1. Phoenix Suns – DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona
The Suns are in no position to get cute with their pick, and happily snag the most gifted player in the draft with the first overall selection. There are legitimate questions about Ayton’s defense, but he’s a generational athlete with the most upside in the draft. Although new head coach Igor Kokoškov has a long-documented history with Dončić from the Slovenian national team, Ayton’s tools are too tantalizing to pass up.
2. Sacramento Kings – Marvin Bagley, F, Duke
Rumor has it that Kings GM Vlade Divac isn’t smitten with Dončić, so he instead opts for the relentless and explosive Bagley. Despite some questions about whether he’ll play power forward or center, he’s an immensely talented scorer and athletic marvel. Bagley will provide the Kings with a low post presence they haven’t had since DeMarcus Cousins.
3. Atlanta Hawks – Jaren Jackson Jr., F/C, Michigan State
Word around the league is the Hawks aren’t in love with Dončić either, and are focusing more on college big men. They nab the best one available in Jackson, whose defensive prowess will compliment John Collins‘ budding offensive arsenal nicely to form a frontcourt for the future.
4. Memphis Grizzlies – Luka Dončić, G, Real Madrid
Dončić’s fall ends here, as the Grizzlies are thrilled to land arguably the best player in the draft. With his size, shooting, and creative ability, Dončić is a generational talent in his own right, and has drawn comparisons to James Harden for his pace, anticipation, and footwork. The accomplished 19-year old has superstar upside, and will launch a new era for the Grit & Grinders.
5. Dallas Mavericks – Michael Porter Jr., SF, Missouri
The back concerns are legitimate, the inefficient scoring could be for real, and the ego was on full display at the Combine. But Mavs owner and Shark Tank mainstay Mark Cuban is plenty familiar with risk management and cost-benefit analysis, and a potential future league MVP is well worth the top-five investment. He’ll provide the Mavs with a dynamic wing to run alongside explosive point guard Dennis Smith for years to come.
6. Orlando Magic – Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma
After trading former lottery pick Elfrid Payton at the deadline this season, the Magic still have a gaping hole to fill at the point guard position. Young certainly comes with risks, as his size, defense, and turnover tendencies are alarming for a lead guard. But the Magic are in desperate need of a jolt of energy to revitalize their long-dormant franchise, and bite on Young’s upside and flair.
7. Chicago Bulls – Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas
If the board falls this way, Bulls fans and management alike will be thrilled. Bamba is a physical specimen whose 7’10” wingspan is difficult to comprehend. With a budding offensive skillset and elite rim-protecting abilities already, Bamba will serve as the club’s center for the future, and will perfectly compliment Markkanen’s scoring talents. Bamba works out for the team at the Advocate Center on Friday.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers – Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova
Toeing the line between contending and rebuilding is a nearly impossible task, but the Cavs have no idea if LeBron is staying or leaving. Bridges has enough upside to develop into a cornerstone player, but can contribute right away as a 3-and-D wing if LeBron re-ups in The Land.
9. New York Knicks – Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama
New head coach David Fizdale is desperately seeking a tone-setting lead guard to change the culture for the young Knicks. He finds his man in the pugnacious and gifted Sexton, who will be a franchise player alongside Kristaps Porzingis for years to come.
10. Philadelphia 76ers – Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State
The Sixers are thrilled to land Bridges at ten, who offers a versatile and explosive off-ball offensive game that will compliment Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid beautifully. He needs work on his defense, but has all the tools to develop into an All-Star caliber player.
11. Charlotte Hornets –Wendell Carter Jr., C, Duke
The Hornets roster is a mess, and they need all the young talent they can find as they try to repair their lackluster, overpriced roster. Carter Jr. is the best player available, and will be a solid starter for years to come.
12. Los Angeles Clippers – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky
While the Clippers will get veteran point guard Patrick Beverley back from injury next season and still have 31-year old Milos Teodosic on the roster, they still need a point guard for the future. They find one of the very best in the draft in Gilgeous-Alexander, whose 6’6″ frame and 7’0″ wingspan is ideal at the point guard position in the modern NBA. He needs to work on his shot, but Gilgeous-Alexander could very easily wind up as the best point guard of this class.
13. Los Angeles Clippers – Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami
With the second of their back-to-back lottery picks, the Clippers nab Walker to form a backcourt duo for the future alongside Gilgeous-Alexander. Walker has been steadily climbing draft boards recently, and has a smooth polish to his game that’s rare for a 19-year old. He’s a terrific, physical athlete, and will contribute right away in Tinseltown.
14. Denver Nuggets – Kevin Knox, SF, Kentucky
While the Nuggets boasted a free-flowing, guns blazing offense this year, they also finished worst in the league in opponent field goal percentage. They’re thrilled to snag the versatile Knox, whose shooting ability will fit right in with the Nuggets’ attacking style. But he’s also a long and capable defender with plenty of room to grow, as he’s one of the youngest prospects in the class at only 18 years old. He’ll be a boost on both ends.
15. Washington Wizards – Robert Williams III, C, Texas A&M
16. Phoenix Suns – Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State
With the glut of point guards on their roster, the Suns instead opt for a steady, versatile small forward to relieve some of the scoring and defensive pressure off Devin Booker. Despite forwards T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson already on the roster, teams can never have too many wings these days. Bates-Diop will fit right into the Suns’ young core.
17. Milwaukee Bucks – Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech
Known to value length and athleticism in the draft, the Bucks can’t resist Smith’s spectacular leaping ability (41.5-inch vertial at the combine) and 6’10” wingspan. He needs plenty of time to develop, but has the potential to turn into an effective two-way wing alongside Khris Middleton and the Greek Freak. Smith will provide new head coach Mike Budenholzer with plenty of flexibility as he reshapes the Bucks roster.
18. San Antonio Spurs – Troy Brown, SG, Oregon
Brown and the Spurs are tailor-made for one another, as whatever the 19-year old guard lacks in athleticism he more than makes up for with his awareness, versatility, and savvy. He’ll fit right in with Coach Pop’s culture.
19. Atlanta Hawks – Aaron Holiday, G, UCLA
With incumbent point guard Dennis Schröder appearing to be on the outs, the Hawks could use an attacking, dynamic lead guard to take the reigns. They find their guy in Aaron Holiday, a solid defender who can play either on or off the ball as a dynamic scorer and distributor.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves – Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton
After a disappointing season, Coach Tom Thibodeau knows he needs help right away and can’t afford to wait around for rookies to develop. He gets immediate two-way contribution in Thomas, who will step in from day one as a defensive stopper and floor spacer to provide the Wolves with a much-needed spark of energy.
21. Utah Jazz – Jacob Evans, SG/SF, Cincinnati
The Jazz are closer to contention than even they anticipated, so look for them to nab some immediate playoff contribution in the form of a multi-positional wing. There are few better in this draft than Jacob Evans, who can space the floor effectively and is a bulldog defender. He and Jae Crowder will become a nightmare defensive pairing for opposing offenses.
22. Chicago Bulls – Chandler Hutchison, SF, Boise State
The Bulls make good on their rumored promise to Hutchison, and scoop him up with their second selection of the night. He’s an athletic, smart player with intriguing playmaking upside, and fills a desperate need for the squad at the small forward position. His length and frame make him a strong defender, and he still has plenty of room to grow as an offensive threat. Bamba and Hutchison would make for an awfully nice haul in Chicago come draft night.
23. Indiana Pacers – Džanan Musa, SF, Cedevita
While the Pacers were thrilled with the production they received from Bojan Bogdanović this postseason, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent after next year. Indiana will be eager to add a scoring punch to their offense that relives some of the pressure off of Victor Oladipo, and Musa provides exactly that. He’s a fearless, gunslinging scorer who plays with a swagger that will compliment the upstart Pacers nicely.
24. Portland Trail Blazers – Melvin Frazier, SF, Tulane
The Blazers need a superstar to truly contend, but could do much worse than to add a versatile defensive presence to support Rip City’s offensive-minded backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Frazier is an improved three-point shooter, and his athleticism and 7’1″ wingspan make him a pest for whoever he’s guarding.
25. Los Angeles Lakers – Mitchell Robinson, C, Chalmette High School
After impressive workouts, Robinson seems to have raised his stock in recent weeks. The Lakers make good on their rumored promise to Robinson, and land the high-risk, high-reward center late in the first. If he develops with the right coaching and teammates, he could be an All-Star.
26. Philadelphia 76ers – Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland
With sharpshooters J.J. Redick and Marco Belinelli both set to become unrestricted free agents, the Sixers would love to find a three point specialist on a long term, team-friendly deal. They get their man in Huerter, a late-riser up draft boards who will expertly space the floor for Ben Simmons and Embiid.
27. Boston Celtics – De’Anthony Melton, G, USC
With Marcus Smart after what seems to be a massive $10-$15 million per year payday in restricted free agency, the Celtics opt for a younger, cheaper replacement. Like Smart, Melton is a terrific and intense on-ball defender.
28. Golden State Warriors – Josh Okogie, SG/SF, Georgia Tech
The rich get richer as the Dubs land the intriguing Okogie, a multi-positional defender and prolific scorer for the Yellow Jackets. He turned heads at the Combine, where he registered a 42-inch vertical jump and the fastest three-quarter court sprint of any player tested.
29. Brooklyn Nets – Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova
DiVincenzo may have made a name for himself with a 31-point explosion in the National Championship, but he wants you to see more than just one game. The Big Ragu is a hyper-athletic, spirited competitor who soared up draft boards with impressive measurements and interviews at the Combine. At this stage in the draft, he’d be a great get for the Nets.
30. Atlanta Hawks – Rawle Atkins, SG, Arizona
The Hawks are in need of just about everything, but could do much worse than selecting the sophomore swingman out of Arizona. The Brooklyn native is a physical, hard-nosed defender and plus athlete, who will provide the rebuilding Hawks with an edge from day one. His intriguing playmaking potential could make him an above average starter down the line–look for Atkins to be a potential late riser this year.
Follow Ethan on Twitter–Feature Photo Credit: Angela Wang/Daily Texan