June 4, 2018, 7:32 pm
The 2018 NBA Draft, taking place on Thursday, June 21, is similar to that of 2017. There are players throughout the top ten that all show superstar potential while the back end of the first round has a promising amount of 3-and-D role players and a few wild cards. There has been a lot of debate of who the top prospect should be in this draft between DeAndre Ayton and Luka Doncic.
Ayton is a physical freak, athletic, do-it-all center while Doncic is a 6’7” guard from Europe that won EuroLeague MVP and the EuroLeague Final Four MVP at just 19 years old. There has been a lot of chatter about how Doncic could slip due to his inefficient play during the EuroLeague playoffs, but the talk could just be smokescreens.
It would be a big surprise if Doncic were to fall past pick No. 2, but the stigma regarding EuroLeague players leaves things up in the air – even though the EuroLeague is a better league than the NCAA.
Outside of the top two players, there still exists loads of potential. Michael Porter Jr. was the original top prospect of this class before missing essentially the entire season with a back injury, Mo Bamba broke the combine record for longest wingspan at 7’10”, and the amount of players that carry positionless talent is the highest we may have ever seen. Without further ado, Phoenix, you’re on the clock.
Note: All listed ages are for the start of the 2018-19 season
1. Phoenix Suns
DeAndre Ayton | C | Arizona
Height: 7’0” | Weight: 243 lbs | Age: 20 | Wingspan: 7’5”
The consensus at this point seems to be that Phoenix will take the hometown big man. Ayton played in-state at the University of Arizona and was an absolute beast. Just seeing him on the court makes it look like he was playing with kids years younger than him despite being a freshman.
Ayton possesses all of the physical and athletic traits you could want in a current center. He’s fast, quick, tall, strong and can do it all. Ayton has a clean looking jumper and should be an immediate threat from beyond the arc. He also has solid vision, passing and dribbling for a center and should fit perfectly into the NBA. The only knock on Ayton is his lack of effort and instincts on defense. We’ve seen other players that have not tried hard in college but came in immediately and defended very well, but this has been a problem for Ayton since high school. We could be looking at Karl-Anthony Towns 2.0 if everything breaks right for Ayton.
2. Sacramento Kings
Luka Doncic | G/F | Real Madrid
Height: 6’7” | Weight: 228 lbs | Age: 19 | Wingspan: N/A
The European prodigy has been playing professional basketball since he was 13 years old. Doncic signed with Real Madrid at 13 and worked his way through the younger levels of competition with ease. Going into his first year in the EuroLeague he became a name to know for a future NBA draft and the time has come for America to see what this kid is all about.
Doncic is 6’7” but will most likely play point guard in the NBA. He’s got fantastic vision, passing, ball control and finishing ability and can knock down a jump shot from anywhere. There are a lot of skeptics that have knocked him for his play in the EuroLeague playoffs, but he has played basketball year-round for almost his entire teenage life.
The one knock on Doncic is that he is not an elite athlete. This is where his first summer with an NBA team could be vital. With the amount of skill he has shown against players 10 years his senior, a few months off to work on his athleticism would be extremely beneficial. It would not be surprising to see Doncic sit out Summer League in favor of working with a trainer to give him a break from basketball and to improve his athleticism. Doncic should be an electric playmaker from anywhere on the floor.
3. Atlanta Hawks
Mo Bamba | C | Texas
Height: 7’0” | Weight: 226 lbs | Age: 20 | Wingspan: 7’10”
Bamba is one of the most intriguing prospects in this class and has arguably raised his stock more than anyone else since the college season ended. He broke the NBA combine record for wingspan at 7’10”, beating Rudy Gobert’s record by two inches. Bamba has the potential to be a defensive anchor for any team while also being able to stretch the floor on offense.
Bamba was second in the NCAA in blocks per game at 3.6 while averaging a double-double and showing some touch from outside. His 27.5% from beyond the arc and 68.1% from the free throw line shows some promise that he could develop into a threat from deep, but he still needs to work his shooting mechanics.
Bamba is also an interesting character off-the-court as he is a dedicated learner. He has attended the Sloan Sports Analytics conference in an effort to learn more about analytics and improve his game – something that all players should do. He has taken some heat for having off-the-court interests, but if a player is dedicated to learning and improving his game like that I can only see it as a positive. If Bamba adds some muscle as his body continues to develop he could be a force in the league for a long time.
4. Memphis Grizzlies
Marvin Bagley | F/C | Duke
Height: 6’11” | Weight: 234 lbs | Age: 19 | Wingspan: 7’1/2”
One of the younger prospects in this draft, Bagley was originally a 2018 recruit before reclassifying to 2017. He immediately became the top prospect and showed why at Duke. He put up 21 points and 11 rebounds per game with a 64% effective field goal percentage. His incredible bounce at his size was seen with many highlight dunks.
Bagley does have his concerns though. He was a defensive liability and does not have the length or athleticism to match up well with some of the star big men right now. His shot is also a problem as his mechanics are not quite there yet. He can’t shoot off the dribble and frequently misses badly left or right. He shot 39% from three, but his 62% from the free throw line is discouraging (free throw shooting is a better predictor for 3-point shooting in the NBA).
Bagley is an impressive athlete that can run the floor, rebound with the best, and finish through contact. His ball-handling in the open court should allow him to run on fast breaks and when he gets going not many people will try to get in the way. He needs to refine multiple parts of his game, but the potential is immense. He’s my least favorite prospect in the top tier due to both how raw he is and his similarities to other athletic stretch-fours in draft history. Raw athleticism is always coveted and Bagley could go as high as two in this draft. He may not be as effective as Memphis wants right away, but he provides them a superb athlete and long-term potential.
5. Dallas Mavericks
Jaren Jackson Jr. | C/F | Michigan State
Height: 6’11” | Weight: 236 lbs | Age: 19 | Wingspan: 7’5”
Jackson is one of the few prospects still 18 years old right now and is a lot of people’s favorite. He has a great knack for shot-blocking with either hand as well as a great touch on his shot. Jackson averaged 3.0 blocks per game to go with nearly 40% 3-point shooting and nearly 80% from the charity stripe.
Jackson is not the most ferocious rebounder and needs to add muscle. He was playing out of position at Michigan State as he was mostly at the four while he projects to be a five in the NBA. He is thought to be one of the safest prospects in the class as he can block and shoot at the very least, but still holds potential to be a star. He has a somewhat unusual shooting motion that may need to be tweaked, but he shot well from deep and at the free throw line so he may be able to make it work.
He does not have the post-up game or self-creating offense that some centers have in today’s NBA, but he does a lot of little things very well. He’s smart and makes good cuts, can switch screens and hold his own on the wing, and his ability to finish and protect the rim with either hand are great skills to come into the league with. Expect Jackson to fit right in as a center in the current NBA landscape. He’d pair nicely with Dennis Smith Jr. in what could be the start of a great young core.
6. Orlando Magic
Trae Young | G | Oklahoma
Height: 6’1” | Weight: 183 lbs | Age: 20 | Wingspan: 6’3”
Young may be one of the most controversial prospects inside the top-10 this year. He set the country on fire during the first half of the season and flamed out as conference play went on. Young possesses a knack for playmaking and scoring but got extremely cold at times.
If you want a comparison for Young look no further than Curry. Either Curry that is. At his best he shows the same potential that Steph does. Unguardable range, quickness, and playmaking that electrifies an offense and takes over a game. When he gets cold, it resembles more of Seth. Sloppy, bad shot selection, and too many turnovers.
Young is a bit smaller than most point guards right now. He lacks the strength and length to finish in the paint consistently. However, he is still a very smart point guard that can run the pick-and-roll and knows how to use his ball-handling to gain edges against defenders. He can pass with either hand and has the potential to be a top-tier point guard for a very long time, something the Magic could use to pair with their athletic forwards.
7. Chicago Bulls
Mikal Bridges | F | Villanova
Height: 6’7” | Weight: 200 lbs | Age: 22 | Wingspan: 7’2”
Bridges has gotten a lot of attention this season after an incredible performance by himself and the entire Villanova team. He possesses fantastic length, shooting ability, unselfishness, and drive that could translate to the NBA right away. He’s a senior and is the only upperclassman projected to be drafted in the lottery.
Bridges showed his incredible 3-and-D potential with his 1.5 steals per game, 1.1 blocks per game, 43.5% from downtown and 85.1% from the line. He’s tough and can rebound well for a typical small forward. While the buzz about Bridges is the 3-and-D fit in the NBA, he is still a capable playmaker with his passing. He can beat mismatches inside and should be able to guard one-through-four at the next level.
Bridges improved every year in college and while he never showed elite leadership, he was also never asked to be the leader. Bridges projects to be a safe role-player in today’s NBA at the very least. He’s the perfect player for Chicago as they seek a very quick rebuild and would like to compete for the playoffs as soon as they can.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Nets through Boston)
Michael Porter Jr. | F | Missouri
Height: 6’10” | Weight: 211 lbs | Age: 20 | Wingspan: 7’0”
Like Trae Young, Porter is an extremely polarizing prospect in this draft. He was the number one high school recruit that injured his back early in the season. The only time we got to see him play was in the end-of-season tournaments. Admittedly only about 75% healthy, Porter did not look like himself. He was fatigued and did not show any of the explosiveness he had in high school, but it’s hard to knock him for his play due to the circumstances.
Porter has immense potential and drew similarities to Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant coming out of high school. He is a great scorer both on and off the ball that is extremely confident. He also displayed his confidence at the NBA combine as he called himself the best player in the draft now that he is fully healthy. If we get to see Porter at 100% he could be a special player.
His one knock would be improving his non-scoring game. He can get open for three pointers but needs to improve his cutting, screen-setting and defense. While back injuries present a lot of uncertainty, Porter is a great fit for Cleveland given their own uncertainty this summer. If LeBron James sticks around, Porter could learn a lot and become a complementary player James needs. On the other hand, if James were to leave, Porter still has the potential to become the next face of the franchise.
9. New York Knicks
Wendell Carter Jr. | C/F | Duke
Height: 6’10” | Weight: 251 lbs | Age: 19 | Wingspan: 7’4”
One of the smartest players in this draft, Carter is another favorite of many. His stats suffered from the reclassification of Marvin Bagley, but he showed off his diverse skill set nonetheless. Carter has all the small intangibles that a center needs in today’s NBA. He knows how to cut, screen, position himself for rebounds, run the floor and finish with either hand. On top of that he has soft hands and showed great catch-and-shoot ability.
Carter is not an above-the-rim player like some of the other bigs in this draft, but his combination of craftiness and smarts give him an edge. In fact, if he did not go to Duke, he would have attended Harvard. He’s drawn rave reviews on how his intelligence has helped him adjust to any talent level and the increased speed of the game. While his athleticism may theoretically cap his upside, Carter brings so much to the table that fits in any system. The Knicks will gladly pair him with Kristaps Porzingis to have one of the most versatile front courts in the league. There is not much he does not do well.
10. Philadelphia Sixers (via Lakers through Suns)
Miles Bridges | F | Michigan State
Height: 6’6” | Weight: 220 lbs | Age: 20 | Wingspan: 6’9”
The Sixers originally had higher hopes for this Lakers pick, but they won’t complain with 10th overall. They will have whoever falls and welcome them with open arms. In this case it’s Miles Bridges. Bridges is one of my favorite prospects in this draft relative to his projected price. He is extremely athletic with quickness, speed, and strength.
Bridges is a two-year college player which may be a reason his stock is lower than his talent level, but he is a true do-it-all number one player. He needs to improve his handle to become an elite slasher, but he has the confidence and ability to score from anywhere on the floor. He’s a fantastic free throw shooter and showed off his shooting touch from all distances this season. His post scoring is nothing to write home about, but when given a mismatch he can rely on his strength alone to get an easy bucket or free throws.
His defensive effort is questioned at times, but given his body and athleticism he has the tools to become a defensive menace. Philly would love to add another player with great size and versatility. The unique game that the Sixers play could elevate Bridges’ game due to the amount of switches and mismatches he may face, while he could help elevate the Sixers as he is another player that can create his own offense when things stall.
11. Charlotte Hornets
Collin Sexton | G | Alabama
Height: 6’1” | Weight: 183 lbs | Age: 19 | Wingspan: 6’7”
Sexton is a former three-star recruit with an incredible work ethic that is shown in his game. With just over 10 minutes left in the game against Minnesota, Alabama was down to three players. Despite finishing the game three-on-five, Sexton led a charge that resulted in a plus-eight scoring margin to end the game, thought they ultimately lost. Sexton is an athletic, ferocious point guard that brings a strong mentality onto the court.
While he is not a pure point guard, Sexton provides the length and defensive ability to be used in a three-guard lineup without losing too much. He occasionally forces shots and needs to improve his passing ability, but can get hot and take over a game at times. He led the Crimson Tide to two wins in the SEC tournament that sealed their bid to the NCAA tournament, where Sexton also led the team.
Coached by former-NBA head coach Avery Johnson, Sexton showed his leadership ability and tenacity. Johnson praised Sexton multiple times for his fortitude and confidence. Sexton needs to improve his jump shot and playmaking ability, but he’s a guy that any team would want to go to war with.
12. LA Clippers
Kevin Knox | F | Kentucky
Height: 6’9” | Weight: 213 lbs | Age: 19 | Wingspan: 6’11”
The Clippers have the very rare back-to-back lottery picks scenario and an opportunity to start a new foundation. They only have one real player that they could build around in Tobias Harris, and the Clippers need to nail these two picks if they want something to build on (DeAndre Jordan, Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams are solid when healthy but their ages do not match up with building a contender). That is where Kevin Knox comes into play. He’s a young and raw Kentucky one-and-done prospect that can become a versatile scorer for a long time.
While Harris is one player that Knox can be compared to, he needs to improve his rebounding if he wants to be a stretch four. Knox can play both on and off-ball offensively and flashes streaky shooting at times. He can run off screens and finish with both hands very well, but needs to be more consistent and not settle for bad jumpers. Defensively he falls asleep too often and does not show the necessary effort to impact shooters.
Knox is very young and raw but was a top prospect coming into the draft and still carries a lot of upside at No. 12 for the Clippers.
13. LA Clippers
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander | G | Kentucky
Height: 6’6” | Weight: 180 lbs | Age: 20 | Wingspan: 6’11”
With the second of two picks, the Clippers can pair Knox with his running mate from Kentucky. Gilgeous-Alexander really turned it on in the second half of the season and rose into the lottery after potentially not even leaving school. He is similar to Knox in the sense that he is athletic and raw with a lot of upside.
Gilgeous-Alexander looks like a pure point guard in a small forwards body. He is 6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan and can guard anyone on the wing. He runs a smooth pick-and-roll and can leverage his ball handling, but needs to clean up his decision making. At times he gets too aggressive and starts to turn the ball over too much. He doesn’t have the best athletic profile, but his size and length will help him play either guard spot while being able to switch onto some forwards.
With a very slender frame, Gilgeous-Alexander needs to add some muscle and a more consistent jump shot, but provides the potential the Clippers need. He could play with guys like Patrick Beverly and Lou Williams who both play with skillsets that would help Gilgeous-Alexander grow his game.
14. Denver Nuggets
Lonnie Walker IV | G/F | Miami
Height: 6’4” | Weight: 196 lbs | Age: 19 | Wingspan: 6’10”
To cap off the lottery, the Nuggets do not have any glaring holes in their roster. This is also a pick that has a good chance of being traded as Denver tries to dump salary. For now, we have to act as if Denver is making the pick and that’s where Miami’s Lonnie Walker IV comes in. While Walker is technically a shooting guard, he has the length and skillset to play some small-ball forward, though he needs to bulk up some.
With his combination of fluid shooting motion and defensive instincts, Walker has gotten a lot of praise coming into the draft. While he does not play a great point guard, the Nuggets could utilize his length and defense on the wing. Walker gets through screens with quickness and is agile enough to stick with most point guards. If he adds muscle he can be effective in a three-guard system similar to the one Toronto ran a lot this season.
Walker has gotten some comparisons to this year’s Donovan Mitchell, when in reality no one is that. Walker has a similar build and skill set, but he would have to fall into a system that gives him the keys to the offense which would not happen in Denver. The Nuggets have a lot of players that can run an offense which could allow Walker to thrive off the bench or with starters. Will Barton is a free agent and if the Nuggets want to save money, Walker could step into a similar role right away.
15. Washington Wizards
Robert Williams | C/F | Texas A&M
Height: 6’9” | Weight: 237 lbs | Age: 21 | Wingspan: 7’5”
Drafting for need is not something I typically like teams to do, but the Wizards are pretty set on the wing. With John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter the Wizards have their back court and wing set for as long as they want it. In the frontcourt, the Wizards had some major problems this year and Robert Williams could help solidify that space. Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat had down years, and the latter spoke out against the team multiple times.
Onto Williams, who is a skilled big that could have gone near the lottery in last year’s draft but decided to stay one more year. He’s had disciplinary issues, which makes Washington a questionable fit off the court, but is an extremely athletic center that can fit great with Wall and Beal. He’s a great defender with enough quickness and bounce to stay with guards on the perimeter while also able to catch lobs off the pick-and-roll on the other end.
Williams would not be asked to do a lot on offense, but that fits right into his mold. He’s a tad short, but he’s got long enough arms and enough leaping ability to play center. If Williams can stay out of trouble, he has the upside and skillset to play a similar role to that of Clint Capela or DeAndre Jordan, which the Wizards could thrive with.
16. Phoenix Suns (via Heat)
Zhaire Smith | F/G | Texas Tech
Height: 6’5” | Weight: 195 lbs | Age: 19 | Wingspan: 6’9”
Smith was another late-season draft riser that was originally projected to stay in school for another year. After a long tournament run by Texas Tech, Smith’s extreme athleticism garnered enough attention to allow him to leave after just one season. After already selecting DeAndre Ayton, the Suns could use Smith on the wing along with Devin Booker and Josh Jackson.
Smith is probably the most athletic player in this draft and hopefully participates in the dunk contest every year for the next decade. He’s only 6’5”, but has long enough arms and the leaping to ability to play small forward. He averaged over a block and a steal per game despite having to guard players taller than him. He’s got a funky jump shot and does not like to create too much offense on his own. While he does not make too many wrong decisions as a passer, he is best as a slasher and cutter on offense. The ball-handling is not quite there yet and he won’t create too many shots for himself right away, but he’s a tenacious rebounder that plays way bigger than he actually is.
This pick would be all about upside, which is what the Suns could use right now as a second first-round pick. While a second year in school could have ultimately helped him refine his game and take on a lead role, Smith took a chance on developing those skills with an NBA club. While he may not be filling up a stat sheet right away, he should be able to give us a few posters.
17. Milwaukee Bucks
Troy Brown Jr. | G/F | Oregon
Height: 6’6” | Weight: 208 lbs | Age: 19 | Wingspan: 6’10”
The Bucks will be selecting at 17 in the draft for the third straight season and need to find more success this year. Brown is a long, athletic wing that would add to Milwaukee’s defensive and positional versatility. He is a high-IQ player on both ends of the floor. At 6’6” with long arms, Brown would be able to play on the wing and guard multiple positions smoothly.
Brown is an intriguing playmaker that would give Milwaukee many options on offense. While his shooting, and overall scoring, does not stand out, he is a smart and effective passer. He can handle the ball well for his size and can pass off the dribble with good touch. He knows how to rotate on screens and switch defensively which will be a great fit in the NBA.
Milwaukee has a plethora of wing defenders and playmakers, but with Eric Bledsoe potentially leaving after this season and both Malcolm Brogdon and Khris Middleton having an injury history, Brown is a good fit for the Bucks. He could step right in as a playmaker off the bench and fit in with the starting lineup if his name is called. Between Brown, Middleton, Brogdon, Bledsoe, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks could be one of the best perimeter defensive teams in the league.
18. San Antonio Spurs
Jacob Evans | F/G | Cincinnati
Height: 6’5” | Weight: 200 lbs | Age: 21 | Wingspan: 6’9”
With their highest draft pick since they took Tim Duncan first overall in 1997, the Spurs have the chance to get a quality “Spurs Player.” Evans is a three-year player from Cincinnati that does not wow athletically, but has a high motor and IQ on both ends of the floor.
While only 6’5”, Evans is more than capable of playing the three in today’s NBA. He is a great team defender that rotates well off the ball and puts in the effort on the ball to guard players bigger than him. On offense he is not quite quick enough to drive past people and needs to improve his ball-handling. He does not try to do too much and makes the smart play when he needs to.
If Evans can be consistent with his shooting, the Spurs could get grab a key role player that fits their culture.
19. Atlanta Hawks (via Timberwolves)
Dzanan Musa | F | Bosnia and Herzegovina
Height: 6’9” | Weight: 195 lbs | Age: 19 | Wingspan: 6’8”
With the second of three first round picks for the Hawks, Musa provides a lot of offensive potential on the wing. Musa does not have a great comparison in today’s NBA, but I like to think of his skillset as a combination of J.J. Redick and Kelly Olynyk – as odd as it sounds.
He has a quick release and shoots with confidence in both off-the-dribble and catch-and-shoot situations. Musa also has enough size to be used in a pick and roll and step out for a three or slide into the paint. He is crafty with his dribbling, can finish with either hand and has a decent floater. He has short arms for his size and won’t blow by anyone, but he uses his creativity to finish inside mixed with a slippery, quick release jumper that makes him versatile. He also is a capable playmaker that knows how to get around his lack of athleticism to make things happen.
Musa does not project to be doing much on the defensive end and needs to bulk up. His slim frame and short arms may end up making him a defensive liability. He has the potential to stick around on offense, but he needs to increase his IQ and ability to play team offense first. He has enough upside to let the Hawks take a chance with three first round picks.
Editor’s Note: Our Dio Nikiforos has discussed Musa twice in International Spotlight features – once from a broad view and again as one of the international draft class’s top shooters.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Thunder)
Chandler Hutchison | G/F | Boise State
Height: 6’7” | Weight: 193 lbs | Age: 22 | Wingspan: N/A
Hutchinson has gotten a lot of praise lately for his potential as a 3-and-D role player in the NBA. So he’s exactly like half the people in the draft? You could say that. 3-and-D is the buzzword of the year for the NBA and the back half of the draft is loaded with potential role players. Hutchison is one of the latest risers due to his revamped shooting style.
Hutchison became a good spot-up shooter towards the end of his college career. He was the leader of for Boise State and while he does not project to carry a heavy load in the NBA, it is a good sign that he is capable of doing so. His game should also move toward more efficiency as his role decreases as well. He is a good team defender and rebounder that plays with effort on both ends. He’s got good size and playmaking that will allow him to play the two or three in the NBA. Hutchison is a capable playmaker when asked and would fit in well next to Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns (and Andrew Wiggins if he’s still there).
21. Utah Jazz
Kevin Huerter | G/F | Maryland
Height: 6’7” | Weight: 194 lbs | Age: 20 | Wingspan: 6’7”
Huerter is a late first-round favorite for a lot of people. While he may end up in the second round, any team can use shooting and that’s what Huerter brings. His release is a tad slow, but he is a 6’7” shooting guard with range. He’s got a knack for hitting Korver-esque off-balance shots. While many want to go as far as Klay Thompson for a comparison, something in the range of Korver or smaller Doug McDermott is much more reasonable.
Huerter is not the most capable defender and needs to add a lot of muscle before he can guard bigger players. He has a good IQ and can make passes off the dribble, and also plays hard. He is not the best defender but his effort and instincts help make up for his lack of length. Huerter should be able to help stretch out any offense and could fit in well with either Ricky Rubio, Donovan Mitchell, or both.
22. Chicago Bulls (via Pelicans)
Shake Milton | G | Southern Methodist
Height: 6’5” | Weight: 207 lbs | Age: 22 | Wingspan: 7’0”
Shake-and-Bake Milton is one of my favorite players in this draft. While he does not project to be a star of any sort, and may not even be a first round pick, he’s long and can play on both ends. Milton is extremely versatile and could play point, two, or even in a three-guard set.
He doesn’t have the quickest burst but he is a good playmaker that is poised and smart. His passing and vision are not very advanced, but he still knows how to run the point and has improved his shooting every year of college. He projects to be a good off-ball defender thanks to his long arms and quickness. If he puts in the effort, he can be a good on-ball defender as well.
The Bulls have said multiple times that they want to get long, 3-and-D type players and do not want a long rebuild. With Milton and Mikal Bridges, that’s exactly what the Bulls could get. It also gives them flexibility if they do not feel comfortable committing big money to Zach LaVine in free agency.
23. Indiana Pacers
Aaron Holiday | G | UCLA
Height: 6’0” | Weight: 187 lbs | Age: 21 | Wingspan: 6’7”
While the 6-foot flat point guard is extremely rare in today’s NBA, Holiday has the length and poise to play bigger. He’s made himself into one of the best all-around shooters in the draft with his ability to hit catch-and-shoot and off-the-dribble 3-pointers with consistency.
Holiday plays hard and should have respect around the league as the younger brother of Jrue and Justin Holiday. He’s unselfish and knows how to play both on the ball and off the ball (he played next to Lonzo Ball at UCLA). Holiday could provide Victor Oladipo a complimentary scorer from distance that would open up the offense. He could also relieve Oladipo of ball handling duties from time to time. While Darren Collison is still around, Holiday can also be a sparkplug scorer off the bench that Indiana is lacking.
24. Portland Trail Blazers
Khyri Thomas | G/F | Creighton
Height: 6’3” | Weight: 199 lbs | Age: 22 | Wingspan: 6’10”
Thomas is long guard and an absolute grinder on defense. He’s only 6’3” but his long wingspan and thick frame allow him to guard one-through-three. He can shoot well, but it may need some time for transition into the NBA. He is not the best shooter off-the-dribble, and also does not have quite enough ball control to play a point guard role.
As bad as comparisons can be for the draft, Thomas screams Avery Bradley in my mind. Bradley is also a 6’3” shooting guard with long arms that is a defensive menace but is not quite skilled enough as a point guard to run an offense. Thomas shot a high percentage from three and a good percentage from the free throw line, but if he is asked to create on his own then he is being used incorrectly. Whether or not Portland keeps C.J. McCollum around, Thomas is a great fit for the Blazers. He could come in right away and relieve some of the defensive pressure from Damian Lillard and McCollum while playing a good off-ball role on offense.
25. Los Angeles Lakers (via Cavs)
Mitchell Robinson | C | Chalmette High School
Height: 6’11” | Weight: 215 lbs | Age: 20 | Wingspan: 7’4”
The first of two first-round picks to only attend high school and not college. Robinson is extremely raw but this seems like a match made in heaven for the Lakers. With Paul George seemingly signing with the team and the possibility of LeBron James and/or Kawhi Leonard joining him, the Lakers will need to solidify the paint. Even without James, Leonard, or George, the Lakers will be working with Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Ivica Zubac. They could use a high-upside center to go along with their talented wings and Zubac (who did impress at times).
Robinson is extremely athletic but really needs to be coached up. He is not a good screener, does not have great defensive instincts, is prone to turning the ball over too much, and is all-around fundamentally unsound. However, this may be a plus for the Lakers. Had Robinson gone to college and refined his game, he may not be falling to 25 in the draft. With a good year or two of coaching, Robinson could be a useful, athletic center that the Lakers do not have right now.
26. Philadelphia 76ers
Donte DiVincenzo | G | Villanova
Height: 6’4” | Weight: 200 lbs | Age: 21 | Wingspan: 6’6”
The hero of the National Championship game, DiVincenzo was not originally supposed to leave for the draft this year. As mostly a sixth man this season for Villanova, DiVincenzo really stepped up his play in the NCAA tournament. He’s a microwave, high confidence player that would fit in perfectly with the atmosphere that the Sixers play in at home (he would be staying home as well).
DiVincenzo is more of an on-ball offensive player that would need to refine his game off-the-ball to be effective with the Sixers. It depends how their roster looks going into next season, but they have a lot of capable ball-handlers. He plays hard and could be another option for scoring if the offense goes cold like it did against Boston in the playoffs. He tested fairly well at the combine, though he still gets beaten by quicker players. He’s an interesting prospect that may have benefitted from staying another season in school, but still has a no-fear mentality that could lead to success.
27. Boston Celtics
Jalen Brunson | G | Villanova
Height: 6’2” | Weight: 199 lbs | Age: 22 | Wingspan: 6’4”
The Celtics have a lot of questions in the offseason with how their rotation is going to fledge out. With Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward set to return from injuries, they seem to have too much depth. Terry Rozier will certainly be on the trade block going into the last year of his contract while Marcus Smart will be a free agent that earned himself a lot of money from his play in the playoffs. This is where Brunson could help the Celtics.
Brunson excels when he is running an offense as he showed at Villanova. As his role increased each year, so did his level of play. He’s been part of two National Championship teams and played under a fantastic coach, Jay Wright. On the court Brunson is a crafty point guard that can run an offense with a high-IQ and play hard on defense. He has a tremendous post game for a guard and his shooting has improved each season as he was up to 40.8% from deep and 80.2% from the line.
Brunson is not the quickest guard, but he’s smart and deceptive enough to get by defenders enough to make plays. His post game will allow him to uniquely take on point guards in the post and can open up catch-and-shoot opportunities for teammates. If the Celtics do not plan on bringing back one or both of Rozier and Smart, Brunson can help fill their roles.
28. Golden State Warriors
Josh Okogie | G/F | Georgia Tech
Height: 6’4” | Weight: 211 lbs | Age: 20 | Wingspan: 7’0”
The Warriors are in need of some depth, and they will definitely have the chance to get a role player at 28. Okogie may have seen the largest stock increase from the combine. He’s another one of these long, versatile wings that should be able to carve out a role on the Warriors.
His main strength lies in his defense and versatility. He’s a great rebounder for his size and can guard multiple positions. His length, strength and quickness will allow him to be very useful on the defensive end. On offense, his shot comes from down low which may be a problem. If he can hit threes, he is smart enough off-the-ball to allow the Warriors to continue their dominance. Their only weakness right now is depth and Okogie fits the 3-and-D, winning mentality perfectly for them.
29. Brooklyn Nets (via Raptors)
Keita Bates-Diop | F | Ohio State
Height: 6’8” | Weight: 224 lbs | Age: 22 | Wingspan: 7’3”
A former five-star recruit, Bates-Diop had a rather strange college career. After playing just 9.9 minutes per game his freshman season, Bates-Diop started his sophomore season with some success, then only played nine games as a junior due to a stress fracture in his leg. Going into his senior season, it was questioned whether Bates-Diop would ever live up to his hype; and boy did he. Unanimous Big Ten Player of the Year and leading an Ohio State team back to the NCAA tournament in a surprising season was more than enough from KBD.
Unfortunately, in the NBA he may find trouble fitting into a position at first. He is a tad too slender to guard bigger fours and is not quite quick enough to stay with twos or threes. However, he does have a little bit of a do-it-all skill set. He is a decent playmaker, has a good shooting motion with NBA range, is a capable post-player and has a soft touch around the rim. On top of that, Bates-Diop is a smart and skilled defender that may be able to guard two through four.
He’s shown his star ability and has the potential to be taken in the teens, but the Nets would love to find him fall to them at 29. This is their only first round draft pick, thanks Danny Ainge, and getting someone that could be a multi-positional threat on both ends of the floor is something that could go a long way for them.
30. Atlanta Hawks (via Rockets)
Anfernee Simons | G | IMG Academy
Height: 6’3” | Weight: 183 lbs | Age: 19 | Wingspan: 6’9”
Our second high school only player and final pick of the first round, Simons is a hard one to pinpoint. He spent a post-grad year at IMG Academy so he is technically allowed to enter the NBA draft now. He decided to forego a year in college and signed with NFL super-agent Drew Rosenhaus.
Simons is incredibly gifted athletically and has a highlight reel of dunks. He has great ball-control and uses his quickness to hit off-the-dribble threes or drive for layups and floaters. Simons is obviously extremely talented, but is very hard to judge based on his situation. Much like Mitchell Robinson, Simons will likely need some coaching and fine tuning before being able to consistently compete at the NBA level. With three first-round picks, the Hawks can definitely take shot on Simons’ potential, and he could even go to them as early as 19.
June 2, 2020, 12:28 pmStephen CurryPG, Golden State Warriors
The Warriors opened their practice facility on Monday, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic.
Slater adds that five players showed up for voluntary workouts. It's the first time that Golden State's gym has been open in over two months, and there are only three teams who have yet to get players back into team facilities. While it must be nice for the players to get back to some kind of business, the Warriors are not expected to be playing any more games this season given their league-worst record and the likelihood that the NBA trims the fat rather than ask every team to play out the season.
Source: Anthony Slater on Twitter
May 31, 2020, 8:10 pmKz OkpalaF, Miami Heat
Kz Okpala's offensive game has come a long way since January according to Heat Vice President and Assistant GM, Adam Simon.
Okpala is already viewed as an NBA-ready defender, and once his offensive game is up to speed the Heat will have a hard time not getting him into the rotation. He spent 20 games in the G League and five with the Heat before the suspension slowed down his progression in 2020. Okpala got off to a slow start due to injuries, and a trade on draft day took away his chance to play in summer league. While this season is unlikely to amount to anything, Okpala is someone to watch in deeper leagues next year.
Source: Miami Herald
May 31, 2020, 8:03 pmGabe VincentPG, Miami Heat
Heat Vice President and Assistant GM, Adam Simon, stated that Gabe Vincent's knee is "good to go".
It sounds like Vincent would have no problem being NBA ready if the Heat decided to call up the two-way guard when play hopefully resumes July 31. Vincent is a strong 3-point shooter with the ability to attack a closeout, but it is still unlikely the Heat will need to put him on the floor for the remainder of the 2019-20 season.
Source: Miami Herald
May 31, 2020, 7:51 pmShake MiltonSG, Philadelphia Sixers
According to projections by Mike O'Connor and Derek Bodner of The Athletic, Shake Milton will be a starter for the Sixers whenever play relaunches.
Milton was thriving for the Sixers when the season was suspended due to COVID-19, and some risk remains that Ben Simmons will bump him from the rotation when the stoppage in play is lifted. In 16 starts with the Sixers, Milton averaged 14.1 points, 2.2 3-pointers, 3.6 assists, 3 rebounds and 1.1 steals. As a 3-pointer specialist along, Milton has earned a slot in 12-team formats, but things are going to be more difficult when he is forced to play off-ball in a fully healthy lineup in Philadelphia
Source: The Athletic
May 31, 2020, 7:42 pmKevin DurantSF, Brooklyn Nets
On a recent ESPN podcast featuring Adrian Wojnarowski and his colleague Zach Lowe, Wojnarowski stated that Kevin Durant (torn Achilles) would not play for the Nets this year.
Wojnarowski went onto say that he had no source that had relayed that information to him. The Nets have largely been deferring to Durant and the medical staff when it comes to his prospects for playing this year. While the organization may get hopeful that KD will lace it up for a playoff run, all signs are still pointing to him waiting until 2020-21.
Source: Anthony Puccio on Twitter
May 29, 2020, 7:43 pmEric GordonSG, Houston Rockets
Rockets guard Eric Gordon has improved his diet, focused on sprints, and has apparently shed 12 pounds in the process, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic.
Gordon has battled knee ailments for essentially his whole career and has dealt with his fair share of nagging injuries this season as well. Losing weight to create a lighter frame would seem sensible, especially with the knee issues. The Rockets, remember, fully adopted the "small ball" lineup and move fast so Gordon is smart to keep his endurance and fitness at high levels. He's going to have to play well and make shots for the Rockets when the NBA returns to action, otherwise coach Mike D'Antoni won't be able to justify giving Gordon minutes. We don't anticipate much fantasy value out of him if and when the league starts back up.
Source: The Athletic
May 29, 2020, 6:03 pmLeBron JamesSF, Los Angeles Lakers
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN is reporting that the NBA is planning for a Board of Governors vote on Thursday, during which they are expected to approve Adam Silver's proposal for re-starting the season in Orlando.
The trend lines are all moving in this direction, and this adds another bullet point on the schedule as the league prepares for launching games on July 31. Adam Silver has been able to bridge any divides between ownership and the players, and has been taking into account all his key constituent's views as we approach approval of a plan for moving forward. We still have plenty of items to resolve before we see game action, but the NBA is gaining momentum as these details come into place.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
May 29, 2020, 4:44 pmBradley BealSG, Washington Wizards
On Friday, the Wizards resumed holding voluntary workouts at their practice facilities.
The Wizards have joined a chorus of teams that are returning in limited capacities to their facilities at this point. The NBA as a whole is continuing its march towards the resumption of play with a target date of July 31 now established. The District of Columbia also entered phase one of reopening today, and it makes sense for the team to proceed on a similar trajectory.
Source: Candace Buckner on Twitter
May 29, 2020, 4:03 pmJulius RandlePF, New York Knicks
Part of the Knicks' off-season thinking is to shape the roster around RJ Barrett, and it unclear where Julius Randle will fit in those plans.
Barrett and Randle have similar offensive styles, as they typically have an advantage relying upon their strength to attack the basket, but neither has a component deep ball at this stage in their careers. As Barrett is the younger option it makes sense that the Knicks want to sign shooters to give him more space to operate with. Randle's lousy percentages and turnovers has made for a disappointing season with the Knicks thus far, and Barrett will also need to make some strides in the shooting department to become a 12-team asset. Randle is under contract for next season is owed at least $4,000,000 in 2021-22.
May 29, 2020, 3:46 pmJayson TatumSF, Boston Celtics
On Friday, the Celtics' announced that their practice facilities would reopen on June 1.
That leaves us with four NBA teams without access to their facilities. Things are beginning to accelerate throughout the league as teams ramp up activities in hopes of resuming competition in Orlando on July 31. So far so good, but the NBA still has many hurdles to overcome on the path to resuming the season.
Source: Celtics PR on Twitter