Throughout the regular season, we have seen excellent performances out of the first-year players. Now in the playoffs, we are getting a taste of what these rookies are capable of under the bright lights.
In Game 1 against the Miami Heat, Sixers star Ben Simmons was a rebound shy of a triple-double, finishing with 17 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds in his playoff debut. He joined Spud Webb as the only rookies to finish a playoff game with at least 17 points, 12 assists and five rebounds. He then followed up that performance with 24 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in Game 2.
Jayson Tatum’s clutch plays helped injury-riddled Boston defeat the Bucks in Game 1. (Photo from CelticsLife.com)
Although his performance was not enough to overcome Oklahoma City and Game 1, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell put on a show in the loss. The 21-year-old had 27 points and 10 rebounds in 35 minutes of play. He is the first rookie since Tim Duncan to score at least 25 points on 50 percent shooting or better, while corralling 10 boards.
In an epic overtime thriller, Jayson Tatum stepped up big for the Celtics. The former Duke standout had 19 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals in Boston’s win over Milwaukee. Even OG Anunoby had a solid game off the bench for Toronto, finishing with 12 points in route to the Raptors victory over the Washington Wizards.
The league is getting younger, and these kids can really ball. The Rookie of the Year chase may be down to just Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell, but let’s take a look at the rest of the field and how they fared throughout the 2017-18 NBA season.
Let’s start with the future of the Lakers, Kyle Kuzma, and the face of the Big Baller Brand, Lonzo Ball. Possibly the most scrutinized rookie of all time, Ball, who had an up-and-down season, ended up with 13 double-doubles and a pair of triple-doubles. Say what you want about the kid, but the only rookies to average 10 points, seven assists and six rebounds are Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, Ben Simmons and Ball. Without Ball in the lineup, the Lakers went 11-19.
Saying Kuzma exceeded expectations would be an understatement. The 27th pick in the draft, Kuzma became one of eight rookies since 2001 (Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor, Blake Griffin, Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol) to average at least 16 points and six rebounds. He had five games with at least 25 points and 10 rebounds, which was the third-most by a rookie since 2011, behind Griffin and Towns.
Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma, the future of the Lake Show. (Photo from NBC Sports)
Kuzma joined Jayson Tatum, Steve Francis and Shane Battier as the only rookies to score 1,100 points, 400 rebounds and 100 threes. Speaking of Tatum, the Celtics rookie finished second among rookies in win shares. Tatum was the complete package for Boston, and joined Towns, Dave Greenwood, Christian Laettner, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Larry Johnson as the only rookies to finish the season with 1,100 points, 400 rebounds, 100 assists, 80 steals, 50 blocks and a free-throw percentage greater than 80 percent.
What about the big men? Lauri Markkanen started the year on fire from deep. He set the rookie record for most threes in his first three career games. Only eight players this season ended the season with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 100 threes: LeBron James, Towns, Nikola Jokic, Dario Saric, Kevin Love, DeMarcus Cousins, Marc Gasol and Markkanen. Atlanta’s John Collins was the fifth rookie since 2012 (Towns, Kristaps Porzingis, Nerlens Noel, Anthony Davis) to finish with 700 points, 500 rebounds and 80 blocks.
How about some standout individual performances? Against the Toronto Raptors, Miami’s Bam Adebayo finished with 16 points on 57.1 percent shooting, 15 rebounds and five blocks. The only rookies to do that since 1998 are Tim Duncan, Pau Gasol and Towns.
The 2016-17 Horizon League Player of the Year, Valparaiso’s Alec Peters, had quite the stat line in Game 82 for the Phoenix Suns. The former Crusaders star, who averaged 23 points and 10.1 rebounds his senior year, became one of eight players in NBA history to score 36 points with at least eight threes, while shooting less than 15 from deep and also adding nine rebounds. That list includes Ray Allen, Kevin Love, Vernon Maxwell, Jason Kidd, Russell Westbrook, Jason Richardson and James Harden. While most people have never heard of this kid, that is quite a list to be on.
Let’s take a look at the top two rookies from this past season.
If we were to re-draft the 2017 NBA Draft, Donovan Mitchell would go No. 1 overall, as he was clearly the best player in his draft class. Mitchell set the rookie record for most three-pointers made in a season (187), passing Damian Lillard (185) and Steph Curry (166). He led the Utah Jazz to a 48-34 record, averaging 20.5 points per game. He is one of seven rookies, joining Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird, Walter Davis, Pete Maravich, and Mitch Redmond, to average 20 points, three rebounds and three assists with a free-throw percentage better than 80 percent.
Mitchell’s seven 30-point games were the most by a rookie since Blake Griffin in 2011. In a game against the Suns, Mitchell caught fire, finishing with 40 points, six assists and five rebounds, becoming one of 14 rookies in NBA history to post a game with at least 40 points, five rebounds and five assists. This was Mitchell’s second 40-point game of the season, which put him in elite company with Griffin and Allen Iverson as the only three rookies since 1985 to have multiple 40-point games in their rookie season.
In all honesty, this is a one-man race. All respect to Mitchell, who clearly had a tremendous rookie season, but Ben Simmons is a once-in-a-generation type of player. Barring injury, this guy is a lock for the Hall of Fame. While that may sound crazy, Simmons’ rookie season was one of the best we have ever seen. The Australian finished with the third-highest win shares as a rookie since 2005, behind Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
Ben Simmons has arrived and is ready to takeover the league (SI.com)
Simmons led all rookies in rebounds, assists and steals. He became the first rookie in history to finish with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 500 assists, 50 blocks and 50 steals. His 12 triple-doubles were second most in NBA history by a rookie, ahead of Magic Johnson, who had seven. Simmons joined Oscar Robertson as the only players to do average 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists during their rookie seasons.
He also had a few legendary performances. Against LeBron James and the Cavs, the 6-foot-10 point guard collected 27 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists. He did this while shooting 70.6 percent from the field. The only players to put up those numbers in a game are Wilt Chamberlin and Nikola Jokic.
Simmons also had four 15-assist games, including one against the Hornets in which he scored 20 points and added eight rebounds. He joined James, Westbrook and Jokic as the only players since 2014 to have a game with at least 20 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds while shooting over 55 percent.
Can Simmons carry the Sixers all the way into the NBA Finals? Time will tell.
Featured image by SLAM Magazine
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It seems like every NBA season is “the best rookie class we have seen” or “the young guns that have a future.” Many would argue that the 2003 class, which included players like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, was the best. But it is quite hard to predict which class was the best, especially since the last few draft classes have not even reached their full potential yet.
However, many would argue that this year’s rookie class really could be one of the best, and why not? It is absolutely loaded with raw talent, some expected and some not so much. And with such talent comes a tight race for the Rookie of the Year Award, which will be given out later this summer.
Let’s break down some of the top rookies from this season, their performance and some ROTY possibilities.
Photo from www.silverscreenandroll.com
Season averages: 15.9 points on 45 percent shooting, 6.3 rebounds, 2.0 3-pointers
Taken 27th overall, Kuzma has been the steal of the draft by a long shot. He has shown flashes of greatness and already has a lot of weapons in his arsenal right now.
He really does not look like a rookie this year, and he could be one of those Brandon Ingram-esque guys both in terms of playing style and in the sense that the Lakers will absolutely do anything they can to hold onto him for the future.
While he won’t win the award, he has had some amazing moments in Los Angeles, including an impressive 38-point performance against the Houston Rockets back in December. He has also had some ample opportunities lately without Brandon Ingram, averaging about 21 points and eight boards over the past two weeks. And it is just the beginning.
Season averages: 10.2 points on 35.9 percent shooting, 7.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.7 steals
The other rookie in Los Angeles was taken second overall and has had some moments to say the least. He missed a good chunk of time due to injury, but despite inconsistency and the weirdest looking shot, has all the potential in the world to bring to this team. The numbers are already there, and as soon as he gets used to the NBA style of play and boosts his efficiency, he could be very good.
Dennis Smith Jr.
Season averages: 15.2 points on 39.3 percent shooting, 3.8 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.0 steal
Similar to Ball, Smith’s main issue is efficiency, and there is almost no doubt that this will improve over time as he gets more time under his belt. There was a lot of hype surrounding him before the start of the season, and while he has not really lived up to it, the numbers are not bad at all for such a young guy. The sky is the limit for this kid.
Photo from www.chicago.suntimes.com
Season averages: 14.9 points on 42.8 percent shooting, 7.5 rebounds, 2.0 3-pointers
Finally, we get to evaluate a big, but Markkanen is not your average big man. He is known more so as a shooter than a post-threat, and very quickly proved how effective he is from behind the arc. He was the fastest player in history to hit 100 3-pointers, which is even more impressive considering he is a big.
Like the others before, there is too much potential in this rookie class for him to win the award, but he could be a really important piece to a franchise’s puzzle.
Season averages: 13.7 points on 47.8 percent shooting, 5.1 rebounds, 1.3 3-pointers
Tatum has something that most other rookies this year do not have: efficiency. He has been shooting it well all season from all spots on the floor, including a 3-point percentage over 42 percent.
The numbers do not stand out, but playing with established veterans like Kyrie Irving and Al Horford has helped Tatum make a name for himself. Just watching him is impressive in itself, as some of the things he has done make him look like a seasoned veteran.
Most years he would probably win this award, but the next two players are realistically the only two who could win the award.
Donovan Mitchell vs. Ben Simmons
Photo from www.slcdunk.com
Mitchell season averages: 20.3 points on 43.5 percent shooting, 3.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.5 steals, 2.4 3-pointers
Simmons season averages: 15.8 points on 53.6 percent shooting, 8.0 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.8 blocks
Here are the only two contenders for this year’s ROTY award, and they could not be much more different.
Donovan Mitchell is a pure scorer with not much else going on, but boy is his gameplay impressive. He has taken the Utah Jazz and turned them into a playoff team, often being labeled as that one team no one wants to face in the first round of the playoffs. He has had plenty of highlights, insane dunks and clutch moments when it mattered most for the team.
A huge plus for the rook is that he actually plays defense as well, which is so important to a team like Utah. He might be one of the best scorers the league has seen taking age into consideration, and it can only go up from here.
While there is much to love about Mitchell, Ben Simmons is this season’s Rookie of the Year. He is a 6-foot-10 point guard and a triple-double threat, notching 10 already at 21 years old. Simmons and Joel Embiid have led this very young Sixers team to a playoff berth, and they are another team that could go further than anyone thinks.
In a league where shooting has been the only thing that matters since Steph Curry has been playing, Simmons is a breath of fresh air for old-school fans. He drives, drives and then drives some more. It is a rare occurrence for Simmons to get into the paint and not get some points on the board by the end of the possession.
He is truly a special talent. Simmons is your ROTY, and his potential is actually terrifying. Watch out, NBA.
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For all of the fantasy basketball nuts out there, this is arguably the most exciting part of the year. As fantasy playoffs approach for head-to-head leagues and things are finally starting to fall into place for those doing rotisserie, player performance becomes just as important as ever.
Let’s dive into the fantasy values of the Los Angeles Lakers, who you might want to hold on to and who you might want to deal.
On a young team technically still fighting for a playoff spot, the Lakers have plenty to offer in terms of fantasy upside. Here are the Lakers that should be held onto for the remainder of the season.
Averages in the last week: 19 points, 57.1 percent shooting, five rebounds, five assists, one steal, one block, one 3-pointer
Photo from www.gramunion.com
We should take this one with a grain of salt, because these averages come from just one game. Since then, he has been battling a groin strain and will be reevaluated in a week.
Regardless, one game can show just how much Ingram can contribute to the box score. Assuming the injury isn’t serious, Ingram should be a stud the rest of the way and demand the ball more than anybody on the team.
The young Kevin Durant comparison has a lot of weapons to offer. Unless an owner needs production immediately, riding out the injury and deploying him when healthy will definitely be advantageous.
Averages in the last week: 17.3 points, 54.3 percent shooting, 8.7 rebounds, 1.7 steals, 2.7 3-pointers
Pope is known for his streaky play, but has actually been ridiculously good lately. While the rebounds and percentages won’t be this good the rest of the way, everything else should hover around what it is right now.
There were plenty of rumors that he would get less playing time in order to develop the younger guys, but considering he’s only 25 years old and the departure of Jordan Clarkson, he has been getting big minutes.
He should be a solid source of steals and triples the rest of the way, with a dash of inconsistency.
Averages in the last week: 23.7 points, 54.8 percent shooting, seven boards, 1.3 steals
The departure of Larry Nance Jr. has helped Randle in a big way. He has been as dominant as ever lately.
After a slow start to the season, he should be in for a big finish and will definitely help out anyone’s fantasy team.
Honorable mention: Kyle Kuzma
Drops and Deals
Depending on the size and competitiveness of your league, these are the players that could possibly be dropped or dealt in the near future:
Photo from ClutchPoints
Averages in the last week: 12.7 points, 51.7 percent shooting, four boards, one steal, one block, 1.7 3-pointers
While these numbers are not horrible by any means, this is sadly some of the best of Brook Lopez that we have seen this season. His days of knocking down multiple triples per game and consistently contributing to the blocks category have come to an end in Los Angeles, and the maintenance days are inevitable for one of the older Lakers.
If you can sell high on him after a decent week, it wouldn’t be the worst idea.
Averages in the last week: 23 points, 38.6 percent shooting, 6.7 assists, 2.7 3-pointers
While the points appear to be nice, the percentages and lack of defensive stats are not a whole lot to write home about. Thomas has not accumulated a single steal in his past five games. His defensive efficiency is hurting fantasy owners more than helping.
Unless you are taking percentages and only need points and a handful of assists for your team, Thomas probably isn’t your guy.
What about Lonzo?
Averages in the last week: 12 points, 46.2 percent shooting, five rebounds, 6.7 assists, three steals, 3.7 3-pointers
Photo from The Undefeated
Don’t worry, Lonzo Ball has not been forgotten.
Ball seems to lie somewhere in between the two categories listed above, as he is truly a surprise on most nights. Against the Blazers, for example, he was underwhelming with 10 points and not much else. However, he had an 18-7-11 line with six 3-pointers a few nights before against the Spurs.
As a rookie, inconsistency may as well be his middle name, and that is why he may be tough to hold onto. On the other hand, the upside is there and he can usually be treated as a poor man’s Russell Westbrook (inefficient with lots of stats across the board).
The 3-pointers are not sustainable, but everything else could definitely increase slightly. If you are a risk-taker in need of lots of stats across the board who can deal with inefficiency and inconsistency, Ball is the perfect player for you.
A lot can happen in the basketball world, especially on a streaky team like the Los Angeles Lakers. Every fantasy owner is different and has certain needs for their particular team.
But as a whole, the above analysis is a fair prediction of what the rest of the season could look like for each of the mentioned players. For those entering playoffs soon, best of luck, and may the best baller win.
Featured image from LA Times
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The term “tanking” has become more and more prevalent as the NBA has progressed. When teams are in rebuild mode, they tend to tank and therefore lose games intentionally at the end of the season in order to get a higher pick for the following season’s draft. If you are the Lakers, is this something to consider, or do you keep playing and developing the young guns?
At least until Adam Silver’s new anti-tanking rule comes into play in 2019, there is no doubt that teams who have performed poorly this season will start to play more rookies, mix and match lineups and lose games more often as a result.
Teams like the Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and others have countless young guys that they’d probably like to get a look at before this season comes to an end. With this tanking mindset, the minutes will be there.
What About the Lakers?
Photo from mavs.com
The Lakers are slightly different, however. They are currently 23-34 in a very competitive Western Conference, which puts them at the 11th seed. If the West weren’t so stacked and they weren’t eight games behind the eighth-place Pelicans, LA may have a chance to string together a few games and make a playoff push. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like such a situation is all too feasible.
The difference between the Lakers and a lot of other tanking teams is that the Lakers really don’t have a reason to lose games this season. There are two main reasons for this.
First of all, the trade that sent Steve Nash to the Lakers in 2012 involved them giving up their 2018 first-round pick. While it seemed like a good idea at the time, all the Kobe-Nash-Dwight team did was lose four straight games in the first round of the playoffs to the Spurs. It was safe to say that was the end of that.
This pick that they gave up matters in a big way in the upcoming draft. Normally, having a worse record gives us a better chance of having a higher pick, but since that pick doesn’t belong to the Lakers anymore, there is absolutely no reason to purposefully lose games.
So LA doesn’t have any picks?
Photo from calisportsnews.com
Here’s where it gets just a little tricky. Rewind to before the trade deadline and the Lakers aren’t going to be having any high picks in the draft. But, as always, the trade deadline and all that happens in the 24 hours beforehand changes everything. Say goodbye to Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr., but hello to Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and a first-round pick.
And just like that, the Lakers have their first-round pick back. With Cleveland being somewhat successful this season, it is almost definite that this pick won’t be a lottery pick, but that shouldn’t be a problem for the Lakers at all.
Let’s go back to draft night 2017, when the Lakers selected Kyle Kuzma 27th overall. Many fans just said, “Kyle who?” and had no idea what to expect out of the rookie. With averages of 15.7 points and 5.9 boards on 45 percent shooting from the field, one thing is clear. Los Angeles has a stud on their hands. And one of the best parts about it? He was the 27th pick.
Luckily for Lakers fans, they don’t have to worry about them intentionally losing games this season. Their pick for the draft later this year does not lie in their control, so there is not a single reason why they shouldn’t continue to play the guys that they normally have been.
Many might be worried about the fact that the pick won’t be too high, but the Lakers have proven just this last year alone with Kuzma that they are capable of finding studs late in the first round.
Although a playoff push is unlikely, the Lakers can definitely win a handful of games late in the season as they continue to simultaneously fight and develop their youngsters.
Featured image from NBA.com
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We all knew there was something special about this draft class. This group was just loaded with talent, so much so that Malik Monk fell to No. 11. A player of his caliber is almost always a top five selection.
Throw in Ben Simmons playing his first NBA season and the “rookie” class gets that much better. Simmons is the frontrunner for rookie of the year now, but there are so many other rookies having exciting seasons.
Jayson Tatum has stepped up in Boston to fill the hole left by Gordon Hayward. The third overall pick is averaging 13.7 points and 5.7 rebounds a game and been a key part of why the Celtics have the best record in the NBA.
De’Aaron Fox is also looking impressive so far this season. The fact he is on the Kings has not kept fans from seeing his production. With averages of 12.3 points and 5.5 assists per game, it is a wonder he has only started two games. He also just hit a game-winning shot to beat Simmons and the 76ers.
Fox’s former teammate, Malik Monk is also looking nice. He started off slow, but is now averaging almost 10 points per game with the Hornets. He has had some explosive performances like his 25 points in 23 minutes against the Bucks and 21 points in 27 minutes against the Knicks.
The most talked about rookie in this class has definitely been Lonzo Ball, but not because he has been one of the top rookies in this class. Sure, the No. 2 overall pick has had some nice games like his almost triple-double in his second game, but he only has topped 10 points once since then.
Ball’s fellow rookie teammate, Kyle Kuzma, is also looking good. Kuzma is third amongst rookies in scoring at 14.8 points per game and is also grabbing 6.5 rebounds.
Dennis Smith Jr., Donovan Mitchell, Mike James, John Collins, Josh Jackson and Bogdan Bogdanovic are also averaging double figures in points per game. This class has been truly amazing.
I purposely left a name out of that list though, and you may not have noticed because of how little he has been talked about. That name would be Lauri Markkanen.
If you remember the draft, Markkanen was picked seventh overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves, but then was traded along with Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn for Jimmy Butler.
Markkanen has quietyly been the most successful player from this year’s draft. (Photo by Getty Images)
In his one season at Arizona, Markkanen averaged 15.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game while shooting 49.2 percent from the field and 42.3 percent from behind the arc.
He has put up similar stats in his 10 games with the Bulls, as he is averaging 15.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Those numbers are both good for second amongst rookies behind, you guessed it, Ben Simmons.
With all the hype surrounding Simmons, the struggles by Ball and Markelle Fultz and Tatum and Boston being so successful, Markkanen’s production has seemed to go unnoticed.
It more than likely has something to do with the fact that he is playing with the Bulls. With so little star power in Chicago, why would anyone talk about them? They also are second to last in the Eastern Conference. It is hard enough to get talked about in the East with all the stars playing in the West and getting all the attention.
Let’s take a look at what Markkanen’s draft profile said about him. According to Draft Express, Markkanen’s biggest strengths were his shooting ability and size.
He’s definitely a good shooter. Known as a stretch big at 7-feet, 230 pounds, Markkanen’s field goal percentage is 42.6 and his 3-point percentage is 36.1. Not bad numbers for a rookie big.
For comparison, Kristaps Porzingis had a 39.8 field goal percentage and 21.4 3-point percentage through his first 10 NBA games. Porzingis has obviously improved since then. But in today’s game, you have to be able to shoot around 40 percent from deep, and that percentage should only improve for Markkanen as his career progresses.
Markkanen’s size puts him right up there with guys Porzingis, Kevin Love and Dirk Nowitzki. Obviously they aren’t exact in height and weight, but they are all big men that can stretch the floor and open lanes for their teammates. You have to respect their shot because they all can hit 3-pointers.
One of the bigger weaknesses in his draft profile was his defense. His lack of weight and length prevents him from being physical inside and blocking shots. Guys like Porzingis and Anthony Davis got a whole foot of length more than him with their 8-foot wingspans.
This is not as big of a concern to me though. A lot of the rookies coming in had question marks about their defensive abilities. This is also something that can be improved over time.
I’m also not going to let something like length determine if a guy can be good in this league or not because Love and Nowitzki also don’t have significant length.
Of course you can’t make assumptions this early on in a rookie’s career. Fans love to declare guys future Hall of Famers or busts early on in the season. But you cannot judge a guy that early. Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged less than seven points per game in his rookie season. Now he is the leading candidate for MVP in his fifth season.
Maybe Markkanen peaks at his rookie season. Maybe he continues to improve. Maybe we will see him in the 2020 All-Star game playing in front of his home crowd in Chicago. What we know for sure is he has exploded onto the NBA scene faster than his fellow members of this draft class.
So why is no one talking about Lauri Markkanen? I have no clue, but the numbers speak for themselves. This guy is ballin.
Featured image by Getty Images North America
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The Golden State Warriors are the 2017 NBA champions. Now that the Finals are over, the entire basketball community will be focusing on the upcoming NBA Draft on June 22. This is a prime opportunity for teams to either deepen their roster or build playoff caliber teams. Here is Hagan’s Haus 2017 NBA Mock Draft V 4.0.
1: Boston Celtics: Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington
(Photo Credit: Elaine Thompson/AP)
The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers are working on a trade so that the 76ers can select Markelle Fultz. Even if the trade doesn’t get finalized Fultz will be the number one overall pick in this draft.
2: Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA
Los Angeles is not going to pass on a player who will make those around him better and has the star power that Lonzo Ball has. These rumors floating around about the Lakers falling out of love with Lonzo is all a smokescreen. The truth of the matter is that the first two picks have been decided and they are just trying to keep people interested and on their toes.
3: Philadelphia 76ers: Josh Jackson, SG/SF, Kansas
This pick is just like the first overall pick. It is likely going to be Boston drafting in the third position and they will take Josh Jackson. This is a sign that the Celtics may put all their faith in Isaiah Thomas as their point guard. Jackson can fit right into the culture they are building in Boston and he will help them get closer to compete for a championship.
4: Phoenix Suns: Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke
The Suns are just unlucky. Phoenix was supposed to have a top three pick but fell to fourth when the lottery took place. Now they are going to miss on Josh Jackson by one pick. Jayson Tatum is flying under the radar but will be a very good NBA player.
Tatum has a polished isolation game and can score from anywhere on the floor. Tatum will be a solid second option to Devin Booker.
5: Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky
(Photo Credit: http://www.zimbio.com)
Reports coming out of Sacramento say that the Kings are absolutely in love with De’Aaron Fox and are even willing to trade both the fifth and tenth pick to move up just one spot to get him.
Fox should be around at five and the Kings can draft their franchise point guard. Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox would be a promising backcourt that would help the Kings get closer to the playoffs.
6: Orlando Magic: Johnathan Issac, F, Florida St.
Orlando has been terrible ever since Dwight Howard left. Johnathan Issac has been recently compared to Kevin Durant, but he is not the scorer that Durant is. Issac will bring tons of athleticism to the Magic. He has proven he can play an all-around game but has been very inconsistent. If developed correctly, Issac can become one of the best two-way players in the NBA and an All-Star.
7: Minnesota Timberwolves: Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky
The Timberwolves are already loaded with young talent and in a perfect world, Tom Thibodeau would like to acquire more veterans in the locker room. Minnesota might be looking to make a trade in the future and will take the best available player which will be Malik Monk. Monk is a scoring machine capable of going off at any moment. He is the best scorer to come out of college since Kevin Durant and will easily average 20 points per game in the NBA.
8: New York Knicks: Frank Ntilikina, PG, France
New York has always been a city of immigrants. The Knicks are going to follow that mold it seems, as they already have Kristaps Porzingis and are in love with Frank Ntilikina.
Ntilikina has excellent size for a point guard. He is listed at 6-foot-5 and 190 pounds. Ntilikina is a pass-first point guard with a high I.Q. He has developed a mid-range game and excellent floater but is a really inconsistent shooter. Ntilikina also has great lateral quickness that makes him an elite defender.
9: Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Smith Jr., PG, NC State
Dennis Smith is arguably a top five player in this class. The Mavericks have a chance to find their franchise point guard who can help lead them back into the playoffs. Smith can score, pass and rebound with the best of them while in college. He also has the insane athleticism that allows him to posterize defenders.
10: Sacramento Kings: Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona
The Kings currently have two core pieces in Buddy Hield and Willie Cauley-Stein. If they take Fox earlier in the draft then it becomes an even better core. Lauri Markkanen could then take this team to even better heights.
Markkanen is a 7-foot stretch big who will be able to shoot the three in the NBA. He has all the intangibles to become a power forward like Dirk Nowitzki. He can stretch the floor or go inside. Markkanen would fit alongside Cauley-Stein because he can stretch the floor.
Getting Fox and Markkanen would make the Kings one of the best young teams in the NBA.
11: Charlotte Hornets: Donovan Mitchell, SG, Louisville
Donovan Mitchell was projected to be a late-first round pick around a month ago but has lately been flying up draft boards. Teams who have worked Mitchell out have been really impressed by the 6-foot-3 shooting guard. Mitchell is a shot creator and that is something the Hornets need. Charlotte could create a dangerous backcourt by pairing Mitchell with Kemba Walker.
12: Detroit Pistons: Harry Giles, PF, Duke
Detroit needs a big man alongside Andre Drummond. Picking Harry Giles would be a shock here, but could be a huge steal. Giles was considered the best player coming out of high school and was projected to be the No. 1 pick before he began having injury problems.
We have not seen what Giles is fully capable of, but his potential is through the roof. He is an athletic finisher who can be molded into a great defender.
Giles has had a lot of injuries but if he can get healthy he has the skill and potential to be the best player in this draft class.
13: Denver Nuggets: Zach Collins, PF/C, Gonzaga
(Photo Credit: http://www.zimbio.com)
Denver is really close to becoming a playoff team in the tough Western Conference. Their young guards just need more experience and will continue to develop.
Collins is a good rebounder and shot blocker. Pairing him up with Nikola Jokic could create one of the most dangerous frontcourts in the NBA. Collins needs to mold his offensive skills, but because Jokic is so skilled offensively, Collins’ defensive skills would create a perfect combination.
14: Miami Heat: T.J. Leaf, PF, UCLA
The Heat were amazing in the second half of this season. Hassan Whiteside is a franchise centerpiece at center. Their guard play has been tremendous, and Justise Winslow is really coming into his own. That leaves the power forward position as their biggest need.
T.J. Leaf has a high motor and can play both inside and out. Miami would get a player who could be molded into a star by Erik Spoelstra.
15: PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS: JOHN COLLINS, PF, WAKE FOREST
John Collins could be a valuable piece around Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Collins has a good offensive game that would help take pressure off their guards to score. He has a post-up game that most bigs don’t have. His impressive footwork allows him to beat even the best of defenders. If he develops his defense, he could become a top power forward in the NBA.
16: CHICAGO BULLS: JUSTIN PATTON, C, CREIGHTON
(Photo Credit: Chris Machian- The World Harold)
Building around Jimmy Butler seems to be the top priority for the Chicago Bulls. Robin Lopez is serviceable, but he is not a center that will help a team reach a title.
Justin Patton may be one. He is a 7-foot monster that averaged 12.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game as a freshman at Creighton.
NBA coaching could turn Patton into a dominant center in an era of outside shooting. There will be few players capable of defending him once he grows into his own. The Bulls would be lucky to get Patton.
17: Milwaukee Bucks: Bam Adebayo, C, Kentucky
The Milwaukee Bucks are building something special. Giannis Antetokounmpo is looking like a future MVP and Khris Middleton is a stud. Drafting Adebayo will give Milwaukee a presence inside to make the Bucks even more dangerous. The talent they already have and can acquire with Adebayo will allow the Bucks to get closer to the Eastern Conference finals.
18: Indiana Pacers: Luke Kennard, SG, Duke
Luke Kennard fits the new style of the NBA. He is a pure shooter and can be a valuable scorer in the NBA. Kennard isn’t going to be a guy who changes a franchise but as a sidekick to Paul George, he could thrive. George wants the Pacers to add talent so they can compete for a title adding Kennard would help go a long way in the Pacers effort to keep Paul George when he becomes a free agent.
19: Atlanta Hawks: Jarrett Allen, C, Texas
Dwight Howard is aging and no longer a top center in the NBA. The Hawks must prepare for the future and that could be in the form of Jarrett Allen. Allen is a beast on the boards and has the potential to become a solid post-up big man.
20: Portland Trailblazers: Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina
Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum need help and Justin Jackson would fit perfectly with this team. Jackson would be the piece to help get the Blazers back into the playoffs.
He has great length and can stretch the floor. Jackson played great for most of the tournament. He had a subpar performance in the title game, but can still become a good NBA starter.
Jackson needs to add weight but is a versatile defender capable of guarding multiple positions. His mid-range jumper is well-polished.
21: Oklahoma City Thunder: OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana
OG Anunoby will improve the Thunder on the defensive end of the floor immediately. In college, Anunoby was able to defend all five positions and that kind of versatility will make him a valuable player.
He also shot 36 percent from three in his career and will help take some pressure off of Russell Westbrook.
22: Brooklyn Nets: Ivan Rabb, C, California
The Nets will not be good for a long time which means they can be patient with the development of Ivan Rabb. He has lots of potential to grow offensively.
Rabb is already a good defender, and even though he only averaged about one block per game in his career, he altered plenty of shots. His inconsistency at Cal is what hurts him, but he has shown flashes of brilliance and that is what the Nets will try and bottle up and turn into a consistent output.
23: Toronto Raptors: Isaiah Hartenstein, PF, Germany
Isaiah Hartenstein is a bit of an unknown but is an old school big man. He plays an extremely physical style and is a great rebounder. Hartenstein is also a great shot blocker and the Raptors really need an inside presence. He has very little experience but the success of Kristaps Porzingis helps Hartenstein.
Isaiah Hartenstein will need a lot of developing on his offensive game but with the Raptors current roster, he can fill the role of rebounder and rim protector without having to rush his offensive development.
24: UTAH JAZZ: CALEB SWANIGAN, PF, PURDUE
The Jazz are in almost as good of a position as the Celtics. They finished as the fifth seed in the tough Western Conference and have two first-round draft picks.
Swanigan can come right into the NBA and contribute off the bench. Depth is what the best teams have, and that is what Utah is going to get in picking Swanigan.
25: ORLANDO MAGIC: Terrance Ferguson, SG, Australia
Terrance Ferguson has been very hyped up as of late. He attacks the basketball and can also be a spot up shooter. Ferguson will need to develop defensively but would be a good fit with the Magic who need some more scoring.
26: Portland Trailblazers: Semi Ojeleye, F, SMU
Semi Ojeleye is an athletic freak. Ojeleye can handle the ball, shoot threes, create his own shot and get to the rim. Semi Ojeleye is going somewhat underrated in this draft because of his lack of perimeter defense. The Blazers have enough picks to take a shot on Ojeleye to continue building the depth needed to compete in the West.
27: BROOKLYN NETS (VIA BOSTON): JORDAN BELL, PF, OREGON
(Photo Credit: http://247sports.com)
Jordan Bell was a second-round pick before the tournament. Bell was a huge reason Oregon reached their first Final Four since 1939. The Nets would get a solid rebounder who brings in a heavy motor and will give you everything he has. The Nets need these high energy type of players to change the culture in Brooklyn.
28: Los Angeles Lakers: Josh Hart, SG, Villanova
Josh Hart is a leader and a winner, and the Lakers could use some of that in their locker room.
Hart improved his scoring each season at Villanova, and that should translate into the NBA. Hart doesn’t have to be a starting shooting guard to make a big impact. Every team needs a bench scorer and Hart can fill that void for the Lakers as they continue to build towards a championship.
29: San Antonio Spurs: Thomas Bryant, C, Indiana
Any player that the Spurs take should celebrate as if they won the championship. The Spurs will develop Thomas Bryant into a solid NBA starter. Bryant is an excellent rebounder and has a knack for getting offensive boards. He has some decent low post moves and with Gregg Popovich coaching him up he can turn decent into dominant.
30: Utah Jazz: Tyler Lydon, F, Syracuse
Tyler Lydon has improved vastly from his freshman season to sophomore season. Lydon improved his points, rebounds, assists and free throw percentage. At 6-foot-9, Lydon can stretch the floor and he would be a great fit in Utah as a solid role player.
31: Atlanta Hawks: Dillon Brooks, SF, Oregon
32: Phoenix Suns: Dwayne Bacon, SF, Florida St.
33: Orlando Magic: Jawun Evans, PG, Oklahoma St.
34: Sacramento Kings: Rodions Kurucs, SF, Latvia
35: Orlando Magic: DJ Wilson, PF, Michigan
36: Philadelphia 76ers: Tyler Dorsey, G, Oregon
37: Boston Celtics: Johnathan Motley, PF, Baylor
38: Chicago Bulls: Devin Robinson, F, Florida
39: Philadelphia 76ers: Derrick White, G, Colorado
40: New Orleans Pelicans: Frank Mason III, PG, Kansas
41: Charlotte Hornets: Tony Bradley, C, North Carolina
42: Utah Jazz: Mathias Lessort, F/C, France
43: Houston Rockets: Kyle Kuzma, PF, Utah
44: New York Knicks: Frank Jackson, SG, Duke
45: Houston Rockets: Ike Anigbogu, C UCLA
46: Philadelphia 76ers: Anzejs Pasecniks, C, Latvia
47: Indiana Pacers: LJ Peak, SG Georgetown
48: Milwaukee Bucks: Alec Peters, PF, Valparaiso
49: Denver Nuggets: Jaron Blossomgame, F, Clemson
50: Philadelphia 76ers: Jonah Bolden, PF, Australia
51: Denver Nuggets: Alberto Abalde, SF, Spain
52: Washington Wizards: Cameron Oliver, PF, Nevada