Brian shares his thoughts on the first round of tonight’s NBA draft!
1. PHOENIX – C DeAndre Ayton, Arizona Fr.
A physical freak, Ayton also showed improvement in all facets of the game as his season progressed. His defensive awareness needs to improve but he can block shots and protect the rim. In a draft filled with uncertainty, Ayton as the #1 overall pick seems like the safest bet.
2. SACRAMENTO – PF Marvin Bagley, Duke Fr.
Without a go-to scorer on the team, Bagley makes the most sense here. The Kings need help just about everywhere but despite Bagley’s defensive shortcomings he should be able to run the floor with De’Aaron Fox. Trading down is certainly an option especially since the Kings have been linked to Michael Porter.
3. ATLANTA – PF/C Jaren Jackson, Michigan State Fr.
Jackson’s name has soared up draft boards and is one of the youngest players in the draft. He pairs greatly with PF John Collins too and can give the team a rim protector. Mohamed Bamba also fits that bill (and someone I personally think will be a better NBA player) too although Jackson has been linked to this pick. The Hawks have also been putting out feelers to trade PG Dennis Schroder and have been linked to Trae Young so trading down is an option for them too.
4. MEMPHIS – SG/SF Luka Doncic, Real Madrid (Spain)
Doncic at #4 could end up being a steal for the Grizzlies seeing that he was at one point though to be the best player in the draft. He’d fit in well with Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. The big question for him in the NBA is his lack of lateral speed,which limits his ability to create space. Michael Porter is an option here too if the Grizzlies medical staff give him a clean bill of health.
5. DALLAS – C Mohamed Bamba, Texas Fr.
Last year the Mavericks addressed their backcourt in the first round with Dennis Smith so they can now address their frontcourt this year as Nerlens Noel has been a major disappointment while Dirk Nowitzki is 40 years old. Bamba projects as an elite rim protector and can shoot from downtown. This could be another potential landing spot for Porter too or even for teams who want Bamba. The Celtics have been linked and can offer the Mavericks Jaylen Brown along with other draft picks. There’s also a chance Bamba could slide down if not taken here.
6. ORLANDO – PG Trae Young, Oklahoma Fr.
The only point guards currently under contract for the Magic D.J. Augustin and Shelvin Mack, the latter whose contract is non-guaranteed. Young took the college basketball world by storm until is play fell off the last few months but he is still a threat on offense and can help a team desperate for more offense. Plus, he’s very good operating out of the pick-and-roll, which was used frequently by new head coach Steve Clifford while he was the coach in Charlotte.
7. CHICAGO – SF/PF Michael Porter, Missouri Fr.
I cannot see Porter going past this pick and he can go as early as #2 as long as teams are confident in his medical issues. Porter is the best combo forward in the draft and his high release will really make it difficult for him to defend. He will need to add strength and might not be able to immediate contribute but the potential for a dynamic offensive player is there.
8. CLEVELAND – PG Collin Sexton, Alabama Fr.
The Cavaliers mid-season point guard additions did not pan out and whether or not LeBron James stays the position will need to be addressed. Sexton might be more of a combo guard but and will have to play the point in the NBA due to his height but he has been improving in that department. Plus, he can help with defense on the perimeter, a weakness for the team. The Cavs could also think about Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in this spot.
9. NEW YORK – SG/SF Mikal Bridges, Villanova Jr.
The Knicks need an identity and I do not think you are going to get a franchise altering pick here but Bridges is a safe bet as a quality 3-and-D wing which fits one of the many positions of need for the team. Last year’s lottery pick Frank Ntilikina does not appear able to run the point in the NBA so taking another PG this year is another option.
10. PHILADELPHIA – PF/C Wendell Carter, Duke Fr.
Carter’s ceiling is lower than the other projected bigs in the lottery and struggles to defend the perimeter but can play in the post and is a high IQ player and can make the team more confident when Embiid needs rest. There is also a rumor the team is looking to trade into the top 5 (Michael Porter?) so keep that in mind.
11. CHARLOTTE – SF/PF Kevin Knox, Kentucky Fr.
Charlotte can also trade point guard Kemba Walker and get his replacement that way (which I think will happen) so Knox makes sense here as the team needs a perimeter threat. He’s also one of the youngest players in the draft as he does not turn 19 years old until August. He was inconsistent in college and will need to get pushed to reach his potential but the talent is there.
12. LA CLIPPERS – SG Zhaire Smith, Texas Tech Fr.
Smith is a freak athlete and has the potential to be a lockdown defender. His offensive game needs to grow but has some skills that remind people of another rookie Doc Rivers used to coach in Avery Bradley, who just happens to be an unrestricted free agent unlikely to get brought back.
13. LA CLIPPERS – PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kentucky Fr.
Taking another guard is not the worst thing in the world given the state of the team’s backcourt. Gilgeous-Alexander has the length and shooting ability teams want in today’s NBA. They might take a chance on Robert Williams to fill a need as a big.
14. DENVER – SF Miles Bridges, Michigan State Soph.
With Wilson Chandler’s status on the team in limbo the Nuggets should look to find his replacement. Bridges is a solid shooter with versatility on defense. The team will have to get some cheaper contracts in order to pay Nikola Jokic so expect the Nuggets to be active on the trade front.
15. WASHINGTON – PF/C Robert Williams, Texas A&M Soph.
Marcin Gortat is a free agent and 34 years old plus the team’s frontcourt depth is shallow. Williams has athleticism and a huge wingspan plus plays a physical style. His offensive game is lacking though and there have been concerns about his work ethic that could have him drafted anywhere from 10-20. This could be a steal for the Wizards.
16. PHOENIX – SG Troy Brown, Oregon Fr.
The Suns desperately need to improve their defense so getting an athletic wing with the potential to defend multiple positions like Brown is a smart move.
17. MILWAUKEE – PG/SG Jerome Robinson, Boston College Jr.
The Bucks backcourt could use some help and Robinson can shoot or play off of the ball. He should be able to come off the bench as a scoring option in the NBA.
18. SAN ANTONIO – SG Lonnie Walker, Miami Fr.
Walker could very well be a lottery pick with his crazy wingspan and high upside but his inconsistent season at Miami has left doubt as to whether or not he can reach his potential. For an older team with a need of backcourt help, Walker makes sense and could be a steal if he buys into coach Gregg Popovich’s system.
19. ATLANTA – SG Khyri Thomas, Creighton Jr.
The Hawks need some offensive firepower from the two-guard position. Thomas should be able to help as a role player from day one but is already 22 years old so will not have a high ceiling as others in the draft.
20. MINNESOTA – SG Donte DiVincenzo, Villanova Soph.
With Jamal Crawford a free agent the team will need more scoring off the bench. DiVincenzo came off the bench for Villanova and has shown to be an aggressive defender that would be appreciated by coach Tim Thibodeau.
21. UTAH – SF Dzanan Musa, Cedevita (Bosnia)
Wing scoring is arguably the biggest weakness on this team and that is Musa’s specialty as he’s one of the best scorers to come out of Europe. He is a name rising up draft boards and could even go as high as pick #14.
22. CHICAGO – Chandler Hutchinson, Boise State Sr.
The Bulls defense is poor and having a guy that can defend multiple positions like Hutchinson should help. Hutchinson produces turnovers, can rebound, and scores in the paint. Being a senior is what limits his ceiling and could see him slip to the beginning of the second round, especially seeing that he’ll need to improve his shooting.
23. INDIANA – PG Elie Okobo, France
Both Darren Collison and Cory Joseph are free agents after next season so picking Okobo and grooming him as the point guard of the future makes sense. He can score and has the ability to excel on defense but still needs to work out the kinks.
24. PORTLAND – SG/SF Jacob Evans, Cincinnati Jr.
Evans doesn’t excel anywhere but is versatile and can play either off or on the ball. His best trait is on defense and Portland needs help on the wing.
25. LA LAKERS – SG Gary Trent, Duke Fr.
Trading this pick for more cap space is an option but the Lakers do not have anything at shooting guard. Trent’s specialty is shooting and while he does not appear to be able to do much more than that, today’s game is reliant on three-point shooting so he is worth a shot at the end of the 1st.
26. PHILADELPHIA – SG Grayson Allen, Duke Sr.
The team is likely losing JJ Redick and adding a shooter (and agitator) will help spread the floor for Ben Simmons.
27. BOSTON – PF/C Omari Spellman, Villanova Fr.
I believe this team will find a way to retain Marcus Smart and can address front court depth here. Spellman can protect the rim and is aggressive on the glass and the team might not be able to retain Aron Baynes while Greg Monroe is likely not returning. This team needs youth behind Al Horford.
28. GOLDEN STATE – SG Josh Okogie, Georgia Tech Soph.
Andre Igoudala is not getting any younger and the team needs to get cheap contracts on board with all the stars on the team. Okogie can hit open three’s and defend multiple positions.
29. BROOKLYN – SF/PF Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio St. Jr.
Bates-Diop is another strong, athletic guy who can defend multiple positions. He can also get to the rim with ease but is also 22 years old and an inconsistent shooter.
30. ATLANTA – PG Aaron Holiday, UCLA Jr.
Current starter Dennis Schroder’s future with the team is unclear and there is a lack of depth behind him so going after Holiday with the hopes he could become a starter makes sense. He can shoot and plays aggressively but lacks height and can be turnover prone.