The home stretch of the NBA season is upon us, while some teams will be looking forward to the playoffs and preparing for a long playoff run, and others are battling it out for a playoff berth or positioning. Other teams who had an unsuccessful season will be looking forward to draft season. Soon, the top collegiate prospects will be battling each other in the NCAA’s March Madness Tournament. Meanwhile, talented players overseas have been balling out and showcasing their skills all year long.
Golden State Warriors
James Wiseman - C, Memphis
This NBA season has been an anomaly for the Golden State Warriors because of injuries to star players Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, but it could end up being a good thing, a year of rest for Steph and Klay, a year for rookies Paschall and Poole to improve with high minutes and a top draft pick. As of now the warriors have the worst record in the NBA and still have one of the better rosters in the league. Now, they may trade their lottery pick for an established star on a bad team, like Bradley Beal or even less likely they try to use the pick to trade to the bucks for an unhappy Giannis Antetokounmpo following a playoff exit. But, if the warriors do keep the draft pick, I believe they will draft Wisemen. It’s usually not advised to draft for need with that high a draft pick, but the Warriors can make an exception given their talented roster, which guys like LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards just don’t fit on.
Anthony Edwards - SG, Georgia
The Cleveland Cavaliers suck, there's no other way to put it, they made the questionable decision in last year's draft of taking Darius Garland after drafting a point guard in Colin Sexton the previous year, and then later in the draft took another guard in Kevin Porter Jr. The last decision I’m a huge fan of however, I was very high on Kevin Porter going into the draft and was surprised when teams that could’ve used him kept on passing up on him. It seems that my prediction is coming true as Kevin Porter’s play has been getting better and better as of late. While the Cavaliers have taken 3 guards in the last two years in the draft, they are also very big man heavy, they have a terrible amount of money tied up in three big men: Kevin Love, Andre Drummond and Tristan Thompson. This means that the Cavaliers should draft the best player available who isn’t a point guard or a big, and I believe that is Anthony Edwards.
Obi Toppin - PF, Dayton
After achieving their dream of trading for D’angelo Russell, the Timberwolves are moving in a very positive direction. They have paired an All-Star point guard with an All-Star center, and that can be a very dangerous combination in the NBA. Especially since the point guard is one of the best pick and roll players in the league and the two players are very close friends. They drafted Jarrett Culver in last year's draft who has had an up and down season but has had his moments. They also traded for Malik Beasley, who has been a pleasant surprise for the Timberwolves playing in the backcourt with Dlo. So the Timberwolves are good at point guard, shooting Guard (assuming they re-sign Malik Beasley, a restricted free-agent) and center. They could use some help at forwards, Josh Okogie is a good up and coming defender, but he’s undersized at small forward and would be better as a backup shooting guard for the T-Wolves. I see them getting help at the forward position by drafting Obi Toppin, who has been playing sensationally recently and has raised his draft stock astronomically. While Toppin may be a bit undersized at 6 foot 9 he has shown his ability to score and I believe has the potential to become a good defender. Another possibility I see for the Timberwolves is them actually trading down in the draft to around the 10’th pick and drafting Isaac Okoro or even drafting him at third, although I think they could get him later. Okoro has shown to be a very good defender and make smart decisions while also being long and athletic, things the Timberwolves could definitely use at small-forward.
New York Knicks
LaMelo Ball - PG, Australia
The Knicks need a point guard. The Frank Ntilikina project has not worked at all, and they really haven’t even tried with Dennis Smith Jr, who I believe still has potential and should get a chance. The Knicks have good young talent at pretty much every position besides that, they drafted RJ Barrett, who had a very good game recently, they have Kevin Knox at small-forward who has had moment, Julius Randle, who is still only 25, (even though it seems he’s been in the NBA for longer then he has been) at power-forward, and a very good young center in Mitchel Robinson. They could maybe draft Cole Anthony but I personally think LaMelo would be better, he’s a better passer and has more potential as a defender, and I’m not that high on Anthony. Plus it just seems like a very Knicks thing to do, LaMelo has a lot of hype and attention, not just because of his talent, but because of his family, it would be a very Knicks draft pick, but I think it would be a good one, I actually think LaMelo will be a very good player and make Stephen A Smith and Spike Lee proud.
Onyeka Okongwu - PF/C, USC
If Obi Topping is on the board when the Hawks pick I believe they will take him, the problem is I don’t think he will be. If he’s not I think they take Okongwu, at the 5’th pick in the draft taking the remaining Shooting Guards would be a reach. The shooting guard position is probably Atlanta’s biggest need right now, I still believe in giving Reddish and Hunter time at small forward, and they now have a good center in Clint Capela. But again, unless they trade up to get Edwards or trade down in the draft to draft a shooting guard later, they shouldn’t reach on a position of need with the fifth pick. Even though the Hawks are already pretty set at big man, they should take the best player available and that’s Okongwu. He also seems like one of the most NBA ready players in this year's draft class.
Killian Hayes - PG, France
The Pistons could definitely use a point guard as well, they need to trade Blake Griffin and go full rebuild, with decent young players like Sekou Doumbouya, Christian Wood and Luke Kennard. They could definitely use a point guard for the future and as I said, I’m not that high on Cole Anthony. I think Killian Hayes would be a good pick for the pistons. The primary knock on Hayes is his lack of explosive athleticism, and some scouts still wonder how consistently he’ll be able to beat defenders at the highest level. However, his jumper continues to improve, he puts in effort on defense, and has shown good change of pace and craft to make up for the lack of athleticism, and people like Tony Parker or more recently D'angelo Russell have had great success without explosive athleticism at the point guard position.
Deni Avdija - SF, Israel
Drafting a European forward in Lauri Markkanen seems like it will work out for the Bulls, so why not draft another? Deni Avdija has the potential to be the best player in this draft class and is one of the most well rounded prospects, especially offensively. The bulls are set at shooting guard with Zach Lavine, rookie point guard Coby White has been hooping lately and is showing improvement in his rookie season and young big men like Markkanen, Wendell Carter and Daniel Gafford give the Bulls an interesting and exciting future. The bulls have a need at small forward, recently it was Otto Porter’s first sighting in what seems like years but he has not shown any improvement since he got his ridiculous 26 million dollars per-year contract. The bulls could create an interesting, young starting five by picking Avdija.
Charlotte Hornets (Or timberwolves by Minnesota trading down for Okoro and Charlotte moving up in the draft)
Issac Okoro - SF, Auburn
As you can probably tell, I’m a big Isaac Okoro supporter for the draft, in my opinion he’s probably the most NBA ready prospect in the draft because he’s probably the best wing defender and that can always be useful to an NBA team. His three point shot has been pretty rough so far in College, but that can always be improved in the NBA. His finishing is already strong, he’s athletic and as I said, a great wing defender with high basketball IQ. I can see a scenario where Minnersota trades down to this pick to take Okoro and the hornets move up into the third pick to take a higher potential prospect while also giving the Timberwolves someone like Malik Monk. If not, then Okoro will be a pretty safe bet for the Hornets at eight.
Cole Anthony - PG, North Carolina
The Washington Wizards are in a very strange dilemma. Part of me wants to say that the Wizards could be a playoff team next year in the east with the return of John Wall. They aren’t that far off without him, thanks to the stellar play of (should’ve been an all-star) Bradley Beal and have good young talent at big like Davis Bertans and Thomas Bryant and Troy Brown isn’t a bad young wing-player. But the other part of me is worried how much the injuries will have taken a toll on John Wall’s athleticism, which arguably was his best attribute. If John Wall comes back and isn’t the same, and the Wizards are going to be stuck in either a non-playoff spot or even if he does come back the same, the Wizards have been a sort of mid-tier team, losing in the first and second round of the playoffs for some time now. It might be time to just scrap it, trade Beal and try to trade Wall. At the ninth spot in the draft Cole Anthony probably has the highest upside, especially as a scorer, so why not take him?
Tyrese Haliburton - PG, Iowa State
The last team in the top 10, the Phoenix Suns. Devin Booker needs help, they may actually lose more games and get a higher pick with the injury to Kelly Oubre, but this is where they are right now. They really need a point guard, Ricky Rubio is a decent placeholder, but he doesn’t fit the timetable of Booker, Ayton and Oubre at all. I see them taking Haliburton and trying to pair him up in the backcourt with Booker, and I believe Haliburton actually fits really well with Booker. He’s a pretty good defender at the guard position, he’s a great passer and floor general, he has a high basketball IQ, and he’s a good open, catch in shoot player. He struggles to create his own offense, but he won’t necessarily have to with Booker running things for the suns. He has a relatively low ceiling, but a safely high floor in my opinion. His floor is pretty substantive as an elite facilitator who hits open shots and makes everyone else on the floor better. He can pretty much fit into any lineup and make a difference and the suns could use that at point guard.