Original Pick: Dennis Smith Jr.
Although Lavar Ball would not have been happy with Lonzo falling to the Mavericks at nine, he does not have to know about this. Lonzo infamously went second overall to the Los Angeles Lakers, as Lavar predicted. The Mavericks deeply needed a point guard in this draft, and here with the 9th pick, they get a proven playmaker with loads of potential. Ball’s injury concerns are scary as we even question if he will return to the court again.
When healthy, we all know what Lonzo is capable of. His best statistical year came in 2020-21, where he averaged 14.6 points, 5.7 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per game. This is also the year his three-point shooting improved, as he made over three per game. He also made a 20% jump in free-throw percentage from the previous year, going from 56% to 78%.
Ball would join a pretty weak roster in Dallas, including their leading scorer Harrison Barnes, a future King. As long as Ball could stay healthy for this Mavericks team, he would be their franchise point guard, but there are prominent injury concerns.
Original Pick: Frank Ntilikina
While Jarrett Allen is the only current All-Star not going in this new top five, the Knicks are getting a steal at pick eight. While they originally drafted a point guard, they could use the defensive big man to pair with Kristaps Porzingis in the frontcourt. Although Allen struggled in the Cavaliers first-round playoff series against the Knicks, he could be exactly what New York needed.
The Knicks still would have struggled regardless of their pick here, as their roster was horrendous outside of Porzingis, so they might as well take the best player available. During his 2021-22 All-Star season, he averaged 16.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, and 0.8 steals per game. Being paired in a frontcourt with an offensive-skilled seven-footer like Porzingis would have been great for Allen’s development.
Allen originally fell to Brooklyn at the 22nd pick, but now the Knicks get their franchise center, an anchor on the defensive end.