NBA Mock Draft: Predicting Every Pick as 2018 Finals Begin

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterMay 31, 2018

NBA Mock Draft: Predicting Every Pick as 2018 Finals Begin

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    As the 2018 NBA Finals kick off, the deadline for NCAA players to withdraw from the draft has officially passed. 

    International players still have until June 11 to pull their names out, but otherwise, the draft field is set. Team can start solidifying their boards as they continue to work out and interview prospects. 

    As the process plays out, more intel is collected and rumors start flying. However, several questions remain about how the dominoes will fall.

    In what order will the top college bigs go? Where is Trae Young landing? How far will Michael Porter Jr. slide?

    Dig into the answers with our latest mock draft.

1. Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton (Arizona, C, Freshman)

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    We initially slotted Luka Doncic to the Phoenix Suns at No. 1, but rival teams expect them to draft Deandre Ayton. 

    It's easy to envision Ayton having a higher ceiling given his immaculate physical profile, athleticism and inside-out scoring potential. Though scouts have questioned his defense, they've also wondered whether it's become overblown since he played mostly power forward at Arizona.

    Ayton has the necessary tools and mobility to improve as a rim protector.

    Though Doncic will remain in the conversation, the fear of drafting a high-end role player at No. 1 may be difficult for Phoenix to overcome. It sounds like they'll pass on the Euroleague MVP, whose lack of speed and explosiveness remain unsettling for a perimeter player and top overall pick.

    Ayton will plug Phoenix's hole at center and balance the starting lineup. 

2. Sacramento Kings: Marvin Bagley III (Duke, PF/C, Freshman)

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    Lance King/Getty Images

    With De'Aaron Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield all in place, some around the league believe the Sacramento Kings will go big at No. 2.

    Marvin Bagley III makes the most sense as their target. His elite athleticism, offensive versatility and high-level production suggest his ceiling is as high as anyone's in the draft. The Kings also have perhaps the NBA's weakest frontcourt.

    Sacramento could play Bagley at the 4 or 5, which creates more flexibility for a franchise trying to build its roster.

3. Atlanta Hawks: Mohamed Bamba (Texas, C, Freshman)

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    The Atlanta Hawks could go in a number of directions at No. 3. They may target a guard such as Doncic or Trae Young, or they might prefer one of the remaining high-profile bigs in Jaren Jackson Jr., Mohamed Bamba and Wendell Carter Jr. 

    They could be thrown off if Doncic is available, since he's perceived as a No. 1 candidate. But Bamba will be the name to watch here for the Hawks.

    His 7'10" wingspan helps give him some of the most unique upside in the draft, particularly if he can build on the offensive glimpses he sporadically flashed at Texas. 

    The Hawks lack talent across the board, so they'll want to try to land a one-of-a-kind potential difference-maker. That's Bamba, who has game-changing defensive abilities and more offensive skill than Rudy Gobert has shown. 

4. Memphis Grizzlies: Luka Doncic (Slovenia, PG/SG, 1999)

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    Sonia Canada/Getty Images's Jonathan Givony initially reported that the Kings and Hawks could pass on Doncic, and we're hearing the same from rival teams. 

    It would be hard to imagine the Memphis Grizzlies letting him slip past them at No. 4, though.

    Doncic would be a strong fit as a secondary playmaker next to Mike Conley, who would allow him to guard wings instead of quicker NBA point guards. 

    The 19-year-old combo guard just became the youngest player ever to earn Euroleague MVP or its Final Four honors. But without the exciting athleticism that points to high NBA upside, Doncic could fall to the Grizzlies. 

5. Dallas Mavericks: Jaren Jackson Jr. (Michigan State, PF/C, Freshman)

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    The Dallas Mavericks will consider Carter, but they'll likely favor Jaren Jackson Jr. and his combination of elite defensive potential and three-point shooting.

    The 18-year-old has textbook physical tools (6'11 ¼" size, 236 lbs, 7'5 ¼" wingspan) and is already equipped with a jump shot and the versatility to protect the rim or switch on defense. Given the room and time he has to improve as a scorer, his upside is immeasurable

    Jackson averaged 5.5 blocks and 2.0 threes per 40 minutes during his lone season at Michigan State, which is a rare, valued mix of abilities. The Mavericks will be thrilled with that skill set and can bet on the rest of his offensive repertoire to develop over the next few years. 

6. Orlando Magic: Trae Young (Oklahoma, PG, Freshman)

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    If the Hawks pass on Trae Young, he'll likely be there for the Orlando Magic, whose current starting point guard is D.J. Augustin. 

    Even if he isn't the next Stephen Curry or Steve Nash, Young would bring needed shot-making and creating to Orlando's offense.

    Michael Porter Jr. could earn consideration for his mismatch scoring potential, but the logjam he'd create with Aaron Gordon (restricted free agent), Jonathan Isaac and Nikola Vucevic may be too problematic. 

    Unless the Magic plan to make an offer for Kemba Walker or are willing to overpay for someone like Dante Exum (restricted free agent), they should use this opportunity to draft their point guard of the future after passing on Dennis Smith Jr. in 2017.

7. Chicago Bulls: Wendell Carter Jr. (Duke, PF/C, Freshman)

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    Mikal Bridges would fill a need for the Chicago Bulls, but at 19 years old, Wendell Carter Jr. gets the nod.

    Chicago will value his upside over the soon-to-be 22-year-old Bridges. Physical and long, Carter owns his space around the basket, where he ranked in the 94th percentile in putbacks, shot 67.9 percent and has advanced post moves.  

    Teams also seem to buy his shooting stroke, which he didn't use often at Duke. He made 19-of-46 three-point attempts across his 37 games this past season.

    Regardless, between his inside scoring and 3.1 blocks per 40 minutes, Carter would be a fine fit at the 5 next to the perimeter-oriented Lauri Markkanen.

8. Cleveland Cavaliers: Michael Porter Jr. (Missouri, SF/PF, Freshman)

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Porter slides to the Cleveland Cavaliers at No. 8 after missing all but 53 minutes of his freshman season.

    The Cavaliers use it as a buy-low opportunity, given Porter was once viewed as a No. 1 overall candidate out of high school before he injured his back. 

    Measuring 6'10 ¾" at the combine, he has unique size for a face-up scorer from 25 feet out. Porter will likely need time to regain some burst and offensive confidence he lost over the past year, making Cleveland a suitable situation that will allow him to take it slow.

    For the Cavaliers, they're just looking for talent and potential insurance in case LeBron James leaves.

9. New York Knicks: Mikal Bridges (Villanova, SF, Junior)

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    Carter, Porter and Young each going in the top eight means Mikal Bridges should be there for the New York Knicks at No. 9. 

    The Knicks ranked in the bottom five leaguewide in three-point makes and percentage, and only six teams ranked worse defensively. Bridges, meanwhile, shot 43.5 percent from behind the arc as a junior and has long been known as a two-way player.

    Miles Bridges may also earn consideration from the Knicks here, given his superior explosiveness that traditionally points to upside. But Mikal's easier fit, more convincing shooting and defense should give him the edge at No. 9. 

    His stability, efficiency and versatility should complement the potent yet streaky Tim Hardaway Jr.

10. Philadelphia 76ers (via Lakers): Lonnie Walker IV (Miami, SG, Freshman)

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia 76ers could be targeting Mikal Bridges. There are also a handful of prospects who could fall into the next tier without a noticeable gap between each, meaning fit and need may come into the equation for Philadelphia.

    An explosive athlete with an NBA shooting guard's physical profile and easily buyable jump shot, Lonnie Walker IV could make his way into the mix at No. 10.

    Assuming the coaching staff increases Markelle Fultz's reps next season while Ben Simmons continues running the show, it makes sense for the Sixers to add off-ball scorers and shooters, especially since JJ Redick, Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova are unrestricted free agents.

Nos. 11-20

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

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

    Bridges should be a draft-night target for the Hornets, who need offense from both forward spots. He would work best as a small-ball stretch 4 alongside Dwight Howard, though continued progress on his shot-creating and off-the-dribble scoring should mean Bridges could also play next to Marvin Williams.


    12. Los Angeles Clippers (via Pistons): Collin Sexton (Alabama, PG/SG, Freshman)

    The Clippers could take Sexton to pair with Lou Williams and form a high-powered scoring backcourt duo. He'll need to work on running an offense, but Sexton should be able to apply pressure at both ends right away with his driving explosiveness and defensive intensity. 


    13. Los Angeles Clippers: Robert Williams (Texas A&M, C, Sophomore)

    After taking a guard, the Clippers should address their frontcourt with Williams, who can replace DeAndre Jordan by bringing similarly elite athleticism to the center spot. Even if his offensive skills never take off, Williams has the chance to follow in the footsteps of Jordan and Clint Capela as impact centers due to their finishing, rebounding and defense.


    14. Denver Nuggets: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Kentucky, PG, Freshman)

    The Nuggets are deep, but they could use a more traditional passing point guard next to Jamal Murray. Gilgeous-Alexander would give them a facilitator and versatile backcourt defender who would allow Murray to focus on scoring. Between the league going smaller and Gary Harris' defense, Denver can get away with Harris and Murray working the wings.


    15. Washington Wizards: Kevin Knox (Kentucky, SF/PF, Freshman)

    Even with Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre Jr. in the fold, the Wizards could take Knox as the best player available, one who can play both the 3 and 4. A 6'9" face-up scorer with three-point range, Knox works mostly off the ball, though the 18-year-old has plenty of time and room to improve his on-ball creating.


    16. Phoenix Suns (via Heat): Donte DiVincenzo (Villanova, SG, Sophomore)

    One of the biggest predraft risers, DiVincenzo should win over Phoenix with his athleticism, versatility and effort. He comes off as a high-floor role player for his ability to shoot, pass and make energy plays.


    17. Milwaukee Bucks: Zhaire Smith (Texas Tech, SG/SF, Freshman)

    The Bucks can overlook Smith's lack of production since his age, athleticism, raw defensive ability and flashes of shooting and passing suggest there is more to come. He would work from either wing position, though the goal would be for him to play 2-guard once his jumper improves and handle tightens. 


    18. San Antonio Spurs: Elie Okobo (France, PG, 1997)

    Okobo has suddenly become one of the draft's most fascinating prospects, particularly after going for 44 points on 17 shots in a Pro A playoff game last week. The Spurs could use both young talent and shooting, and Okobo (41.8 3FG%) checks both boxes. 


    19. Atlanta Hawks (via Timberwolves): Jerome Robinson (Boston College, SG, Junior)

    Athletic with good positional size, Robinson averaged 24.3 points and 3.4 assists during ACC conference play this past season. He's in the mix for the most slept-on prospect in the country due to Boston College's lack of success. Robinson should be able to bring more attention to his potential during workouts.


    20. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Thunder): Kevin Huerter (Maryland, SF, Sophomore)

    No team averaged fewer three-point makes per game this past season than the Wolves. Arguably the combine's biggest riser, Huerter is one of the draft's top shooters, but he's also a multidimensional wing for his underrated playmaking ability. 

Nos. 21-30

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    Leon Bennett/Getty Images

    No. 21. Utah Jazz: Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State, SF/PF, Junior)

    The Jazz could like Bates-Diop as a 4 for his ability to stretch the floor and score away from the basket. He becomes more valuable if he proves he can guard both forward positions. 


    No. 22. Chicago Bulls (via Pelicans): Chandler Hutchison (Boise State, SF, Senior)

    If the Bulls go big in the lottery, Hutchison could be a target at No. 22. He'd give them a much-needed wing scorer, as he averaged 20.0 points this past season. And after struggling as a shooter for three years, his career-best 1.5 threes per game in 2017-18 suggests he's turning the corner. 


    No. 23. Indiana Pacers: Aaron Holiday (UCLA, PG, Junior)

    Darren Collison will be entering the final season of his contract and turns 31 years old in August. A scoring ball-handler, consistent shooter and fierce competitor, Holiday could work as a backup and eventually take over as Indiana's full-time point guard. 


    No. 24. Portland Trail Blazers: Troy Brown (Oregon, SG/SF, Freshman)

    The idea of Brown is more appealing than the freshman season he put together. A versatile, interchangeable wing who won't turn 19 until July 28, Brown runs pick-and-roll, works off the ball and guards three to four positions. Shooting remains the swing skill that decides the height of his ceiling.


    No. 25. Los Angeles Lakers (via Cavaliers): De'Anthony Melton (USC, PG/SG, Sophomore)

    Melton missed the season due to FBI investigation ties, but his play at the combine should have reassured teams that he has kept in shape and worked on his jumper. A two-way combo guard, Melton should carve out a role with his offensive versatility and defensive pressure. He's on steal watch depending on how much progress he makes as a shooter.


    No. 26. Philadelphia 76ers: Melvin Frazier (Tulane, SF, Junior)

    Frazier called it quits after a strong first day at the NBA combine, which is a potential sign he received some assurance about his draft stock. He's limited offensively, but the rising value of versatile defenders who can shoot benefits him. He'll guard multiple positions and make open shots.


    No. 27. Boston Celtics: Jacob Evans (Cincinnati, SG/SF, Junior)

    We're told Evans will be working out for every team projected to pick from Nos. 16-30. One of those organizations is bound to see a tough-minded, two-way role player who checks boxes, even if he doen't specialize in any.


    No. 28. Golden State Warriors: Khyri Thomas (Creighton, SG, Junior) 

    Golden State would be the ideal landing spot for Thomas, an excellent shooter and defender who struggles to create his own offense. He could play to his strengths with the Warriors.


    No. 29. Brooklyn Nets: Moritz Wagner (Michigan, PF/C, Junior)

    The Nets could use a big man to stretch the floor, which will be Wagner's NBA calling card. He struggles defensively, but his shooting (39.4 3FG%) and ability to attack closeouts are valued in today's NBA.


    No. 30. Atlanta Hawks (via Rockets): Mitchell Robinson (USA, C, 1998)

    Robinson could be a lottery talent waiting in the late first round after skipping both college and the NBA combine. Physically and athletically, he's an A-plus. The challenge is assessing his skill level and feel for the game at both ends of the floor. 

Nos. 31-40

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    Jared Wickerham/Associated Press

    31. Phoenix Suns: Dzanan Musa (Bosnia & Herzegovina, SG/SF, 1999)

    A competitive scorer who turned 19 years old in May, Musa has been one of the most productive young prospects overseas. The eye test raises questions about his athleticism, but his success in Europe and his obvious skill level in terms of ball-handling, footwork and shot-making create too strong of a case as a pick in the 20s or 30s. He'll be one of the most closely monitored prospects early in June at NBA Global Camp.


    32. Memphis Grizzlies: Josh Okogie (Georgia Tech, SG, Sophomore)

    Okogie should have flown up boards after a standout NBA combine that likely made many teams go back and review his tape. Athletic and aggressive, he applies pressure at both ends and showed encouraging progress as a shooter.


    33. Dallas Mavericks: Gary Trent Jr. (Duke, SG, Freshman)

    Trent doesn't wow athletically, but he's a convincing shot-maker, having sunk 97 threes as a freshman. He also flashed some extra burst and bounce at the combine. If he can hold his own defensively, he could find a spot in Dallas' rotation right away.


    34. Atlanta Hawks: Anfernee Simons (IMG, SG, 1999)

    With their fourth top-35 pick, the Hawks can gamble on long-term upside with Simons, an explosive athlete and three-level scorer who would fill a need. Atlanta likely will be picking early in the lottery next year, so it can afford to wait on Simons' physical and fundamental development.


    35. Orlando Magic: Jalen Brunson (Orlando Magic, PG, Junior)

    After taking Trae Young, the Magic can continue strengthening their guard depth with Brunson, whose limited athleticism can be overlooked in the second round for his skills, intangibles and resume. 


    36. New York Knicks (via Bulls): Bruce Brown (Miami, SG, Sophomore)

    Brown falls under the buy-low category. He started the season on first-round radars, struggled as a shooter and then got hurt, which prevented him from bringing his three-point percentage up. However, his athleticism, playmaking, defensive versatility and potential to improve his jumper give him tantalizing upside.


    37. Sacramento Kings: Kevin Hervey (Texas Arlington, SF/PF, Senior)

    Hervey would likely go higher if he was younger, hadn't torn his ACL in 2016 and wasn't a below-the-rim athlete. Otherwise, he sports power forward tools and has plenty of shot-making range and scoring versatility. 


    38. Philadelphia 76ers (via Nets): Jevon Carter (West Virginia, PG, Senior)

    Teams will value Carter's maturity, intensity and defensive pressure. If TJ McConnell plays well enough to earn fat free-agent offers next summer, the 76ers could view Carter as a replacement.


    39. Philadelphia 76ers (via Knicks): Omari Spellman (Villanova, PF/C, Freshman)

    Spellman kept his name in the draft, but the competition to be selected in the first round appears stiff. The Sixers will take a chance on him in the second round for his ability to stretch the floor and add additional beef to the front line. Improving his body and conditioning will be among his top priorities as a rookie.


    40. Nets (via Lakers): Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)

    One of the top athletes in the draft, Diallo also struggled to efficiently create, score and defend. In the mid-second round, it's still worth finding out whether coaches can help him raise his skill level and basketball IQ.

Nos. 41-50

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    41. Orlando Magic: Chimezie Metu (USC, PF/C, Junior)

    The Magic should be drafting for talent, and Metu's is first-round caliber. It's worth gambling on and trying to unlock for Orlando. Skilled and athletic, inconsistency is all that will keep Metu from going in the top 30.


    42. Detroit Pistons: Devonte' Graham (Kansas, PG, Senior)

    It wouldn't be a surprise if Graham earns late first-round consideration for his backup ball-handling potential and shooting. He has the chance to carve out the same career Shabazz Napier has coming off the bench. 


    43. Denver Nuggets (via Clippers): Grayson Allen (Duke, SG, Senior)

    Few prospects in the draft have played in more spotlight games than Allen. Teams have a ton of tape on his athleticism, shot-making and secondary playmaking. Winning them over during interviews remains the key to Allen's draft stock.  


    44. Washington Wizards: Shake Milton (SMU, PG/SG, Junior)

    Milton had a brutal NBA combine, but his size for a ball-handler, consistent shooting and defense are still worth looking into. 


    45. Brooklyn Nets (via Bucks): Rodions Kurucs (Latvia, SF, 1998)

    Kurucs has been on the NBA radar for years, but he hasn't been able to log enough minutes in Spain's top league. He'll be a buy-low first-round-caliber talent worth drafting for his tools and potential as a shooter, slasher and defender.


    46. Houston Rockets (via Heat): Rawle Alkins (Arizona, SG, Sophomore)

    Alkins had an up-and-down sophomore year and combine, but NBA tools, scoring potential and defensive toughness will give him a chance to carve out a rotation role.


    47. Los Angeles Lakers (via Nuggets): Jarred Vanderbilt (Kentucky, PF, Freshman)

    Vanderbilt wasn't able to show any offensive skill after returning from a foot injury and getting a late start to his freshman season. He's an elite rebounder, though. The question is whether he can add value in any other department.


    48. Minnesota Timberwolves: Malik Newman (Kansas, SG, Sophomore)

    A breakout NCAA tournament helped Newman regain NBA attention. He'll now look to carve out a scoring specialist role instead of trying to prove he's a lead guard.


    49. San Antonio Spurs: Justin Jackson (Maryland, SF/PF, Sophomore)

    Jackson lasted only 11 games before injuring his shoulder, but he did enough as a freshman to earn consideration in the Nos. 45-60 range. His tools, shooting and potential defensive versatility are his main selling points.


    50. Indiana Pacers: Tony Carr (Penn State, PG/SG, Sophomore)

    Carr had a poor combine, but his size for a ball-handler and 19.6 points per game as a sophomore should be enough for mid-second-round consideration. He'll try to stick as a shot-making reserve.

Nos. 51-60

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    51. New Orleans Pelicans: Landry Shamet (Wichita State, PG/SG, Sophomore)

    Shamet's lack of athleticism and strength are concerning, but his shooting, high-IQ play and combo-guard potential remain attractive. Adding strength and explosiveness will help his cause. 


    52. Utah Jazz: Trevon Duval (Duke, PG, Freshman)

    This would be a major tumble for one of last year's top high school recruits. Duval has the tools and burst to attack, but he'll need time in the G League to work on his scoring and shooting skills.


    53. Oklahoma City Thunder: Devin Hall (Virginia, SG, Senior)

    The Thunder could see Hall sticking by playing the same role he played at Virginia, which asked him to make open shots, move the ball and defend his position. 


    54. Dallas Mavericks (via Blazers): Alize Johnson (Missouri State, PF, Senior)

    Johnson didn't show enough improvement to move up boards his senior year, but he did show the same versatility that initially created buzz. A mobile, grab-and-go power forward, Johnson averaged 11.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.2 three-pointers per game.


    55. Charlotte Hornets (via Cavaliers): Kostas Antetokounmpo (Dayton, SF/PF, Freshman)

    Antetokounmpo made some plays at the combine as most executives saw him for the first time. He shows minimal offensive skill, but he could draw interest for his defensive versatility and potential.


    56. Philadelphia 76ers: Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (Kansas, SG, Senior)

    One of the most convincing shooters in the draft, the 20-year-old Mykhailiuk still has plenty of time to improve both physically and off the dribble. His jump shot alone is worth drafting for a specialist, even if he struggles to create, finish or defend.


    57. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Celtics): Kenrich Williams (TCU, SF/PF, Senior)

    Williams isn't a strong athlete, but he shoots and passes well, and he has NBA size for a forward. He has role-player potential if the right opportunity presents itself. 


    58. Denver Nuggets (via Warriors): Goga Bitadze (Georgia, C, 1999)

    Bitadze is a draft-and-stash option playing in Serbia. He's coming off a 22-point, 11-rebound game, and scouts looking for last-minute international names may decide he's worth a late-round flier. 


    59. Phoenix Suns (via Raptors): Allonzo Trier (Arizona, SG, Junior)

    Trier had success scoring at Arizona, and he improved his efficiency this past season. To stick in the NBA, he'll have to show he can generate offense in a supporting role.


    60. Philadelphia 76ers (via Rockets): Ray Spalding (Louisville, C, Junior)

    Spalding never added a great deal of skill, but he's capable of making athletic plays at the rim and scoring around the block. 

    Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports