2018 NBA Mock Draft: Luka Doncic Stealing Thunder from Stacked College Class

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterSeptember 21, 2017

2018 NBA Mock Draft: Luka Doncic Stealing Thunder from Stacked College Class

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    Major changes aren't typically made to NBA mock draft boards in the offseason. But this one is different, following the reclassification of an elite high school prospect and the completion of EuroBasket 2017. 

    After reaching out to scouts, our No. 1 pick from August is suddenly No. 3. 

    It's possible the hype for 2018's draft ends up surpassing last year's. There are multiple strong No. 1 candidates, even at No. 4 and No. 5 on our board.

    The draft order was based on under-over win-total odds set by the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, via ESPN. Ties were broken by using last year's team records.

1. Chicago Bulls: Luka Doncic (Slovenia, PG/SG, 1999)

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    The 2018 draft discussion received a jolt from Luka Doncic's performance at EuroBasket 2017. At 18 years old, he played a key role alongside Goran Dragic in Slovenia's gold-medal run, which came after his impact season for Real Madrid that resulted in a trip to the Euroleague Final Four.

    Scouts have already begun to admit that 2018's first pick may not be a college freshman.

    Doncic is going to enter the draft as its most proven prospect, and there won't be much Michael Porter Jr. or Marvin Bagley III can do to change that. He's consistently produced against pros, including current NBA stars like Kristaps Porzingis, the Gasols and Hernangomezes.

    On paper, there are prospects with higher ceilings, but empty production at Missouri won't be enough for Michael Porter Jr. the way it was for Markelle Fultz at Washington. And Marvin Bagley III won't sell the 2018 lottery winner with just flashes of upside here and there, the way Karl-Anthony Towns did at Kentucky.

    Bagley and Porter must be extra impressive to leapfrog Doncic, who has built a No. 1 overall case with unprecedented production, playmaking versatility, shooting and a Lonzo Ball-like feel for the game. 

2. Atlanta Hawks: Marvin Bagley III (Duke, PF, Freshman)

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    Marvin Bagley III isn't as polished as Luka Doncic or Michael Porter Jr., but 6'11" size, superior athleticism and two-way versatility create the highest ceiling in the draft. 

    Porter will average more points. Bagley will show potential in more areas. 

    He could be an elite offensive rebounder and defender, with the bounce to block shots and the quickness to switch onto wings or guards. 

    He's even shown the ability to handle the ball in the open floor, and when given space, he'll face up and take his man off the dribble. A threat from the low block and elbows, Bagley just has to look capable enough as a shooter, the only unsettling weakness in his game.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Nets): Michael Porter Jr. (Missouri, F, Freshman)

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    The Cleveland Cavaliers could keep this pick to protect their future or trade it to bolster their current title-contending roster.

    Assuming they hold on to it, Michael Porter Jr. jumps out early as the best player available and even a possible favorite to some in the No. 1 overall conversation. 

    He'll offer a balanced mix of certainty and upside, with 6'10" size, enough athleticism and perimeter skills the other top NCAA prospects can't match. He's a threat to lead all freshmen in scoring at Missouri. And given his tools, polish and overall maturity, scouts should feel confident in Porter's success and production carrying over to the pros. 

4. Phoenix Suns: DeAndre Ayton (Arizona, C, Freshman)

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    Phoenix Suns scouts won't have to travel far for DeAndre Ayton, although many of them should already be familiar.

    He's been on radars since early in his high school career, standing out for his many physical tools, including a 7'5 ½" wingspan and 243-pound frame.

    Ayton should give Arizona an immediate presence around the basket with his finishing, rebounding and rim protection. It's the developing jumper and post game that could earn him top-three looks in the draft. He's gained notable confidence in his jumper over the past two seasons. 

5. Sacramento Kings: Mohamed Bamba (Texas, C, Freshman)

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    Mohamed Bamba could get looks earlier than No. 5 given the potential value that would be tied to an elite protector who can also make jumpers.

    We're still waiting to see how comfortable Bamba looks offensively, both away from the basket and around it. But there is no doubt he's going to block shots at a high rate and shrink the rim he's defending. 

    With an unprecedented 7'9" wingspan and impressive foot speed, Bamba doesn't need advanced skills to make an impact. He's an easy-basket target above the cylinder, as well as a game-changing defensive anchor.

    Depending on how he looks as a post scorer and shooter, Bamba could find himself in the mix at No. 1.

6. New York Knicks: Collin Sexton (Alabama, PG, Freshman)

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    The New York Knicks will be back in the lottery hoping a stud guard is available. Frank Ntilikina's ceiling and point guard ability (he may be a 2) are up for debate. New York should be drawn to Collin Sexton's explosive athleticism, high-level scoring and ferocious competitive edge. 

    He's completely different from Ntilikina, who's casual and more of a shooter than a playmaker. Sexton puts heavy pressure on defenses with a quick first step and relentless pursuit of the rim.

    If he can convince the Knicks his jumper is capable of improving, he'll be right in the mix at No. 6 as the second guard off the board behind Doncic. 

7. Indiana Pacers: Jaren Jackson Jr. (Michigan State, PF/C, Freshman)

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    With all eyes on Miles Bridges, watch Jaren Jackson Jr. emerge as Michigan State's top NBA prospect. 

    He turned heads in April at the Nike Hoop Summit, both during gameplay and measurements, when he came in at 6'10", 225 pounds with a 7'4" wingspan

    Jackson could be one of the top defenders in the draft, capable of protecting the rim and switching away from it. And though not the sharpest scorer, he shows good hands inside and a developing shooting touch. 

    Look for Jackson to be a potential-over-production prospect in 2018's draft discussion.

8. Philadelphia 76ers (via Lakers): Miles Bridges (Michigan State, F, Sophomore)

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    Miles Bridges looked like one of the country's top prospects last year and could approach nearly 20 points per game in 2018 after averaging 16.9 as a freshman.

    Powerful, explosive and energetic, Bridges will draw interest from lottery teams as long as he validates last year's shooting success and shows some improvement to his ball skills.

    The tools and production will be there. And he suddenly fits the mold of a modern-day 4 with his strength, quickness and developing jumper.

9. Orlando Magic: Wendell Carter (Duke, PF/C, Freshman)

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    Wendell Carter's game isn't too flashy or versatile, but at 6'10", 263 pounds with 7'3" length, his body, hands and footwork scream "NBA big man."

    He'll stand out at Duke by finishing through contact, rebounding, blocking shots and scoring around the block. But he'll also show enough shooting touch to convince scouts the jumper will eventually become an everyday weapon. 

    He's drawn Al Horford comparisons for his tools, average athleticism and refined, simplistic offensive game. Carter should establish himself as one of the perceived safer picks, though his upside is debatable. 

10. Dallas Mavericks: Lonnie Walker (Miami, SG, Freshman)

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    A torn meniscus suffered in mid-July shouldn't limit Lonnie Walker once the season gets going. 

    A skilled perimeter scorer, Walker has strong 2-guard size and three-point range. And as long as the athleticism fully returns, the NBA buzz should follow.

    He'll immediately give Miami's offense an additional weapon and plus defender on the wing. 

11. Memphis Grizzlies: Robert Williams (Texas A&M, PF/C, Sophomore)

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    Flashes of lottery potential raised the bar for Robert Williams. 

    Scouts will still want to see him add more to his offensive repertoire and look sharper out of the post. Otherwise, he'll draw interest for his tremendous physical tools and highlight-reel athleticism. 

    At this point, he's a lob target and rim protector who blocked 3.8 shots per 40 minutes. Showing he's improved his shot-creating and shooting touch puts Williams in the 2018 lottery mix.

12. Detroit Pistons: Troy Brown (Oregon, SG/SF, Freshman)

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    Troy Brown should have plenty of freedom in an Oregon offense that lost its top five scorers.

    He'll earn fans for his point-forward versatility. At 6'7", Brown can score, but he can also handle the ball and facilitate. Proving he can comfortably shoot threes will be the key to raising his draft stock, given the other boxes he checks. 

    A potential two-way wing capable of playing and guarding multiple positions, Brown has a strong opportunity to build a lottery case.

13. New Orleans Pelicans: Bruce Brown (Miami, SG, Sophomore)

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    Sporadic offensive eruptions last year hint at a potential breakout sophomore season for Bruce Brown.

    He has solid 6'5" size and athleticism for an NBA 2-guard, along with enough playmaking skills to be considered a combo and dangerous scoring ability in the mid-range and lane. 

    Quick and competitive, Brown shows flashes on defense as well, but he must improve his three-ball to generate interest in next June's lottery.

14. Utah Jazz: Nick Richards (Kentucky, C, Freshman)

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    Nick Richards has put in work this summer with NBA players like CJ McCollum and has even had the chance to scrimmage with stars like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony.

    He'll play a key role immediately at Kentucky as a lob target, general finisher and rim protector. Richards, who is 6'11" with an almost 7'4" wingspan and plenty of bounce, will have a defined role, both in college and the pros. 

    There is no mystery to his game, though flashes of post scoring and mid-range touch would suggest there will be more to his offensive repertoire. 

    One potential negative with Richards: He's old for a freshman and will turn 20 in November. 

15. Philadelphia 76ers: Kevin Knox (Kentucky, SF/PF, Freshman)

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    Kevin Knox could land in the lottery if he has a productive freshman year that includes flashes of combo-forward scoring and two-way versatility. 

    Skilled and athletic at 6'9", Knox has shooting range and the ability to work off the dribble. However, inconsistency—due to questionable shot selection, basketball IQ and outside touch—makes the scouting report. 

    But Knox will still be 18 years old by draft night. Given his obvious talent and enticing upside, his age should buy him time with scouts. 

16. Portland Trail Blazers: Jarred Vanderbilt (Kentucky, PF, Freshman)

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    Jarred Vanderbilt will attract attention early with a unique game for a 6'9" power forward. 

    He's a threatening playmaker, capable of handling the ball and setting up teammates by passing on the move. Vanderbilt's versatility at the 4 should earn him fans around the league. Bigs who can create and rebound at high levels aren't common. 

    Depending on how far away his jumper looks, Vanderbilt could receive looks in the lottery or be viewed as a multiyear college player. He'll enter Kentucky with shooting and lack of strength as major question marks. 

17. Charlotte Hornets: Trevon Duval (Duke, PG, Freshman)

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    Trevon Duval could be a mixed bag with enticing athleticism and a shaky jump shot. 

    The NBA lens picks up his length, quickness and explosive leaping ability. And he should get himself a lot of easy layups and free throws at Duke.

    Poor shooting numbers and questionable decisions running Duke's offense will hurt his stock. He'll maximize it by setting up teammates, taking good shots and draining enough from outside.

    Going No. 17 would suggest Duval comes off as an obvious first-round talent, but not a no-brainer quality starter.

18. Phoenix Suns (via Heat): Rodions Kurucs (Latvia, SF, 1998)

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    After playing in Spain's second division last year, Rodions Kurucs should have a better chance to build a draft case with Barcelona's senior team.

    From an NBA perspective, his 6'9" size and athleticism for a wing stand out. And though he hasn't shot consistently from deep, he's looked comfortable enough at 19 years old.

    A potential three-and-D slasher, Kurucs will remain on the first-round radar for the second consecutive year. 

19. Los Angeles Clippers: Jaylen Hands (UCLA, PG, Freshman)

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    Jaylen Hands will be an upside/potential pick if he winds up one-and-done. Aaron Holiday will do most of the ball-handling this year. 

    But Zach LaVine still managed to go in the lottery as a UCLA freshman playing alongside more ball-dominant guards like Norman Powell and Kyle Anderson. Just as LaVine did, Hands will excite scouts with explosive athleticism and flashes of scoring and playmaking. 

    He won't produce like some of the other top freshman first-rounders, but teams could be willing to be patient with his shooting and decision-making.

20. Denver Nuggets: Kostja Mushidi (Germany, SG/SF, 1998)

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    Kostja Mushidi has been relatively productive for an international teenager. And he clearly has NBA-caliber tools, between his strong frame, length and feet. 

    He'll look to improve his efficiency this season at 19 years old. Mushidi is capable in a number of areas, from creating to shooting and defending. But he hasn't been consistent enough. 

    Raising his field-goal and three-point percentages, as well as toning down the reckless play, could lead to first-round draft-and-stash looks. 

21. Milwaukee Bucks: Justin Jackson (Maryland, SF/PF, Sophomore)

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    Justin Jackson should have received valuable experience by attending this year's NBA combine. That he was invited is evidence teams are intrigued. 

    At 6'7" with a 43.8 percent three-point stroke, Jackson could play either forward position as a wing or small-ball 4. He'll have to improve his two-point scoring this year and ultimately show more creativity and efficiency. 

    But Jackson's tools, athleticism and shooting form a promising foundation to build on.

22. Washington Wizards: Chimezie Metu (USC, PF/C, Junior)

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    Chimezie Metu took a big step last year and should complete the process of maximizing his stock in 2018. 

    He'll look to build on his 14.8 points per game by being more consistent, both as a scorer and inside presence. Metu's 9.9 rebounds per 40 minutes were disappointing, and he still showed the tendency to disappear for stretches.

    Still, his post skills and improved shooting touch for a 6'11" center are intriguing and have already caught the attention of scouts. He'll have to earn first-round looks with steadier, more dominant play. Talent-wise, he's a top-30 prospect. 

23. Minnesota Timberwolves: Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Virginia Tech, PG/SG, Fr.)

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    From the 2016 U18 Americas Championship and Adidas Nations to the Nike Hoop Summit, Nickeil Alexander-Walker has quietly been building his stock.

    And he should be an immediate producer and impact player as Virginia Tech's featured scorer and playmaker. 

    Average strength and explosiveness work against his case, but Alexander-Walker shows a high skill level and versatility as a 6'6" combo who can handle, create and shoot the three.

24. Brooklyn Nets (via Raptors): Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)

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    After nearly entering the 2017 draft, Hamidou Diallo already looks one-and-done at Kentucky. 

    Teams clearly didn't think he was first-round worthy this past June. He'll have to show them his skills aren't that much further behind the athleticism that's fueled all the hype. 

    Diallo will be one of the country's quickest, most explosive leapers. He made noise with a 44½" max vertical at last year's combine.

    His ball-handling and shooting aren't as convincing, though. Diallo will score, but questions about his overall polish, playmaking and motor could keep him outside the top 20.

25. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Thunder): Grayson Allen (Duke, SG, Senior)

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    Grayson Allen needs to go a full season without causing trouble. As long as he can make a team believe the meltdowns are behind him, its scouts should show interest in his mix of explosiveness and shooting. 

    In the pros, he won't be the go-to scorer he'll likely be this year at Duke, but Allen's athleticism and shot-making are undeniably impressive. He comes off as a potential offensive spark who'll pick up easy baskets in transition and knock down threes, having hit at least 81 in back-to-back seasons. 

    With Luke Kennard, Jayson Tatum and Frank Jackson gone, Allen could bounce back to average at least 20 points for the second time in his college career.

26. Cleveland Cavaliers: Rui Hachimura (Gonzaga, PF, Sophomore)

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    Rui Hachimura's U19 World Championships showing earned him a spot on the breakout player map.

    He averaged 20.6 points and 11.0 rebounds for Japan after playing just 4.6 minutes per game as a freshman at Gonzaga.

    Hachimura showed off impressive face-up scoring and shooting skills we haven't seen during NCAA game-play. He'll draw NBA attention if they carry over into the season. Hachimura already offers athleticism around the basket that translates to second-chance points and blocked shots.

27. San Antonio Spurs: Mikal Bridges (Villanova, SG/SF, Junior)

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    Even if Mikal Bridges can't take that next step as a shot-creator and scorer, he could still draw first-round interest for his three-and-D potential. 

    A quick, versatile defender capable of matching up with ball-handlers, 2-guards or wings, he also raised his three-point mark to 39.3 percent and free-throw clip to 91.1 percent.

    The departure of Josh Hart should open up more opportunities for Bridges, who'd raise his stock by becoming a bigger threat on the ball. Either way, a late-first-round team should see him as a role-playing defender, dangerous enough offensively by slashing and shooting.

28. Atlanta Hawks (via Rockets): Austin Wiley (Auburn, C, Sophomore)

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    Austin Wiley averaged a double-double in fewer than 20 minutes per game this summer at the U19 World Championships. He looks ready for a bigger sophomore season at Auburn, where he'll produce and draw NBA interest in his 250-pound frame, 7'5" wingspan and activity around the basket.

    He's more of an older-school big without shooting range or perimeter ball skills. But teams should see Wiley as an energizer, cleanup man and overall inside presence. 

    There is still a specialist role in the NBA for centers who can run the floor and own their space down low.

29. Boston Celtics: Rawle Alkins (Arizona, SG, Sophomore)

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    Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

    Rawle Alkins' draft case last year wasn't strong enough, though he did earn an NBA combine invitation.

    He'll likely be back, more prepared, next May after taking on a bigger workload alongside Allonzo Trier.

    Consistent scoring production, better shooting and added playmaking should help Alkins break through into the first-round mix.

30. Golden State Warriors: Alize Johnson (Missouri State, PF, Senior)

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    MVP of the Adidas Nations counselor games over the summer, Alize Johnson could sneak up on the fringe first-rounders hoping for a spot in the late 20s.

    For a 6'9" forward, Johnson put up an interesting mix of numbers last year, including 40 made threes, 14.1 rebounds per 40 minutes and 1.9 assists per game. 

    Along with his versatility, teams will likely admire his journey from junior college to the NBA draft. Johnson enters the 2017-18 season as one of the under-the-radar sleepers for scouts to track.

    Measurements, combine results courtesy of DraftExpress.com


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