I love the draft. I love the NBA Draft. I love the NFL Draft. I love the MLB Draft. It doesn’t matter. Watching these players (mostly 18-21 year old kids) fulfill their lifelong dream is incredible to watch. This is the culmination of thousands and thousands of hour of work.
Draft day also provides fan bases with hope for the future. No matter how bleak the past has been, a team can change their franchise trajectory and culture in one fell swoop.
Tonight the draft will draw all eyes around the league. Last year the NBA Draft drew 3.4 million people to ESPN. But every basketball fan knows that the best draft coverage comes on Twitter. Following a team of Adrian Wojnarowski, Shams Charania, Keith Smith, Alex Kennedy, and Chris Haynes can really help educate you on each and every draft pick.
Buckle up for a wild night. Here are my four predictions for the evening!
Big Names Move:
Last year we saw Jimmy Butler, D’Angelo Russell, Brook Lopez, Timofey Mozgov, and Trey Lyles were all traded on draft day.
This year could be even more wild. We could see super stars like Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving traded. We could see big names like Kevin Love, Kemba Walker, Lonzo Ball, and Kyle Lowry moved.
The movement could start early in the day and continue throughout the draft.
Players around the league are using the leverage that they have to take control of their careers, build their brands, and make more money. NFL players should probably take a lesson from NBA guys.
Portland Will Have a Good Day:
A “good day” is hard to quantify, but no matter what happens General Manager Neil Olshey will tell you that it was a good day. They could go out and trade the 24th pick for a bag of day-old cotton candy and Olshey would try to convince you that that cotton candy is on the same career arc as Damian Lillard, and that this was the plan all along.
The thing is, he would probably convince a few fans that it was the best move.
In all seriousness, I think the Blazers will be aggressive. How aggressive? That’s the multi-million dollar question. I don’t see them moving up in the first round of the draft, but I do see them buying a second round pick to add another low cost contract to a roster of bloated contracts.
The team showed a lot of love to IMG Academy guard Anfernee Simons. If he is available early in the second round, it may be a Paul Allen special when they buy a pick to add Simons to the roster.
Overall, the Blazers will be a better team by the end of the draft than they were yesterday.
Surprise at the Top of the Draft:
The first three picks in the draft are owned by the Suns, Kings, and Hawks. Those teams have been rife with chaos over the last few years. They consistently pick high in the draft, and fail to deliver. The Suns have a good young core, but haven’t made the playoffs since 2010. The Kings haven’t made it since 2006. The Hawks only missed one year of playoffs, but probably have the bleakest outlook of the teams in the top 5.
Deandre Ayton, Luka Doncic, and Marvin Bagley III are the concensus three best players in the draft.
Ayton believes that he is the #1 pick in the draft so strongly that he shut down workouts after his trip to Phoenix. By tonight we will see that move as confidence and bravado, or foolishness and naiveté.
My prediction is that one of these teams at the top of the draft completely overthink it.
Will someone get wrapped up in the Trae Young hype, thinking they are adding the next Steph Curry?
Does a team fall in love with the wingspan of Mo Bamba?
Maybe a team overlooks the injury history of Michael Porter Jr. and take him earlier than anyone expects.
The draft is not going to go chalk. There will be surprises, and I expect them to start at the top.
For the record…. My Top 10 Mock Draft… And the Blazers
1 – Phoenix Suns – Deandre Ayton
2 – Sacramento Kings – Luka Doncic
3 – Atlanta Hawks – Trae Young
4 – Memphis Grizzlies – Mo Bamba
5 – Dallas Mavericks – Marvin Bagley III
6 – Orlando Magic – Jaren Jackson Jr.
7 – Chicago Bulls – Michael Porter Jr.
8 – Cleveland Cavaliers – Collin Sexton
9 – New York Knicks – Wendell Carter
10 – Philadelphia 76ers – Donte DiVincenzo
24 – Portland Trail Blazers – Chandler Hutchinson