8. New York Knicks – Obi Toppin, F, Dayton
Toppin was widely expected to be off the board by No. 8, and the Knicks are reportedly thrilled to have him fall. Why not? As a redshirt sophomore, Toppin was the most dominant player in college basketball and an incredible finisher at the rim who also made major strides with his jump shot. He could be awesome offensively, provided New York can find a way to replicate the pristine four-out spacing Toppin played within at Dayton. All of his questions come defensively. Toppin can’t anchor the defense at center and he doesn’t have the quickness to defend new-age fours. The Knicks will need a team of determined defenders around him, but his offensive ceiling is so high that this seems like a perfectly fine pick even if New York had a bigger need at guard.
9. Washington Wizards – Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv
Avdija was hyped as a top-five pick throughout the pre-draft process, but the rise of Patrick Williams, Isaac Okoro, and Killian Hayes pushed him down the board to No. 9. The Wizards will be happy to scoop him up. Avdija has a jack-of-all-trades skillset without a major weakness in his game. He’s at his best as a secondary playmaker who can grab a rebound and push the ball in transition or attack closeouts and find the open man in the halfcourt. Avdija only made 58 percent of his free throws in his last 400 attempts for Maccabi Tel Aviv, which isn’t encouraging for his shooting projection. If he finds a way to develop into a solid catch-and-shoot threat in the halfcourt, Avdija’s combination of aggressive drives to the rim with high-IQ passing should make him a nice pick for Washington.
10. Phoenix Suns – Jalen Smith, F, Maryland
Phoenix made the most shocking pick of the lottery last year when they selected Cameron Johnson far ahead of his projections. The Suns have done it again this year by taking Jalen Smith at No. 10 when he was widely projected to be picked in the 20s. The 6’10 big man had an awesome sophomore year for Maryland, blossoming into an All-American. He’s certainly not an elite shooter like Johnson, but Smith is a solid floor spacer who should get plenty of open looks with Devin Booker and Chris Paul running the show. Smith’s issue is that he isn’t super quick or a great leaper, which limits his defensive impact. Johnson certainly had a nice rookie year for the Suns, so maybe Smith will surprise, too. This feels like a major reach, though.
11. San Antonio Spurs – Devin Vassell, F, Florida State
Vassell is a true 3-and-D guy who is excellent in both areas. Vassell makes a huge impact as a help defender who can disrupt actions and force turnovers. He also hit better than 40 percent of his three-pointers across two seasons at Florida State after entering the program as an overlooked recruit. Because Vassell has improved so much since entering college, it’s possible he still has some upside left. The Spurs would love it if that includes the ability to create his own offense off the dribble, which would make him even more dynamic. Every team needs 3-and-D wings, and really good 3-and-D wings are undeniably valuable. This should be a great pick for San Antonio.