I’ve seen, read, and heard completely opposite things about the same player from a ton of people I respect in the game, which leads me to believe that this is going to be one of the craziest drafts ever. The top ten looks completely wide open as Michael Porter Jr. and Luka Doncic are the two dominos that will have the biggest implications on the rest of the draft. I’ve heard MPJ’s back looks good to teams, yet I’ve also heard the complete opposite and that teams have been told to stay away. Doncic was slipping two days ago, now after his showing in the ACB championship, teams are looking to move up for him. Again, completely opposite things about the same player, and probably all smoke and mirrors, but the rumors are what make the draft intriguing.
#1 Phoenix Suns – DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona – This one seems like a slam dunk. Ayton is physically gifted, ready to play, and has the perfect inside-out offensive skill set to play alongside Devin Booker. He’s already had a workout for Phoenix, so this one should be in the bag.
#2 Sacramento Kings – Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke – Bagley is super athletic, made for today’s NBA, and has All-Star potential written all over him. He is ready to contribute right away after having a monster freshman season at Duke, averaging 21.0 ppg and 11.1 rpg last year, all while shooting 61.4%. The Kings spent a high first round pick on De'Aaron Fox and traded for Buddy Hield, so I just don’t see them going Doncic here. With Bagley, they would add one of the best players in the entire draft to their already promising young core.
#3 Atlanta Hawks – Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Michigan State – I know the Hawks are intrigued by Doncic, but since they are in no hurry to start competing and want to be back in the lottery again next year, I see them going high ceiling at No. 3. JJJ has a 7-foot-4 wingspan, is still growing, and can already guard multiple positions at just 18 years old. His overall offense will improve with time, but he already possesses the ability to stretch the floor with his shooting, which most teams are looking for in a modern day big man. Jackson Jr. would also be a perfect fit next to their other big, John Collins. That combination would give the Hawks two good building blocks for years to come.
#4 Chicago Bulls – Luka Doncic, G/F, Slovenia ? – Now this is where things get fun! If Doncic is still there at four, a bunch of teams will be looking to move up, including the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls have the cap space to absorb Parsons contract, so I am just going to make up this trade. The Bulls trade the No. 7 pick, Bobby Portis, some other scraps, and of course cash considerations (lol) – some combination of that gets the deal done – to Memphis. In return, the Bulls would get the No. 4 pick and Chandler Parsons. Win-win outcome for both teams.
What more can I say about Luka that I have not already? I think he is going to be good for years to come, and is one of the safest picks in this draft. Doncic is 6-foot-8, just 19 years old, and fresh off a Euroleague title and Final Four MVP. Euro or not, the kid can ball. Luka has been playing against men in a high level league for a few years now, so he is already physically prepared to play in the NBA. He has a great feel for the game and high basketball IQ, so you know he will be just fine on the mental side. He is made for today’s NBA, and him and Lauri Markkanen would make a terrific combo for years to come.
The only other guy that I could see the Bulls trading up for would be Mo Bamba. I know the front office was impressed by him on and off the court during their workout. I love Bamba and Doncic both, so would welcome a trade up here as a Bulls fan.
#5 Dallas Mavericks – Mohamed Bamba, PF/ C, Texas – Mo’s measurables were off the charts at the combine, so he has been shooting up draft boards ever since. Bamba recorded the longest wingspan (7’10”) amongst all the draftees at the combine, and EVER in basketball history. Rudy Gobert was the previous record holder at 7’8″. Bamba, who is known for his defense and shot blocking abilities, has been putting in work to show off his new offensive skill set. His new shot looks good thanks to the combination of hard work and training with Drew Hanlen. Bamba fits exactly what the Mavericks are looking for in a frontcourt player to build around.
#6 Orlando Magic – Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma – The Magic are desperately in need of a point guard, so this is a perfect fit for both sides. Young, who is known for his shooting, is also a gifted passer. His combination of shooting, passing, and handles will be too much for Orlando to pass up here. Young and Aaron Gordon (RFA) could be the start of something big if Young lives up to the hype.
#7 Memphis Grizzlies – Wendell Carter, PF/ C, Duke ? – Carter is a favorite of the Grizzles front office, so trading down with the Bulls would play out perfectly for them. They would get their guy and rid themselves of the nightmare Parsons deal. Carter is polished, has a high Bball IQ, nice footwork, and very nice touch from outside. His lack of athleticism and explosion is the only weakness I saw in his game from the many times that I watched him play last season. He should be a solid contributor on any team he goes to.
#8 Cleveland Cavaliers – Michael Porter Jr., SF/ PF, Missouri ? – If Porter Jr. didn’t sustain his back injury, he would’ve been a consensus top-3 pick in this year’s draft. The Cavs roll the dice here and get a guy that can flat out score if healthy. He can score facing up, off the dribble, and with his back to the basket. His combination of size and 3-point shooting ability gives Cleveland a weapon on the offensive side of the ball. In today’s NBA, that combination is exactly what teams are looking for in a modern big. At No. 8, the risk is worth the reward for the Cavs who might be preparing for life after LeBron James.
#9 New York Knicks – Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova – The Knicks get a player that can come in and play right away in Bridges. While he does not have that high of a ceiling, his floor is pretty solid thanks to his shooting. Bridges shot 43.5% from three-point land last season, and can defend multiple positions. His game should translate well at the next level. With the Knicks probably tanking again next season, Bridges will be a nice piece to pair with Kristaps Porzingis when he is back, and their future lottery pick.
#10 Philadelphia 76ers – Kevin Knox, SF/ PF, Kentucky – The Sixers own five picks in this draft, so they can roll the dice for someone that has tremendous upside potential and fits a need. Knox would give the 76ers a scoring wing that can shoot and help space the floor next to Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. At just 18 years old, Knox still has time to develop and get better. What better place to go than Philadelphia for that? #TrustTheProcess
#11 Charlotte Hornets – Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama ? – Sexton really opened people’s eyes in the conference tournament and the NCAA tournament with his insane toughness and aggressiveness. With all the Kemba Walker rumors swirling, I can see the Hornets taking his replacement here. Even if Walker isn’t traded, his contract is up soon, so Sexton would make sense here either way.
#12 Los Angeles Clippers – Robert Williams, C, Texas A&M – Williams is one of my favorite players in the draft. I was hoping for him to drop the Bulls at 22, but that is not happening. He is super athletic and would be a perfect rim protector/guy off of pick and roll a la Clint Capela and DeAndre Jordan. Would be the perfect Jordan replacement for the Clippers if Jordan did leave via free agency. Here is the dunk that made me fall in love with him:
I’ve had Williams going to the Clippers for a while now, and this makes me feel even better about that prediction:
#13 Los Angeles Clippers – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky ? – The Clippers get two of my favorite sleepers in the draft! Gilgeous-Alexander needs to get stronger, but other than that, his game really impressed me last year. He has a great feel for the game and is a very nice passer. Also has great length to help on the defensive side. If the Clippers net both Williams and SGA, that would be a terrific combination of building blocks for them, or future trade assets for Kawhi Leonard.
#14 Denver Nuggets – Miles Bridges, SF/ PF, Michigan State – The Nuggets will take best available here, and that is Bridges for sure. Although Miles is a tweener, his game is better suited for the NBA. The Nuggets need a long-term piece and help at the SF/ PF positions, so his ability to shoot the ball should help him fit right into their offense.
#15 Washington Wizards – Jerome Robinson, PG/ SG, Boston College ? – Smart combo guard that can shoot the ball and put up points. Not a need but, can create his own shot and would fit in nicely with that Wizards guard rotation. They need a big, but he is too good to pass up here. Robinson also met and worked out with the Wizards and I’m hearing they really like him.
#16 Phoenix Suns – Lonnie Walker, G, Miami ? – Walker is an athletic shot-maker that every team needs. Walker and Devin Booker would be able to get some major buckets together. And this Ayton-Booker-Walker trio would be fire on the offensive side of the ball. Defense, not so much, but hey, they’ll be a league pass team!
#17 Milwaukee Bucks – Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech ? – The Bucks need another star to run along side Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Smith’s upside is too much to pass up on here. Smith killed at the combine and has been shooting up boards ever since.
#18 San Antonio Spurs – Donte DiVincenzo, G, Villanova ? – DiVincenzo’s stock is skyrocketing. Understandably so as he is one of the top athletes in the draft who killed the predraft process. He is a versatile guard that brings high energy, shooting, defense and toughness to every game that he plays. That skill set would fit in perfectly with what the Spurs do. He also does not need the ball to be effective, which would make him a great fit next to Kawhi if he stays (gulp), or whatever assets they bring in to start the rebuild.
#19 Atlanta Hawks – Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland – Huerter is another riser in the predraft process due to his strong showing at the combine. The kid has a great combination of size and shooting, which everyone is looking for. He would be another piece of the puzzle to add to the Hawks rebuild.
#20 Minnesota Timberwolves – Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State – Everyone knows that Tom Thibodeau hates rookies and projects, which is why Bates-Diop would be the perfect Thibs pick. He is older, polished, and has defensive potential. Bates-Diop can also play both forward spots if needed, where the Wolves lack in depth.
#21 Utah Jazz – Troy Brown, SF, Oregon ? – Utah can use a small forward, so the pick would fit a need. He still needs to improve his shooting, but otherwise he can come in right away and contribute on the defensive side of the ball, as he can guard multiple positions. He fits the toughness and defense that the Jazz are building upon.
#22 Chicago Bulls – Mitchell Robinson, C, USA ? – If the Bulls go big early, look for Chandler Hutchison here. Robinson was a five-star recruit out of High School and a McDonald’s All-American. Last year he measured in at 7’1 with shoes, a 7’4 wingspan and 9’3 standing reach. Very athletic big that can run the floor, protect the rim, and finish lobs. Still very raw and a project, but has a lot of potential. Has been compared to Nerlens Noel, Serge Ibaka, Hassan Whiteside. With the Bulls getting their guy early, they take a flier on Robinson who would fit a need (rim protector), and has a high ceiling.
#23 Indiana Pacers – Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA – Holiday had a terrific season at UCLA and can really score the ball in bunches. He needs to reduce his turnovers and work on his temper, but learning from Victor Oladipo will help him tremendously. He could help replace Darren Collison when the time is right.
#24 Portland Trail Blazers – Chandler Hutchison, SG/ SF, Boise State ?– Hutchison supposedly was given a “promise”by the Bulls that if he is there at 22, he is their man. He ended up shutting down all team workouts after that leaked, so he was given a guarantee by some first round team, that is for sure. If the Bulls do trade up for Doncic, I don’t see them going Hutchison, hence the fall to the Blazers here.
Hutchison is a guy that can really shoot the ball, and would run well with Damian Lillard and C. J. McCollum in a small ball lineup. Also would give them some insurance if the Blazers do decide to move on from one of their two stars.
#25 Los Angeles Lakers – Grayson Allen, SG, Duke – Love him or hate him, the kid can shoot the ball. He balled out at the combine and is showing well at team workouts. Can be a spark off the bench, or the perfect guy catching and shooting passes from LeBron. Hey, just saying!
#26 Philadelphia 76ers – Dzanan Musa, G/F, Cedevita Zagreb ? – One of the best European prospects in the draft. Musa has experience playing at a high level there. He is only 19, has great size and footwork, and is known for his intensity. The Sixers hit a home run with one Euro baller in Saric already, which helps.
#27 Boston Celtics – Josh Okogie, SG, Georgia Tech – Showed out at the combine and has worked himself into the first round. He is a tough, defensive-minded kid that would fit the mold of what the Celtics are building. Would love to see Brad Stevens use him to defend multiple positions on the court next year.
#28 Golden State Warriors – Moritz Wagner, PF/ C, Michigan ? – Could there be a better fit for a big man that can shoot the ball than Golden State? Wagner has a high motor and can space the floor perfectly off the bench. Definitely another one of those Draymond Green types…love them if they are on your team, hate them if they are against.
#29 Brooklyn Nets – Elie Okobo, PG, France – Okobo had a great season in France, even a 44-point game, which has caused him to shoot up some draft boards. The Nets need a star and can take a chance here on Okobo late in the first round.
#30 Atlanta Hawks – De’Anthony Melton, PG/ SG, USC – Melton has shot the ball very well in the predraft process, including at the combine. He can also cause havoc defensively, which will help him land in the first round. Melton is definitely a prospect worth investing in late if you are the Hawks.