Publish Date: 05/17/2018
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, Elfrid Payton, and Marquese Chriss all have potential, but what the Suns are really missing is a real playmaker. Booker is a good shooter, but the Suns need someone that can create for others or get a bucket for himself when necessary. That’s why the Suns will use the first overall pick on Real Madrid forward Luka Doncic. He is a big question mark in this draft but also may have the most potential out of anyone. Doncic can shoot, score, pass, rebound, play defense at an NBA level already, it is just about how fast he figures it all out. They just signed Doncic’s old national coach to be the new head coach in Phoenix, only making even more sense why they should take the European star with the first pick.
2nd Pick: Sacramento Kings take Arizona center Deandre Ayton
The Kings lucked out and got the second pick in the draft and, if the Suns don’t take him, will for sure be taking Arizona center Deandre Ayton. Ayton proved to be the most all-around center in his only year at Arizona, averaging 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game. He shot efficiently from the field and even shot 34% from behind the arc. The only problem Ayton seems to have is with his motor, but when he is made the centerpiece in Sacramento for years to come, he will surely be giving it his all.
3rd Pick: Atlanta Hawks take Duke forward Marvin Bagley
There is trouble in Atlanta and the Hawks front office needs to make right selection with their 3rd overall pick. The Hawks only proven player, Dennis Schroder, has publicly said he wants traded to a contender and the rest of the team has yet to show much improvement. With that being said, Atlanta needs to take Duke forward Marvin Bagley. Bagley was a stud his freshman year at Duke, averaging 21 points and 11 rebounds per game, all while showing he could do a little bit of everything. Bagley has an NBA-ready body already and should make an immediate impact for the rebuilding Hawks.
4th Pick: Memphis Grizzlies take Michigan State forward Jaren Jackson Jr.
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 was 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 Michigan State forward Jaren Jackson Jr. Jackson only averaged 11 points and 6 rebounds but also did so while sharing the court with Miles Bridges. Jackson is extremely athletic, scores from everywhere on the court, and is an elite rim protector. He is young and a project, but he will be able to learn from Gasol while still playing a lot of minutes.
5th Pick: Dallas Mavericks take Texas center Mohamed Bamba
The Mavericks are a team without much direction right now. Harrison Barnes is their leading scorer and rebounder at 18 points and 6 rebounds per game. Rookie Dennis Smith Jr. ended up having a decent year but did not live up to his potential. Dirk is still playing but is well on the back-end of his career. Dallas needs some direction and they will get that by selecting Texas center Mohamed Bamba. Bamba averaged 13 points, 10 rebounds, and almost 4 blocks per game and proved to be a threat on both ends of the floor. He finishes incredibly well at the rim and has been rumored to become an adequate shooter from behind the 3-point line in the off-season. Bamba will anchor the Mavericks defense and be a solid offensive option from day one in the NBA.
6th Pick: Orlando Magic take Alabama point guard Collin Sexton
Orlando started off the season red-hot behind Nikola Vucevic’s strong play and some thought they might have finally figured it out, but they were not able to maintain that play. They have some bright spots like Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, Jonathon Simmons, and Evan Fournier, but will need to make more good moves down the road to becoming relevant. What they are really missing is a playmaker and that is just what they will get when they take Alabama point guard Collin Sexton. Sexton averaged 19 points in his freshman year at Alabama, only getting 4 assists per game because of the lack of talent around him. He plays solid defense and will be able to step right into a starting role with the Magic, where he will be able to develop into a complete player since he will have other scoring options around him.
7th Pick: Chicago Bulls take Missouri guard Michael Porter Jr.
The Bulls could go a lot of different ways with this pick. They would rather have a higher pick and will likely try to get into the top five, probably without any luck. If he is still available, the Bulls would be a good team to take a chance on Missouri guard Michael Porter Jr. Porter was widely considered to be the potential number one pick this year but slipped down the draft board after being hurt all year. Porter is a natural scorer and when surrounded by players like Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen, the Bulls could have some serious firepower in their young stars.
8th Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers take Oklahoma guard Trae Young (via the Brooklyn Nets)
Cleveland finds themselves with a lottery pick because of the Nets and are in weird situation. If they feel LeBron is leaving, they will take someone who they feel they can base their new team around. If the front office thinks he is staying, they need to surround LeBron with more firepower. Either way, Cleveland goes out on a limb and selects Oklahoma guard Trae Young. Young electrified college basketball this season, averaging 27 points and 9 assists per game, and single-handedly carried Oklahoma to the NCAA Tournament. He would be the perfect counterpart and shooter LeBron needs, or could become the focal point of the team if LeBron decides to leave town.
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 were a 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. If they do keep this pick and I would like to see them take Duke big-man Wendell Carter Jr. Carter 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 going to have to start the rebuilding process with this pick. Star point guard Kemba Walker is on the last year of his contract and now that he is getting up there in ag. 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 an real scoring threat. Putting him alongside Walker would be perfect to take the pressure off Walker and give them enough firepower to keep them competitive (and maybe keep Walker in Charlotte). If not, the Hornets could be looking at a massive rebuild in the coming year, one that Bridges would be 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 knock 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 development. 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 more 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 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: 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: 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: Milwaukee 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 are lack in 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 Milwuakee on who to take.
18th pick: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Philadelphia 76ers take Duke guard Greyson 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: 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 being another talented player in Golden State.
29th pick: Brooklyn Nets take Nevada forward Caleb Martin (via the Toronto Raptors)
The Nets made solid strides this year but still have away 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 more 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 for the Hawks.