Final 2018 NBA Draft Big Board: Who Will Take Our Top Prospect Luka Doncic?June 20, 2018
Final 2018 NBA Draft Big Board: Who Will Take Our Top Prospect Luka Doncic?
Bleacher Report's final big board is set, one day before the 2018 NBA draft.
After conversing with scouts and reviewing film, we've moved some key players. And there's a last-minute change to our top three that's unlikely to mirror our mock draft.
The difference between the top of the board and No. 9 is as close as it's been in years. There is also little separating the middle of the first round from picks in the 20s and early 30s.
These rankings are based on personal evaluation of prospects in a vacuum. They are not predictions for how Thursday's draft will play out.
50. Arnoldas Kulboka (Lithuania, SF, 1998)
Kulboka is late-round flier option for his mix of size (6'10") and three-point shooting (.374 across all competitions last season). There are major questions about whether he can hold his own physically, both inside the arc and defensively.
49. Alize Johnson (Missouri State, PF, Senior)
Late in the second round, Johnson's unique versatility will be intriguing. He's not a promising defender. He is, however, appealing for his rebounding prowess, ability to handle the ball on the break and make open threes.
48. Kenrich Williams (TCU, SF, Senior)
Williams isn't a great athlete or scorer, and still, he comes off as a sleeper, especially if he goes to a good team. His shooting, passing and defensive IQ could represent glue between a lineup's star players.
47. Rawle Alkins (Arizona, SG, Sophomore)
A strong, physical guard, Alkins brings defensive toughness and the ability to make shots from all three levels. He'll need to sharpen his off-the-dribble game and three-point shooting (.365 career mark) to offer enough offensively in the half court.
46. Landry Shamet (Wichita State, PG/SG, Sophomore)
One of the country's top shooters, Shamet also improved his playmaking as a sophomore. He lacks blow-by burst and finishing explosion, but his combo-guard versatility, jumper and passing IQ will give him a chance to stick as a backup.
45. Omari Spellman (Villanova, PF/C, Freshman)
Spellman's wide frame (6'9", 253 lbs), long arms (7'2" wingspan) and shooting stroke make him worth drafting. He won't be playable until he improves his conditioning and sees more reps, likely in the G League.
44. Chimezie Metu (USC, PF/C, Junior)
Metu has an NBA body (6'10", 219 lbs) and an impressive skill level around the key. His rebounding and rim protection aren't strong enough, though, and his post game won't warrant featured touches. He needs a three-ball.
43. Rodions Kurucs (Latvia, SF/PF, 1998)
A hit-or-miss flier worth taking in the second round, Kurucs has the NBA tools, athleticism and a good-looking shot. He hasn't played much in Spain's first league (or in general), though, creating a tough scouting evaluation.
42. Malik Newman (Kansas, SG, Sophomore)
Newman isn't the lead point guard many once thought he'd be, but his streaky scoring ability could work in a bench role against second units. He has some Dion Waiters-type potential, which can hold value to the right team.
41. Devonte' Graham (Kansas, PG, Senior)
Graham can follow in the footprints of Shabazz Napier, who's carved out a role as a backup ball-handler and is valued for his pick-and-roll play and shot-making.
40. Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)
The draft's ultimate buy-low pick, Diallo needs his skill to finally catch his athleticism, which is as explosive as any prospect's.
39. Gary Trent Jr. (Duke, SG, Freshman)
Trent doesn't offer creativity or versatility, which reduces his margin for error. He'll need his smooth three-point shooting (.402) to carry him.
38. Moritz Wagner (Michigan, PF/C, Junior)
Wagner shot at least 39 percent from three in consecutive seasons, giving teams a reason to buy his potential to immediately stretch the floor. They shouldn't count on him defensively for long stretches, though.
37. Bruce Brown (Miami, SG, Sophomore)
A foot injury ended Brown's season early and prevented him from showing teams he improved as a shooter, which he needs to do based on his limitations as a shot-creator. He's worth looking at in the late 20s or 30s for his ability to run pick-and-rolls, slash and defend both guard spots.
36. Kevin Hervey (Texas-Arlington, SF/PF, Senior)
Hervey has come back from a torn ACL in each knee to compete for looks in the late 20s and second round. He can't explode to the basket, but his shot-making and scoring instincts are next-level.
35. Jevon Carter (West Virginia, PG, Senior)
Carter will make his mark with pressure defense and a decent floor game while running the offense. He won't look to score unless he's given an opening, so pairing him with a dynamic 2-guard would make sense.
34. Jalen Brunson (Villanova, PG, Junior)
In the early 30s, it's not worth nitpicking Brunson's lack of athleticism. His college success, skill level as a shot-maker and passer and overall demeanor are too impressive. He'll find a way to stick as a backup.
33. Melvin Frazier (Tulane, SF, Junior)
Frazier's improved shooting (.556 from the field last season) and defensive versatility put him on the map. And he capitalized once there, particularly at the combine. He'll need the right fit to thrive alongside more threatening scorers and playmakers, though.
32. Anfernee Simons (USA, SG, 1999)
The G League will be calling Simons' name next year. Coming straight from high school, he'll need to bulk up his 183-pound frame and become familiar with scoring against grown men before he faces off against NBA shooting guards.
31. Mitchell Robinson (USA, C, 1998)
Upon entering the league, Robinson would already be one of its most athletic centers. But can he play? He's an upside pick for his explosiveness around the rim and potential to add skills. He's also risky, having passed on college and the combine and never shown if he can score against set defenses or read the game.
30. Grayson Allen (Duke, SG, Senior)
Allen has flaws. Shot-making isn't one, though. Playoff teams in the late first round could value his ability to spot up and shoot off screens, as well as attack a closeout and set up a teammate.
29. Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State, SF/PF, Junior)
Bates-Diop remains intriguing for his improved three-ball (.359 last year), scoring ability around the elbows and potential to guard both forward spots. Teams will have to hope his lack of explosiveness and up-and-down motor don't hold him back.
28. Khyri Thomas (Creighton, SG, Junior)
Thomas needs to land on a team with which he can play to his strengths as a spot-up shooter, transition weapon and perimeter defender. He's undersized (6'4", 199 lbs) for an off-guard who doesn't create and struggles in pick-and-roll situations.
27. Jacob Evans (Cincinnati, SG/SF, Junior)
His stats weren't overwhelming, but the NBA scouting microscope sees a fit with Evans' shooting, secondary playmaking and defensive versatility. He doesn't specialize in any area, though. Instead, he'll give teams a little of everything at both ends while playing tough, two-way ball.
26. Elie Okobo (France, PG, 1997)
Okobo doesn't wow with explosiveness. Instead, he buries defenses as a shot-maker from the second and third levels, and he uses ball screens to create scoring chances, both for himself and teammates.
25. Dzanan Musa (Bosnia and Herzegovina, SG/SF, 1999)
Musa was a top young scorer in the Adriatic and Croatian Leagues, something he's been in every setting since 2014. His defensive outlook is bleak. His offensive potential points to that of a scoring specialist.
24. Troy Brown (Oregon, SG/SF, Freshman)
Brown's two-way versatility is a major selling point, even though he'll enter the league without a speciality. A first-round team will take its chance on developing the 18-year-old's shooting and playmaking while he guards three positions.
23. De'Anthony Melton (USC, PG/SG, Sophomore)
Melton's game doesn't scream upside, but there is an obvious role waiting for him as a pressure defender and passer. A team will get a steal if it turns out his new-look jumper, which showed up at the combine, becomes a regular weapon.
22. Chandler Hutchison (Boise State, SF, Senior)
Hutchison entered the season a jump shot away and then made a career-best 1.5 threes per game. He's a next-level athlete and slasher who'll need to show his shooting improvement was legitimate, particularly since he doesn't have much of a mid-range scoring arsenal.
21. Josh Okogie (Georgia Tech, SG, Sophomore)
An athletic scorer and improving shooter (.453 from the field last season), Okogie changed minds at the combine while punishing defenses during scrimmages. He also has a chance to be a plus defender thanks to his quickness and unique length (7'0" wingspan).
20. Aaron Holiday (UCLA, PG, Junior)
Though he turns 22 years old in September, Holiday could sneak into the teens. He's generated interest with his consistent three-point shooting (.422 career), improved playmaking and defensive toughness.
19. Donte DiVincenzo (Villanova, SG, Sophomore)
Give him a role that plays to his strengths, and DiVincenzo can contribute right away as a secondary playmaker, shot-maker and pesky defender. He's a high-floor, low-ceiling prospect who'll impact games with his athleticism, versatility and energy.
18. Robert Williams (Texas A&M, C, Sophomore)
Williams' identity is clear, which has its pros and cons. On the plus side, he's one of the draft's top athletes and lob catchers, and he'll block shots and thrive alongside a quality passing point guard. On the downside, his skill level is limited, and it doesn't appear he'll ever be a scoring or shooting threat.
17. Collin Sexton (Alabama, PG/SG, Freshman)
We're not convinced Sexton is the guard coaches want running their offense. But there is no doubt he'll put pressure on opponents with his downhill attacking, streak shooting and competitive nature.
16. Lonnie Walker (Miami, SG, Freshman)
Walker could receive looks as high as No. 9 from the New York Knicks for his upside, even though his skills and feel appeared suspect last season. He's an explosive athlete and convincing shooter who'll use the next few years to improve on the ball as a shot-creator and secondary playmaker.
15. Miles Bridges (Michigan State, SF/PF, Sophomore)
Bridges will benefit from moving to power forward, where he can exploit his explosiveness and shot-making and avoid being guarded by wings around the perimeter.
14. Kevin Huerter (Maryland, SF, Sophomore)
Huerter will be out two months after having hand surgery. It doesn't affect his evaluation, though. At 6'7", he's one of the draft's top snipers and is capable of creating for teammates and separating into pull-ups and step backs.
13. Jerome Robinson (Boston College, SG, Junior)
Robinson's 24.3 points per game against the ACC would have received more recognition if Boston College weren't lousy. He could stand to improve his defense and shot selection, but Robinson is highly skilled at scoring out of pick-and-rolls or isolations by shooting off the dribble or slicing to the rack. He's a microwave scorer.
12. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Kentucky, PG, Freshman)
Gilgeous-Alexander has fans across the league for his size (6'6", 180 lbs), length (6'11 ½" wingspan) and versatility—strengths not typically associated with point guards. He needs to improve as a shooter, particularly since he lacks explosion, but Gilgeous-Alexander is a fine facilitator and crafty scorer who can guard both 1s and 2s.
11. Kevin Knox (Kentucky, SF/PF, Freshman)
Knox led Kentucky in scoring (15.6 ppg) at 18 years old by working off the ball as a spot-up shooter who can attack closeouts, toss up floaters and pull up into jumpers. He'll need to show NBA coaches he can defend and rebound his position, though.
10. Zhaire Smith (Texas Tech, SG/SF, Freshman)
Zhaire Smith should be rising up draft boards during workouts with his explosive leaping, and improved handles and jump shot.
He just turned 19 years old in June, but he could also be a sneaky rookie because of his potential to make an impact with his athleticism, defense and set three-ball.
With Smith, there is a ton of natural ability to bet on, plus a lengthy window for him to sharpen his off-the-dribble game and shooting. His landing on a winning team with stars and veterans will only expedite his development.
9. Michael Porter Jr. (Missouri, SF/PF, Freshman)
It's not often you hear a prospect could go No. 2 or slip to No. 9. Michael Porter Jr. worried some with a recent report of back spasms, only to release his medicals without any apparent red flags.
He'd entered the season a No. 1 overall candidate for his mix of 6'10 ¾" size and perimeter shot-making skills, a combination that fuels mismatch potential from either forward position. But he's played just 53 unimpressive minutes since.
Can he get teammates involved, slide and defend or guard physical bigs around the basket? Is his body built to last? There are a lot of questions with Porter, though talent isn't one.
He could wind up being the draft's worst reach or its best buy-low pick.
8. Mikal Bridges (Villanova, SF, Junior)
Mikal Bridges made a big jump into the top 10 midway through the season and never turned back. Even if it's difficult to see upside in a 21-year-old, his floor remains attractive for its reflection of a three-and-D wing and quality locker room presence.
Athletic and long (6'9 ½" wingspan), Bridges shot 43.5 percent from behind the arc while averaging 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks and guarding four positions.
And though not known for his scoring creativity, he raised his average to 17.7 points from 9.8 per game, flashing signs of one-dribble pull-ups and moves out of the post. He's worth a top-10 pick, not only for his floor, but also the chance he blooms late like Victor Oladipo.
7. Wendell Carter Jr. (Duke, C, Freshman)
Already equipped with a powerful, long NBA body (6'10", 251 lbs), Wendell Carter Jr. enters the league with a tremendous skill level and feel for the game.
He's advanced in the post, both with his footwork and passing. And when set, Carter shows shooting touch from the mid-range out to the arc.
His rebounding, shot blocking and finishing success point to a physical, imposing presence around the basket. But if he can continue building on his perimeter game—specifically his jump shot and defensive quickness—Carter could be the next Al Horford and one of the top five players from this class.
6. Marvin Bagley III (Duke, PF/C, Freshman)
Marvin Bagley III should step right into the league and make athletic plays that result in easy baskets and second-chance points.
Loaded with bounce, a quick second jump and a slippery back in the post, Bagley features activity and production in the paint that should carry over fast.
The rest of his game could take time. Bagley relies on instincts and explosiveness rather than skill to score. And after he shot 62.7 percent from the free-throw line, it's reasonable to expect shooting inconsistency.
Bagley also struggled to make defensive reads at Duke, an issue he's unlikely to clear up soon.
However, he's still a double-double threat at baseline, even without the polish. And Bagley has flashed enough potential versatility with his face-up game, hooks and jump shot to warrant this spot.
5. Trae Young (Oklahoma, PG, Freshman)
The nation's leading scorer (27.4 ppg) could wind up being valued most for his passing in the NBA. We're buying into Trae Young's ability to create shots for teammates in transition, the pick-and-roll game and isolation.
He'll be difficult to stay in front of, and once he has space to dance and manipulate, he shows terrific vision and ability when dishing on the move with either hand.
Young's shot-making is the real deal as well. Regardless of how bright his green light was at Oklahoma, he still buried 118 threes and showed touch with his floater.
Concerns over his defense could have also been overblown, given how much energy he had to exert offensively without anyone else in the lineup capable of creating.
4. Mohamed Bamba (Texas, C, Freshman)
Mohamed Bamba's potential to impact a franchise with elite rim protection earns him a top-10 spot. Nobody in the league can match his 7'10" wingspan, which also translates to easy baskets.
But the flashes of skill could take Bamba's game to unique heights—particularly his jump shot. He did make 14 threes as a freshman, and though it's tough to fully buy into the workout videos his camp has released over the past month, Bamba has clearly been putting work into his mechanics, which look fluid and encouraging, even if he's shooting while uncontested.
The term "unicorn" is used to describe a type of NBA player the game has never seen. And Bamba has the chance to be one of them. The only question scouts have raised is if he has the strength, toughness and motor to fully make his mark inside the paint.
3. Deandre Ayton (Arizona, C, Freshman)
The draft's favorite to go No. 1 finishes No. 3 on Bleacher Report's big board.
There is no doubt Deandre Ayton will score and rebound at high levels. The question is whether he'll be a stats-over-wins player.
He wasn't a convincing defender at Arizona, and though he's skilled offensively, his jump shot and ability to face up and use the dribble weren't strengths.
Still, he has the chance to be one of the league's most overpowering bigs around the basket who can also shake-and-bake in the post. Once he becomes more of an every-game shooting threat from the short corners, elbows and three-point line, Ayton could emerge as a volume-scoring center.
2. Jaren Jackson Jr. (Michigan State, PF/C, Freshman)
Jaren Jackson Jr. checks so many boxes on the NBA's modern-day big man card.
Compared to Ayton, Jackson made over three times as many three-pointers and blocked 40 more shots in 408 fewer minutes. And Jackson is still 18 years old with 6'11 ¼" size, a 236-pound frame, a 7'5 ¼" wingspan and quick enough feet to switch defensively around the perimeter.
He isn't as sharp as Ayton with scoring inside the arc, but he ranked in the 98th percentile in post-ups, per Synergy Sports, and showed more flashes of attacking closeouts. He'll only be 21 years old after three full NBA seasons. We'll bet on his foundation and enormous window to expand his offensive game.
1. Luka Doncic (Slovenia, PG/SG, 1999)
Luka Doncic finishes atop our big board, even though it's unlikely he'll go first in the draft.
He's still going strong overseas, coming off a 20-point game over the weekend in the Spanish ACB. There is simply too much to like about his track record, NBA-friendly versatility and competitiveness. And while there is a good chance Ayton will average more points per game, Doncic's impact could be greater.
He'll fit in with whatever team drafts him—whether it's at point guard, shooting guard or the wing. The safest pick in the draft, since we've already seen him beat up on pros during EuroBasket and in the EuroLeague, Doncic also has star-caliber upside for his 6'8" size, elite passing, crafty scoring and effortless shooting stroke.