Latest 2018 NBA Mock Draft: Deandre Ayton Rising, Luka Doncic Slipping
With the passing of the NBA withdrawal date, the 2018 draft field is officially set.
Teams are now finalizing their workouts, interviews and boards, but they're also strategizing for the big night and thinking of creative ways to improve their rosters.
It's starting to sound like the Phoenix Suns could be locked into one player at No. 1. After that, anything could happen with likely three names in play for the Sacramento Kings at No. 2.
1. Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton (Arizona, C, Freshman)
All signs point to the Phoenix Suns filling their hole at center with Deandre Ayton.
They won't nitpick over defensive concerns, particularly since he was stuck playing the 4 at Arizona, and Phoenix's coaching staff will have 243 pounds of muscle, quick feet and 7'5 ½" length to work with.
By adding Ayton to a core that's built around Devin Booker, the Suns would have two star-caliber scorers to feature.
He's already had a workout for Phoenix, likely his only one of the predraft process.
2. Sacramento Kings: Marvin Bagley III (Duke, PF/C, Freshman)
The Sacramento Kings are invested in De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic. And there is growing belief among rival teams that the Kings and Atlanta Hawks could pass on Luka Doncic.
It's easy to understand how a front office sees more upside in Marvin Bagley III, who's far more athletic and just averaged 21.0 points and 11.1 rebounds at Duke.
Bagley would fill a major need for the Kings, since their frontcourt features Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere.
3. Atlanta Hawks: Mohamed Bamba (Texas, C, Freshman)
The Hawks won't have the opportunity to work out Luka Doncic, who's still playing overseas. There is a good chance they'll favor one of the top NCAA bigs, including Jaren Jackson Jr. and Mohamed Bamba.
Both would work next to John Collins. But Bamba's 7'10" wingspan and potential as a shooter combine to fuel one of the most unique cases of upside in recent memory.
He's also bound to look more impressive during workouts with surprising outside touch.
Either way, Bamba helps Atlanta establish a new identity with his game-changing rim protection.
4. Memphis Grizzlies: Luka Doncic (Slovenia, PG/SG, 1999)
It wouldn't be surprising if Luka Doncic were No. 1 on the Memphis Grizzlies' board and they manage to get him at No. 4.
Not every team sees a future All-Star because of his lack of speed and explosiveness for a guard or wing. Those question marks won't bother Memphis with Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley and Mohamed Bamba off the board. Doncic would fit perfectly as a secondary playmaker alongside Mike Conley, who'd be a strong backcourt partner for his defense and penetration.
After winning EuroLeague MVP, Doncic is now playing in the Spanish ACB playoffs. Through five games, he's averaging 11.0 points, 5.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds.
5. Dallas Mavericks: Jaren Jackson Jr. (Michigan State, PF/C, Freshman)
The Dallas Mavericks will look at Michael Porter Jr. and Wendell Carter Jr. They'll opt for Jaren Jackson Jr., however, for his defensive potential, shooting and window to continue improving offensively.
He checks the boxes teams are looking for in bigs, being that he's interchangeable and switchable, plus he'll protect the rim and stretch the floor.
Tremendous physically, Jackson is also still 18 years old and ranked in the 98th percentile on post-ups, per Synergy Sports. He's elite with his core strengths, but he has enormous room to grow as an athlete and scorer.
6. Orlando Magic: Trae Young (Oklahoma, PG, Freshman)
After working out for the New York Knicks, Trae Young visited the Orlando Magic, who need a point guard more than any team in the league.
Unless they were sure there is another prospect who's clearly superior, Young makes too much sense.
He'd give Orlando's backcourt a needed playmaker and shot-maker. Just his ability to create will be valued.
The Magic could be intrigued by one of the remaining bigs, but adding another to the core of Aaron Gordon (restricted free agent), Jonathan Isaac and Nikola Vucevic could ultimately create a logjam that makes it difficult for each one to fully blossom.
7. Chicago Bulls: Michael Porter Jr. (Missouri, SF/PF, Freshman)
Michael Porter Jr. recently had his pro day, and though his medical information hasn't been revealed, there also hasn't been any indication that his back injury is still a problem.
Assuming they clear him, the Bulls could see Porter as a steal at No. 7. Before the season and surgery, many scouts had considered him the No. 1 overall favorite. As a 6'10 ¾" combo forward, Porter is a mismatch for his combination of size and perimeter skills in terms of shot-making off the catch or the dribble.
He'd give Chicago another scorer in the lineup at either forward spot next to Lauri Markkanen.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Nets): Wendell Carter Jr. (Duke, PF/C, Freshman)
Without knowing how the roster will look after free agency, the Cleveland Cavaliers won't be trying to plug any specific holes in the draft. They'll take the best player who falls to them, and in this case, it's Wendell Carter Jr.
Strong, long and skilled, Carter is highly effective around the basket as a scorer and rebounder, but he also has promising shooting mechanics and enough range, having made 19 of 46 three-pointers.
Long term, Carter could ultimately give the Cavaliers a major offensive upgrade over Tristan Thompson at center.
9. New York Knicks: Mikal Bridges (Villanova, SF, Junior)
Mikal Bridges worked out for the New York Knicks last week, and he should be high on their draft board for his defense and shooting.
Lonnie Walker IV and Zhaire Smith are sleeper names to watch for the Knicks, but Bridges is more proven than both, and he continues to improve. His efficient style of play would work well next to Tim Hardaway Jr., who's more potent but also volatile and erratic.
Scouts have raved about Bridges' low-maintenance approach and locker room presence.
For what it's worth, he has also had plenty of experience and success playing at Madison Square Garden, having averaged 22.2 points and 6.4 rebounds in five games there this season.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via Lakers): Lonnie Walker IV (Miami, SG, Freshman)
The Philadelphia 76ers could need shooters and wings with JJ Redick, Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova entering unrestricted free agency. Lonnie Walker IV makes sense as both a best-available-player candidate and fit whose athleticism and shot-making would be valued as a complement to Ben Simmons' ball-handling and Joel Embiid's post play.
Walker's numbers during the season weren't great, but the talent is easy to detect, and he should be better suited for a more open NBA than a college system that ranked outside the top 200 in tempo, per KenPom.com.
Miles Bridges and Kevin Knox could also earn consideration.
11. Charlotte Hornets: Miles Bridges (Michigan State, SF/PF, Sophomore)
The Hornets could be nearing a rebuild, which means they'll just be looking for the best available player and not a need. An explosive leaper and proven shot-maker, Bridges could be better suited for the pros, where he can play the 4 and exploit his quickness and shooting.
12. Los Angeles Clippers (via Pistons): Collin Sexton (Alabama, PG, Freshman)
The Clippers could use an offensive upgrade at point guard. A Sexton-Lou Williams backcourt would put constant pressure on defenses. And between Sexton and Patrick Beverley, L.A. would have two tough-minded defenders to alternate minutes.
13. Los Angeles Clippers: Robert Williams (Texas A&M, C, Sophomore)
The Clippers can plug Williams right in for DeAndre Jordan assuming he opts out and signs elsewhere. Similarly athletic and long, Williams is in the same mold of finisher, rebounder and shot-blocker.
14. Denver Nuggets: Kevin Knox (Kentucky, SF/PF, Freshman)
Will Barton and Richard Jefferson are unrestricted free agents, and Wilson Chandler has a player option for one more season. Knox gives Denver a scoring wing to eventually play between Gary Harris and Paul Millsap. With Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic and Millsap being the focal points of the offense, Knox would make sense for his ability to work off the ball.
15. Washington Wizards: Zhaire Smith (Texas Tech, SG/SF, Freshman)
The Wizards need a big, but they'll use free agency since no power forwards or centers are worth taking at No. 15. Smith, 19 years old, has become a trendy predraft name for his explosive leaping, defensive versatility, promising shooting stroke and room to improve as a creator.
16. Phoenix Suns (via Heat): Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Kentucky, PG, Freshman)
The Suns may look to move up using this pick and No. 31. Gilgeous-Alexander could be a target either way for his passing and defensive potential at point guard.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: Donte DiVincenzo (Villanova, SG, Sophomore)
The Bucks could use DiVincenzo's high activity level and offensive versatility from the shooting guard position. He's one of the top athletes in the draft but also a threatening playmaker and shooter, as well as a pesky defender.
18. San Antonio Spurs: Dzanan Musa (Bosnia and Herzegovina, SG/SF, 1999)
One of Europe's most productive young prospects, Musa just finished up in Europe, scoring 21 points in the Croatian League finals. He isn't a stud athlete, but his size, footwork, scoring instincts and competitiveness create an intriguing case for teams in the Nos. 15-30 range.
19. Atlanta Hawks (via Timberwolves): Jerome Robinson (Boston College, SG, Junior)
Despite not getting national recognition, scouts have picked up on Robinson, who averaged 22.6 points during ACC conference play this past season. He'd give the Hawks an athletic, well-rounded scorer who'd offer more firepower than Kent Bazemore.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Thunder): Kevin Huerter (Maryland, SF, Sophomore)
Huerter has been a hot name trending upward since the combine, and chances are, he's making more fans during workouts with his shooting. The Wolves made fewer threes than any NBA team in 2017-18 and could use Huerter's shot-making off the bench.
21. Utah Jazz: Elie Okobo (France, PG, 1997)
Okobo has been working out for teams in the United States following his breakout season in France's top league that included a potential needle-moving 44-point effort in late May. An exciting ball-screen playmaker and proven shot-maker from all over, Okobo is now a first-round name to watch for teams looking to upgrade their point guard position.
No. 22. Chicago Bulls (via Pelicans): Chandler Hutchison (Boise State, SF, Senior)
After drafting a freshman at No. 7, the Bulls could feel more comfortable taking an older player at No. 22. Hutchison gives them another scoring weapon who can play multiple positions. He has steal potential if his senior-season shooting development turns out to be legitimate.
No. 23. Indiana Pacers: Aaron Holiday (UCLA, PG, Junior)
The Pacers could use another guard to help or replace Darren Collison. Holiday has been one of the most consistent shooters from this year's field. Taking over for Lonzo Ball full-time, he averaged 20.3 points and 5.8 assists, though Indiana will want to emphasize ball security with the turnover-prone Holiday.
No. 24. Portland Trail Blazers: Troy Brown (Oregon, SG/SF, Freshman)
Still 18 years old, Brown didn't put it all together during his lone season at Oregon. But his potential two-way versatility is a major draw. Brown has wing size, point-forward facilitating skills and the ability to guard multiple positions. Shooting could be the swing skill that determines Brown's long-term value.
No. 25. Los Angeles Lakers (via Cavaliers): De'Anthony Melton (USC, PG/SG, Sophomore)
The Lakers need guard depth, and Melton could either play behind Lonzo Ball or alongside him. His jump shot looked smoother at the combine than it did in 2016-17, though it's his pressure defense L.A. could value most.
No. 26. Philadelphia 76ers: Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State, SF/PF, Junior)
Bates-Diop could play both forward spots for the 76ers, who need depth at the 3 and 4. He's older and doesn't explode, but the eye test approves of his terrific physical profile, scoring versatility and defensive potential.
No. 27. Boston Celtics: Grayson Allen (Duke, SG, Senior)
Even if Boston brings back Marcus Smart, it could still use another shooter in the backcourt. Allen made over 80 triples in three straight seasons, and he improved each one as a playmaker. His competitive nature could even be appealing to general manager Danny Ainge.
No. 28. Golden State Warriors: Khyri Thomas (Creighton, SG, Junior)
Golden State would be ideal for Thomas, who struggles to create. The Warriors would value his shooting, transition game and feisty perimeter defense.
No. 29. Brooklyn Nets (via Raptors): Jacob Evans (Cincinnati, SG/SF, Junior)
The Nets could value Evans' positional versatility as an interchangeable wing who'll playmake, shoot threes and defend. He's not an upside pick, but Evans checks boxes and brings admirable toughness.
No. 30. Atlanta Hawks (via Rockets): Melvin Frazier (Tulane, SF, Junior)
It wouldn't be shocking if another team is making this pick for the Hawks, who also have No. 3, No. 19 and No. 34. There will be front offices intrigued by Frazier's shooting and perimeter defense, even if he's limited offensively.
31. Phoenix Suns: Josh Okogie (George Tech, SG, Sophomore)
Okogie is going to draw first-round looks after a highly convincing showing at he NBA combine. His shot selection remains rusty, but Okogie's athleticism, scoring ability and potential to guard both backcourt positions hint at a future NBA player.
32. Memphis Grizzlies: Mitchell Robinson (USA, C, 1998)
Robinson plays high above the rim with power and length, though after sitting out the season, he is a dice roll for teams that won't be confident in assessing his skills or feel. Interviews will be key in terms of where he lands.
33. Dallas Mavericks: Gary Trent Jr. (Duke, SG, Freshman)
Trent is a tremendous shot-maker with NBA size. He doesn't defend or playmake well, so his margin for error as a scorer is slim.
34. Atlanta Hawks: Anfernee Simons (USA, PG, 1999)
Simons will get looks from teams in the 20s, but a strong field with more proven prospects allows him to slip to the Hawks at No. 34. He's a first-round talent for his athleticism, length and scoring ability, but he'll need time to work on his body and floor game.
35. Orlando Magic: Jalen Brunson (Villanova, PG, Junior)
The eye test doesn't love Brunson, but at some point, a team will have to take a chance on his skill level and intangibles. Regardless of what the Magic do at No. 6, they'll be enticed to continue adding guard depth.
36: New York Knicks: Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)
The Knicks just need talent, and Diallo represents the ultimate buy-low pick. He struggled at Kentucky, but a more up-and-down NBA should be better suited for one of the draft's top athletes.
37. Sacramento Kings: Moritz Wagner (Michigan, C, Junior)
Wagner will draw first-round looks for his jump shot alone. His defense is an issue, and Wagner won't score easily inside the arc. But for a center, his shooting could be enough.
38. Philadelphia 76ers (via Nets): Jevon Carter (West Virginia, PG, Senior)
Carter falls under the value-pick category for his floor. It seems likely he'll find a way to carve out a career as a defensive-minded backup. Scoring and athletic limitations suggest his ceiling is low, but it won't matter this late for a team that has six picks.
39. Philadelphia 76ers (via Knicks): Kevin Hervey (Texas Arlington, SF/PF, Senior)
Hervey had an eye-opening showing at the combine, drilling four threes during Friday's scrimmage. He has unique shot-making skills for a forward. Age, limited explosiveness and a knee injury history are the red flags.
40. Brooklyn Nets (via Lakers): Rodions Kurucs (Latvia, SF, 1998)
Kurucs has the NBA body and a smooth shooting stroke that pops under the NBA lens. He just doesn't have the resume or experience, having played mostly in Spain's second division.
41. Orlando Magic (via Hornets): Bruce Brown (Miami, SG, Sophomore)
Brown's scoring and shooting cause him to fall. However, he still offers an appealing mix of athleticism, playmaking and the ability to defend both guard spots.
42. Detroit Pistons: Devonte' Graham (Kansas, PG, Senior)
Graham is already 23 years old, but he's built a strong case around his pick-and-roll offense and shooting. He'll get his shot to be a backup guard at some point .
43. Denver Nuggets (via Clippers): Chimezie Metu (USC, PF/C, Junior)
Metu has the NBA body and a high skill level offensively, specifically as a scorer around the key with his post moves and mid-range touch. He'll need to pick up his rebounding motor and prove he can guard NBA centers.
44. Washington Wizards: Landry Shamet (Wichita State, PG/SG, Sophomore)
Shamet's case is built around backcourt versatility, shooting accuracy and high-IQ passing. He'll just have to find ways to compensate for limited blow-by burst and a lack of explosiveness around the rim.
45. Brooklyn Nets (via Bucks): Rawle Alkins (Arizona, SG, Sophomore)
Alkins didn't show notable improvement his sophomore season, but he also entered the lineup midseason after a foot injury. The Nets could see a versatile, physical defender and complementary scorer.
46. Houston Rockets (via Heat): Omari Spellman (Villanova, PF, Freshman)
Spellman needs to spend next season improving his body, but he's a fit in today's league for his shooting, having made 65 three-pointers at a 43.3 percent clip.
47. Los Angeles Lakers (via Nuggets): Jarred Vanderbilt (Kentucky, PF, Freshman)
Vanderbilt could be one of the top rebounders in the draft, but he doesn't have many scoring skills. He'll spend next year trying to develop them in the G League.
48. Minnesota Timberwolves: Malik Newman (Kansas, SG, Sophomore)
Newman reappeared on NBA radars with a breakout NCAA tournament, reminding scouts of his streaky scoring ability. He's a Dion Waiters type who'll be valued for his potential to catch fire off the bench.
49. San Antonio Spurs: Issuf Sanon (Ukraine, PG/SG, 1999)
Sanon generated buzz early in June at NBA Global Camp in Treviso. He's a crafty combo who initially put himself on the map after a strong U18 European Championships last summer.
50. Indiana Pacers: Shake Milton (SMU, PG/SG, Junior)
Milton has strong size, a consistent jumper and defensive potential. Limited creating ability and explosiveness are the concerns.
51. New Orleans Pelicans: Justin Jackson (Maryland, SF/PF, Sophomore)
Drafting Jackson means buying into what he showed as a freshman. A shoulder injury knocked him out for most of conference play in 2017-18, but his combo-forward body and shooting are worth looking into.
52. Utah Jazz: Trevon Duval (Duke, PG, Freshman)
Duval may be in for a long night after averaging just 13.8 points and 1.1 threes per 40 minutes. The Jazz could buy low on his athleticism and tools and hope to work with him on his perimeter skills.
53. Oklahoma City Thunder: Allonzo Trier (Arizona, SG, Junior)
Per 40 minutes, Trier's numbers were similar the last two seasons, but he was notably more efficient inside the arc as a junior. He inexplicably disappeared the final month for Arizona, but this late, Trier is a fine gamble for his three-level scoring ability.
54. Dallas Mavericks (via Blazers): Alize Johnson (Missouri State, PF, Senior)
It's worth trying to unlock Johnson's unique versatility. He's thin for a big and he isn't a high-level defender, but his rebounding, ball-handling and shooting potential set him apart.
55. Charlotte Hornets (via Cavaliers): Tony Carr (Penn State, PG/SG, Sophomore)
Carr's lack of athleticism is concerning, and he struggled mightily at the combine. His size, shot-making and production are the selling points.
56. Philadelphia 76ers: Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (Kansas, SG, Senior)
The 76ers could add one of the draft's top shooters in the second round. Mykhailiuk lacks strength and an advanced off-the-dribble game, but he'll have a chance to stick as a shot-making specialist.
57. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Celtics): Kostas Antetokounmpo (Dayton, SF/PF, Freshman)
The Thunder can take a flier on Antetokounmpo, whose skill level is limited. He'll try to carve out a role as a defensive specialist for his switchability and disruptive length.
58. Denver Nuggets (via Warriors): Kenrich Williams (TCU, SF, Senior)
Williams has NBA size, a clean shooting stroke and high-IQ passing skills. Whether he's a strong enough athlete and creator are the major question marks.
59. Phoenix Suns (via Raptors): Devon Hall (Virginia, SG, Senior)
Hall was a top performer at the Portsmouth Invitational, helping him to earn an invite to the combine. Athletic ability isn't a strength, but his shooting, passing and defense suggest role player potential.
60. Philadelphia 76ers (via Rockets): Ray Spalding (Louisville, C, Junior)
Spalding's role would call for him to bring energy and activity around the basket. Showing he can make mid-range shots would go a long way for his chances of sticking.
Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports unless otherwise noted.