It’s that time of the year again. The time for NBA teams to get their hopes up and truly believe that their franchise is getting ready to turn the corner. The NBA Draft gives us hope, possibilities, and a brighter outlook for a new future. It’s the time of the year where we convince ourselves that Johnny Flynn really is a better draft pick than Steph Curry, or that Darko Milicic is a once in a generation talent. The NBA Draft is one of the best nights of the year, so let’s dig right in and find out how happy that your team is going to be!
1. New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson, PF, Duke
You know who Zion is. The most hyped basketball players since Lebron James is finally going to grace us with his presence in the NBA. He may not be too excited about joining the Pelicans, but the Pelicans are sure happy to have him Zion is somebody that you can build your franchise around and fits well with Anthony Davis (until he becomes a Laker).
2. Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant, PG, Murray State
I’m not going to lie to you, Ja worries me. I believe that he is uber talented and can be a great player, but I wonder how successful he will be in the NBA. His level of competition in college has always been low, although he did perform well in the NCAA Tournament. The Grizzlies seem to be moving on from Mike Conley and need their point guard of the future, Ja Morant can definitely be that.
3. New York Knicks: R.J. Barrett, SF, Duke
All of the Knicks fans got their hopes up as Patrick Ewing stood on stage with sweat dripping off his brow. They were so sure that they were getting the 1st pick that they already had Zion traded to the Pelicans for Anthony Davis. But as all things go with the Knicks, it ended in disappointment. I’m actually a big believer in R.J. Barrett. Zion was the hype train, but Barrett can be an amazing NBA player. If his shot can consistently fall and his decision making can get better, I believe he has a very high ceiling.
4. Los Angeles Lakers: Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt
I ultimately believe that the Lakers will be taking Garland and then trading him to the Pelicans for Anthony Davis in August. But even if they don’t, Garland is the most talented offensive point guard in this year’s draft. He can score the ball, shoot well, and has a high basketball IQ. He could allow Lonzo to play off the ball some if they were paired together. He didn’t show much at Vanderbilt due to injury, but he could have been the #2 pick had he been healthy.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech
Unfortunately, I believe that this pick has high bust potential. Culver is a good player (he averaged 18.5 ppg in his sophomore season at Texas Tech) and led his team to the runner up in the National Championship. But Culver is an inconsistent shooter and disappeared at points during the tournament. I worry about him with Collin Sexton, although I do believe it would be one of the most athletic backcourts in the NBA. I don’t see him being an all-star type performer at any point during his career, but I hope that I’m wrong.
6. Phoenix Suns: Coby White, PG, North Carolina
Phoenix is looking for their PG and this is their guy. Coby White is an explosive player that ended the season as one of the best point guards in the country. His decision making can be shaky at times, but he has an improving three point shot and can take anyone off the dribble. It wouldn’t shock me a bit if Coby White was a future NBA All-Star. He would play great alongside of Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton.
7. Chicago Bulls: DeAndre Hunter, SF, Virginia
Sorry Bulls fans, I have a hard time believing that DeAndre Hunter will be a very good NBA player. Hunter is a good defender and has a big body, but struggles handling the ball and really taking over the game at the offensive end. I believe Hunter may thrive as a small ball four in the NBA with his big body and shooting ability. Pairing him together with Wendell Carter Jr. may be a good start for the Bulls, but don’t expect an All-Rookie performer in Hunter.
8. Atlanta Hawks: Cameron Reddish, SF, Duke
This pick will be the steal of the draft for Atlanta. I am a big believer in Cam Reddish. He didn’t get to show much at Duke this year because he was hidden behind Zion and R.J., but he is extremely gifted offensively. He has a pretty consistent three point shot and as a guard can post up smaller players. I believe that he will be a high volume scorer in the NBA. The Hawks will have three big pieces to create a foundation on with Trae Young, John Collins, and Cam Reddish.
9. Washington Wizards: Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas
The Wizards are strapped with John Wall’s contract, so they are limited in moves they can make in free agency. Wall and Beal are still a top 10 backcourt in the NBA when both are healthy. The only thing the Wizards need now is a big guy, and Jaxson Hayes can be just that. Hayes is very raw in terms of potential, but is a freak athletically. He may be more of a project, but his potential is through the roof.
10. Atlanta Hawks: Bol Bol, C, Oregon
The Hawks have the ability here to grab somebody on potential with this pick. Bol Bol could possibly be something that we have never seen in the NBA. Bol is a 7’3” center that can shoot threes and create his own shot. He can be an elite shot blocker on the defensive end as well. My major concern with him is his weight (slender frame), but if all pans out correctly, then he could be special.
11. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Pick: Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky
The Timberwolves need a guard and Tyler Herro has the potential to be a high volume scorer. Herro doesn’t measure well and isn’t an athletic freak, but is a knock down shooter and a serviceable defender. I think if put in the right situation that Herro could have a Devin Booker type impact with the right team. My only worry is how well he will transition into the league athletically.
12. Charlotte Hornets: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, PG, Virginia Tech
The Hornets seem to always pick in this range and always draft a player on potential. Last year it was Miles Bridges, the year before that, Malik Monk. This year the Hornets are possibly losing Kemba Walker to free agency and will need somebody to fill that role. Alexander-Walker is a PG that can step in and play right away. 6’5” with a long wingspan, Walker could be a nightmare on defense and have a Shai-Gilgeous Alexander type impact for the Hornets.
13. Miami Heat: Keldon Johnson, SF, Kentucky
Pat Riley has always shown an affinity for Kentucky players and Keldon Johnson fits the mold of a hard worker that gives you everything he has. Keldon is a hit or miss shooter, but has a good stroke that can translate to the NBA. He also thrives on driving to the basket with his big body and good athleticism. Keldon is a less than average defender and struggles with decision making, but those things can be improved. Keldon can be a solid role player in the NBA as a 3 and D SF.
14. Boston Celtics: PJ Washington, PF, Kentucky
Brad Stevens loves positionless basketball, and PJ Washington will fit that mold. PJ is a 6’8” PF with shooting ability and a solid low post game. He fashioned himself at Kentucky to be a Draymond Green type player. He plays fairly good defense, is an excellent rebounder, and can score from anywhere in the low post. PJ improved his three point shot and could be the perfect stretch four in the NBA. I worry about his decision making and his failure to recognize double teams, but if put on the right team, he could be a very good piece. The Celtics would be a good fit for him here.
15. Detroit Pistons: Nassir Little, SF, North Carolina
It took Nassir a while to come on for UNC last year. The former #2 ranked recruit in America played sparingly through the first part of the season, but came on towards the end. It could be argued that by the end of the season he was the Tar Heels second best player. Nassir rebounds well, has a big body, and can knock down jumpers. If given the opportunity, I think he could be very successful. I liken him to a better version of Stanley Johnson. Nassir has one of the highest upsides in the draft.
16. Magic: Rui Hachimura, PF, Gonzaga
The Magic got their big man last year with Mo Bamba and seem to be shifting away from the Aaron Gordon era. Rui Hachimura is a long, versatile power forward that can rebound really well and hit some jump shots. Rui led the Zags to a big win over Duke in the Maui Invitational and looked like he belonged on the same floor as Zion and R.J.
17. Brooklyn Nets: Brandon Clarke, F, Gonzaga
The Nets are fairly guard heavy and could use some bigs. A lot of their offseason depends on what they do with D’Angelo Russell and if they can sign a big name free agent. Brandon Clarke is another extremely athletic forward from Gonzaga. He dominated in the NCAA Tournament as a high flying big that was a difficult matchup for other college teams. Think of somebody like Larry Nance Jr. as a good comparison for him. He would be great next to Jarrett Allen.
18. Indiana Pacers: Sekou Doumbouya, F, France
The Pacers are coming off a playoff season and need some more fire power to compete in the East. Sekou Doumbouya from France is a high flier and above average three point shooter. He can drive to the rim and is also known for his elite defense. The hope with him is that he can become a Pascal Siakam type player with this pick. Put him next to Myles Turner and Victor Oladipo and you may have one of the most formidable defenses in the NBA.
19. San Antonio Spurs: Goga Bitadze, C, Georgia
The Spurs are masters at overseas draft picks. Goga is somebody that can be an elite defensive player, has a big body, and has a nice shooting touch. I’ve seen comparisons to a poor man’s Steven Adams for Goga, but I would also liken him to someone like Tiago Splitter. Put Goga next to LaMarcus Aldridge to shore up the defense and have somebody on the weak side to put back dunks.
20. Boston Celtics: Daniel Gafford, C, Arkansas
It seems like a real possibility that Al Horford will leave the Celtics in the offseason. The backup big men for the Celtics are Aron Baynes and Robert Williams. Daniel Gafford is a raw project that is supremely talented. Watch one game of his and you will see that his athleticism jumps off the charts. His best game of the season was probably the game against Kentucky where he dominated draft prospects PJ Washington and Reid Travis. I like Daniel Gafford as a shot blocker and a developing low post scorer. This would be a great pickup for the Celtics.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Porter Jr., G, USC
Let’s be honest, the Thunder aren’t winning the championship without some additional pieces. Kevin Porter Jr. is a big guard that can score the ball and could turn into a third option type player behind Paul George and Russell Westbrook. He is a high flyer and can get his own shot off the dribble. The Thunder need one more scoring option, and Kevin Porter Jr. can fill that role.
22. Boston Celtics: Romeo Langford, G, Indiana
The Celtics are more than likely losing Kyrie and maybe even Terry Rozier. Jaylen Brown has definite potential, Marcus Smart is an elite defender, and Jayson Tatum may be a cornerstone piece, but the Celtics need another scorer. Langford somewhat underperformed in Bloomington this past season, but can really score the ball and could possibly play with the ball in his hands. He immediately provides another scoring option for a very young team. Don’t be surprised if some of these Celtics picks get traded.
23. Utah Jazz: Cameron Johnson, G, UNC
Cameron Johnson is a huge guard from North Carolina. He is an excellent three point shooter and can get his shot off at any time that he wants. The Jazz could use another scorer to go alongside Donovan Mitchell and I believe Cameron Johnson can be that guy. He is a little older than some of the other prospects, but would be a fun fit with this young Jazz team.
24. Philadelphia 76ers: Louis King, F, Oregon
Tobias Harris is more than likely leaving in this offseason, and the 76ers need another scorer. A lot of uncertainty surrounds this Philadelphia squad, but one thing for sure is that Joel Embiid is their cornerstone. Louis King can score the ball from anywhere on the court and could give the 76ers some space for Embiid to operate. His upside is also huge!
25. Portland Trail Blazers: KZ Okpala, SF, Stanford
The Blazers had a very impressive season and have two guards that can score the ball as good as any backcourt in the league. Nurkic is proving to be a good big man, and now the Blazers need another forward to take them to the next level. KZ Okpala has a similar frame and game to Brandon Ingram. He is very long and lanky and has improved his three point shot recently. He should develop into a good defender and has good touch around the rim with his long frame.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers: Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee
Grant Williams is a hardworking player and has a high IQ. He plays very hard on defense and has good touch in the low post. He developed his three point shot last year and has some potential in the pick and roll with Collin Sexton. Grant has the tendency to get beat against super athletic players, but covers some of his inefficiencies with his willingness to work hard.
27. Brooklyn Nets: Talen Horton-Tucker, G, Iowa State
Talen is a big bodied guard that can get to the rim and score. He is not a consistent shooter or scorer yet, but has potential to develop his game. He could translate to being a good bench player that can come in and bully some other smaller guards.
28. Golden State Warriors: Carsen Edwards, G, Purdue
This pick should explain itself. Carsen Edwards came on at the NCAA Tournament by scoring 40+ points in multiple games. He is a terrific three point shooter and can get his shot off against anybody. He would be an excellent backup for Steph Curry and could be someone that would give the Warriors some needed depth going into the next season. He would also fit Steve Kerr’s offense perfectly.
29. San Antonio Spurs: Ty Jerome, G, Virginia
Ty Jerome is a tenacious player and a very good shooter. At 6’5”, he seems to be someone that would fit in nicely with the Spurs system. He is limited athletically and will get beat off the dribble regularly, but could develop into a knockdown shooter and hard worker.
30. Milwaukee Bucks: Naz Reid, C, LSU
The Bucks could use another big, and Naz Reid has a lot of potential. He is an elite shot blocker and has developed his jump shot out to the three point line. He was up and down throughout the Bayou Bengals season, but at times showed elite potential. The Bucks seem to develop guys well, and Naz Reid could be a steal with this pick.
Andrew Williams is a Contributor for the Unwrapped Sports Network website. Follow him @UnderBanners on Twitter.