NBA Draft 2018: Mock Draft and Fringe 1st-Round Prospects to Watch

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistMay 28, 2018

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 17:  Grayson Allen #23 speaks with reporters during Day One of the NBA Draft Combine at Quest MultiSport Complex on May 17, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Prospects took their talents to Chicago to show their ball skills and familiarize themselves with team representatives at the NBA Draft Combine.

As expected, some players boosted their draft stock while others simply tested the waters before deciding whether to make a full jump into the selection pool. Among those with a decision to make, Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo may have opened some eyes during workouts. Where does he stand in the latest first-round mock draft projections? 

Duke's Grayson Allen talked about personal growth beyond basketball skills. What did he have to address with NBA scouts? 

Big men who play well on both ends of the court or possess top-notch offensive or defensive skills project to go within the top 10. Michigan product Moritz Wagner needs work as a defender. Does his outlook as a frontcourt asset with range propel him into the first round?

Check out the latest draft projections, and we'll also dig deeper on three fringe first-round prospects.


2018 NBA Mock Draft 1st-Round Projections 

1. Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona 

2. Sacramento Kings: Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke

3. Atlanta Hawks: Luka Doncic, PG/SG, Real Madrid

4. Memphis Grizzlies: Michael Porter Jr., SF, Missouri 

5. Dallas Mavericks: Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Michigan State 

6. Orlando Magic: Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

7. Chicago Bulls: Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas

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

9. New York Knicks: Mikal Bridges, SG/SF, Villanova

10. Philadelphia 76ers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Wendell Carter, PF/C, Duke 

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

12. Los Angeles Clippers (via Detroit): Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

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): Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, SG/PG, Kentucky 

17. Milwaukee Bucks: Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

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

19. Atlanta Hawks (via Minnesota): Anfernee Simons, SG, IMG Academy 

20. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Oklahoma City): Dzanan Musa, SF, Bosnia and Herzegovina 

21. Utah Jazz: Moritz Wagner, F, Michigan

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

23. Indiana Pacers: Grayson Allen, SG, Duke 

24. Portland Trailblazers: Khyri Thomas, PG/SG, Creighton 

25. Los Angeles Lakers (via Cleveland): Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova 

26. Philadelphia 76ers: Tyus Battle, SF/SG, Syracuse

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

28. Golden State Warriors: Mitchell Robinson, C, N/A

29. Brooklyn Nets (via Toronto): Chandler Hutchison, SF, Boise State

30. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston): Shake Milton, SG, SMU


Fringe 1st-Round Prospects to Watch

Donte DiVincenzo, G, Villanova

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 17:  Donte DiVincenzo #23 speaks with reporters during Day One of the NBA Draft Combine at Quest MultiSport Complex on May 17, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or u
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

DiVincenzo reached his peak at the right time. The redshirt sophomore exploded for 31 points against Michigan in the men's national title game, which prompted the chatter about his spot among those declaring for the draft.

At the combine, DiVincenzo continued to build upon a rising stock. He led the standing vertical leap category at 34.50" and stood out during scrimmages, per ESPN draft analyst Jonathan Givony: 

The Villanova product established himself as a spark off the bench, but he averaged 29.3 minutes per game during the previous season. Despite the program's recent success and a good showing in front of NBA representatives, the Delaware native left the door open for a return to school, per USA Today Sports reporter Scott Gleeson:

"If I stay in the draft (or go back to 'Nova), this whole process been great and I've been enjoying it. (Teams) have been trying to figure out more about me. I'm not very well known. Not before all that attention in the (NCAA) tournament. After (the national championship game), the outside perspective of me kinda blew up and made (the NBA) a realization for me."

DiVincenzo has until May 30 to make a decision on a return to Villanova. Teams will covet his ability to shoot from long range, but it's the defensive effort, which he showed during the scrimmages, that potentially moves him into late first-round territory. Givony lists him at No. 33 to the Dallas Mavericks in his latest mock draft.


Grayson Allen, G, Duke 

NBA scouts have four years of collegiate tape on Allen. At the height of his scoring efficiency, he averaged 21.6 points per game on 47 percent shooting from the field during his sophomore year. As a senior, the former Blue Devil shot 42 percent from the floor and notched 15.5 points per contest.

Beyond his ball skills, Allen had to answer questions about tripping incidents and his mindset during interviews. He shared a brief response with reporters after combine workouts:

Oftentimes, the prospect's mentality becomes an afterthought without past red flags, but Allen's repeated actions on the court made his unsportsmanlike acts a focus of attention. Teams likely want to know if the 22-year-old has truly matured and whether he's trustworthy in high-pressure moments. 

On a positive note, he led all participants in the lane agility drill with a 10.31-second time, which ranked as one of the five best marks in combine history, per Givony: 

As teams host Allen for workouts, he must continue to flash his athleticism and show a strong finish at the rim to solidify a first-round spot in June.


Moritz Wagner, F, Michigan

Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

Wagner put together solid back-to-back campaigns at Michigan. The program's run to the championship game and the junior forward's exceptional play increased his exposure this year. In several contests, he flashed as an efficient scorer with range. 

Wagner's 14.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game won't necessarily translate to a spot within the top 30 draft picks. Nonetheless, there's space in the league for a 6'10" big man who shot 39 percent from beyond the arc on the collegiate level. He'd likely serve as a stretch four or a center in a smaller lineup.

The Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards and Brooklyn Nets have already taken an extended look at the Michigan product.

According to reporter Andrew Kahn, there's a focus on his defense or lack thereof. "A scout who spoke to MLive expressed concern in that area -- and with Wagner's defense in general. "Coming out in pick and roll and out in space against quicker guys is going to be hard for him," the scout said. "I don't know who he's going to guard. You're going to have to hide him, at least right away, defensively." 

Man-to-man defensive assignments have faded in favor of switching on pick-and-roll situations. Wagner's offense will keep him in a rotation but confusion and slow feet on the defensive end could severely limit his time on the floor. 


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