It’s now that time again, people! With the season finished and the playoffs underway, we now have to scour on who would be this year’s top picks.
We have to wait until June 22 for the draft lottery to see the exact order of this year’s draft. However, a pre-draft lottery created by Hooprumors created the most likely order on this year’s draft.
The Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons, and Orlando Magic are the top three teams with a 14% chance of getting the top spot. Each team is eyeing specific needs to improve the roster on this ongoing rebuild.
We’re still months from now until we get to the NBA draft. With that much time, a lot of scouting can change a lot of players’ draft stock. It’s still a guessing game until now, and a lot of players might flourish, and a lot might fall. It’s part of the draft. Until then, I have highlighted the potential top players that might be the top picks heading into draft time.
1. Cade Cunningham
Without a doubt, it has been Cade Cunningham that could most likely be the number one pick. The consensus national freshman of the year has been the leader of this Oklahoma State team that has been under the radar this season. His production on the floor has brought them to an NCAA tournament spot this year. His pace and high maturity for his age had fans believe of Cunningham to succeed in the next level.
The 6-8 foot 228-pound guard posted 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.5 assists, going 43.8% from the field. Going out of high school, one of the knocks in his game that had some scouts doubt his potential to be the top pick was his 3 point shooting. A 40% field goal percentage from three on 5.7 attempts per game has diminished this concern in his time in college.
Player Comparison: His feel for the game, combined with his size, reminds me of a similar playstyle to Luka Doncic. He gets to his spots with patience. Cunningham size can be used to his advantage to bully smaller guards and can pass above the defense.
Team Needs: With Houston losing James Harden this season, Cade can be the center of their franchise in the future. He can create his shot, play-make for others, and take over the game when needed. These three things are necessary for a player to succeed
2. Evan Mobley
Evan Mobley could sneak up at this year’s number one pick in this draft, depending on team needs. It was evident how Evan’s impact on both ends has elevated USC to an Elite eight finish in this year’s tournament. He finished his one-year season in all-around numbers with 16 points per game, nine rebounds, two assists, and three blocks per game. Even though his offensive arsenal isn’t as polished as the scouts would have liked, he still posted a true shooting percentage of 62.4% for the whole season.
Evan is a center built for the modern NBA. He’s an agile big that can play off lobs, deliver the ball, and pass to open shooters. In this current NBA, Big man who can play-make others are in demand with the success of Nikola Jokic and Bam Adebayo for their respective teams. However, none of those players are as fluid and polished going into the league as Mobley is. His skinny frame will have to get stronger, but we cannot deny the upside he contains.
Player Comparison: When Mobley was in college, his coordination on the floor, in addition to his height, reminded me of Chris Bosh. Even though Mobley isn’t as offensively gifted as Bosh was going into the draft, his defensive skills are similar. Another comparison, some might say, is a smaller Ralph Sampson. Tall, skinny, athletic, and mobile enough to conquer the paint.
Team Needs: Depending on who gets the top spot, a team like Orlando would be a perfect spot for Mobley. Orlando has their backcourt set for the upcoming years with Markelle Fultz, Cole Anthony, and R.J Hampton. However, with the loss of their frontcourt in Vucevic and Gordon, Mobley can fill the much-needed void the team lost this season.
3. Jalen Suggs
Without a doubt, Jalen Suggs was the most surprising college prospect that flourished in his time in Gonzaga. A lot of scouts thought Suggs would take time to evolve into the player he is today. The one-and-done guard finished the year with a heartbreaking defeat to Baylor in the national championship but had one of the best game-winners you can ever see in NCAA Tournament history against UCLA in the final four.
Suggs finished the year with 14.4 points per game, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 1.9 steals per game. One word that I can describe Suggs’ game is floor-general. He was genuinely unselfish by the way he saw the floor and gave up to open shooters. It was one of the reasons how he was so successful blending in with that Gonzaga offense.
His strong build and 6-4 height played to his strengths in finding his points. He’s shown high upside with his awareness of the game on both ends; in addition to his quickness are skills players in the college game barely possess. His shooting still needs some work but has a lot of upsides to succeed in the NBA.
Player Comparison: As a combo guard, he might be a mix to Deron Williams and Brandon Roy. Both these players were aggressive on the ball, especially in the paint that Suggs was successful at this age. I could also see shades of Westbrook in his game with his playmaking and his athleticism to finish the bucket.
Team Needs: Suggs plays a complement to any team that picks him up. His time in Gonzaga with many high-caliber players has shown me his ability to fit within a system. Whether it may be Houston, Orlando, or Detroit. The team that picks him up would be happy
4. Jalen Green
Of course, who wouldn’t forget the number one ranked player coming out of high school. Foregoing the college route and suiting up with the NBA G-league Ignite team, Jalen Green shocked many people with his decision to take a different path. However, this path didn’t stop the attention he got from scouts from the G-league bubble.
Green averaged 17.9 points per game, 4.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game, shooting 46.1% from the field. 36.5% from three. With his solid 6-5 frame and gifted athleticism, Green has shown his ability to scorer in numerous ways. In addition to his lightning first step, Green can easily blow by defenders and finish with either hand driving to the paint. He also possesses the ability to score on and off the dribble from three and the PNR.
What I liked about Green’s improvement this season with the Ignite team was the willingness to be the playmaker. Although 2.8 assist still is somewhat low, he showed a lot of flashes creating for others.
Player Comparison: As I watched him in high school, I’ve seen many similarities between him and Kobe from their vast array of moves with their stepbacks and shots of the triple threat. However, a more realistic comparison I have seen is Zach Lavine. Both players have elite-level athleticism with the touch to score on three ways.
Team Needs: A lot of teams can benefit from Green’s talent right now. Detroit, Oklahoma at Orlando can beef up their backcourt with Green’s scoring ability. However, it is in the defensive end where teams can get some impact out of him. Although, It is interesting if he ends up in Orlando, where he can reunite with his long-time partner in R.J Hampton.