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NBA Draft: Handicapping the Top 10 Picks

Deandre Ayton to Phoenix at No. 1 seems like a done deal, but the rest is still a mystery.

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Break out your lucky headband, make sure your Reeboks are pumped up, and get your popcorn ready – the NBA draft is here.

The appetizer to free agency starting in June, the draft often gives us a window into which teams are going for it all next year, which ones are already thinking of two years from now and which ones – looking at you New York Knicks – still have no clue what they are doing.

Entering tonight’s draft in Brooklyn, rumors are flying about teams trying to move up (the Dallas Mavericks, Orlando Magic, Chicago Bulls, Knicks, Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics and LA Clippers) and teams wanting to move down (the Memphis Grizzlies and Atlanta Hawks).

It’s difficult to predict what exactly will happen – where there’s smoke there’s usually fire in the NBA – so we’re just going to look at the projected top 10 picks as if they will be taken in their current order using mock drafts from ESPN, CBS Sports, the Sporting News, and the Washington Post as a reference.

Again, that may not happen, but these 10 players have a good chance of being the top guys off the board regardless – unless the Knicks do Knicks things, in which case who knows what’ll happen.

No. 1: Phoenix Suns – Deandre Ayton, Center

Out of all the mocks, every single one of them has Phoenix taking Ayton first overall. The Suns need a center and Ayton is the consensus top player in the draft, so this pick is an almost certain slam dunk.

No. 2: Sacramento Kings -Marvin Bagley III, Power forward

Almost a consensus pick here, Bagley is one of only a handful of players who actually went to Sacramento to workout for the Kings before the draft. A superior college talent, Bagley’s willingness to go to the Kings could end up being the clincher.

No. 3: Atlanta Hawks – Luka Doncic, Shooting guard

A hoop-head favorite, Doncic could slide a little bit farther, but odds are he will go here or at No. 2. Considered the best guard in a draft that’s full of big men, Doncic has experience playing against superior competition in Europe.

No. 4: Memphis Grizzlies -Jaren Jackson Jr., Power forward

Jackson has refused to come to the Grizzlies for a workout – as have many other players – but Memphis may take him anyway. A do-it-all-type player, Jackson is raw and is a nice project player for a team with no aspirations of competing for a championship next year.

No. 5: Dallas Mavericks -Mohamed Bamba, Center

Some have him going before this spot, but if Bamba falls this far, Dallas is poised to grab him. Viewed as a potentially elite defender, Bamba will have the longest wingspan in the NBA at 7-10 when he enters the league.

No. 6: Orlando Magic – Michael Porter Jr., Small forward

At one point considered a potential No. 1 pick, Porter’s stock has slipped due to hip and back injuries, but he’s still a top-10 player. If he can stay healthy, Porter has the potential to be a steal to whichever team selects him.

No. 7: Chicago Bulls – Wendell Carter Jr., Center

With good size and good all-around skills, Carter should be a solid, if unspectacular, player in the league for years to come. He may not have the highest ceiling, but he has a reasonably high floor.

No. 8: Cleveland Cavaliers – Collin Sexton, Point guard

Cleveland won’t know what LeBron James is doing when they make this pick tonight, but Sexton is a solid choice no matter what happens. Sexton can be a building block if James leaves and a supporting asset if he stays.

No. 9: New York Knicks – Trae Young, Point guard

Potentially one of the most explosive scorers in the draft, Young should bring some excitement to a Knicks squad that has been devoid of buzz. A good talent and value, New York will be pleased if Young lasts until now.

No. 10: Philadelphia 76ers – Mikal Bridges, Swingman

A champion at Villanova, Bridges makes too much sense for Philly here. A two-way player who can make 3-pointers and immediately produce for a team that is on the come, Bridges will fit in well on a 76ers roster that struggled with shooting at times last year.