The NBA world has entered complete chaos thanks to trades, rumors of LeBron James leaving Cleveland, and Paul George declaring he will not re-sign with Indiana. Buried in all the speculation, there’s this whole draft that’s supposed to take place tomorrow night (Thursday, June 22).
More moves will be made before (and after) the 76ers are officially on the clock at 7:00 PM (ET) and they could drastically shake up the board, but here’s what my final mock looks like based on the current draft order.
With the 76ers looking for the PG to tie all their pieces together, Bryan Colangelo crafted a trade with the Boston Celtics to move up two spots and select Markelle Fultz. The 19-year-old possesses great size, athleticism, and an awe-inspiring skill-set. Fultz’s ability to play off the ball makes him even more dangerous, and an even better fit for a team that will likely have Ben Simmons functioning as a point forward at times.
With stars like Fultz, Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Dario Saric, Philadelphia will be expected to turn in some results this season.
There is only one way the Lakers do not select Lonzo Ball with this pick, and that involves them no longer owning the no. 2 selection. Though it seems unlikely LA would be willing to trade this pick for a player (Paul George) who is likely to sign with them in free agency following the season, Indiana is using Cleveland as leverage.
However, after clearing the way at PG by sending D’Angelo Russell to the Nets, all signs point to Ball being a Laker.
The Celtics could use another dynamic wing player, and will likely have their choice of the top two in the draft. While many are pointing to Josh Jackson as the pick here, his decision to not work out for the Celtics is certainly worth noting. Although, even if he had worked out for them, it wouldn’t change the pick for me. Jayson Tatum has a more refined offensive game and can score efficiently on all three levels.
Keep your eyes open for a trade at this spot. There are a number of teams who would love to get their hands on speedy guard De’Aaron Fox, and Phoenix doesn’t necessarily need a PG. The Kings may even be willing to part ways with valuable future picks to move up one spot, as they are rumored to be enamored with Fox.
The Suns could also be content with adding, Jackson, one of the most athletic players in the draft. His play on both ends of the floor makes him an attractive option for a defensively-handicapped Suns team.
Fox falling to no. 5 would be a dream come true for the Kings. Already possessing a handful of young players who are taking some time to adjust to the NBA, Fox’s elite speed will translate immediately and take pressure off players like Buddy Hield and Skal Labissiere.
Simply put, Fox ties everything together in Sacramento.
The Magic may make a move up for the services of De’Aaron Fox, but staying put wouldn’t be so bad, either. Jonathan Isaac has the potential to grow into a superstar in the league. His size — 6’11” with a 7’1″ wingspan, and possibly still growing — is tantalizing in itself. But pair that with his guard-like ball-handling and NBA range, and you’ve got a stud.
With the likes of Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, the Timberwolves have been a popular darkhorse pick in the West for the last couple of seasons. But they still seem to be missing one piece: a lethal three-point shooter.
Minnesota shot 34.9-percent from behind the arc last season (20th), allowing defenses to collapse on Towns and double Wiggins without being punished. Malik Monk changes that instantly.
If the Knicks actually allow Phil Jackson to trade Kristaps Porzingis, then this pick would be more uncertain than Jackson’s sanity. Let’s assume James Dolan does the right thing, for once, and takes the necessary steps to ensure Porzingis remains a Knick.
New York would be smart to move on from Derrick Rose, unless he’s willing to take a major pay cut. Even if Rose remains a Knick, Ntilikina would serve the team better. Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony, to some extent, need a PG who’s willing to distribute the ball. Rose is not that player. However, having Rose around could help Ntilikina become a little more aggressive.
The Mavericks are in desperate need of a PG. Fortunately, this is one of the best drafts in recent memory for top-tier PGs. Dennis Smith may be a little inconsistent, but he has flashed pure offensive brilliance. His fearlessness driving to the rim and ability to finish around the basket have scouts drooling.
After selecting their PG of the future at no. 5, Sacramento would benefit from a floor-spacer to make teams pay for collapsing on De’Aaron Fox (who, admittedly, can’t shoot for s***). Lauri Markkanen shot 42.3-percent from behind the arc in college, and there’s no concern over him taking another step back to shoot the NBA three.
With Buddy Hield and Markkanen spotted up on the perimeter, Fox is going to have a wide lane to penetrate.
After basically getting to move up ten spots in the second-round of the draft just for taking on Dwight Howard’s contract, expect to see a lot of high pick-and-roll with Kemba Walker and Howard. To make that more effective, Charlotte will need another three-point shooter and a guard who can handle the ball when Walker is taking a breather. Donovan Mitchell fills both voids.
Add in the fact that he’s a solid defender, and it’s a perfect fit for the Hornets.
The obvious need in Detroit is a shooting guard, and Luke Kennard would be tough to pass on if he’s still on the board. However, Zach Collins’ potential would be even harder to pass up. The former Bulldog has the form to continue stretching his range, and has already proven to be dominant in the post. The Pistons will be able to combat all the small-ball by pounding it down opposing team’s throats for easy baskets with Collins and Andre Drummond.
There’s a strong possibility the Nuggets will lose Danilo Gallinari in free agency this offseason, leaving a major hole at SF. The player to fill this void will have to be a threat from downtown and be able to create for his teammates, considering Denver is a little weak at PG, too. If you believe in his jumper, Jackson ticks off all the requirements, and would also provide much better defense than the Nuggets ever got from Gallinari.
Though it appears Dion Waiters wants to be back in Miami next season, you can never surround a dominant big man with too many perimeter threats. But that’s not all Kennard is. The former Blue Devil was the most reliable player for Coach K at Duke last season, proving his offensive game has next to no limits.
The addition of Jusuf Nurkic paid off for the Blazers, as they caught fire after his acquisition to steal the last spot in the Western Conference playoffs. But they still need another interior threat to help Nurkic and take pressure of their superb backcourt duo. Collins is tough and extremely efficient around the basket, and has convinced teams of his potential to be a stretch-four.
The Bulls were the seventh-worst three-point shooting team in the NBA last season. With Dwyane Wade opting into his contract for the upcoming season and rumors of Jimmy Butler wanting to stay in Chicago, this pick is likely their best chance to improve from downtown. As a freshman, TJ Leaf shot 46.6-percent from behind the arc at UCLA, and he doesn’t sacrifice anything on the glass.
This is a high-risk/high-reward pick for a young Bucks team that showed a lot of promise last season. If Giles can ever return to his pre-ACL tear athleticism, the thought of him on the floor with Giannis Antetokounmpo is downright scary. There is a chance he never returns to that form, though, given that he’s already undergone three knee surgeries.
Milwaukee has largely drafted for potential recently, and there’s not many in the draft with more than Giles.
Now that the Pacers are no longer trying to build a team around Paul George, it’s time to find a new cornerstone. With some added muscle and a year or two of grooming, Patton could grow into a dominant center in the league.
After trading Dwight Howard and all signs pointing to losing Paul Millsap in free agency, the Hawks need to rebuild their frontcourt. Adebayo won’t be the floor-stretching forward many teams seek in today’s NBA, but he plays with a very high motor on both ends of the floor. The former Wildcat is happy to bang in the post and possesses the athleticism to defend the perimeter, as well.
Don’t expect Portland to keep all three of its first-round selections, as they’re already pretty tight against the cap. If they do keep this pick, look for them to add another rim protector. Rabb isn’t going to contribute much on the offensive end early in his career, but he’ll be an athletic, intimidating force under the basket from day one.
With Russell Westbrook’s ability to penetrate a defense, there’s no excuse for Oklahoma being the worst three-point shooting team in the league. OKC needs to surround their PG with shooters, and Ferguson certainly fits that bill. He also possesses the athleticism to lock up with opposing wing players, which is another Thunder need.
Landing D’Angelo Russell from the Lakers is a nice addition for a Nets team that is, in no uncertain terms, absolutely horrible. Picking up a potential franchise player via trade was even more crucial given their dearth of picks in upcoming drafts.
It would be nice for Brooklyn to add someone for Russell to play with this year, but Anunoby (who will miss nearly all of the 2017-18 season rehabbing his knee) is too talented to pass on. A player of his caliber this late in the draft is a gift.
The 2017-18 season could look very different for Raptors fans, depending on what the team does with free agents Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka. Assuming they are able to keep both, the Raptors will need to find another athletic forward who can stretch the floor, without sacrificing Ibaka’s physical presence in the post.
Though he only shot 32.1-percent from behind the arc in his junior season at Utah, Kuzma grabbed a lot of attention at the NBA combine. At the very worst, he’s an athletic wing who can bring energy at both ends of the court.
Assuming the Jazz are able to re-sign Gordon Hayward, their biggest priority should be another scoring guard. Derrick White is a versatile scorer with outstanding vision and instincts. His size and length also make him an above-average defender, so he wouldn’t be a liability on the defensive-minded team.
Again, the Magic need a lot of help. At this point in the draft, their best bet is to take a swing on a high-upside guy. Jarrett Allen needs to do a lot of work on his offensive game, but his size and athleticism have him being considered as early as no. 15.
Already drafting two bigs, if the Blazers keep this pick, they will address their need for an athletic wing who can really dig in on the defensive end.
With Lonzo Ball running the point, the Lakers need to find a forward to help stretch the floor. Wilson may not be TJ Leaf, but he also didn’t have an elite PG feeding him the rock.
Anigbogu is a long-term project with the potential to grow into a dominant post player. Early on, he will at least be a defensive presence in LA.
It doesn’t matter who the Spurs draft here, they will turn him into a solid pro. Manu Ginobili has likely played his last NBA game, and Josh Hart could fill that void nicely.
Bell is the scrappy, athletic four the Utah Jazz would love to insert next to Rudy Gobert in the frontcourt. If scoring on Utah was tough last year, best of luck with two premier rim protectors.
(Photo Credit: Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire)
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