2018 NBA Mock Draft: Predictions, Storylines Surrounding 1st-Round Prospects

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJune 17, 2018

MADRID, SPAIN - JUNE 15: Luka Doncic, #7 guard of Real Madrid during the Liga Endesa game between Real Madrid and Kirolbet Baskonia at Wizink Center on June 15, 2018 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Sonia Canada/Getty Images)
Sonia Canada/Getty Images

As the time before Thursday's 2018 NBA draft dwindles, the noise surrounding each pick gets louder.

Outside of the Phoenix Suns, who should select Deandre Ayton with the No. 1 overall pick barring a late change of heart, the decision-making processes of the teams in the top 10 haven't concluded.

The franchises beneath the Suns in the selection order will be forced to choose the best player available based on their own criteria, which could lead to some unexpected selections.

The prospects are also under the microscope as Thursday inches closer, as their health and the intricacies of their respective skill sets are broken down by each of the 30 teams.


2018 1st-Round NBA Mock Draft

1. Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona

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

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

4. Memphis Grizzlies: Luka Doncic, SG, Real Madrid

5. Dallas Mavericks: Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas

6. Orlando Magic: Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

7. Chicago Bulls: Wendell Carter, PF/C, Duke

8. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Brooklyn): Michael Porter, SF, Missouri

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

10. Philadelphia 76ers (from Los Angeles Lakers): Lonnie Walker, SG, Miami

11. Charlotte Hornets: Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama

12. Los Angeles Clippers (from Detroit): Kevin Knox, SF/PF. Kentucky

13. Los Angeles Clippers: Miles Bridges, SF/PF, Michigan State

14. Denver Nuggets: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

15. Washington Wizards: Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech 

16. Phoenix Suns (from Miami): Troy Brown, SG, Oregon

17. Milwaukee Bucks: Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M 

18. San Antonio Spurs: Jerome Robinson, SG, Boston College

19. Atlanta Hawks (from Minnesota): Dzanan Musa, SF, Bosnia and Herzegovina

20. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Oklahoma City): Elie Okobo, PG, France

21. Utah Jazz: Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

22. Chicago Bulls (from New Orleans): Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland

23. Indiana Pacers: Chandler Hutchison, SF, Boise State

24. Portland Trailblazers: Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State

25. Los Angeles Lakers (from Cleveland): De'Anthony Melton, SG/PG. USC

26. Philadelphia 76ers: Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova

27. Boston Celtics: Jacob Evans, SF, Cincinnati

28. Golden State Warriors: Josh Okogie, SG, Georgia Tech 

29. Brooklyn Nets (from Toronto): Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton

30. Atlanta Hawks (from Houston): Grayson Allen, SG. Duke


Storylines Surrounding 1st-Round Prospects

How Much of a Concern Will Porter's Health Be? 

Michael Porter's health appears to be the biggest red flag any of the players projected to go in the top 10 have.

There's limited tape on Porter from his time at Missouri because he missed most of his freshman season with a back injury.

Porter's back recently became a storyline again, as he cancelled his second Pro Day scheduled for Friday because of hip spasms, per Yahoo's Shams Charania:

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

Sources: NBA Draft lottery teams were informed Wednesday that Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr., a projected high-lottery draft pick, canceled second Pro Day workout Friday because of hip spasms and would undergo tests.

Even if some teams in the lottery picks see Porter's health as a major knock, there still could be one outfit willing to take a risk on him.

While it's more realistic to see Porter selected anywhere between No. 5 and No. 15, he could land as high as No. 2 with the Sacramento Kings or the Memphis Grizzlies could take the one-and-done player at No. 4, as both teams are seriously considering him, per USA Today's Sam Amick:

Sam Amick @sam_amick

The Kings aren’t the only top five team wrestling with the Michael Porter Jr. question: I’m told the Grizzlies are still seriously considering him at No. 4 - health concerns and all - after today’s medical display for lottery teams. Like Sacto, trading down is a possibility too.

If the Kings and Grizzlies believe he fits their respective systems, Porter will be off the board for teams like the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers, who are hoping he falls to No. 7 or No. 8.

Porter's selection by either the Kings or the Grizzlies would force a projected top-five prospect to slide down the draft board, which could allow a team to swoop in and get a steal.


Will Doncic Be Selected at No. 2 or Drop?

When the draft process started to heat up, Luka Doncic looked like he would be in contention for the No. 1 pick alongside Deandre Ayton.

In the months that followed, Ayton established himself as the favorite to go to the Suns with the first overall selection, while Doncic's realm of selection varies.

With the Kings looking at Porter, Marvin Bagley III, Jaren Jackson Jr. and a few others as the best possible option at No. 2, Doncic could end up out of the picture.

Lefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press

Sacramento could value college talent over Doncic, who won the Euroleague MVP with Real Madrid this season, which would lead to teams underneath the No. 2 pick lining up for the Slovenian.

Memphis looks like an ideal landing spot for Doncic, who shouldn't last past the No. 4 selection—even if the Grizzlies trade out.

The 19-year-old is one of the top scorers in the draft class, and if he falls past the No. 2 pick, there could be a wave of suitors calling the Atlanta Hawks or the Grizzlies for a trade in an attempt to snag him.

There's still plenty of time before the draft for trade possibilities to come into view, but it's not out of the question if Doncic drops.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.