Michael Porter Jr. is the mystery in this draft. A year ago he was considered a likely top two pick for this draft class — a 6’10” athlete who can score around the basket and knock down threes — but then he missed most of the season at Missouri due to a back injury that forced a microdiscectomy surgery. The questions about his health remain, as do questions about how much he loves the game and how much work he would put in to reach his full potential.
Yet every year at the draft teams (and fans) fall in love with the potential of the unknown. We have a better sense of who DeAndre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III and Jaren Jackson Jr. are and could be (even though any draft is always a risk), but Porter Jr. is the unknown. His cancellation of a workout for teams Friday in Chicago adds to that mystery. He’s high risk but high reward.
The Kings may be willing to take that gamble at No. 2, reports Sam Amick of the USA Today.
Amick is a former Kings beat writer who lives in the area still and is well connected in Sacramento. With a week to go before the NBA Draft, take every report and rumor you hear with a grain of salt. In some cases, the whole box of Morton’s Kosher salt. But this one deserves to be given some weight, and the Kings are nothing if not unpredictable.
We know the Suns are expected to take DeAndre Ayton No. 1. After that, it’s the Sacramento Kings and it’s wide open. Luka Doncic is probably the safest pick here — he’s a ball-handling forward who understands how to run a pick-and-roll and is a gifted passer who has already been putting up numbers against men in Europe’s top league — but the ceiling for Bagley is considered by many scouts to be higher. Same with Porter, although he comes with higher risks.
The Kings have drafted a lot of bigs in recent years — Skal Labissiere, Harry Giles, Willie Cauley-Stein — but they are at a point in the latest rebuild that they just need to get more talent. Take the best player available regardless of position, develop that talent, and figure out how to fit all the pieces together later. Watch the NBA’s elite (like that team just a 90-minute drive from Sacramento down the 80) and you see talent wins out in this league. The Kings need a lot more of it. And they need to hit on this pick because they don’t have their first rounder next year.
Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
The NBA Draft saw the trade of the No. 4 pick — twice — plus the No. 6 and 11 picks before the New Orleans Pelicans were even on the clock for the No. 1 pick. Listening to the buzz around the league, expect a lot more first-round trades, especially when we get into the 20s. It’s going to be a crazy night.
We will be on top of it all night long.
Here is a breakdown of every pick, every trade — complete with analysis of how that player fits (or doesn’t) with his new surroundings.
No. 1. New Orleans Pelicans:
The top of the draft has become clear:
1. Pelicans: Zion Williamson
2. Grizzlies: Ja Morant
3. Knicks: R.J. Barrett
4. Hawks: De'Andre Hunter
What will the Cavaliers do at No. 5?
Marc Stein of The New York Times:
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Brian Windhorst of ESPN:
Those follow-up reports emerged quickly and from multiple reporters. The Cavaliers apparently want to make it very clear they’re open to trading the pick.
For good reason.
My highest-rated prospects available are both point guards: Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland and North Carolina’s Coby White. Cleveland already has Collin Sexton, last year’s lottery pick, at point guard.
I generally favor drafting the best prospect available then figuring it out. Sexton isn’t good enough to justify deviating from that.
But this situation demands the Cavs explore trading the pick – or Sexton. Cleveland shouldn’t just blindly walk into a conundrum.
Still, it seems if the Cavaliers don’t find a trade, they’ll make the smart move and draft Garland.
New Minnesota president Gersson Rosas has a reputation around the league: He’s aggressive. He learned in Houston to go hard after what he wants.
Rosas wanted to move up in this draft, and he found a partner, the Phoenix Suns. The Timberwolves will draft sixth after a trade with the Suns for the 11th pick and Dario Saric. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the news.
This trade can work out for Minnesota, depending upon who they draft and develop.
Who will the Timberwolves pick at six? Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, and R.J. Barrett will be off the board for sure. The Hawks, who just traded for the No. 4 pick, are expected to take De'Andre Hunter out of Virginia. Cleveland at No. 5 now is the breaking point of the draft but reports are they like Darius Garland out of Vanderbilt, unless they trade down from this spot. That makes Jarrett Culver the likely Timberwolves pick at six. Coby White, the North Carolina point guard, is another option.
For Phoenix, Saric can be a good fit at the four if they acquire a good ball-sharing point guard this summer.
Saric gives the Suns a sharpshooter to help space the floor. The Suns starting lineup now has Devin Booker, Kelly Oubre Jr., Saric, Deandre Ayton, and they are expected to chase a veteran point guard in free agency. That has some potential.
As soon as they got control of the No. 4 pick from the Lakers in the Anthony Davis trade, the Pelicans have been looking into flipping it.
New Orleans found a taker in the Hawks, who want Virginia forward De'Andre Hunter.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
This is excellent value for the Pelicans.
I’m not enthused about the No. 4 pick in this draft – especially for New Orleans. My top prospect available, Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland, would be somewhat redundant with Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball. Reaching for another position would be even worse.
Instead of facing that dilemma, the Pelicans get a nice set of assets and additional flexibility.
The No. 8 pick could yield a player similar to whomever New Orleans would have taken No. 4. The No. 17 pick could could come just before this draft thins too much. That Cavaliers pick is top-10 protected next year then converts into two second-rounders.
By clearing Solomon Hill‘s burdensome $12,758,781 salary, the Pelicans project to open $29 million in cap space. There are plenty of exciting possibilities for spending that.
New Orleans – which landed the No. 1 pick in the lottery and got a haul for Davis – is having such a good offseason. The future looks bright with Zion Williamson and a restocked cupboard.
The Hawks clearly believe in Hunter. I’m not as high on him, but I like his fit in Atlanta between Trae Young and John Collins. Hunter will complement scoring guard Kevin Huerter as a defensive-minded combo forward. This strikes me as an overpay, but at least the young Hawks should mesh well.
This puts pressure on Cleveland, which picks No. 5. My next two prospects available before a tier drop: Garland and North Carolina point guard Coby White. The Cavs drafted point guard Collin Sexton in last year’s lottery. Will they take another point guard, look to another position or also trade out of their pick?