By Jeff Longville
Disclaimer: These picks will not include any trade scenarios.
- Minnesota Timberwolves- LaMelo Ball, Point Guard, Illawarra Hawks, NBL
In a draft that is said to have a lot of role players, and not a lot of stars, I believe LaMelo Ball has the potential to be the best player in the draft. He would give a Timberwolves team who is looking to become relevant again a second ball handling and play making guard beside D’Angelo Russell. Together they should be able to pair nicely with Karl -Anthony Towns. The T-Wolves could also take Anthony Edwards here in they value scoring over play making.
2. Golden State Warriors- James Wiseman, Center, Memphis Tigers
The Warriors lack size and should look to add the best big man in the draft. Wiseman plays like a traditional center with a bit of a mid-range game. And if the Warriors decide to trade him once they draft him, which I believe they will, they could themselves an established star who fits there system of spreading the floor and being versatile on defense. A number of teams who be willing to make a move to acquire Wiseman.
3. Charlotte Hornets- Anthony Edwards, Shooting Guard, Georgia Bulldogs
The Hornets are a team with a lot of talented players. Guys like Devonte’ Graham, Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington all have a lot of potential and are only going to get better. Given the situation the Hornets are in, it makes sense for them to take the best player available, which in this case is Anthony Edwards. Edwards has great scoring instinct, as he averaged 19.1 points per game in his only year at Georgia. He should be another really nice piece for this young Hornets team.
4. Chicago Bulls- Deni Avidja, Small Forward/Power Forward, Maccabi Tel Aviv
The Bulls lack depth at the small forward position, and Avidja could definitely fill that void. He is a the most polished small forward prospect in this draft and possess good basketball IQ. He has good size and the ability to shoot over defenders at 6’7″.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers- Issac Okoro, Small Forward/Power Forward, Auburn Tigers
The Cavaliers have been one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA the past couple of years. In fact last year they finished last in field goals allowed and in opponent field goal percentage. Okoro has been considered to be the best defender in the draft and can guard multiple positions. He can also give the Cavs some depth at small forward, which is the position that they are in the most need of.
6. Atlanta Hawks- Tyrese Haliburton Point Guard, Iowa State Cyclones
While a wrist injury ended Haliburton’s sophomore season after 22 games, he still put put up impressive number as he averaged 15.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game, while shooting 50.4% and 41.9% from three. Haliburton would this young Hawks team on the rise, another solid playmaker beside Trae Young, and get this team closer to a playoff contender.
7. Detroit Pistons- Obi Toppin Power Forward/Center, Dayton Flyers
The Pistons have easily the worst roster in the NBA. I do not expect them to hold onto an injury prone Blake Griffin as I expect them to start from scratch. It would sense for the Pistons to draft the best available player, who is Toppin at #7. Toppin was the best player in college basketball last year, and has all the right offensive skills. He is an efficient scorer and passer, and can step out and hit threes, as he hit 41.7% of them in his college career. He does have to work on his defense though, but can still be a big help for this Piston’s team.
8. New York Knicks- Onyeka Okongwu, Center, USC
The Knicks have a solid defensive center in Mitchell Robinson, however he isn’t the most effective in offense. Okongwu can fill that void as he averaged 16.2 points per game last year on 61.6% He has also shown some defensive versatility, which would give New York two solid defending bigs.
9. Washington Wizards- Devin Vassell, Shooting Guard/Small Forward, Florida State Seminoles
The Wizards are primed for good season next year. They John Wall back and Bradley Beal has been playing tremendously. However, the Wizards lack defense and a three-and-D wing could help them out. That’s exactly what Vassell is, as he shot 41.5% from three last year, and was an excellent defender last year. He has also shown the potential to become a better shot creator.
10. Phoeix Suns- Killian Hayes, Point Guard, Ratiopharm ULM
As the Suns acquired Chris Paul in a trade, it would make sense to draft a young point guard who can learn from the 35 year old. The move also makes sense as Ricky Rubio is no longer with the Suns as he was sent away in the Paul trade. Hayes is the best point guard available at 10, and can be a big part of the Suns future.
11. San Antonio Spurs- Kira Lewis, Point Guard, Alabama Crimson Tide
While the Spurs have some nice young backcourt pieces in Dejounte Murray, Derrick White and Bryn Forbes, they lack backcourt scoring, as neither of them have averaged 10 points for their career. Lewis can bring some solid scoring as he averaged 18.5 point per game on 45.9% shooting last year.
12. Sacramento Kings- Patrick Williams, Small Forward/Power Forward, Florida State Seminoles
The Kings have a lot of talented offensive pieces, but lack defense and could use better forward play. Williams can provide that he plays with physicality and versatility. His offensive game isn’t polished yet, but with all the offensive pieces the Kings have, Williams can focus on defense for now, and let his offensive skill come later.
13. New Orleans Pelicans- Saddiq Bey, Small Forward/Power Forward, Villanova Wildcats
The Future looks incredibly bright in New Orleans with young player like Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball. One area the Pelican need to address is getting another frontcourt player who can shoot. While Ingram improved his shooting last year, adding another shooter wouldn’t hurt, and can create more spacing with Williamson and Derrick Favors or Jaxson Hayes on the floor. Bey is an efficient scorer and can solve the Pelicans spacing situation. They could also look to take a guard if they move on from Jrue Holiday, who was traded to Milwaukee earlier today.
14. Boston Celtics VIA Memphis Grizzlies- Precious Achiuwa, Power Forward/Center, Memphis Tigers
The Celtics lack a physical center, which is a big reason they lost to the Heat in the conference semi-finals last season. Achiuwa is a versatile defender and averaged just under 2 blocks a game last year. He could be just what the Celtics need to finally make it out of East under Brad Stevens.
15. Orlando Magic-R.J. Hampton, Point Guard/Shooting Guard, New Zealand Breakers
While Markelle Fultz showed flashes of what we thought he could be when was drafted first overall in 2017, can Orlando trust him with his injuries and his inconsistent play? In three years, he’s only played in 105 games and averages on 10.7 points for his career. Some backcourt scoring would be beneficial to the Magic and Hampton can provide that as well as some solid playmaking.
16. Portland Trailblazers- Josh Green, Small Forward, Arizona Wildcats
The Blazers are in need of defense in general, but more specifically at small forward. Carmelo Anthony is 35 years old, and has never been a good defender, Trevor Ariza is 35, and Rodney Hood is coming off of an injury. Green is a terrific perimeter defender and also possess some solid cutting and shooting on offense.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves VIA Brooklyn Nets- Aaron Nesmith, Small Forward, Vanderbilt Commodores
With there second pick, Minnesota could look to add some shooting to their solid young core. Nesmith is an incredibly efficient scorer as he averaged 23 points per game on 51.2% shooting, including 52.2% from distance.
18. Dallas Mavericks- Tyrese Maxey, Shooting Guard, Kentucky Wildcats
The Mavericks had a historically great offense last year, but need improvement on defense. Maxey is driven defensively and is explosive on offense. His three point shooting will need some work in order to properly fit into the Mavericks offense, but he has the potential to be another great contributor to this team.
19. Brooklyn Nets VIA Philadelphia 76ers- Jalen Smith, Power Forward/Center, Maryland Terrapins
The nets have superb rim protection with guys like Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan, but lack a versatile big who can guard the perimeter. Smith can provide that as well as protect the rim. He can also step out and knock down threes on the offensive end as he shot 36.8% from down town last season.
20. Miami Heat- Daniel Oturu, Center, Minnesota Golden Gophers
Size hurt the Heat last year as they made it all the way to the finals, but fell short to the much bigger Los Angeles Lakers. Oturu stands at 6’10 and averaged 11.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game last year. His size and rim protection can help the Heat against bigger teams next year.
21. Philadelphia 76ers VIA Oklahoma City Thunder- Cole Anthony, Point Guard, North Carolina Tarheels
The 76ers need more shooting and ball handling, which is what Anthony can provide. While he didn’t have as good of season as we thought he would at UNC due to injury, he still averaged 18.5 point per game and shot 34.8% from three. He could be an excellent backup behind Ben Simmons.
22. Denver Nuggets VIA Houston Rockets -Jaden McDaniels, Small Forward/Power Forward, Washington Huskies
With four frontcourt free agents this offseason (Jerami Grant, Paul Millsap, Mason Plumlee and Torrey Craig), an additional frontcourt piece would be nice. McDaniels stretch the floor as he shot nearly 40% from three last year and is tall enough at 6’9″ to play the Power Forward if necessary.
23. Utah Jazz- Tyrell Terry, Point Guard/Shooting Guard, Standford Cardinal
The Jazz are need of backup point guard, as Donovan Mitchell had to take on that role last season. Terry has good basketball IQ and would serve well backing up Mike Conley. He also has good range as he shot 40.8% from three last year.
24. Milwaukee Bucks VIA Indiana Pacers- Jahmius Ramsey, Shooting Guard, Texas Tech
Despite finishing with the best record in the league the past two years, the Bucks have not been able to make it out of the East. Teams have been able to figure out how to stop the Bucks offensive scheme. While the Bucks shot the fourth most threes last year, they finished 17th in percentage. Adding another shooter would benefit the Bucks, and Ramsey can be that as well as provide some more defense to the team who had the best defense last year.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder VIA Denver Nuggets- Cassius Winston, Point Guard, Michigan State Spartans
With The thunder losing Chris Paul to the Suns, and Dennis Schroder supposedly being sent to the Lakers, the Thunder are in need of a point guard. Winston has a pass first approach but can also take matters into his own hands. His solid playmaking ability would help this rebuilding Thunder team.
26. Boston Celtics- Tyler Bey, Power Forward, Colorado Buffaloes
The Celtics have two spectacular young wings in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, but Gordon Hayward has had some injury issues, and Semi Ojeleye has been disappointing. Bey shot 53% last year and almost 42% from three. Bey could give the Celtics a boost from the wing.
27. New York Knicks VIA Los Angeles Clippers- Desmond Bane, Shooting Guard TCU
The Knicks need a lot of things to get better, and shooting guard depth is one of them. Bane can score efficiently, pass well and has a high defensive IQ that could help the Knicks become a better team.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder VIA Los Angels Lakers- Malachi Flynn, Point Guard, San Diego State Aztecs
While this trade has not actually went through, it is very well believed that the Thunder will have the 28th pick come Wednesday. With that being said, the Thunder will also need a another point guard if Dennis Schroder becomes a Laker. Flynn has a high IQ and plays hard defense, and would be helpful for a rebuilding team.
29. Toronto Raptors- Zeke Nnaji, Power Forward/Center, Arizona Wildcats
With Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol and Chris Boucher all becoming free agents, taking a big man would be in the Raptors favor. Nnaji averaged just over 16 points per game on 57% shooting, as well as 8.6 rebounds, and would provide good security for Raptors if they lose their bigs.
30. Boston Celtics VIA Milwaukee Bucks- Tre Jones, Point Guard, Duke Blue Devils
While Brad Wanamaker is a good backup facilitator and Marcus Smart has become better offensively, some more bench backcourt scoring would be beneficial to the Celtics. Jones can do that as he averaged 16.2 points per game last year. He can also facilitate as he averaged 6.4 assists as well. With a talented team like Boston, taking the best player available with the 30th pick also makes sense.