1. Phoenix: DeAndre Ayton, C Arizona
Why: He’s the best player in the draft. Ayton goes to a Suns roster where he’ll pair with Devin Booker and could form one of the most dominant inside-out tandems since Shaq and Kobe. Not hearing otherwise.
2. Sacramento: Mo Bamba, C Texas
Why: A frontcourt featuring Bamba and Harry Giles has much better potential than what Utah has with Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors for a host of reasons, one being Bamba can shoot the trey ball, which naturally helps spacing. Replace Willie Cauley-Stein with Sheck Wes’ mans from Harlem and let these young wolves run with upstart point guard De’Aaron Fox.
3. Atlanta: Luka Doncic, G Slovenia
Why: The Hawks’ backcourt stinks, and the team might be in the business of acquiring a primary ball-handler to run the show in case Dennis Schroeder is sent to toil in oblivion. I think Doncic is close to maxing out his potential, but his floor is still a 15 ppg x 5 apg player.
4. Memphis: Marvin Bagley III, F/C Duke
Why: Outside of Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, the Grizzlies could use a roster overhaul. Bagley has massive potential, a motor that never quits and arguably the highest floor of anyone in this draft.
5. Dallas: Jaren Jackson Jr., F/C Michigan St.
Why: Jackson Jr. and Dennis Smith Jr., Jr’ing it up in pick-and-roll/pop situations= $$$$$. Couple that with Jackson’s abilities on the defensive end, and the Mavericks have a potential two-way star.
6. Orlando: Trae Young, PG Oklahoma
Why: Orlando lacks excitement and needs a franchise point guard. Young is a household name who produces fireworks.
7. Chicago: Wendell Carter Jr., F/C Duke
Why: When Carter dips into his bag, it’s curtains for defenders. His offensive arsenal is that deep. Combine his versatility as a scorer with the length and IQ to be an above-average defender and waaaalah, a star is born. He’s a perfect fit next to Lauri Markkanen.
8. Cleveland: Collin Sexton, PG Alabama
Why: Cleveland lacks players who can create their own shots. Sexton is a human microwave who can get it off the bounce even if he’s playing against polar bears in Antarctica. Mans can heat it up.
9. New York: Michael Porter Jr., F Missouri
Why: The Knicks need playmakers who can share Timbs, run the offense and drill jumpers alongside Porzingod. It took me a while to come around but after further evaluation, Porter Jr. is too versatile to fail in a positionless NBA. Dude’s going to be a monster, especially in New York, where he’ll find playing time right away. Multi-year All-Star. Check please.
10. Philadelphia: Lonnie Walker IV, G Miami
Why: Give Ben Simmons arguably the best scoring swingman in the draft and watch the 76ers make it do what it do for the next several years. Walker doesn’t need to pound the rock to be effective and could flourish playing in a Philadelphia-offense predicated off of Simmons’ dribble-drive capabilities and pushing the pace in transition.
11. Charlotte: Kevin Knox II, F Kentucky
Why: Kemba Walker can’t pour in all the points, and Charlotte needs a complete roster overhaul. Knox is sensational on the offensive end and possesses the ability to score on all three levels. An elite talent.
12. LA Clippers: Robert Williams III, F/C Texas A&M
Why: With the DeAndre Jordan era coming to a close in LA, Williams, a Jordan clone who provides the rim-running/protection teams long for makes sense. He played out of position at Texas A&M and will translate much better in the NBA, where he won’t have to deal with inadequate floor spacing.
13. LA Clippers: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG Kentucky
Why: The Clippers need a point guard for the future, and Gilgeous-Alexander doesn’t have to play right away with Patrick Beverly holding down the starting spot. Doc Rivers is the quintessential floor general whisperer and this is a matchmade in heaven.
14. Nuggets: Miles Bridges, F Michigan St.
Why: Too quick for opposing power forwards, the uber-athletic Bridges is a matchup nightmare at the 4 position, whose high-flying act in transition fits well on a Nuggets team that likes to push the tempo and play with flare. In Denver, he won’t be rushed into playing time, as he’ll study behind All-Star power forward Paul Milsaps. This is a perfect fit.
15. Washington: Mitchell Robinson, C USA
Why: Center Marcin Gortat no longer fits in the fast-paced style of the NBA and Robinson has the length, athleticism and upside to be the rim-runner/protector the Wizards have desperately needed.
16: Phoenix: Zhaire Smith, G Texas Tech
Why: Smith became a household name during the 2018 NCAA Tournament, where his high-flying acrobatics and versatility were on display. In Phoenix, he adds immediate depth to the backcourt and should quickly become a productive defender.
17. Milwaukee: Mikal Bridges, G/F Villanova
Why: The Bucks need shooters to surround Giannis and Eric Bledsoe, and Bridges doesn’t need the ball to make a difference. Also an elite defender, the Villanova product fits in the same mold as big $$$ guys Otto Porter and Robert Covington.
18. San Antonio: Donte DiVincenzo, G Villanova
Why: The Spurs love low maintenance players who have the versatility to fill several roles. An elite athlete and well-rounded player, DiVincenzo, a former sixth man for Villanova’s national title-winning squad, fits the mold.
19. Atlanta: Omari Spellman, F/C Villanova
Why: You got a guard in Doncic, now let’s focus on adding more weapons to the frontcourt. Spellman has the skills to play alongside John Collins, and adds 3-point shooting and defensive versatility to a roster in need of pretty much everything.
20. Minnesota: Troy Brown, G Oregon
Why: At 6-foot-7, Brown has the length to make a difference defensively, which falls in line with what Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau covets most. He’s also a well-rounded offensive player whose style of play fits well with a Minnesota team who doesn’t mind slowing it down.
21. Utah: Landry Shamet, G Wichita St.
Why: Having Shamet and Donovan Mitchell at both guard spots could be dangerous, as Utah would have two guards who can create their own offense and one in Shamet, who can flourish without the ball in his hands. A bigger version of Damien and C.J.
22. Chicago: Anfernee Simons, G IMG Academy
Why: The Bulls’ rebuilding stage affords them the chance to take risks via the draft. Simons didn’t attend college, choosing to spend another year in high school in 2017-18 but has a wealth of developable skills. He could be the next great point guard or a complete bust, no in-between.
23. Indiana: Aaron Holiday, PG UCLA
Why: If the Pacers felt comfortable with Darren Collison, another UCLA product, running the show, then they’ll love Holiday, who’s an upgraded version of Collison. A very mature player who brings it on both ends of the court, Holiday fits well in Indiana, where he’d take pressure off
Victor Oladipo and quickly carve out a niche in the team’s rotation.
24. Portland: Josh Okogie, G Georgia Tech
Why: You witnessed it in the playoffs. If C.J. and Dame aren’t scoring, the Trail Blazers are in trouble. Okogie combines quickness and brute strength to create his own shot and has a dog-like mentality, which serves him well on the defensive end.
25. Los Angeles Lakers: Kevin Huerter, G Maryland
Why: The goal in L.A. should be to surround point guard turnt rapper Lonzo Ball with hype men who could shoot the trey ball. Huerter rose up the draft boards after an impressive combine and has the stroke to be a lethal 3-point marksmen in the NBA. He’s also a much better athlete than advertised.
26. Philadelphia: Gary Trent Jr., G Duke
Why: The only thing the 76ers should be worried about is surrounding their young core with snipers. Trent fits the billing and can light it up from deep.
27. Boston: Elie Okobo, PG France
Why: Marcus Smart should be leaving during the summer and Kyrie Irving’s departure looms next offseason. The Celtics need to start grooming Bloody Rozier’s backup, and Okobo, a floor general from France, has shot up draft boards in recent weeks.
28. Golden State: Melvin Frazier Jr., G/F Tulane
Why: What could you possibly need when you have everything? Well let’s start with a perimeter defender who could replace Andre Iguodala. Enter Frazier.
29. Brooklyn: Keita Bates-Diop, G/F Ohio St.
Why: He’s polished. He works hard. And he could be a nice 8th man for several years to come.
30. Atlanta: Jalen Brunson, PG Villanova
Why: The Hawks need as much backcourt help as possible and who better than the Naismith Player of the Year for 2017-18. I personally think Brunson could become a starting point guard, and where better than a rebuilding Atlanta squad?