For those of you who don’t know the concept of this: I play general manager for every team. This isn’t me projecting picks; this is me making them, based on what’s best for each team at that slot.
1. At each slot, I make a pick in the best interest of only the team with the pick. I won’t pass on a player at No. 4 just because I like the team better at No. 5.
2. No trades unless they’re already done. I try to address team needs, but like in the draft, value can supersede need.
3. Again, I’m not projecting picks. It’s more a look at where I see value up and down the board.
There’s a pick-by-pick look below so you can see how the order of the picks progressed and get an idea of who was off the board when each team selected.
*ADP: Average Draft Position (based on various mock drafts)
#1 Philadelphia 76ers (via Celtics)
Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington ADP: 1.0
The Sixers have already announced that they will be selecting Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 overall pick after making a trade with the Boston Celtics in which they gave up the No. 3 overall pick and future 1st round pick.
While I haven’t seen too much of Fultz other than highlights and measurables, I’m taking everyone else’s word that he is the best prospect in this draft. I agree that he is not worth the pick for the Celtics at this point, so kudos to them for getting a great trade done. The Sixers need a guard who can run the point, play off ball, score, stretch, defend, etc…so basically everything, but Fultz seems to check all of those boxes in a way no one else in the draft can.
A big three of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Fultz should lay the foundation for a winning franchise in a few years provided they can all stay healthy.
#2 Los Angeles Lakers
Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA ADP: 2.0
Everyone in the world and their dad (and Lonzo’s dad) thinks Lonzo Ball is sure-fire to land with his hometown Lakers. While I personally like De’Aaron Fox from Kentucky more than I like Lonzo, I think it definitely makes more sense for LA to favor Ball for his potential, hometown hero appeal and his marketability courtesy of Lavar’s big mouth. Jackson would have made the most sense before the Lakers traded D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov (cap space) to the Nets for Brook Lopez and the 27th pick, but with PG13 approaching and a new void at PG it has to Ball or Fox.
#3 Boston Celtics (via 76ers)
Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas ADP: 3.6
Danny Ainge continues to make right move after right move. While most teams are either gearing up for Golden State or getting a head start on the rebuilding process, the Celtics are doing both. Personally, I think a trade gets done for Jimmy Butler for this pick, but as it stands I’m going with Josh Jackson. I don’t think you could go wrong here with Jackson or Tatum. Both were standouts on the collegiate level, and the Celtics need another scorer to carry the load with IT. Tatum, on the other hand, would provide immediate play-making ability that’ll make Isaiah’s job easier and will establish a stronger physical presence that could push the Celtics closer to trouncing the Cleveland Cavaliers. Jackson did cancel his workout with the Celtics last minute, but it shouldn’t be an issue. Either way, the Celtics are in good position as a franchise for the next few years, probably the same position as they are in this draft.
#4 Phoenix Suns
Jayson Tatum, F, Duke ADP: 3.9
The Suns are basically going to take whoever is left between Jackson and Tatum at this spot, which for purposes of this draft would be Tatum. Fox would be the other potential choice, but he canceled his workout with the Suns. Tatum is possibly the most NBA-ready player in the draft and he would provide a nice pick-and-pop scoring combo with a little attitude combined with face of the franchise, Devin Booker. The Suns have Bledsoe and Ulis at PG for now, but that isn’t a long-term solution. Tatum should come in and contribute immediately and provide some added excitement down in the desert.
#5 Sacramento Kings
De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky ADP: 4.8
The Kings have had a history of making draft picks that make absolutely no sense as far as fit, but now that Boogie Cousins finally made it out of there, they need to find new players to base the team around, which could very well be Fox. I mentioned earlier that I liked him a little more than Lonzo, and that’s for a few reasons. First of all, he scorched Lonzo and UCLA in the NCAA tournament with 39 points while completely shutting Lonzo down, and his speed is very translatable to today’s NBA. By all accounts, he seems like a great kid and a fierce competitor that is willing to play anywhere, regardless of the situation. He’s got nice size for the position at 6’4, and the only area of concern is 3-point shot, which is an acquirable skill and something he’s said that he never struggled with outside of this past year. Fox is hands down the pick here, unless he’s somehow no longer on the board, or the Kings mistakenly try to trade up…very possible.
#6 Orlando Magic
Jonathan Isaac, PF, Florida State ADP: 6.1
The Magic have been in rebuild mode ever since Dwight Howard left, but they have yet to find any cohesiveness. It seems every time they make a good move that it gets undone by a bad one. Isaac is one of the most intriguing long-term prospects in the draft. His length and versatility can be garnered as he matures physically and gains confidence on this new elevated stage, plus the Magic’s front office has a track record of gambling on players like Isaac. They’ve got time to collect and mature players and have a few picks in this draft as well.
#7 Minnesota Timberwolves
Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona ADP: 8.6
Markkanen’s mix of shooting and size could make him a great player to pair with Karl-Anthony Towns. Markannen and Isaac could end up getting switched here too, and while Isaac offers more upside, the Timberwolves currently have a wealth of talent and Markkanen is more NBA-ready. He’s been in the top 10 of mock drafts since the first week after last year’s draft, and his shooting can help space out the floor, allowing more room for Rubio to work his way to the basket and dish out to an open-shooter or closing dunker or having Levine exploit a mismatch the hole.
#8 New York Knicks
Dennis Smith, PG, NC State ADP: 8.6
I had Frank Ntilikina, who has also been in the top 10 or mock drafts for a year, joining Kristaps Porzingis for a little international combination here, but rumors of a KP trade have been circulating. I didn’t think anything of them until I heard the Celtics may send the #3 pick in a package to the Knicks for KP, so…we’ll see. To say that the Knicks are dysfunctional is an overwhelming understatement and even if they re-sign Derrick Rose, they need PG help and a longer term solution, which Smith provides. He’s got good size at 6’3 and is explosive with the ball, averaging 18.1 points, 6.2 assists and 4.6 rebounds in his lone season with the Wolfpack. He adds a little bit of what the Knicks need…which is everything.
#9 Dallas Mavericks
Frank Ntilikina, PG, France ADP: 9.4
Apparently it’s well known that the Mas have done plenty of homework on Ntilikina (they’ve had a whole year), and Mark Cuban has been to see him. PG is a need for just about every team that wants to contend as made evidence by the top teams in the league, and Ntilikina has as high a ceiling as anybody. The Mavs have made a superstar out of one international player, who is now on is way out, so why not do it again?
#10 Sacramento Kings (via Pelicans)
Malik Monk, SG/SF, Kentucky ADP: 8.1
A lot of people think that the Kings are going to try to package their two top 10 picks, but I think that would be a big mistake. The players in the 2-5 range are very close in terms of talent, and you would rather start to build something that can finally stand the test of time. Why not start with a duo that has already been “starting” together for a year. If the last two teams go with a PG like they and the Kings should with their first picks, then Monk falls all the way down here and would be a steal for the Kings, not to mention instant chemistry with Fox. The Kings have shown over the years that they love them some Kentucky Wildcats with picks like Cousins, Caulie-Stein and Labissiere. Kennard would also make sense here with his long-range ability shooting, and it could be argued that they are interchangeable here, so why not go with a duo you’ve seen play well together?
#11 Charlotte Hornets
Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga ADP: 11.6
The first one-and-done player in Gonzaga history on the first Gonzaga team to ever make the Final Four. As much as I hate Gonzaga being the Gamecock fan that I am, I got a chance to see Collins in-person and up close in Phoenix. First thought….damn he’s tall. Second…he can shoot too. Collins shot 47.6% from the 3-point line on the season and finished that South Carolina amtchup with 14 points, 13 rebound and 6 blocks. The Hornets need shooting and rebounding, and Collins fills both of those needs with a little added rim protection to go along with newly traded Dwight Howard after Al Jefferson’s departure sank the team out of the playoffs.
#12 Detroit Pistons
Luke Kennard, SG, Duke ADP: 13.1
There really isnt any further that Kennard can go, but I also think that he falls here based on the talent of other players in the draft and mainly team needs. Kennard exploded this season from downtown, and he’s got a very quick first step to get to the basket that is pretty formidable when he combines it with his pump-fake, which you have to show respect too. He could very well be the best shooter in the draft, and the Pistons were one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the league. Take all of that and combine it with the fact that they need a wing scorer, even if they’re able to keep Caldwell-Pope.
#13 Denver Nuggets
Donovan Mitchell, SG, Louisville ADP: 12.6
The Nuggets need a backcourt player that can shoot, among other things. OG Anunoby could be a very good pick here, given that he has one of the highest upsides when it comes to defense and he can shoot the 3, but he’s coming off of an injury. The Nuggets need to do something quick if they’re not going to boot up a lengthy rebuild, and Mitchell’s explosiveness and versatility combined with his length and athleticism give him the highest talent level here, but perhaps the high ceiling with Anunoby isn’t there.
#14 Miami Heat
OG Anunoby, F, Indiana ADP: 17.7
As mentioned earlier, Anunoby has huge upside as an elite 3-and D type player, but some teams believe Anunoby’s rehab could keep him off the court for a big part of the season. OG possesses the ideal length and athleticism for the next level, and could add some real moxy to this already intriguing group that finished the season with an amazing 30-11 turnaround. Justise Winslow is coming back from a season-ending injury and is a a pretty similar player, so the Heat can afford to have OG take Winslow’s place on the bench until he’s ready, especially if they can get a hold of Gordon Hayward. It would be interesting to see the Heat try to turn Winslow into a Draymond Green protoype at the 4 spot while gaining scoring at the 3, and it seems to be working for the Warriors.
#15 Portland Trail Blazers
John Collins, PF, Wake Forest ADP: 15.9
This probably isn’t the Collins that the Trail Blazer really want, but he can still be a versalite offensive addition to the frontcourt like Zach Collins. Collins quietly had a monster sophomore season. This is the first of Portland’s three picks, and they have very crowded cap with their current roster. Collins would fit in nicely next to Nurkic and has the potential to be the stretch-four that LaMarcus Aldridge once was for them. He’s also one of the younger players in the draft, so it seems the upside is there. What they really need to do is move Evan Turner off the cap.
#16 Chicago Bulls
TJ Leaf, PF, UCLA ADP: 18.9
It’s hard to gauge the Bull’s drafting strategy here, because, as I mentioned in the Celtics pick at #3, I think Butler ends up getting traded. That being said, the Bulls need to get younger, more athletic and add perimeter shooting (like they said they would last year before signing Rondo and Wade…). Leaf can be an inside and outside threat as a capable scorer around the basket who can stretch defenses with his perimeter game. His size and length (6-10, 222 lbs, 6-11 wingspan) shouldn’t be too much of an issue due to his superior offensive skills. He can score the basketball from anywhere on the floor and could ultimately make a nice complement to Robin Lopez in the frontcourt.
#17 Milwaukee Bucks
Justin Patton, C, Creighton ADP: 17.0
Milwaukee has worked out mostly big men in this draft range, and the Bucks have been all about upside in recent drafts. Patton has as much long-term upside as anyone in this range. With the Greg Monroe expirement looking like it is coming to an end, they can groom Patton as they chart their next steps. Thanks to a breakout redshirt freshman season, Patton emerged as a legit lottery prospect after a breakout redshit freshman season due to his athleticism and skill for a near-7-footer. Patton may not be an immediate contributor, but he’s got enormous potential, and I see the Bucks drafting a PF in this spot.
#18 Indiana Pacers
Harry Giles, C, Duke ADP: 19.6
The Pacers are going to have to start building around Myles Turner with Paul George set to leave for free agency after this year, provided he isn’t traded before that. They need to look at all the talent across the board and look to add the best available PF or C, so Myles Turner can be more effective in either spot. Giles was a top prospect for the 2017 NBA Draft before suffering an injury early in the season at Duke. He has shown to be impressive in workouts, and the teams that have seen his physicals seem to be satisfied with his progress from his latest knee surgery. He’ll be considered a gamble given his injury history, but at this point in the draft his talent would outweigh the risk, especially for a team that needs to swing for the fences like the Pacers.
#19 Atlanta Hawks
Jarrett Allen, C, Texas ADP: 18.7
After trading the hometown Dwight Howard after just one season, the Hawks will be looking to add the top frontcourt player available at this spot. Allen’s physical tools and defensive potential would make him an interesting long-term play, which is the way the Hawks look to be leaning, especially if they can’t or won’t keep Paul Millsap in free agency. Allen can run the floor, block shots and rebound, and even though he may lack strength right now his talent and upside are worth a shot at this point in the draft.
#20 Portland Trail Blazers (via Grizzlies)
Justin Jackson, SF, UNC ADP: 24.0
After struggling to shoot it from deep as a sophomore, the thin, lengthy forward tremendously improved his perimeter game and stock during the Tar Heels’ run to the National Championship (again). Assuming Portland drafts a PF with their first pick, Justin Jackson could be a nice supporting piece as he continue to improve as a shooter, who could take Evan Turner’s spot sooner than people my expect. His overall skill and experience, combined with his youth, makes him a pretty safe bet.
#21 Oklahoma City Thunder
DJ Wilson, PF, Michigan ADP: 26.4
OKC is one of several teams in the 20s rumored to be high on Wilson. His shooting range, size and defensive versatility hold obvious appeal as the Thunder continue to search for the right pieces to support Russell Westbrook, as their cap situation is completely flushed with above average (if that) players. When Wilson isn’t rebounding above the rim or launching 3-pointers, there isn’t a lot to his game, but those two attributes can get a player into the first round, and look like a perfect match for Westbrook, who is coming off a season where he averaged a triple-double. The real value for the Thunder lies in getting Enes Kanter off the cap, especially since he barely played any minutes this year and didn’t even see the floor in some playoff games, while making around $19 million and set to cash in again this year.
#22 Brooklyn Nets (via Wizards)
Terrance Ferguson, SG/SF, Adelaide ADP: 25.1
If Ferguson falls into the late first he’ll be a pretty good steal for his upside, the type of risk the Nets must take given their lack of lottery picks. The Nets need to draft the best developmental prospect available with as many needs as they have. Because Brooklyn traded their centerpiece in Brook Lopez to the Lakers for D’Angelo Russell and company, they may however be in the market for a replacement at Center. OKC has had their eyes on the former Alabama/Arizona commit who opted to play overseas instead of going to college. He is a skilled scorer at the rim and from the perimeter, who could develop into a valuable bench player that would give Oklahoma City options on the wing in case restricted free agent Andre Roberson leaves. But if the Thunder opt to go in another direction, Ferguson would be the pick here to pair with Caris LeVert and D’Angelo to give Brooklyn a talented backcourt to build around.
#23 Toronto Raptors (via Clippers)
Bam Adebayo, C, Kentucky ADP: 20.3
The Raptors have had a need at Center for a long time now. Adebayo’s mobility allows him to extend his defensive range all the way out to the perimeter, which could be a major plus for the Raptors. He’s a high-energy player and brings the sort of blue-collar mentality Toronto has favored in past draftees. He reminds me a lot of Bismack Biyombo with his NBA-ready body and extremely physicality in the paint, although his all-around offensive game needs time to develop. If he can develop an effective jumper and falls this far in the draft, he would be a steal.
#24 Utah Jazz
Tyler Lydon, F, Syracuse ADP: 26.7
Utah had a solid year this year, where they finally broke the ceiling into the playoffs and even pulled off an upset (called it) over the LA Clippers. The Jazz are in need of a prospect with Lydon’s ability to stretch the floor and rebound with Gordon Hayward looking set to depart for either the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat. Lydon is an inside/outside threat who can stretch defenses with his perimeter shooting and is a great rim protector. He just needs to add strength and consistency, which comes with age and experience.
#25 Orlando Magic (via Raptors)
Anzejs Pasecniks, C, Gran Canaria ADP: 29.1
With four picks in the top 35, the Magic can go the draft-and-stash route. Drafting Pasecniks allows the Magic to stay flexible and keep him overseas if they need to. His mobility and face-up skills, including some promise as a jump shooter, are rare for 7-footers. There aren’t a lot of international players in this draft, let alone ones who can play facing the basket. Unlike fellow countryman Kristaps Porzingis (aka the Latvian Unicorn), Pasecniks is not nearly as good of a rebounder or defender, but his offensive game bears a passing resemblance. This route could make sense.
#26 Portland Trailblazers (via Cavaliers)
Isaiah Hartenstein, C, Zalgiris ADP: 28.6
The Blazers will be hard-pressed to keep all three picks, and if they do they’re likely to with a Center after selecting a SF and PF to complement PG Lillard and SG McCollum. Hartenstein has legit size and some skills that make him a good fit in theory for the modern game, but he has a ways to go still. Portland can afford to wait, particularly until after they figure out their roster shuffle. This is the third pick for the Blazers, and it makes sense that they’d invest in a draft-and-stash prospect with at least one of them. Hartenstein is an athletic big man who lacks refinement in his game. The Blazers can keep him overseas for another year or two.
#27 Los Angeles Lakers (via Nets)
Jordan Bell, PF, Oregon ADP: 32.7
Bell is a defensive specialist of some intrigue and could be a nice fit with the Lakers. He’s undersized, but athletic enough to center small, fast-paced lineups and switch on defense, which could be a nice switch of pace with Randle and Lopez anchoring the frontcourt. Bell is an extremely athletic frontcourt player who crashes the glass and is a solid shot blocker. The Trail Blazers could very well end up dealing or selling this pick since it is their third first-rounder. Portland could also look to go the foreign route.
#28 Los Angeles Lakers (via Rockets)
Ivan Rabb, PF/C, Cal ADP: 28.0
The Lakers probably want to draft a Center here because Brook Lopez may not be a sure thing, and he’s definitely not a long-term solution at the spot. Rabb is a strong rebounder and at one point was considered to be a potential lottery pick. He makes sense here as an investment for Los Angeles, where he can focus on a smaller role and refine his offensive skills. Rabb likely would have been a lottery pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, but he drops in this deeper draft. He would provide the Lakers with some needed depth inside.
#29 San Antonio Spurs
Derrick White, PG, Colorado ADP: 29.9
White has been a story about improvement year after year, going and growing (4 inches) from DII to DI. If anyone can make the most out of that, it’s Greg Popovich. The Spurs have a pressing need at guard with the looming retirements of Manu Ginobli and perhaps Tony Parker, who is coming off of a gruesome injury in the playoffs at an advanced age. White can play either guard spot with a mid-long range shot that aids him in getting to the basket and ultimately the free throw line. He is a good passer, but his decision-making and quickness aren’t anything to compare to Tony Parker in his day; however, he is very adept at blocking shots at his position being in the 6-5 range. There aren’t too many PGs left at this point in the draft and San Antonio NEEDS one.
#30 Utah Jazz (via Warriors)
Semi Ojeleye, G/F, Colorado ADP: 29.8
Ojeleye’s toughness, ability to shoot the three and play both forward spots should have appeal to the Jazz, who could lose Gordon Hayward and/or Joe Ingles. The Duke transfer blew up in his lone year at SMU. He can shoot it from the outside but is also physical and athletic at the rim. Ojeleye would add some needed versatility to the Jazz here. Alternatively, I could see Villanova’s Josh Hart slipping into the the first round after an impressive college campaign that was surprisingly cut short in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Either way I expect a guard here.