The NBA Draft is a night that many young prospects dream of for years. The night that the NCAA’s brightest stars find their professional destination can be a platform that sets a franchise off on to years of success. With that in mind, let’s take a look at where the future of the NBA will most likely wind up.
#1-Boston Celtics: Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington
Stats: 6’4″ tall, 185 lbs, 6’9″ wingspan, 23.2 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 5.9 APG, 41.3% from 3, 1.6 SPG
Pro Comparison: Dwyane Wade
Analysis: Markelle Fultz might be the most complete draft prospect coming out of college I’ve seen in a long time. He’s got great size for a PG, he’s a great athlete, and can shoot a bit too. Personally, I think the Celtics should trade this pick for Paul George, but this is assuming the Celtics keep this pick. I know that the Celtics already have the best point guard in the East in Isaiah Thomas (fight me in the comments on this), but Fultz could easily slip to the 2 guard, or come off the bench. Fultz is a fantastic scorer and ball handler. He can create off the dribble, and for his teammates as well. Many criticize his defense, something that I blame on the terrible supporting cast he had at Washington (there’s a reason Washington went 9-22 in the PAC-12). He reminds me of Wade because they both are great ball-handling combo guards who can score, play defense, distribute the ball, and shoot a little bit. Fultz is an above average shooter, the percentage is hurt by the fact that he had to take 5 threes a game. If he can become an elite 3 point shooter in the NBA, the Cavs should watch their back in the eastern conference.
#2-Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA
Stats: 6’6″ tall, 190 lbs, 6’7″ wingspan, 14.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 7.6 APG, 41.2% from 3, 1.8 SPG
Pro Comparison: Jason Kidd
Analysis: Isn’t destiny a great thing? LaVar has publicly stated his desire for his son to don the purple and gold, and barring a shocking change of heart from Magic Johnson and Co., Lonzo will end up in Lakerland. Huge for a point guard at 6 foot 6, Lonzo will tower over almost every other lead guard in the league. Lonzo is also by far the best passer in the draft. Kidd and Ball are both tall point guards with elite playmaking ability and questionable jump shots. Lonzo did shoot 41.2 percent from deep at UCLA, which is fine, but I question his long range ability in the NBA. A lot of his threes came off the dribble, which won’t come as easily with quicker NBA defenders. The only form that I’ve seen that’s worse than his is my own, so that might be a problem. While Lonzo has a lot of great things about him, there are a lot of bad things as well. He’ll struggle defensively, but he has the tools to someday be a good defender. His mid-range game is weak. Lonzo struggles scoring in isolation sets, along with creating his own shot. Lucky for him, joining the Lakers will give him a couple of scorers in D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram. The Lakers will be a perfect fit for Lonzo Ball, giving the Lakers a point guard for the future
#3-Philadelphia 76ers: Jayson Tatum, SF/PF, Duke
Stats: 6’8″ tall, 204 lbs, 6’11” wingspan, 16.8 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.1 APG, 50.4% FG, 34.2% from 3
Pro Comparison: Carmelo Anthony/Jabari Parker
Analysis: While many project Kansas SF Josh Jackson to go to the Sixers here, I see them going in a different direction. The Sixers already have a young player who can’t shoot in Ben Simmons, so drafting another would hurt them offensively. Tatum is the most pro-ready player in this draft. Jayson is also, simply, a scorer. He played a lot of PF at Duke due to Coach K’s small-ball perimeter attack, but he should be able to play the 3 and 4 comfortably in the NBA. Like Carmelo, Tatum is a great isolation scorer who struggles defensively. Scouts worry about his 3 point shot, but remember that Carmelo only shot 33.7% from 3 in college. Tatum will fit well at the 3 in Philly with Simmons running the point. Also a great rebounder in college, but I see his numbers dipping a bit in the NBA due to a lack of elite athleticism. He’ll thrive in the mid-range game, where he scored most of his points in college. If he can show a better shot IQ than Melo, look for a 20 PPG scorer to accompany Simmons and Joel Embiid in Philly.
#4-Phoenix Suns: Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas
Stats: 6’8″ tall, 203 lbs, 6’9″ wingspan, 16.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 3.0 APG, 54.9% FG, 37.8% 3PT
Pro Comparison: Andre Iguodala
Analysis: Shocker, the Suns aren’t taking another Kentucky guy. Jackson, however, is the best pick for Phoenix here at #4. While I do believe that trading Eric Bledsoe would be a smart move, the Suns will definitely go with Jackson here if they keep the pick. Devin Booker struggles defensively on the wing, so getting a stopper on the wing becomes very necessary. Jackson showed the ability in college to guard 4 positions, though I’m not sure he is strong or long enough to guard an NBA power forward. His agility and athleticism will enable him to defend the 1, 2, and 3 at the NBA level. He is a good rebounder, but he will need to gain weight to avoid being pushed around by NBA bigs. Finishing around the rim is definitely a strength, but his real weakness comes from the perimeter. Like his NBA comparison Andre Iguodala, both of them struggle shooting from deep. Iguodala has shown improvement in this area recently, but is still at best average. Jackson must learn how to shoot from the perimeter, otherwise defenses will sag off of him, limiting him offensively. His free throw shooting is an area of needed improvement as well.
#5-Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky
Stats: 6’2″ tall, 170 lbs, 6’6″ wingspan, 16.7 PPG, 4.6 APG, 4.0 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 52.1% FG, 24.6% 3PT
Pro Comparison: Rajon Rondo
Analysis: I have to issue a disclaimer here: the Kings have no clue how to draft (see: taking a center for like 35 years in a row), so I have no clue where the heck they might go with this pick. Logically (logic is a struggle for the Kings), the team would go after a point guard. Since Fultz and Ball are already taken, Fox makes the most sense here. Kentucky has a history of producing good NBA point guards, like John Wall and Eric Bledsoe. Fox is a great distributor who is capable of leading an NBA offense from Day 1. Fox is also a great athlete, showing off a 38.5″ vertical. Also a capable defender, something he showed in the NCAA tournament when he put Lonzo Ball on clamps. Like Rondo, he struggles from the outside, shooting a putrid 24.6% from 3. While Fox will probably get away with a poor perimeter shot at first due to his elite athleticism, he will eventually need to learn to be at least capable from deep. Fox projects to be a great distributor and penetrator for years to come.
#6-Orlando Magic: Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky
Stats: 6’3″ tall, 197 lbs, 6’3″ 1/2 wingspan, 19.8 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 2.3 APG, 49.7% FG, 39.7% 3PT, 82.2% FT
Pro Comparison: C.J. McCollum
Analysis: The Magic are desperate. After trading their best young player, Victor Oladipo, and there first round pick last year for an aging, soon to be free agent Serge Ibaka, they are left with very little. Enter Malik Monk. Monk is one of the most pure scorers to come out of the draft in a few years. The Magic need guard help, Elfrid Payton can’t make a jump shot, and when Evan Fournier is your best perimeter threat, you know there’s a problem. Monk can immediately take the role of a floor spacer and outside shooter. A bit undersized, like McCollum, he won’t be much on the glass. An explosive scorer who can be streaky, he dropped 47 on eventual national champion North Carolina early in the season, but faded a bit late. I wouldn’t call him inconsistent, but he definitely has hot and cold stretches. If Monk can develop into a 20 PPG scorer in the NBA, the Magic will have a dynamic young duo of Monk and Aaron Gordon.
#7-Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonathon Isaac, PF/SF, Florida State
Stats: 6’10” tall, 205 lbs, 7’1″ wingspan, 12.0 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.5 BPG, 59.3% FG, 34.8% 3PT, 78% FT
Pro Comparison: Taller Draymond Green
Analysis: Jonathon Isaac is an extremely intriguing prospect. His arms are a bit short, but he makes up for it with explosive athleticism. Has the ability to guard 4, maybe someday 5 positions if he hits the weight room. He’s not a great outside shooter, but you shouldn’t leave him open either. A great rebounder on both sides of the floor, also finishes at the rim with the best of them. All of these traits point to a Draymond Green comparison. Yes, I know Green is 4 inches shorter than Isaac, but that should make Isaac more appealing. The shot blocking ability is there, but I don’t see it ever reaching an elite level. The Timberwolves already have athletic freaks in Karl Anthony-Towns, Zach LaVine, and Andrew Wiggins, so adding Isaac would make that team even more terrifying. Some want Minnesota to draft a PG and move on from Kris Dunn, but I still hold out hope for him. Isaac is the best pick for a team that has a hole at PF. Isaac is very boom-or-bust, but if he hits his full potential, we could be talking about him as up there with Anthony Davis in terms of best Power Forwards in the league.