NEW YORK (AP) Marvin Bagley III and Michael Porter Jr. believe they are the best players in this NBA draft, though the best they can hope for is probably the No. 2 pick.
The Sacramento Kings own it, and that’s where the intrigue appears to begin Thursday.
Arizona center Deandre Ayton is expected to be taken by the Phoenix Suns to open the draft, and then Bagley, Porter, Slovenian guard Luka Doncic or Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr. could be considered by Sacramento.
The Kings have been one of the league’s lowliest franchises, not making the playoffs since 2006. But Bagley and Porter both said they would be open to playing in Sacramento, and getting picked so early would be an accomplishment for Porter after a back injury sidelined him for nearly all of his only season at Missouri.
Bagley thrived in his one season at Duke and doesn’t expect that to change once he’s a pro.
”I want to be the greatest player to ever play the game of basketball, and I mean that in the most humble way possible,” he said. ”Not to sound cocky or come off as arrogant, but that’s just the mindset that I have. I always say, if you don’t want to get to that level or be the best, then there’s really no need to play.”
Doncic only arrived in the U.S. on Wednesday after helping Real Madrid win the ACB league championship a day earlier. If the Kings don’t select him, he could end up in Atlanta, Memphis or Dallas, who round out the top-five spots.
Other things to know before Thursday’s draft at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center:
BAHAMAS TO BROOKLYN
Ayton could join 1978 top pick Mychal Thompson – father of Golden State star Klay Thompson – as the only players from the Bahamas to go No. 1.
”It’s just a huge opportunity to show the world that we’re coming. Bahamian people are coming,” Ayton said. ”We’re not just only a country of track and field athletes. We can also play basketball.”
If it happens and Doncic follows, it would be the first time the NBA draft started with two international-born players.
Power programs such as Duke (Bagley and Wendell Carter Jr.), Michigan State (Jackson and Miles Bridges), national champion Villanova (Mikal Bridges and Donte DiVincenzo) and Kentucky (Kevin Knox and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander) could have multiple players taken in the top 10-15 selections of the two-round draft.
MAKING A MOCKERY
Jackson was on the rise in some mock drafts this spring, though he never noticed. He said he would look at them sometimes when he was a younger fan, but hasn’t had any interest now that his name is in them.
”I think when I was in high school, I probably looked at those mock drafts when they came out and said, `Oh snap.’ But as I found out there was like so many people making different ones, I kind of just lost interest in looking at it,” he said. ”I kind of just play my game, work on getting better and just wait for that moment. Tomorrow’s the day so there’s no more mocks. It’s going to be the regular draft.”
TURN OFF TWITTER
Porter was frustrated when he felt comments he made in an interview were turned around, quickly learning that life will be different in the NBA.
”I’ll give you an example. Yesterday I get asked, who have you been compared to in the NBA? Who do people compare you to?” Porter said. ”And I said, `You know, I’ve been compared to KD (Kevin Durant) before. I’ve been compared to Tracy McGrady,’ and then they put it on Twitter, it’s like, Michael Porter says he’s as good as KD and Tracy McGrady. And I’m like come on, bro, I didn’t say that. But at the end of the day, that’s why I try to stay off Twitter.”
Carter wore pants that had a different pattern on each leg to his Wednesday media session and there was some other sparkle in the room, but the best of the style figures to come out, as usual, on draft night.
”All the way from when LeBron had the all-white coming out, the suits are what stand out to me, what they wear,” Young said. ”Everybody has a different background and different story on how they got there, but what they’re wearing is what sticks out to me right now.”
And he’s planning to make an NBA first impression.
”Yeah, it’s going to be something fine,” the point guard said. ”It’s going to be something crazy.”
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