The NBA Draft Lottery took place on Tuesday night and the draft order is now set, barring any trades.
Michigan State basketball has had seven players drafted over the past nine seasons and will look to add two more to that list in forwards Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr. Both Spartans are expected to go somewhere within the first 14 picks.
Now that the draft order is set, let’s look at the best fits for both players in next month’s draft.
Jaren Jackson Jr.
Potential fits: Sacramento Kings, Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks, Orlando Magic
Best fit: Mavericks
As it stands right now, Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton and Bosnia’s Luka Doncic are expected to go first and second, in that order. The Hawks will select third, but with the emergence of forward John Collins this season, it might make more sense for them to draft a wing or a guard, like Alabama’s Collin Sexton or Oklahoma’s Trae Young. If that happens, Marvin Bagley will be left on the board and will almost certainly be taken by the Grizzlies with the fourth pick.
If all of the above happens, which seems quite likely, Jackson could fall to the fifth pick and head to Dallas, where he would be the heir apparent to take over for the great Dirk Nowitzki at the power forward spot.
With Nowitzki turning 40 in June, it seems that finding his replacement is a top priority for the Mavericks, and Jackson seems to have the goods to do it, as he has even taken an apprenticeship with another all-time great at his position, Kevin Garnett.
Jackson, being just 19 years old, is not expected to start right away. This works out well considering Nowitzki plans to return for his 21st season. This would allow Jackson at least a full season to sit back and learn from one of the all-time greats at his respective position.
The Mavericks are a young team already bolstering rising stars Dennis Smith Jr., Harrison Barnes and Nerlens Noel. Jackson could be the final piece in assembling one of the more formidable lineups in the West for years to come.
Potential fits: New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Charlotte Hornets, Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets
Best fit: Hornets
In terms of body type, Bridges fits all the criteria of a solid small forward in the NBA standing tall at 6-foot-7 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan and weighing in at 226 pounds (Detroit Pistons’ Stanley Johnson is 6-foot-7 and 245 pounds with a 6-foot-11 wingspan). However, his plus rebounding (7 rebounds/game) and shot-blocking (0.8 blocks/game) ability make him more equipped to be a power forward, though an undersized one.
However, it is not unheard of for players of his size to make a living at the power forward spot. Take a look at another Michigan State product, the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year and two-time NBA champion, Draymond Green, who stands at 6-foot-7 and weighs 230 pounds.
Most have Bridges falling somewhere in the 10 to 13 range in the draft order. The 76ers sit at 10, but with Ben Simmons already on their roster–and Philadelphia seemingly being a front runner for the LeBron James sweepstakes this summer–they may opt to draft elsewhere.
It would come at a surprise if the Hornets pass on one of the more NBA-ready forwards in this draft at a position of dire need. As of right now, Charlotte’s starting forwards are Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, neither of whom are real threats to block Bridges from starting at either forward position. In Charlotte, he could have plenty of chances to see which position he is more suited for at the NBA level.
As has been well-documented, sophomore Nick Ward is weighing his options ahead of the May 30 deadline to either return to East Lansing or enter the draft. Ward would likely slip to the second round should he enter this year’s draft.