Way-Too-Soon 2018 NBA Mock Draft: Can Anyone Compete with Michael Porter Jr.?
It's about time to look forward now that we're over a month removed from the 2017 NBA draft.
2018's projected class has a number of interesting names. They're mostly new ones, but there are also a few returning players looking to improve their stock from a year ago.
Our early top five includes a scoring wing, two bigs, a European star and arguably the top prospect from last season to go back to school.
For the order, we used championships odds from Odds Shark. For teams with the same odds, we took into account last year's records as tiebreakers.
1. Boston Celtics (via Nets): Michael Porter Jr. (Missouri, SF/PF, Freshman)
Michael Porter Jr. could be the final gift the Brooklyn Nets deliver to Boston.
The Celtics are loaded at forward, but that won't stop them from adding the draft's top player, though Marvin Bagley could wind up stealing that title if the NCAA lets him reclassify.
A 6'10" wing or small-ball 4, Porter is a face-up scorer with three-point range, handles and unique shot-creating skills for his size.
2. Orlando Magic: DeAndre Ayton (Arizona, C, Freshman)
DeAndre Ayton will compete with Michael Porter for No. 1 overall consideration.
He's been a high-profile name for years thanks to a can't-miss NBA body that features a 7'5 ½" wingspan. Ayton mixes power and athleticism around the basket but also shows he can play away from it with soft shooting touch out to the arc.
Between his defensive potential in rim protection and room to improve offensively, Ayton should already be on the minds of Orlando Magic scouts.
3. Phoenix Suns: Mohamed Bamba (Texas, C, Freshman)
Mohamed Bamba will create buzz with his Rudy Gobert-like 7'9" wingspan that causes problems.
He covers an enormous amount of ground and air space and disrupts shots all day at the rim.
His tools are too rare for teams to be scared off by his lack of strength and polish. At the least, Bamba projects as a unique rim protector and high-percentage finishing target.
4. Sacramento Kings: Luka Doncic (Slovenia, PG/SG, 1999)
Even after drafting De'Aaron Fox and signing George Hill, Sacramento Kings' scouts will be paying close attention to Luka Doncic all year.
At 18 years old, he played a key role in Real Madrid's trip to the Euroleague Final Four. He's considered one of the most advanced international prospects in years with a masterful feel for the game.
Standing 6'8", Doncic plays on and off the ball but shines most with it, thanks to impressive ball skills and vision for creating and facilitating.
5. Chicago Bulls: Miles Bridges (Michigan State, SF/PF, Sophomore)
Miles Bridges passed on a chance at the 2017 lottery to be one of college basketball's biggest stars in 2018.
He averaged 16.9 points and 8.3 rebounds as a freshman, having built his case with explosive athleticism and three-point shooting. His body and game are made for the NBA's small-ball 4 position.
This year, Bridges will look to take the next step as a one-on-one shot creator.
6. New York Knicks: Robert Williams (Texas A&M, PF, Sophomore)
Robert Williams surprisingly passed on the draft last year after flashing enough potential to have earned lottery looks.
With power, length and explosiveness, he shot 58.8 percent inside the arc and averaged 3.8 blocks per 40 minutes. Williams' athleticism and tools are still far ahead of his skills, which he'll look to show are improved next season at Texas A&M.
If he can raise his free-throw mark (59 percent) and show scouts his offense is on the right track, the New York Knicks and others could consider him with a top-10 pick.
7. Indiana Pacers: Collin Sexton (Alabama, PG/SG, Freshman)
Flashy and explosive, Collin Sexton could be the first American guard off the board.
A scoring playmaker, he puts pressure on the rim with his first step and driving ability that breaks down defenses.
Sexton will need to show scouts he can make outside shots, but he'll win over many with his athleticism, speed and sharp competitive edge.
8. Atlanta Hawks: Wendell Carter (Duke, PF/C, Freshman)
Duke will call on Wendell Carter right away after losing Amile Jefferson, Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum and Chase Jeter.
Carter, who is 6'10" with 7'3" length, could wind up playing both frontcourt spots depending on how much he develops his shooting touch, which shows promise.
Otherwise, he projects as a high-percentage finisher, post scorer and active rebounder with great hands and a nose for the ball.
9. Detroit Pistons: Jaren Jackson (Michigan State, PF/C, Freshman)
Jaren Jackson opened eyes at the Nike Hoop Summit with 13 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.
He passes the eye test with 6'10" size and 7'4" length, which he puts to use around the rim. But it's his mobility and quickness that set him apart from other bigs his size.
Jackson should wind up establishing himself as a versatile defensive asset. He'll draw top-10 looks if he can make some outside shots and flash enough glimpses of post offense.
10. Dallas Mavericks: Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)
It almost seemed likely Hamidou Diallo would declare early for the 2017 draft after enrolling at Kentucky last year and then attending the NBA combine, where he made noise with a 44 ½-inch max vertical.
But Diallo, an elite-level athlete, chose to come back for a season of college basketball and go from being viewed as a fringe first-rounder to a top-10 pick.
He just averaged 10.9 points on 46 percent shooting in just over 18 minutes a game for USA during the U19 World Championships. Potential alone could get him into the lottery this year. Showing improved handles and a capable jumper will maximize his chances.
11. Charlotte Hornets: Bruce Brown (Miami, SG, Sophomore)
Bruce Brown was solid across the board as a freshman and should be poised for a bigger sophomore role and breakout.
At 6'5", he looks the part of a pro 2-guard and offers scoring, playmaking and defensive potential.
Brown was efficient, having shot 51.3 percent inside the arc. The next step is improving behind it, where he's capable (33-of-95) but not yet proficient.
12. Philadelphia 76ers (via Lakers): Lonnie Walker (Miami, SG, Freshman)
Lonnie Walker continues to recover from a torn meniscus, but it doesn't sound like it will limit him once the season starts.
He sports an NBA 2-guard body, plus plenty of athleticism and a good-looking jumper out to the arc.
Walker, who scored 19 points at the Jordan Brand Classic, has all the tools and necessary skills. Consistency will be the key to his 2018 draft stock.
13. Portland Trail Blazers: Troy Brown (Oregon, SG/SF, Freshman)
Troy Brown should see plenty of touches and minutes at Oregon with Tyler Dorsey, Dillon Brooks and Jordan Bell gone.
A versatile 2-guard or wing, he's shown he can play from different spots on the floor, whether he's creating on the ball, playing off it or even scoring in the paint.
He'll have the chance to distinguish himself on defense, where he forces turnovers and guards multiple positions.
14. Memphis Grizzlies: Trevon Duval (Duke, PG, Freshman)
Trevon Duval will take over at the point for Duke. His identity revolves around his quickness, athleticism and massive 6'9 ½" wingspan.
Always in attack mode, Duval puts pressure on the defense off drives and transition. And he should quickly establish himself as a defensive pest on the ball.
He'll go in the first round based on upside, but questions over his jumper and shooting could keep him outside the top 10.
15. Utah Jazz: Kevin Knox (Kentucky, SF/PF, Freshman)
Kevin Knox has power forward size, though his game says wing. He likes to operate around the perimeter, where he's comfortable shooting the three and using the dribble to create or attack.
Knox also has the chance to be a plus defender, which coach John Calipari will likely challenge him to be at Kentucky.
Talent-wise, Knox is first-round material. He'll have to tighten up his shot selection and keep his motor revved to avoid questions about his NBA fit and intangibles.
16. New Orleans Pelicans: Rodions Kurucs (Latvia, SG/SF, 1998)
Rodions Kurucs had a shot to go in the first round in June, though he pulled his name out at the withdrawal deadline.
He played for Barcelona's second team in 2016-17 but could have a role this year for its senior squad in the Spanish ACB.
Kurucs has NBA size for a wing (6'8"), enough athleticism and range, but he will need to improve his ball skills and shooting consistency.
17. Denver Nuggets: Nick Richards (Kentucky, C, Freshman)
Nick Richards gives Kentucky a lob target and rim protector with a near 7'4" wingspan.
He isn't known for his offensive skills, but he's still an easy-basket threat and capable scorer with the jump hook. He'll run the floor and crash the glass, though Richards will make the most noise on defense, where he blocks shots and shows the foot speed to switch and contain around the perimeter.
Old for a freshman, turning 20 in November, Richards doesn't appear to offer exciting upside, but his tools and athleticism suggest he's still an NBA talent.
18. Los Angeles Clippers: Kostja Mushidi (Germany, SG/SF, 1998)
Kostja Mushidi is still rough around the edges, but he's found the radar over the years with a mix of power, length and versatility at both ends.
He had some nice moments in front of scouts at this year's Nike Hoop Summit, where he scored 14 points and hit four three-pointers.
He'll draw first-round looks in 2018 if he can improve his efficiency inside the arc, where his shot selection and creativity need work.
19.Philadelphia 76ers: Rui Hachimura (Gonzaga, PF, Sophomore)
Coming off a big U19 World Championships, Rui Hachimura should be in line for minutes this year at Gonzaga after barely playing at all his freshman season.
He just averaged 20.6 points and 11.0 rebounds for Japan, looking active around the basket and improved away from it as a shooter, passer and scorer off the dribble.
Hachimura should draw a lot of attention in 2017-18, particularly if he can prove the 17 threes he hit during FIBA play this July weren't fluky.
20. Phoenix Suns (via Heat): Justin Jackson (Maryland, SF/PF, Sophomore)
Justin Jackson didn't have a great showing at the NBA combine, but his invite alone points to scouts' interest.
At 6'7" with 7'3" length, he's a combo forward capable of stretching the floor from three, having hit 46 triples at a 43.8 percent clip as a freshman.
He needs to sharpen his scoring attack and shot-creating skills inside the arc. And he averaged fewer than one assist, steal and block per game. But Jackson's tools and shooting should keep his name relevant in the 2018 draft discussion all season.
21. Brooklyn Nets (via Raptors): Chimezie Metu (USC, PF/C, Junior)
Chimezie Metu made a strong leap as a sophomore and should be one of the top Pac-12 bigs as a junior.
He averaged 14.8 points on 55.2 percent shooting, looking more refined offensively with better post footwork and mid-range touch.
Metu even averaged 2.1 more rebounds per 40 minutes. This year, scouts will want to see more consistent stretches of domination, as opposed to just flashes throughout a game.
22. Milwaukee Bucks: Tyus Battle (Syracuse, SG, Sophomore)
Tyus Battle flew under the radar as a freshman, but extra touches as a sophomore should mean more production and buzz.
There isn't anything flashy about Battle's game, but he does a lot of things well, including slashing, shooting and defending.
This year, he'll look to become a more threatening scorer off the bounce and establish himself as a future two-way, role-playing guard.
23. Washington Wizards: Rawle Alkins (Arizona, SG, Sophomore)
Rawle Alkins wasn't consistent enough to lock up a first-round spot in 2017.
But he did stand out as one of the better players during five-on-fives at the NBA combine, where scouts saw his scoring ability and some playmaking they didn't see as much of at Arizona.
A strong, physical 2-guard, Alkins loves to attack and plays through contract at the rim. This year, he'll look to raise his 1.2 made threes and 2.1 assists per game.
24. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Thunder): Allonzo Trier (Arizona, SG, Junior)
Allonzo Trier resisted the draft in back-to-back years. All signs point to him leaving after this season, assuming he takes one more step in the right direction.
Trier was both productive and efficient as a sophomore, having averaged 17.2 points and 2.7 assists on 51.4 percent shooting inside the arc, 39.1 percent behind it and 81.0 percent from the line.
His stock would benefit from improved playmaking and facilitating, though it's clear that Trier's value revolves around his scoring ability.
25. Atlanta Hawks (via Timberwolves): Omer Yurtseven (NC State, C, Sophomore)
Though inconsistent as a freshman at North Carolina State, Omer Yurtseven had a strong NBA combine and just averaged 17.0 points and 11.4 rebounds for Turkey at the U20 European Championships.
Teams will value him as a pick-and-roll finisher and back-to-the-basket scorer, where he shows good touch with both hands and has the body to carve out space.
Improving his shooting and defensive toughness inside will ultimately be the keys to Yurtseven winning over scouts who weren't convinced by his first college season.
26. San Antonio Spurs: Arnoldas Kulboka (Lithuania, SF, 1998)
Arnoldas Kulboka first made waves at the 2016 Basketball Without Borders Global Camp, standing out for his 6'9" size and sweet shooting stroke.
This past year, he drilled 59 threes in 28 games in Germany, and he clearly has smooth scoring ability around the perimeter.
His strength, toughness and athleticism have been questioned, but his jumper could be good enough to carry him into the 2018 first round.
27. Boston Celtics: Grayson Allen (Duke, SG, Senior)
Grayson Allen will use his final year of eligibility to strengthen his NBA case and prove to teams he's finally matured.
He took a step backward last season, but with Jayson Tatum and Luke Kennard gone, Allen should resume his role as Duke's top option.
He's still an explosive athlete and dangerous shooter, having made at least 80 threes in two straight seasons. Allen just needs an incident-free year to make teams forget about his bizarre on-court tripping history.
28. Atlanta Hawks (via Rockets): Shake Milton (SMU, PG/SG, Junior)
A 6'6" combo guard, Shake Milton will look to crack this year's first round by improving his playmaking and continuing to light it up from three.
He's shot over 42 percent from behind the arc in back-to-back seasons, and last year, he raised his assist percentage to 23.9 from 14.0.
It's still not a big number for a lead guard, and there is some question about whether he has the explosiveness to blow by defenders. But his size, convincing jumper and feel for the game create an enticing-enough package.
29. Cleveland Cavaliers: Isaac Bonga (Germany, SF, 1999)
A unique forward with big-man size and the ability to create and pass, Isaac Bonga could sneak into the first round because of his versatility.
His jumper remains a work in progress, and he struggled at the U19 World Cup. But he's still 17 years old and has a rare skill set and basketball IQ.
Bonga has to improve as a shooter to compensate for average athleticism. In the meantime, he'll be an interesting prospect to track for his point-forward vision.
30. Golden State Warriors: Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (Kansas, SG, Senior)
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk has taken baby steps at Kansas, but he also just turned 20 years old and shot at least 39 percent from three in consecutive seasons.
The obvious draw to Mykhailiuk is his shooting stroke, though he did average 4.4 assists to go with 20.4 points at the U20 European Championship. Proving to be more creative off the dribble as a shot-creator and playmaker would take his game and stock to new levels.
Expected once again to see a bigger role with the Jayhawks, this is Mykhailiuk's final chance to run with it.