2018 NBA Mock Draft: Predictions for Where 1st-Round Prospects Will Land

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistMay 19, 2018

Arizona's DeAndre Ayton poses for a portrait before the NBA basketball draft lottery Tuesday, May 15, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

Over the next several weeks, NBA teams will watch film, take trips to see prospects in action and compile comprehensive reports to make the best choices for the 2018 draft. It's an arduous process, but these decisions help shape the future for all 30 franchises.

The lottery put the Phoenix Suns in position to dictate the top of the draft. General manager Ryan McDonough has already opened the possibility to trade the No. 1 pick for an unexpected shakeup, per ESPN.com reporter Nick Friedell

We could assume All-Star names like Kawhi Leonard would have to pop up in conversation in order to even consider trading the top pick. Nonetheless, a front office must keep all possibilities on the table. 

In the meantime, we'll go with the current selection order. Who should the Suns choose with the No. 1 overall pick? Which prospects come off the board within the top five?

             

2018 NBA Mock Draft 1st-Round Projections

1. Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona

2. Sacramento Kings: Luka Doncic, PG/SG, Real Madrid

3. Atlanta Hawks: Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke

4. Memphis Grizzlies: Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Michigan State

5. Dallas Mavericks: Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas

6. Orlando Magic: Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma 

7. Chicago Bulls: Michael Porter Jr., SF, Missouri

8. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Brooklyn): Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama

9. New York Knicks: Wendell Carter, PF/C, Duke 

10. Philadelphia 76ers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Mikal Bridges, SG/SF, Villanova 

11. Charlotte Hornets: Miles Bridges, SF/PF, Michigan State

12. Los Angeles Clippers (via Detroit): Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, SG/PG, Kentucky

13. Los Angeles Clippers: Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M 

14. Denver Nuggets: Kevin Knox, SF, Kentucky 

15. Washington Wizards: Jontay Porter, PF/C, Missouri 

16. Phoenix Suns (via Miami): Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

17. Milwaukee Bucks: Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State

18. San Antonio Spurs: Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami 

19. Atlanta Hawks (via Minnesota): Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech 

20. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Oklahoma City): Troy Brown Jr., SG, Oregon 

21. Utah Jazz: Dzanan Musa, SF, Bosnia and Herzegovina 

22. Chicago Bulls (via New Orleans): Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland 

23. Indiana Pacers: Chandler Hutchison, SF, Boise State 

24. Portland Trailblazers: Moritz Wagner, C, Michigan

25. Los Angeles Lakers (via Cleveland): Mitchell Robinson, C, N/A 

26. Philadelphia 76ers: Anfernee Simons, SG, IMG Academy

27. Boston Celtics: Chimezie Metu, PF/C, USC

28. Golden State Warriors: Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova

29. Brooklyn Nets (via Toronto): Tyus Battle, SF/SG, Syracuse

30. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston): Khyri Thomas, PG/SG, Creighton

                

Phoenix Suns Select Deandre Ayton with the No. 1 Overall Pick

Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

It's not a complicated issue for the Suns. The roster will have a gaping hole at center with Alex Len hitting the free-agent market and Tyson Chandler at the tail end of his professional career.

Despite Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov's affection for Luka Doncic, the roster has decent options in the backcourt next to Devin Booker. 

Phoenix may not match an offer for point guard Elfrid Payton, who will become a restricted free agent, but don't forget Brandon Knight. He missed the entire 2017-18 campaign with a torn ACL but provides enough talent at the position. Let's focus on the frontcourt. 

Ayton would complete a solid trio alongside forwards Josh Jackson and Marquese Chriss or Dragan Bender. At center, he'll clean up the boards and contest shots in the paint for a team lacking toughness on the defensive end when Chriss finds himself in foul trouble.

Phoenix allowed 113.3 points per game during the previous season. Ayton adds an interior presence on both ends with solid free-throw shooting to close out games.

        

Atlanta Hawks Acquire Prolific Scorer Marvin Bagley at No. 3 

Nati Harnik/Associated Press

The Atlanta Hawks front office may have to convince point guard Dennis Schroder to stay with the club. He plans to meet with team brass to discuss the franchise's outlook. 

The decision to add the 2017-18 ACC Player of the Year provides some incentive to ride out the rebuilding process in Atlanta. The Duke product will walk into the league providing a double-double with shrewd moves in the paint and consistency as a rebounder. 

Among the big men in the 2018 draft class, Bagley stands out as the best scorer with the ability to expand on his shooting range. Critics point to his lack of defensive presence, but he'd complement John Collins, who's more apt to contest shots and redirect drives to the hoop. 

Whether Schroder requests a trade or not, the Hawks would have a roster building block in Bagley.

           

Orlando Magic Take Trae Young at No. 6

Kyle Phillips/Associated Press

The Orlando Magic dealt Payton to the Suns midway through the 2017-18 season for a second-round pick in the upcoming draft. Following his departure, 10th-year veteran D.J. Augustine took over point-guard duties for the remainder of the year. However, he shouldn't qualify as a long-term solution at the position.

Don't expect Trae Young to fulfill Stephen Curry comparisons right away, but he's the prospect to put this offense into high gear. The freshman standout has a deep shooting range, quickness with the ball, great vision and said he favors Hall of Famer Steve Nash.   

If Young patterns his game after Nash, we can expect him to push the tempo and show his creativity with the ball in his hands. According to Friedell, he's already bulked up 10 pounds, which likely helps him absorb contact and finish with body control at the rim:

At No. 6, Young brings an immediate impact as a playmaker and fills a pressing need. More importantly, the Magic would have a long-term building block in place as the front office defines a direction for the franchise. 

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