Another NBA draft means another day of excitement for basketball fans around the world. Another draft also means another chance for mediocre teams to improve their rosters, for good teams to take that next step toward a championship, and for young athletes to prove that they are the best in the world. This year’s draft was no different, as last night many teams improved their chances of a future title, including the 76ers. Here is a list of the lottery picks from last night and how they can help their new teams.
Deandre Ayton, Center, University of Arizona
(Age: 19, 7’1″, 7’6″ Wingspan, 260 lbs)
Easily the most physically dominant player in the draft, Ayton was a clear pick at number one by the Phoenix Suns. The former Arizona Wildcat will immediately be able to improve the Suns with his impressive athleticism, offensive skills, and defensive prowess alongside rising star guard Devin Booker and newly drafted Mikal Bridges.
Marvin Bagley III, Power Forward, Duke University
(Age: 19, 6’11”, 7’1″ Wingspan, 236 lbs)
Bagley is a tremendous athlete with a lot of potential but is also a bit raw in terms of being NBA-ready. If Bagley is coached well and continues to play at a high level, he could end up being one of the most successful players in this draft. This selection surprised me, as I personally expected the Kings to take European superstar Luka Doncic with the second pick. Regardless, Sacramento took a talented player with a high upside who can help transform his new team.
3. Hawks trade draft rights to Mavericks, while receiving a 2019 protected first-round pick and the No. 5 pick
Luka Doncic, Guard, Slovenia
(Age: 19, 6’6″, 218 lbs)
Easily one of the most hyped up prospects in this draft and likely the most NBA-ready player, Doncic was a great selection by the Mavericks. Although he is listed as a guard, Doncic is extremely versatile, as his skills and his height can lend him to playing other positions as well as the NBA heads toward a more “position-less” style of play. Also, veteran legend Dirk Nowitzki can help mentor Doncic as a fellow talented European player.
Jaren Jackson, Jr., Forward, Michigan State University
(Age: 18, 6’11”, 7’4″ Wingspan, 243 lbs)
Jackson is most definitely a defensive-minded player with a high upside, but his underwhelming college numbers (10.9 pts, 5.8 trb, 1.1 ast) are a bit frightening. With the right coaching and enough dedication, however, Memphis could turn this pick into a great piece to pair with Marc Gasol at center.
5. Mavericks trade draft rights to Hawks, while also sending a protected 2019 first-round pick for No. 3 pick
Trae Young, Point Guard, Oklahoma
(Age: 19, 6’2″, 181 lbs)
While his size may be underwhelming at a questionable 6’2″, Young has potential to be a star in this league if he can transfer his scoring ability (27.4 pts/game in college) to the NBA. His high shooting percentages are coveted in this new three-point-heavy NBA, which is why Atlanta will most likely benefit from their pick here.
Mohamed Bamba, Center, University of Texas
(Age: 20, 7’1″, 7’10” Wingspan, 225 lbs)
With a mind-blowing 7’10” wingspan and insane defensive potential, Mo Bamba is a great selection by Orlando here with the sixth pick. Bamba has arguably the highest upside of any player in the draft and will be able to share the frontcourt next season with rising star Aaron Gordon. With the Magic on the rise, the 76ers may soon have a new team to worry about here in the East.
Wendell Carter, Jr., Center, Duke University
(Age: 19, 6’10”, 258 lbs)
One of the safer picks in the draft, the former Blue Devil will be able to help Chicago almost immediately. Similar to the situation in Orlando, Carter will pair up with the talented second-year player Lauri Markkanen in the frontcourt.
Collin Sexton, Point Guard, University of Alabama
(Age: 19, 6’3″, 6’6″ Wingspan, 190 lbs)
A bit of surprise here at number eight, Collin Sexton is a talented playmaker that should be able to lead the Cavaliers if LeBron decides to leave, or could be a good player alongside the King if he decides to stay. As a very athletic player who is capable of making big plays, it is likely that Sexton has a strong career in the league.
Kevin Knox, Small Forward, University of Kentucky
(Age: 18, 6’9″, 216 lbs)
Another surprise here in the draft as Michael Porter Jr. was still up for grabs, Kevin Knox, while having a lower upside, can still make shots and will play well next to Kristaps Porzingis next season for the Knicks.
10. 76ers trade draft rights to Suns for No. 16 and a 2021 first-round pick via the Heat
Mikal Bridges, Small Forward, Villanova University
(Age: 21, 6’7″, 7’1″ Wingspan, 209 lbs)
This was a heart-breaker for many Philly fans, as Bridges is a local kid who when to a local school and whose mom works for the Sixers. He also looked to be a great fit for the Sixers as he can shoot well and defend. But, as always, trust the process. Bridges will be a great addition for the Suns, who are looking to be formidable out West with their new big three of Ayton, Booker, and Bridges.
11. Hornets trade draft rights to Clippers for pick No. 12 and two future second-round picks
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Point Guard, University of Kentucky
(Age: 19, 6’6″, 6’11” Wingspan, 181 lbs)
The Clippers fulfilled a need here as they grabbed the best available point guard in the draft, but at this point it was a little confusing as to why Michael Porter Jr. was not yet selected. Porter Jr.’s daunting medical history may be the cause of that, but his upside as a player trumps those concerns for many. Regardless, Shai will be a good piece on a decent Clippers team in the tougher conference.
12. Clippers trade draft rights to Hornets along with two future second-round picks for No. 11 pick
Miles Bridges, Small Forward, Michigan State University
(Age: 20, 6’7″, 6’9″ Wingspan, 225 lbs)
As I covered in my last article, Bridges has potential to be both a good scorer and defender in the league. His athleticism and ability to score, which he put on display under Tom Izzo at Michigan State, make him a good pick here for Charlotte.
Jerome Robinson, Shooting Guard, Boston College
(Age: 21, 6’5″, 190 lbs)
A very surprising pick here by the Clippers, not only because of the still available MPJ, but also because Robinson has a much lower upside that some of the other players left on the board. Still, Robinson will most likely be able to produce alongside players like Tobias Harris and Deandre Jordan, as he averaged 20.7 pts/game in college.
Michael Porter Jr., Small Forward, University of Missouri
(Age: 19, 6’11”, 7’0″ Wingspan, 215 lbs)
As the last pick of the lottery, if MPJ can become healthy and play at his former level, he will be a steal here at No. 14. This is a great selection by Denver, as they are a fringe playoff team out West who needed extra talent to propel them to the next level. Hopefully Porter Jr. will be able to make as big of an impact in Denver as he did in high school.
Other Notable Picks:
Zhaire Smith, SF, Philadelphia 76ers
Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Milwaukee Bucks
Lonnie Walker IV, SG, San Antonio Spurs
Grayson Allen, SG, Utah Jazz
Aaron Holiday, PG, Indiana Pacers
Moe Wagner, C, Los Angeles Lakers
Landry Shamet, PG, Philadelphia 76ers
Jalen Brunson, PG, Dallas Mavericks
Tony Carr, PG, New Orleans Pelicans (Roman Catholic High School Alumnus)
Shake Milton, SG, Philadelphia 76ers
Kostas Antetokounmpo, PF, Dallas Mavericks
76ers Final Draft Verdict:
While a bit heartbreaking, overall this was a good draft by Brett Brown and the 76ers organization. The Sixers ended up with three promising players, Zhaire Smith, Landry Shamet, and Shake Milton, while also receiving a 2021 Heat unprotected 1st round pick, a 2019 Bulls 2nd round pick, and two future Pistons 2nd round picks. While we could very likely develop these new players to fit well into our system, specifically the hyper-athletic playmaker Zhaire Smith, we could also use our acquired assets in future trades (LeBron? Kawhi?). Regardless of how the rest of the off-season plays out, I am proud to say I am a Sixers fan and as always, Trust the Process.
Sean Zarzatian, Underdawg Sports Writer