It's Draft Week! The NBA Draft is this Thursday night, so here's where I would guess things could shake out as of now:
1) Orlando Magic - PF Jabari Smith Jr. (Auburn)
There is debate at the top about who Orlando should take. So far they've only worked out Smith and Chet Holmgren. Paolo Banchero has been rumored to have a workout sometime soon, but doesn't appear to have happened yet. Smith is a terrific prospect who at 6'10" 210 lbs. has the ideal size with a 7'1" wingspan to really lock people up on the defensive end. But he combines that with excellent shooting touch and range on the offensive end, to make him feel like a very safe prospect.
2) Oklahoma City Thunder - PF Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga)
Speaking of where the NBA is going, at 7'0" 195 lbs. Chet Holmgren fits the bill too. He's rail thin, but has incredible defensive instincts and word is Holmgren wants to go to OKC, not Orlando. He plays exactly how the Thunder want to play, so this is the ideal landing spot to maximize his diverse skill set.
3) Houston Rockets - PF Paolo Banchero (Duke)
More of an old school PF in the mold of a jumbo Carmelo Anthony (6'10" 250 lbs) who can flat out score and has a great feel for the game, Banchero would fit into the Rockets nicely with Jalen Green and they have a sudden hole to fill in the front court after the surprising Christian Wood trade. He gets knocked for having a lower ceiling than some of the other top guys, but his floor is probably the highest. He'll make an immediate impact Day 1 and is my early choice for Rookie of the Year.
4) TRADE: Detroit Pistons (via Sacramento Kings) - PG/SG Jaden Ivey (Purdue)
Jaden Ivey and his agent Bill Duffy have made it known they do not want anything to do with Sacramento. The Kings would be well within their rights to just ignore that and draft Ivey at #4. It wasn't but 13 years ago that Steph Curry didn't want to go to the Warriors and that turned out pretty well for both sides. But from a basketball perspective, Ivey offers a lot of what the Kings already have, in gamebreaking speed and athleticism with lesser than desired shooting touch. The Kings have two good young Guards in De'Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell, the latter of which they drafted 9th overall last year. Ivey has tremendous upside and could very well be the best player in the class when all is said and done. A lot of prognosticators are labeling this draft with a 'big 3', but I'd lump Ivey into that group and call it a big 4, because it is basically a unanimous drop-off after 4, which is where Ivey should go. In Detroit he'd take some of the scoring and creating pressure off of Cade Cunningham and could really get them in another gear speed-wise. Him falling to #5 would be the best case scenario for Detroit, but I have them moving up here to get their guy while Sacramento gets a future heavily protected 1st to move down one spot and get a guy who wants to be there.
5) TRADE: Sacramento Kings (via Detroit Pistons) - PG/SG Dyson Daniels (Ignite - G-League)
Daniels stock is rising after an incredible Combine where he shot absolutely lights out. He's a versatile Guard who is still growing, but his best attributes are his defensive abilities and shooting stroke. He'd fit in nicely in Sacramento where more shooting is at the top of the off-season list.
6) Indiana Pacers - PF Keegan Murray (Iowa)
At 6'10" 230 lbs. he's big, mobile, and aggressive and can help protect the paint in the Hoosier state. But what I love about him is his 3-point stroke. That can really open up the middle on offensive for the Pacers.
7) Portland Trail Blazers - SF Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona)
Mathurin has been crushing it interviews which is why I've got him firmly in my Top 10. He's an elite athlete with an improving jump shot and can really move without the ball. I think he'd fit in well and give Portland some really good shooting with him, Anfernee Simons, and Dame Lillard.
8) New Orleans Pelicans (via Los Angeles Lakers) - SF AJ Griffin (Duke)
He's not even 19 years old and needs some seasoning, but flashed a lot of potential in limited time at Duke. He got injured in the preseason and it looks like never fully recovered. But taking him at #8 would mean you're comfortable with his medicals. Because if he is 100%, he has top 5 talent.
9) San Antonio Spurs - SG Shaedon Sharpe (Kentucky)
Sharpe is the ultimate wildcard in the Draft. He was a top prospect coming out of High School, but he reclassified to come to Kentucky early. He never ended up playing for the Wild Cats, so you're looking at a top High School tape, which as we've seen in the past, can be hit or miss. His workouts haven't gone incredible, but the Spurs are a good bet to bank on talent, so I can see a fit here.
10) Washington Wizards - SG Malaki Branham (Ohio State)
He's another explosive athlete that can really fill it up. He also has underrated passing ability and for that reason, I can see him fitting in Washington alongside Bradley Beal.
11) New York Knicks - SG Johnny Davis (Wisconsin)
The Knicks would love if Davis slid out of the Top 10. He's a playmaker who can fit alongside R.J. Barrett to get the Knicks back on track.
12) Oklahoma City Thunder (via Los Angeles Clippers) - PF Jeremy Sochan (Baylor)
Sochan is a polarizing player among Draft Nerds. Some love his ability to have an impact on the game without scoring. Others point to his inability to score and will not rank him highly. I think he'd be a great fit in OKC alongside Chet Holmgreen to really transform that frontcourt. He possesses elite Defensive and passing skills. Not all that dissimilar from a younger Draymond Green.
13) Charlotte Hornets - C Jalen Duren (Memphis)
The Hornets simply cannot defend bigs with Mason Plumlee starting at Center. So they replace him with the top rim-running/defensive Center in the Draft in Duren. He'd be a fun pairing with LaMelo for sure.
14) Cleveland Cavaliers - SF Ousmane Dieng (New Zealand Breakers - NBL)
The Cavs have quietly built a really nice team, but they could use a bit more shooting on the wing as Isaac Okoro hasn't developed a shot like they'd hoped when they drafted him. Dieng can fill it up and defend and could give their offense another dimension.
15) Charlotte Hornets (via New Orleans Pelicans) - SG Jaden Hardy (Ignite - G-League)
The Hornets need more shooting to go with LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges. Terry Rozier is a nice piece who can stretch the floor, but they still need more. Hardy provides a young, cheap option.
16) Atlanta Hawks - SG Ochai Agbaji (Kansas)
The reigning Big XII Player of the Year can score, stroke it from deep, and defend, which are all things Atlanta is looking for. He's also got some serious bounce.
17) Houston Rockets (via Brooklyn Nets) - TyTy Washington Jr. (Kentucky)
The Rockets were experimenting with Jalen Green at PG who is primarily a scorer and less of a distributor. I have them taking Paolo Bachero at #3, so ideally you're pairing you're two blue chippers with a good distributor, we can't exactly count on John Wall suiting up for them, so Washington is a good match.
18) Chicago Bulls - C Mark Williams (Duke)
Nikola Vucevic not bringing what you want to the table defensively from the Center position? Enter Mark Williams who has a ridiculous 9'9" standing reach.
19) Minnesota Timberwolves - PF Jalen Williams (Santa Clara)
Williams would be be a nice fit alongside Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards. His wingspan gives him elite defensive potential and he can space the floor with his good stroke from distance.
20) San Antonio Spurs (via Toronto Raptors) - PF Tari Eason (LSU)
Eason has elite defensive potential and better than advertised offensive skills. He'd be a great pairing alongside Shaedon Sharpe for the Spurs first two picks.
21) Denver Nuggets - G/F Dalen Terry (Arizona)
Terry is a 6'7" PG, but I see him more of a wing in the NBA. He has a lot of athletic potential and could help speed up the Nuggets.
22) Memphis Grizzlies (via Utah Jazz) - PF E.J. Liddell (Ohio State)
Jaren Jackson Jr. gets into foul trouble pretty consistently, so I think the Grizzlies would benefit from bolstering their frontcourt depth. Liddell reminds me of the Grit & Grind Grizz so I'll land him in Memphis.
23) Philadelphia 76ers - SG Christian Braun (Kansas)
He does a lot of things the 76ers need in that he can shoot, defend, and pass and I'll love him forever for this.
24) Milwaukee Bucks - F Jake LaRavia (Wake Forest)
The Bucks need to surround Giannis with more shooting as evident after Khris Middleton went down and LaRavia can help add that.
25) San Antonio Spurs (via Boston Celtics) - G Hugo Besson (New Zealand Breakers - NBL)
French Point Guards have worked out well for the Spurs. They dip back into that pool with their third 1st round pick.
26) Houston Rockets (via Dallas Mavericks) - C Walker Kessler (Auburn)
In this Draft they've gotten Paolo Banchero and TyTy Washington, so we need some rim help! Banchero is more of a PF and doesn't offer much in the way of rim protection, so Kessler makes sense here. 7'0" with a 7'4" wingspan is enticing.
27) Miami Heat - G/F MarJon Beauchamp (Ignite - G-League)
The Heat could use a lot of depth pieces and maybe insurance if Tyler Herro gets too expensive.
28) Golden State Warriors - SF Wendell Moore Jr. (Duke)
The rich get richer as the defending champs pick up Wendell Moore here who got better every year. Also, a reminder that David Collins should never be allowed to play basketball again.
29) Memphis Grizzlies - C Christian Koloko (Arizona)
Steven Adams is an expiring contract this season, so Koloko can learn under him or if he flourishes early, can deal Adams.
30) Denver Nuggets (via Phoenix Suns) - PG Andrew Nembhard (Gonzaga)
While the Joker is the lead distributor for the Nuggets, Nembhard could take some of the pressure off as he's a classic pick & roll point that has a high floor at the next level.