Roundtable: What Will Be the Biggest Surprise on NBA Draft Night?

NBA draft night is always full of surprises we didn't see coming from a mile away. With that in mind, The Front Office considers the draft field and looks at what could be the biggest shocker of the night.
By SI Staff ,

There's never a dull moment during the NBA draft, and tonight's event is expected to have more action than ever on the trade market. Keeping that front of mind, The Front Office digs into the chaos and considers what might be the biggest surprise of the night. 

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The Pelicans trade 4th pick for 11th, Robert Covington

This is a very specific prediction, but the Pelicans have been gauging interest in the 4th pick since before the Anthony Davis trade was even finalized. I don't like that idea for reasons outlined over here, but my opinion matters less than David Griffin's in this case. The Pelicans don't seem to love anyone at four, so here's to betting that a) they do trade No. 4, and b) they trade with the Wolves, who are thirsty to jump to four and grab Darius Garland. If Minnesota throws in Robert Covington, that would give New Orleans a great perimeter defender who can stretch the floor around Zion Williamson.

The Pels may also use the 11th pick to go after Brandon Clarke, a big man who can play multiple positions and would slide into the rotation immediately. Note: I also predict the Hawks trade their 10th and 8th picks to Cleveland so that Atlanta can jump to five and take De'Andre Hunter. Second Note: I can't wait to see how wrong all of this looks in roughly 12 hours. Draft night! — Andrew Sharp

Portland gets into the mix

The Blazers aren’t set to pick until No. 25, but their time is now. Very rarely is the West this open for the taking; with Golden State compromised by injury and the Rockets sorting through their differences, there is no default favorite to win the conference for the first time in a half-decade. We’ve already seen Utah make their claim by acquiring Mike Conley. It’s possible Denver could make a move, though a 54-win team with so much young talent (and Michael Porter Jr. still awaiting his NBA debut) could fairly bet on itself.

Portland, on the other hand, has the profile of a team bound for an active summer: capped out (even before re-signing Al-Farouq Aminu, Seth Curry, Rodney Hood, Enes Kanter, and/or Jake Layman) with clear needs, close to the top of the conference but not quite close enough. No. 25 is the only current draft pick the Blazers will have at their disposal on Thursday. What appeal it has as part of a larger trade, especially so late in the draft, comes from the ability to hand-pick a prospect. It will never be more valuable in trade negotiations than before the pick is made, which sets up Portland as a team to watch. — Rob Mahoney

An unexpected team trades into top 10

While conflicting rumors exist at virtually every turn of this draft, one consensus has clearly emerged around the league: there’s going to be a ton of movement. We might see a record number of trades on Thursday night. The Pelicans are listening intently on No. 4. The Hawks and Celtics both hold three first-round picks. The Spurs, and now the Grizzlies following the Mike Conley trade, hold two as well. But I think there’s going to be one team in the late teens or 20s that packages some assets and surges into the Top 10 to nab their guy.

This class has a clear top 3, but after Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and RJ Barrett, opinions vary on Jarrett Culver, Darius Garland and De’Andre Hunter. Should one still be available at six or seven or even eight, we could see a team later in the first mortgage a lot of future capital to scoop a prospect they’re particularly in love with. — Jake Fischer

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Bol Bol goes way too high

Bol Bol has all the makings of a prospect that teams can irrationally fall in love with. Tantalizing size, unbelievable measurements, incredible workouts against folding chairs, ridiculous highlight reels and an incredibly small sample size. They say it takes just one team to make you a lottery pick—there has to be one team that has fallen head over heels for the potential of Bol Bol.

Draft maven Jeremy Woo has Bol Bol projected to go No. 18 tonight, but I’m going to say he slips into the back half of the lottery. Most teams will be scared away by his medicals and potential for injury, but one front office will talk themselves into the 7'2" prospect. — Matt Dollinger

Chaos begins at the No. 4 pick

David Griffin received a historic haul in dealing Anthony Davis to the Lakers, but don't assume the former Cavaliers architect is done dealing just yet. Perhaps New Orleans loads up on points guards and selects Darius Garland, while Jarrett Culver could add to an elite defensive lineup on the wing. But with no slam dunk pick, an established contributor may prove more appealing. Bradley Beal hovers as a potential option and Chicago would likely jump at the chance to deal Zach LaVine for another early lottery selection. Griffin may be well served by continuing New Orleans' youth movement into the next decade. Though if the Pelicans want to contend in 2019-20, they could make their second headline deal of the offseason. — Michael Shapiro

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