2018 NBA Mock Draft: Duke Star-in-Training Marvin Bagley Leads the Pack

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterDecember 7, 2017

2018 NBA Mock Draft: Duke Star-in-Training Marvin Bagley Leads the Pack

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    The top names on NBA draft boards have scouts excited over the strength of this year's projected field.

    Landing an early pick in 2018 could pay off big for tanking teams that need a franchise player to build around. Already we've seen a few potential stars who look capable of filling that void.

    But we're also starting to see the inevitable, unpredictable breakouts (Florida's Jalen Hudson) and surprise impact freshmen (Oklahoma's Trae Young). These are the types of prospects who can add depth to a class.

    The draft order is based on the standings as of November 6.

1. Chicago Bulls: Marvin Bagley III (Duke, PF/C, Freshman)

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    Scouts have answered the No. 1 overall question with three names: Marvin Bagley III, DeAndre Ayton and Luka Doncic. 

    Need isn't likely to factor into the Chicago Bulls' decision given the lack of star potential on the roster. If it did, Doncic or Ayton may have the edge. 

    But by June, the projection is that Bagley will separate himself with improving skills that lead to expanding scoring versatility. Right now, he looks rawer than Ayton, yet he's still producing at a ridiculous rate, averaging 28.8 points and 14.7 rebounds per 40 minutes.

    He's even started to flash shooting range, having made two three-pointers Tuesday night and seven total on the year. 

    Bagley's athleticism, positional versatility and unbelievable motor—along with the fact he won't be 19 years old until March—could tip the scales in his favor for Chicago.

2. Atlanta Hawks: DeAndre Ayton (Arizona, C, Freshman)

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    Already eye-catching for his chiseled, 7'1", 250-pound frame, 7'5 ½" wingspan and fluidity, DeAndre Ayton has looked even more captivating than expected. Averaging 19.6 points, Ayton has stunned with shooting and post play.

    He's made five threes, showing pick-and-pop potential, as well as the ability to rise over anyone and fire from the elbows or shorter corners. And we're seeing more advanced back-to-the-basket footwork compared to his high school play.

    Ayton's rim protection hasn't been as convincing. He let UNLV's Brandon McCoy, a non-skill player, go for 33 points on Saturday. His 1.7 blocks per 40 minutes are noticeably low for an anchor with his height, length and athleticism. 

    But Ayton clearly has the tools and room to improve defensively. In the meantime, his inside-out scoring mirrors Karl-Anthony Towns, only Towns wasn't nearly as productive at the same age.

3. Dallas Mavericks: Luka Doncic (Slovenia, PG/SG, 1999)

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    This could be the second year in a row that the Dallas Mavericks drafted a player who they would have taken a few spots earlier. 

    With score-first Dennis Smith Jr. at the point, Luka Doncic stands out as a strong fit for his high-IQ passing and three-point shooting. 

    At 19 years old, he's also second in Euroleague scoring, averaging 19.7 points.

    Doncic has slowed down in late November, but it's important to keep everything in perspective. He's still one of Europe's best players when most his age are sitting on the bench. 

    He'll be locked into the top three all year and could easily challenge Bagley and Ayton for No. 1. 

4. Sacramento Kings: Michael Porter Jr. (Missouri, SF/PF, Freshman)

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    A back injury could cost Michael Porter Jr. his season and create a messy picture for teams atop the draft. 

    Still, if there is one player who could afford to miss college, it's Porter, given how many times he's performed for scouts, whether it's been at USA basketball, Adidas Nations, the McDonald's All-American game or the Nike Hoop Summit.

    He was initially a No. 1 overall candidate for his unique mix of 6'10" size and perimeter scoring skills.

    Where he goes may come down to medicals—what they say and who Porter decides can see them. If he didn't want to go to Sacramento, he could choose not to share any information with the Kings, making it unlikely they'd pull the trigger without knowing more about his recovery.

    But at this stage, it's too early for that talk. Porter could be a buy-low steal at No. 4 and an ideal addition for a Kings franchise that desperately needs a potential No. 1 option to build around.

5. Memphis Grizzlies: Mohamed Bamba (Texas, C, Freshman)

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    With Mohamed Bamba being the best player available to the Memphis Grizzlies, this could be the chance for the franchise to restart and move on from Marc Gasol.

    No. 4 in the nation in defensive plus-minus, averaging four blocks in 28 minutes, Bamba can impact a game with his length and mobility on defense and still isn't the sharpest fundamental defender.

    He's affecting shots without jumping, but when he does jump, he can rise higher above the rim than anyone else on the floor, which translates to easy baskets, rebounds and palm rejections.

    Bamba needs to add muscle and play at a higher effort level for longer stretches. But there is too much unicorn potential tied to his rim protection, offensive efficiency and expanding shooting range.

6. Phoenix Suns: Collin Sexton (Alabama, PG, Freshman)

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    Collin Sexton's 40-point effort with Alabama forced to finish the game playing three on five was the type of memorable performance that can stick in NBA minds.

    His killer instinct and competitiveness were on full display, as was his ability to take over a game.

    Now averaging 20.8 points and 9.3 free-throw attempts per game, shooting 46.4 percent from three, Sexton is putting heavy pressure on defenses.

    He's coming off his first dud of the season (0-of-4, seven points) on Sunday in a loss to Central Florida. And chances are his jumper starts cooling off. But between his NBA tools, scoring, playmaking and toughness, Sexton figures to remain the top choice for a point guard-needy franchise.

7. Philadelphia 76ers (via Lakers) Jaren Jackson Jr. (Michigan St., C, Freshman)

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    A 2017 riser in the recruiting rankings, Jaren Jackson Jr. may have moved up draft boards this time after his 19-point, three-block game against Duke.

    Despite having turned just 18 years old in September, he has made a major impression fast, registering per-40-minute numbers of 18.4 points, 13.1 rebounds and 5.1 blocks. He's producing just by tapping into his size, length and instinct around the basket.

    Jackson shows little shot-creating skills in the post and isn't a threat to put the ball on the deck. He does, however, have shooting touch, which is a potential needle-mover given the upside that comes with a rim protector who can also stretch the floor.

    Through nine games, Jackson has hit eight threes and 81.8 percent of his 33 free-throw attempts. 

8. Los Angeles Clippers: Lonnie Walker IV (Miami, SG, Freshman)

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    Projecting Lonnie Walker IV this high means expecting his role and production to increase.

    He's played mostly behind leaders Ja'Quan Newton and Bruce Brown Jr. after missing the offseason recovering from a knee injury. But Walker, co-MVP of April's Jordan Brand Classic already has scouts' attention.

    And while Brown was out of the lineup Tuesday night, Miami's key freshman took over with 26 points against Boston.

    Walker's frame, length, athleticism and shooting create a promising foundation for an NBA 2-guard prospect. He'll build his draft stock as his workload and confidence increase over the next few months.

9. Charlotte Hornets: Mikal Bridges (Villanova, SF, Junior)

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    Mikal Bridges was already having a breakout year before his 28-point explosion Tuesday night against Gonzaga with dozens of NBA evaluators in attendance. 

    The nation's leader in box plus-minus, Bridges has been phenomenal at both ends, emerging as an efficient No. 1 option while continuing to make an impact defensively. 

    Though still not the most dangerous ball-handler, limited shot-creating skills haven't prevented him from scoring in volume (19 points per game). He's capitalizing as a driver and slasher and shooting 51 percent from behind the arc.

    Bridges may never be a star scorer; it's the star role-player potential (Robert Covington) that's compelling.

10. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Nets): Robert Williams (Texas A&M, C, Sophomore)

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    Robert Williams' defensive potential remains his No. 1 selling point, which could be enough to draw top-10 looks. 

    He's fourth in the nation in defensive plus-minus and brings the switch versatility and shot-blocking that NBA teams value in their bigs. 

    Offensively, Williams' value shows on easy baskets, which he's picking up (62.9 percent FG) by cutting into dunking position, crashing the glass and rising up for lobs.  

    It just doesn't look like he's added anything new, sharpened his moves or raised his intensity. No post game, jumper or permanent motor could make it difficult for Williams to rise higher than this.

11. Orlando Magic: Kevin Knox II (Kentucky, SF/PF, Freshman)

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    The arrow is pointing up for Kevin Knox II, who's taken on the role of No. 1 scorer for Kentucky.

    Will he keep it up? It shouldn't matter too much for his draft stock. Knox, who just turned 18 years old in August, has obvious NBA potential fueled by 6'9" size and perimeter scoring versatility. 

    How high he goes will come down to consistency, which would ultimately strengthen his credibility with scouts. Knox's shot selection and shooting mechanics are iffy and he doesn't add much as a rebounder or playmaker.

    But if he continues to produce and showcase the ability to make shots working on and off the ball, Knox should find himself somewhere in the secondary tier of prospects behind the elite top five. 

12. Phoenix Suns (via Miami Heat): Bruce Brown (Miami, SG, Sophomore)

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    Instead of looking to take over games as a scorer, Bruce Brown Jr. has appeared to focus on becoming a more complete player.

    Though still averaging under 12 points per game, Brown has raised his assist (5.0 per game) and three-point shooting numbers (40.9 percent), playing the role of do-it-all, two-way combo.

    Athletic and 6'5", capable of creating out of pick-and-rolls, attacking and making open jumpers, Brown's versatility at both ends should be attractive for teams that need backcourt depth. 

13. Oklahoma City Thunder: Dzanan Musa (Bosnia & Herzegovina, SG/SF, 1999)

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    Suddenly, there are two potential prizes overseas worth tracking for NBA scouts. Luka Doncic will be the international headliner of the 2018 draft, but Dzanan Musa has become a must-follow.

    He's been one of the most productive young players in Europe, averaging 12.9 points on 49.3 percent shooting. 

    He has his off days, though they're to be expected of an 18-year-old pro. It's games like the one he had on November 18, when Musa went for 35 points in 27 minutes, that will have NBA evaluators checking in all season.

    A 6'8" scorer who's improved from behind the arc (38.2 percent), Musa looks poised to produce his way into the lottery conversation.

14. New York Knicks: Miles Bridges (Michigan State, SF/PF, Sophomore)

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    Miles Bridges is still putting up numbers and showcasing the explosivneness that's been drawing attention since high school. But he hasn't made any notable improvements, leaving him vulnerable on draft boards.

    A limited ball-handler, teams will likely be looking at Bridges as a small-ball 4, where he can use his shooting and quickness to create a mismatch.  

    The ultimate hope with Bridges is that he develops as a shot-creator capable of playing the wing. Either way, his potential to make athletic, unstoppable plays at the rim, as well as outside shots, will keep him in the top-20 mix all year.

15. Utah Jazz: Wendell Carter Jr. (Duke, C, Freshman)

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    Despite taking just 8.1 shots a game, Wendell Carter Jr. has stood out for his physical tools, fundamentals and efficiency.

    He's also been productive playing to his strengths, averaging 21.4 points, 14.9 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per 40 minutes. Carter has a clean over-the-shoulder game and a projectable jumper, which he's proven he can make when left open, even out to the three-point arc (3-of-6). 

    There isn't anything flashy about Carter's game. He'll draw interest with back-to-the-basket skills, shooting touch and rebounding instincts. His value just takes a hit without convincing defensive foot speed, a weakness that may prevent him from guarding NBA power forwards or being effective in pick-and-roll coverage.

16. New Orleans Pelicans: Trae Young (Oklahoma, PG, Freshman)

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    Trae Young is creating divisive conversation within scouting circles. 

    The 180-pound freshman leads the nation in scoring. He's third in assists. Only two college players in 25 years finished a season averaging at least 25 points and six dimes. Young is averaging 28.7 points and 8.7 assists through seven games. 

    But he couldn't have a brighter green light at Oklahoma, with the freedom to pull up or step back for 30-foot threes early in the clock. Per 40 minutes, he's taking 22.5 shots and turning the ball over 4.8 times. Defense hasn't looked like a strength or priority, either. 

    He also plays below the rim, lacking explosiveness, size and length, which are flaws that could make scouts hesitant over his NBA transition.

    However, Young compensates for physical and athletic limitations with unteachable cleverness, confidence and unpredictable shiftiness. And he's consistently flashed magnificent ball skills, vision and shooting range.

    Scouts will be monitoring Young closely during conference play. Will he finish at the rim? Can he guard his position? Is his shooting going to cool off? How is his leadership late in games?

    They'll be watching to determine whether they're looking at a future change-of-pace backup or high-level starter.

17. Portland Trail Blazers: Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)

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    We've seen the good and the bad from Hamidou Diallo through eight games. 

    Even if he continues to mix promising flashes with poor execution and decisions, the positives should still be enough to warrant top-20 interest.

    Diallo is as one of the draft's top athletes, with Andrew Wiggins-like length, quickness and bounce. And he's delivered encouraging glimpses of budding skill, whether it's been with his handle or pull-up. 

    But Diallo has only made five of 17 threes and 12 of 35 two-point jumpers. For a non-playmaker, he'll need to convince scouts his perimeter shot-making and creating are on track to improve.

18. Denver Nuggets: Trevon Duval (Duke, PG, Freshman)

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    Trevon Duval has built an early case around athleticism and two-way playmaking. 

    Teams will value the pressure he puts on defenses with his first step and ball-handling. And he's done a nice job of running Duke's offense, setting the table for teammates with drive-and-kicks, pick-and-roll reads and passes through traffic. 

    His defense has been a major plus as well, particularly Duval's ability to use quickness and length. He's forcing turnovers, averaging two steals per game.

    It will just be difficult for Duval to draw interest from lottery teams without a jumper or versatility. Since he can't play 2-guard, general managers may hesitate to use a high pick on a teenager who needs the ball and can't make outside shots.

19. Washington Wizards: Tyus Battle (Syracuse, SG, Sophomore)

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    A role player as a freshman, Tyus Battle has emerged as Syracuse's No. 1 option scoring 20.3 points per game.

    He's added to his offense, looking far more dangerous in the second level with his pull-up jumper and floater.

    An improved shot-creator with three-point range, strong slashing ability and defensive tools (2.0 steals per game), Battle looks the part of a first-round shooting guard. Limited playmaking and inconsistent shooting may just keep him from ever rising too high.

20. Atlanta Hawks (via Timberwolves): Anfernee Simons (IMG Academy, PG, 1999)

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    Anfernee Simons could be this year's wild card. The high school senior told ESPN's Jonathan Givony he may be interested in the 2018 draft.

    Scout.com's No. 9 overall recruit, it's Simons' athleticism and scoring from the point guard position that hint at NBA potential. He creates his own shot, shoots off the dribble and carves up defenses with change of speed and direction. 

    Teams would have to exercise patience while Simons works on his body and floor game. But this late, the long-term upside could appear worth the risk that comes with drafting a player you don't get to see play in college, the G-League or overseas.

21. Indiana Pacers: Khyri Thomas (Creighton, SG, Junior)

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    Khyri Thomas' calling card has always been defense, which remains a major selling point today. Quick, strong and aggressive, he's established himself as one of college basketball's toughest perimeter defenders. 

    But Thomas is suddenly averaging 16.8 points per game, having taken on a larger role as a scorer. And he continues to strengthen his credibility as a shooter, making 2.3 threes at a 46.2 percent clip.

    Even without the fancy one-on-one game or point guard playmaking instincts, Thomas has become a talking point in the first-round discussion for his ability to lock down and make shots.

22. Philadelphia 76ers: Gary Trent Jr. (Duke, SG, Freshman)

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    The obvious draw to Gary Trent Jr. starts with his shooting, regardless of what the early numbers say. He sports a projectable three-point stroke with solid 6'6" size for an NBA 2-guard.

    And he shows natural scoring instincts, using floaters and other improvised runners around the key. Trent just finds way to make shots despite appearing to operate in slow motion. 

    He isn't overly creative or explosive off the dribble, and it's worth questioning how much separation he'll get against NBA defenders. But Trent is still bound to attract NBA interest given his role for Duke and the value of shot-making at the next level.

23. Milwaukee Bucks: Brandon McCoy (UNLV, C, Freshman)

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    Few freshmen have been more productive than 7'1", 250-pound Brandon McCoy, who was already having a monster start before dumping 33 points on DeAndre Ayton and Arizona. 

    Now averaging 20.0 points and 11.2 boards on 61.9 percent shooting, the eye-test standout has been a force around the rim, finishing, pounding the offensive glass and scoring over the shoulder.

    Defensively, he looks indifferent at times and shows no real signs of high-level rim protection or versatility. And despite the big numbers, he's still limited to just working on the block without shooting range or ball skills.

24. Detroit Pistons: Killian Tillie (Gonzaga, PF, Sophomore)

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    Killian Tillie could have moved the needle Friday night with 22 points, eight rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals against Creighton. 

    For an NBA power forward, he's checking key boxes with his shooting (36.8 percent from three), ability to put the ball on the floor and his defensive versatility. Athleticism isn't a strength, but Tillie moves well, both with the ball and laterally without it. 

    He's fundamentally sound, showing footwork, touch and instincts.

    Tillie didn't have his best game Tuesday night against Villanova (six points, five assists, four boards), but he's poised to rebound as Gonzaga's schedule softens. He'll use weaker in-conference competition to build some consistency and raise his stock.

25. San Antonio Spurs: Nick Richards (Kentucky, C, Freshman)

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    Foul trouble (6.0 per 40 minutes) has limited Nick Richards, but he's been productive, putting up per-40-minute numbers of 19.6 points, 14.8 rebounds and 3.4 blocks.

    His confidence has seemingly grown since the start of the Forte Wayne game on November 22, when he went for 25 points and 15 boards. Richards isn't skilled, but he's flashed the jump hook and some touch from the elbows and free-throw line.

    His identity and future role are clear: Richards is a rim runner, lob target and rim protector, valued for his high-percentage finishing and potential to change shots defensively. By March or April, the question will be whether he'll need another year to improve his offense, IQ and draft stock.

26. Brooklyn Nets (via Raptors): Grayson Allen (Duke, SG, Senior)

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    On pace to register career highs in field-goal percentage, three-point shooting and assists, Grayson Allen has looked sharp so far in the key areas he's needed to improve.

    Teams will ultimately look at Allen for his explosiveness and shot-making off spot-ups and screens. But he's looked more complete in 2017-18, executing efficiently in both the mid-range (42.9 percent two-point jumpers) and assist-to-turnover department (4.3 to 1.5). 

    Questions over his defense won't sound too alarming this late in the first round, which he should crack as long as he continues to show maturity and leadership for the nation's No. 1 team.

27. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jalen Hudson (Florida, SG, Junior)

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    After two quiet seasons at Virginia Tech and then sitting out last year, Jalen Hudson has emerged as one of the biggest surprises.

    He went for 35 points in a win over Gonzaga and then followed with 24 points against Duke, showcasing brand-new shooting range and confidence.

    A 6'6" 2-guard, Hudson is now averaging 19.4 points, drilling 2.6 triples per game at a 42.0 percent clip. Don't count on much playmaking, but a playoff team looking for shot-making could see Hudson as a potential specialist and late-round steal.

28. Golden State Warriors: Chimezie Metu (USC, C, Junior)

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    Averaging 16.0 points, Chimezie looks good, but not noticeably improved from a year ago.

    He still faded into the background during two recent losses against Texas A&M and SMU. And his rebounding numbers (7.7 in 30.3 minutes per game) remain underwhelming.

    He has made three three-pointers, which is the most encouraging sign regarding his development and potential. Metu is otherwise a skilled scorer with back-to-the-basket footwork and the ability to face up and drive from the elbows or shoot from the mid-range.

    He projects as a Bobby Portis-like offensive-oriented, role-playing big.

29. Atlanta Hawks (via Rockets): Mitchell Robinson (USA, C, 1999)

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    Skipping college hurts Mitchell Robinson's chances of making a major push up draft boards. He'll still spark enough intrigue and curiosity from late first-round teams with his physical tools and athleticism, which point to raw talent and potential. 

    He measured 7'1", 233 pounds with a 7'4" wingspan over the summer. A powerful above-the-rim finisher, Robinson showcased his ability to pick up easy baskets during last year's McDonald's All-American game and Jordan Brand Classic, combining to score 29 points on 14-of-16 shooting.

    Expected to sit out and train for the 2018 draft without giving scouts much to go on outside of high school play, workouts and interviews, Robinson will viewed as a hit-or-miss project.

30. Boston Celtics: Rodions Kurucs (Latvia, SF, 1998)

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    Rodions Kurucs has been on the radar for over a year, but he hasn't earned any real time with Barcelona's senior team.

    He has had some promising stretches lately in Spain's second division. And with 6'9" size for a wing, athleticism, three-point range and line-drive handles, Kurucs remains an interesting long-term prospect.

    He'll be a draft-and-stash option after No. 25 for a playoff team that doesn't have much room on the roster.

No. 31-40

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    No. 31: New York Knicks (via Bulls): Landry Shamet (Wichita State, PG/SG, Sophomore)

    No. 32. Atlanta Hawks: Alize Johnson (Missouri State, PF, Senior)

    No. 33. Dallas Mavericks: Aaron Holiday (UCLA, PG, Junior) 

    No. 34. Sacramento Kings: Rawle Alkins (Arizona, SG, Sophomore)

    No. 35. Memphis Grizzlies: Jalen Brunson (Villanova, PG, Junior)

    No. 36. Phoenix Suns: De'Anthony Melton (USC, PG/SG, Sophomore)

    No. 37. Orlando Magic (via Lakers): Justin Jackson (Maryland, SF/PF, Sophomore)

    No. 38. Philadelphia 76ers (via Clippers): Devonte' Graham (Kansas, PG, Senior)

    No. 39. Phoenix Suns (via Hornets): Goga Bitadze (Georgia, C, 1999)

    No. 40. Philadelphia 76ers (via Nets): Allonzo Trier (Arizona, SG, Junior)

No. 41-50

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    No. 41. Brooklyn Nets (via Magic): Kostja Mushidi (Germany, SG/SF, 1998)

    No. 42. Houston Rockets (via Heat): Shake Milton (SMU, PG/SG, Junior)

    No. 43. Oklahoma City Thunder: Chandler Hutchison (Boise State, SF, Senior)

    No. 44. New York Knicks: Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (Kansas, SG, Senior)

    No. 45. Utah Jazz: Lagerald Vick (Kansas, SG, Junior)

    No. 46. Chicago Bulls (via Pelicans): Bonzie Colson (Notre Dame, PF/C, Senior)

    No. 47. Denver Nuggets (via Blazers): Ethan Happ (Wisconsin, PF/C, Junior)

    No. 48. Los Angeles Lakers (via Nuggets): Trevon Bluiett (Xavier, SG/SF, Senior)

    No. 49. Washington Wizards: Jevon Carter (West Virginia, PG, Senior)

    No. 50: Minnesota Timberwolves: DJ Hogg (Texas A&M, SF/PF, Senior)

No. 51-60

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    No. 51. Indiana Pacers: Arnoldas Kulboka (Lithuania, SF, 1998)

    No. 52. Philadelphia 76ers: Bennie Boatwright (USC, PF/C, Junior)

    No. 53. Phoenix Suns (via Bucks): Jacob Evans (Cincinnati, SG/SF, Junior)

    No. 54. Detroit Pistons: Jo Lual-Acuil (Baylor, C, Senior)

    No. 55. San Antonio Spurs: Vanja Marinkovic (Serbia, SG/SF, 1997)

    No. 56. Phoenix Suns (via Raptors): VJ King (Louisville, SG, Sophomore)

    No. 57. Charlotte Hornets (via Cavaliers): Matthew Fisher-Davis (Vanderbilt, SG, Senior)

    No. 58. Denver Nuggets (via Warriors): Johnathan Williams (Gonzaga, PF, Senior)

    No. 59. Philadelphia 76ers (via Rockets): Moritz Wagner (Michigan, C, Junior)

    No. 60. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Celtics): Andrew Jones (Texas, PG/SG, Sophomore)