The NBA Draft is still months away, but teams who are in the mix to receive the #1 overall pick are already looking ahead to who they will take if they get the opportunity to. Teams such as the Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies, Orlando Magic, and Boston Celtics (via the Los Angeles Lakers pick) are currently the front-runners for that pick, and will be looking to use it on talented prospects such as Marvin Bagley, Luka Doncic, Michael Porter Jr., Trae Young, and DeAndre Ayton. I took a look at which player each of these teams should be at the top of their draft board, and who to go after if their guy isn’t there when they get up.
Team 1) Atlanta Hawks
Preferred Pick: Michael Porter Jr.
The Atlanta Hawks are a team with many, many holes on their roster. Besides point guard Dennis Schroeder, no other player on the Hawks roster has proven themselves in the NBA. Second-year man Taurean Prince has come on strong as of late as a consistent and efficient scorer, but he still has room to improve. Rookie John Collins also has large upside as a double-double big man, but he is a work in progress as well. You win basketball games by scoring more points, and Atlanta currently has no one averaging more than 20 points per game. That means that if they get the first pick in the NBA Draft, they should take a chance on Michael Porter Jr. Porter Jr. got hurt early on in his first season at Missouri, but he was the number one overall recruit in his class and may still be the most talented scorer in the draft. The Hawks should take a chance on him and his scoring ability, and take him first and hope is their star of the future.
Secondary Pick: Marvin Bagley
I went with Bagley over Doncic, Young, and Ayton because I believe that Bagley may be the only sure star NBA talent of the group. Bagley’s athleticism already compares to the best in the league and will be to be a double-double machine from day 1. With how bad the Hawks currently are, they need to add some consistency to their lineup, and if they can’t go big and get Porter Jr., that means taking Marvin Bagley.
Team #2) Memphis Grizzlies
Primary Pick: DeAndre Ayton
Memphis is another team that is not in a great situation no matter who they pick. They have been without their star in Mike Conley Jr. for the majority of the season, and there have been problems with longtime big man Marc Gasol that even led to their head coach being fired early in the year. Besides Tyreke Evans turning into a dangerous offensive threat, the Grizzlies have not had much to look forward to this year. If they get the first pick, I believe taking Arizona center DeAndre Ayton is their best bet. Not only is Ayton a dominating force on each end of the court (20 points, 10 rebounds, 1.6 blocks per game), but it will allow Memphis to shop Gasol to a contender for more pieces of their rebuild. There is no doubt in my mind that taking Ayton is the best decision for the Grizzlies.
Secondary Pick: Marvin Bagley
For the Grizzlies second choice, we go back to Bagley. Again, Bagley is a double-double threat and would be able to complement Gasol if he is not traded. While I have Ayton over Bagley because I believe scoring is needed less in Memphis and Ayton’s defensive presence will be a good start for the Grizzlies, Bagley is definitely not a bad pick either.
Team #3) Orlando Magic
Primary Pick: Luka Doncic
While the Magic started the year off hot, they didn’t just cool down, they completely froze over and now hold one of the worst records in the NBA. Orlando has some nice pieces on their roster, but they have not been able to put it all together yet. Aaron Gordon is starting to blossom into a star, and along with Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic, and Jonathon Simmons, and Elfrid Payton, they have some talent. However, they lack a great playmaker and someone who can create their own shot. That’s why getting Luka Doncic should be the top priority for the Magic. Doncic has been playing professionally since he was 16, and is currently tearing it up in the second best league in the world, and has shown he can do it all. It is risky to take a player who does not have as much exposure in the states, but he has shown he has all the tools to be a superstar. Doncic will be able to create opportunities for the Orlando scorers, and he will also be their go-to guy to get a basket on his own.
Secondary Pick: Trae Young
Trae Young has been the most electrifying player in college basketball so far and has already been compared to Steph Curry. He is leading the country in both points and assists per game, showing he is a scorer that is not afraid of distributing the ball, a great attribute to have in the NBA. Young fills that same void Doncic does, but I also believe there is more of a risk. Success in college does not always translate to the NBA, so Young would have to live up to his hype. While he isn’t Steph Curry, he would be a solid second option for the Magic.
Team #4) Boston Celtics (via Lakers)
Primary Pick: Marvin Bagley
First thing’s first: the Celtics don’t need any of these prospects. Somehow, a top-5 team in the NBA is going to luck themselves into a great pick and add more talent to an already great team. The only starting position they would need bolster is power forward, and Bagley would slide into the starting lineup with Kyrie Irving-Gordon Hayward-Jaylen Brown/Jayson Tatum-Al Horford perfectly. While he would be underutilized, Bagley would still help the Celtics on the boards and they could continue to stockpile young talent.
Secondary Pick: Michael Porter Jr…. 0r trade it
If Bagley is gone, I think Boston has one of two options. Option one is to get Michael Porter Jr., who could be a project for the Celtics. Boston has the ability to take on Porter Jr. as he makes his way back from injury since they are already three deep at the forward position. If they decide to not chance it, then they should trade back in the lottery to pick up a valuable role player and draft a shooter like Villanova’s Mikal Bridges or Oregon’s Troy Brown. Either way, the Celtics have a lot of different options depending on where their pick is at.