- New Orleans Pelicans: SF/PF Zion Williamson (Duke)
Zion has proven his worth as the top prospect of the draft through his dominant and jaw dropping play. He showed the qualities of a franchise player and a great leader on and off the floor. Zion shows the versatility to switch and guard any position as well as using his 280 lb frame to his advantage attacking the rim with authority. After what was thought to be a disastrous situation with Anthony Davis, David Griffin helped the Pelicans with his magical luck on lottery night and secured them not only one of the most talented prospects we’ve seen in years, but also someone who will sky rocket T.V. ratings, just as we saw with Duke this past year.
2. Memphis Grizzlies: PG Ja Morant (Murray State)
Through this past season, Morant showcased his elite court vision as he averaged 10 assists per game. We also saw that Morant has the athleticism of some of the most elite point guards in the NBA. With these skill sets in mind, Morant had a tendency to put his head down and try to take on a defense 1v5 when the game was on the line. Also, given the fact that he only weighs 175 lbs he could be prone to injury with his aggressive play style. Luckily for the Grizzles, Morant already has a better three point percentage than players such as John Wall and Derrek Rose had coming into the league. The former Murray State point guard is going to fuel this franchise and fan base along with Jaren Jackson to a new and exhilarating future.
3. New York Knicks: SG RJ Barrett (Duke)
Despite the fact Knicks fans are upset they didn’t get Zion, Barrett is a nice consolation prize. I think R.J. is someone you can build around. Barrett is surprisingly humble for someone his age, so I want to think he will have the awareness to be a two-way wing because he has the tools to do it if he commits to it. His jump shot is also a big area he needs to improve on, but I don’t believe his jump shot is broken by any means and should improve as time goes on. What makes Barrett stand out is his ability to read angles for someone his age, which is part of the reason he was so successful when driving at the college level. Expect an inefficient rookie year similar to how summer league went, but in the long run, Barrett seems to have the drive and love for the game that many of the NBA all stars have.
4. Atlanta Hawks: PF De’Andre Hunter (Virginia)
De’Andre Hunter is not someone defenses will game plan around, but he is a very capable role player. He played 3 seasons at Virginia and this past season he shot 43.8% on 3’s attempting 2.8 a game. His mechanics look sound especially when shooting off the catch. One thing that is concerning is that he looked more comfortable in the mid post and in most NBA offenses, contested mid range shots are an inefficient shot. In Lloyd Pierce’s offense though, he will most likely sit in the corner and space the floor for Trey Young pick and rolls. A big selling point for Hunter is his defense as he was named ACC defensive player of the year. Hunter is not the “home run” defender though, which is why he averaged less than 1 steal and 1 block per game. Where he really serves his value is to stay in front of his man without fouling. He also possesses a 7’2 wingspan which will help him guard a lot of the elite wings and forwards in the game.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: PG Darius Garland (Vanderbilt)
Garland’s collegiate career was cut short by a meniscus injury, but in the few games he played in, he showcased his quick handles and an incredibly smooth jump shot. Garland was the 4th best player on my board coming into the draft, so the value is there, but the fit is a little awkward. Collin Sexton was the 8th pick in last year’s draft and had an up and down rookie year. I believe Garland is a better prospect than Sexton, but I don,t know if they will be able to coexist together. Cavs Head coach John Beilein believes that the more playmakers, the better, but they give up significant size at the guard positions as they are both under 6’3. If I had to choose one or the other, I would say Garland, because I don’t believe a team can win at a high level with Sexton at point guard.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves: SG Jarrett Culver (Texas Tech)
Culver is a clear role player in the NBA, but my biggest concern is that he has a hitch in his jump shot and only shot 30% from 3. If Culver is ever going to be a starter, then he has to fix that, but he is above average in many other areas. Culver is about 6’6 with a 6’10 wingspan, and he handles and passes the ball well for a wing and uses his height to see over the defense. He has good touch around the rim, but he is not nearly as effective if a defenses game plan is to stop him from driving, which is what we saw in march madness. Culver should also provide value on defense just for his length alone. I do think he was overrated for his ability to defend because he wasn’t great at staying in front of his man, but Texas Tech’s help defense was phenomenal. I don’t think that Culver isn’t capable of being a very good defender though as he did have a lot of responsibility on offense, so it’s possible he was saving his stamina. I think Ryan Saunders wants to flip the narrative for this team and build a better culture, which is why Culver makes sense. However, this team needs to be built around Karl Anthony Towns and it’s hard to do that when he is surrounded by Andrew Wiggins, Jeff Teague, Josh Okogie, and Gorgui Dieng, all guys who are capable of hitting threes, but no one that really scares a defense, and when you add Culver to that group, it doesn’t seem like their will be enough spacing. In addition, Timberwolves passed on pg Coby White who I had higher on my board and can shoot better from 3.
7. Chicago Bulls: PG Coby White (North Carolina)
Coby White was very productive in his one year under Roy Williams and showcased his ability to score on a regular basis. He also was a great fit with Roy as UNC had one of the fastest pace offenses in the nation, which is part of what makes White so appealing. In the NBA, it has become essential to play at a fast pace and shoot 3s. White shot 35.3% from distance, but shot 6.6 3s a game and showed great form. The only negative to White’s jumpshot is that his release is a little low, but for a 6’5 point guard, it shouldn’t hold him back too much. Being a true point guard should come in time as he showed tremendous improvement throughout his college career. There were a couple of really ugly games for White against Louisville and Duke, but had great bounce back games against both. White showed he improves with experience, so I’m not expecting him to be an efficient player right away, but I believe White can become a key piece to the bulls future and fit really well with the pieces they have in place. The Bulls got the best player available and fit their biggest need.
8. New Orleans Pelicans: C Jaxson Hayes (Texas)
In Haye’s freshmen season he showcased the potential to be one of the best rim runners we have seen in recent years, but he also showed he is very raw. In college Hayes was in foul trouble on a regular basis, and was very “soft.” He struggled boxing out college bigs and never really played with an edge. In the summer league though, Hayes discovered that edge which is a huge part for Hayes to develop into the player he has the potential to become. I had Hayes 15th on my big board going into the draft, because he looked so raw at Texas that I wasn’t sure if he could produce during his rookie contract. Additionally, if he becomes the best version of himself, he would have a hard time being on the court for his team in the playoffs as we saw with Clint Capela and Steven Adams become liabilities at times. Even with that in mind, he still can serve a purpose for an NBA team, and he fits a need for the Pelicans.
9. Washington Wizards- Rui Hachimura
Hachimura is an unique prospect as he played 3 seasons with Gonzaga, but has upside most 3 year prospects wouldn’t typically have. Rui stands at 6’8, but has broad shoulders and a 7’2 wingspan. This will allow him to be a pf in todays game. He was an impressive scorer averaging 19.7 ppg and shot 41.7% from 3, but on only 1 attempt per game. Rui moves well as he was able to grab rebounds and start the fast break himself which was very impressive and that part of his game should translate to the NBA. I believe Hachimura’s jump shot will also translate, despite it being a little flat. He has a soft touch and high release point that will help him in the long run. Even knowing this, I consider this pick to be a reach as he was only ranked 16th on my big board. I don’t see big star potential with him and is not impressive on the defensive end of the floor. Washington is limited and has to build around Beal and Wall with no money for role players. I believe Rui can help Beal in the two man game as well as build a better culture for the Wizards.
10. Atlanta Hawks- SF Cam Reddish
To say the least, Reddish’s freshman year was underwhelming averaging 13.5 ppg on 39.4% from the court and 33.3% from 3. Many believe Reddish didn’t get a fair shot being the third wheel to RJ and Zion, but even when Zion missed games Reddish disappointed. Even with the limited production, Cam’s frame and shooting potential makes him an incredibly appealing package. The key lies in the jump shot. I believe his shot could translate similar to Doug McDermott where a lot of it is mental. The Hawks have one of the best cultures in the NBA so I couldn’t picture a much better landing spot for Reddish than the Hawks with Trey Young. The Hawks have a lot of young talent, but lack of star potential on the wing, which is why I believe this is a good fit for both sides as Reddish displayed nice plays on occasion that hint star potential.
11. Pheonix Suns: SF Cameron Johnson (North Carolina)
Cam Johnson is 6’9 and is 210lbs. He shot 40.5% from 3 over his 5 years in college and 45.7% from 3 this past year. He fits the profile to be a floor spacer at the next level. If Cam could put on some more weight, his chances of getting on the court and adding the most value he potentially could would be to slide him to the 4. When at SF, he doesn’t add anything besides shooting off the catch, spotted up. I think a lot of this pick had to do with character as Cam is known for being a great teammate. Even with that in mind, Johnson has struggled with foot injuries in the past and is 23 years old. I had him as the 23rd best player on my draft board. I think he is a decent fit to space the floor for Ayton, but I wouldn’t justify picking him this early.
12. Charlotte Hornets: PF PJ Washington (Kentucky)
Washington’s first and second half of the year tell two different stories. Once he started being more assertive, it opened up his game completely. P.J. was dominant on the block. His “go to” move was the right handed hook and that part of his game should translate. Additionally, Washington added a 3 point shot to his game that should translate as his mechanics are solid and shot 42.3% on 2.2 attempts per game. Washington possesses a 7’3 wingspan and at worst, he should be able to hold his own. Best case scenario would be if he could be a better rim protector. His instincts are average on that end of the floor but this player improved tremendously this year so I won’t say he isn’t capable of being a good weak side rim protector. He was a great leader for Kentucky and was 11th on my big board. He fills a need for Charlotte and his work ethic should only bring good things for that franchise.
13. Miami Heat: SG Tyler Herro (Kentucky)
Washington’s teammate Herro got a reputation for being a great shooter even though he only shot 35.5% from 3. This doesn’t surprise me though as he shot 93.5% from the free throw line and has almost flawless form. Herro should be able to shoot while moving or spotting up. The main concern I have with Tyler is if he is going to get out muscled at the next level. Against Tennessee, he really struggled against Admiral Schofield and those are the type of athletes he’s going to have to have to go up against. However, I think that the Heat is a really good landing spot for him because Wayne Ellington was one of the best shooters in the league when he was on the Heat and Herro can be used in a similar way. They also didn’t play with a true PG a lot of times last year and they used Herro at PG during the summer league. I had Tyler at 21 on my big board, but given the fit I am a fan of this pick.
14. Boston Celtics: SG Romeo Langford (Indiana)
I like Langford less than most as I had him 26th on my board. Langford had a reputation of being an elite defender, which I don’t agree with. He was able to lock down players against less athletic teams like Iowa, but his lack of lateral quickness will hurt him. On the offensive end, Indiana didn’t have a good supporting cast or system in place around him, which didn’t do him any favors. When driving, Langford finished well concerting 64% of his shots at the rim in a half court offense. The problem is, Langford has a below average first step and would only drive right. I also would have liked to have seen more assists. Langford was incredibly ball dominant, but only averaged 2.3 assists per game. In addition to that, Langford’s jumpshot mechanics were not consistent on a per shot basis. This could have been because of a thumb injury he was dealing with throughout the season, but it’s still concerning he only hit 27% of his threes. I don’t know how effective Langford can really be when he is playing off the ball because a good cutter off the ball as he tends to stand and watch. The good thing for Langford though is that he is going to enter into a situation with a great system in place as we have seen many players come to Boston, perform well and then leave and go back to the player they were before their time with the Celtics. Boston always ranks near the top in many defensive categories and their switch heavy scheme should benefit Langford with his 6’11 wingspan. I expect Romeo to be productive with the Celtics, but to me, it would say more about Brad Stevens than Langford.
15. Detroit Pistons: SF/PF Sekou Doumbouya
Doumbouya is a prospect I am not as familiar with due to the fact he played overseas. What I do know is he’s got great size at 6’9 with a 6’11 wingspan and is only 18 years old. He is so raw as a prospect, but there are a few areas he can contribute in right away. Sekou is great in transition with break away speed and has fairly long strides. He is great at finding contact when attacking the rim. A lot of his upside is interesting on the defensive side of the ball as he has the potential to hold his own against all five positions with his combination of speed and length. Now there are a lot of areas where he needs to improve. First one is shooting. Doumbouya shot 34% from 3 overseas, which has an NBA 3 point line opposed to the NCAA. His form is not bad, but he needs to be more consistent with his form. This not surprising since he is somewhat new to basketball compared to prospects that have been playing their whole life. He is also raw with his dribbling, passing, and IQ on both ends of the floor. The thing to focus on is you hope after seeing how Pascal Siakam came out of nowhere and was the 2nd or 3rd best player on the team that won the NBA championship. You can’t teach athleticism and Dwane Casey probably saw similarities between Doumbouya and Siakam as projects that are able to play in today’s NBA. With the Pistons franchise hovering around mediocrity, why not try and draft and develop the player with the highest upside.
16. Orlando Magic: SF/PF Chuma Okeke (Auburn)
Late riser Chuma Okeke showed out in March Madness, leading Auburn and the “Cinderella” Tigers to the final four. The biggest aspect of Chuma’s game that will translate at the next level is his jump shot. Okeke shot about 39% in each of his 2 college seasons and has great balance and form and a high release that will help him find a role. The part of Okeke’s game that will be an adjustment is his ability to defend on the perimeter. Okeke got the reputation for being a 3 and D guy, but was much better defending in the post than on the perimeter. This will affect what his role will be. He’s 6’7 with a 7’0 wingspan and 230 lbs so he has the size to play either forward position, but if he can’t guard NBA wings then his role is much more limited. With the Magic though, you already have a lot of forwards like Jonathon Isaac Aaron Gordon, and Alfaruque Aminu so to me, its an awkward fit and I had Okeke at 27 on my big board.
17. New Orleans Pelicans: PG/SG Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Virginia Tech)
Alexander-Walker was one of my biggest sleepers in the draft. He played shooting guard for a majority of his time at Virginia Tech and played point guard when he needed to. One of his biggest strengths is his length and defense as he can defend the ball very well as he shows good effort, instincts, and IQ on a consistent basis. Walker is also a very intelligent player on offense especially as a passer. He tries to make the right reads and has a great understanding for exactly when, where, and how to deliver a pass. I don’t think he is quite polished enough as a passer still so I think he is more of a SG than a PG at this point in his career, but will potentially become a complete combo guard. Nickeil’s jump shot definitely needs some tweaking as he doesn’t really use his legs enough so when he’s tired, he will still be able to hit at the same percentage. Over his 2 seasons, he shot 38.3% from 3, and he’s going to be much more of threat as a shooter off the catch rather than off the dribble. I envision his game similar to Malcolm Brogdon where he could be a 3rd guard on a really good team, will be able to play either guard position, play on or off the ball, and be a high IQ player. His length will allow him to be a really good to great defender compared to Brogdon who is average to above average on that end of the floor. I had Nickeil 12th on my board, so to get him at 17 is great value.
18. Indiana Pacers: C Goga Bitadze
Bitadze is an international prospect that played overseas this past year and impressed many for someone who just turned 20. Goga is 6’11 and 250lbs with a 7’2 wingspan. He also moves well for someone his size, I expect him to be a solid rim runner and pick and role player when he first comes into the league. He will most likely struggle with interior defense as he will resort to fouling more often than he should. The good thing for Bitadze is that he will be playing behind Myles Turner, so Bitadze won’t be playing 30 minutes a night right away. I think in time, Bitadze can become a capable rim protector but it will be an adjustment. Bitadze also has a capable jump shot to his game. I expect him to be a solid mid range shooter early in his career, and expect that to stretch out to the 3 point line in a few years. He has the ability to hit 3’s now, but wouldn’t expect him to be consistent yet. Centers that can protect the rim and shoot 3’s are so valuable in today’s game, which is why Bitadze is 13th on my board. The Pacers got a steal to get someone with his upside at this point in the draft.
19. San Antonio Spurs: PF Luka Samanic (Croatia)
Luka Samanic is a very interesting prospect. He is 6’11 with a 6’10.5 wingspan, and is 230 lbs. He really put on muscle leading up to the draft and it’s hard not to like Samanic. He’s a humble 19 year old who takes pride in his defense. I don’t think this will be his biggest strength in the NBA, but that’s his way of motivating himself and being good at the things he can control. He moves well for someone his size and is a smooth athlete. Samanic has a good feel for the game as he always tries to make the right play. An area of improvement for Samanic is his 3 point shot as he shot 33% from 3, but has good mechanics with a high and natural release. Once that number rises, it will significantly open up his game, because he knows how to attack closeouts and finish on the drive. Spurs have a lot of young talent in the backcourt such as Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Lonnie Walker. I had Luka at 27 on my board, but he fits a need and is a true “Spur” for all the right reasons.
20. Philadelphia 76ers: SG/SF Matisse Thybulle (Washington)
Thybulle is one of the best defenders in the draft as he averaged 3.5 steals and 2.3 blocks this past season while also breaking the record for most steals in the PAC 12 originally held by Gary Payton. The negative to this is that Washington played zone so you would have liked to have seen how he played in a man defense and see if he can be the same disrupter. I think that he can still be a great perimeter defender though nonetheless as he has intimidating size at 6’5 with a 7’2 wingspan, and has great anticipation to play in the passing lane. On the offensive end of the floor, he’s going to have to become a capable 3 point shooter. He only shot 30.5% from 3 last year, but is a career 35.8% 3 point shooter as well as 78.2% from the free throw line. I don’t even think his mechanics need much tweaking as he already has a high, natural release. Mattise is very limited to having to succeed as a 3 and D type of player due to the fact he can’t create his own shot and is on the older side at 22. This is a somewhat risky pick for the 76ers, because with Ben Simmons at point, you need shooting around him, and 76ers don’t really have any shooters off their bench.
21. Memphis Grizzlies- PF/C Brandon Clarke (Gonzaga)
Brandon Clarke is a unique prospect at 6’8 with an underwhelming 6’8 wingspan. The reasons he is so fascinating is that he has phenominal instincts as a shot blocker as he averaged a ridiculous 3.2 blocks per game. He also has a very high IQ and knows who he is as a player. Clarke can be the anchor of a defense, and be a target off pick and roll situations right away in his career with his 40 in. vertical. I also believe he has good awareness. In an interview at the combine he alluded to and put an emphasis on being a better shooter. He said that was the biggest area he focused on improving after this past season. The dissapointing part was that his release had a higher release point than in college, but it did not pass the eye test as it looked like he was just flicking the ball towards the rim. On the positive side, I think Clarke is willing to work towards whatever is best for him and his team, so if the Grizzlies staff is willing work with him on it, it wouldn’t shock me if he became a reliable jump shooter in the future. Even if Clarke never develops a reliable jumper, I think he can still be a very solid role player and create a scarey defensive pairing with Jaren Jackson. I would also hope he can learn to take longer strides when running, so he can become an even better rim runner. All in all, Memphis found themselves with someone who I had 9th on my board at the 21st pick in the draft, so they should be very satisfied with this pick.
22. Boston Celtics: PF Grant Williams (Tennessee)
Celtics decided to address the frontcourt taking the back to back SEC player of the year. Grant Williams earned a reputation for being a high charecter guy and a flat out worker. He is going to add toughness as well as rebuilding the culture. Williams averaged 18.8 ppg this past season. A lot of his points were off playing bully ball on the block, so he is going to have to reinvent himself as a perimeter player, because at at 6’8 with a 6’10 wingspan, it is going to be difficult trying to score over length. He only shot 32.6% from 3 this past season, but he has a consistent mid range game, and shot 81.9% from the free throw line. He has a high release that should allow him to eventually become a capable 3 point shooter. I think Grant can become a mix between Draymond Green and P.J. Tucker. Grant and Tucker both have similar size and limitations athletically. They are both incredibly tough and great defenders who have High IQ. I think Grant and Draymond are both great passers for their size. Draymond is better at passing the open court and on the fast break as he is much quicker than Grant, but in the half court, they can both be used similarly operating at the top of the key finding backdoor cutters or shooters. The Celtics got a great player who I had as the 20th player on my board to add to their frontcourt.
23. Oklahoma City Thunder: SF Darius Bazley (USA)
Darius Bazley is a unique prospect who didn’t go to college. He decided to get an internship with New Balance and prepared for the draft on his own. Bazley is 6’9 with a 6’11 wingspan. He offers intriguing versatility on both ends of the floor. On defense he has the length and athleticism to theoretically guard 4, maybe 5 positions. However, he doesn’t give the same focus on defense as he does offensively, so I’m not a huge fan of the Robert Covington and Trevor Ariza comparisons. I don’t see him being a “lockdown” defender and that being his primary role. I could be wrong though as he is only 19 years old and doesn’t seem like he’s lazy so I don’t think that will happen, but it’s definitely possible. Offensively, Darius offers point forward type potential with above average passing and vision for someone his size. Bazley also can grab and go with rebounds and start the break. One thing that scares me though is that he’s more of a ball stopper than a ball mover. When it comes to scoring, he should have success driving as once he puts on more muscle, he is virtually a mismatch for most defenders. He is crafty with being able to finish with either hand and has very good body control in the air. I’m not a huge fan of his jump shot though, as it’s slow and doesn’t have great balance. I don’t think Bazley was the best player available, but he offers upside for a team we now know that is rebuilding and fits their identity of length and versatility.
24. Pheonix Suns: PG Ty Jerome (Virginia)
Ty Jerome was a huge part to Virginia’s first place finish in college basketball as he was the emotional leader to that team on the floor. I don’t see Jerome as a starting pg ever, but there is little doubt in my mind he can’t have success as the backup pg. Ty Jerome is limited athletically so having to guard the quick twitch guards like Kemba, Curry, and even rookie Ja Morant would be a nightmare for him. Point guard is such a stacked position in the NBA, so there is no shame in coming off the bench. He also leads with a fiery spirit that is great for leading an NBA 2nd unit. Look at what Patty Mills has done for the Spurs. Popovich will trust his bench to stay on the floor for a long period of time because they always play with a lot of energy. When you watch Jerome play, his energy is contagious. He will make guys want to play off the bench with him and help fix a culture that has been horrific for about 4 seasons now. I think his ability to shoot and be unselfish is exactly what the Suns need.
25. Portland Trailblazers: SF Nassir Little (North Carolina)
The former Tarheel could not have had a much worse season than he did. He came in as the #4 prospect according to ESPN in last years recruiting class and he showed how raw he is and how poor his feel for the game was. He struggled as a perimeter player and became an energy player who crashes the offensive glass and scores in transition. This type of role won’t work at the next level, because he’s only 6’6. Despite all this, I believe the Trailblazers got a steal. Nassir has a 7’2 wingspan and already has good muscle, which is uncommon for a one and done prospect. He isn’t a natural basketball athlete, but still very good. He also showed a lot of maturity for a 19 year old at the combine and didn’t blame anyone else for his struggles as he considered this year a learning experience. The Trailblazers are known for drafting players with great character and they did that once again. They also are a patient franchise that likes to grow from within. Little landed in a great spot for him. The Trailblazers could use someone like him with his length and athleticism especially since Maurice Harkless and Aminu are no longer on the roster. The big thing Is that he has to become a perimeter player. He shot a miserable 26.9% from 3, but a solid 77% from the free throw line. He shoots the ball with good balance and rotation. I really think he can improve as a 3 point shooter and I think he will compliment C.J. and Dame very well.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers: SF Dylan Windler (Belmount)
Dylan Winder is a high IQ player from Belmont that should fit the Modern NBA very well. He has range from 3, he is underated as a cutter and is a ball mover. New Cavs head coach John Beilein has an offense with a lot of spacing on the floor. This will help Windler have room for his offball cuts that he is so good at. Something that gives me some concern is that he played in the OVC, so he played against alot of poor competition, and when he played against better competition, he was way less efficient. I don’t think his jumpshot is perfect by any means. I think his release is awkward as he pulls the ball towards his shoulder, then launches the ball rather than going straight up. I don’t think he shoots the same way every time. The thing is though, I don’t know if it will matter too much. He shot 42.9% from 3 shooting 7.1 a game. He also shot 84.7% from the free throw line this past season. Both these numbers are incredibly impressive and I’m not even including the fact he has range well beyond the 3 point line. He fits beilein’s sysytem very well and plays hard as he averaged 10.8 rpg. This was a solid pick for the Cavs.
27. Los Angeles Clippers: C Mfiondu Kabengele (Florida State)
The Clippers are the deserved favorites heading into this year by many. People forget though how weak they are at center. They have Ivica Zubac, and a couple 4’s that can play small ball 5 like Montrezl Harrell and Patrick Patterson. Mfiondu Kabengele has a unique blend of size and shooting that no one on their roster can match. Kabengele is 6’10 with a 7’3 wingspan. He shot 36.9% from 3 and averaged 1.5 blocks per game coming off the bench. I don’t think Mfiondu will be great at switching as he is 250 lbs, but looks a little overweight. If he gets into a little better shape, then I think he could switch as he’s fairly light on his feet. Kabengele is going to fit a huge need for them, and I expect him to contribute right away.
28. Golden State Warriors- SG Jordan Poole (Michigan)
Jordan Poole is a shooter from Michigan that plays with all the confidence in the world. He is a threat off the dribble or off screens, but I believe that working hard off the ball will help him most at the next level. Compared to many other NBA guards, he is definitely below average as he is 6’5 with a 6’7 wingspan. Poole lacks ideal muscle and speed. This is going to hurt him defensively, but that’s not why the Warriors drafted him. The Warriors are going to be without Klay Thompson for a while, and with the departure of KD, they could really use some shooters. Warriors acquired D’Angelo Russell, but I would be shocked if he is still on the roster in a year. Jordan Poole is insurance for the Warriors knowing that they will have a shooter off the bench no matter how big the moment is. Poole shot 37% from 3, but Michigan did not have anyone that could create their own shot so that number should really be higher. Another factor that will benefit him is the fast pace the Warriors play. I also believe their “loose” play style help him think less and just play. Overall, Poole was not the best player on the board, but he does fill a need.
29. San Antonio Spurs: SG/SF Keldon Johnson (Kentucky)
To start the season, Johnson looked like a lock in the lottery, but there was a lot to make a talent evaluator hesitant to take him that early. He looked a little overweight in college, but at summer league he looked in much better condition. Also, coming into the college season, Johnson was known as a really good slasher. I could tell that he was in certain games early in the year, but you didn’t see consistent moments of it later on in the year. I also don’t believe he played with a high motor all the time, and he’s going to have to change for the type of player he’ll be in the NBA. In an interview at the cobine he called himself a “dog.” I didn’t see that mentality from him, but we’ll see if he’s changed that in his rookie year. I do think his jumpshot made great strides this year, and that can be an effective part of his game. The thing with Johnson is that the talent is there as well as the height and length at 6’6 with a 6’9 wingspan. The biggest concerns with Johnson are things he can control, and the Spurs will help him reach his potential if anyone can.
30. Cleveland Cavaliers: Kevin Porter Jr. (USC)
Kevin Porter was in the mid 40s for this past years class, and even though he was limited this year due to injuries and a suspension, he was able to showcase how good of a talent he is. If it weren’t for character concerns, I believe he would be a lottery pick in this year’s draft. For a 19 year old, he knows how to create his own shot using a variety of moves. For starters, his ability to handle the ball is already above average for a SG. He knows how to change speeds out of hesitations and has a quick first step. He only has a 34in. vertical, but is an impressive in game dunker that gets a lot of power behind his dunks. He can read angles well and has a killer crossover to beat his man. He gets a lot of James Harden comparisons, which I don’t totally disagree with. They both are lefties that can really create their own shots. They have similar frames and both don’t give great effort on defense all the time, but can force turnovers as Porter averaged 1.5 steals per 40 minutes, and Harden has never averaged less than 1.0 spg in his NBA career. The negatives to Kevin’s game is that he’s a ball stopper, and only averaged 2.6 assists per 40 minutes. The reason why this doesn’t bother me is that I would play him in more of a 6th man type of role and just let him play his game. The biggest concerns I have are durability, character, and his jump shot. He shot 41.1% from the 3 point line but a miserable 53.2% from the free throw line. He has a low release point on his jumper, which could hurt him, as well as not the best balance. I wanna believe he can tweak a few things, because it will be necessary for him in order to unlock his full potential. I actually thought he sounded mature at the combine and blamed no one but himself. He was out with a thigh injury for around a month in the beginning of his college season and was also sidelined at summer league, but that could have been for contract reasons as well. There must be reasons outside of basketball why he wasn’t picked earlier, but I can only grade what I know, and I believe he is a steal at this point in the draft.
Article written by Bradley Patten
All stats provided by Basketball-reference (https://www.basketball-reference.com/)
Image from Hiptoro