Here it is,our annual NBA Draft Preview. All 30 picks from the first round are here and I know this isn’t the best of drafts this year,but I’ll do my best to explain each pick and why I have the going to each team. So here we go with our annual preview!
1. Philadelphia-Ben Simmons, PF LSU
The 76ers are quickly becoming the Oakland A’s of the NBA by stockpiling draft picks in the hopes those magic beans will turn this team around. Add one more in Simmons who is and has been regarded as one of the top picks in this year’s draft. He has great size and strength for a power forward who has been branded as a supreme competitor who is highly unselfish. He does need to work on his jump shot,but overall,there aren’t too many flaws with Simmons. We all know he’s going to go here at the top spot. I wonder who Philadelphia will take first overall in next year’s draft.
2. L.A. Lakers-Brandon Ingram, SF Duke
The Lakers are now living life after Kobe and have the second overall pick yet again. Unlike last year where they stunned everyone and chose D’ Angelo Russell, we pretty much know that Duke’s Brandon Ingram will more than likely be picked up here. Ingram has a massive wingspan at 7-3 and has excellent shooting ability. He does had a frail frame at 196 lbs.,but Kevin Durant was also undersized when he was drafted at this same spot in 2007 and he turned out alright. Ingram has even been compared to him. I think he’ll fare well with the Lakers who have a bunch of young pieces who are ready to improve this team.
3. Boston-Buddy Hield,SG Oklahoma
If Boston keeps this pick,it may be a case of the rich getting richer. Hield is experienced having played four years at Oklahoma and keeps getting better and better. He has great three-point shooting skills and is heralded for his defensive abilities. He will definitely make a difference for a Celtics team that’s been pretty good for the last couple seasons with basically no superstars.
4. Phoenix-Marquese Chriss,PF Washington
The Suns need talent on all fronts, but I think their frontcourt would shine with Chriss. His draft stock has risen as of late and he’s been described as possibly the most explosive player in the draft. He’s a guy who plays with great intensity and energy. Though he’s still developing his all-around game, Phoenix needs a guy with the kind of athleticism and the potential that Chriss has.
5. Minnesota- Jamal Murray, SG Kentucky
The Timberwolves are still a young team who are still developing a strong nucleus around Karl-Anthony Towns and I think they need a strong combo guard like Jamal Murray. He’s a very polished player for his age and a strong three-point shooter and Minnesota definitely needs a guy who has great shooting range. He’ll fit in here perfectly.
6. New Orleans-Kris Dunn, PG/SG Providence
With Eric Gordon departing for free agency, the Pelicans may draft his replacement at this pick and the guy who may do just that is Kris Dunn of Providence College. He’s a very impactful player who can create opportunities for teammates or get shots on his own. He’s especially great at attacking the basket as well. New Orleans would be an excellent fit for Dunn with Jrue Holiday in the same backcourt.
7. Denver-Dragan Bender, PF Croatia
The Nuggets could use some more frontcourt help and Dragan Bender is a versatile forward who can play small and power forward and can even fill the center position. He has a great wingspan at 7-2 and can run the floor well. He does have limited leaping ability,but at 19 years old he has a lot of upside and a Denver team that needs more upside could use someone like Bender.
8. Sacramento- Jaylen Brown, SF California
Yes,I’m a big Cal fan and I like Jaylen Brown very much. He’s got great athleticism,speed and strength to be a solid player on the wing. He is,however,a project player who needs to develop a good jump shot. However,Brown is a very talented player who I think will thrive in Sacramento.
9. Toronto-Domantas Sabonis, C Gonzaga
The son of Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis,he’s got high energy and is great in the post. He runs the floor very well and plays great defense. Toronto also has other options and other holes to fill,but I think they’d do themselves a great favor by drafting this big man because they really need more players who have an inside presence.
10. Milwaukee-Jakob Poeltl,C Utah
While the Bucks could use someone at shooting guard,it never hurts to have depth in the frontcourt. Poeltl runs the floor well for a big man and gives his best effort to get open on every possession. He might be another version of a former Milwaukee center,Andrew Bogut. Not bad if you ask me.
11. Orlando- Skal Labissiere,C Kentucky
The Magic might need some more help up front and Labissiere provides a great combination of size and length and uses his size to defend the rim. He also has great character. He also has a great finesse shot that the folks in Orlando will absolutely enjoy.
12. Utah-Deyonta Davis,PF Michigan St.
The Jazz have an already great young core in place and it’s time to add some size to that. Davis moves well for a big man and is very able to play in an uptempo system. With a very high ceiling,there’s no telling what he can become in Utah.
13. Phoenix-Malachi Richardson, SG Syracuse
The Suns have three first round picks,so they might as well just go nuts and select the next best player available. Richardson has great build for a shooting guard in the NBA but does need to fill out his frame and should over time. He has great scoring instincts and is even a great passer. His strong work ethic should be a benefit to Phoenix’s lineup for years to come.
14. Chicago-Brice Johnson, PF North Carolina
With Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol headed for the free agent market, the Bulls might need to look at some frontcourt help and UNC’s Brice Johnson has a great variety of size,ability,and efficiency on both ends of his game. He runs the floor really well and I think this is a guy that Chicago would benefit from having on their team,especially if their current frontcourt heads elsewhere.
15. Denver-Denzel Valentine, SG/SF Michigan State
Valentine is a polished player who played for Tom Izzo for four years. He’s a complete player who has great intellect and leadership skills and great character. I think the Nuggets needs a guy who has some sort of leadership qualities and Valentine is that guy.
16. Boston-Henry Ellenson, PF Marquette
The Celtics have three first rounders in this year’s draft and like the Suns,they might as well go after the next best player available and Marquette’s Ellenson looks to be it. He has terrific size and was very productive in college. He is a great ball handler and has great rebounding abilities. Some mock drafts have him going as high as the ninth pick,but I think he fits in right here at Boston’s second spot in the first round.
17. Memphis-Furkan Korkmaz, SF Turkey
Korkmaz is a great scorer and it’s almost like it comes to him naturally. The offensive dimension of his game is off the charts and he’s far from shy from taking a shot if he’s open. He’s been compared to the likes of Gordon Hayward,a player I like a lot. He does have to work on his defensive part of his game,but overall I think he’d be a great addition to the Grizzlies roster.
18. Detroit-Dejounte Murray, PG/SG Washington
Murray has great explosiveness and athleticism and shows the ability to score in many ways. He does need to fill out his frail 170 lb. frame and his three-point shot needs to come around,but I think he’d be great with the Pistons who had a breakout year last season after being away from the playoffs for several years.
19. Denver-Ivica Zubac, C Bosnia
Denver’s third and final pick of the first round may as well go to another frount court player and Zubac has great size and length for the position. He’s also very mobile and quick to score. I think the Nuggets need a guy like him on the floor.
20. Indiana-Cheick Diallo,PF Kansas
The Pacers could use a guy with an endless motor at the power forward spot. He jumps well and has a knack for blocking the ball and rebounds well. He kinda reminds me of a Kenneth Faried (a player I really like). He’s a player who always gives his best effort on the court and would look great in an Indiana uniform.
21. Atlanta-Timothe Luwawu, SF France
The Hawks could use a player on the wing with ideal size and Luwawu is a great value this late in the first round. He’s a natural scorer who shows confidence with his shot and also shines with great passing skills. Atlanta may need some insurance if the team loses Kent Bazemore to free agency.
22. Charlotte-Malik Beasley, SG Florida St.
The Hornets could use a guard who is capable of knocking down big time shots and Beasley is it. He also moves the ball well and takes advantage of the defender. He also gives his all on defense. A bonus for a Charlotte team that can use a player like him.
23. Boston-Ante Zizic,C Croatia
The Celtics’ third first rounder can be a wild card and I think taking another player with size might be beneficial. Zizic has a high amount of energy when he’s on the court and rebounds well on both ends of the floor and he’s effective on the pick and roll. I think Zizic would do great in Boston on a squad with a lot of quality talent.
24. Philadelphia-Wade Baldwin, SG Vanderbilt
The 76ers have three first rounders and with a team that could use any talented players they can get, they should get a guy who has talent as a combo guard. Baldwin has good size and length and has strong numbers shooting from outside. I think he’d be great for Philadelphia.
25. L.A. Clippers- Taurean Prince, SF Baylor
The Clippers could use some more guys on the wing and Prince has the physical tools at that position. He’s also capable of scoring from three-point range,though is a bit of a project player. I think Prince is a guy who would do well in Los Angeles.
26. Philadelphia- Demetrius Jackson, PG Notre Dame
Philadelphia’s third pick of this round has them with a point guard,which is something they need. Jackson is flashy and explosive and can pass the ball and score. He does need to work on his skills a floor general,but he would be a more suitable choice at point guard than what the 76ers had all of last season.
27. Toronto-Juan Hernangomez,PF Spain
A great combo forward, Hernangomez is developing into the kind of player that is evolving with the game itself. He is able to score when you need a quick shot. He may not come to the league right away, but that’s okay because the Raptors can wait for him to come when he’s ready.
28. Phoenix-Steven Zimmerman, PF UNLV
The Phoenix Suns’ third pick of this round has them picking some more front court help and Zimmerman can come in and provide an excellent basketball IQ and physical skill set who may one day be a quality NBA forward.
29. San Antonio-Diamond Stone, C Maryland
The Spurs may need some depth in the frountcourt with the possibility of Tim Duncan retiring. Sure,Stone would be far from a replacement,but he would fill a roster spot and he does possess great size and strength and knows how to finish below the rim. Plus,he has a kick-ass name. You know?
30. Golden State-Thon Maker, C Australia
The Warriors can pretty much draft anyone here,and why not someone who can learn to play in the low post behind another Australian on the roster? Maker has a huge frame and is careful with the ball and is a great defensive presence. His offensive game will take some time,but what better place to develop that than Golden State, am I right?
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