These are the high pressure picks, the inflated draft prospects mixed in with guys that can really ball. It’s tough to spot the guys who are just going to go to work everyday to get better and the ones who just get a fat check and coast.
There are always 4 or 5 undisputed best players in the draft and after that it’s a crap shoot. Many times the 6-10 range is where great, talented players will be, but there are injury questions or other things that make their stock drop, others stock will climb after a good workout in the combine or in Mo Bamba’s case a video of him nailing a bunch of consecutive threes in a row suddenly makes him a lock for the top 5 and a possible top 3 pick.
10. Philadelphia 76ers MIKAL BRIDGES
Small Forward, Villanova, Junior
Bridges is probably one of the safest picks in this draft. A 6’7 wing, shooting 43.5 % from 3, and a great wing defender, compares to Robert Covington with more upside. His potential is clear, get a better shot off the dribble and more dynamic handles and he could be a star player.
The problems with his game are due to his lack of an ability as a scorer and playmaker, he’s a great shooter, but he can’t create his own shots off the dribble, and he can’t gain separation with his handles. Bridges is not going to dominate defensively on the low post with a lanky frame.
This pick will work out well for the 76ers, they need shooters to compliment Embiid, and Simmons and help space the floor. With Bellineli and JJ Redick’s futures with the team uncertain, it is the perfect time to pick up a shooter like Bridges.
The only problem I foresee with this partnership is that Bridges’s lack of shot creation could come to bite the Sixers again in the playoffs against teams like Boston with smothering perimeter defense. Hopefully he can work on his shot creation over the next few years to solidify his role as a potent offensive talent.
He is the “old man” of the draft at 21, which is hilarious because that’s when many players used to enter the draft years ago, but times have changed, and GMs unfortunately value raw potential over proven talent.
9. New York Knicks COLIN SEXTON
Point Guard, Alabama, Freshman
Sexton’s score first mentality, and drive to win, can’t be overstated, this guy came to ball. He averaged 19 points a game and his ability to lockdown guards is suffocating as well. Sexton has the ability to finish with either hand around the rim which is very advanced for a Freshman.
Another great attribute of Sexton is his ability to handle the ball well in traffic. He can get to the hole in a split second with a lightning fast quick step and that will open up the floor for his teammates.
Unfortunately Sexton is not a great pure passer, he air mails a lot of passes and he can be erratic at times, taking bad shots and not involving his teammates enough when he gets penetration.
The Knicks need someone to score along side Porzingis, Frank Ntilikina, the Knicks rookie point guard last year was great defensively, but his scoring and passing ability is severely lacking. This is a guard centric league and for the Knicks to have success they need a great scorer like Sexton to couple with the Unicorn.
Sexton doesn’t have to worry about money either because he got a few racks thrown his way via Alabama, who says colleges don’t care about players?
8. Cleveland Cavaliers MICHAEL PORTER JR
Forward, Missouri, Freshman
Michael Porter Jr has clear upside. He can hit any shot on the court, he’s a big wing with the potential to be a 4 position defender, he can move well without the ball well for catch and shoots and those are great tools to have and could propel him to stardom with his handles on fast breaks, if he develops half court handles and plays smart his potential is limitless.
His athleticism can’t be ignored either, with a frame he could certainly build muscle on as well. Teams are high on him, he was projected to be the number 1 pick before the college season and complications after back surgery sidelined him for most of the season, so effectively his combine and high school tapes are the best barometer on his talent.
For all the good there is a lot of bad with Porter, his injury might still be lingering, he didn’t prove in his short time in college that he can be the best player on a winning team, but that could be the sample size. His shot didn’t fall in college, but that was 10 attempts from 3 and 30 field goals attempted total. He’s honestly just a huge wildcard, and the question marks are still there, but it’s a question if he can become the player people think he can be.
If the Cavaliers lose Lebron James, they will need to take a big risk in the draft, someone to get their fans excited. That is Michael Porter Jr. Start the rebuild fresh and trade Kevin Love and hope for a couple lottery picks in the next few years if he leaves. It’s a big risk big reward move but I still think Porter has a relatively high floor if he can stay healthy.
Another thing the Cavs ought to love is his cockiness, he just thinks he is going to be the next Lebron, you like to see that in somebody that young who unfortunately hasn’t proven himself on the court yet, he’ll need to prove his work ethic and improve his game to get to the level he can project to.
7. Chicago Bulls MILES BRIDGES
Forward, Michigan State, Sophmore
Known as the better Bridges, he is a stout, strong forward who has a winning mentality and can turn a team with potential from a middling talent to an 8 seed with the right guidance. Bridges is a good shooter from the college 3 point line but his shot needs to be a little more consistent. He is a tenacious rebounder who makes timely plays to put his team over the limit. His great rebounding is a product of his athleticism mixed with his big frame. This and his ability to penetrate the paint could translate into some fantastic athletic plays. Bridges will be a good player in the NBA but his ceiling may be capped if he doesn’t develop better dribbling skills. He also does not have an overly impressive wingspan and could potentially get blocked down low on shots he made in college. His effort on defense also comes into question but these problems could point to his offensive workload and conditioning. The most glaring problem with Bridges has to be his passing, he can make easy passes but does not have the high basketball IQ offensively, to match his motor.The Bulls have a roster with potential, they need a glue guy, a guy that can make an important shot or rebound at the right time. That is Bridges. If his three pointer gains consistency in the NBA imagine how well him and Lauri Markkanen will be able to stretch the floor. They will have great length on defense as well. Bridges defensive prowess is versatile enough to guard 1-5 with his athleticism and size helping stay in front of guards and not get tooled on by big men on the post. What this team needs is an upside scoring role player who is a difference maker on the defensive end. That’s Miles Bridges.https://youtu.be/ilwtbzNnliY
6. Orlando Magic WENDELL CARTER JR
Center, Duke, Freshman
Wendell Carter is like a Swiss Army Knife, there are so many tools at his disposal, it is hard to see why he is currently situated outside the top 5. As a center he is averaging 41.3 percent from 3. He has elite quickness for a center, and although his hops may be a concern he has the wherewithal to expose weaknesses on defense with soft touch, great passing and spot up shooting.
Carter’s IQ can not be overstated. He was overshadowed at Duke by Bagley’s need to be ball dominant. He positions himself great for rebounds and can screen and cut with some of the best in the league. When teams talk about intangibles, this is what they mean. That’s why many compare him to Al Horford.
The negatives on Carter are sparse for the most part. He does not possess elite athleticism which might put a cap on his potential. He can be a turnover liability at times when he forces it. He also has an awkward jumper that takes away from his ability to drive and pop well.
The Magic need a player like Carter, a glue guy who can be the focal point of the offense and defend big men well and smartly. Orlando will probably be hanging around the bottom of the league if they lose Gordon which could help Carter get reps shooting in games. He will be an instant difference maker in every facet of the game and might make the Magic an attractive place for free agents once again if he can dominate.
The truth is that the Magic are years away from contention and their best shot at relevancy is drafting the best player available, and that’s Wendell Carter JR. If they take a risk like Porter and he busts they may have to give a free 6 pack with every ticket just to keep fans coming.