NBA First Half Awards
With the season just over halfway done, let's look at the major awards. Feel free to disagree but it's James Hardens world right now and we're just living in it.
With the NBA Lottery now behind us, let's take a look at the first 14 prospects who will come off of draft boards later this summer.
It looks like the Suns aren't trying to keep who they plan on selecting a secret.
Doncic is possibly the top player in this class and has been called the best European prospect in history. Even though he’s young, he’s shown off his ability as a floor general and loves dictating the pace of the game. He’s exceptional at reading the defense and is someone you want on the floor when it comes to running half court sets. He’s a dynamic passer and finisher and isn’t afraid to attack the basket.
Ayton averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds in his one year at Arizona and helped the Wildcats win the Pac-12 regular-season title and the Pac-12 Tournament as well. He’s an athletic freak, a dynamic finisher and will dare you to try to stop him above the rim. Bet on Ayton to be a future NBA star.
On a team stacked with talent, Bagley was the player at Duke to really stand out. He averaged 21 points and 11.1 rebounds in his one season and is extremely athletic. What really stands out to me about Bagley III is how efficient he is with his touches. Whether in transition or on the block, Bagley III is a big-time offensive threat.
Jackson Jr. won both the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year last season, and is a talented athlete and a great shooter, even at 6-foot-11. He’s a well-rounded player who is known primarily as a rim protector, but is also a threat to stretch the floor in transition. He has all the tools to be successful in the NBA and should make the Grizzlies happy.
Bamba was an absolute force on defense for the Longhorns last season and became the first player since Kevin Durant to lead the Big 12 in both rebounds and blocks. The 6-foot-11 forward has a 7-foot-9 wingspan that will allow his shot-blocking and rebounding ability to translate smoothly to the NBA. At Texas, Bamba averaged 12.9 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game and has the potential to develop into a well-rounded NBA star.
I understand why some people are haters of Trae, but I’m not one of them. Sure, it was annoying when a broadcast had an ever-present “Trae counter” and his struggles toward the end of the year were disconcerting, but there’s no doubt that he’s talented. His ability to create his own shot is Steph Curry-esque and he was one of the best passers in college basketball. While I don’t think he will be another Curry, I do think he’s worth it here at No. 6.
Porter Jr. would probably be going higher in this draft if he hadn’t played just three games in college. He was an absolute beast in high school and was able to score from anywhere on the court, which was why he was the top recruit in his class. If doctors don’t red-flag him, he could go higher than No. 7, but I’m sure some teams have mixed feelings on him. It will be interesting to see what happens on draft night.
Sexton was one of my favorite players in college basketball this season. There were times he took over games by himself and showed that he’s entirely ready for the NBA. He’s an elite player on both offense and defense and can come in and make an immediate impact for the Cavaliers.
Carter Jr. and Bagley made up arguably the most formidable front court in college basketball last season. The former looked comfortable playing both the center and power forward positions and was a force in the paint, helping Duke advance to the Elite Eight last March. While the three pointer wasn’t a big part of his game, he shot over 40 percent from deep and his versatility will be valued highly at the next level.
Bridges should be the first player drafted in 2018 who has played more than one year of college ball. His junior season was his best, as he averaged 17.7 points per game while shooting 43.5 percent from deep, leading Villanova to yet another championship. He’s experienced, versatile and someone who can play and guard multiple positions.
The second Bridges is another position-less player who was important for the Michigan State Spartans, who won the Big Ten regular-season title. The Hornets need a lot of help and Bridges can provide an influx of energy that could take some of the weight off of Kemba Walker's shoulders.
A point guard with a seven-foot wingspan will entice almost every NBA team, and Gilgeous-Alexander proved in college that he’s a lottery pick. He’s at his best with the ball in his hands and knows how to create space for himself and for his teammates on the floor.
Although just 6-foot-10, Williams is an aggressive rebounder with a 7-foot-4 wingspan and can play the center position. I think he’s an underrated prospect in this draft.
Selecting Knox at No. 14 would be a tremendous pick if you look at what he could potentially bring to an NBA team. He’s 6-foot-9 and a gifted scorer, averaging a team-high 15.6 points at Kentucky. Plus, he’s only 18 years old. Knox is a respectable rebounder as well and should get some action playing power forward in the league.