After a sparkling 2021 NBA Combine performance athletically, FSU’s Scottie Barnes re-affirmed his status as one of the most versatile players in this year’s draft class. His ability to guard multiple positions, run the floor and distribute makes him an amoeba-type prospect. In last year’s NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls surprised many by taking former Seminole Patrick Williams with the fourth overall pick. We spotlighted Williams prior to the draft as a high-riser. Could Barnes be the next Seminole to surprise and go in the top five picks of this year’s draft?
Welcome to DraftNasty’s 2020-2021 NBA Season Preview. In this preview, we will offer a quick division-by-division snapshot, make our picks for the All-Star team and NBA playoffs, and predict the end of season award winners. This season will take on an unprecedented tone as the NBA will attempt to play a 72-game season starting on December 22 after concluding the season this past October at the NBA Bubble. Will the short turnaround hurt or help any teams/ players? Read our preview to find out!
The Miami Heat represented the Southeast Division well with an Eastern Conference playoff berth after notching 44 wins in the regular season. This has the potential to be the most competitive division in the NBA when looking at the additions made by the Atlanta Hawks and the Orlando Magic as well as the return of John Wall to the Washington Wizards. Orlando, who made the playoffs as the 8th seed with 33 wins including a 3-5 record in the NBA Bubble, added North Carolina’s Cole Anthony in the draft to give them some scoring punch off the bench. Not to be outdone, Miami retooled by drafting Precious Achiuwa (Memphis) and acquiring veteran shooting guard Avery Bradley. Atlanta could be intriguing with young talent like Trae Young, Kevin Huerter and Onyeka Okongwu.
DraftNasty player to watch: Bradley Beal- Washington Wizards
Division MVP:Trae Young- Atlanta Hawks
DraftNasty rookie to watch:LaMelo Ball- Charlotte Hornets
The Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers have been the traditional powers in the division for the last five years but the Detroit Pistons under Troy Weaver are starting to build an identity. Veteran head coach Dwane Casey will field a young team in his second season as a lionshare of the division welcomed new coaches. Billy Donovan (Chicago), Nate Bjorkgren (Indiana) and JB Bickerstaff (Cleveland) will all start the season as first year head coaches in the division. With that said, Milwaukee is still expected to be the cream of the crop in the division with the return of two time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the additions of floor spacing veterans like Jrue Holiday, Bryn Forbes and Bobby Portis.
DraftNasty player to watch: Domantas Sabonis- Indiana Pacers
DraftNasty rookie to watch: Killian Hayes- Detroit Pistons
The Atlantic Division led the conference in storylines during the offseason as former NBA point guards: Steve Nash and Doc Rivers joined the division to coach the Nets and 76ers respectively. Boston and Toronto had a relatively quiet offseason but they have dominated the division in past years. With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving fully healthy, the Nets have the talent to take the division but how will all the pieces mesh under a new head coach? The New York Knicks probably won’t be a major factor in the playoff race but rookie Obi Toppin has a chance to win the Rookie of the Year award as he will be asked to carry a heavy load.
DraftNasty player to watch: Ben Simmons- Philadelphia 76ers
Division MVP: Kevin Durant- Brooklyn Nets
DraftNasty rookie to watch: Obi Toppin- New York Knicks
All Star Picks
Starters: Ben Simmons,Jimmy Butler, GiannisAntetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Domantas Sabonis
Last season, the Lakers and Clippers battled not only for city supremacy but for division and conference supremacy. The Lakers came out on top in all three of those categories and won the NBA Championship. This offseason, they added Montrezl Harrell from the Clippers, to provide energy off the bench. while the Clippers parted ways with head coach Doc Rivers in favor of former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue. The Golden State Warriors are fresh off their historic five year run but will be without sharpshooter Klay Thompson, who tore his Achilles after tearing his ACL a season before. The Phoenix Suns added Chris Paul to take the offensive load off of Devin Booker. The Sacramento Kings are in the league’s toughest division and have struggled to get to 40 wins over the past decade (longest active playoff drought streak in the NBA- 14 seasons).
DraftNasty player to watch: Stephen Curry- Golden State Warriors
Division MVP: Kawhi Leonard- Los Angeles Clippers
DraftNasty rookie to watch: Jalen Smith- Phoenix Suns
It’s a youth movement in the Northwest Division as players like Nikola Jokic, Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, Donovan Mitchell and Shai Gilgeous- Alexander lead their teams (all 25 years old or younger). Portland fields the most experienced roster of the bunch but struggled in the NBA bubble on the defensive end. If Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. can build on their performances in the bubble then Denver could repeat as division champions for the third consecutive season. The Utah Jazz have finished in third place in the division for the last three seasons but they didn’t move the needle with any free agency acquisitions. Despite having young pieces to build around, look for the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Oklahoma City Thunder to finish at the bottom of the division.
DraftNasty player to watch: Jamal Murray- Denver Nuggets
Division MVP: Nikola Jokic- Denver Nuggets
DraftNasty rookie to watch: Anthony Edwards- Minnesota Timberwolves
Dallas’ Luka Doncic and Houston’s James Harden will be asked to lead their teams in not only scoring but playmaking for others. The Mavericks have a better infrastructure in place around Doncic as opposed to Harden, who will have a new head coach (Stephen Silas), and that’s why we believe Dallas will win the division. San Antonio has been the class of the division over the past decade but how will they respond after missing the playoffs for the first time since 1997? The top two draft picks from 2019 (Ja Morant and Zion Williamson) will also have something to say with how the division shakes out. Morant was the Rookie of the Year but Willamson impressed during limited action (averaged 22 points per game and 6 rebounds in 27 minutes per game ) as he dealt with a meniscus tear.
DraftNasty player to watch: Ja Morant- Memphis Grizzlies
Division MVP: Luka Doncic– Dallas Mavericks
DraftNasty rookie to watch: Devin Vassell- San Antonio Spurs
All Star Picks
Starters: Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic, James Harden
Bench: Damian Lillard, Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Donovan Mitchell, Anthony Davis, Stephen Curry, Brandon Ingram
1. Denver Nuggets
2. Los Angeles Clippers
3. Los Angeles Lakers
4. Dallas Mavericks
5. Utah Jazz
6. Phoenix Suns
7. Golden State Warriors
8. Portland Trail Blazers
End of Year Award Accolades
Eastern Conference Champion:Milwaukee Bucks
Western Conference Champion: Los Angeles Clippers
NBA Champion: Los Angeles Clippers (4-2)
MVP: Luka Doncic-Dallas Mavericks
Defensive Player of the Year: Kawhi Leonard- Los Angeles Clippers
Rookie of the Year: Anthony Edwards- Minnesota Timberwolves
Most Improved: Michael Porter Jr.- Denver Nuggets
Sixth Man of the Year: Lou Williams- Los Angeles Clippers
With the NBA Draft in the rear view mirror and the free agency period set to start at 6 p.m. on Sunday, DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson breaks down some of the compelling storylines and offers his best fits for the scenarios.
Where do the star players of the NBA Finals go next?
Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson are all free agents. Durant was the marquee name of the free agency period before he tore his achilles in the NBA Finals. However, the two-time Finals MVP is still a highly sought-after name and will receive a max contract from whoever signs him. Kawhi Leonard was able to shift the balance of power away from the Western Conference to the East when he joined the Raptors and won a championship this past season. Klay Thompson is a five-time NBA All-Star and just barely missed out on the NBA supermax deal because he was not named to an All-NBA Roster. To make matters worse, he tore his ACL in the NBA Finals and it remains to be seen how much time he will miss next season. Each of these players are probably future Hall of Famers and will make whoever they sign with considerably better. Leonard and Thompson are both LA natives but I expect Thompson to stay in northern California. Thompson plays his best when running off screens and setting picks for backcourt mate, Steph Curry, and their synergy is hard to replicate. Thompson was drafted by the Warriors and his skill-set is perfect for the Warriors free- flowing offensive attack. Leonard could either return to the Raptors, which would put Toronto back in the driver’s seat in the Eastern Conference, or he could return home to play in Los Angeles. Both the Lakers and Clippers could offer him a max deal, so it will come down to a matter of preference for Leonard. Doc Rivers has shown before that he can maximize star talent and the Raptors proved they could put a team together around Leonard. I think the Raptors or the Clippers are the likely landing spots for Leonard. Durant could miss all of next year but he, too, has plenty of suitors. He could return to the Warriors or leave the Western Conference like Leonard did last year and join a weaker Eastern Conference. The Knicks and Nets have been linked to Durant. The Knicks would probably be a playoff team with a fully healthy Durant but does a guy who spent the last three seasons competing in the NBA Finals want to play the waiting game with a young core? The Nets made drastic strides last season as a playoff team, but they still need a star. If they are able to sign Kyrie Irving and pair him with Durant, this would probably make them the team to beat in the East.
Kawhi Leonard- L.A. Clippers
Kevin Durant- Brooklyn Nets
Klay Thompson- Golden State Warriors
Does Brooklyn re-sign Russell or sign Kyrie?
As mentioned above, Kyrie Irving -a New Jersey native- has been linked to the Brooklyn Nets. The Celtics enjoyed some success with Irving but could not make it to the NBA Finals and it seems their time together is over. Brooklyn has the cap space for two max deals and have a need at point guard. They have a point guard in D’Angelo Russell, who made the All Star team this past season and could re-sign him. Irving has had the better career to date though. I think Brooklyn would be better served signing Irving and trying to use that second max slot to sign another star player like Durant. However, Brooklyn could be in the same position as the Celtics if they strike out and can only bring in Irving, who would be the lead star. In his past stints, Irving’s teams have not flourished when he played the role as the “lead dog”, see his early career in Cleveland and the last two years in Boston.
Kyrie Irving- Brooklyn Nets
How do the Lakers fill out their roster?
The Lakers traded away three players including last year’s first round draft pick, Mo Wagner, to the Wizards in order to free up enough space to sign another player to a max deal. Right now, the Lakers are comprised of LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma and Anthony Davis as well as a few unproven youngsters. General manager Rob Pelinka and the Los Angles Lakers could sign a player like Kawhi Leonard to a max contract and then fill out the roster with players on the veteran minimum or sign a second tier star like Tobias Harris and then spread out the money to others that would make more than the veterans minimum. I actually think the best case scenario is for the Lakers to look to their past, they have a need at point guard and could bring back Russell. Russell saw his game rise to the next level last season and showed his ability to break down defenses and get to the rim. Signing Russell would allow James to play less at point guard and give the Lakers someone who could push the pace in transition. The Lakers ranked fourth in transition points per game last season and with what figures to be a roster of newcomers in 2019, Los Angeles needs as many easy buckets as they can muster. With the money they save by not using their max contract slot, the Lakers could also target free agents like J.J. Redick or Trevor Ariza, both sharpshooters and the type of players that have enjoyed success with James in the past.
D’Angelo Russell as well as a few second tier free agents- Los Angeles Lakers
What does Dallas do with their cap space?
Dallas acquired former New York Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis in the middle of this past season and saw Luka Doncic take home the rookie of the year award. The duo will serve as the centerpieces for the Mavericks going forward in the post Dirk Nowitzki era and they have enough money to bring in a max player this offseason. The Mavericks have a clear need at point guard and I look for them to try luring a guy like Kemba Walker. First order of business will be resigning Porzingis, who is a restricted free agent. I don’t see Porzingis leaving the Mavericks at all. However, I don’t see Walker signing with Dallas because it isn’t a great fit to have Doncic/Walker and Porzingis all on the floor together, there would be a natural overlap in the need for each player to have the ball. I do expect however for Dallas to target a true center because we’ve heard at times that Porzingis doesn’t like playing the 5. Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic is the name I expect to see sign with the Mavericks. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Mavericks target a defensive minded point guard like Patrick Beverly as well.
Nikola Vucevic and a starting point guard – Dallas Mavericks
Who will play alongside of Harden in Houston in 2019-2020?
The Rockets have been on the door step of the NBA Finals the past few seasons but this is a crucial offseason for them. Houston could stick with their same roster from last season and try and take advantage of the Western Conference, which is in flux. The Lakers have star power but will need time to gel and the Warriors have stars but Durant is a free agent and so is Thompson and even if they keep both, they won’t be ready by the start of next year. There are benefits in opting for continuity if you’re the Rockets. However, the opposite argument could be made, Houston couldn’t beat the banged up Warriors this season so why would anything change next season? If the Rockets want to bring in another max contract player like Jimmy Butler, they would probably have to trade center Clint Capela and Eric Gordon, to make the financials work. Butler would bring toughness and a defensive presence to the Rockets however I can’t see him coexisting with Harden and Chris Paul, all three need the ball in their hands to be successful. Paul and Harden already have times where they look like they’re taking plays off when the other is dribbling, Butler would only complicate matters. The best case scenario for brining in Butler would be getting rid of Paul and acquiring a spot up shooting point guard in the mold of former Heat point guard, Mario Chalmers.
The Houston Rockets should keep the team as presently constructed
Where will Kemba end up?
If Durant, Thompson and Leonard are in the “first tier” of free agents, Walker is not far behind. The former UCONN point guard is a one man offensive weapon that has only missed six games over the past four seasons. Whoever signs Walker is getting someone that can score (averaged 25.6 points per game last season), lead and possesses rare durability. I think the Celtics, who will probably lose Irving to free agency are the team to watch. Unlike the Mavericks. Walker fits in a lot better from a scheme standpoint with the Celtics, who possess a plethora of wings like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Romeo Langford, who can not only mask his defensive decencies but don’t need to handle the ball every possession.
Atlanta sends the draft rights of the third overall pick, Luka Doncic, to the Dallas Mavericks for draft rights of the fifth overall pick (Trae Young) and a future draft pick (1st Round pick in 2019)
Charlotte agrees to trade the rights of the 11th overall pick, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, to the Los Angeles Clippers for the rights of the 12th overall pick, Miles Bridges, and two future second-round picks
Philadelphia trades the rights of 10th overall pick, Mikal Bridges to the Phoenix Suns for the for the rights of the 16th overall pick, Zhaire Smith, and for the Suns 2021 first-round pick (via the Miami Heat)
Six of the top 16 draft picks were traded
Sacramento traded the 37th pick of the second round, Gary Trent, Jr., to Portland for two future second-round picks
Atlanta Hawks traded the draft rights of the 34th overall pick, Devonte Graham to the Charlotte Hornets for two future second-round picks
The Orlando Magic traded the rights of the 41st overall pick, Jarred Vanderbilt to the Denver Nuggets for the draft rights of the 43rd overall pick, Justin Jackson, and a future second-round pick
Philadelphia 76ers traded the draft rights of the 38th overall pick, Khyri Thomas, to the Detroit Pistons for two future second-round picks
The Pac-12 Player of the Year made subtle improvements to his frame over the last year and a half while increasing his level of quickness and rise off the floor. A solid free throw shooter with an adequate face-up jumper, Ayton’s back to the basket game is an added bonus.
If he can continue to expand his range, his offensive game may expand to new heights. He’s already a scrappy rebounder with quick hops. Bagley III will get to the free throw line but he has to improve when he gets there (62%). He set an ACC freshman record with 22 double-doubles.
Atlanta Hawks (Traded to Dallas Mavericks)
Although he’s just 19 years old, Doncic averaged 16 PPG, 4.8 RPG and 4.3 APG for Real Madrid on his way to EuroLeague MVP honors in 2017-18. He will look to become just the second lottery international selection to make an All-Star team.
Jaren Jackson, Jr.
The Big Ten Freshman of the Year’s NBA bloodlines mesh with major shot blocking ability. The conference’s Defensive Player of the Year shot over 40-percent from three-point range and led the Big Ten with three blocked shots per game. His ability to defend makes him an attractive option for a team that won just 22 games in 2017-18.
The Bulls hit home with All-Rookie selection Lauri Markkanen a year ago and this year went after a player who scored in double figures in 30 contests in 2017-18. The second-team All-ACC performer has an array of moves around the basket and an instinctive rebounder (9.1).
6’1 ½ 183
The Cavaliers immediately increased its team speed with the selection of Sexton. He maintained a 4.0 GPA in school during his lone season on campus and had a knack for the big moment.
New York Knicks
Knox’s toughness and natural scoring ability will provide a solid complement to Kristpas Porzingas. The first pick of the David Fizdale-era is solid in all facets of his game.
Philadelphia 76ers (traded the rights of this pick to the Phoenix Suns for the 16th overall pick, Zhaire Smith and the Suns 2021 first-round pick)
The first of the four Wildcats expected to be drafted, Brigdes actually redshirted initially at Villanova. The 76ers needed another shooter with the possible departures of either J.J. Redick or Marco Belinelli, but instead acquired the rights to the Phoenix Suns 16th overall pick, Zhaire Smith. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson predicted Smith could end up with the 76ers.
Charlotte Hornets (pick made for the Los Angeles Clippers)
The 2017-18 second-team All-SEC selection recorded the third most assists for a freshman in the history of Kentucky basketball. Blessed with the ability to defend three-to-four positions, he will increase the flexibility for Doc Rivers’ defensive unit. He shot 81.7-percent from the free throw line as a freshman.
Los Angeles Clippers (pick made for the Charlotte Hornets)
Despite being 6-foot-6, he still averaged seven rebounds per game in 2017-18. Why? He has a strong, burly frame. The former Big Ten Freshman of the Year is a true high riser.
Los Angeles Clippers
Robinson becomes the first ever Eagles player to become a lottery selection and was a runner-up to Marvin Bagley III for ACC Player of the Year. He shot over 83% from the free throw line
1 (16) Phoenix Suns (traded this pick for to the Philadelphia 76ers and its 2021 1st round pick for the rights to the 76ers 10th overall pick Mikal Bridges-see below)
After securing Ayton with the first overall pick, the Suns turned their attention to another guard for depth with the possible departure of free agent Elfrid Payton. This pick was made for the 76ers in a trade that sent their 10th overall pick to the Suns in exchange for Smith’s rights. Smith’s outstanding leaping ability (41 ½” VJ) and floor speed will add an explosive element to the 76ers backcourt. Bridges expands the Suns’ defensive versatility.
1 (17) Milwaukee Bucks
6’4 ½ 200
The Bucks needed more scorers on the perimeter after finishing 13th in the NBA playoffs in three-pointers. DiVincenzo opened even more eyes at the NBA Combine after earning Most Outstanding Player honors in the 2018 NCAA Final Four. The Big East’s Six Man of the Year shot 40% from three-point range this past season.
San Antonio Spurs
Lonnie Walker IV
Athletic shooting guards/wings were a possibility for the Spurs with the unenviable Kawhi Leonard situation. The team opted for a player who can play the two-guard or wing in Walker IV. He has to stay healthy and become more productive with the ball in his hands. His play strength is undeniable.
The third-team All-ACC selection is a high-riser who averaged over 18 points per game for the Yellow Jackets. With Jerome Robinson off the board, Okogie was one of the better shooting guards still available for the Timberwolves.
1 (21) Utah Jazz
6’4 ½ 198
The former Blue Devil fills a need for the team despite being somewhat of a surprise in this slot. He nearly put up 2,000 points in his career (1,996), but there are some questions about his ability to defend consistently. There are, however, few questions surrounding his competitiveness and athleticism.
Blessed with NBA bloodlines (Brother, Jrue, plays for the New Orleans Pelicans and another brother, Justin, plays for the Chicago Bulls), this Holiday rarely took any days off for the Bruins. He led the Pac-12 in scoring in 2017-18 (20.3 PPG). The Pacers simply took the best player available at this stage of the draft.
(from the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2017-18 trade that included Isaiah Thomas and Jordan Clarkson)
There are few questions regarding Wagner’s ability to stretch the floor as a shooter. The former Wolverine has good vision, works as a rebounder and possesses above average ability to execute in pick-and-pop situations.
Williams III is one of the better shot blockers in the draft and he led the SEC in rebounding. The team will look for him to be a rim-runner and lob specialist. It was a bit of a surprise he lasted until the end of the first round.
Whether or not the team gets Charlotte C Dwight Howard in its proposed trade is still up for discussion. In the meantime, they needed a player capable of handling defensive responsibilities next to either Howard or Timofey Mozgov. Musa may not be a fit for those duties, but he averaged 12.4 PPG and was named the All-Adriatic League’s top prospect of the year.
1 (30) Atlanta Hawks
While Spellman averaged just under 11 points per game for the Wildcats, he did shoot 43-percent from three-point range. Aside from his ability to shoot, he has enough bulk to compete as an offensive rebounder.
2 (31) Phoenix Suns
The Suns didn’t get their backup guard early but they do get a player who has some similarities to the aforementioned Payton (a free agent). He has more shooting ability at this same stage of his development.
2 (32) Memphis Grizzlies
6’1 ½” 196
Carter’s development as a scorer complements what may be the best defensive skill-set in the draft. He was twice named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and became just the fifth player in Division I history with 1,500 points, 500 rebounds, 500 assists and 300 steals.
6’2 ¼” 198
Although he shot 41-percent from three-point range in 2017-18, some of Brunson’s best work came on the low block. His foot speed is a question mark.
6’1 ½” 188
Graham has the ability to go either right or left off the dribble to get separation for his pull-up jumpers. The Hawks continue to add playmakers to compete in the backcourt.
The AAC’s Most Improved Player led the conference in steals (2.2 per gm). He put together an outstanding NBA Combine performance.
New York Knicks
One of the nation’s top recruits in 2017, Robinson never played college basketball and elected to train for the draft.
Gary Trent, Jr.
During the NBA Combine, Trent, Jr. excelled shooting from the top of the key and posted a 39 ½” max VJ. He was one of the Blue Devils most consistent shooters in 2017-18.
6’3 ¾” 198
Known for his defense, Thomas’ 6’10 ½” wingspan gives him plenty of flexibility when it comes to guarding multiple positions. He’s capable of winning of finishing in transition or off the catch-and-shoot on the wings.
Although this pick may not provide immediate dividends, Bonga,has good flexibility and impressive court vision.
Kurucs, a member of the 2017-18 Latvian National Team, averaged just over 10 points and nearly 3 RPG for FC Barcelona in 2017-18. He has a game that translates to the type of stretch-fours seen in the NBA today. He will need to work on getting his shot off quicker.
2 (41) Orlando Magic
If not for a left foot injury, Vanderbilt –one of the top players in the Class of 2017- may have made a bigger impact for the Wildcats in 2017-18. Where he did flash was as a rebounder. He averaged 7.9 rebounds per game in 14 games for the team.
2 (42) Detroit Pistons
Yet another prospect affected by a foot injury in 2017-18, Brown was probably more impactful as a shooter during his freshman season.
Diallo posted the highest max vertical at the 2018 NBA Combine (44 ½”). If he can develop as a shooter, he has some similarities to Houston Rockets G Gerald Green. Diallo shot just 62% from the free throw line this past season and just 43-percent from the field
During his lone season of action at USC (2016-17), he averaged 1.9 steals per game. Despite shooting 71% from the stripe, he connected on just 28.4% of his three-point shots.
Johnson doesn’t have noteworthy length (6’8 ¾” wingspan) for his 217-pound frame, but he averaged a double-double (points, rebounds) in back-to-back seasons for the Bears.
New Orleans Pelicans
6’4 ½” 198
The first-team All-Big Ten selection finished the season with four games of 30-plus points and shot 43.3% from three-point range. Carr’s 8’4” standing reach makes him bigger than his size would indicate. He led the Nittany Lions to the 2018 NIT title.
2 (52) Utah Jazz
A solid spot-up shooter, Edwards improved his scoring average in each of his four years on campus. An effiicent free throw shooter (82% career), he is also effective beyond the arc.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Hall is by no means a high-riser, but he was satisfactory in non-stationary shooting drills at the 2018 NBA Combine. He was an 89% free throw shooter in 2017-18.
2 (54) Dallas Mavericks
6’5 ½ 207
In just over 36 minutes per game in 2017-18, Milton averaged 18 points per game. The 6’5 ½” Milton has nearly a 7-foot-1-inch wingspan and 8’3 ½” standing reach.
Despite averaging just over 8 points per game, he shot nearly 37-percent from three-point range. He will likely be a pick for the Hornets down the road
Welsh, a career 80-percent free throw shooter, shot 40-percent from the three-point line as a senior while averaged 10.8 rebounds per game.
The second-team All-Pac-12 selection nearly hit 200 three-pointers in college (181) and perhaps more impressively 5.4 rebounds per game (career).
2 (60) Philadelphia 76ers
The younger brother of the Greek Freak in Milwaukee didn’t log many minutes for Dayton, but he did aveaged over a block per game. He’s still not a shooter (51.6% free throws), but he contains a 7’2 ¼” wingspan and 9’2” standing reach.
The Lakers got their table-setting point guard in Lonzo Ball, who has the ability to spoon feed baskets for others but with Isaiah Thomas and Kentavious Caldwell Pope facing free agency, the team needs to add another off the ball scorer. If the Lakers want to add a cheaper piece via free agency in order to put money aside for a bigger free agent, Marco Belinelli is an option. Bellinelli fit in seamlessly for a young 76ers team after coming to Philadelphia midseason. If the Lakers use their 25th overall pick on a scorer, UCLA’s Aaron Holiday, who played with Lonzo in 2016, could provide depth behind Ball and play off the ball when he plays point guard.
The Lakers will be in the Paul George sweepstakes this offseason. Even if the Lakers sign George, they will still have enough money to offer Julius Randle a long-term contract. Randle is coming off his most efficient season, averaging 16 points (55-percent FGs) and eight rebounds per game. If LA chooses to add some depth along the frontcourt with its 25th overall pick, Kentucky’s Jarred Vanderbilt could be worth a shot. Vanderbilt is a left-handed power forward with good position versatility, athleticism and -at times- can’t help but remind you of a young Lamar Odom.
The Clippers had a lot of young players step up despite losing Blake Griffin. Players like Sindarius Thornwell, Milos Teodosic and Tobias Harris can serve as the new faces in the rebuild around DeAndre Jordan. Los Angeles also has capable three-and-D players like Wesley Johnson and Sam Dekker under contract. However, the Clippers could stand to add an athletic power forward to spell Harris in small ball lineups. With the 12th and 13th picks, LA could go in a few different directions but Kentucky’s Kevin Knox fits the mold of a strong but athletic forward. The Clippers could bring in Knox with the 12th pick and use the 13th pick on the best available prospect, which could be anyone from Alabama’s point guard Collin Sexton to Missouri small forward Michael Porter Jr.
Cap space: -19 million, 119 million
Free agents: Avery Bradley, Montrezl Harrell
Golden State Warriors
If the Warriors showed one weakness it was when Andre Iguodala went down to injury. Coupled with the earlier injury to fellow wing Patrick McCaw, Golden State needed another wing defender. The Warriors will bring back Kevin Durant but it remains to be seen what else they will be able to add in free agency. If Golden State looks to the draft with their 28th overall pick, then SMU’s Shake Milton is a name to watch. Milton shot 43 percent from three-point range last season and owns a 6’11” wingspan. Milton also averaged four assists and four rebounds per game. The former Mustang would be a welcome addition and could develop into a three-and-D prospect capable of defending multiple positions.
Cap space: -36 million, 136 million
Free agents: Kevin Durant, Nick Young, Zaza Pachulia, Kevon Looney, JaVale McGee
Justin Jackson is the only true small forward under contract. Sacramento has the second and 37th overall picks in the draft. If the Kings want to add a wing early in the draft, Luka Doncic from Slovenia would make sense. Doncic is a polished player and at 19 years old, he has not yet reached his ceiling. However, if Sacramento wants to grab a big man and come back in the second round and add a wing player, Kansas’ Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is a 6’8” sharpshooter. He has shown before that he can play well alongside former Kansas Jayhawk and current Sacramento Kings guard Frank Mason, Jr.
Willie Cauley-Stein, Zach Randolph and Kosta Koufos have one year each remaining on their contracts. Sacramento could look to add another big man who could play alongside Cauley-Stein, stretch the floor and play both the forward/center positions. With the second pick in the draft, Duke’s Marvin Bagley, Jr. would make sense. He has room to improve defensively but he could play beside Cauley-Stein and they could both help each other’s deficiencies.
Cap space: 2 million, 98 million
Free agents: Vince Carter, Bruno Caboclo
Phoenix has the first and 16th picks in the first round. Tyson Chandler is the only true center under contract and he will be 36 years old by the start of next season. Arizona’s Deandre Ayton played right down the road and is the consensus best prospect in the draft. Ayton is a 7-foot-1-inch, 250-pound 19-year old with an NBA-ready body. Ayton averaged 20.1 points per game last season along with 11.6 rebounds. He also possesses a decent jump shot to go along with a back to the basket game. With Ayton and young SG Devin Booker, Phoenix would have a strong foundation to build around.
Elfrid Payton turned in his best season last year, averaging 12 points per game, six rebounds and four assists. Payton also played 28 minutes per game last season, splitting minutes with a host of players (Troy Daniels, Tyler Ulis and Mike James). If the Suns choose to add a big man with the first pick, look for them to come back 15 picks later and try to address the depth in the backcourt. Miami’s Lonnie Walker IV is 6’4” and has a 6’10” wingspan. His size will give him some position versatility defensively at the next level.
Coupled with his scoring potential (11.5 points per game), Walker could be an intriguing pick to log guard minutes behind Ulis and Booker next year.
Cap space: 7 million, 93 million
Free agents: Alex Len, Elfrid Payton
*The 2018-2019 NBA salary cap sits at $101 million and the luxury tax sits at $123 million.
Player stats are courtesy of ESPN.com.
Financial outlook is courtesy of Spotrac.com.
— By: Troy Jefferson, DraftNasty Staff reports, Follow him @troy_jefferson on twitter.