Why Lonnie Walker IV could be the next great Spur

That noise you just heard? That was me pushing my chips on the table and making a huge bet. Yup, I am all in on Lonnie Walker IV on being the next great San Antonio Spur. In fact, he could end up squeezing his way into the Spur’s Mt. Rushmore of players.

Before you scream “WHAT ABOUT GINOBILI? OR PARKER?!” give me a chance to explain. Of course, those guys are Hall of Famers in their own rights, and deservedly occupy a place in Spur’s lore alongside Gervin, The Admiral, Duncan and others (I’ll leave Kawhi out of this, the wound is still too sensitive.) So, why am I so high on Walker?

I am going to show you a handful of videos which will delineate why he has every tool Gregg Popovich desires in a prospect. 

Before I mesmerize you with clips of Walker draining both off-ball and on-ball triples, or footage of him manipulating the pick and roll, I’ll give you a tour of his skillset. Fortunately, I covered Walker extensively for this site during the draft days. You can see his whole profile here. For now, indulge me by perusing my 2-minutes-or-less scouting report on him.

We know the physical measurements. Walker stands at 6’4″ with a 6’10.5″ wingspan and owns a muscular frame which should only get stronger. His hops were among the best in his draft class. His feet are agile to hang with speedy guards. Walker has the strength and length to protect the rim as a guard, something which is en vogue in today’s game. Phew, the athletic skill set is covered. Now, onto his talent.

In college, Walker flashed a little bit of everything. Can he shoot stepback 3-pointers? Yes. Can he sidestep for triples ala J.R Smith? Yup. Can he shoot off the catch? You betcha. Pick and roll potential? Sure. Does he have court vision? Another yes.

Defensively, Walker has shown potential as well. This past NBA Summer League he blocked Caleb Swanigan like it was a routine play. He uses his wingspan to poke away balls for steals and has instincts that look to be more than promising. Walker could guard three positions on the court and evolve into a plus defender.

Like all players, Walker has weaknesses. Perhaps “concerns” is a better word. Walker has a tendency to stop the ball and despite having underrated vision, he perpetually looks to score before anything else. Can these habits be worked out? I think so. Plus, his pick and roll game revolves around him scoring the ball, and he needs to work on the facilitating aspect in that area.

Okay. Done. The 2-minutes-or-less scouting report is done.

We can now get to the juicy stuff. No one likes staring at words all day. So, I will provide some video evidence to prove Walker has superstar potential. Furthermore, I will demonstrate how his pliability as a player makes him the ultimate model Spur.

 

Evidence # 1 – Spacing Potential

Do you want to know the brilliance of Coach Pop’s offensive philosophy? In actuality, the man simply may not even have one. He seems to always adapt to the personnel on hand. For instance, The Spurs used to be champions of pace and space, especially when they battled the Miami Heat in recent NBA Finals. Last season, Pop stuck to his midrange guns in order to maximize and revitalize the talent of star player LaMarcus Aldridge.

The question remains, however: How will Walker fit into a system of Pop’s choosing?

Next season, Pop will most likely continue to emphasize the midrange game. After all, he just added midrange specialist and Kobe Bryant imitator DeMar DeRozan. Still, if you were to think that this means floor spacing will no longer be at a premium, you would be wrong. We need to look no further than Danny Green for proof.

In the last two seasons, Green, who plays the same position as Walker, took 62.5 percent of his shots from behind the arc. Compare that to Trevor Ariza, who took around 70 percent of his shots from deep last year as he played for the triples-hoisting Houston Rockets. Can Walker keep this pace?

The numbers indicate he can. Walker took 50.9 percent of his shots from deep. This rate doesn’t match Green’s exactly, but it is trending in the right direction. That is quite a large number of threes to take for a college hoops player. Yet, look at the film. It will show you his potential to be an off-ball floor spacer.

Below, Walker uses an off-ball screen to get open for a triple. Everything he does here is textbook. His footwork is excellent, his elevation is perfect, and he releases the ball precisely where he should.

Need more evidence. Click below and watch Walker drain catch and shoot bombs for about 45 seconds.

The Spurs will always rely on wing floor spacers, and Walker can slide right into that role. However, what if they want someone who can create their own shot?

 

Evidence #2 – Pick and Roll Scorer

While watching this year’s Summer League, I was impressed by Walker’s ability to score out of the pick and roll. Yes, he has not shown too much passing ability as a ball handler, but if Kawhi Leonard can get there, so can Walker. Let us not forget that the most important part of the game is putting that round thing inside of the other round thing.

The Spurs rely on the pick and roll just as much as any other team. It opens up various parts of their game. Sure, they also can deploy incredible ball-moving sequences, but the PnR game is still alive in San Antonio. Walker has shown immense talent in one aspect of it: scoring.

With Pops current offensive scheme, he will love Walker’s ability to drain midrange jumpers off of picks. Watch below for further proof.

Walker drags his man right into a behemoth of a big. Once Walker is defended by a bigger, slower player, he realizes he can bury a jumper. The sagging big defending Walker gives him this shot, and he sinks it.

Here, Walker truly impresses. His defender sticks with him and goes over the screen. Walker knows he has a step on him anyways, and decided to pull up on a dime. The rim protector is waving his arms like a dummy. The guard defending Walker contests him, but Walker is not bothered. In fact, he continues to hit the shot while getting fouled.

What frightens me the most about this (I say frighten because I am not a Spurs fan) is picturing Walker doing this in late-game situations. When 3 minutes remain in a game, teams tend to lean on their scorers to take their man off the dribble and simply get a bucket. If Walker can do this routinely, he could develop into a feared closer.

Example #3 – Cutting

When thinking of Spurs basketball, I often envision someone getting a pass from Boris Diaw for an open, backdoor layup. Despite relying on a more compact offensive court, Coach Pop will continue to looks for easy hoops. Walker has off-ball possibilities and athleticism to be the benefactor of this style of play.

When you get a chance, go watch some Walker dunk highlights. I won’t show them here, but I will show you a very Spursian Summer League play.

In this clip, Walker takes advantage of a typical Spurs set. The man with the ball has two floor spacers to his right. On the left side, a player sets a back pick for Walker. The rim protector and switch man is caught sleeping and Walker flies in for a layup. Can you picture LaMarcus Aldridge or adept passer Pau Gasol doing this? I can.

Walker’s offensive instincts in this area are appealing. Keep your eyes on him for this entire play. At points, Miami ran an NBA style horns set, which features shooters in the corners. Walker does not idle. Instead, he waits for the perfect time to cut to the hoop and make a bucket. Pops will utilize Walker’s instincts nicely.

Example #4 – Pick and Roll passing/Vision

This is an area of concern for Walker, but do not worry about it too much. If he wants to see the floor in San Antonio, Walker will need to move the ball more. He is still developing this part of his game, but Walker has shown he possesses the vision necessary to do so.

In the clip below, Walker will use his screen to find an open teammate.

You didn’t see that guy standing in the corner, did you? Neither did I. Walker did, however, and that is all that matters. The next sequence shows more of the same.

Is what Walker doing here overly magnificent? No. But it does show he can see other players on the court and make the right read. Do you want to know the next step in his career? Click here to see Kawhi Leonard show his versatility as a pick and roll passer. If Walker can do that, his ceiling rises exponentially.

 

Example #5 – Defense/Defensive Instincts

You have to be a special player to get playing time for Coach Pops if you do not play hard defense. Fortunately for Walker, he has the defensive tools to see the court.

Defending the fast break is something which is very hard to do. It does not reveal too much about a player’s overall ability, as these plays do not happen in the half court, obviously. It can, however, demonstrate a player’s instincts.

In a 4 on 2 situation, Walker defends beautifully. I am a proponent of taking a gamble in this situation, and Walker does. It results in a steal as he reads the ball handlers eyes in order to pick off the pass.

In the next clip, Walker looks reminiscent of a former Spurs wing. He uses his length to effortlessly poke away the ball. Active hands are a Spurs staple.

Walker loves to compete on the defensive end of the floor, which is a must for Popovich. In addition to that, Walker has elite defensive tools. His learning curve to NBA defensive schemes will be tough, but it is for most rookies. Regardless, Walker possesses the smarts to come out on top here.

 

Conclusion

I love this kid.

Remember when Dion Waiters was getting drafted? Or how about Terrence Ross? Scouts were a little weary of these kids, but they said they both had superstar potential. Well folks, Walker has the same potential but comes at less of a risk.

His work ethic is wonderful. The measurables are off the charts for his position. His shooting is where it needs to be and his pick and roll facilitating game has glimpses of hope. Defensively, we could be looking at a plus defender.

It is his flat-out scoring ability which gives him superstar potential, however. How many players in the NBA can hit the shot shown in the gif below?

Lonnie-Walker-stepback.gif

A one-dribble, stepback going to his right with a defender in his grill? Sign me up.

Lonnie Walker will end up being the steal of this draft. He is Zhaire Smith, but minus the “if he ever develops a consistent jumper” part. He’s Donte Divincenzo with a higher ceiling. Think Mikal Bridges but with an offensive repertoire that extends beyond catch and shoot threes, or a Grayson Allen with better hops and untapped potential.

You’ll forget about Kawhi soon enough, Spurs fans.

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How long do NBA Rookies stay relevant?

Anthony Bennett

After a historic NBA Draft on Thursday night, the question was brought up “How long do NBA rookies stay relevant?” Do rookies typically fade and not even receive a second contract in the league? Let’s look at recent draft classes to see how many rookies made it in the league past their fourth season.

 

2013 NBA Draft

16.7% of first-round picks didn’t make it past their fourth NBA season

66.7% of second-round picks didn’t make it past their fourth NBA season

Starting off the list is the most recent draft class that could have played more than four seasons by now and even gotten a contract extension. The percentages show that leaving college early, and betting on yourself in the NBA can be a risky business, especially if you are a second-round talent. The chances of making it in the NBA long-term as a second-round pick are slim, and the money you make in the first seasons in the league as a late pick isn’t great. For example, Glen Rice, the 35th pick by the Washington Wizards made $400,000 during his basketball career. While that is a lot of money, Rice didn’t make it in the league, so he either has to go overseas or go back to school to find another job. Just because a team drafts you, that doesn’t mean success is in the future for the player.

 

2012 NBA Draft

30% of first-round picks didn’t make it past their fourth NBA season

73.3% of second-round picks didn’t make it past their fourth NBA season

The 2012 NBA Draft was a brutal one in terms of longevity. Nine players drafted in the first-round in 2012 never got a second NBA contract. Those nine players didn’t make it past their first four season in the association. First-round picks have talent, but every player drafted in the first-round is also at risk to fail, ask the 2012 NBA Draft class.

 

2011 NBA Draft

13.3% of first-round picks didn’t make it past their fourth NBA season

70% of second-round picks didn’t make it past their fourth NBA season

The 2011 NBA Draft held up well related to getting guys past their fourth season in the NBA, and getting guys a second NBA contract. But, there were still guys who didn’t pan out. Take a look at Jan Vesely, the sixth pick. Vesely ended up playing only three seasons in the NBA before calling it quits. However, Vesely will be okay as he made over $9 million in his three seasons in the league.

 

2010 NBA Draft

16.7% of first-round pick didn’t make it past their fourth NBA season

86.7% of second-round pick didn’t make it past their fourth NBA season

The 2010 NBA Draft further proves the tough life of being a second-round pick. Players work their entire lives to get drafted, and their dreams come true when they are selected. However, the history proves that there is a good chance that a second-round pick won’t make it in the league, it’s just facts.

 

The numbers back it up, it can be a tough life in the NBA at times. All odds are against these prospects, and while they may get drafted and feel very good about themselves, the work is not even close to being over if they want to make it in the long run.

2018 NBA Mock Draft 2.0

Marvin Bagley

NBA Draft Day is upon us. This 2018 NBA Mock Draft 2.0 will just be a compilation of the picks, no descriptions. To see a full mock draft with complete descriptions on every pick, check out our first mock draft from earlier this week!

#1: Phoenix Suns: DeAndre Ayton

#2: Sacramento Kings: Marvin Bagley III

#3: Atlanta Hawks: Luka Doncic

#4. Memphis Grizzlies: Jaren Jackson Jr.

#5. Dallas Mavericks: Mo Bamba

#6: Orlando Magic: Michael Porter Jr.

#7: Chicago Bulls: Wendell Carter

#8: Cleveland Cavaliers: Mikal Bridges

#9: New York Knicks: Trae Young

#10: Philadelphia 76ers: Kevin Knox

#11: Charlotte Hornets: Miles Bridges

#12: Los Angeles Clippers: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

#13: Los Angeles Clippers: Robert Williams

#14: Denver Nuggets: Collin Sexton

#15: Washington Wizards: Lonnie Walker IV

#16: Phoenix Suns: Aaron Holiday

#17: Milwaukee Bucks: Jerome Robinson

#18: San Antonio Spurs: Elie Okobo

#19: Atlanta Hawks: Zhaire Smith

#20: Minnesota Timberwolves: Donte DiVincenzo

#21: Utah Jazz: Troy Brown

#22: Chicago Bulls: Chandler Hutchison

#23: Indiana Pacers: Kevin Huerter

#24: Portland Trail Blazers: Josh Okogie

#25: Los Angeles Lakers: Grayson Allen

#26: Philadelphia 76ers: De’Anthony Melton

#27: Boston Celtics: Dzanan Musa

#28: Golden State Warriors: Gary Trent Jr.

#29: Brooklyn Nets: Melvin Frazier

#30: Atlanta Hawks: Mitchell Robinson

What to watch for: NBA Draft

Kemba Walker

It is finally time, the wait is over. Ever since the Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in four games in the NBA Finals, fans have been waiting for tonight: the NBA Draft. The 2018 NBA Draft is one of the most intriguing drafts in recent memory. The main reason for the intrigue is in the uncertainty after the first pick is announced. The Suns are expected to take DeAndre Ayton with the first selection tonight, after that, it is wide open. Let’s break down some things to watch for tonight that could shape how the draft order falls.

 

What does Sacramento do with the second pick?

Oh, the Kings. What a franchise. Nobody knows what Sacramento will do with the second pick tonight. I don’t even think Sacramento knows what they will do when they are on the clock shortly after 7 p.m. e.t. Recent rumors have been expecting the Kings will select Marvin Bagley III when they are on the clock, but then a report came out yesterday saying the team has not yet ruled out Luka Doncic or Michael Porter Jr. with their selection. If Sacramento ends up taking Doncic, teams below them may have to pivot as the Kings have made it seem that they don’t like Doncic to this point. Buckle up and expect the unexpected when the Kings are on the clock.

 

Will the Grizzlies end up trading the fourth pick with Parsons’ contract?

The rumor mill has been flowing in Memphis for quite some time now. The Grizzlies are known to be shopping the fourth pick to a team that is willing to absorb Chandler Parsons’ contract. ESPN threw out seven teams that have been talking to the Grizzlies about the fourth pick: Mavericks, Bulls, Magic, Celtics, Nuggets, Knicks, and Clippers. Ideally for the Grizzlies, they would just move back a couple of picks and have the other team take on Parsons outright. However, discussions with multiple teams have included other players going back to Memphis, or even Memphis moving towards the back of the lottery. This pick will be crucial in seeing how the rest of the draft order shakes out.

Chandler Parsons

Does Cleveland trade for a veteran with the #8 pick?

Cleveland is in a tough spot. They want to put themselves in a position to entice LeBron James to come back next season. However, they don’t want to put all their chips in one basket. The Cavaliers don’t want to be stuck with a veteran player they don’t like if LeBron will not return. I think if you are Cleveland, you have to risk it. Cleveland should be on the phone with multiple teams during the eighth pick tonight. The first team they should call is the Spurs to talk Kawhi. The Cavs likely don’t have the right assets for Kawhi, but a move I think they could pull off is Kemba Walker. Walker would give the Cavs another scoring option on offense to pair with Kevin Love and LeBron James. Additionally, if LBJ decides to bolt, a Kemba/Love pairing would still be a playoff team in the Eastern Conference.

 

How many trades will we see?

Everyone from fans to the top reporters in the NBA are predicting a flurry of trades tonight. Western Conference teams don’t feel like waiting around for the Warriors to get worse, teams want to chase them right away. For Eastern Conference teams, they see an open conference where any team can fight for a playoff spot. There will certainly be a lot of second-round picks exchanged tonight, just based off how many seconds some teams own. In addition, there is a chance for stars to move tonight. I don’t expect to see Kawhi traded tonight, but if some team throws the Spurs something they can’t refuse, there’s always a chance. In addition, a guy like Kemba Walker being traded tonight would not shock me. The trade market will likely be the biggest reason the draft shakes out how it does. That’s why tonight is so enticing.

There is the potential for madness tonight, and everyone is ready for it. The NBA Draft is such a fun time of the year, especially after a lowly NBA Finals this season. All I have left to say is buckle up because it’s going to be a fun ride.

Visit our 2018 NBA Draft Big Board for our player rankings!

2018 NBA Draft Big Board – UPDATED

ProCity Hoops Big Board

#1. Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic

Outlook:

Talk about an enigma, right?

The youngest player to ever win the EuroLeague MVP, Doncic is a surefire pro.

His strengths are suited for today’s game. A passing savant with an improving three pointer, Doncic is the type of player who makes others better. His PnR mastery is a match made in heaven for the NBA. Some will question how his average agility will translate to NBA defense, and that’s fair. Yet, Doncic is a basketball Einstein who loves to compete. I have him as my number one prospect. In fact, I even named one of the gifs in his profile the “GOAT gif” because it was the most impressive clip of a prospect I have seen as of yet. His feel for the game makes you wonder if the kid was actually incubated in a basketball. As the primary creator, Doncic lives in a good rhythm. If taken with the first overall pick, the Suns will be getting someone who makes Booker better, and boy, is that scary.

UPDATE: Despite the rumors about Doncic being a potential draft faller, I still have him atop my Big Board. Doncic just had one of the most productive EuroLeague seasons ever, regardless of age. His ceiling is high enough that it makes the potential bust risk worth it. No brainer, for me.


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#2. DeAndre Ayton

DeAndre Ayton

Outlook:

Ayton has the ceiling of a franchise player and an All-Star center.

If he sticks to the game plan of being a rim-protecting big who can switch PnRs, he could be a max player. The difference between being Tyson Chandler and KAT is a perimeter game. 5 years from now, bigs like Embiid, KAT, Davis, Jokic and Porzingod will dominate the league, so grabbing Ayton now could prove worthwhile while also showing foresight. A question: Can Ayton stay on the court when teams go super-small? Drafting combo forwards with a massive wingspan, and giving them spot minutes as 5s seems to be a trend. Draymond is obviously the best example of this; however, do not be surprised when the Celtics give Tatum some super-duper small ball minutes at some point. Ayton will need to learn how to stay on the court as the game becomes quicker. Regardless, if this kid puts it all together…lookout.


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#3. Jaren Jackson Jr

Jaren Jackson Jr.

Outlook:

3-5 years from now, the NBA will need guys like JJJ.

With Embiid, The Brow, KAT, KP, Cousins and Jokic, as well as incoming draft picks all ready to lead the “Big Revival,” Jackson can be a great asset. Not only should he be able to defend bigs and protect the rim, he looks like he will be able to make life difficult for perimeter players too. A Stretch 5, Jackson can also be a Switch 5; someone who you feel okay with if he is switched onto anyone on the court during PnR defense. At 19 years of age, JJJ arguably has as high of ceiling as any big in this draft. Jackson Jr. looks like Serge Ibaka if Serge condensed all of his best years into one single season. There is a high floor for this big man prospect, as he seems to have a wide-ranging skill set with a motor to match. Check out the gifs in his profile and imagine him doing that in an NBA uniform!


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#4: Mo Bamba

Mo Bamba

Outlook:

We know of the height. We know of the wingspan. We know of the three-point shooting workout videos.

Bamba looks like Gobert with a jumper. The man can lead the League in blocks while also not making you want to throw up if he is switched onto guards in a PnR. Defensively, this Longhorn has DPOY and All-Defense potential. Improving that 3P% is a key, but it looks like it is getting there. So, what gives me qualms about Bamba? It has nothing to do with his skill set or physical nature but, the game may be changing away from his skill set. During this postseason, we see coaches single out PnR matchups over and over again. Bamba can hold his own but, for how long? Small and super-small lineups may kill his effectiveness. With every possession becoming more valuable, his positional value is fair to question. Still, Bamba has something going for him. The NBA is FULL of talented bigs who may prevent coaches from going too small (Embiid, Towns, KP, Davis, Cousins, Nurkic, etc.) Perhaps Bamba has top-5 pick value after all. But wait, will the advent of 3-point shooting bigs just draw Bamba away from the paint, rendering his biggest strength useless? My head hurts! Everything hinges on Bamba’s feet proving quick enough to stalemate just enough PnR targets. Rank at your own risk, fellow HoopHeads.

UPDATE: Some impressive workouts have displayed Bamba’s improved shooting mechanics. The Gobert-with-a-3 projections are gaining steam and Bamba is benefitting from it.


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#5. Wendell Carter

Wendell Carter

Outlook:

Yes, I have Wendell Carter ranked above teammate Marvin Bagley…

Carter is heavily underrated. He has the trifecta needed for a modern NBA big: 1. Wingspan 2. Muscle 3. Agility. Some bigs in this draft give me the Gobert Effect. In other words, when teams go super-small in the postseason, can they stay on the floor? Carter eases those fears. Similar to most bigs, you don’t want him constantly getting switched onto a Curry or Harden. Yet, Carter can hold his own in spurts, and that area should continue to improve. He is also a solid paint protector. Offensively, his game translates immediately. He can hits threes off the catch or Pick N Pop, and get you post buckets. Yet, he will shine if he develops his passing game. Bigs who can create offense for their team are so valuable. Ask the Celtics. Carter deserves top-5 consideration and is being criminally overlooked. His skill set and body is tailor made for where this League is headed. Scouts knock his quickness, but I don’t see a problem. Simply put, he is a better shooter, passer and defender than Bagley.  The eye test and the stats tell us that. Remember: It is okay to have differing scouting opinions. Go with your gut, not groupthink. 

UPDATE: According to draft guru Jonathan Givony, Carter lost a ton of weight and looks “shredded” now. This eases concerns about his switch defense and lands him firmly in my top-5.


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#6. Trae Young

Trae Young

Outlook:

Trae, or Trey?

The OU product was the best player in college basketball for half the year. What’s more impressive? Young looked the part of an NBA player. So, why is he such a polarizing prospect? Young has the tools to succeed in today’s NBA. He can hit 3s from anywhere on the court, can play off the ball and has the ability to make excellent passes. Problem is, Young did not do this consistently. During conference play, Young was often double-teamed and struggled making the right read, whether that meant shooting a trey or passing to an open teammate. Regardless, the talent exists. Young doesn’t need to develop his jumper, handle or vision. What needs to change is his ability to play under pressure and be a game manager. Personally, I am not concerned with his height, weight, wingspan or athleticism. The League is full of Walker’s and Conley’s. Young’s work ethic is renown; he should be able to overcome those deficiencies. So, why slot him #4 on my Big Board? Watch his game versus TCU and you see someone who looks like that point guard on Golden State. I don’t expect Young to play like Steph Curry, but if he is 80% of what Steph is, then isn’t that worth a top-5 pick?

UPDATE: Young fell a bit but only because some other prospects are rising. There are some other PGs who could be the best in this class but Young has the highest upside, which is why he remains top-7 on my Big Board.


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#7. Marvin Bagley

Marvin Bagley

Outlook:

This young man just loves playing some roundball.

You will be hardpress to find someone on the court who plays harder than him – something we often forget to value as a skill. Bagley possesses the quickness to stick with guards on D, and takes advantage of slower bigs on O. While Jackson Jr. and Bagley have great verticals, Bagley gets off of the floor much quicker. On offense, the man is a natural scorer despite not having a perfect jumper. Some people just know how to put that thing in the hoop. Scouts have questioned his jumper, but I have no issues with it. With any luck, he will develop into an average 3-point threat. Defensively, his wingspan could hurt him. Small ball (and super-small ball) lineups live and die on a combo forward who has the quickness to defend guards and length to protect the rim (see Kevon Looney) Can he defend well enough on the next level to stay on the court? When a team like the Celtics go small, is he strong enough for Horford or quick enough for Tatum? Regardless, his motor eases some of those questions. Bagley should help a team with a struggling on and off court culture turn things around.


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#8. Miles Bridges

Miles Bridges

Outlook:

Here’s a Bridge I want to sell ya.

Bridges is a bowling ball with dynamite in his legs. To boot, the guy hustles his tail off. Bridges has worked hard on his game despite it not always showing in his Freshman-to-Sophomore year numbers. His three-point shot looks just fine but Bridges knows how to score in other ways as well. At the next level he will likely spend some time without the ball in his hands, fortunately, Bridges is skilled at backdoor cuts and grabbing lobs. What his career trajectory will hang on is his ability to create off the dribble, both for himself and others. Bridges has tried more of these NBA-type moves in college and has shown promise, despite not always hitting. But, he must create for others if he wants to reach the star potential he has inside of him. This is not Draymond Green, however. Bridges can guard 1-4 defensively but do not expect him to be a small-ball five regularly. Some have concerns over his defensive fit and wingspan. Is he more than a rich-man’s PJ Tucker? If he is, someone could have a steal on their hands.

UPDATE: The more I watch of Bridges, the more I love him. He is made to be a stretch four and has untapped star potential. Brett Brown has some praise to throw his way during a recent workout, Philly could be an option for him as he could slide in as a three as well.


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#9. Kevin Knox

Kevin Knox

Outlook:

Welcome to the School of Hard Knox.

The way Kevin Knox plays, this nickname may actually stick. Want to know the exact moment I was impressed with Knox? He tried not once, but twice, to dunk over the most intimidating man in college basketball, Sags Konate. And he even drew some fouls. Dude will try and jam on everyone and anyone; a mentality I love. A combo forward, teams will fall in love with how Knox can theoretically fit into pro offenses. With a smooth jumper and superb off-ball ability, Knox simply looks the part. Adding some PnR game will be a plus. Why isn’t Knox higher on boards? Well, I am sure he is. Personally, I considered trying to find a way to move him into the top-10. His rawness; however, still makes me uncomfortable. Plus, his intensity seems to only show up on the offensive end. He also shows a lack of feel for setting up anyone but himself. Yet, if Knox finds a way to perfect the things he is good at (off-ball 3s, iso-game, attacking) then he could end up moving up boards when bloggers do their inevitable re-draft.

UPDATE: Knox is the biggest riser, shooting from 14 to 9 on my board. During workouts, he demonstrated his PnR ability; something Coach Cal never let him show at Kentucky. Knox will go somewhere between 7 and 10 on Draft Night.


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#10. Mikal Bridges

Mikal Bridges

Outlook:

Here’s another Bridge I want to sell ya.

But for those big time NCAA followers, I won’t have to. If someone took Bridges as early as number 5, you will not get an argument from me. He is the best off-ball shooter in the draft. Mikal is made for the pace and space NBA. Houston must be going nuts trying to find a way to move up and grab him. Athletically, Bridges’ parents must have conceived him while watching Space Jam at a Drive-Inn theater. He projects as a high volume, high percentage wing who can hang with guards and other wings defensively. What is holding Bridges back from a higher consensus ranking? Well, the dude does not do much for others, or himself. As we go deeper into the playoffs, we see how valuable it is to have a player who can take a man one-on-one and just get a bucket. Bridges cannot do this, at least not yet. But what I love about him is his ability to attack the rim off of cuts and slips. Let us not forget that this guy knows what it takes to be a champion. Bet on this kid. We may look back a few years from now and wonder why this guy was not a top-5 pick.


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#11. Collin Sexton

Collin Sexton

Outlook:

Coaches will fall in love with Collin Sexton.

Poised to be the highest drafted ‘Bama player in quite some time, Collin Sexton has a foundation that can be built on. Specifically, Sexton shines when attacking the rim; something he does relentlessly. The guy lives at the line but can put it in too, as he has showed off an array of shifty moves. In a league dominated by players who only take shots at the rim or from deep, Sexton has half of that equation down pat. Furthermore, his J is better than his percentages suggest and he should be able to improve upon it with NBA spacing. What holds Sexton back from being the first guard taken in this draft? He isn’t much of a quarterback. A lead guard, Sexton needs to develop the passing aspect of his game. Can he make the correct PnR reads? Can he take advantage of his burst and find teammates for lobs in the dunker spot? Regardless, his defense and physical profile are good enough to make him a staple in the NBA, even if this means he takes a “first guard off of the bench” role. From seeing his stellar intensity, I would not bet against this man doing what it takes to become a high-level NBA starter.


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#12. Lonnie Walker IV

Lonnie Walker

Outlook:

If there is one person who could jump into the top 8…

Lonnie Walker won the combine. Teams immediately recognized his star personality during interviews plus, he nailed all of the athletic tests. But what is Lonnie like on the court? His off-the-dribble 3P game is very advanced. Watch all of the gifs in his profile and it is like looking at vintage JR. Miami ran him off screens a bunch and he displayed his beautiful footwork. The potential to be a secondary scorer is there, albeit not developed fully right now. In other words, the dude has shown some serious PnR game. Defensively, Walker uses his lateral quickness to keep pace with all guards. His length allows for him to protect the rim on chase-downs, scrambles, and weak-side defense. Why are scouts and pundits alike hesitant to move him into the 8-10 range? If it is not a three, Walker cannot create much (for himself or others.) He looks to score first and will need to fully buy into NBA ball-movement offenses. Ball-stopping is a surefire way to end up a “what if” case. Regardless, Walker will make both social and regular media fall in love with him. If he becomes a playmaker, we could have a star here. He is my sleeper of the draft.


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#13. Michael Porter Jr.

Michael Porter Jr.

Outlook:

I just don’t see it.

Let me rephrase. I just don’t see Michael Porter being worthy of a top-8 pick. Do I think he can become a sweet-shooting combo forward who can space the floor? Absolutely. But, I simply haven’t seen much in his game that suggests he can do more than catch some lobs, hit threes and nail some bailout mid-rangers. Those are certainly good traits; however, I want my top-ten picks to do more than that. Show me defense, shiftiness, creation, passing vision, shot-blocking…something. At times, Porter looks like he has no idea how to play in an offense. Check out the gif in his player profile. Who watches their teammate post up then decide to post up LITERALLY right next to him? Who? A pirate with two hooks for hands has a better feel for the game. I don’t want to bash on MPJ too much. After all, I am rooting for the kid to succeed because, well, you would have to be a jerk to want anyone to fail. But at the end of the day, Porter is someone who I am staying away from, if possible. The back injury, the lack of film, the un-diverse skill set…gamble on someone else in the top-ten.

UPDATE: Mike Schmitz went on the knowledgeable Dunc’d On podcast and said that there are legit concerns about Porter’s basketball mentality. Team interviews and internal scouting have led to questions about a deeply rooted “me first” mindset. Coupled with the back issues, I moved Porter a slot down to #13 overall.


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#14. Troy Brown Jr.

Troy Brown Jr.

Outlook:

Troy Brown Jr. may get drafted higher than we expect.

Why? Brown can handle the PnR like a pro, a skill that NBA teams covet nowadays. He projects to switch 1-4 on defense, sets up teammates, rebounds and has handle to get to the rim. In other words, the dude is a San Antonio Spur in the making. And although Brown could benefit from the Spurs famous shot coach Chip Engelland, he probably won’t be available at pick 18. This is for good reason, however. Brown does all of the little things to make a team better. Teammates get easier shots when he is on the floor. Plus, Brown can get to the rim himself. So, why isn’t he higher on the big board? His jumper gives me serious pause. Sometimes Brown looks like he shoots the ball just fine. Other times he slingshots the ball and cocks is back way too far over his head. His mid-range is hard to watch too, as pull-ups seem rushed. Watch his right arm and hand as he shoots the midrange in the gif in his profile. The good news: Brown will get paid millions to do nothing but shoot jumpers. The potential is here for this kid, I’m rooting for him.

UPDATE: Brown moved up for me as his Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman reported how Brown has been dazzling during workouts. Apparently, his jumper has gotten better and teams love his versatility.


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#15: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (SGA)

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Outlook:

Sleeper Alert!

Why did I ring the alarm? SGA possesses skills that I find particularly valuable for today’s NBA. Specifically, he is the slipperiest player in the draft; this dude can get to the rim at will with an array of hesi-moves, crossovers, euros and deceleration. When he is there, he can finish with either hand or find the open man. His combo of handle and vision make him the second best PnR player, behind Doncic. With an improving, albeit questionable jumper, SGA shows glimpses of shot-making as well. Defensively, he must put on weight; however, his length will create serious problems, plus he owns the foot-speed to stay with players 1-3. A tall point guard who can get to the hoop at will, has vision, and is developing a three? Sign me up. In order to improve his game, and draft stock, SGA must demonstrate more fluidity. This applies to his jumper and defensive footwork. Plus, his NBA career may depend on fit. Put this guy with another ball-handler and I am not sure he could be a starter. That being said, if SGA ends up as the second best point guard in this draft, do not be surprised. Expect the Clippers to look at him, as well as Cleveland and Charlotte if they both want to prepare for lives without their respective best players.


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#16: Robert Williams

Robert Williams

Outlook:

10 years ago, Robert Williams may have been a top-7 pick.

Unfortunately, the NBA has changed in ways that have outpaced Mr. Williams. Of course, rim protectors will always be valuable, along with good rebounders and guys who can guard 1-5. Yet, the League is crawling with stretch 5s, guys who will pull Williams away from doing what he does best – protecting the paint. You can still get 32-36 good minutes from Williams in a playoff game; however, will he close out those same games when teams finish with small lineups? Probably not. Drafting Williams in the 10-14 range is good, but I would aim to get him 13-16. In modern PnR offenses, Williams will show great use as a lob threat. Also, his defensive potential is akin to DeAndre Jordan. Positional value has driven down Williams’ stock, yet we saw the impact a shot blocker like Gobert had on the Jazz. You know what you are getting with Williams but, is it what you want during the last 5 minutes of a playoff game?


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#17: Elie Okobo

Elie Okobo

Outlook:

Trendy Pick Alert! – Trendy Pick Alert!

Talk about someone who is worth the hype…Frenchman Elie Okobo is shooting up big boards and is sure to move up mine. What does he do well? Well, he’s got NBA range with a silky J. He looks like a smaller Manu out there when he does those crafty moves on his way to the hole. Oh, and he decelerates like Harden. His game in Europe was predicated on the PnR, so Okobo will have tons of reps running an offense similar to the many in the League today. Good height, good wingspan, good frame for putting on weight. What is most impressive is the way Okobo lets the game come to him. He ALWAYS plays at his own pace; one that is advantageous for him and his teammates. We may look back and wonder why people like SGA and Sexton were ranked higher than Okobo. His high handle and decision making is a concern, as well as his pass velocity but, the making is there for Okobo to one day challenge Young as the best point guard in this draft.

UPDATE: Okobo slid up a spot and deserves to have late-lottery looks. He has exploded during team workouts, so do not be surprised to hear his name called as early as 15th.


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#18: Khyri Thomas

Khyri Thomas

Outlook:

I am buying Khyri Thomas stock.

In fact, give me all the stock. Now. After a strong NCAA season, I am not too sure why some big boards have Thomas moving down. My guess? Thomas is not doing anything to merit moving down; however, some players are simply moving up. Take De’Anthony Melton, for instance. His recent workouts were stellar so, some are quick to swap him and Thomas. Not me. For three years at Creighton, against great competition, Thomas sunk a ton of threes. He did so in a manner NBA teams will like: off of the catch. What’s more, Thomas displayed the potential to use this shooting threat to open up the PnR game. It is his vision which I felt was the most underrated aspect of his game. The gifs in his profile will do the talking (writing) for me. Defensively, Thomas is a 2x Big East DPOY, and for good reason. He manipulates his strong frame, long arms and quickness to smother everyone. Great fundamentals (stance) and active hands help as well. Sure, his handle is questionable yet, this can be improved. I love Thomas at the next level. He’s a gamer with definitive skills that are translatable. Some team in the mid to late first will get a real value pick here.


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#19: Zhaire Smith

Zhaire Smith

Outlook:

The curious case of Zhaire Smith.

What is he? Is he a defensive two guard? Does he have potential to be an NBA PnR playmaker? Lot of questions here, folks. Let’s start with the plusses. Smith may be the best athlete in the draft. Guess what? He knows it too and tries to dunk everything. Athletically, his quick feet, fluidity and wingspan allow him to stick with anyone on the court defensively. Offensively, I love the way this kid sets up teammates. Smith is always a threat to blow by a defender, so when he draws in multiple guys he will look for a dump or kick-out pass to open teammates. There is definitely secondary ball-handler potential here. But make no mistake, this guy is not a point guard. Smith has the blandest handle package out there, often settling for a jab step then a line drive to the hoop. Sometimes this works, but against NBA defenders he will need to show more. They will simply play off of him to compensate for speed and dare him to pull a J. Speaking of which, his jumper is not pretty. Smith often leaves both hands up during his follow a through; a sign that the is still pushing the ball and guiding it too much with his off hand. Furthermore, he has an awful (and odd) habit of jumping backwards during a pull-up (see gif in profile.) So, what’s the deal with this uber-athlete? I have Smith in the middle of the first round. Yet, if a team can rework his jumper, Smith can be a defensive menace who can create for others while also being a three-point threat. The development of his jumper will determine if turns into Norman Powell, Zach LaVine, Victor Oladipo or anywhere in between.

UPDATE: Although he mesmerized the Lakers during a workout, Smith has slid a spot or two. Questions about his jumper are legit. Smith has as much upside as just about anyone in his class but, his floor could be incredibly low.


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#20: Landry Shamet

Landry Shamet

Outlook:

Landry Shamet is a prolific shooter but, this high?

Damn right. Sometimes we have a tendency to get too cute in our scouting. People can often forget that the most important skill in the NBA is knowing how to put that damn ball in the hoop. Landry Shamet can do that with the best of them. He will compete with Bridges and Young for the best 3P shooter in this draft and hits from NBA range effortlessly. Furthermore, Shamet makes up for his lack of athleticism by using a array of separation-creation dribbles and moves. Peep the stepback gif in his profile. Shamet has seen his assist numbers almost double this year, and the tape shows that he is learning the PnR at a high pace. Defensively, Shamet gets bullied. He is also prone to getting burnt; however, this could be changed by addressing his stance. Yet, Shamet is a scrappy guard who has a mean streak in him and always plays like he knows he is the underdog. I’ll take an elite shooter any day of the week, especially one who can create for others. It would be smart to bet that Shamet overcomes his physical attributes and excels as a future NBA contributor.


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#21: Aaron Holiday

Aaron Holiday

Outlook:

Just what the League needs, another Holiday.

Just kidding. Give me some Aaron Holiday off the bench any day of the week. Will he reach the level of his brother Jrue. Not likely. Yet, Aaron is a gritty competitor with a knack for clutch shots. He looks like a coach’s dream for the backup guard spot. Holiday can hit threes in every way possible, both on and off the ball. His patience in the PnR game will be helpful in second lineups, as he determines the pace of the game and gets quality looks. When playing against backups, look for him to run an efficient half court and then gun it during fastbreaks. Why won’t he be a full-time starter? Holiday may not have the quickness to defend starting guards. His IQ alone; however, will keep him in this league for a while and see him fill in for injured starters. Don’t be surprised if teams who are looking for insurance guards, such as San Antonio, Detroit and Milwaukee, move to the late first to grab him.

UPDATE: Holiday soared up my Big Board! Although he projects as a high-end backup guard, Holiday has some sneaky starter potential. The kid works his tail off and can hit threes in a variety of ways. At worst, Holiday will impact a team off of the bench the same way Terry Rozier does for the Cs.


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#22: Mitchell Robinson

Mitchell Robinson

Outlook:

Mitchell Robinson, the Draft’s International Man of Mystery.

Okay, so maybe not “international,” seeing as Mitchell is from Louisiana. Scouts love Robinson for what you can’t teach: height, wingspan, and speed. A fluid athlete, Robinson has the potential to be molded into a modern NBA center. Plus, Mike Schmitz just posted this beauty of Robinson draining an NBA corner three while catching it on the move. Wow. Paired with this man’s defensive versatility, Robinson proves a steal in the making. But. Of course, there is a “but.” Robinson didn’t leave WKU once, but twice. Why? The first time, he left because he was having second thoughts about WKU. WKU staff literally found out by walking into an empty dorm room. He left the second time to focus on the NBA Draft. Weird. Frustratingly, we do not have access to NBA interviews during draft workouts. Yet, it is reasonable to speculate that Robinson may have some maturity issues. Will a man with newfound millions make the best decisions to better his professional career? That is quite literally a million dollar question. The Boom potential is real however, and if picking Robinson in the teens or early 20s, it may be worth the Bust potential as well.

UPDATE: Mr. Robinson is trending the right direction. Gym session films showed him nailing corner threes on the move, something I like to see. A recently cancelled workout with Denver may signal that Robinson has late-lottery interest or at least a mid-first round promise.


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#23: Melvin Frazier

Melvin Frazier

Outlook:

Just fix the jumper already!

Frazier has all the tools to be a rotational wing in the NBA. Check off the height, wingspan, and athleticism boxes. And let me be clear, the J isn’t broken. Actually, far from it. Yet, there is such a clear fix to his shooting mechanics that will make him a legit NBA player. Frazier brings his shot to his release point to way too early and releases it on the way down. Ew. You can see the pause in his mechanics and it makes you cringe. But still, the dude has touch. And boy, can he fly! He projects as a backup wing with starter potential if that J evolves. God forbid he becomes a more reliable creator too. I like Frazier’s chances of eventually starting for a squad because of his defense. The guy can smother players with his length, foot speed and fundamentals. Watch him D up future NBAer Shake Milton in his profile.


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#24: De’Anthony Melton

De'Anthony Melton

Outlook:

De’Anthony Melton…hmmm…go on….

The USC product had to sit out his sophomore year at USC but, I am not too concerned. The vast majority of NBA players probably committed some sort of NCAA violation. Why am I a little higher on Melton than other scouts? Presumably, you watched the NBA Finals. How important is defense? That is a rhetorical question. Melton is an elite defender who can extend his NBA career similar to Tony Allen. Yet, Melton has flashed some offensive upside. Combine and workout videos show an improving three pointer. His ability to create in transition and the screening game are decent as well. Worst case scenario for Melton is that he becomes a backup point guard who gets minutes with starters. Best case scenario, he becomes Marcus Smart with a 3P average that doesn’t bring with the number two.


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#25: Grayson Allen

Grayson Allen

Outlook:

Everyone loves Duke players, right?

Once you get over the tripping and other childish antics, Grayson Allen may provide some value to you. Let me start with what I like. Shooting. And more shooting. The kid has NBA range with a quick release and footwork that makes Hubie Brown shed a tear. He knows how to run around screens the way I run from ex girlfriends. Allen’s time leading the PnR at Duke will only help him as he progresses forward. Combine this some saviness and sneaky hops, and you could be looking at a good late first round pick. What I don’t like is Allen’s defensive ability. Most likely, the guy is not quick enough to guard starters for all too long. I envision Allen being a fiery spark plug off the bench who can be inserted into small lineups that want shooting. Picture Jeremy Lamb with a mean streak and greater drive to win.

UPDATE: After a strong showing during a Boston Celtics workout, Allen moves up three spots. Scouts may be overthinking this kid, at the end of the day he can shoot the lights out of the ball and may have shed enough weight to reclaim some once lost burst.


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#26: Chandler Hutchison

Chandler Hutchison

Outlook:

This guy received a first round promise for a reason.

Chandler Hutchison is similar to another prospect in this draft, Keita Bates-Diop. Where they differ; however, is athleticism. Hutchison can jam it on you and loves to do so. Yet, his game has a great amount of touch to it, as he will use his footwork to get by defenders and to the rim. What is impressive about Hutchison was how he reworked his shot to become a better spot-up shooter behind the arc. Hutch looks like a 3 and D wing who can guard 4s as well. You may not want him switching onto guards, however. Still, the Boise State product has a well-rounded game with a skill set to make any team better. He has a good mental approach to his game too, and is incredibly coachable. It is rumored that the Bulls have promised to take Hutchison in the late first, and if they do, they have a good one on their hands. Hutchison can break through his ceiling if he further develops his handle in order to create his own shot.


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#27: Jacob Evans

Jacob Evans

Outlook:

I like Evans, but not as much as some other scouts.

Is my UConn bias showing too much? Perhaps. Despite not being fully in love with Evans, I do like his fit considering the way the League is shifting.Evans can defend other wings and some 4s due to his strength. His strength; however, is his main defensive attribute, as Evans has ordinary lateral quickness. Evans will need to demonstrate he can guard the best of the best, as he will be asked to as his career goes on. His 3P shooting should translate immediately, making Evans a classic 3 & D player. Combined with his hustle, that skill will keep him in this league for a while. Yet, can Evans do anything but play defense and shoot 3s? Does he have to? Well, I guess not. Guys like Jae Crowder and Wesley Matthews will have long careers on a limited skill set. Yet, does this mean Evans should crack my top 20? Probably not. The League needs wings who can shoot but, there are better defenders and shooters in this draft. The 20s range seems right for Evans.


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#28: Keita Bates-Diop

Keita Bates-Diop

Outlook:

Does anyone have a read on KBD?

I certainly don’t. Sometimes I see a guy who looks like T.J. Warren traded his mid-range game for a three. The efficiency in production is easy to see. Bates-Diop can work from the post, face up around the FT Line-ext, and drain threes. Plus, his meteoric rise to fulfill his potential is indicative of his work ethic. What confuses me about KBP is his fit on the next level. Can he start at the 3? Probably not. At the 4, he lacks toughness to bang with bigger guys. When Blake Griffin is playing alongside Andre Drummond, who does KBP guard? Plus, the Ohio State product hasn’t shown an ability to create for others. He projects as a combo forward who is the recipient of offense, not the creator. And that is okay! I see KBP as someone who can occasionally be plugged in as starter when needed but could truly thrive in a bench scorer role.


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#29: Josh Okogie

Josh Okogie

Outlook:

I got so frustrated watching Okogie, that I am frustrated now as I type this.

With decent height, build, athleticism and a seven-foot wingspan, I want Okogie to lock down everyone he meets. Yet, he stays upright too often. If he gets burnt one play, he’ll come back to pick off a pass the next, and dunk it too. Consistency is key, ladies and gents. For instance, he can get to line with his speed and footwork alone. Awesome. But then he misses the layup. Bad. The dude is a professional at blowing bunnies. Still, the tools are there for him to be a late-first steal. Slight adjustments to his shooting mechanics, defensive stance, and approach to the rim could turn him from a “wanting more” backup to a starting two guard.


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#30: Dzanan Musa

Dzanan-Musa

Outlook:

Whatever you do, do not go under a screen on this man.

Like…never. He will make you pay. The guy looks like a natural shooter, despite keeping his guide hand on a little too long. Similar to Aaron Holiday, Musa is a player who can bury threes, both on the catch and off the dribble. He will bring over some PnR skill as well, as Musa makes defenders pay the second they slip up. If two defenders stick with him to prevent the three, then Musa finds the screener for a slip. Go under and die. Literally. Death by three-pointers. In the most stereotypical way possible (sorry), Musa has that slippery Euro game, with crossovers, hesis and change of pace dribbles. But, his length and athleticism will hurt his chances to finish among NBA bigs. Plus, I am worried about his team fit. Whichever team drafts him must have a game plan for him that allows him to create and move off of the ball on varying possessions.


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2018 NBA Mock Draft 1.0

DeAndre Ayton

#1: Phoenix Suns

Devan: DeAndre Ayton

The Suns can’t go wrong with the first overall selection. Luka Doncic would be the ideal player to select, but getting a dominant center to pair with Devin Booker is where the Suns will go.

Matt: DeAndre Ayton

Carved out of stone, Ayton is the most physically impressive center prospect in years. His floor is still that of a starting center in the League, making Ayton a safe pick with high upside as well. Phoenix will look to pair stud guard Devin Booker with a big man.

 

#2: Sacramento Kings

Devan: Marvin Bagley

While I believe the correct selection in the two hole would be Doncic, it’s the Kings. However, Bagley will provide the team with an immediate performer, who will be a Rookie of the Year favorite. While Bagley may never develop into an NBA superstar, his instant stat-padding will be enticing next to De’Aaron Fox.

Matt: Luka Doncic

The Kings have been linked to Michael Porter Jr.; however, this may be a smoke screen in order to force some GM to overpay for the Mizzou forward. With Vlade Divac running things, I see the Euro-to-Euro connection happening. Doncic is a transcendent passer who can turn average teammates into All-Stars. He’ll fit alongside anybody.

 

#3: Atlanta Hawks

Devan: Luka Doncic

The Atlanta Hawks need everything. Literally, everything. But, what better way to boost a rebuild than take the best player in the draft? Doncic will provide the Hawks and their fan base something to be hopeful about for the future. If Doncic ends up reaching the third pick on draft night, the Hawks need to run up to the podium to select this future Hall of Fame guard.

Matt: Mo Bamba

Considering he formerly worked for the Warriors, some bloggers have theorized that GM Travis Schlenk will try to recreate the Splash Brothers in Atlanta. Yet, Schlenk earned his job by outsmarting the competition. The guy knows how to mitigate risk and reward to his team’s benefit, expect the Hawks to go with Bamba here.

 

#4. Memphis Grizzlies

Devan: Jaren Jackson Jr.

It is no secret that the Memphis Grizzlies want to get back to the playoffs next season. They will be getting a fully healthy Mike Conley and Marc Gasol back next season. Pairing Jackson Jr. with those two gives Memphis a good shot of getting back to where they want to be. Jackson Jr. will be able to slide in right away and help on defense. And if the Grizzlies don’t make the playoffs and go rebuild mode, Jackson will be a strong core piece for the future.

Matt: Michael Porter Jr.

Memphis is rumored to love Michael Porter Jr. but they also have interest in trading down in the draft. This suggests that they have rated other players (wings) with a similar grade to Porter’s. That being said, I believe the Grizzlies roll the dice on MPJ. He is a high risk/high reward candidate, but after all, what does Memphis have to lose?

 

#5. Dallas Mavericks

Devan: Mo Bamba

A very high potential type of pick for the Dallas Mavericks, just the way Mark Cuban would like it. Bamba has all the potential in the world with his incredible wing span and off the charts athleticism. Bamba will fit right into what the Mavs are doing right away.

Matt: Jaren Jackson Jr.

Mark Cuban is someone who does not want to wait around. Still, he has been impressively patient. Cuban has TONS of cap space cleared to sign future free agents. To entice them, he may need someone to come in and contribute right away. This could be Bagley but, JJJ’s upside is too much for management to pass up.

 

#6: Orlando Magic

Devan: Michael Porter Jr.

What do the Magic have to lose? The team has been one of the most consistent, average lottery teams in the last handful of years. Why not take a forward with injury concerns? It’s a big risk for Orlando, but if Porter Jr. can stay healthy, he will be a nice fit next to Aaron Gordon.

Matt: Trae Young

A Young truther til I die, Orlando brings some life to its city. Filling seats is a part of the game, and Young will do so. The kid can play though, and Orlando will benefit from his non-stop work ethic. Young may be a bit of a gamble, but it is one worth taking if your team needs a guard.

 

#7: Chicago Bulls

Devan: Wendell Carter

What a perfect fit for Carter and the Bulls. Carter will be able to seamlessly fit in next to Lauri Markkanen and help the Bulls continue their rebuild. Built for the NBA with a massive wingspan, a good build, and tremendous agility, Carter will help Chicago get back to where they belong.

Matt: Marvin Bagley

I think Bagley will fall on Draft Night. This is a gambler’s league, and there are several prospects who possess a higher upside, if not a lower floor too. Bagley can slide into a power forward position. Sure, the Bulls will not have any rim protection; however, they get an energetic hustler who will thrive next to Kris Dunn.

 

#8: Cleveland Cavaliers

Mikal Bridges

Devan: Mikal Bridges

The Cleveland Cavaliers are in a tough spot on Thursday night. They need to choose if they will go 100% in on keeping LeBron, or take a young guy to build on for the future. Mikal Bridges provides a bit of both. Bridges will be an immediate impact, but he will also be able to develop into a cornerstone piece for Cleveland if LeBron leaves.

Matt: Mikal Bridges

Despite all of the noise, Cleveland has a realistic shot at retaining LeBron James. Mikal Bridges isn’t a “star” name but he can play right away for this squad. In fact, he would have seen more minutes than Clarkson and Hood in the Finals. Defensive wings who can shoot? If he stays, LeBron will love this kid. Kevin Knox is a fit here as well.

 

#9: New York Knicks

Kevin Knox

Devan: Kevin Knox

Knox is the perfect pick for the Knicks. Knox has been one of the biggest risers in the draft up to this point. There are rumors that Knox could go as high as pick six to Orlando. Knox will be able to slide into the small forward position and develop along with Porzingis and Ntilikina.

Matt: Kevin Knox

Some think NY goes point guard here, but I seem them adding a combo forward. Knox is a better shooter than his numbers at Kentucky indicate and has shown prowess working DHOs and moving off-ball. With guards like Walker, Dragic and Kyrie all (possibly) hitting Free Agency next off-season, look for New York to add the best player available regardless of position.

 

#10: Philadelphia 76ers

Devan: Trae Young

I have Trae Young sliding on draft night. There is a chance that he could go three to the Hawks, or six to the Magic, or even nine to the Knicks, but I think all those teams go a different route. Young will provide the Sixers with a high-upside scorer that is insurance to Markelle Fultz if he never gets over his injury problems.

Matt: Lonnie Walker IV

I liked Miles Bridges here, but where does he play when Embiid, Saric, Simmons, and Fultz are on the floor? His next position should primarily be as a stretch four. This is why I like LW IV here. As a shooting guard who grew up an hour away from Philly, Lonnie has serious catch-and-shoot potential. Combine his shooting ability with his athleticism and Philly may have a steal here.

 

#11: Charlotte Hornets

Devan: Miles Bridges

Star potential on the board at pick 11? Yes, please. After passing on Donovan Mitchell last year, the Hornets better not pass on Bridges this season. An explosive, three-point shooting forward is just what Charlotte ordered. Bridges will help Charlotte fans get back to being interested in the team after a handful of mediocre seasons.

Matt: Collin Sexton

Kemba Walker insurance? You betcha. New front office exec Mitch Kupchak will look to start his tenure in Charlotte with a safe pick. Sexton has a competitive nature that is contagious. He is a wonderful culture guy to build a new team around, and not a bad ball player either.

 

#12: Los Angeles Clippers

Devan: Collin Sexton

The Los Angeles Clippers have a lot of interesting questions to answer this offseason. First off, will DeAndre Jordan re-sign, or will he go his seperate way? Do the Clippers have the ability to entice the Spurs with a trade package for Kawhi Leonard? Either way, Collin Sexton is a great fit with Doc and the Clippers. A defense-first point guard with a terrific work ethic is a great value pick at 12.

Matt: Wendell Carter

Forwards Knox and Porter are on the rise, which means that someone has to get bumped out of the top 10. This player may be Wendell Carter. I have Carter in my top 7 and ranked above teammate Marvin Bagley. With DeAndre Jordan possibly leaving, Wendell will slide into the center role. Doc Rivers will love his passing IQ and ability to the stretch the floor, two skills that will modernize their offense.

 

#13: Los Angeles Clippers

Devan: Robert Williams

DeAndre Jordan insurance? You got it. Robert Williams will provide the Clippers with a backup plan if Jordan does indeed bolt this offseason. Williams is a terrific rim-running big man who will fit in nicely with Tobias Harris and Collin Sexton if the team goes that route with the twelth pick.

Matt: Miles Bridges

This dude being on the board here is criminal. Despite it being somewhat of a longshot, Bridges has star potential. West will recognize this. Bridges best case scenario is tantalizing, as he has shown glimpses of shot creation, perimeter shooting, and defensive versatility. Locking up a safe pick with Wendell Carter allows West to roll the dice a bit with this pick.

 

#14: Denver Nuggets

Devan: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

The Nuggets came one game away from sneaking into the Western Conference Playoffs last season. If they had a healthy Paul Millsap for the entire season, they likely do make the playoffs. Now, in the draft, taking SGA gives the team a great boost for the backup point guard spot. Devin Harris was great in that role last season, but he is not a long-term fix. SGA will get Jokic and others some easy baskets with his terrific passing ability.

Matt: Robert Williams

Good Lord, this team needs some defense. It is odd how a team with Gary Harris and Paul Millsap can be so bad on that end but boy, were they. I am not concerned with the fit between Jokic and Williams. Today’s offensive and defensive schemes will take care of this, power forwards can be paint protectors. This picks may guarantee Denver a playoff spot next year. SGA is an option here too, with Okobo as a sleeper.

 

#15: Washington Wizards

Devan: Lonnie Walker IV

Speaking of an average team that can never seem to get past the first or second round in the playoffs, here we are at pick 15 with the Wizards. The Wizards are in trouble. They have so much money on their books that it’s hard for them to improve in free agency. However, getting Walker IV at 15 is great value. Walker’s shooting ability will provide the team with a great scoring punch off the bench, and Walker has the ability to play with Washington’s starters in smaller lineups.

Matt: Elie Okobo

The Wizards have a great team, when healthy. If Williams is here, he is the pick. Yet, Washington will go with rising French stud Elie Okobo. Okobo has serious upside. Don’t be surprised if we look back at this draft and claim him as the best point guard. For now, he will learn the game from John Wall (not a bad mentor.) Washington can also take some minutes away from Wall as he ages; something they have to seriously consider.

 

#16 Phoenix Suns

Devan: Zhaire Smith

After taking Ayton with the first pick in the draft, Phoenix could look to go point guard at 16. However, with SGA off the board for me, the Suns shift their focus to Zhaire Smith. Smith is a great passing two guard that can develop alongside Booker and Ayton. Smith gives the Suns another dynamic and savvy wing to continue their rebuild.

Matt: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

If SGA is still on the board, Phoenix will grab him here. There are some point guards in this draft who have serious potential, SGA being one of them. His passing and craftiness, as well as his off-ball potential make him a good fit next to Booker and Ayton.

 

#17: Milwaukee Bucks

Devan: Mitchell Robinson

The Milwaukee Bucks need to get their roster in order, and quick. Giannis Antetokounmpo is playing great basketball, but he doesn’t have the supporting cast around him to win playoff series. Mitchell Robinson will give Milwaukee a much-needed center that can switch on defense and protect the paint. Robinson has a lot of questions, but Milwaukee will have enough of a reason to buy into his potential.

Matt: Troy Brown

The Bucks could use a center, but Troy Brown may very well be the best player available at this stage of the draft. He has major upside if he ever nails down that jumper. Regardless, he would enter the Bucks’ season as their best passer.

 

#18: San Antonio Spurs

Devan: Troy Brown

What a week it has been for the San Antonio Spurs and their fans and not in a good way. With Kawhi Leonard likely being dealt at some point this offseason, it is time for San Antonio to look at life without the “Klaw.” Brown has a great motor on defense and has the intangibles to be a great Gregg Popovich project. The ability to lockdown opposing players on defense and his offensive potential will make Spurs’ fans feel a little better about Kawhi leaving.

Matt: Zhaire Smith

I am not incredibly high on Smith, but the Spurs could gamble on him, if available. Their player development program is renown, just ask Danny Green, Dejounte Murray and that Leonard guy. He has the athletic tools, Pop can teach him the game.

 

#19: Atlanta Hawks

Devan: Elie Okobo

Even with Doncic being the pick at three for the Hawks, Atlanta should never exclude getting more guards. Okobo has the chance to be great, really great. In five years, we might look back at Okobo and wonder why so many teams passed on him, that’s how good he can be. If the Hawks have the chance to get that kind of potential at 19, the team needs to take him, no matter how overloaded they could be at guard.

Matt: Khyri Thomas

With Bamba taken with their first selection, Atlanta will look to add wing depth. Thomas looks every part of a 3 and D wing and will bring superior defense to a Hawks team that really needs it. He reminds me of Avery Bradley, and someone the Hawks could build around going forward.

 

#20: Minnesota Timberwolves

Devan: Kevin Huerter

The Thiberbulls need to add shooting at this point at any cost. The team is stuck playing old-school basketball when the rest of the league is attempting hundreds of more threes than Minnesota. Huerter will come in right away and be able to knock down shots for Minnesota off the bench. DiVincenzo is also an intriguing pick for the Wolves with this pick.

Matt: Donte DiVincenzo

I have Donte just outside my top 30, but the Wolves may fall in love with his shooting skills. They need a floor spacer, and DD is just that. Khyri Thomas is an option here as well, if he is still on the board.

 

#21: Utah Jazz

Devan: Dzanan Musa

A team can never have enough shooting. The Utah Jazz were a big surprise last season gaining the fifth seed in the West and advancing to the second round of the playoffs. Now, they will look to improve and further that run. Adding Musa to play off the bench or next to Donovan Mitchell can’t go wrong. A sniper from three, Musa will space the floor enough to give Mitchell his space to attack the rim.

Matt: Keita Bates-Diop

With Derrick Favors as a free agent, Utah will try and replenish their forward position. KBD is a combo forward who does a little bit of everything. He won’t be a star player, but he looks like a younger Jonas Jerebko.

 

#22: Chicago Bulls

Devan: Chandler Hutchison

If the rumors are true, Hutchison has a first round promise from the Bulls. Hutchison will be able to slide in nicely with Chicago, adding energy and effort right off the bat.

Matt: Chandler Hutchison

It has been rumored that Hutchison received a first round promise from the Bulls. They would be getting a high energy combo forward who compliments their existing roster nicely.

 

#23: Indiana Pacers

Devan: Aaron Holiday

This may be a bit early for Holiday, but the Pacers need to take the chance. Holiday is a great play-making guard who will get easy looks for Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner. In addition, Holiday has the chance to be great off the ball, when Oladipo is running the show late in the game. Holiday shot 42% from three at UCLA and has the chance to be an electric shooter in the NBA.

Matt: De’Anthony Melton

The USC product would make for a nice fit next to Oladipo. Melton is a defensive gem with an improving jumper. With Darren Collison set to hit free agency next year, this could be a good value pick at the guard spot.

 

#24: Portland Trail Blazers

Devan: De’Anthony Melton

Lillard and McCollum insurance? Not quite, but potentially for down the road. The Blazers are committed to running it back and taking another shot with Lillard and McCollum. Melton will give the team a nice backup guard that can help in the short term, but also give the team security down the road.

Matt: Dzanan Musa

Musa is a shifty European prospect who can shoot the heck out of the ball. Portland could use a sniper like him and stretch the floor for them when wings like Harkless and Turner are off the court.

 

#25: Los Angeles Lakers

Devan: Donte DiVincenzo

The Lakers love shooting, and that’s what Donte DiVincenzo does best. After a great performance in the NCAA Tournament and at the NBA Combine, DiVincenzo is climbing up draft boards. There’s a chance he’s not even on the board for the Lakers, but if he is, L.A. should pounce. Getting another shooter on the roster to play with Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram has the ability to be special, even if LBJ doesn’t join the team.

Matt: Mitchell Robinson

L.A. may be looking for a big man. They could lose out on Julius Randle during RFA, as they may let him walk to free up cap space. Robinson is a project but has flashed promise during workouts. He is a boom or bust candidate, but I like him at this part of the draft.

 

#26: Philadelphia 76ers

Devan: Keita Bates-Diop

Keita Bates-Diop is just what the doctor ordered for Philly. He isn’t a flashy player, and he won’t be a star. But, KBD will be a solid role player for many years in the NBA. KBD gives Philly depth at the forward position, and he can even play the center position in a small ball lineup.

Matt: Landry Shamet

Many do not project Shamet to be a first rounder but, I think Philly may nab him here. They brought him in for a recent workout and he may have made a lasting impression. What makes this pick hard to predict is the fact that Philly has some 2nd rounders to burn. Who do they give a guaranteed contract to?

 

#27: Boston Celtics

Grayson Allen

Devan: Grayson Allen

Allen has been impressive leading up to the draft. His athleticism was off the charts at the combine, and the word is that he’s been dominating pre-draft workouts. Allen will give the Celtics another wing (which isn’t a huge need, but Ainge always goes best available) that can light it up from deep off the bench.

Matt: Grayson Allen

The Duke Connection is real. Allen wowed during his Celtics workout. Apparently, he lost some weight and is regaining the explosiveness he displayed during his sophomore season. Allen fits the Cs mold perfectly, as he is a gritty competitor with a high IQ and legit NBA range.

 

#28: Golden State Warriors

Devan: Khyri Thomas

If Khyri Thomas slips to the Warriors at 28, watch out, the Warriors are getting another diamond in the rough. Thomas has the potential to be a solid 3 and D player in the league for a long time. Thomas can develop behind Golden State’s stars and even help the team complete their quest to win a third straight championship.

Matt: Melvin Frazier

Frazier has been linked to the reigning champs. A bouncy wing, Frazier will fit right into the Warriors defensive schemes. He needs to get rid of the hitch in his J but has potential to relieve some of their aging wings and guards of minutes.

 

#29: Brooklyn Nets

Devan: Gary Trent Jr.

Brooklyn got on the right track last season. They can add to that this season by getting Trent Jr. from Duke. Trent has the ability to fill it up on the offensive end, and he has potential on the defensive side of the ball. Nets fans will be happy to see the rebuild continue to go in the right direction if Trent Jr. is the pick.

Matt: Josh Okogie

This is a good landing spot for the Georgia Tech guard. Okogie goes to a place with solid player development, a blossoming coach and minutes to be handed out. I like Okogie here, as he can work out the kinks in his game.

 

#30: Atlanta Hawks:

Devan: Josh Okogie

MORE GUARDS. It may be a stretch having Atlanta taking three guards in this draft, but with the situation Atlanta is in, they need to take best player available, no questions asked. Okogie can turn into a great player if he’s placed in the right system. I think Atlanta is a good fit for Okogie as he will get minutes right away to help his development.

Matt: Aaron Holiday

This would be a steal for Atlanta. They may not be in love with their current point guard. Holiday won’t be able to send Schroeder to the bench forever but, he can steal some minutes away. Holiday has NBA range and can bury threes in a variety of ways.

Make sure to check out all of ProCity Hoops’ other NBA Draft coverage on our draft page!

Who Would You Rather Draft: MPJ or Kevin Knox?

Michael Porter Jr.

Who Would You Rather Have: Michael Porter Jr or Kevin Knox?

Porter has also been reported to go as high as #2 in the draft, with teams like Memphis at #4 also showing strong interest. If his draft stock was a movie, it would be Up.

Want to know who his co-star in this movie is? Kevin Knox. The Ringer has Knox and Porter rising up their Big Board, with MPJ in the top 4 and Knox at number seven. Personally, I have Knox at 14, but after hearing recent draft news about his workouts, Knox will move into my top 10. Jonathan Givony of ESPN (and formerly of Draft Express), has reported candidly about Knox’s recent string of super impressive workouts, where he has shown off his playmaking ability and three-point prowess.Capture.PNG

With these two burgeoning prospects both on the rise, a question appears: Which combo forward would you want to see your team draft?

The Case for Knox:

Let me hit you with some things I love!

  • Better 3P shooter than what we saw in college
  • High Release, shoots over most wings/guards
  • Flashes NBA Shot-Creation, i.e stepbacks, crossovers
  • Off-Ball Role: KU ran him off of screens along the baseline, sunk pin-downs often, footwork is advanced
  • Floaters, runners and push shots all in arsenal
  • Recent workouts show that he is quickly improving his PnR game

 

Let me hit you with some things that make me go “ugh”

  • Dude literally only drives right
  • Left hand is suspect and leads to him taking awkward, harder shots
  • Does not look to create for anyone but himself
  • Wants to dunk on you but can shy away from physicality
  • Defensive lapses despite good body/length for defense

 

If you fall in love with Knox, you probably watched footage of him draining various types of threes. Knox has shown a wonderful affinity for manipulating players of the DHO. He also can knockdown Js on the move. It is not uncommon for Coach Cal to play Kentucky guys out of position, so what we saw of Knox in college may not be indicative of his NBA style of play. A combo forward with theoretical defensive tools and untapped offensive potential, Knox could emerge as the best forward from this draft class.

The Case for MPJ:

Things that make me excited!

  • Soft, feathery touch from three
  • Walking mismatch for teams, can shoot over 3s and blow by biggers 4s
  • Grab n’ GO, transition monster off of rebounds
  • Defensive tools: Standing reach (9’0”) is the same as the Brow’s
  • Can create some mid-range jumpers, shot-clock bailout guy
  • Good athlete who can go up and get lobs, quick enough to drag slower defenders around pin downs

 

Things that make me say “this guy’s gonna go top 10?”

  • Feel for the game: Always looking for his shot and doesn’t let the offense find its rhythm
  • IQ: Once watched MPJ post up right next to a teammate who was posting up…
  • Can he run the PnR?
  • What is his back injury all about? Hasn’t been cooperative with team medicals yet. Why?
  • Physicality: Rail thin player who will get shoved around often

 

It is easy to see why teams are falling back in love with Porter. The high school phenom is a serious shot-maker. This season, the NBA saw a reemergence of the mid-range game. When teams (especially in the postseason) got into the last 4 minutes of a game, they often deferred to their best player to simply go and get them a bucket. In time, Porter should be able to be that guy. If he adds some weight, Porter should dominate smaller lineups. His shooting alone should satisfy many GMs as well as fans.

So who do you pick? The guy who flashes a very promising jumper and improving playmaking game? Or, the guy who has a more established skill set yet, lacks feel for the game and has injury concerns?

I know my choice but, what is yours? Leave a reply below!