There wasn't a great deal of drama on NBA Draft lottery night, as for the first time ever
not a single team moved up or down in their drafting order compared with the original odds. But that doesn't mean that there won't be plenty of intrigue leading up to NBA Draft night on June 23th. We break down some of the many different scenarios in play.#1. PhiladelphiaWill Look At:
Brandon Ingram, Ben SimmonsPrediction: Brandon Ingram
The 76ers will thoroughly explore every option available to them at this slot, including drafting Ingram or Simmons, while also taking calls from teams around the league to gauge what this pick might net in a trade. General Manager Bryan Colangelo was fairly emphatic in stating after the lottery
that it's highly unlikely that anything is done with the number one pick except selecting the player, and also outlined pretty clearly that Ingram and Simmons are the two players that are most heavily in the mix at this pick.
Simmons and his agent Rich Paul are unlikely to make things easy on Philadelphia, though, as reports have already emerged
that it's the Lakers or bust from their standpoint. Simmons has been a bystander in this process thus far, passing up invitations to the NBA Combine and NBA Draft Lottery, and it wouldn't surprise anyone if he elected to refuse to visit the 76ers as well.
Considering how easily Simmons quit mid-season on the head coach (and his own godfather assistant coach) that he handpicked when selecting to play at LSU, the Sixers certainly have to be leery of taking a player who already has question marks about his competitive streak. The last thing they will want is a disgruntled player who has a well-known off switch completely shut down even before arriving in Philadelphia.
The fact that Ingram's shooting and character make him by far the better fit on the team's roster (on and off the court) has to be taken into consideration as well. There are question marks about how two non-shooters like Simmons and Jahlil Okafor
can coexist on the same roster, especially when the team is already committing to bringing in another power forward in Dario Saric
who has struggled from beyond the arc for most of his career as well.
As Bryan Colangelo himself said after the lottery We may decide before [the draft], but we're certainly not going to announce It [the pick]. In other words, quite a bit is still left to be played out in Philadelphia, and the horse-race for the #1 draft pick should be a continual conversation leading up to June 23rd. #2. Los Angeles LakersWill Look At:
Brandon Ingram, Ben SimmonsPrediction: Ben Simmons
In many ways, the Lakers will have a very easy choice on draft night, as they will simply select whichever one of the two sure-fire top two picks that Philadelphia decides to leave on the board. The word leading up to tonight was that they were very much on #TeamIngram and were leaning in that direction early on had they gotten the #1 pick.
Should Philadelphia elect to draft Ingram, like Rich Paul and Simmons' camp reportedly are hoping, then it will be interesting to see how much reshuffling will need to be done with the Lakers roster. Do they decide to fully embrace the small-ball movement and slide the non-shooting Julius Randle
(career 16/89 3P in 5500 minutes) to the center position and play Simmons as a ball-handling power forward surrounded by shooters? Or do they try and embrace the lack of space, and play Simmons at small forward? Does Randle get traded? How happy will D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson
(both 35% 3-point shooters) be with the keys to the offense being handed to the rookie Simmons? Will the Lakers be any better next year? Or will they be forced to start thinking about their 2017 top-3 protected pick at some point early on in the season?
As happy as the Lakers have to be with keeping the pick, and being slated in the top two, they still have an incredible amount of question marks left to be answered in the short and long term. #3. Boston (From Brooklyn) Will Look At:
Dragan Bender, Jaylen Brown, Kris Dunn, Jamal Murray, Skal LabissierePrediction: Dragan Bender
Celtics fans have to feel somewhat disappointed, having survived until the commercial break of the NBA Draft Lottery, only to be left with the #3 pick in what is widely considered a two-player draft. On the plus side, they can be encouraged by the fact that they had much better odds of sliding to #4, #5 or #6 than moving into the top two, and that historically, there always excellent players in every draft class at #3 and beyond.
The only issue here is Boston's timeline. Their best player is only under contract for two more years, and they are desperately trying to take the next step from solid young nucleus with tons of great assets to championship contender. Every one of the five players mentioned as candidates for this pick are freshmen in college (or are 18 years old) besides Kris Dunn
, who plays the same position as their best player and two other point guards they just drafted in Marcus Smart
and Terry Rozier
. It's tough to see how Jamal Murray
fits into that backcourt as well, especially when you throw Avery Bradley
into that mix.
Picking Dragan Bender
wouldn't really be a very Danny Ainge
move judging by his track record, as he's traditionally shied away from European prospects, not to mention that Bender is the youngest player in the draft. Jaylen Brown
and Skal Labissiere
both have to be considered for that reason, as they both fit positions of need, while also undoubtedly possessing significant upside as former top-five high school recruits (who didn't really produce in college).
When it's all said and done, trading this pick (possibly packed with their stockpile of young players and future picks) might make the most sense. But it takes two to tango in the NBA, and there doesn't seem to be a great deal of excitement at the moment surrounding this spot in the draft. That could definitely change in the next 40 days, though. #4. PhoenixWill Look At:
Dragan Bender, Jaylen Brown, Kris Dunn, Jamal Murray, Skal LabissierePrediction: Jaylen Brown
Perimeter shooting, a power forward, and a big wing who can complement Devin Booker
all seem to be major needs for Phoenix at the moment.
It's hard to consider Jamal Murray
too seriously for that reason, even if some may wonder if his 1/1 assist to turnover ratio can be forgotten in hopes of converting him (back?) to the point guard position. Kris Dunn
's camp on the other hand is unlikely to be overly enthusiastic about the chances of coming off the bench behind Eric Bledsoe
and Brandon Knight
Bender could be an interesting choice, if he's still on the board, which he isn't in this scenario. Jaylen Brown
makes all kinds of sense at small forward next to Booker, as his ability to create his own shot and guard multiple positions could fit in well here. #5. MinnesotaWill Look At:
Jaylen Brown, Kris Dunn, Jamal Murray, Skal LabissierePrediction: Kris Dunn
This might be a tough call between Jamal Murray
and Kris Dunn
actually, as a major role in this pick will come down to the feelings of Minnesota's brand new front office, led by Head Coach Tom Thibodeau and General Manager Scott Layden, about incumbent point guard Ricky Rubio
Dunn would likely relish the chance of joining the likes of Andrew Wiggins
, Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach Lavine
. He's older than all three of them (but not by much) and thus is likely on the right timeline to grow alongside them.
Murray could also be an intriguing option, as he can likely play alongside both Rubio and Lavine in different lineups. His defense isn't up to snuff with what Thibodeau usually looks for, but few rookies are, and Murray is as hard a worker as you'll find in this draft. #6. New OrleansWill Look At:
Jaylen Brown, Kris Dunn, Jamal Murray, Buddy HieldPrediction: Jamal Murray
The Pelicans have all kinds of holes to fill in their backcourt at the moment, having started 13 different players at guard or wing over the course of the season (in no small part due to injury). With virtually none of them under contract long term, the team will have to address their backcourt play and quickly, both in the draft, as well as free agency.
Of the players still available in this scenario, Jamal Murray
makes perfect sense for the team, as he could provide plenty of scoring punch at either guard position. He can play alongside their holdovers Jrue Holiday
and Tyreke Evans
, operating off the ball if needed as he did frequently at Kentucky, while bringing a great deal of firepower with his 3-point shooting prowess. This has to be considered Kris Dunn
's floor if he's not already off the board well before. Buddy Hield
could also be an intriguing option with his shooting range and NBA readiness. #7. Denver (From New York) Will Look At:
Jaylen Brown, Buddy Hield, Deyonta Davis, Skal Labissiere, Marquese ChrissPrediction: Buddy Hield
The Nuggets could go in a few different directions here, as the team already has a number of promising young prospects on their roster. The wing position is one of them, where Jaylen Brown
and Buddy Hield
provide two very different types of options, one a physically imposing small forward, and one a prolific sharp-shooter. Power forward is another place they might look, as it's unclear what the future might hold for incumbent starter Kenneth Faried
. Deyonta Davis
, Skal Labissiere
and Marquese Chriss
are three intriguing freshman prospects that will begin to separate themselves most likely as the pre-draft process evolves.
Hield's scoring prowess and shooting range may win out, as the senior certainly fits the team's timetable.#8. SacramentoWill Look At:
Jaylen Brown, Buddy Hield, Deyonta Davis, Skal Labissiere, Marquese Chriss, Henry EllensonPrediction: Skal Labissiere
The Kings would probably love to add a senior like Buddy Hield
who can come in and light up the scoring board immediately, as they have a massive hole at the shooting guard position that former lottery pick Ben McLemore
has been unable to fill successfully. He may not be on the board, though, which could compel them to study the crop of power forwards, which is another position they could use some help at long term. Henry Ellenson
, Deyonta Davis
, Skal Labissiere
and local product Marquese Chriss
all have intriguing characteristics that will be studied closely by the front office. Labissiere's ability to stretch the floor, and play alongside both DeMarcus Cousins
and Willie Cauley-Stein
in different lineups, could help him end up winning out. #9. Toronto (From Denver via New York) Will Look At:
Deyonta Davis, Skal Labissiere, Marquese Chriss, Henry Ellenson, Jakob Poeltl Prediction: Deyonta Davis
The Raptors are pretty loaded at every position save for the big men spots, especially if backup center Bismack Biyombo
(who has been excellent all season long) proves to be too expensive to keep. Toronto started Luis Scola
at power forward for most of the year. He will be a free agent this summer and at age 36, is unlikely to be deemed part of the long-term future. Enter what is a fairly intriguing crop of big men, headlined by Deyonta Davis
, Skal Labissiere
, Marquese Chriss
, Henry Ellenson
and Jakob Poeltl
. The pre-draft process will help these players separate themselves from each other, but for now, we've slated Davis
here, as his shot-blocking, rim-running and finishing ability could make him an excellent fit on this roster, especially if he can continue to extend his shooting range. #10. MilwaukeeWill Look At:
Deyonta Davis, Skal Labissiere, Marquese Chriss, Henry Ellenson, Jakob Poeltl Prediction: Jakob Poeltl
Milwaukee could study the point guard crop, made up primarily of Wade Baldwin
and Demetrius Jackson
, but may decide that it's a tad early to select either of those two here. They have some needs in the frontcourt as well, where Greg Monroe
hasn't been a great fit as a free agent signing, and has just one more guaranteed year under contract. Jakob Poeltl
could be a nice fit at center long term, as he's agile enough to aggressively guard the pick and roll, and also can provide some finishing ability inside the paint offensively. If the team elects to pursue a more perimeter oriented big man, then the likes of Marquese Chriss
, Henry Ellenson
and Skal Labissiere
could all still be here.