1. Phoenix Suns
Jacob’s Analysis: Ayton and Dončić have created separation as the two best prospects in the draft, and Ayton’s elite size and athleticism gives him the edge by giving him a higher ceiling. With the top pick you take the best player on the board, and it just so happens that he comes in at a position of need. Booker and Ayton have the potential to be a dangerous pairing with Ayton’s post game complimenting Devin on the perimeter, and the ability for the two to play together in the pick-and-roll.
Jack’s Counter: Luka Dončić. Dončić is the best player on the board, and while the suns have a hole at center, Elfrid Payton does not exactly inspire confidence that the point guard position is locked down. Plus, new Suns coach Igor Kokoškov is from Slovenia and has already coached Dončić on the 2017 EuroBasket gold medal-winning Slovenian National Team. Seems like a match made in heaven.
2. Sacramento Kings
Jacob’s Analysis: With Ayton off the board, Dončić becomes the easy pick for virtually any team in the league. Like with the number one pick, you take the best player on the board this high in the draft and that’s Dončić. His perimeter shooting and playmaking compliments Fox’s ability to penetrate and get to the rim. The two can cover each other’s shortcomings as well, and Dončić’s size allows for the Kings to eventually bring Buddy Hield back into the starting lineup with them as well.
Jack’s Counter: DeAndre Ayton. This is less of a counter as much as circumstance. Since Dončić is off my board, Ayton is the next best available player. While he’s not the rim protector Willie Cauley-Stein is, he’s still one of the most offensively gifted big-man prospects since (and including) Karl-Anthony Towns.
3. Atlanta Hawks
Jacob’s Analysis: The Hawks really need help everywhere, and Jaren’s combination of size, length, athleticism, projectable shooting, and monstrous defense, on top of being the youngest player in the class, makes him the best prospect after Ayton and Dončić. While fit should not be a concern for Atlanta, his ability to play next to John Collins, the Hawks’ best long term prospect, gives him an edge over Bagley who would cause some concerns in this regard.
Jack’s Counter: None. He’s the youngest player in the class, yet also one of the most NBA ready. The perfect embodiment of the modern day center, Jackson Jr. is exactly who the Hawks should be targeting.
4. Memphis Grizzlies
Jacob’s Analysis: Bagley’s immense talent carries him to the fourth spot despite major concerns about where he fits in the modern NBA. Bagley’s shakey free throw shooting worries teams about his ability to play the power forward position, while his horrendous rim protection at Duke rules him out of being a five for most teams. Memphis is a perfect fit for Bagley as Marc Gasol is his perfect compliment. Gasol is still a good defender at his age capable of protecting the rim, and he has developed into a solid shooter as well spacing the floor. Next to Gasol, Bagley can play forward on defense and act as a center on offense while he continues to develop his game. Gasol’s elite passing should help Bagley as well as they orchestrate a high-low offense, when Bagley cuts to the rim, or when he gets in the right spot for dump-offs. Getting to play with a high level point guard like Conley will be great for him as well.
Jack’s Counter: None. Bagley was the #1 recruit out of high school for a reason, and his versatility, while it may be a problem for some clubs, fits in well with the Grizzlies. A good mix of a player that can help now and a foundational piece for the future.
5. Dallas Mavericks
Jacob’s Analysis: Bamba is the best prospect still on the board, and fortunately, a great fit for the Mavericks as well who have a hole at center. Bamba’s historic length and good mobility give him DPOY talent on one end, and improved shooting mechanics on the other make him a potential unicorn. Pick plays with Dennis Smith Jr. should be excited to watch as Bamba provides vertical floor spacing, and getting to play with Dirk as he ends his career should only be beneficial towards his development.
Jack’s Counter: None. There have apparently been some rumblings about Dallas passing on Bamba and that Bamba might not be able to stay on the floor in important games. I think both are a little ridiculous. Bamba’s defensive potential is practically unrivaled in this class and with an improving jump shot and decent shooting projections (projected at 31.7%), he can space the floor enough on offense.
6. Orlando Magic
Jacob’s Analysis: Aaron Gordon showed he’s a keeper this season making major strides in his offensive game, and he will hopefully continue to improve next season as he has every year before. I was a fan of Jonathan Isaac during last year’s draft and I still am. Injuries got in his way, but he still projects to become an above average three-point shooter and was already a very good defender with room to improve. With these two hopefully occupying the forward spots for years to come, Young comes in at a position of need to orchestrate the show. His elite playmaking ability should allow the Magic to run in transition, and his deep range will give the Magic the floor spacing they’ve been lacking for years. There’s bust in Young, but his offensive ceiling is sky high and hopefully, pieces like Isaac and Gordon can help to make up for any defensive shortcomings.
Jack’s Counter: None. It feels like the Magic have been looking for the answer at point guard forever. Shelvin Mack led the team in assists last year with an incredible 3.9 assists per game. This team needs some life.
7. Chicago Bulls
Jacob’s Analysis: With Dunn and LaVine in the backcourt and Markkanen at the power forward position, the Bulls needs centers and small forwards. While there are questions regarding which forward spot is best for Porter, once considered by many to be the best prospect in the class, his upside is too high to pass up on at this point in the draft for a Chicago Bulls team that needs to hit a home run. There’s still a star in Porter, and between him, LaVine, and Markkanen the Bulls will have perimeter scoring and floor spacing in spades.
Jack’s Counter: None. Porter is the only prospect left at this point with superstar potential (when someone from the latter part of the draft becomes one later, this take will be shot to the moon) and while the injury concerns are there, he’s a scoring machine with 20+ ppg potential.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Brooklyn Nets)
Jacob’s Analysis: The uncertainty of where LeBron will end up this summer puts the Cavaliers in a tough situation – do they rebuild for the future or compete for next season? Wendell Carter Jr. is a great middle ground for them capable of using his high IQ, versatile skill set, and NBA ready physique to step in and contribute right away at a position of need should LeBron stay, yet still has enough upside to be a good prospect in the future should he go.
Jack’s Counter: None. Imagine if Tristan Thompson was just better at everything. That’s basically Wendell Carter. His basketball IQ is very strong and his jump shot is acceptable, which give the Cavs the rim protector they need who can also space the floor.
9. New York Knicks
Jacob’s Analysis: The Knicks will have a tough decision to make between Collin Sexton and Mikal Bridges here, but ultimately the athleticism, intensity, and ability to create and make shots of Sexton gives him good upside that should sway New York in his favor. The Knicks still do not have an answer at point guard as, in my eyes, Ntilikina may be better off as a playmaking off-guard than a pure point. A Sexton-Ntilikina backcourt has intriguing defense potential, and Sexton’s ability to penetrate fills a major need for the Knicks. The Garden will love his passion, and he and Porzingis could make for a scary duo on pick-plays.
Jack’s Counter: Mikal Bridges. Considering the Knicks are showing him interest, Collin Sexton isn’t a bad choice. However, Mikal is just the better player. The Knicks may not like his lack of shot creation (and why Sexton would make sense), but his defense and shooting make him an instant starter and solid contributor.
Jacob’s Analysis: The only thing the Sixers should consider if Mikal Bridges lands in their laps on draft night is calling up San Antonio to acquire Kawhi Leonard – otherwise, there is nothing else to think about. Bridges is a perfect fit on the Sixers’ roster capable of contributing immediately as a 3-and-D wing. His ability to cut, finish at the rim, run in transition, drain catch-and-shoot threes, and defend multiple positions is exactly what the Sixers are looking for, and his inability to create from the perimeter won’t be a problem next to Simmons, Embiid, Fultz, Saric, and any potential free agent acquisitions.
Jack’s Counter: Miles Bridges. They’ll look to trade this pick (most likely for an established star), but Bridges is solid as a bench wing. He can potentially play both forward spots and his shooting projections are strong (37.1%). He’ll fit right into the Sixers playoff rotation. However, if the other Bridges fell one more spot, I’m sure they’d be a lot happier.
Jacob’s Analysis: While there is uncertainty surrounding the future of Kemba Walker in Charlotte, given the presence of him and last year’s eleventh overall pick Malik Monk the Hornets will probably be looking for wings rather than guards. Miles Bridges’ athleticism and growing versatility should make him a welcome addition in Charlotte, capable of playing in a large role as soon as he gets there for a Hornets squad that may be looking to contend for a playoff spot next season.
Jack’s Counter: Kevin Knox. Sexton makes sense if the Hornets want to trade Kemba, but in this scenario, Kemba is still on the team. The hornets need wings seeing as Nic Batum became completely unplayable and MKG still can’t figure out his jumper. Knox would provide the secondary scoring the Hornets were hoping would come from Malik Monk.
12. Los Angeles Clippers (via Detroit Pistons)
Jacob’s Analysis: The Clippers need guards and they need upside. Gilgeous-Alexander has the skills to run the point with great length for either guard spot giving him nice potential as a lead guard. Combines a high IQ with versatility both offensively and defensively making him a welcome addition to almost any team. Improvements as the year went on are strong signs of his future development and potential.
Jack’s Counter: Collin Sexton. Clippers’ biggest need? A point guard who can create offense. Best player available? Collin Sexton, a point guard who can create offense. Need I say more?
13. Los Angeles Clippers
Jacob’s Analysis: The Clippers’ needs remain the same. Lonnie Walker edges out the likes of Zhaire Smith here for his superior perimeter shot creation at this stage. Walker struggled to put it all together on a consistent basis at Miami – partially due to injury – giving him some possibility to bust, but his combination of high-level athleticism and the ability to score all over the floor in a variety of ways makes him a very intriguing long-term prospect.
Jack’s Counter: None. The Clippers can take their second 1st rounder in a lot of different directions, but Walker makes a lot of sense as wing to add in the rotation and play next to either Beverly or Sexton.
14. Denver Nuggets
Jacob’s Analysis: The Nuggets are already solid at virtually every position. Robert Williams was a bit of a disappointment this season, but his potential in a Clint Capela type of role makes him a great compliment to Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic as a backup big off the bench to a Nuggets squad looking to move up in the West next season.
Jack’s Counter: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Nikola Jokic is a special player, particularly as a passer. However, having your center as your primary initiator doesn’t work in this version of the NBA. Gilgeous-Alexander can provide the ball-handling and passing to take over for Jamal Murray at the point, while also using his size (6’6″ with a 6’11.5″ wingspan) to switch onto anyone playing 1-3.
15. Washington Wizards
Jacob’s Analysis: At 6’9” with a wingspan over 7’3” Keita Bates-Diop has the perimeter skills to backup Otto Porter on the wing and the size to earn minutes at the power forward spot. Factor in his experience and Bates-Diop can step in and contribute from day one for what was a disappointing Wizards squad.
Jack’s Counter: Robert Williams. The Wizards are spending $35 million next season on big men (Gortat, Mahinmi, Jason Smith). Those guys played a combined 214 minutes in the playoffs, less than both Wall and Beal did individually. They need new blood down low, and Williams provides shot blocking and athleticism that Gortat doesn’t have anymore.
16. Phoenix Suns (via Miami Heat)
Jacob’s Analysis: The Suns now have their center of the future, and Zhaire Smith keeps the upside train moving along. The intensity he brings, especially on defense, will go a long way for a Suns team that will probably still struggle to defend and makes him a nice compliment to Devin Booker on the wing. He can back up both Booker and Jackson and has shown promise as a shooter to go along with absurd athleticism.
Jack’s Counter: Anfernee Simons. I could see the suns taking Jontay Porter here since they took Dončić 1st, but I don’t think he’s worth a pick that high. Taking Simons gives them a mix of three young guys who can all handle the ball or work off it. It would be a fun offense down in Phoenix with all the potential on the outside, plus Josh Jackson swinging between the three and the small-ball four role.
17. Milwaukee Bucks
Jacob’s Analysis: With Eric Bledsoe entering the last year of his contract and the Bucks’ lack of a stable backup, Shake Milton comes in as an oversized point guard at 6’6” 207 lbs with a near 7’1” foot wingspan that will allow him to fit right in with Milwaukee. He can defend multiple positions and is a career 42.7% 3PT letting him space the floor and go off ball with the likes of Giannis, Bledsoe, Middleton, and Brogdon all capable of handling the ball also. After playing for three years at SMU, he should be ready to contribute sooner rather than later for a Bucks team looking to please a disappointed Giannis and Milwaukee fan base.
Jack’s Counter: Zhaire Smith. A paring of Bledsoe, Smith, Middleton and Giannis would be really hard to score on while also being really fun on the fast break. If Smith can prove his college shooting percentage wasn’t an anomaly (45% but on only 1.5 shots per 36 minutes), he’ll be incredibly valuable for years to come.
18. San Antonio Spurs
Jacob’s Analysis: With the Kawhi Leonard situation looking grim, the franchise may be entering its first true rebuild since David Robinson joined the team in 1989. While I have never been the biggest Knox fan, it’s hard to deny his upside as a modern combo-forward capable with the combination of length and agility to switch on defense, the touch to stretch the floor, and the perimeter skills to create for himself. My problem with Knox is that it never came together on a consistent basis at Kentucky – the numbers on him aren’t too pretty. That being said, if there’s any franchise that can maximize his potential and help one of the youngest players in the draft reach his high ceiling it’s the Spurs.
Jack’s Counter: Melvin Frazier. Melvin Frazier may be the best defender in the entire draft out on the wing, and is a very strong athlete. His college shooting numbers show potential, but could use some refinement. Does that sound familiar? Give Frazier to Chip Engelland and the Spurs may be able to replace Kawhi in a possible trade with his clone.
19. Atlanta Hawks (via Minnesota Timberwolves)
Jacob’s Analysis: With Dennis Schroeder asking out and the bigs now in place for the future Anfernee Simmons steps in as Atlanta’s potential point guard of the future. Potential is the key word with Simmons and what the Hawks should be looking for with all three of their of first round picks. While extremely raw and far from being a consistent positive on the court at the NBA level, Simmons has the combination of length, athleticism, and perimeter skills to be a problem for opposing teams at the NBA level. You’ll have to be patient with him, and he’ll make plenty of mistakes along the way. Most likely going to tank once again though, the Hawks can live with those mistakes.
Jack’s Counter: Troy Brown. The low shooting numbers are a concern, but Brown is a very solid passer and defender for a wing prospect, while also being a strong athlete. He’d fit well with the rebuilding era of the Hawks.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Oklahoma City Thunder)
Jacob’s Analysis. There already might not be enough shots to go around for Towns, Wiggins, and Butler so a player like Jontay Porter who can have an impact on the game without gunning up shots is a great fit for the Timberwolves. His high IQ, ability to stretch the floor, and excellent court vision make him potentially the glue this Minnesota squad has been looking for. He needs to get in shape posting the worst body fat percentage at the combine, but he’s a cerebral talent on both ends of the floor with a great skill set, and the analytics adore him.
Jack’s Counter: None. The Timberwolves have enough problems sharing the basketball between their three “stars” (in quotes because Andrew Wiggins is the worst “star” in the league) that taking another scorer would be an issue. They could also use a solid 4 who can space the floor. Jontay fills both roles and would fit in well off the bench or as a replacement for Taj Gibson in the starting lineup.
21. Utah Jazz
Jacob’s Analysis: With many of the Jazz’s current backup point guards hitting free agency, Landry Shamet can help spark Utah’s underwhelming offense off the bench. He possesses a high IQ to orchestrate the offense never turning the ball over and capable of distributing the ball, and is a prolific perimeter shooter capable of spacing the floor and going off ball when needed next to Donovan Mitchell. He should be ready to help the Jazz as they continue to move up in the West next season.
Jack’s Counter: Shake Milton. The Jazz were the best defensive team in the league last year, and adding someone with Milton’s length and athleticism allows them to continue to dominate on that end of the floor.
22. Chicago Bulls (via New Orleans Pelicans)
Jacob’s Analysis: Like the Hawks, the Bulls need to keep shooting for upside with their second first-round pick, and there are few guys in the draft with more potential than Mitchell Robinson. Despite not playing a minute of college basketball, Robinson’s combination of elite length, athleticism, and shot blocking continues to intrigue scouts. Workouts will be key to see how his raw skill set has progressed since high school, and there certainly is room for Robinson to bust, but should he pan out he could be the defensive presence the Bulls have been looking for at center. He could become a perfect compliment to Lauri Markkannen especially, and fill out the core at every position with Dunn, LaVine, Porter, and Markkanen around him.
Jack’s Counter: Chandler Hutchinson. The Bulls have reportedly given Hutchinson a guarantee saying they’d draft him if he’s available here and it makes sense. With the resurgence of Kris Dunn and a hole on the wing if they decide not to bring Zach Lavine back, Hutchinson has 3-and-D potential and is a good pick in the back of the first round.
23. Indiana Pacers
Jacob’s Analysis: The Pacers could use another guard to slot next to Victor Oladipo, and Aaron Holiday’s elite perimeter shooting makes him a great compliment capable of spacing the floor and going on and off-ball. He should be ready to compete at a high level in his rookie season after playing for three years at UCLA.
Jack’s Counter: Keita Bates-Diop. Keita Bates-Diop is a huge wing who would provide some strong defense next to Oladipo and has the potential to be that secondary scorer that Indiana needs.
24. Portland Trailblazers
Jacob’s Analysis: With the near-limitless offensive firepower Portland’s backcourt supplies, Melvin Frazier’s superb athleticism, intensity, and defense will make him a great fit for a Trailblazers team sorely lacking in production from anyone really outside of Lillard and McCollum. He’s tough, defends, can run in transition, has shown promise as a perimeter shooter, and brings a ton of energy and tenacity. Possessing good vision, he might have some untapped offensive potential.
Jack’s Counter: Khyri Thomas. Khyri Thomas is one of my favorite players in the draft and has a lot of potential as a 3-and-D wing. It seems like the Blazers might be taking offers for CJ McCollum, and Thomas would provided a new dimension next to Lillard (as in play defense).
25. Los Angeles Lakers (via Cleveland Cavaliers)
Jacob’s Analysis: Thomas projects to space the floor and defend both guard spots well making him a nice pairing next to Lonzo Ball who is at his best as a help defender rather than at the point of attack and who struggled to shoot it himself his rookie season. He doesn’t need the ball in his hands to contribute which is a plus with Kuzma and Ingram creating shots from the perimeter, and his unselfishness should blend in well as the Lakers try and recreate showtime.
Jack’s Counter: Mitchell Robinson. Their team lacks young bigs and Lopez didn’t work out. Solid compromise. They have also reportedly given him a guarantee.
26. Philadelphia 76ers
Jacob’s Analysis: The 76ers will continue to load up on 3-and-D wings with their second first-round pick. Jacob Evans fits in well for the Sixers for many of the same reasons Mikal Bridges does, just to a lesser extent. He’s a versatile defender capable of guarding multiple positions who can play off-ball and make the open shots Philly’s young stars will create for him, and should be ready to produce for a Sixers team contending for an NBA Finals spot sooner than anyone expected.
Jack’s Counter: Elie Okobo. A draft-and-stash candidate who could also come over right away, Okobo is a solid shot-creator and secondary ball handler that the Sixers desperately need who recently put up 44 points on 17 shots in the French league playoffs.
27. Boston Celtics
Jacob’s Analysis: Marcus Smart is entering restricted free agency this offseason, and given the fantastic play of Terry Rozier in this year’s playoffs as he substitutes for the injured Kyrie Irving, Danny Ainge might not be looking to match expensive offers on what would be their third-string point guard. If Rozier can take his current production into next season as he approaches restricted free agency himself, he may also be in line for more cash than the Celtics are looking to spend on reserves behind the star that is Kyrie. Jevon Carter might be the next to join the pipeline of defensive-minded Boston point guards producing absurd steals numbers and making big strides as a playmaker and perimeter shooter this season. The senior point guard may never become a star, but he could very easily become an extremely valuable two-way player sooner rather than later.
Jack’s Counter: De’Anthony Melton. Marcus Smart clone to replace Marcus Smart only because I don’t trust the rest of the big men in this draft and Smart’s contract is out.
28. Golden State Warriors
Jacob’s Analysis: His ability to do it all on offense and potential to switch around on defense makes Chandler Hutchinson a nice fit for a Warriors team that really doesn’t need much of anything. He can rebound, pass the ball, and is loaded with natural scoring instincts.
Jack’s Counter: Josh Okogie. One thing that’s been on display over the course of this Rockets’ series is that the Warriors bench is very devoid of wings outside of the aging Andre Iguodala. Okogie provides defense and shooting potential to be Iggy’s replacement in a few years.
29. Brooklyn Nets (via Toronto Raptors)
Jacob’s Analysis: I am more hesitant when it comes to Troy Brown than most due to his poor perimeter and free throw shooting this year. That being said, he’s a big body that can move the ball around, move without it, and defend multiple positions. He has good upside and is worth the gamble this late in the draft for the Nets.
Jack’s Counter: Jacob Evans. Massive upgrade over Joe Harris/Allen Crabbe as the legitimate combination of both players. He would fit well working off of D’Angelo Russell.
30. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston Rockets)
Jacob’s Analysis: With their third first round pick, the Hawks may look to fo the draft-and-stash route. Musa has a ton of offensive potential boasting supreme confidence, great height at 6’9”, natural scoring instincts, and high-level perimeter skills already. That being said, his confidence often results in bad shots as he will need to learn to play within a true team context moving forward, and there have been criticisms about him personally coming out of Europe lately. Also, will he ever be able to defend at the NBA level?
Jack’s Counter: None. Musa would be a draft and stash for a team that now finds itself with a lot of wing talent.