1. New Orleans Pelicans – Zion Williamson, SF – Duke
This one is obvious. Zion Williamson is the biggest name to come out of college basketball in some time. When, not if the Pelicans trade Anthony Davis, they’re going to bring in some new blood for Anthony Davis to play with. No matter who’s on the Pelicans next year, they’re going to be box office. That’s the Zion Williamson effect. I mean, come on now. The guy had the highest PER in the history of College Basketball.
2. Memphis Grizzlies – Ja Morant, PG – Murray State
I know the Grizzlies already have a point guard in Mike Conely, but Ja Marant is the future of the Grizzlies (don’t sleep on JJJ though). Morant’s single season at Murray State was unbelievable, with the flashy guard averaging 24 points and 10 assists per game. That’s insane! Yes, he played at a smaller school. Even with that, Morant was able to have a post-season run in the NCAA tournament where he looked very Harden-like. Morant and Jackson Jr. will provide Memphis with a solid core going forward.
3. New York Knicks – R.J. Barrett, SF – Duke
If the Knicks keep this pick, then Barrett will be their guy. I’m not the biggest fan of his game, but this is definitely a three-player draft and he’s one of those three players. Barrett will most likely be a better player than he was in College. This past year’s Duke team was absolutely stacked, and between Williamson, Reddish, and Barrett there wasn’t a lot of spacing to go around. Now that all three if these guys (barring a trade to the Pelicans for AD) will be on different teams, I think they’ll all do better. Barrett can create his own shot at an elite level. He didn’t shoot the three pointer very well, but he’s mentioned that this is one of the aspects of his game he needs to work on the most. New York would be foolish to pass up on such a talent.
4. Boston Celtics (via New Orleans Pelicans) – Darius Garland, PG – Wake Forest
Garland may be the biggest mystery of this year’s draft class. He played in only 5 games last season before having to sit out the rest of the year due to a meniscus injury. From all accounts, he’s healthy now and over the injury. The Celtics are going a different route now. I think they make a trade here in order to select Garland. His stock has really risen of late, and the Celtics are kind of at a crossroads. It looks like both Kyrie Irving and Al Horford are both gone. The Celtics are going to go from the most hyped team going into last season, to possibly entering a rebuild. Garland is a great piece to add to an already talented core.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers – Jarrett Culver, SG/SF – Texas Tech
Cleveland is in a spot this year where they just need talent. They need to draft the most talented player on the board, regardless of what position they are. Culver will most likely be the most talented player on the board here for Cleveland and he would fit an obvious need for them. The Cavaliers need guys who can make buckets. They struggled to do this last year, and Culver was one of the best players on the court last year with the ball in his hands. He’s also a fantastic defender. Culver shot 38% from three his freshman year at Texas Tech, but only around 30% last year. It’ll be interesting seeing how his three-point shot moves along, and this could dictate his big of a threat he is on offense.
6. Phoenix Suns – Coby White, PG – North Carolina
Before the season we all thought that Nassir Little would be the first player out of UNC taken in this year’s draft. Well, we were wrong! Coby White had a really good freshman year at UNC. He’s definitely one of the fastest guards to come out of college in recent years. His game definitely reminds me a tad of John Wall, but I also see some Brandon Knight in him. White’s game should translate well into the NBA. Phoenix needs a point guard BADLY, and I think a White/Booker backcourt could be really fun. I think White has the potential to be an elite defender in the NBA and exactly the type of hard-worker that Phoenix would like to have on its team.
7. Chicago Bulls – DeAndre Hunter, SF – Virginia
Hunter would be Jim Boylan’s favorite player in the draft. The guy plays hard, smart, and is great on both ends of the court. He probably won’t fall any further than Chicago, and I could even see him going fifth to the Cavaliers. The Bulls already have Otto Porter Jr., but Hunter fits there better. Having a core of LaVine, Hunter, Markkanen, and Carter Jr. is VERY exciting.
8. Atlanta Hawks – Cam Reddish, SG/SF – Duke
I’m hearing around the league that the Hawks really want to move one of these picks. They might want to trade up and draft Culver. If they don’t then they’ll take whoever is left between Hunter and Reddish. Cam Reddish has the skills many NBA teams want, but he hasn’t shown he can use them with consistency. The Hawks will be a great team for him and will give him time to develop.
9. Washington Wizards: – Sekou Doumbouya, SF – France
People are starting to really talk themselves into Doumbouya. Originally, I had the Wizards taking Nassir Little here. I think Doumbouya or Jaxson Hayes will be the two names Washington wants to take here. Doumbouya has the most potential, and therefore, will bet he pick from the Wizards at 9.
10. Atlanta Hawks – Jaxson Hayes, C – Texas
This is a perfect fit for both sides. I could see the Hawks even taking Hayes at eight, but he’ll most likely still be here at ten unless the Wizards take him. The Hawks have my favorite core in the NBA. They killed it in last year’s draft and are still reaping the benefits with this pick. Adding Hayes would be a brilliant move for the Hawks. A frontcourt of John Collins and Jaxson Hayes would be dominant and a ton of fun to build around. He’d be another guy Trae Young could throw oops to. I would just love to see Hayes and Young run the pick and roll together. This would be one of my favorite picks in the draft.
11. Minnesota Timberwolves – Rui Hachimura, PF – Gonzaga
Hachimura is another name that is gaining a lot of traction the closer we get to the draft. He has a very clean and efficient shot. He shot over 60% from 2-pointers last season, as well as over 40% from the 3 on limited attempts. Some team in the top 15 is going to select him, and I think the Timberwolves are going to be a terrific fit.
12. Charlotte Hornets – Nassir Little, SG/SF – North Carolina
Nassir Little has the talent to be a top 5 player in this draft when it’s all said and done. The Hornets need talent, due to the fact that they’ve given average players big contracts and can only build through the draft. Michael Jordan will be too tempted to draft UNC guard Nassir Little that I give it a few slim chance he’ll fall past Charlotte.
13. Miami Heat – Romeo Langford, SG – Indiana
I really like this fit. Langford is a smooth shot-creator who can make pretty tough shots. He needs to improve his game when he’s not holding the ball, but the Heat kind of need guys who can create their own shot. Besides of Josh Richardson, I don’t like any of the guards in Miami. Langford could come in and make an immediate impact.
14. Boston Celtics – Brandon Clarke, PF – Gonzaga
Clarke is a monster on the defensive end, mainly due to the fact that he can jump out of the building. Like, the dude is an athlete. He’s a good defender and is solid around the rim. Clarke is 22 however and doesn’t have the best shot. He’s a great value at 14 for the Celtics. Clarke can provide energy to a team and make an immediate impact.
15. Detroit Pistons – Kevin Porter Jr., SG – Southern California
Porter’s single season at USC was pretty underwhelming. He only ended up playing in 21 games, and his averages weren’t that impressive. He did shoot over 40% from 3 which is promising, as well as the fact that he possesses a freakish amount of athleticism. Porter Jr. was seen as a potential top 5 pick going into last season, but his stock has dropped since then due to his play and some problems off the court that led to him being suspended for part of USC’s season. The Pistons are in a position where they need young talent, particularly talent that can shoot. Porter Jr. would be a phenomenal pick for the Pistons at 15, and could end up being one of the best players in this draft.