- Markelle Fultz – Philadelphia 76ers
Everyone and their mother at this point knows that the Sixers are going to draft Markelle Fultz number one overall. Philadelphia needed a scoring option at guard who could knock down a three and that’s exactly what they’ll be getting from the Washington product. Fultz has the potential to become a lethal scorer with his handles and NBA-ready shot. The Process is almost complete.
- Lonzo Ball – Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers shocked everyone, shipping off former no. 3 pick and budding star DeAngelo Russell for veteran big man Brook Lopez to shed Timofey Mozgov’s contract, looking clear out space for the Paul George and LeBron James sweepstakes. The backcourt is now clear for Lonzo to take center stage in LA and bring winning back to the purple and gold. With his elite passing ability and an already outstanding IQ and ability to make plays, Lonzo looks to be one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft. With a 6’6” frame and his athleticism, his ceiling is as high as anyone’s in the draft. Lavar called it. Against all odds, Lonzo will be a Laker
- Jayson Tatum – Boston Celtics
The Celtics have called Tatum “the next Paul Pierce,” as he had shown flashes of offensive brilliance towards the end of his freshman season at Duke. The Celtics hope Tatum can become that second offensive weapon they need to compliment Isaiah Thomas. They will be able to play inside-out with Tatum’s ability to score in the post and midrange in the half-court set. He will need to improve on defense, however he certainly has the athleticism and full-build to hold his own in the NBA.
- Josh Jackson – Phoenix Suns
Devin Booker and Josh Jackson would be an impressive young core for the Suns to build around. He’s the most athletic player in the draft for his size and an absolute lock-down defender for all 92 feet. He has also shown flashes of the rare ability to “take-over” games at Kansas, where he stopped teams single-handedly defensively, resulting in easy buckets on the other end. He will need to develop an NBA-ready jump shot, especially improve from behind the arc, but with his motor and motivation, there’s no reason he can’t become an all-star at the next level.
- DeAaron Fox – Sacramento Kings
DeAaron Fox has been called the best guard in the draft by many scouts and reporters. However, after some leaked footage of his private workout with the 76ers, where it was shown he was struggling with rhythm 3s, the talks of seeing Fox taken higher have subsided with Philly moving up and Lonzo a lock to go to LA. Say what you will about his jumper, Fox has proven in college to be one of the quickest guards in the league, absolutely lethal in the pick and roll, and a great competitor. His success will go as far as his jump shot will take him.
- Jonathan Isaac – Orlando Magic
Perhaps the biggest wild-card in the draft, at a skinny 6’10”, it’s impossible not to draw comparisons to Kevin Durant from the eye-test. Jonathan Isaac has yet to fill out his frame that continues to grow, but we have already seen glimpses of what he can become. He has great footwork and athleticism, however he has a long way to go to develop his game, particularly his strength and physicality at his size. He has a serviceable shot that complements his skills, however being undersized, he settles too often rather than taking advantage of his size. His combination of length and athleticism with skill is not seen every year, but he has a long way to go before he reach his ceiling.
- Dennis Smith – Minnesota Timberwolves
It’s take two for the Timberwolves, as last year’s top 5 pick Kris Dunn has majorly disappointed in his rookie season. They’ll hope to get better luck with Dennis Smith, the athletic freak guard from N.C. State. Smith is a nightmare to guard in the fast-break, with an explosiveness that will be scary with Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns running the floor. His quickness also can translate to make him an elite perimeter defender at the next level. He will need to improve his decision making and jump-shot however, if he doesn’t want to fall into the same boat as Dunn.
- Lauri Markkanen – New York Knicks
Kristaps Porzingis 2.0. Amid rumors that Kristaps is on his way out, the Knicks have been looking for his imminent replacement. Well, they might have found him here with the Arizona product from Finland. He certainly passes the “where’s that guy from?” test, but can he play like Porzingis? On the offensive end, Markkanen blew away everyone with his efficiency and athleticism as a 7-footer. He shot an incredible 42% from behind the arc, while possessing a nice soft touch inside. He will be lethal off screens and in the post as he adjusts to NBA play. However, he will need to improve on the defensive end. For his size, he is an underperforming rebounder and will get bullied in the post. He has the size to battle down low, but he will need to develop that part of his game in order to make it in the NBA.
- Frank Ntilikina – Dallas Mavericks
If Markkanen falls to the Mavs laps at 9, the Mavs will certainly snatch him up to fill the large void Dirk will be leaving soon. However, I think he’ll be gone by then so the Mavs will draft Frank Ntilikina out of France. At 6’5” with a nearly 7’0” wingspan, Ntilikina has the physical gifts to be an absolutely dominating point guard. A tremendous passer and terrific ball-handler, he is perhaps the most true point guard in the draft. However, he is incredibly underweight for his size and that will hold-back his game from elevating to the next level. He will need to add weight and strength in order to succeed in the NBA, but with his length and athleticism, he has one of the highest ceilings in the entire draft.
- Zach Collins – Sacremento Kings
Although he only played less than 20 min/game in his lone season at Gonzaga, Collins brings a huge frame with excellent athleticism to the NBA. His speed and mobility are his greatest assets and he’s shown to play a mature style of basketball, blending a good set of post moves with his patience. He’s a strong rebounder and defender on the other end as well, but his biggest knock is that he is so largely unproven. There may be a steep learning curve with Collins, but the upside, like his huge Final Four game against South Carolina, can make it all worth it.