Joshua M. Hicks is managing editor for Weareregalradio.com
The 2018 NBA Draft Lottery has always been one of the biggest sources of franchise reform in the league, and with a new talented class scheduled to come in the league, this year can be the difference maker between a revival among some historic franchises in need of a jump or a continued uncertain future for clubs getting more and more desperate for some sort of renewed relevance.
The Phoenix Suns came into the draw, held Tuesday night at Chicago’s Palmer House Hotel, with the highest odds of receiving the first overall pick and true enough they were granted that opportunity. Following right behind were the Sacramento Kings picking second and the Atlanta Hawks rounding out the top three spots. In my opinion, these three teams should select these top candidates:
Phoenix Suns – Luka Doncic. Doncic is a solid all around point guard with great size, a good handle and high IQ for the game. Only 19 years of age, the Slovenian celebrity has gained much success in European basketball, averaging 15 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists a game.
Being a 6’6 point guard gives him the advantage to see over defenders, and his ability to score and pass allows him to be a nightmare for teams to guard in the pick n roll. Pairing him with new coach Igor Kokoskov in Phoenix would make his transition easier, and playing with Devin Booker would create a scary scoring backcourt that can at least compete nightly with the great backcourts in the West.
Sacramento Kings – DeAndre Ayton. Ayton is one of the most skilled, athletic and dominant big men we have seen in a very long time. Playing under Sean Miller in Arizona, the 7’1 native of the Bahamas averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds a game, and with his defensive presence, impressive low post skillset and ability to run the floor and stretch opponents defense a little bit with his mid range jumper, he can be a nightmare for any big man to guard and a good fit to pair up in the pick-n-roll game with the young and electrifying King De’Aaron Fox.
Atlanta Hawks – Marvin Bagley III. Bagley is a versatile matchup nightmare and can ideally be the low post presence the Hawks lacked this past season. The ACC player of the year shot 40 percent from the three while also averaging 21 points and 11 rebounds a game for the Blue Devils. Bagley does have some concerns in guarding the pick n roll, but offensively he gives the big man presence that could be the second option to their young star in Dennis Schroder and with the recent rumors of him wanting out of Atlanta, Bagley could be enough of a draw to keep Schroder in Atlanta long term.
Bulls Slide To No. 7 Could Hold Promise
The Chicago Bulls will be picking seventh overall this year after coming into the lottery slotted at No. 6. Ideally, a good fit for them would be the Texas Longhorns’ 6’11, long, athletic big man Mohamed Bamba. Averaging 13 points and 10 rebounds in Austin, Bamba’s versatility, ability to rebound and run the floor, and strong defensive presence can help stretch four-man Lauri Markkanen in the frontcourt and be useful in Fred Hoiberg’s fast-paced offense. Wendell Carter Jr. from Duke is also a very considerable option.
However, besides Bamba, the next valuable option is Mikal Bridges. The Bulls would eventually need an athletic big man, but they can also use a versatile two-way wing player, and that is something Bridges brings to the table. At 6’7, the shooting small forward averaged 18 points and five rebounds on 51 percent shooting and 43 percent from the three while helping lead Villanova to the National Championship. Versatile defensively, Bridges would allow the Bulls to stay in big lineups while still being effective along the perimeter, especially in pairing him between Zach LaVine and Markkanen.
At No. 8 the Cleveland Cavaliers will have a very difficult time deciding on the right pick for the franchise’s future thanks to the uncertainty of King James’ departure. If he chooses to stay, drafting a guard like Trae Young would be ideal with the high profile pick they received from Boston in the Kyrie Young trade. With Young’s ability to stretch the floor offensively due to his unlimited range, it can help spread the floor and give James a potentially elite offensive option.
If James chooses to leave, the Cavs may have to consider drafting Michael Porter Jr. if he’s available. A versatile wingman with amazing offensive talent and size to pair with the young backcourt of Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson, Porter Jr’s devastating back injury, which derailed his single season at the University of Missouri, may scare off enough teams to make he and Cleveland a destined pairing.
The NBA Draft is on Thursday June 21, (7 p.m. ET) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Follow Joshua M. Hicks on Twitter @jhicks042; Follow We Are Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under We Are Regal Radio