It's NBA draft week. And that means an avalanche of mock drafts is bearing down on you.
Who will go No. 1 come Thursday? Deandre Ayton? Luka Doncic? Or, will the Phoenix Suns throw us all a curveball?
"Several league sources told me they anticipate Suns general manager Ryan McDonough to probe a [Kawhi] Leonard deal using the No. 1 pick," The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor wrote. "Phoenix explored [Kyrie] Irving trades last summer but was reluctant to deal Josh Jackson, whom they selected with the fourth overall pick. Leonard is better than Irving, so perhaps it's time for the Suns to strike now, when they're armed with assets and an opportunity to trade for a transcendent player."
A blockbuster trade like that would most certainly change the calculus in any mock draft. Would the San Antonio Spurs be as intent on Ayton as the Suns seem to have been over the last several weeks? Or, would Doncic shoot back up to the top?
These are the things that make forecasting the draft so difficult. Everything can change in an instant. And changes at the top can start a domino effect through the rest of the picks. With nothing concrete, though, we have to proceed on the assumption that Phoenix will indeed make the first pick.
|2018 NBA Draft|
|1||Phoenix Suns||Deandre Ayton (Arizona, C, Freshman, 7'0")||Are the Suns betting on a big-man resurgence?|
|2||Sacramento Kings||Mohamed Bamba (Texas, C, Freshman, 7'0")||Bamba has a 7'10" wingspan and is showing flashes of three-point shooting. Don't be surprised if things get weird early.|
|3||Atlanta Hawks||Marvin Bagley III (Duke, F/C, Freshman, 6'11")||Bagley has big-man size with legitimate perimeter skills. Imagine 4/5 pick-and-rolls with Bagley and John Collins.|
|4||Memphis Grizzlies||Luka Doncic (Slovenia/Real Madrid, G/F, 19, 6'8")||Doncic's age, size and production in the Euroleague suggest he's this year's safest pick. His recent slide is confusing.|
|5||Dallas Mavericks||Jaren Jackson Jr. (Michigan State, C/PF, Freshman, 6'11")||Jackson was second in the NCAA and first among freshmen in box plus/minus this season. Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns are the only freshmen since 2010 to post better BPMs.|
|6||Orlando Magic||Trae Young (Oklahoma, PG, Freshman, 6'2")||Young posted the best offensive box plus/minus for a freshman in Sports Reference's entire database (dates back to 2010). And second-place Lonzo Ball and D'Angelo Russell aren't close.|
|7||Chicago Bulls||Wendell Carter (Duke, C/PF, Freshman, 6'10")||A statistical gem, Carter was second to Jackson in freshman BPM this season. He averaged 20.2 points, 13.5 rebounds, 3.1 blocks, 3.0 assists and 1.2 steals per 40 minutes.|
|8||Cleveland Cavaliers||Michael Porter Jr. (Missouri, F, Freshman, 6'10")||The questions about Porter's health could cause him to slip a bit. His raw talent could still make him a swing-for-the-fences pick for the possibly LeBron James-less Cavaliers.|
|9||New York Knicks||Kevin Knox (Kentucky, F, Freshman, 6'9")||Knox is rising in mock drafts all over the internet. He doesn't even turn 19 till August, and he's coming off a frehsman campaign in which he averaged nearly 20 points per 40 minutes.|
|10||Philadelphia 76ers||Mikal Bridges (Villanova, F/G, Junior, 6'7")||Bridges played his college ball in Villanova. His mother works for the 76ers. This seems like a match made in heaven.|
|11||Charlotte Hornets||Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Kentucky, G, Freshman, 6'6")||This might look like a double-down on Malik Monk, but he and Gilgeous-Alexander should be able to play together in the increasingly position-less NBA.|
|12||Los Angeles Clippers||Robert Williams (Texas A&M, C/PF, Sophomore, 6'10")||Williams has the potential to be a DeAndre Jordan facsimile, which would be pretty nice for the Clippers if the latter leaves in free agency.|
|13||Los Angeles Clippers||Collin Sexton (Alabama, PG, Freshman, 6'2")||Patrick Beverley and Milos Teodosic are both solid veteran point guards, but the Clippers may be looking for a 1 of the future in the extended wake of Chris Paul's departure.|
|14||Denver Nuggets||Miles Bridges (Michigan State, F, Sophomore, 6'7")||This would be a bit of a slide for Bridges, but a nice fit if he does wind up here. The Nuggets could use some wing depth, and Bridges might even start some games if Wilson Chandler leaves.|
|15||Washington Wizards||Zhaire Smith (Texas Tech, G/F, Freshman, 6'5")||Perhaps the most explosive player in the draft, Smith is long enough to log minutes at the 3 alongside John Wall and Bradley Beal.|
|16||Phoenix Suns||Lonnie Walker (Miami, G, Freshman, 6'4")||If the Suns go big with the top pick, a look at a guard wouldn't be surprising here.|
|17||Milwaukee Bucks||Mitchell Robinson (N/A, C, 20, 7'1")||The Bucks have shown over the years that they aren't averse to swinging for the fences in the draft.|
|18||San Antonio Spurs||Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State, F, Senior, 6'7")||Regardless of whether Kawhi Leonard is traded, the Spurs could use more players built for the position-less era.|
|19||Atlanta Hawks||Anfernee Simons (IMG Academy, G, 19, 6'4")||The relationship between the Hawks and Dennis Schroder appears far from perfect, so shots at another potential lead guard could be in the works.|
|20||Minnesota Timberwolves||Kevin Huerter (Maryland, G/F, Sophomore, 6'7")||Huerter is one of this class' most intriguing shooters. And the Timberwolves ranked 19th in three-point percentage and dead last in threes made.|
|21||Utah Jazz||Donte DiVincenzo (Villanova, G, Junior, 6'5")||DiVincenzo could log minutes at either the 1 or the 2 for the Jazz, giving them more shooting for a second unit that struggled to score at times last season.|
|22||Chicago Bulls||Troy Brown (Oregon, G/F, Freshman, 6'7")||If Brown figures out how to shoot, this could be one of the steals of the draft. The playmaking is already very intriguing.|
|23||Indiana Pacers||Jacob Evans (Cincinnati, G/F, Junior, 6'6")||Another guard/forward who can do a little bit of everything, Evans could play next to Victor Oladipo and make the Pacers backcourt a little bigger.|
|24||Portland Trail Blazers||Chandler Hutchison (Boise State, G/F, Senior, 6'7")||Hutchison's length and shooting are tailor-made for today's NBA, but he didn't break out till later in his college career. That's generally a red flag.|
|25||Los Angeles Lakers||De'Anthony Melton (USC, G, Sophomore, 6'3")||Melton is one of the top defenders in this draft. A year out of the game hurt his stock.|
|26||Philadelphia 76ers||Dzanan Musa (Bosnia/KK Cedevita Zagreb, F, 19, 6'9")||Musa is a 6'9" combo forward who's scoring at a very high level in the Adriatic League. It's not the ACB, where Doncic is, but it's still a higher level than the NCAA.|
|27||Boston Celtics||Khyri Thomas (Creighton, G, Junior, 6'3")||A Khyri backing up a Kyrie (Irving)? This has to happen.|
|28||Golden State Warriors||Elie Okobo (France/Pau-Orthez, G, 20, 6'2")||There's some buzz building around Okobo in recent days, but he's still more of a question mark than most of the players ahead of him here.|
|29||Brooklyn Nets||Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky, G, Freshman, 6'5")||Had Diallo stayed in the draft last year, he likely would've gone higher. An up-and-down campaign at Kentucky hurt his stock, but he's still a high-risk, high-reward option the Nets might be able to afford.|
|30||Atlanta Hawks||Aaron Holiday (UCLA, PG, Junior, 6'1")||Holiday was incredibly productive at UCLA. He averaged 20.3 points this season and shot 42.2 percent from three over his three years in college. But players his size are getting harder and harder to fit into today's NBA.|
|Picks by Andy Bailey|
Young may be this class' biggest boom-or-bust prospect. The Stephen Curry comparisons were probably unfair, but it's hard not to see a 20-point scorer when you watch film of him from early in the season.
His late slide and defense might worry teams, though. He shot 39.3 percent from the field and 33.5 percent from three over his last 21 games. Those numbers dropped to 35.0 and 26.2 in his last nine games.
Sure, he didn't have a ton of help at Oklahoma, but that's a fairly protracted slide against competition that comes nowhere near the NBA.
With more talent to divert some attention from him, will he shoot more like the player who averaged 28.7 points on 48.5 percent shooting in OU's first 11 games?
Statistically speaking, Carter is one of the most intriguing players in the 2018 draft. According to Nylon Calculus contributor Jacob Goldstein's stats-only draft projections, Carter trails only Doncic in projected wins added in the player's first five seasons.
When you look at his raw numbers, it's not hard to see why.
Carter does a little bit of everything. He averaged 20.2 points, 13.5 rebounds, 3.1 blocks, 3.0 assists and 1.2 steals per 40 minutes while shooting 41.3 percent from three. And it might be the passing that's most intriguing there.
That skill has been increasingly important for bigs over the last few years. For post players to survive in today's NBA, they almost have to be able to find open shooters and hit them on time and on target.
Carter has the potential to be able to protect the rim, distribute and hit threes at the next level. That almost sounds like the prototype for a center in 2018.
Knox is on the rise, which probably shouldn't be too surprising. He's still 18 years old and has the size (6'9" with a 7'0" wingspan) and skill set lots of teams covet right now.
Players who can defend all over the floor, shoot and create for others are all the rage right now. And front offices seem to think Knox fits that mold.
"We've had Knox sliding to the Nos. 12-15 range the past few months after an up-and-down freshman season," ESPN.com's Jonathan Givony wrote. "NBA teams drafting in that range say they don't anticipate him being there, as there seems to be a significant market for his services in the Nos. 7-11 range."