The NBA playoffs are in full swing, which means plenty of entertainment for the fans whose teams are still alive. But for the lottery squads, and those that have been knocked out of the postseason, all eyes are already on the postseason.
And the first major event in NBA summers is the draft. Every year, teams, fans and media pore over the film, stats, interviews and workouts of prospects that carry hope with them into the draft.
Of course, not every young player lives up to his pre-draft billing. And every year there are surprises. In fact, nailing the draft or even one or two prospects is the rarer occurrence. But that doesn't deter us from trying.
Such an endeavor follows, including analysis for each of the top five picks. The order is what it would be if no one moves in the lottery.
|2018 NBA Mock Draft|
|1||Phoenix Suns||Luka Doncic (Slovenia/Real Madrid, G/F, 19, 6'8")|
|2||Memphis Grizzlies||Deandre Ayton (Arizona, C, Freshman, 7'0")|
|3||Dallas Mavericks||Marvin Bagley (Duke, F/C, Freshman, 6'11")|
|4||Atlanta Hawks||Jaren Jackson (Michigan State, C/PF, Freshman, 6'11")|
|5||Orlando Magic||Trae Young (Oklahoma, PG, Freshman, 6'2")|
|6||Chicago Bulls||Mohamed Bamba (Texas, C, Freshman, 7'0")|
|7||Sacramento Kings||Wendell Carter (Duke, C/PF, Freshman, 6'10")|
|8||Cleveland Cavaliers||Michael Porter (Missouri, F, Freshman, 6'10")|
|9||New York Knicks||Collin Sexton (Alabama, PG, Freshman, 6'2")|
|10||Philadelphia 76ers||Mikal Bridges (Villanova, F/G, Junior, 6'7")|
|11||Charlotte Hornets||Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Kentucky, G, Freshman, 6'6")|
|12||Los Angeles Clippers||Robert Williams (Texas A&M, C/PF, Sophomore, 6'10")|
|13||Los Angeles Clippers||Miles Bridges (Michigan State, F, Sophomore, 6'7")|
|14||Denver Nuggets||Kevin Knox (Kentucky, F, Freshman, 6'9")|
|15||Washington Wizards||Mitchell Robinson (N/A, C, 20, 7'1")|
|16||Phoenix Suns||Zhaire Smith (Texas Tech, G/F, Freshman, 6'5")|
|17||Milwaukee Bucks||Lonnie Walker (Miami, G, Freshman, 6'4")|
|18||San Antonio Spurs||Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State, F, Senior, 6'7")|
|19||Atlanta Hawks||Anfernee Simons (IMG Academy, G, 18, 6'4")|
|20||Minnesota Timberwolves||De'Andre Hunter (Virginia, F, Freshman, 6'8")|
|21||Utah Jazz||Dzanan Musa (Bosnia/KK Cedevita Zagreb, F, 18, 6'9")|
|22||Chicago Bulls||Troy Brown (Oregon, G/F, Freshman, 6'7")|
|23||Indiana Pacers||Jacob Evans (Cincinnati, G/F, Junior, 6'6")|
|24||Portland Trail Blazers||Chandler Hutchison (Boise State, G/F, Senior, 6'7")|
|25||Los Angeles Lakers||De'Anthony Melton (USC, G, Sophomore, 6'3")|
|26||Philadelphia 76ers||Jontay Porter (Missouri, C/F, Freshman, 6'10")|
|27||Boston Celtics||Khyri Thomas (Creighton, G, Junior, 6'3")|
|28||Golden State Warriors||Donte DiVincenzo (Villanova, G, Junior, 6'5")|
|29||Brooklyn Nets||Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky, G, Freshman, 6'5")|
|30||Atlanta Hawks||Aaron Holiday (UCLA, PG, Junior, 6'1")|
|Picks by Andy Bailey|
Luka Doncic is playing against better competition than any of his peers who spent the 2017-18 season in an NCAA basketball program.
Scores of players who dominated D1, then failed to make it in the NBA, settle into nice careers as role players in the league Doncic is currently torching.
The 19-year-old, 6'8" point forward is averaging 14.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists (21.3, 7.4 and 6.7 per 36 minutes) for European powerhouse Real Madrid. New York Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis averaged 11 points and 4.6 rebounds at the same level the year before he entered the NBA.
"There's no college kid that would be able to put up those kinds of numbers at the highest levels in Europe, playing against professionals, grown men," Porzingis told Angel Diaz of Complex. "And he's so young with such confidence, it's unbelievable."
With Devin Booker, T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson already on the roster, the Phoenix Suns would be tempted to go with Deandre Ayton here. But with truly position-less basketball on the way, lineups with Booker, Warren, Jackson and Doncic all on the floor together aren't tough to imagine. In fact, they're pretty intriguing.
Ayton is likely to get real consideration at No. 1, regardless of who winds up with the top pick in this year's draft.
"There seems to be a growing consensus that most franchises would take Ayton first overall in this draft if given the opportunity," Gary Parrish wrote for CBS.
And it's not hard to see why.
The 7'1" Ayton physically dominated college hoops to the tune of 20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. And his offense came from all over the floor.
He has a real chance to be the kind of playmaking 5 most teams will covet in the coming years. And while the Memphis Grizzlies already have Marc Gasol, the former All-Star is 33 years old and can't be the centerpiece there forever.
There's some debate over what position Marvin Bagley will play in the NBA. Is he a 4 or a 5? In today's NBA (and certainly tomorrow's), that probably won't matter.
Position-less basketball is on the way, and most players will have to do a little bit of everything to warrant big minutes.
Lineups with Harrison Barnes and Bagley at the 4 and 5 for the Dallas Mavericks will have the potential for playmaking and shooting all over the floor.
One of the last holdouts from the position-less revolution might be the rim-rolling, paint-protecting 5. Surround a player like Rudy Gobert with four Swiss-Army-Knife players and you may really be on to something.
Jaren Jackson has a chance to be the closest thing to that kind of player from this draft. He blocked a whopping 5.5 shots per 40 minutes for Michigan State and added another 1.1 steals to boot.
The possibility of 4/5 pick-and-rolls with John Collins and Jackson could cause all kinds of problems for opponents, assuming the Atlanta Hawks can continue to develop Collins' perimeter skills.
Oklahoma star Trae Young faded a bit as the 2017-18 season played out, but his final numbers—27.4 points 8.7 assists, 3.7 threes and 1.7 steals—were still eye-popping.
The Orlando Magic have been rebuilding for years and have been starved for a real star ever since Dwight Howard left.
After dealing Elfrid Payton for a second-round pick at the deadline, this roster has a gaping hole at point guard.