The 2018 NBA Draft is upon us, and it is a star studded class loaded with intriguing prospects, making it the most exciting NBA Draft in recent memory. As the draft approaches, we have heard many rumors and intel on what teams are thinking and which way they are leaning, that allows us to project who they will be selecting when they are on the clock on June 21st. Let’s get to SportSmasher.com’s 2018 NBA Mock Draft, which is full of intel and rumors for each and every team for what should be an extremely entertaining NBA Draft, featuring lots of surprises and movement via trades:
1) Phoenix Suns – Deandre Ayton – C (7’ 240lbs) Arizona – While some teams in the NBA feel that there are several prospects closely graded at the top of the 2018 NBA draft, the Phoenix Suns are not one of them, all indications are that Arizona center Deandre Ayton is a lock for the top pick. From a fit standpoint, Ayton makes the most sense, he is incredibly physically gifted and fills a gaping hole at center for a team that needs size. Ayton is a physical specimen, and is an incredible athlete for his size, he is an excellent rebounder and has potential as a three point shooter. The biggest question about Ayton is his occasional lack of effort on the defensive end of the floor, Phoenix is a terrible defensive team, and Ayton is by no means a lockdown defender who can help them improve defensively. However, Ayton does have the athleticism and length that could allow him to improve as a defender with the right coaching, and offensively he is the total package of a modern NBA big. Ayton runs the floor like a guard and he will be a perfect fit in the Suns up-tempo offense.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: There is no alternate pick here, although you would think that new Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov would want to consider his former star player Luka Doncic, by all indications Deandre Ayton to the Suns is a lock and no other player was ever seriously considered. However, there were rumors circulating that the Suns may reach out to the Spurs with a trade proposal for unhappy superstar Kawhi Leonard, which would include this pick. Leonard wants to go to a big market, which Phoenix is not, so the Suns are not expected to pull the trigger on a trade unless they are guaranteed Leonard would sign long term. Which won’t happen.
2) Sacramento Kings – Marvin Bagley III – PF/C (6’11 235lbs) Duke – In my opinion, the Kings should select European superstar Luka Doncic here and their fans are pushing for him, but indications are that they are looking to go in another direction. Reports out of Sacramento state that the Kings are concerned about Doncic’s lack of athleticism, they feel that the strength of this draft is in the frontcourt, and are focused on adding an athletic forward with the second pick. The Kings like the young and athletic core that they are building, they want to add another big man who can produce offensively in the half court, which they get when they select Duke star Marvin Bagley III. Extremely productive during his one year at Duke, Bagley is a gifted scorer and rebounder, who can finish around the rim and also shoot from range. While there are some concerns about positional fit and his ability as a defender, Bagley plays with a high motor, and would fit perfectly at power forward in Sacramento’s young core. Bagley really impressed the Kings during his workout, he believes he should be the first overall pick in the draft, and unlike some players in recent years (and in this draft) he expressed his desire to play in Sacramento which the Kings ate up. I do think the springy Bagley is going to make an instant impact, and he would probably be my bet to win Rookie Of The Year if he is selected by the Kings, he will get the ball immediately on offense and rebound at a ridiculously high rate right off the bat.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: I still would not be shocked if the Kings had a change of heart and drafted Luka Doncic here, their fans are in an uproar online demanding Doncic, at this point everything we are hearing is that the Kings love Bagley. The Kings feel that Bagley can get them 20 points and 10 rebounds every night, they think his motor and passion for the game will help them build a winning culture, and that he will give them a much needed offensive presence in the post as well as on a force on the glass. Over the last day or so, there has been recent buzz that the Kings love Michael Porter Jr, despite his injury concerns (serious back injury cost him last season, currently has hip injury) due to his go to scoring ability. The Kings are considering Porter at second overall, but know it would be extremely risky and ideally they would like to trade down, and draft Porter a little later while acquiring additional assets if Porter is indeed their guy. Finally, I am hearing buzz that the Kings may be coming to their senses and might just select Luka Doncic second overall, and potentially try to play him alongside De’Aaron Fox or trade De’Aaron Fox. If the Kings made the right pick, and selected Doncic, then Bagley would be selected fourth overall by the Grizzlies (who love Bagley) or potentially third by Atlanta.
3) Atlanta Hawks – Luka Doncic – PG (6’8 228lbs) Slovenia – The Atlanta Hawks are a team that legitimately needs everything and there are rumors that point guard Dennis Schroder and wing Kent Bazemore are readily available and could potentially be on the move this offseason, with that note the only surefire long term keepers on the roster look to be big man John Collins and wing Taurean Prince. Luka Doncic has been unfairly nitpicked by critics over the past few months, he may not be an elite athlete or a strong defender, and after playing a ton of professional basketball (and winning the EuroLeague MVP) he seems to have hit a bit of a wall. Over the last few days the Atlanta Hawks have come to their senses and realized Luka Doncic is the best European prospect of all-time, and he probably has more superstar potential than any other player in the draft. I have heard Doncic compared to both James Harden and Manu Ginobili, and while the truth probably lies somewhere in between, his ceiling is ridiculously high. Doncic is a deadly shooter from distance, he has an incredibly high basketball IQ and is a gifted passer who is savvy with the ball in his hands, he makes everyone on the court better and unlike some of his “soft” EuroLeague predecessors he already has an NBA body. The Atlanta Hawks need to give Hawks fans a reason to be interested in Hawks basketball again, and if they draft Luka Doncic, the Hawks will have eyeballs and NBA Twitter locked in on every Hawks game from day one. Atlanta also has two additional picks in the first round to surround Doncic with additional talent.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: I hear the Hawks are listening to trade offers for this pick, and if the right offer comes in, they will consider accepting it. The Hawks are infatuated with Oklahoma guard Trae Young, so if they could trade down a few spots and still get Young while acquiring additional assets, that would be ideal. Several teams with assets are apparently considering surrendering a king’s ransom and trading up to get Luka Doncic, so I would not be shocked if we have another team on the clock for third overall, but the Atlanta Hawks should not overthink this and should select a potentially transcendent player if he falls into their laps third overall.
4) Memphis Grizzlies – Michael Porter Jr, F (6’10 215lbs) Missouri – The Memphis Grizzlies have made it clear that their goal is to win 50 games next season, they believe they can win now built around a healthy Mike Conley Jr and Marc Gasol, they are not rebuilding (which might have something to do with their unprotected 2019 first round pick being owed to the Boston Celtics). The Grizzlies have long lacked perimeter scoring, they swing for the fences here and select the best scoring forward in the draft, who if he is healthy can provide an immediate impact. The former top prospect in the country, Porter Jr is a gifted athlete and a smooth scorer, however he missed nearly all of last season with a serious back injury that required surgery. Despite the fact that Porter seems to be injury plagued, scouts around the league know that his is the most talented scorer in the draft, and if he gets healthy many believe he can be a true go-to-guy and first option in an NBA offense. The Grizzlies have long needed scoring from the wing, and if Porter Jr is healthy, he can immediately give Mike Conley Jr and Marc Gasol much needed help on the offensive end.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: There have been reports that the Grizzlies are shopping this pick in order to unload the horrific contract of Chandler Parsons, which has $49 million remaining over the next two seasons, however I am hearing other reports that those rumors are not serious at this time as shedding that contract is not worth missing out on a potential superstar. One team who would apparently consider absorbing Parsons contract is the Mavs, which would give them both the fourth and fifth pick in the draft, but many around the league do not believe that the Grizzlies will seriously trade out of the fourth pick and sacrifice their future just to unload Parsons whopping salary. I heard there was some talk between the Mavs and Grizzlies in which Harrison Barnes would be included in a deal that would send the Parsons contract and the fourth pick to Dallas, but these talks were at the very early “what if” stages, and they may be nothing more than internet rumors. The Grizzlies love Marvin Bagley III, and think that he is the perfect complement to Marc Gasol in the frontcourt, they want to come away with one of Bagley or Doncic with this pick. Initial reports were that the Grizzlies were taking Bagley or Doncic with this pick, and that they would be extremely happy with either player, but not it seems like their fantasy will not become a reality.
UPDATE: A new confirmed report is making the rounds which states that the New York Knicks are engaged in trade talks to move up to the number four pick where they would select Texas center Mo Bamba. It is not known what the Knicks would have to give up, but the starting point would be taking back Chandler Parsons and the horrible two years remaining on his contract and the ninth pick, but a deal would likely include additional assets from both sides.
UPDATE: This is the most intriguing spot in the draft, the Grizzlies are fielding offers from about half the league, including the Mavs, Knicks, Celtics, 76ers and Bulls. However we are hearing the most serious talks are between the Grizzlies and the Orlando Magic. The rumor that we are hearing is the Magic are offering to take on Chandler Parsons and his horrible contract for a pick swap but the Grizzlies need to take back Bismack Biyombo and his bad contract. The Grizzlies do not want Biyombo and want Evan Fournier. Stay tuned.
5) Dallas Mavericks – Jaren Jackson Jr – PF/C (6’11 240lbs) Michigan State – Other than point guard where Dennis Smith Jr should hold down that position for the foreseeable future, the Mavericks have needs everywhere, and should be in full rebuilding mode following the incredible Dirk Nowitzki era. The Mavs need young talent, and one of the most gifted players in the draft is Michigan State big man Jaren Jackson Jr, who is a perfect fit for what the Mavericks are trying to build in the future. Jaren Jackson was not the go to guy at Michigan State and he is one of the youngest players in the draft, but he has all the tools to be an all-star caliber modern NBA big man, he has the second longest wingspan in the draft (7’5”) and is extremely athletic with the ability to switch onto perimeter players on defense. Jaren Jackson is also an excellent shooter for his size, he can step out and hit the three, and will be the perfect stretch five that many teams covet in the modern NBA. It’s going to take him some time to develop, but if Jaren Jackson Jr is the best player out of this draft class in five years, I would not be shocked.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: The Mavs are reportedly trying to find a way to land Luka Donic, even if that means trading up, so a swap with Atlanta could make sense in which case Atlanta would likely select Trae Young at five. As mentioned in the Grizzlies discussion, when Memphis made it known that they were looking to unload the ridiculous $49 million remaining over two years owed to Chandler Parsons, the first team to call was the Mavs hoping to pry the fourth pick from Memphis. We are not sure how serious the talks got, Dallas would send veterans back to Memphis (we have heard Harrison Barnes floated around), because adding two talent rookies at four and five would put Dallas squarely in rebuilding mode but would give them a bright future.
UPDATE: Hearing more and more buzz about the Mavs and Wendell Carter Jr.
6) Orlando Magic – Trae Young – PG (6’2 175lbs) Oklahoma – You can argue that no team in the NBA needs a point guard more than the Orlando Magic, who played the second half of the season with players like D.J. Augustin and Shelvin Mack running the offense, the Magic urgently need to find their point guard of the future this offseason. If Orlando were to select the best player available, they would probably go in a different direction, but point guard is such a huge need that the Magic reach a bit and select Oklahoma Sooners star Trae Young. The best pure scorer in this draft, Trae Young is a deadly shooter from anywhere on the floor, and knows how to run an offense and make his teammates better. There are some concerns about Trae Young, he is an atrocious defender who will struggle mightily on that end of the floor, and he is small and slight so he may get bullied by bigger NBA defenders. However, Young is an incredible shooter and scorer, and the Magic are in desperate need of a lead guard so this pick makes a ton of sense.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: If I were running the Magic I would be looking for a point guard, so this pick would come down to Trae Young or Collin Sexton, and we hear that in Orlando these two player are graded very closely. The Magic are intrigued by big men Mohamed Bamba and Wendell Carter Jr, they have spent time scouting forwards like Marvin Bagley, Michael Porter Jr and Jaren Jackson, so while they need a point guard it would not be shocking to see them take the best player available here and find another way to address their need at point guard. However, if the Magic were to take another forward or center, a trade would have to be coming because their front court is already overcrowded.
UPDATE: A name to keep in mind for Orlando is Kentucky point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, I’ve heard from multiple sources that they love him, and he is a real option at sixth overall. SGA cannot shoot, but his jumper is not broken, and he excels everywhere else on the floor. As one scout put it “SGA is a six-foot-six Rajon Rondo without the attitude.”
UPDATE: The rumor that we are hearing is the Magic are offering to take on Chandler Parsons and his horrible contract for a pick swap but the Grizzlies need to take back Bismack Biyombo and his bad contract. The Grizzlies do not want Biyombo and want Evan Fournier. But who does Orlando want at four who they think won’t be there at six?
7) Chicago Bulls – Mohamed Bamba – C (7’ 210lbs) Texas – The Chicago Bulls are currently a tough team to peg, they are rumored to have high levels of interest in several players, however they have a nice mix of young talent across their roster except an obvious glaring hole in the middle. Robin Lopez and Cristiano Felicio are obiously not long term answers at center, so in this scenario the Bulls grab a big man, and select a physical freak from Texas in Mohamed Bamba. I would argue that the most intriguing talent in this draft is Texas center Mohamed Bamba, who has absolutely wowed scouts during the pre-draft process. Bamba is highly intelligent, he boasts an absurd 7’10 wingspan, and has incredible athleticism for his length. What has really surprised scouts during the draft process is that Bamba can shoot from range, he has been knocking down three pointers at an impressive percentage during workouts, while also showing the ability to switch onto defending all five positions on the floor effectively. It is going to take Bamba time to develop, and you may not see him perform at a high level consistently for a few seasons, but you can argue that Bamba has the highest ceiling of any player in the 2018 NBA Draft class if he reaches his full potential.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: There have been some strange rumors coming out of Chicago over recent weeks, the Bulls seem to be set in the backcourt with Kris Dunn expected to be the point guard of the future, however the Bulls are apparently not sold on Dunn and are considering Alabama point guard Colin Sexton here who they love. The Bulls are also intrigued by Michael Porter Jr, despite his injury concerns, and the fact that he could be viewed as redundant with 2017 rookie standout Lauri Markkanen. While the Bulls are considering other players, center is their biggest long term need, so a player like Wendell Carter Jr makes sense.
8) Cleveland Cavaliers – Wendell Carter Jr – C (6’10 260lbs) Duke – The Cavaliers are making this pick with no idea if LeBron James is staying in Cleveland or leaving in free agency, so they need to take the best player available who can play alongside LeBron or be a potential building block post-LeBron, and in this scenario it’s Wendell Carter Jr. I think too many people are sleeping on Wendell Carter Jr, he just turned 19-years-old and is an extremely polished player, who was overshadowed by his teammates a bit at Duke. Carter has excellent hands and a good jump shot, he is an excellent rebounder and shot blocker, and is a good passer for a big man. What’s nice about Wendell Carter Jr is the fact that he does not often make mistakes, he will be in the right place at the right time, he will make the right pass and could develop into an Al Horford type of player down the road. There are not a lot of weaknesses to Carter’s game, he is solid all around, and his polished skills should translate to the NBA quickly.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: If the Cavaliers believe LeBron James is staying in Cleveland, this pick could be one of the point guards, a position that is obviously a big need in Cleveland for the future. LeBron James is known to be a fan of Trae Young, and you would think that his ability to hit open shots would be an excellent fit alongside LeBron’s ability to get his teammates open looks. However, there have been reports that LeBron and his team are huge fans of Alabama point guard Colin Sexton, and that he could be the pick if LeBron is staying in Cleveland. The Cavs will not know LeBron’s decision one way or the other before the draft, so they need to just take the best player available and in this scenario Wendell Carter Jr would be a huge win for the Cavs. One interesting speculative rumor making the rounds is that the Cavs would consider packaging this pick along with Kevin Love for a veteran, could the Cavs find a way to trade for the available Kemba Walker and/or Nic Batum in an attempt to convince LeBron James to stay?
UPDATE: The Cavs are very high on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and we have also heard them tied to both Trae Young and Collin Sexton, so I’m starting to think they’re drafting a point guard.
UPDATE: Just heard that, if he’s available, Michael Porter Jr will not get past the Cavs and that the Cavs are discussing trading up to get him because they think they need to get ahead of the Bulls who they expect to select Michael Porter Jr at seven.
9) New York Knicks – Kevin Knox, F (6’9 205lbs) Kentucky – While there were initial rumors that the New York Knicks were interested in point guards such as Trae Young and Collin Sexton, I am not being told that this is not the case and was never the case, the Knicks are targeting athletic forwards and you can expect one to be selected at nine. Michael Porter Jr would be the dream scenario, he is the draft’s biggest wildcard due to health concerns, he could be selected second overall or he could be on the board when the Knicks are on the clock at nine. I do not expect Porter to be available, so in this scenario the Knicks select a player who is similar, in Kentucky forward Kevin Knox. One of the youngest players in the draft, Kevin Knox is a gifted athlete, who was playing out of position as essentially an oversized shooting guard at Kentucky. Knox is an excellent shooter, he has potential as a defender due to his length and athleticism, but defensively he is a work in progress. Knox took some bad shots at Kentucky, he needs development, but the Knicks have time to develop him as 2018-2019 might be a lost season for New York as superstar Kristaps Porzingis is not expected back from a knee injury until the All- Star break at the earliest. Knox could play alongside Porzingis at either the three or the four, and his shooting and athleticism would be an excellent fit in New York, he has a high ceiling and had incredible workouts with the Knicks.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: As I said, everything that I am hearing states that the Knicks are leaning towards drafting a wing, and they will have plenty of excellent options available at the ninth pick. The dream scenario is Michael Porter Jr, but I do not expect him to be on the board, and after a great workout in New York the Knicks are known to be very high on Knox. My favorite comparison that I’ve heard for Kevin Knox is “if Tobias Harris was an elite athlete”. There are other intriguing options as well, including Villanova star Mikal Bridges, who is very polished but is three full years older than Knox. Bridges is more of a finished product, while Knox has higher upside, but needs to be developed. A wildcard is do-it-all forward Miles Bridges out of Michigan State, who is a bit undersized, but is a fantastic defender and athlete who does everything well.
UPDATE: A new confirmed report is making the rounds which states that the New York Knicks are engaged in trade talks to move up to the number four pick where they would select Texas center Mo Bamba. It is not known what the Knicks would have to give up, but the starting point would be taking back Chandler Parsons and the horrible two years remaining on his contract and the ninth pick, but a deal would likely include additional assets from both sides. The same report indicates that, if the Knicks stay at nine and he is on the board the Knicks will select Villanova Star Mikal Bridges, but some are viewing this as a power play from he Knicks to force the 76ers (who covet Bridges) to give up additional assets for a pick swap.
UPDATE: Mo Bamba is a hot name, but if the Mavs pass on him at five, he could be here for the Knicks at nine.
10) Philadelphia 76ers – Mikal Bridges, SF (6’7 200lbs) Villanova – The star of Villanova’s National Championship run, Mikal Bridges is a polarizing prospect, because he is one of the best players in the draft all around but he will already be 22-years-old when the NBA season starts. So much of the NBA Draft is based around potential, but Bridges is essentially a finished product at this point, which is why him going to a “win now” organization makes the most sense. I see Mikal Bridges to the Philadelphia 76ers as the perfect fit, not only is he already beloved in the city, but he would fit seamlessly into a roster which is built to contend next season. Bridges is a great athlete and defender, he is a good shooter, and he does not need the ball to impact the game. In Philly, the offense goes through Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, so Bridges would be a perfect addition who could help the 76ers immediately. This pick makes so much sense on so many levels.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: There is no doubt that the 76ers need outside shooting, so while Bridges makes plenty of sense, there are other options who could be excellent fits in Philadelphia. A player like Lonnie Walker IV could make sense for the 76ers, he is a local kid who ended up going to University of Miami and brings length and defensive skill along with shooting ability, so he could fit in the 76ers lineup nicely at shooting guard if the team moves on from J.J. Redick. A player like Miles Bridges could fit, he can play either forward spot off the bench and impact the game numerous ways without the ball, despite being a bit undersized. A hot prospect who would be a bit of a reach here would be fellow Villanova star combo guard Donte DiVincenzo, an excellent athlete, who would provide much needed three point shooting. We have also heard that the 76ers are trying to move down, and have heard them linked to players like Wendell Carter Jr and Trae Young, who could both help in a variety of ways.
UPDATE: Hearing Mikal Bridges is still the favorite for Philly, but they are also very high on Zhaire Smith, the freakishly athletic wing our of Texas Tech. Seeing Smith as a cutter or running the open floor and taking feeds from Ben Simmons would be a lot of fun.
11) Charlotte Hornets – Miles Bridges, F (6’6 225lbs) Michigan State – The Hornets have a new front office and coaching staff, Dwight Howard is already out and there are rumors around the league that there will be a full roster shake up in Charlotte over the summer, so in this scenario the Hornets play it safe and draft Swiss army knife forward Miles Bridges out of Michigan State. The only knocks on Bridges are he is a bit undersized and that he does not really have a position, however he is an incredible athlete and defender who does everything on the court well. A two way forward who is a good shooter, Miles Bridges really only slides due to his lack of height, however I see him as a player that has a long NBA career as a defensive specialist that can guard the other team’s best player. While Bridges will likely never be a superstar, he will be a longtime valuable NBA player, and as the Hornets look to be entering rebuilding mode this is a safe play.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: The Hornets could be a roster in flux this offseason, Kemba Walker is entering the final year of his contract, and reports state that he could be traded at any given moment. The Hornets would also love to shed themselves of Nic Batum and his giant contract, as they look to rebuild, because despite potential this roster has provided disappointing results. With so many questions, I had them picking Miles Bridges, a safe prospect that can impact the game in many ways and fits in seamlessly into many different lineups. However, if the Hornets are truly moving on from Kemba Walker and a point guard like Collin Sexton or Trae Young is on the board, he would make a lot of sense. Another name to keep in mind is rim running big man Robert Williams the Hornets traded Dwight Howard to the Nets, so Williams would be an excellent fit.
12) Los Angeles Clippers – Collin Sexton, PG (6’2 185lbs) Alabama – This would be a dream scenario for the Clippers, they want to upgrade point guard this season while also adding toughness, and they accomplish both of those goals with this pick by selecting Alabama point guard Collin Sexton. It would be a surprise if Collin Sexton is still on the board at pick twelve, he will get consideration as early as the Orlando Magic at pick six, and many other teams (Bulls, Cavs, Knicks) are rumored to be very interested in Sexton. An tenacious defender who plays an extremely aggressive style, Collin Sexton does have some teams concerned about his decision making and reckless style of play, but his knack for stepping up in the biggest moments also has some NBA scouts drooling. NBA teams will have to try to reign in Sexton’s wild tendencies, but his fierce competitiveness and his ability to play on ball defense could make him a steal at pick twelve, where the Clippers would be thrilled to have him.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: There is a rumor making the rounds that the Clippers have offered both of their first round picks (pick twelve, pick thirteen) and forward Tobias Harris to the San Antonio Spurs for forward Kawhi Leonard, and that while he prefers to be traded to the Lakers, Leonard would consider signing with the Clippers long term because he would be in big market Los Angeles. However, before the draft, making a Kawhi Leonard deal is viewed as a long shot and the Clippers would face stiff competition in the trade market. There is also plenty of speculation that Jerry West will package both Clippers picks, possibly with players, in an effort to trade into the top four. Atlanta at three and Memphis at four could be targets, but the Clippers would have to give up a lot to get there, there are rumors that owner Steve Ballmer wants a star in this draft. If Collin Sexton is no longer on the board, the Clippers could select a player like Kentucky point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander here, I have been told that the Clippers intend on taking a point guard and a big man with their two picks. However, I also hear that the Clippers like shooting guard Lonnie Walker.
13) Los Angeles Clippers – Robert Williams, C (6’10 240lbs) Texas A&M – The Clippers were considering trading DeAndre Jordan at last year’s deadline, and as the team continues to rebuild rumors are circulating that the soon to be 30-year-old Jordan could be on his way out, so finding his understudy and eventual replacement makes a lot of sense. Robert Williams has been a hot prospect in the weeks leading up to the draft, he has been getting compared favorable to Houston Rockets center Clint Capela by scots, he is a rim-runner who is an incredible finisher around the basket. Williams is also an excellent shot blocker and offensive rebounder, he has impressed scouts with his competitiveness and defensive skill, one scout told me “the kid works hard, he wants to be great.”
Alternate Pick/Rumors: I keep hearing the Clippers will take a big man with one pick and a guard with the other if they are forced to stand pat (trading up or trading these picks for a star is priority number one as mentioned above), and besides Robert Williams and Collin Sexton who I have the Clippers drafting in this scenario, the other two names I keep hearing are Lonnie Walker and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. There is some buzz around Robert Williams (the Hornets are interested and the 76ers have some level on interest), and if he is no longer on the board, the Clippers may be out of luck finding a big man in this range.
14) Denver Nuggets – Troy Brown, SF (6’7 210lbs) Oregon – There are rumors that small forward is a position that the Denver Nuggets are targeting to upgrade this offseason, so in this scenario they draft long and lanky small forward Troy Brown out of Oregon, who could be an excellent fit on their talented roster. Brown has great size and length, he can defend multiple positions, and he is an excellent athlete with high character and intangibles. The issue with Brown as a prospect is that he is not a consistent shooter, he needs to improve his outside shot, but the Nuggets have plenty of scoring and Brown can start his career as a defensive specialist as he improves his jump shot.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: The Nuggets have a deep and talented roster, and while I hear that there will not be a shakeup this offseason, I have been told to expect a retooling of sorts. The Nuggets, on paper, should be much better than they played last season and the front office knows it. The Nuggets seem to have more talent than there are minutes to go around, so trading multiple players for one standout would seem to make sense, to take this organization to the next level. I have heard whispers that, the Nuggets are making exploratory calls about trading up, but the price would be high and would cost them multiple assets. I have also heard to keep an eye on Zhaire Smith here, the Nuggets love his potential, and he is a strong option.
15) Washington Wizards – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG (6’6 180lbs) Kentucky – The main need for the Washington Wizards is depth, they have a strong starting five, however their second unit is absolutely atrocious and needs to be overhauled if they are going to become a contender in the East. There is some interest in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as early as eighth overall, but I do not see it, I project him to slide a bit and see his range as more in the teens. I have heard his name associated with the Hornets, Clippers and Nuggets. The Toronto Raptors love SGA, who is a native Canadian, they do not have a draft pick but they are rumored to be trying to trade into the first round to get him. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is an incredibly long and athletic point guard, he is an excellent on ball defender, and has the size to switch onto wings. Gilgeous-Alexander is a good passer, however the biggest issue with him is a glaring one, he cannot shoot and I cannot get over the comparisons with Michael Carter-Williams. However, SGA’s jump shot is not broken, and many around the league believe that he can become a taller Rajon Rondo. When John Wall was injured last season the Wizards struggled mightily, SGA will give them capable backup to Wall who is already an amazing defensive player, he can guard all over the floor can play alongside Wall and/or Beal.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: The Wizards need depth everywhere and I am hearing they are high on Robert Williams, he would be an excellent fit as a pick-and-roll finisher with John Wall, but I would be somewhat shocked if Williams is available at pick fifteen. Starting center Marcin Gortat is 34-years-old and not the player he once was, so Williams would make a lot of sense as an understudy and future starter, however the Wizards would need some luck for Williams to slide past the Clippers. The Boogie Cousins to the Wizards rumors have me very intrigued, but to make that happen, a sign-and-trade with New Orleans would have to be worked out.
16) Phoenix Suns – Zhaire Smith, SF (6’5 195lbs) Texas Tech – One of the worst kept secrets in the 2018 NBA Draft is that the Phoenix Suns absolutely love Texas Tech forward Zhaire Smith, and are targeting him with the 16th pick. I expect him Smith to be on the board and I expect the Suns to select him at pick sixteen. Zhaire Smith is an explosive athlete who led Texas Tech to the Elite Eight this past season, he is a ridiculous leaper who needs to develop consistency as a shooter from range. However, the Suns think his explosive athleticism will translate to an impact defensive player and that Smith has the tools to develop a great offensive game, they see Smith as perfect fit in their young core, and an exciting wing who will fit their system perfectly. Zhaire Smith could win the dunk contest, that is for sure, this guy can flat out soar.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: After selecting Deandre Ayton first overall, the Suns are rumored to be targeting defensive minded small forwards with this pick, so a player like Troy Brown or Miles Bridges if he slides makes a lot of sense if Zhaire Smith is not available or the Suns go in a different direction.
17) Milwaukee Bucks – Donte DiVincenzo, PG/SG (6’5 200lbs) Villanova – If you watched the Milwaukee Bucks last season and throughout their seven game series loss to the Boston Celtics, it is obvious that their biggest need is perimeter shooting, shot makers who can knock down the three was sorely lacking on the Bucks roster. Donte DiVincenzo is a combo guard who became a hero in the city of Philadelphia during Villanova’s national championship run, he brings toughness as well as unlimited range on his jumper, he does not need the ball in his hands to impact the game which makes him an excellent fit on a Bucks roster where the ball will be in the hands of Giannis Antetokounmpo the majority of the time.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: If I was running the Bucks, I would draft the best outside shooter available here, without question. Other options could be Maryland shooting guard Kevin Huerter, who is six-foot-seven and who many believe is the best shooter in the draft, or Duke’s Grayson Allen could make sense due to his shooting ability combined with his competitiveness and defense.
18) San Antonio Spurs – Elie Okobo, PG (6’3 180lbs) France – A point guard prospect with good size and length, he has a herky-jerky style and a deadly pull up jumper with an excellent pick and roll game. The Spurs have has some success with a point guard from France before, and Elie Okobo has been a hot name in draft circles over recent weeks, in fact one scout told me that he will be drafted before eighteen. If he is available at eighteen, Okobo seems like the prototypical Spurs pick, we get confused looks when is name is called and then he goes on to make eight All Star teams.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: While all the buzz around the Spurs is about a potential Kawhi Leonard trade, I hear that the team is concerned about their wing depth with or without Leonard, and the team will be looking to quickly retain free agent forward Kyle Anderson. The Spurs are rumored to be high on Troy Brown, and the good news for San Antonio is that if they are in the market for a wing, there are plenty projected to go in this range.
19) Atlanta Hawks – Josh Okogie, SG (6’4 210lbs) Georgia Tech – With the third overall pick the Atlanta Hawks grabbed a potential superstar in Luka Doncic, and now they need to surround him with talent, so in this scenario they grab him a running mate in the back court in Josh Okogie. I feel like Okogie is one of the more underrated players in this draft, is an elite athlete and an excellent perimeter defender who can provide floor spacing as a shooter as well. Okogie has to become a more consistent shooter, and improve his shot selection, but he is just 19-years-old and has the talent to develop into very nice player.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: This pick obviously depends on what the Hawks do with the third overall pick in the draft, in this scenario they selected Lula Doncic, but if they were to select a big like Jaren Jackson Jr (who they love) or Marvin Bagley III third overall, then the focus of this pick would likely shift to point guards. We have heard them linked to Lonnie Walker IV as well who you can read more about below.
20) Minnesota Timberwolves – Lonnie Walker IV, SG (6’4 205lbs) Miami – The Minnesota Timberwolves have a ton of talent, but struggled to translate that into winning last season, as rumors swirl that a minor roster shakeup could be imminent. One of the big problems with the Timberwolves was a lack of depth, and reserve guard Jamaal Crawford has opted out of his contract, making depth in the backcourt a big need in Minnesota. A powerfully built guard with a long (6’10.5) wingspan, Walker is an excellent shooter both off the dribble and with his feet set, he had an inconsistent freshman season but has impressed during the pre-draft process. Lonnie Walker would and give the Timberwolves second unit some scoring punch, which is desperately needed. This is a bit of a slide for Walker, who is in the conversation as early as the Knicks at nine or the 76ers at ten, he is clearly the best player available.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: I hear that the Timberwolves are targeting backcourt depth with this pick, so a player like Donte DiVincenzo or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander or Aaron Holiday could also make a lot of sense if they are on the board. There are rumors that the Timberwolves could try to trade Andrew Wiggins this offseason, however due to his massive contract, it might be tough to find a taker willing to give up anything significant to get Wiggins.
21) Utah Jazz – Kevin Huerter, SG (6’7 195lbs) Maryland – The Jazz could opt for a big man here, as the health of Rudy Gobert remains a question mark and Derrick Favors is a free agent, however in this scenario they improve their outside shooting by drafting Maryland’s Kevin Huerter. Being billed as the draft’s best shooter, Heurter is well suited for the modern NBA, he also has a high basketball IQ and is a crafty passer who moves the ball well and finds his open teammates. Huerter is not a defender at all, but as a three point threat who can make the right pass on offense, Huerter is a hot prospect who could hear his name called even earlier on Thursday night.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: The three places that I keep hearing the Jazz are looking to upgrade this offseason are 1) outside shooting 2) backup big man 3) backup point guard so the Jazz could go in any of these directions on draft night. If the Jazz wanted to take a gamble on a talented but raw big man, Mitchell Robinson could make a lot of sense, but he is going to need a lot of development. If the Jazz wanted to draft a point guard, this is around the right range for Aaron Holiday or scoring combo guard De’Anthony Metlon.
22) Chicago Bulls – Aaron Holiday, PG (6’ 185lbs) UCLA – With the relatively surprising rumors that the Chicago Bulls are unhappy with Kris Dunn, and could be looking for a point guard during the 2018 NBA Draft, in this scenario they select Aaron Holiday with their second first round pick. While Holiday struggles on the defensive side of the floor due to his lack of size, he is a skilled offensive player, who is especially successful pulling up off screens and setting up teammates. If the Bulls were to select Aaron Holiday, he would join his older brother Justin Holiday in Chicago, and after Thursday night all three Holiday brothers (Jrue Holiday is the third) will be in the NBA. While Aaron Holiday probably will never be a superstar, he will be a competent rotational piece, who has been compared to Darren Collison.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: It all depends on what the Bulls do with their seventh overall pick, I had them selecting Mohamed Bamba, but they are apparently also high on both Collin Sexton and Michael Porter, and drafting either of those players could change their thinking with this pick. There are also rumors linking the Bulls to Boise State forward Chandler Hutchinson, who received a first round promise (possibly from the Nets or Lakers), with this pick.
23) Indiana Pacers – Chandler Hutchinson, SF (6’7 200lbs) Boise State – I had been planning projecting a point guard to the Pacers here, but with Thaddaeus Young deciding to opt out of his contract and become a free agent, a versatile forward who could play right away has suddenly become a need. Hutchinson is exactly that type of prospect, a 22-year-old senior, he is developed and should be able to work his way into an NBA rotation right away. Hutchinson is a good shooter, he can play on and off the ball, and he has numerous tools that should translate well to the modern NBA.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: The Pacers could use a point guard, the future of both Darren Collison and Cory Joseph is up in the air long term, and the Pacers would like to find a guard who would fit in nicely long term next to budding star Victor Oladipo. That can be tricky though, Oladipo is better with the ball in his hands, so a combo guard like De’Anthony Melton could make sense here. Also, there are some questions regarding the Pacers to commit to Myles Turner long term on a big contract, so a developmental big man like Mitchell Robinson could make sense.
24) Portland Trail Blazers – Jacob Evans, SF (6’5 200lbs) Cincinnati – The Portland Trail Blazers need to upgrade their perimeter defense, which is why they select Jacob Evans here, a tough defensive minded forward who does not excel anywhere offensively but is also solid everywhere. Evans is a good shooter, he can handle the ball a little, but most importantly he is a standout defensive player which is where the Blazers need an upgrade. While Evans does not have huge upside, he is ready to play now, and should be a solid rotational piece who plays in the league for a long time.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: There are whispers around the Trail Blazers that the organization is starting to realize they will never truly contend for a title with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in the same backcourt, so you have to wonder if Portland will finally consider moving one of their star guards, in order to upgrade their roster elsewhere. McCollum would likely be the player to move, and there have been rumors about a trade centered around Kevin Love for CJ McCollum in the past, while the Blazers have always denied those rumors.
25) Los Angeles Lakers – Mitchell Robinson, C (6’11 215lbs) No College – The Lakers believe they have the inside track on landing LeBron James (and maybe another max player like Paul George or Kawhi Leonard) this offseason, so they are able to take a gamble here when they select big man Mitchell Robinson. The most polarizing prospect in the 2018 NBA Draft class, Robinson was initially expected to attend Western Kentucky University, but left school without playing a game in order to train for the 2018 NBA Draft. From a physical standpoint, Robinson is incredibly talented, he has great length and athleticism and instinctively swats shots around the rim. He will likely spend the first few years of his career catching lobs offensively, his game needs a lot of development, and he will be a long term project with major upside down the road.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: If the Lakers are looking for a player who can step in and contribute right away, they could go different route here, and select a player like defensive minded forwards Jacob Evans or Melvin Frazier, an undersized power forward who is ready to play now and could be an option is Keita Bates-Diop, and if they are looking for a defender in the back court shooting guard Bruce Brown could be an option. This selection may not play a lot right away, so a long term project like guard Anfernee Simmons or French point guard Elie Okobo (who could be stashed) makes sense.
26) Philadelphia 76ers – Grayson Allen, G (6’4 195lbs) Duke – The 76ers are looking for depth that can contribute right away, the pieces that can take their team from very good to a title contender, and while they already drafted Mikal Bridges in this scenario they also grab Duke combo guard Grayson Allen. Say what you want about Grayson Allen, but he brings toughness and experience, as well as the shooting ability that the 76ers desperately need. Allen is not a point guard, but he is the sort of reserve combo guard who would be a valuable rotational piece in Philly, a nice fit for a team ready to take the next step and ready to contribute right away.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: There has been some speculation that the 76ers could package this pick, along with their 10th overall pick, in an effort to trade up a few spots to be sure they secure Mikal Bridges who they absolutely love, or to trade up for another player such as Trae Young or Wendell Carter Jr. Another fit that I really like here is Mitchell Robinson, who needs time to develop, but he has a high ceiling and could be nice insurance if Joel Embiid does not stay healthy.
27) Boston Celtics – Jalen Brunson, PG (6’2 190lbs) Villanova – Kyrie Irving is coming off an injury and would not sign an extension with the Celtics, while Terry Rozier has been mentioned in trade rumors and is unlikely to remain with the Celtics long term, and while its highly unlikely that the Celtics will lose both of these players in the near future odds are one of them (likely Rozier) is not in the long term plans. Enter Jalen Brunson, who will likely never be an NBA star, but he is smart and battle tested with elite feel for the game. Brunson projects as a career high end backup and valuable reserve, he is the type of smart player that Brad Stevens loves, and if he is forced to play starters minutes due to an injury he should be more than capable.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: This pick will likely come down to depth for Boston, but the Celtics think they are ready to win the NBA title in 2018, so they want experienced players who can step in right away and contribute if they are forced into action, so Jalen Brunson or Grayson Allen or Chandler Hutchinson make sense in this range. Of course, the Celtics are also arguably the deepest team in the NBA, so I would not be shocked if they traded this pick or selected a Euro who could be stashed overseas.
28) Golden State Warriors – Melvin Frazier, G/F (6’6 200lbs) Tulane – You may find it hard to believe, but this is actually an important pick for the Golden State Warriors, who despite being the NBA Champions need to integrate young talent into their second unit. The Warriors would like to add a more polished player, but Melvin Frazier has all the tools, and is too good to pass up this late in the first round. Frazier has a nice jumper which he can hit consistently while open and he has a long (7’2) wingspan for his size which allows him to cover ground defensively, although he is a little raw, he plays hard and would be a nice piece for the Warriors off the bench.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: If the Warriors were looking to select a player who is more of a finished project than Frazier, they could look to a player like Jacob Evans or Keita Bates-Diop. Patrick McCaw is a restricted free agent who should get an offer from an opposing team, and if the Warriors are looking for a guard who can help them off the bench, I have heard them linked to Grayson Allen.
29) Brooklyn Nets – Anfernee Simons, G (6’3 180lbs) IMG Academy – The Brooklyn Nets have been forced to swing for the fences with their recent draft picks, so they need to select a high upside prospect, who needs development but could turn into a potential steal down the road. Combo guard Anfernee Simons was formerly a top collegiate prospect set to attend University of Louisville, but as a result of the scandal at the famous Louisville, he elected to bypass college and enter the 2018 NBA Draft which he was able to do being a year removed from high school graduation. Simons is an excellent perimeter scorer, he has limitless range on his jumper, and has good ball handling ability. He very lanky and needs to add strength and bulk, and his lack of experience is concerning, but the Nets can afford to develop a boom or bust prospect.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: I have heard the Nets tied to Jacob Evans or Melvin Frazier, forwards with a solid all-around game, who should be able to contribute relatively soon. They could be an eventual replacement for DeMarre Carroll. Another player that the Nets could gamble on is shooting guard Bruce Brown, who is coming off an injury, but should be drafted in this range and could end up being a steal.
UPDATE: Hearing the Nets have turned down multiple trade offers for this pick and they are locked in on one particular player. Who is that player? That’s the big question.
30) Atlanta Hawks – De’Anthony Melton, G (6’3 190lbs) USC – With the Hawks third first round pick of the 2018 Draft, they can afford to gamble on an athletic combo guard, who is excellent in transition, and looked to be a potential breakout player before deciding to withdraw from USC and enter the NBA Draft in February. Melton is a good defender who creates turnovers and is a good passer, however he is not much of a shooter, and struggles to score in half court sets. Worth a flier here.
Alternate Pick/Rumors: The Hawks are in best players available mode at this point, and with both Dennis Schroder and Kent Bazemore rumored to be on the way out, they are totally rebuilding their backcourt here. With an additional pick in the second round the Hawks can address front court depth, as after the early portion of the draft, there is a run on wings and guards.
31) Phoenix Suns – Jerome Robinson, PG/SG (6’5 180lbs) Boston College – A crafty combo guard out of Boston College who does not need the ball to help his team win. Robinson is a good shooter, he has a high basketball IQ, and he can play with or without the ball. Not a great athlete, but should be a solid role player off the bench or spot starter.
32) Memphis Grizzlies – Bruce Brown, SG (6’5 195lbs) Miami – An excellent defender, poor shooting this past season followed by a season ending injury causes him to slide to the second round, but Brown could be a steal. Grizzlies style of player.
33) Dallas Mavericks – Dzanan Musa, SF (6’9 195lbs) Bosnia – One of the youngest players in the draft, but already been one of the most productive players in Europe, Muza is an excellent scorer and is highly aggressive. He is a bit of a ball hog, and looks to shoot first, but the offensive talent is there if he can learn to be unselfish.
34) Atlanta Hawks – Keita Bates-Diop, PF (6’8 225lbs) Ohio State – An undersized power forward, many project Bates-Diop to be a first round pick, but teams are split on him. Excellent jump shooter and rebounder, but not a great athlete. Some teams see Paul Milsap potential.
35) Orlando Magic – Khryi Thomas, SG (6’3 200lbs) Creighton – If you are looking for strong defense and solid shooting Thomas is an excellent fit, he could provide stability on the wing in Orlando, and he has a chance to be drafted in the late first round.
36) New York Knicks – Hamidou Diallo, SG (6’5 200lbs) Kentucky – I have heard that the Knicks are hoping Diallo falls to this spot, an elite athlete and finisher around the rim, Diallo needs to improve as a shooter but has loads of untapped potential.
37) Sacramento Kings – Mortiz Wagner, C (6’11 240lbs) Michigan – Gives the Kings a different style of big than the ones on their roster, an excellent shooter, who is not a great athlete and struggles to defend.
38) Philadelphia 76ers – Jevon Carter, PG (6’1 200lbs) West Virginia – The 76ers can use some point guard depth, Carter is an elite defender, who can hit the three if left open and will be a quality role player off the bench.
39) Philadelphia 76ers – Rodions Kurucs, SF (6’9 190lbs) Barcelona – Definitely a talent, but has not played much overseas, the 76ers have a deep roster and can bring him along slowly.
40) Brooklyn Nets – Omari Spellman, PF (6’9 250lbs) Villanova – Long and athletic, Spellman needs to get into better shape, but is young and has the physical talent to develop his game.
41) Orlando Magic – Trevon Duval, PG (6’3 185lbs) Duke – The Magic have a hole at point guard, they need a starter as well as depth, and while Duval’s shot is ugly he is an elite athlete and good defender.
42) Detroit Pistons – Landry Shamet, PF (6’5 190lbs) Wichita State – A shooter who can play on or off the ball, Shamet is not an athlete or defender, but he can provide floor spacing and has good size.
43) Denver Nuggets – Gary Trent Jr, SG (6’5 205) Duke – A prospect that I feel is underrated, Trent is not much of an athlete or defender, but he is an excellent shooter which will give him a chance to succeed.
44) Washington Wizards – Jarred Vanderbilt, PF (6’9 215lbs) Kentucky – The Wizards need depth, and Vanderbilt is an excellent rebounder and plays with high energy, but he comes with injury concerns.
45) Charlotte Hornets – Rawle Alkins, G/F (6’4 220lbs) Arizona – A power wing who plays hard at all times, Alkins is a very good defender, but his offensive skills need development.
46) Houston Rockets – Shake Milton, G (6’5 205lbs) SMU – The Rockets love shooters, and Milton is a long point guard with excellent three point shooting, but he is not much of an athlete.
47) Los Angeles Lakers – Issuf Sanon, G (6’3 170lbs) Union Olimpoja – The Lakers draft and stash the youngest player in the draft, who is skilled on both ends of the floor, but needs time.
48) Minnesota Timberwolves – Justin Jackson, F (6’7 230lbs) Maryland – A small ball four with a shaky jump shot, Jackson is a solid athlete and defender, he has solid ball skills and was once considered a potential first rounder.
49) San Antonio Spurs – Kenrich Williams, F (6’7 200lbs) TCU – Highly productive, but has a history of knee injuries. Not much of an athlete, but a very intelligent player, who can impact the game in a number of ways.
50) Indiana Pacers – Tony Carr, PG (6’4 200lbs) Penn State – The Pacers grab a point guard prospect, who was extremely productive last season, good scorer and playmaker but jumper and defense need work.
51) New Orleans Pelicans – Chimezie Metu, PF (6’9 220lbs) USC – An athletic big man who definitely has talent, but does not always play hard, he needs to produce on a more consistent basis.
52) Utah Jazz – Issac Bonga, G/F (6’9 205lbs) Fraport Skyliners – Just 18-years-old, a draft and stash prospect, who was productive in Germany but needs time to develop.
53) Oklahoma City Thunder – F (6’8 215lbs) Clemson – A risk coming off a torn ACL, but a wing with talent on both ends of the floor, who slides due to injury. Has a second round promise from someone.
54) Dallas Mavericks – Kostas Antetokounmpo (6’10 195lbs) Dayton – The Mavs select The Greek Freak’s younger brother, who has major athletic tools, but lacks feel and needs lots of development.
55) Charlotte Hornets – Devonte Graham, PG (6’1 185lbs) Kansas – The Kemba Walker era may be coming to an end, and Devonte Graham is ready to step in as an NBA backup right away after an excellent college career, but not a lot of upside at age 23.
56) Philadelphia 76ers – Svi Mykhailiuk, G/F (6’7 210lbs) Kansas – 76ers need to stash players with some of these second rounders, and while Svi Mykhailiuk played at Kansas, he can be stashed overseas due to his passport.
57) Oklahoma City Thunder – Malik Newman, G (6’3 190lbs) Kansas – Coming off a strong season at Kansas, Newman is an undersized scoring two guard, who could make an impact off the bench.
58) Denver Nuggets – Tryggvi Hlinason, C (7’1 255lbs) Valencia Basket – A big center with mobility, Hlinason is attempting to become the second ever NBA player from Iceland, and he Nuggets can stash him overseas for a few years.
59) Phoenix Suns – Vince Edwards, F (6’8 225lbs) Purdue – An excellent shooter who is not much of an athlete, Edwards can handle the ball and played a little point forward at Purdue, not quick and does not attack the rim but has talent.
60) Philadelphia 76ers – Arnoldas Kulboka, F (6’9 200lbs) Capo D’Orlando – If the 76ers keep all these second round picks, they will need to draft and stash, Kulboka has size and can shoot from deep but he needs time to develop.
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