17. Oklahoma City Thunder – Aleksej Pokusevski, F, Serbia
The Thunder are in tear down mode, and Pokusevski is the best possible player to take a chance on for a team in their situation. Poku is a 7-footer who offers a dribble, pass, and shoot skill set while playing with tremendous confidence offensively. He’s the youngest player in the first round at 18 years old, and he has a rail thin frame, but if he develops the right way, Poku has the potential to be one of the best players in this draft class long-term. The Thunder will be patient with him and hope he can be an offensive star down the road.
18. Dallas Mavericks – Josh Green, G, Arizona
Green is a super athlete with great straight-line speed and quick hips who should develop into a quality 3-and-D wing around Luka Doncic. Green has good size at 6’6 with a 6’10 wingspan while hitting 34 percent of his three-pointers. He should be an impact player in transition who spaces the floor in the halfcourt. His defensive versatility will come down to how much strength he can add to his frame.
19. Detroit Pistons – Saddiq Bey, F, Villanova
The Pistons end the first round with a wing after already landing a point guard (Hayes) and a big (Stewart). Bey is a 6’8 swingman who hit 45 percent of his three-pointers and showed surprising skill in the pick-and-roll and in transition. The shooting should translate, but there are legitimate questions about how versatile his skill set can be beyond that. Bey had a sound defensive reputation in college, but he’ll have to prove he can stick with faster NBA players, or he’ll be forced to move up the four. This isn’t the most exciting pick, but Bey’s shooting would help any team, especially one that just drafted Killian Hayes to set the table.
20. Miami Heat – Precious Achiuwa, C/F, Memphis
Achiuwa is a strong and long 6’9 energy big with great physicality and major questions about his skill set and feel for the game. For now, Achiuwa can succeed in spot minutes just by being big and fast and playing with a high motor. His decision-making is an issue, but you can trust the Heat as much as any franchise to put young players in positions to succeed. As raw as he is offensively, he should have a relatively high floor as a rebounder and rim runner who can fly in transition.
21. Philadelphia 76ers – Tyrese Maxey, G, Kentucky
This feels like the best value pick of the first round. Maxey is a perfect fit in Philadelphia as an aggressive guard who shines attacking the rim and playing physical point of attack defense with a 6’6 wingspan. While he didn’t shoot the ball as well as expected in college, he was a great free throw shooter who should improve from three-point range in time. For now, Maxey’s touch on floaters and his ability to contort his body for tough finishes at the rim will be a nice addition next to Ben Simmons’ oversized playmaking at the four. Maxey deserved to be a lottery pick, but he found a great home on the Sixers. Daryl Morey knows what he’s doing.
22. Denver Nuggets – Zeke Nnaji, F, Arizona
Nnaji was a bit overlooked entering Arizona in a stacked freshman class next to Nico Mannion and Josh Green, but he has an argument to have the most pro potential of the group. The 6’11 big man is agile and explosive around the rim, showing nice finishing touch as a roll man and cleaning up the glass as an offensive rebounder. There are questions on if he can provide enough shot blocking to stick at the five defensively, but he does have impressive quickness to hold his own a little bit on the perimeter. His swing skill could be his shooting, which is unpolished but appears to have potential after he hit 76 percent of his free throws. Nnaji projects as an energy big with room to grow from there.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves – Leandro Bolmaro, G, Barcelona
Bolmaro is an Argentinian guard who offers playmaking ability at 6’7. He’s in a quality developmental situation on Barcelona and could be viewed as a draft-and-stash prospect for Minnesota. If Balmaro doesn’t hit his ceiling as a facilitator, he still offers value as a big defensive guard with good help instincts.