By Hocine LOUKKAF on 5/16/2018
As Phoenix was attributed the top pick, Ayton is definitely the main leader to shake Adam Silver’s hand first in next NBA draft.
Team needs : C/PF
DeAndre Ayton, 7-0 260, C, Arizona, freshman
Ayton dominated the Pac 12. He’s the best pure center and has incredible skills for someone with his size and athleticism. He can shoot, has post up moves and will finish at the rim whenever he can. I have to confess he’s not my favourite prospect as he’s not the rim protector he should be and didn’t prevent Arizona from losing against #13 seed Buffalo in the first round of the Tournament. With Kokoskov recruited as the new head coach, some sees Doncic being picked #1 but being in position to select a high level center and the fact that Ayton is a local product is too rare of a situation for the Suns to draft the Slovenian jewel (whose defense would also be suspect alongside Devin Booker). We’ll see how the Suns management will answer to that dilemma.
2. Sacramento Kings
Team needs : PF/SF
Mohamed Bamba, 7-0 230, PF/C, Texas, freshman
Sacramento has to fill two spots at SF and PF. Of course, with Divac on board, the tentation to take Doncic is great. Yet, it would be hard to pass on Bamba. Despite not being as dominant offensively as Ayton or Bagley, his 10.5rbds, 3.7blks and developing jumper may make him a better long term prospect. A lot of room to develop into an excellent two-way player in the League and cement Sacramento’s poor defense.
3. Atlanta Hawks
Team needs : C/talent at SF and SG
Luka Doncic, 6-8 225, SG/SF, Real Madrid (Spain), 1999 born
Atlanta already has a rising power forward and has to choose the best player available. If this draft wasn’t so stacked with big men, Doncic would go number one. Some scouts may put Porter Jr before but as of now, his 60 minutes of play are not enough to put him above the Slovenian jewel. People talk about Doncic’ relative lack of athleticism, but watching a 19 years old dominate the Euroleague ranking with Real Madrid has never been seen before. Doncic can shoot, has a very high basketball IQ and solid body at 6-8 225. He plays with and against former NBA players and displays incredible maturity which makes him a sure thing in the League.
4. Memphis Grizzlies
Team needs : Talent at every position except C and PG (for now)
Marvin Bagley, 6-10 235, PF, Duke, freshman
With Ayton, Bagley has been the most dominant inside player this year. The Duke freshman still has room to improve on his shooting and above all defense. He may be the safest pick but lacks Ayton or Bamba’s length. Memphis needs an offensive threat inside and Bagley would fit perfectly to improve their roster.
5. Dallas Mavericks
Team needs : C/PF/SG
Jaren Jackson Jr, 6-11 240, PF, Michigan State, freshman
Dallas needs a real defensive anchor and inside threat offensively. Jackson Jr was inconsistent at the end of the year but his combination of size, shot blocking and shooting could be very helpful for the Mavs. The former Spartan is young and may end up one of the best players of this draft within three years.
6. Orlando Magic
Team needs : PG
Trae Young, 6-2 180, PG, Oklahoma, freshman
Trae Young was tired at the end of season, but is it exceptional for a freshman who played 35min per game? Young had one of the most incredible season ever with 27pts and 8.7as, let alone for a freshman. Orlando gave up their starting PG and may need a catalyser for their young guns. Young may be this guy and try to emulate Stephen Curry.
7. Chicago Bulls
Team needs : SF/C
Wendell Carter, 6-10 260, C, Duke, freshman
Rebounding, defense, shooting, Carter is a versatile player who fits well the new mold of centers. He didn’t have a good Tournament with 0 3pt made and only 2rbds in the loss against Kansas. Yet, at the 7th spot, he would complement well with Markannen and he’s as good inside as he’s from outside. If Porter Jr shows that his athleticism is back, he will probably be Chicago’s pick as Lopez still can do the job at center.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers
Team needs : C
Michael Porter Jr, 6-10 220, SF, Missouri, freshman
The Cavs’ roster is full of outside players but with the seven clear best prospects gone, Cleveland would have to go with Porter Jr. Michael Porter Jr’s stock is still high, but I haven’t seen enough to put him in the top five. He has just played 53min this year and may need some time to get back to his old athleticism. Yet, he was the top high school player last year and a potential star at the small forward spot. His workouts between now and the draft will determine where he’ll be picked.
9. New York Knicks
Team needs : SF
Kevin Knox, 6-9 220, SF, Kentucky, freshman
What the Knicks lack is a consistent small forward and Kevin Knox may be that guy. A bit raw, Knox has to improve on many fields like his shooting consistency, passing or being a more efficient defender. He’s one of the most talented players entering this draft but he will have to work hard to reach his full potential. Both Bridges could be other possibilities with this pick as they bring versatility on both ends of the court.
10. Charlotte Hornets
Team needs : PF/BPA
Shai Gilgeous Alexander, 6-6 180, PG/SG, Kentucky, freshman
Whether Walker stays or not, Gilgeous Alexander could be the backcourt future for the Hornets. The Canadian kid was not the most hyped Kentucky recruit but has risen to be the most important player, helping the Wildcats have a positive season. Gilgeous Alexander is a good defender and passer and has improved on his shooting. He has poise beyond the years and should adapt well to the League. He could form a very efficient combo with his better scoring co-alumni Malik Monk.
11. Philadelphia Sixers
Team needs : Talent at SG/PF
Mikal Bridges, 6-7 210, SG/SF, Vilanova, junior
The Sixers may go local with Mikal Bridges. The Villanova swingman brings versatility, shooting and defense to a revamped Sixers team. He still has work to do on his handling but fits well alongside Fultz and Simmons. If he’ not available, Philly could choose Gilgeous Alexander to bring even more versatility.
12. LA Clippers
Team needs : PF/talent at PG
Miles Bridges, 6-7 230, SF/PF, Michigan State, sophomore
Clippers needs an efficient and skilled power forward. Bridges is not an academic player. He has a low release, could improve his handling, but at the end of the day, he brings shooting, athleticism, even passing and could be a glue guy for the Clippers.
13. LA Clippers
Team needs : PF/talent at PG
Collin Sexton, 6-2 180, PG, Alabama, freshman
I’m not a fan of Sexton. I confess he has heart but is a bit of a ball hog and doesn’t have elite size or athleticism for the League. The Clippers may need another promising PG alongside the aging Teodosic. Sexton could be a good complement if he learns the nuances of the game behind the Serbian vet.
14. Denver Nuggets
Team needs : talent at PF/SF
Robert Williams, 6-10 240, PF/C, Texas A&M, sophomore
Williams has incredible body and athleticism. he was one of the best defender in the NCAA with more than 9rbds and 2blks in only 25min and may bring more toughness to the Clippers. He has to work on his outside shooting to play the PF spot or else will be forced to be a pure defensive inside player. He could be a very good complement to the more cerebral Niko Jokic.
15. Washington Wizards
Team needs : C
Mitchell Robinson, 7-1 220, C,
Mitchell Robinson is the unknown prospect of this draft. Since his senior season of high school last year, he hasn’t played, decommitting from Western Kentucky in the process. Yet, in high school, he was one of the top centers in the nation with very good running and leaping ability for someone his size. We’ll see if he decides to do the pre draft camps or focus only on teams’ workouts. He could learn the game from Gortat and be Washington’s future rim protector.
16. Phoenix Suns
Team needs : PF
Jontay Porter, 6-11 240, PF/C, Missouri, freshman
After Ayton, the Suns could draft another inside player. The duo of Chriss and Bender have been useless since they have been drafted (14pts 9.7rbds 1.6blks in 46 min combined this year) and the younger Porter’s package of shooting, shot blocking and basketball IQ could allow him to gun for the PF spot.
17. Milwaukee Bucks.
Team needs : C/SG
Lonnie Walker, 6-4 200, SG, Miami, freshman
Despite his upside as an athletic shooting guard, Walker has a lot of work to do on his shooting and consistency. He’s far from being a complete combo guard now and could have been a top 10 pick with one more year of work. I can’t deny he has some very interesting tools and seems to be a smart kid. He will have room to improve with the Bucks, unsatisfied with Tony Snell’s poor performance in the playoffs.
18. San Antonio Spurs
Team needs : C/SG
Goga Bitadze, 6-11 250, C, Mega Leks (Serbia), 1999 born
This draft is stacked with big men from top to bottom and even in the mid-late first round, teams could find interesting prospects. Bitadze is the best European big men his generation. He’s pretty mobile, averages 7rbds and 2blks in a pro league and is also working on his outside shot. He’s foul prone and still has room to improve but he could be another Nurkic for the Spurs.
19. Atlanta Hawks
Team needs : C/defense at swingman
Zhaire Smith, 6-5 200, SG, Texas Tech, freshman
After drafting Doncic, the Hawks would need either a center or a defensive fit at both swingman position. The Raider is that athletic swingman who brings intensity on defense. He has shown signs to become an efficient shooter (40% but only 18 shots made) and passer (1.8as for 1to per game). He benefited from a good Tournament where he shot 50% from three and had a breakout game against Florida with 18pts 9rbds and 7as for only one to.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves
Team needs : defense/talent at PG
Sagaba Konate, 6-8 260, C, West Virginia, sophomore
Nobody has him as a first rounder but the WVU center could be the surprise in June. Konate is an incredible rim protector with 3+blks and 7+rbds per game and a promising shooter with almost 80% FT. Gibson is aging and could a great mentor for Konate, who would be KAT’s protector inside for the years to come.
21. Utah Jazz
Team needs : PF/talent at PG
Omari Spellman, 6-9 245, PF/C, Villanova, freshman
After a promising season, the Jazz could be interested in an inside player who can spread the floor. Spellman, despite being 21, was very efficient as a freshman and, above all, is exactly what the NBA teams are searching as a shot blocking/rebounding/shooting big man (8rbds 1.5blk 43% from three).
22. Chicago Bulls
Team needs : SF
Troy Brown, 6-7 215, SG, Oregon, freshman
Brown brings versatility in a team that would line up three capable shooters in Lavine, Markannen and Carter. The other potential SF would be reaches at this point and are all far older than the Oregon product. Like Chicago’s own Evan Turner, Brown is not the most athletic or the best shooting player but has poise beyond the years and is a very good rebounder for his size.
23. Indiana Pacers
Team needs : Back up PG/inside talent
Jalen Brunson, 6-2 190, PG, Villanova, junior
With Cory Joseph possibly searching for a more lucrative deal this summer, Brunson would be a perfect fit as Collison’s back up PG. He is exactly the type of player Indiana loves, a mature, poised leader who has been successful in his college career, both collectively and individually. Despite his lack of size and athleticism, Brunson was one of the most effective player on offense and is set to have a long carrer in the League.
24. Portland Trailblazers
Team needs : Strong SG/SF
Khyri Thomas, 6-3 200, SG, Creighton
Portland’s backcourt with Lillard and McCollum is good but may lack some length and toughness. With Donovan Mitchell’s success, undersized SG with wingspan and defensive ability are trendy. This is exactly what Thomas, a two-way SG who can shoot and defend hard brings to the table. The Blazers could also get help from a skilled SF but there are few of them projected in the first round at this position and the others (Frazier, Evans, Bates Diop, Hutchinson…) would be reaches at this point.
25. LA Lakers
Team needs : talent
Anfernee Simons, 6-3 180, SG, IMG Academy
The Lakers gave up their first round pick to the Sixers and, as they will be trying to sign a a star or two this summer, they may go with the most promising player. Simons decided to skip college to focus on his game at IMG Academy. The young guard has impressive athleticism and shooting, despite a low release point. He still has work to do on his handling and will have to adapt to NBA’s toughness. He’s a good fit alongside Ball and has the potential to become a top scorer.
26. Philadelphia Sixers
Team needs : PF/talent
Elie Okobo, 6-4 185, PG/SG, Pau Orthez (France), 1997 born
The French combo guard is flying under the radar but he has the tools to be an efficient solution at both backcourt spots for the Sixers. At 6-4 with a 6-7 wingspan, he has played as the primary ball handler in the tough French championship and has adapted very well to his new position, while improving on his shooting (4.8as, 39% 3pt).
27. Boston Celtics
Team needs : Talent
Gary Trent, 6-5 215, SG, Duke, freshman
The Celtics hit a homerun in the last draft with Jayson Tatum. Trent may not have as much potential but his shooting could be a nice fit alongside him. The Blue Devil is not an athletic freak, but he’s one of, if not the most, consistent shooter in this draft despite hs youth.
28. Brooklyn Nets
Team needs : PF
Ajdin Penava, 6-9 215, PF, Marshall, junior
The Nets found their center of the future last year with Allen in the late first round, they may find their PF of the future with Penava. The Bosnian is not as mainstream as other PF prospects like Wagner but his combination of defense, passing and developing shooting are worth the risk as a late first rounder. His last game against WVU with 18pts 6rbds 6as with 2/2 from three are a good illustration of what the collegiate top shot blocker can do.
29. Golden State Warriors
Team needs : C/talent
Cody Martin, 6-7 210, SG/SF, Nevada, junior
18pts 6as and 5rbds in three games during the Tournament have propelled Martin and his brother Caleb to potential first rounders. Cody brings versatility on offense and defense which could complement well the Warriors’ trio of shooters. Despite his age, Martin still has room to improve on his shooting but will be efficient from day one.
30. Atlanta Hawks
Team needs : C
Austin Wiley, 6-11 255, C Auburn, sophomore
Another mystery in this draft, Wiley hasn’t played his year because of his suspension by the NCAA. In a few months last year, he was able to show signs of dominance inside thanks to his strength and activity. He is an old school center who does his damages in the paint. If he stays healthy, he would be the perfect complement to John Collins and brings much needed intensity.