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NBA Mock Draft 2018: 1st-Round Predictions and Elite Prospects Breakdown

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 6, 2018

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 15:  NBA Draft Prospect, DeAndre Ayton poses for a portrait before the NBA Draft Lottery on May 15, 2018 at The Palmer House Hilton 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
David Sherman/Getty Images

Feel free to use a Sharpie to write in Deandre Ayton atop the 2018 NBA draft.

The Arizona standout has a near-universal stranglehold on the top spot in the mock-drafting world. B/R's Jonathan Wasserman, ESPN.com's Jonathan Givony and SI.com's Jeremy Woo all have Ayton occupying their No. 1 draft slot.

That's about where the consensus stops for this seemingly stacked prospect class, though. There might be a handful of names who could get called second without shocking the Association.

We'll lay out our latest mock draft below and spotlight the top five players on our draft board.

                

2018 NBA Mock Draft

1. Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona

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

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

4. Memphis Grizzlies: Luka Doncic, SG, Slovenia

5. Dallas Mavericks: Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas

6. Orlando Magic: Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

7. Chicago Bulls: Wendell Carter, C, Duke

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

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

10. Philadelphia 76ers: Lonnie Walker, SG, Miami

11. Charlotte Hornets: Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama

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

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

14. Denver Nuggets: Miles Bridges, SF/PF, Michigan State

15. Washington Wizards: Kevin Knox, SF, Kentucky

16. Phoenix Suns (via Heat): Zhaire Smith, SF, Texas Tech

17. Milwaukee Bucks: Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

18. San Antonio Spurs: Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland

19. Atlanta Hawks (via Timberwolves): Elie Okobo, PG, France

20. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Thunder): Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova

21. Utah Jazz: Keita Bates-Diop, SF/PF, Ohio State

22. Chicago Bulls (via Pelicans): Chandler Hutchison, SF, Boise State

23. Indiana Pacers: Troy Brown, SF, Oregon

24. Portland Trail Blazers: Dzanan Musa, SG/SF, Bosnia and Herzegovina

25. Los Angeles Lakers (via Cavs): Mitchell Robinson, C, USA

26. Philadelphia 76ers: Jerome Robinson, SG, Boston College

27. Boston Celtics: Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton

28. Golden State Warriors: Melvin Frazier, SF, Tulane

29. Brooklyn Nets (via Raptors): Moritz Wagner, PF/C, Michigan

30. Atlanta Hawks (via Rockets): Jacob Evans, SG/SF, Cincinnati

                    

Top-Five Breakdown

1. Phoenix Suns—Deandre Ayton

Ayton's elite physical gifts alone would garner consideration for the top spot. But the fact he's also this skilled at 19 years old—20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds per game as a freshman—is what cements his place at No. 1.

This is the best-player-available strategy, but it also fills a need for Phoenix. Despite making major investments in the center position (the fifth overall pick on Alex Len, $52 million on Tyson Chandler), the Suns have had a glaring void on the interior. With Len bound for free agency and Chandler entering his age-36 season, this is the perfect time for Phoenix to pounce on a big man.

If Ayton doesn't turn his No. 1 draft slot into a Rookie of the Year award, it won't be for a lack of opportunity.

                 

2. Sacramento Kings—Marvin Bagley III

There are questions regarding how Bagley—and a bunch of other prospects in this class—will defend at the NBA level. But there's a more pressing issue in Sacramento: Who's going to score?

Zach Randolph, 36 years old and never a great athlete, paced the 55-loss team with 14.5 points per game this season. If that number sounds underwhelming, that's because it is. Fifty-seven qualified players averaged at least that many points, a group that included four different players on the Nuggets and 76ers.

Bagley would immediately juice the Kings' 29th-ranked offense. He not only averaged 21 points on 61.4 percent shooting as a freshman, he was also the high scoring man on the country's third-most efficient attack.

                  

3. Atlanta Hawks—Jaren Jackson Jr.

The Hawks are in an interesting position. They're new enough to the rebuilding game that they're essentially forced to take the top available talent. But since they're so devoid of young talent, they'd really like to land a frontcourt piece who fits alongside John Collins, a flashy finisher who doesn't consistently hit jumpers or block shots.

It's possible Atlanta sees Jackson as both its highest-ranked prospect at this point and the one who would work best with Collins.

Jackson's numbers can seem deceptively low if you don't know where to look. Clubs aren't typically tripping over themselves for a nightly supplier of 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds. But the 18-year-old—19 in December—shines brightest where Atlanta would need him most. His per-40-minute marks included 5.5 blocks and two triples, he hit 39.6 percent of his long-range looks and comfortably defended in space.

                    

4. Memphis Grizzlies—Luka Doncic

If Doncic slips past Atlanta, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver might announce two picks in a single trip. That's how quickly the Grizzlies should snatch up Doncic, who's both an opening-night contributor and potentially a long-term star.

Some will question his athleticism and whether he can create the separation needed to be a featured scorer. Memphis, on the other hand, will see the massive appeal of his advanced feel, elite passing and three-point potential.

The Grizzlies don't want to wait on player development. Marc Gasol and Mike Conley are on the wrong side of 30 and two of three players on the payroll with $24 million-plus salaries for 2018-19. Doncic's EuroLeague MVP and Final Four MVP highlight both his immediate impact and impressive upside.

                      

5. Dallas Mavericks—Mohamed Bamba

Great news, Dallas—your years-long center search is over.

As soon as Bamba becomes a Maverick, he'd literally be their big man on campus, thanks to a comically long 7'10" wingspan. He'd also be an explosive pick-and-roll partner for Dennis Smith Jr. and defensive insurance behind the aging-but-still-going Dirk Nowitzki.

                   

Statistics used courtesy of Sports-Reference.com, NBA.com and KenPom.com. Salary information obtained via Basketball Insiders.

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