What was a disappointing 2017-18 season became a little more tolerable for the Phoenix Suns after they won the 2018 NBA draft lottery Tuesday night.
The Suns had a 25 percent chance of landing the top overall pick, per Tankathon. The Sacramento Kings, Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks round out the top five.
The conclusion of the draft lottery means the first-round draft order is set since the latter half of the opening round is based on regular-season records and not contingent on playoff results. Below is an updated mock draft following the lottery and three questions that will be answered over the next month.
2018 NBA Mock Draft—First Round
1. Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona
2. Sacramento Kings: Luka Doncic, G, Real Madrid
3. Atlanta Hawks: Marvin Bagley III, F, Duke
4. Memphis Grizzlies: Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri
5. Dallas Mavericks: Jaren Jackson Jr., F, Michigan State
6. Orlando Magic: Trae Young, G, Oklahoma
7. Chicago Bulls: Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Nets): Wendell Carter, F, Duke
9. New York Knicks: Collin Sexton, G, Alabama
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via Lakers): Mikal Bridges, F, Villanova
11. Charlotte Hornets: Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky
12. Los Angeles Clippers (via Pistons): Miles Bridges, F, Michigan State
13. Los Angeles Clippers: Robert Williams, C, Texas A&M
14. Denver Nuggets: Zhaire Smith, F, Texas Tech
15. Washington Wizards: Mitchell Robinson, C, N/A
16. Phoenix Suns (via Heat): Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G, Kentucky
17. Milwaukee Bucks: Lonnie Walker, G, Miami
18. San Antonio Spurs: Keita Bates-Diop, F, Ohio State
19. Atlanta Hawks (via Timberwolves): Dzanan Musa, F, KK Cedevita
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Thunder): Troy Brown, G, Oregon
21. Utah Jazz: Khyri Thomas, G, Creighton
22. Chicago Bulls (via Pelicans): Anfernee Simons, G, IMG Academy
23. Indiana Pacers: Shake Milton, G, SMU
24. Portland Trail Blazers: Jacob Evans, F, Cincinnati
25. Los Angeles Lakers (via Cavaliers): De'Anthony Melton, G, USC
26. Philadelphia 76ers: Jontay Porter, F, Missouri
27. Boston Celtics: Rawle Alkins, G, Arizona
28. Golden State Warriors: Jalen Brunson, G, Villanova
29. Brooklyn Nets (via Raptors): Chandler Hutchison, G, Boise State
30. Atlanta Hawks (via Rockets): Bruce Brown Jr., G, Miami
NBA Draft Storylines
Does Anybody Overtake Deandre Ayton for the Top Spot?
Arizona center Deandre Ayton appears to be the consensus pick as the top player in the 2018 draft class, and it's not hard to see why.
As much as traditional centers are being phased out of the game, the position itself will continue to be highly valued on draft night. There's a reason 7-footers such as Kristaps Porzingis and Joel Embiid are considered unicorns.
There's only so much a team can do to defend a 7-footer who can not only score inside but also stretch the floor and beat his man off the dribble.
The only significant doubt surrounding Ayton is whether he fits the profile of Embiid.
Offensively, he checks off all of the boxes; he was an excellent finisher and connected on 12 of his 35 three-point attempts, so he should be able to extend his range more in the NBA.
Ayton's defense is another story, though. According to Sports Reference, he had a 6.1 percent block rate and didn't look great when defending away from the basket. Especially in crunch time, a center who struggles to hold his own defensively can be a big liability.
Luka Doncic is probably the only prospect who can seriously challenge Ayton for the No. 1 spot, but he has flaws of his own, namely his three-point shooting. He shot 33.1 percent from beyond the arc in 31 Euroleague appearances and 28.0 percent in 28 Spanish league appearances. Doncic's defense is a work in progress as well.
As good as Doncic should be in the NBA, Ayton's size gives him a higher ceiling.
Ultimately, the 2018 draft is likely to be another year where the first few picks are basically locked in well before the draft itself.
Does Michael Porter Jr.'s Stock Change Significantly Before the Draft?
Even after missing almost all of his only season at Missouri, Michael Porter Jr. is seemingly a lock for the top 10. One lost year can only do so much to make people ignore the promise Porter showed coming out of high school.
Granted, Porter could tumble down draft boards should his predraft examinations raise red flags about his surgically repaired back.
Assuming Porter gets a clean bill of health, predraft showcases and interviews could be a way for him to remind everybody why he was a serious contender for the No. 1 pick before the 2017-18 season started.
Porter is unlikely to be fully recovered from the back procedure he underwent in November, which will limit what he can do at the combine and any private workouts with teams, so there's no way he'll leapfrog Ayton or Doncic. But he may be able to go from the back half of the top 10 to the Hawks or Grizzlies with the third or fourth picks.
Does Landing at No. 8 Help the Cavaliers Re-Sign LeBron James?
Earlier this year, all signs pointed to LeBron James leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers this summer. The Cavs were a mess on the court, which only magnified the off-court drama.
However, the Cavaliers have reached the Eastern Conference Finals and a fourth straight NBA Finals appearance is within reach. If contending for a title remains a top priority for James, staying in Cleveland may give him the best shot.
The draft lottery was important to Cleveland to the extent the team now has a better idea of how much value the Brooklyn Nets' 2018 first-rounder has.
Cleveland can't trade the Nets' pick before or during the draft since it already sent a 2018 first-rounder to the Los Angeles Lakers. ESPN's Brian Windhorst noted the team can deal the pick, so it could still be leveraged to help land the Cavs an All-Star-caliber player.
When the Cavs acquired Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves, the framework for the deal had been in place long before the move was official, since Cleveland had to wait 30 days after the 2014 draft to trade Andrew Wiggins.
It could be a similar scenario this year, where general manager Koby Altman is negotiating with teams to gauge interest in the No. 8 pick and setting up a trade that can be finalized deeper into the summer.
Sporting News' Sean Deveney reported in December there was a belief Cavs owner Dan Gilbert wanted to keep the Nets' pick as insurance should James sign elsewhere.
Perhaps that remains the case, but the team has to at least feel a little more confidence about the chances he re-signs to potentially end his career in Cleveland. In that sense, the Nets' pick might have more value to the Cavs as a trade asset.