Impact Sports Staff: NBA Draft Breakdown

One week after our six experts mock drafted the first round of the NBA Draft, they are back to break down this year’s class. They analyze what skills each prospect brings to their perspective teams, how they fit into each system and also grade all 30 picks.

1. Phoenix Suns — Noah Goad (@NoahG423)

Pick: Deandre Ayton (Freshman, Arizona)

Position: Center | Height: 7-0 | Weight: 250 | Age: 19.9
Last Year’s Statistics: 20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds, 1.9 blocks

How Ayton fits in Phoenix… The Suns may have received their savior in the form of a 7-foot, 250-pound center. Ayton was the most developed freshman in this year’s draft. On offense, he will likely cause opponents to duck and run inside the paint, however, there is still room for improvement on defense. There is a good chance he starts his career playing at the four spot until his defense and paint presence improves. Expect Ayton to follow a similar path as Karl Anthony-Towns.

Grade: A

2. Sacramento Kings — Ryan Cole (@ryan_cole9)

Pick: Marvin Bagley III (Freshman, Duke)

Position: Center | Height: 6-11 | Weight: 235 | Age: 19.2
Last Year’s Statistics: 21.0 points, 11.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists

How Bagley III fits in Sacramento… Bagley has what it takes to become a dominant big man in the league. His freshman season at Duke was loaded with accomplishments, so if his college career is any indication, he’s on his way to stardom. But with a franchise that has dragged its feet time and time again, nothing is for certain about how well this pick will pan out. It will be exciting to watch him run the pick-and-roll for the next few years with another young stud, De’Aaron Fox.

Grade: A-

3. Dallas Mavericks [via Atlanta Hawks] — Tamar Davis (@TamarrDaviss)

Pick: Luka Doncic (Real Madrid/Spain)

Position: Point Guard | Height: 6-7 | Weight: 220 | Age: 19.3
Last Year’s Statistics: 14.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists

How Doncic fits in Dallas… Doncic was a risky pick, especially for the teams who were not being able to do a full scouting report on the overseas superstar. If Doncic’s skill set is able to make an impact in any way, the Mavericks may have created a dangerous backcourt for the future with the help of Dennis Smith Jr. Doncic allows Smith Jr. to become more of a scoring guard and play off the ball.

Grade: B+

4. Memphis Grizzlies — Ryan Collins (@Collins5Brian)

Pick: Jaren Jackson Jr. (Freshman, Michigan State)

Position: Power Forward | Height: 6-11 | Weight: 236 | Age: 18.8
Last Year’s Statistics: 10.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.0 blocks

How Jackson Jr. fits in Memphis… The Grizzlies decided to pick talent over a need, which is the smart move when rebuilding. After being picked, Jackson Jr. seemed excited to be in Memphis, which was concerning when the former Spartan wouldn’t work out for the Grizzlies in the pre-draft process. Jackson Jr. will be a defensive centerpiece for Memphis whenever he’s on the floor but will be interesting the minutes Jackson Jr. gets with Marc Gasol still in the mix.

Grade: A-

5. Atlanta Hawks [via Dallas Mavericks] — Zachary Swiecicki (@zachswies)

Pick: Trae Young (Freshman, Oklahoma)

Position: Point Guard | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 180 | Age: 19.8
Last Year’s Statistics: 27.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 8.7 assists

How Young fits in Atlanta… The Hawks had needs, to some degree, at every position entering draft night. A franchise that has fully embraced “rebuilding”, Atlanta saw Taurean Prince and John Collins evolve into the two main pieces of that process last season. Young instantly brings shooting and talent to a roster that lacked both of those qualities, in a league that demands both. With the future of Dennis Schroder in question as well, Young could slide into the starting role as soon as he walks through the doors. The Hawks started the night with the No. 3 overall pick, selected Luka Doncic, and traded the Slovenian superstar for Young and a 2019 first-round pick — given the context, the move makes sense.

Grade: B+

6. Orlando Magic — Joey Ellis (@JEllis1016)

Pick: Mohamed Bamba (Freshman, Texas)

Position: Center | Height: 7-0 | Weight: 225 | Age: 20.1
Last Year’s Statistics: 12.9 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.7 blocks

How Bamba fits in Orlando… Bamba’s freakish 7-foot-10 wingspan speaks for itself defensively, but it’s the offensive end where he could really prove dividends. The Magic have been without a dominant big since Dwight Howard left years ago and Bamba could end up being the next force in Orlando. His improved 3-point shooting over the last three months makes him as interesting a rookie as anyone.

Grade: A+

7. Chicago Bulls — Joey Ellis (@JEllis1016)

Pick: Wendell Carter Jr. (Freshman, Duke)

Position: Center | Height: 6-10 | Weight: 259 | Age: 19.2
Last Year’s Statistics: 13.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.1 blocks

How Carter Jr. fits in Chicago… Carter Jr. was one of the more safe picks in the draft, considering how easy he is to put into an NBA lineup. His ceiling isn’t as high as some of the other top picks, but he’s got all the makings to be a consistently solid big in the league. His impressive post game will go a long way playing alongside second-year player Lauri Markkanen.

Grade: B

8. Cleveland Cavaliers — Tamar Davis (@TamarrDaviss)

Pick: Collin Sexton (Freshman, Alabama)

Position: Point Guard | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 190 | Age: 19.5
Last Year’s Statistics: 19.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists

How Sexton fits in Cleveland… Sexton is an explosive player that will score and lead his team with ease, this was a safe pick for the Cavaliers going with the second-best point guard in the draft. Sexton is a player that Cleveland could potentially make their next franchise player. If LeBron James isn’t returning to Cleveland, Sexton might not be able to fill that exact void but he’s a player that could start a new historical path on his own.

Grade: A-

9. New York Knicks — Ryan Collins (@Collins5Brian)

Pick: Kevin Knox (Freshman, Kentucky)

Position: Small Forward | Height: 6-9 | Weight: 213 | Age: 18.9
Last Year’s Statistics: 15.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists

How Knox fits in New York… The Kentucky product will provide a certifiable offensive threat from the wing, which the Knicks have needed since the departures of Carmelo Anthony and J.R Smith. Knox will play well off Kristaps Porzingis as he has the ability to become a knockdown three-point shooter. I really like the youth movement in New York I’d expect the Knicks to be in the playoffs in two seasons.

Grade: B+

10. Phoenix Suns [via Philadelphia 76ers] — Noah Goad (@NoahG423)

Pick: Mikal Bridges (Junior, Villanova)

Position: Small Forward | Height: 6-7 | Weight: 209 | Age: 21.8
Last Year’s Statistics: 17.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists

How Bridges fits in Phoenix… With forward TJ Warren having a breakout season for the Suns and the presence of Devin Booker and Josh Jackson, Bridges likely isn’t going to start for the Suns any time soon. However, expect him to get plenty of minutes off the bench, as he looks to be the front-runner for the Suns’ sixth man.

Grade: B-

11. Los Angeles Clippers [via Charlotte Hornets] — Noah Goad (@NoahG423)

Pick: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Freshman, Kentucky)

Position: Point Guard | Height: 6-6 | Weight: 180 | Age: 19.9
Last Year’s Statistics: 14.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists

How Gilgeous-Alexander fits in Los Angeles… Gilgeous-Alexander projects as a point guard in the NBA and has the size and athleticism to be a good one. However, he is a little unpolished and probably isn’t ready to start in the NBA and will likely have to compete for playing time the one spot with Patrick Beverly and Milos Teodosic. Because of Beverly and Teodosic, the Clippers’ coaching staff has plenty of time to let Gilgeous-Alexander develop into the team’s starting point guard.

Grade: B+

12. Charlotte Hornets [via Los Angeles Clippers] — Ryan Cole (@ryan_cole9)

Pick: Miles Bridges (Sophomore, Michigan State)

Position: Small Forward | Height: 6-7 | Weight: 225 | Age: 20.3
Last Year’s Statistics: 17.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists

How Bridges fits in Charlotte… The Hornets initially picked Gilgeous-Alexander, but some fans were upset to find they traded him away for Bridges and two more picks. However, Bridges has the athleticism to succeed at a high level for a long NBA career. His mix of inside power and outside accuracy make him one of the more intriguing prospects in this rookie class. As long as he can continue to improve his defense and shot-creating ability, Bridges should be one of Charlotte’s top bench players in his rookie year and work toward threatening Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Marvin Williams in the starting lineup.

Grade: B+

13. Los Angeles Clippers — Noah Goad (@NoahG423)

Pick: Jerome Robinson (Junior, Boston College)

Position: Point Guard | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 190 | Age: 21.3
Last Year’s Statistics: 20.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists

How Robinson fits in Los Angeles… The guy is going to score…and score a lot. Robinson, who has flown under the radar for much of his career, shot 40 percent from beyond the arc last season and possess good enough handles to run the point On the other end, his size and athleticism allow him to defend anywhere from one to three. Expect him to be a really exciting combo-guard off the bench for the Clippers next season.

Grade: A

14. Denver Nuggets — Ryan Cole (@ryan_cole9)

Pick: Michael Porter Jr. (Freshman, Missouri)

Position: Power Forward | Height: 6-10 | Weight: 210 | Age: 20.0
Last Year’s Statistics: 10.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.0 steals

How Porter Jr. fits in Denver… Denver gets one of the most intriguing stories in the draft class in drafting what many believed a year ago would be the No. 1 pick in this class. Porter Jr. has the potential to be a major piece in an exciting young core in Denver; however, it can’t be forgotten that he was injured for nearly his entire year in college. And it wasn’t an ordinary injury, either, because it was one of the more crucial locations to avoid an injury: the back. Porter Jr. has to continue his recovery from that injury and become a starter in order to validate Denver’s choice to make him a lottery pick. But he has the game and the outside aim to make him a formidable big man in today’s NBA.

Grade: B

15. Washington Wizards — Zachary Swiecicki (@zachswies)

Pick: Tony Brown Jr. (Freshman, Oregon)

Position: Shooting Guard | Height: 6-7 | Weight: 215 | Age: 18.8
Last Year’s Statistics: 11.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists

How Brown Jr. fits in Washington… This was one of the first puzzling picks of round one for me. Although, that does not mean Brown Jr. is not a good player. He projects as a shooting guard in the NBA that will be able to utilize his size defensively against smaller matchups and switch easily onto bigger players, and he is still just 18-years-old. His most glaring weakness is outside shooting, shooting 29.1-percent on 110 3-point attempts. Washington is figured to still be in win-now mode with Wall, Beal, and Porter, but with needs at both big positions (Gortat now traded and Morris in a contract year, and both with below-average backups). He is an interesting prospect — but that is the problem with this pick — he is still a prospect.

Grade: C

16. Philadelphia 76ers [via Phoenix Suns] — Zachary Swiecicki (@zachswies)

Pick: Zhaire Smith (Freshman, Texas Tech)

Position: Shooting Guard | Height: 6-4 | Weight: 199 | Age: 19.0
Last Year’s Statistics: 11.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists

How Smith fits in Philadelphia… While his statistics aren’t particularly impressive, Smith’s ceiling is what has teams intrigued. Trading their No. 10 overall pick, Mikal Bridges, for No. 16 may have confused some, but moving back saved the 76ers $1 million, added Philly’s “1B” choice, and Miami’s 2021 first-round pick — more assets to possibly trade for a superstar. If Smith will be staying, he adds depth and athleticism to the Sixers’ backcourt.

Grade: B

17. Milwaukee Bucks — Ryan Collins (@Collins5Brian)

Pick: Donte DiVincenzo (Sophomore, Villanova)

Position: Shooting Guard | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 201 | Age: 21.4
Last Year’s Statistics: 13.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists

How DiVincenzo fits in Milwaukee… The Bucks reached here at 17, as they probably could’ve moved back and got DiVincenzo later in the first. DiVincenzo will get an opportunity to play right off the bat as Milwaukee’s backcourt needs a different look as they struggled to find any kind of consistency last season. DiVincenzo’s ceiling is nowhere near a player like Lonnie Walker IV but his floor is a solid backup point guard.

Grade: C+

18. San Antonio Spurs — Tamar Davis (@TamarrDaviss)

Pick: Lonnie Walker IV (Freshman, Miami)

Position: Shooting Guard | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 196 | Age: 19.5
Last Year’s Statistics: 11.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists

How Walker IV fits in San Antonio… Walker IV has a huge amount of potential waiting to be unlocked. Walker IV fits right into the Gregg Popovich model and could make things a lot easier on his new teammates. Kawhi Leonard might not be a San Antonio Spur for long, Walker IV has a lot of length and upside and could potentially be a player that feels in the hole Leonard might leave in this franchise.  

Grade: B

19. Atlanta Hawks — Zachary Swiecicki (@zachswies)

Pick: Kevin Huerter (Sophomore, Maryland)

Position: Shooting Guard | Height: 6-7 | Weight: 190 | Age: 19.8
Last Year’s Statistics: 14.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists

How Huerter fits in Atlanta… The second pick of Atlanta’s draft wound up being one of the players that benefited most from recency bias: Maryland sophomore guard Kevin Huerter. Following the trend, started by picking Young, the Hawks added shooting, talent, and youth. Shooting 41.7-percent from deep last season, the former Terrapin will have to quicken his sometimes deliberate jump shot. He will also have to improve his decision making as he turned the ball over 2.5 times per game. Nevertheless, Huerter has the talent and potential to separate himself as a solid bench contributor from the start.

Grade: B

20. Minnesota Timberwolves — Joey Ellis (@JEllis1016)

Pick: Josh Okogie (Sophomore, Georgia Tech)

Position: Shooting Guard | Height: 6-4 | Weight: 211 | Age: 19.8
Last Year’s Statistics: 18.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists

How Okogie fits in Minnesota… Okogie was one of those impressive college players hidden amidst a very average college team. After a really impressive combine, Okogie turned a lot of heads for being one of the more athletic players in the draft. His role in Minnesota won’t have him over-stepping some of its stars, but Tom Thibodeau could have quite the role player, if not more, in Okogie.

Grade: B

21. Utah Jazz — Joey Ellis (@JEllis1016)

Pick: Grayson Allen (Senior, Duke)

Position: Shooting Guard | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 195 | Age: 22.7
Last Year’s Statistics: 15.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists

How Allen fits in Utah… For a Utah team that’s searching for more offense, Allen brings just that. He’s a great athlete that does a lot of different things offensively. If Donovan Mitchell assumes more of the point guard duties, Allen playing alongside Mitchell could be quite the backcourt for Quin Snyder.

Grade: B+

22. Chicago Bulls — Joey Ellis (@JEllis1016)

Pick: Chandler Hutchison (Senior, Boise State)

Position: Small Forward | Height: 6-7 | Weight: 196 | Age: 22.2
Last Year’s Statistics: 20.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists

How Hutchison fits in Chicago… Hutchinson is just another piece of a young Chicago frontcourt. He’ll be a bit of a project until he can consistently show he can be effective at a higher level, but his offensive skill set will be nice to have.

Grade: B

23. Indiana Pacers — Tamar Davis (@TamarrDaviss)

Pick: Aaron Holiday (Junior, UCLA)

Position: Point Guard | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 187 | Age: 21.7
Last Year’s Statistics:  20.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists

How Holiday fits in Indiana…  Holiday adds another piece to the Indiana Pacers’ feisty guard rotation. Not only did Holiday provide UCLA with scoring but he also was a tremendous vocal leader on the court. The Pacers needed with an abundance of energy and speed to follow up coming off the bench for players like Victor Oladipo and Darren Collison.  

Grade: A

24. Portland Trailblazers — Ryan Collins (@Collins5Brian)

Pick: Anfernee Simons (IMG Academy)

Position: Shooting Guard | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 183 | Age: 19.0
Last Year’s Statistics: N/A

How Simons fits in Portland… I like the pick for Portland as they take a guy with one of the highest ceilings in the class. Simons will likely spend his first season in the G League as the Trailblazers don’t want to discourage the young shooting guard. Rolling the dice on a young high talent guy provides greater dividends then taking a college senior who’s ceiling has almost been reached which is worth the risk at pick 24.

Grade: B+

25. Los Angeles Lakers — Zachary Swiecicki (@zachswies)

Pick: Moritz Wagner (Junior, Michigan)

Position: Center | Height: 6-11 | Weight: 240 | Age: 21.2
Last Year’s Statistics: 14.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 0.8 assists

How Wagner fits in Los Angeles… Wagner is an interesting possible role player for the Lakers. He offers the characteristics of a modern-day stretch four, with the possibility of playing center in a small lineup. The pick doesn’t necessarily fill a need, but it does add a piece that could contribute immediately.

Grade: B-

26. Philadelphia 76ers — Zachary Swiecicki (@zachswies)

Pick: Landry Shamet (Sophomore, Wichita State)

Position: Point Guard | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 189 | Age: 21.2
Last Year’s Statistics: 14.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, 5.2 assists

How Shamet fits in Philadelphia… Shamet comes into Philadelphia as an established shooter (44.2 percent from three last season with Wichita State) that has a skill set and build similar to former Spartan Denzel Valentine. Playing as a slightly oversized point guard, with a chance that he also spends some time as a shooting guard, he can switch on the pick-and-roll easily and take advantage of mismatches. The 76ers addressed a need by adding more shooting, and with his natural court vision, Shamet projects as a high-floor pick.

Grade: A-

27. Boston Celtics — Ryan Cole (@ryan_cole9)

Pick: Robert Williams (Sophomore, Texas A&M)

Position: Center | Height: 6-10 | Weight: 237 | Age: 20.7
Last Year’s Statistics: 10.4 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.6 blocks

How Williams fits in Boston… It’s tough to say Williams “fits” anywhere, due to his sheer size. But size is something you just can’t teach, and Boston is getting a tall, long, rare true center. With a monstrous 7-foot-5 wingspan, Williams has the length to make it tough on any opposition, and he also has the fluidity to create havoc on defense at multiple positions. Boston won’t be asking Williams to put up crazy stats or even start, so this pick comes without the pressure of a lottery pick. Williams may have slipped a bit in the draft, but this pick, this location, and this franchise make plenty of sense for him, and vice versa.

Grade: A-

28. Golden State Warriors — Noah Goad (@NoahG423)

Pick: Jacob Evans (Freshman, Texas Tech)

Position: Small Forward | Height: 6-6 | Weight: 200 | Age: 21.0
Last Year’s Statistics: 13.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists

How Evans fits in Golden State… It was kind of surprising that the Warriors elected to take a wing player considering the depth that they have there already, especially with as high caliber of a big man as Mitchell Robinson still on the board. However, with the amount of time Kevin Durant spent playing the five in the postseason, along with recurring injuries to Andre Iguodala, may mean that Evans could get more playing time than anticipated. Expect him to bounce between the two and three off the bench.

Grade: C

29. Brooklyn Nets — Noah Goad (@NoahG423)

Pick: Dzanan Musa (Cedevita/Bosnia & Herzegovina)

Position: Small Forward | Height: 6-9 | Weight: 195 | Age: 19.1
Last Year’s Statistics: 12.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists

How Musa fits in Brooklyn… Though Musa isn’t physically imposing, he has a great work ethic and possesses a high basketball IQ. He is a leader in the locker room and has the type of personality that will help strengthen the Net’s chemistry. With not much depth at the three spot, Musa could work his way into the starting five sooner than later. For now, he will earn his minutes off the bench.

Grade: B

30. Atlanta Hawks — Zachary Swiecicki (@zachswies)

Pick: Omari Spellman (Freshman, Villanova)

Position: Power Forward | Height: 6-9 | Weight: 255 | Age: 20.9
Last Year’s Statistics: 10.9 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks

How Spellman fits in Atlanta… As the Hawks try to fit all of the puzzle pieces together to make a “Warriors 2.0”-type roster, Spellman slots in as the Draymond Green of Atlanta. Shooting 43.3-percent on 150 3-point attempts after redshirting his first year at Villanova, he was a key contributor in their national championship run. He drastically changed his body and his game — as Green did in his time at MSU — but still has room to grow. His effort and energy were infectious for his Wildcat teammates…the Green comparisons can go on. Depending on how Atlanta would like to configure their lineup, Spellman can enter as their starting or backup power forward from day one.

Grade: A