By Colin Bock
- Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn) – PG / SG Markelle Fultz, Washington
Markelle Fultz is perhaps the best player to come out of college since Derrick Rose, who won MVP in his second year.
I’m not saying that Fultz will win MVP this year or immediately as he will be in a crowded Boston backcourt alongside Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley, but he will be likely forced to play the 2 guard pushing Bradley to the bench. This is already very intriguing. Fultz has all the upside in the world and I’m going to declare myself a religious fan of his before the bandwagoners pour in as he leads the Celtics towards a title. Call me crazy, but with all the prototypical tools that an NBA point-guard is to have in Markelle Fultz, I would not be shocked if Fultz went on to win the MVP his rookie year. On a side note, in the event that Stevens elects to trade Fultz, a potential trade would be with Utah for Gordon Hayward as both teams could satisfy a big need.
2. Phoenix Suns – SF Josh Jackson, Kansas
Being picked immediately after Markelle Fultz shouldn’t be too much of a discouraging factor. Scouts sense his upside as amazing, even going to say that he wouldn’t be thwarted in the tournament like Lonzo Ball was by De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky. The Suns need to round out their depth chart at the forward position and not just take another guard. While the Celtics were in a similar situation, they are in an easy position to trade Avery Bradley need that be the case. But the Suns are already content at the guard position that taking another would make them worse. Why not take a born winner to help anchor the team with Devin Booker and Eric Bledsoe?
3. Los Angeles Lakers – PG Lonzo Ball, UCLA
This pick should fall right in the Lakers’ laps. Lonzo Ball has all the tools to become a franchise player. Yes, this is another team crowded at guard, but they can get away with it. It’s become evident that D’Angelo Russell isn’t going to be the elite superstar we all thought he would be, but he just doesn’t have the enamoring Los Angeles traits that Lonzo Ball does. He’s spent his life in Los Angeles and played for UCLA. There’s no way the Lakers let the best Ball brother leave the City of Angels.
4. Philadelphia 76ers – SF Jayson Tatum, Duke
If you’re a Duke fan like me, you’ve got to really hand it to Tatum— he’s led the Blue Devils to an ACC Tournament Championship and a 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament. While Kennard was the better college player, Tatum will become one of the best two-way players in the NBA. Like Paul George, Tatum is a terrific engineer off the wing and can give the 76ers a Carmelo Anthony-esque player that they’ve been in need of to contend in the Eastern Conference. Tatum can also shoot the 3 decently well, adding even more shooting to a fire 76ers offense. While his shooting is helpful, Tatum is the phenomenal two-way superstar the Sixers need.
5. Orlando Magic – PG / SG Malik Monk, Kentucky
While many might argue that the Magic take De’Aaron Fox as he is a pure facilitator and motor-driven point-guard, I believe Monk is the better player thanks to his ability to create just about anything offensively. The Magic are a great defensive team that struggles mightily on offense. Especially now that Ibaka and Oladipo are gone, the Magic are in need of a new franchise guard and with Monk’s ability to win the game with his scoring ability alone, the Magic should not look anywhere else but at Calipari’s Wildcats for their pick here.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves – SF / PF Jonathan Isaac, Florida State
Standing at 6’11” with a 7’2” wingspan, Jonathan Isaac is a pretty lanky player. Similar to Kevin Durant in my opinion, Isaac is pretty self-reliant and thrived in a Seminole system that relied on hero-ball or isolation offense. Nonetheless, Isaac is oozing with upside with a complete offensive package and a great defensive presence to develop. The Wolves would be blessed to find Isaac still available as he is almost a steal for me at this point in the draft.
7. New York Knicks – PG De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky
The Knicks just need to erase everything that Phil Jackson has done for them, starting by getting past the Derrick Rose era. Fox is a highlight-reel player and is 6’4”, the perfect size for a modern point-guard. He still has lots to improve upon, mainly his shooting ability, but his other assets are eye-popping. Those tools are natural-born talents that cannot be improved. His shooting, on the other hand, can be improved giving him an extremely high ceiling. In my opinion, there’s no risk whatsoever in drafting a complete point-guard like De’Aaron Fox, regardless the few downsides.
8. Sacramento Kings – PG Dennis Smith, North Carolina State
One of my favorite players coming out of high-school, Dennis Smith was a highlight-reel player and played excellent basketball despite playing for a putrid at best North Carolina State team. The lack of attention simply due to the fact that he’s in a guard-rich class suggests that Smith can be a dangerous player with plenty of potential. While there are questions regarding consistency, I believe Smith can blossom if under the correct system, especially one that pairs him with second-year phenom Buddy Hield. There’s a lot to like for Sacramento Kings fans.
9. Dallas Mavericks – PG / SG Frank Ntilikina, France
Ntilikina looks to be the best international prospect in this draft, and that should speak numbers for him as he comes into the league. At 6’5”, he has godly size to facilitate and run the point now that Deron Williams is gone, and his defensive capabilities make him an extremely mouth-wateringly-good prospect. A potential NBA steals-leader in the future, Ntilikina seems poised for a First-Team all-rookie campaign.
10. New Orleans Pelicans – SG / SF Justin Jackson, North Carolina
As a Duke fan I come to know lots about rivals, and Justin Jackson is no exception. He played an integral role in driving the Heels towards redemption after a loss at the buzzer to Villanova the year before. While he doesn’t have as much potential as the players named before him, his fate in the NBA is pretty much set in stone, and that’s a perfect insurance policy for a Pelicans team that is deeply in need of a small forward.
11. Charlotte Hornets – PF Lauri Markkanen, Arizona
The main glaring weakness of Markkanen continues to be his lack of shot-blocking at his size, but other than that, Markkanen seems poised to establish himself as the next Kristaps Porzingis. He can shoot the ball extremely effectively for someone of his size and while lack of consistency may be an issue, he’s a phenomenal prospect to develop, and the Hornets should see no problem taking him 11th. Nonetheless, should he not be drafted by the Hornets, he is a guaranteed draftee in this year’s lottery.
12. Detroit Pistons – SG Allonzo Trier, Arizona
While his size and measurables to go along with subpar defense don’t make him stand out in a crowd for most scouts, he should fit nicely alongside ex-Arizona star Stanley Johnson. With the likely departure of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Trier fits the mold quite well and can be a tremendous scorer in place of Kentavious. His defense needs plenty of work in order to become an NBA starter, but Trier’s ability to score the basketball even while contested is certainly promising.
13. Denver Nuggets – PF Isaiah Hartenstein, Germany
After stupidly trading away center Jusuf Nurkic and a first-rounder to my Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Mason Plumlee and a second-rounder, the Nuggets showed a desperate need for rebounding. While Hartenstein fits the mold as a Dirk Nowitzki type of player, he still possesses a great ability to rebound the basketball and score the basketball, the two greatest needs for a developing Nuggets franchise. While he certainly doesn’t merit Dirk comparisons just yet, he could certainly become a game-changer.
14. Miami Heat – PF / C Justin Patton, Creighton
Perhaps having the most upside out of all the bigs in the draft this year, Patton has shown tremendous promise, especially in the low-post. While not being a great rebounder at Creighton, the Heat are already set for rebounding with Hassan Whiteside, and Patton can come in as a backup center to help offer offensive relief for Spoelstra and the Heat. While he will take time to develop and may spend time in the NBA Developmental League, he should become a dominant low-post scorer.
15. Portland Trail Blazers – PF T.J. Leaf, UCLA
While most are quick to credit Lonzo Ball for guiding the Bruins to the elite eight, many fail to realize it was actually 7’0” forward T.J. Leaf who led the Bruins in scoring throughout the season. A potential replacement for disappointing Meyers Leonard, Leaf has the perimeter abilities to go along with a promising development in his post-play and ability to act advantageously in regards to offensive mismatches. While Leaf would be a steal at this point in the draft, it seems extremely possible.
16. Chicago Bulls – SG Luke Kennard, Duke
While I may not be the first to say that the Bulls lack three-point shooting, I might be the first to say they lack the creativity offensively, and without Rondo in the playoffs, the Bulls are being exposed offensively. I feel like Luke Kennard could become a really great starter for the Bulls in a few years and he reminds me a lot of C.J. McCollum, the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award Winner with the Trail Blazers in 2016. While Kennard has a high ceiling and low floor, he could certainly help the Bulls become a powerhouse again.
17. Milwaukee Bucks – C Tacko Fall, Central Florida
This pick just seems too obvious for me. Knowing the Milwaukee Bucks, they absolutely love taking the big guys to play a position. For example, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Thon Maker, and even trading for Michael Carter-Williams a few years back to accommodate Jason Kidd’s style of play. While many said the same about Maker last year when he was selected by Milwaukee, Fall could easily burst into the NBA as a dominant center standing at a staggering 7’6”. Perhaps the future isn’t far for Milwaukee.
18. Indiana Pacers – PF Harry Giles, Duke
At the start of the year, I had very high expectations for Harry Giles. Despite his three knee surgeries, I contemplated whether or not he could become an NBA Superstar. While he certainly didn’t come to his own at Duke until down the stretch, Harry Giles still has the potential to be a great post player in the NBA and could certainly be better for Indiana than forward Thaddeus Young. While his floor is quite low, his ceiling is equally high coming out of Duke.
19. Atlanta Hawks – PF / C Johnathan Motley, Baylor
“BOARDS!” Motley is your top rebounding prospect in the draft this year, at least next to Tacko Fall, but shouting aside, Motley is a swing player and he seems like he could become an amazing contributor off the bench behind Paul Millsap. While he doesn’t have much of a ceiling, Motley could fill a pretty big need for the Hawks despite coming late in the draft this year.
20. Portland Trail Blazers (from Denver) – PG Monte Morris, Iowa State
Morris should be a pretty solid backup point guard for the Trail Blazers. While the Blazers have Shabazz Napier for emergencies and typically run superstar shooting guard C.J. McCollum at the point with the second unit, Morris could provide excellent relief and take the weight off of the shoulders of the Blazers’ superstar guards. Morris is a pretty great passer and can provide some excellent defense off the bench despite standing at only 6’0”.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder – PF / C Rodions Kurucs, Spain
Kurucs seems to be developing into a swiss army knife type of player with FC Barcelona, and he can provide versatility up front for the Thunder. While he would be pitted beside Enes Kanter, Steven Adams and Taj Gibson, Kurucs could easily secure a spot within the Oklahoma City rotation. Sure he may only see limited action, but he is ready to steal your starting spot, Taj Gibson.
22. Brooklyn Nets (from Washington) – SG Donovan Mitchell, Louisville
While consistency remains an issue and is the ultimate factor as to why he isn’t being drafted higher, Mitchell is a tremendous scorer and can easily drive to the cup and finish against just about anyone. An ever-improving player, Mitchell certainly has all the upside in the world and could easily fit the needs of a miserable Brooklyn Nets franchise.
23. Toronto Raptors (from LA Clippers) – PF Ivan Rabb, California
Rabb had a disappointing sophomore year at California after showing tons of promise as a freshman playing alongside 3rd Pick a year ago Jaylen Brown. Despite his disappointing year, Rabb still has all the tools there to be a legitimate playmaker offensively for the Raptors and his ability to rebounds the basketball and create offensive energy should be taken very seriously by the Raptors.
24. Utah Jazz – SG Josh Hart, Villanova
Josh Hart is an extremely versatile guard and while he doesn’t shoot the ball as well as say, Joe Ingles, he certainly has a much better playmaking ability and can easily fill the role should he leave. He’s a great leader as demonstrated with Villanova and should give the Jazz plenty of help should they need it.
25. Orlando Magic (from Toronto) – PG Frank Mason, Kansas
This year’s Wooden Winner, Frank Mason was a potent offensive weapon for Bill Self’s Kansas Jayhawks and should help fill a void at guard for the Orlando Magic this draft. He is quite undersized at just 5’10”, but he has almost the complete package and can score from anywhere.
26. Portland Trail Blazers (from Cleveland) – SF Dillon Brooks, Oregon
Dillon Brooks was a superstar at the University of Oregon and he should find himself a home with the Portland Trail Blazers should they draft him. Nonetheless, Brooks doesn’t have the length that most superstar wings do in the NBA, but he’s an excellent scorer and has proven to be an excellent performer in the clutch. With a glaring weakness in the frontcourt, the Blazers should snatch up Dillon Brooks before he leaves the state for elsewhere.
27. Brooklyn Nets (from Boston) – PF Mathias Lessort, France
The pride of Martinique, Lessort could easily hear his name called in the first round this year by a desperate Brooklyn Nets team. Lessort should prove to be a dynamic double-double threat for the Nets as with with Nanterre he averaged 18.5 points and 13.2 rebounds, great numbers for a 6’9” power forward. Lessort is easily one of the most compelling international prospects as he has all the physical tools to dominate down low while being able to score from midrange. This is a steal for Brooklyn.
28. Los Angeles Lakers (from Houston) – C Jarrett Allen, Texas
Allen has sensational length, standing at 6’11” and possessing a 7’5” wingspan. This proves to be the driving factor for his solid draft stock as he can easily prove to rack up double-digit rebounds and score on nice putbacks at the rim. The interior presence that Allen would bring to the Lakers would certainly improve their defense come time to face DeAndre Jordan and the Clippers for years to come.
29. San Antonio Spurs – PG / SG Terrance Ferguson, Australia
Ferguson is an exciting young prospect who interestingly enough played his AAU ball with Mo Williams. At 6’7”, Terrance Ferguson can run the point and play the 2, showing tremendous versatility for an 18 year old. With age looming for Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, the Spurs should hit the reset button at guard effective immediately by selecting Terrance Ferguson.
30. Utah Jazz (from Golden State) – PF Jordan Bell, Oregon
Only from watching the Pac-12 and NCAA Tournaments was I able to conclude that Jordan Bell would be an amazing sleeper pick for an NBA team. Bell stands at 6’10” and is a force in the paint and on the offensive glass. He can snag rebounds like nobody’s business and can keep his team in the game with defensive playmaking. Jordan Bell should fit nicely in Quin Snyder’s system.