The NBA Draft season has already gotten off to a great start before Adam Silver has even called a name.
The Boston Celtics have traded the first overall pick to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for the third pick in the draft, as well as future picks. However, this move, all be it a big one, is far from the only thing drawing people to the Association right now.
Further trade rumors are decorating the Twitter feeds of NBA followers around the globe like Easter eggs filled with joy and intrigue. As unsettled stars like Jimmy Butler, Kristaps Porzingis, and Paul George try to force an exit from their respective situations, a frenzy of trade discussions have been kicked up both in the media and on these social media streets.
“Will (insert player) actually make *insert team* good enough to beat the Warriors”? “Why is *insert General Manager* trying to give away my favorite player”? What is *insert Dan Gilbert* thinking”? These questions, and many others, all have the potential to be solved in the Barclays Center tonight as the league convenes to decide it’s future.
One thing is for sure: Tonight’s NBA draft will be great television. Grab your popcorn, buckle up, and prepare for the unexpected.
1. Philadelphia 76ers: Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington
This pick is one that has effectively already been made, so Philly fans, get ready for a big three consisting of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Markelle Fultz.
This past year, Fultz became the second player in NCAA history, after Penny Hardaway, to average over 22 points, 5 assists, and 5 rebounds a game. Fultz will instantly improve Philadelphia’s offense, as his 41.3% three-point shooting is an instant improvement over the 76ers team 34% 3-point shooting. Fultz will also help bring defense, as his long frame promises a natural potential to become a great perimeter defender with the proper training.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA
Lonzo becoming a Laker is written in the stars and his father, LaVar. Despite the outside negative press that has followed Lavar, and his antics, drafting Lonzo is a no-brainer for Magic Johnson and the Lakers.
Ball’s playmaking ability and court vision were rivaled by none in college this past year. These traits have the potential to be some of the best in the NBA in the coming years. Lonzo averaged the most assists in the NCAA, getting 7.6 a game, and he also assisted 31.4% of his team’s made field goals while he was on the court.
With the Lakers trading D’Angelo Russell, the point guard spot is there for Lonzo to take. Lonzo should also be able to complement the Lakers’ scoring oriented pieces of Brandon Ingram and the newly acquired Brook Lopez.
3. Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke
The Celtics have been working out with Jayson Tatum a lot recently, which means that the Duke freshman might be on his way to Boston.
This past season at Duke, Tatum started off a little slow after missing the first eight games of the year. However, once conference play started, Tatum elevated his game and became an elite scorer and defender for the Blue Devils. Scoring 16.8 points per game, Tatum showed his ability to become an elite scorer at the NBA level, and he will also be a great rebounder getting 7.3 a game.
4. Phoenix Suns: Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas
Phoenix should be thrilled being able to nab Jackson with the fourth pick. Jackson has shown his ability to become the best two-way player in this draft class, and if he could work on his 3-point shot, he could become an elite 3-and-D player in the NBA.
Jackson had very similar stats to Jayson Tatum, getting 16.3 points per game and 7.4 rebounds per game. However, Jackson’s defensive abilities are some of the best in this draft class. With his length and size (6’8”, 7’0” wingspan) Jackson could turn into a great perimeter defender, and his offensive abilities aren’t bad either.
5. Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky
The Kings might actually have something good developing for once and adding Kentucky star, De’Aaron Fox, would only help that.
Fox’s main concern is his lackluster shooting, but given Buddy Hield’s sharpshooting ability Fox would be able to flash his playmaking abilities. Fox dished dimes to his teammates on 28.6% of their field goals, but he was still able to put up 16.7 points a game.
With Fox’s elite speed and athleticism, placing him with the Kings’ young core of Buddy Hield, Skal Labissiere, and Willie Cauley-Stein would be a recipe for success, something Sacramento could use.
6. Orlando Magic: Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky
The Magic were one of, if not the, worst offensive team in the NBA last year, so it only makes sense that they would draft the most explosive scorer in the draft. Malik Monk lit up the scoreboard this past year, scoring 19.4 points per game on 45% shooting and 39.7% shooting from beyond the arc.
Monk also had some of the most prolific scoring performances of the year, with the highlight being when he dropped 47 points against UNC. Monk would fit in well with Magic point guard Elfrid Payton, whose distributing ability would compliment Monk’s catch and shoot swagger.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonathan Isaac, SF/PF, Florida State
The Timberwolves are one of the youngest, and most athletic teams in the NBA. Jonathan Isaac of Florida State would add to that athleticism, as well as create a great young core alongside Karl Anthony-Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Zach LaVine.
Isaac’s height, 6’10”, mixed with his insane athleticism make him a perfect fit for the modern NBA as a large small forward or even a stretch four.
Although his offensive production at FSU last year wasn’t through the roof, 12 points per game, on 51/35/78 shooting, and 7.8 rebounds per game, his defense makes up for it. With Isaac added to their rotation, Minnesota has the chance to be a real force in the NBA over the next few decades.
8. New York Knicks: Dennis Smith Jr, PG, NC State
Dennis Smith has impressed scouts and GMs and has been labeled as the most athletic player in the draft class. As a freshman at NC State, Smith showed that he has serious potential at the next stage.
Smith stuffed the stat sheet, leading the Wolfpack in points (18.1 per game) and assists (6.2 per game) while being second on the team in rebounds (4.6 per game). With Carmelo likely gone in New York, Smith’s ball-dominant isolation style of basketball should help him be able to lead the Knicks.
9. Dallas Mavericks: Frank Ntilikina, PG, France (SIG Strasbourg)
Frank Ntilikina is one of the biggest wildcards in the draft. Despite not having great stats while playing for Strasbourg, Ntilikina has massive potential. At 6’5” Ntilikina has the size to become an elite defender in the NBA.
Ntilikina mainly grabbed the attention of the NBA at 2016 FIBA Europe-Under 18’s championship, where he averaged 15.2 points and 4.5 assists per night, en route to winning the MVP. With the Mavericks hiring Strasbourg head coach Vincent Collet to coach their summer league team, Ntilikina might be well on his way to be the highest player drafted out of France.
10. Sacramento Kings: Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona
Sacramento fans, don’t worry about drafting yet another big man because he could instantly contribute to the Kings offense. Standing at 7 feet tall and being one of the best shooters in the draft, Markkanen should be able to complement Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein down low.
Despite grabbing 7.2 rebounds a game, there have been some concerns over his rebounding ability, as well as his defensive abilities. However, with his 42.3% 3-point shooting Markkanen would be able to instantly help the Kings offense and create a dynamic shooting duo with Buddy Hield.
11. Charlotte Hornets: Donovan Mitchell, SG, Louisville
After trading for Dwight Howard, the Hornets frontcourt looks set as Dwight should be able to pair alongside Cody Zeller. With the frontcourt being set, the Hornets will likely look to bolster their backcourt, as Kemba Walker desperately needs a partner.
Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell should be the perfect addition for Charlotte. With his explosive scoring abilities and his elite defending, Mitchell could be able to establish himself in the NBA. Mitchell averaged 15.6 points per game in his sophomore season for the Cardinals but showed his explosive side scoring over 25 points five times.
12. Detroit Pistons: Zach Collins, PF, Gonzaga
The Pistons probably won’t have their pick come draft night, but if they do Zach Collins of Gonzaga would be a great selection for them. Although Collins didn’t feature too much for the Zags last year, only getting 17.3 minutes per game, his performances while on the court showed that he could have a long NBA career.
Collins showed his abilities as a shooter, shooting 65.2% from the field and 47.6% from beyond the arc. During Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament run, Collins flashed his defensive side, getting 3 blocks per game, which improved from his 1.8 blocks per game throughout the course of the entire season.
13. Denver Nuggets: OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana
OG Anunoby might not be able to go from day one after tearing his ACL this year. However, that shouldn’t deter teams from the Indiana sophomore. With his size and athletic ability, Anunoby could be a conventional small forward as well as a new-age power forward.
With one of the worst defenses in the NBA, the Nuggets could benefit from Anunoby’s defense, and with the likelihood of Danilo Gallinari leaving, this selection makes sense for the Nuggets.
14. Miami Heat: John Collins, PF, Wake Forest
The Big 3 era is finally over in Miami, as the Heat have officially cut ties with Chris Bosh. Getting John Collins would help them replace Bosh at the power forward position. Unlike Bosh, Collins wasn’t much of a 3-point shooter, only attempting 1 three-pointer during his two years at Wake Forest.
Despite not stretching the floor, Collins was still able to light up the scoreboard, getting 19.2 points per game. Collins also commanded the boards, getting 9.8 rebounds per game. The most impressive stat about Collins is that he went 12 straight ACC games scoring 20+ points, and in 8 of those games, he posted 10+ rebounds.
15. Portland Trail Blazers: Harry Giles, PF/C, Duke
Noah Vonleh started to impress near the end of the season for Portland, but not consistent enough for them to stray away from drafting a power forward. Harry Giles is arguably one of the most talented players in the draft, but he’s easily the biggest question mark.
Coming out of high school he was the nation’s top recruit, but he suffered his second knee injury during his senior year which hampered his freshman year at Duke. Giles was still able to grab 20% of rebounds while he was on the court, and shot 57.7% from the field.
If Giles can stay healthy, this could be one of the steals of the draft, but if not the Blazers might have another Greg Oden situation on their hands.
16. Chicago Bulls: Luke Kennard, SG, Duke
The Bulls have no doubts over their shooting guard position, as Dwyane Wade opted into his player option next season. However, that shouldn’t stop them from taking Luke Kennard with their pick.
During his freshman year for the Blue Devils, Kennard was mainly used as a shooter, but this past year in his sophomore season Kennard turned into a takeover scorer. Kennard dropped 19.5 points per game this year for Duke on 49% shooting, splashing 43.8% of his threes. His defense has also improved during his time at Duke, and his scoring ability will lead him to success in the NBA.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: TJ Leaf, PF, UCLA
The Bucks already have a possible franchise power forward in Jabari Parker, but after tearing his ACL for the second time this year, it may be time to look for an insurance player.
TJ Leaf impressed in his sole season at UCLA, showing great offensive ability. Leaf scored 16.3 points per game on 61.7% shooting, specifically 46.6% from beyond the arc. Leaf also snatched 8.2 rebounds per game and blocked 1.1 shots per game.
Leaf should be able to develop alongside the Bucks’ already young core, of Antetokounmpo, Parker, Middleton, Maker, and Brogdon.
18. Indiana Pacers: Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina
Paul George will not be on the Pacers after next season, and there is a strong chance he will no longer be on the team at the start of next season. With the Pacers losing their franchise cornerstone small forward, they should look at replacing him before it’s too late.
Justin Jackson impressed this season at UNC and could become a great fit for the Pacers. “JJ” was one of the best scorers in the country this year, with 18.3 points per game on 44.3% shooting, 37% from 3, en route to winning ACC player of the year.
19. Atlanta Hawks: Jarrett Allen, C, Texas
The Hawks just traded away Dwight Howard for scraps, which means that they are dead-set on drafting a big man in the draft. Atlanta has worked out with Jarrett Allen a lot over the past few weeks, and that means the Hawks are seriously looking at the Texas freshman.
In his lone college season as a Longhorn, Allen was a force in the paint, blocking 1.5 shots per game, and grabbing 15% of possible rebounds while on the court, amounting to 8.5 rebounds per game. With Atlanta nearing a rebuilding stage, expect to see Dennis Schroder lobbing alley-oops to Allen in the future.
20. Portland Trail Blazers: Terrance Ferguson, SG, American Overseas (Adelaide 36ers)
In high school, Terrance Ferguson was a McDonald’s All-American, but he decided not to go to college but rather go overseas and play in Australia. During his time for the Adelaide 36ers, Ferguson did not impress. This caused his draft stock to fall, but his athleticism is what is still keeping him in the first round.
At the draft combine, he posted a 38-inch vertical as well as showing off explosive speed. If Ferguson can get his 3 points shooting back on a consistent level, he could become an explosive bench option immediately for the Blazers at shooting guard and small forward.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Justin Patton, C, Creighton
The Thunder may be cutting ties with Enes Kanter this offseason, after head coach Billy Donovan said “he couldn’t play” down the stretch of their postseason series with the Houston Rockets.
The Thunder will be looking for a good defensive backup for Steven Adams at center, and Justin Patton might just be that. Patton is also fit for the modern NBA as he was able to dominate down low on offense, shooting 68.3% on 2-point attempts, but he also offers range in his shots, shooting 8/15 when he took long range attempts.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Jonah Bolden, PF, Australia (Radnicki Basket)
Jonah Bolden is an ideal fit for the modern NBA. At 6’10” and being sneakily athletic, Bolden offers a lot of versatility, as he can be a large small forward, efficient power forward, or even a small center.
This year, playing in the Serbian League, Bolden knocked down 40% of his 3-pointers, and he also showed the ability to defend guards on the perimeter. If Brooklyn is able to develop Bolden to his full potential, D’Angelo Russell could have a long term pick-n-roll partner.
23. Toronto Raptors: Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA
Ike Anigbogu has been flying up draft boards and mock drafts after his performances at the draft combine, where he showed the potential to be a powerful force down low.
Anigbogu didn’t feature too much at UCLA, only getting 13 minutes per game, but he grabbed 16.9% of rebounds while on the court and blocked 8.8% of potential shots. Anigbogu has shown the ability to be able to handle himself on the perimeter and defend the pick and roll well.
24. Utah Jazz: Semi Ojeleye, SF/PF, SMU
The Jazz have two small forwards that will be free agents this summer, in Joe Ingles and Gordon Hayward. Regardless of if the two re-sign, drafting Semi Ojeleye would be smart for his versatility on the court.
Ojeleye has shown his ability to play small forward, but he could also serve as a stretch four. After spending his first two years with Duke, Ojeleye transferred to SMU, and in his one season with the Mustangs he exploded the AAC player of the year. This year he scored 18.9 points per game and grabbed 6.8 rebounds per game. He was also able to stretch the floor, shooting 42.4% from three-point.
25. Orlando Magic: Jawun Evans, PG, Oklahoma State
The Magic lack scoring at the point guard spot and Jawun Evans could be an explosive option off the bench. In his two seasons at Oklahoma State, Evans lit up the scoreboard and was also able to dish out assists.
This year, Evans scored 19.2 points per game on 43.8% shooting, and 37.9% from 3-point shooting. He also got 6.4 assists per game, while assisting 43.6% of his teammate’s field goals while on the court. If he can improve his efficiency, then he could become a great scorer in the NBA.
26. Portland Trail Blazers: Derrick White, PG, Colorado
The Trail Blazers don’t have great depth at the guard positions, and with his versatility, Derrick White could offer depth at both point guard and shooting guard. After spending his first three years at Colorado Springs, a division II college, Derrick White transferred to Colorado for his senior season.
In his lone season with the Buffaloes, White scored 18.1 points a game, while still getting 4.4 assists a game, and 4.1 rebounds a game. White shot very efficiently, shooting 50.7% from the field, and 39.6% from three-point. While White was one of the best offensive players in the country, he also proved to be one of the more underrated defenders in the draft.
27. Los Angeles Lakers: Frank Jackson, PG, Duke
The Lakers just traded away D’Angelo Russell, leaving them a little thin at the guard spot. Frank Jackson is insanely athletic, as he showed off a 42 inch vertical, and his shooting ability should translate well to the NBA.
Although Jackson didn’t provide too many assists, only 1.7 per game, this shouldn’t be too concerning to the Lakers given the fact that they had the 5th least assists in the NBA this season. If Jackson can continue to develop he could become a fantastic combo-guard.
28. Los Angeles Lakers: DJ Wilson, PF, Michigan
During Michigan’s run to the Big 10 championship, DJ Wilson showed why he has a future as an NBA player. He has the athleticism to play small forward in a large lineup, but the size to play power forward.
Although Wilson was only able to put up 11 points per game his 53.8% shooting, and 37.3% 3-point shooting show his potential on offense. His defense was also impressive as he showed the ability to defend down low as well as the perimeter. His height and wingspan (6’11” and 7’3” respectively) prove that he will also be able to rack up a lot of rebounds.
29. San Antonio Spurs: Anzejs Pasecniks, C, Latvia (Gran Canaria)
You know the stereotype of the Spurs taking European players in the draft? Yeah, that might happen again this year. Anzejs Pasecniks will likely be a draft-and-stash player, and with his potential, the Raptors would be dumb to pass on him at this stage in the draft.
At 7’2” Pasecniks has the body of a center, but he has the athleticism of a guard. He has shown the ability to guard the perimeter this year, and he has also flashed offensive abilities. At 21 years old, he is a little old, but with his potential, he could become a future NBA starter.
30. Utah Jazz: Jordan Bell, PF/C, Oregon
Utah might be losing two of their backup options at center and power forward, in Jeff Withey and Boris Diaw. Plus, with Trey Lyles’ concerning performances, it might be time for the Jazz to draft a big man.
Jordan Bell is a perfect fit for the evolving NBA. Despite being small (6’9” height, 7’0” wingspan) Bell has elite shot blocking ability, blocking 9.5% of shots during his 3 years at Oregon, and he also grabbed 16% of rebounds while at Oregon. With impressive shooting, 63.6% total, and 70.1% at the line, he shows that he should be able to score at an efficient level in the NBA.
31. Charlotte Hornets: Tony Bradley, C, North Carolina
32. Phoenix Suns: Caleb Swanigan, PF, Purdue
33. Orlando Magic: Bam Adebayo, PF, Kentucky
34. Sacramento Kings: Kyle Kuzma, PF, Utah
35. Orlando Magic: Tyler Lydon, PF, Syracuse
36. Philadelphia 76ers: Josh Hart, SG, Villanova
37. Boston Celtics: Johnathan Motley, PF, Baylor
38. Chicago Bulls: Edmond Sumner, PG, Xavier
39. Philadelphia 76ers: Ivan Rabb, PF, California
40. New Orleans Pelicans: Cam Oliver, PF, Nevada
41. Atlanta Hawks: Sindarius Thornwell, SG, South Carolina
42. Utah Jazz: Mathias Lessort, PF/C, France (Nanterre 92)
43. Houston Rockets: Tyler Dorsey, PG/SG, Oregon
44. New York Knicks: Dillon Brooks, SF, Oregon
45. Houston Rockets: Wesley Iwundu, SF, Kansas State
46. Philadelphia 76ers: Sterling Brown, SG/SF, SMU
47. Indiana Pacers: Alec Peters, PF, Valparaiso
48. Milwaukee Bucks: Frank Mason, PG, Kansas
49. Denver Nuggets: Devin Robinson, SF, Florida
50. Philadelphia 76ers: LJ Peak, SG, Georgetown
51. Denver Nuggets: Thomas Bryant, C, Indiana
52. Washington Wizards: Andrew White, SG, Syracuse
53. Boston Celtics: PJ Dozier, SG, South Carolina
54. Phoenix Suns: Dwayne Bacon, SG, Florida State
55. Utah Jazz: Isaiah Hartenstein, PF, Germany (Žalgiris Kaunas)
56. Boston Celtics: Davon Reed, SF, Miami
57. Brooklyn Nets: Alberto Abalde, SF, Spain (Joventut)
58. New York Knicks: Monte Morris, PG, Iowa State
59. San Antonio Spurs: Jaron Blossomgame, SF, Clemson
60. Atlanta Hawks: George De Paula, PG, Brazil (Paulistano)