Written by Duncan Lambert (@bigdaddylambert)
Yo, what’s up sports guys and gals, TINASS intern Duncan here for your first annual guide to what every team SHOULD do in the first round of the NBA draft. ‘Should’ is in all caps because this is not your typical mock draft predicting what every team will do. Instead I will outline what every team SHOULD, but likely won’t do. Therefore you’ll see some players here taken much higher/lower than in typical mock drafts and on draft night. To compare my picks with what teams are projected to do I will be using the Ringer Draft Guide’s Mock Draft because there’s was rather accurate last season.
Now you may be saying, “Why though Duncan? If this is not how things will turn out why invest so much of your free time into something that is basically already rendered obsolete?” And well..fuck…you may have a good point. But I wrote this because mock drafts and a lot of NBA scouting in my opinion are both dumb. For instance some mock drafts and some scouts have Afernee Simmons (from IMG academy, who is basically coming straight out of high school) ranked ahead of Jalen Brunson, 2018 NCAA player of the year. Please feel free to get in touch if you can figure that one out because I am 100% certain Brunson SHOULD be taken higher than where he is often ranked in this draft.
Quite often teams have a certain player ranked much higher than other teams but, afraid of being the outlier, take the player the rest of the teams have ranked highest. For instance, in 2010 the Timberwolves had the fourth pick and wanted to take Paul George but the front office feared he was too much of an unknown (he played at Fresno State after all) and opted to take Wesley Johnson. They knew what they SHOULD do (take George) but instead took the player many other teams had ranked higher (Johnson). Oh and when the Cavs took Anthony Bennett first overall in 2013? Nooooo idea what the hell was going on there.
Anyways, here we go:
Phoenix Suns: Luka Doncic, G/F
The Ringer Projects: DeAndre Ayton, C
The Phoenix Suns SHOULD take Luka Doncic. The Phoenix Suns are not GOING to take Luka Doncic. Remember earlier in the offseason when the Suns hired Doncic’s Slovenian national team head coach? Well when asked if he would like to coach Doncic in the NBA Igor Kokoshov gave the classic new-coach-doesn’t-want-to-piss-off-management answer of “definitely, maybe”. Can’t you just picture Suns GM Ryan McDonough staring through the back of Kokoshov’s head as he gives that answer while nodding his eyeballs up and down at the reporter as quickly as possible? Well either way tough titties Igor. Suns management is enthralled with a defensive liability instead of one of the most accomplished prospects in NBA history. Don’t get me wrong; Ayton, Devin Booker, and Josh Jackson is more than just a solid young core. All I’m saying is that Doncic steamrolled the competition in the 2nd best league in the world while Ayton got run off the floor by the University of Buffalo Bisons in the NCAA tournament round of 64. But ya, whatever McDonough, it’s only the future of the franchise and your career that hang in the balance.
Sacramento Kings: Jaren Jackson Jr., F/C
The Ringer projects: Marvin Bagley III, F/C
Jaren Jackson Jr. is a two-way force perfect for the current positionless league, and he doesn’t turn 19 until September. But man it is ever perfect that the Kings are going to draft the guy who’s starting the Puma revolution in the NBA. (Sidenote: Bagley has a good shot at winning ROY, but I’m not so sure Kings fans have the fondest memories of former ROY Tyreke Evans.)
Atlanta Hawks: DeAndre Ayton, C
The Ringer Projects: Luka Doncic, G/F
Most draft analysis focuses on who can be taken here to be paired with sophomore-to-be John Collins. The problem with that? Collins really isn’t that good. Why would you sacrifice taking the best talent available for a player that better fits with a future fringe-starter? Not only does Atlanta need a possible franchise player but also they need to put butts in seats. Take the Bahamian beast and hope that the ghosts of Al Horford and Paul Millsap can teach him how to defend.
Memphis Grizzlies: Mikal Bridges, G/F
The Ringer projects:Michael Porter Jr., F
Here’s where you get the taste of things to come in my clearly-superior-above-all-others draft: 3-and-D wings that can guard multiple positions over everything. I am well aware that nobody else has Mikal Bridges in the top 5. I am also well aware that everyone was saying during March Madness that Mikal could immediately help out any playoff-bound team by fitting into any rotation seamlessly. Alright if that’s the case why the fuck would he not be a top 5 pick? To add to that, the Grizz had made the playoffs the past 7 seasons until now and still have their two best players under contract. Add Bridges to Mike Conley and Marc Gasol and your team is right back on track JT.
Dallas Mavericks: Mo Bamba, C
The Ringer projects: Jaren Jackson Jr., F/C
If JJJ drops this low it would truly be like winning Mark Cuban’s own game show, Shark Tank. (It’s a game show right? I’ve definitely never watched, but it’s probably a game show). Let’s say that Jaren is gone at this point, I would actually take the risk on Bamba here. The lazy comparison is Rudy Gobert because of the length but Bamba is more athletic and his offensive game is already more advanced than Gobert’s was at this age. There remain concerns over whether Bamba has the right attitude to be dominant in the NBA, but he could learn what it takes to be a professional while filling coach Rick Carlisle’s desire for a rim running big to pair with Dennis Smith Jr.
Orlando Magic: Miles Bridges, F
The Ringer Projects: Mo Bamba, C
This is partly personal bias but here’s my reasoning: Bridges would have been borderline top 10 pick in last years (stronger) draft; he’s as athletic, if not more athletic, than anyone in this draft; he can nail threes; and he’s tough as hell. The Magic surely don’t need another big man and I can see Bridges working well alongside last year’s pick Jonathan Isaac.
Chicago Bulls: Kevin Knox, F
The Ringer Projects: Kevin Knox, F
When I first began rough drafts of this article weeks ago I had Kevin Knox ranked this high and it looks like NBA executives are finally catching up as he’s been climbing boards everywhere recently. Knox is a long, young, smooth athlete who was able to create his own shot off the dribble during freshman season. There is a chance his game won’t exactly mesh with Zach LaVine’s but I still think it’s worth the risk because a young core of Kris Dunn, Lavine, Knox, and Lauri Markennan is too tempting to pass up.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Wendell Carter JR., C
The Ringer Projects: Wendell Carter JR., C
Taking Carter here makes sense whether or not Lebron decides to skip Town again. Carter projects as a plus defender and a versatile offensive weapon. Useful to build around if the King hits the road, and versatile enough to play alongside him.
New York Knicks Pick 9: Collin Sexton, G
The Ringer Projects: Trae Young, G
To me, there’s too much concern over Sexton’s jumpshot. There is nothing alarming about his form (adding some arc would be a good call though) and seeing as he’s a gym rat he’ll put in the necessary work. Whether or not he improves his jump shot enough by next season, he’s still a score first guard who can fit beside 2017 top-10 pick Franky Smokes.
Philadelphia 76ers Pick 10: Trae Young, G
The Ringer projects: Mikal Bridges, G/F
If Bridges ends up in Philly there’s a good chance everyone in the east minus the Celtics are fucked for the foreseeable future. I am slightly contradicting myself as I in no way think Trae Young should be a top ten pick (based on size and the fact that it is nearly impossible to play a defensive liability at PG these days) but this could be a special fit for a team who doesn’t need to necessarily draft the best player available. If the Sixers take Young here he would become the go to scorer that Philly lacked in the final minutes of playoff games this season while having some (much needed) help on the defensive end from Simmons and Embiid.
Charlotte Hornets Pick 11: Marvin Bagley III, F/C
The Ringer projects: Collin Sexton, F
The Hornets are a mess. And while it’s highly unrealistic he falls to them at 11 Bagley III would be a great piece to kick start a rebuild whether they ever find some to trade for Kemba to and possibly take Batum’s contract or not.
LA Clippers: Shae Gilgeous-Alexander, G
The Ringer Projects: Miles Bridges, F
SGA was not as highly touted as the rest of his recruiting class to Kentucky but by the end of last season he was their go to scorer and playmaker down the stretch. It’s obvious he will be an above average defender at the next level but playing alongside Patrick Beverly would only augment that. The jumpshot is a fair concern but with Lou Will signed for 3 years there’s no immediate need for SGA to score from the outside.
LA Clippers: Michael Porter Jr., F
The Ringer projects: Lonnie Walker IV, G/F
Porter Jr. was the top ranked high schooler in his class. But that’s still all he is to me: a high school prospect. He barely played at Missouri this past season (and when he did it was not very impressive) after undergoing back surgery. What’s more is that he apparently canceled workouts with teams this week because of a hip strain. The health concerns combined with him not having played meaningful basketball in over 8 months is worrisome to me. But if he turns into the prospect he is supposed to be then the Clippers finally have the SF they were seeking during the Lob City era…only about 4 years too late.
Denver Nuggets: Troy Brown, G
The Ringer Projects: Zhaire Smith, G/F
There are rumors they will trade this pick to get rid of Kenneth Farried to create cap space and maybe that makes sense from a financial standpoint but they traded the 13th pick to Utah last year and we saw how well that turned out. The Nuggets badly need length at the guard position and while I do like Zhaire Smith, he’s only 6’4”. Brown is 6’7” with a 6’11” wingspan…ya hi how the hell are ya.
Washington Wizards: Robert Williams, F/C
The Ringer Projects: Robert Williams, F/C
Step 1) Take Robert Williams. Step 2) Tell John Wall to shut up and win some damn games.
Phoenix Suns: Zhaire Smith, G/F
The Ringer Projects: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G
Zhaire Smith is a monster on the defensive end and is athletic as hell. I would love to see him running alongside Devin Booker for years to come. If SGA were still on the board he would be a good fit as well.
Milwaukee Bucks: Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, G/F
The Ringer Projects: Aaron Holiday, G
Uhh..Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk? …like the Ukrainemaker? Ya the fuckin Ukrainemaker. He’s a knock down athletic shooter who has played in a ton of big games at Kansas. Oh sorry he’s white and I’m projecting NBA talent so what I meant to say is that he’s a knockdown shooter who is DECEPTIVELY athletic. Don’t waste this pick on a future backup guard. Instead take the Ukrainemaker and immediately plug him into the lineup as the ideal kick out option alongside the Greek Freak. Also the Ukrainemaker has somehow finished four years at Kansas and is only 20. The Bucks could be drafting a knockdown shooter AND some sort of Chris Angel mind-freak.
San Antonio Spurs: Lonnie Walker IV
The Ringer Projects: Troy Brown, G
It looks like Kawhi will not be a Spur for much longer so San Antonio could go a bunch of different directions with this pick. Walker IV is still a raw athlete but with proper development, he could turn into a go to scorer. The Spurs organization is notorious for their elite development of prospects. Maybe they can even help develop Lonnie’s media relations abilities.
Atlanta Hawks: Jacob Evans, G/F
The Ringer Projects: Elie Okobo, G
Just your classic 3-and-D prospect perfect for a team needing to fill a roster that is underwhelming to say the least.
Minnesota TWolves: Keita Bates-Diop, F
The Ringer Projects: Keita Bates-Diop, F
Remember when the TWolves lost in five games to the Rockets in the first round of the western conference playoffs? Remember when somehow Taj Gibson was their best player for those five games? Now imagine if Taj Gibson had a more complete offensive game and you’re picturing exactly what KBD should become in this league.
Utah Jazz: Khyri Thomas, G
Ringer Projects: Kevin Huerter, G/F
While I do love Ricky Rubio it makes more sense to put a spot-up shooter at the guard spot next to Donovan Mitchell. Thomas was a knockdown shooter at Creighton and was also a tenacious defender who could even give Mitchell a break on that end of the floor.
Chicago Bulls: Kevin Huerter, G/F
The Ringer projects: Chandler Hutchinson, G/F
This is a great spot for the Bulls to draft a sure thing: Kevin Huerter out of Maryland. I’m not saying he’s a sure thing to be an all-star or anything, I’m saying he’ll be an elite role player on this young Bulls team by being able to knock down tough shots from all over the floor.
Indiana Pacers: Jalen Brunson, G
The Ringer projects: Jerome Robinson, G
Brunson would be an ideal fit beside Oladipo as he could alleviate some play making responsibilities while also being able to space the floor, hit spot-up threes and be a factor on the defensive end.
Portland Trail Blazers: Chandler Hutchison, G/F
The Ringer projects: Khyri Thomas, G
The one thing the Blazers need while CJ and Dame are still on the team is more help on defense and that is exactly what Hutchison brings to the table. Not to mention he will be able to space the floor and rebound the ball well.
LA Lakers: Donte Divincenzo, G
The Ringer Projects: Mitchell Robinson, C
Kevin Huerter is being projected to be taken ahead of this spot (even with a broken hand) but rumor has it the Lakers have promised this pick to Huerter if he’s still on the board. If he has already been selected, Final Four Most Outstanding tweeter, oh sorry, Player Donte Divincenzo should be taken here. Donte offers the ability to space the floor as well as make athletic plays in transition and can back up Lonzo Ball at the point. He also offers something Lonzo does not: a history of producing in big games.
Philadelphia 76ers: Josh Okogie, G
The Ringer projects: Dzanan Musa, G/F
A long, high-energy defensive wing, Okogie made major steps from his freshman to sophomore season. The Sixers could use as many 3 and D guys as possible to surround Embiid and Simmons.
Boston Celtics: Omari Spellman, F
The Ringer projects: Grayson Allen, G
The Celtics already have a logjam at the guard/wing positions. As Horford starts to age they could develop the versatile Spellman who has already proved himself as a knockdown shooter.
Golden State Warriors: Melvin Frazier, G/F
The Ringer projects: Jacob Evans, G/F
Frazier is a 3-and-D prospect with potentially untapped playmaking and shot creating abilities. Regardless if he develops much more as a player the Warriors could use his 3 point shooting off the bench.
Brooklyn Nets: Moritz Wagner, F
The Ringer Projects: Donte Divincenzo, G
This past season the Nets fully embraced the 3 point revolution. Now all they need is some 3 point shooters. With a rim running center in Jarrett Allen and a good collection of young wings/guards Brooklyn should take a chance on the best shooting big in the draft.
Atlanta Hawks: Dzanan Musa, G/F
The Ringer: Melvin Frazier, G/F
Musa could turn into a solid off the bench scorer in the league but for now he’s a great draft and stash option for the Hawks.
There you have it folks: your 2018 guide to what every NBA team SHOULD do in the first round. While I do my best to know what I’m talking about there is one thing for sure: not a chance in hell the first round goes anything like this on Thursday night. Cheers.
Duncan the Intern just finished his third year at Bishop’s University where he literally only shoots threes for the varsity men’s basketball (seriously you can look it up). He firmly believes that the ‘85-‘86 Celtics are the greatest NBA team of all time and that Elon Musk is a real life super villain. Blog boy for life.