With the 2018 NBA Draft now behind us and all the new toys getting settled in to their new teams, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at which picks really excited me. How I came to my decision reaching a top 10 was basically how players fit on said team, how the value of the pick was and if they are in a position to succeed.
10. Robert Williams PF/C, Boston Celtics (pick 27) The Celtics once again prove they know how to use the draft to their advantage. And this time they didn’t have to do anything. Williams fell to them at pick 27 and that left GM Danny Ainge laughing al the way to the podium. Williams was projected to be a lottery selection, but continued to fall on draft night, making him a steal for the Celtics. Williams could see lots of playing time especially if Aron Baynes leaves vis free agency. Williams is a rim protector and great finisher inside. His offensive game is a little raw, but in Boston they can be patient with that part of his game. he will flourish in Boston catching lops, put backs and cleaning up the boards for them.
9. Lonnie Walker SG, San Antonio Spurs (pick 18) Once thought to be getting strong lottery consideration, maybe even top 10, Walker fell to the Spurs at 18. The Spurs could very well be in a transition year, depending of this whole Kawhi situation, but I could see Walker getting lots of run regardless what happens with Kawhi. Walker had some medical red flags that supposedly made him fall, but the Spurs were eager to scoop him up at 18. Walker is explosive and needs to improve his jumper to a consistent level, but with Danny Green entering likely his last season in San Antonio, I think they could groom Walker to be the starting two guard at some point.
8. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander PG, L.A. Clippers (pick 11) The Clippers seemed to target SGA from the start as they look to rebuild this franchise. With word growing that the Hornets may take him at pick 11, the Clippers offered 2 second round picks to move up 1 spot and make him theirs. I think the Clippers have huge plans for him to become the starting point guard of the future and figure to be active this offseason unloading players to accommodate the new young roster. SGA has good size at 6-6, and really excelled in his lone college season at Kentucky, to where he can get buckets almost at will. The Clippers made a great decision to unload 2 second rounders to insure they got their man.
7. Kevin Knox SF/PF, New York Knicks (pick 9) I have been on the Knox train for weeks ranking him inside my top 10 all season and going to New York is a good fit. I think he can come right in and contribute, possibly start right away at either forward spot. Obviously move to small forward once Kristaps Porzingis returns from ACL injury. Knox has a good mid range game and needs to improve his three point range to become a good pro, but he has all the makings of being a solid pro. I think it will be a long season again for New York, but at least they got this draft pick right.
6. Trae Young PG, Atlanta Hawks (pick 5) Trae Young blew up on the College scene with his scoring and ridiculous three pointers. It blew him all the way into the top 5. The Hawks targeted his early but were weary of taking him with the number 3 pick. Well the Mavs came calling and struck a deal with Atlanta, allowing the hawks to move back 2 spots and take Young. Young will eventually be the face of this team, whether hits opening night or by All Star break. The Hawks really got their guy and were able to get a slightly protected first rounder as well. That pick could also help in the rebuilding process. The part of Young’s game that gets overlooked is his passing. I think matched with last years rookie steal John Collins will be fun to watch as they grow together.
5. Wendell Carter PF/C, Chicago Bulls (pick 7) For the second straight year the Bulls look like they got a good player at pick number 7. Carter is a load download and also has a good face up game. His skills matched with last years rookie phenom Lauri Markannan should blend well together. For those that don’t know his game is very versatile, kind of Al Horford like. He needs to improve his range on his jumper, but he checks off almost every other aspect of Horford’s game. I think Carter could start right away, however they could bring him along slowly until a couple moves are made to free up more time.
4. Marvin Bagley III PF/C, Sacramento Kings (pick 2) The Kings had a tough decision to make with Bagley and Luka Doncic both available at number 2. The Kings are in desperate need of some low post scoring and the decision to take Bagley looks to be a good one. The Kings are loaded with front court player, but outside of Zach Randolph, none of them seem to be able to score. Enter Bagley who from the start will be the best post scorer on the team. I am not sure if they plan on pairing him with Willie Cauley-Stein or use him a center with either Z-Bo or Skal Labissiere. Bagley does struggle at times on defense so if they put him next to WCS, that could help him until he improves that area. The Kings were in a real good place picking two, to not screw it up.
3. Luka Doncic PG/SG, Dallas Mavericks (pick 3) The man leading Real Madrid of Spain to a Euro League title, and the Spanish title, while winning MVP honors in both. This was a target of Dallas and when rumors started swirling he would drop to three, the Mavs did what they had to secure him. They sent a top 5 protected pick next season to grab Doncic. It might have been a little steep but Doncic has the potential to be a star. Matching Doncic in the backcourt with point guard Dennis Smith Jr, is almost a perfect match. While Smith is the point guard, he does not need the ball in his hands as much as normal lead guards do. This is perfect for Doncic, who is great with the ball distributing or creating for others or popping out to shoot a three. Doncic will get a chance to be groomed by Dirk Nowitski as well, so this a great move all the way around.
2. Michael Porter Jr SF/PF, Denver Nuggets (pick 14) Last year at this time Porter looked like a lock to be a top 3 pick, if not number 1. Fast forward a year and a back injury with some maybe attitude questions and he slides all the way to 14. The Nuggets were all set to take Lonnie Walker at 14, until Porter fell right into their laps. I think he has the ability to play either forward position and can be versatile to be a good NBA player. While their is talk the Nuggets may shut him down his rookie season or a part of it, to get his back right, this team has the ability to be patient. This is a perfect fit all around, from Denver who can be patient and bring along slowly to Porter who fits a need and a young up and coming nucleus. I love this pick 100% and think down the line, this Nuggets squad is going to be really good and Porter is going to be a major part of that.
1. DeAndre Ayton C, Phoenix Suns (pick 1) The Suns did what just about everyone would do and that is take Ayton. It was really a no brainer and fixes one glaring need right away, the center spot. Ayton should be able to score immediately in the league and with Devin Booker on the perimeter, the inside-out game should be fun to watch. This nucleus gives the Suns some hope and improve them to where they are not a bottom feeder for a while. They are one point guard away from really looking like a franchise that could be tough to beat. Obviously they are likely a few years away from sniffing the playoffs, but a few more moves and a solid point guard could fast track that.