Here’s how The Tribune’s Tony Jones sees the NBA Draft going on Thursday night in New York.
1. Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton, center, Arizona
You can make the argument for Luka Doncic, or even Mo Bamba. But Ayton is dynamic for a center in all parts of the game. He represents a significant need for the Suns and new head coach Igor Kokoskov.
2. Sacramento Kings: Marvin Bagley III, forward, Duke
Bagley is a safe pick, which is what the Kings need. He’s going to average 20 points and 10 rebounds through the bulk of his career. Will he be a superstar? Maybe not. The Kings can’t afford to miss, and they won’t miss with Bagley. He’s a great value at No. 2.
3. Atlanta Hawks: Luka Doncic, guard, Slovenia
He’s the best pure player in the draft, and one of the most celebrated international players ever. Doncic can play three positions, is incredibly cerebral, is a great passer and has great size. He will kickstart Atlanta’s rebuilding effort.
4. Memphis Grizzlies: Jaren Jackson Jr., forward, Michigan State
He fits the new-age NBA big man perfectly. Jackson has a ridiculous defensive ceiling and is a potential 40 percent 3-point shooter on offense. He can guard three spots and is close to 7 feet tall. If he gets stronger, look out. His upside is Kevin Garnett level.
5. Dallas Mavericks: Mo Bamba, center, Texas
The Rudy Gobert comparisons — at least physically — are apt. Bamba has a terrific wingspan and athleticism. He projects to be an elite rim protector and can do good things offensively. After drafting their point guard of the future last season in Dennis Smith Jr., the Mavericks get their big man of the future.
6. Orlando Magic: Wendell Carter, forward, Duke
A candidate to average 20 points and 10 rebounds per game in his career, Carter probably won’t miss, but may not have as high a ceiling as others do. He will be able to play power forward or center in the NBA. He’s an elite rebounder and has proven chops as a low block scorer. A safe pick for a team that can’t afford to miss.
7. Chicago Bulls: Michael Porter, forward, Missouri
Had he been healthy, he could’ve been the top pick of this draft. Porter can be an elite scorer. He’s 6-foot-11 and can play three positions. He missed almost all his freshman season with a back injury, and there is concern there. If he’s healthy, he’s a steal at this point.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers: Kevin Knox, forward, Kentucky
This comes with a caveat that the Cavs may trade this pick for a veteran in a last-ditch attempt to keep LeBron James. If they don’t make a move, Knox is a good rebuilding point. He’s young for his class, extremely athletic, and has a high upside.
9. N.Y. Knicks: Trae Young, guard, Oklahoma
The Knicks should go safe and pick Mikal Bridges. But with Young available, the bet here is they won’t be able to resist the lure of a potential fan favorite. Young will be able to score, but can he defend? And whom can he defend at his size? At the very least, he’s an exciting talent.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Mikal Bridges, forward, Villanova
With Young off the board, the Sixers take the best 3-and-D wing the draft has seen in recent years. Bridges fits perfectly with the Sixers. He would be an immediate candidate for rotation minutes.
11. Charlotte Hornets: Collin Sexton, guard, Alabama
This shapes perfectly for the Hornets. They want to trade Kemba Walker, which means Sexton is a natural fit as the point guard of the future. Sexton is a bulldog defensively, and very athletic and strong. He would be a fan favorite right away.
12. L.A. Clippers: Robert Williams, forward, Texas A&M
With DeAndre Jordan’s future with the Clippers in doubt, Los Angeles takes the best rim-running big man remaining on the board. Williams can play both frontcourt spots. He’s an exceptional athlete and a rim protector.
13. L.A. Clippers: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, guard, Kentucky
The Clippers may want to deal one of their picks. If they keep this one, Gilgeous-Alexander would be a nice developmental piece, with Pat Beverley coming off surgery and Milos Teodosic closer to the end of his career than the beginning.
14. Denver Nuggets: Jerome Robinson, guard, Boston College
With Will Barton being a restricted free agent, the Nuggets take Robinson, who can be a bucket-getter coming off their bench. He also fits with Denver’s scheme of perimeter players who can make shots around Nikola Jokic.
15. Washington Wizards: Zhaire Smith, guard, Texas Tech
Smith may be the best pound-for-pound athlete in the draft. He has a lot of skill development to do to reach his ceiling. But, if his skillset catches up to his athleticism, he could become a star.
16. Phoenix Suns: Miles Bridges, forward, Michigan State
Bridges accomplishes two things: He’s the best player remaining on the board, and he gives the Suns a much-needed option as a stretch power forward. He’s a plus athlete and a good shooter.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: Elie Okobo, guard, France
Eric Bledsoe may be on the outs in Milwaukee. And even if Bledsoe isn’t, the Bucks need a backcourt guy who can score like Okobo. He’s fast and fearless and athletic. He’s a great shooter and can create offense.
18. San Antonio Spurs: Keita Bates-Diop, forward, Ohio State
The most Spurs selection ever would be to take Diop, who was a four-year, do-it-all guy at Ohio State. Diop measured 6-foot-8½ at the combine and can play either forward position.
19. Atlanta Hawks: Aaron Holiday, guard, UCLA
Holiday would be a terrific selection for the Hawks as a point guard who can score and defend. He has a great wingspan, which would help him defensively. Holiday is the brother of Jrue and Justin Holiday, both solid NBA players.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves: Troy Brown, guard, Oregon
Brown gives the Wolves an intriguing option who can play and guard three spots. He’s probably not ready to play right away, but he has significant upside at 18 years old.
21. Utah Jazz: Chandler Hutchison, guard, Boise State
The Jazz sorely need a third scorer, and Hutchison can score with the best of them in this draft. He can make shots at all three levels, and he’s mature at 22 years old. He could be an instant rotation guy.
22. Chicago Bulls: Lonnie Walker, guard, Miami
Walker is dynamic and has upside. This is probably a little lower than projected, but he’s great value in the early 20s.
23. Indiana Pacers: Mitchell Robinson, center, Western Kentucky
In time, Robinson could be one of the best rim protectors in the league. He didn’t play college basketball — he enrolled at Western Kentucky, withdrew from school within a month, then re-enrolled and declared for the draft — but is an intriguing prospect.
24. Portland Trail Blazers: Kevin Huerter, guard, Maryland
Huerter is one of the best pure shooters in the draft and can do some damage off the dribble as well. Portland needs more shooting, especially on its second unit.
25. L.A. Lakers: Donte DiVincenzo, guard, Villanova
Another great value pick. He’s one of the best athletes in the draft and comes from a terrific program.
26. Philadelphia 76ers: Grayson Allen, guard, Duke
The Sixers are probably going to lose JJ Redick in free agency, and Allen is a nice replacement. He can shoot, he’s a good athlete and he’s a competitor.
27. Boston Celtics: Jacob Evans, guard, Cincinnati
The Celtics fell in love with Evans, a tough and hard-nosed wing, during the pre-draft process. He’s a good second-unit fit here for the Celtics.
28. Golden State Warriors: Anfernee Simons, guard, IMG Academy
The Warriors can afford to draft for potential, and Simons has a ton of upside. He’s an offensively gifted wing who can shoot and get to the basket off the dribble.
29. Brooklyn Nets: Jalen Brunson, guard, Villanova
The Nets may lose Spencer Dinwiddie to free agency after next season. If that happens, Brunson could be ready to step in right away.
30. Atlanta Hawks: Omari Spellman, forward, Villanova
An athletic big man who can shoot, Spellman adds to Atlanta’s frontcourt depth.