Phoenix Suns 2018 NBA Draft profile

The NBA Draft is under a month away, which means NBA Draftmas is back. Each day the Game Haus will review a team’s past season, their team needs and targets. We will start off with the team that has the number one overall pick, the Phoenix Suns.

Summary

Devin Booker Dribbling for suns

Devin Booker (Photo by valleyofthesuns.com)

Phoenix had the worst record in the NBA at 21-61 this season and were able to win the 2018 NBA Draft Lottery. They are a long way from competing in the Western Conference but have some nice young pieces to build for the future.

The Suns have a star in Devin Booker, who averaged 24.9 points per game and also helped create for his teammates from the shooting guard position with 4.7 assists per game. With their next leading scorers being T.J. Warren (19.6 ppg) and Josh Jackson (13.1 ppg), they are set on the win for years to come.

This season the Suns traded away Eric Bledsoe and now need to replace him. They did trade for Elfrid Payton, but his career hasn’t come to fruition yet. With time he could be a solid starting point guard for the Suns, but he currently isn’t under contract for the 2018-2019 season, as their is a club option that needs to be picked up. Brandon Knight returns next season as the teams highest paid player. He can run the point and score in bunches when given the opportunity (proven in his 2015-16 campaign in Phoenix). Phoenix however still may want to improve the point guard position in this draft.

The interior play of the Suns has not been great, with a lot of aging veterans and young draft picks that haven’t worked out. That will be a place that is addressed again in the draft, it’s just a matter of when.

On defense, Phoenix had the worst unit in the league allowing 113.3 points per game. The only major stat where they ranked in the top half of the league as a team (between points allowed, points scored, rebounds and assists), was rebounds per game, in which they ranked 12th.

This team will not likely be a great contender next season but can be vastly improved in the draft.

Phoenix Suns Draft picks and needs

The Suns have four picks in the 2018 NBA Draft.

First round: No. 1, No. 16

Second round: No. 31, No. 59

If the Suns want to compete they need to improve their defense, point guard play and interior play. With the number of picks they have in this draft, Phoenix should be able to address the point guard and interior, although improving the defense could be a long process.

The draft will tell how they feel about Brandon Knight returning to the fold and Payton’s status as the team’s point guard. If they draft a big with their first pick, Knight and Payton will likely still be key parts of the team and its future. If they take a point guard, or rather a play-making player from Real Madrid who needs to have the ball in his hands to be successful, Knight and possibly Payton will likely be traded, as there will be limited minutes for one, if not both, of them.

Targets

Pick No. 1: DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona

DeAndre Ayton Arizona screaming

DeAndre Ayton (Photo by zonazealots.com)

There is mounting buzz that this pick may be used in a trade to acquire Karl Anthony Towns. If that’s a possibility and not too much more is needed to give up to the Timberwolves, the Suns need to take the deal immediately. These profiles will not predict trades though.

Picking Ayton would immediately improve the interior play of the Suns. He physically dominated college competition with his scoring and rebounding. Ayton can also stretch the floor as he shot 34.3% from deep. Devin Booker has already mentioned that it would be cool to team up with Ayton. Those two could create a great one-two punch for the future. The starting lineup next season could look like this: Knight, Booker, T.J. Warren, Josh Jackson, DeAndre Ayton.

Pick No. 16: Anfernee Simons, PG, USA

Simons is able to go to the NBA Draft after playing a year at a prep school. This is an uncommon route and NBA teams will have to find out if taking the gamble of him not playing against good competition in college, or overseas, is worth it. He would have been one of the best point guards in the freshman class but now gets to take his chance in the pros.

The Suns can take the risk on a point guard like Simons with their second pick because they took Ayton with their first pick and have Knight returning. Simons could sit behind Knight or Payton (or even Tyler Ulis if need be) and learn while picking up spot minutes.

Pick No. 31: Grayson Allen, SG, Duke

Another way that the Suns can improve is their three-point shooting. They ranked last in the league in that category and need to have more shooters as threats so opposing defenses can’t pack in the defense, or just focus on Booker. Spreading the floor would also help take some pressure off of Ayton.

Allen has been the most polarizing figure in college basketball for the last four seasons with his spectacular play and his immaturity. He has tripped players, been a catalyst in a National Championship Duke team and has been a constant player covered in the media. He can play on or off ball but the most important thing is he can stretch the floor, hitting 38% of his shots from three-point range in his college career.

Pick No. 59: Sagaba Konate, PF, West Virginia

Konate can provide some depth for the frontcourt and could benefit from some time in the G-League if he decides to keep his name entered in the draft. He has had a good combine, doing what he does best: blocking shots and rebounding the ball. His measurements are what hurt his stock, as he’s just 6’7,5″ in shoes. At best he’s a bench/role player in the NBA, but getting that late in the second round is welcomed.

 

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2018 NBA mock draft May 17

The NBA Draft Lottery has finished and now teams can start putting their plans into place. With the NBA Draft in just over a month, who will some of these teams be targeting? Here is the 2018 NBA mock draft May 17:

1. Phoenix Suns- DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona

Ayton has said it would be cool to play with Devin Booker and how good of a one-two punch it would be. The Suns have a nice crop of young wing players in Devin Booker, T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson, but they lack an inside presence. Ayton would give them that presence and then some. Ayton is a well-built and athletic big. He is a great rebounder, who often comes up with the ball with plenty of players around him.

2. Sacramento Kings- Marvin Bagley III, F, Duke

The 6’11” big man is athletic and can do everything on a basketball court, which includes shooting from deep at 39.7%. Sacramento was a lucky team in the lottery and can now get a real impact player. Bagley can slide in nicely with the Kings young core of De’Aaron Fox, Willie Cauley-Stein and Buddy Hield.

3. Atlanta Hawks- Luka Doncic, G, Slovenia

Doncic has the size of a wing player in the NBA but actually plays on-ball a lot for Real Madrid. He stands 6’6″ and is an excellent passer and playmaker. His three-point shooting has gone down over the last few years, so Doncic will have to work on that. The Hawks don’t have much talent on the roster and can play Doncic alongside Dennis Schroeder.

Michael Porter Missouri

Michael Porter Jr. (Photo by cbssports.com)

4. Memphis Grizzlies- Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri 

Porter can play the three or the four for the Grizzlies. He came back from his back injury and was rusty, but showed flashes of why he was rated so highly coming out of high school. Memphis has an aging roster and could use a young star like Porter, who can do almost anything asked of him on the court.

5. Dallas Mavericks- Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Michigan State

The Mavs tried to tank, but it backfired with the lottery results. Jackson is an athletic player, who protects the rim well. He can also stretch the floor, hitting nearly 40% of his threes over his one year at Michigan State.

6. Orlando Magic- Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

The Magic need good guard play and have a void after trading Elfrid Payton. Young brought life to college basketball with his electrifying play. He drives, passes and shoots like Steph Curry, but does turn the ball over too much. He also has struggled on defense, but the offense should make up for it.

7. Chicago Bulls- Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama

Sexton is one of the best point guards in the class and is able to drive and distribute the ball well. This ability would fill in well with Lauri Markkanen for the future of the franchise.

8. Cleveland Cavaliers- Wendell Carter, PF/C, Duke

Carter can play the four and the five and presents a player who can even stretch the floor with his shooting. The Cavs will likely try to select Trae Young or Collin Sexton to get a point guard but may need to trade up to do it.

9. New York Knicks- Mo Bamaba, C, Texas

Bamba will be able to defend the paint, as he averages 5 blocks per 40 minutes. He has been compared to Rudy Gobert, with his good defense, and he’ll have to develop his offensive game. The Knicks can play him next to Kristaps Porzingis in what could be a dangerous frontcourt.

10. Philadelphia 76ers- Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky

Knox has good size and can shoot well. He is inconsistent though, as he can go off in some games and disappear in others. The 76ers can get another freakish player with this pick and Knox will help open up the game for Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.

11. Charlotte Hornets- Mikal Bridges, SG/SF, Villanova 

Bridges will walk in the door as a legitimate “3 and D” prospect but has a chance to develop into much more. He’s got good length but does need to add some more strength. The Hornets need to find pieces to fill in between Dwight Howard and Kemba Walker.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Kentucky

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Photo by 94feetreport.com)

12. Los Angeles Clippers- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

He is a lanky point guard, who has a long wingspan, which helps him play good defense. SGA will need to work on his shooting and add some weight, but the length will get him selected early. The Clippers have Partick Beverly but need a point guard of the future.

13. Los Angeles Clippers- Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

Williams displayed what he is capable of in the NCAA Tournament. He has great athleticism for a big but doesn’t have the best motor. The Clippers could use another productive big with the departure of Blake Griffin.

14. Denver Nuggets- Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

Bridges is an athletic wing who already has an NBA body. He can shoot and drive and could fit in nice with the Nuggets’ young core.

15. Washington Wizards- Lonnie Walker IV, PG/SG, Miami

Walker doesn’t fill the biggest need for the Wizards, but he is a good value here. He didn’t produce a lot in his freshman year at Miami, but shows flashes of potential, making him worthy of consideration here.

16. Phoenix Suns- Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, USA

Simons has created some buzz after deciding to declare for the NBA Draft out of prep school. He can shoot and get to the basket well. The Suns will need a better point guard than Payton for the future.

17. Milwaukee Bucks- Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky

Robinson sat out this year to prepare for the draft after initially signing with Western Kentucky. Milwaukee could use a young developmental big.

18. San Antonio Spurs- Khyri Thomas, PG, Creighton 

The Spurs need a point guard to take over and lead the team. Thomas can get his own shots but needs to learn how to set his teammates up better.

Zhaire smith dunk

Zhaire Smith (Photo by blazersedge.com)

19. Atlanta Hawks- Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

In the NCAA Tournament, Smith electrified the crowd with his dunks, but he can also hit the three-point shot at a high percentage of 45%.

20. Minnesota Timberwolves- Gary Trent, SG, Duke

The Timberwolves need to spread the floor more and find some good shooters. Trent is a knockdown shooter who needs to improve his defense to see the floor in Minnesota.

21. Utah Jazz- Dzanan Musa, SG/SF, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Jazz have some young pieces but could use another wing player. They can also afford to have a draft and stash if Musa fits that bill.

22. Chicago Bulls- Jontay Porter, PF/C, Missouri

Porter doesn’t get as much publicity as his brother but had a solid season at Missouri. They got a guard with their first pick and can now get some depth for the frontcourt.

23. Indiana Pacers- Troy Brown, PG/SG, Oregon

Brown is a tall, athletic guard, but doesn’t shoot well from three-point range. He needs some development but could be a good player next to Victor Oladipo.

24. Portland Trail Blazers- Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV

The Trail Blazers don’t have a lot of size and can get McCoy and help him develop.

Jacob Evans NBA

Jacob Evans (Photo by downthedrive.com)

25. Los Angeles Lakers- Jacob Evans, G, Cincinnati

Evans is a “3 and D” player, who could find his way as a solid role player in the NBA.

26. Philadelphia 76ers- Donte DiVincenzo, G, Villanova

DiVincenzo can stay in Philly to help the 76ers spread the floor even more.

27. Boston Celtics- Trevon Duval, PG, Duke

The Celtics have good point guard play, but who knows how much longer they can keep Terry Rozier in a bench role behind Kyrie Irving after his performance in the playoffs. Marcus Smart will also likely not be retained.

28. Golden State Warriors- Tony Carr, PG, Penn State

Carr broke through this season and now has a chance to be drafted in the first round. He is a big guard, who can shoot and take over for Shaun Livingston.

29. Brooklyn Nets- Chandler Hutchison, SG/SF, Boise State

Hutchison was a star at Boise State who did a little bit of everything for the Broncos. With the right coaching, he can turn into a solid NBA player.

30. Atlanta Hawks- Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova

Brunson won multiple Player of the Year awards. He is fundamentally sound and uses that to his advantage.

 

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2018 NBA mock draft April 30

The NBA regular season is now way behind in the rearview mirror and teams who aren’t in contention for the title are looking ahead to next year. Here is how the NBA Draft could look come June.

1. Phoenix Suns- DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona

Ayton has said it would be cool to play with Devin Booker and how good of a one-two punch it would be. The Suns have a nice crop of young wing players in Devin Booker, T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson, but they lack an inside presence. Ayton would give them that presence and then some. Ayton is a well-built and athletic big. He is a great rebounder, who often comes up with the ball with plenty of players around him.

2. Memphis Grizzlies- Marvin Bagley, PF, Duke

The 6’11” big man is athletic and can do everything on a basketball court, which includes shooting from deep at 39.7%. While there have been some strains in the relationship between Marc Gasol and the organization, he should be on the team next season making Bagley fit in nicely next to him on the floor.

2018 NBA mock draft April 30

Luka Doncic (Photo by slamonline.com)

3. Dallas Mavericks- Luka Doncic, G, Slovenia

Doncic has the size of a wing player in the NBA but actually plays on-ball a lot for Real Madrid. He stands 6’6″ and is an excellent passer and playmaker. His three-point shooting has gone down over the last few years, so Doncic will have to work on that. The Mavs have Dennis Smith Jr. so they will have to play with two play-makers on the floor, which isn’t a bad thing.

4. Atlanta Hawks- Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri

Porter can play the three or the four for the Hawks. He came back from his back injury and was rusty, but showed flashes of why he was rated so highly coming out of high school. The Hawks need to take the best player available regardless of position.

5. Orlando Magic- Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

The Magic need good guard play and have a void after trading Elfrid Payton. Young brought life to college basketball with his electrifying play. He drives, passes and shoots like Steph Curry, but does turn the ball over too much. He also has struggled on defense, but the offense should make up for it.

6. Chicago Bulls- Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama

Sexton is one of the best point guards in the class and is able to drive and distribute the ball well. This ability would fill in well with Lauri Markkanen for the future of the franchise.

7. Sacremento Kings- Wendell Carter, PF/C, Duke

Zach Randolph started at power forward this season, but likely doesn’t have much more left in the tank. Carter can play the four and the five and presents a player who can even stretch the floor with his shooting.

8. Cleveland Cavaliers- Mo Bamba, C, Texas

Tristan Thompson’s contract is awful and the Cavs need a legitimate inside presence. Bamba will be able to defend the paint, as he averages 5 blocks per 40 minutes. He has been compared to Rudy Gobert, with his good defense, and he’ll have to develop his offensive game.

9. New York Knicks- Kevin Knox, SF, Kentucky

Knox has good size and can shoot well. He is inconsistent though, as he can go off in some games and disappear in others. The Knicks need to take the best player available in this draft regardless of position.

10. Philadelphia 76ers- Mikal Bridges, SG/SF, Villanova

Ben Simmons has shown that he can make all the plays for the offense. The 76ers need to surround him with shooters. Bridges will walk in the door as a legitimate “3 and D” prospect but has a chance to develop into much more. He’s got good length but does need to add some more strength.

11. Charlotte Hornets- Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

Bridges is an athletic wing who already has an NBA body. He can shoot and drive and could complement the two key pieces the Hornets do have in Kemba Walker and Dwight Howard.

2018 NBA mock draft April 30

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Photo by mycn2.com)

12. Los Angeles Clippers- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

He is a lanky point guard, who has a long wingspan, which helps him play good defense. SGA will need to work on his shooting and add some weight, but the length will get him selected early. The Clippers have Partick Beverly but need a point guard of the future.

13. Los Angeles Clippers- Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

Williams displayed what he is capable of in the NCAA Tournament. He has great athleticism for a big but doesn’t have the best motor. The Clippers could use another productive big with the departure of Blake Griffin.

14. Denver Nuggets- Gary Trent, SG, Duke

Denver has some good young players at almost every position and can take the best player available. Trent can provide even more shooting to a team that ranks fifth in the NBA in three-point percentage.

15. Washington Wizards- Lonnie Walker, PG/SG, Miami

Walker doesn’t fill the biggest need for the Wizards, but he is a good value here. He didn’t produce a lot in his freshman year at Miami, but shows flashes of potential, making him worthy of consideration here.

16. Phoenix Suns- Anfernee Simmons, PG/SG, USA

Simons has created some buzz after deciding to declare for the NBA Draft out of prep school. He can shoot and get to the basket well. The Suns will need a better point guard than Payton for the future.

17. Milwaukee Bucks- Mitchell Robinson, C, USA

Robinson sat out this year to prepare for the draft after initially signing with Western Kentucky. Milwaukee could use a young developmental big.

18. San Antonio Spurs- Khyri Thomas, PG, Creighton

The Spurs need a point guard to take over and lead the team. Thomas can get his own shots but needs to learn how to set his teammates up better.

19. Atlanta Hawks- Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

In the NCAA Tournament, Smith electrified the crowd with his dunks, but he can also hit the three-point shot at a high percentage of 45%.

2018 NBA Mock draft April 30

Donte DiVincenzo (Photo by sportingnews.com)

20. Minnesota Timberwolves- Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova

The Timberwolves need to spread the floor more and find some good shooters. DiVincenzo fits that bill and is also extremely athletic.

21. Utah Jazz- Dzanan Musa, SG/SF, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Jazz have some young pieces but could use another wing player. They can also afford to have a draft and stash if Musa fits that bill.

22. Chicago Bulls- Jontay Porter, PF/C, Missouri

Porter doesn’t get as much publicity as his brother but had a solid season at Missouri. They got a guard with their first pick and can now get some depth for the frontcourt.

23. Indiana Pacers- Troy Brown, PG/SG, Oregon

Brown is a tall, athletic guard, but doesn’t shoot well from three-point range. He needs some development but could be a good player next to Victor Oladipo.

24. Portland Trail Blazers- Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV

The Trail Blazers don’t have a lot of size and can get McCoy and help him develop.

25. Los Angeles Lakers- Moritz Wagner, PF/C, Michigan

Wagner is a bit of a matchup problem with his size and shooting ability and can benefit from playing with Lonzo Ball.

26. Philadelphia 76ers- Grayson Allen, SG, Duke

The 76ers have their playmaker in Ben Simmons and can continue to help spread the floor for him to make plays with this pick.

27. Boston Celtics- Trevon Duval, PG, Duke

The Celtics have good point guard play, but who knows how much longer they can keep Terry Rozier in a bench role after his performance in the first round of the playoffs.

2018 NBA mock draft April 30

Tony Carr (Photo by post-gazette.com)

28. Golden State Warriors- Tony Carr, PG, Penn State

Carr broke through this season and now has a chance to be drafted in the first round. He is a big guard, who can shoot and take over for Shaun Livingston.

29. Brooklyn Nets- Chandler Hutchison, SG/SF, Boise State

Hutchison was a star at Boise State who did a little bit of everything for the Broncos. With the right coaching, he can turn into a solid NBA player.

30. Atlanta Hawks- Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova

Brunson won multiple Player of the Year awards. He is fundamentally sound and uses that to his advantage.

 

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NBA Draft prospects in the Final Four

The Final Four is finally here after two great weeks of basketball in the NCAA Tournament. While these certainly aren’t the four teams with the best NBA Draft prospects, they have been given a chance to prove themselves on the big stage. NBA scouts will be watching. Here are the top NBA Draft prospects in the Final Four.

Loyola-Chicago Ramblers’ prospects

Clayton Custer, PG

Loyola will likely not have anyone drafted, but rather thrive on good ball movement and defense. Custer is the best player on the team and just won the MVC Player of the Year award. He averages 13.2 points and 4.2 assists per game and has helped get Loyola to the Final Four for the first time since 1963.

Custer is still a long shot to make the NBA, but he has the best chances of anyone on the Ramblers. He is just 6’0″ tall and 175 pounds but has some necessary skills that will help him when being evaluated. He has a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio, which is good considering how much he handles the ball. Custer also can light it up from deep, shooting 45.2% on the year.

He is just a junior and will likely return for his senior year before trying his luck as a professional.

Michigan Wolverines’ prospects

Moritz Wagner, PF/C

NBA Draft prospects in the Final Four

Moritz Wagner (Photo by sportingnews.com)

Wagner is a matchup nightmare in the college game, due to his size, shooting and mobility. He hasn’t had the best NCAA Tournament, other than a 21 point outing against Texas A&M, but is a very talented player nonetheless. Michigan was a trendy pick to reach the Final Four, with Wagner being a major reason for it.

At 6’10” and 210 pounds, Wagner fits the bill as a modern day big man in the NBA.  He has good post moves and shoots 39.6% from three-point land. To help his offensive game, he handles the ball well and can take bigger defenders to the basket. His defense has been good this season, he has a defensive rating of 92.1, but there are some questions on how he will do in that regard against NBA competition, as he isn’t a rim protector.

Most NBA mock drafts have Wagner as a late first or early second-round pick, but he is just a junior and could return to school.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, G

Abdur-Rahkman is a senior combo guard, who is the leader of this Michigan team. Michigan is usually a good offensive team but leaves a little to be desired defensively, but Abdur-Rahkman has helped change the narrative this season.

His on-ball defense is some of the best in the country, as he continually frustrates opponents trying to get to the basket. He picks up a steal a game, which helps solidify him as a good all-around defensive player. He isn’t the best shooter, at 38.8% from three-point range, but hits enough to keep defenders honest. While he can drive to the basket decently well, he needs to be more aggressive on offense at times.

Villanova Wildcats’ prospects

Mikal Bridges, SF

Bridges is a prototypical “3 and D” NBA wing prospect. He has improved every year he has been at Villanova and is now a star. He already has one National Championship under his belt and now can go for another.

His defense and shooting ability have put Bridges in a good position to be a lottery pick. His defensive rating has actually gotten worse every year he has been at Villanova, but Bridges now guards the opponent’s best perimeter player. His length, at 6’7″ really helps him contest shots. He shoots the three well too, at 43.6%, but needs to work on getting to the basket more off the dribble. Bridges will also need to add some muscle to match-up with some of the elite small forwards in the NBA.

Bridges is the best draft prospect left in the NCAA Tournament and will have to prove it for Villanova to win the title.

Jalen Brunson, PG

Brunson has won some national Player of the Year awards and is the best point guard in college basketball. The junior was also a part of the 2016 Villanova team that won the title but now gets a chance to get one where he is a major contributor.

He has decent size for a point guard at 6’3″ and 290 pounds. When watching Brunson, it is easy to see that he has done a lot of reps in order to hone his craft. This season he averages 19.2 points and 4.6 assists per game. He only turns it over 1.8 times per game, showing he values the ball. He can shoot from deep, drive to the basket, pass and even post up. Brunson will need to play better defense at the next level.

Most mock drafts have Brunson as a late first or early second-round pick, but he may elect to go back to school for his senior season.

Kansas Jayhawks’ Prospects

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, SG

Mykhailiuk is just 20 years old, but is already a senior. He went to Kansas when he was just 17 and is another player that has been given the time to get better.

If this were a really concise article, the reasons for Mykhailiuk the reason he’d be considered a draft prospect would be: Height and shooting ability. He is 6’8″ and is known primarily as a three-point shooter. With Kansas’ lack of size this year, he has been able to prove he can rebound and defend against bigger players as well.

He is a senior, who will be looked at late in the first round or early in the second.

NBA Draft Prospects in the Final Four

Devonte’ Graham (rockchalktalk.com)

Devonte’ Graham, PG

Graham has waited his turn to be the point guard behind Frank Mason. His patience has paid off, as he has led the Jayhawks to the Final Four, which is not something they have done since 2012.

He’s 6’2″ and 175 pounds, which is good enough to play point guard in the NBA. He is a great defender and protects the ball well on his end, with 1.8 turnovers per game. He averages 17.2 points and 4.1 assists per game. His defense has always been good, but his offense has had to develop. His three-point shooting could be a little better, but he has done a decent job of hitting from deep.

Graham too is a senior and will be likely selected in the second round of the 2018 NBA Draft.

*Udoka Azabuike and Malik Newman are also NBA Draft prospects, but will likely come back to school for another year. 

 

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2018 NBA mock draft March 7

March Madness is quickly approaching, which has given NBA personnel almost a whole season to look at prospects. While the prospects have been playing, they also have been jockeying for position on NBA Draft boards. Here is the latest 2018 NBA mock draft.

1. Memphis Grizzlies- Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke

Not too many mock drafts have Bagley going this high, but he should be considered for number one overall. The biggest mistake teams make when picking this high is to reach and fill a need. The 6’11” big man is athletic and can do everything on a basketball court, which includes shooting from deep at 34%. While there have been some strains in the relationship between Marc Gasol and the organization, he should be on the team next season making Bagley fit in nicely next to him on the floor.

2018 NBA mock draft March 7

DeAndre Ayton (Photo by sportingnews.com)

2. Phoenix Suns- DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona

The Suns have a nice crop of young wing players in Devin Booker and Josh Jackson, but they lack an inside presence. Ayton would give them that presence and then some. Ayton is a well-built and athletic big. He is a great rebounder, who often comes up with the ball with plenty of players around him.

3. Dallas Mavericks- Jaren Jackson, PF, Michigan State

Jackson has been a monster on the inside for Michigan State this season. Per 40 minutes, he is averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds per game. He also is a good rim protector. Dallas just drafted Dennis Smith Jr. to fill their need at point guard and need to pair him with a young big for the future.

4. Sacremento Kings- Michael Porter Jr., SF/PF, Missouri

Porter has been injured since Missouri’s first game and had to have surgery on his spine. That is a serious injury, but Porter was a highly-coveted recruit and has the ability to play point forward. The Kings could bolster their lineup to include: De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Porter, Zach Randolph and Willie Cauley-Stein.

5. Atlanta Hawks- Luka Doncic, SG/SF, Spain

The Hawks just need to acquire talent on their roster in any way possible. Doncic projects as a wing player in the NBA, but actually plays on ball a lot for Real Madrid. He stands 6’6″ and is an excellent passer and playmaker. His three point shooting has gone down over the last few years, so Doncic will have to work on that.

6. Cleveland Cavaliers- Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

Well LeBron James has already talked about how good Trae Young is. The Cavs just got George Hill, but he is aging and could help develop Young. They can also play Young off-ball. Young has been the best player in college basketball with his electrifying play. He drives, passes and shoots like Steph Curry, but does turn the ball over too much. He also has struggles on defense, but the offense should make up for it.

7. Orlando Magic- Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama

The Magic trade Elfrid Payton to the Suns and need a new point guard of the future. Sexton is one of the best players available, who is able to drive and distribute the ball well.

8. Chicago Bulls- Mo Bamba, C, Texas

The Bulls have struck gold with Lauri Markkanen and now need to give him more support. While Markkanen is an offensive big, Bamba will be able to defend the paint. Bamba averages 5 blocks per 40 minutes. He has had a lingering toe injury, but should be perfectly fine by the time the daft rolls around.

9. New York Knicks- Kevin Knox, SF, Kentucky

Knox is a big small forward that can shoot, but is inconsistent. The Knicks have decent guards, big men and a star in Porzingis, but need a small forward who can score.

10. Charlotte Hornets- Wendell Carter, PF/C, Duke

Wendell has been a very solid player, who sometimes gets overshadowed by Bagley. He has limited athletic ability, but he is very effective. Carter even shoots the three at a solid clip of 46%. Charlotte has drafted a lot of wing players, but could focus on the interior here.

11. Philadelphia 76ers- Miles Bridges, SG/SF, Michigan State

Bridges is an athletic wing who already has an NBA body. He can shoot and drive and could feed off of Ben Simmons’ passing.

2018 NBA mock draft March 7

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (photo by aseaofblue.com)

12. Los Angeles Clippers- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

He is a lanky point guard, who has a long wingspan, which helps him play good defense. SGA will need to work on his shooting and add some weight, but the length will get him selected early. The Clippers have Partick Beverly, but need a point guard of the future.

13. Utah Jazz- Mikal Bridges, SG/SF, Villanova

The Jazz’s roster changed with the NBA Trade Deadline and could use a young wing. Bridges can shoot and play defense, which at least makes him a good three and D prospect.

14. Los Angeles Clippers- Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

The Clippers just traded away Blake Griffin and may want to replace him at power forward. Williams hasn’t had a very productive year at Texas A&M, but he is talented. His motor has been questioned, but if the Clippers get the most out of him he can be a good player.

15. Phoenix Suns- Tony Carr, PG/SG, Penn State

Not too many people are as high on Tony Carr, but the sophomore can play. He scores and distributes the ball well, but also can stretch the defense with his 46% on three point shots. Carr also has great size at 6’5″ and can fill a need for the Suns.

16. Milwaukee Bucks- Omer Yurtseven, C, N.C. State

Thon Maker isn’t developing as planned, so the Bucks may elect to go with another big. Yurtseven is 7’0″ and has taken a huge step forward this season for the Wolfpack.

17. Philadelphia 76ers- Lonnie Walker, PG/SG, Miami

With Markelle Fultz’s status being up in the air, the 76ers might want to get a player who can play both guard spots. He hasn’t produced a lot in his freshman year at Miami, but shows flashes of potential.

18. Denver Nuggets- Gary Trent Jr., SG/SF, Duke

The Nuggets have a few good young pieces and just need to keep adding quality players and maybe snag a key free agent. Trent is a good shooter, but needs to work on his defense.

19. Washington Wizards- Mitchell Robinson, C, USA

Robinson is a former five star prospect who chose to attend Western Kentucky, but it didn’t work out. He has since been preparing for the NBA Draft. If the Wizards can acquire a good interior player, they can compete even more in the Eastern Conference

2018 NBA mock draft March 7

Landry Shamet (Photo by draftexpress.com)

20. Minnesota Timberwolves- Landry Shamet, PG, Wichita State

The Timberwolves have Jeff Teague, but might want another option in a few years. Landry Shamet  is another lanky point guard which should help him on defense at the NBA level.

21. Indiana Pacers- Khyri Thomas, PG, Creigthon

Thomas has gotten better every year at Creighton and shoots the three a nice clip of 43%, but needs to work on his passing. The Pacers don’t have a great point guard on the roster and can develop Thomas.

22. San Antonio Spurs- Dzanan Musa, SF, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Musa is 18 and only averages 10.5 points per game in Europe, but could be a good draft and stash if he develops. Given the Spurs nature to use the draft and stash effectively, this could be their pick.

23. Atlanta Hawks- Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky

Diallo is athletic enough to play in the NBA, but struggles shooting the ball and on defense.

24. Los Angeles Lakers- Grayson Allen, SG, Duke

The Lakers are going to try to make a splash in free agency. Taking Allen would give them a role player who can shoot the ball and bring energy off the bench.

25. Chicago Bulls- Troy Brown, SG, Oregon

The Bulls can use this pick to develop a wing player. Brown is an athletic wing, who needs to develop his outside shot more.

26. Portland Trail Blazers- Chimezie Metu, PF/C, USC

Metu has developed an outside shot this year and can benefit from playing with Portland’s talented guards.

27. Boston Celtics- Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV

Boston can use a developmental big to pair with a bunch of their young players.

2018 NBA mock draft March 7

Daniel Gafford (Photo by arkansasonline.com)

28. Brooklyn Nets- Daniel Gafford, C, Arkansas

With 12 points and six rebounds per game, Gafford has had a good freshman season for the Razorbacks. The Nets are thin on the inside.

29. Golden State Warrios- Trevon Duval, PG, Duke

Shaun Livingston can’t play forever and more depth is needed at point guard for the Warriors.

30. Atlanta Hawks- Jontay Porter, PF/C, Missouri

Porter has had a good freshman season at Missouri with the absence of his brother. The Hawks already have drafted two back court players in this mock, so will need to get more depth on the interior.

 

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2018 NBA mock draft February 3

+-The NBA season is over the halfway point, which means the “tanking” will intensify. There are some good prospects that many teams will covet in the 2018 NBA Draft. Here is the 2018 NBA mock draft February 3:

1. Atlanta Hawks- Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke

Not too many mock drafts have Bagley going this high, but he is the best player in the class. The biggest mistake teams make when picking this high is to reach and fill a need. Atlanta needs talented players more than anything and Bagley would provide that. The 6’11” big man is athletic and can do everything on a basketball court, which includes shooting from deep at 34%.

2018 NBA Mock Draft February 3

Luka Doncic (Photo by youtube.com)

2. Orlando Magic- Luka Doncic, G, Slovenia

Doncic projects as a wing player in the NBA, but actually plays on ball a lot for Real Madrid. He stands 6’6″ and is an excellent passer and playmaker. His three point shooting has gone down over the last few years, so Doncic will have to work on that. Orlando lucks out in that they are getting a really good player and they have a need for perimeter players.

3. Dallas Mavericks- DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona

With their selection of Dennis Smith Jr., the Mavericks have a pretty well fit out backcourt. They need some good players on the interior. Ayton is a well-built and athletic big. He is a great rebounder, who often comes up with the ball with plenty of players around him.

4. Sacremento Kings- Michael Porter Jr., SF, Missouri

Porter has been injured since Missouri’s first game and had to have surgery on his spine. That is a serious injury, but Porter was a highly-coveted recruit and has the ability to play point forward. The Kings could bolster their lineup to include: De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Porter, Zach Randolph and Willie Cauley-Stein.

5. Phoenix Suns- Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

Young has been the best player in college basketball with his electrifying play. He drives, passes and shoots like Steph Curry, but does turn the ball over too much. He also has struggles on defense, but the offense should make up for it. The Suns need a point guard to replace Eric Bledsoe and to feed the ball to Devin Booker.

6. Chicago Bulls- Kevin Knox, SF, Kentucky

The Bulls have struck gold with Lauri Markkanen and now need to give him more support. With the selection of Knox, Chicago can go small with Knox at the four and Markkanen at the five or play a big man and play them at the three and four. Knox has heated up as of late with some clutch shooting and will soon see his name rise on draft boards

7. Memphis Grizzlies- Jaren Jackson, PF, Michigan State

Jackson has been a monster on the inside for Michigan State this season. Per 40 minutes, he is averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds per game. The Grizzlies can pair him and Marc Gasol together on the inside, if Gasol stays in Memphis.

8. Cleveland Cavaliers- Mo Bamba, C, Texas

Cleveland needs more players who are willing to accept their roles and be worth the paycheck. Bamba will be great for defense and rebounding, much like Tristen Thompson should be. He will provide very little on the offensive side of the ball other than dunks.

9. Philadelphia 76ers- Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama

Is it too early to give up on Markelle Fultz? Who knows, but his jump shot isn’t looking too much better. Either way, Sexton is a great player that can get to the basket and distribute the ball.

2018 NBA Mock Draft February 3

Mikal Bridges (Photo by draftexpress.com)

10. Charlotte Hornets-Mikal Bridges, G/F, Villanova

Bridges is one of the most improved players in college basketball this season. He is shooting 43% from deep on the season and provides some good athleticism. The Hornets really need to find out what they are doing with Kemba Walker before taking this pick, as he is seemingly on the trade block every year.

11. Utah Jazz- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

The Jazz hit on Donovan Mitchell in last year’s draft, which means they are set on wing players. They also have Rudy Gobert in the middle. Taking Gilgeous-Alexander to groom behind Rubio wouldn’t be a bad idea. He is a lanky point guard, who plays great defense.

12. New York Knicks- Wendell Carter, PF/C, Duke

Wendell has been a very solid player, who sometimes gets overshadowed by Bagley. He has limited athletic ability, but he is very effective. Carter even shoots the three at a solid clip of 46%. While the Knicks do have Porzingis, he and Carter are versatile enough to play on the court at the same time.

13. Los Angeles Clippers- Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

The Clippers just traded away Blake Griffin and may want to replace him at power forward. Williams hasn’t had a very productive year at Texas A&M, but he is talented.

14. Los Angeles Clippers- Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

With the Clippers having an extra pick due to the Griffin trade they can also improve their perimeter players. Bridges is an athletic wing who already has an NBA body.

15. Philadelphia 76ers- Omer Yurtseven, C, N.C. State

With the earlier pick going to the backcourt, this pick needs to be used on frontcourt depth. Yurtseven is 7’0″ and has taken a huge step forward this season for the Wolfpack.

16. Denver Nuggets- Jared Vanderbilt, SF, Kentucky

Vanderbilt has been out most of the year with an injury, but has come on strong for Kentucky. He is long, which helps him rebound well, but needs to shoot better. The Nuggets can slowly bring him on to fill out the starting lineup.

17. Chicago Bulls- Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky

The Bulls got Knox with their first pick, who can play the three or four, so they now select the super athletic shooting guard. Diallo may be the most athletic in the class and can get to the basket with his strong drives.

2018 NBA Mock Draft February 3

Mitchell Robinson (Photo by sportingnews.com)

18. Milwaukee Bucks- Mitchell Robinson, C, USA

Robinson had intended to go to Western Kentucky, but then dropped out of school to prepare for the NBA draft. The Bucks need more inside depth.

19. Indiana Pacers- Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami

Indiana could use some backcourt depth and Walker is really starting to come on for the Hurricanes. Both he and Victor Oladipo are versatile, meaning they can play on the court at the same time if need be.

20. Washington Wizards- Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV

McCoy can provide the Wizards with some much needed front court depth and also be a good developmental player.

21. Phoenix Suns- Bruno Fernando, PF/C, Maryland

The Suns picked Josh Jackson last year and Trae Young with the first pick in this mock. They can get a big here to help fill out the roster.

22. Portland Trail Blazers- Chimezie Metu, PF/C, USC

Metu has progressed every year in college and has even developed an outside shot this season.

23. Minnesota Timberwolves- Landry Shamet, PG, Wichita State

Minnesota gets a good defender and a point guard that can learn for a few seasons before challenging for starting minutes.

24. Atlanta Hawks- Dznan Musa, SF, Bosnia and Herzogovina 

The Hawks get their star rookie with the first pick in Bagley and can afford to select a possible draft and stash this one.

25. Cleveland Cavaliers- Trevon Duval, PG, Duke

Duval has played well at Duke and can develop into a good pro. Cleveland’s point guard situation can get a little bit murky after the season.

26. San Antonio Spurs- Troy Brown, G, Oregon

Brown is an athletic wing who needs to develop his outside shot more. Fortunately for him the Spurs are successful at teaching players how to shoot better.

2018 NBA Mock Draft February 3

Alize Johnson (Photo by si.com)

27. Brooklyn Nets- Alize Johnson, PF, Missouri State

The Nets acquired Jahlil Okafor, but still need some more production from the inside.

28. Boston Celtics- Grayson Allen, SG, Duke

Allen can shoot, which will be good for the Celtics’ bench next season.

29. Atlanta Hawks- Allonzo Trier, SG, Arizona

In this mock draft the Hawks have drafted Bagley, a possible draft and stash wing and now get a perimeter scorer.

30. Golden State Warriors- Tony Carr, PG, Penn State

The Warriors will likely need to replenish their guard depth this offseason and Carr has been a star for Penn State.

 

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NBA prospects to watch in the 2017 Champions Classic

The Champions Classic is loaded with NBA talent every year because of the level of teams in the event. Every year Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan State get together to play in an early season event to signify to everyone that basketball is back. Here are the top NBA prospects to watch in the 2017 Champions Classic:

Duke Prospects

Marvin Bagley, PF, Fr.

NBA prospects in the champions Classic

Marvin Bagley (Photo by bleacherreport.com)

Bagley is a generational talent that will likely be in the running to be the number one overall pick. He can do a little bit of everything and is leading Duke in scoring. He is averaging 24.5 points and 10 rebounds per game on the young season. One thing he can work on is his passing, as he continually will not find the open man and will rather put up heavily contested shots. The good thing for him is that he is good enough to make most of his shots, 65.7%, even when being double teamed.

Projected draft range: Top three pick

Wendell Carter Jr., PF/C, Fr.

Carter is only averaging 10 points and 6.5 rebounds, but there is so much talent on the Duke roster that stats aren’t the deciding factor for being a great prospect. He has been the rim protector for the Blue Devils so far with six blocks in two games. Carter was the fifth ranked prospect in the 2017 class according to ESPN.

Projected draft range: Top 10 pick

Trevon Duval, PG, Fr.

The number one point guard in the recruiting class was Trevon Duval. He is averaging a double-double in the first two games with points and assists. He averages 11.5 points and 10 assists per game. Duval has shown the ability to drive and score or dish the ball out, but needs to show he can knock down outside shots in order to keep defenses honest.

Projected draft range: Lottery pick-late first round pick

Gary Trent, SG, Fr.

Trent can be an x-factor for this Duke team this season. He is a good wing player, that with his outside shooting, can take some pressure off of Bagley. In the first two games he has already made seven threes on 13 attempts. His length can make him a good defender, but he will be tested by Michigan State on the defensive end.

Projected draft range: Lottery pick-late first round pick

Grayson Allen, SG, Sr.

Yes, Allen is still considered to be drafted in the NBA Draft. He gets a lot of criticism due to his attitude problems, but he is a solid player that has learned how to best play in his role every year at Duke. He is the second leading scorer so far, averaging 20 points a game. He has been the Blue Devils’ best shooter so far this season and, like Trent, can take pressure off of other players by knocking down shots. He has made 10 three pointers in 15 attempts.

Projected draft range: Late first round pick-early second round pick

Michigan State Prospects

Miles Bridges, SF, So.

Nba draft prospects in the champions classic

Miles Bridges (Photo by draftexpress.com)

Bridges surprised a lot of people by deciding to return to school after a great freshman season. He does everything for Michigan State from scoring to rebounding. His athleticism is crazy, and it can be seen in some of his highlight reel dunks. If he can knock down outside shots and limit turnovers, he is a complete player. Bridges will be one of the best college players this season and will get consideration for Player of the Year to go along with being considered a top prospect.

Projected draft range: Lottery pick

Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Fr.

The Spartans have a lot of good inside players this season, but Jackson got the starting nod in Michigan State’s season opener. He had 13 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots against North Florida and he looks poised for bigger things. Jackson was also able to knock down nine of 10 free throws, which is a nice skill to have, being that he will be fouled a lot this year.

Projected draft range: Lottery pick

Cassius Winston, PG, So.

Winston is one of the best passers in college basketball. He makes plays and shows off his high basketball IQ in the process. Not only can he drive to the basket, he can also knock down outside shots. Winston is not the most sought after prospect right now, but with continued good play, NBA executives will start to fall in love with him.

Projected draft range: Second round pick-undrafted free agent

Kansas Prospects

Billy Preston, PF, Fr.

NBA draft prospects in the champions Classic

Billy Preston (Photo by kuhoops.com)

Unfortunately, the world has yet to see Preston on the college level yet, as he was suspended from the season opener for missing curfew and class. That is a little concerning, but overall not a big deal. He was the 18th ranked recruit by ESPN and will be asked to be one of the few legitimate inside players for the Jayhawks.

Projected draft range: Late first round pick-early second round

Legarald Vick, SG, Jr.

Vick has crazy athleticism from the wing. He has been getting significant minutes the last few years at Kansas, despite a crowded backcourt. If Vick can add some muscle and have a good season as one of the lead guys on the Jayhawks’ roster he can get drafted.

Projected draft range: Second round pick-undrafted free agent

Devonte’ Graham, PG, Sr.

Now that Frank Mason is gone, Graham is tasked with running the offense. He is a little undersized for the NBA, but has a lot of desirable qualities. Graham is a great defender and has the ability to play on ball and off of it. He has shown that he can create for his teammates so far this season with 12 assists in one game. Graham can also shoot from deep, with a career percentage of 41% on three point shots.

Projected draft range: Second round pick-undrafted free agent

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, SG/SF, Sr.

Svi has gotten an increased role every year at Kansas. He is intriguing to NBA people because of his length and shooting ability. Svi is a 38% three point shooter and at his size, he is a tough matchup. This season he can really prove he is worth an NBA draft pick with his added minutes.

Projected draft range: Second round pick-undrafted free agent

Udoka Azubuike, C, So.

Azubuike’s year ended early last season due to a wrist injury, but now he is back and healthy. He has great length at seven feet tall and is strictly an inside player. With a changing NBA game, where good inside players are devalued, Azubuike has to expand his game. He is still worthy of a draft pick if he plays well.

Projected draft range: Second round pick-undrafted free agent

Kentucky prospects

Kevin Knox, PF/SF, Fr.

NBA draft prospects in the champions classic

Kevin Knox (Photo by seccountry.com)

NBA executives will love Knox because of his athleticism and face up game. He can dribble, shoot and rebound. Knox does need to shoot more efficiently, as in two games he has below a 30% field goal percentage. He will get good experience playing on the perimeter at Kentucky, but needs to start knocking down outside shots to make him the ultra-versatile player that will be drafted really early.

Projected draft range: Lottery pick

Hamidou Diallo, SG, Fr.

Diallo is one of the most athletic players in the draft class. He has been the best player for Kentucky so far. While he can get to the basket almost at will, he does have some areas of his game he needs to improve. These areas include outside shooting, shot selection and on-ball defending. The athleticism is good enough to get him drafted highly, but if he can improve in other areas, he can move up draft boards.

Projected draft range: Lottery pick-late first round pick

Nick Richards, C, Fr.

Richards is a former volleyball player, whose skills in that sport should help him at Kentucky. He had three blocks against Utah Valley in the opener. Richards can rebound and defend, which is nice, but he will have to show a vastly improved offensive game if he wants to be selected early on in the draft.

Projected draft range: First round pick

P.J. Washington, SF/PF, Fr.

In his first game Washington did not look good, but was great in the second game of the season. He has an inside-out game, that will pique the interest of NBA teams. Knocking down outside shots will drastically improve his draft status.

Projected draft range: Late first round pick-early second round pick

*Jarred Vanderbilt will not play in the event due to a foot injury, but is likely going to be drafted as well.

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Oklahoma City Thunder 2017 NBA Draft profile

On day 19 of NBA Draftmas, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s draft needs and targets will be analyzed.

SUMMARY

Russell Westbrook (Photo by: thebiglead.com)

The Thunder had a solid season, qualifying for the playoffs as a six seed, which is especially impressive given the fact that Kevin Durant left in free agency. Russell Westbrook took over and had a historical season, becoming the second player ever to average a triple double for a season. While they do have some other solid players on the roster, the focal point of the Thunder moving forward is going to be getting Westbrook some help.

Oklahoma City ranked 11th in the NBA in points per game and ranked 16th in points allowed per game. The biggest strength of the Thunder is rebounding, as they led the league in rebounds per game. The area that needs the most improvement is three point shooting. Oklahoma City ranked dead last in three point shooting percentage and needs to acquire players that can help spread the floor for Westbrook.

Signing Westbrook to a long term deal will be the biggest necessity, since superstars don’t grown on trees. Getting players who can shoot and spread the floor will help make the Thunder into a better contender. They do have some nice pieces in Victor Oladipo, Enes Kanter and Steven Adams, but more is needed to compete in a very tough Western Conference.

Oklahoma City Thunder DRAFT PICKS & NEEDS

Oklahoma City has one pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and will need to make the most of it. 

First Round: No. 21

As stated earlier the biggest need for the Thunder is a three point shooter that can spread the floor. If they can find one that can log minutes immediately it would help the team start winning more games.

Another area of need is a backup point guard. Westbrook is one of the best players in the league, but they don’t have much behind him. Cameron Payne was shipped to Chicago. Norris Cole was a stop-gap signing for the end of the year and likely won’t be a great option for next season. Semaj Christon is frustrating to watch and hasn’t fully developed into a great option to play behind Westbrook.

TARGETS

Pick #21: Luke Kennard, SG, Duke

Luke Kennard (Photo by: si.com)

Kennard fills the three point shooting void for the Thunder. He shot a great 43.8% from deep last season at Duke. He also improved his ability to drive and create plays for others. Kennard won’t ever be a star in the NBA, but at pick number 21 could be a great pick and have a solid career.

He will fit into the Thunder well, because he hits open shots. When Westbrook drives to the basket and finds open teammates, Kennard will be one of the few that will be able to hit them more often than not. Just having that extra weapon on offense last year would’ve helped them win a few more games.

The reason that Kennard is likely to slide to the middle of the first round at the earliest is his defense. He will be a defensive liability in the NBA. He had a defensive rating of 104.4 at Duke and he doesn’t have too much more room for improvement in this area of his game. With Kennard on the floor he will give up a lot of points, but he will also score a lot too.

CONCLUSION

The Thunder need to get someone who can help Russell Westbrook get back to the top of the Western Conference. A player coming from this draft pick likely isn’t going to be a star, but they could get a solid player who helps them get back to competing in the West. Oklahoma City will need to get another star before they can really be considered a team capable of winning a championship.

Thanks for checking out the Oklahoma City Thunder 2017 NBA Draft profile and tune in tomorrow for day 20 of NBA Draftmas to see what the Brooklyn Nets are going to do.

Day 18: Atlanta Hawks

Day 17: Indiana Pacers

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Milwaukee Bucks 2017 NBA Draft Profile

On day 16 of NBA Draftmas, the Milwaukee Bucks’ draft needs and targets will be analyzed.

SUMMARY

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Photo by: NBA.com)

The Bucks made a big step for a young team and qualified for the 2017 NBA Playoffs. They ended up getting the sixth seed and took the Raptors to six games. This was an impressive showing for the Bucks, as they had to deal with a lot of injuries this season, most notably Jabari Parker, who tore his ACL and missed the latter part of the season. Khris Middleton was injured for the first part of the season and came on strong when he came back healthy. Staying healthy is a huge key for Milwaukee going forward.

Milwaukee ranks 20th in points per game, but they are the 10th best defense in the NBA. The Bucks did have the 10th best three point shooting team in the league and could see improvements if Middleton and Parker stay healthy.

The most encouraging thing for the Bucks is the continual progression of their young players. Giannis Antetokounmpo has blossomed into a star who averaged 23.2 points, 8.9 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. Putting him alongside a healthy Jabari Parker, who averaged 20.1 points per game this season, makes the Bucks a dangerous team in the next few seasons. Another intriguing player is Thon Maker. Maker didn’t play too impressively during the regular season, but showed some real flashes of development during the playoffs. Malcolm Brogden also surprised with a good rookie year. The improvement of these players are what the franchise will be built on.

The Bucks will hope to add some key pieces to their strong young core in the 2017 NBA Draft.

Milwaukee Bucks DRAFT PICKS & NEEDS

Milwaukee has one pick in each round of the 2017 NBA Draft. 

First Round: No. 17

Second Round: No. 48

A big need for the Bucks is someone who can rebound. They ranked second last in the NBA in rebounds per game and can benefit from selecting a player who can go get the ball. Antetokounmpo led the team in rebounds last season and will need some more help.

The Bucks may also want to consider going after a true point guard. Antetokounmpo and others have played the position, but Matthew Dellavadova is the only true point guard that got significant minutes last season and that needs to change.

TARGETS

Pick #17: T.J. Leaf, PF, UCLA

T.J. Leaf NBA

T.J. Leaf (Photo by: latimes.com)

While the Bucks have a lot of players that transcend a traditional position, they need a player who knows his role and position very clearly. That player is T.J. Leaf. He may have been forgotten about with Lonzo Ball on the same team at UCLA, but Leaf is an intriguing prospect himself.

Leaf put up 21.7 points and 11 rebounds per 40 minutes last season. His offensive rebounding in the regular season matchup against Kentucky was a huge boost to get the Bruins the win. He will come in and rebound from day one, but also has a nice offensive skill set. His post moves are good for his age and he can stretch his range out to the three point line as he shot 46.6% from deep.

At pick 17, Leaf would provide tremendous value because he could start his career from the bench and be a high energy rebounder. If he develops he could become a starter, but if not he will at least be able to rebound and stretch a defense as a substitute for years to come.

Pick #48: Edmond Sumner, PG, Xavier

Edmond Sumner NBA

Edmond Sumner (Photo by: si.com)

Sumner tore his ACL last season, which effectively ended his college career. He will be rehabbing to get back on the hardwood, but if healthy, he has the potential to improve and become a solid player.

He fits the mold of what the Bucks like: an athletic, tall player for his position. Sumner is a 6’5″ point guard who excels at driving to the basket. He has good quickness for his size and lanky arms, which are tools he could use to become a good defender at the NBA level.

As with any player taken in the second round, Sumner has some weaknesses. He does have a history of injuries that need to be checked out, including that ACL tear. Sumner also isn’t very proficient shooting from deep. His three point shooting percentage was an abysmal 28% for his career.

Sumner provides a high risk-high reward option for a team who takes him, but that will be welcomed in the second round of the NBA Draft, as second round picks rarely work out.

CONCLUSION

The Bucks need to use this draft to get some support for their young players. Players that they select in this draft won’t likely change a franchise, but can be role players for some very good Bucks teams in the next couple of years. Selecting a true point guard, even if it is just a back up, and a rebounder will help this team a lot heading into the next season. 

Thanks for checking out the Milwaukee Bucks 2017 NBA Draft profile and tune in tomorrow for day 17 of NBA Draftmas to see what the Indiana Pacers are going to do.

Day 15: Chicago Bulls

Day 14: Portland Trail Blazers

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Dallas Mavericks 2017 NBA Draft profile

On day nine of NBA Draftmas, the Dallas Mavericks’ draft needs and targets will be analyzed.

SUMMARY

Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki (Photo by: scout.com)

The Mavericks are in a weird place in their franchise as Dirk Nowitzki winds down his career surrounded by a bunch of youth who aren’t ready to win big yet. Dallas did everything in their power to tank at the end of the season in order to get a higher pick, but have to settle for ninth selection overall. That pick won’t be enough to make the Mavericks a contender again, but could help the rebuilding process.

Scoring is what Dallas needs most, as they finished last in the league in points per game and were the only team to average under 100 points per game. Harrison Barnes led the team in scoring with 19.2 points per game and had a help from Nowitzki and Wesley Matthews, but Dallas needs someone who can create their own shot, much like a younger Nowitzki did. They were in the middle of the league in three point shooting, but do have a few really good shooters, especially Seth Curry.

The rebounding was the worst in the league last season and will need to be improved also. Acquiring Nerlens Noel at the deadline will help, but more is needed than his 6.8 rebounds per game.

Dallas had the fourth best defense in the league and will be looking to keep that up, while adding a scoring punch for next season. They shed veteran Deron Williams to the Cavs and now have a lot of nice young pieces that need to develop.

Dallas Mavericks DRAFT PICKS & NEEDS

Dallas only has their first round pick and needs to hit on it to help the future of the franchise.

First Round: No. 9

Second Round: N/A

Addressing their scoring and rebounding are their biggest needs, but may not be able to address it fully with their one pick. More is needed from free agency.

TARGETS & THOUGHTS

Option #1: Pick #9: Lauri Markkanen, PF/C, Arizona

Lauri Markkanen (Photo by: si.com)

Markkanen plays a lot like Nowitzki, which could make him appealing to the Mavericks. He is a multi-dimensional player that is unlike any in this draft class.

The most remarkable thing about him is that he led the Pac-12 in three point percentage, which is incredible given his 7’0″ height. He averaged 15.6 points per game, but shows the signs that he can score more in the NBA where the floor is spaced more. Working with Nowitzki on how to improve his game should help him grow more.

Some of the areas he needs to improve include: defense, play strength, rebounding and post offense. He was average at defense in college, but the NBA will provide a new challenge. If he wishes to play down low more, Markkanen will need to add muscle. It doesn’t have to be a great amount of strength he adds, but a little more is needed. He only averaged 7.2 rebounds per game at Arizona, but the Wildcats had plenty of big guys rebounding the ball, so with some development he can be a good rebounder. If anyone can help him develop more post moves, Nowitzki is the man.

Ultimately Markkanen can space the floor and provide scoring and three point shooting. If he develops, he should help rebounding a little bit. He can help the Mavericks fill both needs. At worst he will compare to a Ryan Anderson and if he develops, which is a big if, he could look like a clone of Nowitzki.

Option #2: Pick #9: Frank Ntilikina, PG, France

Frank Ntilikina NBA Draft

Frank Ntilikina (Photo by: defpen.com)

Ntilikina will likely be the first player who didn’t play college basketball to be drafted in the 2017 NBA Draft. He has a lot of potential, but is a boom or bust prospect.

General manager Donnie Nelson likes taking international players and could want to take Ntilikina. Ntilikina is a big, lengthy guard who played professionally in France for Strasbourg. He will add some value shooting from behind-the-arc, as he shot 40% in France, but he only attempted one three pointer a game in his career.

He should be able to develop into a good defender with his good length, but it will take a while. He doesn’t score a lot and will be harder for him to become proficient at. Ntilikina averaged 5.2 points per game last season and just 1.4 assists. If he is selected this highly, a team will be picking him based on potential and measurables.

CONCLUSION

The Mavericks will need more than just this one draft pick to help rebuild the roster. While Ntilikina would take a while to develop into an NBA player, Markkanen could help out immediately. Taking Markanen would be preferred and getting some decent players in free agency will help the growth of the franchise. 

Thanks for checking out the Dallas Mavericks 2017 NBA Draft profile and tune in tomorrow for day ten of NBA Draftmas to see what the Charlotte Hornets are going to do.

Day 7: Minnesota Timberwolves

Day 8: New York Knicks

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