Phoenix Suns – Pick 4 – Josh Jackson, SF
My opinion before the draft was whoever picks Josh Jackson wins. Jackson is a great two-way player with plenty of upside. His versatility and athleticism, combined with his size, give him the ability to play most positions on the floor.
He fits well into the Suns’ team right now at the 3 spot, his preferred position. If Phoenix’s backcourt of Bledsoe and Booker continue performing and Jackson can gel with Marquese Chriss on the wings, the Suns will be a playoff contender in the West very soon.
Sacramento Kings – Pick 5 – De’Aaron Fox, PG
The speedy playmaker from Kentucky has a high ceiling, and I think will develop quickly with the Kings’ current system. If Sacramento gives Fox the ball to control and run the offense for the young team, rather than one of their other subpar options in Darren Collinson or Ty Lawson, he will take his game to a solidified NBA level. The John Wall comparisons are a bit premature, but if he can improve his jumper and utilize his speed, he will be just as effective in the years to come.
Minnesota Timberwolves – Pick 16 – Justin Patton, C
The T-Wolves are on here more for their blockbuster trade, not as much for their actual pick. Acquiring Jimmy Butler for a couple of young guards and a lower pick was a steal for Minnesota. Kris Dunn had a disappointing season and Zach Lavine just came off a season-ending ACL injury, so I think the Timberwolves had a great trade.
With Wiggins and Towns having quality seasons last year for the club, a proven two-way star is exactly what they need to get on the path to the playoffs, and with the addition of Patton they now have a promising backup for Towns.
Chicago Bulls – Pick 7 – Lauri Markkanen, PF
The trade for Jimmy Butler alone is the reason for them on this part of the list. I do not think dealing an All-Star was a bad idea. It was time for them to move on if they were not going to build a championship roster around him. However, the return they got made it a joke.
Yes, I do think LaVine and Dunn will be good for them in the future since the Bulls have an aging backcourt. However, they got no additional assets, they essentially traded Butler for those two and then switched picks. I like Markkanen’s game and think he has a big future, but I do not think a floor-spreading 7-footer is what the doctor ordered for Chicago, especially when prospects like Dennis Smith Jr. and Malik Monk were still available.
New York Knicks – Pick 8 – Frank Ntilikina, PG
I do not think the Frenchman would have been a bad pick for any team or executive who scouted him. There were reports of President Phil Jackson sleeping through tryouts, he didn’t watch the NCAA tournament, and he didn’t travel to scout talent because of health concerns. Ntilikina is an athletic combo guard who looks like his game could translate well to the NBA, but in my opinion there were better picks available.
As previously mentioned, Smith Jr. and Monk were still around. Both athletic shooters with a lot of upside, something the Knicks lack currently. I doubt Jackson scouted Frank any further than watching highlights or maybe a couple games on TV, so an uneducated pick was used on a potential league starter rather than a potential league superstar.
Boston Celtics – Pick 3 – Jayson Tatum, PF
Tatum is an NBA-ready talent who shouldn’t have a long transition period into the league, so I think he’s a good pick. But not for Boston. The Celtics showed in the playoffs that they could win without their beloved star Isaiah Thomas. I thought this would lead the team to try to deal IT4, and get their long-term point man from this loaded draft class.
Instead, they got the No. 3 pick and a future pick they probably won’t need. That No. 3 pick turned out to be a great selection for a spot they don’t need to fill. With the No. 1 pick the team initially had before they traded it to the Philadelphia 76ers they could’ve drafted one of the standout guards of the future, or used it to get assets from someone else, even down to snagging Lonzo Ball and making the Lakers pay up for him.