The NBA Draft is pretty cool because thanks to the popularity of college basketball and March Madness, the fans already know of a lot of the players drafted. I’m not gonna try and guess who every team takes, I’m gonna say who I would take if I was their GM. Do I have the expertise to be an NBA executive? Phil Jackson is listening to trade offers for Porzingis right now, so I at least feel confident I could do a better job running a team than him. I’m only gonna do the lottery teams because the whole first round is a lot of players, and for the most part guys are only making a marginal difference once you get later in the first round. Here goes nothing.
1. Philadelphia 76ers – Markelle Fultz, Freshman PG, Washington
Huge trade for the Sixers to move up to #1 to get Fultz. He’ll be paired with last year’s #1 overall pick in Ben Simmons to immediately form one of the more exciting backcourts in the league. Interestingly enough, neither of their teams made the tournament when they played in college. Does that at all affect how they’ll play in the NBA? Nope, but that seems to be a big talking point among NBA fans for some reason. Everyone knows players like Adam Morrison who won a lot of games in college fare much better in the league. These two along with Joel Embiid and Dario Saric makes it look like #TheProcess will finally start to turn into some Ws for Philly.
2. Los Angeles Lakers – Lonzo Ball, Freshman PG, UCLA
Had to look this guy up. Hadn’t heard of him but he seems pretty solid. For real though, as much as LaVar is a douchebag, I’m all-in on Lonzo. You don’t get compared to Jason Kidd if you’re a scrub. He’s a great distributor and playmaker with deep range from three. He’s gonna have to get his release point a little higher on his shot to fully utilize his 6’6 frame, but if the Lakers surround him with shooters we could be seeing Showtime 2.0 in the near future.
3. Boston Celtics – Josh Jackson, Freshman SF, Kansas
A lot of people are saying they’ll go with Tatum here, and I don’t really think they can go wrong. However, if the Celtics trading down showed one thing besides them not believing Fultz will turn into a star, it’s that Isaiah Thomas seems to be their guy at point guard moving forward. If that’s the case, they’re going to have to surround him with elite defenders (since he’s basically a traffic cone on that end of the floor), and Jackson projects to be one in the NBA.
4. Phoenix Suns – Jayson Tatum, Freshman SF, Duke
The Suns snag who some call the draft’s best player in Tatum at #4. He is easily the draft’s most offensively complete player, and he and 2015 #10 pick Devin Booker could be a high-scoring duo that would be a lot of fun to watch. The Suns haven’t really made any noise since the Steve Nash era, but Tatum could help bring them back to relevancy in the tough Western Conference.
5. Sacramento Kings – De’Aaron Fox, Freshman PG, Kentucky
The John Calipari product is extremely fast with the potential to become an All-Star at point guard, something the Kings desperately need since Ty Lawson is not the long-term answer at that spot. Plus his dad made sure to remind everyone what he did in his head-to-head matchups with Lonzo, so there’s that.
6. Orlando Magic – Jonathan Isaac, Freshman PF, Florida State
Isaac will stay in the state of Florida and go to the Magic at #6. A 6’11 forward with 3-point shooting ability, Isaac has tremendous upside. Add him to a frontcourt that already includes Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic, and the Magic may have some reason for hope.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves – Lauri Markkanen, Freshman PF, Arizona
The Timberwolves are on the cusp of competing in the West with Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Zach LaVine all looking like future stars. Markkanen could slide in as their starting power forward as this dynamic young team continues to build. (I already kind of hate this guy for no reason because the Knicks are considering trading Porzingis and “replacing” him with another tall white shooter but as long as that doesn’t happen I’ll have no problem with him).
8. New York Knicks – Malik Monk, Freshman SG, Kentucky
The Knicks actually have a draft pick this year, which means there’s a 99% chance whoever they take here will turn out to be terrible. But Monk could be a Garden sensation, as he was an electric scorer at Kentucky. He even scored 47 points in a game against eventual-champion North Carolina early in the year. As a Knicks fan, your first thought isn’t “will this draft pick help us compete?”, it’s “will this draft pick make the games somewhat watchable next season?” Let’s hope Porzingis is still there by the time Monk makes his NBA debut.
9. Dallas Mavericks – Dennis Smith, Freshman PG, N.C. State
The Mavs need a point guard, and Smith fits the bill. His superior pick-and-roll game should be a great fit for Rick Carlisle’s system.
10. Sacramento Kings – Luke Kennard, Sophomore SG, Duke
The Kings need shooters, and Kennard can definitely shoot. The Duke sophomore has been called the “white James Harden” by one of my friends, and possesses the ability to put on a clinic from deep at any time. He also gave us one of the best tweets in college basketball last year.
11. Charlotte Hornets – Donovan Mitchell, Sophomore SG, Louisville
Kemba Walker has exceeded expectations at point guard, and Frank Kaminsky could develop into a reliable frontcourt player. Mitchell will be a good backcourt partner for Walker to work with.
12. Detroit Pistons – Zach Collins, Freshman PF/C, Gonzaga
Collins and Andre Drummond could give Detroit an exciting frontcourt of the future.
13. Denver Nuggets- OG Anunoby, Sophomore SF/PF, Indiana
Anunoby will bring the hard-nosed defense the Nuggets need, and his offensive game has a lot of upside.
14. Miami Heat – Frank Ntilikina, International PG, Strasbourg
Didn’t you kind of just forget the Heat existed after LeBron and Wade left? Same here. The Big 3 days are far in the rearview mirror, but Hassan Whiteside, Justise Winslow, and the rejuvenated Dion Waiters make for a bright future for the Heat. Ntilikina was previously rumored to go as high as 6, so it would be a steal to grab him here at 14.
That’s a wrap. Don’t agree? Don’t like it? Sue me. (Not actually though, the theory that unpaid college bloggers are rich is actually a huge misconception.)
Make sure to tune into the draft Thursday night to possibly see LaVar go on a rampage when the Lakers don’t take Lonzo, the Knicks inevitably take the wrong guy at #8, and awkward interviews with Europeans who can’t really speak English. Gotta love the NBA!