I will try to keep the complaining about the lack of talent in this draft to a minimum. Cannot be worse than the 2000 draft, can it?
1. New Orleans Pelicans (33-49)
SF/PF Zion Williamson, Fr, Duke
6’7, 285 lbs
22.6 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.1 apg
No change here. Zion Williamson will be a New Orleans Pelican. He has the charisma and fan friendly game to become the new face of this franchise. Hopefully for Pelicans fans, they can build a winner around him, something they were unable to do with Chris Paul and Anthony Davis.
2. Memphis Grizzlies (33-49)
PG Ja Morant, So, Murray State
6’3, 195 lbs
24.5 ppg, 10.0 apg, 5.7 rpg
Ja Morant recently had surgery, but it is thought to be extremely minor, so I will not bump him out of the two spot. Memphis already moved on from Marc Gasol, and should be able to trade Mike Conley, which would officially hand the changing of the guard to point guard Morant and big man Jaren Jackson Jr.
3. New York Knicks (17-65)
SG/SF RJ Barrett, Fr, Duke
6’7, 202 lbs
22.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 4.3 apg
The Knicks front office had visions of Zion Williamson, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. But, for the 20th year in a row, a grand plan has backfired. Instead, the Knicks have a barren roster and the third pick. RJ Barrett is a decent player, and should be a 20 point per game scorer rather quickly, but he will not really move the needle in New York. The Knicks need to find a plan and stick to it.
4. Los Angeles Lakers (37-45)
PG Darius Garland, Fr, Vanderbilt
6’2, 175 lbs
16.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.6 apg
The draft gets interesting here. The next ten or so players have talent, but also severe question marks. Honestly, this is not a good draft, and from this point on you are just hoping to draft a starter.
Darius Garland has been connected to this spot, which shows how weak this class is. He was injured basically the entire season. While Garland likely has a promise in the lottery, this just seems too high for me. Butit is not like Jarrett Culver or anyone else is a world beater, so I will yield to the popular rumors. The Lakers would absolutely love to move this pick, maybe to a desperate point guard needy team like the Suns.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers (19-63)
SF/PF De’Andre Hunter, So, Virginia
6’7, 225 lbs
15.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.0 apg
Cleveland lost 63 games and all they got was this lousy forward. In all seriousness, De’Andre Hunter is a good player. He can hit the three, plays solid defense and is a competetor. But he lacks a great deal of upside and will not make Cleveland forget about LeBron James. Not that anyone other than Zion Williamson would have.
6. Phoenix Suns (19-63)
PG/SG Coby White, Fr, North Carolina
6’5, 185 lbs
16.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.5 apg
For some reason, the Suns chose to enter last season without a legitimate point guard on the roster. The results were predictably disastrous. Phoenix needs to find a lead guard in this draft. Fortunately, Coby White is available. I like White better than Darius Garland, thanks to the fact that he actually had a year of development playing for a top college program.
7. Chicago Bulls (22-60)
SG Jarrett Culver, So, Texas Tech
6’5, 195 lbs
18.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 3.7 apg
For the third straight year, the Bulls pick 7th overall. While Jarrett Culver is not the point guard Chicago covets, he is the best player available. Teams can never have enough shooting, which is doubly true for a Chicago Bulls team that lacks outside range from the back court.
8. Atlanta Hawks (29-53)
SF/PF Cam Reddish, Fr, Duke
6’8, 218 lbs
13.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.0 apg
How good is Cam Reddish really? He struggled bad as the third fiddle in Duke’s offense, but he was a top recruit. That will be up to scouts to determine, but here he would be a decent gamble, especially for a team that has three first round picks. Atlanta can afford the risk.
9. Washington Wizards (32-50)
SF/PF Rui Hachimura, Jr, Gonzaga
6’8, 230 lbs
19.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.5 apg
The Wizards could move Bradley Beal and start over from scratch. Even if they hang on to their All Star, the front court is in shambles. Rui Hachimura improved drastically during his three years at Gonzaga, and could be a Tobias Harris-like modern day power forward. If he was a bit more athletic, he would be a top five pick.
10. Atlanta Hawks (29-53) (from DAL)
SF/PF Sekou Doumbouya, France
6’9, 230 lbs
6.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 0.5 apg
Sekou Doumbouya has not developed as hoped, but still could be a late lottery draft and stash prospect, due to the lack of talent in this class. If Atlanta keeps all three of it’s first round picks, they are a prime team to take the plunge. Doumbouya has top five potential.
11. Minnesota Timberwolves (36-46)
PF PJ Washington, So, Kentucky
6’8, 228 lbs
14.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.9 apg
PJ Washington improved his game in basically every way during his sophomore season at Kentucky. Couple that with an improving jump shot and nice combine, and he could realistically find his way into the lottery. Fringe playoff teams often look for safe contributors here, and Washington would be a nice backup big in Minnesota.
12. Charlotte Hornets (39-43)
C Goga Bitadze, Republic of Georgia
6’11, 250 lbs
11.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.5 bpg
Charlotte has been terrible at developing big men, with swings and misses like Bismack Biyombo, Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky. Goga Bitadze is a different kind of big man. He is tough inside, yet can shoot it as well. He has drawn some Jusuf Nurkic comparisons (attitude as well as game) and could give Charlotte some much needed toughness.
13. Miami Heat (39-43)
PF Brandon Clarke, Jr, Gonzaga
6’8, 207 lbs
16.9 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 3.2 bpg
Too old and too undersized, yet Brandon Clarke has muscled his way into the late lottery. He will not be a good fit with every team, but Miami is basically a team full of role players that find a way to be competitive. Clarke is basically Kenneth Faried from five years ago.
14. Boston Celtics (49-33) (from SAC)
PF/C Mfiondu Kabengele, So, Florida State
6’10, 250 lbs
13.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.5 bpg
Mfiondu Kabengele used a strong NCAA Tournament (and weak draft class) to go from an unknown to probable mid first round pick. He fits the mold of what teams look for in a modern big man. He can rebound and block shots, and has range out to the three point line. Boston could have their new Kelly Olynyk.
15. Detroit Pistons (41-41)
SG Nickeil Alexander-Walker, So, Virginia Tech
6’5, 205 lbs
16.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 4.0 apg
Detroit remains on the lookout for shooting. Nickeil Alexander-Walker had a miserable NCAA Tournament showing, but at this point in the draft, if the Pistons can find a solid bench contributor, consider it a success.
16. Orlando Magic (42-40)
SG Tyler Herro, Fr, Kentucky
6’5, 195 lbs
14.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.5 apg
Tyler Herro was the fourth or fifth highest recruit for the Wildcats, but might have been the team’s most impressive freshman. Shooting is always in demand, especially for the Magic, which should make Herro a mid to late first round pick.
17. Atlanta Hawks (29-53) (from BRK)
PF/C Jaxson Hayes, Fr, Texas
6’11, 220 lbs
10.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.2 bpg
Jaxson Hayes has been great in small doses, but guys like him usually do not make much of a difference in the NBA. A lot of mocks have him in the top ten, but the mid to late first round makes more sense. Hayes would fit best with a team that has a Trae Young to throw him lobs on the break.
18. Indiana Pacers (48-34)
C Bruno Fernando, So, Maryland
6’10, 240 lbs
13.6 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 1.9 bpg
Starters Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis are not going anywhere, but front court depth is always valuable. Bruno Fernando may top out as a poor man’s Steven Adams, but those guys are valuable shot blockers and rebounders who can clog the paint defensively.
19. San Antonio Spurs (48-34)
C Bol Bol, Fr, Oregon
7’2, 222 lbs
21.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 2.7 bpg
The Spurs front court is a bit of a mess, but fortunately there are a lot of big man options available here. Lower body injuries for big men are always scary, but Bol Bol was rolling before his injury. San Antonio could always choose to redshirt him in 2019-2020, especially since Gregg Popovich is notoriously hesitant to play rookies.
20. Boston Celtics (49-33)
SG/SF Nassir Little, Fr, North Carolina
6’6, 220 lbs
9.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 0.7 apg
Nassir Little had a pretty nice NCAA Tournament run, but there is just not enough to go off of to ensure a lottery selection. He would be a solid choice in the teens though, due to theoretical upside. At this point in the draft, the reward outweighs the minimal risk.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder (49-33)
PF Grant Williams, Jr, Tennessee
6’8, 240 lbs
18.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 3.2 apg
This is an Oklahoma City Thunder pick if I have ever seen one. Grant Williams is tough, experienced and the type of niche role player this franchise loves to have surrounding their stars.
22. Boston Celtics (49-33) (from SAC)
PF Luka Samanic, Croatia
6’11, 227 lbs
8.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.1 apg
During the combine, Luka Samanic showed the type of offensive skills that could make him an NBA rotation player one day. The Celtics have three first round picks and a long history of drafting stash prospects. This is a good fit.
23. Utah Jazz (50-32)
SG Matisse Thybulle, Sr, Washington
6’5, 195 lbs
9.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.5 spg
One of my favorite pure role players in this draft, Matisse Thybulle is this generation’s Tony Allen. He is a defensive whiz who was among the nation leaders in steals, and blocks, as a 6’5 guard. He will never be asked to contribute much on offense, but could become a defensive pest for a Jazz team full of offensive minded guards.
24. Philadelphia 76ers (51-31)
PF/C Nicolas Claxton, So, Georgia
6’11, 220 lbs
13.0 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2.5 bpg
The joke used to be that the Sam Hinkie 76ers had too many big men. Now there is a serious lack of depth behind Joel Embiid. Nicolas Claxton was the big winner of the combine, going from someone who was “testing the waters” to a legitimate first round pick. He is tall, agile and can do a bit of everything.
25. Portland Trail Blazers (53-29)
SF Cameron Johnson, Sr, North Carolina
6’9, 210 lbs
16.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.4 apg
Rodney Hood 2.0 is the goal here for Portland. Like Hood, Cameron Johnson is a tall, lanky spot up shooter who was perhaps the best three point shooter in college basketball last year.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers (19-63) (from HOU)
SG Romeo Langford, Fr, Indiana
6’6, 215 lbs
16.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.3 apg
Romeo Langford had an underwhelming college career but has the talent to develop into a mid range starting shooting guard. The Cavaliers are a bad team picking at the end of the first round. This is the type of dart throw lottery teams in this position often take.
27. Brooklyn Nets (42-40) (from DEN)
SG/SF Keldon Johnson, Fr, Kentucky
6’6, 211 lbs
13.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.6 apg
Players like Keldon Johnson are a dime a dozen, but are always welcome guys to have off the bench. He can hit some jump shots and is a passable defender with the room to improve. He would work well with the superstars Brooklyn hopes to attract.
28. Golden State Warriors (57-25)
SF Dylan Windler, Sr, Belmont
6’8, 200 lbs
21.3 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 2.5 apg
This has been my rock solid late first round prediction for months and I am sticking with it. Dylan Windler is a supremely confident shooter with the percentages to back it up. The jump in competition will obviously be a challenge, but shooting is shooting, and that is all the Warriors will ask from him.
29. San Antonio Spurs (48-34)
C Daniel Gafford, So, Arkansas
6’11, 233 lbs
16.9 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.0 bpg
Scouts continue to focus on what Daniel Gafford cannot do as opposed to what he can. He is not a shooter, and might not be strong enough to bang for 30 minutes per game. However, he is a very athletic and hard working big man who could work his way into a solid role for the Spurs.
30. Milwaukee Bucks (60-22)
PG/SG Ty Jerome, Jr, Virginia
6’5, 200 lbs
13.6 ppg, 5.5 apg, 4.2 rpg
Ty Jerome is a lot like former Bucks guard Matthew Dellavedova. Not the most athletic, but savvy, Jerome could become a decent backup guard who can hold down the fort for 10-15 minutes per game.
31. Brooklyn Nets (from NY) – SG Kevin Porter Jr., Fr, USC
32. Phoenix Suns – SF KZ Okpala, So, Stanford
33. Philadelphia 76ers (from CLE) – SG Luguentz Dort, Fr, Arizona State
34. Philadelphia 76ers (from CHI) – PG/SG Joshua Obiesie, Germany
35. Atlanta Hawks – PG Carsen Edwards, Jr, Purdue
36. Charlotte Hornets (from WAS) – PG Jean Lecque, United States
37. Dallas Mavericks – SF/PF Isaiah Roby, Jr, Nebraska
38. Chicago Bulls (from MEM) – C Jontay Porter, So, Missouri
39. New Orleans Pelicans – SF/PF Darius Bazley, United States
40. Sacramento Kings (from MIN) – PG Shamorie Ponds, Jr, St. John’s
41. Atlanta Hawks (from LAL) – SF Deividas Sirvydis, Lithuania
42. Philadelphia 76ers (from SAC) – SG Zach Norvell, So, Gonzaga
43. Minnesota Timberwolves (from MIA) – SF Admiral Schofield, Sr, Tennessee
44. Atlanta Hawks (from CHA) – SG/SF Louis King, Fr, Oregon
45. Detroit Pistons – PF Eric Paschall, Sr, Villanova
46. Orlando Magic (from BKN) – PG Jordan Bone, Jr, Tennessee
47. Sacramento Kings (from ORL) – PF/C Alen Smailagic, Serbia
48. Los Angeles Clippers – SG/SF Talen Horton-Tucker, Fr, Iowa State
49. San Antonio Spurs – PF Tyler Cook, Jr, Iowa
50. Indiana Pacers – SF Kris Wilkes, So, UCLA
51. Boston Celtics – C Tacko Fall, Sr, UCF
52. Charlotte Hornets (from OKC) – SF/PF Jalen McDaniels, So, San Diego State
53. Utah Jazz – PF Chuma Okeke, Jr, Auburn
54. Philadelphia 76ers – SG/SF Miye Oni, Sr, Yale
55. New York Knicks (from HOU) – SG Jaylen Nowell, So, Washington
56. Los Angeles Clippers (from POR) – SF Jaylen Hoard, Fr, Wake Forest
57. New Orleans Pelicans (from DEN) – PF/C Naz Reid, Fr, LSU
58. Golden State Warriors – PF Dedric Lawson, Jr, Kansas
59. Toronto Raptors – SG Adam Mokoka, France
60. Sacramento Kings (from MIL) – SF Ignas Brazdeikis, Fr, Michigan