With the NBA draft just over two weeks away, we take a third look at the extended mock with team needs factored in.
||Zion Williamson 6-6 280 PF Duke Fr.||Zion is a phenomenon, the likes of which we haven’t seen since LeBron James from a media and fan interest stand point. He made true on all the hype surrounding him, which was not easy to accomplish. He’s not only an athletic specimen, he proved to be incredibly consistent and coachable. He showed noticeable improvement as the season progressed, and even developed some confidence in his perimeter shot. His leaping ability seems to defy physics, and he’s not just an explosive juggernaut. He also shows amazing body control and speed to make adjustments on drives as well as defend smaller guards on the perimeter. His ability to anticipate plays before they happen is one of the keys to his greatness. He also plays with emotion, like Sir Charles, opponents often appear to wilt in his presence. While there are still some wrinkles to his game that need ironing out, he’s got the highest ceiling of anyone in the past few drafts. LeBron is destined to go down as the second best player to ever play the game, it seems a little unfair to place those kinds of expectations on Zion. For him to have the same type of health, let alone ability, would seem to be a longshot.
Why the Pelicans take Zion Williamson: New Orleans has built teams around and lost Chris Paul and now Anthony Davis, following what appears to be an imminent defection. Will Zion Williamson be next in line to bide his time in New Orleans, with a building size photo of his mug next to the Superdome, only to bolt after five years and he becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency? That will be up to team management to make the necessary changes around the organization in order to alter the team’s direction and build a winner around Zion.
NBA Comparison: Charles Barkley
||Ja Morant 6-3 175 PG Murray St. So.||
Morant was the biggest breakout star of this year’s NCAA season. Entering the year he was seen as a mid first rounder at best by most talent evaluators. He had made a name for himself around 2018 draft time at the Chris Paul camp. But it was hard to envision him breaking out and becoming such an impactful player, efficient in both scoring and leading the nation in assists, and even drawing some consideration to be the number one overall pick. Morant doesn’t have Zion’s hype, but he deserves all of the recognition that came his way late in the season. Zion may have the higher ceiling, but if staying injury free is factored into the equation, Morant may have the higher floor.
Why the Grizzlies take JA Morant: Morant’s knee surgery just a few weeks before the draft puts a sliver of doubt into the Grizzlies likely draft outlook. RJ Barrett was seen as a likely top two pick for much of the season. But that was before Ja Morant morphed into one of the most dynamic point guard prospects of the past 10 years. Memphis seems to have a solid timeline to have Morant take the reins from a high paid Mike Conley, who is hitting the twilight of his career. With Jaren Jackson and Ja Morant, assuming they draft him, Memphis figures to have one of the brightest young cores in the NBA.
||RJ Barrett 6-7 210 SG Duke Fr.||Barrett was overshadowed on Duke’s team due to Zion’s excellence, but he’s a high level talent in his own right. His game is a bit unorthodox as he doesn’t have a clean shooting form and isn’t the smoothest of athletes. But he has high level competitiveness and a winner’s mentality. He may not have franchise level talent, but don’t bet against him as he’s got a lot of determination, as he proved in leading an undermanned Canada team to the 2017 U19 World Championships Gold Medal. Barrett can get caught up in playing hero ball and over-dribbling trying to create his own looks, but he’s young and still developing his decision making. He’s locked in as a top 5 pick with an excellent chance to be the third pick.
Why the Knicks take RJ Barrett: The Knicks were happy to move up in the lottery, but make no mistake drafting third is a consolation prize to getting into the top 2 of this year’s draft. The Knicks traded away Tim Hardaway Jr, so RJ actually fills an area of need. He potentially offers a new face of the franchise to build around, unless they are able to bring a free agent such as Kevin Durant, and/or Kyrie Irving into the fold.
||DeAndre Hunter 6-7 225 SF/PF Virginia So.||Hunter is a 3-and-D type. He’s got a strong frame with a massive 7’2 wingspan and really improved as a 3 point shooter in his sophomore year, displaying the ability to hit at a high rate and solid volume. Detractors will point to his lack of an ideal fit, being somewhat stiff as a SF and lacking the height and strength at PF. But in today’s position-less league, he offers a potential mismatch with the ability to defend 4s and knock down three pointers.
Why the Lakers take DeAndre Hunter: The Lakers appear likely to attempt to include this pick in a deal to acquire help for LeBron James. If they hold onto the pick, Hunter makes a lot of sense as he fits the team’s window of opportunity being the most NBA ready option. He also seems to make the most sense for another team as he’s the safest pick with the highest floor at a tough draft position. Making matters difficult is this is a pick that most GMs likely wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole as the bust factor is extremely high, as there are a number of guys with decent upside, but extremely risky floors. There have been some Darius Garland rumors here, and while he may be the guy with the most upside here, his lack of development in college makes him an extremely risky. Perhaps the Suns move up to 4 for Garland, but that would be additional pressure if he were selected that high and additional assets were given to acquire him.
||Darius Garland 6-2 175 PG Vanderbilt Fr.||The son of former NBA point guard Winston Garland, Darius was seen by many as the top PG prospect heading into the season. That was before his injury and Ja Morant establishing himself as a top 2 pick. He’s an extremely fast point with great shooting ability and decent size. What he’s missing is what should have been a year of development and college experience, which is more crucial at the point guard position. There are also question marks about his body strength and toughness, particularly coming off a knee injury.
Why the Cavaliers take Darius Garland: The Cavs appear to have found their point guard of the future in "Young Bull", Collin Sexton. He is extremely competitive and seems to have really improved as an outside shooter. So why would they select Garland? It’s purely a value pick. They could hold onto him and develop both point guards, or shop the pick and force the Suns to either give up an asset (Josh Jackson for instance), or potentially lose out with another team moving up for him. Either Garland or White are the likely picks here if Hunter indeed goes 4, despite point guard not being an area of need. Drafting for need in the lottery, or anywhere for that matter is rarely a wise approach in the first place.
||Coby White 6-5 185 PG/SG North Carolina Fr.||White is a lightning quick combo guard who pushes the ball up the floor quickly and also terrorizes defenders off the dribble with his first step. Roy Williams called White the quickest guard that he’s had since Ty Lawson. High praise for a guy that is 3-4 inches bigger than Lawson. White is a solid defender who at 6’4 has the size and speed to play either guard position. He went on a tear mid way through the season and never looked back, becoming one of the deadliest weapons on the college level. His game figures to fit perfectly at the next level, and his competitiveness gives him a chance to be a star.
Why the Suns take Coby White: The Suns would do well to grab Coby White at 6. And although Garland may be more of a true point guard and the prospect they covet, White may ultimately end up the better pro. He’s bigger, arguably faster, and has proven himself more at the college level, not to mention the year of development. White may remind them too much of Brandon Knight, but White seems to have superior quickness and feel for the game. For a number of scouts, the talent shelf drops off considerably between the top 6 and the next prospect.
NBA Comparison: Gilbert Arenas
||Jarrett Culver 6-6 195 SG Texas Tech So.||
Culver really exploded into a star and a well rounded player as a sophomore. He expanded his skill set in his sophomore year, embracing the role of go-to scorer and offensive team leader. He made huge strides in his ability to create offense for himself, as well as his ability to shoot. He has a strong, physical frame and plays with consistent effort. He went from a great role player, as a freshman, doing the little things to help his team win, to the team’s superstar. He still has a ways to go to as a shooter and NBA shooting guard, and going too high could set expectations too high for him. He’s a tremendous kid, but may struggle to live up to the amount of hype that has been bestowed on him. Culver is considered one of the top character guys in the entire draft.
Why the Bulls take Jarrett Culver: It’s Groundhog day again as Chicago is sitting at the 7th spot for the third year in a row. The joke around Chicago is that ownership was happy they landed at 7 and not any higher since the notoriously cheap Jerry Reinsdorf will only have to dish out the 7th pick salary, and nothing more. After adding front court pieces Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr., addressing their back court would seem to make the most sense. The Bulls would love to see one of the point guards fall to them here at 7. But there’s a strong chance that both Garland and White will be gone by their pick. GM Gar Foreman has shown a tendency to go the safe route, taking solid picks, instead of gambling on potential, so a player like Culver would seem to make the most sense.
||Cameron Reddish 6-7 215 SG/SF Duke Fr.||
Reddish’s talent level has never been in question as he’s an NBA athlete with an advanced skill set for his age. The main concerns revolve around his lack of consistency and how infrequently he plays to his abilities. He’s a charismatic kid who will impress in team interviews, but skeptics worry that he may always force coaches to expend energy in order to get him to fully apply himself. Apologists will contend that he was forced to assume the role of a complementary player, unable to fully stand out due to the fact that he wasn’t given the opportunity. But in reality he may be more suited in that role and may have been exposed at a program where he was expected to be the star. He doesn’t appear to be wired to be an alpha dog with ultra competitiveness.
Why the Hawks take Cameron Reddish: With picks at 8 and 10, there are rumors that the Hawks could bundle their picks to move up, potentially for the 3rd overall pick. The 3rd for 8th and 10th picks could actually be a good trade for both teams, if the right choices were made, although staying at 3 and taking Barrett would seem to be the prudent decision for New York. As after the third pick, the talent level drops off quite a bit. Reddish fits the Hawks preference of drafting shooters, and Reddish could potential work well with a dominant scorer like Trae Young.
NBA Comparison: Rudy Gay
||Bruno Fernando 6-10 245 C Maryland So.||The bigman from Angola, Fernando, has a lot of composure and maturity for his age. He’s an above average athlete who is solid in nearly all areas. His footwork stands out, along with his great hands. He’s still developing the confidence to be a go to scorer and lead the team every time out. But he has a lot of determination and passion for the game. His spin moves and offensive skill are very good for a player that picked up the game at 9 years old in Angola, and really didn’t start playing at a high level until moving to the US during high school and playing at both Montverde and IMG Academy. Is he older than he’s listed? Possible, but unlikely as he looked like a 16 year old when he competed for Angola in Dubai at the U17 World Championships. And even if he is, is it really a huge concern? He is already a polished player with above average athleticism for the next level.
Why the Wizards take Bruno Fernando: Washington finally cut ties with GM Ernie Grunfeld, who had the longest run of any underachieving GM in the history of the NBA. Washington needs talent and they also appear to need a complete rehaul, which would mean moving John Wall and or Bradley Beal this offseason. There hasn’t been much rhyme or reason for the Wizards moves the past few seasons, (acquiring Trevor Ariza, for instance) but adding a bigman with a versatile skillset like Fernando would be an excellent start. He’s the top bigman in this year’s draft with the ability to pass, score in the paint and rim protect.
NBA Comparison: Steven Adams
||Mfondu Kabengele 6-10 250 PF/C Kentucky So.||Kabengele has excellent basketball genes as his mother is the sister of Dikembe Mutombo. He came off the bench this season for Florida State, and by the end of the year, he was having a huge impact on the team at both ends of the floor. His legs don’t appear to be very sturdy, so how he comes out in medicals will be instrumental in his draft position. His game impressed former Bull standout Horace Grant enough to compare him to himself, so he must be doing something right. He’s a big with a huge wingspan and the ability to face up and knock down shots. He obviously needs to add leg and core strength, but if he’s able to do so, his upside could have his stock much higher than this by draft night.
Why the Hawks take Mfondu Kabengele: Atlanta’s adoration for shooters could very well affect this pick as well. Kabengele was by some accounts the top interview of all the prospects that showed in Chicago at the predraft camp by teams. He would potentially give the Hawks a guy with NBA bloodlines as well as a player that impacted games at the college level and appears to have a solid upside to contribute on both ends of the floor.
NBA Comparison: Vin Baker
||Nassir Little 6-6 220 SF North Carolina Fr.||
Little is a borderline freak athlete with a sturdy frame and a 7′ plus foot wingspan. He excels at being an energy player and scores a lot of garbage baskets with his physical gifts. The form on his shot is decent, although his efficiency wasn’t ideal. Little struggled with consistency and didn’t fully live up to expectations. Some feel that was partially due to the short leash that Coach Roy Williams gives to many freshmen. Little can be a top 10 pick if he can impress in workouts, as he did put forward some solid performances at season’s end.
Why the Timberwolves take Nasir Little: Minnesota is a young team that appears to have hit a wall in their progression. Andrew Wiggins seems to lack the intangibles and desire to be great, and Karl Anthony-Towns can only do so much without the necessary help surrounding him. Little has an intriguing profile with supreme length and athleticism. and could offer the Wolves nice energy guy off the bench, also possibly providing some of the toughness missing from their current squad.
NBA Comparison: Gerald Wallace
||Jaxson Hayes 6-11 220 PF/C Texas Fr.||Hayes is the son of long time NFL player and current Bengals tight end coach Jonathan Hayes. With this being a weaker draft, and potential always being at a premium, Hayes has a real shot to go top 10. He’s a bit of a risk to be a guy that takes up an NBA roster spot and develops on a team’s dime before finding his game and being a true contributor on his second contract, and possibly second team. His free throw percentage gives intrigue about his ability to develop his offensive game, but he will need to show more aggressiveness and toughness as he gains weight and experience in order to fulfill his upside.
Why the Hornets take Jaxson Hayes: Charlotte has struggled for years to find a quality big with a number of lottery swings and misses, including Bismack Biyombo, Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky. Hayes offers a lot of upside. However, he is as risky as any center, or draft pick overall for that matter and will likely need a team with a lot of patience, in order for him to realize the expectations surrounding him. He is probably better in the long term going in the later portion of the first round, which would provide greater patience and less pressure from an expectation standpoint. Charlotte is not an ideal landing spot for him, however he could be viewed a best prospect on the board at this point.
||Sekou Doumbouya 6-9 230 SF/PF France Intl.||Doumbouya is a talented prospect combining great size and versatility as he excels at ball handling and passing. He gets caught up in making the spectacular play at times and needs to become a better decision maker and more disciplined. He’s a bouncy athlete but in need of American Weight training. He may be as dependent upon landing in the right situation as anyone. With the right coaching he could become a versatile forward in the mold of Boris Diaw. But his skill set shows a lot of promise but remains unrefined.
Why the Heat take Sekou Doumbouya: Doumbouya has top 10 talent but regressed to some degree over the past season. He struggles with decision making and often tries too hard for the spectacular play. Instead of just making the right play. Miami would be a solid landing spot for him as they seem to have a need for an upgrade at the small forward position, with an underachieving Justice Winslow hitting make or break time.
||Rui Hachimura 6-8 235 SF/PF Gonzaga Jr.||Rui made a great decision to both attend Gonzaga and not rush the process, allowing his game and confidence to mature over three years in Spokane. He’s a focused, hard working kid who figures to elevate the popularity of basketball in Japan as well as other Asian countries. While his size and skill set is still a bit tweenerish, he plays with such great energy and is developing into a knock down mid range shooter. He should find a spot in the top 10 and can even be a top 5 pick with good workouts. One of the highest character kids in the draft and his development curve seems to be as sharp as anyone’s.
Why the Celtics take Rui Hachimura: The Celtics have a history of drafting low risk players (trading up to take Kelly Olynyk over Greek Freak for example). And while there isn’t zero risk associated with Rui, he would appear to offer extremely solid risk/reward value. Boston could be in store for a major shake up this offseason with Kyrie potentially hitting the open market. The team underachieved due to chemistry issues, so high character guys similar to Rui could be emphasized with their picks this year.
||Bol Bol 7-2 235 C Oregon Fr.||Bol is the 2019 draft’s other Unicorn, with Zion being the first. He is extremely unique and difficult to accurately project or find a good comparison for. Porzingis was establishing himself as one of the game’s great young big men before his injury and off court issues. One thing that appears accurate, aside from the length, shot blocking and outside shooting is that both player’s size make them injury prone. With such extreme length, a lot of pressure is put on their lower legs. Bol is one of the biggest wild cards available, as some even speculated he could challenge to be the number one pick early on. Having missed a great deal of the season, and develop a bit of a questionable work ethic, look for Bol to slide to the mid-to-late first round.
Why the Pistons take Bol Bol: The Pistons have one of the most physically dominant bigs in the game in Andre Drummond, as his rebounding numbers over the past several seasons can attest. What he’s lacking is exactly what Bol squared brings to the table, in his ability to stretch the floor and knock down outside shots. Bol appears to be injury prone so there’s a good chance he may fall further than his talent would suggest on draft night. Detroit also needs to swing for the fences in order to change their fortunes and Bol offers that type of upside.
||Nickeil Alexander-Walker 6-5 205 SG Virginia Tech So.||Alexander-Walker is a highly efficient 2-guard with a smooth offensive game. He knocks down the 3 ball with excellent speed and efficiency, and can also create baskets for himself off the dribble. Adding some legitimate body strength would be very beneficial as he struggles to finish through contact at the rim. But he may just be a guy that will always be on the skinny side, a la Will Barton. He had some solid performances throughout the season, and helped Virginia Tech come very close to upsetting Duke in the NCAA tourney.
Why the Magic take Nickeil Alexander-Walker: The Magic have gone big in recent drafts with players like Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba. They appear to be in a solid position to grab a prospect as the talent around 7-8 doesn’t look a whole lot different from the 16-18 range. For instance, some scouts feel the Alexander-Walker is every bit the prospect that Jarrett Culver is. Alexander-Walker would give the team a very solid compliment to 26 year old Evan Fournier and potentially develop into his replacement at the 2.
NBA Comparison: Spencer Dinwiddie
||Goga Bitadze 6-11 250 C Rep. of Georgia Intl.||Bitadze is a tough nosed European center with a great set of skills. Sort of a Marc Gasol lite. Bitadze can really shoot it and has a toughness to him. He’s not the fastest or most athletic player but his skill level and knowledge of the game are advanced. He’s considered one of the few European prospects, along with Doumbouya, with a chance to go in the first round this year. Goga is well liked by most on the international scene with our Stefanos Makris being one of the first media scouts to push him as a first round talent.
Why the Hawks take Goga Bitadze: The Hawks are stockpiling first rounders in this year’s draft with their Thursday trade of Allen Crabbe to Brooklyn to acquire the 17th pick. They could look to package a number of picks for a young player or stand pat and use these picks on draft night. Goga would give the Hawks solid value at 17 and a guy with legitimate starter potential at the center position and compete with projected 10th pick, Kabengele for minutes.
NBA Comparison: Nenad Krstic
||PJ Washington 6-8 235 PF Kentucky So.||Washington had a strong sophomore season punctuated by an excellent showing in the NCAA tourney. He’s a versatile four, showing solid ability to handle the ball and pass it. While he lacks ideal height, his huge 7’2.5 wingspan allows him to play bigger. He projects as a solid role player for the next level. While likely not a standout, he can assist a team with some scoring and overall versatility. He proved to be an impact player for one of the elite teams in the nation in his sophomore season, and many are projecting him as a mid first rounder.
Why the Nets take PJ Washington: With Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner, the team is pretty solid in the front court, but Washington could help bolster the team and offer a replacement for the aging Thad Young. Washington has moved up during the draft process and is seen by some scouts as a potential lottery pick. We have him valued a bit lower on our big board, but he certainly has put himself in position to get there.
NBA Comparison: Trey Lyles
||Nicolas Claxton 6-11 215 PF Georgia So||Claxton was the breakout star of the combine. He is a versatile big with the ability to play an athletic brand of basketball, and impact both ends of the floor. He’s shown a surprising ability to knock down shots after the season in which that wasn’t a huge part of his game at Georgia. While somewhat under scouted this year, he has really come on of late and is trending in the right direction. He could end up being this year’s Pascal Siakam
Why the Spurs take Nicolas Claxton: Claxton’s shot shows some promise and what better place to land than San Antonio where he could work with the premiere shot doctor in the business in Chip Engelland. He made the difficult decision to keep his name in the draft and it should work out well for him as there is a good chance he will go in the 20s with a chance to go this high.
NBA Comparison: Pascal Siakam
||Brandon Clarke 6-8 210 PF/C Gonzaga Jr.||Clark is too old (22) and small (6’8 with a 6’9 wingspan) to be a first rounder, yet here he is. He’s one of the most explosive players not named Zion in this year’s draft. He also played with incredible energy and drive all season. His work in the offseason, revamping an ugly jumpshot and turning it into a consistent one with decent form in a testament to his dedication. Clark’s ability to play bigger than his size and convert alley oops as well as protect the rim gives him solid intrigue. Whether his game will in fact translate to the next level, despite his age and lack of length remains to be seen. But his quickness, motor and work ethic gives him a real shot to grab a spot in the first round, after such a strong season.
Why the Celtics take Brandon Clarke: With three picks, the Celtics can grab a bouncy, undersized four to give them added defense. Clarke could give the Celtics a nice allyoop target and his offense game could ultimately develop to where he can offer something as a face up scorer.
NBA Comparison: Larry Nance
||Tyler Herro 6-6 195 SG Kentucky Fr.||Herro combines a great feel for the game with elite level shooting ability. He’s a decent athlete that will surprise with his leaping ability at times. He may not have the strongest of frames and will need to focus on getting stronger in order to be more effective driving to the rim. His defense has shown steady improvement, and while he may always struggle with lateral speed, the fact the he could develop into a high level NBA shooter gives him intrigue. He’ll have to polish his ability to move without the ball and setting up open looks, but his shooting stroke is his biggest asset.
Why the Thunder take Tyler Herro: The Thunder’s lack of outside shooting was exposed in their first round, soul snatching match up with Damien Lillard and the Blazers. While Herro certainly isn’t going to solve all of their problems, he does offer a potential knock down shooter to come off the bench and spell Terrance Ferguson. Herro would fill a role for them as an outside shooter off the bench.
||Keldon Johnson 6-6 215 SG/SF Kentucky Fr.||Johnson is an athletic wing capable of above the rim finishes as well as a solid offensive skill set. He possesses a lot of determination and leadership for his age. He still needs to become a better ball handler which would allow him to better utilize his athletic gifts as a basket creator. Keldon’s play grew in consistency as the season went along. He’s a bit of a potential pick, but a team willing to wait on his talent could grab him somewhere in the mid-to-late lottery, and be pleased with the results in a few seasons.
Why the Celtics take Keldon Johnson: Johnson had an up and down season and he still has some wrinkles to his game to iron out. But with all of the first rounders that GM Danny Ainge has acquired and parlayed into talent on the floor, the Celtics have a solid core and aren’t in great need at any position, giving them the luxury to target value instead of need.
NBA Comparison: Corey Maggette
||KZ Okpala 6-8 195 SG/SF Stanford So.||Okpala was one of the biggest risers among the returning group of NCAA prospects for this year’s draft. He’s a highly skilled wing with the ability to attack the rim with a quick first step and solid ball handling ability. He is more of the lead by example type and will need to work on becoming more vocal, but at just 19 years of age, he has a lot of development in front of him. He was productive in a number of areas with 18 ppg, 6 rpg and 2 apg. He has excellent efficiency, shooting a high clip from 3 along with solid ability to create baskets off the dribble utilizing his quick first step. One legitimate concern is how much the Stanford team has under-performed this season. And the fact that weren’t exactly devoid of talent surrounding KZ. It brings into question Okpala’s impact and why they didn’t have a better record this season.
Why the Jazz take KZ Okpala: Okpala would seem to be a good fit in Utah at least from a personality standpoint. At 23 or later, landing a starter is always a difficult proposition. Joe Ingles, who’s 31, has the position locked down for a couple more years most likely, however Okpala has starter potential and could become his successor if things fall into place for him.
||Romeo Langford 6-6 210 SG Indiana Fr.||Romeo is a high level prospect who seems to have perfected the nonchalant look. He’s a smooth athlete and scorer with above average ball skills. He can really handle the ball and create shots for a 2-guard. His outside shooting is still a work in progress as it wasn’t as efficient as one would like. He has a tendency to look as if he’s day dreaming, which doesn’t put NBA talent evaluators at ease regarding his focus and intensity. But he has a chance to be a steal if he falls.
Why the Sixers take Romeo Langford: Langford is a scorer that didn’t show the ability to shoot consistently or efficiently. Detractors question what exactly Langford does well, and he has been a player on the decline as the draft process has progressed. Langford could be a good value at this point and might actually benefit by dropping and potentially developing a much needed chip on his shoulder.
||Daniel Gafford 6-10 230 PF/C Arkansas So.||
Gafford is perhaps the most athletic big man available this year. He’s a long, fluid bigman who runs the floor well and uses his length and athleticism well to convert alley oops, put backs and be a menace on the boards. He still needs to add strength to handle more physical players. Today’s emphasis on bigs that can shoot from the perimeter and spread the floor decreases Gafford’s stock to a degree. He lacks ideal touch on his shot, and is more effective scoring on the block.
Why the Blazers take Daniel Gafford: Portland has a lot of talent at the center position. But Gafford at least has the athleticism to play either the 4 or 5, whether he can get there skill wise remains to be seen. Gafford is one of the premiere bigs in this year’s draft from an athleticism standpoint. He struggled to improve as a shooter and the fear it that he may always be a rim runner and rebounder that doesn’t become enough of a scoring threat. The Blazers have had excellent draft picks since Neil O’Shea has been their GM.
||Kevin Porter 6-6 220 SG/SF USC Fr.||Porter is a top ten pick on talent. The problem is that he has developed a reputation for being virtually uncoachable. He butted heads with USC coach Andy Enfield on a number of occasions and in turn was suspended. There are real concerns about his focus and dedication to the game and whether he has what it takes to fit into an NBA team’s framework.
Why the Spurs Cavaliers take Kevin Porter: Cleveland is in the midst of a rebuild and could decide Porter is worth the risk here at 26. He has lottery talent but comes with a reputation for being difficult and potentially disruptive. Cleveland current has Jordan Clarkson and Nik Stauskas competing for minutes at the 2. The opportunity to play would be there if Porter shows a dedication to being a professional.
||Luka Samanic 6-11 230 PF Croatia Intl.||Samanic is one of the more versatile and athletic bigmen to emerge from Europe in the past few seasons. he underachieved a bit over the past few years, but appears to have pulled things together in the nick of time, with a very solid NBA Combine performance. He has some face up ability but is still a long ways away from a physicality standpoint. He improved some in the past year, but still struggles against strong Europeans, so getting on an NBA weight training program should be a huge benefit.
Why the Nets take Samanic: The Nets did very well with their trade to acquire Rodions Kurucs out of Latvia (taken 40th) and also took Dzanan Musa out of Bosnia & Herzegovina at 29, both in last year’s draft. Going European with two first rounders might be a stretch, but they obviously aren’t afraid to do it. Samanic could offer them some flexibility as a guy to draft and stash giving them added salary space if their offseason ends up as fruitful as they’re envisioning.
||Dylan Windler 6-7 195 SG/SF Belmont Sr.||Windler had a very solid senior year capped off by a strong tournament performance. He’s one of the draft’s elite shooter and has suprising size and leaping ability. While not the most physical of players, and he may need to work hard to become an NBA level defender, the makings are there for him to become a specialty shooter. He’s been a player mentioned as a potential late first rounder, despite being older than the average player taken in the first.
Why the Warriors take Dylan Windler: The Warriors could use a shooter in their second unit and Windler has a shot to develop into that type of contributor. There are certainly teams with a greater need for shooters, however the Warriors value the ability to shoot as much as anyone. The Warriors are looking for players that can help right away, so an older, more ready to contribute player like Windler would make sense.
||Matisse Thybulle 6-6 200 SG/SF Washington Sr.||Thybulle’s supreme length and attention on that end, makes him one of the top defenders in the entire draft. He struggled on the offensive end for much of his career at Washington. But his three point shot finally started to click, giving him excellent 3-D upside. With a 7+ foot wingspan, Matisse has elite defensive potential. Thybulle showed some solid improvement in his outside shooting in his senior year.
Why the Spurs take Matisse Thybulle: Perhaps the Spurs were the ones to promise Thybulle with their second 1st rounder. He opted to skip the combine, fueling speculation of a promise. The Spurs continue to find excellent value in the bottom half of the first round, and this year should be no different.
||Naz Reid 6-10 250 PC/C LSU Fr.||Reid had a bit of an up and down season. He struggled for much of the early part of the season, adjusting to having lost a great deal of weight and playing with a lighter body. He is a talented kid, but detractors wonder about his motor and whether he is a self starter. There aren’t many bigs with the type of mobility and body that he has that can knock down outside shots the way that he can. He’s also pretty skilled as a ball handler and passer for a big. Whether he has the drive to continue to improve his body and develop his game is the key.
Why the Bucks take Naz Reid: Milwaukee had the best record in the league and has a fairly diverse roster with no needs of any huge consequence at any position. They can draft for best talent available. Reid turned some scouts off with his lack of aggressiveness, but it’s clear that he has unusual skills with the ability to knock down shots in a big and mobile body. Brook Lopez is 31 and beginning to hit the downside of his career. Reid is no sure thing but has more potential than a number of guys that will likely be taken before him.
NBA Comparison: Anthony Mason