As we get a step closer to the end of the NBA season, Myles Stedman looks at the possible selection order on draft night.
- Philadelphia 76ers – Ben Simmons, Australia, 6 ft 10 in, f
Despite some character issues that are in ding the rounds, Ben Simmons is still the overwhelming No.1 pick, with some calling him the best LSU player since Shaquille O’Neal, and others going as far as calling him the best prospect since LeBron James himself. There is one caveat however – if you read between the cryptic social media posts, you’ll see he really loves the Lakers…
- Los Angeles Lakers – Brandon Ingram, Duke, 6 ft 9 in, sf
Whilst Ben Simmons is largely considered far and away the best player in college bastketball right now, Brandon Ingram is equally thought of by many as a better choice long-term – a style of thinking Philadelphia are proficient in. However, if they decide to go with Simmons, Ingram easily goes number two to the Lakers.
- Phoenix Suns – Dragan Bender, Croatia, 7 ft 0 in, pf
After the wild success of Kristaps Porzingis this year, it seems everyone is again keen to grab themselves a tall, athletic European – and wouldn’t two international players in the top-three be something? Dragan Bender and Alex Len would be a hell of a (European) frontcourt, with size, skill and tonnes of potential for Phoenix to build around.
- Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn) – Jaylen Brown, California, 6 ft 7 in, g/f
Boston has shown this year that they have an impressive core to build around for the future, as they currently sit third in the East. Adding athletic wing Jaylen Brown from California would only make the Celtics a more formidable task to navigate for their conference partners. Brown has the kind of intangibles that make for a good addition to the Brad Stevens game style, and at just 19, has plenty of growing to do, both on and off the court.
- Minnesota Timberwolves – Jamal Murray, Canada, 6 ft 4 in, g
The Minnesota Timberwolves already have a freakish young core, and adding unrefined Canadian talent Jamal Murray would only make them scarier. Not everyone is convinced by Murray yet, with his detractors highlighting his lack of playmaking ability for what is essentially a point guard’s body. This shouldn’t worry Minny, who will be very likely to take Andrew Wiggins’ countryman at the five spot they currently occupy. Don’t be surprised to see them go down the safer route however, and pick point guard Kris Dunn.
- Denver Nuggets – Buddy Hield, Oklahoma, 6 ft 4 in, sg
Someone is going to take him eventually, and it could be anywhere in this article, but I have John Wooden candidate Buddy Hield going at number six to the Denver Nuggets. Hield’s scoring talent is undoubtable – he can shoot, he can drive, he can do it all offensively. On the defensive end however, not so much, and his age (22) leads people to believe he’s not getting any better. For whoever takes Hield, the story goes one of two ways – either he’s the next James Harden, or the next Jimmer Fredette.
- New Orleans Pelicans – Kris Dunn, Providence, 6 f 4 in, pg
Many will call me crazy to suggest Kris Dunn will fall this far, but there’s always one who gets baulked at on Draft night, and this year it could be Dunn. The Timberwolves could easily snap him up at five, and some have suggested potentially earlier, but he could likely be a steal at seven for New Orleans, who are in need of a stable point guard to hang their hat on.
- Toronto Raptors (via New York) – Ivan Rabb, California, 6 ft 10 in, pf
Toronto have long been searching for a player to fill their power forward role, and the genius trade that will buy them either the Nuggets’ or NY’s first-round pick may nab them their man. He is exceptionally young to come straight into a playoff team, but he already possesses a man’s body, and if he lives up to comparisons to Chris Bosh, the Canadians may be sitting on a winner.
- Milwaukee Bucks – Jakob Poeltl, Austria, 7 ft 1 in, c
Ever since Larry Sanders tragically gave up basketball, Milwaukee has been looking for the centre of their dreams, and as good as Greg Monroe has been, his native position is power forward. Jakob Poeltl’s massive frame and strong defence would allow Monroe to move back home, and give the Bucks a defensive anchor in the post.
- Sacramento Kings – Furkan Korkmaz, Turkey, 6 ft 7 in, sg
Despite no shortage of lottery picks, the Sacramento Kings haven’t had a good old-fashioned draft “hit” in a good while, and without the pressure of a really high pick this year, they may be able to pull one off. Furkan Korkmaz at 10th overall provides them with a good bench or starting scorer with a good all-round ceiling. It’s a high reward, low risk pick, and if the Kings are smart, they’ll make it.
- Orlando Magic – Brice Johnson, North Carolina, 6 ft 9 in, pf
Brice Johnson is the late lottery guy in this year’s draft that all analysts are in love with. He’s an effective scorer that can operate inside or out, has good defensive potential, and has a high basketball iq having spent all four years at college. Orlando could hardly go wrong adding Johnson to their core, and given an opportunity, he may just surprise them.
- Phoenix Suns – Stephen Zimmerman, UNLV 7 ft 0 in, c
There’s a very good chance that if there’s no-one Phoenix like around this time in the draft that their pick gets traded. Around the late lottery, bigs are the main course, and having already gone big with their first selection, they may opt to trade this pick for a selection next year, etc. Assuming they keep the pick, their best bet would be the hulking centre from UNLV, Stephen Zimmerman. The Tennessee native uses his size effectively to score and rebound at a good pace for his young age (19).
- Denver Nuggets – Domantas Sabonis, Lithuania, 6 ft 10 in, pf
In what would be the sixth international pick in the lottery, Domantas Sabonis, son of Portland great Arvydas, has a chance to be an all-time theft at pick 13. While that is a lofty projection, he is exceptionally quick for 6-10, and at age 19, like most Europeans, has the ability to grow to unfathomable heights, both on and off the court.
- Detroit Pistons – Skal Labissiere, Kentucky, 6 ft 11 in, pf
The decline of Skal Labissiere, once on a pedestal with Ben Simmons, has been incredible. His inability to show any defensive or rebounding production in his increasingly reduced time on the court has hurt his stock massively, so much so that he has fallen off some lottery boards completely. If he comes out (maybe he shouldn’t) I have him going to Detroit with the last pick of the lottery – but don’t be surprised if this one comes back to bit the naysayers.