USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt discusses the biggest story lines to come out of the NBA draft, including Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball and the Timberwolves’ big trade for Jimmy Butler.
USA TODAY Sports
After several trades and plenty of pre-draft chatter, the night is finally here.
Follow all of USA TODAY Sports’ NBA draft analysis here, featuring picks and grades from reporter Adi Joseph. We will be updating this file regularly as picks are filed and trades are confirmed.
A word on the grades: Yes, we are aware that the quality of an NBA draft selection usually isn’t obvious for several years, let alone several minutes. But the goal here is to base grades on a prospect’s value at the given spot — for instance, a player predicted to go 15th might not be wise to take third — and the player’s fit within a team’s goals, system and positional needs.
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With that said, here’s the NBA Draft pick order, which will be updated as each pick is made:
1. Philadelphia 76ers: PG Markelle Fultz, Washington
There wasn’t really much doubt whom the 76ers were trading up for when they swapped picks with and gave a future first-rounder to the Boston Celtics. Fultz is a particularly great fit for Philadelphia because he can play off the ball more than many point guards, which will allow elite-passing forward Ben Simmons to run the offense and Joel Embiid to have many options in pick-and-rolls. Fultz is the most likely future star in this class, and he was the right choice at No. 1.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: PG Lonzo Ball, UCLA
The Lakers didn’t just take it easy and coast into this decision. They considered a lot of players, and they landed on the same conclusion we did: Ball was the best fit for their franchise. The trade of D’Angelo Russell ends any worries about fit and makes clear that the Lakers, who have a decent young core otherwise, will be Ball’s team through and through. He’s the type of player who will define your playing style, though that doesn’t make him an automatic star.
3. Boston Celtics: SF Jayson Tatum, Duke
When the Celtics made their trade with the 76ers, many expected this pick to be used on Josh Jackson. He undoubtedly was the most coveted by other teams on the trade market, and he fit the Celtics’ style of play and preference in drafting. But that’s part of what makes Tatum, the draft’s most natural scorer, such a good fit: He’s different. He’s not at all like Jaylen Brown or Jae Crowder, and he gives the Celtics some of the scoring ability they lacked when Isaiah Thomas was off the court. He’s also incredibly polished, though that could be interpreted as a lack of upside.
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4. Phoenix Suns: SF Josh Jackson, Kansas
Second on our draft big board, Jackson has an incredible mix of motor and athleticism that allows him to be everywhere. He’ll immediately be an improvement on the Suns’ awful defense, and that should allow him to complement Devin Booker quite nicely. The Suns could have targeted a point guard, but they instead made the smart decision to stick with best available player.
5. Sacramento Kings: PG De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky
There’s a reason this pick was confirmed by reporters including USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick before the Suns’ pick was made official: Fox is a strong fit with the Kings, in need of a leader and a point guard. He’ll join a team with athletic big men (including fellow former Wildcats Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere) and a shooting guard whom the Kings believe has star potential in Buddy Hield. There are issues with Fox’s game, mostly his shooting and his super-thin frame. But he has a terrific feel for the game and a work ethic that should help him with his deficiencies.
6. Orlando Magic: PF Jonathan Isaac, Florida State
A late riser in the draft and in his basketball career, Isaac has more defensive potential than anyone else in this draft class. He should be able to defend at all five positions, similar to Kevin Garnett or Anthony Davis on the defensive side, if he fulfills his massive potential. The Magic are desperate for offensive help, but Isaac was easily the best available player at this point in the draft, and Orlando’s new front office loves long, athletic, versatile players.
7. Chicago Bulls (via Timberwolves): PF Lauri Markkanen, Arizona
The Bulls and Timberwolves agreed to a trade that sends Jimmy Butler and No. 16 to the Timberwolves and Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and No. 7 to the Bulls, USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt confirmed. More details on the trade here.
As far as the pick, Markkanen is the player who makes the most sense within the context of that trade. He’s a very skilled scorer, but questions about his toughness are worth considering. The issue is that the best available players were probably point guards Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith Jr., but taking one of them would be odd while also adding Dunn as your point guard of the future. That makes taking Markkanen — a talented 7-footer nonetheless — more understandable than it might have been in other circumstances.
Grade (pick only): B-
8. New York Knicks: Frank Ntilikina, France
Every once in a while there’s a nice little overlap between best available player and best fit. Ntilikina probably qualifies as both as he rose up draft boards during the past few weeks. He’s the perfect point guard for the triangle offense thanks to his defensive versatility, size and steadily improving jump shot, though he’d be best with a superstar shooting guard next to him. American fans may worry about a player they haven’t seen much of, but Ntilikina has been thoroughly vetted for years and impressed in one of the best leagues outside the NBA.
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9. Dallas Mavericks: PG Dennis Smith Jr., North Carolina State
There’s an argument that Smith is the best “true” point guard in this draft, which is saying something given the top two picks. He’s a fierce competitor, excellent athlete and good fit for an NBA dominated by the pick-and-roll game. Questions about his efficiency and headstrong attitude persisted and caused him to slip a little, but at No. 9, for a team that needs a point guard, this is a great fit.
10. Portland Trail Blazers (via Kings): C Zach Collins, Gonzaga
A trade sends Nos. 15 and 20 to the Sacramento Kings for No. 10, as USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick confirmed. The Blazers, who entered the draft with three picks, made that deal to take Collins, widely viewed as the best center prospect in this class. Collins has potential 3-point shooting range and is an elite shot-blocker, which makes him very exciting, but the fit is curious for a team that already has a starting center in Jusuf Nurkic. Neither Collins nor Nurkic would appear ideal to guard small-ball power forwards, and the Blazers’ bigger needs appeared to be on the perimeter — Donovan Mitchell or OG Anunoby would have been good fits. Still, Collins’ potential is enormous.
11. Charlotte Hornets: SG Malik Monk, Kentucky
Considered a top-10 talent by many, Monk’s issue is that he’s a bit one-dimensional. He’s an elite scorer with ridiculous athleticism, but he hasn’t shown the vision or sensibilities of a point guard and lacks size as a shooting guard. Is he a starter or just a really good microwave offense-style sixth man? That may not matter for the Hornets, who needed a talent influx and lack scoring threats beyond Kemba Walker. The fit next to Walker would be a tiny backcourt, and Luke Kennard and Donovan Mitchell might have been easier in that regard, but Monk has more talent.
12. Detroit Pistons: SG Luke Kennard, Duke
Kennard is one of the draft’s best shooters and more versatile than he gets credit for being. He’s also tough and could be a good defender. The real question here is what this means for the Pistons’ future with starting shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Caldwell-Pope might be the Pistons’ best player and is a natural shooting guard, like Kennard, but they both are big enough to play together on the wings. Still, Donovan Mitchell’s positional versatility and athleticism might have been the better fit here, given the Pistons already have plenty of good shooters.
13. Utah Jazz (via Nuggets): G Donovan Mitchell, Louisville
The Jazz and Denver Nuggets agreed to a trade to send No. 13 to Utah for No. 24 and power forward Trey Lyles, according to USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt. Mitchell is one of the most versatile guards in this draft, and he has the potential to handle the point and shooting guard positions on both ends. He could be a surprise late-lottery star if he continues to improve his shooting and decision-making, and he and Dante Exum should be able to handle point guard duties if George Hill leaves the Jazz in free agency. Giving up on Lyles this early is surprising, but the pick was excellent.
Grade (pick only): A
14. Miami Heat: C Bam Adebayo, Kentucky
Adebayo’s potential as a modern center led to him rising on draft boards. He’s a tremendous athlete who can protect the rim and hoard rebounds. There’s a bit of Tristan Thompson in him, and a lot of playoff teams were hoping he’d slip to that range — and had reason to believe he would. Can he really play next to Hassan Whiteside, whom the Heat have committed to as their star of the present and future? Miami had needs at 2, 3 and 4, and there were a few good, valuable players available at those positions.
15. Sacramento Kings (via Blazers): SF Justin Jackson, North Carolina
The best player on the national championship-winning Tar Heels made tremendous progress as a junior. His shooting ability should translate quickly, and he has a quick if somewhat unusual release. Many teams believed Jackson to be one of the safest picks in this class, a near-guaranteed solid wing player. The fact that he plays the Kings’ biggest position of need also helps. The question is whether they might have been better off with a higher-upside pick given their emphasis on the future, but the Kings should be very happy with how their night went.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Bulls): C Justin Patton, Creighton
Patton may be most well-rounded center prospect in this class, though he lacks one primary skill to stand out. He can handle himself in the post, as a roll man, as a pop-out shooter and more. A late bloomer, Patton stunned people this season as a redshirt freshman and still has upside as he becomes polished. The Timberwolves obviously have their center of the future in Karl-Anthony Towns, but Patton can be his backup if Gorgui Dieng is kept at power forward, which felt like the Timberwolves’ biggest need entering the draft and even after the Jimmy Butler trade.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: PF D.J. Wilson, Michigan
On the surface, the last thing the Bucks need is another lanky, springy forward. But that’s become their team identity, and this pick shows new general manager Jon Horst plans to stick with it. Wilson was the latest of late-risers, not really drawing any draft interest until the Big Ten tournament. He’s got potential as a stretch-four, but that small sample size of hot play and his lack of an ideal role with the forward-stacked Bucks make him the draft’s first real surprise pick.
18. Indiana Pacers: PF T.J. Leaf, UCLA
Leaf is a hard-nosed stretch-four with a feathery touch from all ranges out to the corner 3-pointer. He may not have star power, but few if any players in this draft have a clearer NBA role than Leaf. The questions are about his upside and whether he was a product of a ridiculous UCLA offense. The Pacers entered the draft wanting to find the right pairing for Myles Turner, and Leaf should complement him well.
19. Atlanta Hawks: F/C John Collins, Wake Forest
Perhaps the most offensively talented big man in this draft, the only reason Collins slipped out of the lottery was because of defensive worries. He now lands on a team that has a hole at starting center thanks to the Dwight Howard trade, and that’s probably a better fit for him than power forward because it will allow him to use his shot-blocking ability as a help defender more. If Collins can keep adding to the shooting range he showed in workouts, he could be a total steal for new Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk.
20. Sacramento Kings (via Blazers): F/C Harry Giles, Duke
Giles has had more knee surgeries (four) than he averaged points per game last season (3.9). But this is a player whom NBA scouts have been watching for five years. He was the best player in his class until the surgeries started to pile up, and he would have been a top-10 pick if he’d simply sat this season out entirely. The risk is huge, but this is the Kings’ third pick in the first round. That makes it a really smart home-run swing.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: SG Terrance Ferguson, USA
Ferguson’s choice to go to Australia instead of Arizona opened him up to some harsh criticism. The Australian league is extremely physical, and he struggled to handle it as a teen. His lack of a handle and ideal offensive feel were exposed as well, and he didn’t play much. But he has the potential to be the best 3-and-D player in this draft because of his rangy shot, crazy athleticism and strong work ethic, and the Thunder need shooting more than they need anything else.
22. Brooklyn Nets: C Jarrett Allen, Texas
Allen entered the season as the favorite to be the first center off the board, but his freshman year had plenty of bumps. Still, his huge wingspan and great athleticism project to allow him to become an elite defender. The Nets are all about potential at this point, and Allen is a great pick in that regard, while he might even start next season if they are willing to take his learning curve in stride.
23. Toronto Raptors: F OG Anunoby, Indiana
ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla called Anunoby a “sexy blogger pick,” which sounds about right. His potential is enough to cause some drooling among the scout types, but NBA executives understandably were worried about his injury history and lack of offensive polish. Yet Anunoby might be the best possible pick for the Raptors, who love versatility and could use a lock-down bench defender. If not for this year’s injuries, he might have been a top-eight pick.
24. Denver Nuggets (via Jazz): F Tyler Lydon, Syracuse
Syracuse players struggling at the NBA level has become a common trope over the past decade. The defensive system that Jim Boeheim uses is tremendous in college but doesn’t translate well to the NBA. Lydon would have been a bad defensive prospect even without that hurdle, and his role beyond corner 3-point shooter is tough to fathom at this point. The Nuggets also just added Trey Lyles, who already is a stretch-four.
25. Philadelphia 76ers (via Magic): C Anzejs Pasecniks, Latvia
The 76ers traded a future first-rounder to the Orlando Magic for this pick, USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt reports. Pasecniks is one of the very best foreign prospects in this foreign-light draft. He likely will stay overseas, but he could become a very good backup center or maybe even a starter. It’s not a need at all for the 76ers, but they have enough second-rounders and probably would rather use two-way contracts on NBA-ready players while stashing Pasecniks for now.
26. Portland Trail Blazers: F/C Caleb Swanigan, Purdue
A year ago, Swanigan had major, major holes. He wasn’t a good enough athlete, didn’t have a well-rounded offensive game, played an outdated style. Now he’s lost weight and added skills that he never had in the past, and that’s what makes him such an intriguing player. Yes, he’s short at under 6-9, but he has a huge wingspan. His shooting ability combined with his remarkable stretch mean he’ll find a role on offense. Defense is a bigger question mark. Unlike Collins, he’s a very different big man from what the Blazers already have, which is a positive, even if his upside is limited and the frontcourt is crowded.
27. Los Angeles Lakers: PF Kyle Kuzma, Utah
A productive player with surprising measurements at the combine, Kuzma fits the stretch-four mold but may not be able to handle its defensive rigors. He has potential to become something more than a bench stretch-four, but there seemed to be much higher-upside players who fit the Lakers’ needs more, given they already have Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr. (though perhaps they will be involved in trade talks). There are a lot of really good big men on the board, and Kuzma rated as a second-round talent.
28. Utah Jazz (via Lakers): C Tony Bradley, North Carolina
The Jazz and Lakers swapped the 28th and 30th picks, with the Lakers also getting No. 42, as The Vertical first reported. Bradley gives the Jazz a player with a lot of untapped potential and an already-developed elite skill. He’s simply a great rebounder and a big body who was relegated to bench duty. There are a lot of good centers still on the board, but Bradley may have the clearest path to becoming a starter-caliber player.
29. San Antonio Spurs: G Derrick White, Colorado
“Every team could use Derrick White,” as The Ringer proclaimed this week. His versatility and size make him a very easy player to slot into an NBA rotation. It’s doubtful that he’ll ever be a full-time point guard, but the fact that he can slide there is a huge benefit, particularly on a team that is as committed to versatility and team basketball as the Spurs. They always draft well, and this was no exception — but the surprise here was that White actually fits a current roster need.
30. Los Angeles Lakers (via Jazz): G Josh Hart, Villanova
The first-team All-American has amazing statistical projections because he was so efficient and has all the physical tools to be a good, solid shooting guard. That’s exactly the kind of player the Lakers need alongside Lonzo Ball, especially if Hart’s strong college defense translates to the next level.
31. New Orleans Pelicans (via Hornets): G Frank Jackson, Duke
The Hornets traded the pick for No. 40 and cash, according to The Vertical. Jackson was a likely first-rounder until a foot injury sidelined him during the crucial workout period. This is a fine risk for a team that needs backcourt support, though there were higher-rated players available.
32. Phoenix Suns: SG Davon Reed, Miami
A prolific 3-point shooter, Reed was expected to be picked lower but has the size to develop into a solid role player. The questions are about his athleticism and upside.
33. Orlando Magic: SF Wesley Iwundu, Kansas State
It’s not often that a senior gets rave reviews of his upside, but Iwundu was a late-bloomer who has long-term potential as a true 3-and-D player because of his athleticism and length.
34. Sacramento Kings: PG Frank Mason, Kansas
The national player of the year has everything a team could want except height. The Kings (under entirely different management) were the team that drafted Isaiah Thomas, and there are definite similarities with Mason. Still, it’s quite surprising to see him come off the board before Jawun Evans.
35. Memphis Grizzlies (via Magic): F/C Ivan Rabb, California
The Grizzlies traded a future second-rounder for this pick and got one of the biggest sliders of the draft season. Rabb’s slide from expected lottery pick to second-rounder came because of a disappointing lack of development in his skills.
36. Philadelphia 76ers: F Jonah Bolden, Australia
Bolden thrived in the Adriatic League, one of the best in the world, after leaving UCLA. He’s been everywhere, man. And he’s athletic, tough and improving in his skills. Bolden and Ben Simmons are quite an exciting combination for Australians and 76ers fans. Some had him as high as the teens on their draft board, and his potential fits in with a team that could be very good in just two years.
37. Boston Celtics: F Semi Ojeleye, SMU
The top-ranked player remaining on many boards, Ojeleye is ridiculously strong and can play either forward spot. He might be another Jae Crowder for the Celtics, who love athletes like this and are building up their pool of switch-capable forwards. Plus, after four years in college, he should be able to play right away.
38. Golden State Warriors (via Bulls): F Jordan Bell, Oregon
The Warriors acquired this pick for a stunning sum of $3.5 million, USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick reports. He’s an amazingly versatile defender and aggressive rebounder, but his offensive game is so under-developed that teams wondered if he’d be too much of a liability on that end. We had him with a mid-first-round grade, so this is an amazing steal for the champions.
39. Los Angeles Clippers (via 76ers): PG Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State
The Philadelphia 76ers traded this pick to the Clippers for cash, The Vertical first reported. Evans’ biggest knock is his Chris Paul-esque size, and now he goes to a place where he could end up Paul’s backup. He was the best point guard outside of the top 10, and he easily could have been a top-20 pick.
40. Charlotte Hornets (via Pelicans): SG Dwayne Bacon, Florida State
Bacon is a talented player with a big frame who should be better than he tends to be. If the Hornets can get him committed to defense and playing team-oriented basketball, he could be a steal. But he also can cause headaches.
41. Atlanta Hawks: SG Tyler Dorsey, Oregon
Think of Dorsey as college basketball’s J.R. Smith. He’s an incredibly streaky shooter who doesn’t do a ton else. Oregon teammate Dillon Brooks has a much more well-rounded game, but Dorsey has a singular skill that translates.
42. Los Angeles Lakers (via Jazz): PF Thomas Bryant, Indiana
Bryant spent this season pushing his game out of the post and away from the basket, with mixed results. The problem is he still is a liability on defense and doesn’t seem to have a great feel for the game. But he has a 7-6 wingspan and soft touch and is 19. There’s a real chance that he could be more than met the eye.
43. Houston Rockets: PF Isaiah Hartenstein, Germany
DraftExpress had Hartenstein ranked 19th overall. That alone speaks volumes to his potential. He’s a 7-footer with great potential as an overgrown stretch-four, but he didn’t have a particularly productive season in Lithuania. At this point, he’s absolutely worth the risk for a team whose system he really fits.
44. New York Knicks: SG Damyean Dotson, Houston
Dotson was one of the players kicked off Oregon’s team after sexual assault accusations that did not lead to charges.
45. Houston Rockets: SF Dillon Brooks, Oregon
A well-rounded, polished player who lacks clear elite skills, Brooks has a penchant for big moments and might be able to be an NBA contributor.
46. Philadelphia 76ers: SG Sterling Brown, SMU
A very strong, long wing, Brown has the look of a very good G League player who finds his way into the NBA over time.
47. Indiana Pacers: C Ike Anigbogu, UCLA
A potentially elite defender, he would have been off the board 20 spots earlier if not for worries about a knee injury popping up shortly before the draft. This is a very worthwhile spot to take that risk.
48. Los Angeles Clippers (via Bucks): SF Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina
The Clippers bought this pick, according to The Vertical, and they get the hero of the NCAA tournament. Thornwell might not be an NBA wing unless he shows true range on his jumper, but he’s a safe pick who might have the fortitude to make it despite his lack of size.
49. Denver Nuggets: SF Vlatko Cancar, Slovenia
The Nuggets love European players and scout them very well, and Cancar was known as one of the better draft-and-stash options this year.
50. Philadelphia 76ers: F/C Mathias Lessort, France
Lessort could have been a first-rounder. Clint Capela’s former teammate has been on NBA radars for a while and is strong and tough. He’ll probably stay in Europe, which is just what the 76ers need at this point.
51. Denver Nuggets: PG Monte Morris, Iowa State
An ESPN statistical analysis listed Morris as the third-best player in this draft. He was drafted 51st. What more is there to say about the remarkably efficient point guard?
52. Indiana Pacers (via Pelicans): PG Edmond Sumner, Xavier
Sumner had first-round potential entering the season, but an injury and uneven play before it led him here. He’s still a long, athletic, talented point guard with real upside, if he can make better decisions.
53. Boston Celtics: G Kadeem Allen, Arizona
Allen is the perfect Celtics pick, a scrappy defender whose offensive game is better than advertised. His problem is he’s not a real point guard but measured as 6-2 at the combine.
54. Phoenix Suns: PF Alec Peters, Valparaiso
Peters is a polished, smart, skilled power forward who tore up mid-major opponents. Can it translate? He might be a better all-arond player than Tyler Lydon, who was selected 30 spots earlier.
55. Utah Jazz: G Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga
The leader of the best team in Gonzaga history deserved to be drafted. The question is whether he can play point guard after being a college wing.
56. Boston Celtics: SG Jabari Bird, California
Bird can rain 3s but lacks the physical frame and athletic ability for the NBA. We’ll give him an extra plus for being a Celtic named Bird.
57. Brooklyn Nets: PF Alexander Vezenkov, Cyprus
Considering the Nets had only two picks, it seems strange they would take a draft-and-stash candidate. Vezenkov is a good one, though.
58. New York Knicks: PG Ognjen Jaramaz, Serbia
The starting point guard for Mega Leks, a team with a good history of feeding into the NBA, doesn’t have anything close to Nikola Jokic-level potential, but with a few years of further work on his jumper and handle, he could be brought over.
59. San Antonio Spurs: SF Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson
A perfectly reasonable pick for any team late in the first, Blossomgame now gets the Spurs’ seal of approval.
60. Atlanta Hawks: C Alpha Kaba, France
His 7-5 wingspan and gaudy rebounding numbers in the Adriatic League should have been enough to get him a spot earlier than this among the draft-and-stash players.