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The NBA Draft Is Set; Let The Intrigue Begin

Machiavelli would be impressed

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Duke University v University of Texas
PORTLAND, OR - NOVEMBER 24: Marvin Bagley III #35 of the Duke Blue Devils grabs a rebound in front of Mohamed Bamba #4 of the Texas Longhorns as Wendell Carter Jr #34 closes in during the first half of the game during the PK80-Phil Knight Invitational presented by State Farm at the Moda Center on November 24, 2017 in Portland, Oregon. Duke won the game 85-78.
Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

As far as Duke and the NBA draft goes, Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter are certain to be the first two players selected.

As you probably know however, the draft is full of intrigue and gamesmanship and it picks up momentum after the lottery, which occurred Tuesday night.

Phoenix won of course and the Suns are widely expected to take Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton, a massive body and talent with almost no body fat. He’s in amazing physical condition.

However, new coach Igor Kokoskov has coached Euro prospect Luka Doncic and we expect he’ll quietly advocate for him within the organization.

What intrigues us most is Sacramento’s pick. As we’ve said before, the Kings are putting together an incredibly quick roster - De’Andre Fox, Willie Cauley-Stein and Harry Giles are all supreme athletes and Giles is reportedly healthy now for the first time in a while.

They would have a hard time going wrong with Doncic, Ayton or Bagley, expected to go 1-2-3 in some order. Either big guy would be a great addition and Doncic could be somewhat like a latter day Larry Bird with that group. He’s a brilliant passer who would make the other players that much more dangerous. Watching that team run would be worth season tickets.

Having watched Bagley all season we’d be surprised if he fell below the third pick. He’s a superb rebounder and can get his own points. He’s also an underrated passer. He needs to refine his skills and gain some muscle and that’s it. He’s going to be a nightmare to guard from the beginning.

As for Carter, he’ll probably go somewhere between #5 (Dallas) and #8 (Cleveland).

Fun note: projects Oklahoma sensation Trae Young to go to Cleveland at #8 where LeBron might be tempted to skip free agency to see just how good the kid is.

Of course part of the draft is gamesmanship, bluffing and, well, lying is too strong a word but psy-ops of a sort.

Some guys (like maybe Young) will get deliberately talked down so that someone else can swoop in. Often we hear rumors about so-and-so is shorter than they said or that there’s a potential medical issue.

We saw a great example of gamesmanship last year when Danny Ainge somehow conned Philly into trading the #3 pick and a future #1 for the #1 pick they used on Markel Fultz. Jury’s still out on that one. Boston was going to take Jayson Tatum at #1 regardless so Ainge basically suckered Philly big time.

As we’ve mentioned before, Ainge has stored draft picks like squirrels store nuts and if he decides he’d like to make a run at someone like Docic (remember, Ainge played with Bird and understands the value of intelligence in a player), Ayton or Bagley, he could do it.

Sacramento, for instance, has no draft pick next year. If they could parlay their pick into a couple of good players and some draft picks, they might bite. Phoenix might be tempted too. And Atlanta is ready for a reset.

So basically, now that the draft order is a certainty, uncertainty will rule until the draft actually takes place.

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