1 NBA Draft Prospect Every Team Must Avoid

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 14, 2019

1 NBA Draft Prospect Every Team Must Avoid

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    The 2019 NBA draft feels right up Kevin Garnett's alley. Anything is possible.

    OK, maybe not anything. Zion Williamson obviously isn't getting past the New Orleans Pelicans at No. 1.

    But after that, are there any certainties? There might be a few hunches here and there, but overall, this version of the talent grab seems wide open.

    Well, we're here to take a few possibilities off the table by identifying the one draft prospect each club should avoid. From differing timelines and roster redundancies to limited upside or a lack of certainty, every organization has a reason to stay away from one member of this batch of budding ballers.

New Orleans Pelicans (Picks 1, 39, 57): Ja Morant, PG, Murray State

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    Jessica Hill/Associated Press

    The New Orleans Pelicans have no need to discuss No. 1. Zion Williamson is such a no-brainer that he might already have his own locker inside the Smoothie King Center.

    Where the Pelicans' draft night could get interesting, though, is if they add another early selection with an Anthony Davis deal. If the New York Knicks win the AD sweepstakes, New Orleans might get its hands on the No. 3 pick. With Ja Morant perhaps not as locked in at No. 2 as initially thought, the electric point guard could still be on the board when the Pelicans theoretically make their second selection.

    Should that happen, New Orleans would be wise to look a different direction. Trading down would be ideal⁠—perhaps with the point guard-needy Phoenix Suns or Chicago Bulls⁠—as Morant looks like a top-three prospect in this class, just not for the Pelicans.

    Like his common comparison, Russell Westbrook, Morant works best with the ball in his hands and could struggle to have value off it without shoring up his outside shot. The Pelicans should already have two shot-creators in Williamson and Jrue Holiday, so they'd be better off finding a prospect who offers more versatility and better spacing.

Memphis Grizzlies (2): RJ Barrett, SG/SF, Duke

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    This is not an anti-RJ Barrett take. He'll be a tremendous addition for someone in the Association as a polished scorer with intriguing size, strength and athleticism.

    But the Memphis Grizzlies don't need to overthink this.

    They need a long-term replacement for Mike Conley, and Morant is easily the best prospect at the lead guard position. While he can overwhelm opponents athletically, his skill level sets him apart. He didn't average 24.5 points, 10.0 assists and 5.7 rebounds by accident. College basketball hadn't even seen a 20/10/5 stat line in at least 26 years.

    Moreover, Morant looks like a tremendous fit alongside Jaren Jackson Jr. Between his relentless attacking and Jackson's outside shooting, both can take defensive heat off the other. They should become one of the league's better point guard-big man combos in no time and might eventually serve as contending-caliber centerpieces.

New York Knicks (3, 55): Brandon Clarke, PF/C, Gonzaga

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    This should be a straightforward selection for the New York Knicks. They have the third overall pick in a draft featuring three prospects who have separated themselves from the pack. Sounds like a simple decision, right?

    But remember: These are the Knicks. "Simple" might not be in their vocabulary.

    Rather than standing pat and grabbing whichever of Barrett or Morant gets past Memphis, New York "has explored the possibility of trading back in the lottery," sources told ESPN's Jonathan Givony. It's not necessarily even about adding extra volume; it might just be an effort to find more complementary pieces for potential big-ticket free agents.

    Passing up a possible star like Barrett for a player with less potential is never a good idea. Doing so to support players who aren't even on the roster yet⁠—and aren't ever guaranteed to be⁠—might meet the legal definition of gross negligence.

    Should New York still decide to trade down, it should avoid Brandon Clarke. The bouncy big man lives above the rim at both ends, but he can't stretch out a defense. The Knicks already have their rim-runner in Mitchell Robinson.

Los Angeles Lakers (4): De'Andre Hunter, SF/PF, Virginia

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    The Los Angeles Lakers received a gift from the basketball gods. Despite entering the draft lottery with the night's 11th-best odds, they left it with the fourth overall selection in hand.

    There must be a more creative way of maximizing the pick's impact than spending it on De'Andre Hunter. There's nothing wrong with him as a prospect. He should be a multipositional defender and solid three-point shooter from opening night.

    The question marks come from his ability to grow beyond the three-and-D role.

    "It wouldn't be surprising if he didn't finish as a top-four prospect from the class since there are questions about his upside," Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman wrote. "He will turn 22 in December and isn't an explosive athlete or advanced shot-creator—and even his three-point shooting success came on just 105 attempts."

    The Lakers aren't in position to value safety over ceiling. Yes, 34-year-old LeBron James could use immediate assistance, but the rest of this roster isn't ready to rise. With their free-agency prospects looking grim, their only shot at a win-now addition might come via trade, which would probably cost them this selection.

    If they're still holding it on draft night, potential should outweigh early production.

Cleveland Cavaliers (5, 26): Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    The Cleveland Cavaliers spent last summer's eighth overall selection on Collin Sexton. Surely they wouldn't throw another top-10 pick at the point guard position, right?

    Not so fast, says Cavs general manager Koby Altman.

    "Are we looking for a specific position? No," Altman said in April, per WKYC's Ben Axelrod. "We're looking for the best talent that we see in this draft."

    On a macro level, there's nothing wrong with this approach. Given how few long-term keepers the post-LeBron James Cavs have, they should be chasing talent wherever they can get it.

    That said, roster needs are a way of separating similarly ranked prospects.

    At the time Altman gave the quote, the Cavs were potentially in the running for Morant. Now, they're looking at the likes of Darius Garland and Coby White. They should probably avoid the 1 spot altogether, though White would be the better option to play with Sexton if they opted to double-up since he's less ball-dominant and a better athlete and shooter than Garland.

Phoenix Suns (6, 32): Cam Reddish, SF, Duke

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    Sean Rayford/Associated Press

    Cam Reddish's draft stock took a big hit during his one-and-done season at Duke. Even if he's afforded the benefit of the doubt because of his imperfect setup as a support piece to Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett, it's hard to overlook 35.6 percent field-goal shooting and more turnovers per game (2.7) than assists (1.9).

    Reddish's pedigree and potential should still catch the eye of certain clubs drafting in the top 10, but the Phoenix Suns aren't one of them.

    Ideally, they're walking out of this draft with a new floor general, be that a prospect or a veteran acquired via trade. Even if they don't, the last thing they need is another developmental wing.

    Their 3 and 4 spots are already crowded with Mikal Bridges, T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson, and that's before dealing with the restricted free agency of Kelly Oubre Jr. Should they still opt to go the wing route, they should take a more polished, better-defending prospect such as De'Andre Hunter or Jarrett Culver.

Chicago Bulls (7, 38): Goga Bitadze, C, Georgia

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    Levan Verdzeuli/Getty Images

    The sales pitch for Goga Bitadze starts with the fact he took home this season's EuroLeague Rising Star trophy. If that award sounds familiar, that's probably because Luka Doncic captured it in 2018 (and 2017, because Dallas' freshman phenom is that type of special).

    Like Doncic, Bitadze's biggest strength might be his NBA-readiness. His body is ready to bang with the Association's big men right now, and he could already school some of them in the low post. His shooting range is expanding, he controls the paint on defense and he has decent mobility for his size.

    So, what's the catch? Well, the Chicago Bulls are reportedly "open to trading anyone and anything not named Lauri Markkanen or Wendell Carter Jr.," sources told The Athletic's Darnell Mayberry.

    Markkanen is a 7-foot scorer with a deep bag of offensive tricks. Carter is an interior anchor with growing perimeter skills. The Bulls not only have players right now who offer the best of what Bitadze could bring, but they're also planning on having said hoopers for a long time.

Atlanta Hawks (8, 10, 17*, 35, 41, 44): Rui Hachimura, PF, Gonzaga

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    The Atlanta Hawks are (justifiably) feeling themselves at the moment.

    They saw Trae Young take a potential superstar turn in the second half (24.7 points and 9.2 assists per game after the All-Star break). They watched John Collins continually rattle off 20-point, 10-board double-doubles while growing more comfortable with his outside shot. They witnessed Kevin Huerter surface as a possible long-lost Splash Brother (136 triples at a 38.5 percent clip).

    The Hawks feel they're close to taking flight. That optimism has them "planning to pursue meetings with the best-of-the-best in free agency," per The Athletic's Sam Amick. It also has them considering consolidating their picks to move up and add an impact prospect, per Sports Illustrated's Jeremy Woo.

    Should they stand pat, it's reasonable to think Rui Hachimura might come across their radar given his physical tools, offensive efficiency and potential to contribute sooner than later. But he's an unproven perimeter shooter (24 triples in 102 collegiate contests) and not a shot-blocker (50 rejections). Those are the exact areas in which the ideal frontcourt partner for Collins would excel.

    *Reportedly acquired from the Brooklyn Nets in a deal that can't be finalized until July 6, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Washington Wizards (9): Bol Bol, C, Oregon

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    Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

    The idea of Bol Bol is admittedly fascinating.

    That picture doesn't lie. The son of the late Manute Bol can stretch like Mister Fantastic with impossibly massive dimensions (7'2½" in shoes, 7'7" wingspan). At his size, Bol also offers impressive handles and an outside shot that found its mark 52.0 percent of the time at Oregon (granted, only on 25 attempts).

    Considering the clogged lanes with which Bradley Beal and John Wall have contended in recent seasons, Bol's potential as a stretch big could drive the Washington Wizards wild.

    But his risks could prove equally terrifying for the District.

    He lasted just nine games with the Ducks before a stress fracture in his foot shut him down. History hasn't been kind to 7-footers with foot problems, and the Wizards have had enough injury issues with lower extremities (Beal's early leg trouble, Wall's recent ruptured Achilles) to take a pass on the otherwise intriguing big man.

Minnesota Timberwolves (11, 43): Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    If the Minnesota Timberwolves wanted to roll the dice on Kevin Porter Jr., it'd be tough to blame them. They need a second scorer to ease some of the pressure on Karl-Anthony Towns, and Porter has displayed advanced shot-creation and shot-converting skills.

    But his red flags might be more than Minnesota can handle.

    His scoring arsenal surfaced sporadically at USC, as he managed 15-plus points in only three of his 21 games. He struggles to resist the siren's song of hero ball, and despite having the tools to attack the rim, he didn't do so enough (2.2 free throws per contest). He also has major question marks on defense, which could make him a poor fit next to Andrew Wiggins, who was this season's 449-ranked player in ESPN's defensive real plus-minus.

    Off the floor, he served a suspension for personal conduct issues. Given the way this franchise was rocked by its messy divorce from Jimmy Butler, it should probably be extra cautious with any character risks.

Charlotte Hornets (12, 36, 52): Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana

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    Michael Hickey/Getty Images

    With or without Kemba Walker, the Charlotte Hornets need more offense.

    Romeo Langford theoretically packs enough scoring punch to grab their attention. Despite some shaky outside shooting (which we'll get to in a minute), he proved a potent point-producer for himself and a capable secondary playmaker. He has the handles to break down defenders and the touch to get buckets from the rim to the mid-range.

    However, his perimeter woes are worrisome. He converted just 27.2 percent of his long-range looks, and while a torn thumb ligament perhaps explained some of his struggles, there were questions about his stroke before he suited up for the Hoosiers.

    If he becomes a shooting guard who can't shoot, he wouldn't give Walker much relief. Besides, Malik Monk (career 33.5 three-point percentage) already wears that label in Buzz City.

Miami Heat (13): PJ Washington, PF, Kentucky

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    David Sherman/Getty Images

    The rare second season at Kentucky proved worthwhile for PJ Washington, who made impressive strides as a sophomore, particularly with his scoring (10.8 points per game to 15.2) and outside shooting (23.8 percent to 42.3).

    His plug-and-play potential could scratch the Miami Heat's perpetual itch for competitiveness, as his well-rounded skill set seems perfect for a glue-guy role.

    But this is only Miami's third lottery pick of the decade. Shouldn't the franchise aim for more upside? The Heat have no present stars, nor prospects who've flashed that level of potential.

    Washington isn't ever likely to rub elbows with the Association's elite. His scoring arsenal is limited, and it's unclear what type of NBA range he'll offer. While he looked more comfortable on the perimeter this past season, he still left the Wildcats with just 38 triples in 72 games. His career 63.2 free-throw percentage doesn't say much for his touch.

Boston Celtics (14, 20, 22, 51): Nassir Little, SF/PF, North Carolina

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    The Boston Celtics have enough picks to swing for the fences, and the wealth of talent on this roster would lessen the blow if one or two of those home-run hacks didn't connect.

    It isn't hard to imagine them being tantalized by Nassir Little. He captured MVP honors at the McDonald's All-American Game in March 2018, then appeared as a top-two prospect that August. He aces the eye test with an abundance of physical gifts, offers multipositional versatility on defense and could one day be a scoring threat both above the rim (already in his bag) and from distance.

    But he struggled to make much noise at UNC, where he was buried behind a deep, talented group. Wouldn't he face the same challenges in Boston? Between Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, it's not like the Shamrocks are hurting for wings.

    Despite a turbulent 2018-19 campaign, Boston continues vigorously chasing a championship. It's both pursuing a trade for Anthony Davis and hoping a deal for him would help convince Kyrie Irving to stay, per Wojnarowski. If the Celtics' win-now dreams come to fruition, they may not have the developmental time Little's raw talent requires.

Detroit Pistons (15, 45): Ty Jerome, PG/SG, Virginia

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    The Detroit Pistons could feel desperate for a floor general.

    They chased Mike Conley at the trade deadline and put starting point guard Reggie Jackson on the table, which perhaps shows their opinion of the latter. They could also lose both backup lead guards, Ish Smith and Jose Calderon, to free agency.

    This draft probably isn't filling that void. The 15th pick is far too late to get a look at Darius Garland or Coby White, but it's also too early to consider the position's next tier.

    This would be a reach for Ty Jerome, although his combination of spacing and distributing may tempt Detroit. His athletic limitations could cause issues at either end, which is reason enough for the Pistons to stay away.

Orlando Magic (16, 46): Matisse Thybulle, SF, Washington

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    Young Kwak/Associated Press

    Between Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac and Mohamed Bamba, the Orlando Magic have the makings of a defensive monster. They ranked eighth in efficiency at that end despite having multiple sieves along the perimeter.

    Matisse Thybulle could arguably plug those holes better than anyone in this draft. This past season, he surpassed Hall of Famer Gary Payton for the Pac-12's career lead in steals, then took home the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

    But Orlando's biggest needs are on offense, especially if one or both of Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross bolt in free agency. And that's the area in which Thybulle's NBA potential features the most question marks.

    He played 135 games for the Huskies and scored 20-plus points in only two of them. His career scoring average was just 9.2 points per game, and he nearly averaged the same number of turnovers (1.9) as assists (2.0). There's some hope he could handle the three-and-D role, but not if he shoots like he did as a senior (30.5 percent).

Indiana Pacers (18, 50): Cameron Johnson, SF, North Carolina

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    The Indiana Pacers need another scorer to ease the burden on Victor Oladipo and extra snipers to clear his attack lanes. This past season, the Pacers ranked 29th with 9.5 threes per game, and many of those shots were made by players entering free agency.

    That could make the Circle City take a closer look at Cameron Johnson. He's the best pure shooter in this draft, splashing 45.7 percent of his three balls this past season and ranking in the 97th percentile shooting out of spot-ups and off screens, per Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman.

    That's the extent of Johnson's appeal, though. He's not a shot-creator, nor is he a high-level contributor in non-shooting categories. As a 23-year-old prospect, he probably isn't adding much else to his game.

    The Pacers need more than a shooting specialist. They're already paying Doug McDermott $7.3 million each of the next two seasons to fill that role. If Indy targets an offensive-minded prospect, that player needs more tools than Johnson possesses.

San Antonio Spurs (19, 29, 49): Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee

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    Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press

    If Grant Williams wound up with the San Antonio Spurs, he'd be a Gregg Popovich favorite in no time.

    The Ringer likens Williams to a "Spurs-era Boris Diaw." He sees the game faster than most. He's a brilliant passer for his position, he can embarrass defenders on the low block and he usually finds himself in the right place at the right time.

    That said, Williams spent the bulk of his college career in the post. At 6'7½", he can't man that position in the pros. Even if he could, LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan already have dibs on the Spurs' touches from the elbows to the paint.

    In certain situations, Williams' glue-guy game could help complement stars. But given the inside-the-arc preferences of San Antonio's leading figures, Williams' perimeter struggles as a shooter, creator and defender might mean he'd harm more than he'd help.

Oklahoma City Thunder (21): Luguentz Dort, SG, Arizona State

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Luguentz Dort has an NFL build with intriguing NBA potential. He has explosive athleticism and disruptive length (6'4¼" with a 6'8½" wingspan), which are traits that have previously piqued the attention of Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti.

    Dort has the dribble moves and quick first step to blow by his defender, then the power and hops to hammer on a helper. When he plays within himself, he can look like both a possible go-to scorer and a secondary playmaker. When he doesn't, his combination of athleticism and energy—sure to get the approval of Russell Westbrook—can help him atone for his mistakes.

    "Plays like he wants to win," The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor wrote. "If he starts the play from behind, he'll often outsprint opponents to get up the floor before they do."

    Of course, O'Connor's scouting report also labels Dort's decision-making and shot selection as "usually infuriating." Add inconsistent shooting to the equation, and he might share too many of Westbrook's characteristics to provide any real support to the point guard or his team.

Utah Jazz (23, 53): Talen Horton-Tucker, SF, Iowa State

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    David K Purdy/Getty Images

    Talen Horton-Tucker is different. While he has the height of a guard (6'4" in shoes), he has the length (7'1¼" wingspan) and heft (235 lbs) of a big man.

    He has enough wiggle to ditch defenders inside a phone booth. Even though he wasn't the most prolific passer at Iowa State (2.3 assists per game), he unleashed some pretty off-the-dribble feeds that suggest possible growth into a complementary playmaking role.

    Given where the Utah Jazz are selecting, they won't find many prospects with a higher offensive ceiling. Given how badly they need another scorer-plus-creator to ease the burden on Donovan Mitchell, they'll surely give Horton-Tucker a look if he's still available.

    But he's all potential at this point. Erratic touch—and perhaps overconfidence—contributed to an anemic 40.6/30.8/62.5 shooting slash. And if he landed in Salt Lake City, he'd need to be special on offense since his low-motor defense could lead him to head coach Quin Snyder's doghouse.

Philadelphia 76ers (24, 33, 34, 42, 54): Terence Davis, SG, Ole Miss

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Regardless of how free agency treats the Philadelphia 76ers, they'll need more three-and-D wings.

    If they view Terence Davis through squinted eyes, they might see him as capable of filling that spot—especially if they paid attention at the combine.

    "His slashing, jumper and defensive pressure stood out in each of his four scrimmages at the combine," Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman noted. "He comes off as a gritty two-way role player capable of catching fire."

    But Ole Miss fans might be asking where that player was the past four years. Throughout his career, he was just a 33.9 percent shooter from deep and 12.5-points-per-game scorer for the Rebels. His shot needs work, as do a lot of his skills. He's less polished than teams would expect a 22-year-old senior to be.

Portland Trail Blazers (25): Dylan Windler, SF, Belmont

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    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    Just two teams were more efficient on offense than the Portland Trail Blazers this past season. One has Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant; the other has James Harden.

    Now, consider that the Blazers were that explosive on offense without having a significant scoring threat on the wing. Starters Al-Farouq Aminu and Maurice Harkless combined for just 17.1 points per game.

    Dylan Windler would've considered that an off night.

    The smooth shooter and slippery shot-creator erupted for 21.3 points per contest as a senior, and that number might undersell his offensive dominance. He converted 42.9 percent of his looks from distance and shot a whopping 65.9 percent inside the arc. His long-ball is surer than those of Aminu and Harkless, and he's much more capable of attacking closeouts.

    But the Blazers weren't giving Aminu and Harkless court time for their offense. They needed versatile stoppers who could limit the damage done against the overly generous Damian Lillard-CJ McCollum combo. Windler doesn't have the same defensive range. Despite good fundamentals, effort and awareness, he could struggle to handle NBA size and speed.

Brooklyn Nets (27, 31): Jontay Porter, C, Missouri

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    A healthy Jontay Porter could be perfect for connecting the dots in Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson's egalitarian offense.

    Porter is basically human adhesive on offense. He's an excellent passer and clever ball-handler for his size, plus an expert screener for his age. With his soft shooting touch and comfort on the move, he could be an early impact pick-and-choose partner since he can shoot, roll and find open teammates.

    However, using the "a healthy" disclaimer probably raised your alert system. It should have.

    Porter last played college basketball in March 2018. He tore his ACL and MCL in October, then he re-tore his ACL in March. Considering his athleticism was already a potential problem, a pair of knee injuries only increases the worry.

    As much as Porter could help on offense, he'll likely be targeted on the other end. He doesn't have the hops of a shot-blocker or the mobility of a perimeter switcher. That could be enough for Brooklyn to take a hard pass, especially since its center spot is in good hands for the present and future with Jarrett Allen.

Golden State Warriors (28, 58): Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Bruno Fernando might've been created in a basketball lab. He stands over 6'10" in shoes, has a 7'3¼" wingspan and only 5.4 percent of his 237-pound frame is body fat.

    He's a rim-runner with great touch around the basket and a Montrezl Harrell-like motor. Fernando isn't a spacer, but his form and career 76.3 free-throw percentage suggest he could eventually expand his range. He showed discernible growth as a passer and defender during his sophomore season.

    The Golden State Warriors will have some interior spots to fill this summer with DeMarcus Cousins, Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell (restricted) and Andrew Bogut all bound for free agency. If expectations were controlled and his role narrowly defined, Fernando could potentially have a rotation spot in 2019-20.

    But his fundamentals need work, and the Warriors might not want a project. They still have Damian Jones under contract, and they might afford him more trust given his experience in the system. If they bring back more than one big man (Looney feels like a must, at the very least), the opportunity to make an impact probably isn't there for Fernando the way it would be for a reserve wing or backup point guard.

Milwaukee Bucks (30): Carsen Edwards, PG, Purdue

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Milwaukee Bucks don't seem in obvious need of offense, considering they just paced the league in points per game and finished fourth in efficiency. But the group responsible for those marks probably isn't coming back, at least not in its entirety. Malcolm Brogdon (restricted), Brook Lopez and Nikola Mirotic are all heading to free agency, and Khris Middleton will join them once he declines his $13 million player option.

    If the Bucks want points, Carsen Edwards can provide plenty. The 6'0" scoring guard averaged 24.3 points this past season and blitzed two NCAA Tournament opponents—eventual champion Virginia and defending champion Villanova—for 42 points apiece. His lethal long-range stroke (3.5 career triples per 40 minutes) would surely catch the attention of head coach Mike Budenholzer.

    But Edwards' eye-popping numbers have only impressed with volume, as evidenced by his underwhelming 41.2/36.8/81.7 career slash line. The Bucks don't have many touches to spare. They'll surely bring back some of their free agents, and they already have the high-usage tandem of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Eric Bledsoe.

    Milwaukee will have a lot of mouths to feed, and the 21-year-old Edwards isn't much of a table-setter (career 2.5 assists per game). His lack of size will effectively hang a target over his hand on defense.

    It's hard to imagine the Bucks thinking his quantity-over-quality scoring outweighs his weaknesses.

No First-Round Picks

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Dallas Mavericks (37): Shamorie Ponds, PG, St. John's

    Given the Mavs' reported interest in Kemba Walker, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, it's not hard to picture Ponds appearing on their radar. Like Walker, Ponds is a 6'1'", Big Apple-bred scoring point guard. But he's too ball-dominant to fit alongside Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. It took years for Walker to sharpen his efficiency, and if Dallas wants his instant impact, it probably isn't willing to wait through Ponds' growing pains.


    Sacramento Kings (40, 47, 60): Sagaba Konate, PF/C, West Virginia

    The Kings need an intimidating interior presence after finishing 24th in blocks and 27th in opponents' shooting within five feet. That might lead them to Konate, who averaged 5.1 rejections per 40 minutes over three seasons with West Virginia. But he's not even 6'8" in shoes, and his 7'0" wingspan is by no means elite for a big man. If he's not long enough to man the NBA middle, his offensive limitations could make him tough to play.


    Los Angeles Clippers (48, 56): Eric Paschall, PF, Villanova

    Upon first glance, Paschall potentially fits the Clippers as a seasoned prospect who's proved willing to accept a lesser role. That said, he has no great skills but does have some worrisome weaknesses. He's not a great defender at the rim, and his bulky body (6'8", 255 lbs) may not move quickly enough to handle NBA athletes on the perimeter. His three-point shot might top out at mediocre.


    Toronto Raptors (59): Ignas Brazdeikis, SF, Michigan

    Brazdeikis should be intriguing. He's an ambidextrous finisher, a steady shooter from range and a strong enough player to hold his own around the rim. But he's not a great athlete, which depresses his defensive versatility and potentially limits his usability at this level. If the Raptors want to be as competitive as possible next season, he might have more question marks than they can handle.


    Denver Nuggets (No Picks): N/A

    The Nuggets have a ton of young talent and 11 players holding guaranteed contracts for next season. While they could always trade into the draft, it's hard to see why they'd have any motivation to do so.


    Houston Rockets (No Picks): N/A

    The Rockets are all the way into win-now mode. If they make a move between now and the draft, they're more likely to sacrifice future picks than add current ones.


    Unless noted otherwise, statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference and NBA.com.

    Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @ZachBuckleyNBA.


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