The NBA Draft, set for Thursday, June 20, is creeping up on us, and there are still a lot of moving parts — from who is likely to be picked where, to a number of major trades involving draft picks still on the table. Notable, Anthony Davis. For now, all we can go on is the information we have, and with that in mind, here’s a look at every NBA team’s biggest needs, trade possibilities, and which prospects make the most sense for each.
- Draft Picks: 8, 10, 17, 35, 41, 44
Atlanta general manager Travis Schlenk has made no secret that he’s in the asset-acquisition business, knowing it takes a bunch of draft picks to hit on a few. Last year he traded the No. 3 pick (Luka Doncic) to the Mavericks for the No. 5 pick (Trae Young), in part because the Hawks loved Young, but also because Dallas included its 2019 first-round pick as part of the package. That pick has turned out to be No. 10 in this year’s draft.
Throw in Atlanta’s own No. 8 selection, and the No. 17 pick they recently acquired from Brooklyn for taking on Allen Crabbe’s contract, and the Hawks are loaded with picks (six in this year’s draft, the most in the league), young talent, and a lot of cap space opening up next summer.
That means options this year. The Hawks can potentially trade those No. 10 and No. 17 picks to move up into the top five; perhaps with Cleveland at No. 5 would make sense. Wherever the Hawks pick, Schlenk has also made it no secret that he is building his team with versatile players who can shoot, pass and dribble. If they stay at No. 8, Cam Reddish is a 6-foot-8, high-ceiling player with a total-package skillset.
“In Reddish, I see a guy who has all the tools to be a big-time NBA player,” a scout recently told CBS Sports. “He’s got length, he’s got skill, he’s a decent athlete. The obvious question is: Why does he disappear so easily? Why does he kind of drift away from games and become one-dimensional in terms of just settling for jump shots here and there? Was it the roster around him that kind of drowned him out to a degree? Or is that just him? Is it just a passive personality thing? This has been the question that’s followed him throughout. It was the question in AAU. In high school. And the same thing played out at Duke. The physical stuff is all there. The mindset to go get it and be engaged and aggressive at all times will be what determines what kind of pro he’ll be.”
A second scout who spoke to CBS is even higher on Reddish.
“I think he’s the most talented player in the draft. I really believe that. Like, he’s not an alpha. The passive personality thing is real. Maybe that keeps him from being ‘the guy’ even if he has ‘guy’ game. But he’s going to be a damn good No. 2 or No. 3 just on skill. And if he does mature and become more aggressive, look out.”
- Draft Picks: 14, 20, 22, 51
Boston needs a difference-maker in this draft more than another nice piece to fit into a championship roster, because the Celtics might not be that for long. With Anthony Davis looking like a good bet to end up with the Lakers, and Kyrie Irving a good bet to bounce from Boston, the Celtics could be looking at having to win — not develop, but win — with the young core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and whoever they get in this year’s draft. They’ve piled up assets in volume for years. One great first-round pick will do them a lot more at this point than three decent ones.
There’s obviously still a chance these picks go out in a Davis package, but assuming they don’t, the Celtics, like Atlanta, could consider Cleveland as a potential trade partner, giving up the three first-rounders for the No. 5 pick. If Boston could get that high, it could get into the game for a top-flight point guard to replace Kyrie if he leaves, as who knows what’s going to happen with Terry Rozier’s free agency. Coby White out of North Carolina would be a great pick.
If the Celtics stay at No. 14, keep an eye on Jaxson Hayes, a super athletic center who can be ready to fill in behind Al Horford and would give the Celtics a modern take on the center position in terms of athleticism and mobile rim protection. Brandon Clarke out of Gonzaga is Boston’s pick at 14 in a lot of mocks,. He doesn’t possess the same kind of ceiling as other options we’ve talked about, but he’s a ready-made NBA contributor for a win-now team with versatile size on both ends, which we know Danny Ainge loves.
“Great defender. Plays hard. Will be a junkyard dog, defend multiple positions, finish lobs, rim run,” an Eastern Conference scout said of Clarke. “I just question his shooting. If that doesn’t come around and he’s not a big offensive threat, then he just becomes an energy guy, like a better version of Jordan Bell. Something like that.”
First and foremost, the Nets are going big-game hunting in free agency. The idea is to get one, if not two, big guns and draft for support guys who fit Kenny Atkinson’s system. The Nets are going to play how they play — four, and often five out, shooters everywhere, floor spaced, high tempo — and trying to plug in players who can’t play that way just isn’t going to work.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Brooklyn goes after a big,” a league scout told CBS Sports. “They could stand to fill out behind [Jarrett] Allen.”
A big man that fits what Brooklyn does in terms of his ability to stretch the floor is Mfiondu Kabengele out of Florida State. He’s 6-foot-10 and can play as a stretch four with his ability to shoot the ball, or as a true center with a 7-3 wingspan. Length, versatility, and an ability to shoot and space the floor? That’s a Nets guy if there ever was one, but Kabengele might not last until No. 27.
We just talked about a Nets-type player in Kenny Atkinson’s system — well, the same rules apply with James Borrego and the Hornets. Before his first season in Charlotte, Borrego said he wanted to “play four guys at all times who can shoot the three” and he pretty much did that. That said, Charlotte is just simply in need of a “best player available” approach, because it is lacking true difference-making talent out of Kemba Walker, who of course is a risk to leave in free agency.
“Charlotte has gone with upside but flawed players in the last two drafts with [Miles] Bridges and [Malik] Monk,” a Western Conference scout told CBS Sports. “I think that’s the right approach again. Get the best player available and just hope one or two of these guys turns into something the way Kemba did.”
Three players come to mind who could be available at No. 12: Jaxson Hayes is a super athletic center with all kind of raw talent, and Charlotte could really use a true rim protector with all its emphasis on perimeter-oriented bigs. Another guy is Nassir Little out of North Carolina. Little has top-five talent according to a lot of scouts, but he wasn’t great in his one year at UNC. Tyler Herro out of Kentucky also fits this mold. His upside is perhaps the highest of anyone they can get at this stage of the draft. Herro’s shot is pure and confident and he projects as a versatile defender.
Quietly, Chicago has an intriguing talent mix with Lauri Markannen and Wendell Carter Jr. next to two established starter-level players in Otto Porter and Zach Lavine — the latter of which has honest top-five scorer in the league ability. The glaring hole for the Bulls is at point guard. Kris Dunn does not look like the guy to carry the team forward, and at No. 7, a guy we’ve already talked about could be sitting there: Coby White.
Here’s a Western Conference scout’s take on White:
“He’s such a scorer. You’re going to hear people say he’s the modern point guard. The scoring point guard. It’s true. He can flat score. I thought he improved as the year went along as a point guard, in terms of being a decision-maker and being in control of situation. The question with him is going to be ball-handling. When people really get up into him, he can have some trouble.”
We do’t know for sure what the Cavs will look like under new coach John Beilein, but we know defense will be a focus and he’s a creative offensive coach. Collin Sexton is the future as the roster stands right now, and I still wouldn’t be surprised to see the Cavs move Kevin Love for some assets. They are just nowhere close to winning and I don’t get hanging onto Love.
That said, it’s best player available for Cleveland. They just need talent and they can figure it out from there. At No. 5, a lot of people like Jarrett Culver out of Texas Tech. He’s a shooter and has versatile size on both ends. No matter how the Cavs’ roster takes shape over the next few years, Culver can and will fit any system. He’s a capable secondary ball handler and schooled and instinctive in the arts of cutting and off-ball movement, which will fit nicely next to Sexton if he can grow into more of a true floor general rather than just a scorer for himself.
Other options at No. 5 are De’Andre Hunter and Reddish, whose upside talent we already talked about, but the smart money is on Culver if he gets past No. 4, because who knows what the Lakers do with that pick and what the needs of the team that potentially acquires it will be.
Here’s a scout’s take on Culver:
“Like the Virginia kid [De’Andre Hunter], Culver played in a half-court system, lot of motion, and that kind of hid his potential a little bit, in my opinion. You put him in sets where he knows where the shots are coming from, he can be terrific. But he can be more instinctive when turned a little loose in an NBA system. He has more upside than downside, put it that way. He knows how to move without the ball. He knows how to cut hard. He knows how to set up his shot. I think he’s a guy that has already improved a lot, and I would expect that to continue.”
Dallas gave up its first-round pick this year to get Luka Doncic from Atlanta last year, which appears to have been, you know, a fairly decent decision. Two more future first-round picks went out in the Kristaps Porzingis trade, so Dallas is not a team in position to significantly upgrade through the draft in the near future. They do figure to factor in as a player in free agency with an ability to create a max free-agent slot, and the core of a really exciting team is taking shape around Doncic and Porzingis.
That said,has Dallas getting Chuma Okeke out of Auburn with the 37th pick. Okeke tore his ACL late in the NCAA Tournament, but if you watched Auburn’s run to the Final Four, you know that from a talent standpoint this guy is a first-rounder. If he recovers from that injury and slots into a team like Dallas, where he doesn’t have tp go outside his strengths of shooting and defense, this is a guy who can contribute in a meaningful way and look like a second-round steal years from now.
The Nuggets don’t have any picks in this year’s draft, but frankly, they don’t need any; they are already one of the youngest teams in the league and were one game from the conference finals this season. They are way ahead of schedule by any standard and have a true superstar in Nikola Jokic (a second-round pick, by the way) in place.
“It’s all about internal growth with Denver,” a scout recently told CBS Sports. “We saw in the playoffs that Murray and Jokic can be a terrific two-man combination, and they’ve got a bunch of good, solid players around them. How does Murray develop as a point guard and not just a scorer? Does Gary Harris have another leap in him? I think he does. I really like Harris. I wouldn’t be surprised if Denver found its way into some trade talks with all that young talent.”
The Pistons are in a bad spot, if you ask me. They owe a truckload of money to Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond that isn’t coming off the books any time soon, and none of their recent draft picks — namely Stanley Johnson and Luke Kennard — have really worked out. Johnson isn’t even with the team anymore. I still like Kennard on a good team as a shooter and underrated playmaker, but he’s not going to lift an average team, and more than likely, whoever the Pistons get at No. 15 this year isn’t going to, either.
Reggie Jackson is off the books next summer and perhaps he’s tradable as an expiring deal. Personally, I would look into the possibility of trading high in Griffin after the season he just had. I think the Pistons are fooling themselves thinking they’re going anywhere with this roster and it’s too much money to drag around on the treadmill of mediocrity. I would package No. 15 and pretty much whatever else someone is interested in to try to bring back some real assets and start this thing over.
But I don’t think Detroit’s going to do that and I don’t know how much of a market there would be for Griffin’s gigantic contract even with as well as he played last season. Detroit, in theory, should be looking for its future point guard with Jackson likely gone soon, but they’re probably not going to find that at this spot in the draft. Help on the wing, where Stanley Johnson was supposed to fill, is an immediate need. If Tyler Herro falls this far, I would grab him in a second. But I don’t think he will.
, Detroit gets Kevin Porter Jr. out of Southern California. Porter, a 6-6 shooting guard, is high-risk, high-reward, according to almost every scout I’ve talked to.
“As a mid-to-late first-rounder? Yeah. Porter could pay off above that slot,” a league scout told CBS Sports. “There’s definitely stuff to work with.”
Golden State Warriors
If you’re watching the Finals right now, you know the Warriors are in desperate need of some depth. If Kevin Durant leaves, they have no means of replacing him as they’re well over the cap, and even if he stays, he’s most likely out for all of next year with his ruptured Achilles tendon. Andre Iguodala isn’t what he used to be. Shaun LIvingston, who may not be around after this year (he has a non-guaranteed contract) isn’t either.
Oddly, the Warriors need shooting. After Steph and Klay, there isn’t a real threat from three outside of Quinn Cook, who has been a great find as an undrafted player. They also need size. Who knows what the market for DeMarcus Cousins will be, and Kevon Looney is a free agent. If they go shooter, Dylan Windler out of Belmont and Matisse Thybulle out of Washington have been talked about. If they go big, Bruno Fernando is a bruiser who can fit right into Golden State’s set-screens-and-rebound big-man mantra.
The Rockets are the other team with Denver that has no picks in this year’s draft, but whereas Denver is on the upswing, it feels like Houston is going the other way and may have missed its window with this roster. That’s why Daryl Morey has made it clear everyone on the team — outside of James Harden, most likely — is available for trade. There have already been reports of Clint Capela being shopped. Does Chris Paul still have a market with that massive contract and depreciating return? We’ll see what the Rockets can make of this summer.
The Pacers have six free agents this summer, and Tyreke Evans, who would’ve been a free agent, has been suspended for two seasons for violating the league’s drug policy. So he’s out. You would think the Pacers would do all they can to bring back Bojan Bogdanovic, but beyond that, they have a decision to make between bringing back a lot of their guys or renouncing them all and creating up to $43 million in cap space. If they just bring back Bogdanovic and just sit on his cap hold until they sign a newcomer, they can have $30 million in cap space. That’s almost max space.
So what they do with this No. 18 pick becomes very important for a team that could be in need of back-filling a lot of depth and versatility. More than anything, the Pacers need some offensive firepower alongside Victor Oladipo, and they could specifically use 3-point shooting — they made just 9.5 threes a game this past season, which ranked 29th in the league.
has Indiana taking 6-5 shooting guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker. Nassir Little, previously mentioned for his high upside, could be an option here as a best-talent-available pick and hope he pops. I’m going to mention Tyler Herro again here. Clearly I love his game. So do a lot of scouts. If he were to somehow fall to 18, which I doubt, I would grab him quick if I were Indiana.
“It’s very easy to see Herro stepping into an NBA game right now and knocking down a big shot like he’s been around for 10 years,” a scout told CBS Sports. “He has all the makings of a deadly shooter. And he’s better off the dribble than people think. We’ve talked about mindset. This kid wants the big shot.”
Los Angeles Clippers
No draft pick is completely inconsequential. There are second-round steals almost every year. But this summer isn’t about the draft for the Clippers, who have one max free agent slot available and can create a second by trading Danilo Galinari, who should have a market as a really good player on a expiring deal, should the Clippers explore that route. The Clippers have a ton of young assets if they want to get in on the Anthony Davis bidding, but all eyes are on Kawhi Leonard as the prize of the summer.
“That’s where I think [Leonard] ends up,” an Eastern Conference scout recently told CBS Sports about the Clippers. “I think that’s been the plan for some time. Although obviously what Toronto’s doing right now might give him some pause. I’ll be very interested to see if he gives Toronto real consideration after this run. You never would’ve thought that when he first went there.”
In our Mock Draft,, a 6-8 power forward out of Arizona State.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers have one pick in this year’s draft, and it’s a big one. Huge win jumping way ahead of their projected slot in the lottery, and the winds are certainly blowing in the direction of the Lakers ultimately using this pick to sweeten the deal for Anthony Davis. Indeed, my guess is the Lakers don’t make this pick. I think Davis to the Lakers is getting closer to happening every day.
If the Lakers do make this pick, Darius Garland, who played just five games as a freshman at Vanderbilt before tearing his meniscus, is widely believed to be their preference. Garland is a big-time shot creator, though his 3-point shot is a work in progress. He’s only 6-2. It’s hard to see him playing off the ball next to Lonzo Ball and LeBron James if the Lakers were to keep their core, but he would be a super nice backup at the point guard position until he develops. The Lakers are also believed to like Jarrett Culver, who would be an easier fit into their roster as an off-ball shooter who can generate offense without the ball as a cutter and mover, which is perfect next to LeBron.
Again, I don’t think the Lakers end up making this pick. If they do, most people think it’ll be Garland, who scouts across the board are very high on.
“[Garland] can really execute a ball screen,” a Western Conference scout told CBS Sports. “He has great vision. Terrific passer. He’s a top-five guy. He needs to improve his 3-point shooting. What I know about this guy is he’s a terrific worker. You’ll hear that from anyone you talk to. I’ll always bet on those guys. He’ll put the time in.”
Another scout was even higher on Garland:
“He’s really good. Combo guy. A little streaky, but he has a really good feel for the game. I’ll tell you this: I think it would be a lot closer argument between [expected No. 2 overall pick] Ja Morant and Darius [Garland] had Darius played all year. I think people forgot about him a little bit, but you’re seeing now, he’s rising up everyone’s board. He can really play.”
Memphis keeps the pick that would’ve gone to Boston had it fallen outside the top eight, and man, what a break that it ends up at No. 2, much higher than the Grizzlies’ projected slot. This is perhaps the most seamless pick in the entire draft in that Mike Conley has a good chance of being moved, and here the Grizzlies can move right into their point guard of the future in Morant. Grit N’ Grind is over. Morant brings a little pizzaz with the ball in his hands. Dude can really create with a flair.
“His feel for the game is elite,” a Western Conference scout told CBS Sports. “My two things that you can’t really teach are lateral movement and that feel for the game. You can get better as a shooter, and Morant has some work to do there. He’s got that low release, but he’s comfortable if you go under screens, so you do have to respect him that way. But he’s just got that feel for the game. He sees the court, passes to space, so smooth and crafty with his handle. Really fun to watch if you appreciate playmaking.”
The Heat’s last two lottery picks — Bam Adebayo and Justise Winslow — are core players moving forward, but Miami is still drowning in a sea of bad salary that will mercifully start coming off the books in 2020, when Hassan Whiteside will come off the books. Until then, Miami either had to trade smartly or make a surprise splash in the draft.
You hear about Heat culture all over the league. Not every player is right for it. It’s all about being tough and versatile, and if you can fit Eric Spoelstra’s spaced-out, drive-and-kick principles, you’re a Heat player. The Heat desperately need someone who can create offense on the wing, and Romeo Langford out of Indiana might be that guy. P.J. Washington out of Kentucky is an inside-out guy who is improving as a shooter. Nassir LIttle has been mentioned a few times in this range, and his upside at this spot is as high as anyone. The Heat really need to hit, relatively speaking, on this pick.
The Bucks have sent future first-round picks out and this need to take advantage of this one, even if it is the last pick of the first round. Milwaukee’s first priority this summer is figuring out how to bring back the core of the team that won 60 games, with Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon, Brook Lopez and Nikola Mirotic all free agents. The Bucks can play the cap holds right and have around $20 million in space if they can trade Tony Snell. If for some reason they passed on signing Middleton they could have $30 million, but no way they’re going to do that as they likely couldn’t attract a better player anyway. Middleton is a virtual lock to sign with Milwaukee long-term.
With the draft pick, we know Mike Budenholzer’s system calls for shooters and versatile defenders. Mfiondu Kabengele out of Florida State, who we mentioned as a nice fit in Brooklyn with the 27th pick, makes sense for Milwaukee as a big who can stretch out as the Bucks try to keep the lane open for Giannis.has the Bucks taking Dylan Windler out of Belmont (mentioned as a possibility for Golden State at 28), who fits what the Bucks do with his shooting.
Minnesota is all-in on the Karl-Anthony Towns era and all they can do is hope Andrew Wiggins somehow starts to produce at a level even near what he’s being paid. Towns could use a complementing big who can account for his off-and-on defensive presence. Jaxson Hayes makes a lot of sense in that role.
The Wolves were also a lower-third 3-point shooting team and if they go that route, P.J. Washington fits, as does Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura, who is one of the more polarizing players in the draft when you talk to a cross-section of scouts.
Said one Western Conference scout of Hachimura:
“I have questions about him. He’s a big strong kid, huge hands, good stroke. I just don’t trust his instincts for the game to kind of bring it all together, but we’ll see. I don’t want to bury the kid. But he would give me pause.”
New Orleans Pelicans
So we know the Pelicans are taking Zion Williamson No. 1. There’s also a good chance they end up with another high lottery pick, depending on what Anthony Davis package they settle on. Smart money is on the No. 4 pick from the Lakers, which the Pels could use to get their point guard to pair alongside Williamson for the next half-decade. That could be Darius Garland. It could be Coby White.
As for what they’re getting in Zion, scouts who spoke to CBS Sports cautioned against the hype Williamson has received creating an unrealistic expectation of what he’ll bring to the table, particularly early. Scouts are in agreement that his motor and defensive ability alone will make him a productive player right away. His athleticism is obvious.
“There’s no way this guy isn’t going to be a productive, core player in the league, just on those two things,” an Eastern Conference scout said of Zion’s defense and intensity on both ends. “Again, the skill development will be the key to him reaching his ceiling, so to speak, but his floor is so high just on how hard he plays and the defense, and obviously the athleticism. You can’t teach jumping out of the gym, you know what I’m saying?”
Said another scout:
“[The shooting] will likely determine whether he becomes a franchise-level player,” a Western Conference scout told CBS Sports. “I think he can improve as a shooter. I hear great things about his work ethic. He’s not the type of guy who’s going to get in his own way by not addressing a weakness. He’s going to do what he needs to do to get better.
“But he’s [not a perfect prospect]. Far from it. He’s not a LeBron James or an Anthony Davis or, you know, a Hakeem Olajuwon. He’s not that. He’s like every other player in this draft, or really any draft. He’s got things to work on. Some of them are big things. But he’s an NBA starter at worst.”
New York Knicks
The Knicks’ hope of becoming an overnight contender looks to be falling apart before our eyes. Kevin Durant, who was Plan A to be the first of two max free agents to sign with New York, is likely going to miss all of next season with a ruptured Achilles, while Kyrie Irving, who for a long time was rumored to be Durant’s most likely partner with the Knicks, has recently been more linked to the Nets. The Knicks are hoping to get in on the Anthony Davis sweepstakes, but almost nobody I’ve talked to in the league thinks they have the assets to pull that off.
As for the draft, along with Cleveland and Phoenix, the Knicks had the highest chance of landing the No. 1 pick, and fans were dreaming on Zion plus two max free agents. Well, they’re not getting Zion. The Knicks landed at No. 3, where most experts have them selecting Zion’s college teammate, R.J. Barrett.
Here’s a Western Conference scout’s take on Barrett:
“He’s a pro scorer. The question for him is going to be, when he plays against better athletes, at his size, can he still get his shot off? Right now, if you talk to a cross-section of scouts, I think the lingering question about Barrett is what kind of athlete is he? He’s not a guy who beats you with superior quickness, or leaping ability. He’s just got a drive and a will and a confidence that you love to see in a kid. But in the half court, against bigger quicker guys, he can get some tunnel vision and sort of will his way to a bucket. That’s not reliable in the NBA. You’ve got to beat guys. But the one thing about this guy, he’s got an unbelievable work ethic. He’s a worker. I like his chances as far as being one of those guys who’s going to stay in the gym until he gets it right.”
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder need shooting. Desperately. At this spot in the draft, they can get what they need on the periphery with star players in place. It’s also a possibility that the Thunder attach this pick to a bad salary and move it to get some bottom-line relief, but if they keep it, Cameron Johnson out of UNC is the money pick for the Thunder. He shot 45.7 percent from three and ranked in the 97th percentile in spot-up shots. He should go somewhere in this range, and if he falls to the Thunder, he would be perfect.
“Personally, I’ve always been surprised [the Thunder] haven’t gone after shooters harder,” one scout told CBS Sports. “I mean, it’s not for nothing. The defense is elite. You like the size and versatility of their guys. But I think we can see now the lack of shooting is really what’s holding them back.”
You know what the Magic really need? Markelle Fultz to rediscover his game. If by some basketball miracle that happens, this team would seriously pop with all its length and versatility and the major hole being point guard. We know the Magic like their long players. Mo Bamba. Jonathan Isaac. Aaron Gordon.
With Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross, two of their most reliable offensive weapons, set to hit free agency, the Magic could really find themselves in need of scoring punch, particularly on the perimeter. Frankly, they need this no matter what happens with those guys. If Tyler Herro is available at No. 16, Orlando should not hesitate. Other options would be Nickeil Alexander-Walker, a 6-5 shooting guard, and Keldon Johnson out of Kentucky. It’s probably a reach to take Johnson this high, but his 3-and-D skillset is a nice fit in Orlando.
- Draft Picks: 24, 33, 34, 42, 54
The Sixers have big decisions to make this summer. Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and J.J. Redick are all free agents, and their cap holds have them over the salary cap. Are they willing to spend the money it’s going to take to run it back with the team that took the Toronto Raptors to seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals? If they let Butler go and bring back Harris and Redick they could have around $25 million on cap space. You can do good work with that.
Also, Ben Simmons is eligible for a max-contract extension starting on July 1.
What do they do about that?
As for the draft, five picks (four in the second round) give Philly an opportunity to upgrade its support shooting around Simmons. If they lose Butler and/or Simmons, they’ll need guys who can create secondarily as well instead of just spot-up guys. Cameron Johnson is a guy we’ve talked about as a knock-down shooter, and he would be great in Philly. Someone else to consider is Ty Jerome out of Virginia. He’s a bigger guard who can be a solid backup to Ben Simmons that they’ve lacked since Fultz failed to pan out and T.J. McConnell has had to play above his pay grade.
The Suns had hopes of landing the No. 1 pick or at least a top-three-pick, but fell to No. 6. There is a lot to like about this young core of Devin Booker, DeAndre Ayton, Mikal Bridges and Josh Jackson. A point guard next to Booker has been talked about a for a long time, and if Phoenix goes that way, Coby White should be available at No. 6 and would make for a dynamite scoring backcourt with Booker. For a lot of people, though, De’Andre Hunter is the pick, and indeed, a little attention to the defense wouldn’t hurt this team as Monty Williams take over.
“You watch the playoffs this year, and of all the guys in this draft, Hunter is one who you could picture playing at that level right now,” an Eastern Conference scout told CBS Sports. “He can make shots. He can guard twos, threes, fours. He’s a pro in every way.”
Another scout thinks Hunter has even more to give than what he showed at Virginia:
“He’s ready to guard in the NBA right now. He has great feet. He can guard off the dribble. He’s got great lateral movement. But I also think there’a an upside there offensively that sometimes people miss with Virginia players because they play at such as slow pace, and the lanes are pretty much locked so the playmaking can be stunted. It’s not a knock on Tony (Bennett’s} program, they obviously have a ton of success and they’ve had guys come into the league and have success. It’s just a more pattern-oriented style of play. So I think turned a little more loose, I think there’s some upside with Hunter in terms of his instincts as a playmaker. I like him. It wouldn’t shock me if he turned out to be a lot more proficient as a playmaker than some people expect.”
Portland Trail Blazers
OK, so this team just went to the conference finals, and with Kevin Durant not part of next year’s equation, Portland has every right to believe it can contend for a Finals berth next season with the return of Jusuf Nukic. They’re set in the backcourt with Damian Lillard and C.J. McConnell, but could lose some peripheral shooting in free agents Rodney Hood and Seth Curry. They can address that in the draft, while also considering defensive versatility in the front court as a priority with Al-Farouq Aminu a free agent and not likely to return.
Our mock draft has Portland taking Keldon Johnson — the 6-5 shooting guard out of Kentucky. If somehow Cameron Johnson were to fall this far, Portland would be wise to consider his floor spacing to relieve some pressure off Lillard and McCollum in one-on-one situations.
You know what Portland really needs? A playmaking four man in the mold of Draymond Green who could play pick and roll and punish teams for blitzing Lillard with his playmaking. Blake Griffin would turn this team into a title contender if they could somehow get their hands on him without having to give up C.J. McCollum. Kevin Love, too. But these are kind of pipe dreams.
The Kings are coming up quick. With De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley III, you’re talking about a potentially special trio to move forward with. Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic don’t bring a ton of size on the wings, and Sacramento could look there in the draft. Our Mock has the Kings taking Zach Norvell Jr. — a solid shooter who can added to the Kings’ 3-point attack that ranked fourth in the NBA in terms of percentage.
“Fox and Hield are the real deal,” a Western Conference scout recently told CBS Sports. “The west is just so tough, you might not see the wins to kind of validate it. But Sacramento is a team to watch, for sure.”
San Antonio Spurs
Two first-round picks for the Spurs, and to me, Bol Bol out of Oregon makes a lot of sense with the 19th pick. If somehow he falls to the 29th pick, absolutely. And that could well happen wit the concerns about his injury history. Bol is 7-foot-2 and has foot issues that kept him out for much of the season at Oregon, which is terrifying at his size, but the upside on his talent is tremendous.
The Spurs could stand to find a center to move forward with in the post-LaMarcus Aldridge days. People I’ve spoke to around the league wouldn’t be surprised if the Spurs looked into trading Aldridge. We’ve already heard whispers of San Antonio being willing to move DeMar DeRozan.
Our mock draft has the Spurs taking Rui Hachimura at 19, and if he’s available he fits their two-way preferences. But I don’t think he will be available there, and Bol really intrigues me with San Antonio’s history of great big men and a need for the next one in line.
Said one Eastern Conference scout of Bol:
“He’s talented as hell. It’s not just a height thing. He can pass, he blocks shots, he can shoot. His lateral movement will be tricky, but he’s very intriguing.”
Said a Western Conference scout:
“Very talented player, obviously very unique with his size. Can shoot it a little bit. He can dribble, pass. He’s a really interesting player. I think if he was playing all year, there might be more buzz about him being solidly on the Top 10.”
The second-to-last pick of the draft isn’t anything the Raptors can rely on as a significant addition. This is the summer of Kawhi Leonard, plain and simple, and the Raptors have clearly made about as strong a case as possible to keep him.
If you look at the rest of the Eastern Conference, Milwaukee could have a hard time retaining its whole team, Boston cold lose Kyrie, Philly could lose Butler and/or Harris, and the Knicks, who were thought to be on the fast track to contention with a couple big signings, are now looking like they could struggle to even put a playoff team on the floor next season. The Raptors could be on top of the East for a while, if that matters to Kawhi.
As for the draft,.
Two things stand out as needs for the Jazz: One, with the news that re-signing Ricky Rubio is likely not going to happen, the path is clear for Donovan Mitchell to assume full control of the offense, and given his sporadic shooting and hard-driving ways, surrounding him with as many floor spacers as possible would make sense. It would be nice if those shooters doubled as front-court players to address Utah’s lack of depth in that area, and also, perhaps, give them and ability to play different lineups when Rudy Gobert isn’t working as quite such a dominant force in certain matchups.
Nic Claxton out of Georgia is a nice backup option and complement to Gobert at center. He should be a more versatile defender on the perimeter than Gobert, and he can step out and shoot in a way Gobert can’t. I also think Cameron Johnson, who we’ve talked about a lot in this range, makes sense. So does a guy like Grant Williams, who a lot of casual fans became familiar with during Tennessee’s NCAA Tournament run. Williams is a beast at 6-8 and rock solid, and he can shoot it and handle himself on the perimeter.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if Utah traded this pick along with maybe Dante Exum — or perhaps Derrick Favors if they pick up his options with the intent to move — to jump up in the draft order.
One pick for the Wizards, and there are a number of options, as the Wizards have to take the best player available and not worry about fit; because frankly, how do you know what fits on a team that has absolutely no core identity. They also have no money to do anything in free agency with John Wall’s mammoth contact, perhaps the worst in the league, kicking in this year — when, oh by the way, he won’t even be playing after tearing his Achilles in an accident at his home this offseason.
Trading Bradley Beal is on the table, which would hopefully land Washington more quality picks, but this one at No. 9 is first and foremost. Sekou Doumbouya, an international prospect out of France, is the pick in, and there’s a good amount of agreement with that pick from various sources. He has a ton of potential on both ends, but he’s likely a project. That brings timeline into question, which brings Beal into question. Keep him, and you have to at least try to put a winner on the floor. Trade him, and you can commit to a rebuild — or at least as much of a rebuild as would be possible with Wall’s contract.