And we’re back! With the NBA Finals featuring built-in lulls between games, attention will be shifted to the NBA Draft. Previously, I gave my input on the lottery picks in this draft. You can check that out in the link below:
One thing to keep in mind: the entire first round mock was completed before this weekend’s NBA Draft workout madness. Lots of prospects worked out in Los Angeles, with seemingly every team sending scouts or general managers over. My weird obsession with length and irrational dislike of certain prospects due to #fakenews is on full display here. Let’s go.
15. Portland Trailblazers — Jarrett Allen, C, Texas
The Portland Trailblazers may be looking for length. Last offseason, they paid a premium for wings Evan Turner, Mo Harkless and Allen Crabbe. They also dumped the cash truck in front of C.J. McCollum’s house for his extension. That left a hole in their big man slots. While Jusuf Nurkic looked impressive after he was acquired at the trade deadline, Portland still may need some size — and defense. Allen is long and athletic, with potential as a rim-protector and pick-and-roll defender. The mid-first round is just where he belongs at this point. He may be lacking in basketball IQ and aggressiveness, but he’s still only 19-years-old with loads of potential.
16. Chicago Bulls — Harry Giles, C, Duke
This may be a little high for Giles, but he is high upside personified. His YouTube search results make him look like a first ballot BallIsLife mixtape Hall of Famer. The former No. 1 player in the nation didn’t set the world on fire at Duke, and could still be recovering from the various knee injuries he suffered in high school. The Bulls are lacking in shooting, but that seemingly doesn’t matter to the beloved front office duo #GarPax. Giles is as good a prospect as any in this draft — if he remains healthy. Also, here’s the part where I say — Chicago almost beat the Celtics!
17. Milwaukee Bucks — Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA
Wow, there’s a lot of big men outside of the lottery in this year’s draft. Anigbogu played limited minutes in the Lonzo Ball-led UCLA squad, but his defensive upside is ideal in today’s NBA. Anigbogu is another long wingspan guy (7’6”) with a strong body and quick feet. He doesn’t convert his free throws efficiently (53.5%) and isn’t a polished scorer, but his intensity and effort are unquestioned. He may be a bit of a mystery due to his limited minutes, but his upside is intriguing. At his worst, he could be a trouble-stirring big off the bench. The Bucks love length and defensive versatility — and Anigbogu can provide that for the Bucks.
18. Indiana Pacers — Luke Kennard, G, Duke
The Pacers are under new leadership with Kevin Pritchard at the helm. Pritchard will face some major roster decisions this summer, with the most important revolving around Paul George. Whether George stays or goes, Duke’s Luke Kennard would be a fine addition to an Indiana squad lacking depth on the perimeter. He’s currently being praised for his shooting, but his overall scoring and IQ on the offensive end should not be overlooked. Kennard’s ceiling may be “solid role player,” but that’s exactly what GM’s are looking for at this point in the draft.
P.S. This Grantland piece on Kennard prior to enrolling at Duke sold me on him as a player that could make an impact in the NBA. *Pours one out for Grantland*
19. Atlanta Hawks — T.J. Leaf, F, UCLA
T.J. Leaf falls under the typical trappings of many white collegiate big men — not athletic, needs to get stronger, doesn’t finish strong on the interior, will struggle on defense, you name it. Just ask LaVar Ball. But Leaf is a fine big man prospect. He shot a remarkable 46.6% from deep alongside Lonzo Ball (and Ike Anigbogu) this season. He rebounded well (8.2 per game) and showed decent ability to score and create off the bounce. A lot of basketball evaluation focuses on what a player can’t do despite other strong, even elite, aspects of their game. Looking past his limitations, Leaf has solid skills to build upon. Atlanta may need an injection of youth in their front court.
20. Portland Trailblazers — Justin Patton, C, Creighton
This is the second of Portland’s three first round draft picks. With Portland possibly entering the luxury tax next season, they’ve been heavily rumored to deal one of their picks alongside the big contracts of Allen Crabbe, Evan Turner, Moe Harkless or Meyers Leonard. Patton is definitely a work in progress (the word being used for him in everything I’ve read on him currently is RAW), seemingly still growing into his body and his wide-ranging game. Patton has a world of potential with solid athletic ability on both ends and range to the three-point line. The question for Patton is: will things click? The project big man may ride the bench early in his career, but could blossom into a solid option down the line.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder — Terrance Ferguson, G, Adelaide 36ers
Ferguson, ideally, would give the Thunder solid scoring and athleticism alongside the ridiculousness of Russell Westbrook’s (yet-to-be announced MVP) game. Ferguson didn’t really light up the Australian league, but he had a reputation as a dunks and threes guy in high school. He has tremendous athleticism, and if he figures out how to shoot, would be a microwave type scorer. He’s a risk-reward type prospect, but Sam Presti has a reputation as a solid drafter. Let’s see if he takes another chance with a player that took an alternative route to the draft.
22. Brooklyn Nets — Rodions Kurucs, F, FC Barcelona Basquet B
EUROSTASH ALERT! Kurucs played well this season — for the Barcelona B team. Regardless of the competition, Kurucs showed some solid NBA tools. Kurucs is a dynamic scorer with an improving jumper. He’s slinky around the basket, and ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla raved (not the EDM kind) about the Latvian’s potential. He’s struggled with knee injuries the past few years, but the Nets have a history of taking chances. Kurucs may not suit up for the Nets next season, but the Nets are still looking to find footing after being the worst team in the NBA last season.
23. Toronto Raptors — Jonathan Jeanne, C, SLUC Nancy
The Raptors are another team facing huge luxury tax bills next season, so their ownership of this pick in the air. Jeanne was impressive at the NBA Draft Combine, with his freakish length and a developing offensive game. But Jeanne is still stick thin and wasn’t very effective on his domestic team. Jeanne is a work in progress, but under the right development staff he could be a difference maker down the line. Toronto may have two long-armed bigs in Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas (and a developing one in Jakob Poetl), but they could always use another — especially with big decisions to be made on the team’s future.
24. Utah Jazz — Frank Jackson, G, Duke
After the NBA Draft Combine, Jackson hired an agent and stayed in the draft, despite a so-so freshman season at Duke. He could have been made a first round promise, prompting him to leave the Blue Devils. Jackson is a solid scorer, projected more as a shooting guard than point guard. He has defensive potential with solid size. One issue with Jackson is almost immediately after declaring for the draft, he had foot surgery. Jackson could provide some off the dribble, microwave-type scoring for a Jazz team that’s on the rise.
25. Orlando Magic — D.J. Wilson, F, Michigan
I had Orlando slated as taking Duke forward Jayson Tatum in the lottery. Here, Orlando goes with another player that has potential as a scoring forward. Orlando hired John Hammond (AKA the guy who drafted Giannis) to lead the team’s front office in the post-Rob Hennigan era. Wilson has prototypical length for a long-ball center and has the potential to stretch the floor. Critics may question Wilson’s intensity and feel, but he could be useful on a Magic team that really struggled offensively. Wilson is also a proponent of the short(er) shorts, so that bumps him up a little higher as well.
26. Portland Trailblazers — Semi Ojeleye, F, SMU
Again, this could be a pick the Blazers make for another team, depending on who they want to “salary dump.” Ojeleye is a man. His physique is reminiscent of a WWE superstar (not wrestler) and Ojeleye has some nice skills to boot. He shot well from deep at 42.4% and could project as a 3-and-D type forward, if he can lock in on that end. He may have ridden the pine at Duke in his first two collegiate seasons, but Semi really impressed this season. Ojeleye may be one of the older prospects at the draft, turning 23 later in this year, but he could be effective if his skills transfer over against NBA competition.
27. Brooklyn Nets — Isaiah Hartenstein, C, Zalgiris Kaunas
Alright, I confess. This is an ideal Nets pick for me. (Follow me on twitter @ignisyon and you’ll see who my favorite team is). Hartenstein just turned 19 on May 5, and could spend some more time in Europe before he transitions to the NBA. He doesn’t project as a typical European big man. Hartenstein can mix it up down low and is a strong rebounder with some nasty two-handed dunks in his arsenal. The half-German (his mother is from Oregon and his dad played NCAA basketball too) is ballsy enough to throw Kevin Love-style full court passes. I project him as a European version of Mason Plumlee at his current stage — that can make free throws. That’s good enough for the Nets.
28. Los Angeles Lakers — Jordan Bell, F, Oregon
Jordan Bell is a workout (and NCAA tournament) wonder. He posted some super impressive numbers at the draft combine, with a shuttle run only trailing speedy point guard Frank Jackson, among other measurements. Bell put himself on the map in Oregon’s Final Four run, where his defense was a major part of the Ducks’ success. Bell isn’t much of an offensive force, and at 22, he may never develop much polish outside of lobs and putbacks. But Bell’s calling card is on defense, where he showed really nice timing on blocks and defended the perimeter well. Bell also worked out for the Lakers earlier this week, so there’s that. The Ball (no pun intended) is in Magic Johnson’s court for this pick.
29. San Antonio Spurs — Josh Hart, G, Villanova
San Antonio went with upside last season, drafting DeJounte Murray, a one-and-done point guard. This draft, the Spurs could go with a proven commodity in Josh Hart. Hart may not be Malcolm Brogdon (a guy a lot of people have compared him to) but he still was a joy to watch. But if somebody compares him to Malcolm Brogdon, I may have to throw some internet hands. The Spurs’ bench really lacked shooting and secondary ball handling this season. Hart provides that, with The Ringer projecting his best-case scenario as “Old Vince Carter.” Old Vince Carter was awesome. Hart also has the off-court leadership that the Spurs love.
30. Utah Jazz — Caleb Swanigan, F, Purdue
With my final first round pick, I’m going with Swanigan, a player that falls under the “beast” category in my player projection pool. (I’m still 12-years-old, TBH.) Swanigan had a super productive sophomore season with Purdue, averaging a double-double and showing a wide array of offensive skills. He may have some athletic limitations, but was productive nonetheless. In order to be a successful NBA player, Swanigan has to continue improving his body and working on his mobility. His offense is unquestioned, but his defense remains an overall negative for now. Watch this video and try not to feel emotional.
Second Round First Five
31. John Collins, F, Wake Forest
32. Jawun Evans, G, Oklahoma State
33. Ivan Rabb, F, UCLA
34. Anzejs Pasecniks, C, Gran Canaria
35. Derrick White, G, Colorado
This is a big man-laden half of the draft. With a thin compliment of backcourt prospects, certain second round prospects could propel to the late teens or higher. The draft is almost two weeks away. Falling in love with a teenage NBA prospect is NBA Twitter’s version of summer love.
Be on the lookout for more NBA Draft and NBA Finals coverage on The Unbalanced! Come for the hot takes, stay for the CONTENT.