Let the speculation begin. One of the most fascinating drafts in history now has a lottery order. Without a clear No. 1 choice, being held in October during a pandemic and the uncertainty surrounding whether teams will be able to bring in players for workouts, there figures to be chaos. Here is how The Post …
Let the speculation begin.
One of the most fascinating drafts in history now has a lottery order. Without a clear No. 1 choice, being held in October during a pandemic and the uncertainty surrounding whether teams will be able to bring in players for workouts, there figures to be chaos.
Here is how The Post sees the top 14 playing out.
1. Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia
A trio of D’Angelo Russell, Karl-Anthony Towns and Edwards could be a prolific offensive group. Like Russell and Towns, the 6-foot-5 Edwards is wired to score, as his 19.1 points per game as a freshman would suggest. They can all learn how to defend better together.
2. Warriors: James Wiseman, PF/C, Memphis
Assuming the Warriors don’t move the pick or trade down, the 7-foot-1 big man provides a much-needed inside presence, giving them a shot-blocking finisher who complements the explosive scoring duo of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, and takes pressure off Draymond Green defensively.
3. Hornets: LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawarra Hawks (Australia)
A no-brainer for the Hornets, despite how well Devonte’ Graham played this past season. Ball can be the face of the franchise, a 6-foot-7 playmaker who makes others around him better and is considered by some the top talent in this draft.
4. Bulls: Deni Avdija, SF/PF, Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
Pairing the multi-dimensional 6-foot-9 Israeli with emerging Finnish big man Lauri Markkanen gives the Bulls a dynamic forward tandem for the future. The top international import in the draft, Avdija led Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Israeli League championship at just 19 years of age.
5. Cavaliers: Obi Toppin, SF/PF, Dayton
Toppin gives the forward-needy Cavaliers a young stud to go with the backcourt of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland. The National Player of the Year from Ossining, N.Y., can contribute immediately at both ends, and if he improves his jump shot, Cleveland may have an All-Star in the explosive 6-foot-9 forward.
6. Hawks: Onyeka Okongwu, PF/C, USC
The defense-averse Hawks have the making of a strong offensive team, but they have to better on the other end of the floor. Okongwu is a step in the right direction, while improving Atlanta’s ability to score in the paint.
7. Pistons: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State
Detroit isn’t going anywhere without fixing its point guard problems, making Haliburton the obvious pick. A deadly spot-up shooter, he can run a team and has preferential size at 6-foot-5.
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8. Knicks: Precious Achiuwa, SF/PF, Memphis
With Knicks fans calling for Cole Anthony, team president Leon Rose pulls a stunner, selecting a different local, the 6-foot-9 Bronx native, an immediate difference-maker around the basket and on the defensive end. The lone college freshman to average a double-double, Achiuwa can team with Frank Ntilikina and Mitchell Robinson to give Tom Thibodeau the makings of a vastly improved defensive unit.
9. Wizards: Devin Vassell, SG, Florida State
With Bradley Beal potentially on the block, Vassell is a natural fit in the nation’s capital. Even if the Wizards keep Beal, Vassell can play on the wing at 6-foot-6 and take advantage of the attention given to Beal and returning point guard John Wall.
10. Suns: Killian Hayes, PG, Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany)
Narrowly missing out on the postseason will be a plus in the long run for the on-the-rise Suns, who add Hayes, Ricky Rubio’s long-term replacement on the ball. Although his long-range jumper remains a work in progress, the 6-foot-5 Hayes, born in the U.S. but raised in France, is a terrific playmaker and distributor and will be surrounded by skilled shot-makers in Phoenix.
11. Spurs: Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina
The Spurs are too smart to let Anthony, the son of former NBA point guard Greg Anthony, fall further. While some teams may have been scared off by his freshman year at North Carolina — when a knee injury and poor shooting percentages dropped his stock — San Antonio will see his strengths, from his high-level scoring ability to relentless work ethic and alpha-male character traits.
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12. Kings: Patrick Williams, SF/PF, Florida State
Forget his underwhelming numbers in one season at Florida State — Williams averaged just 9.2 points and 4.0 rebounds — because Leonard Hamilton limited his minutes to 22.5 per game. Williams is a physical, skilled and versatile 6-foot-8 forward, and could explode given more space and freedom at the next level. On top of that, he’s the youngest player in the draft, having just turned 19.
13. Pelicans: Aaron Nesmith, SG/SF, Vanderbilt
Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram could use a space creator like the 6-foot-6 Nesmith, a marksman who shot 52.2 percent from deep and averaged 23 points per game before suffering a season-ending foot injury in January.
14. Celtics (via Grizzlies): Saddiq Bey, SF, Villanova
3-and-D wings are the rage in the league now, and Bey has instant contributor written all over him. He can guard several positions, he shot 45.1 percent from distance this past year and he’s the kind of smart, high-character player who fits the Celtics’ winning culture.