I’ll be using the post-regular season but pre-lottery draft order for these selections, and they’re essentially just my favorite player/team pairings with the player going to the best fit in their reasonable draft range.
3. Detroit Pistons – Jabari Smith Jr., 6-foot-10 forward, Auburn freshman
The rumblings have been out there since January that Smith Jr. is Detroit’s favorite prospect at the top of this draft, even if they win the lottery and end up with the top pick.
As Auburn’s top scoring option this season, he had a tough time finding open looks, and he still produced at a high clip, shooting 42.0% on 5.5 three-point attempts per game and 55.6% on spot-up, no-dribble jumpers.
Pairing Smith Jr. with an elite pick-and-roll playmaker like Cade Cunningham would do wonders for each guy’s spacing issues, as illustrated here:
The Case For Jabari Smith Jr in Detroit: https://t.co/qhFuyhIqyp
— Lazarus Jackson (@lazchance) April 9, 2022
8. New Orleans Pelicans – TyTy Washington, 6-foot-3 guard, Kentucky freshman
Anyone who follows my coverage of this draft class knows how strongly I feel about Washington. Here are my thoughts from him before he started his Kentucky career:
Washington plays a very heady game from the lead guard spot in a way that might remind head coach Willie Green of Chris Paul at times, not that Washington sees and processes the game as well as Paul, because he certainly does not. No one does. It’s just a similar type of play style, illustrated by his school-record 17 assist game:
14. Cleveland Cavaliers – Malaki Branham, 6-foot-5 wing, Ohio State freshman
Injuries took a toll in Cleveland this season, whether it was to bigs like Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley or key offensive cogs like Ricky Rubio (traded following his injury) and Collin Sexton. Even so, they were in a position to compete in the play-in tournament but didn’t have enough bucket getters when it mattered.
Branham would provide that bucket getting in the short term as a secondary / tertiary bench option with flashes of star upside. Similar growth trajectory to Jaden Ivey, in that if he returned for his sophomore season, he’s likely a top 8 pick in the 2023 draft, so Cleveland would be getting themselves into a low-risk, high-reward investment.
Ohio State freshman Malaki Branham vs Northwestern last month (a game he had 14 FTA)
24 points 4 rebounds 5 assists 3 steals 1 block on 5-8 shooting. Showed off his strong finishing and shooting off the dribble. He also ranks as one of the best spot up shooters in the country pic.twitter.com/ZTbJZRd2rK
— Mavs / Magic Draft (@MavsDraft) February 23, 2022
18. Chicago Bulls – Mark Williams, 7-foot center, Duke sophomore
Rim protection was one of the Bulls’ bigger Achilles’ heels in the 2021-22 season, largely due to defensive liability Nikola Vucevic “Vooch” playing 33-plus minutes per game.
I believe Williams and Vooch can share the floor at times since Vooch is more of a perimeter-oriented big offensively anyway, so Williams can be that traditional roll man while Vooch acts as a pseudo-stretch 4.
As one of the best rim protectors in the NCAA this season with a 7-foot-7 wingspan, Williams would give quite the boost to the Bulls on that end, and he’s capable of stepping out and guarding on the perimeter at times, so it wouldn’t limit the Bulls to, for example, only playing drop coverages.
Potential Lottery Pick, Mark Williams:
🏀71.9 FG% | 74.9 FT%
🏀’21-‘22 ACC DPOY
Williams has been an essential cog on Duke’s offense and defense, bolstering his standing among other lottery level talent.#NBADraft
— No Ceilings (@NoCeilingsNBA) March 30, 2022
24. Milwaukee Bucks – Patrick Baldwin Jr., 6-foot-9 wing, Milwaukee-Wisconsin freshman
If something like this pairing happens, it’s almost like accidental 4-D chess with PBJ tanking his draft stock to end up with an excellent team where his only job is to hit spot-up looks.
Baldwin Jr. has an unreal release and shooting touch for a player at his size and has shown enough flashes on drives to believe he’ll contribute at least a little bit on that front.
Patrick Baldwin Jr. is going to be a problem in the league! pic.twitter.com/NYwotq5QrX
— Courtside Films (@CourtsideFilms) April 21, 2022
29. Memphis Grizzlies – Christian Koloko, 7-foot-1 center, Arizona junior
Steven Adams is entering the final year of his deal with the Grizz, making nearly $18 million in 2022-23. This would provide a year of adjustment for Koloko to learn behind an established big in the league before taking over the full-time job later down the road.
As for the on-court fit, Koloko would provide Ja Morant an elite rim running threat and an elite defender without also being a foul magnet; just 4.4 fouls per 40 minutes (Jaren Jackson Jr. was at 5.9 coming out of college).
Sheesh look at the defense/multiple efforts from Koloko here. Clamps Taran Armstrong who tries to beat him off the dribble. Forces him to kickout then comes over for the block. What you think @BrianJDraft pic.twitter.com/m6hJR7GLN9
— The Amateur NBA Analyst (@droppingdimes20) December 19, 2021
Categories: NBA Draft