2018 NBA Draft Big Board: Post-Regular-Season Edition

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterApril 12, 2018

2018 NBA Draft Big Board: Post-Regular-Season Edition

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    With the NBA's 2017-18 regular season complete, front offices for lottery-bound teams will now shift their attention to the draft.

    Prospects are in the process of hiring agents, testing the waters and deciding whether to return to college.

    Our updated top-50 big board accounts for any prospect who's draft-eligible and hasn't announced he's going back to school.

    In case some of the following players decide to stay in college, the following 10 are waiting to fill spots on the board: Michigan's Moritz Wagner, West Virginia's Jevon Carter, Nevada's Caleb Martin, Arizona's Rawle Alkins, Tulane's Melvin Frazier, TCU's Kenrich Williams, Florida's Jalen Hudson, SMU's Jarrey Foster, Louisville's Ray Spalding and UNLV's Brandon McCoy.

No. 50-41

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    No. 50. Shamorie Ponds (St. John's, PG, Sophomore)

    Ponds has his flaws, having shot 25.3 percent from three-point range this past season, but he was too potent offensively (21.6 points per game) not to look at in the second round. Teams could view him as a potential scoring spark capable of catching fire and putting pressure on defenses.


    No. 49. Justin Jackson (Maryland, SF/PF, Sophomore)

    Jackson suffered a torn labrum in late December and missed the rest of the season, likely ending his chances of going in the first round. He did earn himself an invite to last year's draft combine, and he'll remain in the second-round conversation for his NBA combo-forward body and potential two-way versatility.


    No. 48. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (Kansas, SG/SF, Senior)

    Mykhailiuk made 115 threes at a 44.4 percent clip as a 20-year-old senior. He hasn't shown enough improvement with his shot-creating or ability to convert inside the arc, but he's worth a look in the second round as a shooting specialist. 


    No. 47. Trevon Duval (Duke, PG, Freshman)

    Duval played well in Duke's final loss to Kansas, finishing with 20 points and six assists. It doesn't erase his season-long struggles as a scorer and shooter—important skills for an NBA point guard. He'll earn a second-round grade and a hall pass for inefficiency, being that he's 19 years old and athletic with NBA physical tools.


    No. 46. Chimezie Metu (USC, C, Junior)

    In terms of talent, Metu could be in the top 30, but inconsistent play over the years has been a turnoff. He'll draw second-round looks due to his physical tools and skill level around the key, where he can make mid-range jumpers and create shots in the post.


    No. 45. Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)

    The wheels came off for Diallo during the second half of the season. His inability to create, struggles as a shooter and poor defense were exposed. If he declares, he'll still get drafted thanks to his explosive athleticism and room to improve, but he's a G League player until he shows he can threaten in a half-court game.


    No. 44. Devonte' Graham (Kansas, PG, Senior)

    Being 23 years old won't help Graham come draft time, but in the second round, a team could bet on his Shabazz Napier-like backup potential. Pick-and-roll offense and shooting are his bread and butter.


    No. 43. Malik Newman (Kansas, SG, Sophomore)

    Newman averaged 21.6 points through five NCAA tournament games, including a 32-point outing against Duke in the Elite Eight. He isn't the high-upside point guard some once thought he could be, but between his shooting and ability to take over once his confidence starts to pump, he'll have a chance to carve out a career as a scoring specialist off the bench.


    No. 42. Omari Spellman (Villanova, PF, Freshman)

    Will Spellman come back to be a focal point at Villanova? If not, he's an interesting option in the No. 20-50 range for his 245-pound size, 43.3 percent three-point stroke and offensive skill level.


    No. 41. Rodions Kurucs (Latvia, SF, 1998)

    Kurucs hasn't played as many minutes with Barcelona's senior team as scouts would have hoped. But they've been tracking him since early last season, and over the past few weeks, he's starting to show in the LEB Gold league (at least 15 points in three of his last four games) what initially led to the hype. Kurucs jumps out under the NBA lens with his size, slashing and shooting range.

No. 40-31

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    No. 40. Tyus Battle (Syracuse, SG, Sophomore)

    Battle has a tough decision about whether to declare after a productive year that will be difficult to top statistically (19.2 points per game). He's a tough scorer with little margin for error, given that he needs the ball and isn't much of a playmaker (2.1 assists per 40 minutes).


    No. 39. Kevin Hervey (Texas Arlington, SF/PF, Senior)

    A 6'9", 230-pound combo forward, Hervey averaged 20.5 points and 2.3 threes per game as a senior, creating a case with skills over athleticism. He didn't face many quality opponents, but he should have the opportunity to improve his stock during scrimmages at the combine.


    No. 38. Landry Shamet (Wichita State, PG/SG, Sophomore)

    Shamet cooled off late in the season, and his lack of athleticism showed on more than one occasion. Scouts still admire his shooting track record, floor leadership and backcourt versatility, which point to role-player potential. 


    No. 37. Grayson Allen (Duke, SG, Senior)

    Inconsistency will hurt Allen more than his behavior. He's still worth looking into for his mix of athleticism and shot-making. 


    No. 36. Gary Trent Jr. (Duke, SG, Freshman)

    Trent lacks speed and athleticism for a guard, as he shot just 43.0 percent inside the arc. He'll get looks for his ability to stretch the floor as a shot-making specialist after converting 97 threes at a 40.2 percent clip.


    No. 35. Troy Brown (Oregon, SG/SF, Freshman)

    Still 18 years old, Brown has an NBA-wing body, and he checks interesting boxes with his 6'7" size, playmaking skills and defensive versatility. However, he's only average athletically, shot below 30.0 percent from three and doesn't have a core strength to bank on at this stage.


    No. 34. Bruce Brown (Miami, SG, Sophomore)

    Brown struggled before going down for the year with a foot injury, which creates an uphill battle in terms of him drawing a first-round bite. A team will have to value his 6'5" size and two-way playmaking while betting on his shooting and shot-creating to improve.


    No. 33. Shake Milton (SMU, PG/SG, Junior)

    Milton missed the final two months of the season, which could hurt his chances of going in the first round. At 6'6", he has size for both backcourt positions, and he shot over 40.0 percent from deep in each of his three seasons at SMU. His underwhelming athleticism remains his biggest question from an NBA standpoint. He's put his name into the draft, but he hasn't hired an agent. 


    No. 32. Donte DiVincenzo (Villanova, SG, Sophomore)

    After dropping 31 points in the national title game, DiVincenzo is stirring up debate in NBA circles. He's intrigued all season with his shooting, secondary playmaking and defensive toughness, but he could also return as Villanova's top option and look to go higher in the 2019 draft. The NBA and Villanova are still waiting on his decision. 


    No. 31. Jacob Evans (Cincinnati, SG/SF, Junior)

    Evans' toughness, shooting and defensive versatility suggest he's an NBA fit, even if he never developed into an exciting scorer or playmaker. 

No. 30-21

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    No. 30. Tony Carr (Penn State, PG, Sophomore)

    Carr needs to work on his ability to convert in crowds, having shot just 39.5 percent inside the arc. But with more space in the pros, plus 6'5" size, a 43.3 percent three-point stroke and averages of 19.6 points and 5.0 assists, he could be worth betting on late in the first round.


    No. 29. Elie Okobo (France, PG, 1997)

    A 20-year old point guard averaging 13.0 points and 4.3 assists on 38.9 percent shooting from three in France's top league, Okobo will be a name to watching during the predraft process. He isn't an explosive athlete, but his skill level is obvious, particularly with his pull-up and pick-and-roll games. The fact that he speaks fluent English should only help during interviews.


    No. 28. Jerome Robinson (Boston College, SG, Junior)

    Robinson started generating buzz toward the end of the season, and he could be viewed as a 2018 sleeper. A 6'6" scorer with occasionally wild shot selection, he averaged 20.7 points on 40.9 percent shooting from three. He'll be one of the top prospects to monitor at the NBA combine, as he has yet to hire an agent.


    No. 27. De'Andre Hunter (Virginia, SF/PF, Freshman)

    The NBA is still waiting on a decision from Hunter, who was gaining steam in March before he broke his wrist and missed the NCAA tournament. It seems more reasonable for him to return and strengthen his case after coming off the bench for most of the year, but teams could still have late first-round interest in Hunter's face-up scoring, defensive versatility and shooting potential. 


    No. 26. Lonnie Walker IV (Miami, SG, Freshman)

    Walker will go in the first round because of his NBA tools, athleticism and a shooting stroke that's easy to buy. He'll need time to improve his ball-handling and adjust as a finisher around the basket, where he struggled at Miami. 


    No. 25. Jalen Brunson (Villanova, PG, Junior)

    Throw out the eye-test results on Brunson, who isn't fast or athletic but knows how to run an offense, shoot and win games. His upside may say backup, though landing a reliable one in the 20s should be considered a win.


    No. 24. Aaron Holiday (UCLA, PG, Freshman)

    Holiday averaged 25.1 points and 6.3 assists over UCLA's final seven games. He finished the season shooting above 40.0 percent from three for the third straight year, and though his tools and athleticism are average and his decision-making can be wild, teams could look at Holiday as a Yogi Ferrell-type offensive spark. 


    No. 23. Mitchell Robinson (USA, C, 1998)

    A 2018 wild card after skipping college to train, Robinson has the chance to boost his stock during workouts, where he'll likely intrigue with his enormous physical profile and explosive leaping. Teams just won't have a great idea of where he's at in terms of skill and basketball IQ.


    No. 22. Khyri Thomas (Creighton, SG, Junior)

    Thomas' upside appears limited without playmaking or shot-creating skills for a 6'3" guard. But he made over 39.0 percent of his triples in three straight seasons and won Big East Defensive Player of the Year the last two. Despite not being an off-the-dribble scorer, he also converted an impressive 63.9 percent of his two-point attempts this past season, showing he can make shots within the flow of an offense. He's testing the waters, and a strong performance at the combine should earn him enough first-round love.


    No. 21. De'Anthony Melton (USC, PG/SG, Sophomore)

    Scouts will look at last year's tape on Melton, as well as his jump shot during workouts. He didn't play this season due to an ongoing FBI investigation, but as a freshman, he flashed enough glimpses of two-way playmaking and toughness. If he can surprise teams with his shooting, Melton could convince one to gamble earlier than expected on his role-player and defensive potential. 

No. 20-11

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    No. 20. Dzanan Musa (Bosnia and Herzegovina, SG/SF, 1999)

    The level of competition in Croatia isn't high, but Musa put on a show last week with 36 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds. For an 18-year-old, his tools, production and competitiveness make him worth drafting in the first round, even if his athleticism and the setting he's playing in are both questionable.


    No. 19. Chandler Hutchison (Boise State, SF, Senior)

    Hutchison went for 39 points and 14 rebounds during his finale at Boise State, capping off a senior year in which he averaged 20.0 points and improved his jumper and playmaking. Shooting remains his swing skill, however. For a senior, a career-best 1.5 made threes on 35.9 percent shooting remains unconvincing. 


    No. 18. Kevin Knox (Kentucky, SF/PF, Freshman)

    Knox was productive at Kentucky, but from an NBA standpoint, he didn't do any one thing well enough, from shooting and passing to defense and rebounding. He's still worth looking at in the top 20 for his ability to score off spot-ups, screens and drives. He'll also only be 21 years old by the time he's finished three NBA seasons. Time is on his side to improve at both ends.


    No. 17. Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State, SF/PF, Junior)

    Bates-Diop won't win any dunk contests, but his offensive skill set and level have both come a long way. At 6'7" and 235 pounds, he's now a three-point shooter (1.9 per game) who can face up and attack or score from the post. Coaches will value his versatility at both ends as a 3-4 combo.


    No. 16. Anfernee Simons (IMG, PG, 1999)

    Throw Simons into the high-risk, high-reward category. In the teens of this draft, however, the potential upside is worth the gamble. Coming straight from high school, he won't offer anything as a rookie, but he's flashed enough athleticism and perimeter scoring with his handle and jump shot to justify a first-round roll of the dice.


    No. 15. Collin Sexton (Alabama, PG/SG, Freshman)

    Sexton possesses the NBA body, toughness and relentless scoring ability as a driver and streak shooter. But how well can he run an offense or set the table? A 3.6-2.8 assist-to-turnover ratio hurts his draft grade.


    No. 14. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Kentucky, PG, Freshman)

    Gilgeous-Alexander worked his way into the lottery discussion late in the season with his crafty scoring and facilitating skills. But NBA evaluators will have to wonder how high his ceiling goes without blow-by burst or convincing shooting range. 


    No. 13. Jontay Porter (Missouri, C, Freshman)

    Porter, who'll turn 19 years old in November, is testing the waters, but he seems likely to follow his brother Michael to the pros. He fits what teams now look for in bigs with his ability to shoot threes, block shots and attack closeouts. The main concern with Porter revolves around his foot speed and limited explosiveness. Can he guard in space or separate offensively as a scorer around the basket? 


    No. 12. Miles Bridges (Michigan State, SF/PF, Sophomore)

    Bridges' explosiveness and shot-making should be enough for him to reach starter upside. He flashed more glimpses this year of off-the-dribble scoring, and he'll need to continue making progress as a shot-creator to be more than a reserve or average role player.


    No. 11. Zhaire Smith (Texas Tech, SG/SF, Freshman)

    NBA talent isn't as easy to spot outside the top 10, which helps Smith, who's testing the waters. The 18-year-old is one of the draft's most explosive athletes. He's a project without a great deal of skill, but he might not need it early on. Smith has a chance to impact games with his athleticism, defensive versatility and effort alone, though he did shoot 18-of-40 from three-point range at Texas Tech.

10. Robert Williams (Texas A&M, C, Sophomore)

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    Robert Williams could be undervalued after failing to show anything new in 2017-18. His points per 40 minutes dropped from 18.4 to 16.2, but he also had to share the floor with another center in Tyler Davis, who likewise occupied the paint.

    The explosive sophomore still registered a block percentage north of 10.0 for the second straight year, and he improved his finishing efficiency by converting 66.8 percent of his shot attempts inside the arc. 

    NBA teams won't be calling on Williams for scoring, anyway. They'll have him play the DeAndre Jordan role as a lob and dump-down target who's valued for his ability to pick up easy baskets and protect the rim. 

9. Wendell Carter Jr. (Duke, C, Freshman)

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    Scouts seem to buy into Wendell Carter Jr.'s strengths as a skilled post scorer with mid-range touch and a nose for the ball under the boards. 

    There isn't anything flashy about his game, which is more old-school than modern. Carter plays mostly back-to-the-basket, where he shows good footwork, but he also knocked down 19 of 46 threes, showing a convincing shooting stroke when given time. And he did his job as a rim protector at Duke, blocking 3.1 shots per 40 minutes. 

    Can he defend away from the basket? Will he become a threat to face up, use a dribble and score? How much will his limited explosiveness hold him back? There are questions pertaining to Carter's upside and fit, but not his floor.

    Whoever drafts Carter will feel confident they've added a pro, even if he never develops into an All-Star.

8. Michael Porter Jr. (Missouri, SF/PF, Freshman)

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    Teams will try to look past Michael Porter Jr.'s two games last month, the only full ones he played in college after he underwent early-season back surgery. 

    Evaluators should have seen enough of him over his high school years during scouted events like the McDonald's All-American Game, FIBA U18s and Nike Hoop Summit. A 6'10" face-up scorer with three-point range and wing-like coordination around the paint, Porter has always showcased mismatch offensive potential.

    But he wasn't overly explosive before back surgery, and he certainly didn't look springy upon his return. Teams must also ask if he's the type who'll make others better—he logged one assist through 53 total minutes and just one assist through 60 minutes (three games) over the summer at Adidas Nations.

    Still, there is high demand for scoring combo forwards throughout the NBA. Though he's risky as a top-five pick, Porter will be an enticing buy-low option in the Nos. 6-10 range.

7. Mohamed Bamba (Texas, C, Freshman)

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    NBA teams in need of rim protection will have Mohamed Bamba highlighted on their boards, as wingspans in the 7'9" range come few and far between.

    After he finished second in the nation in shot-blocking as a freshman, scouts should feel confident in his potential to add significant defensive value. 

    There are concerns about how his offense will develop, but even if his shooting and post game never take off, he'll remain a high-percentage finishing target and cleanup man at the rim. 

    Scouts have questioned his toughness, which is an important quality for an interior-oriented player to have. Bamba ultimately sounds safer and more attractive in the Nos. 6-10 range then he does in the top five.

6. Trae Young (Oklahoma, PG, Freshman)

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    Scouts have mixed opinions on Trae Young, whose unprecedented production was clouded by disappointing losses, inefficiency and a polarizing shot selection. 

    His ability to break down defenses, create shots and make them should still hold plenty of value in the pros. Young's quickness, craftiness off the dribble and passing IQ aren't going anywhere, and he should fare better with less of a workload (he led the NCAA in usage), more space and superior NBA teammates. 

    He doesn't have to be Stephen Curry or Steve Nash to justify being a top-10 pick.

    The main questions are how much of a defensive liability he'll be against explosive point guards, and whether he'll get his shot off as cleanly, both as a shooter and finisher at the rim. 

    But for teams like the Orlando Magic, New York Knicks or even Chicago Bulls, Young's ability to set the table (he led the NCAA in assists) should remain attractive, even if his volume scoring doesn't carry over.

5. Mikal Bridges (Villanova, SF, Junior)

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    One of college basketball's most improved players, Mikal Bridges helped Villanova win a national title, strengthening his credibility as a top-10 NBA prospect. 

    He ranked first in the country this year in points per possession among those who totaled at least 500 possessions. 

    Bridges shot 59.3 percent inside the arc and 43.5 percent behind it. And though he's known more as a three-and-D wing and not as much for his shot-creating, he showed enough flashes of pick-and-roll ball-handling (.984 points per possession, 90th percentile), post-ups (.933 PPP, 75th percentile) and isolation scoring (.926 PPP, 73rd percentile) to suggest more progress is coming. 

    Even if it doesn't, practically every team in the lottery could use a small forward who can knock down threes and defend positions 2 through 4. 

4. Marvin Bagley III (Duke, PF/C, Freshman)

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    Without a bankable offensive skill or strong defensive instincts, scouts have concerns about how Marvin Bagley III's game will translate. It's also difficult to ignore his volume production, efficiency and flashes of versatility for a teenager.

    If nothing else, Bagley should be able to follow Julius Randle's path from physically dominant in college to needing a few years to adjust and become a 16-point, eight-rebound complementary face-up and post scorer.

    But Bagley finished his freshman season having gone 23-of-58 from deep, and though the small sample size and his 62.7 percent free-throw mark say to be wary, he's too young to write off as a future shooting threat. 

    Poor defense remains the biggest knock against Bagley. His struggles played a role in Duke switching to zone. And he blocked a red-flag low 29 shots all season, 77 fewer than Michigan State's Jaren Jackson Jr., who played 350 fewer minutes.

3. Jaren Jackson Jr. (Michigan State, PF/C, Freshman)

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    Taking Jaren Jackson Jr. over Bagley means valuing his particular skill set, fit and clear-cut superior defensive upside. It also means buying into Jackson's shooting numbers—38-of-96 from three, 79.7 percent from the free-throw line—despite his unorthodox release.

    There is some risk tied to taking Jackson this high. Whoever drafts him needs his jump-shot success to carry over, given his shot-creating limitations.

    But he did rank in the 98th percentile this season on post-ups. And toward the end of his freshman campaign, he started flashing the ability to attack a closeout and make a play off the dribble.

    Jackson's primary sales pitch still revolves around his rim protection and switchability. At 18 years old, he was the only player in the country to block three shots in fewer than 25 minutes per game. And NBA coaches should feel confident in his potential as a pick-and-roll defender.

    Bagley struggled in both of those areas this season. 

2. Luka Doncic (Slovenia, PG/SG, 1999)

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    Luka Doncic could just as easily be No. 1A, with team fit being a deciding factor. Franchises like the Memphis Grizzlies or Orlando Magic, who could use another guard/wing and playmaker, shouldn't be criticized for targeting Doncic if they win the lottery. 

    He continues to grow his legend overseas, where at 19 years old, Doncic is Euroleague's third-leading scoring and has its second-highest player efficiency rating, per RealGM.com.

    After nearly triple-doubling on Tuesday against Joventut (nine points, eight boards, 10 assists), he's now averaging 13.0 points, 6.8 assists and 5.6 rebounds over Real Madrid's last five games. 

    The big question teams are asking is whether he can reach an elite level without the explosiveness or quickness most All-Star wings possess in the NBA. But athletic limitations haven't held him back in the world's second-toughest league, and they didn't stop him over the summer from averaging 14.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists (at 18) during EuroBasket in games where Slovenia faced NBA pros like Kristaps Porzingis, the Gasols and the Hernangomez brothers.

    Loaded with competitiveness and versatility fueled by 6'8" size, playmaking, three-point range and blossoming shot-creating skills, Doncic will remain in the No. 1 overall mix even if he doesn't make it to the United States for workouts before the draft.

1. DeAndre Ayton (Arizona, C, Freshman)

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    With an immaculate body, athleticism, volume college production and an NBA-style game, Deandre Ayton projects as a low-risk, high-upside prospect. 

    His theoretical ceiling skies higher than Doncic's.

    Will it matter if Ayton isn't an intimidating rim protector if he's averaging somewhere around 20 points and 10 rebounds like he did at Arizona? He's criticized for showing weak defensive instincts, but the NBA game values dominant offense, and Ayton has the chance to be a top go-to player in the half court with his inside scoring, post game and developing shooting touch. 

    Questioning his 6.1 block percentage would be overthinking it, particularly since he often played out of position at power forward. 

    With Doncic in the mix, Ayton isn't the no-brainer answer at No. 1. However, it's easy to make the case for him, particularly with teams like the Phoenix Suns and Atlanta Hawks needing centers to feature.


    Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports and Sports Reference.


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