1. Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona – The Suns get the best player in the draft, a 7-footer ready to play right away who could average 20 and 10 as a rookie. They also need a center, so combining best player available and need makes this pick a no-brainer.
2. Sacramento Kings: Luka Doncic, G, Slovenia – It isn’t a great fit because they’ve already got De’Aaron Fox, but the Kings haven’t made the postseason since 2006 and need to take the best talent. That’s Doncic, who puts the offense on a different level and should mean great things for sharpshooters in Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic. They’re the biggest winners tonight.
3. Atlanta Hawks: Marvin Bagley, PF, Duke: The Hawks love what they have in center John Collins, but he’s not the kind of versatile frontcourt player made for today’s NBA. That’s fine, so long as Atlanta pairs him with someone like Bagley, who has star potential and should have no problem adapting to today’s game. If he ever finds a consistent 3-point shot he’ll be making All-Star teams sooner than later.
4. Memphis Grizzlies: Michael Porter, PF, Missouri: The Grizzlies’ championship window has closed, and they need to hit a home run with their next pick; they’ve been abysmal in the draft since they took Mike Conley. That can be Porter, the unanimous top pick before the season began and Porter underwent back surgery days later. If all the medicals check out – and they should – Porter could wind up being an incredible steal at No. 4.
5. Dallas Mavericks: Jaren Jackson, C, Michigan State – They get a re-do on Nerlens Noel, and Rick Carlisle has to be drooling at the options he’ll have with Dennis Smith Jr. and Jaren Jackson. He’s a menace defending the rim, he looks smooth shooting from beyond the arc and gives the Mavericks a foundation center they haven’t had since Tyson Chandler.
6. Orlando Magic: Mo Bamba, C, Texas – Yes, they were foolish to pay Bismack Biyombo. But the Magic have lacked a true center for quite some time and they get a potential home-run pick in Bamba, the man with the 7-foot-9 wingspan who averaged more than 4 blocks per game. He’s the best player remaining and fills a need for the Magic.
7. Chicago Bulls: Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova – He’ll be 22 years old when the NBA season begins, but he’s got a 7-foot wingspan, is a remarkable 3-point shooter and has two national titles to his name. Bridges isn’t the sexiest pick, and he may not have the upside of an Ayton or Bagley, but he’s a perfect fit for the Bulls’ rebuild and is the best player remaining at this point in the draft. Bridges is a solid, solid pick.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers: Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma – The Isaiah Thomas experiment obviously didn’t work, and Jordan Clarkson is a career backup. That leaves a gaping hole at point guard. Luckily the best one in the class is built for the league. A pick-and-roll nightmare, Young will thrive in an offense surrounded by 3-point shooters. He could do huge things with Kevin Love, especially if LeBron James leaves.
9. New York Knicks: Wendell Carter, C, Duke – He’s the best player in this draft that no one is talking about. Overshadowed by Marvin Bagley much of the year, Carter was a solid interior defender with excellent footwork and post moves for a 19-year-old. He’ll be a perfect fit next to Kristaps Porzingis and inches the Knicks closer to relevance.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via LAL): Miles Bridges, SG, Michigan State – He’s certainly a tweener, but being a scorer on the wing gives him a ton of value in Philadelphia. He’s the next part of The Process, though he’ll need to defend to justify being a top 10 pick.
11. Charlotte Hornets: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky – Kemba Walker’s future in Charlotte is up in the air, and maybe new GM Mitch Kupchack wants to move in a different direction. SGA would be a good starting point; he’s just 19 and played his best basketball in February and March. The next in line of the Calipari point guard fraternity.
12. LA Clippers (via DET): Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama – The electric replacement for Chris Paul, the Clippers need an injection of life after dealing Blake Griffin and Paul in a six-month span. Sexton does just that. He’s not a natural point guard, but that could work in his favor in today’s game.
13. LA Clippers: Kevin Knox, SF, Kentucky – Maybe he doesn’t fall this far, but the Clippers have needed a solid wing for quite some time. They get it in Knox, who is going to score at the next level (wherever he wants) but must improve defensively and in creating for others. Having Sexto next to him will help.
14. Denver Nuggets: Lonnie Walker, SG, Miami – Mike Malone loves his versatility in the backcourt, and that’s exactly what Walker brings. He’ll also bring some defensive effort, which Denver could use in the worst way, and become a replacement for impending free agent Will Barton. Adding another ball handler in the backcourt makes him an even better fit and allows them to upgrade from Devin Harris on the second unit.
15. Washington Wizards: Robert Williams PF, Texas A&M – When his motor is going and he’s invested, Williams is one of the most talented players in this class. He plays above the rim and has a solid midrange for his size. There are concerns on defense but the Wizards need to get younger at power forward after building their backcourt up the past few seasons.
16. Phoenix Suns (via MIA): Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech – His numbers won’t wow you, but Smith continued to progress in his lone year with the Red Raiders and is an elite player above the rim who brings more scoring and length to a Suns backcourt in need of it. Just 19 years old, Smith can grow at his own rate on a Suns team in the midst of a rebuild.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: De’Anthony Melton, SG, USC – He sat out this past season, but the upside here is immense. He's a combination guard who will hav no problem defending at the next level. He’ll need some time to refine his offense, but that’s not the Bucks’ problem right now.
18. San Antonio Spurs: Dzanan Musa, SF, Bosnia – This one just feels right. The Spurs know international talent when they see it, and Musa, a lanky scoring wing, is oozing with potential and only just turned 19. San Antonio can stash him until he’s ready to compete as a long small forward with plenty of range.
19. Atlanta Hawks (via MIN): Anfernee Simons, PG, IMG Academy – Another preps-to-pro jump, Simons can get to the rim at will and is a blur in transition. The Hawks need talent, and after getting a top-5 pick they can swing for the fences here on a pick like Simons. They also need a steady backup behind Dennis Schroder.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (via OKC): Chandler Hutchinson, SF, Boise State – Tom Thibodeau doesn’t play rookies much, but he might if that rookie is a seasoned 22-year-old with a versatile skill set. Hutchinson is ready to play and offers an inside-out game the Wolves were lacking on the wing this past season.
21. Utah Jazz: Mitchell Robinson, C, Chalmette HS – Rudy Gobert is entrenched as the franchise center, but Derrick Favors is a free agent and Epke Udoh is a stopgap at best. Robinson hasn’t played organized basketball in a year after leaving Western Kentucky but offers vast upside.
22. Chicago Bulls (via NOLA): Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton: One of the best defenders in the class, Thomas will make his money on that end and could be a replacement for David Nwaba. If he can continue to shoot well from deep that’ll be an added bonus; his moneymaker will be his 6-foot-10 wingspan and quick feet. The Bulls need plenty of defensive help in the backcourt next to Kris Dunn.
23. Indiana Pacers: Troy Brown, SG, Oregon – What better player for a 3 and D guy to learn from than Lance Stephenson? Brown didn’t exactly shoot it well for the Ducks and it hurt his draft stock. If he improves on that his 6-foot-11 wingspan will make him a contributor on both ends that the Pacers’ second unit could use on the wing.
24. Portland Trail Blazers: Aaron Holiday, G, UCLA: It’s time Shabazz Napier to get paid, so the Blazers will need to replace him in the backcourt. Holiday does a little bit of everything as a ball handler and a plus 3-point shooter. He’s undersized; then again, so was Napier and he did just fine.
25. Los Angeles Lakers (via CLE): Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky: The ultimate boom-or-bust pick. Diallo’s name is back in the draft after he tested the waters a year ago. He’s much more an athlete than a basketball player right now, but this late in the first round a team like the Lakers could take a chance on a guy who could develop into an All-Star or win a Dunk Contest and be out of the league in five years.
26. Philadelphia 76ers: Jontay Porter, PG, Missouri: The brother of Michael is just as high on potential, and could give the Sixers a frontcourt replacement for free agents Amir Johnson and Ersan Ilyasova. Porter has great size and is active around the rim.
27. Boston Celtics: Grayson Allen, SG, Duke – The Celtics really don’t need anything given their current roster and a healthy Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward returning. They may look for Marcus Smart insurance, and adding Allen gives them another 3-point shooter who can play from Day 1. This could also be an overseas stash for a Celtics team that has 15 players under contract next season.
28. Golden State Warriors: Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova: Winners want winners. But Brunson does more than simply win; he plays extraordinarily well doing it. Even though Quinn Cook has been an excellent success story from the G-League to the Dubs’ rotation, adding a talent like Brunson makes sense. He shot 41 percent from deep, 52 percent from the field and led the Wildcats to two titles.
29. Brooklyn Nets (via TOR): Omari Spellman, C, Villanova – Back-to-back Wildcats go here, as the Nets swing for the fences on a freshman who got better as the season went along. Jarrett Allen is more of a pick-and-roll, traditional center able to protect the rim; Spellman can extend his range to the 3-point line and could form a solid inside-out combination going forward. The Nets need talent; Spellman has it.
30. Atlanta Hawks (via HOU): Gary Trent, SG, Duke: With their third pick in the first round the Hawks take a chance on Trent, who was the fourth or fifth option on a loaded Duke team. Atlanta is putting together a solid 3-point shooting team and Trent only further adds to it.