NBA Rookie Mini Scouting Reports and Stat Predictions: Picks 45-31

NBA Rookie Mini Scouting Reports and Stat Predictions: Picks 45-31

Now that Summer League has passed, rosters are being filled out and roles are being competed for as we get closer to training camp. How will each rookie drafted in June produce and who has the potential to become a star in the NBA?

 

 

45. Hamidou Diallo – Oklahoma City Thunder

Diallo after a play for Kentucky.

Photo Credit/si.com

 

After only one year at Kentucky, Diallo comes to Oklahoma City with a chance to grab some rookie minutes at the shooting guard position. With the Thunder’s two stars at the point and small forward, this puts 3 or 4 of their young players in position to compete for minutes at the 2. Diallo might have what it takes to become the future shooting guard for Oklahoma City with his athleticism and defensive potential, however his offensive game is very raw and he’ll likely struggle shooting the ball early in his career.

PPG: 4.2   RPG: 2.1   APG: 1.3   SPG: 1.1    BPG: 0.6

NBA Comparison: Frank Ntilikina

 

 

44. Issuf Sanon – Washington Wizards

Sanon in the Euro League.

Photo Credit/eurohoops.net

 

Sanon is another late round draft-and-stash and will spend the 2018-19 season in Slovenia. The 6’4″ combo guard would likely see almost no playing time with Wall and Beal occupying minutes with the Wizards. The Ukranian is still young and may come over to Washington in a year or two, but with the guard depth in Washington his rights may be traded away.

PPG: N/A   RPG: N/A   APG: N/A   SPG: N/A   BPG: N/A

NBA Comparison: Jonathon Simmons

 

 

43. Justin Jackson – Orlando Magic

Jackson still at Maryland.

Photo Credit/dbknews.com

 

After two years at Maryland, Jackson comes to a rebuilding squad in Orlando. The 21-year old forward is coming off of an injury in his last season in college and did not play in Summer League for Orlando. He had a far more promising freshman year for the Terps and it seems Orlando is hoping they have a steal if he returns to that form. His defensive potential is as big as can be with a 7’3″ wingspan, but if he continues his shooting struggles he’ll likely spend this year in the G-League.

PPG: 2.3   RPG: 2.1   APG: 0.9   SPG: 0.8   BPG: 0.7

NBA Comparison: Trevor Ariza

 

 

42. Bruce Brown – Detroit Pistons

Brown during a dead ball for Miami.

Photo Credit/bostonherald.com

 

The Pistons bring in another young shooting guard in this draft after taking Luke Kennard last year. After letting go of both Avery Bradley and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Detroit is looking for a guard to compliment its star front court. While Kennard had a promising rookie year, there’s plenty of room for Brown to make his way to some court time this season.

PPG: 5.1   RPG: 1.9   APG: 1.7   SPG: 0.7   BPG: 0.4

NBA Comparison: Shabazz Napier

 

 

41. Jarred Vanderbilt – Denver Nuggets

Vanderbilt dribbling up the court for Kentucky.

Photo Credit/seccountry.com

 

Out of star-studded Kentucky, Vanderbilt will struggle to find playing time on a Nuggets team looking to get back in the playoffs for the first time since their Ty Lawson days. Will Barton, Torrey Craig, and fellow rookie Michael Porter Jr. will occupy almost all the minutes at the small forward position leaving Vanderbilt off the court for most of the season. The 19-year old swingman has promising playmaking ability and the length to guard multiple positions on defense someday, but his shooting struggles and the depth of Denver’s roster will prevent him from showcasing this just yet. His talent gives him starter potential.

PPG: 3.6   RPG: 2.9   APG: 1.8   SPG: 0.7   BPG: 0.4

NBA Comparison: Jae Crowder

 

 

 

40. Rodions Kurucs – Brooklyn Nets

Kurucs for Barcelona.

Photo Credit/nba.com

 

Kurucs was one of the few international players signed to an NBA team in this draft after agreeing to a 4-year deal with the Nets. He’s a winger with a solid jumper and a good feel on the other side of the ball, however his playmaking ability has been disappointing. The 20-year old Latvian has the athleticism and jumpshot to develop into a nice bench option for Brooklyn.

PPG: 4.3   RPG: 1.7   APG: 0.8   SPG: 0.9   BPG: 0.2

NBA Comparison: Joe Harris

 

 

39. Isaac Bonga – Los Angeles Lakers

Bonga practicing for LA.

Photo Credit/nba.com

 

Bonga was traded to LA after being selected 39th by Philadelphia. The 6’9″ German is a forward/center with guard skills who’ll learn perfectly from LeBron James. He’s extremely raw at only 18-years old but his talent is evident early on. His feel and vision are tremendous at his size. While his shooting must be fixed to get him significant minutes on the Lakers his unique skill set could make him a steal.

PPG: 2.3   RPG: 2.2   APG: 1.9   SPG: 0.8   BPG: 0.6

NBA Comparison: Ben Simmons

 

 

38. Khyri Thomas – Detroit Pistons

Thomas in college.

Photo Credit/omaha.com

 

Coming out of Creighton, Thomas had a very solid Summer League for Detroit. The 22-year old shooting guard is one of the best long-range shooters in the draft shooting at a mark of 41% for the Bluejays this past year. With several other young shooting guards on the team we’ll see if Thomas can carve out some minutes in the Detroit lineup.

PPG: 4.9   RPG: 1.8   APG: 1.0   SPG: 0.7   BPG: 0.1

NBA Comparison: Gary Harris

 

 

37. Gary Trent Jr. – Portland Trail Blazers

Trent Jr. shooting at Duke.

Photo Credit/goduke.com

 

Trent Jr. could end up being one of the steals of the draft. A highly touted prospect out of high school, his shooting ability could be very valuable to the Blazers this year. It’s possible we see them play Trent at the 3 if he shows he’s capable of ample playing time early on. To get a high potential, young shooter in the second round is rare and Portland should give him time to blossom before moving on.

PPG: 7.2   RPG: 2.7   APG: 1.3   SPG: 0.9   BPG: 0.3

NBA Comparison: Jeremy Lamb

 

 

36. Mitchell Robinson – New York Knicks

Robinson dunking in an NBA Summer League game.

Photo Credit/sny.tv

 

Robinson looks to be another second round steal as he’s part of a terrific summer by New York. The 7-footer has unbelievable potential as an athlete and defender, putting on a blocking spree in Summer League. He’s extremely raw and needs to put on weight and develop an offensive game but he has all the tools to be the Knicks starting center for the next decade. He’ll see some extra playing time early in the year as KP nurses his injury.

PPG: 5.3   RPG: 4.1   APG: 0.7   SPG: 0.3   BPG: 1.8

NBA Comparison: Tyson Chandler

 

 

35. Melvin Frazier – Orlando Magic

Frazier at Tulane.

Photo Credit/nbcsports.com

 

After 3 years at Tulane, Frazier is another wing added to the handful of youthful swingmen in Orlando. Frazier is the prototypical modern NBA shooting guard as a 6’6″ 3-and-D guy. The 21-year old should get a shot at the court this year, depending on what the Magic intend to do with Evan Fournier. It’s unlikely he’ll ever be a top scorer on a team but a bench player who can fill in in the starting lineup when needed is attainable with his potential.

PPG: 5.2   RPG: 2.3   APG: 1.1   SPG: 1.2   BPG: 0.5

NBA Comparison: Josh Richardson

 

 

34. Devonte’ Graham – Charlotte Hornets

Graham for the Jayhawks.

Photo Credit/kshb.com

 

After one of the most successful careers ever at Kansas, Graham comes home to North Carolina to back up Kemba Walker. With Michael Carter-Williams leaving for Houston it leaves court time for Graham. The 23-year old is an experienced player with a great shooting stroke. His leadership qualities will transition over to the NBA and benefit the Charlotte second unit.

PPG: 6.1   RPG: 1.9   APG: 3.2   SPG: 0.7   BPG: 0.1

NBA Comparison: Fred VanVleet

 

 

33. Jalen Brunson – Dallas Mavericks

Brunson for Villanova.

Photo Credit/cbssports.com

 

Another very successful college guard taken in the second round, Brunson could be a valuable bench player for Dallas this year. With Dennis Smith Jr. likely to retain his starting point guard spot, barring where the team decides to play Luka Doncic, Brunson could see backup PG minutes. His leadership and shooting ability will be reliable for the Mavs as they try to build back into contention.

PPG: 4.7   RPG: 1.8   APG: 2.2   SPG: 1.1   BPG: 0.2

NBA Comparison: D.J. Augustin

 

 

32. Jevon Carter – Memphis Grizzlies

Carter at a Grizzlies press conference.

Photo Credit/commercialappeal.com

 

The first of 3 straight veteran college guards, Carter looks to fit perfectly with the Griz after a career at scrappy West Virginia. His defensive toughness is exactly what Memphis is known for and his energy off the bench will relieve Mike Conley and give the team a boost when their stars are off the floor. The Grizzlies won’t be contending this year but Carter is another piece that can help them get back to the postseason.

PPG: 4.3   RPG: 2.4   APG: 2.1   SPG: 1.7   BPG: 0.8

NBA Comparison: Patrick Beverley

 

 

31. Elie Okobo – Phoenix Suns

Okobo overseas.

Photo Credit/brightsideofthesun.

 

The first pick of the second round, Okobo comes from France to the Suns bringing athleticism and a creative offensive repertoire. He’s able to create shots on his own and facilitate the pick-and-roll well. If he picks up his defensive intensity and polishes his all-around game he’s in the running to be the second part of a backcourt pair with star Devin Booker.

PPG: 5.7   RPG: 1.8   APG: 2.6   SPG: 0.8   BPG: 0.3

NBA Comparison: Tyus Jones

 

 

 

Click Here: Picks 60-46

NBA Rookie Mini Scouting Reports and Stat Predictions: Picks 60-46

NBA Rookie Mini Scouting Reports and Stat Predictions: Picks 60-46

Now that Summer League has passed, rosters are being filled out and roles are being competed for as we get closer to training camp. How will each rookie drafted in June produce and who has the potential to become a star in the NBA?

 

 

60Kostas Antetokounmpo – Dallas Mavericks

Kostas playing for Dallas in the NBA Summer League.

Photo Credit/theundefeated.com

 

The younger brother of NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo was Mr. Irrelevant in this year’s draft after he was taken 60th overall and acquired by the Dallas Mavericks. The 20-year old has length and athleticism giving him some defensive potential, but he’s far from ready to contribute very much for the Mavs. While it seems like a long shot, his older brother came in with the same build and skillset, which could be an encouraging sign for Dallas.

PPG: 2.2   RPG: 1.3   APG: 0.7   SPG: 0.5   BPG: 0.8

NBA Comparison: Giannis Antetokounmpo

 

 

59. George King – Phoenix Suns 

King being introduced as a Sun.

Photo Credit/brightsideofthesun.com

 

59th pick King just recently signed a two-way deal with Phoenix. The G/F out of Colorado is a little older, already being 24 years old, but he’s well developed defensively and could potentially be a solid 3 and D option for the Suns soon. His skillset is similar to two other young forwards on the team, Josh Jackson and Mikal Bridges, so King may not see much playing time with Phoenix, however he could carve out a career on another team if he shows well in the G-League and in small stints with the Suns early in his career.

PPG: 3.1   RPG: 1.9   APG: 0.8   SPG: 0.9   BPG: 0.6

NBA Comparison: P.J. Tucker

 

 

58. Thomas Welsh – Denver Nuggets

Welsh after making a play for UCLA.

Photo Credit/bruinsnation.com

 

Welsh is another one of the late picks that will spend most of their first pro season in the G-League. The 22-year old out of UCLA has a solid mid-range game and interior defensive ability, but he’ll be a career bench player if he makes it in the league. His lack of athleticism lowers his potential quite a bit and it’d be hard for him to keep up with the strength and quickness of other centers in the NBA.

PPG: 2.7   RPG. 2.2   APG: 0.3   SPG: 0.4   BPG: 0.9

NBA Comparison: Zydrunas Ilgauskas

 

 

57. Kevin Hervey – Oklahoma City Thunder

Hervey dribbling up the court in college.

Photo Credit/midmajormadness.com

 

Coming out of a less prestigious university in Arlington, Texas, Hervey joins an OKC team currently contending in the West after resigning Paul George. After losing Carmelo Anthony, the Thunder need someone to come in and be an offensive option at the 4, which is exactly what they get with Hervey. He’s got size at 6’8″ and is a great spot up shooter having been a top scorer in college. His shot creation and defense are sub-par but a less ball-dominant, younger Melo-Type player could be what OKC needs to get home court advantage in the Western Conference again. While he may not be the most talented or youngest in the draft, Hervey is a great fit for the Thunder.

PPG: 6.2   RPG: 2.9   APG: 0.8   SPG: 0.7   BPG: 0.3

NBA Comparison: T.J. Warren

 

 

56. Ray Spalding – Dallas Mavericks

Spalding hyping up the crowd after a play.

Photo Credit/thecardinalconnect.com

 

Out of troubled Louisville, Spalding comes to Dallas in the Philadelphia trade involving Kostas Antetokounmpo. Both players have similar builds as Spalding is 6’11” with a reported weight of 215 ibs. The 21-year old will have to put on weight and get stronger to get substantial minutes with the Mavs. He should get some playing time in rebuilding Dallas but he’s not one of the focal young Mavericks just yet.

PPG: 4.6   RPG: 2.1. APG: 0.4   SPG: 0.2   BPG: 0.8

NBA Comparison: Deyonta Davis

 

 

55. Arnoldas Kulboka – Charlotte Hornets

Kulboka dribbling up the court.

Photo Credit/therunsports.com

 

Kulboka is a Lithuanian small forward with size at 6’10” who’s rights are currently to the Charlotte Hornets. He’s a talent overseas and is still young at 20 years old, however he’s a prototypical draft and stash and won’t be coming over to the states this year.

PPG: N/A   RPG: N/A   APG: N/A   SPG: N/A   BPG: N/A

NBA Comparison: Mindaugas Kuzminskas

 

 

54. Shake Milton – Philadelphia 76ers

Milton still with SMU.

Photo Credit/denverstiffs.com

 

Milton has also signed a two-way deal with Philly and the point guard should see almost all season in the G-League with T.J. McConnell coming back to back up Ben Simmons. Where the SMU product separates himself from other PG’s in the draft is his size. Only Doncic and Gilgeous-Alexander can compete with his height. If Milton has good year in the G-League it wouldn’t be surprising to see Milton behind Ben Simmons on the depth chart in a few years to back up size with shooting and size.

PPG: 2.1   RPG: 1.3   APG: 1.7   SPG: 0.8   BPG: 0.2

NBA Comparison: Isaiah Whitehead

 

 

53. Devon Hall – Oklahoma City Thunder

Hall on offense at Virginia.

Photo Credit/streakingthelawn.com

 

Out of Virginia, 23-year old Hall is in an interesting situation to start out his career. With OKC starting 2 Andre Roberson going down for the year last season, his recovery and shooting struggles could open up playing time at the position. The versatile 6’6″ rookie Hall will likely compete with Terrance Ferguson for minutes at shooting guard and should win out as he’s currently more developed defensively and as a shooter. If things fall his way, Hall could see several opportunities in his rookie year with the Thunder.

PPG: 5.1   RPG: 2.3   APG: 1.6   SPG: 1.0   BPG: 0.5

NBA Comparison: Josh Hart

 

 

52. Vince Edwards – Houston Rockets

Edwards driving to the rim in college.

Photo Credit/purduesports.com

 

Acquired by the Rockets from Utah on draft night, Purdue product Edwards may see a bigger role this year than previously expected. After Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute moved on to different teams in free agency, Houston is looking grim on the wing, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Edwards is 6’8″ with a wingspan upwards of 7’0″ who can guard multiple positions. With the addition of Carmelo Anthony, the Rockets will need some defensive relief from Melo and could bring in Edwards for Anthony to provide for that. If Melo isn’t shooting well to start the season, don’t be surprised to see Vince Edwards take over the minutes for Anthony, barring a James Johnson trade.

PPG: 4.1   RPG: 2.2   APG: 0.9   SPG: 0.8   BPG: 0.5

NBA Comparison: Trevor Ariza

 

 

51. Tony Carr – New Orleans Pelicans

Carr dribbling up the court for Penn State.

Photo Credit/yardbarker.com

 

After New Orleans took Penn State guard Tony Carr with the 51st pick, the raw 20-year old has signed a contract to play overseas in Italy to begin his career. He won’t be playing for the Pelicans this season.

PPG: N/A   RPG: N/A    APG: N/A   SPG: N/A   BPG: N/A

NBA Comparison: Jordan Crawford

 

 

50. Alize Johnson – Indiana Pacers

Johnson in NBA Summer League for the Pacers.

Photo Credit/nba.com

 

The Pacers take Missouri State forward Alize Johnson with the 50th pick in the draft. Jimmy Butler look-alike-Johnson is a big energy guy with potential to be versatile and tough on defense which is perfect for Indiana right now. With a scorer in a Oladipo and rim protector in Myles Turner, the team needed a strong, defense wing to complement the two. Johnson could be a steal for the Pacers and possible replacement for the aging Thaddeus Young.

PPG: 4.3   RPG: 4.0   APG: 0.6   SPG: 0.9   BPG: 0.8

NBA Comparison: JaMychal Green

 

 

49. Chimezie Metu – San Antonio Spurs

Metu after a play.

Photo Credit/si.com

 

Out of Los Angeles, Metu has explosive athleticism for a big man which San Antonio is lacking greatly. At 6’10”, Metu could develop into a solid defender with a good, energetic inside game. He’ll begin his career behind Aldridge and Bertans for the Spurs. He’ll contrast the older, less athletic big men on the roster well.

PPG: 3.3   RPG: 2.7   APG: 0.6   SPG: 0.4   BPG: 1.1

NBA Comparison: Noah Vonleh

 

48. Keita Bates-Diop – Minnesota Timberwolves

Bates-Diop for Ohio State.

Photo Credit/landof10.com

 

After entering the draft post-huge year at Ohio State, Bates-Diop had a monster Summer League, starring for the Wolves. The 22-year old could be the backup small forward for Minnesota this year. As Andrew Wiggins continues to struggle shooting the ball, it’ll be interesting to see what the Timberwolves can do with Bates-Diop’s defensive potential and 7’3″ wingspan.

PPG: 7.1   RPG: 3.4   APG: 1.2   SPG: 0.7   BPG: 0.9

NBA Comparison: Trevor Ariza

 

 

47. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk – Los Angeles Lakers

Mykhailiuk during NBA Summer League.

Photo Credit/silverscreenandroll.com

 

Mykhailiuk had a great summer league with the Lakers after being taken 47th out of Kansas. The 21-year old Ukrainian can play the 2 or 3 and could challenge KCP and Josh Hart for minutes. Mykhailiuk will surely get an opportunity as the beginning of the season will be a feeling out period for LeBron and the Lakers.

PPG: 3.7   RPG: 1.3   APG: 0.9   SPG: 0.4   BPG: 0.3

NBA Comparison: Tony Snell

 

 

46. De’Anthony Melton – Houston Rockets

Melton shooting a layup for USC.

Photo Credit/247sports.com

 

Melton is a raw point guard out of USC at 20 years old. With Houston currently chasing Golden State in the West, it’s likely we won’t see too much of Melton to start out his career as he’ll be behind Chris Paul on the depth chart, however the young guard has loads of potential and is a rare young piece on the Rockets roster.

PPG: 2.4   RPG: 1.1   APG: 1.6   SPG: 0.7   BPG: 0.2

NBA Comparison: Tyus Jones

 

 

 

Click Here: The Raptors Need To Blow it Up

The Raptors Need to Blow it Up

Now that the Cleveland Cavaliers have finished off Toronto in the Eastern Semis, the front office has some thinking to do regarding the team’s future. Here’s 3 reasons why the Raptors should flip their situation in the offseason:

 

 

 

 

 1. Lack of a Real Superstar:

Derozan and Lowry on the bench.

Photo Credit/newsok.com

 

Despite DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry both making All-Star teams in their time with the Raptors, neither have ever fully catapulted themselves to superstardom for an extended period of time. The two thrive in the regular season but don’t have the juice to get it done in the postseason, year in and year out. Lowry is also now 32 years old and after a down year in terms of numbers could be looking at a shortened future as a top point guard in the league. For DeRozan, after an awful 8 point outing and late game benching in game 3 along with another poor effort on Monday, it’s even more possible the team looks to part ways with him. They’ve had years to fix their playoff woes and have yet to find a stride in the spring.

 

 

 

2. O.G. Anunoby:

Anunoby driving to the rim.

Photo Credit/raptorshq.com

 

After emerging as one of the steals of the NBA Draft during the regular season, Anunoby was much better than the box score showed in this year’s playoffs. His insane length on the defensive end combined with his offensive athleticism and surprising shooting ability makes him the most exciting young player on Toronto’s team. He’s not ready to take on a role as a lead scorer for a team but he should be a bigger part of the offense next season as the coaching staff expands his game over the summer. Taking on the task of being LeBron James’ primary defender as a rookie in the playoffs certainly will help develop him as a defender and get him ready for his sophomore year. He’s not a sure thing but he has the potential to be a Kawhi-like forward. Unlike most teams, Toronto can trade their lead guys and still have superstar talent on their team.

 

 

 

 

3. The Rise of Philly and Boston 

Tatum dunking on Embiid.

Photo Credit/cleveland.com

 

It’s clearer now than ever that Philadelphia and Boston are on the come up in the East with multiple superstars on each team. This is just another reason Toronto has to think practically about their future. If these two teams haven’t already surpassed the Raptors in talent, they’ll be there in no time with both being contenders in the offseason with already elite teams. It’s likely we see the C’s and Sixers as the top two seeds in the East next season even if the Raptors don’t clean house. This would put Toronto into 3rd in their division at best and could begin their downfall to total mediocrity, which is exactly where you don’t want to be as a franchise. The Raptors should trade starters in the summer, experiment with young players as go-to guys next year, and build through the draft before delving into the middle of the pack in the East.

NBA Playoffs: First Round Predictions

NBA Playoffs: First Round Predictions

With the 2018 NBA playoffs set to start today, what are the first round matchups and who will be moving on to the conference semifinals?

 

 

Durant and Curry after last year's playoffs.

Photo Credit/nba.com

 

 

Eastern Conference:

(1) Toronto Raptors vs. (8) Washington Wizards

Derozan and Wall during a free throw.

Photo Credit/raptorshq.com

 

The first place Raptors will take on Washington in the first round this year. Toronto, who’ve never been the number one seed in the postseason, will be looking for more than just a first round win this year. The story here is the matchup of the two elite guards for each team. The experienced and talented backcourt tandems will look to better the other. While Toronto is much deeper than Washington, the Wizards may find a spark in their team with John Wall’s return. Still though, despite their postseason troubles, the Raptors will take this one.

Prediction: Toronto Raptors; 4-1

 

 

(4) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (5) Indiana Pacers

James backing down Oladipo.

Photo Credit/zimbio.com

 

The Cleveland Cavaliers have had their regular season struggles yet again this season, barely hanging on to a home playoff spot in the East. Right behind them, the revamped Indiana Pacers stunned the whole league as Victor Oladipo came home and turned in his first All-Star year in the league. While it’s tempting to pick the Pacers to make the upset and defeat the defending conference champions, the Cavs still have LeBron James and it’d be surprising to see a young team take down The King still in his prime. Cleveland may struggle but they should be fine here.

Prediction: Cleveland Cavaliers; 4-1

 

 

(3) Philadelphia 76ers vs. (6) Miami Heat

Simmons chasing down a ball in front of Whiteside.

Photo Credit/nbcsports.com

 

Finally back in the playoffs, Philly will need Ben Simmons to carry them through the first round without Joel Embiid. The team recently reinforced their back court by getting Markelle Fultz back from injury who could even start beside Simmons against the Heat. If Simmons stays on the roll he’s on, they’re gonna be hard for Miami to stop. While the Heat are again in the postseason, they have no real star expect for possibly Goran Dragic but that’s a stretch. While Whiteside may be a top NBA center, Erik Spoelstra doesn’t play him like one. Although, without Embiid this round, he could be a factor. Either way, the Sixers should handle this easily.

Prediction: Philadelphia 76ers; 4-0

 

 

(2) Boston Celtics vs. (7) Milwaukee Bucks

Giannis and Horford fighting over a rebound.

Photo Credit/celticsblog.com

 

This will be one of the more interesting matchups of the playoffs. Though Boston again looked elite this year, they’re now without their two All-Stars, Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving. Though they’re still one of the deepest teams in the playoffs, Giannis and the Bucks have a talented enough offensive lineup to take down the Celtics. Al Horford now becomes the best player on Boston’s available team and several young stars will have to step up for the Celtics to have a chance. Never doubt Brad Stevens but with Antetokounmpo playing like an MVP along with Middleton and Bledsoe, Milwaukee is the favorite here.

Prediction: Milwaukee Bucks; 4-2

 


 

Western Conference:

(1) Houston Rockets vs. (8) Minnesota Timberwolves

Butler driving on Harden.

Photo Credit/cbsaustin.com

 

After getting Jimmy Butler back just a few games ago, Minnesota downed the Nuggets Wednesday to clinch a postseason birth for the first time since KG was there. While making it is an accomplishment in the West, they’ll be running into a buzzsaw in Houston in the first round. With likely MVP James Harden and future hall of famer Chris Paul, It’ll be a tough series for the Wolves. Karl- Anthony Towns will need to show he has an ability to excel against Clint Capela down low and Andrew Wiggins will have to shoot above 40% from 3 for the Timberwolves to have a chance. Even then, it’s unlikely they get past The Beard.

Prediction: Houston Rockets; 4-1

 

 

(4) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (5) Utah Jazz

Mitchell guarding Westbrook.

Photo Credit/thehoopdoctors.com

 

After OKC barely grabbed a home postseason spot at the four seed, they’ll attempt to take down rookie standout Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs. While the Thunder have the big names and star power, Utah has quietly crept up the Western Conference standings in the toughest division in basketball and has the shooting, defense and chemistry to make some noise in the postseason. If Mitchell catches fire and Gobert continues his dominance on the defensive end, winning the matchup with Steven Adams, look for the Jazz to pull off the upset.

Prediction: Utah Jazz; 4-3

 

 

(3) Portland Trail Blazers vs. (6) New Orleans Pelicans

Lillard shooting a layup over Davis.

Photo Credit/oregonlive.com

 

After MVP caliber seasons from both these team’s stars, Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard, the two will duke it out in the first round of the playoffs. With the loss of Boogie Cousins earlier in the year, Davis will have to do it all for the Pelicans and hope Jrue Holiday can handle backcourt duties. For Portland, they’ll rely on their two offensive weapons in the backcourt, Lillard and McCollum, to carry the load. With the roll the Blazers have been on, it’s tough to see New Orleans having enough on offense or being able to stop Portland’s explosive guards.

Prediction: Portland Trail Blazers; 4-2

 

 

(2) Golden State Warriors vs. (7) San Antonio Spurs

Durant driving to the basket against the Spurs.

Photo Credit/cbssports.com

 

With no Curry or Leonard, the excitement that would’ve come with this series after last year’s controversial matchup isn’t as strong. San Antonio always seems to have a shot in every series they play, but they don’t have the offensive firepower to compete with Golden State. Lamarcus Aldridge is by far their best scorer but he isn’t versatile enough to concern Warriors defenders. As long as KD and Klay can catch fire at times and Golden State can prevent sneaky runs by the Spurs they should breeze through this one.

Prediction: Golden State Warriors; 4-0

 

 

 

Luka Doncic Scouting Report Here:

Marvin Bagley III Scouting Report Here:

DeAndre Ayton Scouting Report Here:

NBA Draft Scouting Profile: Luka Doncic

NBA Draft Scouting Profile: Luka Doncic

At only 19 years old, Luka Doncic is already a star in the Euroleague. One of the top prospects of the 2018 class, what can Doncic do for an NBA team and where should he want to land?

 

 

Luka Doncic

Doncic in a Slovenian photoshoot.

Photo Credit/fiba.basketball.com

 

Height: 6’8″

Weight: 228 ibs.

Wingspan: Unknown

Position: Point Guard/Shooting Guard

From: Slovenia/Real Madrid

Class: Would be Freshman

Hometown: Ljubljana, Slovenia

 

 

Analysis:

Doncic dribbling to the basket.

Photo Credit/celticslife.com

 

Despite little spotlight in the U.S. and distance from NBA scouts, Luka Doncic has made a name for himself overseas and is now preparing to be a top 3 pick in the 2018 NBA draft. Doncic, who should be the first guard off the board, if not the first player, was born in Slovenia and has become a top player on Real Madrid’s squad in Spain. With Madrid, he’s putting up around 15 points a game and has been a fantastic facilitator for the team, learning from veteran guard Sergio Llull. At 6’8″, the Slovenian can play either guard position but will likely play whichever position is at more of a need for the team that drafts him right out the gate. I see him being able to excel more as a point guard as he plays as a primary ball-handler most of the time and has impressive vision for his size. While he has incredible intangibles and an uncanny feel for the game, Doncic comes up short in the athleticism column, not being quick and explosive enough as an average NBA guard. He’ll likely have trouble driving to the rim on defenses early in his career. On top of this issue, he isn’t a good defender by any means. Like many top players in this draft, defensive energy is hard to come by for these talented players that are used to having the ball in their hands and only expending effort on offense. Developing a better long range jumper, getting more attentive on defense, and using his craftiness to drive inside will be key to Doncic becoming the star he has the potential to become.

 

 

NBA Comparison: 

Simmons celebrating after a play.

Photo Credit/si.com

 

Considering his strengths and weaknesses, Doncic has a striking resemblance with 76ers rookie star Ben Simmons. While Doncic probably has the slightly better jumper at the moment, neither are good shooters from the outside nor are they very focused on the defensive end, but both are talented floor generals who play point guard at an unusually tall height. Simmons is stronger and more polished than Doncic but both may see their rise in the NBA at near the same time if the Real Madrid guard turns into what he’s expected to be. Both these players may begin a revolution at the point guard position, shifting the league from looking for quick shooters at the position to big, pass-first players who can run to the team and make every teammate on the court better.

 

 

Best Team Fit:

Porzingis during a dead ball.

Photo Credit/nypost.com

 

The Knicks should trade up for a top 3 pick using anybody but KP to grab Doncic. A combination of the two former Euroleague players would be deadly for the future. Both have large size for their respective positions and have the potential to each be Hall of Famers. The Knicks have been looking for a point guard, taking Frank Nitilikina in last years draft and signing Trey Burke late this season. While Nitilikina has defensive potential and Burke has been hot lately, New York can’t pass up this opportunity to use a few picks and a young player to get a talent like Doncic. If the team is able to hang onto Tim Hardaway Jr. in the trade and resign Enes Kanter in the offseason, there’ll be plenty of options for their new rookie to look to when facilitating on offense. Taking another shot on a high potential Euro player is the right move for New York this year.

 

 

NBA Draft Scouting Profile: Marvin Bagley lll Here:

 

NBA Draft Scouting Profile: Marvin Bagley lll

Shortly after Duke’s elite eight loss to Kansas, star Freshman forward Marvin Bagley lll declared for the NBA draft. An expected top 3 pick, what will Bagley give an NBA team?

 

 

Marvin Bagley lll

Bagley during a game.

Photo Credit/sportingnews.com

 

Height: 6’11”

Weight: 234 ibs.

Wingspan: 7’0″

Position: Power Forward/Center

College: Duke

Class: Freshman

Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona

 

 

Analysis: 

Bagley pointing to a teammate after being hit with an assist.

Photo Credit/fansided.com

 

After reclassifying and coming to Durham this season to play with the Blue Devils Bagley has been nothing short of what he was expected to be, putting up a 20 point double-double in the ACC. Joined by several other likely one-and-done players, Bagley took Duke to the elite eight before an overtime loss to Kansas. In the one year he had with the team Bagley proved the hype regarding his offensive game in high school was well warranted. The 19-year old took home ACC Player of the Year after putting up 21 and 11 for the Blue devils and flashing every part of his offensive arsenal throughout the season. He used the combination of his size and quickness down low well, getting around slower college defenders and getting most of his buckets right around the rim. Bagley also used his offensive rebounding ability to get Duke several second chance point opportunities, leading the team in rebounding by a long shot. Like Ayton, the big man shot the 3 ball in the mid-thirties this season, though not with much frequency. If he is played at the 4 in the NBA, developing that long range jumper will take him to a different level as a frontcourt player. Where Bagley clearly needs to work is on the defensive side of the ball. His wingspan at 7’0″ isn’t as impressive as others in the draft and some who are already in the league. His short length and lack of energy on D made for a lackluster freshman season on defense. To turn into an All-NBA player in the NBA, he must learn to play better low post D.

 

 

NBA Comparison:

Bosh after a play.

Photo Credit/dystnow.com

 

While the body types are different, Bagley’s offensive play style and talent remind me a bit of prime Al Jefferson. Bagley is clearly the more athletic player but as far as play down low on offense goes, it’s a fair comparison. From a more all-around perspective, Chris Bosh seems fitting. Bosh was never a star on defense and didn’t ever shine in the playmaking department on offense but he was a perennial All-Star in the prime of his career and had a similar offensive play style to Bagley. The craftiness around the rim and ability to hit the occasional jumper are traits common between the two. If Bagley can improve his jumper he could reach the level Bosh was once at and even beyond that.

 

 

Best Team Fit:

Gasol after a play.

Photo Credit/deadspin.com

 

After a catastrophic tanking season this year, the Grizzlies will have one of the top picks in the draft. Whether or not Marc Gasol remains on the team in the offseason, Bagley would fit perfectly in Memphis. If Gasol stays, Bagley would be in a frontcourt with an experienced stretch center and could benefit from Gasol’s exceptional playmaking ability out of the post. With veteran guard Mike Conley coming back next year, Bagley would be playing with two experienced starters in Memphis where he can learn the ropes of the NBA and prepare to take over the reigns of the team after Gasol’s gone. The lack of talent on Memphis will give him the touches he needs to turn into a superstar quickly for the Grizzlies.

 

 

NBA Draft Scouting Profile: DeAndre Ayton Here:

 

NBA Draft Scouting Profile: DeAndre Ayton

DeAndre Ayton may just be the first pick in this year’s NBA draft and with so many young teams aching for talent at center, what would the Arizona big man bring to the table in the pros?

 

 

DeAndre Ayton

Ayton during a dead ball.

Photo Credit/espn.com

 

Height: 7’1″

Weight: 260 ibs.

Wingspan: 7’6″

Position: Center

College: Arizona

Class: Freshman

Hometown: Nassau, Bahamas

 

 

Analysis:

Ayton screaming after a play.

Photo Credit/ncaa.com

 

After just one season at Arizona, Ayton has shown he’s clearly the top player in this year’s draft. He’s massive at well over 7 feet tall and won’t have to worry about building strength early on as his body’s ready to take on bigs in the NBA. As far as shooting is concerned, Ayton already has a solid turn around jumper and can even knock down a three on occasion, shooting it in the mid thirties on the year. With his size and strength down low, it’s unlikely teams would utilize him on the perimeter very much, but knowing he can hit a long range shot will affect defenses and space the floor. Ayton’s defense, however, was poor throughout the year and he showed a general lack of effort on that side of the ball. It’ll be even tougher for him to keep up with skilled bigs and slashing guards once he gets to the league. He was able to put up around 2 blocks a game for the Wildcats this year but with his height and length, that should be expected. Where the Bahaman big man could also improve is his skill down low. Though he was able to get around Pac-12 centers easily this season, he’ll run into lockdown defenders in the NBA. Ayton utilized his spin move and turn around well this year but he’ll need to be quicker to transform Into a top professional center.

 

 

NBA Comparison:

Robinson during a dead ball.

Photo Credit/poundingtherock.com

 

With his size and potential it’s possible Ayton becomes one of the best to ever play, but who can we compare him to to measure how he’ll fair in the league? With his athleticism, it’s easy to see a little of young Dwight Howard in him, but for a more recent pick I would go with Karl-Anthony Towns. Ayton’s height, shooting ability, and offensive awareness make him comparable to Towns who’s already established himself as one of the best big men in the NBA. While Ayton would have to work on moving his jumper a little farther out and becoming smoother in one-on-one situations inside, he can certainly be a better defender than Towns early on due to his strength. After averaging a double-double in a power-5 conference and showing clear signs of All-Star potential it’s hard to imagine Ayton’s floor being any lower than a Rockets version of Dwight, but there’s a chance he could even be as great as a legend like David Robinson. He’s much less aware on defense as Robinson was but they match up perfectly size and strength wise and with Ayton’s athletic ability he has a chance to get to that level.

 

 

Best Team Fit:

Booker dribbling up court.

Photo Credit/valleyofthesuns.com

 

If things go right for Phoenix in the lottery they’d be crazy to not take Ayton with the first pick and keep him in Arizona. There’s been recent talk of Ayton’s desire to be in Phoenix with Devin Booker and possibly create a similar version of the early 2000’s partnership of Shaq and Kobe. The offensive firepower of both these two young stars would be unstoppable for future teams and with Tyson Chandler still a member of the Suns frontcourt, Phoenix would have a perfect defensive mentor for Ayton. The Suns are the team for him.

 

 

 

First Round Rookie Grades Here: