As an NBA Draft fanatic like myself, I can tell you that this draft is bringing excitement like one we haven't seen in a long time. Not only is there an abundance of uncertainty of who will get picked when, but also with the big name players around the league who may have to pack their bags at any moment. This draft has a chaotic feel to it, and as all NBA fans know, there isn't anything else we'd rather want.
While most teams have a cloud of doubt soaring over their heads on who they'll select, each team has their own ideal vision of how tonight should turn out.
Here is what every team picking in the first round tonight should target and what their primary goal should be, featuring a plethora of fake trades that I keep talking myself into possibly happening. Oh well.
Phoenix Suns - Get Your Guy!!
All reports seem to show that Pheonix will select the former Arizona Wildcat Deandre Ayton with the first overall pick. Phoenix has some other picks as well, including another mid-first rounder, but all eyes will be on how they start the night. The argument to be made for Doncic here is a strong, so this opening selection won't be an easy one. However, the idea of pairing Devin Booker and Josh Jackson with a potential all-star big man in Ayton seems like a no brainer. Take your guy Suns fans and don't look back...
Sacramento Kings - Take the Other Guy
Up until last week I thought the Kings dodged a bullet, in that for the first draft in a long time at picking number two, they'll have an obvious selection right in front of them. Well, if the rumors of the Kings wanting Marvin Bagley teach us something, it's that some things just never change. Bad organizations will be bad organizations. Attention Mr. Divac, don't make this hard for yourself. It's right in front of you.
Atlanta Hawks - Move into the top 2, select Luka Doncic
Atlanta's interest in Doncic has grown tremendously over the past few days, and it's a real possibility they find a way to get him. If Atlanta offers Sacramento picks number 3 and 33 for the second overall selection, I believe the Kings will accept assuming their affinity for Bagley is real. Jaren Jackson is not the right pick here, where I believe it's too early for the Michigan State protege, and the fit next to John Collins isn't ideal.
Memphis Grizzlies - Move Mike Conley, find a way back in the lottery
GM Chris Wallace supposedly isn't interested in a rebuild, so instead of finding an asset for the future, he looks to be shopping the pick to a team that will be willing to take Chandler Parsons contract. I disagree completely, and believe this is a perfect time for Memphis to throw in the towel. Take your guy at number four, and shop Conley to a point guard-needy team. Here it is:
Memphis Sends: Mike Conley, Jarrell Martin
Denver Sends: Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur, Juancho Hernangomez, Malik Beasley and #14
Here Memphis unloads their start point guard under a HEFTY deal, for two 2019 expirings, two young, former first rounders and the fourteenth pick. This plan sounds better than keeping your current payroll, which sends aroound 75 Million dollars to three players who each missed more than half of last season.
Dallas Mavericks - Trade up for #2, select Doncic
With the chances of Bagley surviving to the fifth pick being likely if the Kings don't take him, Dallas also finds themselves with a real opportunity at the European phenom and would be wise to pounce on it immediately.
Dallas sends: #5, #34, Dorian Finney-Smith
Sacramento sends: #2, Zach Randolph
Dallas moves it's first and an early second and is forced to take Z-bo's contract in order to get Luka. Sign it off.
Orlando Magic - Trade back, Get a Point Guard of the Future
There are many ways that this pick can go tonight, but getting a franchise point guard sits a top the list of needs for the Magic. The good news for them is that this class of PG's goes awfully deep, so being able to move back and stockpile assets while still getting your guy of the future is a legit possibility. Here's an option:
Orlando sends: #6
Clippers send: #12, #13
The Clippers have a strong interest in Michael Porter Jr, and if he's still around by the sixth pick, the Clippers will call. Orlando can move back a few picks and still possibly get the best point guard in the draft in Collin Sexton and another top guy. Make it happen Magic.
Chicago Bulls - Select Michael Porter Jr.
My third favorite prospect in this draft, if Porter falls here to Chicago it'll be a night to remember for Bulls fans. In the middle of a rebuild with an already existing foundation of good young players, Porter's sweet scoring ability would fit right in.
Cleveland Cavaliers - Select Collin Sexton
Here is the case for why Collin Sexton is the best option for Cleveland: he fits both of their possible molds. If Lebron decides to stay, Sexton will provide Lebron a teammate who plays with matched intensity and can score both as a primary ball handler and as a slasher from all sides of the court. If Lebron leaves? Sexton will immediately step in as the future of the Cavs franchise, and will be given an opportunity to play through growing pains with the ball in his hands constantly.
New York Knicks - Don't Draft a Point Guard
Attention New York Knicks: You just drafted a 19 year old point guard last season, he can't play the two guard because he still can't really shoot, oh and you still have a gaping hole at small forward. Get the idea? Good.
Philadelphia 76ers - Take the Best Guy on the Board
As intrigued as I am about Philly opening up their wallets for Kawhi, I ultimately couldn't get myself to do it just yet. There is still a lot of time for a trade to be worked out, and that's why Philly should just select the best player. He can be shown off as a trade piece, or if not, he'll join the fight with Simmons, Jo Jo, Fultz and Saric. Not a bad situation to be in.
Charlotte Hornets - Find Kemba's Replacement
I'm sure the phone will ring tonight with potential suitors for Kemba Walker, however there is no rush for Charlotte to move him yet. Instead, here's a great opportunity to select his replacement to pair with Malik Monk for the future. Charlotte should trade Kemba Walker, however in order to get good value for him there has to be a process. Picking his heir is a good start.
Los Angeles Clippers - Package the picks for Kawhi
And here we are! The first fake Kawhi trade of the day.
Clippers send: Danilo Gallinari, #12, #13
Spurs send: Kawhi Leonard
Shaquille O'Neal, Kevin Durant and then possibly Kawhi Leonard. Not a bad recruiting record for the logo himself.
Denver Nuggets - Select Kevin Knox
The idea of moving this pick is exciting, but ultimately if Denver can get their hands on the Kentucky product it would be another great get for their management. Knox is still raw, but he's got the potential to be the final piece to Denver's young core with an all-around offensive arsenal.
Washington Wizards - Land Marcin Gortat's Replacement
The Wizards are team with underrated "blow it up" potential as The Ringer's Kevin O'connor puts it, but with John Wall's inability to be traded due to his contract extension, Washington looks poised to run it back again with the same group. The Wiz frontcourt was a massive problem this past season both on and off the court, so finding Gortat's replacement now seems like a good plan. Texas A&M Center Robert Williams is an obvious choice, but #16 might be a little late to get him. Mitchell Robinson is another prospect that comes to mind.
Milwaukee Bucks - Bring in Shooting Help
When watching the Bucks last season, it became apparent that their roster didn't mesh well with Giannis Antetokounmpo's skill set. There were too many ball handlers, and not enough shooting to surround him with. Well, with newly appointed Coach Bud, things seem destined to change. Gary Trent, Jerome Robinson and Kevin Huerter come to mind as possible targets.
San Antonio Spurs - Trade Kawhi to Boston
This would be difficult to pull off since a large component of this trade could very well involve a sign and trade with Marcus Smart in a few weeks, but it can't ever be ruled out due to Boston's never ending supply of tradable assets.
Boston sends: #27, Future Memphis pick, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, Aron Baynes and Marcus Morris
San Antonio sends: #18, Kawhi Leonard and Bryn Forbes
San Antonio here gets a whole lot to work with in the post-Kawhi era, with two franchise staples in Rozier and Brown and a future projected lottery pick. Boston jumps on the opportunity to land a top five player in his prime. Wow, that wasn't that hard was it?
Minnesota Timberwolves - Package the pick with Gorgui Dieng's contract
Coach Thibs has a history of not playing rookies a lot of minutes, and the Wolves have expressed interest in getting rid of Dieng's expensive contract. Here's one possibility:
Wolves send: Gorgui Dieng, #20
Brooklyn sends: Demarre Carroll
Carroll is a typical Thibs player and is also on an expiring deal. Brooklyn uses it's cap space to absorb a bad contract to pick up another first rounder. Win win.
Utah Jazz - Add Another 3 and D wing to Quin Snyder's Collection
When dealing with Quin Snyder, there is no such thing as having too many 3 and D guys. Luckily for them, a lot of 3 and D wings in this draft are projected to be around by Utah's selection. Josh Okogie and Zhaire Smith are players that come to mind.
Indiana Pacers - Move Myles Turner
Here's where things take an interesting twist. After watching the Pacers this past season, it became clear that Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner are both good players in this league, however co-existing is not an option.
Pacers send: Myles Turner and #23
Celtics send: #27, Future Memphis pick, Guerschon Yabusele
Boston gets the young big they are looking for, and Indiana gets a projected future lottery pick to go along with the core they already have.
Portland Trailblazers - Make the Right Choice
Not much to say here about Portland. They are in a tough financial situation with not a lot of assets. Not much else they can go besides nailing this pick. Chandler Hutchinson, Kevin Huerter or even Miles Bridges are guys who I believe would fit.
Los Angeles Lakers - Bring in Ready Now Players
Everyone knows that Lakers summer will be headlined by the big contracts, but the smaller ones are going to be very key as well. while trying to build a championship-caliber roster, they will need to have role players on cheaper deals to fill out their bench. The Lakers will be selecting three different times, so using these picks towards bench players for the upcoming season is crucial. Jacob Evans III and Zhaire Smith make the most sense to me.
Boston Celtics - Trade up for Mo Bamba
Boston has made it clear that they have interest in trading for a long and athletic big man and nobody fits that description in this draft better than Bamba. Atlanta and Memphis have both stated that they are will move their picks for the right deal, so different variations of Terry Rozier, the 27th pick, or other futures in exchange for the pick to take Bamba is a deal both sides could be willing to take. The thought of Bamba rim protecting for an already ferocious Celtics defense is terrifying. At a certain point Boston will have to make a decision regarding what to do with all their assets, and rolling the dice on Bamba seems like a risk they are willing to take and one that they should.
Golden State Warriors - Buy this year's Pat Mccaw and Jordan Bell
Most NBA teams draft on draft night. The defending champs? they buy players on draft night. I really wonder who it's going to be this year, but i'm sure it'll make us all feel stupid when it happens.
Brooklyn Nets - Take on Bad Contracts for More Picks
Picks- 29, 40,45
After fleecing the Hornets yesterday and clearing even more cap space, the Nets must continue to find ways to bring in young talent to make up for the lack of lottery selections. Many teams have made it clear that they are willing to trade their first round pick in order to take on a bad deal, and there isn't a team that should be more willing to do so than Brooklyn. Some potential examples:
Nuggets - Kenneth Faried and #14
Milwaukee - Matthew Dellavedova and #17
Timberwolves - Gorgui Dieng and #20
These are only counting a few, whereas more teams will start looking to sell their picks once their draft boards fall apart. The Nets should be ready for this, and I think they will. It's the Sean Marks way.