This isn’t your typical NBA draft.
And that’s not good if you’re one of the 30 teams in the NBA kingdom.
That’s because tonight’s draft is anything but special.
While the presumptive No. 1 pick, Zion Williamson of Duke, figures to be a star, not one NBA official I spoke to considered him a franchise changer.
The next two projected picks, point guard Ja Morant of Murray State and forward RJ Barrett of Duke, are talented but have plenty of work to do before they could possibly become impact players.
After those three players, the draft becomes rather ordinary. It’s so ordinary that virtually every team in the lottery – the top 14 – have made it abundantly clear they’re willing to unload their picks.
Just how good, or bad, is this draft?
“It’s average, at best,’’ said an NBA executive.
When a well-respected, longtime scout was asked to describe this year’s draft, he said, “poor.’’
So, while there is plenty of hyperbole surrounding this draft, the fact of the matter is there isn’t a lot of substance to it.
With that in mind, here is my mock-ery draft:
- New Orleans – The athletically-freakish Williamson will give NBA fans a reason to watch the Pelicans. PICK: Williamson, power forward, Duke.
2. Memphis – The Grizzlies are in a full-fledge rebuild mode and need someone who is talented and fun to watch. PICK Ja Morant, guard, Murray State.
3. New York – This is a big summer for the heretofore dreadful Knicks, who need help everywhere. PICK: R.J. Barrett, small forward, Duke.
4. New Orleans – Here’s where the draft gets interesting and the trading could commence, especially with some teams like Atlanta (De’Andre Hunter of Virginia) or others seeking Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland. PICK: Jarrett Culver, small forward, Texas Tech.
5. Cleveland – Even though the Cavs drafted Colin Sexton last year, there are whispers they covet a true point guard like Garland. If he’s off the board, don’t be surprised to see this spot change teams. PICK: Garland, point guard, Vanderbilt.
Phoenix – The Suns are receptive to dealing this pick but they also need a
point guard in the worst way. PICK: Coby, White, point guard, North Carolina.
7. Chicago – The Bulls are accruing some good young talent and figure add another nice piece here. PICK: De’Andre Hunter, small forward, Virginia.
8. Atlanta – The Hawks look to replace the recently traded Taurean Prince and Cam Reddish of Duke seems like the logical choice. However, there is chatter Reddish could take an unexpected slide in the draft. PICK: Cam Reddish, small forward, Duke.
9. Washington — Power forward Bobby Portis could be moving on in free agency. PICK: Sekou Doumboya, power forward, Guinea.
10. Atlanta (from Dallas) – The Hawks have one major hole to plug and that’s at center. PICK Jaxon Hayes, center, Texas.
11. Minnesota – Taj Gibson is solid but the T-Wolves have a chance to upgrade their power forward spot. Sources also claim the T-Wolvers want to move up in the draft by packaging this pick and small forward Andrew Wiggins. PICK: Rui Hachimura, power forward, Gonzaga.
Charlotte – Hornets could use a point guard, especially if star Kemba Walker
bolts in free agency. Unfortunately, all the elite PGs in the draft are off the
board. PICK: Nassir Little, small forward, Duke.
13. Miami – Heat point guard Goran Dragic is getting up in years so a point guard would come in handy. But, again, the best PGs have been taken. Kentucky wing Keldon Johnson has support in the organization. PICK: P.J. Washington, power forward, Kentucky.
14. Boston (from Sacramento via Philadelphia) – With Kyrie Irving and Al Horford likely leaving Beantown, the Celtics are in the market for PG and center. Hayes would be a nice choice, if he falls. PICK: Goga Bitadze, center, KK Buducost.
15. Detroit – Ideally, the Pistons have their
sights set on a wing and there should be some nice ones still on the draft
board like Kentucky’s Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro and Virginia Tech’s Nickeil
Alexander Walker. PICK: Johnson.
16. Orlando – The Magic are still hunting for a PG, but won’t find one here. Herro, Alexander-Walker, Indiana’s Romeo Langford are all nice options. PICK: Herro.
17. ATLANTA – Hawks simply take best player regardless of position. PICK: Brandon Clarke, power forward, Gonzaga.
18. Indiana – A wing would fill a glaring need for Pacers, and Keldon Johnson, Stanford’s KZ Okpala, North Carolina’s Cam Johnson and Alexander-Walker could be here. PICK: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, shooting guard, Virginia Tech.
19. San Antonio – A small forward seemingly is the Spurs’ biggest need, so K. Johnson, C. Johnson, Okpala are all viable choices. PICK: Mfiondu Kabengele, forward, Florida State.
20. Boston – If the Celtics go big with 14th pick, they’ll go small here. There won’t be a shortage of candidates. PICK: Kevin Porter, shooting guard, Southern California.
21. Oklahoma City – A big like Nic Claxton of Georgia would be a nice addition but the Thunder could use an athletic wing. PICK: Matisse Thybulle, small forward, Washington.
22. Boston – It’s hard to imagine the Celtics keeping all three first-rounders, so this pick could be dealt. If they keep this, the Cs can roll dice. PICK: Chuma Okeke, forward, Auburn.
23. Memphis – The Grizzlies need a rim protector. PICK: Bol Bol, center, Oregon.
24. Philadelphia – The 76ers could lose Jimmy Butler and/or Tobias Harris in free agency, so a small forward would make sense here. PICK: Cam Johnson, small forward, North Carolina.
25. Portland – Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts has never met a shooter he didn’t like. PICK: Dylan Windler, small forward, Belmont.
26. Cleveland – The Cavs could use some bigs, like Daniel Gafford of Arkansas of Bruno Fernando of Maryland. PICK: Fernando.
27. Brooklyn – The Nets may have the luxury of taking a leap of faith here by picking forward Darius Bazley or play it safe. PICK Romeo Langford, shooting guard, Indiana.
28. Golden State – The Warriors love big-time
scorers and shooters. PICK: Carsen Edwards, point guard, Purdue.
29. San Antonio – The Spurs have had tremendous success drafting international players. PICK: Luka Samanic, power forward, Croatia.
30. Detroit – Pistons could use some backup support in the frontcourt. PICK: Daniel Gafford, center, Arkansas.