2018 NBA Mock Draft: Breakdown of Underrated Prospects, 1st-Round Predictions

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJune 1, 2018

Miami's Lonnie Walker IV plays against Boston College during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Boston, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. Boston College won 72-70. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

In the buildup to the 2018 NBA draft on June 21, there will be plenty of talk surrounding the big-name prospects in the talent pool.

While the group headlined by Deandre Ayton and Luka Doncic should live up to the hype, there are some players flying under the radar who could make an impact in their rookie season.

Most of the underrated prospects available should land in the second half of the first round, but there are a few who could be taken as high as No. 9 or No. 10 if they continue to impress in the coming weeks. 

Below is a look at three underrated prospects who should make names for themselves during the 2018-19 NBA season.


2018 1st-Round NBA Mock Draft

1. Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona

2. Sacramento Kings: Luka Doncic, SG/SF, Slovenia

3. Atlanta Hawks: Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Michigan State

4. Memphis Grizzlies: Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas

5. Dallas Mavericks: Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke

6. Orlando Magic: Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

7. Chicago Bulls: Michael Porter, SF, Missouri

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

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

10. Philadelphia 76ers (from Los Angeles Lakers): Lonnie Walker, SG, Miami

11. Charlotte Hornets: Wendell Carter, PF/C, Duke

12. Los Angeles Clippers: Miles Bridges, SF/PF, Michigan State

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

14. Denver Nuggets: Kevin Knox, SF/PF, Kentucky

15. Washington Wizards: Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech 

16. Phoenix Suns (from Miami): Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

17. Milwaukee Bucks: Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton

18. San Antonio Spurs: Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, Unattached

19. Atlanta Hawks (from Minnesota): Mitchell Robinson, C, United States

20. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Oklahoma City): Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova

21. Utah Jazz: Landry Shamet, PG/SG, Wichita State

22. Chicago Bulls (from New Orleans): Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland

23. Indiana Pacers: Jacob Evans, SF, Cincinnati 

24. Portland Trailblazers: Chandler Hutchison, SF, Boise State

25. Los Angeles Lakes (from Cleveland): Troy Brown, PG/SG, Oregon

26. Philadelphia 76ers: Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State

27. Boston Celtics: Jerome Robinson, SG, Boston College

28. Golden State Warriors: Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

29. Brooklyn Nets (from Toronto): Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova

30. Atlanta Hawks (from Houston): Gary Trent Jr., SG, Duke 


Underrated Prospects

Lonnie Walker 

There appears to be a consensus regarding which players will be selected in the top 10. 

Although the order will change on draft night, most of the top prospects have similar grades in the eyes of NBA personnel.

Lonnie Walker could throw off the rhythm of the first round if he ends up going at the end of the first 10 picks, which is possible given the needs of the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers.

The Knicks could make a serious play for the Miami shooting guard at No. 9, as ESPN's Ian Begley noted they were at his latest workout at Catalyst Pro Day and interviewed him at the combine:

Ian Begley @IanBegley

The Knicks were among the teams with a high-ranking executive at the Catalyst Pro Day, where Miami’s Lonnie Walker IV and others worked out. New York, which has the 9th pick, also interviewed Walker at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago earlier this month. https://t.co/NCK2hwFHhn

If the Knicks pass on Walker, the Sixers could easily snatch the Pennsylvania native up with the No. 10 selection since they need another strong shooter on their roster. 

In his freshman season at Miami, Walker averaged 11.5 points per game and shot 34.6 percent from three-point range. 

Whichever team chooses Walker in the first round will end up refining his shot even more, but the raw skills he possesses from beyond the arc could be an immediate upgrade to a team in the lottery.


Landry Shamet 

Wichita State's Landry Shamet is one of a few guards with the potential to be taken in the later part of the first round during what could be a run on players at the position. 

In his third season with the Shockers, Shamet recorded career highs in points per game, assists per game and three-point percentage. 

Shamet's 44.2 three-point percentage should draw attention from teams in the back end of the first round looking to add a shooter to their depth chart. 

John Raoux/Associated Press

In past years, some front-office personnel may look at Wichita State's competition and frown upon it, but Shamet and the Shockers proved their worth in a more competitive American Athletic Conference. 

Shamet should become a coveted option late in the first round once Villanova's Donte DiVincenzo goes off the board. 

Given DiVincenzo's recent success at the NCAA men's basketball tournament and the combine, he will be a hot commodity on draft day. 

If DiVincenzo goes earlier than expected, Shamet would be a nice pickup for teams like Utah, Philadelphia and Boston, who should be in the market for the collection of experienced guards available when they pick. 

While each team may have their own preferences in terms of pro-ready skill sets, Shamet shouldn't fall out of the first round if teams covet shooters as much as they say they do. 


Keita Bates-Diop 

Few prospects improved their draft stock more in the last 12 months than Ohio State's Keita Bates-Diop.

The small forward produced the best season of his career, as he averaged 19.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.6 blocks per game. 

In addition to those numbers, Bates-Diop shot 48 percent from the field and 35.9 percent from three-point range. 

Paul Vernon/Associated Press

At 6'7", Bates-Diop had the size to attack the paint in college, but he's going to need to be more versatile in the NBA since there will be taller players present down low when he tries to drive or back down a defender. 

With a versatile skill set that can be fine-tuned in his first year or two, Bates-Diop is an intriguing option for the playoff teams selecting in the back half of the first round. 

Although the guard options may be too hard to pass up, adding a versatile small forward like Bates-Diop may benefit a team like the Los Angeles Lakers or the Sixers, especially if Brett Brown's team goes after someone like Walker at No. 10. 


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.