Wednesday, October 17, 2018

What to expect from the Atlanta Hawks this season

Some quick thoughts about the Atlanta Hawks on Opening Night for the 2018-19 schedule:

1. This Atlanta Hawks team will not be as bad as some experts are pretending they will be.

Some of the national talking heads have figured it out, but there are a lot that see the evaporation of known commodities from the Hawks rotation plus the trade of Luka Doncic for Trae Young and a future #1 as signs that the team is going to be horrible.

However, those that have watched this team since it's bumpy opening act in Utah this summer can see that the offense is all the way live, and Lloyd Pierce has a plan and the team is executing. A rudderless ship is the most likely to be a disaster, record-wise, in the NBA, and that is not the Atlanta Hawks.

So while the team is still locked in for lottery goodness next offseason, the worst record in the league, a.k.a. The Full Oh-Four, will be avoided.

2. That defense, though, will be rough.

I had speculated, as the team piled one defensive liability upon another during the offseason, that this defense had the potential to be all-time bad.

I am walking that back somewhat upon reflection. What I mean today is that the defense has a chance to be epic in terms of points per game given up, likely last in the league in that category.

Pierce is a noted defensive expert, so there will be some defensive concepts that will be taught and bought into, to be sure. However, the pace at which this team wants to play, combined with the established defensive ratings the roster has, plus the general inexperience that a lot of the minutes will be consumed, means that points will be scored against, oh yes, there will be points.

3. Still going to be fun to watch.

All of that is to say this: This team will score some points and it will give up a lot of points, which will make them the darling of the daily fantasy sports players everywhere.

More points = more fun, or something like that. Being a bad team that can't score the basketball is hard to watch. Being a bad (record-wise) team that can score the ball is much more palatable.

4. Trae Young will alter the draft day trade narrative.

Not to bury the lede too much in this preview, but yes, there is plenty to say about Trae Young.

Before the draft, I felt that the lack of defense I saw at Oklahoma was going to prevent Young from assuming a full starters' portion of the minutes, rendering him a sixth man type that would be able to come off the bench and provide tons o' offense, featuring his shooting and passing as the chosen weapons of mass destruction.

After the summer and preseason, you can see the work that Pierce has put into Trae and it is more easy to see a 30-32 minute role for Young now.

What we have also seen is that the elite playmaker skills are translating, so far, to the NBA, which is essential for making Travis Schlenk's draft day gambit work. Sure, Young can knock down 30 footers and drive oohs and ahhs from the crowd, but it will be the ability to make John Collins, Taurean Prince, et al 10-15% better and more efficient that will make things go for the Hawks with Trae at the point.

I believe he will do this well enough. Also, his style of play and swagger lends itself to adoration of the Hawks faithful and the marriage of his game style, the pace of play the Hawks want to go with and the fans coming to the arena is darn near perfect.

It is this result that I believe will change the national narrative about the deal from a FAIL by the Hawks to a more win-win narrative that still favors Dallas (assuming Luka plays as we all believe he will), but more of a wait and see with that second pick, the style factor, etc.

With Young so likeable as a leader, this adds to the momentum to alter that narrative.

5. The final result will be tied to Team Health.

Obviously, an injury to Young, more so than anybody else on this team, will influence the final grade for this team in 2019. If Young is able to maintain for 78-82 games, then we will see his growth and all the points I have just made is fully colored and glorious.

However, if Young misses large amounts of time, it is hard to imagine feeling like this season reached its potential.

To a lesser degree, the same is said for Collins, Prince, Huerter, and everyone else that the team is counting on to use these minutes as time vitamins for future benefit to the team. Any amounts of lost time will hurt that growth and, also, the enjoyment of this rebuilding season.

6. The Hawks will still have a top five pick. 

In the end, I believe the Hawks will lose enough to retain a top five pick of their own in the 2019 NBA Draft, which is a real good thing for a franchise that needs more talent and has the potential of three first rounders again in that draft.

7. We will enjoy Vince Carter as our own for one glorious season.

The Hawks do seem to find a way of harboring all-time greats at the end of their careers, from Moses Malone to Tracy McGrady. I am especially happy to have Carter here, having interviewed him over the years and watched him crush the good guys over and over again, it will be good to see and hear him describe this season from the inside.

8. The franchise will be seen in a better light by the end of the year.

From the new arena look, to the smart PR that is happening with the team, to the on the court product, this is the year that the national eyes see the Hawks as changing the culture, a process that started with the hiring of Steve Koonin and now continues through the full Tony Ressler fingerprint.

They have a plan. They are not rudderless. Now, the team will begin its trek down this road chosen, a road of high scoring basketball and a fan friendly venue.

I am looking forward to it -- Let's Go Hawks!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Dennis Schröder Trade Breakdown

Dennis Schröder has been traded to Oklahoma City. By now you probably have seen the other stories spelling out the details of the three-team trade that made that happen. So let us take a look at the key aspects of the deal and give out our penny on this matter with a summary at the end.

1. Dennis Schröder

It was time, as we had posted a few months back.

Dennis...ah Dennis, we had reasonable expectations from you. Sure, we all here at THHB HQ wanted Giannis to drop just a little further to grab him instead, but you were seen as a potential lottery pick that slipped and the Hawks nabbed you as a potential replacement for the steady and slightly above average Jeff Teague.

Three seasons ago, we argued that the time had come to see if Schröder could take the Hawks further than Teague and a year later, the Hawks obliged.

Dennis showed the elite skill of getting past his man and a solid ability to facilitate, but his defense, at times lagged, at worst times was abysmal, and never really seemed to improve, especially as the losses piled up.

His shooting was spotty and teams wagered regularly that they could be better off letting Dennis hoist up threes, rather than letting him beat them with the one skill in the bag that was special. His conversion rate at the basket was not good, even as his drives to the basket were top five in the league. This, along with the below average long range shooting, prevented his offensive efficiency from being much more than slightly above average while his advanced metrics showed him capable from a facilitation standpoint.

More damning than the okay offense overall and the oy vey defense was his lack of leadership from the point guard position. Because of the emotional, sometimes impetuous play of Schröder, the was no rallying point around Dennis. There was never any passion that converted itself to a spurring on of his teammates, an ability to take over a game by will.

All of that seems intangible and certainly subjective, and that is accepted, but there was never a sense from here that Dennis was pushing this team further, and that is an essential piece of who your point guard (or lead ballhandler) is, in this opinion. Dennis did not prove that while here, and it was why it was time to part ways.

Now that he is a backup PG in OKC and likely sometimes backcourt mate with Russell Westbrook, we can see a more efficient Dennis, perhaps. Sort of like when a starting pitcher in baseball moves to the bullpen and is able to crank up the velocity for the shorter stints, Dennis may be able to show more effort on both ends of the court, without the need to pace for 30-32 minutes and thirtysomething percent raw usage.

Either way, with Trae Young the new face o' the franchise and Jeremy Lin brought in to score with Trae, Dennis' days were numbered and the thought of him eating any minutes in Atlanta this season looked more out of place than a Sloppy Joe in the mitts of the Queen of England.

2. Carmelo Anthony

For years, Atlanta fans fantasized about a star like Carmelo coming to the Hawks, or even Carmelo himself. It didn't matter that he occasionally Hell, No'd the thought publicly. Alas.

Now, however, not only is he not a star anymore, such that the Thunder desperately looked to cast him out after a season that saw OKC look significantly better when he was not on the court, but he still won't play for Atlanta, this becoming another member of the Terrell Brandon All-Stars. A.K.A. Players traded to the Hawks but are cut loose without even breaching the doors of Philips Arena. He joins Brandon, Gary Payton, Antawn Jamison and last year's edition of Jamal Crawford in this elite club.

3. The 2022 first round pick

It is lottery protected, and only for that season, afterwards it turns into two second round picks, which probably would be at least one high one considering the Thunder would have to be in the lottery to not get the first. Two second round picks for the Hawks, however, is dubious in value, considering we just saw one of the deepest drafts and the Hawks cast off the #34 overall pick for a pair of future seconds from the Hornets, which don't have a great shot at being much better than the one they gave away, but, anyway, so much digression.

The fact is that the Hawks got a future first, which could easily be used as a sweetener in future trades. Add the fact that the 2022 draft might be the fabled Double Draft, where the last of the one and dones and the first of the high school eligible players fill out the slots, and this is a valuable chip to trade, indeed.

And, for context, do not forget that it could very well EASILY have been the Hawks parting with a future first round asset to divest themselves of a highly paid average starting PG with three years left on a deal after acquiring two more PG this offseason. To get one in return, regardless of the future maturation of the pick is almost magic.

4. Mike Muscala

THHB hates to see Muskie go, but to be fair, he has matured nicely and likely now is a luxury item to a rebuilding team like Atlanta. Muscala is a great fit as a rotational big on a playoff team like Philadelphia. Additionally, from the Hawks perspective, his maturation and production value was starting to get costly, so it was a good time to move him.

Muscala, like Dennis, came in the Danny Ferry 2013 draft, and was a rare second round pick that paid solid dividends for the Hawks. He will be missed, but we will always have the memory of the Moose Goggles. Epic.

5. Justin Anderson 

Anderson, a former first round pick of the Mavericks, is still on his rookie deal and provides Lloyd Pierce with a familiar face and a willing defender for Pierce's rotations. He is the definition of a replacement value player right now, but is only 24, and is inexpensive as an inclusion in this deal. He will eat rotation minutes providing wingplay and the aforementioned defense and if he improves at all with his shooting, that is a cherry on a sundae.


The Hawks had made their choice to trade Dennis Schröder and the time was right. His counting stats were never going to be higher, his youth and skill made him desirable to a playoff team that lacked a plus backup PG. And the Hawks had drafted Trae Young and acquired Jeremy Lin, so the days were numbered.

Instead of getting snookered in a deal just to get Dennis off the team, they leveraged their well thought out plan of having cap space to facilitate deals such as this one, patiently waited until there was a situation like this one where few teams were left to deal with, and milked a future draft asset and a cheap, young, competent wing as a plunder, instead of being plundered.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the Comments Area or hit @JasonWalkerNBA up on Twitter to make your opinion known.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Trae Young Summer League Thoughts, Part 1

Trae Young has shown both the positives and the work that is to be done for the rookie point guard to realize his upside this season through these first two games of his young career.

If you worried about Young being unable to get his shot in a faster, stronger NBA, then you have been seeing exactly what you are concerned about. Young has struggled for any space at all in these two games and has shot poorly as a result. Both Memphis and San Antonio practically picked him up full court and Young had grind every dribble with opposition.

Watching other rookies in past summer leagues, they did not get this treatment. It is like when Reggie Bush came into the NFL and teams overplayed him and took him out of every game, it seemed, and dared others to beat them.

The scoring restriction is potentially a big deal since one of the two huge positives for Young was the ability to stretch the floor immensely with his shooting. The Hawks passed on other players with considerable skills to obtain this ability, so it is imperative that Young deliver on this or the pick immediately becomes less valuable.

Ok, that is the bad news on Young in the two games. It is significant early feedback, but there are some caveats to this.

1. Young is making good plays.

The first game against the Grizzlies, Young tried to force shots that were not there against the intentional pressure. Against the Spurs in the second game, we already saw Young adjusting and be very willing to stop shooting and make the right play. This is very significant. Young made so many plays that went unrewarded: Perfect passes to open shooters, lobs, drop offs, etc. And, while John Collins and Omari Spellman were on the floor and should be joining Young in regular season rotations, the rest of the roster, with the possible exception of Dorsey, is summer league material.

So many solid passes resulted in bricks, duffs and turnovers from his inexperienced teammates. Anybody box score watching will look at Young's six assists in two games and not pick up his effectiveness passing. Many assists have been lost in his teammates' foibles.

Additionally, Lloyd Pierce looks like he has a mandate offensively: Play super duper fast and jack some threes. Playing at such a speed is a skill that has to be worked on and developed. There is a delicate balance between playing fast and effective and playing too fast and rushing everything. The Hawks, though the first two efforts of the Pierce era, look to be rushing things offensively and that can go a ways to explain the lack of buckets.

The Grizzlies and Spurs focused on suffocating Young's scoring and dared his teammates to deliver and they could not. This approach may be the case in the regular season, but there is no way the team shoots 30% with a veteran frontcourt and better wing shooting. In short, it looks like Trae is going to make teams pay with assists if they overplay as long as he maintains this approach at the point.

Young was like a quarterback who is taking what the defense gives him but his receivers are dropping passes like crazy. The important takeaway is if Young makes the right read. Against the Grizzlies he tried to force the game and took some ill-advised shots that would be kin to throwing into double coverage. Against San Antonio, we saw Young limit himself to five 3PAs and made many, many passes to open teammates in scoring position. This is huge and validates the attaboys folks gave Young for his passing at Oklahoma and shows that he is not married to firing up 30 shots a game at any cost.

2. Off ball action has been non-existent.

When Young has been on the court, he either has had the ball or has been standing on the perimeter, ready to rotate back to the top to be a release valve. If the Hawks want Young to get some intentional space, they are going to have to run some screen action off ball for Young for him to come off screens open.

It is not something we have seen any of from Young, but he will have to add this to his repertoire and build up the commensurate stamina to run like Steph Curry, Kyle Korver or anybody that can be lethal from long range.

It is clear this is not the imperative for the Hawks in this Summer League. They are focused on the quarterbacking portions of Young's game, but surely to get the most out of Young's talent, off ball action is going to be required.

3. Defensive effort has been better than expected.

Young looked like a fire hydrant at times last year defensively, inspiring a no-confidence vote in his ability to defend at the NBA level. While this has been summer league and not the likes of most of the starting point guards in the league, Young has shown more intention on defense and has even made some plays.

Continued focus on getting stronger will help here as well, but the desire is there and that was not obvious to the eye last season.


You could also add finishing at the hoop, strength with the ball, etc. All of it adds up to the project that Young is at the NBA level. The upside is there and the playmaking is already evident. But there is work to do both on Young's part and the team and coaching staff to unlock the best of what Trae Young can be at this level.

It is two games. You are watching something cooking that has been in the oven for 30 seconds. We are not even close to a finished product. Proponents of the Young pick are going to accentuate the positives they see while opponents of the pick are going to be quick with the condemnations and fear the Hawks blew a highly valuable pick.

It will be interesting to watch Young's confidence throughout this summer and this season. To realize the higher percentiles of his rookie season output, his confidence must remain high and passiveness must be relegated to the trash bin.

You may not have found two tougher teams, defensively, to start a career against, than Jevon Carter and the Grizzlies and the Spurs, especially since the gameplan was to stifle Young and force the ball to others.

Young showed more and more throughout the minutes in Salt Lake City that he was willing to make the right play and take the value in what the defense provided. That playmaking from the point guard position is always an important part of an offense.

We shall see if other teams in Las Vegas play a similar gameplan against Young or it is more loose. If it is more loose, we may see more pullups from Young if he has space, but if it isn't there, we should hope to see more of the same attack and feed the open value on the floor.

See something else on which you would like to comment? Go ahead and post in the Comments area or hit me on Twitter @JasonWalkerNBA. Thanks!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

NBA Draft Day: What we Want to Happen/What we Think Will Happen

It has arrived. 2018 NBA Draft Day is here! Mock drafts aplenty and a buffet full of rumors for you to indulge all day, if you are sadistic enough to enjoy the whiplash effect some of the moves can induce.

THHB wanted to run down the lottery picks and put down what we think is going to happen and what we wish would happen.

We have read every possible rumor and mock draft, sifted through the smell test of all of them and run it through the supercomputer of past draft history to bring you this: THHB Mock(ery) Draft

It's my life
Don't you forget
Caught in the crowd
It never ends.....

1. Phoenix Suns, DeAndre Ayton

Was still somewhat in belief that they were going to take Doncic anyway and have a super backcourt of Doncic/Booker with Doncic's old Euro coach, but the last percentages of that passed away when they practically coronated Ayton after his workout.

Who we want them to pick: Luka Doncic
Who we think they will pick: DeAndre Ayton

2. Sacramento Kings, Luka Doncic

Look, it was fun. For a while the Kings realllllly had us believing they weren't going to take Doncic, relying instead on yet another big man. The 24 hours that had the insiders saying that Doncic was on the top of the Hawks board were fun times, indeed. Alas, all good things must slip through the Hawks hands.

Sure, Vlade isn't impressed with Doncic, but Vivek allegedly is, and Vivek is undefeated, from what I can tell, in these matchups.

Who we want them to pick: DeAndre Ayton
Who we think they will pick: Luka Doncic

3. Atlanta Hawks, Trae Young

I don't know if they will wrangle a trade down -- seems like that is on the board, but after Doncic is gone, the next dynamic offensive player is Young. Chauncey Billups said it best on ESPN, "He will move the scoreboard -- he may give up a couple of buckets -- but he will move the scoreboard."

Scoreboard, sucker.

Who we want them to pick: Mo Bamba
Who we think they will pick: Trae Young

4. Memphis Grizzlies, Marvin Bagley

What's up with people dissing the Grizz? Didn't they just wrap a seven year playoff streak? Don't the have a cool nickname for their very nice building? Isn't the food magnificent and Beale Street some fun and games? Is the owner that awful?

I know Porter has been rumored here, but my gut tells me they will take the most motivated player that can come in immediately and prove himself and that's Bagley at this point.

How does a team come off the agony of the Chandler Parsons injury and go back into the tub for Michael Porter? I don't see it.

Who we want them to pick: Marvin Bagley
Who we think they will pick: Marvin Bagley

5. Dallas Mavericks, Mo Bamba

He is a cult of personality and could be ready to do tons of damage defensively right out of the gate. Dallas has been groomed as a landing spot and while they could go Porter as well, the likable, box office ready Bamba is safer.

Who we want them to pick: Jaren Jackson, Jr.
Who we think they will pick: Mo Bamba

6. Orlando Magic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

With Young off the board, the Magic go for the next guard, who is SGA it seems. It boggles the mind that SGA can basically not work out for anybody publicly and find himself at the highest mock position of the season anyway. Teams are just projecting all the positives and not nit-picking the negatives in SGA's game.

This seems like a typical Magic play here, moreso that the Eric Bledsoe like Collin Sexton, so I am good with the latest rumors sticking about SGA.

Who we want them to pick: Trae Young
Who we think they will pick: Shai Gigeous-Alexander

7. Chicago Bulls, Michael Porter, Jr.

He missed a season with an injured back and then wore down while working out for 3-4 teams and his hip was bothering him. He makes grandiose statements about himself and says that some teams may want him to skip summer league and rest. Already this guy is high maintenance. He has also reminded people that the Kings sat Harry Giles all season last season.

For all of that, THHB has nicknamed him Captain Red Flags. Good luck, Chicago

Who we want them to take: Michael Porter, Jr.
Who we think they will take: Michael Porter, Jr.

8. Cleveland Cavaliers, Jaren Jackson, Jr.

All the rumors say that the Cavs want a point guard, but Young and SGA are off the board, so will the Cavs take the BPA in Jackson? We think they would over Collin Sexton. It is a match that has not been seen yet, so we like that, too. Jackson can be the modern NBA five and brings some rim protection to the Cavs. Mozel Tov!

Who we want them to take: Shae Gilgeous-Alexander
Who we think they will take: Jaren Jackson, Jr.

9. New York Knicks, Mikal Bridges

We could have seen any of the more box office ready players here (Young, Bamba, Porter), but they are all gone. So the Knicks can settle for the guy who ranks sixth on THHB Big Board in Bridges, who is so well-rounded, has great wingspan and can be versatile offensively while finishing above the rim.

Who we want them to take: Mikal Bridges
Who we think they will take: Mikal Bridges

10. Philadelphia 76ers, Kevin Knox

Soooooo close! I am sure the Sixers would have loved to snag Bridges, who would be a ready made local guy ready to contribute to the team who had one of the best records in the league. Instead, they settle for who is less ready, but can grow into the same traits in Knox, who didn't excel last season at Kentucky, but we believe it is not always easy to do that one an all-star one and done teams.

Who we want them to take: Kevin Knox
Who we think they will take: Kevin Knox

11. Charlotte Hornets, Collin Sexton

The Hornets breathe a sigh of relief as the last of the top tier PGs is still available here. The hard-nosed, never scared Sexton would be a good insurance policy on Kemba Walker and someone to groom for the future even if  Walker stays put.

THHB thinks that the Hornets, if they do believe Walker is long term, should not take yet another guard, but go bigger with Wendell Carter, the center from Duke, who has conjured comparisons to Al Horford.

Who we want them to take: Wendell Carter
Who we think they will take: Collin Sexton

12. Los Angeles Clippers, Robert Williams

Maybe we will find out that the Clippers did indeed promise SGA, which is why he didn't work out for anyone but, alas, all the PGs are gone now. So the Clippers will turn to the BPAs and that will start with Williams, who does replicate a lot of what Montrezl Harrell does, but fits the kind of center the Clippers have had with DeAndre Jordan, who may not be back with the Clippers

Who we want them to take: Robert Williams
Who we think they will take: Robert Williams

13. Los Angeles Clippers, Lonnie Walker

The explosive, yet inconsistent Walker will be hard for the Clippers to pass on here, as the will fill a big in Williams and come back with a flashy guard in Walker

Who we want them to take: Collin Sexton
Who we think they will take: Lonnie Walker

14. Denver Nuggets, Miles Bridges

Solid swingman and potential replacement for Will Barton, Bridges brings another solid all around game to a team that should not have really missed the playoffs last season.

Who we want them to take: Miles Bridges
Who we think they will take: Miles Bridges


15. Washington Wizards, Wendell Carter

Amazing that Carter could fall this far, but the fits for bigs are not great after the first few picks. Carter would give the Wizards a more versatile option at center than they currently have in Gortat/Mahinmi.

Who we want them to take: Lonnie Walker
Who we think they will take: Wendell Carter

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

NBA Draft: Revised Big Board and the latest news/thoughts

Here is my latest rankings -- You will see some changes, and a few more names. Changes were driven largely by influence around the impact of wings and, especially, spreading the floor offensively. Also, have watched a lot more film and ingested plenty of conversation and debate on these guys.

Here is where THHB is, as of now:

1. Luka Doncic

Doncic has won everything there is to win overseas, but one thing he hasn't won is all of NBA fans' hearts. (awwwwww). Word is all over the interwebs that, for a long time before the Kings had the second pick, that Vlade Divac was not impressed with Luka. Whether that is a long con or a whoops because they didn't think they would even be in position to take him, it lends a lot of credence to the rumors that the Kings are more impressed with Michael Porter and Marvin Bagley.

Doncic would be a tremendous pick for the Hawks, with a high floor. Sometimes, it just makes sense to take the guy who has won two MVPs before 20, is good at the game of basketball, and is a value, even at #3.

2. DeAndre Ayton

I have not been high on Ayton, at least not as the undisputed king of the 2018 draft. It is his meh defense that perplexes me. I hear the David Robinson comps for a ceiling, but dang, the Admiral was dominant at Navy on defense. Ayton has skills on offense, no doubt, and here he is at #2, but it is a solid nod to his talent, and no more.

3. Mo Bamba

He is going to be popular wherever he lands, as he is a cult of personality with his smile, deep dive on basketball theory and his obvious, let's go see him, freakish measurements. If he can contribute offensively, especially with the Drew Hanlen lower shooting pocket, more arc corner three, then he is going to be a solid starter year one in the L.

One interesting thing that came out today from Givony at ESPN/DX is that Mr. Personality Bamba cold shouldered Memphis, turning down a workout, declining to send medical information over and asking, nicely I am sure, to pass if he is there at #4. Wow. He worked out ENTHUSISATICALLY for the Hawks, saying afterwards that he loves the city and sees a good fit with the Good Guys. He worked out with Embiid and Joel spoke good words about Lloyd Pierce, which got Bamba's attention as well.

Still, a team getting stonewalled and it is NOT the Hawks? That's progress, ATL, progress.

4. Jaren Jackson, Jr.

Cooling somewhat is the man called 3J, as the information wheel landed on words like "soft" and "bad interview" after his time in the ATL workout chamber. Who knows what is right during this silly season. Our man, Brad Rowland from Peachtree Hoops is on record saying that Jackson does everything better than Bamba already and is 1.5 years younger. This is truth.

On the surface, he looks like more all-around out of the bigs, yet still looks raw and unfinished at times, commensurate with his 18 years of age. There is a ton of ceiling out of he and Bamba - and Jackson would be a super solid pick if the Hawks did indeed pass on Doncic if there.

5. Trae Young

I still hold firm to the belief that his defense will limit his role to a more defined 28 minutes or so that he can totally destroy offensively. I have been influenced by visions of a more open court than we have seen with Dennis the last two seasons and am willing to take a chance on a guy that can truly stretch that floor. Remember that Pierce came from PHI, where they practice with a 4-pt line for offensive stretchiness. Young is a player that can stick that range, not just stand there, and he has the necessary willingness to create for other with that newly opened space.

His defense will be his albatross for now, but I have Young firmly locked at the top of the non-Doncic, guards.

6. Mikal Bridges

Bridges has that all around game at the wing that seems to be populating throughout the league. It is threes and defense, also strong, strong finishes and defensive acumen. His wingspan is elite for his height also and combining all of that is what made be have Bridges here since the NCAA season ended.

7. Kevin Knox

Knox has risen. Much is made about his freshman season, but the skills are there. Throwing so many one and done guys together sometimes can work seamlessly, but often, there is tough transition with all the five stars trying to fit their Alpha game into a five man set.

The skills that Knox brings to the table; the length, the finishing, the offense - are the wing things that all the team are trying to stockpile. Tough to move him ahead of Bagley, but there is more versatility to his game than the Duke big man.

8. Marvin Bagley

Ok, here is the biggest numeric faller of the bunch. Why? Well, as much as I regard post scoring, it is not largely relevant in the league right now. Bagley's elite standing jump skills will always aid in him being a plus rebounder, but the lack of defense and the one-dimensional part of his inside game (he only uses that left hand) shows limitations.

Look, this draft is so flat, that there is little, in my mind separating 2-8, or you can argue down to 12, but given the Hawks situation, with John Collins already able in the role that Bagley would likely play, he drops.

9. Wendall Carter

Carter might be overrated here, but his game is solid and does have a Horford-ish vibe to him. You could put Carter as the last pick in the lottery and I could see it, but the overall package on both sides of the ball is worth having on a team that lacks a solid, all-around five.

10. Michael Porter

Porter may have had the worst run since entering the NCAA ranks. He suffered a back injury that prevented him from playing almost all of his Mizzou games and the games he did play in lacked that super-athleticism that placed him at the top.

He has worked out and already experienced some soreness, by his own words, in his hips. His game is predicated on that athleticism and volume scoring and can fit in very well somewhere like Sacramento, but man that injury risk is too rich for my blood.

11. Shei Gilgeous-Alexander

He has not worked out for anybody this offseason, at least publicly, leading some to assume he has a promise in the lottery, with the main guess being the LA Clippers, who have two picks together so they can continue to work out everyone else while not being so obvious nor wasting anybody's time.

SGA has that Livingston in '04 look, but not the playmaking that the Clippers draft pick had then. Alexander has great length and versatility in his offensive game, which is attracting a lot of attention with Cleveland, Charlotte and Toronto, reportedly.

12. Lonnie Walker

The first thing that you see with Walker is explosiveness. Like, oh wow, this guys is a home run, look at him. It is like watching Pedro Cerrano teeing off on Eddie Harris straight-balls. You are like, holy crap, how can he be available here?

And then you see the streakiness, the wildness and, like Cerrano whiffing on curveballs, you get it. I see. Also there is a lack of obvious facilitation in his game, being the Alpha scorer -- something that he will need to add to help his floor time be the most productive.

13. Robert Williams

This is me being an unabashed, long armed, shot blocking, above the rim, finishing strong biased basketball fan. I love the things that Williams can do in those areas, even while acknowledging that the fun likely ends there.

14. Collin Sexton

Sexton has the heart of a lion, to be cliché. He is fearless and it showed every time Alabama played. Sexton, like Walker, could stand to learn the art of the pass, and to improve the consistency of his shot. The comparisons to Eric Bledsoe are solid, I think.

Miles Bridges, Jacob Evans, Troy Brown, Jerome Robinson, Chandler Hutchinson are among those also receiving votes.

Don't agree? Do agree? Say something in the Comments Area or find me in the Twitter Pool @JasonWalkerNBA.