Dallas Mavericks: Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona
A tall European guy who can shoot and prefers to play on the perimeter? Is it me or is this pick at No. 9 far too obvious? Dirk Nowitzki is returning next season and I can’t think of a better mentor for Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen. The 19-year-old Finnish power forward had an excellent freshman year for the Wildcats and looks poised to make a smooth transition into the modern NBA.
Markkanen is a legit 7-footer, has a great long-range stroke out to the 3-point line and can move really well for a guy his size at 225 pounds. He tends to avoid the paint a bit too much on offense, but as he adds some bulk that could change.
The Mavericks have Yogi Ferrell, Harrison Barnes and Nerlens Noel on the roster right now, giving them three solid pieces under 25 years old. Markkanen would give that group a skilled big man to play off of, and it would give Dirk someone to guide in what could be his final season.
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Denver Nuggets: Terrance Ferguson, SG, Australia
The Nuggets will be on the clock at No. 13 and if Terrance Ferguson is there, they should sprint to turn the pick in. The 20-year-old Texan spent the year playing professionally in Australia and showed himself to be a super-athletic shooter. He’s a rangy wing at 6’7″ and 180 pounds, shows flash at the rim with some incredible finishes and is already a really good perimeter defender.
The Nuggets have some nice building blocks in Nikola Jokic, Emmanuel Mudiay, Gary Harris and Jamal Murray, but adding another versatile wing who can shoot will pay off in the long run. Ferguson is a great shooter and is more athletic than any of the team’s other perimeter players. He’s the real deal and if given a chance to develop could be the perfect complement to Jokic on the wing.
San Antonio Spurs: Jonathan Jeanne, C, France
The Spurs will have the 29th pick in the draft and, as always, someone really good is going to fall to them. You can set your clock by it almost every year. LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard are great pieces to build a franchise around, but they could use some help in the post. Pau Gasol is 36 and can opt-out of his contract this summer, and San Antonio has had tons of success with foreign-born players. Enter Jonathan Jeanne, an absurdly tall rim-protector with ridiculous length.
Jeanne is 7’2″ with a 7’6.5″ wingspan, a 9’5.5″ standing reach and massive 10-inch hands. While he weighed in at just 207 pounds at the NBA draft combine, he played really well in the Friday scrimmage. He scored 14 pounds, grabbed nine rebounds and had three blocks.
Jeanne needs to fill out, but even if he barely develops, he’ll be a legitimate rim protector. The 19-year-old Frenchman already looks like a really good post defender. He also handles the ball well, can shoot a bit and moves really well for his size. This could wind up being another huge steal for the Spurs if Jeanne is on the board this late.