5 Most NBA-Ready Prospects Ahead of 2018 Draft

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterMay 26, 2018

5 Most NBA-Ready Prospects Ahead of 2018 Draft

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    Some rookies are more prepared than others for the NBA game.

    This year's group was unusual, with Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum, Ben Simmons, Kyle Kuzma and Lauri Markkanen having stepped right in as high-level offensive weapons.

    We're unlikely to see the same type of production from the top players in the 2018 draft class. However, a handful should have something to offer right away, thanks to various combinations of physical tools, athleticism, skill level and intangibles.

    We predict these following five prospects, plus an honorable mention, will emerge as impact contributors from Day 1. 

Honorable Mention: Jevon Carter (West Virginia, PG, Senior)

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    Degree of NBA-readiness: Backup point guard 

    Jevon Carter is our sleeper second-round pick to make an impact as a rookie, assuming he's drafted into a situation that gives him a chance.

    A four-year college guard from the Big 12, Carter will be 23 years old by the start of next season. He possesses a strong 196.2-pound frame for a point guard. But his toughness, particularly on defense, is what will give him the chance to earn minutes right away.

    Carter brings full-court pressure that he makes his own. It will be his calling card next season, as well as for his career, like it has been for Patrick Beverley.

    But Carter can still make things happen offensively with his ability to run an offense and shoot off the dribble (.954 PPP, 79th percentile). 

    He was unsurprisingly one of the top performers during scrimmages at the combine, and he looks poised to emerge as a steal in the Nos. 25-40 range if he lands in the right situation. 

Marvin Bagley III (Duke, PF/C, Freshman)

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    Degree of NBA-readiness: Starter/energizer 

    Marvin Bagley III lacks a degree of skill and polish, yet he still managed to average 21.0 points per game on 61.4 percent shooting from the field.

    The volume scoring production won't carry over right away, but the athletic plays and rebounds should.

    Bagley's explosiveness looks poised to translate to routine easy baskets off cuts (1.429 points per possession, 90th percentile) and offensive rebounds (1.356 PPP, 87th percentile). He shot 73.4 percent at the rim thanks to both his bounce and his quick jump.

    He'll add energy and off-ball plays as a rookie. And when given space to face up and make a move or work with his back to the basket, Bagley should sporadically sprinkle in some one-on-one scoring.

    Don't bank on impact defense or consistent outside shooting. Instead, expect him to rack up double-doubles, mostly by tapping into his quickness, athleticism and motor in the paint. 

Wendell Carter (Duke, C, Freshman)

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    Degree of NBA-readiness: Starter/role player

    Already equipped with a powerful NBA body— 6'10", 251.4 pounds, 7'4 ½" wingspan—Wendell Carter should make an impact right away around the basket. 

    He shot 67.9 percent at the rim and averaged 1.456 PPP (94th percentile) off offensive rebounds, showing strong scoring and loose-ball instincts.

    Carter also possesses polished footwork in the post and a smooth shooting stroke (18-of-46 on three-pointers) that he'll likely use more often next season with better spacing. 

    He lacks advanced shot-creating ability and isn't going to score in volume right away. But between his physical presence inside, efficiency with his skills and basketball IQ, Carter should produce in a supporting role as a rookie.

Mikal Bridges (Villanova, SF, Junior)

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    Degree of NBA-readiness: Starter/role player

    Mikal Bridges should contribute immediately in a supporting role playing to his strengths as an athlete, shooter and defender. He won't have to use many dribbles or improve his creativity to make an impact.

    Bridges, whose 1.217 PPP overall led the country (minimum 500 possessions), shot 43.5 percent behind the arc and 59.3 percent inside it. 

    He turned into a lethal shot-maker, having made 45.2 percent of his looks off the catch—48.1 percent on no-dribble spot-up jumpers and 42.9 percent off screens.

    Bridges also finds other ways to score within the offense, without putting the ball on the floor. His 1.487 PPP off cuts ranked in the 94th percentile.

    NBA coaches will also play him early for his defensive versatility. At 6'7" with a 7'0 ½" wingspan, he possesses enough size and length to guard both forward spots and the lateral quickness to stick with guards and ball-handlers.

    Bridges won't be the focal point of any offense, and he isn't likely to average too many points. But he's a good bet to earn a role early for his three-and-D and his efficient brand of offense.

Luka Doncic (Slovenia, PG/SG, 1999)

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    Degree of NBA-readiness: Quality starter 

    Our 2018-19 Rookie of the Year favorite, Luka Doncic has earned the NBA-ready label by taking it to the pros overseas.

    He started to build a No. 1 overall case last summer at EuroBasket, when he averaged 14.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists en route to winning gold with Slovenia, defeating teams equipped with NBA talent. Scouts saw Doncic go for 27 points against Kristaps Porzingis and Davis Bertans for Latvia. He finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in a win over Ricky Rubio, the Gasol brothers (Pau and Marc) and the Hernangomez brothers (Willy and Juancho) for Spain.

    And the 19-year-old just became the youngest player to win MVP of the Euroleague, as well as the Euroleague Final Four, after leading Real Madrid to a championship over Fenerbahce.

    At 6'8", 228 pounds, Doncic has unique size and strength for a ball-handler. For perspective, Tatum is 6'8" and 205 pounds.

    He's sharp and decisive off the dribble with unteachable vision and passing instincts and plenty of shot-making ability using pull-ups, step-backs and floaters.

    Highly skilled and able to give and take contact, Doncic is physically, mentally and fundamentally prepared for the NBA, and he should be an immediate contributor and an impact player for whichever team drafts him.

Deandre Ayton (Arizona, C, Freshman)

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    Degree of NBA-readiness: Quality starter 

    With his shredded 7'0", 243-pound frame, 7'5 ½" wingspan and athleticism, Deandre Ayton would already be one of the most physically impressive NBA centers. 

    He's going to score around the basket and rebound right away after averaging 20.1 points and 11.6 boards per game on 63.5 percent shooting inside the arc and 71.5 percent at the rim at Arizona.

    But he's also skilled enough to execute as a rookie. He generated 1.052 PPP out of the post (90th percentile), flashing good footwork and quick shoulders and the ability to make shots from different angles. 

    Ayton should also threaten defenses with his jump shot, even if it's not consistent right away. He made 39 total (including 12 threes) in 35 games in college, looking smooth and confident when rising over his man or spotting up off the ball.

    Defense will be the area he struggles with early, but Ayton is going to start from day one, either in Phoenix or Sacramento, and he should be a lock for first-team All-Rookie. 


    Stats are courtesy of Synergy Sports.