With the 2018 NBA Draft approaching on June 21, we've seemingly settled a bit on how things are going to shake out.
Deandre Ayton is going to be the No. 1 pick. We know it. He knows it. It's all just a "pretend" game to keep some intrigue before draft night.
After Ayton, things get a little bit more up in the air. Luka Doncic is probably the next best player in the class, but the Kings have to deal with the potential of him staying in Spain. Sacramento really isn't in a position to play the waiting game. Doncic could wind up being closer to being out of the top five than the top-two lock he looked a couple months ago.
Anyway, let's take a look at how things are shaping up before Thursday.
1. Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona
I have Doncic as my top-rated player in this class, but it's hard to argue with the logic of taking Ayton. He's a fluid 7-footer with range that should stretch out to the three-point line consistently, and he has elite potential on the defensive end.
While his defensive IQ is low at this point like most 19-year-olds, Ayton has all the skills on paper to be an incredible stopper. His length and leaping ability project him to be a strong force in the middle, and he has the side-to-side speed to be fine in most pick-and-roll switches.
Ayton is exactly what you'd want in a modern center.
2. Sacramento Kings: Marvin Bagley III, PF/C, Duke
This pick just feels Kingsy. There's nothing wrong with Marvin Bagley III; he's about as safe as you're going to get in this class. There's a 10-year career awaiting him as soon as he steps on an NBA court. His athleticism and hustle, especially on the offensive end, should get him a ton of easy buckets near the rim on offensive rebounds. I'd be surprised if we don't see a 16-8 line from him during his rookie season.
But it feels like there is a ceiling on his potential. Is Bagley an All-Star someday? Maybe. But is he going to be the type of multidimensional star who transforms an organization? I really don't think so. He's not the type of player who I would invest in with the second pick of this draft—not with Doncic and Mohamed Bamba still on the board.
3. Atlanta Hawks: Jaren Jackson Jr., PF/C, Michigan State
Color me among the people lower on Jaren Jackson than most. I'm not sure how it's become a borderline lock that Jackson goes ahead of Bamba in this class, but I'm positive I'm going to be perplexed as it happens.
Jackson is a ball of raw energy who does not have much offensive skill to speak of. His shot is awkward and will probably need to be reworked in the pros. His potential on the defensive end is unlimited; his potential on the offensive end might just be "roll guy."
What is it that separates Jackson from Robert Williams, who will be on the board 10 picks later? Not all that much, really. Jackson is a top-10 player based on potential, but his top-five resume feels lacking.
4. Memphis Grizzlies: Michael Porter Jr., SF/PF, Missouri
Health is the key for Michael Porter Jr., whose medicals remain concerning. All signs are OK for now. After a brief cancellation, Porter did allow teams to examine him Friday in Chicago. It's just tough to feel especially enthused about back and hip issues, which are right up there with feet in the recurring-issues pile for basketball players.
If Porter's healthy, he's a good fit in Memphis. The Grizzlies have needed a true score-first star for years, and Porter is the best pure scorer in this class. Missouri fans never got to see the true breadth of his game; he's a 6'11" swingman who can put the ball on the deck and lead the break, stretch out to three-point range and crash the glass.
Grizzlies fans with Rudy Gay PTSD might not love Porter right now—he's got a little bit of that black hole in his game. But with the right coaching, he could be something special offensively.
5. Dallas Mavericks: Luka Doncic, PG/SG, Slovenia
If the Mavs somehow land Doncic at No. 5, the remaining 25 teams should band together and sue the first four for giving Mark Cuban such good fortune.
Doncic is incredible. That is all.
6. Orlando Magic: Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas
7. Chicago Bulls: Wendell Carter, PF/C, Duke
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Nets): Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama
9. New York Knicks: Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via Lakers): Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova
11. Charlotte Hornets: Kevin Knox, SF/PF, Kentucky
12. Los Angeles Clippers (via Pistons): Miles Bridges, SF/PF, Michigan State
13. Los Angeles Clippers: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky
14. Denver Nuggets: Robert Williams, C, Texas A&M
15. Washington Wizards: Lonnie Walker, SG, Miami
16. Phoenix Suns (via Heat): Zhaire Smith, SF, Texas Tech
17. Milwaukee Bucks: Troy Brown, SG, Oregon
18. San Antonio Spurs: Elie Okobo, PG, France
19. Atlanta Hawks (via Timberwolves): Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Thunder): Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State
21. Utah Jazz: Dzanan Musa, SG/SF, Bosnia and Herzegovina
22. Chicago Bulls (via Pelicans): Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, IMG Academy
23. Indiana Pacers: Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova
24. Portland Trail Blazers: Chandler Hutchison, SF, Boise State
25. Los Angeles Lakers (via Cavs): Mitchell Robinson, C, N/A
26. Philadelphia 76ers: Jacob Evans, SG/SF, Cincinnati
27. Boston Celtics: Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton
28. Golden State Warriors: Grayson Allen, SG, Duke
29. Brooklyn Nets (via Raptors): De'Anthony Melton, PG/SG, USC
30. Atlanta Hawks (via Rockets): Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova
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