The point of the draft is kind of simple: add championship-caliber pieces so you can build a championship-caliber team.
Most champions have a fairly clear hierarchy and construction template. A couple star scorers and MVP-caliber players atop the roster who anchor the attack. The other twelve or thirteen teammates need to properly fill in roles around them. You need shooting, defense, other creators and rebounders and guys who bring out the most in your stars.
But when it comes to draft night, different franchises find themselves in different positions. Some are filling in those roles and have a clear blueprint for the types of players or pieces who compliment their core. Other teams are hoping to construct the core.
Similarly, prospects can fall into either of the two categories. They may have the upside to be one of the foundational pieces of the core, so far-and-away dominant at one thing or possessing the scoring upside to be considered there. Others have to prove how they fit into different systems in the modern NBA and what role they best fit; they need a particular skill to hang their hat on (and yes, versatility is a skill).
Projectable alpha scorers are the cream of the crop, and the cream always rises to the top. Those guys, the Anthony Edwards and Killian Hayes of the draft, will be taken by teams who hope and see the path to turn them into those core pieces. Other names, like James Wiseman, are simply too freakish with the upside they possess to be a core piece that the reward is worth the risk.
But what about everybody else?
Be forewarned: lots of metaphors are on their way.
Each year, folks ask to see two different items from draft pundits: their mock draft and their "big board". By asking for a mock draft, they're asking to see how the pundit projects the draft will go, taking a stab at the order and using their combination of analysis and intel to anticipate what will happen. Mocks are not, in my estimation, about what the pundit would do if in charge, but about guessing what those who are in charge will decide.
By asking for a big board, folks want to see the pundit's opinions stated more clearly and numerically. But these get tricky: there's a difference between which player will have a better career and which should get drafted earlier.
Adam Spinella, Head Boys Basketball Coach, Boys' Latin School (MD)