NBA Mock Draft 2018: Luka Doncic Leads the Pack After Lottery Results
With the lottery complete and the order set, the 2018 NBA draft just became clearer and easier to project.
At No. 1 overall, the Phoenix Suns likely will choose between one of the NCAA's star big men and Europe's prized guard from Slovenia, who'll be participating in the start of Euroleague's Final Four later in the week.
Representatives from all 30 teams will now head to Chicago to scout and interview eligible prospects at the NBA combine later this week.
1. Phoenix Suns: Luka Doncic (Slovenia, PG/SG, 1999)
The odds held up for the Phoenix Suns, who'll likely be choosing between Luka Doncic and Deandre Ayton at No. 1.
While both players have strong cases, it's difficult to look past the fact that Phoenix just hired Igor Kokoskov as its new head coach. Last summer, Kokoskov led Doncic and Slovenia to a gold medal at EuroBasket.
The Suns ranked last in defensive efficiency this past season, and though they weren't any better offensively, adding a weak rim protector like Ayton would be unsettling. Phoenix could also look to max out a defensive ace like restricted free agent Clint Capela this offseason.
As much as the Suns need a center, they need a playmaker equally as much. The 6'8" Doncic, who is arguably the top passer in the draft, has the potential to make his teammates better. Meanwhile, Ayton's Wildcats underachieved and got bounced by Buffalo in Arizona's first NCAA tournament game.
No coach knows how to use Doncic better than Kokoskov. The timing of his hire, plus Phoenix's hole next to Devin Booker, makes Doncic our early favorite to go No. 1.
2. Sacramento Kings: Deandre Ayton (Arizona, C, Freshman)
The Sacramento Kings won't have much to think about at No. 2. They'll take whoever is left between Doncic and Ayton.
And given their need for a scoring big man, it's possible they prefer Ayton to begin with.
He'd be a textbook fit up front, where Sacramento has leaned on Skal Labissiere and Williey Cauley-Stein in recent years. One of the most impressive athletes to enter the draft, Ayton is also highly skilled with post moves and shooting range out to the arc.
Defense remains his biggest concern, but if the Kings believe he'll be a 20-point, 10-rebound machine, they won't overthink this decision. Ayton has the chance to be one of the most gifted offensive centers in the league and Sacramento's franchise anchor for years to come.
3. Atlanta Hawks: Marvin Bagley III (Duke, PF/C, Freshman)
Instead of overthinking at No. 3, the Atlanta Hawks take Marvin Bagley III as the best prospect available.
Jaren Jackson Jr. or Mohamed Bamba may also draw looks from the Hawks, but they could view those two as overly raw and questionable fits on a team that doesn't offer him much support.
After Bagley averaged 21.0 points and 11.1 rebounds while shooting 64.7 percent inside the arc and 39.7 percent from three, he'll come off as the safer pick, but he also has All-Star upside to unlock. He and John Collins could make for one of the bounciest frontcourt pairings in the league.
4. Memphis Grizzlies: Jaren Jackson Jr. (Michigan State, PF/C, Freshman)
The Memphis Grizzlies may be disappointed after falling outside of the top three, but Jaren Jackson Jr. should still work for them. He'd fit alongside Marc Gasol for his ability to stretch the floor and guard the perimeter.
Realistically, he represents Gasol's long-term replacement in the middle.
Jackson is fresh off a season in which he blocked 5.5 shots per 40 minutes and established the reputation for being one of the most promising young defenders to enter the NBA in years.
Still 18 years old with three-point range and an efficient low-post game, Jackson also has plenty of offensive potential and room and time to improve his skill level.
Memphis will also look at Mohamed Bamba, but Jackson's superior versatility makes the decision easier. He's also more than a year younger than Bamba.
5. Dallas Mavericks: Mohamed Bamba (Texas, C, Freshman)
The Dallas Mavericks dropped in the lottery, but they can still add a valuable cornerstone in Mohamed Bamba, who'll make it easier to part ways with Nerlens Noel.
Bamba gives Dallas a defensive anchor and a finishing weapon around the hoop. He could win the Mavericks over in workouts when he shows off more skill and touch than he was able to demonstrate at Texas.
His spectacular 7'9" wingspan, unique mobility and flashes of post play and shooting hint at a one-of-a-kind player.
6. Orlando Magic: Trae Young (Oklahoma, PG, Freshman)
After passing on Dennis Smith Jr. last year, the Orlando Magic won't let another point guard slip past them. They'll grab their floor general of the future in Trae Young, who'll give them a much-needed playmaker in the backcourt.
They should value his ball-screen offense (76th percentile), isolation game (85 percentile) and shot-making (118 threes).
Orlando is already dealing with a frontcourt logjam with Aaron Gordon (restricted free agent), Jonathan Isaac and Nikola Vucevic. And though the Magic could use Michael Porter Jr.'s scoring ability, adding him would create an even clunkier frontcourt.
There isn't an enormous difference between Young and the remaining prospects. With that in mind, the Magic will fill the biggest need on their roster with one of the draft's most exciting shooters and passers.
7. Chicago Bulls: Mikal Bridges (Villanova, SF, Junior)
Assuming the Chicago Bulls are invested in Kris Dunn at point guard, they'll likely favor wings or centers at No. 7.
Wendell Carter Jr. will earn consideration, but the rarity of two-way wings like Mikal Bridges—plus his signs of expanding offense—give him the edge.
Bridges' 43.5 percent three-point shooting from this past season and defensive versatility suggest he's the ideal fit between scoring specialist Zach LaVine and stretch 4 Lauri Markkanen.
8.Cleveland Cavaliers (via Nets): Michael Porter Jr. (Missouri, SF/PF, Freshman)
The Cavaliers look to buy low on Michael Porter Jr., who'll slip after playing just 53 total minutes as a freshman thanks to a back injury on opening night.
He makes sense for Cleveland, both in terms of insurance in case LeBron James leaves as a free agent and for his immediate shot-making ability, assuming the Cavaliers aren't keen on bringing back Rodney Hood.
A mismatch scorer at 6'10", Porter separates himself from other forwards with size, three-point range and the ability to shoot off the dribble or face up and attack.
9. New York Knicks: Miles Bridges (Michigan State, SF/PF, Sophomore)
At No. 9, there isn't a notable gap between remaining prospects like Michigan State's Miles Bridges, Alabama's Collin Sexton, Duke's Wendell Carter Jr. and Miami's Lonnie Walker IV. In this tier, Bridges stands out as the most likely target based on his strengths and the New York Knicks' needs.
He'd add explosiveness, which also hints at upside. Assuming the Knicks don't bring Michael Beasley back, Bridges could also move to his best-suited position at the 4 (he played the 3 at Michigan State). And given his shot-making (2.1 threes per game), athleticism and ability to guard the perimeter, he'd be a strong complement to Enes Kanter (if he remains with the Knicks) or Kristaps Porzingis.
Sexton will likely create debate within New York's front office, but questions over his ability to run an offense (3.6 assists to 2.8 turnovers) and shooting ability (he shot only 33.6 percent from three-point range this past season) could rule him out, especially after Trey Burke's promising breakout. Bridges is the low-risk, potentially high-reward play for a Knicks team that lacks talent at both forward positions.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via Lakers): Lonnie Walker IV (Miami, SG, Freshman)
The Philadelphia 76ers could reach on Lonnie Walker IV with JJ Redick and Marco Belinelli entering unrestricted free agency.
Throughout the predraft process, Walker should win back support he lost from teams when he was up and down in a spotlight role this past season. Walker is one of the most explosive guards in the class, and his shooting stroke appears far more convincing than his 34.6 percent three-point mark suggests.
Duke's Wendell Carter Jr. remains on the board, but with Dario Saric and Joel Embiid locked in up front, the Sixers may not want to draft a backup in the lottery. Compared to Miami, Philadelphia should be a more suitable setting for Walker to play to his strengths as a shot-maker and line-drive attacker.
And in time, he should show the potential to improve as a shot-creator and ball-screen playmaker.
No. 11. Charlotte Hornets: Wendell Carter Jr. (Duke, PF/C, Freshman)
Carter could go as high as No. 6, but if the Bulls and Kings opt for wing or forward scorers, he could slip to the Hornets. He should be interchangeable between the 4 and 5, particularly if his jumper starts working early. Ideally, he would eventually replace Dwight Howard and give the Hornets another post option, rebounder and rim protector, but he could also step outside and stretch the floor.
No. 12. Los Angeles Clippers (via Pistons): Collin Sexton (Alabama, PG/SG, Freshman)
The Clippers can add their next point guard and another scorer to their backcourt in Sexton. Athletic and highly intense, he puts pressure on opponents at both ends by attacking the rim and competing defensively. Sexton will need to work on his floor game and jumper after averaging only 3.6 assists and 2.8 turnovers and shooting 33.8 percent from three. But once his confidence starts pumping, he's the type of player capable of taking over a game.
No. 13. Los Angeles Clippers: Robert Williams (Texas A&M, C, Sophomore)
Signs are pointing to the end of DeAndre Jordan's time in L.A. That makes Robert Williams an intriguing replacement and immediate plug-and-play option for his identical strengths as an explosive leaper, lob target, rim protector and rebounder. Williams will attempt to follow in Jordan's footsteps as a center who can impact games around the basket with his tools and athleticism despite lacking much skill.
No. 14. Denver Nuggets: Kevin Knox II (Kentucky, SF, Freshman)
Already set with cornerstone guards in Jamal Murray and Gary Harris to go with a glut of bigs, the Nuggets' only need is on the wing. This could be a trade-down (or out) spot for Denver, but the Nuggets could also lean toward Knox, a 6'9" forward who's still 18 years old and led Kentucky in scoring. He'll need time to develop, but between his mismatch tools, athleticism and shot-making skills, there is obvious long-term offensive upside to unlock.
No. 15. Washington Wizards: Mitchell Robinson (USA, C, 1998)
Without any must-draft stars available outside 2018's lottery, this is a good opportunity for the Wizards to swing for upside at a position of need. Though he skipped the season to train for the draft, Robinson will prove during workouts he's one of the field's elite athletes. Given the Wizards' current frontcourt, which features below-the-rim bigs Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat, there is extra incentive to take a chance on a raw-yet-explosive center who has enormous room to improve.
No. 16. Phoenix Suns (via Heat): Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, (Kentucky, PG, Freshman)
The Suns add more backcourt depth with Gilgeous-Alexander, whose facilitating ability and defensive versatility point to role-player potential, even if he lacks the speed and athleticism that traditionally hint at upside. At worst, he'll run Phoenix's second unit while guarding multiple positions, though late-season signs of improved shooting suggest he can take his scoring to another level.
No. 17. Milwaukee Bucks: Zhaire Smith (Texas Tech, SG/SF, Freshman)
The Bucks think defense with Smith, an explosive leaper who guards multiple positions and plays with an edge. He's limited offensively, but he's also still 18 years old and he shot a promising 18-of-40 from behind the arc. Smith looks poised to create buzz during athletic testing at the combine. He can take Shabazz Muhammad's (or Jabari Parker's) spot in Milwaukee.
No. 18. San Antonio Spurs: Jontay Porter (Missouri, C, Freshman)
San Antonio ignores the Kawhi Leonard situation before the draft and looks to go young with Porter. He won't turn 19 years old until November, yet he finished as one of two players in the country to average at least a three-point make, 1.5 blocks and 2.0 assists per game. He isn't a high-level athlete, but his size, NBA-friendly skill set and basketball IQ should appeal to the Spurs, a team without any exciting young bigs to develop.
No. 19. Atlanta Hawks (via Timberwolves): Anfernee Simons (USA, PG/SG, 1999)
The Hawks can afford to gamble on long-term upside with one of their three first-round picks. And Simons is the type of wild card worth rolling the dice on, given his athleticism and scoring potential, which is higher than Kent Bazemore's. Coming straight from high school as a post-graduate, Simons will likely require patience, but his quickness, bounce, ball skills and shooting scream future NBA combo guard.
No. 20. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Thunder): Dzanan Musa (Bosnia & Herzegovina, SG/SF, 1999)
Attempting to strengthen their backcourt with Jamal Crawford likely gone, the Wolves can look overseas at Musa, who just turned 19 years old last week and averages double figures in scoring in the Adriatic League, Croatian League and Eurocup. Despite questions over his athletic ability, he has produced at every level since 2014, doing so with size for the position, scoring instincts and competitiveness.
No. 21. Utah Jazz: Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State, SF/PF, Junior)
Bates-Diop would give the Jazz another versatile combo forward, one who's mature, physical and skilled enough to log minutes right away if Derrick Favors leaves in free agency. At 6'7" and 235 pounds, he averaged 1.9 threes and 8.7 rebounds per game this past season. Utah's coaching staff will try to unlock the defensive potential tied to his size, strength, length and mobility.
No. 22. Chicago Bulls (via Pelicans): Chandler Hutchison (Boise State, SF, Senior)
The Bulls can add Hutchison for more wing depth between LaVine and Markkanen. The athletic 22-year-old senior averaged 20 points a game this past season, finishing with a 39-point, 14-rebound effort to close out his college career. He's a downhill attacker also capable of creating for teammates (3.5 assists), but he'll want to prove his career-best 46 threes were a sign of more jump-shot improvement to come.
No. 23. Indiana Pacers: Aaron Holiday (UCLA, PG, Junior)
Darren Collison was steady with the Pacers this past season, but he'll turn 31 in August and only has one year remaining on his contract. Holiday offers extra scoring and playmaking pop, as he averaged 20.3 points and 5.8 assists this past season while shooting at least 41 percent from three for the third consecutive year. However, the Pacers coaching staff will have to work with Holiday on taking care of the ball (3.8 turnovers).
No. 24. Portland Trail Blazers: Jerome Robinson (Boston College, SG, Junior)
Robinson just signed with an agent and stands out as a potential riser heading into the NBA combine. A 6'7" scorer who averaged 20.7 points as a junior on 53.3 percent shooting inside the arc and 40.9 percent from three, he figures to stand out during scrimmages, drills, measurements, athletic testing and interviews in Chicago.
No. 25. Los Angeles Lakers (via Cavaliers): Donte DiVincenzo (Villanova, SG, Sophomore)
DiVincenzo could have played himself into the first round with his 31-point explosion in the national title game. But he built a case all year with playmaking (3.5 assists), shooting (40.1 percent on three-pointers) and exciting athleticism and energy. The Lakers could overpay to bring back Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, or they could promote Josh Hart and add his former Villanova teammate to their bench.
No. 26. Philadelphia 76ers: Khyri Thomas (Creighton, SG, Junior)
With Redick and Belinelli both unrestricted free agents, the Sixers should have eyes on Thomas, a three-and-D 2-guard who shot 41.1 percent from deep this past season and won his second consecutive Big East Defensive Player of the Year award. He isn't a big creator, but he converted 63.9 percent of his twos and finished in the 96th percentile in transition and 89th percentile in spot-ups.
No. 27. Boston Celtics: Jacob Evans (Cincinnati, SG/SF, Junior)
Evans is staying in the draft and he should appeal to Boston, particularly if the Celtics aren't confident in or keen on re-signing Marcus Smart. A tough and versatile 6'6" defender with a competent shooting stroke (1.7 made threes per game) and secondary playmaking skills (3.1 assists), Evans projects as a two-way role player at either wing position.
No. 28. Golden State Warriors: Gary Trent Jr. (Duke, SG, Freshman)
The Warriors can add another shooter in Trent, who drilled 97 threes in 37 games at a 40.2 percent clip. He's a limited athlete, creator and defender, but in Golden State, he'd play to his strengths as a shot-making specialist who can fill in for soon-to-be free agent Nick Young.
No. 29. Brooklyn Nets (via Raptors): Troy Brown (Oregon, SG/SF, Freshman)
The Nets could look past Brown's pedestrian freshman numbers for his NBA tools, versatile skill set and age (18). He needs to improve his shooting, but his jumper isn't broken (32 threes), and at 6'7", he's flashed unique playmaking ability (3.2 assists), promising defensive instincts and the range to guard ball-handlers, wings and small-ball 4s.
No. 30. Atlanta Hawks (via Rockets): Jalen Brunson (Villanova, PG, Junior)
Will the Hawks have this pick by the end of the night? At this point, they've already drafted two players, and other teams will likely look to make an offer for No. 30. Brunson could ultimately be a target for Atlanta or another franchise looking to acquire a good decision-maker to run its second unit.