th pick last year.
6. Orlando Magic – Dennis Smith, Jr, -PG- NC State
With Rob Hennigan’s departure from the team goes the strange love affair he had with middling at best point guard Elfrid Payton. To more or less solidify the breakup the Magic may go with Smith, Jr here. The ultra-athletic Smith will be the perfect compliment to an offense that was very frequently slow and stagnant. Not bad for a kid that tore his ACL two months before his senior season in high school and definitely not bad for a team with some talent and a good head coach that just haven’t found a way to harness that energy as of yet.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves – Johnathan Isaac – SF/PF – Florida State
I mean when you give Thibs the keys to the hooptie you know he’s gonna go defense. Already a plus rim protector due to his 7’1″ wingspan and fancy footwork Isaac is the type of kid that will fit in right away with this young and promising group. Offensively there is some fine tuning to be done here but he did shoot a promising 35% from three this past season.
8. New York Knicks – Malik Monk – SG – Kentucky
The Knicks finished the season 18th in scoring so yeah they need scoring. Couple that fact with talk of Carmelo Anthony’s possible departure and hell yeah they need scoring! Monk helps with this. He has Dion Waiters heat check ability and projects to be a strong three point shooter right away. Something that there is a serious lack of in New York right now.
9. Dallas Mavericks – Lauri Markkanen -PF – Arizona
So this is the year the Mavs finally decide to Gucci clone Dirk. And there’s no better candidate for this than Markkanen. The seven footer shot the three ball with 42% accuracy and isn’t scared to mix it up in the paint nabbing 7 boards per contest.
10. Sacramento Kings – Frank Ntilikina – PG – France
The Kings need help y’all and a lot of it. So despite having three veteran point guards on the roster the Kings may go fresh and cheap here in hopes of clearing out some space to nab free agents here. At 18 he is the youngest player in the draft but is already a capable defender. With his shot improving he can develop into a good three and D point guard.
11. Charlotte Hornets – Luke Kennard – SG – Duke
Charlotte has one of the more interesting cores in the league. However it seemed like no one aside from Kemba Walker and Marco Belinelli could hit the broad side of a barn from deep last year for them. Kennard canned 44% of his triples in his second and final season at Duke and is an all around solid offensive performer. I definitely would not be surprised if he saw valuable playing time right away.
12. Detroit Pistons – Donovan Mitchell – SG – Louisville
Mitchell is Stan Van’s type of guy. Tough, super athletic and energetic. Despite standing 6’3″ he has a freakish 6’10” wingspan and a 40-inch vertical so he can definitely hold his own on both ends of the floor.
13. Denver Nuggets – Dwayne Bacon – SF – Florida State
This is the first one that kinda out of left field. But his size and frame along with his playmaking abilities makes him a great fit for a Denver team with an intriguing roster that for too often looked out of sorts last season. He’s about as good of a scorer you can find at this point in the draft.
14. Miami Heat – John Collins – PF – Wake Forest
The Heat would really hit a home run with this one. Already a well developed post scorer with an effective jump shot that will need improving on this level but is still a good asset to have coming in Collins can be a great pairing with Hassan Whiteside in stretches or can be an ideal 2nd team big from the get.
15. Portland Trailblazers – Caleb Swanigen – PF – Purdue
Portland has shooters, plenty of them. And the deadline acquisition of Yusef Nurkic yielded very promising results. But what the Blazers don’t have is a bully that can’t be moved. That’s what Swanigen would be for them. At 6’9″ and 247 pounds he can be the enforcer in the post they desperately need or can get high efficiency buckets as he shot 55% from 2 point range and 47% from three.
16. Chicago Bulls – Justin Jackson – SF – UNC
As per usual my beloved Bulls have a lot going on. But no matter how the rest of the off-season plays out picking up Jackson would be big for them. Jackson has a decent shot making 37% of his triples hitting more than three per game. His defense would also be a welcome addition to a team that has been searching for consistency in that end since the departure oh Tom Thibodeau.
17. Milwaukee Bucks – Jarrett Allen – C – Texas
That Jason Kidd, you gotta watch him. The Bucks are an exciting young team that ain’t hurtin’ for much. However their one glaring weakness has been in their post play. Allen’s post moves and 7’5″ wingspan makes him a very interesting project that has the potential to help right away. Allen could very well emerge as a high quality two way big.
18. Indiana Pacers – Zach Collins – PF/C – Gonzaga
The Indiana Pacers are quite happy with young big Myles Turner but Collins (Gonzaga’s first McDonald’s All-American and one and done) has a versatile skill set for an Indiana team that is trying to shed their well-earned reputation for being rigid. Collins is a capable shot blocker and shooter. Both of these things will be quite welcome in Indy.
19. Atlanta Hawks – Justin Patton – C – Creighton
Another year, another set of odd off-season behaviors by the mercurial Dwight Howard. Not satisfied to get caught with their pants down they may go with Patton. Patton is already an apt finisher around the hoop and runs the floor extremely well for a 7’3″ guy.
20. Portland TrailBlazers – Jordan Bell – PF/C – Oregon
Okay, I know it seems redundant but it isn’t. I guess this would be a good time to remind y’all that Portland was very bad on defense this season. Like 24th in defensive rating and 25th in opponent scoring bad. Bell is a very athletic undersized big that can jump out of the gym and is also sound fundamentally on defense. There are some rumblings about Portland dealing one or two of their three first round picks but if they don’t these first two would not be a bad way to address a glaring issue surrounding an otherwise very sound team.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder – T.J. Leaf – PF – UCLA
I think we can all agree that what the Thunder needs more than anything is spacing. Leaf, the 6’10” forward can provide this with his sweet shooting. His 46% conversion rate on three pointers bodes well. I think Russell Westbrook would be down with this.
22. Brooklyn Nets – Johnathan Jeanne – C – France
Yes, the Brooklyn Nets have a draft pick! The 18 year old stands 7’2″ with a 7’7″ wingspan and is said to have three point range. But at only 210 pounds he gets taken advantage of defensively and can’t really bang on the boards. He’s a very raw talent that can possibly pan out in the long run.
23. Toronto Raptors – Terrence Ferguson – SG – Australia
Ferguson played in Australia this year as opposed to doing his year in NCAA jail. There’s really not much scouting on him since he’s been sparsely used. But we do know that he has good size (6’7″), is very competitive and has a surprisingly mature game. Oh and most important for the Raps, he can shoot (39% from three in Australia).
24. Utah Jazz – Semi Ojeyele – SF – Southern Methodist
Former Duke transfer and AAC conference player of the year may very well be the biggest sleeper in the draft. He’s 6’7″ and 240 armed with a 40 inch vertical and can score from anywhere on the floor. As we all know now Utah is a team that isn’t missing much but what they do have a lack of are versatile scorers.
25. Orlando Magic – Ben Adebayo – C – Kentucky
In another attempt to undo another one of the previous regime’s many mistakes the Magic may look to the big freshman to fill the shoes that Bismack Biyombo so expensively have not been able to do. Already a capable rim protector and he should be able to help immediately. He has little to no range offensively but he does finish at a high rate close to the rim.
26. Portland Trailblazers – Juwun Evans – PG – Oklahoma State
Evans is an smallish (only 6’1″) and aggressive point guard who thrives running the pick and roll. Sounds like a good marriage right? He can stand to improve on finishing on his drives and while not a bad shooter a little work definitely won’t hurt him. But if he can run the 2nd team offense as efficiently as he ran the Cowboys’ he can be a huge asset to the Blazers.
27. Brooklyn Nets – D.J. Wilson – PF – Michigan
Brooklyn may swing for the fences here with the Wilson. At 6’10” and 240 he’s a versatile forward with stretch potential. He has a decent shot but can stand to improve closer to the basket specifically on defense. But coach Kenny Atkinson works really well with young players so he’s definitely worth the gamble because if they hit on this they can have a quality starting power forward for years to come.
28. Los Angeles Lakers – Ivan Rabb – C – California
While it probably is true that Rabb kinda shot himself in the foot by returning for his sophomore season he still projects to go late in the first. He didn’t make the strides that he hoped to accomplish by doing so. However, Los Angeles is possibly a perfect landing spot for him. Rabb is a gifted big that uses his athleticism to make up of his lack of size to develop a decent back to the basket game and jack boards on defense.
29. San Antonio Spurs – Derrick White – PG/SG – Colorado
I know we always talk about how the Spurs can make sugar out of……….well you know but White is a ready made Spur. He’s a four year guy that transferred to Colorado from Division II University of Colorado – Colorado Springs, he’s a 40% three point shooter, he’s a versatile scorer that can also distribute and has a 6’7″ wingspan that’s begging to be coached up on defense. But sure, White with anyone else would be a toss up but with the Spurs they win the draft again.
30. Utah Jazz – Josh Hart – SG – Villanova
In spite of playing in college for four years increasingly being seen as a weakness for many Hart is a great counter to that argument. Hart is a ready made three and D guy. At 6’6″ he can defend up to three positions and shot the three ball at a 40% clip during his senior campaign. For a team that already has a very strong identity on defense he’ll fit right in and adding another wing guy with scoring capability never hurts.