Phoenix makes the safe pick in DeAndre Ayton, having extensively scouted him in the last few years. Ayton will immediately become their most heralded big man prospect and will benefit from defensive tutoring from Tyson Chandler. This will presumably spell the end of former lottery pick Alex Lens’ tenure. Will immediately become the interior scorer that the Suns have been lacking and will benefit from playing alongside a dead eye shooter in Devin Booker.
A surprise pick for the causal NBA fan, The Kings have been zeroing on Michael Porter for some time now and have explored trading down with the intention of still drafting him. The Kings fill a major scoring needs from either forward position and will rightfully send either Justin Jackson or Skal Labissiere to the bench where they can develop at their own pace. Michael Porter will look to immediately from a great partnership with De’Aaron Fox who will use his pace to create space for Porter to shoot or be fed easy layups. The Kings will avoid drafting a Center as they have a logjam with Harry Giles, Willey Cauley Stein and Skal all needing developmental minutes.
There’s a distinct possibility that the Hawks may trade down if another team wants to move up but only if they can get an established star while also divesting some of their burdensome contracts (Dennis Schroder, Kent Bazemore). Luka Doncic will be a good fit for a Hawks teams that is both light in shooting, passing and star attraction. He will immediately become the face of the franchise and provide direction and easy buckets for his teammates who possess mainly athleticism but lack to the ability to create their own offense.
The Grizzlies may be tempted to draft Mohamed Bamba in this position but ultimately Jaren Jackson Jr gets the nod as they will they attempt to return to the playoffs next year and prefers to draft someone who can play alongside Marc Gasol. Jackson will slot into the PF position and provide defense as well as interior scoring but can also space the floor. He will eventually take over as the starting Center as Gasol ages out of the league. Grizzlies may also trade down as they are light on cheap, young talent and the Clippers may be tempted to move up to this slot.
Another college player who will not have to move to a different state. Mohamed Bamba will have to prove to be more receptive to coaching that Nerlens Noel to fully realize his potential. If he does so he will become one of the best players from this class. Bamba will anchor the defense and allow Dirk Nowitzki to have one less thing to focus on while he extends his career. He should be able to develop a good partnership with Dennis Smith Jr and be the recipient of easy lob passes.
The best match between player and team as the Magic are desperate for scoring and shooting from the point guard position. His defensive liabilities will be masked by his teammates. He will benefit from playing in a low-key market that has yearned for excitement since the Dwight Howard days. Should have an easy transition to the NBA where there is more space to operate.
After hitting on last year’s pick in Lauri Markkanen, the Bulls are less inclined to draft based on potential and will instead focus drafting Bridges who should be able to immediately contribute. The Bulls have not shied away from drafting or trading for older rookies as see the value of players who have improved while in college and have a high level of coachability. Mikal Bridges will partner with Kris Dunn and Robin Lopez to provide the defense that Markkanen and Zach LaVine are incapable of.
Marvin Bagley’s “slide” ends with the Cavaliers who may be inclined to package this pick for an All-Star (looking at you Kemba Walker). The Cavs must draft a player before trading due to the Stepien Rule and even if they decide to keep Bagley, he will provide frontcourt activity at a level that Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr are unable to. He will mesh well playing with LeBron and Kevin Love or be counted on as a go to scoring option if LeBron leaves. His lack of defensive ability will be less of a concern with a franchise that overwhelmingly values scoring.
The Knicks draft a point guard in the lottery for two consecutive drafts but that does not mean that they view Frank Nitilinka as a bust. They will be able to play together in ether dual point guard lineups or even transition full time to shooting guard. Colin Sexton provides on the ball scoring and man defense to be a pestering backcourt and will provide scoring cover while Kristaps Porzingis recovers. His lack of elite passing ability is less of a concern on a roster rife with players that can shoot and create their own shot.
Miles Bridges goes to the Sixers as they strive to improve on their playoff performance last year against the Celtics. He will provide explosiveness at either forward position and his inability to consistently provide his own offense is of less importance playing alongside Ben Simmons and theoretically Markelle Fultz. Since the Sixers have a supersized roster, they will be able to employ imaginative lineups featuring Bridges in a variety of roles. Will be counted on to provide consistency and toughness to a surprisingly finesse roster.
Wendell Carter will join the Charlotte Hornets as they decide to pivot away from Dwight Howard as their starting Center. Their current frontcourt player are a mixed bag of players ill-suited for today’s NBA Wendell Carter will be able to provide balance to the roster and allow players such as Kaminsky and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to focus on their favored side of the ball. He will be able to provide effective pick and rolls to allow Kemba Walker(if he stays) and Malik Monk space to attack the basket. Mitch Kupchak will be eager to correct the mistakes of the previous regime and finally draft a player who is a good fit.
A classic boom or bust pick. Doc Rivers will be hoping that lightning will strike twice as he seeks to draft DeAndre Jordan 2.0. Mitchell Robinson will be able to mirror Jordan’s game and learn from him and hopefully be a better free throw shooter. If Jordan leaves, Doc Rivers might be more inclined to send Mitchell down to the G League where he can focus on his fundamentals. There will always be a place in the NBA for tall defensive centers who can run the floor faster than most point guards.
A pure scorer. Kevin Knox would be a top 5-pick in any another draft. Doc Rivers bookends his consecutive picks by adding much needed height, athleticism and scoring ability to either forward position. Knox will form a formidable scoring trio with Danilo Gallinari (when healthy) and Tobias Harris. The Clippers are laying the foundation for a quick rebuild while also retaining the ability to sign free agents.
Having missed the playoffs in heartbreakingly fashion in overtime last year, the Nuggets draft Aaron Holiday to get more passing and defense from the point guard position. Holiday will be able to provide genuine competition to Jamal Murray for the starting spot and will mesh well with Gary Harris in the backcourt. The Nuggets are less inclined to draft someone based on potential as their timeline for making the playoffs is accelerating.
The Wizards select Robert Williams to bring fresh legs and energy they do not receive from their ground bound and aging Centers. He will provide the defense that was sorely missed in the playoffs and will be a target man for John Wall. His lack of post scoring ability is less of an issue for a team that is perimeter oriented with a penchant for shooting long twos which will enable him to feast on offensive rebounds.
The Suns round out their starting lineup with Gilgeous-Alexander who will be tasked mainly with providing Josh Jackson and DeAndre Ayton open shots and draining the occasional three pointer. On defense he will be able to focus on the opposition’s primary backcourt scorer which will allow Devin Booker to hide on that end and focus on his scoring.
The Bucks opt for Allen who can provide scoring in case they decide not to retain Jabari Parker and/or replace Tony Snell. His confidence will be sorely needed for a team that struggles to close out games. The Bucks are one of the few teams that need a trigger-happy player coming off the bench and can energize their fans. Allen will allow Giannis Antetokounmpo more space to operate in the high post as he will be able to punish defenders who sag off him.
The Spurs select Keita Bates-Diop hoping that he can develop into an adequate Kawhi Leonard replacement whose game is predicated on intelligent play facilitated by his length. Bates-Diop will provide perimeter defense and also block shots at the rim. He may be able to slide down to the shooting guard position and form the best defensive backcourt in the league alongside DeJounte Murray. Greg Popovich type of player who should respond well to coaching.
This pick is predicated on the Hawks selecting Luka Doncic to be their starting point guard. Khryi Thomas will bring his shooting stroke and longs to provide complementary scoring and be able to defend the smaller and quicker point guards that Doncic will struggle staying in front of. Will also be able to be a combo guard regardless of who he’s paired with in the backcourt.
Lonnie Walker has perhaps the widest draft range of anyone in this year’s class and could go as early as the top ten. The Timberwolves, who are suffering through some player satisfaction issues, will need a creative scorer to provide a spark off the bench and roster flexibility to accommodate future trades. His tendency to flutter in and out of games will be ironed out quickly by Tom Thibodeau and Jimmy Butler.
The Jazz need a stretch big to complement Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors (assuming he resigns). The Jazz has shown a preference to stock their roster with international players as they remain a market that struggles to retain their homegrown stars. Wagner will be able to provide perimeter shooting and the occasional spot start at Center given the proclivity for Gobert and Favors to miss games through injuries. Will provide spacing for Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio should be able to find him for corner threes.
The Bulls double down on upperclassmen with Chandler Hutchinson who can provide the individual scoring that is sorely needed. His ability to score at the rim in addition to a dependable three-point stroke will prove useful off the bench. While he may not be an elite athlete with elite skills, he brings and all-around game that will enhance their on court product.
While Shake Milton played exclusively point guard at SMU, he profiles as combo guard/forward who can fit any role Nate McMillan needs. Has good scoring ability, a good shooting stroke and is a capable defender. Will need to add strength. His passive nature and unselfishness to a fault will be mitigated by aggressive scorers in Victor Oladipo and Lance Stephenson. His size will allow Darren Collison to play off the ball so that he can improve his league leading 3-point field goal percentage.
Zhaire Smith joins the Portland backcourt to provide defense and electrifying agility to complement their ground-bound finesse shooters in CJ McCollum. He has he length and strength to also play small forward. Will need to develop his shot as well as consistency in attacking the rim. He will benefit greatly from playing alongside such polished scorers. Projects to have an Eric Bledsoe impact in the league and can have Dwyane Wade type of impact if he smooths out the rough edges of his game.
This pick has a lot of flexibility depending on what route the Lakers chose in free agency. On one hand, they need to stockpile as much talent as possible but also need to draft high risk/high reward talent to be included as trade bait. Diallo may also be optioned down to the G-League in an effort to retain maximum cap space. If they decided to roll over their cap space to next year, he has the raw athletic ability to finish at the rim and will be able to focus on the basics as he will be dependent on open looks facilitated by Lonzo Ball.
A draft and stash candidate as the 76ers looks to retain cap space to sign a max contract free agent. Rodions Kurucs is a talented scorer who will benefit from additional time overseas to fill out his frame as well as recover from injuries. The 76ers have shown a willingness to draft international players who will join the team in future years and Kurucs has the shooting and leaping ability to compete for the starting small forward position when he eventually makes it over to Philadelphia.
The Celtics select Anfernee Simons to provide coverage for possible free agent departures of Kyrie Irving, Terry Rozier or Marcus Smart. He has combo guard ability and will eventually profile as a dedicated point guard. Has a very good shooting stroke but will need time to learn the fundamentals of the game and will benefit from the tutelage of Brad Stevens.
A NBA combine workout warrior, Josh Okogie will parlay his impressive physical measurements into a niche role with the Warriors as they look to revamp their bench with younger, more athletic players. Will slide into any possible Warriors lineup and will need to focus on defense and shooting open shots. Can finish at the rim once defenders lock into surrounding players.
Hoping to build on this season’s progress with their young talent, the Nets select Donte DiVicenzo as a possible replacement for some of their backcourt players. He will immediately provide the best combination of shooting an athleticism and has the discipline to play alongside their more avant-garde point guards in D’Angelo Russell, Jeremy Lin and Spencer Dinwiddie. Will provide a winning mentality to players who may have become too accustomed to losing.
The Hawks end the first round of the draft with the selection of Jalen Brunson. This pick will most likely be traded to a playoff team looking to purchase a pick into the first round. Jalen Brunson will provide the leadership qualities any team needs from their second unit. He can score within any offense and his lack of defensive ability will be less of a concern as he will not be playing starting minutes. He may also thrive as a starter on a lottery team that will need their point guard to direct other players also on rookie contracts.