2018 NBA Draft Big Board: Pre-Early Entry Withdrawal Deadline Edition

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterJune 9, 2018

2018 NBA Draft Big Board: Pre-Early Entry Withdrawal Deadline Edition

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    As workouts continue and the NBA withdrawal date approaches (June 11), teams are beginning to finalize their draft boards less than two weeks before the big night.

    The major changes appear in the teens and 20s as more intel comes in and prospects are able to show teams skills they couldn't during the season. 

    The big board reflects Bleacher Report's rankings, which are based on a combination of personal evaluations and feedback from scouts. It differs from our mock draft boards that are meant to predict what will happen on June 21. 

Nos. 50-41

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    50. Tony Carr (Penn State, PG, Sophomore)

    Carr took a tumble down the board after a rough showing at the combine, which had something to do with Jevon Carter's defense. Carr's limited athleticism is a problem, but he'll draw looks for his 6'5" size for a combo, 2.4 threes per game and adequate playmaking ability.

        

    49. Alize Johnson (Missouri State, PF, Senior)

    Johnson possesses intriguing versatility fueled by high-level rebounding instincts, grab-and-go ball-handling skills and capable three-point range. He just doesn't defend or create shots at a good-enough level for a skinny 22-year-old.

          

    48. Justin Jackson (Maryland, SF/PF, Sophomore)

    A shoulder injury knocked Jackson out most of the season, and he didn't play great when he was on the floor. But with combo forward tools and a 43.8 percent three-point stroke his freshman year, it will be worth taking a flier on Jackson in the late 40s or 50s. 

         

    47. Rawle Alkins (Arizona, SG, Sophomore)

    It wouldn't be shocking if Alkins gets drafted much earlier. All it will take is one coach to admire his NBA body, scoring versatility and defensive toughness. But at this stage, Alkins has played two years of college ball and still doesn't have a core strength to lean on.

           

    46. Landry Shamet (Wichita State, PG, Sophomore)

    A lack of explosiveness hurts Shamet, who's skilled, an accurate shooter and high-IQ passer. The big question is whether he'll be able to beat defenders off the dribble and finish in traffic around the rim.

          

    45. Malik Newman (Kansas, SG, Sophomore)

    Newman's role in the pros should already be clearly defined. He'll be valued as a scoring specialist in spurts—not the lead guard he was once thought to be coming out of high school. Coaches will throw him into a game on a short leash in hopes he catches fire.

            

    44. Chimezie Metu (USC, C, Junior)

    Metu's impact never matched his numbers or talent. He's still worth drafting for his NBA tools and scoring skill level around the post, though coaches will want to see more toughness from Metu defensively and under the boards.

           

    43. Rodions Kurucs (Latvia, SF, 1998)

    Scouts have been tracking Kurucs for years now, even though he's yet to have a steady role at a high level. He just pops with NBA size, a smooth shooting stroke, athletic slashing ability and intriguing defensive tools.

          

    42. Omari Spellman (Villanova, PF/C, Freshman)

    The draw to Spellman stems from his outside shooting and hands around the basket, plus his mix of power and mobility. Whoever drafts him will spend next year working on his conditioning and body.

            

    41. Devonte' Graham (Kansas, PG, Senior)

    Graham will likely start in the G League, but his opportunity will come once a backup ball-handler is needed. He's already 23 years old, making it unlikely he'll earn first-round looks, but his shooting and pick-and-roll play should give him a chance to crack a roster at some point.

Nos. 40-31

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    40. Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)

    The ultimate buy-low pick of the draft, Diallo was once thought of as a lottery prospect, but he'll slip after struggling to find a rhythm at Kentucky. His athleticism and transition game should ultimately be better suited for a more open NBA. He'll try to become another Gerald Green type.

          

    39. Bruce Brown (Miami, SG, Sophomore)

    Athleticism, playmaking and defensive versatility are Brown's key selling points. But he won't have margin for error if he doesn't improve his jumper, being that he also isn't a strong scoring shot-creator for himself. 

             

    38. Moritz Wagner (Michigan, C, Junior)

    Wagner's ability to stretch the floor and shoot gives him a shot to stick in the pros. Defense will be a problem, but for a team overflowing with inside bigs, Wagner's convincing three-point shot could help.

             

    37. Jevon Carter (West Virginia, PG, Senior)

    Carter may never start a game, but he's worth betting on in the second round to carve out a long career as a backup. He'll earn minutes for not only his defense but also his ability to run an offense and shoot off the dribble.

          

    36. Grayson Allen (Duke, SG, Senior)

    Allen struggles at the rim, and he never developed a refined pull-up or floater. His explosiveness and confident shot-making ability are both legitimate, though, and they could carry him for years in a supporting role for the right team.

           

    35. Jalen Brunson (Villanova, PG, Junior)

    Backup point guard appears to be Brunson's ceiling. It makes him a value pick in the 30s for a team that's just looking for a rotation player and strong locker room presence. He'll play the role of game manager who runs the offense and takes what the defense gives him as a scorer. 

           

    34. Kevin Hervey (Texas Arlington, SF/PF, Senior)

    Age and an injury history work against Hervey, who also lacks explosion. But for a 6'9" forward, he's a dangerous shot-maker around the perimeter, capable of converting from all distances and angles.

           

    33. Gary Trent Jr. (Duke, SG, Freshman)

    Trent drilled 97 three-pointers as a freshman, establishing himself as one of the top shooters in the field. He'll need the right fit that helps mask his defense and creation issues.

          

    32. Melvin Frazier (Tulane, SF, Junior)

    Frazier capitalized on his invite to the combine, standing out Thursday before shutting it down Friday. Three-point shooting and disruptive perimeter defense could help him earn first-round looks. His floor and ceiling both point to a role player.

          

    31. Anfernee Simons (USA, SG, 1999)

    Simons could be hit or miss coming straight from high school with an underdeveloped frame. He'll be an upside gamble in the No. 25-35 range for his athleticism and scoring potential. 

Nos. 30-21

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    30. Mitchell Robinson (USA, C, 1998)

    Having skipped his only college season and then the combine, Robinson is a difficult evaluation for anyone. He's clearly one of the top athletes in the draft with tremendous physical tools. But he'll fall under the boom-or-bust category on draft night, given the uncertainty tied to his skill level and feel for the game.

             

    29. Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State, SF/PF, Junior)

    Bates-Diop doesn't explode off the floor, but he's a fit in today's league for his shooting, face-up play and potential defensive versatility if coaches can get him to stay locked in. 

            

    28. Troy Brown (Oregon, SG/SF, Freshman)

    The idea of Brown's two-way versatility is more attractive than the numbers he put up. However, he's still 18 years old and checks the right boxes with playmaking and slashing skills, the ability to guard multiple spots and a capable-enough jump that seems poised to improve.

          

    27. Khyri Thomas (Creighton, SG, Junior)

    Gary Harris is the type of three-and-D off guard for Thomas to try to follow. He struggles to create, but Thomas has shot over 39.0 percent from three every year, and he's now a two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year. 

           

    26. Jacob Evans (Cincinnati, SG/SF, Junior)

    Evans doesn't possess any speciality. Instead, his versatility and toughness should help him earn a role and stick. He's a value pick—unlikely to go high without obvious upside, but a good bet to carve out a long career for his shooting, playmaking and defense.

              

    25. Dzanan Musa (Bosnia & Herzegovina, SG/SF, 1999)

    Musa finished his season with a 21-point effort in the Croatian League Finals, capping off another productive year despite having turned 19 years old in May. He doesn't play against the same level of competition as Luka Doncic, but Musa is clearly a standout prospect, intriguing for his size, footwork, three-level scoring and competitiveness.

            

    24. Elie Okobo (France, PG, 1997)

    Okobo turned heads all season, but his 44-point game last month was the potential needle-mover. He's already in the United States working out for teams and seems highly likely to go in the first round for his playmaking and confident shot-making.

           

    23. De'Anthony Melton (USC, PG/SG, Sophomore)

    After sitting out the season, Melton showed at the combine he didn't lose a step and that he may have even taken one in the right direction. Praised last year for his two-way playmaking, Melton looked more comfortable last month as a shooter, a development that could take him from the first-round fence into the top 25.

    22. Jerome Robinson (Boston College, SG, Junior)

    Robinson had been undervalued most of his career playing for a lousy Boston College team. He can resort to hero ball, but his 24.3 points per game during conference play were overlooked. He'll show teams during workouts that his athleticism, ball skills, shooting and production are worth a top-20 look.

    21. Josh Okogie (Georgia Tech, SG, Sophomore)

    Okogie made scouts go back and rewatch the film following his performance at the combine. He's still working on shot selection and shooting consistency, but Okogie is an excellent athlete and slasher whose jumper is on the rise and defensive potential remains promising.

Nos. 20-11

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    20. Chandler Hutchison (Boise State, SF, Senior)

    Hutchison averaged 20.0 points as a senior after improving a jump shot that had held him back. Athletic and agile, he is highly effective attacking downhill, but he'll need to improve his in-between game with the pull-up and floater.

    19. Aaron Holiday (UCLA, PG, Junior)

    Three straight years shooting above 40.0 percent from three is a key selling point for Holiday. But he's also shown he can score in bunches and make plays for others. He lacks exciting athleticism and must work on taking care of the ball.

           

    18. Zhaire Smith (Texas Tech, SG/SG, Freshman)

    Smith's explosive leaping ability, effort level and defensive versatility will keep him in the league. But at 18 years old, he still has plenty of time to continue improving his handle and jump shot, which he's already showed promise with by making 18 of 40 three-pointers.

            

    17. Donte DiVincenzo (Villanova, SG, Sophomore)

    DiVincenzo's ceiling is capped, but we value his high floor, which is held up by athleticism, motor and versatility that seem guaranteed to translate, even if it's into a spark role off the bench. He makes plays without needing his number called, though with the ball, he's proven he can create off screens and score or shoot off the dribble.

          

    16. Kevin Huerter (Maryland, SG/SF, Sophomore)

    Huerter broke into our top 30 (and the NBA's) after a standout performance at the combine. But after going back and reviewing more tape, it became clear he'd simply been overlooked all season. More than just an elite shooter, Huerter is skilled off the dribble, capable of both creating for himself and finding teammates. He isn't the next Klay Thompson, but Kyle Korver isn't a high-enough ceiling to project for Huerter.

             

    15. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Kentucky, PG, Freshman)

    Gilgeous-Alexander lacks the traditional speed and athleticism that point to upside, but he compensates with unique size, length, skill and feel. He'll fill up box scores with assists, rebounds and steals while guarding both backcourt positions. Gilgeous-Alexander just may never be a high-level scorer.

              

    14. Robert Williams (Texas A&M, C, Sophomore)

    Williams was held back by having to play forward in college. In the NBA, he'll play strictly the 5 for a team that plans to develop and use him the way the Houston Rockets do with Clint Capela. He lacks skill and scoring ability, but his elite length and athleticism can still translate to defense, rebounding and high-percentage finishing, particularly if he's surrounded by playmakers.

           

    13. Collin Sexton (Alabama, PG, Freshman)

    A scoring ball-handler, Sexton will put pressure on defenses with his attacking style of play, speed and competitiveness. However, his value will be tied to how well he develops as a lead-guard decision-maker. He'll want to improve on his 3.6-2.8 assist-to-turnover ratio, though he should without having to carry such a heavy scoring load in the pros.

            

    12. Kevin Knox (Kentucky, SF/PF, Freshman)

    Knox doesn't offer much as a playmaker or rebounder, and his defense was inconsistent. But for an 18-year-old, 6'9" athlete, Knox's off-ball scoring versatility is attractive. After a few seasons of likely plowing through some rough patches, he'll be valued for his ability to put the ball in the hole.

            

    11. Miles Bridges (Michigan State, SF/PF, Sophomore)

    Bridges will benefit from playing the 4 with more space in the pros. He still isn't sharp enough to create high-percentage looks from the wing, but his explosiveness and shooting should give NBA big men problems.

10. Lonnie Walker IV (Miami, SG, Freshman)

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    Previous big board ranking: No. 11 (up one)

    The predraft process will help Lonnie Walker IV change the minds of those who became hesitant when watching him during the season. Workout settings give him the opportunity to showcase athleticism, shooting mechanics and ball skills that were tougher to detect while at Miami, which ranked outside the top 200 in pace, per KenPom.com.

    A more open NBA should benefit a prospect like Walker, just as it did for Donovan Mitchell. 

    A smooth shooter and explosive leaper, the next step is turning the flashes of one-on-one shot-creating and ball-screen playmaking into more regular occurrences. He'll eventually have that chance with more space at the next level. Look for Walker to get looks as high as No. 9 from the New York Knicks.

9. Michael Porter Jr. (Missouri, SF/PF, Freshman)

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    Previous big board ranking: No. 8 (down one)

    Medical reports on Michael Porter Jr.'s surgically repaired back will play a big role in his evaluation. Even if they come back clean, they won't account for lost explosiveness.

    He's still worth gambling on in the No. 8-10 range based on talent, plus the value tied to high-level scorers. Porter measured 6'10 ¾", yet his game mirrors a wing's for the ability to face up from 25 feet, shoot from three and work off the dribble.

    The hope for Porter is that surgery fixed his back issues for good, and he can return to being a mismatch and evolve into a top offensive option. Questions over his durability, playmaking and defense, like whether he can get low and slide or match up physically with power forwards, drops him behind other, perceived safer one-and-done bigs.

8. Wendell Carter Jr. (Duke, PF/C, Freshman)

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    Previous big board ranking: No. 9 (up one)

    Teams don't appear hesitant about Wendell Carter Jr. being more of an old-school, back-to-the-basket big during an era where power forwards and centers are now asked to play around the perimeter and switch defensively. 

    There is a belief he couldn't fully showcase himself in a lineup alongside Marvin Bagley III, Marques Bolden, Grayson Allen, Gary Trent Jr. and Trevon Duval, given all the mouths that needed to be fed and the two other bigs also being predominantly interior players.

    Big, strong and long, Walker is highly effective around the basket as a finisher and rebounder, and he demonstrates polished post moves with the ability to create high-percentage looks for himself. The flashes of shooting (19-of-46 3PT) have convinced scouts the jumper will eventually be an everyday weapon. 

    The New York Knicks represent his draft floor at No. 9.

7. Mikal Bridges (Villanova, SF, Junior)

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    Previous big board ranking: No. 7 

    Mikal Bridges hasn't budged from our top seven in months, though his age may allow him to fall to the New York Knicks or Philadelphia 76ers. He won't be there for the Charlotte Hornets. 

    Compared to bigs, wings who can shoot and defend are rare and valued, and Bridges shot 43.5 percent from three, adding to his already-built reputation as a versatile, playmaking defender.

    The big question with Bridges, who'll turn 22 years old in August, is whether he has peaked or he still has room to improve his shot-creating and playmaking. His trajectory so far mirrors Victor Oladipo's, but we've also seen plenty of upperclassmen get overvalued for late breakouts as juniors or seniors.

6. Mohamed Bamba (Texas, C, Freshman)

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    Previous big board ranking: No. 5 (down one)

    The Atlanta Hawks will give Mohamed Bamba a good look at No. 3 for his potential to change the franchise's defensive culture. Any team considering him will do so for that very same reason.

    His 7'10" wingspan represents an unmatched weapon around the league that's used for rim protection, rebounds and easy baskets.

    But it's the flashes of post moves and shooting touch that suggest Bamba could have more to offer than Rudy Gobert, a popular comparison due to their similar length and defensive upside.

5. Trae Young (Oklahoma, PG, Freshman)

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    Previous big board ranking: No. 6 (up one)

    Trae Young should be locked into the No. 3-8 range in the draft, with the Atlanta Hawks, Orlando Magic, Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers the most likely to snatch him up.

    These teams will value his ability to break down defenses and create shots for teammates, and though there are questions about how he'll fare creating shots for himself, his ability to make tough ones from all over the floor should help him put enough pressure on as a scorer.

    While concern has been raised over his size, Young erased most of it by measuring similarly to Chris Paul. There is no reason he can't develop into an exciting, starting-caliber playmaker.

4. Marvin Bagley III (Duke, PF/C, Freshman)

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    Previous big board ranking: No. 4

    We're projecting Marvin Bagley III will go No. 2 to the Sacramento Kings, who have a handful of young guards and no cornerstone bigs. 

    He's No. 4 on our board for some questions about his defensive outlook, shot-creating and shooting legitimacy. But his athleticism and ability to use it to score and rebound is both unique and translatable.

    Regardless of where he lands, he's going to produce by running the floor, cutting, crashing the glass, working over his shoulder and beating slower bigs from a face-up position. And though not a sharpshooter, he's capable enough to occasionally make an open jumper.

    He won't be able to lean on his athleticism as much as he did at Duke, and his defense will have to change. But for a 19-year-old, we're buying his strengths carrying over and the potential for his weaknesses to improve.

3. Jaren Jackson Jr. (Michigan State, PF/C, Freshman)

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    Previous big board ranking: No. 3

    Projected to go in the top five, Jaren Jackson Jr. figures to only work out for a few teams. He didn't produce offensively like an elite draft pick, but scouts love the idea of him being a big who can protect the rim, switch and stretch the floor as a shooter.

    And given his age (18) and tremendous physical profile (6'11 ¼", 7'5 ½" wingspan, 236 lbs), it's easy to buy into his development and window to improve as a scorer.

    He'd be a fit and fill a need for each of the top teams selecting in the draft, including the Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks. 

    Assuming at baseline he's a rim protector who can make outside shots and finish on the block, Jackson comes off as a safe pick. But the time and room he has to evolve points to a high ceiling.

2. Deandre Ayton (Arizona, C, Freshman)

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    Previous big board ranking: No. 2

    The heavy favorite to go first in the draft, Deandre Ayton lands at No. 2 on our board for the defensive questions he's yet to answer. But there is no doubt he'll be a handful offensively and one of the most productive centers in the league. 

    Powerful, athletic and skilled, Ayton projects as a big man a team like the Suns can go to and feature in the half court.  

    Most of the problems he had at Arizona stemmed from him playing out of position at the 4. It helps explain some of his defensive issues and suggests they may have been overblown.

    If he can continue to extend his shooting range and figure out how to read offenses anchoring the paint, Ayton should be in line to become the game's next All-Star center.

1. Luka Doncic (Slovenia, PG/SG, 1999)

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    Previous big board ranking: No. 1

    Rival teams expect the Phoenix Suns to take Ayton No. 1, but Bleacher Report still favors Luka Donic in a vacuum.

    He continues to chug along in Europe, now 78 games in since August 31. Currently playing in the Spanish ACB playoffs, Doncic went for 14 points, seven rebounds and seven assists on Tuesday as well as 11 points and five assists on Thursday, just a few weeks after he won MVP of EuroLeague and its Final Four. 

    Ayton also has a strong case for No. 1, but for an anchor at center, questions over his defensive instincts hurt his value just enough. Doncic being a suspect defender wouldn't harm his team as much as it would if Ayton struggled to protect the rim.

    The 19-year-old Slovenian is simply unique, both in terms of his mismatch versatility and unprecedented resume and success.