Re-Drafting Luka Doncic, Trae Young and the 2018 NBA Draft

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured Columnist IVAugust 26, 2022

Re-Drafting Luka Doncic, Trae Young and the 2018 NBA Draft

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    DALLAS, TEXAS - FEBRUARY 06: Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks has a moment with Trae Young #11 of the Atlanta Hawks after the game at American Airlines Center on February 06, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
    Luka Doncic and Trae Young. (Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

    Today's media landscape demands instant analysis of the NBA draft, but it takes time to have a clear idea of how every team did.

    For the 2018 draft class, we now have four seasons from which to draw some takes. If teams knew then what they know, the first round would've gone much differently.

    With that extra information in hand, we'll re-draft the first 30 picks from 2018, but the order won't be entirely based on past production.

    These players are all still in their early- to mid-20s, theoretically pre-prime. So, there's a lot of subjectivity in play as well. Sorting through everyone requires a lot of judgments calls.

    More general evolutions in the game of basketball have to be considered, too. Four years ago, the idea of positionless basketball (and by extension, the importance of wings) wasn't quite as prevalent as it is now.

    With all of the above tossed into something of an analytical cocktail, this is how the first round should shake out if it was re-drafted today (assuming an order of 30 generic teams, not the original order from 2018).

    Check out B/R's other NBA re-drafts here: 2016, 2017

Picks 30-26

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    HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 1: JaeSean Tate #8 of the Houston Rockets smiles during the game against the Sacramento Kings on April 1, 2022 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Jae'Sean Tate (Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images)

    30. Jevon Carter (Originally Picked 32nd)

    Jevon Carter hasn't had a chance to put up a ton of raw production, but he has established himself as a solid three-and-D backup guard during his four NBA seasons.

    Over the course of his career, Carter has attempted 569 threes, shot 38.3 percent from deep and posted a 0.5 defensive box plus/minus. Only nine other players matched or exceeded all three marks over that span.


    29. Moritz Wagner (Originally Picked 25th)

    Moritz Wagner has quietly become one of the NBA's more efficient moneyball scorers. Nearly his entire shot diet comes from three-point range or within 10 feet of the rim. Among players who put up at least as many threes over the last three seasons, his effective field-goal percentage is tied for 33rd in the league.

    Wagner's slight slide from where he was originally drafted is the result of not contributing much production beyond that scoring. His team's defenses have been much better with him off the floor over the last two years, too.


    28. Landry Shamet (Originally Picked 26th)

    Landry Shamet is another offense-first player who puts up even fewer rebounds, steals and blocks per game than Wagner.

    He's one spot above Wagner because of his more reliable track record from three (he's taken 5.2 threes per game and hit 39.0 percent of them for his career) and ability to survive in positionless or switch-heavy defensive schemes.


    27. Kendrick Nunn (Originally Undrafted)

    Kendrick Nunn spent all of the 2018-19 season in the G-League and missed all of last season with a knee injury, but he showed enough in his two seasons of NBA experience to enter the first round of the re-draft.

    Over those two years with the Miami Heat, Nunn put up 711 three-point attempts, averaged 15.0 points and posted a 54.0 effective field-goal percentage. Only 13 players matched or exceeded all three marks during the same stretch.


    26. Jae'Sean Tate (Originally Undrafted)

    After going undrafted, Jae'Sean Tate spent the first two years of his professional career playing overseas. He showed enough of a Swiss army knife-like game in Australia for the Houston Rockets to bring him to the NBA, and he hasn't disappointed.

    During Tate's two NBA seasons, only 12 players have matched or exceeded all of his per-possession averages for rebounds, assists, steals and threes. If he can pull his three-point percentage up from a career 31.0 to something around or above average, he'll start garnering attention as a bona fide three-and-D option.

Picks 25-21

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    TORONTO, ON- APRIL 28  - Toronto Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr. (33) as the Toronto Raptors fall the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 6 and lose their first round NBA playoff series 4-2 in Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. April 28, 2022.        (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
    Gary Trent Jr. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

    25. Kenrich Williams (Originally Undrafted)

    Kenrich Williams was rightfully dubbed "Kenny Hustle" early in his career because of his solid rebounding rate for his position, effort on defense and a general willingness to fill the gaps in any lineup.

    Thanks to his low-usage, high-energy game, the Oklahoma City Thunder were plus-1.4 points per 100 possessions when Williams was on the floor last season compared to minus-12.4 when he was off. His size and adaptability would presumably lead to a similar impact on plenty of teams.


    24. Grayson Allen (Originally Picked 21st)

    Grayson Allen sliding a few spots from his original draft spot has more to do with the rest of the class than it does with him. Over the course of his career, he's more than lived up to his first-round billing.

    Allen's primary strength is his outside shooting. Over the last three years, he's averaged 10.4 points and 2.1 threes while shooting 40.2 percent from deep. And though he isn't a lockdown defender, he at least applies himself on that end.


    23. Gary Trent Jr. (Originally Picked 37th)

    Allen's teammate from Duke, Gary Trent Jr., has scored a bit more over the last three seasons, but he lags behind in terms of efficiency and catch-all metrics. There are a few reasons he gets the nod over Allen in the re-draft.

    First, and perhaps most importantly, Trent is more than three years younger than Allen. That's a lot of time in the world of NBA development. It isn't hard to imagine him refining his shot (and shot profile) to at least where Allen's is by the time he's 26.

    Trent's other advantage over Allen is an extra inch-and-a-half in wingspan. In today's switch-heavy NBA, even a little additional length can go a long way on defense.


    22. Bruce Brown (Originally Picked 42nd)

    Bruce Brown has soared from 42nd to 22nd on the back of the versatility that he's flashed throughout his career.

    In his first season, he played almost all of his minutes on the wing and provided solid defense there. In Year 2, he spent some time at point guard and showed an ability to create for others. With the Brooklyn Nets, he often operated as a rim-running center on offense, despite his 6'4" frame.

    Being able to wear so many different hats is a major plus in the increasingly positionless NBA.


    21. Devonte' Graham (Originally Picked 34th)

    Devonte' Graham's playing time, production and efficiency have all tailed off since he put up 18.2 points per game in his second season, but his ability to get threes up in volume has made him a distinct plus for his teams.

    Over the last three years, he's averaged 8.4 three-point attempts per game while shooting 36.2 percent from deep. In the same span, his teams are minus-1.2 points per 100 possessions when he's on the floor and minus-7.1 when he's off.

Picks 20-16

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    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 29: Marvin Bagley III #35 of the Detroit Pistons in action against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on March 29, 2022 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Brooklyn Nets defeated the Detroit Pistons 130-123. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
    Marvin Bagley III (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

    20. Donte DiVincenzo (Originally Picked 17th)

    Injuries limited Donte DiVincenzo's availability and effectiveness in 2021-22, but he had quietly established himself as a solid playmaker and three-and-D wing over the previous two seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks.

    In those campaigns, DiVincenzo averaged a well-rounded 9.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.6 threes and 1.2 steals in 25.3 minutes. The Bucks were plus-10.1 points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor and plus-5.4 when he was off.

    If that version of DiVincenzo returns in 2022-23, he'd be even higher up in this re-draft.


    19. Duncan Robinson (Originally Undrafted)

    Duncan Robinson is already 28 years old. He almost certainly doesn't have the upside of most of the other players here. We may have already seen his peak.

    But what sets Robinson apart from many of his draft classmates is that we already know he has one elite NBA-level skill. It just so happens to be the most important skill in basketball.

    His efficiency slipped a bit last season, but Robinson is still a career 40.6 three-point shooter. Stephen Curry is the only player in league history who matches or exceeds both of Robinson's marks for three-point attempts per game (7.9) and three-point percentage.


    18. Marvin Bagley III (Originally Picked 2nd)

    In terms of old-school production, there's still reason for optimism with Marvin Bagley III. Only 10 players in NBA history logged at least as many minutes as Bagley and matched or exceeded his per-possession averages for points, rebounds and blocks through their respective age-22 seasons.

    But Bagley's well-below-average scoring efficiency and often nonexistent defense have contributed to his team generally being worse when he plays. However, that trend has started to turn over the last two seasons.


    17. Kevin Huerter (Originally Picked 19th)

    Kevin Huerter may be best known for his outside shooting. More than half of his career shot attempts have come from deep, where he's hit 37.9 percent of his attempts.

    But the bigger driver of his slight boost up the draft board is probably his underrated playmaking. He's averaged 3.8 assists per 75 possessions over his four seasons.

    If a defender is closing out to a shooter who can put the ball on the deck and create for others, he has to be wary of the drive. More cautious closeouts can lead to more open catch-and-shoot looks.


    16. Jarred Vanderbilt (Originally Picked 41st)

    Jarred Vanderbilt isn't really a rim protector, but he has established himself as a high-end defender (both inside and out) and dominant rebounder who can play the 4 or small-ball 5.

    On top of his 8.4 rebounds in only 25.4 minutes per game last season, Vanderbilt averaged 5.6 contested shots, 2.7 deflections and 0.9 loose balls recovered. Lonzo Ball, OG Anunoby and Jrue Holiday are the only players who matched or exceeded all three marks, and Holiday's average of 32.9 minutes was the lowest among that trio.

Picks 15-11

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    TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 5: Collin Sexton #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers dribbles against the Toronto Raptors during the first half of their basketball game at the Scotiabank Arena on November 5, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, NOTE TO USER: User  is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
    Collin Sexton (Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

    15. Mo Bamba (Originally Picked 6th)

    It took a while, but we finally got a look at the intriguing potential of Mo Bamba's three-and-D game in 2021-22. In only 25.7 minutes per game, he averaged 10.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.5 threes while shooting 38.1 percent from deep.

    Having a big man who can both spread the floor and take care of the rim allows you to play with all of the benefits of a five-out offense without sacrificing the backbone of most defenses (rim protection).


    14. Collin Sexton (Originally Picked 8th)

    Relative inefficiency, lack of creation for others, lackluster defense and an injury in 2021-22 have all hurt Collin Sexton's stock. All of the above and the bad timing of hitting free agency in a summer with very little cap space are probably contributing to him still being available.

    But 2020-21 gave us a glimpse of what Sexton's ceiling might be, and it's pretty high as a heat-check scorer. That season, Sexton averaged 24.3 points, 4.4 assists and 1.6 threes while shooting 37.1 percent from deep, and he did his scoring from all over the floor.


    13. De'Anthony Melton (Originally Picked 46th)

    De'Anthony Melton has quietly become one of the game's better perimeter defenders. That compliment isn't entirely based on his having one of the best steal rates in the league over the course of his career, although that helps.

    Melton's quickness makes him a good option against either guard spot, but he also has the length (6'8" wingspan) to switch up onto wings. Shooting 38.8 percent from three and averaging 2.6 assists in only 21.6 minutes per game over the last two seasons suggests he still has plenty of potential on offense, too.


    12. Jalen Brunson (Originally Picked 33rd)

    Jalen Brunson spent most of his first three seasons as a reserve, but he still managed to establish himself as an above-average point guard with Sixth Man of the Year potential.

    When the Dallas Mavericks inserted him into their starting five last season, his stock took off. In the 1,208 minutes he played without Luka Doncic, Brunson averaged 23.7 points and 8.0 assists per 75 possessions and made it clear he can function as a No. 1 guard.


    11. Mitchell Robinson (Originally Picked 36th)

    Brunson's new teammate, Mitchell Robinson, hasn't garnered as much attention, but he's shown flashes of legitimate defensive anchor upside.

    During his career, Robinson has averaged 7.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in only 23.8 percent minutes per game per game. He's also shooting 72.2 percent from the field.

    Playmaking and shooting from all positions is in high demand, but centers who are as long, athletic and explosive as Robinson can still get away with relying on rim-running and -protection to stay on the floor.

10. Anfernee Simons (Originally Picked 24th)

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    PORTLAND, OREGON - FEBRUARY 27: Anfernee Simons #1 of the Portland Trail Blazers passes the ball against the Denver Nuggets during the first quarter at Moda Center on February 27, 2022 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
    Abbie Parr/Getty Images

    Launching Anfernee Simons into the top 10 after only 35 career starts and one season with a double-digit scoring average may seem premature, but that's how explosive of a creator he was in 2021-22.

    After Damian Lillard left the Portland Trail Blazers' rotation with an abdominal injury, Simons averaged 23.4 points, 5.8 assists and 4.4 threes while shooting 42.3 percent from three. He rose to the role of No. 1 scorer and then some.

    The kind of self-creation Simons showed carries a ton of value in today's NBA.

    The fact that he spent much of his first three seasons playing alongside other guards is encouraging, too. His 6'9" wingspan allows him to play on the wing and up the playmaking quotient in any lineup.

    Simons may never be an above-average defender, but his offense should make up for that. The Blazers' net rating was 10.6 points better with him was on the floor in 2021-22.

9. Michael Porter Jr. (Originally Picked 14th)

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    MEMPHIS, TN - NOVEMBER 1: Michael Porter Jr. #1 of the Denver Nuggets dribbles the ball up the court against the Memphis Grizzlies on November 1, 2021 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

    Vaulting Michael Porter Jr. into the top 10 takes nearly as much of a leap of faith as it did for the Denver Nuggets to select him 14th in 2018.

    In the four years since he was drafted, MPJ has played in only 125 games. He missed all but nine games in 2021-22 after undergoing his third back surgery in the last five years.

    Taking Porter at No. 9 is a real gamble on his health. When he's available, though, he looks like one of the best shooters in the game.

    Beyond his size, textbook form and quick release, Porter has an ability and willingness to move off the ball and get shots off against anyone that's reminiscent of Klay Thompson. In 2020-21, he averaged 6.3 three-point attempts and shot 44.5 percent from deep (the ninth-best percentage in a season in which a shooter put up six-plus attempts per game).

    On top of his shooting, Porter has a knack for making highlight defensive plays (like chasedown blocks) and is a plus rebounder for his position (9.2 per 75 possessions for his career).

    If not for his durability concerns, MPJ would have a case for the top five here.

8. Wendell Carter Jr. (Originally Picked 7th)

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    CLEVELAND, OHIO - MARCH 28: Wendell Carter Jr. #34 of the Orlando Magic runs down court during the third quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on March 28, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Magic 107-101. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Jason Miller/NBAE via Getty Images

    With Nikola Vucevic out of the way, Wendell Carter Jr. broke out in 2021-22. He had been a starter for his entire career, but this was his first opportunity to be the lead big man.

    He rewarded the Orlando Magic's faith in him by averaging a well-rounded 15.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.1 threes in only 29.9 minutes per game.

    A few more steals and blocks and a closer-to-average three-point percentage wouldn't hurt, but we saw enough to know Carter has the potential to thrive in today's NBA as a playmaking 5. When surrounded by enough shooting, that really shined through.

    When Gary Harris and Franz Wagner shared the floor with Carter last season, the Magic were plus-4.0 points per 100 possessions. They were minus-8.5 overall.

7. Jaren Jackson Jr. (Originally Picked 4th)

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    MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE - MAY 11: Jaren Jackson Jr. #13 of the Memphis Grizzlies celebrates a basket against the Golden State Warriors during the second quarter in Game Five of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals at FedExForum on May 11, 2022 in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Jaren Jackson Jr. carries similar health concerns as Michael Porter Jr., although not to quite the same extent.

    After averaging 42 appearances per season over his first three years, Jackson seemingly bucked that trend last year when he played a career-high 78 games. An offseason foot surgery that might sideline him for the early portion of the 2022-23 regular season has revived those worries, though.

    The number of absences that Jackson has piled up is far from ideal, especially for a big man. But his combination of shooting and shot-blocking ability makes it easy to keep him in the top 10 of this re-draft.

    Jackson has averaged 4.8 career three-point attempts per game and hit 35.1 percent of those shots. Last season, he led the league in blocks per game (2.3) and finished fifth in Defensive Player of the Year voting.

    In lineups with a good slasher like Ja Morant, Jackson's shooting ability is crucial for stretching out driving lanes. Being able to do that without sacrificing rim protection goes a long way toward winning games.

6. Robert Williams III (Originally Picked 27th)

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    BOSTON, MA  - JUNE 15: Robert Williams III of the Boston Celtics addresses the media during 2022 NBA Finals Practice and Media Availability on June 15, 2022  at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

    Much like Mitchell Robinson, Robert Williams III is a bouncy finisher who's excellent at cleaning the glass and blocking shots. He averaged 10.0 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in only 29.6 minutes per game last season while shooting 73.6 percent from the field. He's been over 70 percent in each of his four seasons.

    Two things set him apart from Robinson (and most of the rim protectors of this archetype), though.

    For one thing, Williams is a trustworthy passer. You might not want him initiating sets or running the break, but he's adept at finding the open man out of a short roll or connecting the dots with another big inside.

    The 2.0 assists he averaged last season might not sound like much, but his passing ability is truly unique when viewed in context. No one in league history matches or exceeds both of his career marks for block percentage (8.0) and assist percentage (10.5).

    Williams also distinguishes himself from most other bigs with the way he can defend the perimeter.

    With the way he jumps and plays around the rim, it's easy to see Williams as a center, but his listed height (6'8") is shorter than that of some wings. Wing-like agility seems to have come with that frame. The way he moves his feet and scrambles on the rare occasions he's beat off the dribble were a huge part of the Boston Celtics' dominant 2021-22 defense.

5. Mikal Bridges (Originally Picked 10th)

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    PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 10: Mikal Bridges #25 of the Phoenix Suns looks on against the Dallas Mavericks during Game 5 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals on May 10, 2022 at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

    Mikal Bridges has never had much of an opportunity to show off his ball-handling or distribution skills, but there aren't many other boxes that he doesn't check.

    In the modern NBA, when positional versatility, perimeter defense and outside shooting are among the most important boxes, Bridges is a no-brainer for the top 10.

    Over the last two seasons, Bridges has averaged 13.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.6 threes and 1.1 steals while shooting 39.7 percent from deep. He's generally been assigned to every opponent's most difficult perimeter assignment on defense, too.

    All of the above is more than theoretically helpful. During his four seasons with the Phoenix Suns, they're plus-3.8 points per 100 possessions when he's on the floor and minus-2.6 with him off. His net rating in that stretch is better than Devin Booker's.

    As an added bonus, Bridges is already among the game's legitimate iron men. He has yet to miss a single game in his NBA career.

4. Deandre Ayton (Originally Picked 1st)

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    PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 10: Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns warms up before the game against the Dallas Mavericks during Game 5 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals on May 10, 2022 at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

    The trend toward wings who can defend all over the floor and hit threes may favor Mikal Bridges, but his Phoenix Suns teammate Deandre Ayton still gets the nod between the two.

    Ayton isn't quite as malleable, but he's closer to being a No. 1 option on offense. Those players are still a little harder to come by.

    For his career, Ayton has averaged 16.3 points in 30.7 minutes per game while shooting 59.9 percent from the field. When he plays without Devin Booker, he puts up 20.2 points per 75 possessions.

    That production has been more the result of rim-running and cleanup duties inside since Chris Paul arrived, but Ayton showed flashes as a mid-range shooter in his first few seasons. If he improves at drawing contact and getting to the free-throw line, it's easy to see him as a top scorer. At 24 years old, there's still plenty of time for him to add that.

    Ayton staying in the top five isn't based entirely on his offense, either. He isn't a Jaren Jackson Jr.-esque shot blocker or a perimeter defender like Robert Williams III, but he's decent in both respects. That's good enough when combined with his offensive upside.

3. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Originally Picked 11th)

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    OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MARCH 6: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder arrives to the arena before the game against the Utah Jazz on March 6, 2022 at Paycom Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

    Injuries—and perhaps the Oklahoma City Thunder's desire to pile up lottery balls—has limited Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's availability over the last two seasons, but he has played like a superstar when he's on the floor. During that stretch, SGA has averaged 24.2 points, 5.9 assists, 1.8 threes and 1.1 steals in only 34.3 minutes per game.

    But his ascension to the top three in this re-draft is based on more than just his raw numbers.

    At 6'6", Gilgeous-Alexander is in the ideal size range for positionless basketball. Having someone who can pilot the offense without sacrificing height in those lineups is key. SGA can do just that.

    His ability to play with pace is noteworthy, too. Defenders are rarely able to speed Gilgeous-Alexander up, though he's able to shift into a higher gear to blow by a defender in an instant.

    Most of the positive descriptors applied to other three-and-D options apply to SGA as well, but he layers high-end scoring and playmaking on top of it.

2. Trae Young (Originally Picked 5th)

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    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 23: Trae Young dribbles the ball in his game during the Drew League Pro-Am at King Drew Magnet High School on July 23, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images)
    Cassy Athena/Getty Images

    Four years into his career, Trae Young is already one of the best offensive players in the NBA. In fact, he's off to one of the best starts of all time on that end of the floor.

    Among players with at least 2,000 minutes through their age-23 season, Young's career offensive box plus/minus ranks seventh. Oscar Robertson is the only player in league history who totaled at least as many points and assists as Young through his first 280 NBA games.

    Young's dominant scoring and creation aren't leading to empty-calorie production. His presence is crucial for the Atlanta Hawks, who are plus-1.1 points per 100 possessions when he's on the floor over the last three years and minus-4.7 when he's off.

    Sure, you can pick at his lack of size and below-average defense, but Steve Nash-like passing and Stephen Curry-like audacity more than make up for that. If he's surrounded by a gritty, defense-first supporting cast, Young can be the focal point on a title contender.

1. Luka Doncic (Originally Picked 3rd)

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    ISTANBUL, TURKEY - AUGUST 12: Luka Doncic of Slovenia shoots free throws during the Friendly Basketball match between Turkey and Slovenia at Sinan Erdem Dome on August 12, 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo by Seskim Photo/MB Media/Getty Images)
    Seskim Photo/MB Media/Getty Images

    Less than 20 years after LeBron James debuted in the NBA, his heir apparent may have already arrived from Slovenia.

    Luka Doncic's first four NBA seasons have been truly outrageous. He's averaging 26.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, 8.0 assists and 2.8 threes in only 33.8 minutes per game. In the playoffs, that scoring average shoots up to 32.5.

    Not long into his rookie campaign, it became clear he was the sun around which his teams would orbit for the foreseeable future. He can score at will or engineer open shots for teammates. He's among the best guard rebounders we've ever seen. And in the 2022 playoffs, we got a glimpse of what he would look like when committed to defense.

    All told, Doncic is off to a start that might be even better than that of James.

    Andy Bailey @AndrewDBailey

    Player A is the first four seasons of LeBron James' career. Player B is the first four seasons of Luka Doncic's career.<br><br>This one was requested by <a href="https://twitter.com/IsaacLHarris?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@IsaacLHarris</a>. <a href="https://t.co/p1CoqeVuVD">pic.twitter.com/p1CoqeVuVD</a>

    Through four seasons, Luka already has three first-team All-NBA selections and three top-six MVP finishes. There's no way to put a ceiling on what might next for the 23-year-old.


    Unless noted otherwise, all stats courtesy of NBA.com, Basketball Reference, Stathead, PBP Stats or Cleaning the Glass.

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