We are literally hours away from the NBA Draft! Teams have been waiting for this draft for months and many people are expecting it to be wild and unpredictable. The top two picks are probably easy guesses but after No. 3, nothing is guaranteed. Rich Denson (aka RD2, @iLiveByIt) and I make our final predictions for who will be selected tonight’s draft. You will see a few differences from the first time around.
*For the first 14 picks, RD2 will provide his analysis for the lottery picks but afterward, you will just see who he predicted. Feel free to ask further for his take on Twitter.
1. Phoenix Suns
Bret: Deandre Ayton, Center, Arizona
Nothing has changed here. Ayton will be the first pick in this draft as he should be. He’s drawn comparisons to David Robinson because of his tough play on both sides. Phoenix would get their big man of the future and a future star to put next to Devin Booker. A Booker and Ayton duo could be one of the best in the NBA in a couple years.
Rich: DeAndre Ayton, Center, Arizona
After Ayton worked out with the Suns and declared he was the #1 pick, that sold me. The Suns have given no indication that they are not going to select Ayton and for good reason. He’s the guy in the middle they need and he’s a franchise-altering talent. He’s already comfortable in Arizona and playing for a new coach in Igor Kokoškov, you can expect for his talent to be maximized with Devin Booker and Josh Jackson beside him.
2. Sacramento Kings
Bret: Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke
Bagley has tons of upside and would provide instant offense. On defense, that’s where the questions start coming. It isn’t that he is a bad defender, he isn’t the best, but not bad, it is that he needs to put on some weight to defend bigs down on the block. Going to Sacramento would allow him to develop at his own pace as they still have some rebuilding to do. He and De’Aaron Fox could be fun to watch play together. Bagley’s potential is sky high and if he makes the adjustments he needs to defensively, Sacramento will have a star on their hands.
Rich: Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke
While Luka Doncic is the better prospect, I just can’t believe the Kings would make that selection with Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic already on the wings. With that being said, they will take Marvin Bagley. Although the fit may not make sense with Dave Joerger’s slow, monotonous offense, Bagley is a sure-fire upgrade over Skal Labissiere and the unknown Harry Giles. He is instant offense with tremendous upside and his defensive shortcomings can be masked by Willie Cauley-Stein. It also helps that Bagley has publicly stated how much he loves the Kings.
3. Atlanta Hawks
Bret: Luka Doncic, SG-SF, Real Madrid
The Hawks would be crazy to pass on Doncic if he is there at 3. He is a special talent and is the best guard in this draft. He has a good bit of professional experience under his belt given his age and would provide an instant spark for the Hawks. He’s a great passer and can shoot the rock. He would be the cornerstone for this franchise who already has some good young foundation pieces in place.
Rich: Luka Doncic, SG-SF, Real Madrid
The Hawks have thrown probably the most smokescreens during this whole process. No one knows who they’re going to select. If Bagley was here, it’d be an easy selection to take him. But because he isn’t, this is the first big guessing game. I guess Luka Doncic because he is undoubtedly the best guard in this draft and overall one of the best European prospects of all time. The Hawks don’t seem to have endeared too much faith in working things out with Dennis Schroder, so now it’s time to get his replacement and what better way to start with Doncic. His size, passing, vision, scoring, and versatility gives Lloyd Pierce a solid piece to begin in the recrafting of the Atlanta Hawks.
4. Memphis Grizzlies
Bret: Michael Porter Jr, SF, Missouri,
With Bamba and JJJ refusing to work out and share medical records with Memphis, they should either roll the dice on MPJ or trade back. Or of course they could select JJJ and Bamba and hope for the best. Regardless, at 4, MPJ is still worthy of being picked this high. Sure, he has some injury concerns, but before the injuries before his Freshman season, he was the projected number 1 pick in this draft. A Grizzlies team that needs some new young faces would get a terrific talent that if he stays healthy, would start day 1 and help turn this franchise back around.
Rich: Wendell Carter, PF/C, Duke
It seems like it’s inevitable that the Grizzlies trade this pick along with Chandler Parsons but we can’t assume anything. Jaren Jackson, Jr makes so much sense here but he refused to work out for them, so that puts the Grizzlies in a tight spot with Doncic now off the board. I lean toward Wendell Carter because he’s the next best big outside of JJJ and Bamba. He has the mobility and shooting touch to play power forward next to Marc Gasol and he’s a quick learner. Whether they take him with this pick or they trade down, the Grizzlies will be happy to have Wendell Carter on their roster.
5. Dallas Mavericks
Bret: Mo Bamba, Center, Texas
The best defensive player in this draft who potentially has the highest upside. The Mavericks would get a terrific project in Bamba, who would get to learn from Dirk. Imagine Bamba drilling the famous Dirk fadeaway. That may never happen but still, Dirk could help Bamba out on the offensive side and if Bamba adds some weight, he will be a beast in the NBA.
Rich: Mo Bamba, Center, Texas
I’m starting to feel a little uneasy about this selection because Rick Carlisle might be too much for Bamba and give him unrealistic expectations to be the next Tyson Chandler. Nevertheless, I still say the Mavs select him and hope for the best because he is undoubtedly the best defensive player in this draft. He’s been red-hot in workouts working with guys like Kevin Garnett and Joel Embiid. His 7’10 wingspan is phenomenal and his budding shooting touch would be a welcome addition for guys like Dennis Smith Jr and the aging Dirk Nowitzki, who thrive on scoring in the paint.
6. Orlando Magic
Bret: Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma, Fr.
The next Steph Curry? I won’t go that far but there is no hiding the fact that Young is a great shooter and a nifty passer. You do not just lead the NCAA in both, assists and points, casually. The Magic need a point guard and Young would also give them a scorer on both levels.
Rich: Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma, Fr.
Outside of Ayton to the Suns, this spot and selection make the most sense. While the Hawks, Cavs, Bulls, and Knicks also have the hots for him and may try to get him, the Magic should hold firm and take Trae Young. He gives them a needed playmaker and a person to build the team around, regardless of whether they retain Aaron Gordon.
7. Chicago Bulls
Bret and Rich: Jaren Jackson Jr., PF/C, Michigan State
The Bulls make out like bandits in this situation by landing JJJ at 7. He is an extremely raw player who has the tools to be an effective stretch big while being an elite defender playing next to Lauri Markkanen. Jackson has some serious potential but he will need to fill out and won’t be a real force most likely until his second year. Still, he would be a steal at 7 and could potentially be a guy the Bulls could build around with already a solid guard in Zach Lavine there.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers
Bret: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky
What would be a surprising pick to some, SGA is an underrated player to the average basketball fan but is a player oozing with talent and potential to NBA scouts. The Cavs need a playmaking PG even if LeBron stays. Also, he could be a great foundation piece if LeBron leaves.
Rich: Michael Porter Jr., SF/PF, Missouri
There is no way the Cavs pass on MPJ. He just checks to many boxes for them. He’s a solid piece to have whether LeBron stays or not. If Trae Young was still on the board, he’d be the selction because of his connection to LeBron. But since he isn’t, the Cavs will take Porter and his scoring potential. It’s almost to the point where you can say that Porter would be a steal, even though at one point (before the injury) he was considered the best player in this draft. At least he still believes he is.
9. New York Knicks
Bret: Wendell Carter Jr, PF, Duke, Fr.
Wendell Carter would be a safe pick, but at 9, he would also be a great pick. He was often overshadowed at Duke beside Bagley, but the Knicks would get a great piece to put beside Kristaps. Carter is almost like a AL Horford clone as he is solid from mid-range and 3. The Knicks could look to go with a guard here but Carter is too good of a talent to pass up on at 9.
Rich: Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama
The Knicks really should take Mikal Bridges but I believe they won’t because they are steadfast in making sure they get the right point guard. Sexton could be the best PG in this draft and he has the moxie that gels with the New York environment/fanbase. Put him next to Frank Ntilikina and you may have one of the best young defensive backcourts for years to come.
10. Philadelphia 76ers
Bret: Mikal Bridges, SG/SF, Villanova
With JJ Reddick being a free agent, the 76ers may be on the market for a guard. Bridges is an older player and has the smarts and skills to play a role right away, even on the 76ers playoff roster. He’s athletic and long and can really shoot it. He would make a scary young score even more intimidating.
Rich: Mikal Bridges, SG/SF, Villanova
The Sixers will love this pick because Mikal Bridges is essentially the hometown kid with him having played for Villanova. This pick gives them some insurance in the case that JJ Redick prices himself out in free agency. Bridges also fits perfectly into the Sixers timeline of being young enough in the league to grow with the team, but also have the smarts of being a veteran of college basketball. His three-and-D talent next to Robert Covington and Joel Embiid should give the league nightmares.
11. Charlotte Hornets
Bret: Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama
An absolute freak of nature, Sexton has the potential to make teams in the top 10 regret not picking him. He has a non-stop motor and can fill it up on offense. He is a little pest on defense and will drive you crazy on that side. With the future of Kemba Walker in the air, this would be the perfect pick at 11 for the Hornets.
Rich: Kevin Knox, SF/PF, Kentucky
I don’t care what anyone says about whether this is the right fit or not, Kevin Knox should be selected by the Charlotte Hornets. Mitch Kupchak should not put himself in a tight spot already by selecting a PG when Kemba Walker is already there. Michael Jordan said Walker will not be traded for anything except for an all-star player. I fully expect that to be the case. Also, there are too many guards on the team already to select an SG like Lonnie Walker. Miles Bridges could be the selection here as well but Kevin Knox edges him out on the offensive upside. Head coach James Borrego will silence any doubts analysts have about this pick.
12. Los Angeles Clippers
Bret: Kevin Knox, SF/PF, Kentucky
While the Clippers will try to swing a trade on draft night with one their back to back picks, taking Kevin Knox would give that team a nice project with tremendous upside. He has been tearing up his pre-draft workouts and has been moving up drat boards. A raw talent that could be a good piece for a team that is trying to get back into the playoffs, or maybe even get into the Kawhi sweepstakes.
Rich: Miles Bridges, SF/PF, Michigan State
Miles Bridges just makes too much sense here. The Clippers play an up-tempo, energetic pace and he fits right in with that. He’ll thrive in LA under Doc Rivers and help bring back the flashy dunks of Lob City along with who I have the Clippers selecting with their next pick…
13. Los Angeles Clippers
Bret: Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech,
No one at the start of the college basketball season would have thought Zhaire Smith would be a one and done. Yet, here is and he is one of the more athletic players in this draft and he is a good defensive player. The Clippers would be able to plug him into the rotation instantly and also throw down some highlight reel dunks.
Rich: Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M
Welcome to the new age of Lob City headlined by Miles Bridges and Robert Williams. While it’s a great possibility the Clippers package these picks to trade up in the draft, should they keep them this is the selection. Williams has seemed destined for the Clippers since the very beginning because of his potential to be the replacement of DeAndre Jordan. He’s long and explosive around the rim and he has a little bit of an outside touch to fit in with today’s NBA.
14. Denver Nuggets
Bret: Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M
Explosive and strong big who would be a great fit in the future beside Jokic as Paul Millsap gets older. Williams is extremely athletic for his size and can bring energy off the bench for the Nuggets who are looking to jump back into the playoffs after being eliminated from contention on the last day of the regular season.
Rich: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky
SGA seems to be a red-hot prospect lately but all the teams in front of the Nuggets have will have already selected a point guard or have more pressing needs. That is why I still have him selected here but this still is a good fit. In the beginning, SGA can sit behind his Kentucky brother Jamal Murray and then when the time comes he can play next to him in the starting lineup. Shai will give Denver a high-IQ player and a versatile defender to utilize in their Western Conference playoff push
15. Washington Wizards
Bret: Miles Bridges, PF, Michigan State
A unique player who would be an undersized PF in the NBA but could guard them with his strength and toughness. He can stretch the floor and is eerily like Markieff Morris. He is a great value pick, especially outside of the lottery, and could help out a Wizards team coming off of a letdown year.
Rich: Lonnie Walker IV, G, Miami
16. Phoenix Suns
Bret: Lonnie Walker IV, PG, Miami, Fr.
Had measurables that got people talking about how he could be the next Donovan Mitchell. He could be as he is extremely talented and can score from all levels. He has questionable shot selection at times but that will improve as he gets older. The Suns would get a tremendous talent to add to their guard depth and potentially have their PG of the future.
Rich: Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech
17. Milwaukee Bucks
Bret: Jerome Robinson, SG, Boston College, Junior.
The fastest riser in this draft, Jerome Robinson has landed a green room invite and likely a top 20 selection. He is a terrific shooter which is what the Bucks need and is high IQ player. New coach, Mike Budenholzer, would love nothing more than to add a shooter like Robinson to this already very good roster.
Rich: Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova
18. San Antonio Spurs
Bret: Troy Brown, SG, Oregon, Fr.
This great Spurs playoff run could be coming to an end soon. With Kawhi Leonard seeming to be on his way out, the Spurs need a versatile player like Brown. He would get to learn from Pop and Manu, for at least one more season, and could be a solid late teen pick. He has ton of potential, but couldn’t put it all together at Oregon.
Rich: Dzanan Musa, G/F, International
19. Atlanta Hawks
Bret: Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova, Soph.
DiVicenzo has done nothing but great things in his pre-draft process. He has flown his way into top 20 consideration. The Hawks could desperately use a shooter like him. Pairing him and Luka Doncic together would give the Hawks superb depth at the 2 and the 3. Kevin Hueter is another name to look at here but after having hand surgery, I think the Hawks play it safe with DiVincenzo.
Rich: Mitchell Robinson, C, United States
20. Minnesota Timberwolves
Bret: Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland, Soph.
The T’Wolves could use another sharpshooter and that is exactly what Huerter is. He is athletic and would be able to play it slow with his hand injury and learn behind Jimmy Butler A solid player on both ends and could provide a spark once he gets healthy.
Rich: Keita Baites-Diop, SF/PF, Ohio State
21. Utah Jazz
Bret: Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA, Junior
Extremely talented player who actually was statistically better than Lonzo Ball. Still, it will take time for Holiday to transition to the NBA. He could learn from a great coach in Quin Snyder, and potentially work his way into a starters role.
Rich: Elie Okobo, G, International
22. Chicago Bulls
Bret: Chandler Hutchison, Boise State, SF/PF, Sr.
The first senior off the board in this draft is Chandler Hutchison who got better every year at Boise State. He can develop into a nice rotation piece and is currently NBA ready. The Bulls need a tough skilled player like him to add depth to their wings.
Rich: Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA
23. Indiana Pacers
Bret: Elie Okobo, PG, International
Okobo is a young raw talent that needs time to develop. He has potential to be a great pick and roll type PG and which is music to Myles Turner’s ears. The Pacers shocked the world last season by making the playoffs and then nearly eliminated the Cavs. Okobo may not help out much right away, but certainly can be part of this team’s future.
Rich: Jacob Evans, SG, Cincinnati
24. Portland Trail Blazers
Bret: Anfernee Simmons, G, IMG, 19yrs
Simmons skipped the college route and has opened the eyes of some teams in the pre-draft process. One of those teams is the Portland Trail Blazers who worked him out two times. The former 5-star recruit is a terrific talent that would be a great backup to Dame and CJ while also helping out their depth on defense.
Rich: Kevin Huerter, G, Maryland
25. Los Angeles Lakers
Bret: Grayson Allen, SG, Duke, Sr.
Allen has had some on-court antics but let that not take anything away from his basketball talent. He can flat out score and I can see him turning into a 6th man type guy in the future. With the Lakers expected to land a start in free agency soon, they could use a talent like Allen to provide depth and scoring off the bench.
Rich: Khyri Thomas, SG/SF, Creighton
26. Philadelphia 76ers
Bret: Khyri Thomas, SG/SF, Creighton, Jr.
Thomas has extreme upside as a 3 and D player and would again give the 76ers another perimeter shooter. He is extremely long and athletic and would be a huge pick up this late in the draft.
Rich: Chandler Hutchinson, SF/PF, Boise State
27. Boston Celtics
Bret and Rich: Josh Okogie, SG, Georgia Tech, Soph.
The Celtics will get better next season by gaining Kyrie and Gordon Hayward back. Adding a player like Okogie to their roster would give them a player who does all the little things right and is a gifted passer and can score on all levels. He is best viewed as a 3 and D type guy but Brad Stevens could turn him into a quality NBA starter.
28. Golden State Warriors
Bret: Jacob Evans, SG, Cincinnati, Jr.
He was the leader of one of the best defenses in the country last season and is a reliable shooter from deep. Andre Iguodala is only getting older and the Warrios will need a player to mold into a role like Iguodala’s.
Rich: Jerome Robinson, SG, Boston College
29. Brooklyn Nets
Bret and Rich: Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova, Jr.
The Nets just need talent at this point. Brunson brings an NBA ready skill set with a high basketball IQ. He isn’t the most athletic but his strength and scoring ability are his biggest assets. Would likely see 20+ minutes on this Nets team.
30. Atlanta Hawks
Bret: Keita Bates-Diop, F, Ohio State, Junior
Diop is one of the more forgotten prospects in this draft. He was one of the best players in the country last season and won the Big Ten POY. The Hawks would get a fairly good shooter along with a tough defender. Is not very athletic but he is long and it shows when he contests shots. He could come off the board higher but if he’s there at 30, the Hawks should waste no time and take him.
Rich: DeAnthony Melton, G, USC