2018 NBA Mock Draft (Lottery)
With the 2018 NCAA Men's Tournament now at a close (congratulations to Villanova, by the way) college prospects looking to the NBA have played their final collegiate games. Some used the tournament to rise their stock such as Collin Sexton and Lonnie Walker IV, while others may have hurt their caused like Miles Bridges and Trae Young. Assuming the current standings will fall into place in the lottery, here's how the 2018 NBA Draft should shape out.
2017 McDonald's All-American Game
#1 Phoenix Suns: C - Freshmen - Deandre Ayton
At 7'0 and 243 pounds, Deandre Ayton has been able to excel in the college game with ease. While he won't always be the biggest and strongest player on the court in the NBA every game, that size will still cause problems for most defenders. While the Suns are one of the worst defense teams in the league (113.6 OPPG, 47.3% OSP), the offensive upside of Ayton is too exciting to pass up on. He has the stature and skill to be a future 20-10 threat and create more space for Devin Booker to get his shots up. While Ayton isn't known for his defense, his body and athleticism allows for growth on that side on the ball. The Suns are in the lottery for the 7th straight year and need to draft the best available player on the board: Deandre Ayton.
#2 Memphis Grizzlies: C/PF - Freshmen - Marvin Bagley III
Marvin Bagley III is the most post-skilled player entering the draft and the Grizzlies would be smart to swoop him up. The Grizzlies have a fan-favorite Marc Gasol still at the center position but tensions between him and the front office have been growing. If Gasol remains in Memphis for the next few years, Bagley III will make a great low-post PF while Gasol stretches the floor, move the ball, and protect the rim. If Gasol and the Grizzlies decide to part ways, Bagley III could jump into the center role and, like Ayton, become a 20-10 threat and the focal point of the team. However, while Ayton uses his size and athleticism to score and rebound, Bagley III uses his polished skill set to create easy shots and grab loose boards.
#3 Atlanta Hawks: PF/C - Freshmen - Jaren Jackson Jr.
The ability to have your PF knock down the three-point shot is a sought after commodity in the NBA Jaren Jackson Jr. certainly brings that to the table. Shooting 40% from deep during the season helped prove he is arguably the best stretch-four in this draft class. Often, stretch-fours lack in defensive ability; Jackson Jr. is not one of those stretch-fours. Jackson Jr. averaged 5.7 blocks per 40 minutes of play this past season and was essential to the (regular season) success of the Spartans. With Dennis Shroeder at the helm for the Atlanta Hawks, the pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop game would improve significantly with the addition of Jackson Jr. in their hopes to soon compete in the Eastern Conference.
#4 Orlando Magic : PG/SG - 19 YRS - Luka Doncic
The NBA has not had a European perimeter player with as much hype as Luka Doncic. The 19-year-old currently plays for Real Madrid and has continue to shine on the international stage. Doncic is a 6'8 PG with handles, a consistent jumper, and the ability grab rebounds. There are no questions that the young prospect has proven he can hang with the best that Europe has to offer, but not everyone is sold on Doncic as an NBA player. His athleticism lacks at a position where speed kills in the NBA. It's hard to imagine that Doncic will be able to stay with Russell Westbrook or John Wall in a game, which could pose a problem for the defense. However, his length and offensive upside is something that is worth taking a chance on for a team in a rebuilding phase.
#5 Dallas Mavericks: C - Freshmen - Mohamed Bamba
The Mavericks have always thrived with athletic, defensive-minded big men in the paint (see Tyson Chandler, don't see Nerlens Noel), and Bamba certainly fits that mold. People have compared Bamba and Ayton as opposites. Bamba having the most defensive potential, with average offense skills and Ayton having the most offensive potential, with average defensive skills. In a draft class stacked with front court talent, the Mavericks should take advantage of the depth and draft a player who can lockdown the center position for the foreseeable future. Bamba comes with few red flags and would excel along side athletic, slashing player such as Dennis Smith Jr. and Harrison Barnes.
#6 Sacramento Kings: SF/PF - Freshmen - Michael Porter Jr.
Although Michael Porter Jr. was sidelined due to a back injury for a majority of the season, he has the potential to become an elite offensive wing. His game draws comparisons to Kevin Durant, but his back injury has caused his stock to drop and will most likely fall out of the top 5. The Kings are lost and have a history of drafting poorly, but for the sake of Porter Jr. that won't curse him. Back injuries are serious, but the Kings are the type of team to take a risk in the draft that has huge payoff. Sacramento has been lost since trading Demarcus Cousins (not that they were exactly the creme of the crop during his tenor as a King) but have a solid core in De'Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield. The addition of Porter Jr. would give the Kings the potential to have one of the best young PG/SG/SF trios in the NBA.
#7 Cleveland Cavaliers (From BKN): C - Freshmen - Wendell Carter Jr.
While teammate Marvin Bagely III had most of the spotlight during the season, Carter Jr. is a surefire lottery pick with tremendous upside. Carter Jr. has low-post skill, a solid perimeter shot for his size, and a 7'3 wingspan than can help defend the rim. The Cavs have seem to given up on Tristan Thompson as a starting center and would welcome change. The Cavs haven't had a lottery pick since LeBron James rejoined the team (surprise, surprise) and have not had the chance to draft a young-star in quite some time. James has voiced his support of PG Trae Young, so don't be surprised if he's able to use his leverage to have Young added to the team. However, if the Cavs are able to shake the influence of James, they should be able to see that Carter Jr. is the best fit for the team and someone who can contribute to a playoff team right away and continue to grow over time.
#8 Chicago Bulls: SF/PF - Sophomore - Miles Bridges
Head Coach Fred Holberg runs an uptempo, perimeter oriented scheme that Miles Bridges would thrive with. The Bulls backcourt of Kris Dunn and Zach Lavine is one of the most athletic in the league and the addition of Bridges would make the Bulls a scary team to see on the fast break. Bridges is one of the most well-rounded talents in the draft who can do a little of everything. Shooting, passing, rebounding, and defense are all in his arsenal and is one of the more athletic prospects in this draft. While Bridges had a poor tournament performance that resulted in a second-round loss, the Bulls could use a combo forward to progress their rebuilding process.
#9 New York Knicks: PG - Freshmen - Trae Young
The Knicks missed out on Stephen Curry in the 2009 draft by just one spot and instead selected Jordan Hill. New York fans are not forgiving and certainly have not forgotten missing out on the two-time MVP. Trae Young is the first of many Steph Curry lookalikes that the NBA will see in the upcoming years. Young's ability to create his shot and launch from just about anywhere on the court is perfect for the modern NBA game. Young is a box-office hit and will fit perfectly inside the sacred-basketball-grouns of Madison Square Garden. With Kristpas Porzingus assumed to miss the first half of the season, Young could give the Knicks the offensive skill set to help them stay relevant in the league. Young's defensive liabilities are concerning, but current rookie Frank Ntilikina should be able to help cover that up during Young's upcoming rookie season.
#10 Philadelphia 76ers (From LAL): SF - Junior - Mikal Bridges
Philadelphia have made the playoffs for the first time since 2012 and have a lottery pick from the Los Angles Lakers. How's that for trusting the process? While the 76ers are still a few years away from being serious contenders, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid have proven themselves to be All-Star caliber players and will be forces in the league for years to come if they can stay healthy. Markelle Fultz is still a question mark, but even so the 76ers have arguably the most promising future in the NBA. The addition of a polished Mikal Bridges who can either start or come of the bench and contribute to a winning team is exactly what the 76ers need. Bridges can shoot the three, defender the perimeter, and has the maturity that the younger players in the draft may not have yet. With potential star-power dwindling down in the draft, Bridges is a low-risk pick that can contribute immediately.
#11 Charolette Hornets: PF/C - Freshmen - Robert Williams
The Hornets with the 11th pick was the most difficult pick to decide on. They don't have a glaring weakness at any position, they have an All-Star in Kemba Walker at the point, and there isn't a "can't miss" player at this point in the draft. That being said, Robert Williams brings something to the table that the Hornets could use. The PF position is the most up for grabs in Charolette and Williams would pair well with Dwight Howard. Both are rim-protecting, pick-and-roll, rebounding strong men who can bully the opponent. Going up these two would pose a challenge for the opposing front court and possibly propel into a bottom seed of the Eastern Conference. Who knows, maybe Howard can even show Williams a thing-or-two on what it takes to be a dominant center in the NBA.
#12 Los Angeles Clippers (From DET): PG - Freshmen - Collin Sexton
After an outstanding performance in the NCAA tournament, Sexton is ready to take on the NBA. He has a natural ability to get to the rim and put the ball in the basket. The one question teams have in regards to Sexton is his decision making as a point guard. Having De'Andre Jordan being his partner in the pick-and-roll will give him easy assists to improve his confidence in his passing and facilitating ability in his early career. After trading away Chris Paul and Blake Griffin during the past year, the Clippers may have expected to have a better pick than 12th. But, with the chips falling how they have this season, LA should be satisfied by getting Sexton late in the lottery.
#13 Los Angeles Clippers: SG - Freshmen - Lonnie Walker IV
With point guard position being filled with their previous pick, the Clippers should next look to find Collin Sexton a partner in the backcourt. Lonnie Walker IV and Sexton would be a solid backcourt for a team rebuilding. Walker VI has the ability to shoot the three-ball and be pesky on the defensive perimeter with his 6"10 wingspan. The Clippers may consider packaging the two picks and move up in the draft but if they choose to stay, I think the pairing of Walker VI and Sexton would give the Clippers a solid future on the perimeter.
#14 Denver Nuggets: PG/SG - Freshmen - Shai Giligeous-Alexander
The Nuggets struggled on defense this past season and already have a committed backcourt of Jamal Murray and Gary Harris, but Shai Giligeous-Alexander has the potential to be a role player of the bench to average 20 minutes for a playoff contending team. Giligeous-Alexander has the length, attitude, and skill to be a solid defensive role player for a winning organization. The Nuggets have been a middle of the pack team since Carmelo Anthony was traded to New York in 2011, and this year was no different. The current group of players Denver has collected and develop are promising and Giligeous-Alexander would be a nice addition to that group.