1. Philadelphia 76ers – Ben Simmons, F, LSU. The Brandon Ingram talk is fun, and maybe Simmons pulls an Eli Manning and demands a trade. But Simmons is potentially a 6-foot-10, 240 pound Scottie Pippen. Remember, Pippen didn’t have a 3-point shot for his first six seasons as a pro. They’ll have to trade one of the bigs for a point guard (Jeff Teague?).
2. LA Lakers – Brandon Ingram, F, Duke. This works. I don’t think they should trade the pick. The Thunder, the Warriors – they built great teams through the draft. I hate the idea of overpaying for a Stretch 4 (Ryan Anderson?) in free agency, but if you add DeMar DeRozan too, you’re contending for a playoff spot in the West.
3. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn) – Jamal Murray, G, Kentucky. Too high? Remember how Boston built an offense in which Avery Bradley’s 3-point shooting was key? He got injured, and it all fell apart. Murray, who played point guard for Canada at the Pan-Am games, could play with a unit for Thomas/Bradley/Murray/Crowder and a rim protector who can shoot at 5 (because they’re easy to find in free agency, ha). There’s always trading this pick for Boogie Cousins.
4. Phoenix Suns – Dragan Bender, F, Croatia. With two lottery picks. you take a chance on the high upside 7-foot-1 kid who is only 18 and can shoot. They say he’s not Porzingis, but stash this kid and see what he’s got in 2017-2018.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves – Kris Dunn, PG, Providence. Will fit defensively into what new coach Tom Thibodeau wants to do defensively. Ricky Rubio was 2nd in the NBA in steals. Wiggins and Towns should be All-Stars next year. The Timberwolves have a lot of young talent and should exceed expectations next year.
6. New Orleans Pelicans – Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma. Too early? The Pelicans need defense; they also need scorers to take pressure of Anthony Davis. They’ll likely lose Eric Gordon in FA. If they keep Ryan Anderson, and add Hield, that’s going to help prevent teams from doubling Davis.
7. Denver Nuggets (via New York) – Jaylen Brown, SF, California. Can’t reliably shoot yet, so he’ll start as just a run-and-jump athlete, but all the tools are there for him to become a terrific defender and slasher. A Mudiay-Barton-Brown trio is athletic, long and fun. Get him in the gym to improve that 43/29/65 ugly shooting line.
8. Sacramento Kings – Denzel Valentine, G/F, Michigan State. On a franchise full of knuckleheads, perhaps Valentine is a calming influence. Unless the Kings want to trade Cousins, I’m not sure how this team could draft another big. Rajon Rondo is likely moving on, but after Kris Dunn, there isn’t a pure point guard in the draft who is ready to step in and play big minutes. Ben McLemore has shown nothing after three seasons and feels like a goner.
9. Toronto Raptors (via Denver) – Henry Ellenson, F, Marquette. Could lose DeMar DeRozan in free agency; but are actually well-positioned at guard. Norman Powell had a promising rookie year, Terrence Ross got an extension. Cory Joseph and Delon Wright back up Kyle Lowry. Still, the Raptors are only shooting 28% on 3-pointers in the postseason. But the move here is to replace likely-departing Bismack Biyombo, who will get paid by someone after a nice postseason.
10. Milwaukee Bucks – Domantas Sabonis, PF, Gonzaga. There’s a need at SF (Giannis moving to point guard), but also C (Monroe didn’t have a great season). The bigger issue may be the coaching situation last year, with Jason Kidd having surgery. Remember, this team was a factor in the 2015 playoffs, and appeared to be on the rise.
11. Orlando Magic – Deyonta Davis, F/C, Michigan State. Talented, but raw. Only played 18 mpg as a freshman, but nearly blocked as many shots (64) as he grabbed offensive rebounds (72). The Magic still need a coach, Jason Smith is a free agent, and it’s unclear if the Magic will pick up Ilyasova’s option.
12. Utah Jazz – Furkan Korkmaz, SG, Turkey. With Dante Exum returning from injury, the only loss is Trevor Booker, but those minutes will go to the young Trey Lyles, who had a nice rookie season. This feels like a pick they won’t need for 2-3 years.
13. Phoenix Suns (via Washington) – Jakob Poeltl, C, Utah. Alex Len(2013 lottery pick) had a few nice games last season, and he’ll get more minutes with Tyson Chandler turning turning 34 in October. Poeltl is a perfect pick if somehow the Suns can trade Chandler to a team seeking a rim protector for the postseason. The Suns have a good young backcourt trio of Bledsoe, Booker and Knight.
14. Chicago Bulls – Demetrius Jackson, PG, Notre Dame. Insurance for Derrick Rose? I’m surprised Jackson is getting more love – tenacious defender, skilled at getting to the rim, shot 50/42 as a sophomore on a very good team; as the guy offensively as a junior, those shooting numbers dipped to 45/33.
15. Denver Nuggets (via Houston) – Wade Baldwin, PG, Vanderbilt. Probably not ready to be an offensive contributor, but his measureables have teams salivating. Don’t read into his meek stats at Vandy. Just turned 20. Jameer Nelson, 34, could play an Andre Miller-type role to Denver’s young PGs.
16. Boston Celtics (via Dallas) – Thon Maker, F, High School. Biggest wild card in the draft. Wouldn’t be surprised if a team took a flier on him late lottery. The Suns probably won’t let him get out of the 1st round.
17. Memphis Grizzlies – Marquese Chriss, F, Washington. Gasol and Randolph are aging. Chriss comes in, learns from two veterans, and takes one of their spots in a couple years.
18. Detroit Pistons – DeAndre Bembry, SF, St. Joseph’s. Smart player, should contribute immediately. Pistons went all-in for the playoffs, and made it, but got swept. They’re going to have to pay Drummond soon, and have a lot invested in Jackson and Harris. Are Morris and KCP in the long-term plans? Stanley Jackson sure is.
19. Denver Nuggets (via Portland) – Brice Johnson, F, UNC. I know they’re heavily invested in Faried, but Johnson is better offensively right now. Could those two play together? The only reason Johnson isn’t be talked about more – he’s played in college for four years.
20. Indiana Pacers – Ben Bentil, F, Providence. At some point soon, the talented Myles Turner is going to take over inside, and surrounding him with shooters will be the play. Bentil would make a tough PF alongside Turner and George.
21. Atlanta Hawks – Tyler Ulis, PG, Kentucky. Feels like the Hawks, after getting swept by the Cavs two years in a row, make a few changes, especially with Horford a free agent and Teague trade bait as Schroeder emerges.
22. Charlotte Hornets – Malachi Richardson, SG, Syracuse. Will Michael Jordan be a major player in free agency? Look at all these contracts that are up. A healthy Batum and MKG make for nice wings, but this team wants to move on from Lee at SG, Richardson is a confident, long, athletic shooting guard who I think has star potential.
23. Boston Celtics – Skal Labissiere, C, Kentucky. I’m sure Danny Ainge would like another shot at a UK player after whiffing on James Young. His agents are playing the game very well right now, and his stock is “up.”
24. Philadelphia 76ers (via Miami) – Isaia Cordinier, G, France. Only 19, another stash player for the 76ers, but a shooting guard who could arrive in a couple years and be a major contributor.
25. LA Clippers – Patrick McCaw, SF, UNLV. A very good 3-and-D prospect.
26. Philadelphia 76ers (via OKC) – Timothe Luwawu, SG, France. A few years away. All they have is bigs. They’re gonna need shooters.
27. Toronto Raptors – Malik Beasley, SG, Florida State. Freshman shot 47/38 with the Seminoles, but as mentioned earlier, the Raptors could use depth at the position, especially if DeRozan bolts.
28. Phoenix Suns (via Cleveland) – Juan Hernangomez, SF, Spain. Three picks in the first round, at least one will be a Euro, right?
29. San Antonio Spurs – Malcolm Brogdon, G, Virginia. Smart player goes to a smart system. Tony Parker’s 33 and looked it this postseason for long stretches.
30. Golden State Warriors – Caris LeVert, G, Michigan. If Barbosa isn’t retained, the best bench in the NBA will need guard depth (especially given Curry’s injury history).