- Boston Celtics select Markelle Fultz: PG – Washington
With the first pick in the draft, the Celtics need to draft the best player. Markelle Fultz is the best player in the draft. They already have Isaiah Thomas, but he has only 2-3 elite seasons left. It’s better to get rid of a star a year too early than a year too late. Thomas and Fultz may be able to coexist, but the long-term point guard for the Celtics should be Fultz. He’s the obvious choice.
- Los Angeles Lakers select Lonzo Ball: PG – UCLA
This would be an ideal scenario for both Lonzo Ball and the Los Angeles Lakers. Ball has made it clear that he wants to play for his hometown Lakers. Ball would be a great fit with D’Angelo Russell. Ball and Russell both have the ability to play with and without the ball. They could both start in a two point guard lineup. Both Ball and Russell have enough size to defend either guard position. Ball has a unique jump shot, but he makes it more often than not. He’s a great passer and has a knack for making his teammates better. If they can get over his crazy father LaVar, Lonzo could be the type of player to change the Lakers’ culture.
- Philadelphia 76ers select Jayson Tatum: SF – Duke
There are rumors that the 76ers are going to trade with Boston and select Markelle Fultz with the number one pick. There are always crazy rumors on draft week, so it’s hard to bet on it one way or another. If the 76ers stay pat and make a selection with the third pick, Jayson Tatum would be an ideal selection. Although Josh Jackson is widely considered the better prospect, he doesn’t fit well in Philadelphia. The 76ers need shooters to pair with 2016 1st overall pick Ben Simmons. Simmons is a point forward with elite potential, but he cannot shoot the ball. Jackson could become a good shooter, but he has a long way to go. Tatum is already a professional scorer. He doesn’t have NBA three-point range yet, but he should be able to expand his range in the near future. His one major flaw is his defensive limitations. Some draft experts think he’s a bit of a tweener and others think he’s a 2-way combo forward. If Tatum is able to improve on the defensive end of the floor, he could become a star in Philadelphia with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
- Phoenix Suns select Josh Jackson: SF – Kansas
The clear choice for the Suns is Josh Jackson. The Suns have emerging star Devin Booker as their shooting guard, but he’s not a good defender. They need a wing defender to start with Booker. T.J. Warren is a great offensive small forward, but he doesn’t fit in a starting lineup with Booker. He’d be a better sixth man off the bench. Jackson needs to improve his offensive game, but he has the potential to be a 3-and-D superstar.
- Sacramento Kings select De’Aaron Fox: PG – Kentucky
The Kings have been rumored to be enamored with De’Aaron Fox, so they would be ecstatic if he was available with the fifth pick in the draft. There were even rumors that the Kings were willing to trade both the fifth and tenth picks to get Fox. In this scenario, the Kings get their man without having to move up. Sacramento could use a point guard, and Fox has the potential to develop into the best in this draft class. He’s an elite athlete and has tremendous size. Fox’s jump shot is a work in progress, but it’s the only major weakness in his game. If he cleans up his shooting stroke, he could become a star in Sacramento.
- Orlando Magic select Dennis Smith Jr.: PG – North Carolina State
The Magic could draft Dennis Smith Jr. as their replacement for Elfrid Payton. Although he hasn’t been a bad player, Payton hasn’t lived up to the hype since being selected in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft. Smith isn’t a perfect prospect, but he has a lot of skills that could translate into him becoming a top tier point guard. He was inconsistent at North Carolina State, but showed the ability to get to the hoop. He needs to improve his playmaking skills and tighten up his jump shot, but he’s an elite athlete and ball-handler. He should be an upgrade over Payton.
- Minnesota Timberwolves select Jonathan Isaac: F – Florida State
Jonathan Isaac is one of the biggest boom-or-bust prospects in this year’s draft. Although there are rumors that Tom Thibodeau wants to trade this pick for a veteran, it may be hard for him to pass on this potential star. Isaac is an extremely versatile defensive player. Once he adds weight to his frame, he should be able to guard centers and both forward positions. He’s athletic enough to switch any pick and roll. Isaac’s offensive game is a work in progress. As a 6’11 combo forward, Isaac has passing and ball-handling potential that could make him a giant point forward. The only point forward that size is Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Isaac is already a better shooter than the Greek Freak. If Isaac hits his ceiling, he could become a 2-way superstar.
- New York Knicks select Malik Monk: SG – Kentucky
Malik Monk is instant offense. He’s a great athlete that will make his money as a jump shooter. He has an uncanny ability to get off jump shots quickly before defenders can react. His range is endless, which will make him a hot commodity in today’s NBA. He has a solid pull-up jumper, but can sometimes get into trouble when defenses key in on him. He’s best as a spot-up shooter, so he’ll need to improve as a ball-handler and passer if he wants to become a combo guard. The Knicks can use an efficient scorer, and there’s nobody in this draft class that can shoot deep threes at a high rate like Monk.
- Dallas Mavericks select Frank Ntilikina: PG – France
Frank Ntilikina is the best international prospect in this year’s draft. Although most NBA fans aren’t aware of his game, he has elite starter traits. Ntilikina isn’t an elite athlete, but he has elite length and offensive skills. Dallas could use a starting point guard, and would be a perfect landing spot for Ntilikina.
- Sacramento Kings select Lauri Markkanen: PF – Arizona
Lauri Markkanen is a 7-footer with the ability to stretch the floor. He’s a great three-point shooter and has the ability to handle the basketball. His athleticism and ability to move without the ball are uncanny for someone his size. He’ll need to get stronger, which will help improve a few of his weaknesses. He struggles to post up smaller defenders and defend larger bigs. These issues can be alleviated once he gets into an NBA weight room. Although Sacramento already has a surplus of bigs, Markkanen could develop into their starting stretch four of the future.
- Charlotte Hornets select Zach Collins: PF/C – Gonzaga
Zach Collins has the potential to develop into an elite big in a few years. He isn’t strong or polished enough to dominate in an NBA game right now, but he has an elite skill set that could allow him to flourish after a few years of development. He needs to get stronger so he can defend larger bigs and post up smaller defenders. Collins is an elite shot blocker and three point shooter, which is a rare commodity in today’s NBA. Teams are looking for 7-footers that can space the floor offensively and protect the rim on defense. Collins has that elite skill set, but will need time to improve his strength and consistency. He should develop into Charlotte’s starting center if he reaches his potential.
- Detroit Pistons select Donovan Mitchell: SG – Louisville
Donovan Mitchell is an elite athlete that could develop into a starter for the Detroit Pistons. His jump shot is pure, but he sometimes struggles putting the ball in the basket because of his questionable shot selection. He’s a good passer, but isn’t quite skilled enough in this area to be a full-time point guard. His elite athleticism and high basketball IQ help him thrive on the defensive end of the floor. His quick hands help him collect steals at a high rate. He’ll need to improve his shot selection and consistency if he wants to become a starter. He’d be a great fit in Detroit as a developmental shooting guard.
- Denver Nuggets select OG Anunoby: SF – Indiana
OG Anunoby is an elite athlete that will defend at a high level in the NBA. He has a large wingspan and has elite quickness and strength that will make opposing players’ lives miserable. If he improves as a ball-handler and jump shooter, he has the potential to be a superstar. He struggles shooting from distance and doesn’t have the ability to defeat a defender in isolation. He seems to be a hard worker, so he might be able to improve his offensive game drastically once he receives NBA coaching. With Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler’s future in Denver possibly coming to an end soon, Anunoby could become their small forward of the future.
- Miami Heat select Justin Jackson: SF – North Carolina
Justin Jackson is one of the safest players in this year’s draft. He’s improved every year at North Carolina. Jackson won’t be an elite player, but he’ll be a solid role player in the NBA. The only question about his game is his three-point shot. He improved his jumper last year, but it’s not a given that he’ll be a good three-point shooter in the NBA. If he can consistently knock down threes, he’ll be a solid 3-and-D role player. He’d be a perfect fit in Miami as a sixth or seventh man coming off the bench.
- Portland Trail Blazers select Ike Anigbogu: C – UCLA
Ike Anigbogu would be a great fit in Portland. Although they already have a starting center in Jusuf Nurkic, Anigbogu will likely be a career backup in the NBA. He has elite potential as a rim protecting big, but has a long way to go on the offensive end of the floor if he wants to be more than a rotational player. His jump shot, ball-handling, and passing abilities are all a work in progress, but if he figures things out he could become a starter. Anigbogu is more of an athlete than a basketball player, but would be a good long-term project behind Nurkic.
- Chicago Bulls select Jarrett Allen: C – Texas
Jarrett Allen is a physical center with enough size and strength to take advantage of smaller defenders at the next level. He’ll need to improve his offensive game, but he’s already a great finisher near the basket. He’s not an elite athlete, which hurts him on the defensive end of the floor. But he’s a good enough athlete to be an elite shot blocker. Allen also rebounds at a high rate. He’ll take a few years of developing before he’s ready to be an impact player, but he has an extremely high ceiling. Allen could eventually develop into Chicago’s starting center.
- Milwaukee Bucks select Harry Giles: PF – Duke
Harry Giles was the top ranked high school basketball player in America last season. His one year at Duke was disastrous. He’s had multiple knee injuries, and wasn’t healthy to start the season. Once he returned from injury, he looked lost and hesitant. He’s the biggest boom-or-bust prospect in this draft. The Bucks have a habit of swinging for the fences in the draft. That strategy worked with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Thon Maker, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see them go to the well one more time with Giles. If Giles doesn’t regain form, he’ll be a solid energy big off the bench. If he starts to show the ability that made him the top high school basketball player in the country, Milwaukee will have made the best pick in the draft. While the rest of the NBA has taken a liking to Golden State’s small ball strategy, the Bucks are implementing a tall ball strategy. Giles would fit nicely into their lineup due to his length and lateral agility, which is something that the Bucks covet in their bigs.
- Indiana Pacers select Justin Patton: C – Creighton
Justin Patton has elite starter potential. He’s still a work in progress, but showed that he’s a first round prospect during his one year at Creighton. Patton is a good athlete for his size, which should help him become a solid rim protector. His offensive game is a work in progress, but he’s shown stretch five skills. It will take Patton time to develop, but the Pacers could have a steal on their hands if they’re patient and develop him properly. The Pacers already have emerging star Myles Turner as their starting center, but he and Patton could make a dynamic duo in the future.
- Atlanta Hawks select John Collins: PF/C – Wake Forrest
John Collins is one of the best bigs in the draft. He has starter traits, but will likely be a backup in the NBA. Collins has the body of a power forward but the skill set of a center. This is a bit alarming, but he could remedy this problem if he expands his shooting range. This would allow him to be a stretch four and will give him his best shot at starting. The Hawks could use help in their frontcourt, and Collins is talented enough to help right away. If they develop him properly, the Hawks could have a steal on their hands.
- Portland Trail Blazers select Ivan Rabb: PF – California
Ivan Rabb is one of the most intriguing players in this year’s draft. After his freshman year, most draft experts expected him to enter the 2016 draft with fellow California freshman Jaylen Brown. Rabb decided to come back for his sophomore season with the intent of improving his draft stock. Unfortunately for Rabb, he didn’t improve his draft stock and is now stuck in a deeper draft class. He still has first round abilities, but his game doesn’t have a lot of upside. Rabb isn’t a great athlete and doesn’t have much range on his jump shot, which should relegate him to an energy bench role in the pros. Portland could use some frontcourt help for their bench, and Rabb would be able to help them as a rookie.
- Oklahoma City Thunder select T.J. Leaf: PF – UCLA
Although he got overshadowed by Lonzo Ball, T.J. Leaf had a phenomenal freshman season at UCLA. He’s an athletic power forward with the ability to shoot threes. He’s a perfect modern-day stretch four. He’ll need to add strength to improve his defense and rebounding abilities, but that shouldn’t be an issue once he’s in an NBA weight room. Leaf is a great ball-handler for his size, and is skilled enough to score from anywhere on the court. He has the potential to develop into a long-term starter in Oklahoma City.
- Brooklyn Nets select Terrance Ferguson: SG – Australia
Terrance Ferguson decided to skip college after enrolling at the University of Arizona so he could play overseas in Australia. Although he didn’t get as much playing time as he would’ve gotten if he played in college, Ferguson still carved out a nice role on his Australian team. He showed NBA scouts enough to trust his athleticism, upside, and shooting potential. Ferguson has elite 3-and-D potential. He might not develop into a 2-way star, but the skills and intrigue are there. If he continues improving his shot, he could be a steal. The Nets need a lot of help, so betting on a high upside player like Ferguson would be wise with this late first round pick.
- Toronto Raptors select Kyle Kuzma: PF – Utah
Kyle Kuzma’s stock has been rising throughout the draft process. The junior from Utah would be an ideal fit for Toronto’s bench. He probably will never be a starter due to his limited upside and athleticism. Kuzma isn’t a great defender, but he makes up for it with his rebounding and offensive skills. Kuzma is a streaky shooter, but he has shown stretch four potential. He’s a good passer and ball-handler for his size. Kuzma is skilled enough to play either forward position for the Raptors.
- Utah Jazz select Semi Ojeleye: F – SMU
Semi Ojeleye is an athletic combo forward that will be a great offensive player in the NBA. He’ll never be a great defender, but his offensive skills should make up for his defensive limitations. He was a one-year wonder at SMU (after transferring from Duke), but flashed skills that should make him a first round pick. He’s a great scorer from all areas of the court. Ojeleye is strong enough to bully smaller defenders. At worst, he should be a solid role player in the NBA. If he maximizes his potential, Ojeleye could become a starter for the Jazz.
- Orlando Magic select D.J. Wilson: PF – Michigan
D.J. Wilson is an extremely skilled power forward with a lot of upside. Although he’ll need to add weight to his frame, he has 2-way starter potential. Wilson’s shot is a work in progress, but he’s shown stretch four abilities. If he continues to improve his shot and passing abilities, he could become a solid offensive option. Wilson is a great athlete, which helps him as a shot blocker and rebounder. He’s able to guard multiple positions, which is crucial in today’s NBA. The Magic need to improve their frontcourt, and D.J. Wilson has the potential to be a long-term starter in Orlando.
- Portland Trail Blazers select Derrick White: G – Colorado
Derrick White is one of the biggest risers during the draft process. After playing one year at Colorado, White proved that he has NBA potential. White is a versatile guard that can play either position. The combo guard can also defend either guard position. His versatility will make him an ideal backup to both Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Although he has starter potential, he’ll be a backup if he’s drafted by the Trail Blazers.
- Brooklyn Nets select Bam Adebayo: PF/C – Kentucky
Bam Adebayo is one of the best athletes in the draft. He uses his size and athleticism to get blocks and rebounds. He has starter upside, but has a long way to go. His offensive game is almost nonexistent. To become a starter, Adebayo must increase his shooting range. He plays with a lot of effort, but is turnover and foul prone because he often plays out of control. The Nets need a lot of help, so gambling on a boom-or-bust prospect like Adebayo could pay off handsomely if they’re patient and develop him properly.
- Los Angeles Lakers select Jordan Bell: PF – Oregon
Jordan Bell was one of the darlings of the NCAA tournament. After helping lead his team to the Final Four, Bell decided to declare for the draft while his stock was sky high. Few expected the Ducks to make a Final Four run after star center Chris Boucher tore his ACL, but Bell stepped up in his absence. Although he doesn’t have much of an offensive game, Bell might be the best defender in the draft. He’s an elite athlete that can protect the rim and switch pick and rolls. If he’s able to add an offensive repertoire, he could become a star. If not, he’ll be a valuable energy big off the bench. Bell would be a great fit in Los Angeles.
- San Antonio Spurs select Luke Kennard: SG – Duke
Luke Kennard is the perfect bench player in Greg Popovich’s system. He’ll never be an elite defender, but he has one skill that will keep him in the league for years. Kennard is one of the best shooters in the draft. He’s able to score in a variety of ways. His mediocre athleticism won’t allow him to dominate in isolation, but Popovich isn’t an isolation coach. Kennard will fit nicely into San Antonio’s second unit as a scorer that can space the floor.
- Utah Jazz select Josh Hart: SG – Villanova
Josh Hart is one of the safest players in the draft. He won’t be a star, but he’s a hard-nosed player that will thrive as a sixth man. He isn’t elite at anything on the court, but he’s good at everything. He’ll likely be this year’s Malcolm Brogdon. Hart plays physical defense and is a great rebounder for his size. He’ll be an immediate impact player for the Jazz.