The Timberwolves are not making it public but appear to have decided on their guy, the player we projected going first going into the college season. Towns has the ability to play on both ends, not to mention he fills a need for Minnesota. Despite Flip Saunders being a huge fan of Okafor, his superior mobility, defense and overall potential make him the choice.
Okafor has become the highly probable choice at 2, and while the league has certainly shifted, becoming more lead guard dominated, bigs retain a lot of value just because of the scarcity of high-level ones. The emergence of Jordan Clarkson as one of the top rookies and the team’s potential PG of the future probably makes this pick easier. Okafor and Towns both have Top 3-5 center in the league potential.
Russell worked out for the Sixers and while he didn’t blow the doors off, he was solid and remains the likely pick. Mudiay had a strong workout with the team and may have increased his chances. Kristaps Porzingis has also been linked to this pick, but we consider the team’s backcourt need will ultimately dictate the pick. Russell’s shooting ability is what gives him the edge over the stronger and more athletic Mudiay for them. If the Lakers shock everyone and take Russell, Philly is expected to draft Okafor here.
Mudiay has good size at the PG position, which works well in the triangle. Despite Phil Jackson missing his workout, Kristaps Porzingis remains a real possibility with the Knicks if they decide to swing for the fences with a sweet shooter with great length and mobility. There’s also the chance someone else moves up to 4 for him. Trey Lyles has been linked to New York, as Phil Jackson gushed about him, but would only make sense from a value perspective if they were to trade down a few spots. If a trade happens, a team could move up for one of the Euros. And don’t rule out Winslow as the pick for New York at 4.
Power Forward / 6-11 / Baloncesto Sevilla (Spain) / 1995
11.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.2 bpg
Many scouts in Europe see “Zinger” as a no-brainer Top 5 pick. He has a diverse skill set, and great length and would bring a much needed shooter to a lineup of defensive minded players. The Magic need talent, and Porzingis offers a player who if he adapts to American culture and the strength of the NBA game can be an offensive standout. This is a match made in heaven, and an environment (smaller market, lower expectations, more patient fan base) that would likely give Porzingis his best opportunity to fulfill his potential.
If the Top 5 goes as expected (in some order), this pick is likely to come down to Winslow or Hezonja. The assumption that Vlade Divac is more likely to take a European player may or may not be the case. The team has taken 2-guards in each of the past two drafts, so Winslow as a SF seems to make more sense. Then again it’s a new regime and rumors have suggested the team is shopping Ben McLemore and Nik Stauskas. If Mudiay were to slide, he would be a tremendous value at 6.
Shooting Guard / 6-7 / FC Barcelona (Spain) / 1995
8.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.1 apg
The Nuggets need to swing for the fences with the player they view having the greatest chance to be a star. Hezonja fits that. He’s got an air of confidence and truly believes that he’s the best player in this draft. His shooting is legitimately among the top prospects available, which would be a welcomed addition for a struggling Denver team in need of putting points on the board.
Johnson offers the Pistons a lot of value with both upside and the ability to contribute now at 8. They have a lot of needs and with a GM/coach (Stan Van Gundy) will likely opt for someone that won’t take forever to produce on the court. Hezonja and his connection with new front office person Arn Tellem is the dream scenario, however Hezonja is not expected to get to them.
Miami has made some changes to get younger. With a reborn Hassan Whiteside looking like their future center, a player with higher skill, better shooting and the ability to play both frontcourt positions like Turner is more appealing than Cauley-Stein for them. Stanley Johnson is another real option if here. Devin Booker is another player who has been mentioned as a possibility with this pick.
The Pacers have been linked to Payne for some time now. He would give the team a young PG to build around and get back on track. There’s a chance a team looks to move up to 9 or 10 to grab Payne, but if he’s here he’s considered a good possibility for Indiana.
After moving Enes Kanter mid-season last year, the team is said to be looking for depth in the frontcourt. Myles Turner is a better pairing along with Rudy Gobert as he’s not so similar, however Cauley-Stein is well liked and it would be a surprise if he were available here. Utah has been said to be a team willing to move out of this pick if the right offer was presented to them.
Suns coach Jeff Hornacek raved about Portis following his workout. He would give the Suns another versatile frontcourt option, and he’s also more NBA ready than a number of other prospects. This is another pick that could be dealt and further complicate accurately projecting the draft.
Booker offers another shooter for the Thunder to play alongside Durant and Westbrook. He’s the youngest player in the draft but shows a lot of maturity for his age. OKC has been listening to offers for this pick so there’s a chance a team moves up to grab Booker.
Frank the Tank is well liked in the organization and after the surprising retirement of Larry Sanders, they are in need of a center. Kaminsky is a local guy so the team is obviously familiar and comfortable with him. They already have a lot of talent on the team so taking a player viewed as low risk, low upside at a position of need fits. Milwaukee is a team on the rise and Kaminsky should be able to contribute faster than some of the other options available.
Dekker has been mentioned as a possible lottery pick and could easily end up going before teammate Frank Kaminsky. It’s no secret the Celtics are pushing hard to move up, using Marcus Smart and both of their picks (16 and 28) to get into the Top 10. This pick becomes difficult to project considering that the odds are strong that Boston won’t be selecting here.
The team has a strong connection with Vaughn’s agent Jeff Schwartz, who happens to also be Jason Kidd‘s agent. Word has come out that Vaughn has been red flagged by teams for his knees, but there’s a real chance the Bucks take him anyway. Vaughn is considered one of the draft’s top shooters and as a freshman possesses a lot of upside left to develop.
There is a lot of speculation that the Rockets may have a promise in place to select Jones. Jones shut down workouts after visiting Houston and the team has an obvious need for a stabilizing PG. The team has a heavy analytics approach to the draft and Jones scores very high with his efficiency and shooting ability. Whether he has the talent to merit a mid-first-round pick is debatable, but he certainly would fit in well with athletic and defensive Patrick Beverley.
Washington could look to go in a number of directions here with players such as Kelly Oubre or Jerian Grant, if available. Harrell would give them a young banger inside along with the flexibility to let some of their higher-priced frontcourt pieces explore free agency and not overspend.
Raptors GM Masai Ujiri has proven that he’s willing to think outside the box and take a player off the radar, as he did last year drafting Bruno Caboclo. He loves athletes and Hollis-Jefferson is a tremendous athlete with length and good strength as well. He has had impressive workouts and with a green room invite, may be gone before this pick.
The Mavs have Euro and trade tendencies but could use a PG here and with an aging Dirk Nowitzki a player with some readiness seems prudent. The Rondo experiment was predictably a flop. Grant would offer a leader with potential immediate rewards, although a set-up guy with size like Delon Wright might work better.
With his tenuous health, the Bulls could look for a back up PG for Rose and opt for one of the group potentially available (Grant, Jones, Wright, Rozier). they also have some decisions to make with their frontcourt members coming up on free agency. Looney is a solid kid with a lot of potential, but some concerns related to position and health (sports asthma), seem to have his stock slipping.
Oubre falling this far would be a minor shocker but there is a lot of concern that his workouts have left him in a vulnerable position to slip. He has lottery talent but really struggled for much of the season, and he has not received great reports for his workouts.
With Kyrie Irving‘s fragility, having a strong, reliable backup PG is imperative for the Cavs. Matthew Dellavadova is an inspirational player, but it’s becoming obvious he cannot be relied upon as the team’s primary PG if Uncle Drew gets injured. Rozier has starter potential and would be the perfect fit alongside LeBron.
A number of NBA sources have indicated that they believe there is a promise in place between Martin and the Grizzlies. While we give him an early second round value, he could end up being an excellent fit for a team that has arguably the best frontcourt in the league.
Power Forward / 6-11 / Baloncesto Sevilla (Spain) / 1994
10.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg
The Spurs are known for drafting system players, and in particular Europeans. They would like to have as much cap space as possible to make a big splash in free agency with players such as LaMarcus Aldridge or Marc Gasol, so moving this pick or taking a draft-and-stash guy makes a lot of sense. Willy would like to stay in Spain another two years and prove himself for Real Madrid, giving the Spurs the luxury of time to evaluate his progress.
After taking Okafor at 2, the Lakers grab a possible eventual replacement for Kobe. Anderson is a lot closer to Xavier Henry than Kobe, but he has a lot of intrigue with his maturity and improved shot. At 27, it’s rare to find an NBA starter, but don’t count out Anderson, one of the draft’s elite athletes.
As with their 16th pick, it’s difficult to know if the Celtics will really be picking here. Boston has a real interest in Mickey, so if they keep the pick there’s a real chance he gets taken here. They also have the 33rd pick so it’s possible that Mickey ends up going there as well.
To us, Wright has mid-first-round value and may be long gone by this pick. But just like Clarkson, who fell to 46 last year, it seems that we are a lot higher on him than the scouts we speak with. Wright could develop into a long-term replacement for Deron Williams, who has entered the twilight of his career. Brooklyn appears to be close to rebuilding mode.
Hunter may be a little bit overrated considering his body is extremely frail and he shot it poorly all season. He’s been built up by some as a lottery level prospect, but a number of scouts question whether he’s actually a first round talent. On the positive side, he measured and interviewed well and hit a big shot in the tourney and has hype around him. Would adding arguably the draft’s top shooter to a backcourt of Steph and Klay really be fair?