The NBA Draft order is set after the results of the Lottery were revealed. For the second half of this week, the draft combine is taking place, which accomplishes 3 main things for me. One is this, by a really brilliant twitter account of which I’m not really sure of the man in charge (it’s me).
The combine is fun cuz it reminds me how much I miss hearing @JayBilas 's voice.
— Campus Cover (@TheCampusCover) May 17, 2018
Two is getting to watch guys that more than likely will not be drafted but I will still overanalyze and try to justify taking them in the first round.
Three is getting to look at Mo Bamba’s measurements and laughing for hours.
But more than anything, it gets me in NBA Draft mode. Watching 30 hours of college and professional basketball per week for the entire season all leads to this month + for me. It also leads to me spending way too much time figuring out my first round mock that A) no one really cares about and B) will more than likely be almost entirely wrong. Regardless, stick around for all my combine and draft coverage, which will hopefully have a masterpiece like this article from last year again.
Pick one: Phoenix Suns, DeAndre Ayton
The Suns are in a really interesting and unique spot of having both an A1 scorer in Devin Booker and the number one pick in a draft with a lot of high-level talent. A really interesting pick at this spot would be international player Luka Doncic, who is a point-forward type that would bring a lot of versatility to a roster that is struggling a bit at the wing position.
But, there are certain times you just go with the most obvious pick. Don’t be a boob, just take Ayton.
Pick two: Sacramento Kings, Luka Doncic
The Kings roster is extremely young and really, incredibly… fine… The point guard position has two second year players, but taking a point guard at two in this draft would be a bit of a stretch. I think this team needs the most help on the wing (this is going to be a theme). Despite depth at the shooting guard, Buddy Hield is the only guy they can really hang their hat on. Their depth at three is basically pointless. At four is just a logjam of nothingness, more or less. Also, they have no depth at center.
Ah alright cool… the Kings need help literally everywhere. I would take this in one of two directions. First is Doncic, who deepens them at the wing and will give them a lot of offensive versatility. Second is Marvin Bagley, who might be the most athletic big in a draft class filled with absurdly athletic bigs. If Doncic does indeed come, I think he is the right pick here, though, to solidify their wing.
Pick three: Atlanta Hawks, Mo Bamba
The Hawks do for sure suck. But, they actually have decent depth at every position other than center. Sure, they aren’t great, but they have a decent point guard in Dennis Schroder and young talent all over the floor. Due to the depth of this class from a big-man perspective, anyone at the top end of the lottery should be picking a big man if they have that need.
Now, I might be blinded by his combine measurements, but I really think Mo Bamba has a chance to be the best big man in this class. Although not nearly the most NBA-ready now, the Hawks are quite obviously taking a bit of a player-development rebuild, with talented youth in guys like Tyler Dorsey, John Collins and Taurean Prince. They have the least depth at center and could use an elite defender to play beside Collins and cover up some of his inadequacies.
Pick four: Memphis Grizzlies, Marvin Bagley III
Michael Conley will be returning to the Grizzlies after a 2017-2018 campaign wasted by injury. With Marc Gasol nearing the end of his career, the Grizzlies need front court depth for the present and the future. There is no better draft for that need than this one.
Since the Kings take the best available and decide on Doncic instead, Bagley falls to four right into the waiting arms of the Grizzlies. Next to Gasol on defense will make this a rough back-line of a defense. On offense, it would give the Grizz five guys that can stroke it from the perimeter and also around the rim. Look for them to take a two guard (maybe Grayson Allen) with their early second round pick. But in the meantime, enjoy this video of Bagley’s absurd second jump.
Pick five: Dallas Mavericks, Jaren Jackson Jr.
With their early lottery pick last year, the Mavericks employed the services of Dennis Smith Jr., who jumps higher than you do in Fortnite after you take the zero gravity thingy. This year, it would not be extremely surprising if they went a similar direction and took a guard again. But the truth is, they don’t really have depth anywhere. Also, Dirk can’t play that much longer… right?.. RIGHT?!?
They have to utilize the depth of this big man class. Although I wouldn’t be completely shocked if they made a splash with a Trae Young or a Colin Sexton to solidify some depth in the back court, but Jackson is just the right pick here with stretch four capabilities and rim-protecting instincts. His upside is high enough that he could be an adequate replacement for Dirk when he finally decides to hang up the sneakers.
Pick six: Orlando Magic, Trae Young
This is a really bad roster with almost no positive elements or depth anywhere. They need wing help and offensive big man help and point guard help and scoring help and defensive help and not sucking help and now coaching help because they fired Frank Vogel because I guess it was his fault and not the terrible roster’s fault.
But while looking at this roster I see two things, Aaron Gordon, who is a restricted free agent but they should really try to keep around even though he is probably going to be demanding a max deal. Also, I see what might be the worst backcourt in the NBA. Make a splash, Magic. Take Trae.
Pick seven: Chicago Bulls, Mikal Bridges
The Bulls actually sneakily created a roster with somewhat decent depth at every position and a lot of young talent. Still, they are probably weakest on the wing (the theme continues) and at the center position, which needs to match the versatility of their power forward depth (Markkanen and Portis).
The two guys for the Bulls here are Mikal Bridges, who has lingered around ten in mocks all year but is the best wing player on the board outside of Doncic, and Wendell Carter Jr., who has risen up draft boards, but is still undervalued in my opinion. I think Bridges is too good of a prospect to let slip at this spot, though. If they could resign LaVine, it would actually give the Bulls fairly talented two guard and wing depth.
Pick eight: Cleveland Cavaliers, Michael Porter Jr.
After LeBron James, the greatest player of all time, leaves Cleveland for the second and final time after this season, the Cavaliers will be left with a roster that is one of the worst in this entire lottery. They added some youth with their slew of midseason trades, but there is no solid depth at any position.
This will lead them to simultaneously increase depth at every position, which is vaguely possible in this draft in the form of basketball unicorn Michael Porter Jr. They will be depressed from the departure of LeBron and try to fill the void with something similar. Porter is the closest thing to that. He’s not LeBron, though. No one is.
Pick nine: New York Knicks, Wendell Carter Jr.
This team really needs wing help. The logjam in the backcourt eliminates Sexton as an option, and their front court depth is questionable.
I think Carter has fallen far enough. This man is going to much better as a pro than he was in college due to his rim-protection ability and his offensive potential on the block or facing up. Also, he will be able to play behind Kanter, who is a somewhat similar, and he will get to play next to Kristaps Porzingis, an elite big.
Pick 10: Philadelphia 76ers, Miles Bridges
The Sixers are in an unbelievably interesting spot. They are in talks for some of the elite wing players available this summer. Also, they have their franchise point guard and center. Markelle Fultz, who was the number one pick last year, sabotaged his own jump shot for some reason and there have been talks from some talking heads that he is going to be a bust. There are a lot of options at this pick. Should they get insurance on Fultz and take a Sexton or a Shai Gilgeous-Alexander? Should they add depth at the wing positions with a Miles Bridges or a Kevin Knox?
The truth is, as a Sixers fan myself, I spend all my waking hours thinking about this, and after Mikal Bridges, I have no idea what I want. Sexton feels like giving up on Fultz and I don’t want to do that, but I also understand insurance. I really did not like this year’s Kentucky team, but I understand his scoring ability. The name at the top of this section is more or less a placeholder until I figure out the best possible option since Mikal probably won’t be here. Also, I think he’s the most NBA-ready player left on the board, and I think that’s what the Sixers need the most.
Pick 11: Charlotte Hornets, Kevin Knox
I really think the Hornets need to blow it up and start over. I think they have to trade Kemba, ride out the rest of Batum’s absurd contract, and start over from ground zero.
With that being said, the eleventh pick isn’t really the best place to do that. If i’m in this front office, I would consider packaging Kemba and this pick for a middle-of the road young guy and a higher pick. But, I’m not predicting trades in this mock.
Their propensity to draft small, offensively minded guards (Kemba, Malik Monk), I lean Sexton here. I don’t know if that’s the right pick because their wing talent is almost nonexistent and they need a stretch four (and a center for that matter), but I just don’t think they’ll do it. I will give them the benefit of the doubt, though and have them taking the best available.
Picks 12 and 13: LA Clippers, Collin Sexton and Robert Williams
But those are the only things I know about the Clippers picks. The direction of this franchise is questionable and the direction of this draft in particular could go 101 ways.
They need insurance on DeAndre Jordan, who I still think they should trade before he probably leaves after his contract expires next year, and they also could use some real back court talent and depth. That’s what’s pushing me towards these two picks, and also Sexton falling this far is honestly a gift.
Pick 14: Denver Nuggets, Zhaire Smith
With perennial lottery franchise as the last pick in this year’s lottery, the Nuggets are in a familiar spot. They’ve actually drafted their way into a pretty decent position, with good depth all over the court with promising young talent like Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. Their one spot that’s kind of not up to par is the small forward, which is Wilson Chandler and then a whole lot of nothing.
Zhaire Smith is technically a shooting guard and he would be a tad undersized on that wing, but I think it’s a really interesting pick at this last spot in the lottery. He will bolster them defensively and with athleticism, and he also plays bigger than he is, which shows in his fantastic rebounding numbers and ability. He’s a project on offense, but they have Murray, Barton and Millsap, which is a solid offensive core.