2018 NBA Mock Draft 2.0

The NBA draft is finally here! This draft is loaded with talent at the top and I expect to see a few teams trade up to try to get a piece of the pie.  This is the most talented drafts since 2009 which featured Steph Curry, James Harden, Blake Griffin and DeMar DeRozan.

  1. Phoenix Suns – Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona, FreshmanSuns Ayton Basketball

Ayton is the best prospect in the country and he isn’t afraid to say it: “I know I am going No. 1”. He refuses to work out for anyone else after working out for the Suns. Phoenix hasn’t come out and vocalized their plan to take him first. Ayton resembles a slimmer Demarcus Cousins in physical tools to a special talent on both ends of the floor, but often doesn’t maximize his potential on defense. Ayton didn’t test in the Combine, but that won’t matter much. The Suns will team him up with Booker and Jackson for a talent and young three headed monster.


  1. Sacramento Kings- Marvin Bagley, PF, Duke, Freshmanbagley-marvin-061818-usnews-ftr-getty_zwzveu07mtr1bp3az67hpska

The Kings are reportedly looking to trade this pick but until they make it official, I think they will select the star from Duke. Bagley brings energy, athleticism, scoring every single night but his lack of shooting can worry teams a bit. In college, he did shoot a respectable 39% from 3, but his attempts were limited. With that said, Bagley has the potential to be a cornerstone player for Sacramento on the block. Bagley and D’Aaron Fox could be a dangerous pick and roll. I, personally, question if he can be a 20 and 10 guy in the next level where he will have to rely more on his skills and his athleticism won’t be as effective.


  1. Atlanta Hawks – Jaren Jackson, PF, Michigan State, FreshmanIMG_2978

The Hawks will have a tough call to make with Jackson or Mo Bamba and I think they ride with Jackson here. Jackson is the second-best rim protector (Mo Bamba being the first) in the draft but he has much more to offer on the offensive end. The 19-year-old isn’t an offensive stud yet, though he has shown that he can stretch the floor more than the other bigs near the top of the draft. Hawks can’t pass on a defender who can guard 4-5 positions and blocked 5.0 shots per 36 minutes last year.


  1. Memphis Grizzlies – Luka Dončić, SF, Real Madrid, 1999,Doncic

Dončić has all the tools to be a NBA star: he scores, distributes, handles the ball, and plays decent defense. Unlike most of the other draftees, he has been playing against professionals since he was 16. This past year he won MVP of the EuroLeague, which is considered the second-best league in the world. He probably won’t dominate a specific statistic category, instead, he will be a stat sheet filler. The only knock is he doesn’t have elite athleticism, and he didn’t participate in the combine to put those concerns to rest. None of that should bother the Grizzlies, they need the best wing players they can find. I am confident that Dončić will have the best career of the top prospects.


  1. Dallas Mavericks – Mohamed Bamba, Texas, C, FreshmanDYwbKCbWAAA-wXb

Bamba’s defensive potential is pretty much all he is showing this early in his career but his length is a game changer (think Rudy Gobert). Bamba has a 7’10 wingspan, which is a combine record. As far as offense goes, Bamba hasn’t shown much more than rim running and put backs. He expanded his range a bit at Texas showing his shot has room to grow, but I wouldn’t count on him knocking down 3’s in the near future. Bamba’s instant impact will be guarding the pick and roll and protecting the rim, both attributes Dallas lacks on their current roster.


  1. Orlando Magic – Michael Porter Jr., PF, Missouri, FreshmanPorter

Porter might be the most interesting of the top prospects. He is a former No. 1 recruit who missed all but three games at Missouri. If Porter didn’t get hurt, he might be a top-3 pick. He didn’t play exceptionally well in those games and that could be explained by rust and he was clearly out of condition. Porter often gets Kevin Durant comparisons because of his 6’10 size and outside game and he is more of “fluid” than explosive. Porter is a bucket-getter for sure, but right now he often gets away with shooting over smaller defenders; he won’t always have that advantage at the next level. Orlando is taking a bit of a risk drafting Porter because they need the offensive fire power on the perimeter.


  1. Chicago Bulls – Wendell Carter, PF, Duke, Freshman636573323267006204-USATSI-10725160

The Bulls are just stock piling young prospects and hoping one of them develops into a star; I think Carter has that potential. There are some people who think Wendell Carter will be better than Bagley; I am one of those people. Carter has better size and moves on the block. I don’t expect Carter to get pushed around under the basket and he shown the lateral quickness to guard smaller players on the perimeter. Carter shouldn’t step on Markkanen’s toes because they operate from different areas.


  1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Colin Sexton, Alabama, PG, Freshmanusa_collin_sexton

Disclaimer: Collin Sexton is my favorite player in this draft. I am not saying he is the best player, but certainly underrated.

Colin Sexton has that intensity that you want from a lead guard combined with all the offensive tools to compete at the next level. He was asked to carry the offensive load at Alabama, including dropping 40 points on Texas A&M while playing 3-5 for a majority of the second half.  He is a score first guard and doesn’t create much for his teammates, but he can put the ball in the net himself. His numbers aren’t as efficient as NBA scouts would like but Sexton bore almost all of the offensive burden at Alabama. This pick isn’t as good as Cleveland thought it would be when they traded Kyrie, but this might still be good enough to keep LeBron in Cleveland. Regardless of where LeBron takes his talents this year, the Cavs need their PG of the future.


  1. New York Knicks – Trae Young, Oklahoma, PG, Freshmanmaxresdefault

The Knicks need something special to pair with Porzingis, why not pick the closest prospect to Steph Curry? Trae young will need a few years to develop. He has a frail frame and average athleticism, but he is one of the most exciting players in the country. He easily became the most popular player in college basketball by launching 3’s from anywhere where at any time. Sound familiar? I am not saying he is anywhere near the player Steph is today, but I have to call it how I see it; his playing style resembles Curry. Young was another PG that carried an incredible offensive load and his efficiency numbers suffered. He will most likely struggle on defense at least until he bulks up a bit. The Knicks have time to let him grow into his Steph Curry comparisons with Porzingis.


  1. Philadelphia 76ers – Miles Bridges, Michigan State, SF, FreshmanNCAA Basketball: Purdue at Michigan State

It was obvious that Bridges was accustomed to playing as a big man before he played for Coach Izzo at Michigan State. His perimeter game greatly improved; he is a better ball handler and a more efficient spot up three. At the very least, Bridges is a highflying energy guy and he can deliver that day one. How he continues to round out his game will determine his career. The Sixers have a plethora of young talent; Miles needs a year or two to round his game, and the Sixers have time.


  1. Charlotte Hornets – Robert Williams, Texas A&M, SophomoreRobert_Williams_TexasAM_2018_AP

Robert Williams’ athleticism is the major component to his game, he jumps out of the gym. He is 6’9 and sturdy build can prove to be valuable on the defensive end.  At this point, Williams isn’t much more than a rim runner and shot blocker, and Charlotte needs an injection of both.


  1. Los Angeles Clippers – Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova, Juniormaxresdefault (1)

Mikal Bridges may be considered an older pick by today’s standards after three years at Villanova, but that shouldn’t matter here. He doesn’t t have the highest ceiling but his floor is low. Bridges projects to be a 3-and-D wing player that can guard multiple positions. Bridges is an efficient perimeter scorer that should spread the floor for D’Aaron Fox to drive and kick. If you watch Bridges play, he doesn’t have many explosive highlight plays but he doesn’t make many mistakes and rarely take bad shots.


  1. Los Angeles Clippers – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kentucky, PG, FreshmanBuffalo v Kentucky

Gilgeous-Alexander has great size and length; he could play either guard position at the next level. Given his youth and lack of development, it will most likely take him a few years before he is given the reins to the offense. The Clippers are in a rare position where they have back to back picks and can gamble a bit.


  1. Denver Nuggets – Kevin Knox, Kentucky, SF, Freshmanusa_today_10290987.0

Kevin Knox underperformed his lone collegiate season, but that could be contributed to the system and the spread the wealth style from Kentucky this season. The former McDonalds All-American has a silky smooth offensive game; he can put the ball in the bucket from mid-range and deep. He is athletic but I wouldn’t say he is a great finisher at the rim. He has the length and size to be a lockdown defender. Denver has its franchise players, now they are searching for role players to fill the gaps.


  1. Washington Wizards – Troy Brown, Oregon, SG, Freshmanap_troy_brown.png

The Wizards core may be falling apart after limited success from the last few years and this last season showed some tension in the locker room. However they decide to handle their core of starters, the bench production is one of the worst in league. Brown is a good all-around player and brings energy every single night. The Wizards desperately need some scoring off the bench, that is one thing Brown does well.


  1. Phoenix Suns – Anfernee Simons, IMG Academy, PG, 19992018 NBA Draft Combine - Day 1

The Suns aren’t going anywhere any time soon and this is their second pick of the draft so they could really gamble with on this pick. Simons chose to do a 5th year at IMG rather than go to Louisville. Simons does scores and facilitates well and one of the youngest players in the draft. It may take a few years to develop, but he was top recruit when he was headed to Louisville.


  1. Milwaukee Bucks– Zhaire Smith, Texas Tech, SG, FreshmanTexas Tech v Purdue

Zhaire Smith has efficient number collegiate statistics although he wasn’t the focal point of the offense. Smith thrived with a 55% field goal percentage as the second scorer on the team. He has the potential to be a perimeter defensive stopper. He is young and has plenty of time to develop his skills while the Bucks use his defensive prowess in the meantime.


  1. San Antonio- Jacob Evans, Cincinnati, SF, JuniorMemphis v Cincinnati

Evans could come in next year and contribute on a team like the Spurs, he has the defensive size, athleticism and versatility. Kwahi Leonard’s future could really change the look of this lineup, but every team can benefit from perimeter wing players that can guard multiple positions and switches. If he can round out his offensive tools just a little more, he could be a valuable role player in the Spurs/Popovich system.


  1. Atlanta Hawks- Jalen Brunson, Villanova, PG, Juniorjalen-brunson-layup-ftr_1cndwn1etknjn13zaxy29ux916

Jalen Brunson was the leader of the most recent Nova team to win the NCAA championship. He is a smart and efficient point guard and his intangibles make up for his below average athleticism. Dennis Shroedoer is a solid PG, but he reportedly wants put of Atlanta so the Hawks needs to decide to prepare for what is next.


  1. Minnesota Timberwolves – Moritz Wagner, Michigan, C, Juniormoritz-wagner-cc068d3e6607bb10

Mo Wagner will ride his March Madness momentum to the end of the first round. He could start as a PF next to Karl Anthony Towns, but he is built to more for a current day stretch 5. He didn’t show much defensive prowess at Michigan, but his rebounding and intensity were huge in the big dance. The Wolves had the worst bench scoring in the NBA last year; Wagner could be the first big man off the bench.


  1. Utah Jazz – Elie Okobo, France, PG, 20elie_okobo_small__0

The Frenchman burst on the scene relatively late. It will certainly take him a couple of years to adjust the size and speed of the NBA after playing in the top-flight French league. Okobo is a true point guard who specializes in pick and roll offense, that’s a perfect running mate for Donovan Mitchell.


  1. Chicago Bulls – Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State, SF, Junior932567362.jpg.0

Bates-Diop is a do it all scorer on the offensive end, even without superior athleticism. He showed the ability to score from anywhere on the floor. His ceiling isn’t extraordinarily high, but he could still bring great value to NBA rotation. The Bulls are stockpiling young talent to stock their rebuild and KDB won’t hurt.


  1. Indiana Pacers – Aaron Holiday, UCLA, PG, Juniorweb.sp_.holiday.feat_.COURTESY.picB_

Holiday is a combo guard who doesn’t have elite size or athleticism, but he can shoot on and off the dribble. Holiday is a better shooting version of his fellow former Bruin, Darren Collison, and 8 years younger. Victor Oladipo carried the Pacers to an impressive 7 game series against the Cavs, they should try to build on the end of last season with more firepower around Oladipo.


  1. Portland Trailblazers – Džanan Musa, Croatia, SF, 19prelako_to_radi_dzanan_musa_ubacio_35_poena_224327_259222_big

Musa is a few years away from contributing on a championship contending roster, but his spot up shooting should translate right away. If Musa stays in Germany for a year or two, it wouldn’t be a major loss because the Blazers won’t be contending for a championship any time soon. The Blazers could use another shooter to spread the floor for Dame and CJ McCollum.


  1. Los Angeles Lakers – Mitchell Robinson, Chalmette High School, C, 19986_5208496.0

Here is another American prospect that skipped college basketball to forge another path to the NBA. Mitchell Robinson shows the potential to be a rim protector with limited offensive game, though he could develop into more. Decommitting from Western Kentucky hurt his draft stock, so the Lakers could be looking at a steal with five-star recruit.


  1. Philidephia 76ers- Gary Trent, Duke, SG, FreshmanDuke University v Virginia Tech

Trent has the potential to be a sharpshooter at the next level and who better to learn from another Duke Alum, JJ Reddick. After watching enough tape on Trent, it appears that the surplus of talent at Duke held Trent back from showing the full skill set. The Sixers are over flowing with young talent but not much 3pt shooting.


  1. Boston Celtics- Grayson Allen, Duke, Juniorgrayson-allen-020917-getty-ftrjpg_1mtbntbhlovnx13vbo09s3nr6r

There is only one position that they don’t have a future young star: center. Unfortunately for them, picking a center here would be reaching too far. They have too many versatile wings, so guard is the only thing that makes sense. Grayson Allen can give them depth and more offensive firepower off the bench and could ultimately be a plan B if they end up losing Kyrie, Smart, or (first or last name) Rozier.


  1. Brooklyn Nets – Chandler Hutchinson, Boise State, SF, SeniorSan Jose State v Boise State

Hutchinson is the only senior I project to go in the first round and its one of the last picks. He is a savvy scorer and does a great job of using his size to score over defenders. The Nets need better draft position than this late in the draft but this is the product of one of the worst trades in NBA history.


  1. Golden State Warriors – Khyrie Thomas, Creighton, SG, Junior20151115 - MBB Creighton UTSA

Thomas’ usage wasn’t very high at Creighton, but he showed the ability to score the basketball on and off the dribble. He lacks true shooting guard size, but he has the prowess to hold his own on defensive end. Golden State has the recent history of finding rotational gems.


  1. Atlanta Hawks – Donte DiVincenzo, Villanova, PG, Freshman9a08f89e3f58ca4441d570df8dcee00a

DiVincenzo is the riskiest player of the draft. He blew up in multiple tournament games, including game 31 points in the champion game against Michigan. At the combine, he showed out once again in the 5 on 5 scrimmages. Scoring won’t be problem and maybe he has a knack for showing up in big moments.

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