It’s finally here! The NBA Draft is Thursday night (5 p.m. MST) and we couldn’t be more excited to see the graduation ceremony of this year’s next college basketball players.
There’s a ton of chaos surrounding the draft that we have really no idea what will happen. Will Kawhi Leonard get traded during the draft? What will Kevin Durant’s burner account tweet during the draft? How far will Luka Doncic fall, if at all? Will teams care that Deandre Ayton was embarrassed against the 13th-seeded Buffalo Bulls in the NCAA Tournament?
1. Phoenix Suns — Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona
Comparison: DeMarcus Cousins in a body crafted by the gods
Despite being roasted against subpar players in Arizona’s inexcusable loss in the NCAA Tournament, Ayton is the clear top prospect in this class. It’s rare to see someone with Ayton’s combination of size, athleticism and polish. Ayton looks like he could be a devastating offensive force, especially if his jumper translates. If he develops defensively, he should be one of the best players in the NBA for a long time.
2. Sacramento Kings — Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke
Comparison: Young Amar’e Stoudamire
As good as Ayton is, Bagley was the better college player. Bagley doesn’t have the ceiling of some of his contemporaries, but he has a high floor as a hyper-athletic heart-and-hustle big man. Now if Bagley develops his jump shot — it looks smooth already and he is known for his work ethic — he could be an Amar’e Stoudamire-type.
3. Atlanta Hawks — Jaren Jackson, Jr., C, Michigan State
Comparison: Better version of Myles Turner
Like Bagley, Jaren Jackson is a high-floor big who should be an effective two-way player at the very least. Jackson is more of a sure thing because he is already an excellent shot blocker and his jump shot looks NBA ready. It’s worth noting that Jackson doesn’t turn 19 until September, so if he seems polished now, keep in mind that he’s young for even a freshman one-and-done.
4. Memphis Grizzlies — Michael Porter, Jr., SF, Missouri
Comparison: Harrison Barnes
To be completely honest, I have no idea where Michael Porter will be drafted, and I also have no idea how good he can be. Porter is completely unproven outside of the high school basketball circuit, and even then, he hasn’t been anything more than an inefficient scorer. He’s also had a history of back issues and now there are reports of hip problems, the severity of which are both under speculation. However, if he’s healthy and is coached up, he could be a Paul George-type of scorer, who at 6’11 can shoot over anyone and can be a versatile defender.
5. Dallas Mavericks — Luka Doncic, SF, Slovenia
Comparison: Less athletic James Harden
Doncic shouldn’t be available here, but it seems that the teams ahead of Dallas aren’t too enamored with him. There are concerns that Doncic isn’t athletic enough to be a star, but at just 19-years-old he’s proven to be the best player in the world outside the NBA. Besides, with his passing ability, shot creation and general feel for the game, he seems like an ideal point forward to lead a modern NBA offense. Even if he doesn’t become James Harden, he will still be an elite offensive weapon.
6. Orlando Magic — Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas
Comparison: Fast Rudy Gobert, maybe with a jumper
If Mo Bamba reaches his potential, he will absolutely be the best player in this draft class. He has freakish athleticism and an even more freakish 7’10 wingspan. He can keep up with guards on the perimeter and protect the rim, meaning he’s the perfect defensive anchor for this era of the NBA. Offensively too, he’s flashed shooting potential and he has vastly improved his jumper just this offseason; with good coaching, it seems likely that he will be develop into at least a serviceable shooter. The issue with Bamba, however, is that he’s so raw that he needs an organization with the patience and focus to help him flourish.
7. Chicago Bulls — Wendell Carter, Jr., C, Duke
Comparison: Al Horford
Wendell Carter is another safe big man who is proven on both ends of the court. Offensively, he’s a crafty inside-out scorer who should develop into a solid secondary option. He also has good playmaking ability for his size, which reminds of Al Horford. Defensively, Carter is small for center and doesn’t have outstanding athleticism, but he’s very disciplined and is a high-IQ player who will be quality on that end.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers — Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama
Comparison: Vinnie Johnson in Eric Bledsoe’s swoll body
With Trae Young still on the board, the Cavs surprise and pick Collin Sexton. The rationale is that Sexton is a safer prospect because his shot creation and perimeter defense are more likely to pan out. He would also be more NBA-ready than Young if the Cavs believe LeBron will re-sign (lol). My guess, though, is that five years from now the Cavs will regret this, not necessarily because of Young’s development, but because Sexton is better suited as a sixth man than as a lead guard.
9. New York Knicks — Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma
Comparison: More Mike Bibby than Steph Curry
If Sexton goes at 8, the Knicks would be head over heels to draft Young. Of all the guards in this draft, Young likely has the highest ceiling. He could be a dynamic guard who combines elite shooting with high-level playmaking. He just needs to get stronger, improve his decision making and become a playable defender.
10. Philadelphia 76ers — Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova
Comparison: Khris Middleton
The 76ers would be smart to draft either Bridges. They pick Mikal over Miles here because (1) Mikal already plays in Philadephia with Villanova and is used to their insane fans, (2) he’s more NBA-ready as a high-level 3-and-D player, and (3) he has latent potential that could see him grow as a perfect compliment to Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
11. Charlotte Hornets — Miles Bridges, SF/PF, Michigan State
Comparison: Tobias Harris with hops
Miles isn’t as polished as Mikal, but he should be a terrific player if he’s in an opportunity to succeed. With his blend of athleticism, bulk and spot-up shooting, Bridges should be a dynamic complimentary forward right away. He’s undersized for the 4, but if he can hold up defensively there, the Hornets suddenly have someone who should thrive alongside Kemba Walker.
12. LA Clippers — Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami
Comparison: J.R. Smith without the Henny
Like Michael Porter, Lonnie Walker is a terrific athlete who is a great shooter, but hasn’t proven to be much more than an inefficient scorer. Walker has the potential to be a lethal shooter who can slash and attack the rim. The downside is that that might be all he provides, and without playmaking or defense, he may never be more than a gunner.
13. LA Clippers — Kevin Knox, SF/PF, Kentucky
Comparison: Detlef Schrempf
Should he reach his potential, Kevin Knox will be an able shooter, creative scorer and switchable defender. But Knox will take years to develop, and if teams are impatient with him, it may be his second or third NBA team that sees him turn into a valuable stretch forward.
14. Denver Nuggets — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky
Comparison: Dejounte Murray
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s potential rests upon him learning how to shoot. He’s already a super-sized point guard who can be an elite defender, and he’s a high-IQ offensive player with creativity finishing around the rim and intelligence as a pick-and-roll playmaker. If he can extend his range — he’s a solid free throw shooter and has a clean release — he will be a two-way guard who would be a perfect fit in Denver.
15. Washington Wizards — Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M
Comparison: Mini DeAndre Jordan
Robert Williams may be limited to rebounding and dunking, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Williams is best suited for a limited role where his two mains skills — which are both great for a prospect — are most valuable as a rim-running, undersized center. He’s never going to develop his shot, but he could be starter-quality if he can utilize his athleticism in protecting the rim effectively.
16. Phoenix Suns — Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech
Comparison: Andre Roberson in Gerald Green’s body
Zhaire Smith is a freak athlete who has the potential to be an elite 3-and-D wing. He’s already a solid defender whose leaping ability make him a good shot blocker and rebounder. As far as his defensive instincts go, he could very well be the second best defender in this class after Bamba. Where Smith is docked, however, is that he’s completely unproven on offense. He flashed a nice jumper and smart passing, but that’s really it. Right now, his offensive game is predicated on cuts and offensive rebounds, but there’s a reason K.J. McDaniels didn’t last in the NBA. If Smith develops his shot, he should be a quality starter. If he develops other parts of his game as well, he could be a star.
17. Milwaukee Bucks — Mitchell Robinson, C, Chalmette (HS)
Comparison: Willie Caulie-Stein
Mitchell Robinson is the most unproven player in this class, but he has the tools that could entice a risk-taking team like the Bucks. Robinson is extremely athletic and has a reputation as a prolific shot blocker, meaning he could develop into a center who lives above the rim on both ends.
18. San Antonio Spurs — Troy Brown, SF, Oregon
Comparison: Evan Turner, but in a good way
Troy Brown is a terrific all-around player, but he may lack the shooting and athleticism to thrive in the NBA. If he’s respected as a shooter, the rest of his diverse offensive game will be heightened. If he doesn’t develop, it could be hard for Brown to find minutes. If the Spurs draft him, their history suggests he will develop nicely.
19. Atlanta Hawks — Elie Okobo, PG, France
Comparison: More Delonte West than Goran Dragic
In a draft with Sexton and Young, Elie Okobo could be the best scoring guard in the class. The Frenchman is a skilled shooter and is confident pulling up from anywhere. He’s also crafty with the ball in the hands, and even against good perimeter defenders, he should be able to operate effectively in isolations and pick-and-rolls. He’s also lengthy and athletic enough to develop into a solid defender.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves — Keita Bates-Diop, SF/PF, Ohio State
Comparison: Jae Crowder
Keita Bates-Diop will never be a star, but he could compete for heavy minutes in Minnesota right away. As is, Bates-Diop is a skilled shooter who should be able to play small-ball power forward. Considering he was a late bloomer, he could still develop his game further and become a more well-rounded offensive player.
21. Utah Jazz — Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton
Comparison: Tony Allen with a jumper
Khyri Thomas has been perpetually overlooked in the draft process because (1) he’s not a great scorer, (2) he’s not an elite athlete, and (3) no one has watched a Creighton game since Dougie McBuckets graduated. Thomas’s calling card will be his potentially elite defense, which he is so good at because of his 6’11 wingspan, lighting quick hands, and aggressive mentality. Thomas will never average more than 15 points, but he’s a capable shooter and is a high-IQ passer. The Jazz would be ecstatic to have him next to Donovan Mitchell.
22. Chicago Bulls — Chandler Hutchison, SF, Boise State
Comparison: Landry Fields but good
The Bulls may have been hoping Michael Porter would fall to them, but now they have to address their Jimmy Butler-sized hole at small forward. (I realize Butler was gone last year, but Justin Holiday and Denzel Valentine didn’t exactly replace him.) Hutchison is a limited player, but that’s fine. He’s a glue guy who does a bit of everything, and he offers enough shooting and defense to play with whomever.
23. Indiana Pacers — Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland
Comparison: Allen Crabbe
You might shoehorn Kevin Huerter into a shooter-only role, but he’s more versatile than that. In addition to his elite shooting, he’s a solid athlete and can add more to his game as he develops. Many think he would have been a top-10 pick next year had he gone back to Maryland in a leading role, so the Pacers could get great value on a still-improving prospect.
24. Portland Trail Blazers — Dzanan Musa, SF, Bosnia
Comparison: Rodney Hood
Dzanan Musa is a gunner above all. That might not be welcome on many contending teams, but for an awful team like the Blazers, his excellent shooting would be critical. Additionally, he’s flashed potential as a playmaker in the pick-and-roll, and he could be a serviceable defender if he builds on his 200-lbs. frame.
25. Los Angeles Lakers — Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA
Comparison: Mean Trey Burke
Holiday is a limited player whose defense and passing leave much to be desired, but he’s a dangerous shooter who plays with energy and intensity. He would ideally be a backup point guard who could also play extended minutes off the ball. He’s a perfect fit with his old teammate Lonzo Ball.
26. Philadelphia 76ers — Josh Okogie, SF, Georgia Tech
Comparison: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Josh Okogie is easily projectable as a 3-and-D wing who will bring energy off the bench until he potentially develops into a starter. More specifically, Okogie is a lengthy and aggressive defender who is exciting in transition. Offensively, he’s best suited to spot up and make cuts to the rim, both of which would nicely compliment Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz.
27. Boston Celtics — Donte DiVincenzo, PG/SG, Villanova
Comparison: Courtney Lee, but gritty
I’m not qwhite sure why, but it seems Boston fans would adore the gritty, intelligent, hard-working Italian-American from a blue collar family on the Eastern seaboard. But seriously, folks, the Celtics may look to replace Terry Rozier and/or Marcus Smart if either/both depart the team. DiVincenzo is a well-rounded scoring guard who would fit nicely on the Celtics’ bench.
28. Golden State Warriors — Jerome Robinson, SG, Boston College
Comparison: Tyler Johnson
Jerome Robinson feels like the perfect guard for the Warriors. He’s relatively polished, has a sweet jumper, and plays well enough defense to earn minutes in any rotation. He also shows the ability to lead an offense, perhaps off the bench, as he is an adept three-level scorer and ball handler. He would be a fine wing to eventually replace Andre Igoudala.
29. Brooklyn Nets — Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky
Comparison: James Young?
Hamidou Diallo is likely the riskiest player in this draft, but the Nets have to gamble. If Diallo develops — and this is a massive if — his athleticism and length could make him a dangerous slasher and a nightmare defensively. The problem, though, is that he hasn’t shown any actual skills and his lackluster feel for the game means it’s unlikely he even develops into a good defender.
30. Atlanta Hawks — Jacob Evans, SG/SF, Cincinnati
Comparison: Wesley Matthews
If nothing else, Jacob Evans is someone you want on your team. He’s a fighter and a leader, and his attitude is infectious for winning teams. Skill wise, Evans isn’t great at anything, but he’s a hard working defender and he has enough shooting to space the floor. The Hawks have a long history of polishing young wings, so this would be the ideal scenario for Evans to develop into a key 3-and-D wing.
31. Suns — Rawle Alkins, SG, Arizona
32. Grizzlies — Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova
33. Hawks — Melvin Frazier, SF, Tulane
34. Mavericks — Moritz Wagner, PF, Michigan
35. Magic — Afernee Simons, PG, IMG Academy (HS)
36. Kings — Shake Milton, SG, SMU
37. Knicks — De’Anthony Melton, SG, USC
38. 76ers — Rodions Kurucs, SF, Latvia
39. 76ers — Gary Trent, Jr., SG, Duke
40. Nets — Jarred Vanderbilt, PF, Kentucky
41. Magic — Grayson Allen, SG, Duke
42. Pistons — Omari Spellman, C, Villanova
43. Nuggets — Bruce Brown, SG, Miami
44. Wizards — Jevon Carter, PG, West Virginia
45. Nets — Arnoldas Kulboka, SF, Lithuania
46. Rockets — Kevin Hervey, SF, UT-Arlington
47. Lakers — Justin Jackson, SF, Maryland
48. Timberwolves — Kenrich Williams, PF, TCU
49. Spurs — Trevon Duval, SG, Duke
50. Pacers — Landry Shamet, PG, Wichita State
51. Pelicans — Chimezie Metu, PF, USC
52. Jazz — Malik Newman, PG, Kansas
53. Thunder — Devonte’ Graham, PG, Kansas
54. Mavericks — Alize Johnson, PF, Missouri State
55. Hornets — Devon Hall, SG, Virginia
56. 76ers — Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV
57. Thunder — GEORGE KING, SF, COLORADO
58. Nuggets — Isaac Bonga, SF, Germany
59. Suns — Kostas Antetokounmpo, PF, Dayton
60. 76ers — Issuf Sanon, PG, Ukraine