NBA Draft 2018: Full 1st-Round Mock Draft, Most Surprising Potential Picks

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 6, 2018

CHICAGO - MAY 15: NBA Draft Prospects Trae Young and Mohamed Bamba are photographed during the 2018 NBA Draft Lottery at the Palmer House Hotel on May 15, 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kamil Krzaczynski/Getty Images

Part of the fun with NBA drafts is that we all know to expect the unexpected.

Sometimes the surprises are major, like the Cleveland Cavaliers reaching for Anthony Bennett in 2013. Others are more subtle, like D.J. Wilson hearing his name earlier than expected last June.

The thing is, they're always present in some form.

After running through a one-round mock, we'll spotlight three potential surprises from this talent pool.

Note: Our goal here is to predict the most likely surprise pick for each team. For a more serene, less shocking experience, please see today's latest mock draft.


2018 NBA Mock Draft

1. Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona

2. Sacramento Kings: Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas

3. Atlanta Hawks: Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

4. Memphis Grizzlies: Marvin Bagley III, PF/C, Duke

5. Dallas Mavericks: Luka DoncicSG, Slovenia

6. Orlando Magic: Jaren Jackson Jr., C, Michigan State

7. Chicago Bulls: Michael Porter Jr., SF/PF, Missouri

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

9. New York Knicks: Wendell Carter, C, Duke

10. Philadelphia 76ers: Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova

11. Charlotte Hornets: Lonnie Walker, SG, Miami

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): Mitchell Robinson, C, USA

20. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Thunder): Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton

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

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

23. Indiana Pacers: Elie Okobo, PG, France

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

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

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

27. Boston Celtics: Troy Brown, SF, Oregon

28. Golden State Warriors: De'Anthony Melton, SG, USC

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

30. Atlanta Hawks (via Rockets): Melvin Frazier, SF, Tulane


Surprising Selections

2. Sacramento Kings—Mohamed Bamba

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 15:  NBA Draft Prospect, Mohamed Bamba 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 us
David Sherman/Getty Images

This would elicit the night's first "Whoa!" as most mocks have this spot earmarked for either Bagley or Doncic. But is it really that outlandish to think a team with the league's fourth-worst defense might fall in love with Bamba and his mammoth 7'10" wingspan?

Granted, some are going to point to Bamba's 12.9 points per game while asking, "Where's the upside?" Well, B/R's draft guru Jonathan Wasserman declared Bamba has "some of the most unique upside in the draft" and labeled the towering 20-year-old "a one-of-a-kind potential difference-maker."

"[Bamba] has game-changing defensive abilities and more offensive skill than Rudy Gobert has shown," Wasserman wrote.

Gobert, by the way, had the second-most All-NBA votes among players who missed the cut and was the second-leading scorer on a Jazz team that won 48 games and played as well as anyone after the All-Star break.

At worst, Bamba might be a turbo-charged Willie Cauley-Stein, perhaps allowing Sacramento to dangle the latter to help fill a different need. At best, Bamba could be the rarest of NBA birds—a rim-running, shot-blocking, three-point-bombing big man.


3. Atlanta Hawks—Trae Young

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 15: NBA Draft Prospect, Trae Young poses for a portrait during the 2018 NBA Combine circuit on May 15, 2018 at the Intercontinental Hotel Magnificent Mile in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, b
Joe Murphy/Getty Images

Atlanta's 26th-ranked offense was wobbly before the summer started.

Then, mastermind head coach Mike Budenholzer bolted for the Bucks, while leading scorer and top distributor Dennis Schroder intimated he may not be long for Atlanta.

Guess where that leaves this attack—lacking any discernible foundation. If Schroder is sent packing, Taurean Prince becomes the top returning scorer at 14.1 points per game. Kent Bazemore gets the top table-setter label almost by default with only 3.5 assists.

Starting to see how Young might pique the Hawks' interest?

The 19-year-old made history as a college freshman by leading the country in both scoring (27.4 points per game) and assists (8.7). He also splashed 3.7 triples per night, many from range frequented by Stephen Curry and few others. And, like Curry, Young proved more slippery than expected with less than elite physical gifts, earning 8.6 free throws per night and hitting 86.1 percent from the stripe.

It's so early in Atlanta's rebuild—this was a 43-win playoff participant in 2017—that it's hard to tell how many (if any) keepers are on this roster. But the closest to having that distinction are bouncy big man John Collins and the three-and-D Prince, both of whom would benefit greatly from having a gravitational offensive force like Young. 


8. Cleveland Cavaliers—Collin Sexton

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 15:  NBA Draft Prospect, Collin Sexton 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 us
David Sherman/Getty Images

This might not seem surprisingly early for the second point guard off the board, but Sexton has slipped out of Wasserman's top 10. It's also worth noting Sexton hasn't always shot the ball like an ideal running mate for LeBron James.

But the Cavs shouldn't make this pick about James. They're unlikely to have hints about his future when they're on the clock:

Rob Lopez @r0bato

Woj on LeBron James this summer: "We know that he's not going to give the Cavs much, if any, direction at all going into the draft or free agency about moves he'd potentially like... They'll draft blind on draft night" https://t.co/WBNzydnAwb

That said, it wouldn't be hard for Cleveland to talk itself into Sexton working both with and without James.

Whether he's an instant-impact reserve role or thrown in the fire as a starter, his aggressiveness and explosive athletic ability would help ease the transition. He's not the surest shooter (33.6 percent from three) or most consistent decision-maker (3.7 turnovers per 40 minutes), but he's fearless, fiercely competitive and always putting pressure on his matchup at both ends.

Sexton probably doesn't get the scoring credit he should. He topped 20 points 16 times and had six outings with at least three triples as a freshman. If he worked alongside scorers like James and Kevin Love, Sexton's efficiency could soar as he trims his turnovers. And if those players are gone before Sexton's debut, maybe he'll become the next foundational piece for the franchise to build around.


Statistics used courtesy of Sports-Reference.com and NBA.com.