NBA Draft: This is not a final, but a big exam

It is difficult to put a literal assessment of the era of Arturas Karnisovas drawing.

The Bulls’ executive vice president of basketball appears to have made headway by leaving Illinois star Ayo Dosunma in his backyard during a second-round theft last summer, while jurors still disagree with Patrick Williams carrying burden #4 overall pick in the 2020 draft.

Then there was this dastardly second-round pick in the same class of 20s: Marko Simonovic, who posted some stellar results. . . for the G League Bulls of the Windy City.

Let’s take a chance and call it a four with a minus.

The real test comes on Thursday. Karnisovas and company are drafting in the land of mediocrity, where the team is good enough to make the playoffs but doesn’t threaten to go deep.

This is a place where the organization can bet on Goga Bitadze, and Matisse Tibull is simply out of reach.

Picking and finishing 18th is a testament to the front office and the trust it places in a scouting department that is still trying to establish its place in the NBA drafting hierarchy. This year’s project will tell a lot.

Let’s hope it’s much more than the annual “NBA Tryout Draft That Will Surely Go Wrong If You Pick No. 4”.

1. Orlando Magic

Jabari Smith, PF, Auburn

A great shot at 6-10 and a ready defender in the shift game. Big man Chet Holmgren is a strong possibility, especially given his connection in Minnesota with Jalen Suggs.

2. Oklahoma City Thunder

Chet Holmgren, C, Gonzaga

His physique is still a concern, but the skills of a 7-footer are a lot like guards. The newest version of the “unicorn”? Holmgren could very well be.

3. Houston Rockets

Paolo Banquero, PF, Duke

The safest pick in the top three, Banchero appears to be the most prepared for the NBA. If he can keep stretching the floor offensively, he could be the best player in the draft.

4. Sacramento Kings

Jaden Ivey, SG, Purdue

This is where the draft can take a number of strange turns. This is usually the case with kings. No. 4 will become an exchange place for other lottery teams, especially if they want Ivy.

5. Detroit Pistons

Keegan Murray, F, Iowa

Detroit would love to pair Ivey with Cade Cunningham, but unless the up-and-coming Pistons can make a trade, Murray is the next logical choice for a serious need.

6. Indiana Pacers

Benedict Maturin, SG/SF, Arizona

Malcolm Brogdon could be on the move, and Maturin continued to gain momentum in his personal training. The Pacers could play a wildcard on draft night.

7. Portland Trail Blazers

Schaedon Sharp, SG, Kentucky

Damian Lillard’s stunt double or immediate replacement if Dame Time gets rescheduled? In any case, Sharpe is a reliable support for the restoration of Portland.

8 New Orleans Pelicans

Dyson Daniels, G/F, G League Ignite

Pels has most of the roster under contract and hopefully a healthy Zion Williamson. Daniels is a great player who will instantly give them the best defense on the flanks.

9. San Antonio Spurs

Jalen Duren, C, Memphis

Jakob Poeltle may leave San Antonio at some point this season, and Duren is a force in the paint with a 7-5 wingspan.

10. Washington Wizards

Ochai Agbaji, SG, Kansas

He defends the perimeter and can make a triple. What’s not to love, especially with Bradley Beal, is always rumors to trade.

11. New York Knicks

AJ Griffin, San Francisco Duke

The son of former Tom Thibodeau assistant Adrian Griffin, AJ will give the Knicks three-point shots and become a player capable of developing at a high level in defense.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder

Johnny Davis, PG/SG, Wisconsin

By choosing Holmgren, Davis gives the Thunder an all-round defender that makes the players around him better. OKC may also trade this seat for future assets.

13. Charlotte Hornets

Jeremy Sochan, PF, Baylor

Charlotte has been a defensive highlight at times and Baylor’s product is excellent on that side of the ball. It makes too much sense given the Hornets’ draft history.

14. Cleveland Cavaliers

Malachi Branham, SF/SG, Ohio State

Collin Sexton could be out sooner rather than later, and Branham could be an upgrade due to his three-point shooting and willingness to play defense.

15. Charlotte Hornets

Mark Williams, C, Duke

Could Charlotte’s packages #13 and 15 have moved up? Of course. But if not, they’re grabbing a rim runner in Williams, whom LaMelo Ball will love on the open court.

16. Atlanta Hawks

Tari Eason, PF, LSU

John Collins could be on the move and Eason would be an instant replacement due to his defensive mindset.

17. Houston Rockets

Usman Dieng, SF/PF, NZ Breakers

Lots of raw craftsmanship and choices that could become homer after a few seasons of development. The rebuilding Rockets can afford such a gamble.


E. J. Liddell, PF, Ohio State

The jumper continued to improve, reportedly being impressive in training with the Bulls, playing physically and with fine motor skills. Patrick Williams needs a push.

19. Minnesota Timberwolves

Walker Kessler, C, Auburn

Since Karl-Anthony Towns still wants to play like a little big man, Kessler will give Minnesota a willing rim guard.

20. San Antonio Spurs

Jalen Williams, SG/SF, Santa Clara

Few have been as helped by the pre-draft process as Williams, who could steal the No. 20 due to his potential to become an elite two-way winger.

21. Denver Nuggets

Blake Wesley, SG, Notre Dame

Another sports kick for playmaker maestro Nikola Jokic to take advantage of? Absolutely.

22. Memphis Grizzlies

Kennedy Chandler, PG, Tennessee

Tyus Jones could be on the move, and a fast Chandler would be great for coming off the bench, especially in pick and roll.

23. Philadelphia 76ers

Jayden Hardy, SG, G League Ignite

Ego is still more than a game for Hardy, but he has a top 20 talent that just needs to be used.

24. Milwaukee Bucks

Nikola Jovic, SF, Serbia

For a team that already has just about everything, here’s a prospect that could turn into the best international player in the draft.

25. San Antonio Spurs

T.T. Washington, PG, Kentucky

The buildup continues as the Spurs land a second ball carrier for Dejonte Murray and a point guard with the second squad.

26. Houston Rockets

MarJohn Beauchamp, SF, G League Ignite

His erratic shooting is a problem, but Beauchamp’s motor skills and athleticism fit perfectly with a young squad looking for individuality.

27. Miami Heat

Dalene Terry, San Francisco, Arizona

Another winner in the pre-draft cycle, Terry is perfect for the Heat Culture and has the ability to play his talent with effort and attitude.

28. Golden State Warriors

Caleb Hustan, San Francisco, Michigan

The reliable thing in the first round was now a mystery, Hustan could become a steal or just burn out. The Warriors can afford the risk.

29. Memphis Grizzlies

Jake LaRavia, F, Wake Forest

“Jake” is a jack-of-all-trades but master of none, La Ravia has a smart presence on both sides of the ball.

30. Denver Nuggets

Kendall Brown San Francisco Baylor

The Joker and company could use more athleticism off the bench, and Brown ticks a lot on both sides.

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