13. Los Angeles Clippers: Robert Williams
Jonathan DeLong - After selecting dynamo Collin Sexton to be their point guard of the future, the Clippers lock in on a big man to pair with him. Robert Williams is a superb athlete with that can function as a vertical spacing rim runner on offense while protecting the rim on defense, a la Clint Capela. DeAndre Jordan can opt out of his contract this summer, and it‘s hard to imagine the Clippers keeping him around long term even if he does take the final year on his contract. The Clippers will look to another Texas A&M Aggie to fill his shoes.
Williams and Sexton share a lot of traits as prospects. Both are dynamic athletes with concerns over their discipline and decision making. The Sexton/Williams combo probably won‘t win many games out of the gate, but that’s okay. At least they’ll be exciting to watch while the Clippers navigate their rebuild.
14. Denver Nuggets: Kevin Knox
Andrew Waters - The Nuggets can fill their most important need with this pick. With Wilson Chandler having a $12 million player option this offseason, the Nuggets can capitalize on his potential departure by drafting a scoring small forward.
Knox’s 15.6 points per game in college should transfer immediately in the NBA. His 6’9” height with a 7 foot wingspan should allow him to find mismatches early on in his career. Knox’s transaction game can allow the team to become more athletic during stretches. Pair him up with athletes Kenneth Faried and Gary Harris, and you got one explosive unit. His average perimeter shooting (34.1 percent) allows the team to keep the same spacing it had with Chandler if we were to depart via free agency. Furthermore, Knox’s size allows him to occasionally play in the front court with Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap, allowing for a versatile offense.
15. Washington Wizards: Zhaire Smith
Jonathan DeLong - With John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter manning the one through three spots and no promising bigs on the roster, the Wizards will be hoping for a player like Kevin Knox or Robert Williams to fall to them. That didn’t happen in this scenario, so the Wizards select Zhaire Smith to be a high energy two/small ball three off the bench.
There are questions about Smith’s offensive polish and how he’ll score in the NBA. If he shares the floor with some combination of Wall, Beal, and Porter, that won’t be too big of a deal early on. The Texas Tech product put up ridiculous advanced numbers in his lone collegiate season, and that kind of positive impact is vital for a Wizards team that seems to struggle maximizing the whole of its parts.