Here are six teams and picks that stand out.
Traded the draft rights to guard Trae Young and a protected 2019 first-round pick for the draft rights to guard Luka Doncic.
As we outlined earlier in the year, Doncic is a perfect fit for Rick Carlisle’s flow offense, a system that emphasizes multiple ball handlers. Dennis Smith Jr.’s ability to break down defenses should help counterbalance Doncic’s lack of clear blow-by ability with the ball. Doncic brings a combination of youth and productivity, and his winning tenure at Real Madrid has shown he’s a perfect fit for the pass-dribble-shoot basketball in the modern NBA.
Having veterans such as Dirk Nowitzki, J.J. Barea and Wesley Matthews should go a long way to usher in Doncic as the next international star in Dallas.
Selected forward Michael Porter Jr. at No. 14.
Jonathan Givony: The No. 14 pick in the draft is one of the more underwhelming places to select a player, historically. Only a handful of prospects selected here have ended up averaging double-figure scoring for their careers, including the likes of TJ Warren, Marcus Morris and Troy Murphy over the past 30-plus years.
With that in mind, rolling the dice on the star power of Michael Porter Jr. — formerly projected as the No. 1 pick in the draft last summer — makes sense here. The Nuggets have a deep roster, affording them the possibility of bringing Porter along slowly and doing whatever it takes to get his body right so he can have a long and sustainable NBA career. They should be in no rush to get him on the floor.
If Porter pans out, the Nuggets will have a star on their hands. If not, this is well worth the risk at the end of the lottery. Just look at some of the recent No. 14 picks: Denzel Valentine, Cameron Payne, Shabazz Muhammad, Earl Clark, Anthony Randolph and Al Thornton.
San Antonio Spurs
Selected guard Lonnie Walker IV with the No. 18 pick.
Givony: The Spurs have traditionally been one of the best-drafting teams in the NBA, and their selection Thursday night could be a major step in their retooling process. With Kawhi Leonard wanting out and much of their wing depth tied up in expiring contracts, the Spurs have a major need at Walker’s position. They likely will have minutes for him soon, depending on how things shake out this offseason.
Walker has significant upside stemming from his freakish athleticism, long wingspan, perimeter shooting prowess and defensive potential, which is why he was projected as a lottery pick for much of the season. He should be able to work on the deficiencies (inconsistent defense and rebounding, shaky on-court decision-making) that caused him to slip somewhat on draft night, joining one of the NBA’s best player development staffs.
Selected guard Aaron Holiday with the No. 23 pick.
Schmitz: The Pacers hit a home run with Holiday here. They’re in dire need of a point guard, and Holiday is a tough-minded competitor who will fit exceptionally well next to Victor Oladipo.
He’s a pitbull defender who plays bigger than his height (6-foot-1) with a 6-7 wingspan, a strong frame and plus athleticism. He still needs to fine-tune his decision-making and ability to play in traffic, but he’s an excellent shooter off the bounce and catch. Plus, he does a great job getting downhill in space. It’s not out of the question that Holiday ends up being among the top two or three point guards from this draft when it’s all said and done.
Traded the draft rights to Mikal Bridges for Zhaire Smith and Miami’s 2021 first-round pick.
Givony: The Sixers made what appeared to be the most predictable pick in the draft when they selected Bridges at No. 10. Surprisingly, they ended up trading Bridges to Phoenix upon being offered the rights to Smith (selected at No. 16) and the Miami Heat’s 2021 first-rounder. This was seemingly a steep price for a Suns front office in win-now mode, but this group is unlikely to still be around in 2021 should they not start competing soon.
The Sixers not only add a superb asset to their treasure trove of picks, but they also get one of the most intriguing young prospects in the draft in the freakishly athletic Smith. He is likely to develop into one of the best defenders in this class, and he has shown enough improvement with his 3-point shooting to give him 3-and-D potential next to Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in time.
Selected center Robert Williams with the No. 27 pick.
Schmitz: Along with Walker, Williams has the potential to be the steal of the draft at No. 27 — the same draft slot of a similar lob-catching, shot-blocking center in Clint Capela. While there are clear questions about Williams’ motor, the rangy big man is without a doubt a top-10 caliber talent when fully engaged.
He’s much more suited for the open NBA game than the role he played as a power forward with clogged paint at Texas A&M. Boston is the exact environment that Williams needs to rev up his focus and commitment to his craft. The Celtics also could really use a big in Williams’ mold, as he’ll be a tremendous lob threat for Kyrie Irving and the rest of Boston’s offensive weapons.