The Warriors would consider every option if they landed the No. 1 pick — including potentially trading out of the spot — but the San Francisco Chronicle reported this week that Anthony Edwards would be the preferred pick. Edwards is an explosive athlete with a big frame and brimming with defensive potential who could give Golden State a boost of depth and shot-making on the wing.
At just 18 years old, LaMelo Ball finished second in assists per game last season in the NBL — one of the top pro leagues in the world. So despite Cleveland taking two guards in the lottery in consecutive drafts, Ball is worth the upside play here regardless of how he fits in the near-term. His playmaking and vision stands head and shoulders above any prospect in this draft, making him a potential cornerstone on which the Cavs can build their franchise.
The Wolves rank in the bottom third of the NBA in defensive net rating — a problem exacerbated when Karl-Anthony Towns is on the floor. Here, they upgrade with a rangy, mobile big in Onyeka Okongwu who can defend from the post to the perimeter, protect the rim, and most importantly, act as a defensive eraser alongside KAT.
Atlanta needs two things: depth at wing and an upgrade defensively. With Okoro, they can do both. The 6-foot-6 Auburn product is a versatile defender with a high IQ who can impact winning without touching the ball. That’s an ideal set of skills alongside the talented and ball-dominant Trae Young.
As Derrick Rose inches closer to the end of his current deal, Detroit should look ahead and consider a reset at point guard. Killian Hayes can give them youth in that endeavor and, potentially, a top-end talent to build around long-term. The 18-year-old is a crisp passer and good decision maker who has grown considerably as a playmaker on the ball over the last year. He’s not flashy, but he’s a safe pick with a high floor, giving the Pistons a competent guard to groom for their future.
The Knicks need a point guard, else they’ll be stuck in lottery purgatory forever. And so here they grab one in Tyrese Haliburton, a tall, slender lead guard whose game centers on efficiency as a passer, scorer and defender. He needs to add to his skinny frame but the amalgamation of his talents coupled with his IQ should give him a chance to emerge as one of the draft’s most impactful guards on a Knicks team with promising young talent.
Deni Avdija would be a prudent pluck here for the Bulls. The Israeli star is a point forward with great playmaking skills from his position who could help alleviate the offensive load in Chi-town. He’s also been a winner everywhere he’s been. At just 19 years old, he’s a two-time Israeli League champion and a two-time FIBA European champ who brings with him an impressive pedigree at such a young age.
Washington drafted a below-the-rim forward last year in Rui Hachimura, and here they take an above-the-rim forward in Obi Toppin who can make a winning impact simply with his athleticism and skill level. Toppin last season led college basketball in dunks and in 2-point shooting percentage for a top-10 Dayton team.
This would be a further-than-expected fall for Wiseman, seen by many evaluators as the draft’s best big. But Wiseman’s draft plunge would be Washington’s win. He’s a plug-and-play shot-blocker who can finish around the rim and has shown good touch to potentially extend his range consistently beyond the 3-point line.
Before a season-ending foot injury in January, Aaron Nesmith shot 52.2% from 3-point range through 14 games — a breakneck pace that would have made him one of only three players in the last 20 years to shoot above 50% from deep on 200+ attempts, per college basketball reference. He’s the most lethal shooter in this draft. That’s exactly the skill set Phoenix — with Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton — needs to complement them as they continue to build.
For a team like the Spurs that values versatility and has already had immense success scouting the international route before, Théo Maledon seems like a win-win proposition in this range. The French guard can play on or off the ball with a vastly improved jumper that should translate early. His blend of shot creation and shot making should fit into a Spurs team that could use an infusion of both in their backcourt.
As the Pelicans build their roster around Zion Williamson, shooting and defense will be paramount. Check and check on both accounts here with Devin Vassell. He’s an NBA-ready 3-and-D type wing who shot above 41% from 3-point range in each of his two college seasons, and he should be ready to step in and contribute defensively from Day One.
Cole Anthony put up good counting stats at North Carolina but the inefficiency undoubtedly dinged his stock. As he jumps to the NBA, he may be best suited to land in a place like Sacramento, where a lead guard like De’Aaron Fox is already in place. Anthony’s skills as a versatile scorer off the ball could really open up his scoring potential and allow him to flourish.
With Portland’s core in place, it should find a 6-8 wing like Saddiq Bey extremely valuable. He can defend four positions and shoot 3-pointers at an elite clip, rating in the 98th percentile as a spot-up shooter last season, per Synergy. Plug-and-play wing who can impact winning for a playoff-caliber team.
Orlando should consider a point guard in this draft regardless of how the future of Markelle Fultz turns out, and so here I’m giving them Kira Lewis Jr. You’re welcome, Magic fans. You just got the fastest and most underrated point guard in this draft at No. 15 overall. He averaged 18.5 points and 5.2 assists last season for Alabama … and just turned 19 in April.
Shooting 29.2% from 3-point range in his lone college season at Kentucky dinged Tyrese Maxey’s stock, but he’ll add instant value as an elite defender and driver in Minnesota even if the outside shot never rebounds. That should be a complementary and useful set of skills for a team with D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns in place.
Danny Ainge values versatility and in Precious Achiuwa he could find plenty. The Memphis product should be a productive power forward but could also be a lethal small-ball five in some situations with the way his motor always runs hot. He’s a tenacious rebounder, rim-runner and shot-blocker — a trio of skills Boston could put to use right away.
Josh Green’s 3-point shooting over the back half of the season solidified his standing as a 3-and-D archetype who can add value as a role player. That should be what the Mavs look to add in this draft as they surround Luka Doncic with more talent. He hit 69% of his 3-pointers over Arizona’s final five games before the season ended, potentially disrupting a March Madness rise that would have showcased his skills on a bigger stage.
Jahmi’us Ramsey is a gifted shooter. And on a Milwaukee team and system whose success is predicated on spacing the floor with shooters around Giannis, he’d be a great fit. As a freshman at Texas Tech he rated in the 91st percentile as a catch and shoot scorer in the halfcourt and should be an equally lethal weapon in that area in the NBA.
Patrick Williams has good length and size and should be a popular prospect teams target in this range given his upside. He’s still raw and underdeveloped as an offensive player, but he’s shown good touch, can disrupt the game on defense, and could be a high-level role player for a team like Brooklyn with an established presence of stars already in place.
Cassius Stanley was a little-known role player at Duke but his strengths scream valuable NBA role player. He rated in the 93rd percentile as a catch and shoot shooter last season, per Synergy, and has the jump-out-the-gym athleticism to affect the game as a dunker. His defense should be a net-positive in the NBA as well.
RJ Hampton remains an intriguing NBA prospect because of his athleticism, crisp handle and physical makeup. But at this point he’s still a work in progress. He struggled overseas last season on both ends of the floor and his jumper still needs some work, which is why he’s slotted here. The Nuggets have a good history of in-house development and could take a flier on all he has going for him in hopes of him putting it all together. Remember: he’s just 19 years old.
Miami has the DNA makeup of a contender but an investment in the point guard position is long overdue. Here, they can add quality depth in Tre Jones, a smart decision maker who can run an offense and operate as a menace on the defensive end of the floor. At the very least he should be a competent second unit guard who knows how to make high-level reads and still has a chance to be effective on offense, as he showed marked improvement as a shooter in his sophomore season at Duke.
The speed and toughness of Devon Dotson made him a consensus All-American for Kansas last season, and it should help him carve out a nice role in the NBA if his outside shot comes along. Here, I have him going to the Utah Jazz — a team in need of help at the lead guard spot as Mike Conley ages, potentially setting him up to be the initiator for Donovan Mitchell as he preps for his prime.
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It was evident last season OKC needed to upgrade at the wing position, and Leandro Bolmaro could address exactly that. The 6-7 Argentinian is a skilled swing man with good skills on the ball as a creator with the ball in his hands, and a good decision maker when he’s on the move. The Thunder don’t have a player like Bolmaro who could create from the wing so he’d add a new dimension to an already-great roster primed to compete in the West.
Boston has shown a willingness to be patient on players it has drafted in the past, which will be necessary for a potential payoff with Jaden McDaniels. He’s brimming with potential as a versatile two-way player who can knock down shots and add good size and length, but his decision making as a passer and in his shot selection is still less than ideal. As he fills into his big-but-skinny frame the Celtics could invest in the talent and bank on him figuring it out all out sooner rather than later.
It didn’t get much attention on an underwhelming DePaul team, but Paul Reed was a rare bright spot. He rated seventh nationally last season in defensive plus/minus and showed a knack for being in the right spot in the right time as a playmaker on defense in different schemes. He was the only power conference player to average at least 2.5 blocks and 1.5 steals per game on the season.
The center position is the oldest on the Raptors roster and is ripe for addressing, making Vernon Carey Jr. a potential fit here. The Duke big man is a tenacious rebounder and, somewhat uniquely, an incredible foul-drawer: last season he ranked third in Division I in fouls drawn per-40 minutes. His physical style of play on both ends of the floor would be a boon to Toronto as it adds youth to its frontcourt.
Nico Mannion’s ability to generate offense and his innate instincts as a floor general are what make him such an intriguing long-term prospect. His 3-point stroke, lack of athletic pop and defensive inefficiencies are why he may fall. The Lakers could make use of the good and deal with the bad, though, and considering Rajon Rondo’s managed to stick in LA for two seasons, Mannion has a shot to survive.
Which NBA team couldn’t use a Desmond Bane? He’s a lights-out 3-point shooter with a big frame who can handle it a bit and knows how to play his role effectively. Even on a loaded Celtics roster he could step in as a valuable off-the-bench contributor.