1. Phoenix Suns – DeAndre Ayton, C/PF, Arizona
With the number one overall pick, the Suns have to take the best overall prospect in this draft. I’m of the opinion that this decision will come down to Ayton and Doncic, but DeAndre Ayton gets the nod. Having young players at the SG and SF positions in Devin Booker and Josh Jackson, I don’t think the Suns really need to add another player at those positions, which is a primary reason why Doncic doesn’t get drafted here. With Tyson Chandler getting older and declining in talent, Phoenix needs to get younger at the Center position. DeAndre Ayton is the best big man in this draft and can play either C or PF. He’s athletic and has shown he has the offensive skills to make an impact right away on the offensive end. His defense isn’t as polished as his offense, but he’s young and still has a lot of time to grow defensively, which I think he will do. DeAndre Ayton fits perfectly on this Suns team.
2. Sacramento Kings – Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke
I believe the Kings should draft the best available player here because they just need talent. The best available player would be Luka Doncic, but reports are that both the Kings and Hawks are likely to pass on him. Picking Marvin Bagley here wouldn’t be a bad pick though. After all, he is widely considered the third best prospect in the draft. Bagley doesn’t fit a huge need for the Kings with players like Skal Labissiere, Zach Randolph, and Harry Giles already at the PF spot, but that shouldn’t matter to a Kings team who needs to add the best talent they can. Bagley is skilled offensively, which the Kings could use after being the lowest scoring team in the NBA this season. He’s also a very strong rebounder, which the Kings also need after being third worst in rebounds per game. Bagley may not be the ideal pick for the Kings in terms of position need, but he does bring several factors the Kings desperately need.
3. Atlanta Hawks – Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Michigan State
Just like for the Kings, Luka Doncic should be in play here, but reports are that the Hawks will pass on him. Atlanta should be drafting the best available player, so if they pass on Doncic, Jaren Jackson Jr. is the next best player. Jackson has the potential to be an All-NBA defender. Watch some tape from Jaren Jackson Jr. and you’ll see him all over the floor defensively. His offensive game isn’t on the same level as his defense, but that doesn’t mean he can’t contribute offensively. He shot 40% from three point range last season. He’s also an 80% free throw shooter, so if he gets to the line he’s more than reliable. Any NBA team would love to have a player like Jaren Jackson Jr. Atlanta ranked 21st in defensive efficiency this season, so they could for sure use a guy like him to ramp up defensive play for the entire team. Being one of the youngest players in the draft, the potential for Jaren Jackson Jr. might just be the highest of anyone in this draft class.
4. Memphis Grizzlies – Luka Doncic, SG/SF, Slovenia
This would be a dream situation for the Grizzlies. If Doncic is available at pick four, he’s not going to be on the board at pick five. Memphis shouldn’t be picking fourth in this draft, but the messed up draft lottery screwed them over. It looked like they needed to get a top two pick to ensure they got one of the best talents in this draft, but now it might not be the case. If Memphis is going to compete while they have Conley and Gasol, they have to get as much talent surrounding them as possible. Doncic would be a great playmaker next to Mike Conley. He wouldn’t be required to run the offense right away, but could still be a big contributor from the start. As proofed by his EuroLeague MVP and Championship, Doncic is a winner, which is exactly what the Grizzlies need. The experience of Conley and Gasol would help him easily transition to the NBA game.
5. Dallas Mavericks – Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas
After looking over the Mavericks depth chart, it’s clear they need to get an upgrade at the center position. Point guard is set after drafting Dennis Smith Jr. last season, shooting guard has good depth, although could be upgraded, small forward is set with Harrison Barnes, and power forward is set until Nowitzki decides to retire. It’s a good thing Mohamed Bamba is on the board here. Bamba brings a combination of elite size, speed, and defense. His wingspan is 7’10”, which is absolutely insane. Combined with his 3.7 blocks per game, the Mavericks would be getting a true rim protector. This team was second to last in blocks per game this season, so a rim protector is obviously a need. They also ranked 27th in rebounds per game, which is another area where Bamba excels. With how this draft board has played out to this point, Mo Bamba is the clear cut choice for the Dallas Mavericks.
6. Orlando Magic – Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma
The way Orlando has been drafting recently frustrates me more than anything. Victor Oladipo, Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, and Jonathan Isaac are some of the most recent draft picks. What do they all have in common? When they came into the league they weren’t great shooters. Oladipo is a good shooter now, but it hasn’t been till recently and he’s not even on the team anymore. Gordon is improving, but still not good, Elfrid Payton may be one of the worst shooters ever (a reason they traded him), and Isaac just finished his rookie year so it’s hard to tell what he’ll be, but you get the point. They haven’t drafted any players who can really shoot. What else do these players have in common? They’re pretty good defensively. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to have defensive players, but when those players can’t shoot, it’s not going to help you win games. If Trae Young is available and the Magic pass him, it’s probably the dumbest thing they could do in this draft. Trae Young is the best shooter in the draft, and Orlando needs shooting badly. Young also fills a position need for this team. He’s not good at defense, but he can shoot. He’s the exact opposite of the other players Orlando has drafted, which is what they need. It’s time to change the way they draft and get a player who can actually be a potential star and make a real impact.
7. Chicago Bulls – Michael Porter Jr, SF, Missouri
Chicago could use an upgrade at SF over Justin Holiday and Denzel Valentine. Michael Porter Jr. is a bit of a risk because of injury, but he’s also got a lot potential. There’s a reason why he was considered the best overall prospect at one point. Michael Porter Jr. has the size and scoring ability the Bulls need after being the 26th ranked team in points per game this season. With Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, and Lauri Markkanen, the Bulls have a young core with a lot of potential. Add Michael Porter Jr. to the mix and they’d be set at almost every position on the floor for years to come. If MPJ can stay healthy and live up to his potential, Chicago would be getting a steal in this draft.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers – Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama
Collin Sexton is a great fit with the Cavaliers in my opinion. Regardless of if LeBron James stays in Cleveland or not, Sexton would fill a need for this team. The backup point guards on this team right now are Jordan Clarkson and Jose Calderon. As we’ve seen in the NBA Finals, Clarkson isn’t good, while Calderon never plays. I believe Collin Sexton could be a day 1 starter, but if he’s not he can provide much needed competitiveness off the bench. Sexton competes every play. He’s a good ball handler who can take control of an offense. His shooting doesn’t stand out, but he knows how to score. If LeBron does leave, the Cavs would have someone who they could run their offense through either now or in the future.
9. New York Knicks – Wendell Carter Jr., PF/C, Duke
There have been reports recently that the Knicks are high on Wendell Carter Jr., and it’s easy to see why. The big man averaged 13.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, and 2.0 assists per game. Carter seems to be an effective big man on both sides of the ball. He probably won’t be so good offensively that an offense will be run through him, but he will contribute. He’s a good rebounder and a solid rim protector. He also has the ability to play both PF and C, which is always helpful. With Porzingis and Kanter in the starting lineup, Carter probably won’t start, but he will contribute. Porzingis has had several injury problems during his time in the NBA, so creating more depth and versatility behind him will be key for this team moving forward. Perhaps what I love most about Carter, is how effective he was while in the shadow of teammate Marvin Bagley. This tells me Carter can produce no matter what role he plays.
10. Philadelphia 76ers – Mikal Bridges, SG/SF, Villanova
This 76ers team is getting better, but they’re still very young and I don’t feel like they’ve matured enough yet. Mikal Bridges is one of the older players in this draft, but he’s also one of the most mature players in this draft. Bridges said it himself when he said he can bring championship experience to an NBA team. That makes him feel like a perfect fit for the 76ers to me. This team is trying to win a championship, but they don’t have the experience. Mikal Bridges knows what it takes. Winning an NCAA Championship is different from winning an NBA Championship, but it’s still championship experience. I can see Bridges being a very valuable member of this team with his play, maturity, and experience.
11. Charlotte Hornets – Miles Bridges, SF/PF, Michigan State
Charlotte needs an upgrade at both forward spots, which makes Bridges a good fit for this team. Bridges is a very good athlete who was the leader of his Michigan State team. While Bridges can bring leadership and athleticism to the Hornets, what’s probably more important is his shooting. The current starter at SF for the Hornets is Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who pretty much never shoots from distance. Gilchrist just doesn’t have a shooting ability. He didn’t when he entered the league and he still doesn’t now. Miles Bridges shot 37.5% from distance in two years at Michigan State. Bridges has been criticized sometimes for settling for three point shots, but in today’s NBA I don’t think that will be problem. Because of his lack of length, but ability to shoot the ball, Bridges is best suited to play SF in the NBA.
12. LA Clippers – Kevin Knox, SF/PF, Kentucky
After looking at the Clippers current roster, I’m pretty sure one of the positions they’ll target with their two back to back picks will be a forward. Kevin Knox is an interesting prospect in this draft. He’s not a polished player quite yet, but he has a ton of potential. He has the ability to play both forward spots, which is always useful in today’s NBA. Standing 6’9″ and 215 lbs, Knox can overpower smaller defenders when he’s playing the SF position. When he’s playing PF, he has the athleticism, quickness, and shooting ability to get open looks against bigger and slower defenders. If Knox grows into his potential, he could be a matchup nightmare down the road. At this point in the draft, this is exactly what the Clippers should be looking for as they try to stay competitive.
13. LA Clippers – Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M
With DeAndre Jordan potentially leaving soon, the Clippers should look for a possible replacement. Robert Williams is a guy who can play either PF or C, depending on where the Clippers need him most. If Jordan leaves, they might play him at C. If Jordan stays, he can be a backup PF or C. Standing 6’9″, Williams doesn’t have the height you typically look for in a C, but in today’s NBA it’s not so much of a problem. Even though Williams doesn’t stand as tall as you’d like a typical big man, he does have length. He has almost a 7’6″ wingspan, which allows him to block a lot of shots and protect the rim. He also has a pretty good frame so he doesn’t get pushed around by bigger players. He’s a good rebounder in addition to being a rim protector, which is what you want for a big guy. He’s not DeAndre Jordan, but he has some similar attributes that he can use to make the Clippers miss Jordan less if he decides to leave.
14. Denver Nuggets – Lonnie Walker, SG, Miami
Lonnie Walker seems to be a player who projects to be better in the NBA than he was in college. He still has a long way to go before he reaches his full potential, but he has all the tools needed to an effective player for many years. Standing about 6’4″ with a 6’10” wingspan, Walker has the length to be a potential disruptive defensive player. He also weighs about 200 lbs, which gives him enough strength so he won’t get easily overpowered by other guards. He isn’t super aggressive defensively, but he has the tools to be and I believe he will get better. Offensively, Walker is a good scorer. He doesn’t always make the best decisions on offense and doesn’t have the best shooting ability, but he’s not afraid to take a shot from anywhere. He will need to learn how to play without the ball in his hands a little more because he often had the ball in college, but he should adjust with time. Denver needs a SG and a player who can help them defensively after they ranked 26th in defensive efficiency this past season.