2020 NBA Mock Draft #1

By Samuel Stands, July 18th, 2020 3:23 pm EST

ESPN NBA Draft crew | Photo Courtesy ~ Joe Glorioso @HoopDis ...

Though the NBA Draft is still some three months away and we have yet to even see an NBA game played in the bubble to alter draft positioning, for many teams the main focus is scouting for the future. And for the rest of us whose teams are in the bubble, we can only watch so many two minute long practice footage per day. 

Our present reality is still basketball-less, still bleak with necessary quarantines, a future looming without a vaccine. Basically those of us who follow the NBA have had ample time to do our own scouting, our own soul searching when it comes to that which will be for our teams because what else is there to do? 

I cannot work out the entirety of the day, I cannot read for the entirety of the day, and I cannot watch movies for the entirety of the day. What I can do is a variety of these things and you better believe I’m devoting time to watching film on draft prospects every day and arguing with people on NBA Twitter. With so much time on my hands, it is no wonder that this mock draft I’ve been writing turned into 11,000 words. It consumed me as the draft consumes me every year; there is hope for my team, if we just draft player x and sign player y in free agency, we are where we need to be! So I tell myself. With that in mind, I used tankathon.com to randomize the lottery so as to liven up the selections where it (at least for me) gets old seeing each team in the same draft slot in every single mock draft. 

In this mock we see Detroit winning the lottery (something I’m willing to bet money will actually happen in real life), New York with the second pick, and Sacramento jumping up several spots. The selections made are solely based on what I think each team SHOULD do with the pick, not what I think they’ll do or what I’ve heard they might do, I’m putting on my GM hat 30 times to try to help each team as best I can. I’m also sparing you the typical scouting report on each player as I assume you’ve been reading up on them and watching them as much as I have. My interest here is their fit and the thought process each franchise should be taking in my opinion. 

On the clock…

  1. Detroit Pistons: LaMelo Ball…Detroit lands the potential superstar in Lamelo Ball. In my opinion, and I welcome Detroit fans to correct me if I’m off base here, the Pistons ought to anchor their future to LaMelo Ball and Christian Wood while investing time in Sekou Doumbouya, Khyri Thomas, Svi Mykhailiuk, and Tony Snell. This of course means cutting ties with Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin and receiving either draft capital or young players in any return. This would not only free up cap space for the coming free agency but also in 2021 when there will be more impactful players available. Could they pry away a Montrezl Harrell? Malik Beasley? Could they go get Lonzo Ball next year if the Pelicans unconscionably don’t offer him the max? Lest we forget the 2021 draft will be loaded. All of this is to say that the future of Detroit basketball may soon be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Undoubtedly as Wood and Ball become the pillars of the new Piston’s core, surrounding them with shooters is paramount moving forward. This rebuild should not be too difficult to orchestrate with the two aforementioned points whereas Griffin and Rose at the least fetch two first round picks (however late they may be.)
  2. New York Knicks: Anthony Edwards…I think New York certainly would have preferred to come away with LaMelo Ball on draft night but Edwards isn’t exactly a consolation prize especially for the Knicks in desperation of star power and relevance. Similar to Detroit, the Knicks are short on players they should be retaining long term when considering a rebuild effort that could be sustainable. In Edwards and Barrett the Knicks have their dangerous duo-to-be much like many other teams in the league but they will also boast a dynamic and modern front court in Mitchell Robinson and Julius Randle (who I still believe in whence he gets a sunnier situation, system, and role). Long term then, the Knicks would just be looking for their point guard of the future and the 2021 free agency period can run through New York given their cap space on the way and what will likely be another high draft pick in next year’s draft, as per usual. I presume the Knicks land Kenny Atkinson and he provides for the Knicks what he did for Brooklyn over time and perhaps Atkinson gets rewarded tenure if he can repeat his success which would presumably mean the four I mentioned becoming mainstays.
  3. Atlanta Hawks: Isaac Okoro…By my estimation, the Hawks really just need to be patient and hang onto their young, deep core. Trae Young is certainly the face of the franchise but I believe Cam Reddish will establish himself as their clear number two guy in seasons to come while the frontcourt is set in John Collins and Clint Capela and there is wing depth in shooters Kevin Huerter and DeAndre Hunter. What everyone continues to say, and I agree, is that the Hawks need a defensive backcourt fellow for Trae Young. Obviously Okoro is credited for his defense and explosiveness where I envision him fulfilling an Andre Iguodala type role for Atlanta. I’ve also read that Okoro is a worker so there may be optimism that his shooting eventually improves. Nonetheless, the Hawks do not need to swing for the fences here and can play it safe though Okoro does present some risk given his iffy shooting. I can also see them taking Devin Vassell, a much safer, albeit less-sexy pick but one that fits what Atlanta needs. All in all, so long as Atlanta keeps all these guys together and aren’t stingy with salaries, the Hawks should be a perennial playoff team for years to come after this particular draft.
  4. Sacramento Kings: Devin Vassell…I feel like Sacramento really is a piece or two away from getting themselves back into the playoffs after such a drought. While the Kings are in need of a clear star-franchise type player who can put the team on his back so to speak, there is not one available in my opinion after the first two selections in this draft. And that’s okay. I would be happy to see the Kings make a smart and safe pick in Devin Vassell who would fit quite nicely in the Kings rotation and can likely become a long-term starter for them going forward. The Kings have their explosive point guard and young leader in De’Aaron Fox, two shooting guards who can really stroke it in Hield and Bogdanovich, a versatile and experienced forward in Harrison Barnes, and their modern big man in Marvin Bagley (not to mention the ever and always solid Richaun Holmes.) Vassell would give the Kings more shooting, more length, more versatility, more defense, and an off-ball wing ready to contribute immediately. Simply a nice and understated get for Sacramento who should be a key player going forward.
  5. Golden State Warriors: Obi Toppin…Ultimately I think the Warriors are trading this pick for an established veteran ready to win right now and it also won’t surprise me if the Warriors say “so long” to Draymond Green as well where we are looking at a very different Golden State team next year. With that said, Though Toppin is certainly an older draft selection so early in the draft rounding out the first five, his offensive gifts are too much to ignore when contemplating this slot in the draft with no clearer studs to choose from who could help the Warriors contend right now. I do believe Toppin’s best role in the NBA is at the center position (I’m likely in the minority here) where his explosiveness can be put to use as a rim protector and presumably, Steve Kerr is smart enough to not only cater the defensive scheme to negate Toppin’s weaknesses like copying Brooklyn’s drop coverage with DeAndre Jordan, but also is smart enough to force him to defend like he did Curry who has made significant strides as a defender since Kerr took over. Toppin could make defenses respect those not named Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, hopefully bolstering potential shooting all over the floor as Harrison Barnes and Kevin Durant provided in their title runs.
  6. Cleveland Cavaliers: Deni Avdija…As I mentioned earlier, though teams like Cleveland and Golden State constantly seem to have big men mocked to them in various articles, I don’t see this being a fruitful idea when the bigs available are not foreseeable world-beaters (this is not to say an Okongwu, Achiuwa, or Wiseman doesn’t blossom nor that there isn’t discernible evidence to believe in one becoming the idealized version of the modern big man, it’s just that I am making decisions in this mock based on a certain set of values: namely versatile wings.) This decision is made even easier when considering that Andre Drummond seems primed to take Cleveland’s money long term while Tristan Thompson is on the way out where the Cavs’ front office will likely be inclined to feel a reciprocal fondness with Drummond’s camp. It needn’t be mentioned that Love will surely be traded for picks or young players in an imminent return, one would think. Larry Nance is the kind of role player every team would love to have at power forward who does enough of the little things while playing his role and who is just as young as Drummond so, yet again, I find myself writing into another selection that the frontcourt of given team at slot six in this mock isn’t lacking. Cedi Osman and Collin Sexton are nice enough young role players who I could see having a long term duty off of the bench on a team not confined to the dregs of the lottery every year where I believe verily in a Kevin Porter Jr. and Darius Garland backcourt tandem. This is one reason why I am averse to the sexier pick here that is Killian Hayes but also because I think every team in the league has to have a versatile and large small forward who can shoot. Also, Deni Avdija has looked excellent as recently (go to Youtube yourself) as the past two weeks. Do I think Avdija is going to be their crown jewel of the franchise onward into the 2020s? No. I think Cleveland, like many of the teams preceding them in this draft, are in need of a two to three year plan building through the draft and trades. If the Cavs wish to expedite this process, look no further than Larry Nance Jr. as trade bait who would fit on any team in the league and contenders ready to rescue Kevin Love with a plethora of firsts and seconds and reclamation projects. Personally I like Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr. so much as creators for this team that I would be inclined to invest in off-ball shooting threats like Avidja and Osman especially when Drummond’s gravitational pull within five feet should keep defenses from ceding the paint.  
  7. Minnesota Timberwolves: Patrick Williams…I’m much higher on Patrick Williams than a lot of people but also I’m among enough company (as far as I’m concerned) to mock him as high as seven without rebuke. Can we first get it out of the way that the Phoenix Suns are not coughing up Devin Booker in a trade? The Suns were playing pretty good basketball before the Rona and may have found a real core to invest in long term so long as they understand Oubre’s importance. This trade isn’t happening (not necessarily not ever, just not right now.) I also think feeding the flames on this rumored pipe dream overlooks how well Malik Beasley was playing for Minnesota and how nice of a fit he is next to D’Angelo Russell in the backcourt. Can we finally get a definite frontcourt mate for Karl Anthony Towns? A modern one at that? Juan Hernangomez is absolutely a nice step in that direction and I adore James Johnson as a mentor for this young team but I don’t see either as the long term piece next to KAT and Russell. Williams can potentially be that do-it-all forward for the Timberwolves that every team needs as I stated belief in earlier and will incessantly. It does not behoove the T-Wolves (nor any team for that matter in my opinion) to be trotting out two center-sized big men in the frontcourt especially since KAT’s defense has not been pretty (yes I understand the Lakers have paired AD with Howard and McGee but that’s Anthony Davis we are talking about, arguably the DPOY so chilllllll [also get out of my face about Embiid and Horford, the 76ers play much better basketball when it is only one of Horford/Embiid with Simmons and even without Simmons, look it up.]) Williams is being touted not only for his defensive versatility on-ball but also his off-ball help as a rim-protector which should help the second worst defense in the league this season. I don’t think Williams is going to be a godsend for Minny but I can see him at the least becoming a solid starter in the league for many years if not alongside KAT. Thankfully, with as much work as there is to be done for Minnesota’s frontcourt, there is another draft pick after the lottery to shore up the size this team seems to be giving up on a nightly basis where at the moment, the small-forward by committee may have to prevail until next year’s draft or the management uses their draft capital and young players to trade for an established wing though there aren’t many (any?) available. We’ll see.
  8. Chicago Bulls: Jaden McDaniels…I’m sorry reader, you obliged me in my Patrick Williams selection but I’m sure you’ll find Jaden McDaniels a bridge too far at eight! May I though? What does every team need? Versatile, shooting, large, long forwards. The Bulls played whom as their starting small forward? Zach Lavine…not a good long term plan and I’m sure the new front office will believe so as well. Otto Porter Jr. is coming back you say? For a year, sure. Here’s me wagering now that Otto Porter Jr. does not return after the 2021 free agency period if he isn’t traded beforehand. But there are two attractive point guards still on the board? Is not Tyrese Haliburton awfully similar to Kris Dunn? Isn’t Killian Hayes’ smooth game confined to the mid-range and his defense lacking? Do the Bulls employ any legit forwards? Do the Bulls already have too many guards? Do they need some sort of positional balance in between all of their guards and centers? I think so. Again, I am of course following my value-system here in going with the big forward obsession. For one thing though, McDaniels already has an advanced offensive repertoire off the dribble which at the least in the short term can be used for microwave scoring off the bench while he develops but also McDaniels can not only defend quite capably on the perimeter but he has shown glimpses of being a ball-hawk out of help rotations. Yes, McDaniels is rough around the edges, apparently the list is: immaturity, recklessness, etcetera. But his talent and gifts make me inclined to see his emotionality as passion and his bouts of recklessness due to youth. Regarding other potential selections here, I worry about the previously mentioned point guards being in a position to succeed when there would be so many guards vying for minutes and I see the same issue at center where an Okongwu or Wiseman is not a better prospect than Wendell Carter Jr. who I believe should be Chicago’s long term center going forward. Yikes that might be a freezing cold take later on down the line. I’m just saying, drafting a legitimate forward would allow a situation where said player could grow because of so many opportunities especially on a losing team perpetually in the lottery. Simply put, 6’10 wings with the kind of offensive bag and defensive potential that McDaniels’ possesses are extremely rare where I am reminded of Paul George, Brandon Ingram, Jonathan Isaac, and even Kevin Durant when watching him. The former three even had slow starts in the league which we may see from McDaniels as he enters the league but I would find it remiss not to bet on him putting it all together. The same thinking that is employed to justify taking Tyrese Maxey so high can (and is here) applicable. True, I am not as high on Maxey like the vast majority so one may be inclined to point out this hypocrisy to which I would simply respond that McDaniels’ size makes a world of difference when considering if the juice is worth the squeeze; if McDaniels reaches his full potential, we are comparing him to Brandon Ingram or Kevin Durant, if Maxey does then we are comparing him to…CJ McCollum? Dion Waiters? I’m just saying…
  9. Charlotte Hornets: Killian Hayes…I feel like this pick is commonsensical when considering where the Hornets franchise is regarding contention—a long way off. They do have a collection of interesting young pieces from last year’s draft but let’s not kid ourselves, this pick is a matter of the best player available and that is Hayes. Okongwu and Wiseman are available here but I’m not passing on D’Angelo Russell 2.0 for bigs who aren’t CLEAR unicorns. Have I said this before? I also lament that the best backcourt duo the Hornets can trot out consists of two dudes who are 6’1, no matter how talented they may be, one of them will eventually get played off the court by the other for logistical defensive purposes where it wouldn’t surprise me if one of them is eventually moved via trade (money being on Rozier.) I also just really like Hayes’ smooth game, IQ, feel, and comfort on the floor especially for such a young point guard. Bringing him into Charlotte’s situation is ideal for such a player, growing into himself with minimal expectations and pressure alongside peers who ultimately will defer the spotlight to him. I also must admit I don’t love that all of the Hornets incumbent starters are undersized for their respective positions. Despite this, Bridges is at least “modern” in the sense of the new NBA where he can play 2-4. So is PJ Washington who can stretch the floor so perhaps my complaints are without foundation, or at least in the frontcourt. I would quite like to see the Hornets make a run at Christian Wood with roughly $28 million in cap space this summer to play with and no worrisome flight risks of their own to consider. I’d like to see Hayes, who already excels in the pick n roll, with two major PnR weapons in Washington and Wood who also would help erase the guards’ defensive mistakes on the perimeter given their defensive prowess. It may not be all that bad in Charlotte after all if the draft and a big free agency splash come to fruition.
  10. Washington Wizards: Onyeka Okongwu…On the flip side, Washington’s frontcourt is severely lacking on the defensive end (excluding free agent to be Ian Mahinmi) and have little reason to be hopeful going forward though Hachimura is a bright spot. There are some highly touted guards available here in Haliburton, Anthony, and Maxey, and even Nesmith if you’re high on him and there is certainly reason to consider them given the Wizards’ guard situation. I’m just not going to be optimistic that John Wall can come back and be remotely himself after the Achilles tear where I think that massive contract is sadly sunk cost–though I am happy to see he is ready to come back and feeling confident. Certainly one hopes Wall can rebound, but I’m not counting on it. Bradley Beal, though tied to that contract, is not going to be long for Washington no matter what he and the front office says, this team needs to rebuild. Inevitably Beal will be traded and ideally for a high draft pick this year (two high level guards available) and/or high draft picks next year, an absolutely LOADED draft for wings, and not so many big men. This inclines me to lean toward Okongwu (who I prefer over Wiseman) at the behest of Haliburton, et al. I am of the opinion that Haliburton will not be nearly as impactful in the NBA if not surrounded by a clear shot-creator and a plethora of shooters so I think he would be tasked with too much to salvage in D.C. Cole Anthony is potentially enticing though I’m just not buying his stock (perhaps this is the guy I have the most potential to be wrong about) but I think drafting him to the Wizards would not be a dissimilar situation to being asked to do too much yet again like at North Carolina. I would consider Maxey if his shooting numbers (and that incredibly low shot point) were higher but alas. So it finally comes down to Okongwu versus Wiseman. We have much more film to study when it comes to Okongwu and I prefer a big I KNOW at minimum can defend on the perimeter and protect the rim while getting out in transition; I know not if Wiseman is just another big shot blocker and I’m not risking this pick on a potentially old school center. Wiseman may be the more exciting pick but again at this draft slot I’m not trying to swing for the fences especially when the Beal trade will yield picks and young capital and the Wizards will surely be back in the lottery next year, especially if that Beal trade comes to pass. And leaving it at that would be underselling Okongwu. There will undoubtedly be people who think he’s too short to check centers like Embiid, Jokic, or the like but I actually think it’s his lack of girth right now that will be the only impediment and that’s just a matter of NBA weight training and eating—not a big deal. Not only is he super intelligent defensively, but his quickness can be its own sort of overwhelming for opposing bigs in the same way that size can be overwhelming. And I think this sort of big man is the future of the NBA, especially if he’s able to develop range on his jumper. It is a wing-dominated league and teams cannot have big men that can be hunted in the pick and roll, DHO’s, or dribble weaves. Okongwu should be a big man we are talking about as a comparison for future draft prospects.
  11. Phoenix Suns: Aaron Nesmith…I don’t love or hate this pick because it isn’t the long term solution at power forward for them but at the same time landing a big guard who can shoot the lights out is always worth having. So this pick is just the smart and safe decision, likely one that other teams won’t be happy to see. Phoenix in my opinion is not far off from becoming a legitimately good team. Booker is obviously a star, DeAndre Ayton has unicorn potential, Mikal Bridges is a stopper, Oubre does a little bit of everything and is one of the most efficient one on one scorers in the NBA (yes, look it up). The fivesome of Rubio, Booker, Bridges, Oubre, and Ayton was scorching offensively this year (when played together, this is not the starting unit). To me this speaks to some stability (finally) and the Suns could become more stable yet, and more formidable yet with two simple additions: one being Aaron Nesmith and the other—what I’d like to see the Suns attempt in free agency—would be signing Davis Bertans. Shooting. Scary shooting adding those two. These additions would help take the pressure off of an Oubre or Booker keeping defenses honest but it would also suddenly bolster the bench where Nesmith, Saric, Johnson, and Baynes can be plugged into the machine. I hate this cliché but it does bear mentioning, drafting Nesmith would indeed give Phoenix some insurance if Oubre departs next summer but I really think it would be an incredible mistake for this franchise to let him go if not sign him to an extension soon. If Bertans isn’t an option, the Suns should be going just as hard at Jerami Grant who is a low usage forward who can hit from deep and defend 1-5. The point of course is that Oubre and Booker, the primary creators on the Suns, need to be surrounded by players who can make opposing defenses pay for overplaying them. The thing about Nesmith is that he isn’t just a catch and shoot guy, he has the same high percentages coming off of screens or even in the rare occasion where he steps back or pulls up. Essentially he can be the Suns’ JJ Redick/Kyle Korver/Ray Allen for a long time.
  12. San Antonio Spurs: James Wiseman…This just feels right. A highly touted big man going to the San Antonio Spurs via the draft; the true heir apparent to Tim Duncan and not LaMarcus Aldridge? This is a really nice get for them at the twelfth spot especially as they are on the precipice of a rebuild, albeit one that I believe will be quick. Surely Aldridge and DeRozan will be traded soon for picks and young players and again the 2021 draft class is stacked. The Spurs already have their backcourt of the future in Lonnie Walker (who I love, underrated) and Dejounte Murray who quietly had a good year while still the Spurs backcourt is stocked with legitimate backups in Derrick White and Bryn Forbes. Obviously the frontcourt is a different and bleak story but this will begin to make things right. Jakob Poeltl is a nice enough player and is a plus defender but likely he is one better suited to spell Wiseman (star potential) off the bench. Though I think their rebuild can be quicker than others, it’s still likely a two year process at the least even if they strike gold in next year’s draft. Who are the likely trade partners for DeRozan or Aldridge though? Miami gets thrown around quite a bit for both parties but the return is a bevy of shooting guards, not what they need. Would a return for either DeRozan or Aldridge be that great? Might Orlando be willing to send Gordon to San Antonio for DeRozan? That would be a quick and easy way to get a long term solution at power forward. What about a Gordon Hayward and Aldridge swap? Regardless, San Antonio would be the right situation for Wiseman in that no matter what he will be coached by Tim Duncan and potentially will get a year learning from LaMarcus Aldridge as well. Admittedly Wiseman is more David Robinson than he is Big Fundamental but that’s not exactly a problem where Wiseman’s floor, worst case scenario is a high level shot blocker and rebounder. As much as I am the biggest possible proponent of the modern, sleeker, more versatile and mobile big man, there’s a reason teams would pay someone like a Rudy Gobert–an All-Star, first team all defense selection, defensive player of the year candidate on the regular—as much as they do because that playstyle is still massively effective sans post-ups which isn’t Wiseman’s game anyhow. I can see the Spurs and James Wiseman enjoying a long marriage.
  13. New Orleans Pelicans: Saddiq Bey…One of three absolute steals in the draft for whichever team lands him. Saddiq Bey is exactly the kind of player the Pelicans need who would not only fit seamlessly on any team in the NBA but will be ready to contribute immediately. New Orleans very clearly was in need of a wing who could defend star forwards on the perimeter; that March Lakers game where Lebron bullied every single defender in a tight fourth quarter stands out. Former teammate Josh Hart? Abused. One of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA, Jrue Holiday? Easy work. Slenderman? Please. Zion? Too slow. One may be thinking, “yea but it’s Lebron! He does that to everyone!” This thought process is a great route to losing, mediocrity, bowing down. Yes, Lebron is Lebron but there are also Kawhi Leonards, Kevin Durants, Paul Georges, Jayson Tatums, Pascal Siakams, Giannis Antetokounmpos, etcetera; teams with dominant wings run the league and will continue to do so. It behooves every franchise to not only make sure to get their own dynamic forward, but to bolster the roster with players able to defend these juggernauts. And while Brandon Ingram, max player to be, should be taking on these challenges given his pay and All-Star status, he does need a backup, as does Zion. This is Bey. 6’8, can defend 1-4 (no BS here, check the tape), is absolutely SCORCHING off catch and shoot from deep, was a 41% three point shooter in his college career, can operate out of the pick n roll, can punish smaller defenders in the post, and has length for days. I do not find it unreasonable to consider that Bey could be the long term replacement in the starting lineup if Jrue Holiday is traded this summer or even in the event that Holiday signs an extension and finishes with New Orleans in the twilight of his career. Villanova also has a promising recent track record of high level role players who defend in Mikal Bridges, Josh Hart, Donte Divincenzo, and Jalen Brunson. A future small-ball lineup of Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Saddiq Bey, Brandon Ingram, and Zion Williamson could be a switch-everything, transition terror, and spread offensive nirvana for a decade. This is without considering Jrue Holiday’s defensive prowess, what a Jrue Holiday trade could fetch that would bolster their depth and defense even more for longer term sustainability or if Derrick Favors returns who (alongside Jrue and Lonzo) anchored one of the best defensive lineups in the league. The Pelicans, with this selection in the draft, can be close to a completely rebuilt team if not an eventual dynasty (I said it). This is not even to mention young and potentially movable attractive pieces who are Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Jaxson Hayes, the Pelicans 20021 draft pick, and all of the Lakers draft picks they acquired in the Anthony Davis trade. New Orleans has everything necessary to make several major trades to become a powerhouse but their DEPTH is what will matter most as it tends to in the playoffs.
  14. Portland Trail Blazers: Desmond Bane…I do wonder if this pick just becomes a part of a trade package for a third star in Portland (no Carmelo Anthony doesn’t count.) If not, and this is the sadder option for the Trailblazers who just do not have enough firepower to fight the dominant forces of the Western Conference, then they will be battling for the 8th seed yet again. Nonetheless, Desmond Bane is the second of three absolute steals in this draft who I think will have a long and fruitful career as a high level role player if not starter at some point. Like Bey, Bane would fit on any roster in the NBA and would necessitate minutes immediately. A big 6’6 shooting guard (the classic kind), Bane shot a 43% clip from deep in four years at TCU, is a smart and gritty coach’s player on both sides of the court, and is a scoring playmaker with the ball. Also, the alternatives at small forward in Portland are…not preferable. Though the Blazers will return Zach Collins which will aid in their frontcourt depth, it just forces them to play Carmelo Anthony at the small forward spot which isn’t a recipe for winning basketball and no I don’t buy it just because he lost some weight during quarantine (I’m sorry, really.) On top of considering a trade package of this pick and a young player like Anfernee Simons, perhaps Portland can move one of their many bigs for wing help? Could a Hassan Whiteside sign and trade be optimal for both parties? I don’t know. Had I been my druthers I would go all-in on a major trade to appease Damian Lillard who deserves the investment, a show of faith and goodwill from the front office for his endeavors. No matter what, Desmond Bane is a player I would want on a contending team right now, such a one as part of a long rebuild, and such a one still around after the rebuilt reload so to speak. There is of course the Kevin Love deal to be made, one I don’t think would be that difficult to execute but then there is still the issue of the forward spot. How much would it take to get Love? Do the Blazers have enough assets to land Love AND to add a B-level player on the wing? We’ll see.
  15. Orlando Magic: Tyrese Haliburton…Most folks agree that the Magic are in need of a point guard and though I believe in Markelle Fultz, I think of him more as a shooting guard or backup point rather than the man running the starting unit at this point in time though he could grow into it later than we were hoping. I also think Evan Fournier is a nice player but he is slated to be a free agent next summer (a player option that I assume gets exercised this summer if he hasn’t already) and I would sell high on him while I could to build around the future of young guns Jonathan Isaac, Aaron Gordon (iffy I know), Mo Bamba (he’s growing into it, man), and perhaps even Fultz. One thing that stands out here is the positional size of all these guys and I’d love to add to that with Tyrese Haliburton’s size, vision, and playmaking at the point guard spot. Admittedly the Magic have a unique if not eclectic collection of players where there is no clear dominant on-court presence (at least in my experiences with this team) leading this team. And though I do not think Haliburton is going to be that guy, when the Magic DO get that guy, Haliburton will be the one to make it all gel, distributing to all those mouths to feed—a nice problem to have. And while I mentioned at a previous draft selection (the Spurs at 12), I would not be inclined to move Gordon for anyone over 26 years old and isn’t a scoring wing. Could Kelly Oubre be that return? If Phoenix is stupid, sure. I wouldn’t be so quick to give up on Gordon though Jonathan Isaac is clearly the best player on this team and is best suited to play the power forward spot. I also wouldn’t be holding onto him tightly, fully willing to move him for the right deal, one bringing the Magic to a more cohesive and balanced roster. Maybe Haliburton is the one to get everyone involved with his passing and that’s what a high-flyer like Gordon needs, tapping into his most effortless skills in order to optimize a less than ideal fit for the time being. I don’t envy the Orlando Magic front office trying to make sense of this current roster of decent players where the franchise player (Isaac in my opinion) is a defensive monster as opposed to a closer or leading scorer. Even if it is temporary, I like Haliburton’s fit in a lineup of say: him, Fournier, Ross, Isaac, and either of Bamba/Vuc. I maintain that I would move Fournier and even Ross to extend the window with this young core, but two creator types in Fournier and Ross may end up revealing the blueprint player types next to Haliburton long term where Isaac and Bamba mop up defensively and clean up offensively. I’m already feeling ambivalent about not taking Cole Anthony here, more of a modern score-first point guard who can also defend but gives up size…but does that matter when he’s next to such large company? Decisions, decisions. One could just as easily flip a coin to make this determination. Either way, depending on which guy you take here, I don’t think the decision would be franchise-altering in alternate universes.
  16. Minnesota Timberwolves: Cole Anthony…At this point in the draft I become willing to look at Cole Anthony who I’m not as high on as most others but Minnesota simply needs talent and Anthony has a potentially high ceiling and it’s very much worth it here given who else is available even though there are players still available here at this spot. I think Anthony could be a microwave scorer off the bench if not the T-Wolves most reliable sixth man. I would be inclined to start Culver at small forward simply for his defensive acumen and size alone and would like him alongside Patrick Williams—both gentlemen can hopefully bring some sort of balance to the second worst defense in the league last year. Anthony does get billed as a solid defender and perhaps it is his defense that will actually get him to crack the starting five going forward as opposed to his shot-making abilities. Also, what ball-handlers are in Minnesota? Does Culver count as a secondary ball-handler? Does Beasley? I mean I don’t think so but I admit I wasn’t an avid T-Wolves watcher this year. I suppose I like this situation for Anthony because his potentially bankable skills are sorely needed in this franchise. Ground-breaking analysis I know, but still, this matters, the situation in Minny obviously does favor Anthony where he isn’t meant to carry the team like at UNC. If Anthony’s proponents are to be believed, Anthony just needs some heat off of him and Russell, KAT, and even Malik Beasley are all very much capable of that.
  17. Boston Celtics: Tyrell Terry…This pick from Memphis didn’t quite pan out as the Celtics and their fan-base had been hoping. For the rest of the league it’s excellent news. What I have in mind here naturally then is that this pick, to the Celtics, was meant to be a significant asset. It’s also house money. Might this pick get packaged with their 26th selection as well in a trade? It wouldn’t surprise me sure, but I’m operating here as if they earnestly use this pick of their own roster. Why Terry? Who else left in the draft *evinces* a swing for the fences? To me it’s actually Precious Achiuwa. But the key word here again is *evince.* Terry’s numbers obviously jump off the page in ways that—though Achiuwa is SO enticing via the eye test—Precious Achiuwa’s numbers do not. Achiuwa’s numbers (though not abysmal) are the only reason most don’t have him as a top five pick in my opinion. Terry’s outrageous shooting coupled with the fact that, according to multiple NBA teams through the draft process, Terry “broke a record for basketball IQ tests” makes him the clear selection here for a team looking to land a big fish. And really the Celtics can make this gamble, a gamble in that some are torn over Terry’s potential against the pros because of his size. Boston can afford for Terry to be brought along slowly when it comes to NBA action whether that be in the G-league or simply going at Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart in practice. The Celtics are two to three years from needing to consider a Walker replacement, they very well may be getting him with this Terry selection. We know for certain that the Celtics’ point guard post-Kemba won’t be acquired through free agency as they’ll be capped out for what feels (for drama’s sake) an incalculable amount of time.
  18. Dallas Mavericks: Josh Green…If one were inclined to go the sentimental route, there are two Dallas kids available here in Tyrese Maxey and RJ Hampton. However I don’t see either contributing much to this team in the way of minutes or production on the timeline I believe the Mavericks need. Dallas is young but also has their two franchise pillars, the right coach, and role-players who fit around their franchise players. There are no must-have players or player archetypes left in the draft, at least as it concerns the Mavericks’ needs. Dallas will likely be picking in the 18-25 range in the draft for the foreseeable future, barring egregious injuries to one of or both of Doncic or Porzingis of course, and will not have cap space to entice free agents any time soon either. Therefore, it really behooves them to get these picks right where either (a) said selection/s will become rotation regular or (b) the pick can be packaged in a trade for a third star. I quite like Josh Green here, I quite like Josh Green generally. Green is a solid catch and shoot three and D type prospect who competes hard and runs the floor—the kind of role player I want several of to bolster Dallas’ duo for the next decade. This move reinforces the Mavericks backcourt providing some size that Jalen Brunson and Seth Curry give up (good, solid rotation pieces no less) and even size that Tim Hardaway does not at shooting guard. Getting a guy like Josh Green allows the rotation to expand while allowing Carlisle the luxury of not having to rely on a Justin Jackson or the like unless the roster is depleted for whatever reason. My question for Dallas is really just, is it enough to have a great tandem and solid role-players or would they be better served trading out a few parts for someone to take pressure off of Doncic? Or is Doncic really this good and Dallas stays the course? For Dallas’ sake, one hopes one of these late first round picks hits.
  19. Milwaukee Bucks: Precious Achiuwa…Initially I was inclined to take Tyrese Maxey here, a highly touted prospect who didn’t quite live up to expectations with the thinking that Milwaukee needed this draft pick to think about a long term stop gap in the backcourt to eventually replace George Hill. Then I immediately had two other thoughts: (1) Tyrese Maxey just signed with Klutch so if I’m the Bucks I want nothing to do with Rich Paul hanging around to set up another power-play for Lebron James and (2) Giannis is essentially a free agent to be and it’s DEFCON 2. All things considered, because this offseason is so important for the Bucks, I cannot see them actually keeping whoever this pick selects where it will most likely be packaged in a trade for immediate roster help. In the event they hold onto this pick, the way I would use it would be to soften the blow of a Giannis departure by going after a potentially long term solution at a position that the Bucks aren’t at all deep with youth—center. Getting Precious Achiuwa at 19 is a steal in my eyes, (I have him tenth on my big board) but even so, there is risk involved here. His shooting is concerning and some think his playstyle can be wild (if I had my druthers as his coach I would only embolden and empower him to explore his game more) and some others wonder what position he is supposed to play in the pros. I can’t make guarantees that his shooting can be fixed and I understand the concern there but the latter complaints bother me none. We already know that Achiuwa has quite the motor and plays his ass off on both sides of the floor and so some recklessness may be collateral for that effort he gives. His floor is a big man who can protect the rim and defend on switches out on the perimeter while cleaning up his teammates’ offensive garbage and annihilating in the pick and roll. His ceiling is a big man who can do all of the aforementioned while also taking opposing bigs off the dribble and hitting open threes. His position? He’s clearly best suited to play center. I see this every year where the pundits cry wolf that so and so isn’t big enough to hack it in the league, meanwhile guys like Robert Covington, Draymond Green, and Montrezl Harrell start at center for contending teams. It would be wise to say the least for every team to invest in a modern big man so as to stand toe to toe in the coming years when such skill sets aren’t a rarity. Also, if Giannis does stay and Precious Achiuwa pans out? What disgusting and unfair physicality, athleticism, versatility, and length. What teams can match that in the front court currently? The Lakers? The Sixers? The Clippers? Oh I see, championship favorites, got it. Good company.
  20. Brooklyn Nets: Jahmi’us Ramsey…Another difficult selection to gauge because of Brooklyn’s situation. I think the team looks rather different next year after Kyrie and Durant have leveraged their influence on the roster. All spring we read about Caris Levert, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Jarrett Allen being available via trade so if starting caliber personnel is up for grabs then certainly the 20th pick will be as well. I think the Nets can make two separate trade packages combining any two of those assets together to go after friends of KD and Irving and/or players more suited to complement those two. Even in the event that the Nets don’t trade any of those players or draft capital, the thought process as it pertains to building the roster surely is one putting a premium on shooters off the ball. One would have to think Brooklyn is invested in resigning Joe Harris who in my opinion should be their starting small forward so as to move Durant to the four where I think it will be easier for him defensively coming off of his Achilles tear. Surely if Dinwiddie and Levert are retained, two ball dominant perimeter players, the next head coach is going to stagger as much as possible the four of Kyrie, Dinwiddie, Caris, and Durant while surrounding them with shooters. For the purpose of this mock, let’s say the Nets keep this pick, and with it, following the thinking mentioned above, they take Jahmi’us Ramsey out of Texas Tech. Simply put, he’s a nice shooter with some ability to create his own shot and is so fun as a weak-side defender. Ramsey showed glimpses of capable man to man defense so his lapses seem to simply be a matter of effort—not uncommon—and he likes just about every shot he takes which isn’t ideal given his shooting that can be streaky at times. But I think Brooklyn is the right situation for him because of the clear hierarchy that exists there in Irving, Durant, Caris, Dinwiddie, and Harris; his job will be simple, namely hitting spot-up opportunities, hitting off of DHO opportunities, and hitting middies off of closeouts. Meanwhile, in practice and through Kyrie’s tutelage, he can be brought along slowly to learn how to focus his scoring gifts as he grows more comfortable.
  21. Denver Nuggets: Tyler Bey…I know, I know. Tyrese Maxey is STILL here! God just draft him already! I can even understand the thinking there too, the Nuggets just let Malik Beasley go for practically nothing in my opinion (idiocy) and could use backcourt bolstering, sure. But Maxey just isn’t an enticing enough prospect for me no matter how much potential he has, I’m just not crazy about little guards. Besides, what guards are dominating the Western Conference and reigning supreme where all roads must go through them? I’ll wait. The West, for at least the next two to three years belongs to the Lakers and Clippers, led by generational forwards. And the East? Same thing. The Warriors you counter? They weren’t the Death Star until Durant, be real. The league belongs to otherworldly forwards and will continue to be. Denver is knocking on the door in the West, lush with young personnel and depth and yet…And yet I don’t think they are getting over the hump unless Michael Porter Jr. makes a serious jump and lives up to the significant expectations that have surrounded him since he came into the hoop world’s radar. Porter must become their otherworldly forward, specifically at small forward. His offensive talent is undeniable but the defense is lacking to put it nicely but this is hopefully just a matter of adjusting to actually playing as he has the tools to be a legitimate defender. Denver also has two very important free agent decisions to make this summer in Jerami Grant and Paul Millsap. I don’t need to state Millsap’s importance to the team so resigning him is a given but at what cost? He will turn 36 next year so one would have to think not only that his productivity tapers off but that his earnings have been substantial in his career and that he may be resigned to a team-friendly deal. Retaining Jerami Grant is pivotal to the war effort that is guarding these otherworldly forwards but also keeping his talents off of other teams who may be one piece away. Grant will absolutely be necessary if not down-right an x-factor in playoff series against the Lakers, Clippers, and even the Dallas Mavericks. Why aren’t I talking about the actual draft selection here yet? Well, that could be said about this entire mock; context matters. Tyler Bey has been likened to Larry Nance Jr. (who I positively adore) because of his finishing and pick and roll gravity (and buttery mid-range shooting) and I would even compare Bey to Jerami Grant. A 6’7 long forward who can defend as if his life depended on it and can knock down open threes? Every team needs that yes, but Denver needs to make sure they have insurance for one of if not both of Millsap or Grant’s potential departures. And if they retain both of those players, an abundance of forwards of this ilk is a nice problem to have. Millsap can be a mentor no doubt, and as Grant takes that which Millsap will inevitably cede in the form of a starting position, Bey will be groomed for a similar passing of the torch later on. There’s also something to be said for just generally having solid depth at the forward position which most teams simply do not have. If power is to be usurped from the Los Angeles teams, there must be big bodies ready to be exhaustively thrown at them. Welcome to the resistance, Tyler Bey.
  22. Philadelphia 76ers: Tyrese Maxey…The Sixers are pretty much a stacked team at every position. This is a debatable statement. I believe as much because I think Shake Milton and Matisse Thybulle are legit rotation players where very clearly Philly is set in every regard in the frontcourt. I do wonder if this pick simply gets attached to Al Horford in a trade to make it worth some team’s while to take on such a massive contract for an aged player. And yet this is actually a young team so perhaps they’re inclined to hold onto this pick, especially since Tyrese Maxey is such a highly touted prospect where I’ve seen him as high as top 10 on big boards and in mock drafts. I do not dislike Maxey as much as I am weary about little guards, especially the kind who don’t have great vision or feel running the offense. Maxey’s a gamer though and the Sixers need a shot-creator in the backcourt which Maxey provides despite his unimpressive shooting numbers; fans of Maxey are encouraged by the shots he is able to get for himself and the comfort in doing so. Maxey also projects as a plus defender on and off the ball. At the very least, the Sixers are getting a tough defender who can bail out the offense in short-clock situations. If the shooting really comes around and people expect it to given reports of strong working habits and high character, you’re looking at a high level sixth man if not a secondary offensive option as a starter someday. At some point though, something’s gotta give when it comes to all of the Sixers’ young guards. I feel that Milton and Thybulle are sure things and should be important pieces long term. This pick? Furkan Korkmaz? Zhaire Smith? Would they not be better served getting a dependable rotation piece for teams priming to rebuild? Chris Paul for Horford and a young talent perhaps?
  23. Miami Heat: Kira Lewis Jr….This is rather convenient for Miami. The one position where they are lacking is at point guard. Dragic is old and a free agent. Kendrick Nunn IS nice but who backs him up? Is Nunn THE guy? Their point guard experiment in Justise Winslow was shipped out to Memphis for wing depth—a good move no less. Another issue is of course, the Heat are looking to trade for a third star to make a big three with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Kendrick Nunn, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, and this pick are all attractive assets to go get a disgruntled star like Victor Oladipo or Bradley Beal. Regardless, at this point in the draft, Kira Lewis Jr. is likely the most attractive prospect still on the board and obviously it doesn’t hurt that Miami could be in need of a point guard. I also like Lewis here simply for the fact that the Heat have no personnel like Kira. Shooters? Check. Wing defenders? Check. Stretch centers? Check. Stars? Check, check. Lightning bug guard who can operate out of the pick and roll proficiently and get his own shot while also making defenses respect his driving ability? I mean, not really. I do think Herro is more than just a shooter but he doesn’t have Lewis’ speed. Butler can go get his own shot of course but his shooting isn’t the most reliable. I really like this for Kira Lewis Jr. He could be a spark off of the bench surrounded by shooters and we know that the Miami Heat will develop him to the fullest (if they don’t ship him out) just look at their success with G-league call-ups and second round picks. I do ultimately believe that the Heat need a third stud if they are going to make a serious run for a finals appearance and that needs to be soon because of Butler’s mileage so again this selection may end up being for naught. We’ll see.
  24. Utah Jazz: RJ Hampton…Let’s get the Jazz a long term point guard prospect as Mike Conley insurance, somebody they can pair with Donovan Mitchell for the long haul assuming Utah fans don’t chase Donovan Mitchell out of town…Ahem. Help me Senator Mitt Romey, you’re my only hope. Jordan Clarkson is of course a very nice combo guard who was an excellent acquisition and though I would want Clarkson closing games, his best role is as a sixth man, potentially an award winning sixth man. The Jazz find another point guard via Australia (sort of), an exciting prospect in RJ Hampton. He’s very young, has great size for a guard, is a transition terror, is explosive, attacks the rim hard, has a solid handle, and should at some point be a passable defender. That jumper though. Eek. If there was more evidence that Hampton is wont to fix the jumper, I take him much higher. I think he’s a nice basketball player up to a certain level, some of this and some of that, but is he a good guard? Is he a guard who can hack it in the NBA? If this pick hits eventually, the Jazz have their backcourt of the future, a rather complementary one at that. If not, well there aren’t any “boom” prospects left at this stage in the draft. There is Poku, true. But are the Jazz really going to trade Rudy Gobert? No. That package would really have to be something special.
  25. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jalen Smith…Surely this team gets blown up this summer? Somebody has got to be willing to trade for Chris Paul after the outrageous year he had, right? Surely Danillo Gallinari is going to get snagged by a contender or offered a large contract on a middling team? Surely Nerlens Noel will be looking to cash out elsewhere after a promising year? And if all the aforementioned turn true, surely Steven Adams fetches a nice trade package in order to begin a full-scale rebuild. To me I don’t think anybody is tied down except for Shai Gilly and Dennis Schroder. There are no homerun boom or bust candidates available at this point in the draft and now we are looking at either high floor trustworthy role players or long term projects. The last of three steals in the draft goes to the Thunder in Jalen Smith. I cannot fathom that Jalen Smith isn’t a consensus top 15 pick in most drafts and boards. A 6’10 center who can protect the rim, shoots 36% from deep with a clean stroke, flies in transition, does the little things, and can defend capably in space? What more can one ask for in a big? Jalen Smith is the archetypal modern big and like I’ve said, every team is going to need one. Oklahoma City gets theirs and pairs him with Shai for a promising future. Smith has been compared to reigning champion Serge Ibaka, the player Smith should model all of his game after and can become; namely a modern big who plays within himself and the flow of team concepts regardless of individual skills. Players like this are guaranteed to have long careers and will continue to be in serious demand. Let’s just make sure we understand that Smith is best at center and that we have got to get over this affinity for two tower syndrome. Jalen Smith isn’t Anthony Davis or those special few. And though his nickname is Sticks, I rarely ever doubt a player will fail to bulk up. Every draft this idea gets thrown around and while it hits its mark often times with very oversized centers over 7 foot, it isn’t often the case with the just under 7 foot crowd.
  26. Boston Celtics: Aleksej Pokusevski…Speaking of oversized centers who are rather frail and skinny who deserve scrutiny when it comes to being able to put on weight. Obviously Poku is going to be dinged for all the issues that come with weak players: inability to defend in the post, inability to finish, constantly taken to the rim, boxed out easily and therefore poor rebounding, etcetera. Ok so why are we even talking about this dude in the first round then? Remember when I said there are no potential homerun boom or bust prospects left? Alright, there is this guy but the Celtics can afford to take this major swing because this is two of three picks in the first round. Why not draft this sweet shooting, shot creating, and offensively versatile 7 footer? They can bring him along very slowly in the G-league while carefully bulking him up. It’s not as if the Celtics are going anywhere, I fully expect them to be legitimate contenders for at least the next four years; they really can take their time with this kid. If Poku can in fact bulk up and the shooting keeps and the handles are for real against NBA competition? The Celtics become the Celtics again with a dominant big man which has always been a major portion of their championships.
  27. New York Knicks: Tre Jones…There are two centers who I quite like still available here but there isn’t exactly a need given Robinson’s production and outlandish potential; the Knicks should be investing heavily in Mitchell Robinson as one of their core big three—Barrett, Edwards (drafted second), Robinson. God the Knicks need a legitimate point guard, namely one who would fit alongside the mentioned core. One could certainly say that Ntilikina and Payton would fit alongside Edwards and Barrett, deferring their touches, playing off the ball, and generally doing most of their work on the court playing defense. The problem with these two lies in their lack of shooting. Maybe Frank can figure it out but Payton’s has simply been egregious on a long enough timeline to no longer trust it coming around. Tre Jones is a safe pick. He’s efficient out of the pick and roll (and having Mitchell will only compound that), he’s a conservative decision maker, can defend both guard positions extremely well, and dramatically improved as a shooter this year. Even if Jones isn’t the point guard of the future, at the very least he can be a trusted role player off the bench, something the Knicks really rather need, especially at point guard.
  28. Toronto Raptors: Paul Reed…The Raptors are a really well constructed team. Their depth in the backcourt is delightful with an All Star veteran in Kyle Lowry starting alongside his clear replacement in burgeoning young stud Fred VanVleet who is entering his prime. Terence Davis quietly deserves consideration for the All-Rookie Team this year. Matt Thomas is an absolute flamethrower. Norman Powell will give you buckets. Jesus. That depth. Then they have two former All Stars at center in Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka and their seemingly do-it-all new face of the franchise in the wake of Kawhi’s departure is another All Star in the front court in Pascal Siakam. AND there’s OG Anunoby still blossoming and oozing with potential. This team is loaded. I do wonder if Giannis doesn’t sign an extension if Toronto tries to blow Milwaukee away with a collection of the young assets mentioned, headlined by OG Anunoby, where this draft pick is thrown in as well. Or are we looking at a Spurs-esque dynasty and just not know it yet? The Raptors seem to get the absolute most out of players considered afterthoughts in the draft. One could say that the Raptors need to draft a center here because they are positioned to lose both of their centers. However, I think (and I have absolutely nothing to base this off of other than my own personal feelings observing) that Ibaka and Gasol couldn’t be more invested in this team and these teammates and that they understand what is being built in Toronto. And if no Giannis trade occurs, though they will have both forwards locked down for at least the next eight years, I’m not wild about the backups in the front court. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is a free agent and not one I’d be inclined to keep anyhow. Patrick McCaw? I mean, meh, he is aight, serviceable. I would assume Toronto let’s all free agents go who aren’t VanVleet, Ibaka, and Gasol. Those three are going to require expensive salaries, for good reason, and therefore the Raptors will not be filling out their roster by any means that are not through trades and the draft. With that out of the way, I really like Paul Reed and I really like him for the Raptors. Where to begin? I think Ibaka is best optimized as a center and though he can absolutely play minutes at power forward and he, Siakam, and Gasol can stagger their minutes accordingly so that it isn’t necessary for anyone else to play the four, I want the kind of depth the Raptors have at guard at forward as well. What isn’t there to like about Paul Reed? He can score in just about every way possible and does. Seriously. Though his shot mechanics are absolutely disgusting to look at, he’s still somehow a 33% shooter from deep on his career. He regularly hits middies around the elbows and free throw line, takes people off the dribble driving to the rack, is a pick and roll lob threat, and cleans up off of rebounds. I admit and agree that his shot needs to be completely re-hauled and reconstructed but I do not think it is going to be as difficult of a task as others believe. If you watch Reed when he is contested or hurried, his mechanics are much cleaner, are not a mechanical grinding process, does not have the hitch, and even the release point is different. His handle can be sloppy despite his array of moves but that’s just a matter of repetition. This is not to mention that Reed will not be tasked with carrying the Raptors like he did DePaul. Did I mention the fact that Reed is an absolute terror defensively? Capable of guarding one through five? No seriously. He’s 6’9 with a 7 foot wingspan and does absolutely everything required of any one position defensively and he’s a legitimate rim protector. Reed is definitely raw, but if ever there were a franchise primed to develop him into his potential, it is the Toronto Raptors (and a quick shout out to the Miami Heat.) As mentioned previously when discussing Tyler Bey, every team, but especially contenders, must be sure that they have capable wing defenders to deal with the Giannis’s, Lebrons, and Kawhis and it’s important to have several of them. This is all the more the case because Toronto’s best wing defender is also their leading scorer so it behooves management to find players who can mitigate that defensive burden. A selection of Reed here is done in the best interests of their clear pillars, Siakam and Anunoby.
  29. Los Angeles Lakers: Jared Butler…They’re just going to trade him this summer or in four years. “Long live the King.” –Scar.

Boston Celtics: Robert Woodard…Now that Boston has taken two massive swings at high upside players in Terry and Poku, landing a safe high floor player at a position of need is the move here. My thinking with this pick is out of consideration for Gordon Hayward’s departure next offseason where, if he doesn’t sign a team-friendly deal in Boston, I think he goes back to the Utah Jazz where he would have a much larger role and would be needed significantly more than in Boston. So we are looking at a need for another forward. I have serious belief in Semi Ojeleye to take that spot if the Celtics intend to play the way they do with all three of Brown, Tatum, and Hayward on the floor. Frankly, Ojeleye replacing Hayward alongside those two is likely a better option anyhow. Ojeleye is a nice stopper and is starting to hit his stride with the three ball and he doesn’t need to be little else but this on this Celtics team where the roles are so clear and defined. Certainly it’s possible that Marcus Smart just enters the starting lineup and Tatum moves to the power forward spot, keeping Ojeleye as a backup. Regardless though, and I’m a broken record at this point, having several big forwards who can shoot and defend is absolutely requisite for actual title contention. Robert Woodard isn’t all that different from Semi Ojeleye. He is a grown ass man at 6’7 and 235 pounds with a 7’1 wingspan so he’ll be ready for NBA minutes from day one. Offensively Woodard is actually a nice scorer. His strength allows him to finish at the rim where he’s largely a north and south kind of ball-handler. But he’s also got a solid two dribble pull-up jumper in the mid-range. He can also hit the three ball at a more than solid 43% clip. Woodard is a smart forward who plays within his limits. Defensively he can hold his own, he’s solid, not bad, not great, just solid. And again, the Celtics really aren’t going to need him to be more than that. Players like this help win championships, plain and simple. This is really nice value at the end of the first round especially if one of their boom or bust prospects before becomes a stud.

Former NBA Stars Shine in Indianapolis at the BIG3

By Evan Kinser, June 23rd, 2019 5:09 pm EST


Images licensed by Getty Images and BIG3

The third season of Ice Cube’s BIG3 league made one of its first stops on Sunday afternoon in Indianapolis.

Following an impressive showing in Detroit the night before-14,235 fans made their way to Little Caesars Arena- the league is hoping for an even bigger showing today in Indy.

In Detroit, NBA fans were able to see some of the best players of the early 2000’s lace ‘em up for one more time with stars like Lamar Odom, Baron Davis, Cuttino Mobley, Josh Smith, and Gilbert Arenas all in attendance for Saturday’s games.

The way the BIG3 is set up is that half of the teams (six) will show up to a city on Saturday, and the remaining six will be playing the following day, equaling three games per city. Once a team reaches 25 points, then there will be a halftime break. Once a team scores 50 points, then they are crowned the winner.

The first game featured the Joe Johnson and Al Jefferson-led Triplets as well as the Andre Owens and Greg Oden-led Aliens. The star power went beyond the players, with coaches Nate “Tiny” Archibald (Aliens) and WNBA Legend Lisa Leslie (Triplets) leading the way for their respective teams.

The Aliens started the game out hot, going up 14-2 after former #1 overall NBA Draft pick Greg Oden threw down some monster dunks and former #1 overall BIG3 Draft pick Andre Owens connected on a few shots.  As it looked like the lead may get out of hand, the Triplets started to warm up and were able to get the lead below six, facing just a 26-20 deficit at the halftime break.

After the break, the Triplets went on a 10-0 run to get a 4 point lead with all of the points coming from the two biggest names in the game: Al Jefferson and Joe Johnson. Throughout the remainder of the game, seven time NBA All-Star Joe Johnson continued to put on a show and reminded fans of why his nickname in the NBA was always “Iso Joe,” with several post-ups ending in two points.

To close the game, the Triplets went with Joe Johnson, Al Jefferson, and Alan Anderson, and they were able to get the needed stops to put Joe Johnson in position to close the game out with a three and then scoring the game-winning floater. When I asked Joe if he believed he could finish the game out if the team closed the deficit, he said, “I was very confident. You know, in the first half we had great looks but we just couldn’t make shots. In the second half we kind of settled in a little bit, we knocked down shots, got defensive stops and once we were points from game, I knew we were gonna win.”


In game two, the Killer 3’s and Tri-State faced off, making for another great game.

The Killer 3’s were led by former NBA players Eddy Curry and Josh Powell, and Tri-State featured former NBA stars Amar’e Stoudemire, Nate Robinson, Jason Richardson, and Bonzi Wells.

Both teams were without a player captain, as former Pacers Jermaine O’Neal and Stephen Jackson missed the game.

Like in the previous game, the coaches for each team were stars in their playing days: Julius “Dr. J” Erving and Charles Oakley.  Just knowing the names of these coaches can tell you all you need to know about this game: it was scrappy.

Charles Oakley, known throughout his NBA career as a guy you wouldn’t want to mess with, wants to win anyway possible. The same can be said about Dr. J, who won MVP awards in both the NBA and ABA, but also won two ABA championships and one NBA championship.

With the Killer 3’s roster changing dramatically from last year to this year, there was definitely an adjustment period for the team. Last year’s roster featured NBA All-Stars Metta World Peace and Chauncey Billups to go along with Stephen Jackson, but today’s roster did not feature any of those three players.

Though Tri-State struggled early, they were able to close the half strong by going on a 22-7 run  to secure a 26-17 lead at the half. The main catalyst in putting Tri-State in that position was six time NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire. After putting up 8.8 ppg in the BIG3 last year, Amar’e was ready to show that he could still do a lot of the things that made him an elite player throughout his 14 years in the NBA. He finished with 28 points on the day.

The ending of the game was definitely in dramatic fashion as former Sacramento King Donte Green hit the game winning three to give the Killer 3’s the two point victory.  BIG3 rules are that you have to win by 2, and after trailing 52-51, he knocked down the biggest shot of the day to bring his team to victory.


In the third and final game of the day, the Ball Hogs and Ghost Ballers squared off. The stars of the game were Brian Scalabrine (Ball Hogs), DeShawn Stevenson (Ball Hogs), Mike Bibby (Ghost Ballers), and Ricky Davis (Ghost Ballers). Former NBA All-Star Carlos Boozer was not available to play for the Ghost Ballers.

The coaches for this game certainly did not disappoint either, with Rick  Barry and George “The Iceman” Gervin.

This game was tight for the entirety of the first half, with the Ghost Ballers having the slight 26-23 edge, but the Ball Hogs were hampered by injury with Jermaine Taylor leaving in the first few minutes of the game and DeShawn Stevenson, who was limping at the end of the first.

The second half was much of the same, with the teams trading buckets throughout; but there was one difference in this half and the rest of the games that were played today: four point shots. The Ghost Ballers were the only team to attempt a four-pointer, which is one of the special things about the BIG3.  The shot is about 5 feet back from the three-point line, and it can get you back into a game very quickly. Though they didn’t connect on these, it was still a really cool thing to see.

The Ghost Ballers were able to extend the lead to nine with the score being 42-33 after a cold stretch by the Ball Hogs, and were able to hit shot after shot at the end with the game being decided by a put-back courtesy of Jamario Moon. The Ghost Ballers were victorious in the final game by a score of 50-39.


Additional Notes:

*Former Indiana Hoosier and Houston Rocket Eric Gordon was in attendance and was welcomed by the fans with a loud roar.

*Ice Cube was welcomed by Indianapolis mayor Joe Hogsett and was thanked for bringing the BIG3 to the city.

Daniel Poe Signs With Eastern Kentucky University

Daniel pictured with parents and coaches

By Evan Kinser, April 26th, 2019 10:41 am EST

Powell County High School senior Daniel Poe officially signed with Eastern Kentucky University’s cheerleading team on Wednesday night.

This was Daniel’s first year cheering for Powell County, and it really worked out for him: earning a Division 1 scholarship. This definitely wasn’t easy. Daniel had to put in a lot of hours to get where he is now, and had to attend many open gyms and practices.

Daniel, who is currently playing baseball, never thought that he would be a cheerleader. While he always thought that he would play college sports, cheerleading was a sport that never crossed his mind until this year. “I am really excited for this new chapter in my life. I never thought that I would be signing my senior year to be a Division 1 athlete and I am so grateful for this opportunity that Eastern is giving me.”

His start with cheer began when Daniel was joking around on the sidelines of a basketball game. Cheer coach Kayla Mays noticed him, and asked him to come to a practice. His career really took off once he began practicing with the team.

After getting more and more exposure, he was invited by some cheerleaders at Eastern to come to Richmond and stunt with them. As he kept coming, the cheer coach noticed him and asked him if he would like a scholarship.

Daniel won’t be alone at Eastern next year, his long-time friend and baseball teammate, Nate Skidmore, signed on to play to football for the team a few months ago. Daniel said, “It is great to have another classmate and one of my best friends, going to the same school to be a D-1 athlete as well.” This is a big deal for Powell County to have two students going to play Division-1 sports at the same school. Powell County High School principal Doug Brewer spoke about this when Daniel was signing, and that he will have to catch more Eastern games now instead of Kentucky football games.

Nate is excited that Daniel will be there as well, “I am very excited to have one of my best buddies there to cheer me on every game. I am very proud of him. I never thought he would be a cheerleader, but it all works out and he is a great feller.”

Daniel had thought about signing with a college to play baseball, but knew he wanted to go to EKU. Once he got a D-1 scholarship, he knew that Eastern was his only choice. He is happy with his decision because he loves cheerleading, even though he will always have a love for baseball.

This is a great opportunity for Daniel, and Powell County wishes him nothing but the best. Starting a new chapter in his life, and hopefully opening the doors for more male cheerleaders in the future for Powell County.

Pirates To Face Hazard Tonight

Skidmore looks to push the pace (Image by Rylan Meadows)

By Evan Kinser, March 1st, 2019 5:08 pm EST

The Powell County Pirates boys basketball team is coming off a huge victory over Letcher County Central in their first game of the regional tournament Tuesday night. Now down to just four teams in the tournament, Powell is set for a showdown with regional power Hazard on Friday night at 8 PM.

Hazard is feeling the momentum after their overtime victory over regional favorite Breathitt County. After trailing by 9 points in the third quarter, they responded to keep the game tight for the rest of the way. Perhaps the most impressive part of their victory over Breathitt is how they played in overtime. It is rare for a team to outscore another by 11 points in an overtime period, and Hazard did just that.

Powell County is also feeling momentum after Nate Skidmore’s game winning free throw against Letcher County Central on Tuesday night. With just one second left on the game clock, Skidmore hit a three foot shot and drew the foul to tie the game. Nate knocked down the free throw to give the Pirates the one point edge, and Letcher Central failed to score far on the opposite baseline.

Powell County head coach Blake Williams thinks that the victory over Letcher Central will help them for their next game, “It gave us confidence in that we can beat any team in the region because Letcher was considered a top-5 team.” This added confidence could do wonders for the Pirates.

There could also be added confidence because starting center Chimaobi Ajuonuma-Creed missed the first matchup against Hazard, the third game of the season. To say that Powell County has grown since the last time they played is an understatement.

In the last thirteen games, the Pirates have won ten and a lot of that has to do with coach Williams. “Since coach Williams has taken over, we have a new confidence about us,” said senior Bryce Merion, “He really believes in us and always has us ready to play.” For players to have full confidence in their coach is a testament to the job that Williams has done in his short time as head coach.

Hazard will be a tough matchup for the Pirates because they are strong at each position. Bryce Merion knows this, “Hazard is a really tough team. They have a really solid point guard in Wade Pelfrey, really good slashers in Austin Bennett and Johnson, and two of the best bigs in the region in Logan Hall and Reece Fletcher.” He also knows that Hazard head coach will be a big factor in this game, “They are really hard to prepare for because they execute their plays so well. Of course, everyone knows about their coach Al Holland – he is one of the best coaches in the region and he will have them ready to go.” Coach Williams agrees with this, “You really can’t overthink it against a good scoring team, you just have to have confidence in your player’s defensive ability.

The home-court advantage has played a role for the Pirates this season, winning 7 of their 12 home games. Of their 5 home losses, the largest margin of defeat was just 12 points which was against Lexington school Tates Creek in the second game of the season. Bryce Merion thinks that being at home can have an affect on the game, “I think that since the game is here, anything can happen.”

Going against Hazard will be a tough test for the Pirates, but Powell County has shown recently that they can win these tough games. Expect a close game but also high scoring. The Pirates will try to push and score more points in this game than against Letcher, so that could have a big impact on the outcome of this game.

Regardless of the outcome, the Pirates have played great basketball this season and have excited this community.

Interview with Coach Blake Williams

(Image by Beyond The Light Photography)
(Image by Beyond The Light Photography)

By 

This season for the Powell County Pirates has been up and down, but recently the Pirates have been playing some of their best ball of the season, winning six of their last seven games. They have faced injuries, a tough schedule, and even a coaching change. Through all this, it hasn’t stopped the Pirates on their pursuit of a district tournament championship and a trip to the 14th Region tournament though, as they have locked up the top seed for the district. Through all of their adversities, new Pirates coach Blake Williams has found a way to turn this season around.

Williams, a former Knott County Central assistant coach, has always loved the game of basketball. Though at first he didn’t think he would go into coaching, as he was finishing college he realized he wanted to coach and hasn’t looked back since.

Basketball isn’t the most important thing in his life either. He is a devout Christian and he says his relationship with Jesus Christ is the most important thing in his life.  His wife (Kelsey) and his daughter (Hallie Blake), are his biggest fans and they mean everything to him.

I sat down with Coach Williams recently to discuss his first year in Powell County, here is our conversation below:

 

EK:  Before coming to Powell, you were with Knott County Central for 8 years. What made you want to make the move here?

BW:  I think the intrigue of the possibility of taking over as head coach of Powell County, a school I have always had a lot of respect for. It is a great location in the region and they are always competitive, so it was intriguing all around.

 

EK:  So when you came here, you thought there was a good chance you could one day become head coach?

BW:  I wasn’t really sure about what the exact time frame of that was, but I thought it could be a possibility within a season or two.

 

EK:  You started this year as the assistant coach of the Pirates and have since been named interim head coach. How has this experience been for you so far?

BW:  It has been a great experience so far. We’ve had some success in the last eight games and it’s given me a lot more experience. It’s just been great all around.

 

EK:  There is a big difference in being the lead assistant and in being head coach. How have you handled the extra pressure and responsibility?

BW:  It’s not been so much the extra responsibility and pressure, I’ve been in this situation before. I was co-interim head coach at Knott County Central while the head coach was out for a little while, so I’ve had a lot of experience with that. I use that experience to go with what I’m doing now.

 

EK:  The Pirates struggled to start the season, going 3-11, but since you have taken over you are 6-1. What has changed for the team?

BW:  I think it’s all with the boys. With all our players, they realize what they are capable of doing and actually going out there and proving that to themselves and all the other teams in the region as well.

 

EK:  You had only one loss in district play, and have secured the #1 seed in the tournament. How do you feel about your chances in the tourney?

BW:  Well I really feel like that if we continue to play to the level we are playing at right now and continue to improve our defense, we have a really good shot to win the district this year. 

 

In Williams, the Pirates now have their coach for the future and all signs point to a very successful tenure with the team. He will surely do all he can to turn the Pirates into regional contenders soon and continue to keep them competitive now and for years to come.

 

 

Anthony Davis Requests Trade, Lakers Interested

ANTHONY DAVIS
(Image by Keith Allison)

 

Evan Kinser

1/28/2019

There has been some breaking news in the NBA today! Early Monday morning, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski shared a tweet revealing that New Orleans Pelicans star forward Anthony Davis has requested a trade from the team and “has no intention of signing a contract extension.” The Lakers, among almost every team in the league, will undoubtedly pursue a deal for the 25-year old big.

Davis, coming off an All-NBA First Team honor last year, has been linked to the Lakers for a while now, as he and Lakers forward LeBron James share the same agent, Rich Paul. Whether Davis has clear interest in the Lakers or not has yet to be seen, but the hiring of Paul in the offseason has led some to believe he has his sights on a pairing with James in LA.

The Lakers do have the assets to make a splash via trade this season. By signing all free agents other than James to one-year deals this offseason, the Lakers are in position to make some trades at the February 7th trade deadline.

The most likely player to be traded is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who the Lakers signed to a one-year, 12 million dollar deal last offseason. Reports came out earlier this year that the Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets could be potential suitors of KCP, as both are looking for added three-point shooting. Keep an eye out for these teams in possible three-team trade scenarios.

Though KCP is an interesting trade candidate, the Pelicans will be wanting a much larger haul for Davis. As Brad Turner of the L.A. Times reported earlier, the Pelicans would want Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac, and a first round draft pick to even consider moving Davis to LA. If this deal were to go down, the Lakers would lose almost all of their young players. They could also include Brandon Ingram and/or Josh Hart in a deal, and that seems likely. Just because the Pelicans want Ball and Kuzma, that doesn’t mean the others will stay on the roster. Some could be shipped off as other teams try to join in and even out salaries.

The big question is if the Lakers are willing to go all-in for Davis. Should the Lakers give up the young core for him? Yes. Though this would surely decrease their depth, when an All-NBA player is available and you have the chance to pair him with another star, you do it. They did have a chance to acquire a star player recently when, two years ago, Paul George wanted to become a Laker, they low-balled and didn’t give their best offer. Since the Pacers were forced to look elsewhere, he found a home with the Thunder and signed a four year deal this summer (he will also start in the all-star game this year). Their most recent attempt at a star was with Kawhi Leonard, and we will know in a few months if they played that the way they should have.

The Lakers have drafted very well in the last few seasons and have rarely missed on their draft picks. This is evident, as even former second round draft pick Ivica Zubac is now considered to have trade value. Though the Lakers haven’t drafted a player that looks like a sure-fire star yet, all of their picks look like they at least belong in the league. The only player I would have a difficult time getting rid of is second year guard Lonzo Ball. Lonzo has played defense as good as anyone at his position this year, and he is still just 21 years old. If Lonzo ever develops a consistent jump shot, he could be a perennial all-star. Though Kuzma and Ingram have the more refined offensive game, Lonzo has a transcendent passing ability and would be the perfect guard for a team with elite scorers like LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Whether the Pelicans will trade Davis in the summer or at the upcoming trade deadline is yet to be seen, but we will have the answers soon. Be prepared for an exciting 10 days!

 

Week 2 NFL Game Picks

By Jimmy Canuso

 

Week 2 is a very interesting time in the NFL season. You start to form opinions on teams based on “knee-jerk” reactions you have to things that happen in the week one matchups. There are so many unknowns that make it hard to assess a team’s potential before they have made adjustments going into the rest of the season. Was the hiring of Matt Patricia a bad move for the Lions? Or is the former New England Patriots Defensive Coordinator gonna help his new team get to ten wins for the first time since 2014? Will we ever see Eli Manning in the playoffs again, or will he continue to lose very winnable games like the Jaguars in Week 1? Here are the Ball Talk Week 2 NFL picks….based solely on knee jerk reactions from week one.

 

Chiefs @ Steelers

Pick: Chiefs

 

Advanced data from pro-football-reference.com has shown that the home team in an NFL game has about a  57.2% chance of winning. The data also shows that when turnovers occur in a game, it drastically changes that win probability percentage. Each team only gets about twelve possessions per game, so it makes sense that if a home teams gets one turnover, they have a 69.6% chance of winning, and two turnovers gives them an 83.9% chance of winning. When the Steelers walked into the Dawg Pound and got 5 turnovers, they had 95.8% chance to lose the game… and they walked out with a tie. Needless to say, the Steelers played a very sloppy game. Big Ben looked like he was completely ignoring any pass rush to get sacked 4 times with two strip sacks, threw 3 interceptions with one of the better receiving cores in the league, and the Steelers had 3 fumbles lost. The Steelers also let the Browns get 6 first downs due to penalties. Luckily James Connor put up 135 yards and two rushing TDs to keep Pittsburgh in the game in his first ever NFL start, which would be miraculous for the second year running back to do again in Week 2. The Chiefs obviously looked much better in their Week 1 appearance, with new QB Patrick Mahomes connecting with Tyreek Hill 7 times for 169 yards and throwing no interceptions. The Steelers’ defense is gonna have a much bigger challenge against Andy Reid’s West Coast high efficiency passing offense than Hugh Jackson’s mediocre play calling and with Tyrod Taylor in the pocket, who led the Browns in rushing yards and completed 15 of 40 throws. I think the Steelers have the pieces to be competitive in this game, but the Chiefs look much tighter and polished right now so I’m gonna have to pick them to come out of this one victorious.

 

Texans @ Titans

Pick: Titans

Editor’s Note: This was wrote before it was announced that Marcus Mariota and Jadeveon Clowney were both inactive for the game.

 

This one won’t be very fun to watch, and these teams are fairly evenly matched, I’m picking the Titans because they have a veteran QB and they have home field advantage. I’m not ready to trust in Deshaun Watson as a good decision maker until he can get a solid win under his belt this season.

Chargers @ Bills

Pick: Chargers

 

Not a tough sell here. The Bills lost 47-3 against the Ravens in week one. Rookie Josh Allen out of Wyoming will start against the Chargers instead of Nathan Peterman, but he didn’t do anything noteworthy while he was in for the second half against Baltimore. The Chargers had an all around solid performance on offense in their loss to the Chiefs; Phillip Rivers threw for 424 yards and a 67% completion rate with one interception while Melvin Gordon contributed 64 rushing yards. If you think the Bills are winning this game, chances are you live in Buffalo and it’s wishful thinking.

 

Panthers @ Falcons

Pick: Panthers

 

I had to really think about this one. It seems as though the Falcons’ game plan on offense can be summed up pretty simply: throw to Julio Jones to get downfield, and then continue to throw to Julio Jones in the Red Zone even though he’s being triple teamed. Jones put up 169 yards in the week one matchup against the Eagles while no other receiver put up more than 30. The Falcons frustrate me because I thought RB Devonta Freeman was a beast in past years for them while it seems his usage has gone down considerably. He led in rushing with only 36 yards, and he’s not even going to be playing in week two. The Panthers don’t look much better on offense, with no player besides QB Cam Newton putting up more than 50 yards, receiving or rushing. They didn’t play considerably better than the Cowboys, but they at least ended up on top. I’m going with the Panthers here solely because they have a win under their belt and probably a higher morale going into week two. Let’s see what happens.

 

Browns @ Saints

Pick: Saints

 

It was exciting last year when the Saints started running the ball well, but since Mark Ingram is suspended for the first four games of the season, they’re back to primarily passing, with Alvin Kamara leading the team in rushing for only 29 yards in the first game. Their offense still looks good though; where Drew Brees threw for 439 yards with no interceptions or sacks an insanely efficient completion percentage of 82%. The Saints should have no problem against the Browns defense as long as Brees can continue to get the ball off quickly, but DE Myles Garrett was a beast for the Browns in Week 1 so that is something to watch for.

 

Eagles @ Buccaneers

Pick: Eagles

 

If you are reading this article, chances are you follow football, which means you’ve probably heard a lot of mania about Ryan Fitzpatrick, the backup QB for the Buccaneers who put up 417 yards at a 77% completion rate against the Saints in the midst of starting QB Jameis Winston’s 3 game suspension. While I think Fitzpatrick is a talented player, I’m not convinced based on his overall career that he’s able to be consistent and have multiple games in a row like that. Also, he likely will not be able to get those kinds of yards with Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby at cornerback for the Eagles. Ronald Darby was all over Julio Jones in Week 1 when the Eagles played the Falcons, so I don’t think he’ll have a problem handling Mike Evans. The Super Bowl Champions aren’t at full strength, with WR Alshon Jeffery and RB Darren Sproles hurt, and RB Legarrette Blount and WR Torrey Smith both being traded. Regardless of this, backup quarterback Nick Foles has been connecting well with WR Nelson Agholor, and RB Jay Ajayi has been handling a bigger workload well. Not to mention that it seems like Coach Doug Pederson’s play calling always finds a way to get them the win, the Eagles will get the higher score in this one.

 

Colts @ Redskins

Pick: Redskins

 

Luck is officially back. While throwing for 319 yards he was able find 9 different receivers in the Colts’ week one loss against the Bengals, and 3 of those receivers had over 50 yards. That’s a true sign of a solid quarterback. Any QB can connect with top ten receivers. On the other side, former Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith had an efficient game completing 21 out of his 30 pass attempts for 255 yards. Also, RB Adrian Peterson, also a new Redskin, rushed for 96 yards and a TD to dismantle the Cardinals 24-6. Peterson, one of the oldest running backs in the NFL, is also the most accomplished, and I think he still has the ability to put up consistently solid rushing performances while the Redskins have gotten by as a pass-first offense in recent years. The Colts may have a slightly better receiving depth, but not much, and they have a more mediocre running game. The Skins defense were able to hold the Cardinals to zero touchdowns and star RB David Johnson to only 37 yards, while the Colts defense gave up 34 points in Week 1. These two pass-first teams are more evenly matched than most of the other games in Week 2, but Washington holds the advantages and will win this game.

 

Dolphins @ Jets

Pick: Jets

 

The Jets destroyed the Lions 48-17 in week one. If we see the same good decision making from Jets QB Sam Darnold we saw in week 1 against the Lions (except for the pick 6), he should be able to lead this team to a win against the Dolphins.

 

Vikings @ Packers

Pick: Vikings

 

What Aaron Rodgers did in week one was nothing short of great, but I’m picking the Vikings to come out of this one on top. The Vikings have the top ranked defense in the league. And although it is arguable that the Bears have one of the better pass rushing in the league with the addition of Khalil Mack, they ran out of steam in the second half of the Week 1 game. That won’t happen with the Vikings pass rush. They’re gonna be going after Rodgers the entire game, and they’re not gonna be easy to stop. Rodgers is gonna have to get the ball off quickly again like he did in the second half against the Bears, and I don’t think he’ll be able to find those tight windows as easily like he did in those TD passes to Geronimo Allison and Randall Cobb against the Vikings cornerbacks and safeties. The Vikings have more pieces on offense who can do more on the run than the Packers, whose yards will be inflated because of Rodgers immaculate ability. The Vikings will come out of this one victorious, although it could be close.

 

Cardinals @ Rams

Pick: Rams

 

Easy pick. The Cardinals weren’t really able to generate any momentum on offense against the Redskins, as they scored no touchdowns. With the Rams having a defense consisting DE Ndomukong Suh, NT Aaron Donald, CB Marcus Peters and CB Aqib Talib, the Cardinals now have a much harder secondary to face. Jared Goff had a tough time establishing the pass against the Raiders in Week 1, but Todd Gurley put up some good numbers and Goff was able to make some plays in the second half to get to 33 points for the win. The Rams won’t have much trouble winning this one.

 

Lions @ 49ers

Pick: 49ers

 

Jimmy G was able to have 260 passing yards against the Vikings defense in his first loss as a starter in Week 1, which should be much easier against the Lions defense. Lions QB Matt Stafford had a very below average performance against the Jets, new RB Legarrette Blount from the Eagles wasn’t able to do as much in his rushing performance as I thought he would, and I’m not ready to trust Matt Patricia as a good head coach, so I’m picking the 49ers to win this game.

 

Raiders @ Broncos

Pick: Raiders

 

Case Keenum had a good showing against the Seahawks in Week 1, and I expect nothing less against the Raiders defense. TE Jared Cook was the big target and playmaker for the Raiders in week one against the Rams. The Broncos are most likely game planning to shut down Cook, which means the other talented Raiders receivers Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson will be opened up and will probably get some more targets. This one will be close, but I think the Raiders have more pieces offensively, will the Broncos didn’t really establish a run in Week 1. Raiders get the pick here.

 

Patriots @ Jaguars

Pick: Patriots

The Jags barely came out of week 1 with a win against the Giants, and RB Leonard Fournette will not likely be playing for Jacksonville, so the Jags will not be able to get it done against the Patriots, who looked good in Week 1 despite WR Edelman being out. Brady was still able to throw for 277 yards with 3 passing TDs.

 

Giants @ Cowboys

Pick: Cowboys

 

The Giants put up a mediocre showing against in their los against Jacksonville in week one. Their new shiny toy Saquon Barkley had some good carries and a TD, but they might ended up regretting their decision to not get Sam Darnold, when their current QB is still seemingly on the decline. The Cowboys lost to the Panthers in week one, and it seems as though Ezekiel Elliott is the only spark in their offense. WR Cole Beasley is the only receiver Dak Prescott can connect with right now, but I think he can be a playmaker. Dak Prescott is still playing better right not than Eli is, and I’d always hesitate to not take the Cowboys at home. Cowboys will come out with this one.

 

Seahawks @ Bears

Pick: Bears

 

On the Bears defense, LB Khalil Mack will be able to generate pass rush and, if rookie LB Roquan Smith gets more playing time, Russell Wilson will be experiencing a lot of pass rush pressure and will not be able to make plays as easily as he did against the Broncos. Mitch Trubisky was phenomenal in the first half against the Packers in Week 1 against the Packers, but in the second half, head coach Matt Nagy started playing not to lose and the Bears weren’t able to get up to the momentum they had with the creative play calling they had in the first half. If Trubisky can generate the kind of passing game we saw from him in the first half of Week 1, along with Jordan Howard having another good rushing performance, the Bears should be able to win this one on Monday night.

2018 NBA Mock Draft

By Samuel Stands

Twitter: @SamuelStands

 

1.)                Suns: DeAndre Ayton—All signs are pointing toward the Suns selecting Ayton here. Let’s not waste the brain power to consider otherwise.

 

2.)               Kings: Luka Doncic—The talk surrounding the second pick has centered on Luka Doncic and Michael Porter Jr. as of late. While there is a bevy of increasing hype following Michael Porter Jr. in contrast to seemingly cool feelings toward Luka Doncic at the top of the draft, the Sacramento Kings are due to get this pick right and take the clearly best player available in the draft. Given the fact that the Kings are, for whatever reason, committed to playing two traditional posts in the front court, Michael Porter Jr. at the PF position represents a departure from that thinking which we’ve yet to see in Sacramento. The Kings are thin at the SF position given Vince Carter’s free agency, Justin Jackson and Garrett Temples’ non-contributions, Iman Shumpert’s inability to shoot, etc. This void is symptomatic of one of many larger issues, that being a lack of shot creators and playmaking. Drafting and employing Luka Doncic to operate alongside Bogdonavic, Hield, and Cauley-Stein would go a long way to help Sacramento’s third to last ranked offense and literally slowest (in pace) team in the league. Doncic running pick-n-roll with a most capable roll-man in WCS and two absolute sharpshooters from deep in Hield and Bogdonavic should become the staple of the King’s offense for years to come. If the Kings let go of Zach Randolph in 2019 and if Labissiere continues to show promise as he has, especially as a trustworthy shooter and even one who can stretch the floor, they could finally open up their offense by optimizing their pieces and become a formidably modern NBA offense.

 

3.)               Hawks: Marvin Bagley III—Choosing Marvin Bagley certainly acquiesces to the “best player available” mantra but the Pumas fit rather nicely as well. Simply put, the Hawks just need talent and upside with every pick in the draft. Bagley fits with the Hawks, more specifically alongside John Collins because he can operate out of the low post, can put it on the floor to drive, can face up with potential break down ability, he has the hint of a pull up, he can spot up which will complement Collins who is more of a PnR, dump off, clean up, spot up guy. In college, Bagley was not an EFFECTIVE defender because of his lack of awareness and know-how, but this is not the same thing as lacking capability where Bagley’s athleticism allows him to defend in space and switch which has become the more important skill for big men in the league as opposed to defending postups where the lack of incredible length isn’t as big of a concern as it used to be in the older NBA. There is a premium on modern NBA centers where the league is quickly becoming one of haves and have-nots, Atlanta will thankfully be in the former after the draft, they’ll just need to be patient as their big man of the future learns the nuances defensive fundamentals, develops a right hand, and doesn’t rush his passes.

 

4.)               Grizzlies: Michael Porter Jr.—If the Kings pass on Porter Jr., he isn’t expected to fall any further than the Grizzlies with the fourth selection. According to reports, Porter’s medicals bore positive and promising results leading to the “he’s been promised” presumptions starting with the Kings.  The common theme for this mock draft and any henceforth is that of “modernization” where the Grizzlies are in the same position as the majority of teams in the league given their needs in the frontcourt at small forward and power forward. Not only do the Grizzlies not have a long term option at either position, but they are likely to lose their primary scorer this past season in Tyreke Evans who is slated to be picked up by a contender this summer. Memphis can take steps to shoring up both with combo forward Michael Porter Jr. whose calling card is versatile scoring. This pick is critical for a franchise that may lose its first round pick next year (2019) to Boston if the pick falls anywhere from 9-30. If the Grizzlies run it back with their incumbent parts plus the addition of Porter, serious faith would be being placed on the ever-injured Parsons, recently injured Conley, and the recent draft pick who played less than a handful of games at Missouri this year. With a fairly deep 2018 crop, it would behoove Memphis to sell valued commodities Marc Gasol and Mike Conley for draft picks or young pieces as opposed to the rumored trade back in the draft just to get out of Parson’s hefty contract. It also seems optimal to start the rebuild around Porter and guarantee their first round pick in 2019 that is full of guards and small forwards. I must say I don’t love this pick for the Grizzlies given the bigs they’d be passing up, but perhaps the reports about Memphis’ infatuation is a matter of a franchise actually enamored with Porter who will also take on Parsons’ contract (most likely the Chicago Bulls).

 

5.)               Mavericks: Mo Bamba—Chalk up the Dallas Mavericks as another team that needs to begin a complete rebuild. Unlike the Grizzlies however, the Mavericks do not have veteran assets they can sell to contenders for picks or projects thus necessitating patience until next summer when they can shed most of their less desirable contracts. As of now, Dallas is getting the most production out of Dennis Smith, Yogi Ferrell, and Harrison Barnes who is transitioning to the power forward position full time as Dirk Nowitzki has all but both feet in the grave of retirement which leaves a gaping hole at the center position. With that said, the Mavs should be thrilled if Mo Bamba falls all the way to fifth selection in the draft. We are all well aware of Bamba’s physical gifts but his intangibles and potential sewn to his stature are what making the most promising triumvirate of future success which is why I have him atop my big board. As already stated, there is a premium on modern big men in the NBA and Bamba has the attributes to be the next “unicorn” draft pick following Karl Anthony Towns, Kristaps Porzingis, Joel Embiid, and Anthony Davis. Mo Bamba’s floor seems to be Clint Capela assuming that he doesn’t develop at all. The Mavs will have their anchor down low but I see him as their franchise star for the next 12-15 years if Dallas is smart enough to do what it takes to retain him.

 

6.)               Magic: Jaren Jackson Jr.—The Magic couldn’t be luckier if one of Mo Bamba or Jackson or fall to them at the sixth slot. Many have the Magic taking Trae Young at this spot, some even believe and are reporting that Trae Young will go as high as the third spot to the Atlanta Hawks if they are unable to trade back for the Oklahoma point guard but I am not nearly as high on Young as I am on others: namely, Jaren Jackson Jr.. Jackson is ranked third on my big board, this should be an easy decision here when adhering to best player available doctrine. Jackson is, as others have countlessly said, the prototypical modern NBA center who can spread the floor, protect the rim, switch on PnR, defend in space, and is low maintenance offensively; simply put, Jaren Jackson Jr. can be the next Al Horford and the one constant for the Orlando Magic which they haven’t had since…The Magic could have a devastatingly long and switchy defensive front court in Jonathan Isaac, Aaron Gordon, and Jaren Jackson Jr. that no team in the league could rival in that respect which would be a great starting point for an abysmal Magic team post-Dwight. As any GM, at least in the high lottery, I would be quite wary to add a sub-6’2 defensive liability at point guard in a league that consistently is going bigger and longer and more versatile, therefore I cannot in good conscience mock Trae Young to Orlando as a positive decision. Orlando desperately needs to get this pick right and can concern themselves with the backcourt in the guard-heavy 2019 draft class where we know that the Magic will doubtlessly be atop the lottery yet again.

 

7.)               Bulls: Miles Bridges—Ultimately I see the Bulls trading up to nab Michael Porter Jr. but the fact remains that the Bulls need forwards desperately and Bridges would provide much needed versatility on both ends of the floor. Bridges is capable of playing both forward spots but in opposition to every bit of draft analysis that says he is best suited as a small-ball power forward despite his body (lack of length, height), I see his long term productivity coming at small forward. Bridges may not possess Porter’s creativity or Mikal Bridges’ safety as a three & D role player, but does a little bit of everything rather well. Villanova’s Bridges would certainly be a safe pick here but that Bridges is already the player he is going to be where Miles Bridges has the potential to be a go-to scorer off the dribble, spot-up shooter, lob threat, to draw the defense on drives with his explosiveness, the capability to finish with that explosiveness, and the ever important ability to capably defend 2-4’s in the NBA. Bridges will be an actual threat to keep defenses honest as another playmaker while Zach Lavine is tasked with carrying the load of being the franchise player.

 

8.)                Cavs: Wendell Carter Jr.—Carter will end up being considered one of the steals of the draft when it is all said and done given his readiness to contribute in the NBA right now. It has already been discussed repeatedly that Carter played out of position at Duke whereas in the NBA he will thrive as a natural in the center position. Like many others already discussed, Carter provides what teams want and desperately need from their big men: rim protection, a big “man’s” body, ability to stretch the floor, can eat in the post, can face up, can defend down low, sets big screens, rolls hard, can pop, can pick the defense apart with passing, plays under control, and absolutely bangs on the boards. Carter’s major concern that gets pointed out is his struggles to defend in space. While Carter did get burned, it was not in my opinion due to an inability or lack of athleticism, as much as it was a matter of defensive technique which is sorely lacking at this point in time. The Cavs don’t hesitate to make and keep this pick because Carter represents a win now choice (were Lebron to stay) because of his well-rounded game but also can and will serve as the franchise cornerstone regardless of Lebron’s departure as a modern five which could not be more in demand.

 

9.)                  Knicks: Mikal Bridges—Yes, Trae Young would be the sexy pick here but it also would be one of the worst outcomes for Young and the Knicks. The smart pick is Mikal Bridges. New head coach David Fizdale has already remarked that he will play Porzingis all over the floor, most notably at the five where, if you’ve been reading all this time, is where (IMO) he should be playing all of his minutes. Were New York to bring back Michael Beasley and draft Mikal Bridges, the Knicks could be looking at a modern front court that can open up enough space on the floor which just may start enticing free agents the way Boston has and the way the Lakers and 76ers are slated to this summer. Longer term, the Knicks will, at the least, have two promising defensive staples in Frank Ntilikina and Mikal Bridges to bolster Porzingis (who is a more than solid defender on his own) as the last line of defense. With the hiring of a reputable coach and the selection of Bridges, the beginning of stability for a franchise that has been in desperate need can commence on Thursday.

 

 

10.)                        Sixers: Lonnie Walker—Despite the fact that the Sixers just had a significant playoff run and are now seeming contenders in the Eastern Conference (all the more with Lebron James and Kawhi Leonard rumors), the Sixers core is considerably young with ample time and room to grow. All of this is to say, the Sixers certainly don’t need to trade this pick in some sort of package to attain a superstar; the Sixers already have two in the making, last year’s number one pick who was at the time considered a can’t miss prospect, and four young role players who have carved out niches in the Sixers’ rotation (Saric, Covington, McConnell, Holmes), and by the way their oldest rotation player is only 26 years old. There is however a glaring hole at shooting guard especially with the potential JJ Redick departure in free agency and to a lesser extent Marco Belinelli’s. With the selection of Lonnie Walker, the Sixers would gain two players who can create their own shot, something that was sorely missing in the playoffs. The return of a healthy Fultz and the emergence of Lonnie Walker will help keep defenses honest after the league has had a year to adjust to Ben Simmons. Obviously Walker can initially serve as the spot-up shooter, and shooter off of screens like Redick who has made a career doing it, but Walker’s athleticism and explosiveness allow him to become a terror in transition and a lockdown defender when engaged. At the end of the day, assuming the Sixers stand put with their young core without making a big free agency or trade splash, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid ought to carry the load and the Philly brass just needs to help lighten it where it counts.

 

11.) Hornets: Collin Sexton—The Hornets have one of the bleakest long term outlooks of any team in the league as they don’t have any assets they can auction off to begin a rebuild except for Kemba Walker whose value depreciates every second that he isn’t traded given his contract will be up in 2019. Nicolas Batum is a nice starter but his contract is a liability. Dwight Howard is also a free agent in 2019 but also has a bloated contract and he is also Dwight Howard. Last year’s draft pick Malik Monk may be a serviceable spark plug off the bench someday but doesn’t exactly empower confidence in the roster going forward. I like Sexton here because of his mentality. Yes he has all sorts of gifts as a scorer and defender but I believe he is one of few players in this draft range that will have the stamina to survive the Hornets’ long term rebuild. The Hornets have the chance to define the identity of their team starting with Sexton and building from there and I can see Sexton as one capable of driving a young core gradually out of the bottom of the standings over the years with his relentless competitiveness and hard work. The other players available at this stage of the draft have games that complement others but not as the first piece.

 

12.)                        Clippers: Trae Young—The Clippers’ veterans offer the best opportunity in Trae Young’s draft range (which by all accounts seems to be 3-16) to optimize Young’s potential in a safe setting. Los Angeles’ back court duo of Lou Williams and Patrick Beverley, not only allow Young the comfort of being brought along slowly off the bench as opposed to being thrown in the fire immediately, Williams can teach him the plurality of ways to get buckets as a smaller scoring guard (something Young is already impressive in) while Beverley can assist him with his defensive deficiencies and go at him every day in practice while complementing him on the court picking up the more difficult assignments during the rigorous 82 game season. The Clippers are said to be major players to potentially make a impactful trade to once again be in contention, as their roster is indeed built for such a possibility given its veteran roster and ability to bring back DeAndre Jordan but I see Jerry West wanting to start from scratch given that they can almost have a complete roster turnover by 2019.

 

 

13.)                        Clippers: Zhaire Smith—Smith represents another boom or bust prospect that has the best opportunity to flourish in the same setting mentioned above. A Zhaire Smith and Trae Young back court is enticing given how they can play off of one another: Young has sound court vision, shooting chops, and ability to run the pick and roll while Smith is an excellent cutter, solid spot up shooter, solid shooter coming off of screens, lob threat, one who can flat out fly in the open court, and can more than capably defend in isolation and help in team defense schemes which Young is going to need for the foreseeable future. Many have the Clippers taking Robert Williams with one of these two picks but I can’t imagine Jerry West selecting a duplication of DeAndre Jordan who (a) they could retain this summer or (b) has a lot of value to a certain point but not enough to spend a lottery pick on.

 

14.)                        Nuggets: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander—While the Nuggets are in need of a true small forward, Kevin Knox isn’t a true 3 and Troy Brown isn’t worth the reach, therefore the possibility of shoring up their defensive woes in the backcourt is too enticing. Jamal Murray is one of the top ten offensive guards in the league but at the same time is one of the bottom ten defensive guards in the league. While I have Gilgeous-Alexander ahead of both Collin Sexton and Trae Young on my big board for his size, length, shooting potential, decision-making, defense, and positional size in a league that, you guessed it, is trending larger and longer, I can see him falling past his true value because of his utter silence during the pre-draft process and lack of a major standout skill. Gilgeous-Alexander will undoubtedly benefit in a more stable role without expectations of saving a franchise as the higher picks are expected. I love his fit next to Gary Harris who in tandem can make life difficult for opposing backcourts but also his helpful fit alongside Jamal Murray and of course the possibility of three guard lineups employing the aforementioned players. If I’m the Denver GM I also like the probability that SGA makes the starting point guard spot competitive where that competition may inspire more defensive productivity out of Murray, and if it doesn’t, Murray would make an excellent Sixth Man off the bench.

 

15.)                         Wizards: Kevin Knox—Like Trae Young, I like Kevin Knox’s potential if he gets drafted by the right team that doesn’t thrust upon him too much too soon. Others have Kevin Knox going as high as 10th in the draft, but as the youngest player in the draft, it’s going to take Knox some time and patience and managed expectations before he breaks out. With that said, there is a lot to like about Kevin Knox as he is the prototypical modern power forward who can score in a variety of ways but most importantly spread the floor. Knox also has potential to be a defensive plus given his tools but didn’t always show it at Kentucky, however, Coach Cal’s kids always out-perform their college roles so I’m not overly concerned. The Wizards should be viable contenders if one looks at their cap sheet given what they are paying Wall, Beal, and Porter, but this is a young team that can afford to be patient with the player they draft, where that patience will eventually pay dividends when Knox grows into himself. I also like this selection for the Wizards’ immediate boost off the bench which has been cause for concern for the past several years. This pick also allows for the Wizards to employ a very athletic front court in Porter and Knox who are viable options to keep Wall from pounding the ball. Most drafts do not have Robert Williams falling beyond the Wizards but I find that pick one that would be made too much out of desperation as opposed to the best possible decision to make the Wizards legitimately dangerous in the next 2-3 years.

 

16.)                        Suns: Elie Okobo—The Suns really really really verily need a point guard. Aaron Holiday has had two workouts in Phoenix and I think that ends up being their pick on Thursday as the safe long term prospect, but here I have them going for the bigger play, Elie Okobo. If you haven’t watched any of Okobo in France, imagine a shorter and French D’Angelo Russell. Okobo is a solid shooter beyond the arc, is a maestro running the pick n roll, has good court vision, and can score in bunches. I like this pick for Phoenix in going for the highest upside with this pick just outside of the lottery especially given the fact that their team is so young; there is absolutely zero reason for the Suns to rush the process in drafting complete prospects.

 

 

17.)                         Bucks: Kevin Huerter—Sure, the Bucks have a need at center and Robert Williams could fill that hole, but they need shooting and spacing too whereas I believe they’ll be able to land a legitimate center in free agency. Well, Kevin Huerter is the best shooter in the draft and would give the Bucks more gravitational pull that isn’t centered on Giannis when he’s playing on the ball. The Bucks could do worse than surrounding Giannis with Brogdon, Middleton, Tony Snell, and Huerter to get easier drive and dish opportunities but also to unclog the lane.

 

18.)                        Spurs: Josh Okogie—I’m surprised Okogie isn’t getting mocked higher than his usual 24-35 range. Okogie has elite athleticism, combine testing results and measurements, ability to guard 1-3, can shoot it from deep, provides weak side rim protection, receives adulation from his former coaching staff and teammates as the energy guy, and has a blossoming in-between game putting it on the floor getting his own shot. Okogie has Spurs written all over him and is one of the younger prospects in the draft despite playing two years of college ball. Okogie is raw with loads of untapped potential.

 

 

19.)                        Hawks: Aaron Holiday—The Hawks are likely to send Dennis Schroder off one way or another and will need a replacement, ideally one who can actually shoot and keep defenses honest. Holiday is also a more than capable off-ball threat who will gel nicely with his long-term partner-to-be Marvin Bagley III in the front court. Holiday will add maturity and much needed professionalism on a team fraught with young players and few veterans. Holiday is the stable, safe, and smart pick here providing guaranteed value where there isn’t always toward the end of the first round.

 

20.)                       Wolves: Keita Bates-Diop—Tom Thibodeau is going to select Luol Deng 2.0. isn’t he? Ok.

 

 

21.)                        Jazz: Robert Williams—The Jazz are set to potentially lose two of their bigs in Derrick Favors this summer and Ekpe Udoh in 2019 free agency slating Williams to become a rotation player immediately. The Jazz won’t complain that the best player still available also can slip right behind Rudy Gobert as the Jazz’s long term backup center and insurance policy incase Gobert has eyes elsewhere some day.

 

22.)                       Bulls: Chandler Hutchison—the Bulls have promised to draft Chandler Hutchison. Ok.

 

23.)                       Pacers: Troy Brown—I would love for one of Holiday or Okobo to fall to the Pacers but I don’t think the teams ahead of them are that foolish. The Pacers should continue to build around Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner who are just scratching the surface of their potential so a young player like Troy Brown fits nicely, especially in the wake of Paul George’s departure last summer. Indiana could do worse than a shooting guard, small forward, point guard hybrid who does everything well right now except shoot at only 18 years of age. Brown can help take some of the facilitating and creating burden off of Oladipo while they wait for their point guard of the future next year.

 

24.)                       Blazers: Jerome Robinson—I love this fit! Though it is beyond me, some mocks are starting to have Jerome Robinson go as high as 13th to the Clippers but this is buying really high and trying too hard to land the next Kyle Kuzma or Jimmy Butler, etc. There is certainly reason for Robinson to get an NBA Draft green room invite because he absolutely is a first round talent and the Blazers will need every bit of him on a cheap contract while they trudge through salary cap hell for a few more years. Portland could use some help in the backcourt and Robinson will oblige from the get go as he can heat it up and start cooking in a hurry with a deep bag of tricks offensively to get his own shot but he also will help spread the floor for Lillard and McCollum where I can see a three guard lineup to close out games; yes Robinson is that dangerous right now.

 

25.)                        Lakers: Mitchell Robinson—I don’t believe the Lakers have actually made any sort of promise to Robinson but I do find this to be best selection they can make given the picks that will have occurred in front of them. There are major concerns about Robinson’s maturity and camp that surrounds him given his peculiar decisions after finishing high school, but the Lakers, like everyone else in the draft, must put a premium on modern big men available where Los Angeles is in a position to take a gamble on upside since (a) the Lakers are potentially on the path for a long term rebuild and (b) they may trade this pick anyhow or (c) LA will retain this pick and thusly player but have him buried on the depth chart because of the superstar cast that will call Staples Center home. At this stage in the draft, I wouldn’t blame any team going after a 7 footer with elite quickness, athleticism, second jump superiority, shot blocking prowess, ability to switch on screens, the ability to stretch the floor out to the three point line, and ability to throw down lobs like it’s nothing to him. Robinson could be one of many steals late in the draft.

 

26.)                       Sixers: Donte Divincenzo—The Sixers are able to pluck one of two from their own backyard out of Villanova. In the actual draft I think the Sixers end up with Mikal Bridges and just miss out on Divincenzo in the early 20s but I think Philly is a good home for him. I would try to surround Ben Simmons with as many shooters as possible and Divincenzo certainly provides that but he is also an underrated defender (though he is more of a team defender than a lockdown one on one guy) but the Sixers get a two way guy who will earn a rotation spot and round out their guard depth with Fultz, Walker, McConnell, and now Divincenzo. They’ll continue to love him in Philly.

 

 

27.)                        Celtics: Khyri Thomas—Terry Rozier and/or Jaylen Brown could end up part or parts of a major trade while Marcus Smart is a restricted free agent so I like the Celtics’ insurance policy in Khyri Thomas. Were any one of the aforementioned players to find themselves in a different jersey next season, the Celtics would sorely miss the defense provided Thomas could help mitigate the possible loss or losses on a cheap contract as he was the Big East Defensive Player of the Year two years in a row, shot over 40% from deep all three years at Creighton, finished in the 90th percentile at the rim (pun intended), and 80th percentile in transition. Steal. The rich get richer.

 

28.)                       Warriors: Jacob Evans—Wow, the league is really going to let Jacob Evans fall into the Warriors’ lap. SMH

 

 

29.)                       Nets: De’Anthony Melton—The Nets are still a long way away from some sort of young core or sense of stability so drafting a combo guard with lottery level talent is a good place to start at the end of the first round. Melton can heat up opposing guards on the ball, plays the passing lanes, can get gone in a hurry in transition, rebounds well in comparison to other guards, can handle the ball, can finish in traffic, and has a blossoming jump shot with altered mechanics where teams have reason to believe he will improve given his free throw shooting in college.

 

30.)                       Hawks: Anfernee Simons—With another selection four picks into the second round, the Hawks can go ahead and snag Simons before the pickings get slim around the 40 spot. Simons has the first round level athleticism and handles, but his body is not nearly NBA ready. Given the Hawks’ situation in the league however, Atlanta can afford to give Simons the reps he needs to grow at a prodigious pace in comparison to organizations in the league that see him as a G-league stash player. Given the opportunity, Simons may be ready sooner rather than later.