The March Madness is over, and there will be little movement in the big boards until the draft combine and workouts.
How could the lottery shake out if things stayed the same? Who would the Grizzlies draft with the second pick? Could this prospect help them win immediately?
No. 1: Phoenix Suns - DeAndre Ayton
DeAndre Ayton is a physical specimen and could join Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis in the “unicorn” wave. If Zeus and Hera reproduced, the offspring would grow up to be Ayton. At 7’1” and 250 pounds, he’s physically imposing, as his body reminds people of the great Wilt Chamberlain.
Whether or not he can become a superstar center remains to be seen. He’s an offensive talent for sure, as he averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds. However, can he anchor an NBA defense?
Ayton has already alluded to the idea of Devin Booker and him forming a “Shaq and Kobe” dynamic. You best believe they’d love to add a dominant big man alongside the duo of Booker and Josh Jackson.
No. 2: Memphis Grizzlies - Luka Doncic
The Memphis Grizzlies have a chance to pull off a ‘97 Spurs and return to the playoffs with its core plus a future cornerstone. Luka Doncic gives the team the best chance to do so.
At 6’8”, the “Wonder Boy” is a crafty playmaker that uses his size and high basketball IQ to find scoring opportunities for himself and others. He’d be the perfect fit alongside Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, as they’ve been looking for a playmaking and scoring threat from the wing.
His 3-point percentage might concern most people. In Memphis though, he won’t have the ball in his hands nearly as much and won’t see many end-of-the-shot-clock bailouts. Doncic has the mechanics to become a 35-40 percent shooter from deep for his career.
Doncic’s ball-handling and speed are also perceived weaknesses in this game. He’s not necessarily the fleetest of foot, and his ball-handling moves are basic, yet effective. He plays with the game with a certain craft and precision, picking apart a defense similar to James Harden or C.J. McCollum (h/t Matt Hrdlicka). It’ll certainly be harder for him to be like Harden in a faster, more athletic NBA, but his craftiness on offensive should bode well at the next level.
Doncic may not have the highest ceiling in the top part of the draft; he could become another Manu Ginobili or Gordon Hayward. However, he might have the highest floor due, in large part, to his high basketball IQ. If he doesn’t reach that ceiling, he can still be a secondary playmaker and shooter from the wing — similar to guys like Danilo Gallinari and Joe Ingles.
Grizz get the 2nd pick, assuming Ayton is off the board, which path do u take?— BlogBoy PF (@PAKA_FLOCKA) April 16, 2018
No. 3: Dallas Mavericks - Marvin Bagley
Marvin Bagley is arguably the third-best player in the draft. Though guys like Jaren Jackson Jr., Mo Bamba and Michael Porter Jr. are regarded for their upside, Bagley has the production to back it up. He had an excellent season at Duke where he averaged 21 points and 11.1 rebounds. In addition, he won the ACC Player of the Year award and was a first team All-American.
The Mavs do need help on frontcourt defense, which could make prospects like Jaren Jackson and Mo Bamba more intriguing. However, Bagley would be the better pick here, because he’s a better pick-and-roll partner with Dennis Smith. In addition, he’d have plenty of space to operate in the low post, since they have perimeter threats from positions 1-4.
No. 4: Atlanta Hawks - Jaren Jackson Jr.
The Atlanta Hawks definitely need help on the defensive end of the court, as they were in the bottom-10 in defensive rating, defensive rebounds and blocks per game. Fortunately for them, they can nab themselves a versatile rim protector in Jaren Jackson Jr.
The freshman out of Michigan State oozes upside. He possesses the “unicorn” ability of protecting the rim (3.0 blocks per game, 5.5!!! per 40 minutes), guarding multiple positions, switching on screens, and shooting the 3-ball (39.6% on 2.9 attempts per game).
Jackson would be a nice compliment in Budenholzer’s offense -- if he doesn’t accept a coaching job elsewhere. He can space the floor and knock down the triple. He’s a nice threat in the pick-and-roll with Dennis Schroder.
Jackson doesn’t have the highest floor in the draft, but Atlanta can afford to gamble on his upside at the 4th pick.
No. 5: Orlando Magic - Mo Bamba
The Orlando Magic could go a variety different ways here. Do they finally get a good point guard and draft Trae Young? With Aaron Gordon and Mario Hezonja hitting the free agent market this summer, do they go after a wing like Mikal Bridges or Michael Porter? Or, do they go after Mo Bamba to shore up their interior defense?
Let’s go with Bamba. General Manager John Hammond built a talented roster in Milwaukee, primarily because he wasn’t afraid to swing for the fences. Giannis Antetokounmpo went from a prospect with freakishly insane measurements to a bonafide MVP candidate for years to come. Thon Maker has struggled this year, but with a good coach, he can be a versatile rim protector. Then Jabari Parker has been a 20-point scorer when healthy.
In Orlando, he might continue swinging for the fences. He started with the defensively versatile Johnathan Isaac, and he might continue the trend with Mo Bamba. The University of Texas center has the most insane measurements in the draft (6’11”, 7’9” wingspan and 9’6” standing reach). He reminds people of Rudy Gobert with a jumper. Though his 3-point shot isn’t there, he’s shown a willingness to expand on that part of his game.
If he can become “Rudy Gobert with a jumper,” the Magic would hit a home run here.
The Rest of the Lottery
6. Chicago Bulls: Michael Porter Jr.
7. Sacramento Kings: Mikal Bridges
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Brooklyn): Trae Young
9. New York Knicks: Wendell Carter
11. Charlotte Hornets: Kevin Knox
13. Los Angeles Clippers: Robert Williams
14. Denver Nuggets: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Follow along as we continue this mock draft series next week, as we predict a top-five shakeout with the Grizzlies receiving the number one pick.
Stats found on sports-reference.com