The future of franchises are decided on draft night, and this year is no exception. With a solid lottery and some good options in the late-first/early-second rounds, this draft class will have an impact on the league for years to come. The Lakers are picking at 25 and 47, and need to take care of a few needs with the draft that won’t likely be filled in free agency. While we’ve touched on specific players that the Lakers could target with their picks, I wanted to give an overview of how I thought the draft could play out.
1. Phoenix Suns – Deandre Ayton (C), Arizona
Ayton is the clear pick for Phoenix, as they’ve all but put the Kings on the clock in recent days. While he isn’t number one on my board, they certainly love him and hope he can pan out. Touting one of the higher ceilings in the draft on the offensive end, he’ll help the Suns limp to 159-157 wins.
2. Sacramento Kings – Marvin Bagley (PF/C), Duke
With the primary need for the Kings being big men, Bagley becomes a solid option. Using his athleticism and scoring ability, the Duke freshman will help solidify a frontcourt that hasn’t been great since the departure of Demarcus Cousins.
3. Atlanta Hawks – Jaren Jackson Jr (PF/C), Michigan State
The Hawks need pretty much everything, but with the draft being littered with guards later on, it’s likely that they choose one of the top big men. Jackson will be the youngest player drafted and will fit in with the rest of the Hawks young core: John Collins and… no, that’s it.
4. Memphis Grizzlies – Mohamed Bamba (C), Texas
Whether or not Marc Gasol is in the future for Memphis, Mo Bamba certainly will be. The overall size of the lad and his shot blocking will be a critical piece of the “grit and grind” style of play that the Grizzlies are built for. Bamba might be my favorite player in the draft, and he’s an absolute steal at number four. (Although I would prefer he gets taken at number five)
5. Dallas Mavericks – Luka Doncic (PG), Real Madrid
The best player in the draft falling to number five doesn’t happen often, but that might be the case this year. Doncic is a superstar already, having played professionally in Europe for years. Dallas will be able to utilize the talents of the best guard in the draft, and Doncic will be able to learn a lot from aging star Dirk Nowitzki.
6. Orlando Magic – Trae Young (PG), Oklahoma
Likely the most tantalizing player in the draft, Trae Young is one of the first players to be inspired by Steph Curry while they were young. He’s the start of an entire generation of players looking to cook like Steph, and the Magic would be hard pressed not to take him at six, considering their current rotation of guards.
7. Chicago Bulls – Wendell Carter Jr (C), Duke
Wendell Carter Jr will be the perfect piece next to Lauri Markannen in the Chicago frontcourt, and the young core that the Bulls have built might be enough to convince Jimmy Butler to return to the team in 2019.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers – Michael Porter Jr (SF/PF), Missouri
Either he’s Lebron’s replacement or a needed piece of the Cavs roster puzzle, Michael Porter Jr is the most exciting thing to happen to the city of Cleveland since the 2016 NBA Finals.
9. New York Knicks – Colin Sexton (PG), Alabama
With an injury sidelining Porzingis for all of next year, the Knicks will be back in the lottery again in 2019. However, Sexton will prove to be a nice piece of an intriguing young core.
10. Philadelphia 76ers – Mikal Bridges (SF), Villanova
After his success with Villanova, Pennsylvania born Mikal Bridges will be able to step into a contributing role right away with the Sixers, who are almost done Trusting the Process. Hopefully he doesn’t have any burner Twitter accounts.
11. Charlotte Hornets – Lonnie Walker IV (SG), Miami
Paired with explosive style of play from Kemba Walker, Lonnie Walker IV will provide great perimeter defense and shooting that the Hornets will need should they wish to emerge as playoff contenders in the Eastern Conference. [Editor’s note: Please let this happen so we can call photoshop them on some White Walkers or something.]
12. Los Angeles Clippers – Zhaire Smith (SF), Texas Tech
Happy that for once in his life he gets called first, Zhaire Smith waits with anticipation as to who his teammate will be with the next pick. His athleticism alone made him a lottery pick, and now he gets to prove he was worth it for the Los Angeles Clippers.
13. Los Angeles Clippers – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (PG/SG), Kentucky
Pissed that he’s making $150,000 less than his teammate Zhaire Smith, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander commits himself to the gym over the offseason to further improve on his already good defense. He becomes Rookie of the Year, making the Clippers look like fools for not drafting him one spot higher.
14. Denver Nuggets – Miles Bridges (SF/PF), Michigan State
After dishing out a lot of money to Michigan State alumnus Gary Harris, look for the Nuggets to draft another Spartan with the fourteenth pick. Miles Bridges might not be a contributor right away, but he’s a great pick for a team that missed the playoffs after losing the last game of the year.
15. Washington Wizards – Robert Williams (PF/C), Texas A&M
The most underrated prospect in the draft according to many draft experts (me), Robert Williams is an excellent pick for the Washington Wizards. With Marcin Gortat aging and being on the last year of his contract, an investment in the frontcourt is much needed, and especially a cap friendly one.
16. Phoenix Suns – Kevin Knox (SF/PF), Kentucky
Perhaps having the best spoonerism in the draft, Kevin Knox will fit well alongside Ayton. However, the Suns will have to give up development time on either Dragan Bender or Marquese Chriss to make room for all of their new big men.
17. Milwaukee Bucks – Kevin Huerter (SG), Maryland
I talk a lot about Huerter in my draft profile on him, but he’s exactly what the Bucks need. He’s a solid “three-and-d” prospect who can come in right away and help Giannis bear the load of carrying the city of Milwaukee into the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
18. San Antonio Spurs – Dzanan Musa (SF), Cedevita
Dzanan Musa will look back on draft night fondly after he’s inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. The Bosnian prospect is a talented offensive player going into the draft process, but the Spurs will turn him into an absolute superstar and win 17 straight titles. Amazing.
19. Atlanta Hawks – Troy Brown (SG), Oregon
The Hawks continue to expand upon their young core by adding another one of the youngest players in the draft. Get used to the bottom of the lottery for a while, Hawks fans. This core is just getting started.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves – Jerome Robinson (PG), Boston College
The Minnesota Timberwolves employed Derrick Rose last season. They need guard help right away, and Robinson is a guy who can do that. He can actually shoot threes, which the T’Wolves desperately need. He also isn’t entirely sure what the word “ICE” means, but he’ll learn. Oh, he’ll learn…
21. Utah Jazz – Chandler Hutchinson (SG/SF), Boise State
Moving from Idaho to Utah probably isn’t too big of a difference, but the Jazz are looking for Hutchinson to bring his offensive game and a bag of potatoes with him to Salt Lake City.
22. Chicago Bulls – Jacob Evans (SG/SF), Cincinnati
The Bulls pick up a versatile wing player in Evans, who has large shoes to fill in Chicago. My sources tell me that he still has his rearview mirror in his car, so who knows what type of player he’ll be.
23. Indiana Pacers – Aaron Holiday (PG), UCLA
The Pacers grab a guy in Holiday who is able to take over a game with his scoring. Sound familiar? Hopefully, he’ll stay with them for a while and tampering charges won’t have to be filed against anyone.
24. Portland Trail Blazers – Keita Bates Diop (PF), Ohio State
Portland and Keita Bates Diop seem like a match made in heaven. Bates-Diop is good and inexpensive, and Portland needs precisely that. Keita is versatile enough that the Trail Blazers can use him however they please.
25. Los Angeles Lakers – Elie Okobo (PG), Pau-Orthez
With the Lakers first pick, they have quite a few good guard options available to them. While I have them taking Elie Okobo, I could see guys like De’Anthony Melton and Josh Okogie getting looks from the front office as well. Jonathan Givony in his latest update to his mock draft had this to say about Okobo:
“Okobo has rocketed up draft boards with a very strong end to the season in France, leading his team to the playoffs and then having a memorable 44-point game once there. The smooth guard has good physical tools with the ability to pass out of pick-and-roll sets and make shots with range pulling up off the dribble. His size and length should allow him to play alongside another point guard in the same backcourt, which is attractive in today’s NBA.”
The Lakers gave Tyler Ennis meaningful minutes last season, and I hope for everyone’s sake that that never has to happen again. Lonzo and Okobo should be able to complement each other quite well, and maybe Okobo will even sign on with Big Baller Brand.
26. Philadelphia 76ers – Mitchell Robinson (C)
The Sixers need someone who can effectively backup Joel Embiid, and Mitchell Robinson is the perfect man to do so. Sporting similar playing styles, Robinson will be able to slip into Brett Brown’s system and have a role on the team in his first year.
27. Boston Celtics – Jalen Brunson (PG), Villanova
The Celtics biggest offseason acquisitions will be the health of Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving. However, Jalen Brunson could be a great addition to the Celtics should some of their role players leave in free agency.
28. Golden State Warriors – Grayson Allen (SG), Duke
Love him or hate him, Grayson Allen will be an effective player in the league. What better place for him to show that than on the (likely) reigning champions?
29. Brooklyn Nets – De’Anthony Melton (PG/SG), USC
Most seem to think Melton is a shoo-in for the Lakers at 25, but the Nets are happy to see him fall to them. He fits well on a team with a million guards. Who needs big men, right?
30. Atlanta Hawks – Josh Okogie (SG), Georgia Tech
Not only does Okogie have a great highlight reel, he shows high basketball IQ even when he’s not the focus of the play. Hawks get an absolute steal with the last pick of the first round, and they desperately needed it.
31. Phoenix Suns – Anfernee Simons (SG), IMG Academy
32. Memphis Grizzlies – Rodions Kurucs (SF/PF), Barcelona
33. Dallas Mavericks – Bruce Brown (SG), Miami FL
34. Atlanta Hawks – Hamidou Diallo (SG), Kentucky
35. Orlando Magic – Jevon Carter (PG), West Virginia
36. New York Knicks – Melvin Frazier (SF), Tulane
37. Sacramento Kings – Moritz Wagner (C), Michigan
38. Philadelphia 76ers – Donte DiVincenzo (PG), Villanova
39. Philadelphia 76ers – Khyri Thomas (SG), Creighton
40. Brooklyn Nets – Gary Trent Jr (SG), Duke
41. Orlando Magic – Issuf Sanon (PG/SG), Olimpija Ljubljana
42. Detroit Pistons – Devonte Graham (PG), Kansas
43. Denver Nuggets – Landry Shamet (PG), Wichita State
44. Washington Wizards – Omari Spellman (PF), Villanova
45. Brooklyn Nets – Isaac Bonga (SF), Frankfurt
46. Houston Rockets – Malik Newman (PG/SG), Kansas
47. Los Angeles Lakers – Shake Milton (PG/SG), SMU
Another guard who complements Lonzo’s playstyle, Shake Milton is a steal for the Lakers at 47. My drafting may have had something to do with him being there, but if the SMU guard is there for Los Angeles, they absolutely have to take him. His shooting is phenomenal, which is something that the Lakers lacked last year, and he’s a great playmaker, giving the team more options on the offensive side of the ball.