#6: San Antonio Spurs - Tre Jones and Devin Vassell
Assuming everything goes to plan, Tre Jones will become one of the best perimeter defenders in the league and Devin Vassell will be an oversized two-guard who can play solid defense on pretty much anyone. They’ve shown flashes and have plenty of time to get better since the Spurs aren’t competing anytime soon.
Unfortunately, not everything goes to plan. Jones may never develop an outside shot, and Vassell might not become the Kawhi-level defender we thought he could be. Still, the Spurs have a pretty secure backcourt, as neither make mistakes and can be trusted with the ball, which is asking a lot from such young players.
#5: Detroit Pistons - Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey
I hope Killian Hayes is not named the starting point guard next season. He’s had his chance, but there’s new blood in town. The first and fifth overall picks from the last two drafts should be able to complement each other well. Neither is polished, but both are elite scorers who can play solid, if not great, defense.
Cunningham has shown some Ben Simmons-level passing while not being completely terrified of shooting the basketball. Jaden Ivey is yet to play a minute of NBA ball, but he put the Boilermakers on his shoulders and willed them into the tournament, so I wouldn’t sell him too short. I think the Pistons are on the rise, and having a small-market team in the Eastern Conference should be a lot of fun.
#4: Charlotte Hornets - LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier
LaMelo Ball will be a superstar if he isn’t one already. He is a nightly threat for a triple-double, he can shoot shockingly well considering that was his biggest concern entering the league, and he can make a highlight tape every single night. He might be the brightest star in the league and will be a perineal All-Star for years to come.
Terry Rozier is a solid second option, but he’s 27 and won’t be getting any better. If anything, he hurts the Hornets' rankings. If Ball had a young running mate, I’d place a futures bet on them to win the 2028 NBA Finals. That piece isn’t there yet unless Charlotte is hiding James Bouknight from the world.