The draft is tomorrow. Here is my last stab at how the first round could play out.
1. Phoenix Suns – C DeAndre Ayton, Arizona. I have maintained all along that Ayton would be the choice here, and I see nothing to change my mind. The best prospect and fit for the Suns.
2. Sacramento Kings – PF/C Marvin Bagley III, Duke. Bagley would have been the first overall pick in 2019 if he did not reclassify. This is a great get for the Kings.
3. Atlanta Hawks – SG/SF Luke Doncic, Slovenia. I have remained steadfast in my Doncic to Suns prediction. He is a good fit on the court, and, perhaps more importantly, could get people watching the Hawks play again and sell some merchandise.
4. Memphis Grizzlies – SF/PF Michael Porter Jr., Missouri. The Grizzlies think they can get back to the 50 win plateau, and Bomba or Jackson Jr. would be a highly drafted backup. It is risky to add another injury plagued player to a roster full of injury plagued guys, but Porter Jr. has star potentail.
5. Dallas Mavericks – PF/C Jaren Jackson Jr., Michigan State. Jackson Jr. is still a bit of a project, but has sky high potential and could develop into a fantastic new generation center.
6. Orlando Magic – PF/C Mohamed Bamba, Texas. The Magic could use a point guard but this roster is so talent starved that they cannot afford to pass on the best player available.
7. Chicago Bulls – PF/C Wendell Carter Jr., Duke. Carter Jr. has an old school/new school game as a center. Along with Markkanen and Portis, he would give the Bulls quite a nice big man rotation.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers – PG Trae Young, Oklahoma. Whether LeBron James returns or not, the Cavaliers need youth in the back court in the worst way. Young should have no problem beating out George Hill, and his confidence and shooting should endear himself to Cavaliers fans.
9. New York Knicks – SF Kevin Knox, Kentucky. Knox stock has been rising, and the Knicks are said to really like him. The fit makes sense, as he has nice length and shooting touch, and New York is starved for wing talent.
10. Philadelphia 76ers – SG/SF Mikal Bridges, Villanova. Every team in the league can find a spot for a shooting wing who plays solid defense like Bridges. He would fit in well with the various ball handlers in Philadelphia.
11. Charlotte Hornets – PG Collin Sexton, Alabama. The Hornets have already begun the purge, trading away Dwight Howard. Expect that to continue, so Charlotte should just go with the best player available.
12. Los Angeles Clippers – PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kentucky. The Clippers are looking for a point guard and a big man with their two picks. Gilgeous-Alexander is not a great shooter, but offers everything else you want from a point guard.
13. Los Angeles Clippers – PF/C Robert Williams, Texas A&M. The Clippers have been linked heavily to Williams. He offers NBA ready defense and rebounding, and could grow into a decent scorer as well.
14. Denver Nuggets – SF/PF Miles Bridges, Michigan State. Bridges is falling a bit because he is not great at any one thing. The Nuggets could lose Wilson Chandler, which would open up some small forward minutes.
15. Washington Wizards – SG Jerome Robinson, Boston College. Robinson is flying up draft boards. Scouts love his demeanor, and of course, his great shooting doesn’t hurt either.
16. Phoenix Suns – SG Lonnie Walker, Miami. The Suns are set at shooting guard obviously, but Walker has nice potential and I thought he could have been a top five pick had he stayed at Miami one more season.
17. Milwaukee Bucks – SG/SF Troy Brown, Oregon. The Bucks are looking for wing help. Troy Brown needs to develop as a shooter, but is already a strong slasher, ball handler and rebounder.
18. San Antonio Spurs – SG Zhaire Smith, Texas Tech. Smith is a tweener size wise, but is a pesky defender who can attack the basket as well.
19. Atlanta Hawks – SF Dzanan Musa, Bosnia. The Hawks have three first round picks, so can gamble on the foreign prospect here. Musa says he wants to play in the NBA this season, which should slightly improve his stock.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves – SG/SF Jacob Evans, Cincinnati. The Timberwolves are thought to be very high on Evans. Of course, the coaching staff never plays rookies, even though Evans would be a very nice backup wing.
21. Utah Jazz – SG/SF Kevin Huerter, Maryland. Huerter is thought to have a promise in the 20’s. I really like his game, and he would give the Jazz another very versatile wing to go with Ingles and Mitchell.
22. Chicago Bulls – SG Donte DiVincenzo, Villanova. A surprise draft entrant, DiVincenzo looks like a first round lock. The Bulls starting guards are not huge three point threats, and DiVincenzo can really stretch the floor.
23. Indiana Pacers – PG Aaron Holiday, UCLA. Both Collison and Joseph will be free agents in 2019. I liken Holiday to Collison, a player who could bounce around as a mid to lower end starting point guard for the next decade.
24. Portland Trail Blazers – SG Anfernee Simons, United States. The Trail Blazers have been heavily scouting Simons, who could be a high impact backup for both guards.
25. Los Angeles Lakers – PG Elie Okobo, France. The Lakers are trying to build a super team and may not want a rookie contract on the books.
26. Philadelphia 76ers – SG Grayson Allen, Duke. Like Bridges, Allen simply has to park at the three point line and receive passes from Simmons et. al.
27. Boston Celtics – SG/SF Chandler Hutchison, Boise State. Hutchison seems to have punched a ticket to the first round, most likely higher than this.
28. Golden State Warriors – SF Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State. Bates-Diop has good size and is a tough player. He can learn from Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green on how to be effective in this system without demanding the ball.
29. Brooklyn Nets – SG/SF Melvin Frazier, Tulane. Frazier has come out of nowhere and is a fringe first round pick. He is a very athletic wing with strong defensive upside.
30. Atlanta Hawks – C Mitchell Robinson, United States. With three first round picks, the Hawks can afford to gamble on Robinson here.