#1 Celtics (from BKN):
Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington
Oh, the possibilities with this pick. Rumors are swirling around Danny Ainge’s decision here, does he take a PG that could be a starter post-Isaiah Thomas (who’s 30 and will be a free agent next summer). Or does he go for the big trade for a Paul George or a Jimmy Butler? The answer gets murkier every day it seems, as now reports have surfaced from Marc Stein that the Celtics and Sixers are seriously considering swapping spots, at the expense of future Sixers picks.
If I’m Danny Ainge, I don’t take the Sixers deal, given his track record with the “fleecing” of Brooklyn’s picks. Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart show serious promise, but neither looks to be a future All-Star, which is what the Celtics need.
So, this leaves us with George or Butler. George joins Thomas in FA next year, and the Celtics could be burdened with having to find space for both of them should they take the trade. Butler could work, but at the expense of Avery Bradley and the development of either Smart or Brown. This being said, George is the one who wants out, Jimmy is just going with whatever. I think it breaks down like this:
40%: Keep the pick
30%: Trade for Paul George
20%: Trade for Jimmy Butler
10%: Who the hell knows
Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA
Don’t let Magic fool you, I still think the Lakers aren’t overlooking this kid. Family burdens aside, Lonzo can and will successfully run an offense. The Lakers might have a budding star in D’Angelo Russell, but have space on their roster to continue adjusting options during their rebuild. Many who watch their games say that Russell could succeed at the off guard spot, and I could see it too.
Both could thrive in a rotation where Lonzo goes to the bench towards the end of the quarter, leaving Russell to run point for a bit. It’s not like Russell can’t be the floor general, he’s just better at scoring the ball, which ties in nicely with Ball’s pass first attitude.
There’s always going to be trade rumors in the top 5, but I strongly believe that LA holds on to this one and Magic starts his GM career with potentially the most explosive backcourt in the league in a few years.
#3 76ers (from SAC):
Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas
De’Aaron Fox would be my second guess here, but considering the improvement of TJ McConnell and amount of time Ben Simmons is projected to handle the ball, Jackson seems like a good fit. According to sources, he had an underwhelming workout with the Lakers, and would help bring a defensive identity to Brett Brown’s squad. At 6’8” with serious athleticism, Jackson has potential to be a future All Star, and could be the guy guarding LeBron should the Sixers steal an 8 seed in the next two years.
(Side Note): Rumors have the Celtics interested in Jackson…why? Didn’t you already take a surprising wing at #3 last year?
Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke
With Phoenix’s gluttony of PG’s (Bledsoe, Knight, Ulis) the Suns should go for the smooth shooting Tatum here. Wing positions are settled for the most part with Booker and Warren, however Tatum could begin his career as a quality shooter off the bench. To me he reminds me of a more athletic Danny Granger, time will tell how good he can be.
#5 Kings (from PHI):
De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky
I know, I know, he had great workouts. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t two potential stars at PG ahead of him. I could definitely see him going in the top 2, if Magic holds true to the rumors, there could be a world where the Lakers choose him over Ball. But I just don’t see it.
Put the tournament game behind you. One bad game does NOT make one player better than the other. Of course 39/8/3 is better than 10/8/3. But TJ McConnell had a better game than D’Angelo Russell in the tournament 2 years ago. That didn’t change the minds of the Lakers.
That being said, I really like this kid. With the Kings finally committing to rebuilding, they could use talent at any position. Fox is by far the most talented prospect left on the board, and they’d be very happy allowing him to learn under Darren Collison and Ty Lawson, whether he starts or becomes a 6th man.
Jonathan Isaac, SF, Florida St
If the Magic are committed to Elfrid Payton’s slow improvement, they should go with an energy wing in Isaac here. Could back up Terrence Ross from the start, however with his energy and fluid shooting stroke, Isaac could definitely make a name for himself in the league. You remember Rashard Lewis right?
Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga
With a solid core of guards already at their disposal, and a scary starting lineup when all healthy, Minnesota should be looking to upgrade their bench. It’s worth taking a chance on Collins this early, as he projects as a Brad Daugherty type with rock solid fundamentals. He most likely won’t start over KAT or Dieng, but hey, the Wolves already drafted 3 possible stars these past 3 years. It’s a safe pick.
Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky
Reports on this guy are all over the place, from “might not live up to expectations” to “future All-Star”. I tend to lean towards the latter, but I might be biased based off the fact that the Knicks need star power. Phil Jackson might be the biggest a**hole GM in NBA history, and Melo is all but gone in a couple years (if not next year). Who knows where Derrick Rose will end up?
New York hasn’t had an exciting guard since Jeremy Lin, and that was a solid 4-5 months. The Knicks have nothing resembling a young core focused around Porzingis, and with all the flack Phil has been getting I hope he makes the right choice here.
Dennis Smith, PG, NC State
Let’s be honest, we knew Harrison Barnes wasn’t a franchise player. Hell, if it wasn’t for Yogi Ferrell shattering expectations last year, we could see Dallas in the Top 5. That being said, it’s time to gear up for the post-Dirk era.
This draft is deep, but very young. Dennis Smith (see: Davis, Baron) may be the 4th best PG in this class, but by no means is he second-tier talent wise. I could see the Magic taking him, but if he’s available to the Mavs they should make Yogi prove his contract wasn’t a product of a fluke season.
#10 Kings (from NOP):
Lauri Markannen, SF, Arizona
Probably not quick enough to be more than a stretch 4 in the NBA, but the 7 footer with a sweet stroke should find his niche. Still raw, however, his frame should translate well into the big man shooting era. Fox does need someone to kick it out to, after all.
Frank Ntilikina, PG, France
Could use help at the backup PG slot, as they have too many big men on the roster and no premier wings at this stage in the draft. Ntilikina could be considered the Porzingis of the draft, not much known about him but he’s been on draft boards all season as a raw but exciting prospect.
Terrence Ferguson, SG, Australia
My first thought was a PG. Reggie Jackson’s last year all but proved he wasn’t all he (or Stan Van) thought he was. When your 27 year old PG is putting up 14/5, it’s time to evaluate your options. The only problem here is, all the good ones are gone.
Enter Ferguson, a poor man’s Zach Lavine with more defensive potential. Improving his shooting stroke will be key if he wants to make an impact on this squad. It would be easy to see him coming in with the second unit, and possibly providing them with another scoring option if the offense gets bogged down.
Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina
I thought about Donovan Mitchell or Luke Kennard here, but after taking a second peek at the Denver depth chart and seeing only Wilson Chandler and Mike Miller under “SF”, I decided to think better of it. Jackson seems to be one of the more NBA ready players, with a smooth stroke and good frame to build on. Time will tell if he becomes a defensive threat, however, he has a solid offensive game to build on and provides another target for Jokic’s supreme passing.
John Collins, PF, Wake Forest
The Heat are another one of those teams that could use anything. With no position set except for SF and C, Collins should prove to be a very solid prospect this late in the lottery. He has great base skills for a PF/C, and will provide a dynamic rebounding duo next to Whiteside. If this young, up and coming Heat team can rattle off wins like they did in the middle of the season, while at the same time resuscitating Dion Waiters’ career, then anything is possible.
TJ Leaf, PF, UCLA
Could become the steal of the draft, could become the dark horse that never ended up shining. His athleticism leaves something to be desired, but he’s NBA ready and could immediately start next to Nurkic in the front court. I have a soft spot for smooth shooting forms.
Luke Kennard, SG, Duke
What’s that about smooth shooting forms? Kennard is more than just a spot up shooter, and could be a surprise talent in the NBA. Not to mention, he could be the key for my Bulls horrible god awful dreadful 3 pt %.
Jarrett Allen, C, Texas
Kyle Kuzma and Tyler Lydon come to mind here, however I think Milwaukee sticks with the best talent available approach. If Khris Middleton wasn’t injured for 3/4 of the season, these Baby Bucks could’ve held a top 4 seed in the playoffs.
Greg Monroe did play like an awakened monster in the postseason, but it never hurts to stock up on bigs. This is another one of those picks that could be moved, considering the best fit would be a shooting wing (see: Pick #13).
Harry Giles, PF/C, Duke
Because…why not? Durability will scare a lot of teams away, and I could see Giles dropping as low at 25. But sometimes you have to take risks, you can’t overlook a talent like this.
This was a guaranteed Top 10 pick a year ago, and Indy could use anything, especially after that “best FA class” last postseason turned into just another swept 7 seed. Then again, there’s always Fultz…I’ve never really cared for Teague anyways.
Kyle Kuzma, SF, Utah
Taurean Prince showed some promise in his first year, though inconsistent. While I don’t think Paul Millsap leaves, you can never be too cautious. Kuzma is a slasher who has been up and down on draft boards, but I could see the Hawks taking a chance here.
Derrick White, G, Colorado
With Leaf already rounding out the front court, Portland should be looking for a guard here. Finding better talent that Shabazz Napier could actually prove difficult at this stage, since it is a top-heavy guard draft. White could prove to be an effective combo guard off the bench, capable of playing either backcourt positions.
Justin Patton, C, Creighton
Quick! Everybody say what Russell Westbrook needs on his team on 3!
It really is that obvious, to the point where I’m sick of people saying it. Fortunately for Russell, there’s someone with sound mechanics who could be a good fit. Unfortunately for Russell, it’s another big man that might end up 4th on the depth chart. Should’ve tanked harder, hopefully your GM can pull off another draft night robbery like last year’s.
#22 Nets (from WAS):
OG Anunoby, F, Indiana
The Nets need two things: talent and a replacement for Brook Lopez. They get one of those things in Anunoby, previously a mid to high 2nd rounder who’s stock has been rising rapidly. He’s crazy athletic, with a reported 7’6” wingspan, NBA ready body and great defensive tools. Oh, wait, it’s another Rondae Hollis-Jefferson…
Tyler Lydon, PF, Syracuse
With the frontcourt logjam Toronto has (plus the likely departure of Kyle Lowry), a wing would once again be great here. Since the middle of this draft is lacking in that department, Lydon could provide the Raptors with another shooting big to support the aging Patrick Patterson.
Semi Ojeleye, F, SMU
The Jazz seem to be one of those “one good piece away” teams. They have drafted well throughout the years, it seems to just be a case of reaching their full potential. Ojeleye is by no means a starter, but could provide another backup wing for Joe Johnson/Ingles insurance.
Bam Adebayo, C, Kentucky
Wait, it’s another Bismack Biyombo? Maybe, but if Adebayo is still on the board this late I can’t see Orlando passing on him. The do have 2 more picks coming up anyways, Adebayo in my opinion could go as high as 18.
Anzejs Pasecniks, C, Spain (born Latvia)
My first real “draft ’n stash”, though with last year’s bonanza of Euros I could see a few more coming before now. Might be the best talent left, however, Portland should also take a look at Hartenstein.
Ivan Rabb, PF, California
What was that other thing the Nets needed? A replacement for Brook Lopez? Well, sorry, you won’t find much more than a stopgap here. But that’s ok, Rabb can be more than serviceable to a core that showed some surprising signs at times last season
Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA
Ike is simply a beast. Though he did come off the bench for the Bruins, scouts love the potential he shows, and could bring some more muscle to the front court of the purple and gold.
Isaiah Hartenstein, PF/C, Lithuania
May be a draft/stash, may be the next random under-the-radar Euro the Spurs love to find. Most mocks had him going close to the lottery towards the beginning of the season, but I believe he’ll stay in Europe for a year or two to continue polishing his game.
Tony Bradley, C, North Carolina
Impressive physicals to go along with a decent feel for the game should be enough to provide good competition for a top 14 spot. Sorry, no starters or key reserves this late.