6. Orlando Magic select Jalen Brunson
Original draft position: 33
Part of the best Dallas Mavericks draft class of all time, guard Jalen Brunson was selected with the third pick of the second round.
Coming off a championship at Villanova, Brunson was thought of as an above-average role player. Someone who could manage the second unit and chip in, at most, double-digit points off the bench.
During his three seasons at Villanova, Brunson scored primarily in the mid-range. He would post up other guards and use nifty finishes around the rim. However, scouts were hesitant to buy Brunson's scoring ability in the NBA.
Throughout his first four seasons in the league, Brunson immediately proved draft pundits wrong. He played well in his first two seasons before an improved third season. In his fourth season, he took off. Brunson averaged 16.3 points per game and led the Mavericks to two playoff victories with Doncic on the floor.
Prior to last season, the former Wildcat headed back to the Northeast to suit up for the New York Knicks. And, Brunson truly broke out. He averaged 24.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game.
7. Chicago Bulls select Deandre Ayton
Original draft position: 1
The consensus number one selection falls to seven in this redraft. Ayton's scouting reports oozed over his potential. As the former Arizona Wildcat is an athletic marvel and was at 18 years old as well.
Throughout his tenure in the NBA, Ayton has played very well but hasn't taken his game to the next level. His career highs in points and rebounds came in his second season. His physical gifts haven't led to many blocks. And, he's never demonstrated any sort of floor-spacing at the NBA level.
In college, Ayton averaged 20.1 points and 1.9 blocks per game. Two marks he's yet to eclipse in Phoenix. Additionally, Ayton knocked down twelve three-points at Arizona. He's only made 21 three-pointers across five seasons in the association.
Something to take note of, Ayton has played for a stacked Suns team for the majority of his career. From Ayton's third season to now, he's held a limited offensive role. Although the big man has consistently played 30 minutes per game, his usage rate is similar to fourth or fifth options and top reserve players.
It's fair to wonder how different Ayton's career may look if he were drafted by another team. Or, if Ayton was to be traded to a team that would allow for more offensive opportunities. But for now, Ayton looks like a good center in this league who won't break the top five at his position.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers select Anfernee Simons
Original draft position: 24
Upside, upside, upside. The only word that appeared on every single scouting report for Anfernee Simons. Partly because Simons skipped the college and overseas route, teams were wary on his abilities as a prospect.
Fittingly, Simons began his career slow. He only appeared in 20 games in his first season. But, his second and third seasons began to show the upside he once promised as a high schooler. Simons displayed elite 3-point shooting and won the Slam Dunk Contest in 2021.
The full breakout occurred in the 2021-22 season at only 22 years old. Simons averaged 17.3 points and 3.9 assists per game while shooting above 40 percent beyond the arc.
After his breakout season, the Trail Blazers awarded their prized young guard with a four-year extension. Simons took his game to another level this past season, averaging 21.1 points, 4.1 assists, and 3.4 three-pointers per game.
Look for Simons to take another leap in his age-24 season, mainly due to the impending trade of franchise star Damian Lillard.