2018 NBA Mock Draft 1.0-Fast and Rough edition

#1 Phoenix Suns

Luka Doncic, 6-8, Slovenia

International

The Phoenix Suns finally strike gold, and are awarded a potential franchise altering pick thanks to a combination of being really bad at basketball and being really good at lucky ping pong ball draws.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s a two man race to the top between the 19 year old Slovenian who has turned heads this year playing for Real Madrid in the ACB and Deandre Ayton. The Suns recently hired Igor Kokoskov to be their head coach; this likely bodes well for the Doncic to Phoenix train of thought, as the former Pistons assistant has coached Doncic on the Slovenian National team, winning gold at the 2017 Eurobasket tournament.  Doncic projects to be an elite level playmaker with elite level handles. He can shoot from range, and is an impressively efficient scorer (17-10-10 on only 4 FGA just last week). He’ll pair nicely next to Booker in the backcourt, though he will need to improve his defense if he doesn’t want to be eaten alive in the pick-and-roll.

#2 Sacramento Kings

Deandre Ayton, 7-0, Arizona

Freshman

In a way, Vlade Divac has the easiest job out of anyone involved in this year’s NBA Draft. Barring a trade, most of his decision will already be made for him by the Suns. The draft may be a relatively deep one, but Doncic and Ayton are considered by most to be the cream of the crop.  The Kings won’t overthink anything here; they’ll take the Arizona product and plant him at the Center spot for the coming season. Ayton has a playstyle similar to a modern day Patrick Ewing. He can play inside and grab boards, or pop out and shoot similar to Karl Anthony Towns.  Ayton has the tools to be a force defensively as well, though that will be a part of his game that will need some work. He often rotates incorrectly, and is prone to getting caught out of position due to poor footwork.

#3 Atlanta Hawks

Trae Young, 6-2, Oklahoma, PG

Freshman

The Atlanta Hawks are a very bad basketball team that is desperately in need of a young star to step in and give the fan base a reason to look positively towards the future.  The more time that passes, the more likely it looks that the team will move on from Dennis Schroder one way or another this off-season, and without a solidified starter anywhere on the roster, Travis Schlenk can select anyone remaining in the draft and turn the keys over to them on day one.  That’s where the polarizing Point Guard who played his college ball in Norman steps in. Young is coming off a season at Oklahoma, that depending on who you ask, will be described as either transcendent or one filled with everything that is wrong with modern basketball. Young routinely pulled up from as much as ten feet behind the three point line and let it fly; yet he still shot 36% from deep.  Young can take the ball and get a bucket in numerous ways. He’s got next level range on his jump shot, but also possess a crafty package of floaters and flip shots he can break out on drives. He’s an excellent ball handler in the pick-and-roll, and averaged almost 9 assists as a Sooner. His shot selection is suspect, and his size will be a major issue on defense. If the Hawks do draft Young at 3, it’s likely a reach, but I think the offensive potential he’ll bring to a modern NBA offense is enough for the Hawks to take the risk.

#4 Memphis Grizzlies

Jarren Jackson Jr, 6-11, Michigan State

Freshman

The Grizzlies have a chance to grab a young piece high in this draft, and then turn around and fight for a playoff spot next season.  Mike Conley and Marc Gasol will be back in Memphis next season, and Jackson will fit into the “Grit and Grind” system flawlessly. The Center may have the highest floor of anyone in the draft, and should instantly step into the rotation as a shot blocking rim protector who can switch effectively on screens.  He has the skills required to spot up off of screens and space the floor, though his shot mechanics are awkward and may need to be refined for the NBA. If Jackson can increase his muscle mass and improve his rebounding, he could very well be the best big man to come out of this draft.

#5 Dallas Mavericks

Marvin Bagley III, 6-11, Duke

Freshman

Marvin Bagley III entered the college season as one of the more hyped Freshman in the last five years.  His play at Duke was impressive, yet I foresee a minor fall for Bagley come draft day. The positives are he’s uber athletic for a player his size, and would run through a literal brick wall if his coach told him that’s how they were going to win the game.  His lateral quickness along with his leaping ability lay the foundation required for him to be a multi-level defender. On offense he relies on a lightning fast first step, and his height to score. The concern comes in the fact he isn’t very polished. Despite his physical gifts he often gets completely lost while playing Man defense, and routinely suffers brain lapses when required to rotate over on the weak side.  On offense, he looks uncomfortable creating his own shot, and his shaky mechanics are highlighted by the fact he only shot 62% from the charity stripe at Duke. He also uses almost exclusively his left hand when finishing. He fits better as a Center, though his lack of muscle and wingspan will make that difficult. When paired with the right partner in the post, Bagley will shine. He’s also only 19, and has plenty of room to grow.

#6 Orlando Magic

Michael Porter Jr, 6-10,  Missouri

Freshman

Porter missed nearly all of his Freshman season at Missouri due to a spinal injury that required surgery.  Due to this most of the tape available dates back to his time at Nathan Hale in Seattle. Luckily for him, this bodes well, as the 6-10 19 year old was ranked first and second in his graduating class depending on what your recruiting website of choice is.  Beyond health concerns, there are concerns about Porter’s ability to score at an efficient clip, as he often in High School became a volume scorer after a couple of misses. His dribbling ability can be defined as very basic, and this often forces him into settling for contested jumpers.  He avoids contact, and isn’t a very good passer. The good news is he’s shooting form is impeccable, both on the catch and off the dribble. His height allows him to get shots off over just about anyone, and he has good instincts off ball on offense. He’ll find holes in the defense for catch and shoot opportunities, and his size does give some hope he’ll learn to be a plus level defender.  The Magic have youth at every position, and I expect them to take who they feel is the BPA.

#7 Chicago Bulls

Mohamed Bamba, 7-0, Texas, C

Freshman

Bamba may be the most intriguing defender in the draft class.  With a 7-9 wingspan, he can step in and protect the rim on day one.  He’s extremely coordinated, and willing to learn, which suggests he will someday be able to switch 1 through 5.  On offense he can catch lobs and finish with either hand, and has worked on extending his range with moderate success.  He reminds most of Rudy Gobert. Bamba has plenty to work on; he needs to add muscle to avoid getting bodied in the paint, and to improve his ability to finish through contact at the rim.  His post up arsenal is also lacking, and he doesn’t set solid screens. Bamba will fit next to last year’s lottery pick Lauri Markkanen.

#8 Cleveland Cavaliers

Collin Sexton, 6-2, Alabama

Freshman

The Cavaliers are able to grab a Point Guard that can either thrive next to LeBron or look to break the dark clouds that will blow in if he chooses to leave Quicken Loans Arena this off-season.  Sexton is a relentless player on both sides of the floor. On offense he aggressively goes at the basket and draws a ton of fouls. He’s roughly a 78% shooter from a free throw line, and with better shot selection he could be an elite level driver.  His jumper is smooth and condensed, and can be hit from any spot on the floor. On defense he’s a bull dog, fighting through screens and applying pressure in the mold of a lockdown perimeter defender. He’ll need to adjust and play a more controlled style of game at the NBA level, cutting down on high risk passes and low percentage shots, but he provides the Cavaliers with a good young prospect moving forward.

 

#9 New York Knicks

Mikal Bridges, 6-7, Villanova

Junior

The New York Knicks are on the outside looking in when it comes to guys with bonafide superstar potential in the class, but, there’s always a few guys that slip through the cracks.  The Knicks end the run of Freshman draft picks here, grabbing the Junior who has two NCAA championships to his name. Bridges is a prototypical 3 and D guy. He can defend just about any player on the perimeter, with the quickness to cover guards and the size to deal with bigger wings.  He shot over 40 percent from the college three point line, and will play well off of the strengths that Porzingis and Ntilikina bring to the table. His shot does have a hitch in it, making it difficult to knock down off the dribble, and he’s a poor ball handler, but at this stage of the draft he’d be a solid pick for the Knicks.

#10 Philadelphia 76ers

Miles Bridges, 6-6, Michigan State

Sophomore

The 76ers got where they are today by drafting the BPA; luckily for them, the best player still on the board is also arguably the best fit for their current team.  Bridges looks to be a jack of all trades role player at the NBA level. He’s a little undersized, but he can finish lay-ups and is a solid spot up shooter. He’s a high energy guy that will throw himself at the glass for rebounds, and is probably only being held back by his ball handling.  It keeps him from drawing fouls, and forces him into trying to play bigger than he actually is. He lacks the wingspan to play the 4 full time. That being said, he’ll slot in well on a 76ers team that already has a plan at every position.

#11 Charlotte Hornets

Wendell Carter Jr, 6-10, Duke

Freshman

Carter was often overshadowed by his post mate Marvin Bagley, but make no mistakes about it, WC is in the mold of a modern day big.  Similar to Al Horford, Carter has soft hands and can catch off pick and rolls and slashes. He has the IQ required to make the smart play, and is quick on his feet when it comes to darting around to finish in the paint.  He shot over 40 percent from deep last season at Duke, and has a release that won’t require any fine tuning for the NBA game. He’s hardly ever out of position on offense, and if he can stop going up on every other pump fake, the same could be said of him on defense  He’s not very athletic, but looks to make up for that with fundamentals.

 

#12 Los Angeles Clippers

Zhaire Smith, 6-5, Texas Tech

Freshman

Smith is a good candidate to benefit from the “Donovan Mitchell” effect; he’s an insanely explosive athlete who will likely fall out of the top ten.  When he leaves his feet, it looks like he’s benefiting from bionic legs. Combine that with the fact he’s extremely quick, and you have a guy who is ready to step in and defend at an NBA level.  He has elite reaction time, and while he’s not a top level playmaker, he knows when to pass the rock. He’s hesitant to pull shots and will need to fine tune his form, and occasionally picks up his dribble, but he’s as good a player as can be found at this stage of the draft.


#13 Los Angeles Clippers

Lonnie Walker IV, 6-4, Miami

Freshman

The Clippers already have DeAndre Jordan, otherwise Robert Williams would be the pick here.  From about the halfway point onward, Walker was a go to scorer for the Hurricanes, creating his shot through fancy footwork.  He needs to work on dribbling moves to get open, and his ability to shoot off the catch leaves a lot of room for improvement. Concern comes from the fact he has torn his meniscus, and is a fan of contested mid range jumpers.  He’ll bring potential to a Clippers team making back to back picks here late in the lottery.

 

#14 Denver Nuggets

Robert Williams, 6-9, Texas A&M

Sophomore

Williams is an undersized, elite level athlete who can dunk from any area code on the floor.  He’s able to get up high and pull down rebounds, and is able to switch on screens. His jump shot is a mess; he shoots right handed, but often starts the ball on the left side of his body.  He lacks discipline on defense. But his ability to run at the rim will play well in Denver.

 

#15 Washington Wizards

Chandler Hutchison, 6-7, Boise State

Senior

Chandler is a bit of a late bloomer, staying all four years at Boise State.  He has completely reworked his shot while in college, growing into a good shooter off the catch while also providing good defense.  His playmaking has grown every year, and there are hopes his ability to fire off the bounce will as well. The Broncos’ assistant head coach is Phil Beckner, credited with helping Damian Lillard develop into the offensive player he became at Weber State.  I expect him to shoot up draft boards as the combine and such pass.

 

#16 Phoenix Suns

Mitchell Robinson, 6-11, Chalmette High School

A year removed from High School

Robinson didn’t suit up for a single game while at Western Kentucky, after a bizarre few weeks that saw him leave campus, look at transferring and then come back to school.  He hasn’t played organized basketball in a year, but was projected to go top ten following his Senior season in High School. His game is similar to Hassan Whiteside. He has length and can finish through contact, and looks to slam the ball with authority on post touches.  He attacks rebounds well, using his size to attack the ball high. He has a turnover problem he’ll have to address, along with making the jump from High School to the NBA. The Suns get Doncic early and are able to take a high risk high reward flyer on Robinson here.

#17 Milwaukee Bucks

Kevin Knox, 6-9, Kentucky

Freshman

Knox is a player with tons of offensive upside.  In his lone season as a Wildcat, he averaged 15.6 points per game by abusing defenders as the ball handler off pick and rolls.  He can finish with both hands from either side of the rim, and while percentages were low, showed he can come off screens and shoot the ball.  His biggest issue at Kentucky was his tendency to dribble over the three point line and pull a bad jump shot early in the shot clock, and the fact he often falls asleep at the wheel on defense.  He’ll bring scoring upside off the bench for a Milwaukee team that will again be contending for a play-off spot in the East next season.

 

#18 San Antonio Spurs

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, 6-6, Kentucky

Freshman

The other Wildcat Freshman finds a home here, likely a little later than most expect.  A combo guard, his upbeat playstyle will flourish in a Popovich system. His long arms make him a worthy defender and a menace in passing lanes, and his 82% free throw shooting numbers suggest he will improve his jump shooting as well.  He’s not the most athletic guy in the gym, and likely will never be thick enough to deal with wider wings, but the Spurs are happy with the pick nonetheless.

 

#19 Atlanta Hawks

Jontay Porter, 6-10, Missouri

Freshman

The Hawks pick up an elite screen setter to pair with Trae Young for the rebuild.  Porter leaves something to be desired on defense, but is capable of handling the basketball and is a fantastic passer for a player his size.  He’s capable of taking a block or a big and staying in position on defense, and there is value in simply not being out of position, but he is a poor rim protector.  He can roll or pop off screens, and flaunts enough range to make him a threat. He’s going to need to get in better shape, and work on his focus level on easy shots around the rim, but he’s a good project pick here for Atlanta.

 

#20 Minnesota Timberwolves

Jacob Evans, 6-6, Cincinnati

Junior

Tom Thibodeau absolutely LOVES defense, and the Timberbulls add a guy that’s more Jae Crowder than Jae Crowder is here.  Evans will defend multiple positions and do it well, and understands modern defensive schemes at an advanced level. He closes out on every shot, rotates with little to no mistakes, and makes every step on the basketball court count.  On offense you’ll find him floating around the three point line, ready to catch and fire. He needs work finishing closer to the rim, through he’s willing to use either hand. His release is low, yet he’s a high dribbler, which doesn’t make for a good mix when it comes to pulling up off the bounce.  He’ll need to work on that and his passing if he wants to be more than a stop gap defender in the NBA.

 

#21 Utah Jazz

Elie Okobo, 6-3, France

International

Okobo is a 21 year old with first option potential on offense.  He’s crafty when it comes to creating space for his shot, using a series of step back and side steps to make room to pull a low release jumper that leaves itself vulnerable to being blocked.  He’s going to need to tighten up his ball handling through traffic, and work on his playmaking, but he’s currently constructed as a spark plug that can create instant offense. He can jump out of the gym, but often settles for mid range jumpers instead of following through into the lane.  He’s an active cutter, but it’s clear he’s still learning how to run an offense. The Jazz grab him here, and let him come into his own off the bench with the second unit.

 

#22 Chicago Bulls

Dzanan Musa, 6-9, Bosnia and Herzegovina

International

Musa is an interesting prospect in the sense that his biggest roadblock to success might be himself.  He can already score in a multitude of different ways. He has a quick shot, and can score from any spot on the floor, off screens, off catches and off the bounce.  He’s a slippery ball handler and can contort his way through openings to get to space, and digs a floater out of his bag of tricks often. He can shoot and go at the rim with either hand.  His biggest issue is that he’s prone to playing as if it’s still 2001; he’ll get the ball, pull off four or five dribble moves and take a bad step back jumper. He goes to isolation plays much too often, and develops tunnel vision.  He doesn’t go to the boards on defense, and lacks the body to bang with bigger players, but is too slow to cover smaller wings. That being said, he has a lot of upside, and that will play well in Chicago.


#23 Indiana Pacers

Keita Bates-Diop, 6-7, Ohio State

Senior

Bates-Diop used all the eligibility he could as a Buckeye, and comes to the NBA as the most recent Big Ten Player of the Year.  He’s a combo guard that is versatile enough to defend numerous positions, whether that mean he’s on the block defending the post or outside chasing guards off screens.  He has good touch and the length to finish in the paint or swat shots. It’s unsure where he’ll fit in on offense, as he’s stuck as a tweener without a real position in the NBA.  He’s also got an injury red flag, falling victim to a stress fracture in his left leg during 2017. He’ll add to the future of an already promising Pacers squad.

 

#24 Portland Trail Blazer

De’Anthony Melton, 6-3, USC

Sophomore

Lillard and McCollum are already one of the game’s best backcourts, but they struggle on defense almost as much as they shine on offense.  That’s where Melton, a Marcus Smart like performer, comes in. Melton is a plus level prospect on defense, and plays with a high motor that almost never shuts off.  He has a nose for loose balls and rebounds despite his size, and has quick feet. On offense he’s a capable passer, but his poor ball handling keeps him from running an offense.  He’ll fit well next to the pieces already in Portland, even if his offense will always leave something to be desired.

 

#25 Los Angeles Lakers

Aaron Holiday, 6-1, UCLA

Junior

Holiday won’t have to go far to join his new team; the former UCLA Bruin will bring elite level shooting to the Purple and Gold in 2018-19.  He can come off screens or bring the ball up the floor, and is a threat to splash from nearly anywhere once he crosses half court. He’s an unselfish player and rarely goes into iso mode, willing to make passes and run pick and rolls.  He’ll compete on defense too the best he can, creating deflections and picking pockets, though bigger guards will bully him around. He was worked over by traps and physical defense in college, and lacks the speed to be a whole lot more than a bench guard in the NBA, but with Holiday you get exactly what you see.

 

#26 Philadelphia 76ers

Khyri Thomas, 6-3, Creighton

Junior

The 76ers grab another player who can provide quality NBA minutes on day one.  Thomas will defend whomever he’s put in front of and can do it well. He closes out with speed to get to loose balls and get fingers on shots, and has stated he’s modeled his game after Kawhi Leonard.  On offense he can spot up and let it fly at a good clip, but struggles dribbling and thus shooting off the bounce.

#27 Boston Celtics

Anfernee Simmons, 6-4, IMG Academy
High School

I know what you’re thinking; ANOTHER GUARD?  I think it’s likely Boston moves either Smart or Rozier this off-season, and even if they don’t, Simmons may be the best player on the board.  He’s a bit of a project, having not played college ball, but the Celtics have the time to work with him, along with the depth to keep him on the bench.  He’s a tremendous athlete that can change directions at the drop of a hat, and uses his length and agility to defend well. He has a quick moving shot that he can get off from any angle.  He lacks finishing at the rim, and often settles for what the defense gives him to a painful degree. That being said, the top recruit who skipped playing for the NCAA finds a home in Boston.

#28 Golden State Warriors

Bruce Brown, 6-3, Miami

Sophomore

Brown is a gritty, defense first guard that will bring hustle to the Warriors bench when he’s ready to contribute.  He can guard players bigger than himself, and is a lethal help defender. His work on that side of the ball will be his meal ticket; he’s a bad shooter with bad form.  He’s bad at the free throw line, and doesn’t have any moves to break out in the paint. He’ll leave his feet without a plan, and thus flings the ball wildly at the rim way too much.  The Warriors are drafting low for a reason, and can afford to be patient with Brown.


#29 Brookyln Nets

Hamidou Diallo, 6-5, Kentucky

Freshman

Diallo finally comes to the NBA.  A raw offensive game will mean Diallo will have to make his impact on defense.  He can block shots, and stop the ball. He’ll lose his man off-ball, but he’s quick enough and long enough it often doesn’t matter.  He has a poor jump shot, and is sloppy with the rock on offense. He likely fits better as a 2 in the NBA, and the Nets will give him his run there to start.

#30 Atlanta Hawks

Jalen Brunson, 6-2, Villanova

Senior

After taking Trae Young third, the Hawks grab a Point Guard with a low ceiling, but a high floor.  Brunson has a feel for the game beyond his years; he’s smooth, cool and calculated with the ball. His footwork is next level, and he uses it as the base for everything he does on the court.  He can shoot, and has a nice back to the basket game. He’s not athletic, and gets lost on picks on defense.

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