WE all know that NBA GM’s are incompetent and make boneheaded decisions every day of the offseason. In fact, I can all but guarantee there will be a few decisions made tomorrow night that will leave us scratching our heads. Am I perfect? Far from it, but here’s my attempt and solving the jigsaw puzzle that is Draft night from the perspective of every lottery team.
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Pick #1 Phoenix Suns – DeAndre Ayton
THE choice at No. 1 really comes down to two prospects for the Suns. DeAndre Ayton or Luka Doncic. The two uber-talented players both fill a need for Phoenix and personally I think Doncic is the better talent, but given their lack of production at center, Ayton fits the team better. Doncic would be great in a backcourt with Devin Booker, but sending Tyson Chandler to the bench and giving Ayton the chance to flourish is the smart play.
Pick #2 Sacramento Kings – Luka Dončić
THIS is where the draft really begins. Honestly, don’t be surprised to see anything happen here as moving up from 7th has sent the Kings front office into flux. If Vlade Divac wants to send a message to the rest of the league and prove that Sacramento is a competent NBA franchise, then he will make the smart move and take the best guy on the board Luka Doncic. Don’t overthink this one.
Pick #3 Atlanta Hawks – Michael Poter Jr
IT’S no secret that I’m high on Michael Porter. In fact, if it wasn’t for his suspect back and now hip He could find himself in the conversation for being a number one pick. There are plenty of people who quickly point out the red flags and this pick is made with the assumption that his spine is in one piece. Still, I love the confidence and cockiness that Porter has and the belief he has in himself as a star. Atlanta isn’t going to be good anytime soon and taking a potential scoring stud in Porter is worth the gamble at No. 3 given the rest of the roster construct.
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Pick #4 Memphis Grizzlies – Marvin Bagley
THERE was no better collegiate player last year than Marvin Bagley. Period. If you watched any basketball then you can see that Bagley has the chance to be a walking 20/10 in the pro’s. Things are interesting at this spot from a Grizzlies perspective. If Porter is still on the board then he deserves a sniff, but with him gone I think that Memphis makes the perfect move.
Pick #5 Dallas Mavericks – Jaren Jackson Jr
WITH four big names gone, Dallas will be left to snap up whoever is left on the board between Jackson and Bamba. Should the draft pan out this way they face the difficult task of splitting the pair. On one hand, Bamba looks like the perfect modern-day NBA big man, with the ability to protect the paint and potentially hit corner treys. Jackson can do those things and is quite versatile, but there are concerns over his ceiling. Personally, I think Bamba is the better player, but taking Jackson guarantees that Dallas will get another top-5 pick next season. Pairing that pick with Jackson, who could emerge as the best player in the draft and now sophomore Dennis Smith Jr means the future is bright in Dallas.
Pick #6 Orlando Magic – Trae Young
IF I’m in the GM chair then I’m not even thinking twice about this one. Despite Bamba still being on the board, getting college phenom Trae Young in a Magic jersey is a must. Some people think pick No. 6 is too high to take the Oklahoma fresher, but he showcased last season what he is capable of. Ever since Jameer Nelson left the franchise they have been crying out for a point guard and they can address that need by drafting Young. Do it Orlando, and don’t look back.
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Pick #7 Chicago Bulls – Mohamed Bamba
WHEN it comes to the real draft I will be shocked if Bamba finds himself available for the Bulls. With a big hole at center, getting the lanky Longhorn would be awesome for Chicago’s rebuild. There is no immediate pressure for Bamba to be great right away as well. In fact, he could even be a reserve next season and when Robin Lopez’s contract expires at the end of next season then Bamba will be primed and ready to take on the full-time starter role. Masterstroke.
Pick #8 Cleveland Cavaliers (from Brooklyn Nets) – Collin Sexton
NOTHING would surprise me at No. 8. Absolutely nothing. Regardless of what LeBron James decides to do Cleveland needs to be smart here and I think taking Collin Sexton is the way to go. If one of the above seven players isn’t taken then there’s a real chance that the Cavs pounce on that guy, with Michael Porter near the top of the wishlist. Getting a fantastic perimeter defender and a relentless competitor is a huge plus for a team that was crying out for that type of player all of last season.
Pick #9 New York Knicks – Wendell Carter
THERE’S no need for panic from the Knicks at No. 9. I think they will avoid trading the pick and instead see how the draft plays out. There is a chance that someone like Wendell Carter will still be on the board for them at this slot. And while Carter doesn’t seem like a home-run of a pick, New York doesn’t need to clear the fence right now. Make the smart, safe selection and add a valuable tool to your future team.
Pick #10 Philadelphia 76ers (from Los Angeles Lakers) – Mikal Bridges
THIS would be a PERFECT scenario for the Sixers. Former Villanova guy Mikal Bridges to Philly would be the feel-good story of the night. His mother works within the organization, he is a Pennsylvania native and he will provide a winning attitude and has true ‘glue-guy’ attributes that would help Philly. I have a hunch that one of the two teams before them will ruin the 76ers well thought out plans on draft night snaring the Wildcats wing, but for now, Bridges becomes a Sixer.
Pick #11 Charlotte Hornets – Kevin Knox
SPEAKING of perfect fits, I have long been a vocal advocate of Knox to the Hornets at No. 11. Put aside their puzzling Dwight Howard move and you will see that Kemba Walker desperately needs a sidekick. Was the Howard move a sign that Walker’s departure is next? Maybe, but for now, he is still contracted to the team and he is crying out for help. Knox’s scoring upside is immense and he could be the perfect sidekick for Walker right away next season.
Pick #12 Los Angeles Clippers (from Detroit Pistons) – Miles Bridges
BACK-to-back picks means that the Clippers are armed and ready to move up. My guess is they swap their selections with perhaps Chicago in an effort to move up and snare a higher rated talent. Bridges’ spot in the draft is one of uncertainty and there is a real chance he will be here for LA. If he is, I say pull the trigger and add the exciting, athletic young forward to the team.
Pick #13 Los Angeles Clippers – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
LACK of a reliable jumper has stopped Shai Gilgeous-Alexander from being a top-10 guy in this year’s class. Still, in the right scenario, he can flourish as a backcourt starter. SGA’s landing spot will dictate just how successful he is, but if he is drafted by the Clippers I think he will be fine. He can be a relentless defender and somewhat of a playmaker while sharing the ball-handling duties with Lou Williams. Nice.
Pick #14 Denver Nuggets – Zhaire Smith
ROUNDING out the lottery is the Denver Nuggets, who in this scenario will be bummed out that Gilgeous-Alexander is gone. Defense is the priority and with Will Barton a free agent this offseason they can plug a hole in their backcourt perfectly. Zhaire Smith might be considered too short by some, but the uber-athletic Red Raider is a versatile defender and could slot straight into a reserve role. We saw late in the Nuggets season how injuries can affect a team’s season when Harris went down. He is probably the player available as well.
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