After a second straight year with the top team entering the lottery winning the top pick, Phoenix must decide between the upside of Deandre Ayton and the wizardry of Luka Doncic at one. This is shaping up to be another stand out draft class with excellent talent to be found in the late lottery and some sleepers sure to be had in the late first and early second as well. Here is our first (post lottery) look at the extended mock with team needs factored in.
|1.||Deandre Ayton 7-0 260 C Arizona Fr.||A generational bigman, Ayton is one of the most dominant prospects to emerge at the center position in two to three decades. He showed a lot of growth with his maturity both on and off the floor this season at Arizona. The quick tourney exit was disappointing but didn’t have any real effect on his draft stock. Ayton should contend with the likes of Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid and KAT as one of the top centers in the league over the next decade. His ability to dominate around the basket on both ends, run the floor as well as step out and knock down outside shots, gives him an extremely rare package of skills. The sky is truly the limit for Ayton and it’s become nearly unanimous in the scouting community, Ayton will be the first pick and one of the stronger ones in the past few years.
Why the Suns take DeAndre Ayton: Phoenix ultimately opts for Ayton over Doncic because they can’t take the risk that Ayton realizes his unbelievable upside. The ties between Doncic and his former coach Igor Kokoskov being hired as the Suns new coach make this an interesting decision. And while Doncic appears destined to thrive in today’s NBA and make those around him better, the chance to land a guy that will likely challenge the likes of Joel Embiid for center supremacy over the next generation is too great to pass up. The value of a dominant center in today’s NBA isn’t what it once was, but it is still holds significant value if they can spread the floor and contribute as a rim protector, as Ayton figures to.
NBA Comparison: David Robinson
||Luka Doncic 6-8 220 SG/SF Slovenia Intl.||
Doncic is one of Europe’s top overall players, which is unheard of at 19 years of age. It’s no wonder why so many scouts in Europe feel that he should be considered for the first overall pick. And in a lot of drafts, he probably would be. His feel for the game is special for such a young player and he’s got a magical ability to find passing angles and make those around him better. He’s extremely competitive and clutch and never seems to get rattled or lose composure, even in the biggest moments. What he lacks in comparison to the other elite prospects is sheer athleticism. He’s not an overly quick or explosive athlete, so his ceiling isn’t quite as high as the others when you consider defense and ability to create and finish. Doncic’s size (6’8 with a 6’11 wingspan and 8’9 standing reach) and playmaking ability give Europe’s "Boy Wonder" a chance to be special.
Why the Kings take Luka Doncic: The Kings need talent, but even more they need stability. Luka Doncic is a dream scenario for a struggling franchise. The lottery could not have worked out more perfectly for Sacramento moving up from the 7th spot to 2nd. GM Vlade Divac has his franchise center piece to build around and the added ability to keep the Serbian (region) pipeline in Sac-town rolling.
||Marvin Bagley 6-11 225 PF Duke Fr.||Bagley is one of the youngest prospects available having turned 19 (in March). He’s a manchild, capable of physically dominating nearly every opponent he faced at he college level. And will be a handful for many opponents from day one in the NBA. While his offensive skillset still has some developing to do, the fact that he plays with such energy and passion gives his outlook a lot of promise. He showed some ability to face up and attack the rim, and was a disciplined defender in Duke’s system. He improved as a 3 point shooter as the season went along, finishing at 40% on the year and hitting over 50%, after his return from injury, over the final month of the season. Bagley can become a franchise type of player if his offensive game continues to expand. Despite not leading a talent laden Duke squad to a Final Four appearance, his stock remains extremely high, with a strong chance to be the 2nd name called on draft night.
Why the Hawks take Marvin Bagley: Assuming that Ayton and Doncic go with the top two picks, this pick likely comes down to Bagley or Jaren Jackson. Bagley is exactly what the Doctor ordered for Atlanta giving them a new face of the franchise, but also filling a team need following the exodus of Al Horford and Dwight Howard. Bagley is in play at 2 with the Kings, but odds are the Serbian connection will be too strong for the Kings to pass on Doncic. Bagley’s the safest option for the Hawks, giving them a multifaceted bigman to build around.
||Jaren Jackson Jr. 6-11 235 PF/C Michigan St. Fr.||JJJ has a body and package of skills ideally suited to play in today’s NBA. Similar to Bamba he has rim protection and great ability to run the floor, but even more polish and potential as an offensive player who can pull defenders away from the basket and knock down outside shots. Jackson proved to be a lot further ahead of schedule than many realized coming into the season. He’s still one of the less polished of the lottery picks in terms of fully realizing his skill set and abilities, but the fact that he became an impact player in Coach Izzo’s system as a freshman speaks volumes. He struggled through some inconsistency, particularly as the season came to a close. But there’s no denying the kid has an extremely high ceiling.
Why the Grizzlies take Jaren Jackson Jr: The Grizzlies are in full rebuild mode now having suffered through their worst season in years. At 33 years of age, Marc Gasol is in his twilight and this team no longer has a bona fide perennial all star level talent. Jackson doesn’t have nearly as high a basement as the three names listed before him, but his upside really isn’t too far off from theirs. His ability to knock down 3s and be a rim protector make him a unique and highly intriguing prospect.
NBA Comparison: Shareef Abdur-Rahim
||Michael Porter 6-11 210 SF/PF Missouri Fr.||Porter’s return to action for two games at the end of the season had both positive and negative results. The positive was that he showed that the back has healed enough to allow him to get up and down the floor and showcase his skills. The negative being that he obviously wasn’t back to full health and his play suffered as a result. He is an explosive athlete with great fluidity, but having missed so much time, his leg strength has been depleted. Scouts have a good feel for his skill set and talent level, so reclaiming his stock as a top 3 pick will be contingent upon how his back checks out in physicals, and gaining back some of the explosiveness and fluidity over the next few months. His potential to become one of the NBA’s elite scoring weapons gives him a great deal of intrigue, which was why he had leapfrogged DeAndre Ayton in the second half of his senior season of high school.
Why the Mavericks take Michael Porter Jr.: The Mavs added a solid piece with point guard Dennis Smith in last year’s draft and could potentially knock this pick out of the park with a Dirk like scorer in Michael Porter Jr. Porter is the biggest wildcard in this year’s draft and could still challenge to go in the top 2-3, or fall into the late lottery, depending on how his medical reports come out. Dallas could also look to go big with someone like Mo Bamba or Wendell Carter at 5.
Mohamed Bamba 7-0 225 C Texas Fr.
|Bamba showed a lot of development this season with Texas, hitting his stride offensively and posting a few 20 point games and fourteen double doubles on the year. With an amazing 7’9 wingspan and a 9’6 standing reach, Bamba is a rim protector with a chance to be special on the defensive end with his ability to both block and alter shots. He’s an extremely bright individual who has Ivy League offers and attended a high school set up for gifted kids. While not an absolute freak of nature run/jump, he is a freak of nature with his physical attributes. And his fluidity is elite. Bamba’s ability to impact games improved as the season went along and he figures to go somewhere in the 3-7 range on draft night.
Why the Magic take Mo Bamba: The Magic continue to search for an identity and a true franchise talent to build around. Some other options like point guard Trey Young or Wendell Carter could be possibilities here. But with Bamba’s upside, the Magic shore up their center position for years to come and roll the dice on one of the brightest individuals and talents in this year’s draft.
||Wendell Carter 6-10 250 PF/C Duke Fr.||Carter’s outside shot showed a lot of growth as the season progressed. He isn’t a speed burner and figures to fit in better with some of the more methodical offensive teams in the league. His 7’3 wingspan gives him the ability to play bigger than his 6’10 size allowing him to more easily recover defensively as well as rebound more effectively. Carter’s work ethic and determination are rare for a freshman. He showed a tendency to let situations get the better of him and lose his cool emotionally, but that’s an area that he should be able to improve upon with age and experience. Despite a disappointing close to the year, battling some bumps and bruises, he remains in good standing with NBA teams as one of the most skilled and highest rated bigs in the draft.
Why the Bulls take Wendell Carter:Carter is a versatile big being compared favorably by some to Al Horford, who has shined in this year’s playoffs for Boston. What Carter lacks for in speed, he makes up for in hard work and skill. He’s an excellent outside shooter, and fits the mold of the modern bigman with his ability to spread the floor and create shots for himself both in the paint and out on the perimeter. He lacks the upside of some of the other bigs but figures to be more of a sure bet than some due to his high skill level and maturity.
NBA Comparison: Al Horford
||Trae Young 6-2 180 PG Oklahoma Fr.||Young had one of them most prolific seasons of any college player in recent memory. He’s the first player ever to lead the nation in both points and assists, since the assist statistic has been kept. Considering he did that in one of the most competitive conferences in the nation from top to bottom and in his freshman season, and you have to marvel at his accomplishment. Sure the Sooners had a very rough end to the season. But making the tournament and having a strong showing individually helped Young gain some of the momentum back that he had lost due to his shooting woes in February. Young isn’t Steph Curry, but he could end up a very impactful NBA player due to his ability to shoot, score and create baskets for teammates.
Why the Cavaliers take Trae Young: Assuming they are able to entice him to stick around, LeBron could use some scoring help in the backcourt. Young would offer them a deadly outside shooter and creative passer. He figures to struggle defensively, but with a physically imposing presence like LeBron, some of those deficiencies could be masked. Young could learn the ropes playing alongside guys like George Hill.
NBA Comparison: Mike Bibby
||Collin Sexton 6-2 185 PG Alabama Fr.||While not the most composed point guard, Sexton loves the big stage and is a fearless competitor. He’s proven on numerous occasions, both in USA basketball and at Alabama, that when challenged, he finds a way to answer the bell and lead his team to victory. His performance against Minnesota, orchestrated a comeback while down 2 players was the stuff of legend. His runner to beat Texas A&M in the SEC tournament put the Crimson Tide in the post season and showed his innate ability in do or die moments. He still has a ways to go as his 3 point shooting (33.6%) needs to improve as does his decision making and ability to lead the team in the half court. His 3.6 to 2.8 a/to ratio isn’t ideal. But his dynamic ability to excel in ISO situations, in transition and finish at the rim give him a lot of intrigue.
Why the Knicks take Colin Sexton: The Knicks could use a fearless backcourt scorer/playmaker to complement their Unicorn in the paint. Sexton is a bit of a risky pick as he’s not the most steady floor general, but he has a lot of moxie and competitiveness, and would fit a need for the Knicks.
||Mikal Bridges 6-7 200 SG/SF Villanova Jr.||Along with fellow junior Jalen Brunson, Bridges has grown from key contributor into one of Villanova’s MVPs reaching their second Final Four in three years. Bridges had a breakout junior season nearly doubling his scoring output from 9.8 ppg to 17.8 PPG. He also did so in a highly efficient manner, shooting 44% from deep, knocking down nearly three per game. He has the size and skill set to be a prototype 3-and-D player with his 7-foot wingspan and prolific three point shooting ability. Bridges also uses his length well to fill up the stat sheet with steals and blocks. He should look to get stronger in order to become better at finishing plays at the rim. He has a chance to crack the top 10 with the NBA’s premium on defensive shooters.
Why the Sixers take Mikal Bridges: With their dynamic duo of Simmons and Embiid, this is a team on the move. The process has been trusted and the results are considerable. This is a team that can legitimately contend for titles so getting a few more personnel decisions correct will be instrumental. Bridges fits with this group especially well with his ability to knock down outside shots, like Robert Covington, but potentially with even more of a dynamic athletic package.
NBA Comparison: Otto Porter
||Kevin Knox 6-9 215 SF/PF Kentucky Fr.||
Knox was one of the steadier freshmen in the "One and Done" Kentucky system this season. He’s far from a finished product and among the riskier potential lottery picks because of that. He shows a lot of offensive promise with his ability to create offense and his fluidity for a player his size. While he shot just 34% on the season from deep, he has a pretty jumper and had some big scoring outbursts and proved a difficult match up for many opponents. His diverse skillset and potential as a scorer give him a lot of intrigue, however he’s still got a ways to go as a defender and maturity. His ability to be a stretch four in today’s small ball focused NBA adds value.
Why the Hornets take Kevin Knox: Knox is in play in the late lottery and while a risky pick, he offers considerable upside for a team like the Hornets that appear stuck in purgatory at the 11th pick every season. Knox is a dynamic scorer with the ability to become a modern day small ball four with his size and skill set. He has a lot of maturing to do, but it’s not like the Hornets will be any closer to winning a title or even being a surefire playoff team by taking a safe pick here.
NBA Comparison: Tobias Harris
||Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 6-6 180 PG Kentucky Fr.||Coach Calipari raves about Shai, describing him as his hardest worker and most focused player on the team this season. Gilgeous-Alexander didn’t come in with the hype of a number of the other freshmen, but could end up being taken before all of them, Knox included. He’s an exceptionally quick player with the ball in his hands, which is unusual considering his size. He’s also become a very reliable outside shooter, as his shooting numbers can attest. That combination of speed and shooting ability make him difficult to contain. He’s still a ways off from mastering the PG position, meaning he may need time to get up to speed. But that’s unlikely to deter teams from considering him in the top 10, and selecting him somewhere close to that range.
Why the Clippers take Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: As long as the Clippers have the Master, ie Jerry West, on board as an advisor, it’s safe to assume they will be getting the most out of their selections. SGA is an intriguing guard due to his combination of point guard skill, size and quickness. With a rebuild underway following the trades of CP3 and Blake Griffin, a young, talented lead guard with upside like Shai would appear to fit the bill for the Clips.
||Miles Bridges 6-7 230 SF/PF Michigan St. So.||Bridges is an impressive basketball player for a guy with "no game". All kidding aside, Bridges may lack a traditional skillset, however he is a freak athlete with ambition and determination, a combination that generally fares pretty well at the next level. But it’s not as if Bridges enters the league solely with great physical abilities. He’s improved considerably in his ability to shoot, knocking down 85% of his FTs as a sophomore and 137 of 339 (37.5%) of his 3 pointers in his two seasons at Michigan State. He’s a little stuck between positions as he’s not a great passer or ball handler, and is small for the PF position. But in today’s "position-less’ league, Bridges strengths outweigh his weaknesses, and he should be able to punish certain match ups at the next level.
Why the Clippers take Miles Bridges: Bridges struggled some to prove that he’s skilled enough to contribute consistently on the perimeter at Michigan State in his sophomore year. But in today’s "position-less" league, his ability to make baskets and play with great energy should translate. He’s got some Blake-like qualities to his game, despite being quite a bit smaller. On the positive side if the Clippers took him, he would be quite a bit cheaper than the contract that they had signed Griffin to before unloading him.
||Robert Williams 6-9 240 PF/C Texas A&M So.||Williams’ decision to return to school may not have improved his stock. But a second year in College Station has given him the benefit of further maturity to handle the off court and social aspects that go along with playing professionally. Williams will probably benefit by not going too high and thus avoiding the initial expectations that accompany it. He’s not a consistent performer at the college level, so to expect that over an 82 game season, at this point doesn’t make much sense. Williams is an elite athlete, but his skill level has yet to fully develop. A team that envisions him in the role of defender and rebounder and could look to slowly bring his offensive game up to speed and probably do well with him somewhere in the teens.
Why the Nuggets take Robert Williams: The Nuggets traded away the (13th) pick last year that became Donovan Mitchell. Which will be a tough pill to swallow as Mitchell continues to blossom into one of the games elite point guards. But in fairness, going into the draft he looked awfully similar to two players already on Denver’s roster in Jamal Murray and Gary Harris. What he’s become is a franchise player that will haunt GMs that had the misfortune of draft right before he was selected, the recently fired Stan Van Gundy included, for years. Williams offers a team with a Unicorn of their own (Nikola Jokic) an excellent complimentary player due to his extreme athleticism and ability to adroitly convert lobs a la Clint Capela. If Williams reputation for not playing hard at all times is just a phase in college, watch out, as he’s got some of the most extreme athletic tools that you could ask for.
||Zhaire Smith 6-4 200 SG Texas Tech Fr.||Zhaire is one of the nation’s most explosive athletes and although he wasn’t necessarily on the radar to begin the season, he surely ended the year on everyone’s radar. He’s a raw prospect who will require more patience than some other prospects, but his upside is considerable. He’s got a very nice shooting form and elite level leaping ability for the next level. His 45% three point shooting is impressive, but with only 18 made threes on the year, he’ll need to impress teams with his shot in workouts, which he’s clearly capable of, in order to grab a mid first round spot.
Why the Wizards take Zhaire Smith: The Wizards have done fairly well in this range in the draft, having landed a gem in Kelly Oubre with the 15th pick a few seasons ago. Zhaire brings a similar level of freakish athleticism, outside shooting promise but raw-ness as well. Zhaire gives the backcourt tandem of John Wall and Bradley Beal some valuable depth and figures to go somewhere in this range on draft night.
NBA Comparison: JR Smith
Landry Shamet 6-5 190 PG Wichita St. So.
| Shamet proved to be one of the top overall shooters at the college level connecting on 44% from three on a high volume (2.6 makes per game). He’s a big point guard and extremely cerebral and steady for a 21 year old. His 5.2 assists to 2.1 turnovers illustrates the steadying influence that he can have on a team, despite not being an explosive scorer. Wichita State didn’t play the most difficult schedule, leaving some concern over level of competition, but Shamet appears to be a potential sleeper due to his "sneaky athleticism". While not the quickest or most explosive athlete, he’s extremely efficient running the point guard position.
Why the Suns take Landry Shamet: The Suns seem to have played musical chairs with point guards over the past few seasons, having moved on from Eric Bledsoe midway through this past season. In short, the Suns have a need for a point guard. And while Shamet likely wouldn’t be the immediate or even necessarily long term answer to all of their lead guard troubles, he would at least have a chance to develop into such. If the Suns opt for Ayton at 1, a point guard will likely become their immediate focus. If they could package this pick along with a player or prospects, they could look to move up a few spots to target either Trae Young or Collin Sexton. GM Ryan McDonough has shown the creativity in past drafts to get a deal done to move up for a player/position (Marquese Chriss at 8) he coveted.
NBA Comparison: Denzel Valentine
Khyri Thomas 6-4 210 SG Creighton Jr.
|Thomas is a late bloomer who has steadily climbed up draft boards this season and now has a shot to jump into the lottery. He’s older than many of his draftmates as he will be 22 in May, however his polished and balanced game is intriguing to teams. He may not be the most explosive athlete, but he’s a good athlete with a big wingspan and excels on the defensive end. He’s got a textbook jumpshot and should be able to develop into a 3 point shooter at the NBA level. With Jrue Holiday-like attributes and skillset, he’s not overly flashy but extremely effective. Khyri is a hot name among scouts and should see his name called in the same range that Jrue (17th) did.
Why the Bucks take Khryi Thomas: With a team looking to take the next step from playoff participant to legitimate title contender, Thomas figures to be one of the more NBA ready prospects available. He is older in comparison to other prospects available, which could work in his favor for some teams. While 17 may be a bit of a reach for him, his ability to defend and potential to come in and contribute on both ends works well for a team like Milwaukee looking for immediate help. Thomas’ 8’5 standing reach dispelled the notion that he’s an undersized 2-guard.
||Gary Trent Jr. 6-5 205 SG Duke Fr.||Trent struggled with his shot in the early part of the season and really hit his stride in the second half of the year and finished strong. He showed why many considered him among the best shooters in his high school class, exhibiting pure outside shooting ability. He also expanded upon his game with added ability to create offense off the dribble and the use of runners to get shots over shot blockers around the rim. He’s got a clutch gene that a number of his Duke teammates appeared to lack as he took over late in games on a number of occasions. With the shift to shooters in today’s NBA, his value is enhanced. While he lacks the ideal physical profile of a NBA shooting guard, and will probably struggle some on the defensive side, his bloodline and intangibles, not to mention shooting ability give him a lot of NBA intrigue.
Why the Spurs take Gary Trent Jr.: The Spurs figure to have some big holes to fill depending on which of their core leaves this offseason. Trent may lack ideal size and athleticism, but he’s the type of pure shooter that could eventually be looked upon to replicate what veteren Danny Green gives them. Trent is a natural leader and would fit into the team first culture that the Spurs have worked hard to develop.
||Anfernee Simons 6-3 180 SG/PG IMG Academy HSSr.||Simons pulled out of both the 2018 Jordan Classic and Nike Hoop Summit following the announcement that he had signed with an agent. The decision to pull out of those events gives the impression that he has a promise in the first round and would rather preserve his health and not squander his draft stock. Some question why he wouldn’t want to try to improve upon his draft stock, but if a promise is in place, perhaps it’s a wise decision. He’s a slick scorer, capable of creating his own shot and has quickness, good form and shooting ability. He possesses combo abilities with ball handling and some ability to drive and kick. Scouts that saw him play for IMG this season came away impressed, but he remains a bit of an unknown due to not having played in many events in front of scouts. At the (September 2017) Steph Curry Under Armor All Star game he looked like a smaller version of Markelle Fultz, but at the time didn’t stand out as a kid that could skip college and go in the first round…yet here he is.
Why the Hawks take Anfernee Simons: The Hawks finished with one of the worst records in the league and with a new GM are clearly in rebuild mode. They figure to take a big with their 3rd overall pick. At 19, and with another pick at 30, they can afford to take a gamble on a kid that figures to need a little more time, having skipped playing college ball and entered the draft. Simons could eventually develop into a complimentary piece to Dennis Shroeder.
NBA Comparison: Quincy Douby
||Lonnie Walker 6-4 200 SG Miami Fr.||Walker didn’t have the freshman season many envisioned and could slide some from this projection. His statistics (11.5 PPG, 41.5 fg%, 34.6 3p%) just never materialized to match his abilities, but he remains high on many scout’s lists nonetheless. He started his freshman season slow coming off knee surgery that many feared could force him to redshirt the season. But scouts remain enamored with him after such an impressive high school career. He’s got some combo skills and is an elite athlete who plays with great composure for his age.
Why the Timberwolves take Lonnie Walker: Walker could be looked at as a value pick here at 20. The Timberwolves have one of the most talented 2-guards in the league in Jimmy Butler, whom Walker could apprentice under. Shooting guard is arguably the deepest position for this year’s draft and the Timberwolves probably have the greatest need at power forward, but with a well rounded roster can probably afford to draft the best player available, regardless of position here.
||Jontay Porter 6-11 240 C Missouri Fr.||Porter is all over the place on team’s boards and may ultimately decide to return to school. While he doesn’t jump out as a surefire first rounder, the fact that he has such great length, plays a mature game and can knock down outside shots gives him a lot of intrigue. He still needs to tone his body and become a better post defender and gain more post moves. But he is a class individual and really came on strong at the end of the season, giving him a chance to be a one-and-done player with strong workouts. If he feels ready to leave Missouri, he should make use of his ability to test the process and see if teams are showing enough first round interest in him to leave.
Why the Jazz take Jontay Porter: The Jazz have a shot blocker and interior force in Rudy Gobert and another big with similar inside skills in Derrick Favors. Porter skill set would also compliment their bigs as the type that could be expected to eventually be a floor spacer and outside shot maker at either center or power forward. He also has the type of low key personality that should fit well in Salt Lake City and no nonsense approach that fits the organization.
||Chandler Hutchison 6-7 195 SG/SF Boise State Sr.||
Hutchison had a big senior season and stands an excellent chance to be the lone senior that hears his name called in this year’s NBA draft. With a 7-foot wingspan and an expanding offensive game, he brings a lot of versatility to the table. He underperformed as a shooter, but teams remain high on his ability to knock down shots as well as play a mature, disciplined game of basketball.
Why the Bulls take Chandler Hutchison: Rumors out of the combine were that Hutchison pulled out of participating in measurements and other activities due to a promise. Our sources indicate that the promise is in fact with the Bulls. Hutchison would give the Bulls a mature scorer on the wing, and the figure to go with a big (Bamba or Carter) or point guard (Young or Sexton) with their 7th overall pick.
NBA Comparison: Landry Fields
Troy Brown 6-7 210 SG Oregon Fr.
|Similar to Zhaire Smith, Brown didn’t have an overwhelming statistical year yet has a shot to go high based on his potential. He shot just 29% from three on the year, so obviously will need to work on becoming a better outside shooter. He’s a versatile wing capable of playing multiple positions, having played as a point guard in his prep days growing up in Las Vegas. His near 7-foot wingspan gives him great length on defense. He’s a charismatic kid who communicates well and should develop into a solid pro over time.
Why the Pacers take Troy Brown: Indiana is coming off one of the most impressive seasons in recent memory, turning a negative into a positive after their franchise talent (Paul George) made it clear that he did not intend to stick around. They somehow got the better of the OKC trade, landing new face of the franchise Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. They were able to keep themselves relevant in the East and not fall into the depths of the lottery. Brown is likely a few years away from impacting NBA games on a regular basis, but offers a lot of potential at this point in the draft.
NBA Comparison: Caris LeVert
||Aaron Holiday 6-1 185 PG UCLA Jr.||Holiday became one of the most prolific scorers in the nations in the second half of the year. He’s a highly effective 3 point shooter who has really improved as an all around scoring point guard in his three years at UCLA. While he’s undersized at 6’1, he does have a 6’7 wingspan. The fact that he has two brothers playing in the NBA also helps his cause as he has been around pros and has been exposed to what it takes from a preparation and intensity standpoint. While not the most explosive athlete, Holiday is quick and skilled and should have a chance to carve out a role in the NBA as an instant offense type.
Why the Blazers take Aaron Holiday: The Blazers have a dynamic backcourt and probably could use a forward more, but adding an excellent scorer to bolster the backcourt at a cheap salary, Holiday makes for a good fit. He’s a West Coast guy and would potentially learn a lot from Portland’s Batman and Robin.
NBA Comparison: Lindsey Hunter
||Mitchell Robinson 7-1 225 C USA Fr.||Robinson made a highly questionable decision to skip playing college ball this season and train off the court instead of playing for Western Kentucky. He’s a long, highly athletic center with excellent potential on the defensive end of the floor. He’s obviously a long term project, and will take additional time after a year of non-development. He’ll need strong workouts in order to cement a spot in the first round. But the intrigue surrounding him during his senior season should help his cause.
Why the Lakers take Mitchell Robinson: Word out of Laker land is that the team is targeting defense with this pick. The second rumored promise that we have heard coming out of the Chicago predraft camp is that the Lakers have promised Mitchell Robinson, which could explain his decision not to participate in predraft activities. Robinson made an odd decision to not play this past season after his first surprising decision to commit to Western Kentucky. If he is able to find a first round team to bite, the gamble to hide instead of playing this season will pay off.
NBA Comparison: Dewayne Dedmon
||Omari Spellman 6-9 255 PF/C Villanova Fr.||Omari Spellman is an intriguing big with his ability to play inside and out and knock down outside shots. He’s a bit older than your typical freshman as he’ll be 21 in July. His 65 made threes on the year, on 43% shooting illustrates the promising touch that the bigman possesses from the outside. His 7’2 wingspan and near 9′ foot standing reach also gives him ideal length.
Why the Sixers take Omari Spellman: Continuing with the "title town" theme, the Sixers could make it an all Villanova first round, taking local champions with both of their picks. Spellman gives them a versatile player at a position of need at power forward. His ability to shoot would fit well with Ben Simmons drive and kick skill set.
NBA Comparison: Adreian Payne
||Donte DiVincenzo 6-5 200 SG/PG Villanova So.||The "Michael Jordan of Delaware" played up to his nickname in the NCAA title game, giving his draft stock a huge boost. He reinforced his reputation as an athlete with his 40 plus inch vert at the NBA combine. His combine measurements also show that he’s got decent size for a 2-guard with his 6’5 height and 6’6 wingspan. He’s rolling the dice with whatever decision he makes, and when you consider his stock following his huge title game and the fact that he’s already 21, it’s probably in his best interest to leave his name in and accept wherever he lands in the draft.
Why the Celtics take Donte DiVincenzo: The rich get richer as the Celtics have an extremely deep and talented backcourt already. They are a team that can afford to take the BPA no matter the position. DD has proven that he’s not afraid of the big stage and should be able to contribute in limited minutes to the Celtics.
NBA Comparison: Delonte West
||Jerome Robinson 6-5 190 SG Boston College Jr.||An explosive guard who shot over 40% from three and exhibited the speed and athleticism to thrive on the break. Robinson was a bit of a surprise to some to enter his name and follow through with signing an agent to remain in the draft. He had impressive numbers and flashed some impressive explosiveness at times during his junior year. He should be in the mix for teams in the late first round in a deep shooting guard class.
Why the Warriors take Jerome Robinson: The Warriors actually retain their late first rounder this year after landing valuable backups in successive drafts by buying early second rounders. The Patrick McCaw experiment is no longer looking as rosey as it appeared a year ago at this time. Robinson could challenge McCaw for minutes off the bench in the coming years and would give them some depth at the guard positions.
NBA Comparison: Derek Anderson
||Jalen Brunson 6-2 190 PG Villanova Jr.||Brunson may win National Player of the Year for his tremendous season in which he displayed consistency leading Villanova to a one seed. He projects as a phenomenal backup point guard at the next level and possibly even a starter for a few years. What he lacks for in glamor, he makes up for in toughness and determination. He has command of the team and shows natural leadership ability. He’s also one of the most productive and efficient players in college, and has added a great ability to isolate and score on the block in clutch situations.
Why the Nets take Jalen Brunson: It’s never easy to find surefire contributors in the late first round. Brunson is a proven winner and while his athleticism limits his upside, he projects as an elite backup point guard with great intangibles. TJ McConnell has taken a great opportunity with Philly and run with it, and while his role with the team may continue to diminish, he has established himself as a valuable contributor. Brunson could find a similar niche in the league.
NBA Comparison: Mark Jackson
||Dzanan Musa 6-9 195 SG/SF Bosnia 1998
|Playing for senior league team Cedevita Zagreb, Musa has been surprisingly consistent for a 19 year old this season. He’s become accustomed to having numerous scouts at his games and has responded well to it. He is a solid shooter and has done a good job of finding ways to contribute when his shot isn’t falling. He still has some concerns with his thin and unusual body, however he’s shown steady improvement in that area as well. Being named the Aba League’s Top Prospect, as well as being voted to the All-League First team shows how highly he is regarded in Europe.
Why the Hawks take Dzanan Musa: Musa slips 12 spots from our last update. Why? A number of scouts at the Final Four in Belgrade have mentioned that he’s got a few things that teams may be wary of. First his body type lacks athleticism and strength, and second his attitude as a teammate has drawn criticism. He may ultimately go higher based on his improvement this season, but he may not be as firmly in the first as once believed. The Hawks, with three first rounders could decide to give him another season in Europe, or bring him over in order to get him on a NBA strength and conditioning program.