1)BOSTON CELTICS - MARKELLE FULTZ
Now even though I’ve selected Markelle Fultz as the preferred #1 pick here, the Boston Celtics could go anywhere here. What they mainly need is a big man who could be a difference maker on the offensive side and especially on the defensive side. A big man they could look at for potential trade options are Hassan Whiteside, Andre Drummond and Demarcus Cousins. They lacked that sorely in the matchup against the Cavs as Lebron & Co. exploited their pressing need for an inside defense.
2) LOS ANGELES LAKERS - MALIK MONK
Personally, I feel as if the Lakers need another shooter/scorer rather than another playmaker like Lonzo Ball. Everybody seems pressed on the aspect of Lonzo playing for his hometown/favorite team and being matched-up against the likes of Steph Curry and James Harden four times a year. As appealing as that may be for TV ratings and ticket sales, Malik Monk is the better pick here because even though he is “undersized” as a 6’3 shooting guard (as if being 6’3 is considered undersized in anything in life), he gives D’Angelo Russell and Luke Walton another weapon to utilize in the young, fast, very lively roster that the Lakers have. Imagine a fast break with D’Russ creative playmaking, Malik Monk’s athleticism and shooting, along with the likes of Jordan Clarkson, a young and long Brandon Ingram, as well as a monstrous Julius Randle. I’m salivating at the thought of this version of the “Showtime Lakers” right now.
3) PHILEDELPHIA 76ers - LONZO BALL
The 76ers could honestly go whichever way here. I think they should pick the best available guard here. Like I’ve stated in a previous podcast, when I see Lonzo I see Jason Kidd and we all know how that turned out. All eyes will be on him as soon as he steps foot of a court. I don't expect him to come out blazing as few rookies do but I do expect him to excel in this league once he gets over the learning curve the NBA has.
4) PHOENIX SUNS - JOSH JACKSON
With the Suns having guards like Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker, they don't need another guard. The Suns addressed the front court in last years draft by selecting Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss. They simply need to allow time for them to develop as I'm sure they envisioned when picking them. What they need is a game changing small forward. Josh Jackson provides that as I view him as a younger Andrew Wiggins but more aggressive. Jackson doesn't get the attention he deserves simply because of the guard heavy talent this draft provides. He would definitely be a top 2 pick in other drafts.
5) SACRAMENTO KINGS - DENNIS SMITH JR.
When it comes to the draft as of late, the Kings are usually placed in a spot (6-10) where they can’t make a splash with the given options. This year is different for good reasons. With the #5 pick the Kings can sell a lot of tickets with Dennis Smith Jr. I can see the uber athleticism that Russell Westbrook posses in DSJ. He can score(18.1ppg), pass(6.2apg), rebound(4.6rpg) and play some defense as well(1.9spg). The only couple of concerns I have for him are his streaky jump shot, free throw percentage which was at 71% this past year and his turnover rate (3.4/game). But if he’s anything like Russ, he’ll be just fine in this league.
6) ORLANDO MAGIC - DE’AARON FOX
Even though the magic already have a point guard who can play aggressive defense and who doesn't necessarily have a jump shot in Elfrid Payton, De’Aaron Fox has a much higher ceiling. He’s as close to John Wall talent wise as you’ll get in this draft. He can get to the rim pretty much at any time whenever a play breaks down. Also can get to the free throw line and convert. What I really love about Fox is his lateral quickness of defense. That will probably be his best asset in the league.
7) MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES - JAYSON TATUM
In today’s age of basketball, I think Jayson Tatum has the perfect mold of the new age 4 spot. Experts peg him as a small forward but I think he’s big enough to play the PF position in the league. Playing for the Timberwolves, will give Karl Anthony-Towns freedom to do his thing down low while giving the team a overabundance of talented shooters on the outside with Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins and Shabazz Muhammed. Tatum started off slow as a college freshman but as the season went on, he gained more and more confidence by putting his defenders in isolation and capitalizing with either a step back jumper/fade away and driving by them using his size and frame and converting. Expect the same type of evolution once he arrives in the NBA wherever he goes.
8) NEW YORK KNICKS - LAURI MARKANNEN
Being in the middle of the lottery the way the Knicks are positioned, the Knicks just need to select the best available player in the draft. It doesn't really matter which position because all positions excluding Porzing-God all need work. Lauri Markannen provides that other big man the Knicks will need. Put his size and talent of stepping away from the basket with a jump shot and he’ll complement Kristaps and the Knicks just fine. He’ll be what the combination of spaghetti and meatballs are. In economics, we call that complementary goods.
9) DALLAS MAVERICKS - FRANK NTILIKINA
He’s a French product and I think he can be another version of what Dennis Schroeder is with the Hawks. The Mavericks are in dire need of a young point guard to run the offense. He’s a good, young and athletic point guard at 6’5 who can fit that mold but DO NOT expect him to be making $20 million in the league someday. If anything, the max contract he’ll possibly obtain with the way the new contracts are set up, is anywhere from $13-17 million a year.
10) SACRAMENTO KINGS - JONATHAN ISAAC
This may be a little too low for Jonathan Isaac but if all things line up correctly for the Kings, he will fall right into their lap. With the Kings already addressing the need an exiting playmaking guard at the #5 pick, they can get the big man with a lot of upside in his game. Jonathan Isaac fits the mold of the small ball game today. He can play anywhere from the 3 to 5 given his size and athleticism. Combine that with his ability to shoot and handle the ball a little; well folks, that right there is what I call a mismatch. Now it just comes down to development. He can be a steal or bust at this spot.
11) CHARLOTTE HORNETS - DWAYNE BACON
I’ve loved this kid since his days at Oak Hill. He’s just one of those guys who just knows how to put the ball in the basket, simple as that. The Hornets main scorers are Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum. Dwayne Bacon provides that reliable third option of somebody you can just give the ball to and say, “go get us a basket”.
12) DETROIT PISTONS - CALEB SWANIGAN
I don’t care what anybody says about this kid but he PRODUCES. There are concerns of his mobility followed by his height of being 6’8 but that doesn't scare me. This is a guy who has dropped a considerable amount of weight, has a high IQ of the game, knows how to position himself for rebounds and has even extended his jump shot to 20 ft. He’ll probably be the steal of the draft.
13) DENEVER NUGGETS - JUSTIN JACKSON
This is a guy who was a McDonalds All-American coming out of high school but didn't quite live up to the hype coming in as a freshman. Which in todays world writes a lot of kids off if they don't produce right away. But there’s this thing called growth/maturity/experience. These words are associated with the likes of players of Draymond Green or Malcolm Brogdon; players who need just a little extra time to roast in the pot. Justin Jackson can now be added to that list as he was the focal player of his championship team this past year. And guess what ??? He now has a 3 point jump shot he can take with him to the NBA.
14) MIAMI HEAT - LUKE KENNARD/JOSH HART
Now because this is my team, I’m going to present some bias and provide multiple options on who they should select.
1) Luke Kennard - A player whom I wished and followed closely ever since he spurned my team and in-state team the Ohio State Buckeyes for the dreaded but prestigious Duke Blue Devils. His whole game is just smooth with his ball handling ability and his ability to transition that into an off the dribble jump shot followed by a number of other moves he can use off the dribble. He will provide the Heat with a ball handler and scoring option off the bench.
2) Josh Hart - Think of the effect that Malcolm Brogdon has with the Milwaukee Bucks this past season. That’s the type of player I feel Josh Hart can be for the Heat. He can play the point guard spot if need be while also having the ability to defend 3-4 positions with his 6’6 220lbs frame. His specialty is his long range game as he is a 40% shooter from behind the arc. However, knowing my Miami Heat, I know this will not come to fruition. If only I had the ear of Pat Riley.