NBA Draft 2018: Predicting Biggest Winners in 1st-Round Mock Draft

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMay 12, 2018

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 15:  Trae Young #11 of the Oklahoma Sooners lays up against the Rhode Island Rams in the second half of the game during the first round of the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at PPG PAINTS Arena on March 15, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

It's hard to project how an NBA draft may shake out beforehand, but it's clear that some teams are in great position at the moment. The reasons vary, ranging from a playoff team landing a lottery pick in a trade or a rebuilding team having a multitude of selections to reshape their rosters.

It will be interesting to see how things shake out over the next month or so, as the NBA draft lottery will take place on Tuesday followed by the NBA Draft Combine from Wednesday through Sunday. Draft day is Thursday, June 21.

Here's a look at a mock draft in addition to four teams that are in positions to be eventually labeled the draft's biggest winners.


NBA Mock Draft: Lottery

1. Phoenix Suns: Arizona C Deandre Ayton

2. Memphis Grizzlies: Real Madrid PG/SG Luka Doncic

3. Dallas Mavericks: Duke F/C Marvin Bagley III

4. Atlanta Hawks: Michigan State F/C Jaren Jackson Jr.

5. Orlando Magic: Missouri SF/PF Michael Porter Jr.

6. Chicago Bulls: Texas C Mohamed Bamba

7. Sacramento Kings: Duke C Wendell Carter

8. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics): Oklahoma PG Trae Young

9. New York Knicks: Alabama PG/SG Collin Sexton

10. Philadelphia 76ers (via Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns): Villanova SF Mikal Bridges

11. Charlotte Hornets: Texas Tech G/F Zhaire Smith

12. Los Angeles Clippers (via Detroit Pistons): Texas A&M F Robert Williams

13. Los Angeles Clippers: Kentucky PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

14. Denver Nuggets: Cedevita Zagreb SF Dzanan Musa


NBA Mock Draft: Picks 15-30

15. Washington WizardsMissouri C Jontay Porter

16. Phoenix Suns (originally via Miami Heat): Villanova PG Jalen Brunson

17. Milwaukee Bucks: C Mitchell Robinson (Chalmette High School)

18. San Antonio Spurs: Michigan State SF/PF Miles Bridges

19. Atlanta Hawks: Miami SG Lonnie Walker IV

20. Minnesota Timberwolves (originally via Oklahoma City Thunder): Kentucky SF/PF Kevin Knox

21. Utah Jazz: Boise State SF Chandler Hutchison

22. Chicago Bulls (via New Orleans Pelicans): Ohio State SF/PF Keita Bates-Diop

23. Indiana Pacers: USC PG/SG De'Anthony Melton

24. Portland Trail Blazers: Creighton SG Khyri Thomas

25. Los Angeles Lakers (originally via Cleveland Cavaliers): Oregon G Troy Brown

26. Philadelphia 76ers: Duke SG Gary Trent Jr.

27. Boston Celtics: Villanova F/C Omari Spellman

28. Golden State Warriors: UCLA G Aaron Holiday

29. Brooklyn Nets (originally via Toronto Raptors): IMG PG Anfernee Simons

30. Atlanta Hawks (originally via Houston Rockets): Villanova SG Donte DiVincenzo


Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers have a chance to win the NBA title and earn the draft's No. 1 pick in the same year. Granted, the Cavs are 11-2 underdogs for the championship, per OddsShark, and Tankathon lists the Cavs' odds at obtaining the No. 1 pick at 2.8 percent, but we're saying there's a chance.

If the Cavs stick around the middle of the lottery, they can go a few different routes. If LeBron James decides to stay with Cleveland this offseason (he can enter free agency if he opts out of his current deal), the Cavs could look for a ball-handler and scorer to help alleviate some of those pressures off him, like Trae Young of Oklahoma or Collin Sexton of Alabama.

Cleveland could also look for someone with massive upside and athleticism, like Zhaire Smith of Texas Tech or Robert Williams of Texas A&M.

Ultimately, if James stays, the Cavs almost seem like they are in a no-lose situation here, as they add a lottery talent to a team that may make its fourth NBA Finals in four years. If he leaves, though, then the Cavs are in a tougher position and need to look for someone to be a franchise cornerstone immediately.


Philadelphia 76ers

Like Cleveland, the Philadelphia 76ers have the luxury of owning a lottery pick that can benefit their winning roster. Unlike Cleveland, they also have an extra first-round selection and four second-rounders.

The 76ers have a lot of options with those picks. They can take the rights of a European professional player who has no plans to come to the United States next season, which is what happened after Philadelphia traded for the rights to Dario Saric in 2014. After playing two seasons in Turkey, Saric came over in 2016 and is now the team's starting power forward.

Of course, the crown jewel of the 76ers' draft is the lottery pick they currently possess, and that can be used in a variety of ways. In particular, they could use an athletic guard or forward who can create his own shot off the dribble and knock down the three. In other words, if Mikal Bridges of Villanova is there when Philadelphia picks, then that's an obvious pairing.


Phoenix Suns

By virtue of finishing with the league's worst record, the Phoenix Suns can't get lower than the fourth pick in the NBA draft. The lottery drawing determines the top three teams in the draft pecking order, and then the rest of the teams fall in line behind the trio in order of worst to best regular-season record.

Therefore, the Phoenix Suns are going to land a talented player at or near the top. As of now, the favorites for the top two picks seem to be Arizona center Deandre Ayton and Real Madrid guard Luka Doncic, both of whom would help feel immediate team needs.

But if the Suns get the third or fourth selection, they can still grab a talented big man with massive potential, such as Marvin Bagley of Duke, Jaren Jackson of Michigan State or Mohamed Bamba of Texas.

In addition, the Suns also have a pick just outside the lottery to help them bolster a roster that finished with just 21 victories last year, so Phoenix is in good shape to get out of the cellar next year.


Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks are the only team with three picks in the first round, and one of them is slated to be a high lottery selection. It's a good time for the Hawks to get some players who can instantly contribute to the rotation, as they just finished a 25-win campaign.

Atlanta's building blocks right now include Dennis Schroder, Taurean Prince and John Collins, and the team needs some more scoring help in addition to more big men.

The Hawks should be able to take care of finding a low-post player to complement Collins in the lottery if they so choose, and they can go in the direction of a more defensive-oriented big (e.g. Mohamed Bamba) or one with a more polished offensive game (e.g. Jaren Jackson of Michigan State or Wendell Carter of Duke).

Elsewhere, Atlanta can find a ton of adept scorers in the back half of the draft. In particular, keep an eye on Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo, the national championship hero (31 points on 10-of-15 shooting) who could be a good fit for a Hawks team that finished 26th in offensive efficiency last season.


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