This may have been the most eventful NBA Draft lottery in recent memory. A number of teams who spent the season in the cellar have little to show for it in terms of a high selection. But there is still plenty to sort through before the draft. As of now, with the order set, here is where I expect the selections to look like.
- New Orleans – Zion Williamson (Freshman Power Forward, Duke)
Easy choice. The Pelicans lucked into the top pick, quite the prize after the Anthony Davis fiasco. Now the most marquee, showtime talent since LeBron is heading to the Big Easy. Even if AD is traded this offseason, the Pels have a player in Zion who is best suited with a team built to maximize his strengths.
- Memphis – Ja Morant (Sophomore Point Guard, Murray State)
Mike Conley is the type of personality that will share his knowledge and help groom a point guard like Morant without taking it personally or sacrificing his effort. Morant is an electric playmaker that would give the Grizzlies a lethal one-two punch with blossoming sophomore big Jaren Jackson.
- New York – R.J. Barrett (Freshman Small Forward, Duke)
Most people expected the lucky stars to give the Knicks the top pick. Instead, we got to see a deflated Patrick Ewing and a fan base erupting with disbelief. They can’t draft under the assumption that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will be coming. R.J. Barrett can leave an imprint on every part of the game and will be a 20-point per game threat for a long time in the right system.
- LA Lakers – De’Andre Hunter (Sophomore Forward, Virginia)
Every part of me thinks this pick will end up as a large chip in an Anthony Davis package. At this point, the Lakers are on LeBron’s timeline, so a project pick doesn’t make much sense. Hunter is a league-ready defensive stopper that could become a three-tier scorer with development.
- Cleveland – Cam Reddish (Freshman Small Forward, Duke)
With a new coach who will use a few years to grow, adding a high-upside player like Reddish would be a good option. He has some edges to smooth out on both ends, but there is a reason some evaluators came into the college basketball season calling him the Duke player with the most potential.
- Phoenix – Darius Garland (Freshman Point Guard, Vanderbilt)
Phoenix’s need for a point guard is too great to pass on Garland. His ability to stretch the floor with his outside shot and set up teammates when necessary should complement Devin Booker well. If they can’t trade up to get Morant, Garland should be option #2.
- Chicago – Jarrett Culver (Sophomore Shooting Guard, Texas Tech)
The driving force behind the Red Raiders Final Four run, Culver has locked himself in as a top-10 pick. The Bulls took a big fall in their pre-lottery position, putting them in a spot where shoring up their bench depth should be the main objective. Culver can guard, create some shots, and initiate offense as he showed this past year. He has the look of a rotation piece from day one.
- Atlanta – Nassir Little (Freshman Forward, North Carolina)
Little is going to have one of the more volatile draft stocks heading into workouts. His temperament, work ethic, and explosiveness will shine over the next month. Atlanta has a pair of top-10 picks so wing depth and an interior presence will be the likely goals. It may not be an immediate switch, but Little has tremendous potential that could flourish in a fast-paced system.
- Washington – Bol Bol (Freshman Center, Oregon)
Bol has a bunch of questions surrounding his effort and drive to improve. He is 7’2 with three-point range, agility, and elite rim-protection ability. Analysts may be overthinking this one. Worst case scenario, he gives some needed versatility to a Washington frontcourt without a future center.
- Atlanta (via Dallas) – Jaxson Hayes (Freshman Center, Texas)
I imagine Hayes is very high on Atlanta’s draft board. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is in their top six. A combination of a down big man class and his defensive excellence makes him attractive to a lot of teams. The minutes are there for Hayes to serve a role similar to Jarrett Allen with the Nets.
- Minnesota – Coby White (Freshman Point Guard, North Carolina)
Minnesota is likely losing Derrick Rose to free agency and Jeff Teague is aging. White is a score-first guard that is going to bring a lot to the table with his size and aggressiveness. The T-Wolves are in a strange spot searching for that next step. White would help put them in the right direction.
- Charlotte – Rui Hachimura (Junior Power Forward, Gonzaga)
Without much frontcourt depth, Hachimura would be a welcome addition. He has the skillset of a combo forward and could become a real mismatch problem if his ball skills develop. The Gonzaga All-American could be vying for time as an experienced college player.
- Miami – Sekou Doumbouya (Forward, France)
Doumbouya is the top international player in the draft. His defensive prospects are most intriguing, with long arms and good instincts. While Miami has a lot of wings in their rotation, they don’t really have a lot of separation at either forward spot. The teenage French star could benefit from a historically sound developmental program.
- Boston (via SAC) – Brandon Clarke (Junior Power Forward, Gonzaga)
As the year went on, the one thing that was noticeably missing for the Celtics was effort. Clarke is arguably the most energetic big in this class. He has the type of game that will be infectious for a second unit, an area where the Celtics struggled to find production from the inside.
- Detroit – Romeo Langford (Freshman Shooting Guard, Indiana)
Detroit continues to look for a scoring weapon on the perimeter that they can count on consistently. Luke Kennard showed the potential to be that guy late in the year. Langford is another player built to get buckets from a big program.
- Orlando – Keldon Johnson (Freshman Shooting Guard, Kentucky)
Johnson never really got the national attention of some other freshmen. That didn’t distract NBA scouts from keeping tabs on the athletic wing. Orlando needs to find some additional threats to their bench.
- Brooklyn – Bruno Fernando (Sophomore Center, Maryland)
I don’t think the Nets can pass up the chance to bring in another center after seeing foul trouble force them into severely undersized lineups. Fernando is a terrific rebounder and a physical body.
- Indiana – Tyler Herro (Freshman Shooting Guard, Kentucky)
Herro’s playmaking and defense opened some eyes at Kentucky. Add that to his sharpshooting on a team waiting on the return of star guard Victor Oladipo and he makes sense at this point in the draft.
- San Antonio – Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Sophomore Shooting Guard, Virginia Tech)
NAW became an All-ACC player with his versatility on both ends. After Greg Popovich signed his extension, it’s fair to expect that they will continue to draft players with high-IQ and all-around impact.
- Boston (via LAC) – Goga Bitadze (Center, Georgia)
Bitadze is a center that would have been a high-major player had he played in the U.S. He is a good roll man that could be a long-term piece for a team on some shaky ground.
- Oklahoma City – P.J. Washington (Sophomore Power Forward, Kentucky)
Shooting is key for the Thunder in the offseason. Washington isn’t a high-volume shooter, but he can stretch the court from the four spot as well as bang on the inside when he has a matchup.
- Boston – Carsen Edwards (Junior Point Guard, Purdue)
The Celtics could potentially lose their starting and backup point guard to free agency. Edwards is more of a miniature scoring guard that can fill it up in a hurry. Playing with playmakers like Gordon Hayward and Al Horford could allow Edwards to play freely.
- Utah – Kezie Okpala (Sophomore Small Forward, Stanford)
Okpala is a gifted player with the positional size that allows him to play multiple positions. If the Jazz are not confident that they can find wing depth in free agency, Okpala would be a cheaper, projectable option.
- Philadelphia – Luguentz Dort (Freshman Shooting Guard, Arizona State)
Depth continues to be an issue for Philly, particularly for their backcourt. Dort is a powerful offensive weapon that has the makings of a good defender as well.
- Portland – Cam Johnson (Senior Small Forward, North Carolina)
In a perfect world, the Trail Blazers would know Jimmy Butler would be able to sign with them before the draft. In reality, their shot-making around their backcourt continues to be an issue. A big shooter like Johnson would feast on wide open looks.
- Cleveland (via HOU) – Charles Bassey (Freshman Center, Western Kentucky)
Bassey’s youth and developed body will lead to a lot of speculation on his draft stock. He is very raw, but capable. He reminds me of Bam Adebayo. With a second first-rounder, the Cavs could be an option here.
- Brooklyn (via Denver) – Jaylen Hoard (Freshman Forward, Wake Forest)
Hoard already announced that he will stay in the draft where he has first-round ability. Brooklyn is building an army of hard-playing young pieces just like Hoard.
- Golden State – Dan Gafford (Sophomore Center, Arkansas)
Golden State seems like a complete team, but they could still improve their center spot. Gafford is one of the best centers in the draft who would have been a first-rounder a year ago.
- San Antonio (via TOR) – Talen Horton-Tucker (Freshman Shooting Guard, Iowa State)
Horton-Tucker is going to have an interesting draft decision as a guy who gained a lot of interest in his freshman year. The combine will ultimately show if the uniquely long, versatile wing will get a first-round grade.
- Milwaukee – Ty Jerome (Junior Guard, Virginia)
Similar to fellow Virginia alum Malcolm Brogdon, Jerome is a highly intelligent, crafty guard with size and shooting range. The Bucks could use him in a variety of ways.
|31. Brooklyn (via NY)||Kevin Porter Jr.||SG/SF||FR||USC||6’6||220|
|32. Phoenix||Matisse Thybulle||SF||SR||Washington||6’5||190|
|33. Philadelphia (via CLE)||Jontay Porter||PF/C||SO||Missouri||7’0||236|
|34. Philadelphia (via CHI)||Luka Samanic||PF/C||2000||Croatia||6’11||220|
|35. Atlanta||Mfiondo Kabengele||PF||SO||Florida State||6’10||250|
|36. Charlotte (via WAS)||Ky Bowman||PG||JR||Boston College||6’1||190|
|37. Dallas||Dylan Windler||SG/SF||SR||Belmont||6’8||200|
|38. Chicago (via MEM)||Jaylen Hands||PG||SO||UCLA||6’3||179|
|39. New Orleans||Admiral Schofield||SF||SR||Tennessee||6’5||240|
|40. Sacramento (via MIN)||Eric Paschall||PF||SR||Villanova||6’9||255|
|41. Atlanta (via LAL)||Sagaba Konate||C||JR||West Virginia||6’8||246|
|42. Philadelphia (via SAC)||Louis King||SF||FR||Oregon||6’9||204|
|43. Minnesota (via MIA)||Jalen McDaniels||PF||SO||San Diego State||6’10||195|
|44. Atlanta (via CHA)||Tyus Battle||SG/SF||JR||Syracuse||6’7||200|
|45. Detroit||Darius Bazley||PF||FR||N/A||6’9||200|
|46. Orlando (via BKN)||Moses Brown||C||FR||UCLA||7’1||241|
|47. Sacramento (via ORL)||Deividas Sirvydis||SG||2000||Lithuania||6’8||190|
|48. LA Clippers||Naz Reid||PF/C||FR||LSU||6’10||240|
|49. San Antonio||Mike Daum||PF||SR||South Dakota State||6’9||235|
|50. Indiana||Shamorie Ponds||PG||JR||St. John’s||6’1||170|
|51. Boston||Miye Oni||SG/SF||JR||Yale||6’6||210|
|52. Charlotte (via OKC)||Jaylen Nowell||SG||SO||Washington||6’4||200|
|53. Utah||Kyle Guy||SG||JR||Virginia||6’2||170|
|54. Philadelphia||John Konchar||SG||SR||Fort Wayne||6’5||207|
|55. New York (via HOU)||Jordan Poole||SG||SO||Michigan||6’5||195|
|56. LA Clippers (via POR)||Markis McDuffie||SF||SR||Wichita State||6’8||218|
|57. New Orleans (via DEN)||Bennie Boatwright||PF||SR||USC||6’10||230|
|58. Golden State||Grant Williams||SF/PF||JR||Tennessee||6’5||234|
|59. Toronto||Laurynas Birutis||C||1997||Lithuania||7’1||242|
|60. Sacramento (via MIL)||Kris Wilkes||SF||SO||UCLA||6’8||215|