by John Fanta
NEW YORK — Look at the blossoming franchises in the NBA. Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier are rising right before our eyes. The Process in Philadelphia has potential that soars through the roof. That can only bode well for the hype surrounding this year’s NBA Draft, which features a deep crop of talent that provides intrigue with the combine going on this week. Here are five thoughts on my mind, not counting the fact that I think the Suns should take DeAndre Ayton at #1. Yes, I believe he’s a generational talent who has unbelievable intangibles. He’s also the best fit for a Suns team with a clear need for a franchise big.
- Where does Trae Young go? The consensus at the moment is that the Orlando Magic will take him sixth. There’s not a great need for a guard in the top five of the draft, which is why it seems like #6 is a natural landing spot for the Oklahoma star. If he were still on the board at #8, the thought is that the Cavs would take Young. Cleveland’s in great need of a backcourt boost. Sure, they could trade the pick to try to pile up more assets, but it looks like Young could go as early as #6. Don’t expect him to go much lower than that.
- Of these three, who impresses the most at the combine this week – Michael Porter Jr., Miles Bridges, or Mikal Bridges? Each have different cases coming out of college, with Porter battling injuries at Missouri and having no sample size. Meanwhile, Miles Bridges’ Michigan State journey ended much shorter than expected with an early NCAA Tournament loss to Syracuse. The closest thing to a guaranteed asset to a team seems to be Mikal Bridges. The wingspan and defensive capabilities are through the roof, and his offensive evolution gives him the lottery edge on others. Many have Mikal Bridges heading to the Sixers as the 10th pick, but there’s a chance he could even go ahead of that. It would be the perfect match for Philly, but look for Mikal to impress this week.
- Where do the other three Villanova stars land? Point guard Jalen Brunson has signed with an agent, while Donte DiVincenzo and Omari Spellman are testing the waters. All three will get selected if DiVincenzo and Spellman do in fact stay, but there are mixed thoughts on Spellman. The big man could return to Villanova and would definitely build his stock into potential lottery territory. The thought with the “Big Ragu,” DiVincenzo, is that the hype surrounding the versatile wing is something he should capitalize on now. Things can change, but that’s what this week is all about.
- Who could be a star in this draft that is selected outside of the lottery? UCLA’s Aaron Holliday. At 6-foot-1, not only is he a primary ball handler, but Holliday’s 6-10 wingspan has scouts excited for the way the Bruins star can guard the ball. I think he’s the type of talent that can find a way to make an immediate impact on any roster. Buy stock.
- Mo. Wagner. He captivated the college basketball world on Michigan’s run to the national title game. A fringe first-round candidate, if Wagner falls into the second round, it can’t be too deep into it. I don’t just thing “Mo” is a great college player. I think there’s a reserve role for him in the NBA. You can’t teach the presence he had inside for the Wolverines throughout the Big Dance. He’s another prospect to keep an eye on.
Follow John Fanta from the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago on Twitter at @John_Fanta.