The NBA Draft is in two months and the draft season is already getting started. This year’s draft has many potential stars, but there are still many question marks regarding each prospect. We will look into the predictions for the top 10 of this year’s draft.
- Phoenix Suns- Deandre Ayton Center / 7-1 / Arizona / Freshman
Ayton has been the clear number one pick in most draft projections and rightfully so. The potential outweighs almost everybody in this draft and has the potential to be one of the great bigs in today’s NBA. His offensive skill set is loaded with the ability to dominate the paint, run the floor, and to stretch the floor. He isn’t the best defender, but at 19 he has lots of time to improve on that end. But Ayton’s skill sets are too intriguing for the Suns to pass up. With Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, and T.J. Warren, they would really love to have an intimidating center with elite offensive abilities next to Booker.
- Memphis- Marvin Bagley Power Forward / 6-11 / Duke / Freshman
After turning 19 this March, the Duke freshman who was supposed to be a high school senior this year, is a top 5 prospect in this draft class. In his lone year at Duke, he was crucial in leading them to the Elite Eight and averaged 21.0 ppg and 11.1 rpg. He was very impressive considering he was a reclassified freshman and looked like a polished player at times in many games at Duke. He isn’t totally polished offensively, but he has the ability to attack the rim and has looked to improve his outside shot, shooting 40% from three for the year. Memphis would love to have Bagley as he fits the gritty style of play the team had with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. He has a lot of potential to definitely be a premier big in today’s NBA.
- Atlanta Hawks- Luka Doncic Small Forward / 6-7 / Real Madrid / 1999
At 19 he has been impressive averaging 17 ppg in one of the best leagues outside of the NBA. The Slovenian is another top 5 prospect in this draft class. The only backlash on Doncic is the question if his athleticism will translate to the NBA. Still, his offensive abilities have been praised by countless scouts, being described as a great competitor who makes his teammates around him better. The Hawks have had their first losing season since 2008 and will be looking to strike gold in their first lottery pick in years. They have a solid young core with Dennis Schroeder, Taureen Prince, and recent draft pick John Collins. I think Doncic will be Mike Budenholzer’s choice, as he will be intrigued with Doncic’s play-making abilities and can turn Doncic into one of the best Europeans in the NBA.
- Orlando Magic- Jaren Jackson/ Power Forward/ 6-11/ Michigan State/ Freshmen
Jackson’s draft stock has risen due to his performance for Michigan State this year. He has the body and intangibles to run the floor, be a good rim protector, and can hit the outside shot. He is a little unpolished and one of youngest in the draft class, but he can really be a good sleeper. The Magic will take the risk on him because he is solid all around potential and can be a nice 4 or 5 with Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Issac.
- Dallas Mavericks- Michael Porter Jr./ Shooting Forward/ 6-10/Missouri/ Freshmen
|Porter Jr. only played a couple of games during his one year at Missouri due to a spinal injury. He came back during the SEC tournament and NCAA tournament. He didn’t have his absolute best games, but he is still an elite prospect for most NBA scouts. His proneness to injuries is what will hinder his stock and might make teams in the early lottery pass on him. Still, his athletic ability and offensive talents are considerably on par with Ayton, and was arguably a contender for the number one pick before the college season started. Mark Cuban would want Porter Jr., because when healthy he can be the best player in this draft class with superstar potential. With Dennis Smith Jr., they can be a deadly scoring combo with great athletic abilities that compliment each other.
- Sacramento Kings- Mohamed Bamba Center/ 6-11/ Texas/ Freshmen
Like Jackson, Bamba is very raw offensively and might not develop into a good offensive player. However, his defensive potential is going very bright especially with a 7- foot-9 wingspan and 9-foot-6 standing reach. He is a perfect defensive big for today’s NBA and can compete with the likes of Rudy Gobert or DeAndre Jordan. The Kings will like Bamba as a future defensive anchor in a good young core with De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic.
- Cleveland Cavaliers (Via Brooklyn) Trae Young Point Guard/ 6-2/ Oklahoma/ Freshmen
After Oklahoma’s hot start in the beginning of the year, they cooled off in the latter half and Young’s stock dwindled a bit. Even with the Sooner’s bad stretch, Young was the first player to lead the nation in points and assists. He averaged 27.4 ppg and 8.7 apg in one of the most competitive conferences in college basketball. He deserves to be a lottery pick and as much as his defensive and turnover woes will scare teams, his offensive prowess is special. The Cavs would pick Young because he would be a great player to build around whether superstar LeBron James leaves or not.
- Chicago Bulls Mikal Bridges Shooting Guard/ 6-7/ Villanova/ Sophomore
The Bulls have a solid core with Kris Dunn and Zach Lavine while Lauri Markannen has the potential to be a premier big in today’s NBA. Bridges would fit perfectly in Fred Hoiberg’s system and could be a nice starting player with the Bulls core. He is one of the top 3 point shooters in this draft, shooting 44 percent from deep for Villanova this year. He has tremendous defensive potential with his length and his ability to get both steals and blocks. He can be a nice long term player in the league and many are comparing him to Otto Porter which would be a solid comparison.
- New York Knicks- Wendell Carter Power Forward/ 6-10/ Duke/ Freshmen
The Knicks need as much talent as they can get to play along Kristaps Porzingis and Frank Ntilikina. Wendell Carter is overshadowed by Duke teammate Marvin Bagley, scouts say he is has a promising skill set. Some reports have compared him to Al Horford, a big who is versatile, stretches the floor, and is a good passer. He is a solid defender with his 7-foot-3 wingspan and 257 pound frame, which would intrigue a lot of NBA teams. There are questions about his athleticism, but he is a well-rounded prospect. He could fit very well with Porzingis, giving the Knicks a great and versatile front court.
- Philadelphia 76ers (via Lakers) Kevin Knox/ 6-9/ Kentucky/ Freshmen
Kevin Knox is a very promising prospect and one of the better offensive players in this class. He can create on offense and has potential to be a solid shooter, even though he needs to work on his outside jump shot. His needs to work on his defense and was known to be inconsistent at Kentucky. He is a sleeper in the top of the draft and if the 76ers still have him on the board, they should grab him. With remaining prospects like Collin Sexton and Carter Jr., Knox should be the player with the best potential and can fit nicely in Philadelphia. With the already talented core in Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, and Joel Embiid, he can be a solid bench scorer and even future starter for them.
Ryan Beltran can be contacted at Ryan.Beltran@student.shu.edu