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.

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