By CHARLIE GOLDSMITH
1. Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons, F, LSU
The NBA has become positionless. Kyrie Irving guarded Harrison Barnes for stretches in The Finals. LeBron was featured at the three, four and five spot. Instead of roles regimented on positions, players are valued more for their interchangeability on both ends of the floor. Think of the versatility of Tristan Thompson, Draymond Green and Kristaps Porzingis.
Ben Simmons is the most valuable player in the draft because he is so versatile. He can play the three biggest positions but prefers to run the offense. If floor spacing is an issue for him, surround him with shooters of any size. With a magical passing gene, he'll find a way to get them the ball. Even though he contributes to the logjam of bigs in Philadelphia, his versatility, passing and driving ability make him unpassable.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Brandon Ingram, F, Duke
Like Simmons, Ingram is the type of player who will translate into a smaller, faster NBA. His versatility, shooting ability and athleticism are tools that will undoubtedly translate. While similar projects like Harrison Barnes and Demar Derozan are getting overpaid, Ingram is more affordable and more tantalizing.
His presence may even sway Los Angeles' offseason plans by preventing it from overpaying one of Barnes or Derozan. Ingram can do the same things and has a higher ceiling.
3. Boston Celtics: Marquese Chriss, G, Washington
Frankly, pick Nos. 3-8 is a jumbled mess in this year's draft. Even though Boston already has a bevy of picks, I expect to see it trade down so a team more desperate for one of these players can land him. However, if Boston keeps the pick, Chriss is the best plug and play for a franchise that is capable of contending in the East.
Chriss both fits this uptempo NBA and can defend multiple positions. He is regarded as an athletic freak who will be able to play a role in smaller lineups that threaten Cleveland as soon as April. Right now Marcus Smart, Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder are Boston's best small options. Putting Chriss, who is 6-foot-10, as a pseudo five -- totally possible against Tristan Thompson at center -- gives Boston the ability to run and switch defensively in April or May.
4. Phoenix Suns: Dragan Bender, F, Croatia
Since Phoenix is simply not close to competing, Bender has the highest upside of the remaining prospects and will develop at Phoenix's rebuilding pace -- slowly. A power forward center combo who can shoot threes, Bender can fit next to any star that the Suns could bring in down the road, even Kevin Love. Since Phoenix does not know what players will be in the franchise in the future, it is reassuring to know that Bender could play alongside anyone.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kris Dunn, G, Providence
This is the best fit in the lottery. I could definitely see Minnesota trading up to No. 3 to assure itself its point guard of the future. Even though Ricky Rubio is secretly kind of good -- great passer and solid defender -- his prime does not match the time table of the rest of the franchise, and his skill set does not match Minnesota's identity. Rubio does not seem like a Thibs guy; Kris Dunn does, though.
A natural scorer with a strong motor, Dunn feels like a perfect fit in this situation. With a capable 3-point shot, great ball handling, athleticism and a huge frame for a point guard, Dunn is Thibs' ideal floor general.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Jamal Murray, G, Kentucky
Like Phoenix, New Orleans is a long way from competing. Unlike Phoenix, the Pelicans have a star. Their style of play must accentuate Davis' strengths. Murray is the ideal fit because of his scoring gene and shooting ability. Murray has a nose for the basket and easily the prettiest jumper in the class. I'd choose Murray over Hield because he has better form, better lengths, more potential on defense and more potential overall since he is younger.
7. Denver Nuggets: Buddy Hield, G, Oklahoma
Hield fits right away in Denver. Obviously a small ball centric team with prototypical pieces like Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, and Nikola Jokic, Hield fits their hole at the shooting guard. He also gives them another one on one scorer to help Gallinari.
While Jalen Brown is redundant with Chandler, Hield provides a fresh spark from three. He definitely improves the team, but probably not enough for them to reach the playoffs. They are definitely a candidate to sell everything this summer. If that happens expect Brown, a prospect wth more potential, to get the nod.
8. Sacramento Kings: Skal Labissiere, F, Kentucky
Skal is the rare big man who can play alongside Boogie Cousins. A quick, athletic big who can shoot 3s, he does not cramp Sacramento offensively. On defense, he can ease Boogie's responsibilities by grabbing rebounds and dealing with post-ups.
Cousins prefers to play alongside another big, and even though Skal is lightyears away from becoming a defensive asset, he is the type of player who Boogie would appreciate. Sacramento is all in on Cousins. Skal is the rare big who Boogie could buy into playing alongside for the next several years.
Skal Labissiere. Photo credit goes to sportingnews.com.
9. Toronto Raptors: Henry Ellenson, F, Marquette
Ellenson is already a superior version of Luis Scola, Toronto's starting power forward. Unlike the other bigs in the draft, he isn't redundant with Valanciunas. Instead, he has quick feet and a quick release. He would take Scola's minutes and improve the starting lineup. Even though Patrick Patterson would still play important minutes, Ellenson would improve the starting lineup when he plays with them and would bring more scoring to bench-heavy lineups. He would lead those units like he led Marquette's offense.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Jakob Poeltl, F, Utah
Poeltl is a better version of Greg Monroe for the Bucks. Younger, more athletic and a better shooter, he fits better alongside Milwaukee's young core. The Bucks need a true center; Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and Khris Middleton need someone who can work the inside-out game to feed them midrange shots. Poeltl is an obvious fit in this offense with a strong back-to-the-basket game and good passing. He led the offense in Utah and has the potential to do the same with the Bucks.
11. Orlando Magic: Jaylen Brown, F, California
Orlando's franchise has several glaring needs and is farther from contention than most of the teams above it. Even though Brown only worsens the Magic's floor spacing problems, he is the best player available at this point. His offensive deficiencies make him unattractive to the teams trying to compete like the Bucks, Raptors and Kings.
Ideally, the Magic would trade up for Dragan Bender or Jamal Murray. Both players are long-term projects with star potential down the road. Orlando desperately needs a star and has no way to get one; it never drafts high enough and doesn't have attractive enough assets. This turns them to Brown, frequently called a "young Kawaii Leonard." Even though this praise is far fetched, and even though he does not fit the franchise's style of play at all, his potential is too high to pass on at No. 11.
12. Atlanta Hawks: Malachi Richardson, G/F, Syracuse
Trading Jeff Teague was a smart move. Especially since Al Horford is likely to move to a contending team, the Hawks gained the opportunity to pick up a long-term piece, as Dennis Schroeder is the only one they have. Again, Schroeder is their ONLY good young player under contract for next season. The Hawks have no viable long-term wing options, and Richardson is the best wing available. In the tournament, he showed his potential as a scorer and his enviable length. Hopefully, he fits with the Hawks long term.
13. Phoenix Suns: Furkan Korkmaz, G, Turkey
Another long-term option who can score, Kormaz is highly rated by international scouts.
14. Chicago Bulls: Tyler Ulis, G, Kentucky
Ulis is a Chicago-style point guard -- a.k.a. short -- who definitely has the tools to play next to Jimmy Butler long term. He's a strong defender and passer without controlling the ball.
15. Denver Nuggets: Deyonta Davis, F, Michigan State
The Michigan State forward is a quick, big and a strong rebounder who would fit well as a hustle man next to Nikola Jokic.
16. Boston Celtics: Domantas Sabonis, F, Gonzaga
Boston adds another white center. He should be the one, though. A great passer, strong post-ups and good footwork, Sabonis reminds me of Timofey Mozgov.
17. Memphis Grizzlies: Wade Baldwin IV, G, Vanderbilt
I see Baldwin as the next Mike Conley as a long, fierce presence who can shoot and run an offense. My favorite late first-round player.
Wade Baldwin IV. Photo credit goes to anchorofgold.com.
18. Detroit Pistons: Dejounte Murray, G, Washington
Detroit definitely doesn't need another three/four type, so they add a young guard from Washington.
19. Denver Nuggets: Timothe Luwawu, G/F, Serbia
A home-run swing for Denver, who is looking for long-term pieces.
20. Indiana Pacers: Malik Beasley, G, Florida State
Indiana hopes Beasley can fill its need at the two and play some three in smaller lineups.
21. Atlanta Hawks: Cheick Diallo, F, Kansas
He seems like the type of big that NBA teams should love with athleticism, length and a good shot. However, he's a few years away -- too many to even start at Kansas -- and fits in with a rebuilding Hawks team.
22. Charlotte Hornets: Denzel Valentine, G, Michigan State
Denzel will be able to name every player drafted ahead of him. Valentine is a good fit for a contending team looking for bench scoring options.
23. Boston Celtics: Thon Maker, F, Canada
The star the Maine Red Claws have always needed.
24. Philadelphia 76ers: Demetrius Jackson, G, Notre Dame
His stock as fallen since the season, but he was one of the top guards in the NCAA the past two seasons. Definitely a viable starter in Philadelphia.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: DeAndre' Bembry, F, St. Joseph's
Bembry's a good enough player to play a role in crunch time lineups later in the season. He's at least a solid bench scorer right from the start and a good long term piece.
26. Philadelphia 76ers: Taurean Prince, F, Baylor
He's a lock down defender at worst. Not a bad floor.
27. Toronto Raptors: Stephen Zimmerman, F, UNLV
The white Bismack? A crazy athlete who can dunk and rebound, Zimmerman could play a role in Toronto this year.
28. Phoenix Suns: Brice Johnson, F, UNC
Best talent available at the spot.
29. San Antonio Spurs: Isaiah Whitehead, G, Seton Hall
Another personal favorite. Definitely a diamond in the rough. Great motor, length, scoring and ball handling. Watch out.
30. Golden State Warriors: Diamond Stone, F, Maryland
No doubt the next Mo Speights.