Jaren Jackson Jr. and Miles Bridges don’t have much of a choice when it comes to who will pick them in the upcoming NBA Draft. But that doesn’t mean we as fans can’t cheer for them to end up with the perfect team to help the former Spartans turn into stars.
Unlike most of the recent MSU players to reach the NBA. Jackson and Bridges have a chance to made a difference quickly for their new team, both expected to go to a lottery team. However, for that to happen, they will need sign with a team that best allows their specific styles to grow into NBA form.
Which means the teams most experts expect to draft the MSU stars aren’t exactly the ones they want to be with.
Jaren Jackson Jr.
Consensus team: Memphis Grizzlies
Best fit: Dallas Mavericks
Other options: Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls
No one wants to see a talented player like Jackson slide at all, but dropping one spot from the Grizzlies at four to the Mavericks at five may be best for the young big-man. Jackson has an explosive, but unrefined offensive game. Working under a Hall of Fame player like Dirk Nowitzki couldn’t be more perfect for Jackson. He would also be a centerpiece on a young Mavericks team that should be ready to return to the playoffs in a few years, right on track with Jackson’s development.
With all that said, heading to Memphis isn’t the worst thing in the world. The Grizzlies have a solid franchise that has shown it can develop young talent and Jackson’s style fits nicely with the team. They do have some positional redundancies at center with Marc Gasol and fellow Spartan Deyonta Davis, which would likely push Jackson to power forward. Not a problem, but it would change his defensive talents. Another strong fit would be the Bulls, where he could play center with another young roster and would almost immediately slide into the starting center position. But that’s a fairly drastic drop for Jackson from four to the Bulls at seven.
In other words, just don’t send Jackson to Atlanta, please.
Consensus team: Charlotte Hornets
Best fit: Philadelphia 76ers
Other options: Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers
There has been a lot of interest in Bridges, who has the talent to play anywhere from a shooting guard to a stretch-four. Expected to go late in the lottery, Bridges could easily end up with a Philadelphia team that is on the rise with as much young talent as anyone in the NBA.
For Bridges to be truly the perfect fit, he needs to prove he can hit his jumper, especially from deep. With a true force in the post in Joel Embiid, and Ben Simmons emerging as a dominant guard, the Sixers need a young talent who can stretch defenses. Obviously, Bridges is explosive off the bounce, but proving he has a knock down jumper would put Philadelphia among the best in the East. It would also give Bridges a landing-spot where he wouldn’t be looked at as the immediate star.
Bridges may also work well in New York. With the Knicks, Bridges would be a nice complimentary piece to Kristaps Porzingis. That combo could push the Knicks into the playoffs in the East. Obviously, the Knicks are still a ways off of being anything resembling a title contender, but it’s better than ending up on a team that needs three players just to compete. Bridges has also had meetings with the Indianapolis Pacers, San Antonio Spurs, Cleveland Cavaliers and the Denver Nuggets. Of that group, only the Cavs have a lottery pick, although that team may look dramatically different if LeBron leaves Cleveland again.