The NBA is about to inherit their next crop of rookies on Thursday night. The Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, and Atlanta Hawks have the top three picks. Check out our roundtable with thoughts from some of our writers on the prospects in the draft.
- Randy King
- Felix John-Baptiste
- Alfonso De Falco
- Evan Anderson
- Martin Soaries
1. Who do you consider to be the most transcendent talent in the 2018 draft class?
King: Mo Bamba. He has an NBA record for longest wingspan and he uses all of it too defend and shoot the ball. He has a soft touch when he chooses to score the ball. On defense, he is being compared to the two time All-Defensive first-team member in Rudy Gobert, and I feel like he will surpass Gobert as an overall player. Bamba’s play style reminds me of Anthony Davis when he came out of Kentucky and we all know how well he progressed.
John-Baptiste: All signs point to Mo Bamba. This reminds me of the Jahlil Okafor/Karl-Anthony Towns debate, where initially Okafor was the consensus number one and then Towns quickly shot up the ranks and had amazing draft workouts. Bamba has three-point range, the athleticism, the length and the quick feet defensively to be a monster in this league.
— Drew Hanlen (@DrewHanlen) June 20, 2018
De Falco: I’m agreeing with Mo Bamba and how can’t you? This guy has the longest wingspan recorded at the combine, has a 3.04 3/4 court sprint and oh yeah, he is only 20 years old. A defensive anchor who can shoot on the other end? Yeah, Bamba is looking like a beast already.
Anderson: Mohammed Bamba. He showed off his incredible speed by recording a faster sprint, equivalent to a 40-yard dash, than Russell Westbrook and John Wall. His long wingspan will help him make his defensive presence in the league. With high expectations, Bamba has the chance to adapt to the next level and I believe he’ll make his way to an All-Defensive Team. Regardless of what team he’s drafted by, he’ll make an immediate impact.
Soaries: We’ll see how quickly Mo Bamba can put the offensive versatility that he’s been developing on display, but he definitely has the attributes to be the easy answer to this question with his size, mobility, and eight-foot wingspan. I also believe an argument could be made for Marvin Bagley III.
2. Which highly-touted prospect do you believe has the biggest bust potential?
King: As much as I loved him coming out of high school I am going to have to say Michael Porter Jr. Although he may be medically cleared and the back is 100% I still question his toughness and ability to have staying power in the league. He is most definitely talented enough with his shooting ability and his overall game being sound. However, his talent is not my concern if I am a GM. For me, it is purely a durability issue. Back injuries are not necessarily easy to recover from and it could have an impact on the way he approaches the game now as opposed to how he played before the injury. I hope he isn’t a bust, but I can see how some of the top teams might be scared to take him.
John-Baptiste: Miles Bridges. I’m in no way saying he won’t be a good player, but for a lottery pick, I’m not sure what his ceiling will be. He does eerily remind me of a Michael Beasley type. Very athletic, has range, can handle the ball. To make it big at the next level he will have to hone his skills and do something extremely well to set him apart from other wing players.
De Falco: I’m going with Trae Young. He was very good in college and one of the more popular prospects coming into Thursday night. He has a great jump shot and court vision but the main problem I think here is defense. With the status of so many great point guards in the NBA, he might have a tough time trying to stay up to speed with them.
Official: Trae Young is on fire.
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) January 20, 2018
Anderson: Trae Young. Something just doesn’t sit right with me and Young. He’s 6 foot 2 inches and sometimes showed glimpses of bad shooting nights at Oklahoma. He can’t be a successful point guard in the NBA if he is turning the ball over 12 times in a college game (against Kansas) which led D-1 players that year for most turnovers. In the NBA, with his height at his disadvantage, Young must find other factors of his game to help his team win without being prevented from scoring the last 10 minutes of games.
Soaries: The hype around another international stud in Luka Doncic creates the potential for a bust situation if he doesn’t show up. I don’t think there’s any indication that he won’t show up. He plays and sees the game at an insanely high level. His task as an international success story in the NBA is to be more Kristaps Porzingis than Darko Milicic, and frankly, if he’s not looking like a bonafide star, he’ll have the bust label coming for him. I see this draft as having low “bust” potential overall.
3. Who will prove to be the Donovan Mitchell or Kyle Kuzma of this draft class?
King: Lonnie Walker IV. I love his overall game. He is a long and freakishly athletic two guard who can hurt an opposing defense in a multitude of ways. Explosive attacking the rim (like Mitchell), he is just as lethal beyond the arc. His long 6’10 wingspan to go with his athleticism for a guard his size makes him a valuable perimeter defender capable of giving top-level talent fits. Something Mitchell & Kuzma aren’t able to do just yet. Walker doesn’t facilitate the ball that well but given the fact he is a scoring two guard, he doesn’t need to be. His role can be a sixth-man or place starter like Kuzma was for the Lakers this year.
John-Baptiste: Donte DiVincenzo. He has the total package. Athleticism, long range, ball handling, decision making. Teams are probably wary of taking him because of his quick rise and his height. He proved to be fearless on the biggest stage in college and I think he will continue that kind of play in the league.
Donte DiVincenzo has been a straight bucket today. He's now at 30 points for Nova.
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) February 10, 2018
De Falco: I’m going with Donte DiVincenzo. The two-time National Champion has shown that he can perform on the big stage, yet no one is mentioning him as a high draft pick. His height might be a problem but his play at one of the bigger programs in Villanova should not go unnoticed. I think he will go to a playoff team and become a very solid role player.
Anderson: I believe that will be Collin Sexton. Sexton showed his point guard ability at Alabama last season and was a versatile player. Averaging 19 points per game as a freshman, he will bring a true point guard to a team that needs one. It’s going to be tricky where he ends up because he can be a valuable player that everyone may need, just like how Donovan Mitchell is becoming.
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) March 16, 2018
Soaries: I think Kevin Knox could make some noise right away in the right spot. Also wouldn’t be surprised by the likes of Donte DiVincenzo, Lonnie Walker, De’Anthony Melton, or Tony Carr.
4. True or False: We’ll see some form of a blockbuster trade on draft night.
King: Just for fun I am going to say…true. I believe the Celtics wave goodbye to Kyrie Irving. I know, Irving is an already established elite-level point guard, but hear me out. The Celtics can shop Irving to acquire assets in return and continue to re-tool an already stacked unit. The Knicks are rumored to be interested in his services and swapping the draft rights for the 9th pick and a veteran role-player like Courtney Lee to replace the potential departure of Marcus Smart can sweeten the pot and make it a very logical possibility.
The Celtics proved that they don’t need Irving to succeed and if they wanted to dump his contract to another team and acquire a cheaper option then they could do so. Gordon Hayward is coming back for Boston as well, so Brad Stevens will not have to be too reliant on players like Tatum and Brown as he was in the post-season. To replace Kyrie at point guard you can select the human highlight reel that is Trae Young or the uber-talented Collin Sexton and have their back-up be Terry Rozier. Doesn’t sound too bad right? Bottom line, Kyrie is no longer ‘needed’ in Beantown.
John-Baptiste: I sure hope so! We’ve come to anticipate huge deals on draft night and we’ve seldom been disappointed. With the lottery seemingly deep, teams are going to look to move up and down depending on their position. High picks are always the X-factor for big deals involving superstars. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a huge three-team deal shipping Kyrie out of Boston, Kawhi out of San Antonio or Kemba out of Charlotte.
De Falco: As much as I want to see it happen, I don’t think it will. Sure, we’ll have a few trades involving picks and few role players or there but I don’t think guys like Kyrie or Kawhi Leonard will get traded on draft night.
Anderson: I would have to say true. Last year, we witnessed the Jimmy Butler trade to Minnesota, and this year can be even better. A blockbuster trade I could see go down would have to be with Kawhi and joining the Cavaliers. That would be an interesting one. The whole issue with LeBron James and a decision whether to stay or leave Cleveland would greatly be determined from an alliance with Leonard. With some aspects like Kevin Love to trade and including their 8th overall pick in the draft, I could see Leonard and James teaming up together from a trade on draft night.
Soaries: True. I think there will be at least one because teams are jumpy after the way the Warriors just repeated as champs. Triggers have to be pulled and risks have to be taken, and it starts with making moves in the draft.
5. Who’s the rookie you’re most excited to watch in the NBA Summer League?
King: This isn’t going to surprise many but I am going to go with DeAndre Ayton. Rarely do we see a player of this size and mass to be so skilled offensively. If there was ever a player to be excited to see how he compares to top-level talent, it is Ayton. He is a physically imposing force inside and can hit the three and shoot mid-range jumpers with ease. A rim-protector on the other end and the physique to take on the battle in the low-post will make him an exciting player to witness in the summer league. Think the Orlando Magic version of Dwight Howard with a jump shot. If that doesn’t excite you, I don’t know what will.
2. DeAndre Ayton
C – Arizona pic.twitter.com/3zo2w7y571
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) June 20, 2018
John-Baptiste: Trae Young. We’ve seen by now what he was able to do in college. I’m looking forward to seeing his confidence level playing with the best of the best, and how he handles being pressured 90 feet. If he’s able to flourish there, I think he’ll be able to get off to a fast start when the season rolls around.
De Falco: The guy I am interested to see is Michael Porter Jr. Porter dominated in high school and looked to do so at the University of Missouri. Sadly, a back injury forced him to miss pretty much his entire freshman season outside of three games. He is considered one of the biggest question marks in the draft. When healthy, he will be a nice offensive wing for any team that drafts him.
Anderson: I’m looking forward to watching Marvin Bagley III. He’s a very developed big man who will have an immediate impact joining any team. His body type is built closer already to an NBA player and he, consistently, destroyed during his time at Duke so he’ll be able to adapt to the league quicker. The Summer League gives us a chance to see these players with NBA type talent and I’m excited to see how Bagley will produce.
Soaries: I think it’s Luka Doncic for me. If he is to become the 6’8 Steve Nash I’m going to enjoy watching the development of it. Also will want to get looks at Marvin Bagley, Michael Porter, and Trae Young.