With the Phoenix Suns winning this year’s annual tanking carnival, the draft order in which teams will pick in has been finally set. So, that being said, will European superstar Luka Doncic be picked by the Suns with the first overall pick? Will it be generational talent DeAndre Ayton? Hereby, to hopefully answer some of these compelling questions, I declare my predictions for who will come off the board (and when) on the night of June 21st.
1. Phoenix Suns: DeAndre Ayton, C
Height: 7-1 | Weight: 260 pounds | Age: 19 (Freshman) | Arizona
2017-18 Stats: 20.1 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 61.2% FG
The Skinny: The Suns are in an interesting position here. On one hand, they could take a generational talent in DeAndre Ayton which would lock down the center position for years to come. On the other hand, they could take the most talented European player to enter the league since Kristaps Porzingis. However, there is a strong consensus among scouts and sportswriters around the association that Ayton will be drafted with the first overall pick. He has the elite physical tools and a solid all-around game to become a great center.
Big Question: Scouts are concerned about his his defensive prowess, especially his shot-blocking, given that he possesses such athletic gifts. Therefore, will he be able to translate his monster athleticism to being an NBA-caliber rim defender?
NBA Comparison: David Robinson
2. Sacramento Kings: Luka Doncic, SG/SF
Height: 6-8 | Weight: 228 pounds | Age: 19 | Real Madrid (EuroLeague)
2017-18 Stats: 14.5 PPG, 5.7 APG, 46.0% FG
The Skinny: Luka Doncic could well be the best pound-for-pound player in this year’s draft class. And at the number two spot, the Kings will likely get the most NBA-ready international player we’ve ever seen. He would slot right in to that young core mainly consisting of De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic. Marvin Bagley III could be a better pick for HC Dave Joerger’s team, but this type of talent is rare to find.
Big Question: He has below-average athleticism, thus will he be able to make a steep adjustment playing against NBA-caliber combinations of size and speed?
NBA Comparison: Manu Ginobili
3. Atlanta Hawks: Marvin Bagley III, PF
Height: 6-11 | Weight: 235 pounds | Age: 19 (Freshman) | Duke
2017-18 Stats: 21.0 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 61.4% FG
The Skinny: There is no surprise here, as the Hawks would take the best player available on the board in ACC Player of the Year in Marvin Bagley III. He would be an immediate contributor playing alongside the promising duo of SF Taurean Prince and C John Collins. Offensively, he’s very polished for a man his size, as well as being a great rebounder, since he tore down eleven per game while at Duke.
Big Question: Duke was better defensively without him being on the floor, and they were forced multiple times throughout the season to play a 2-3 zone scheme just so they could hide this liability. This begs the question, will he be able to become a more versatile player?
NBA Comparison: Kevin Garnett
4. Memphis Grizzlies: Michael Porter Jr., SF
Height: 6-10 | Weight: 215 pounds | Age: 19 (Freshman) | Missouri
Stats (2016 U18 FIBA Americas): 15.8 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.4 APG
The Skinny: He already is a terrific shooter, and if you pair that along with his 6-10 frame at small forward, this is why some people are calling him “Baby KD”. As a matter of fact, the size and shooting combination can be deadly at the next level; Memphis needs this type of talent to get back into relevance. Moreover, he’d provide some more floor spacing along with Tyreke Evans and it would make Marc Gasol’s life in the paint instantly easier.
Big Question: The only major concern with him, aside from his ailing back history, is his ball handling which prevents him from getting to the rim. Hence, will he be able to get in the paint and finish at the NBA level?
NBA Comparison: Joe Johnson
5. Dallas Mavericks: Jaren Jackson Jr., PF
Height: 6-11 | Weight: 240 pounds | Age: 18 (Freshman) | Michigan State
2017-18 Stats: 10.9 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.0 BPG
The Skinny: With Dirk Nowitzki living out his final years (or days, who knows) as a Maverick, the club needs an immediate replacement at power forward. That can be Jaren Jackson Jr., who is widely regarded as the best defender in his class and talent-wise, he’s a top-three pick. Another strength of his is that he’s a pretty good shooter amongst big men prospects, possessing a clean jumper.
Big Question: Despite his good jumper, scouts still have questions about his offensive ceiling. Because of this, will he be able to polish himself offensively in order to become a versatile power forward?
NBA Comparison: Shareef Abdur-Rahim
6. Orlando Magic: Mohamed Bamba, C
Height: 7-0 | Weight: 225 pounds | Age: 19 (Freshman) | Texas
2017-18 Stats: 12.9 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 3.7 BPG
The Skinny: Along with Jaren Jackson Jr., Bamba is regarded as one of the most polished defenders of this draft class. And with his 7-foot-10 wingspan, it’s easy to see why. With Nikola Vucevic trade winds swirling around the league, this pick would have Bamba be the successor to his Croatian counterpart. Aside from his defense, he is also pretty mobile for a man his size, since he finds no trouble getting up and down the court.
Big Question: When you see him play, his thin, slender frame stands out. That being said, he needs to add a couple of more pounds to compete with NBA-level big men, begging the question of his ability to do so as his NBA career goes on.
NBA Comparison: Rudy Gobert
7. Chicago Bulls: Trae Young, PG
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 180 pounds | Age: 19 (Freshman) | Oklahoma
2017-18 Stats: 27.4 PPG, 8.8 APG, 36.1% 3FG
The Skinny: In a very long time, we’ve never seen a point guard who has the ceiling of Stephen Curry, but at the same time, also the floor of Jimmer Fredette. However, the Bulls do need a point guard, since I personally don’t think Kris Dunn is the long term answer. He’s got essentially limitless range from deep and is adept at shot creation, along with having great playmaking.
Big Question: His size, along with the lack of defensive prowess, can be a problem for NBA clubs who want to draft him. Will whichever team takes him be able to hide them in their defensive scheme like the Warriors do with Curry?
NBA Comparison: Mike Bibby
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (Via Nets): Wendell Carter, C
Height: 6-10 | Weight: 260 pounds | Age: 19 (Freshman) | Duke
2017-18 Stats: 13.5 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 2.1 BPG
The Skinny: With this pick, the Cavs decide to go through the BPA (Best Player Available) route and take Wendell Carter, who also fills a need at center. The Duke big man has long been overshadowed by the likes of Marvin Bagley III, but that does not mean he can not play. Carter is a great rebounder, and he has all the measurables to keep up with NBA-level shooters. He also is a pretty good shooter, shooting at a 41% clip in college.
Big Question: With the NBA seemingly moving on to more versatile big men who can guard the 1-5 spots, Carter does not possess this ability. Will he be able to develop such skill?
NBA Comparison: Al Horford
9. New York Knicks: Mikal Bridges, SF/SG
Height: 6-7 | Weight: 210 pounds | Age: 21 (Junior) | Vilanova
2017-18 Stats: 18.0 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 43% 3FG
The Skinny: The first of the Bridges’ to come off the board will be Mikal, seeing that the Knicks desperately need wing players. He has the potential to become a good defender and excellent spot-up shooter in the NBA. If the Knicks pick him, this move will immediately make them playoff hopefuls. They missed out on the posteason this season since Kristaps Porzingis went down with a devastating injury.
Big Question: There is no glaring weakness in his game, but his upside is not up to par compared to his other prospect counterparts. Thus, does he have the star potential in order to become the face of the Knicks alongside Porzingis?
NBA Comparison: Otto Porter
10. Philadelphia 76ers (Via Lakers): Miles Bridges, SF
Height: 6-7 | Weight: 225 pounds | Age: 20 (Sophmore) | Michigan State
2017-18 Stats: 17.1 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 36.4% 3FG
The Skinny: The 76ers go with the BPA in this situation, and it works out perfectly for them. One thing Miles Bridges is known for is his elite athleticism, and they could use his skills in order to help run the floor. The potential is also there to become one of the best wing players of his generation. He can provide solid production as a high-energy glue guy.
Big Question: Like Trae Young, he’s a flashy prospect, but also has many glaring weaknesses that can hamper his game. However, the big one he has is his jumper, and whether he’ll be able to develop a pull-up jumper to complement his athletic game.
NBA Comparison: Jerry Stackhouse
SIDENOTE: Picks 11-20 are coming soon, stay tuned…