The most common draft article is the “Mock Draft” where analysts try to predict what will happen on June 21st. But when I do mock drafts, I always get caught up in trying to find the middle ground between what I think will happen, and what I would do if I was a GM in that situation. So, instead I decided to write my top 30 big board. The difference between a mock and a big board, is that a big board is just rankings. Forget the pieces a team already has and forget what their needs are. The big board is strictly about who I think is the best player available. So, here is my first round big board.
1. Deandre Ayton (Arizona)
Standing at 7’1” and 250 pounds of all muscle, Ayton is a flat out animal. He was a beast on the boards with 12 per game, including 3.5 on the offensive end. The Arizona Wildcat was extremely efficient, averaging 20 points per game on 61% shooting. He also showcased his shooting touch, as he shot 34% beyond the arc and 73% from the line. He will be a force at the next level, no matter what team it’s for.
2. Michael Porter Jr. (Missouri)
When I look at Porter Jr. I see a superstar. Standing at 6’10”, he is able to score it from all three levels, even off the dribble. He has great elevation on his jump shot, which allows him to rise up over defenders and get a good shot whenever he wants, similar to Kevin Durant. He was one of the best three point shooters in his high school class, and also showcased his ability to put the ball on the deck on multiple occasions. Had he not gotten injured, I think Porter had a good shot at going 1st overall, but not seeing him truly play in college was enough to give Ayton the edge.
3. Luka Doncic (Real Madrid)
Forget Darko Milicic, Jan Vesely, Dragen Bender, or any other International bust, because Doncic is not them. I caught an entire game of his recently, and I was beyond impressed. He stands at 6’8” and is absolutely lethal on the offensive end. He can create his own shot, and has somewhat mastered his signature move, the stepback three. Doncic is also crafty around the rim, which you would expect with his size and length. He has next level vision and is always looking to facilitate to the open teammate, he does a great job of anticipating where the help will come from, and then exploiting it. I have a good feeling he will be a star at the next level.
4. Trae Young (Oklahoma)
I’ve been absolutely enamored with Young’s game since I saw him on the AAU circuit during his junior of high school. He’s the best shooter I’ve ever seen at both the college and high school level. His release is super quick and he has mastered the difficult art of being able to knock down shots when the ball isn’t in his shooting pocket. He also has a very tight handle that he uses to navigate the defenses to create for both himself and his teammates, Young led the nation in assists and made the game a lot easier for his teammates.
5. Marvin Bagley III (Duke)
The first time I saw Bagley play in person was against a Mokan Elite team that featured Michael Porter Jr. and Trae Young in the Nike EYBL. Bagley was a rising junior at the time and was absolutely dominant in the game, my first thought was no way he needs two more years of high school, and clearly Bagley himself, felt the same way. After skipping his senior year of high school, Bagley had a huge freshman year at Duke. I think he is the the perfect 4 man in today’s NBA, he averaged 21 points per game on 61% from the field, including a very impressive 40% from three on nearly two attempts per game. He is a top tier athlete that is tenacious on the boards, reeling in four offensive rebounds per game. His one knock is that he isn’t a rim protector, but I think if you play him alongside a defensive minded center, it eliminates that issue.
6. Wendell Carter (Duke)
Carter is a true old school big man. He finishes over his shoulder with each hand consistently and has a smooth mid range jumper that can sometimes extend to the three. He is also tenacious on the glass at both ends.
7. Mikal Bridges (Villanova)
In a league where 3 and D wings are so valued, Bridges is one of the safest picks in the draft. He can guard every position which will allow him to switch easily, while also shooting 44% from three.
8. Miles Bridges (Michigan State)
I love Miles Bridges because he has an extremely high floor. You know you are getting a crazy athletic two way player with a much improved jump shot. He has one of the best motors I’ve seen from a college player and is going to leave it all out on the floor every night.
9. Collin Sexton (Alabama)
Nicknamed the YoungBull, Sexton is the ultimate competitor. He always has that look in his eyes like “I’m just going to straight up kill you for 40 minutes,” which I love. His three point shooting is a major question but other than that he checks all the boxes for an absolute winner.
10. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Kentucky)
I love Shai because he always sets his own tempo, he never allows his opponent to speed him up. He was very efficient at the end of the year, and 6’6” is able to finish around the rim and rise up to shoot over defenders. He’ll have to pack on some muscle, but I’d be very happy with Shai as my point guard of the future.
11. Kevin Knox (Kentucky)
Knox got thrusted into the number one option immediately for a Kentucky team that everyone knew would have trouble scoring. That is no easy task, but Knox took it head on and never looked back. He was their most consistent scorer all year and showed flashes of his potential at times (at West Virginia). He also does a great job of reading off ball screens that usually result in an automatic mid range for him.
12. Mo Bamba (Texas)
Bamba scares me because I’m not exactly sure what his floor is. He at best was an average three point shooter, has limited skill in the post and often gets pushed around by bigger opponents. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know he is tall and long, but what else does he have to his game? I know he can block shots, but unless you’re Rudy Gobert, defensive centers are usually role players not top 5 picks.
13. Jaren Jackson Jr. (Michigan State)
A lot of people ask me, “What’s the Jaren Jackson hype about?” And I have absolutely no answer for them. He played an average of 20 minutes per game which is mind boggling because you would think if you are truly a top five pick, your team would need you out there. Nearly half of his shot attempts were threes and he only made one per game. Only playing 20 minutes per game is a huge red flag to me because it makes no sense, not to mention you only have a small sample size to scout from.
14. Khyri Thomas (Creighton)
I absolutely love Khyri Thomas. Some people say he’s undersized but today’s NBA is so position less, especially at the guard spot. Not to mention he makes up for it by being the best on ball defender in the draft, the two time Big-East defensive player of the year is smart and relentless on the defensive end, and a reliable scorer and three point shooter on the offensive end (15 points per game and 41% from three).
15. Donte DiVincenzo (Villanova
What a lot of people don’t know is DiVincenzo was great for Villanova all year. Coach Jay Wright called him their “sixth starter” and he came off the bench with instant offense. He is a freak athlete that is built as a perfect NBA scoring guard. He can finish both above and at the rim, knock down the mid range, and the three ball both off the dribble and the catch. That explosion in the National Championship game is just a preview of what he can do when he isn’t taking a backseat to Brunson, Bridges and Spellman.
16. Kevin Huerter (Maryland)
Just like DiVincenzo, I think Kevin Huerter has a long future as a professional scorer in the NBA. Measuring at 6’7” he has elite size for a guard that is also sneakily athletic. Huerter has limitless range on his three ball with beautiful looking release, but don’t close out out of control or he’ll blow right past you en route to putting your big man on a poster.
17. Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State)
Some may say he is a tweener as a 6’7” power forward, but I say he’s the ultimate mismatch. He can space the floor with this three ball, break you down in the post, and kill you everywhere in between. Bates-Diop also rebounds the ball well enough to be a four in today’s league, as he averaged 9 per game. He won Big Ten player of the year for a reason, and it’s because he can straight up ball.
18. Aaron Holiday (UCLA)
He is the younger brother of Jrue Holiday, and it’s extremely evident when he’s playing because their games are so similar. Aaron Holiday is also placed in the “Undersized guard” category by “experts” but I’m going to place him in the “Certified Bucket-getter” category because that’s what he truly is. He can score from anywhere on the court and is always a threat with the ball in his hands.
19. Chandler Hutchinson (Boise State)
Since he played at Boise State, Hutchinson is pretty under the radar to the average basketball fan. I got the chance to catch him in action twice this year and he was beyond impressive. He does a great job moving without the call and is extremely active on both ends of the floor. He is very athletic and versatile and fits the bill for a swingman in today’s NBA.
20. Grayson Allen (Duke)
Calling Grayson Allen’s college career a roller coaster would be a huge understatement. He has been through it all and that’s why I love Grayson Allen. Because of his college experience he has learned how to deal with adversity, both on and off the court, which is crucial to your success as a pro. Not to mention he is a freak athlete and a knock down three point shooter, both off the catch and the dribble. He is going to go balls out for your team every single night and that’s the kind of guy I want in my locker room.
21. Gary Trent Jr. (Duke)
22. Jalen Brunson (Villanova)
23. Zhaire Smith (Texas Tech)
24. Mo Wagner (Michigan)
25. Jevon Carter (West Virginia)
26. Allonzo Trier (Arizona)
27. Bruce Brown (Miami)
28. Lonnie Walker (Miami)
29. Troy Brown (Oregon)
30. Jerome Robinson (Boston College)
In case you were wondering, I did not forget about Robert Williams, Mitchell Robinson or Anfernee Simons. I know it’s likely that they will hear their names called during the first round of this year’s draft, but that does not mean I would draft any of them in the top 30. The big board is about who I think will fare the best in the NBA, and I feel more confident about the 30 players I listed above than those three. Anyways, follow @JakeInThePaint on twitter to keep with all the basketball news as the NBA Playoffs come to a close and the NBA Draft approaches us.