If we learned anything from this series against Cleveland, it’s Boston can look an above average team without Isaiah Thomas for at least two games. So, why not take a potential replacement who happens to be the best prospect in the Draft? With Lonzo Ball passing on a workout for the Celtics it looks like it’s almost a lock that Fultz ends up in Boston.
2. Los Angeles Lakers – Lonzo Ball (UCLA)
Take LaVar out of the equation here. He’s not part of Lonzo’s ability on the court and we’ve seen what he’s capable of. Sure, you can be worried about his ability to score in the midrange or his defense, but there’s no doubting he makes a team better from the point guard spot. Again, Magic has been pretty enamored with Lonzo for quite some time and it’s hard to imagine him passing on him at this spot.
3. Philadelphia 76ers – Malik Monk (Kentucky)
This is the first selection that will determine how this draft goes. The Sixers have a couple of different options here as they can take Monk a little bit early to help with spacing and run Simmons at the point or they can go with a wing like Jackson or Tatum. There’s a slight chance they take a Fox or Smith here although I don’t see that happening. We’ll go with Monk now as they’ll give Simmons the year at the point guard spot.
4. Phoenix Suns – Josh Jackson (Kansas)
The Suns need to go with another wing here, the question is do they go with Jackson or Tatum. They have high-usage guards in Booker and Bledsoe, so I think they lean Jackson here since he’s better without the ball than Tatum. There’s no doubt Tatum can score, but he’s a high-usage guy, which the Suns don’t need.
5. Sacramento Kings – De’Aaron Fox (Kentucky)
At this point, the Kings will have to decide between Fox or Tatum if they are both on the board. This team will be better off playing a faster tempo, which is what Fox brings to the table. He’s one of the quickest guys off the bounce from end line to end line and giving guys like Hield and Cauley-Stein the ability to run makes them better. In a guard dominant league, take the guard.
6. Orlando Magic – Jayson Tatum (Duke)
Tatum might be one of the three bet players in this draft as most of these guys are interchangeable. However, Orlando needs a go-to scorer as they simply don’t have that. Aaron Gordon and Terrence Ross aren’t giving you that on the wing. Tatum will do just that. You can play him at the three with Gordon at the four and Vucevic at the five and he immediately becomes your best offensive weapon.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves – Jonathan Isaac (Florida State)
The Wolves need help either at the shooting guard spot or at the stretch four spot. That’s where they go with this pick with Malik Monk off the board. You slide Karl-Anthony Towns to the center spot and assuming LaVine comes back healthy you roll out a five of Rubio-LaVine-Wiggins-Isaac-Towns, which is pretty long, athletic and can defend. Isaac was a strong weakside rim protector this past season at Florida State and throw him in Thibs scheme, you may see this team lead the league in blocks.
8. New York Knicks – Dennis Smith Jr. (NC State)
The Knicks need a point guard. It’s way too easy of a pick and while I have absolutely 0 trust with this front office, they actually haven’t sucked at drafting. They’ve been okay there, it’s the rest of the stuff they suck at like giving Joakim Noah a ridiculous contract. Dennis Smith has a ton of value and potential here and is excellent in the pick-and-roll. He’s used to playing in a dysfunctional locker room/organization already, so a perfect fit.
9. Dallas Mavericks – Frank Ntilikina (France)
The Mavs will have a bunch of options here at this spot and I’m switching from my original pick of Lauri here. They should lock up Nerlens and then get the young point guard here and let them run the pick-and-roll and be a solid defense duo for the next couple of years. The Mavs need a lot of help, so it’s hard to see them going wrong here.
10. Sacramento Kings – Lauri Markkanen (Arizona)
This would be an ideal draft for the Kings as I mentioned earlier they will need some wing help, especially if Rudy Gay leaves. While Markkanen is 7’0″ he’s a wing, especially with the way he shoots the ball. He will have some rim protection with Cauley-Stein behind him and be able to still get up and down the court. Also, taking Markkanen helps keep the lane open for Fox to drive with Lauri and Buddy shooting.
11. Charlotte Hornets – Zach Collins (Gonzaga)
The Hornets simply were not a good rebounding team last year. Zach Collins can step in and fix that almost right away. Collins is skilled enough to step away from the basket and play both the four or five spot, while protecting the rim. He’s an excellent shot blocker that can provide helpside defense and give Kemba Walker another scoring option to play with.
12. Detroit Pistons – Justin Jackson (UNC)
The Pistons need help shooting the ball and that’s where Justin Jackson comes into play. He’s coming off a year in which he made 105 threes and can immediately help a team who ranked 26th in 3-point shooting. He also proved to be a decent defender in the NCAA Tournament guarding the likes of Malik Monk and Nigel Williams-Goss.
13. Denver Nuggets – OG Anunoby (Indiana)
The Nuggets need help with defense and if he comes back healthy, there may not be a better defender in this class. On top of that the Nuggets can move Jamal Murray to the point guard spot permanently and get creative with their lineups, especially with someone like Anunoby.
14. Miami Heat – Donovan Mitchell (Louisville)
Do you trust Dion Waiters for an entire season? That’s why the Heat take Donovan Mitchell here. He’s a guy who showed this year he’s a capable shooter and has always been a terrific defender. You can slide him in next to Dragic or Johnson and let him run off the ball. He’s an elite athlete with a 6’10” wingspan that will fit it nicely with Spo’s system.
15. Portland Trail Blazers – John Collins (Wake Forest)
The Blazers are obviously set in the backcourt and need help with the frontcourt and wing spots. John Collins is a guy who was the ultimate breakout star as a sophomore in college basketball. He made a legit push for ACC Player of the Year and most notably just shot 16-of-25 from three in a workout. If that shot comes true, he’ll easily be a top-10 player in this draft. He’s not strong defensively, but he’ll crash the offensive glass and finish at the rim, giving Lillard and McCollum space to work.
16. Chicago Bulls – Jarrett Allen (Texas)
The Bulls need a lot of help, but when you look at the contracts, there simply aren’t any bigs on the roster besides Bobby Portis and Robin Lopez for next season. Allen is a guy who will come in, be a defensive presence and help with rebounding. He can get up and down the court, if Hoiberg wants to play fast, but as Big Cat has taught me, the Bulls will automatically fuck this up, because that’s what GarPax does. Allen has a 7’5? wingspan and will be an excellent shot blocker.
17. Milwaukee Bucks – Ike Anigbogu (UCLA)
With Jabari Parker battling another injury, look for the Bucks to go with a big here. Anigbogu fits what the Bucks like. Long, tall and a bunch of upside. It’s how they typically draft guys. They do need a little bit of help in the frontcourt and that’s where a ‘project’ like Anigobgu can come into play. He graded out with a ridiculous 7’6? wingspan at the combine and averaged 12.4 rebounds per-40 minutes while at UCLA. He also put up 3.7 blocks per-40.
18. Indiana Pacers – Luke Kennard (Duke)
The Pacers will have a lot of options here at No. 18. They can go wing with Kennard or Ferguson or they could take a guy like TJ Leaf, since they need some help in the frontcourt. However, with Jeff Teague not under contract, Kennard is a guy that can play either guard spot. He’s a great passer and an excellent shooter, pairing him with a guy like Paul George (maybe even just for a year) could help him develop.
19. Atlanta Hawks – Bam Adebayo (Kentucky)
There’s a chance the Hawks may only have seven guys under contract once free agency starts, including losing Paul Millsap. People say he also resembles Dwight Howard with his broad shoulders, so why not put him in Atlanta? In all seriousness, Adebayo is a super athletic big that has strong lateral quickness and can defend. You hope he continues to learn how to protect the rim and gets a softer touch around the rim with his hook, but he’s full of potential.
20. Portland Trail Blazers – DJ Wilson (Michigan)
Again, the Blazers need to continue to bolster their front court and Wilson is an intriguing prospect due to his ability to handle the ball and shoot. We saw him really come on late in the season during Michigan’s run and with him staying in NBA Draft makes me think he’ll continue to jump up draft boards. Again, with the Blazers having three first round picks, taking guys like Wilson just makes sense.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder – Terrence Ferguson (Australia)
The Thunder need help scoring the ball. Andre Roberson is a good defender, but we saw what happens when teams dare him to beat them. It didn’t work out too hot. Ferguson is a 3 and D type guy, who can be an excellent shooter after spending a year in Australia. He’s already an excellent athlete and his defense should translate to the NBA.
22. Brooklyn Nets – Harry Giles (Duke)
The Nets should take the risk with Giles. They aren’t going to be good next year. They aren’t going to be good the year after next. They need to roll the dice with prospects like this, especially later in the first round and hope they hit. For Giles it’s all about how healthy he is and what the doctors have to say. He did measure well, coming in at 6’10” and has a nice touch with his jumper. We’ve seen what he’s capable of when he’s healthy (hint: he would have been the clear No. 1) question is can he get remotely close to that again.
23. Toronto Raptors – Justin Patton (Creighton)
The Raptors need a different look in the post. That’s where Patton can come into play. He can help protect the rim as he averaged 1.4 blocks per game last year at Creighton and won’t just sit in the post offensively. He’s not going to kill you at the 3-point line but he wants to be moving to the rim and constantly cutting.
24. Utah Jazz – Rodions Kurcus (Barcelona)
The Jazz will need wing help, especially if Hayward leaves for free agency (although I’d bet he stays in Utah). Joe Johnson will be in his last year of a contract and Joe Ingles is a free agent this summer, it makes sense for the Jazz to go with a wing over another point guard. The 19-year old Latvian is likely a draft-and-stash guy for a year, but it lets Utah develop and see what happens with Hayward.
25. Orlando Magic – Jawun Evans (Oklahoma State)
The Magic get their wing help early with Tatum, now they’ll get guard help with Evans. Unlike Elfrid Payton, Evans is a decent shooter coming out of Oklahoma State and could potentially push for the starting job with the Magic. He’s excellent in the pick-and-roll game, which would give Vucevic the ability to come out and get buckets rolling to the rim. On top of that it gives the Magic another guy who can go get his own bucket, again, something they are currently lacking.
26. Portland Trail Blazers – Ivan Rabb (Cal)
The third first round pick for the Blazers, they take another big to help with the front court. With a draft like this you just hope to hit with 2 out of the 3, so taking another PF/C to go with John Collins isn’t the worst idea. Rabb is a guy who is very mobile and can get up and down the court, but is a traditional post player. He needs to put on a little bit more weight so he doesn’t get thrown around in the post.
27. Brooklyn Nets – TJ Leaf (UCLA)
Leaf is a guy that can step in and immediately contribute on the offensive side of the ball. He’s an excellent stretch player, especially in the small ball era. He does need some help defensively, but if your team isn’t going to contend let him learn that through a season of playing. He has the ability to stretch the floor and if Giles comes back healthy you could have your front court set in this draft.
28. Los Angeles Lakers – Isaiah Hartenstein (Zalgris – Lithuania)
The Lakers can take Hartenstein and decide what they want to do with him as he does need to improve offensively in the halfcourt. If they do play him this year, he’s a guy that will come in and rebound right away and does have decent size. You can play him alongside Julius Randle and try to dominate the glass between those two. If he can get up and down the court, pairing him with Lonzo Ball and Randle passing the ball, you can have some success.
29. San Antonio Spurs – Derrick White (Colorado)
The Spurs are getting older, there’s no doubting that and they need help at a couple spots. Obviously they are set at one wing spot in Kawhi, but what do they do with the other wing spot if Manu retires? What about in the post? To me, they take the guy that is flying up the charts in Derrick White, who was one of four guys from major conferences to put up 18/4/4 per game this past season. The other three? Fultz, Dennis Smith and Frank Mason. Not bad company.
30. Utah Jazz – Jordan Bell (Oregon)
Jordan Bell was perhaps the biggest winner at the combine Chicago. Couple that with what he did in the NCAA Tournament and he’s someone people are starting to get more interested in. He was in my eyes the best defensive player in the country last season and is an excellent rebounder. He’s the exact type of big you want to come off the bench and can provide rim protection when Gobert needs a breather.