Pick: Ben Simmons
Analysis: Although Ben Simmons is likely the best player in the draft, the 76ers should not have drafted the LSU product with the first overall selection. The 76ers have selected a center in their last four drafts with their first selection. Amazingly, they have yet to trade any of the centers, although they desperately tried to trade Noel during the draft. Due to Simmons’ ability to pass, they could have him play alongside at least one other big. In addition, they could still trade either Okafor or Noel before the season because they possess value on the trade market. If they are able to trade one of the two centers, the grade would improve to an A.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
Pick: Brandon Ingram
Analysis: The Lakers made the best pick in the draft. In my opinion, Brandon Ingram is the best player in the draft because he perfectly fits into today’s style of play. Although Ingram does not have NBA strength, he possesses great size at 6’9″ and a wingspan of 7’3″. In addition, he has the ability to shoot the three and drives the ball incredibly well, even though he does not have the strength to battle inside of the paint. Ingram fits with the Lakers because they have a void at the small forward position. Until the Lakers sign another star, they will be able to build around the trio of Ingram, Russell, and Randle. The Lakers will still be able to sign free agents this offseason because either the addition of DeRozan, Horford, or Whiteside will fit the team’s needs.
3. Boston Celtics
Pick: Jaylen Brown
Analysis: The Celtics stole this pick from the Brooklyn Nets and they blew the opportunity to draft a top flight prospect. There is no doubt that Brown has an NBA body, but he has yet to show the skills to develop into a star. During his year at California, Brown was able to score, but shot a low percentage from the field. In addition, Brown did not display the ability to effectively handle the ball. If Brown does not significantly improve his game, he will never become a true superstar or an effective all-star. Brad Stevens should be able to get the most out of Brown, but it will take a few years. The Celtics had a need for a shooter, but passed on the opportunity to draft Hield or Murray. Murray and Hield would have been better selections and could have helped the Celtics this season as they attempt to advance further in the playoffs.
4. Phoenix Suns
Pick: Dragen Bender
Analysis: The Suns have a need for stretch-4, but Bender was not the answer at the position. Bender has potential because of his skills, size, and attitude. However, Bender does not have the same resume as Porzingis. While Porzingis played at the second highest level, Bender received very little playing time at one of the lower leagues in Israel. Bender will need a few years to finally develop into an effective starter because he will need time to develop his skills, garner experience, and build strength. The Suns have depth at the point guard position, but Bledsoe and Knight are undersized point guards.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves
Pick: Kris Dunn
Analysis: The Timberwolves have one of the most talented, young core in the entire league. Dunn will join the Wolves core of Karl Anthony Towns, Zach Lavine, and Andrew Wiggins. The addition of Dunn will likely signal the end for Ricky Rubio. Rubio does not fit Thibs’ style of play because he is more of a finesse player. However, Dunn is a player that will play great defense and be a physical player. However, Hield and Murray would have been a great selection for the Wolves because they have a need for a shooting guard that can shoot from the three point arc. Since Dunn does not have a great shooting touch, the Wolves should be able to play Rubio and Dunn in the same lineup.
6. New Orleans Pelicans
Pick: Buddy Hield
Analysis: The Pelicans are built around their star power forward Anthony Davis and have been searching for players to complement their franchise building block. The Pelicans have attempted to find players in the back court that can stretch the defense, but Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, and Tyreke Evans have not been able to fulfill their potential. Anderson and Gordon are both free agents so it is unknown if they will return to New Orleans. Hield should assist Davis because he is a playmaker and an incredible shooter. During his senior year at Oklahoma, he was the best offensive player in college. If Holiday can return from injury, the combination of Holiday, Hield, and Davis should be able to lead the Pelicans back to the playoffs.
7. Denver Nuggets
Pick: Jamal Murray
Analysis: Jamal Murray should be a very good player in the NBA for a long time because he can make plays and shoots the ball very well. Murray’s ability to shoot at a high level and handle the basketball should help Mudiay because he does not have a great shooting touch and enjoys driving to the basket. However, Murray is not a great fit for the Nuggets. The Nuggets already have Gary Harris and Emmanuel Mudiay. Although not as talented, Harris possesses many similar attributes to Murray. In addition, neither Murray or Harris are big enough or strong enough to play small forward and effectively guard opposing forwards. The Nuggets should attempt to deal Harris for another small forward because they need a replacement for the often injured Danilo Gallinari.
8. Phoenix Suns (acquired from Sacramento)
Pick: Marquese Chriss
Analysis: Before Chriss’s rise on the draft board, I believed that the Suns would have drafted Chriss with their 13th overall selection. The Suns do not have a capable power forward on their roster after the departure of Markieff Morris. In addition, Chriss should be able to complement Bender because he plays inside of the arc, while Bender tends to play with more finesse from the outside. Chriss is an incredible athlete with immense potential. Due to his athleticism, speed, and ability to handle the ball, Chriss could become an useful piece in today’s style of play. Chriss is not a developed product and will need a few years of development and coaching to become a quality starting power forward or small center.
9. Toronto Raptors
Pick: Jacob Poeltl
Analysis: The Raptors had an incredible season and reached the conference finals. However, Poeltl is not a great option for the Raptors because they already have Jonas Valanciunas, who plays very similar to Poeltl and is extended for the next few seasons. In today’s NBA, it will be impossible to play both Poeltl and Valaciunas because neither has the versatility to guard opposing guards or forwards outside of the paint. The Raptors should have selected Sabonis. The Raptors have a desperate need for a stretch four that can shoot threes because Patrick Patterson is not the answer. Sabonis has a good shooting touch and would be incredibly valuable.
10. Milwaukee Bucks
Pick: Thon Maker
Analysis: Maker is an absolute wildcard so it is difficult to see why the Bucks decided to draft him with a top ten selection. Maker is such a question mark that people do not even know his true age, although he contends that he is 19 years old. Maker is incredibly raw, but possesses great physical attributes and talent. The Bucks believe that they can develop Maker, like Giannas, into a star. Unfortunately, Maker does not have the same talent as Giannis, which limits his ceiling. In addition, Maker will need years until he develops into a useful piece. The Bucks will likely use him as a defensive player early in his career, but he does not have great experience at the professional level, which could lead to foul trouble and a lack of production.
11. Oklahoma City Thunder (acquired from Orlando Magic)
Pick: Domantas Sabonis
Analysis: The Thunder obtained this selection from the Magic in exchange for Serge Ibaka. Since the Thunder were able to acquire Victor Oladipo, they no longer had a desperate need for a shooting guard. The Thunder desperately needed to replace Andre Roberson because he cannot effectively score. The Thunder will use Sabonis to replace Ibaka. Toward the end of Ibaka’s stint with the Thunder, they attempted to use him as a stretch-4, but that does not fit his style of play. Since the emergence of Adams and Kanter, the Thunder had little need for Ibaka, who will be a free agent next offseason. Sabonis will be able to stretch the defense for Thunder. In addition, he was a rebounding machine for the Zags during his two years in college.
12. Atlanta Hawks (acquired from Utah Jazz)
Pick: Taurean Prince
Analysis: The Hawks acquired this selection from the Jazz in exchange for a deal including Jeff Teague. The Hawks have Dennis Schroder so they did not need to replace Teague with this selection. However, the Hawks need a potential replacement for Kent Bazemore if he decides to depart during free agency. The acquisition of Prince will likely save Atlanta loads of money because Bazemore was set for a big contract after a solid season. Prince has talent and will be a jack of all trades forward for the Hawks. He will be able to shoot the three well for Atlanta and play very good defense. However, Denzel Valentine would have been a better selection because the Hawks are a win now team and Valentine is one of the most NBA ready players in the draft.
13. Sacramento Kings (acquried from Phoenix Suns)
Pick: Georgios Papagiannis
Analysis: The Kings did a terrible job with their first selection in the draft. The Kings traded out of the 8th pick to the 13th selection and did not receive good value for the selection, especially since they could have drafted Domantas Sabonis. The Kings already have a pretty good center by the name of DeMarcus Cousins. In addition, their selection last year, Willie Cauly Stein, plays center so there seems to be no place for the new Kings’ center. Due to the potential departure of Rajon Rondo, the Kings had room for improvement at literally every other position besides for center.
14. Chicago Bulls
Pick: Denzel Valentine
Analysis: Although Denzel Valentine is a very good player and should be a quality player, he does not fit into the Bulls’ goal. The Bulls dealt Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks and seem to be in rebuilding mode. Valentine is not a player that should be drafted by a rebuilding team. Although Valentine is young, he is close to a finished project and does not seem to have large room for improvement. In addition, the Bulls have a greater need for a point guard or center after the likely departure of Pau Gasol, Derrick Rose, and Joakim Noah.