It appears I have a disability when it comes to numbers, something you shouldn’t expect from a former math teacher, but as pointed out to me numerous times on Twitter, I forgot to include Dallas and the number 5 pick in Part 1. This wasn’t, as someone suggested, because of irrelevence or lack of caring but a genuine mistake, probably induced by the consumption of alchohol at the time of typing.
The combine has now come and gone, and a whole set of rumors have come with it. We now have speculation that the Celtics may have interest in moving up to acquire the services of man child Mo Bamba, the Nuggets are willing to part with the 14th overall pick for the two years/$26 million left on Kenneth Faried’s contract, Luka Doncic is gobbling cheeseburgers and piling on the pounds faster than a John Wall coast-to-coast dunk, and of course both Michael Porter Jr. and Trae Young declaring that they are the best player in the draft class.
NBA Twitter is flush with draft big boards right about now, but as I have stated numerous times, it is important to remember that each team has a vital role to play when it comes to developing the players. Would Ben Simmons, Jayson Tatum, or Donovan Mitchell have had the same kind of season on other franchises? My guess is no because each player landed in the ideal landing spot for their development and were utilized to maximize their potential. Fact of the matter is that landing spot is HUGE!
So back to mistakes past made, starting with the Mavericks number 5 pick:
Dallas Mavericks (Pick 5):
Consensus pick: Mo Bamba
My pick: Jaren Jackson Jr/Michael Porter Jr/Marvin Bagley
It’s no secret that one of the biggest locks come draft day is that the Dallas Mavericks will be selecting one of the many big men available, and all fingers point to Mo Bamba being their guy. That is, if the Celtics don’t trade up to take him. For me, I’d take one of the offense-first guys in Porter or Bagley. Jackson could benefit the most learning from the ghost formerly known as Dirk. This isn’t a knock on Bamba’s skill set, although most are higher on him than me. It’s about the ability to stretch a defense in order to maximize the offensive prowess of Dennis Smith Jr. Possessing a perimeter threat from the front court position will allow DSJ more room to attack the paint, instead of a potentially low motor Bamba setting screens and rolling.
Cleveland Cavaliers (Pick 8):
Consensus Pick: Trae Young
My Pick without Lebron: Collin Sexton
My Pick with Lebron: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
When the Cavaliers traded Kyrie Irving to Boston, I am pretty sure they thought that Brooklyn pick would net them higher than the 8th overall, but here we are. I think the popular consensus is that Lebron is gone after this season, which would bring a whole summer of soap opera style drama as teams lobby in the open market for cap space to offer the King the keys to a new kingdom. Where would that leave the Cavs? George Hill and Jordan Clarkson will surely not be running the offense for Ty Poo and the boys, so why not Collin Sexton? Sexton is an athletic point guard who can both get to the rim and shoot. I don’t envision Sexton to come out swinging Donovan Mitchell style his rookie year, primarily due to his small frame, but overtime I think Sexton has the potential to be a guy that teams will regret passing up on, once he becomes more confident in absorbing contact and utilizing his athleticism. Think Malik Monk next year. Most people will have this as a reach, but I believe in the long term future of the former All-American guard.
New York Knicks (Pick 9):
Consensus Pick: Miles/Mikal Bridges
My Pick: Collin Sexton/Kevin Knox
As much as I drool over a backcourt duo of Frank Ntilikina and Collin Sexton, I also think this is a good spot for an athletic man with plenty of size, who is capable of playing both the 3 and 4. Knox feels like a forgotten man, one who could thrive in Summer League and turn some heads. Yes, he had an up-and-down season at Kentucky under John Calipari last season, but he was a freshman playing in an uptempo offense. I believe Knox will thrive in the more open NBA, use his size and athleticism at both ends of the court, and attack the basket with vigor. One of the youngest freshman in college basketball last season, won’t turn 19 until August, the Knicks seem like a great landing spot for his varied skill set and could be a fantasy sleeper in second half of the season.
Philadelphia Sixers (Pick 10):
Consensus pick: Whichever Bridges NY doesn’t take
My Pick: Mikal Bridges
The playoffs showed me that the Sixers need another wing who has the physical and mental tools to play lockdown D. Mikal Bridges is that guy for me. The Sixers do not lack offensive fire power or star potential, with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, so common sense should dictate selecting the player that would help them take that next step towards a championship. Bridges possesses a long wingspan, played three years in college, and has a national championship under his belt. Oh, he is also a local boy, born in Pensylvania and attended Villanova. The stars seem to align too well here.
Charlotte Hornetts (Pick 11):
Consensus pick: Murky
My Pick: Lonnie Walker
I have tried to figure out the plan down in Charlotte to no avail, so I will shoot for the stars and go for the high upside of Lonnie Walker, focusing on the small ball revolution. After starting the year extremely slow, when I criticized him unfairly perhaps, Walker perked up in the second half and displayed the potential that the scouts were drooling over. I hear what you’re saying, “the Hornets already have Kemba and Monk,” but with Kemba being an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season maybe now is the time to start speculating on the next generation backcourt of Monk and Walker and use the upcoming season to develop both players. Things look like they are going to get ugly in a hurry in Charlotte, so why not shoot for a player who posseses plenty of upside.
LA Clippers (Picks 12 & 13):
Consensus pick: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander & Zhaire Smith
My picks: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander & Mitchell Robinson
It wouldn’t surprise me if the Clippers look to combine both picks to move up in the draft should they find a suitor. If things remain the same, then Shai and Robinson are the guys for me. Shai would be a perfect Ying to Teodisic’s Yang. Coming out of Kentucky, the 6′ 6″ Shai not only has good size but athleticism as well. He demonstrated in his somewhat unexpected breakout season at Kentucky that he is able to score in bunches with a decent jump shot and excellent quickness that was able to garner easy seperation at times against college defenses. Shai also has a reputaton for being a dream to coach, works extremely hard, and has a great desire to improve his game. Somewhat of a project, this seems a good landing spot for Shai to develop into a starting calibre PG at both ends of the floor, as well as provide an immediate defensive upgrade to Teodisic off the bench.
Is there a more frustrating prospect than Mitchell Robinson? We all knew about the talent but there seems to be more red flags surrounding this dude than on a paintball field. De’Andre Jordon comes off the books at the end of the 2019 season, and if you are looking for the most likely replacement in this draft class, then Mitcho is the guy. A 7′ 1″ center who is probably the best pure shot blocker in the class. Robinson is likely to make his NBA living protecting the rim, rebounding, and dunking lobs…Sound like anyone you know?
Denver Nuggets (Pick 14)
Consensus: Pick is traded
My pick: Pick is traded
It’s no secret that the Nuggets are desperate to get out of the contract of Kenneth Faried aka the Manimal to create financial flexability to sign other players that are due to be free agents. At pick 14, it is likely that they find a suitor with cap space and a need for young talent to accomodate. With that said, who of the Kings, Hawks, and Nets wouldn’t try and get this pick? All have the cap space to take on the Manimal. Hell, he might even have some value in fantasy wherever he lands. Pick 14 would yield a pretty enticing building block piece for the sake of taking on $14 million for one season. It is very much a buyers market this summer with teams trying to create cap space, and who would bet against the Nets or Kings getting creative to gain an extra pick, a lottery one at that.
Next up. Pre-draft Dynasty Rookie Rankings coming soon for all those that have been asking. Until then, you can find me onTwitter @storytelling41 for NBA draft snippets and thoughts.