I’ve seen, read, and heard completely opposite things about the same player from a ton of people I respect in the game, which leads me to believe that this is going to be one of the craziest drafts ever. The top ten looks completely wide open as Michael Porter Jr. and Luka Doncic are the two dominos that will have the biggest implications on the rest of the draft. I’ve heard MPJ’s back looks good to teams, yet I’ve also heard the complete opposite and that teams have been told to stay away. Doncic was slipping two days ago, now after his showing in the ACB championship, teams are looking to move up for him. Again, completely opposite things about the same player, and probably all smoke and mirrors, but the rumors are what make the draft intriguing.
#1 Phoenix Suns – DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona – This one seems like a slam dunk. Ayton is physically gifted, ready to play, and has the perfect inside-out offensive skill set to play alongside Devin Booker. He’s already had a workout for Phoenix, so this one should be in the bag.
#2 Sacramento Kings – Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke – Bagley is super athletic, made for today’s NBA, and has All-Star potential written all over him. He is ready to contribute right away after having a monster freshman season at Duke, averaging 21.0 ppg and 11.1 rpg last year, all while shooting 61.4%. The Kings spent a high first round pick on De'Aaron Fox and traded for Buddy Hield, so I just don’t see them going Doncic here. With Bagley, they would add one of the best players in the entire draft to their already promising young core.
#3 Atlanta Hawks – Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Michigan State – I know the Hawks are intrigued by Doncic, but since they are in no hurry to start competing and want to be back in the lottery again next year, I see them going high ceiling at No. 3. JJJ has a 7-foot-4 wingspan, is still growing, and can already guard multiple positions at just 18 years old. His overall offense will improve with time, but he already possesses the ability to stretch the floor with his shooting, which most teams are looking for in a modern day big man. Jackson Jr. would also be a perfect fit next to their other big, John Collins. That combination would give the Hawks two good building blocks for years to come.
#4 Chicago Bulls – Luka Doncic, G/F, Slovenia 📉 – Now this is where things get fun! If Doncic is still there at four, a bunch of teams will be looking to move up, including the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls have the cap space to absorb Parsons contract, so I am just going to make up this trade. The Bulls trade the No. 7 pick, Bobby Portis, some other scraps, and of course cash considerations (lol) – some combination of that gets the deal done – to Memphis. In return, the Bulls would get the No. 4 pick and Chandler Parsons. Win-win outcome for both teams.
What more can I say about Luka that I have not already? I think he is going to be good for years to come, and is one of the safest picks in this draft. Doncic is 6-foot-8, just 19 years old, and fresh off a Euroleague title and Final Four MVP. Euro or not, the kid can ball. Luka has been playing against men in a high level league for a few years now, so he is already physically prepared to play in the NBA. He has a great feel for the game and high basketball IQ, so you know he will be just fine on the mental side. He is made for today’s NBA, and him and Lauri Markkanen would make a terrific combo for years to come.
The only other guy that I could see the Bulls trading up for would be Mo Bamba. I know the front office was impressed by him on and off the court during their workout. I love Bamba and Doncic both, so would welcome a trade up here as a Bulls fan.
#5 Dallas Mavericks – Mohamed Bamba, PF/ C, Texas – Mo’s measurables were off the charts at the combine, so he has been shooting up draft boards ever since. Bamba recorded the longest wingspan (7’10”) amongst all the draftees at the combine, and EVER in basketball history. Rudy Gobert was the previous record holder at 7’8″. Bamba, who is known for his defense and shot blocking abilities, has been putting in work to show off his new offensive skill set. His new shot looks good thanks to the combination of hard work and training with Drew Hanlen. Bamba fits exactly what the Mavericks are looking for in a frontcourt player to build around.
#6 Orlando Magic – Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma – The Magic are desperately in need of a point guard, so this is a perfect fit for both sides. Young, who is known for his shooting, is also a gifted passer. His combination of shooting, passing, and handles will be too much for Orlando to pass up here. Young and Aaron Gordon (RFA) could be the start of something big if Young lives up to the hype.
#7 Memphis Grizzlies – Wendell Carter, PF/ C, Duke 📉 – Carter is a favorite of the Grizzles front office, so trading down with the Bulls would play out perfectly for them. They would get their guy and rid themselves of the nightmare Parsons deal. Carter is polished, has a high Bball IQ, nice footwork, and very nice touch from outside. His lack of athleticism and explosion is the only weakness I saw in his game from the many times that I watched him play last season. He should be a solid contributor on any team he goes to.
#8 Cleveland Cavaliers – Michael Porter Jr., SF/ PF, Missouri 📈 – If Porter Jr. didn’t sustain his back injury, he would’ve been a consensus top-3 pick in this year’s draft. The Cavs roll the dice here and get a guy that can flat out score if healthy. He can score facing up, off the dribble, and with his back to the basket. His combination of size and 3-point shooting ability gives Cleveland a weapon on the offensive side of the ball. In today’s NBA, that combination is exactly what teams are looking for in a modern big. At No. 8, the risk is worth the reward for the Cavs who might be preparing for life after LeBron James.
#9 New York Knicks – Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova – The Knicks get a player that can come in and play right away in Bridges. While he does not have that high of a ceiling, his floor is pretty solid thanks to his shooting. Bridges shot 43.5% from three-point land last season, and can defend multiple positions. His game should translate well at the next level. With the Knicks probably tanking again next season, Bridges will be a nice piece to pair with Kristaps Porzingis when he is back, and their future lottery pick.
#10 Philadelphia 76ers – Kevin Knox, SF/ PF, Kentucky – The Sixers own five picks in this draft, so they can roll the dice for someone that has tremendous upside potential and fits a need. Knox would give the 76ers a scoring wing that can shoot and help space the floor next to Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. At just 18 years old, Knox still has time to develop and get better. What better place to go than Philadelphia for that? #TrustTheProcess