1.Minnesota Timberwolves: Jahlil Okafor, 6-foot-11 Center, Duke, Fr.: Not as tough a decision as many may think, Okafor would immediately add a great scoring option in the paint to complement the otherworldly athleticism on the wings with reigning Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins and reigning dunk champion Zach LaVine.
2.Los Angeles Lakers: Karl-Anthony Towns, 7-foot Center, Kentucky, Fr.: Quite simply, whichever elite big man is left, that’s who the Lakers are selecting. There are rumors coming out on the Lakers actually bypassing Towns for electric guard D’Angelo Russell. But a talent like Towns is too great to ignore. Already an elite defender, Towns’offensive game has shown flashes – particularly in the NCAA tournament. As great as Russell may be, the Lakers’ winning tradition has always involved a dominant big.
3.Philadelphia 76ers: D’Angelo Russell, 6-foot-5 Combo Guard, Ohio State, Fr.: They own six picks in the draft, so they can afford to take a flier. But with Russell sitting there, it’s not as much a risk as it is a no-brainer. Russell fills an immediate void at lead guard, now that Michael Carter-Williams is in Milwaukee.
4.New York Knicks: Emmanuel Mudiay, 6-foot-5 Point Guard, Congo: The Lottery obviously didn’t go as they wanted, but there’s still plenty of talent to be had. Providing they don’t trade the pick, the Knicks could still nab a very good player. Remember, Russell Westbrook was the No. 4 pick for the then-Seattle SuperSonics. Mudiay doesn’t have that same explosiveness as Westbrook, but like the Oklahoma City terror, he attacks the rim at a feverish pace and has no fear going against the bigs. Mudiay’s game, though, is more reminiscent of a young Jason Kidd, slashing his way through the paint — and whose shot eventually blossomed. Mudiay, with his versatility and size, would be a great fit in the Triangle offense – and cost tens-of-millions less than what it’d cost the Knicks should they trade for Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio.
5.Orlando Magic: Kristaps Porzingis, 7-foot-1 Center, Latvia: This pick could be the wildcard, as the average fan may not know who he is, but scouts and pundits are well aware. Despite being a 7-footer, Porzingis is actually an athletic perimeter threat. He may possess legit center size and wingspan, but like most Euro bigs that come over, he is skilled at more than just banging the boards. He’s also a capable stretch shooter and pick-and-pop big.
6.Sacramento Kings: Willie Cauley-Stein, 7-foot Center, Kentucky, Jr.: Imagine a lengthy and active frontcourt that would include All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, and Cauley-Stein, because the Kings certainly are. Cauley-Stein was every bit the impact player as Towns was for the Wildcats, except his defensive prowess was actually more pronounced. He’d be a great fit as the defensive stopper, which would allow Cousins to save his energy for the offensive end.
7.Denver Nuggets: Justise Winslow, 6-foot-6 Swingman, Duke, Fr.: He’s a great athlete that checks all the boxes for size, speed,athleticism, and defensive prowess. He also steps into a situation that needs some leadership – even if he’ll be the youngest guy on the roster. That Duke basketball pedigree can be a real boost to a Nuggets’ frontline that, aside from Kenneth Faried, could usesome more toughness, hustle, and heart.
8.Detroit Pistons: Trey Lyles, 6-foot-10, Power Forward, Kentucky, Fr.: Yet another talented Wildcat freshman, Lyles is a do-everything offensiveforward with great footwork who could slide right in alongside Andre Drummond should Greg Monroe leave for greener pastures.
9.Charlotte Hornets: Devin Booker, 6-foot-6 Shooting Guard, Kentucky, Fr.: Booker, yet another Kentucky freshman, would be a great addition in the backcourt with slippery point guard Kemba Walker. The former would excel off the latter’s drive-and-kick game, the same way Bradley Beal plays so well off of John Wall.
10.Miami Heat: Stanley Johnson, 6-foot-7 Small Forward, Arizona, Fr.: Dwyane Wade isn’t going anywhere, despite the contract posturing, but the Heat still need to look towards the future and start grooming their next wingman. Johnson would be a good fit, as he’s athletic and strong around the rim and could spell either wing position.
11. Indiana Pacers: Jerian Grant, 6-foot-5 Point Guard, Notre Dame, Sr.: Grant has the NBA lineage (dad Harvey, uncle Horace, and brother Jerami on the Sixers), and has been shooting up many draft boards, due to some solid workouts and a very good career at Notre Dame. The Pacers already have the streaky George Hill at the lead guard, but he’s been up-and-down. While Grant is similar to Hill in game, as they both never met a shot they didn’t like, at least Grant offers more size (Hill is 6-foot-2) and defensive versatility.
12. Utah Jazz: Frank Kaminsky, 7-foot Center, Wisconsin, Sr.: Kaminsky is a true throwback big, but with a nice scoring touch from out to 20 feet. His ambidextrous style will catch defenders off guard and allow him to be a solid offensive threat – and give the Jazz their first legit scoring big since Al Jefferson left town.
13. Phoenix Suns: Kelly Oubre, 6-foot-7 Small Forward, Kansas, Fr.: The Suns inexplicably gutted its roster at the trade deadline last season, even though they were still within arm’s reach of the playoffs. There is a need for wing help – specifically on defense – and Oubre’s 7-foot-2 wingspan would definitely help slow down a murderer’s row of Western Conference perimeter scorers.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder: Cameron Payne, 6-foot-2 Point Guard, Murray State, So.: The slight southpaw may lack in physical stature (180 pounds), but he’s uncanny at creating for others and attacking the bowels of a defense’s interior. Unlike Reggie Jackson, who was cast away at the deadline, Payne offers a true backup point guard option for Westbrook, and could even one day slide in as the lead guard for stretches to allow Westbrook to only focus on getting buckets.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Sam Dekker, 6-foot-9 Forward, Wisconsin, Jr.: He’s a versatile stretch forward who can knock down 3s in transition at a near-40 percent clip. He’d be suited quite well in a Hawks offense that lacks another long-range shooter who could complement Kyle Korver, and play well off the drive-and-kick style of point guard Jeff Teague.
16. Boston Celtics: Myles Turner, 6-foot-11 Center, Texas, Fr.: Like Cauley-Stein, Turner is a disruptor around the hoop, as his 7-foot-4 wingspan – and astonishing 9-foot-4 standing reach – could be a real help for a Celtics squad that doesn’t really have a fearsome rim protector.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: Bobby Portis, 6-foot-10 Power Forward, Arkansas, So.: This squad’s future is so bright – especially in the weak Eastern Conference – that they can just add the best player available. Portis may be just that, as he’s a high-motor guy who also brings some unique skills to the table.
18. Houston Rockets: Tyus Jones, 6-foot-1 Point Guard, Duke, Fr.: Although virtually no one can guard Steph Curry, it was apparent that the point guard position was lacking, as no one distinguished themselves after Patrick Beverly was lost for the season. The steady and heady Jones would certainly provide backcourt depth.
19. Washington Wizards: Justin Anderson, 6-foot-6 Swingman, Virginia, Jr.: He already knows how to play defense, after spending his time at Virginia, so Anderson would step right into a swingman rotation that will need to fill the void once Paul Pierce finally retires.
20. Toronto Raptors: Montrezl Harrell, 6-foot-8 Power Forward, Louisville, Jr.: The rugged Harrell would be a great fit on a Raptors squad that wilted under the playoff stresses. When the aging Paul Pierce would’ve been the toughest guy on the floor, if he was a Raptor, that means Toronto needs to get tougher – and Harrell is certainly that guy.
21. Dallas Mavericks: Terry Rozier, 6-foot-2 Point Guard, Louisville, So.: Rozier is in the mold of current Maverick Monta Ellis, as he’s a creative scorer and is always in attack mode. As Dirk Nowitzki enters the twilight of his career, the Mavs need to add more scoring pop to take the nightly load off Ellis.
22. Chicago Bulls: Caris LeVert, 6-foot-7 Shooting Guard, Michigan, Jr.: LeVert is a poised and polished playmaker, who is similar to another Wolverine, Jamal Crawford. And like Crawford, LeVert has long arms, a slick handle, and a quick release that enables him to get a shot off at any angle. He’d fit in nicely with new head coach Fred Hoiberg’s uptempo offense.
23. Portland Trail Blazers: Robert Upshaw, 7-foot Center, Washington, So.: He’s definitely a contingency plan should LaMarcus Aldridge leave via free agency. But even if Aldridge leaves, the hulking pivot would be a part of a very good big-man rotation, as they’ll find usage for his 7-foot-5 wingspan and 9-foot-5 standing reach – both the highest marks at the draft combine.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers: Mario Hezonja, 6-foot-8 Swingman, Croatia: Yes, they’re in the Finals, but this is still a flawed team in regards to consistent outside shooters to create space for LeBron James. J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert can’t be counted on to regularly create space. Kevin Love may not return. And Kyrie Irving hasn’t finished a season completely healthy since high school. Hezonja may be an unknown to casual fans, but he’s often been compared to the late, great Drazen Petrovic for his marksmanship and mettle, as he’s been playing against grown men for years.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Christian Wood, 6-foot-11 Power Forward, UNLV, So.: It might be time to start finding bodies to mentor – and eventually replace – their bigs. And this Runnin’ Rebel has great instincts and a7-foot-2wingspan to fit right into Memphis’ “grindhouse” mentality.
26. San Antonio Spurs: Rashad Vaughn, 6-foot-5 Shooting Guard, UNLV, Fr.: The Rebels pull off a rare feat for their program, as they go back-to-back. Vaughn is young (18 years old), but the Spurs are the best franchise at seasoning the youngsters and indoctrinating them into the NBA life. He may not be an immediate help, but the Spurs’ brass are geniuses when it comes to stashing away and developing talent.
27. Los Angeles Lakers: RJ Hunter, 6-foot-5 Shooting Guard, Georgia St., Jr.: After pulling off a coup, thanks to some ping-pong luck, the Lakers look to fill out their roster. This may be a trade chip, but if they stand pat, Hunter was one of the best shooters in the country last season, so that’s not a bad start in filling out their bench.
28. Boston Celtics: Delon Wright, 6-foot-5 Combo Guard, Utah, Sr.: Their playoff berth might’ve expedited expectations, especially in such a weak conference, so the Cs will want a guy who is NBA-ready. The younger brother ofTrail Blazer Dorrell Wright, Delon Wright is mature and able scorer who could immediately add some quality depth.
29. Brooklyn Nets: Andrew Harrison, 6-foot-6 Guard, Kentucky, So.: He has NBA skills and has been groomed for the next level since childhood, along with his twin Aaron. Andrew is a streaky shooter who seems to pout when in a slump or not going his way. But that would have to change if he plays for the old-school and hard-nosed Lionel Hollins.
30. Golden State Warriors: Norman Powell, 6-foot-4 Shooting Guard, UCLA, Sr.: Playing for Steve Kerr, the Warriors can never have too much offense. And with Powell, they’ll gain yet another scorer. He’s a seasoned and creative scorer who could step right into a perfect situation in Golden State. Powell may have tunnel-vision as a scorer — unable or unwilling to hit the open man off the double-team — but when he gets hot, he stays hot. Kerr’s staff would certainly help him rid anybad habits.