The NBA has gone nuts. It is a beautiful thing. Will anything actually occur before the Thursday 3 p.m. trade deadline leading up to the NBA draft? There’s often much more talk than action in what one NBA executive is calling, “activity before achievement.”
But suddenly in the last few days, it’s like the projected top five picks are some combination of the 1960s Celtics and the Dream Team. General managers have been dangling All-Stars and Olympians as if this draft class will become the Golden State Warriors. One team executive said the Warriors even were in the bidding, though it was unclear if it involved one of their main four. Goodbye, Draymond Green? Nah.
Really, who knows with the frenzy that’s been going on involving rumors with the likes of Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Andre Drummond, Kristaps Porzingis, half the Houston roster and various Boston Celtics. Executives and agents are saying teams like the Heat, Spurs and Thunder also have been significantly involved in trying to land a high lottery pick while first round picks have been widely available as Portland owns three, the Lakers now a pair after trading D’Angelo Russell for Brook Lopez and Orlando and Utah with multiple picks.
Was it just an appetizer?
Is there going to be a main course of beefy trades and a star shakeup Thursday? Or is it going to be just another empty feeling?
We do know there is going to be a draft with coverage from the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn starting on ESPN at 6 p.m. Central.
1. Philadelphia 76ers (from Celtics). Markelle Fultz, Washington point guard, freshman, 6-4, 195. It’s consecutive No. 1 overall picks and Joel Embiid. Does this make it a city of brotherly love again for basketball fans? His college team wasn’t even close to .500. Does it matter? The next can’t miss guy.
2. Los Angeles Lakers. Lonzo Ball, UCLA point guard, freshman, 6-7, 190. If anyone can out talk the dad it’s Magic Johnson. Enough with the family. Is he the next Magic? Good enough to appeal to LeBron next summer? Better be better than D’Angelo Russell.
3. Boston Celtics (from 76ers). Jayson Tatum, Duke small forward, freshman, 6-8, 205. Everyone thought Jaylen Brown was a reach last year at No. 3 for Boston, and he turned out OK. Boston got a future No. 1 in addition to the No. 1 they get from the Nets also in 2018. Really, that can’t be the plan. At least not if they want to compete before 2022. Tatum’s considered a ready offensive player, so maybe as they do need scoring.
4. Phoenix Suns. Josh Jackson, Kansas small forward, freshman, 6-8, 200. Another of those teams that, really, are going to take another kid? A very good one, sure, and another more ready to play guy who’s considered a potentially top defender and playmaker. They’ve been in the middle of just about all the trade talks as they’ve also been dangling the pick to unload contracts.
5. Sacramento Kings. (from 76ers). De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky point guard, freshman, 6-3, 170. If the Suns happen to decide for a dynamic backcourt with he and Kentucky’s Devin Booker, then the Kings could panic and trade their Nos. 5 and 10 to move ahead to get Fox. He’s a jet who seems ideal for this NBA era, though not with the great shot yet. And a rivalry waiting with Ball to at least let the dads fight it out.
6. Orlando Magic. Jonathan Isaac, Florida State power forward, freshman, 6-10, 205. Time to start the next five-year plan. It’s new management with long term deals and not exactly committed to anyone on the roster. Let the dealing begin. Some scouts say he could eventually be one of the best from this draft with Kevin Garnett abilities. Yes, we hear that often.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves. Lauri Markkanen, Arizona power forward, freshman, 7-0, 225. This is Thibs first real draft as gm, so is he wheeling and dealing? For all the second guessing he supposedly did when he was Bulls coach, well, now it’s time. He’s yet another executive supposedly sniffing the top five. OK, put up. This guy is the safe pick, big guy who can shoot well with a team of big guys who can shoot well.
8. New York Knicks. Frank Ntilikina, France point guard, freshman (well, 18 years old), 6-5, 180. You know Phil loves the continent. They don’t figure to bring back Derrick Rose and while Ntilikina isn’t one of those super athlete guards, he’s more old school (triangle) reliable and versatile. Figure local draft fans start booing early.
9. Dallas Mavericks. Dennis Smith, North Carolina State point guard, freshman. 6-3, 190. One of those super athlete types like a Steve Francis. A bit small and some teams scared off by a sometime indifferent attitude. Yet, one of those guys who could make everyone wonder in two years why they thought so much more of Fultz and Ball.
10. Sacramento Kings (from Pelicans). Zach Collins, Gonzaga power forward, freshman, 7-0, 235. He’s a very intriguing big man who moves well and seems only have begun to find his way having played little in college. He could adapt the quickest of the big guys in this draft and move ahead of their big men, who are not much offensively with the trade of DeMarcus Cousins.
11. Charlotte Hornets. Malik Monk, Kentucky shooting guard, freshman, 6-4, 200. How do you replace Marco Belinelli? Not easy, as everyone knows. But you move on. This could be a wild bunch with Dwight Howard now at center. Sort of like Washington getting Jordan. Just a decade too late. Monk’s considered the best shooter and watching Michael Kidd-Gilchrist all this time he’s welcome.
12. Detroit Pistons. Luke Kennard, Duke shooting guard, sophomore, 6-6, 205. Anyone want Reggie Jackson? Drummond? Kentavious Caldwell-Pope? Why not take a shooter cheap? After all, why pay free agent Caldwell-Pope all that and what do you have to show for it. Coach Stan Van Gundy is said to be furious with the gm. Oh, yeah. That never works well, Right, Doc? Look for the Pistons also to be active in trade with the big payroll and little to show for it.
13. Denver Nuggets. Donovan Mitchell, Louisville shooting guard, sophomore, 6-3, 210. Fits their mile high profile of a great athlete who will run you until you tire. Putting together some good young players, but can you make much of a move that way in the West? They’re working on four straight years out of the playoffs with a lot of West teams filled with good, young players. So what to do?
14. Miami Heat. Justin Jackson, North Carolina small forward, junior, 6-7, 220. May lose James Johnson in free agency and Miami likes those ready to play guys, and he’s one. Not the great athlete, but smart, skilled and high character and serious. They’re more interested in free agency, anyway, and not much into projects.
15. Portland Trail Blazers. John Collins, Wake Forest power forward, sophomore, 6-9, 225. This is the third level of this draft basically starting with Miami’s pick. They have three firsts, so it’s difficult to say how many they’ll use. They’ve been mostly trying to peddle some firsts to get teams to take contracts. They made a nice addition with center Jusuf Nurkic last season and can use some young big guys. This part of the draft will feature a run of big men, somewhat raw but athletic.
16. Bulls. Edrice “Bam” Adebayo. Kentucky center, freshman, 6-9, 245. A bit undersized, but an impressive physical specimen and so powerful he’s sort of scary attacking the rim. Finally, a Bulls player who can dunk. Reminds me a little of that Suns sub big man Alan Williams, who came in and knocked over Bulls like in a super hero movie. But better than that guy. Most of the mock drafts have him lower and into the 20s, likely because of limited shooting. The physical presence seems too good to pass up.
17. Milwaukee Bucks. Harry Giles, Duke center, freshman, 6-10, 232. He’s a big time risk given a pair of ACL surgeries before college. That was when he was considered a future No. 1 overall pick. The Bucks have some time with Jabari Parker recovering from his own ACL, but big risk/big reward. If he hits, it could be very big.
18. Indiana Pacers. OG Anunoby, Indiana small forward, sophomore, 6-8, 235. He had ACL surgery, so is not ready to play. And with the Paul George likely trade, they’re ready to start again. He’d be much higher if not for the injury, a top notch potential defender who is long with an NBA physical body.
19. Atlanta Hawks. Jarrett Allen, Texas center, freshman, 6-10, 235. Another of those athletic big guys, long, active and defensive oriented. Also won’t be as annoying as Dwight Howard. Looks like a rebuilding there, which makes you wonder about Paul Millsap. Would seem he’ll be a top target in free agency.
20. Portland Trail Blazers (from Grizzlies). T.J. Leaf, UCLA power forward, freshman, 6-10, 222. A good shooting big man who can step away and make a shot. Their second pick, so who knows exactly if there’s a plan. Figure they’ll be in search for those guys who may slip through. You know, best player available and couldn’t believe he’d be available when we picked.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder. Terrance Ferguson, Australia shooting guard, freshman, 6-7, 185. Not actually Australian, mate, but went to make some money instead of taking some money in college. He’s an excellent athlete who doesn’t handle the ball that great, but is terrific as a catch and shoot, especially so young. Sounds just what you’d want with Russell Westbrook.
22. Brooklyn Nets (from Wizards). Justin Patton, Creighton center, freshman, 6-11, 230. Another of those top athlete big men who aren’t ready, and neither are they. He’s taller than the others and they’ve just dealt Brook Lopez. Though they have plenty of positions to fill. Runs the court intensely and it all starts with kids.
23. Toronto Raptors (from Clippers). Anzejs Pasecniks, Latvia center, senior (21 years old) 7-2, 230. Well, they are a foreign country. Maybe worth a chance as the top guys at this point are inexperienced defensive big men. He’s a buddy of Porzingis and said to have some of the same offensive abilities.
24. Utah Jazz. Ike Anigbogu, UCLA center, freshman, 6-10, 250. Physical big man with a long wingspan who hits the boards hard. Could make sense as a backup to the more mobile Rudy Gobert.
25. Orlando Magic (from Raptors). Semi Ojeleye, SMU small forward, junior, 6-7, 240. An intriguing prospect who does a lot of things well. A bit of a tweener at forward, which isn’t such a big deal in this switching NBA. Shoots well, physical, can handle the ball. Could be a surprise.
26. Portland Trail Blazers (from Cavaliers). Isaiah Hartenstein, Germany center, 7-0, 235. Left handed big man who is physically imposing. Reasonably skilled and a fluid player who is a decent athlete. Their third selection and if they were to keep them all it would be a heck of a training camp at center.
27. Los Angeles Lakers (from Nets). D.J. Wilson, Michigan power forward, sophomore, 6-11, 235. Big man who came on late and showed varied skills and good shooting. Of course, with Magic Johnson from Michigan State uncertain about if he still holds a grudge.
28. Los Angeles Lakers (from Rockets). Kyle Kuzma, Utah power forward, junior, 6-10, 225. Stretch four who moves well and plays hard, though few expect the Lakers to keep both picks. That’s guaranteed contracts and they’re clearing room for next summer, presumably. He’s agile and a good prospect.
29. San Antonio Spurs. Ivan Rabb, California center, sophomore, 6-10, 220. Mobile big man who can play inside. Of course, they like to surprise.
30. Utah Jazz (from Warriors). Tyler Lydon, Syracuse power forward, sophomore, 6-9, 215. Good all around offensive player with an ability to be a stretch four, thin but long.
So who does everyone else say the Bulls will select with the No. 16 pick? Here’s a look around at mock drafts and their speculation regarding the Bulls Thursday. The consensus, if there is any, is the Bulls will select one of the athletic big men.
ESPN: John Collins, Wake Forest forward/center.
Seth’s Draft House: Bam Adebayo, Kentucky forward/center
NBAdraft.net: Jarrett Allen, Texas center
DraftExpress: Justin Jackson, North Carolina small forward
Sports Illustrated: T.J. Leaf, UCLA power forward
Basketball Insiders: OG Anunoby, Indiana power forward
CBS Sports: Justin Jackson, North Carolina small forward
NBA.com: Luke Kennard, Duke shooting guard
Newsday: Jarrett Allen, Texas center.
Hoopshype: D.J. Wilson, Michigan small forward
WalterFootball.com: Jarrett Allen, Texas center
Fox Sports: Luke Kennard, Duke shooting guard
MyNBADraft.com: Justin Patton, Creighton center
Tankathon: Justin Patton, Creighton center
Sporting News: OG Anunoby, Indiana power forward
CSNNE.com: Luke Kennard, Duke shooting guard
Aseaofblue.com: Terrance Ferguson, Australia shooting guard
AZCentral.com: John Collins, Wake Forest forward/center
SB Nation: D.J. Wilson, Michigan small forward
Bleacher Report: John Collins, Wake Forest forward/center
USA Today: Justin Jackson, North Carolina small forward
Yahoo Sports: T.J. Leaf, UCLA power forward
NBA-TV: OG Anunoby, Indiana power forward