The Milwaukee Bucks are your NBA Champions and their roster had exactly one (1) player drafted in the lottery (Brook Lopez). The NBA Draft is often a crapshoot because, it turns out, we have no idea how a bunch of 19-year-olds will look seven years from now.
Is Evan Mobley a can’t miss prospect? Probably, but a lot of people thought that about Jabari Parker. Is Kai Jones worth a high draft pick? Teams were too scared to pick Giannis Antetokounmpo in the lottery and look at him now. Does David Johnson deserve a guaranteed contract or should he be a two-way player? I have no idea, but Khris Middleton went from 2nd rounder to G League star to 2nd best player on a title team.
We don’t know anything about anything, but it’s still fun to watch 8-minute YouTube highlights and pretend to know who’s going to be an All-Star and who’s going to be a bum. Besides, we have a Buff in the draft, and we know he’s going to make to the league.
1. Pistons — Cade Cunningham, SF/PG, Oklahoma State
It’s not hard to look at Cade Cunningham and see a 10-time All-Star. Not many players have his combination of size, smarts and skill. He’s capable of running the offense as a Doncic-type creator, or he could play more off ball as a modern Scottie Pippen, or something in between those roles. Regardless, he’s everything the Pistons could want with the first overall pick.
2. Rockets — Jalen Green, SG, G League Ignite
Although Cunningham is considered the clear #1 prospect, Jalen Green might have more upside. He’s an unreal athlete who knows how to use his gifts — more so than Anthony Edwards — in order to create whatever shot he wants. He has a ton of untapped potential as a creator if he’s able to tighten up his handle and fill out his frame.
3. Cavaliers — Evan Mobley, PF/C, USC
The Cavs would be ecstatic to land a do-everything big man who is perfect for the modern NBA. His skill as a PNR big man should make him an easy fit with just about anyone, particularly Darius Garland, and his rim protection should help cover the Cavs’ defensive weaknesses.
4. Raptors — Jalen Suggs, PG, Gonzaga
Suggs is the epitome of what Toronto looks for in their guards. He’s tough, smart and has a winning mentality, much like breakout star Fred VanVleet and free agent Kyle Lowry. He’s always on the attack, always in control and is a powerful finisher. He’s a great defender and will only get better in Nick Nurse’s system.
5. Magic — Jonathan Kuminga, SF/PF, G League Ignite
The Magic already have a ton of big wings on the roster, but none of them have the shot-making potential of Kuminga. He’s a bit of a disaster with his shot selection and overall consistency, but Orlando is committed to the rebuild and can be patient.
6. Thunder — Scottie Barnes, SF/PF, Florida State
Scottie Barnes is a safe pick who has as much upside as anyone outside of the top-3. At worst, he’s a tremendous defender with great size (6’9 with a 7’3 wingspan) with just enough playmaking to be effective on offense. At best, his offensive skillset keeps growing and his jumper — already looking better — turns him into an elite two-way player.
7. Warriors —Moses Moody, SG/SF, Arkansas
Moody is a plug and play wing for a Warriors team that badly needs depth on the wing. He’s going to be a solid shooter and perimeter defender, who at worst will be a steady rotation wing, and at best will be a dynamic two-way contributor.
8. Magic — Alperen Şengün, C, Beşiktaş (Turkey)
The steal of the draft so far, Şengün was absolutely dominant in the Turkish League, becoming the rare teenager to win MVP in what is likely the third best league in the world (after the NBA and Spanish ACB). He’s ridiculously skilled in the post, has balletic footwork and balance, has playmaking upside reminiscent of Nikola Vucevic or a lesser Nikola Jokic, and is showing some three-point range. He’s small for a center (6’9 with 7’0 wingspan) and has middling athleticism, so there are questions about his defense, but the league is scattered with smart players who figured it out on that end.
9. Kings — Franz Wagner, SF/PF, Michigan
There’s buzz that Franz Wagner is the Tyrese Haliburton of this draft class in that despite having middling athleticism and an inconsistent jumper, his feel for the game and defensive impact will immediately contribute to winning basketball. The Kings need more heady players who can do the little things right.
10. Pelicans — Keon Johnson, SG/SF, Tennessee
Every draft has an uber-athletic wing whose skillset is entirely theoretical. Here, it’s Keon Johnson, who will throw down insane dunks but also plays like a 6’4 power forward who can’t dribble with his left hand. He’s a project pick who will need years of development, so it’s pertinent he lands in the right place.
11. Hornets — Jalen Johnson, SF/PF, Duke
An absolute mystery box, Jalen Johnson may have to change his play style to get the most out of his skills and athleticism. He’s smooth as hell, has great handles and passing ability for his size, but his best route to success may be as a modern power forward. That would require a huge leap in defensive effort, but he has flashed a ton of potential on that end.
12. Spurs — Kai Jones, PF/C, Texas
Even counting Johnson, Kai Jones is probably the most boom-or-bust player in the draft. He only started playing organized basketball at age 16, so his skills are unpolished and his understanding of the game is still growing. He’s bouncy, fast and crazy fluid for being 6’11. He has flashed great touch on his shot, even if his mechanics are a mess, and shows some potential off the bounce. But whoever drafts Jones can’t expect too much too quickly, because he is a years-long project. If he’s expected to be a defensive anchor right away, teams will be disappointed when he struggles to track everything on the floor. Give him time and he will turn into a great player, but the floor is low.
13. Pacers — Josh Giddey, PG/SG, Adelaide (Australia)
One time CU target Josh Giddey would be a steal at this point. He’s a 6’7 combo guard who plays with an elite feel for the game. If he can work on his jumper, he can be a major contributor on a contender; if it remains erratic, he should carve out a solid career nonetheless.
14. Warriors — James Bouknight, SG, UConn
The Warriors need playmakers other than Steph Curry. Bouknight is raw as a playmaker and his shot looks better than his percentages, but it’s a swing worth taking. This dude is so smooth and savvy that he’s going to get buckets. Maybe he tops out as a sixth man, but the Warriors are happy with that risk in the late lottery.
15. Wizards — Davion Mitchell, SG, Baylor
The Wizards will want someone who can step into a big role from the get-go. Mitchell will be a dog on defense and should be able to pass and shoot just enough to be a positive on offense. Maybe the upside isn’t there, but he’s a really good player right now.
16. Thunder — Usman Garuba, PF/C, Real Madrid (Spain)
Though not quite as productive as Şengün, Usman Garuba was really good for a Real Madrid team. It’s hard for young players to crack any rotation in Europe, much less start for a perennial EuroLeague contender. Garuba earned those minutes with his intelligence and workmanlike mentality. He’s undersized for a center, but plays great help defense and should be able to switch onto guards. Even if he doesn’t develop his offensive skills, he’s a cagey screener and cutter and adds real value on the glass.
17. Grizzlies — Corey Kispert, SF, Gonzaga
Another plug-and-play wing, Corey Kispert is a great shooter with good size and an underrated off-the-dribble game. Although accurate, his jumper has a low set point and can be bothered by athleticism or length, which proved to be a problem against Baylor. Whether or not he’s a feared Shooter (capital-S) or just a shooter could determine his role, as that may be the difference between being Joe Harris or Doug McDermott.
18. Thunder — Ziaire Williams, SF, Stanford
Another Thunder pick, another home run swing. Ziaire Williams was something of a disaster at Stanford, struggling with the physicality of the college game and never really got going. Much of that was not his fault, considering what he and his team dealt with off the court. He’s worth taking a shot on, considering how rare it is to find big, shot-making wings... assuming he actually makes shot, which he didn’t at Stanford.
19. Knicks — Chris Duarte, SG/SF, Oregon
Buffs fans saw too much of Chris Duarte, the flopping and fouling Oregon wing. He’s old for a draft prospect (24 when the season start), but teams love his length, defense and catch-and-shoot game. He should be a good NBA player and an even better villain.
20. Hawks — Jared Butler, PG, Baylor
Maybe the most underrated player in the draft, Jared Butler is has no discernible weaknesses besides being 6’3 with average athleticism. He’s a terrific shooter who should be even better in the NBA, where he can play off-ball and expertly move into dangerous areas. He can also threaten defenses in the pick-n-roll with his handle and playmaking.
21. Knicks — Jaden Springer, PG/SG, Tennessee
Evaluations of Jaden Springer are all over the place, some comparing him to a bigger Kyle Lowry and some saying he’s not skilled enough to be a lead guard and doesn’t get the most of his athleticism. He’s a big guard who plays with intelligence and toughness, even if his upside is limited and his jumper needs work, I would be comfortable betting on him to be a productive combo guard.
22. Lakers — Ayo Dosunmu, PG/SG, Illinois
If Duarte is gone, Dosunmu should be the Lakers’ Plan B. He played his entire career as a lead ballhandler, but can also thrive as an off-ball role player in the NBA. He’s really long (6’10 wingspan) and has the physical strength to defend bigger players. He would need to work on his jumper, but everyone does at this point in the draft.
23. Rockets — Isaiah Jackson, C, Kentucky
Isaiah Jackson’s draft range is all over the place. Right now, he’s an explosive center who will need to get stronger and more polished to become anything more than a rim-runner. At the same time, there’s talk he has more ability than Kentucky let him show, which wouldn’t be the first time that happened with that program.
24. Rockets — Trey Murphy, SF/PF, Virginia
There’s a 90% chance Murphy becomes a rotation-caliber 3-D forward, due to his size (6’9, 7’0 wingspan), shooting accuracy and intelligence as a help defender. He would be a good fit on any team.
25. Clippers — Cam Thomas, SG, LSU
Great talent, terrible to play with, Cam Thomas is there to get Cam Thomas some shots. He’s really good in isolation and creates separation in the pick-n-roll, but again, those only lead to him getting off his own shot. His upside is Lou Williams, but it’s hard seeing him being anything more than a ball-dominant bench scorer.
26. Nuggets — Miles McBride, PG/SG, West Virginia
A late riser in the draft cycle, Miles McBride has the requisite length, toughness and jumper to be a two-way contributor. He’s not the best playmaker, but the Nuggets don’t need that with Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Monte Morris in tow.
27. Nets — Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, PF, Villanova
The Nets have enough ball handlers and scorers that they can focus on finding ready-made role players. Robinson-Earl is as smart as he is polished, although he’s a bit undersized and isn’t very quick. Still, there’s a lot of old man Paul Millsap that every team needs around their stars.
28. 76ers — Sharife Cooper, PG, Auburn
Whether or not the 76ers trade for a lead guard — looking at you, Dame — they need a penetrating guard off the bench. Cooper is an excellent creator off the dribble, particularly in the PNR, and has the touch to score against drop coverage. He can’t shoot and is a disaster defensively, but you take the chance on talent this late in the first round.
29. Suns — Rokas Jokubaitis, SG, Žalgiris Kaunas (Lithuania)
My favorite sleeper in the draft, if only because he plays like I do. He’s a big lefty guard who moves the ball and relies on guile and feel to get open looks. HIs three-point jumper is a set shot that takes a while to release, but he’s comfortable shooting mid-range jumpers off the dribble and could extend that range. Maybe he’s more Beno Udrih than Goran Dragic, but he’s a solid player who would fit the Suns’ system.
30. Jazz — Tre Mann, PG, Florida
Tre Mann loves his pull-up game — all of his dribble moves and movement in the PNR lead directly to that shot. It’s a great shot, one that should translate to the NBA, but he has to expand his offensive game to stick in an NBA rotation.
31. Bucks — Bones Hyland, PG, VCU
32. Knicks — Day’Ron Sharpe, C, North Carolina
33. Magic — Josh Primo, SG, Alabama
34. Thunder — Josh Christopher, SG, Arizona State
35. Pelicans — Isaiah Todd, PF, G League Ignite
36. Thunder — Greg Brown, PF, Texas
37. Pistons — JT Thor, PF, Auburn
38. Bulls — Kessler Edwards, SF, Pepperdine
39. Kings — Jericho Sims, C, Texas
40. Pelicans — Vrenz Bleijenbergh, PF, Antwerp (Belgium)
41. Spurs — Santi Aldama, PF, Loyola Maryland
42. Pistons — Quentin Grimes, PG, Houston
43. Pelicans — David Johnson, SG, Louisville
44. Nets — Herb Jones, SF/PF, Alabama
45. Celtics — RaiQuan Gray, PF/C, Florida State
46. Raptors — Aaron Henry, SF/PF, Michigan State
47. Raptors — Neemias Queta, C, Utah State
48. Hawks — Joel Ayayi, SG, Gonzaga
49. Nets — Joe Wieskamp, SG, Iowa
50. 76ers — Justin Champagnie, SF/PF, Pittsburgh
51. Grizzlies — McKinley Wright IV, PG, Colorado
McKinley Wright is going to make it to the NBA whether or not he’s selected in the draft. After a record-setting four-year career at Colorado, Wright built his draft stock through workouts, interviews and combine scrimmages. Teams will view him as a backup point guard who will go all out on defense, take care of the ball and do enough of the little things to make up for his shaky jumper. He would work well on the Grizzlies, where his mentality is perfect for their culture and he could earn early minutes behind Ja Morant.
52. Pistons — Isaiah Livers, SG, Michigan
53. Pelicans — B.J. Boston, SG, Kentucky
54. Pacers — Moses Wright, PF, Georgia Tech
55. Thunder — Jason Preston, PG, Ohio
56. Hornets — Juhann Begarin, SG, Paris (France)
57. Hornets — Aamir Sims, PF, Clemson
58. Knicks — Austin Reeves, SG/SF, Oklahoma
59. Nets — Dalano Banton, PF, Nebraska
60. Pacers — Filip Petrusev, C, KK Mega Basket (Serbia)