By Elijah Silas-Tafelsky
6. Orlando Magic: Jonathan Isaac: Forward, Florida State (1 year)
Isaac is a guy I like to call a non-position player. He doesn’t have a set spot on any team but that is what makes Isaac extremely valuable. Standing at 6ft 11 with 7ft 1 ½ wingspan Isaac can defend multiple positions while staying active against on the offensive end. Isaac shot 34.8% from three-point range while averaging 12.0 points to go along with 7.8 rebounds per game. The one thing that stands out about Isaac is his ability to do everything well on the court. Watching him on tape he shows an uncanny ability to dribble, shot, rebound and defend. Now, this is not to say he does not have his flaws. Isaac is only 210 pounds which is a concern because he will likely be defending against guys just as tall as him but also much stronger at the forward spot. While Isaac can score on the offensive end he is far from being considered polished scorer. In college, he used his talent and overall raw skill to score but he will likely need to become more adaptable on offense if he is to take his offensive game to new level. The Magic recently hired former Bucks GM John Hammond to the same position and Hammond is responsible for drafting Giannis Antetoukounmpo a few years ago. I’m not saying Isaac is Giannis but Hammond loves multidimensional players and Isaac who is only 19 years old would certainly give the Magic an interesting player to build around.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jayson Tatum: SF/PF, Duke (1 year)
In today’s NBA, we have seen big men begin to get smaller it seems. Gone are the days of two back to the basket big men. For Minnesota, they have Karl Anthony-Towns at the center position so adding a player like Jayson Tatum who is 6ft 8 with a 6ft 11 wingspan is a great selection. He can play both Small Forward and Power Forward and has a strong base weighing at 225 pounds. Tatum reminds me of Carmelo Anthony without a three-point shot. I know it seems like a lot to tab a player to such high standards but Tatum is tremendous isolation player who can back down players in the post while also being great from the mid-range shooting 50.4% from inside the arc. Tatum would slot in nicely next to Anthony-Towns while providing another scoring option behind Andrew Wiggins. Tatum will need to be less selfish (he only averaged 2.1 assists at Duke) in the NBA and be more active off the ball to become a complete player offensively. The Timberwolves are one of the more intriguing young teams in the NBA so adding Tatum may be the last piece they need to compete for a playoffs spot soon.
8. New York Knicks: Frank Ntilkinia: PG, France
Probably the biggest unknown in the draft is French Point guard Frank Ntilkina (Nee-lee-KEE-na). Ntilkina is 6ft 5 with a wingspan of 6ft 11. Extremely quick and fluid on the court with the ball in his hands but does not have elite speed. With his height, he can see over smaller defenders to make the right pass. A lot of scouts had concerns over his shot but during the U-18 European championships, this past December Ntilikina finished the tournament averaging 22.7 points, 6.7 assists, 3.2 steals, 1.7 blocks and 5.0 turnovers per 40 minutes on 42.4% from two-point range and 58.6% from three-point range while leading France to the title. On his pro team with Strasbourg he only averaged 15 minutes per game but that was more due to his age. His length will allow him to defend multiple positions but Ntilikina will need to bulk up as he is listed at 170 pounds which could cause some problems in the NBA. The Knicks are looking for anything at this point to get their fans excited about and just like when they selected Kristaps Porzingis a couple seasons ago they might not like him at first, but could be getting an absolute steal in Ntilikina.
9. Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Smith Jr. PG, North Carolina State (2 years)
An explosive athlete who is a nightmare to contain when he has the ball in his hands. Smith Jr is going to make a living in the NBA off attacking the basket. It’s his bread and butter and during his one season at NC state, he attacked constantly. Smith Jr. isn’t a terrible shooter but he only shot 35.9% from three-point range while also only shooting 71.5 percent from the free throw line. But what he lacks in shooting he makes up with his athleticism. He contributed 6.2 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game at NC state. If Smith Jr. can improve in the shooting department, he can become a more complete point guard. The Mavericks have Seth Curry and Yogi Ferrell at point guard but Curry is likely a two guard while Ferrell is better suited to be a backup point guard. Smith Jr. will have lots of teams talking about drafting him come draft night because of his quickness and athleticism.
10. Sacramento Kings: Lauri Markkanen: PF/C, Arizona (1 year)
By far one of the most skilled shooters in the class. Standing at 7-feet tall Markkanen best skill is his jump shot 42.3% from deep in his one season at Arizona. Yes, there will be comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki but let’s not get ourselves carried away. Markkanen will need to become more of presence down low especially defensively or we are looking a one trick pony in the NBA. The tools are there for him to thrive and when it comes to catching and shooting because nobody has prettier shot than Markkanen in this draft. I like Markkanen here for the Kings for his ability to spread the floor and consistently knock down shots and open the floor. If De’Aaron Fox is drafted at the fifth spot, then Kings fans can expect a lethal pick n’ pop combination between these two for years to come.