Publish Date: 05/02/2018
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster
The time in between the end of college basketball (congratulations Villanova) and the NBA playoffs are a boring time for basketball fans. While the Western Conference playoff picture is still shaking out, there is still not much to watch right now. With that being said, it makes it the perfect time to speculate which prospects will be taken wherein the upcoming NBA Draft. So, let’s take a look at who will be taking who in the draft this summer.
The Phoenix Suns have the most holes of any NBA team. Besides prolific scorer Devin Booker, they are filled with question marks. Tj Warren, Josh Jackson, Elfid Payton, and Marquese Chriss all have potential, but what the Suns are really missing is a centerpiece big-man. DeAndre Ayton immediately fills that void. Ayton averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds in his freshmen year at Arizona and proved to be an incredibly versatile scorer. He was strong and efficient down low and utilized post moves, as well as being able to step out and show hit jump shots. Ayton would come to Phoenix as a double-double guy from day one and would be the perfect emerging star to pair next to Booker.
2nd Pick: Memphis Grizzlies take Duke forward Marvin Bagley
Memphis is another team that really needs to hit the mark in this draft. Memphis has had a rough season, especially with Mike Conley only playing 12 games this year. The best thing to come from the Grizzlies season is the resurgence of Tyreke Evans, who averaged 19 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists coming mostly off the bench. While they still have a solid big man in Marc Gasol (17 points and 5 rebounds per game), the Grizzlies still will take 6’11 Duke forward Marvin Bagley. Bagley, who should have been playing in high school this year but instead reclassified to the class of 2017, was incredible in his only year at Duke. He averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds per game, proved he could score from anywhere on the court and was a great interior defender. Bagley will be the perfect complement to Marc Gasol and is the future in Memphis.
3rd Pick: Dallas Mavericks take Real Madrid forward Luka Doncic
The Mavericks are looking for a player to change the dynamic in Dallas. Dennis Smith Jr. is young and learning, but he still needs help. Harrison Barnes and Wesley Mathews are solid but are not elite players. If the Mavs are really looking to bring a franchise changing player in, they will be taking 18-year old phenom Luka Doncic. The Mavericks have proved to not be scared to take a chance on European stars (see some guy named Dirk Nowitzki), and Doncic is about as sure as a bet can get. He has been playing professionally for years now and has taken over the European basketball scene. Doncic is a point forward who literally does it all: score, rebound, make plays, everything. Bringing in Doncic could immediately take the Mavericks from the rebuilding phase to being competitive.
Atlanta is a young and rebuilding team, but the process is slow. Dennis Schroder averaged a solid 19 points and 6 assists and proved to be the only solid player on the team. They have a bunch of guys who do a lot of good things, but the biggest thing they are missing is a dangerous scoring threat. Michael Porter Jr. is exactly what they need. Porter missed almost the entire season due to injury at Missouri until the last couple games. Coming out of high school he was already thought to be a top pick in this draft and is probably the most complete scorer in the draft if he’s fully healthy. Adding MPJ won’t immediately make the Hawks great, but he will make them dangerous since he has the ability to go on a scoring frenzy any night.
Orlando had higher hopes heading into this year but was unable to put anything together. They have good players in Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier, and Mario Hezonja and will be looking to find a guy to bring it all together. Trae Young was the most explosive player in college basketball for a part of the season, but his NCAA best 27 points per game won’t be why the Magic will take him. It is Young’s playmaking at the guard position. He averaged almost 9 assists per game and was able to make his below-average Oklahoma team into the NCAA Tournament. Trae Young will score himself and, more importantly, will make his teammates better.
6th Pick: Chicago Bulls take Texas center Mohamed Bamba
The Bulls rebuilding efforts this year earned them a lottery pick and the perfect fit for them would be Texas center Mohamed Bamba. Bamba dominated in his only year at Texas, averaging a double-double to go along with an NCAA-best 4 blocks per game. He will be the perfect fit with rookie star Lauri Markkanen. Bamba will be able to immediately anchor the defense in Chicago and will have the chance to improve his offense early on.
7th Pick: Sacramento Kings take Michigan State forward Jaren Jackson Jr.
The struggling Kings do not have much talent to look at in the coming future and need to get a strong pick here. Taking Michigan State forward Jaren Jackson Jr. Jackson Jr. proved to be a versatile scorer by averaging 11 points a game on a mixture post moves and perimeter shots. He would have one the easiest transitions into the NBA due to his versatility in many areas.
8th Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers take Collin Sexton (via the Brooklyn Nets)
Cleveland finds themselves with a lottery pick because of the Nets and is in a weird situation. If they feel LeBron is leaving, they will take someone who they feel they can base their new team around. However, if he does not leave, they should take Alabama point guard Collin Sexton. Sexton was of the most surprising stars this past season and was able to carry Bama to the NCAA tournament. While Sexton does mostly need the ball in his hands to create, he would give the Cavs another guy to run the offense through, allowing LeBron to have some of the weight lifted off his shoulders.
9th Pick: New York Knicks take Villanova forward Mikal Bridges
This pick will create one of the best fits in this draft. The Knicks are an upstart team headed by superstar Kristaps Porzingis. In a time where 3-and-D guys are crucial, adding Villanova forward Mikal Bridges could push the Knicks to the playoffs. He scored 17 points per game and shot 44% from the 3-point line, making him the perfect guy to space the floor for in New York.
10th Pick: Philadelphia 76ers take Wendell Carter Jr.
I truthfully do not see the Sixers keep this pick at this spot. They are a current 3-seed with a lot of talent and either need to move up in the draft and grab another star, or they need to trade back and accumulate assets to put around Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Say they do keep this pick and I would like to see them take Duke big-man Wendell Carter Jr. Carter Jr. averaged 13.5 points and 9 rebounds a game last year, all while sharing the paint with Marvin Bagley. He will be a solid scorer, rebounder, and defender in the NBA, and will be a good backup to Embiid and Dario Saric.
11th Pick: Charlotte Hornets take Michigan State forward Miles Bridges
The Hornets are another team that needs a strong pick for numerous reasons. The team has talented players but needs to figure it out in order to keep star point guard Kemba Walker around, who will be on the last year of his contract. That is why Charlotte should take Michigan State forward Miles Bridges. Bridges has been a coveted prospect for two years not but people have doubts about his shooting that will not allow him to be a real scoring threat. Putting him alongside Walker would be perfect to (hopefully) take the pressure off Walker and give them enough firepower to keep them competitive. If not, the Hornets could be looking at a massive rebuild in the coming year, one that Bridges may also be headlining.
12th Pick: Los Angeles Clippers take Kentucky forward Kevin Knox
The Clippers are in a good spot headed into this draft. They just missed the playoffs, have back-to-back picks in this draft, and have several really solid pieces in Lou Williams, Tobias Harris, and others. The only question will be whether DeAndre Jordan decides to leave L.A., which I think is likely. Heading into the back-end of his career, he will be looking to head to a contender. With their first pick in the first round, the Clippers should take Kentucky forward Kevin Knox. Knox proved to be a versatile scorer in his only year at Kentucky and could provide a great shooting spark in the Clippers second unit. He is also a long forward who could probably play shooting guard as well, which all means Knox is a project with great upside that the Clippers could afford to take.
13th pick: Los Angeles Clippers take USA center Mitchell Robinson
Speaking of projects the Clippers can afford to take, they will next be taking center Mitchell Robinson. Robinson was a McDonalds All-American coming out of high school before deciding to forego college and declare for this year’s draft. Despite being a 7-footer who excels at blocking shots and closing out on shooters, he also has a great motor for a big and was able to start knocking down outside jump shots late in his high school career. Most have him projected later in the first round, but I believe the Clippers can take him for a couple reasons. As I said with Knox, they have the personnel to be able to slowly integrate Robinson in the lineup, which will develop. However, the latter reason is that I believe that Robinson could take over that role DeAndre Jordan has filled for so many years in L.A. but will be a complete scorer down the road.
The Nuggets seemed like a lock for a playoff spot until their collapse late in the season but are still very young and have a chance to be good very soon. I believe that by taking Kentucky guard Shai Gilgeuous-Alexander. Gilgeuous-Alexander is a true playmaking point guard who could be a great player off the bench for the Nuggets, but there is also another idea floating around. If they feel confident enough in Gilgeuous-Alexander, he could earn a starting spot at point guard and shift rising star Jamal Murry to shooting guard, where Murry could do more off-ball action. Either way, Gilgeuous-Alexander is a solid pick here for Denver.
15th Pick: the Washington Wizards take Creighton guard Khyri Thomas
Washington had an up-and-down season that included bad stretches with John Wall and good stretches without him. Either way, the Wizards have some work to do in the offseason. Even thought the Wizards have strong starting guard play in Wall and Bradley Beal, they should have serious thoughts about taking Creighton combo guard Khryi Thomas. Thomas averaged 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists in his junior season at Creighton and really elevated his draft stock. Thomas would be a perfect fit to run point or shooting guard in the second unit or could run alongside Wall or Beal. He is an efficient shooter and could really solidify the entire guard position for the Wizards.
16th Pick: the Phoenix Suns take Texas A&M forward Robert Williams (via the Miami Heat)
With their second pick in this draft, the Suns will likely end up taking Texas A&M forward Robert Williams. Williams nearly averaged a double-double in points and rebounds in his sophomore year at A&M and was really solid for the Aggies all year. He is bit undersized height-wise at only 6’9 but plays strong and smart. The Suns have talent on the perimeter and take Ayton early in this draft, but Williams would still be a solid selection. I also would not be surprised to the see the Suns trade out of or later in this draft in order to get later, better picks since this draft class is not very deep.
17th pick: the Milwuakee Bucks take Duke guard Gary Trent Jr.
The Bucks seemingly have it all right now. They have their superstar in Giannis Antetokounmpo, solid role players in Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, and Malcom Brogdan. The only thing they lack are consistent shooting from behind the 3-point line. They currently only have two players who shoot over 40% from behind the line in Mirza Teletovic (46%) and Tony Snell (40%) and need to be looking to add a shooter. Duke guard Gary Trent Jr. could just be the guy they need. Trent averaged 14 points a game and shot over 40% himself as one of the main scoring threats last year at Duke and would get many open shots with Giannis and others creating for him. If Trent Jr. is still available at 17th, it should be a no-brainer in Milwaukee on who to take.
18th pick: the San Antonio Spurs take Miami (FL) guard Lonnie Walker
The Spurs are in an unusual situation. They barely made the playoffs this year after their star Kawahi Leonard sat out essentially the entire season. The Spurs are getting very old and need to begin to bring in young assets and hopefully avoid a rebuilding situation in San Antonio. A creative pick I like from the Spurs is taking Miami guard Lonnie Walker. Walker only averaged 12 points in his only year at Miami but his game log shows that when was a streaky scorer and versatile scorer, especially when he played a lot of minutes. While a guy like this can easily be lost in the NBA, his perfect suitor would be San Antonio. He would be able to get meaningful minutes his rookie season and would be able to be around potentially the best coaching staff in the NBA (shout out Pop’).
19th pick: the Atlanta Hawks take USA guard Afernee Simmons (via the Minnesota Timberwolves)
The Hawks are another team with a top draft pick followed by a later one, one which will be used to take guard Afernee Simmons. Simmons graduate high school and played at a prep school this past year, all while raking in offers from schools like Florida, Florida State, Louisville, Texas A&M, and others. However, he decided to skip college and test his chances in the NBA. Scouting reports peg him as an elusive scorer who can get his shot off at any level and has been compared to 2017 #1 overall pick Markelle Fultz. At 6’3 but only 180 pounds he will definitely need to bulk up. Atlanta’s only perimeter threat comes in Dennis Schroeder, so taking a chance on someone like Simmons late in the first round is not a bad idea.
20th pick: the Minnesota Timberwolves take Missouri forward Jontay Porter
The T-Wolves finally found the playoffs this season but had a hard time getting there. Coach Thibs ran the starters into the ground late and are in need of some versatility, especially with their big men. I think adding Missouri forward Jontay Porter would be the perfect fit for Minnesota. Porter is 6’11 and can also hold his own playing center, making him a good backup to Karl Anthony-Towns. He is also a versatile scorer and really came on strong at the end of Missouri’s season, posting three 19+ point games in his final four. Many draft boards have him going later but his versatility and work ethic make him a great pick for the Timberwolves.
The Jazz had a surprising run to the playoffs despite losing star Gordon Hayward, a run that was lead by rookie Donovan Mitchell. Despite Mitchell’s presence on the perimeter, I think the Jazz should take Oregon guard Troy Brown. Brown is a 6’7 combo guard who creates well for himself and others. By pairing him up with Mitchell, that duo could become one of the most explosive backcourts in the NBA in a few years. Browns only downfall his is perimeter shooting, where he shot under 30% in college. While that is a problem, his 6’7 frame allows him to still contribute in a Shaun Livingston-type way.
22nd pick: the Chicago Bulls take Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo (via the New Orleans Pelicans)
Chicago acquired another pick in this draft after trading Nikola Mirotic to the Pelicans and should be looking to take another solid piece to add to their rebuild. If he is still there, I really like the Bulls taking Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo. DiVincenzo rallied Nova to a National Championship and showed how all-around of a player he can be. He averaged 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists as a sophomore and show for decent averages in every category. DiVincenzo has great athleticism and great motor and would be someone who could work himself into a spot for the Bulls.
23rd pick: the Indiana Pacers take Bosnian forward Dzanan Musa
The Pacers were one of the most surprising teams in the NBA. After trading superstar Paul George for Victor Oladipo, Indiana did not realize they were getting a star of their own. Oladipo tore it up this year and is on a fast track to being named NBA’s Most Improved Player of the Year. For their draft pick they would be thinking about taking Bosnian forward Dzanan Musa. Musa, one of the most unknown prospects in this draft class, has been touted as one of the best shooters and scorers and would be the perfect fit to back up Oladipo and Bojan Bogdanovic. Musa is 6’9, very long, and could end up being a good defender on the perimeter. The Pacers are on the come up and Musa would be able to prosper in Indiana coming off the bench.
24th pick: the Portland Trail Blazers take Villanova forward Omari Spellman
Portland’s obvious stars in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum both locking down the guard positions, they need to look for help with their big men. Jusuf Nurkic has solidified their center position but someone like Villanova forward Omari Spellman would be a great fit. A double-double guy at Nova, he is able to stretch the floor beyond the 3-point line and could either back up Nurkic or play alongside him at the power forward position. Of all the later first-round picks, the Spellman/Blazers fit is one of the best.
25th pick: the Los Angeles Lakers take Brandon McCoy (via the Cleveland Cavaliers)
The Lakers are headed in the right direction. They have promising, young talent in Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Julius Randle, and showed great improvement from last year. As for this late first-round pick, there aren’t a lot of definite holes to fill. I am thinking that a good pick up for them would be UNLV center Brandon McCoy. A true center, McCoy averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds last year and also blocked two shots a game. McCoy could bring a strong post presence the Lakers need.
26th pick: the Philadelphia 76ers take Duke guard Grayson Allen
This is one of my more interesting picks for this draft. Allen was an incredibly talented player in his years at Duke and always was one of the most prolific shooters. With JJ Reddick ending his one year deal at the end of this season, the Sixers need to ensure they have someone with the potential to light it up from behind the 3-point line. Allen may need to step his game and attitude up to really make this roster, but it could be a good fit for everyone.
28th pick: the Golden State Warriors take Ohio State forward Keita Bates-Diop
Honestly, do the Warriors even need anyone else? They have the most talented starting five, not to mention a bench they utilize to its’ fullest. The only thing they might need is a wing scorer since Andre Igualoda has slowed down a lot in recent years. Someone like Ohio State forward Keita Bates-Diop could be a great addition to the already bolstered lineup. Bates-Diop played all 4 years at OSU and really burst on the scene this year by averaging 20 points and 9 rebounds per game, good enough to be named Big Ten Player of the Year. He could be another talented player in Golden State.
29th pick: the Brooklyn Nets take Nevada forward Caleb Martin (via the Toronto Raptors)
The Nets made solid strides this year but still have a way to go. They had a lot of average players this year and D’Angelo Russell looked like he is well on his way to be the scorer he can be. He is looking to be one of their only large scoring threats, so they should take Nevada forward Caleb Martin. Martin averaged 19 points per game after transferring to Nevada this season and proved to be worthy of this selection after leading Nevada deep in the NCAA Tournament. He adds a two-way player and complete scorer to go along with D-Lo and the rest of the Nets.
With their third and final pick in the first round, the Atlanta Hawks take a chance on Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk. Mykhailiuk is a guard/forward combo who is an elite shooter with great length. The Hawks are already adding scorers in Porter Jr. and Afernee Simmons, but Mykhailiuk is a true shooter and will help in spacing the floor.