Celtics nation would like to welcome Believeland to NetsWatch 2018. After years of some fruitful (Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum) moments, and some bitter (James Young) endings. Danny Ainge handed the baton to Lebron in the trade that netted the Celtics Kyrie Irving. Part of the return was Boston sending the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first round selection to Cleveland.
Celtics nation has moved on to the much more fun, and intricate LakersWatch. Intricate because it involves restrictions on if the Celtics will receive the pick in 2018, or have to move onto KingsWatch 2019. As of right now, if the ping pong balls went chalk, the Celtics would be in line to add to their already enviable young core that includes Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown, along with slightly older vets Al Horford, and Gordon Hayward.
Meanwhile in northeast Ohio the Cavs are torn, watching the movements of all world superstar Lebron James. The will he or won’t he re-sign drama lingering over every possible move. The Cavs have gone all in with older retreads like Dwayne Wade, and Kyle Korver, looking to squeeze every last bit of basketball out of their bodies. There is little evidence of building for beyond this year unless you’re holding out hope that Cedric Osman and Ante Zizic are the cornerstones of the next great Cavaliers squad. And if you are holding out hope of them leading the Cavs to the promise land, please let me know what you’re smoking, because it must be awfully good stuff.
The Cavs future hope lies in the big apple. Sure, Lebron could re-sign and extend the Cavs championship window by 3 years or so, but the long term health of the franchise is seemingly dependent upon how the ping pong balls bounce this May.
So lets do a quick mock draft, just the lottery for our believeland faithful, a chance to give a snap shot on why you’re looking at the Cavs AND Nets in the standings every morning with your coffee and Danish (I know, this isn’t 1985 anymore, you’ll be checking the standings on your IPhone while on the toilet).
So from CelticsNation to you, have a beer, sit back, and enjoy the last half of the 2017-2018 season, its a fun ride watching your squad prepare for a deep playoff run, all the while being able to watch the NCAA tourney’s brightest stars knowing one will be rocking a local jersey come fall.
The mock draft lottery as found below is if the ping pong balls fall chalk based upon the current standings (as of January 1st, 2018):
1. ATLANTA HAWKS – MARVIN BAGLEY III – POST – DUKE
The Hawks are in a position where they truly can take the best player available. Last year’s selection on John Collins looks like a more than solid pick, but there is no reason why Collins and Bagley couldn’t play together. Really the only position the Hawks aren’t in a position to be looking to upgrade is at the point, but even then, they could do better than Dennis Schroder. Ayton, Doncic, and even Michael Porter would all garner consideration here.
2. BOSTON CELTICS – DEANDRE AYTON – POST – ARIZONA
With core pieces in place able to handle the ball (Irving, and Smart), perform on the wing (Hayward, Tatum, Brown), and really only Al Horford as a cornerstone piece as a post, it only makes sense to look to add there if all things are equal, which they seemingly are. Especially as Horford is now on the wrong side of 30. A potential long term starting 5 of Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and DeAndre Ayton would have the potential to challenge anyone, even the vaunted Warriors.
3. ORLANDO MAGIC – LUKA DONCIC – WING – REAL MADRID
Do you believe in magic? If you’ve watched Orlando, you probably don’t. Their last attempt to find a franchise wing from overseas has failed as Mario Herzonja has been an abysmal failure thus far. Doncic by all accounts looks like the real deal. A skilled ball handler with a bit of flair and an ability to score at numerous levels, he has the look of franchise player.
4. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES – MICHAEL PORTER Jr. – WING – MISSOURI
Considered by many to be the likely #1 overall pick prior to Marvin Bagley III re-classifying. Porter injured his back in the fall and is expected to miss the entirety of what would have been his freshman, and lone season at the NCAA level. Compared to Kevin Durant, Porter is long, and capable of scoring from anywhere on the floor. This could also be a place to trade into for a team looking for one of the two top point guards, as picks 4, 5, and 6 are owned by teams that already have Mike Conley, D’Aaron Fox, and Dennis Smith Jr. on their rosters.
5. SACRAMENTO KINGS – KEVIN KNOX – WING – KENTUCKY
By no means do I think that Kevin Knox is the 5th best player in this draft. Trae Young, Collin Sexton, and Mohamed Bamba are all in a tier above Knox. But, the Kings already have young talent developing at the point and in the post. They have seemingly have an inclination towards UK guys, that all leads to me slotting Knox to California’ capital city.
6. DALLAS MAVERICKS – MOHAMED BAMBA – POST – TEXAS
They say everything is bigger in Texas, and there isn’t much bigger than the wingspan of the Longhorns star center. The Nerlens Noel isn’t expected to last into next season, if even past the trade deadline. The idea of pairing Young with Smith in the backcourt is intriguing, but the talent of Bamba, combined with positional need is too enticing to pass up.
7. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS – COLLIN SEXTON – BALL HANDLER – ALABAMA
Some interesting names remain on the list. Michigan State forwards Miles Bridges, and Jaren Jackson Jr. come to mind, as does Oklahoma freshman sensation Trae Young, but Sexton has the makings of a franchise leading point guard who can play with Lebron in the short term, and take the reigns long term.
8. CHARLOTTE HORNETS – WENDELL CARTER – POST – DUKE
The less ballyhooed of the Blue Devils post studs, Carter is a worthy lottery pick in his own right. Once again, an opportune spot for someone to swoop in and nab Trae Young. The Hornets already selected a guard who likes to shoot from anywhere on the court last year in the form of Malik Monk. Dwight Howard is not a long term solution, and Frank Kaminsky is a nice option off the bench, but Carter could/should be a double-double guy for the next 15 years.
9. CHICAGO BULLS – TRAE YOUNG – BALL HANDLER – OKLAHOMA
Dennis Smith Jr. part deux? Last year the explosive guard that fell in the draft, really through no fault of his own was Dennis Smith Jr. This year playing that role could be Trae Young. Through no fault of his own, he could slip to the later half of the lottery. Young supporters will call him the next Steph Curry, but Young is a better shooter, and much much better passer than Curry was at the same age, and against better competition.
10. PHOENIX SUNS – JAREN JACKSON Jr. – POST – MICHIGAN STATE
The prototypical modern stretch post player. The Suns, with additional draft capital at their disposal would be primed to move up and get Sexton or Young who are really what this squad needs. If left here, Jackson has the potential to be a tremendous NBA talent, already better than his father, I think Jackson’s floor is a modern Sam Perkins (Pacers version.
11. UTAH JAZZ – MILES BRIDGES – POST – MICHIGAN STATE
A bit undersized to be a traditional four man, but a bit too bulky to be a traditional 3 man, Bridges was born at the right time. He should have no issues stepping into the spot light next to Donovan Mitchell for the Jazz. With Derrick Favors about to hit free agency, Bridges would have ample opportunity to add to the Jazz’ young core with Mitchell, and Rudy Gobert.
12. LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS – LONNIE WALKER – WING – MIAMI
Bad news for the Clippers, they’re truly in a position to take the best available player as the roster, aside from Blake Griffin, is bereft of talent. Worse news for the Clippers, there is a dip in talent from the 11th best player in the draft to the 12th. Lonnie Walker is likely the player with the most upside from a next tier group that includes fellow hurricane Brian Brown, UNLV rebel Brandon McCoy, and Aggie Robert Williams.
13. PHILADELPHIA 76ers – BRANDON McCoy – POST – UNLV
What do you get the team that has everything but experience? A true freshman draft pick of course. Ideally there would be a standout shooter to plug into the core with Embiid, Saric, Simmons, and Fultz (and that could happen if the Lakers pick doesn’t fall between 2-5, if it doesn’t, the sixers keep the pick, and Trae Young could be SCARY with these other guys). In lieu of that, it’d be nice for philly to have a capable alternative to Joel Embiid who 34 years after starting his NBA career is still on minutes/game restrictions.
14. NEW YORK KNICKS – ROBERT WILLIAMS – POST – TEXAS A&M
With news that the Knicks expect Kyle O’Quinn to opt out of his deal (and why wouldn’t he?), Williams could step in and fill that void immediately as Porzingis’ front court running mate. A unicorn in his own right, Williams is a talented sophomore would could have been a lotto pick last summer but returned to school.
So Believeland, when you’re checking the standings, just know that it appears there are 3 tiers in this year’s lotto. The first tier has 7 players (Bagley, Doncic, Porter, Ayton, Bamba, Young, and Sexton), the second tier of 4 players (Bridges, Carter, Jackson, Knox), and then you get into the 3rd tier, a group that includes Brandon McCoy, Bruce Brown, Lonnie Walker, and Robert Williams amongst others. So right now you’re sitting pretty, in that top 7 range, but its a precarious position. The Nets are 2-8 in their last ten, so they’ve hit a slippery patch, but they’re likely to regain their footing soon.
Keep watching, and enjoy the ride, right now you’re in the best of both worlds, dreaming of the playoffs and of the lottery.