2018 NBA Mock Draft: Predictions for Luka Doncic and 1st-Round Prospects

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 20, 2018

Slovenia's Luka Doncic, center, celebrates with teammates during their Eurobasket European Basketball Championship quarter final match against Latvia, in Istanbul, Tuesday, Sept. 12. 2017. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Lefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press

This still qualifies as the calm before the storm that is the 2018 NBA draft.

But the way the rumor mill is moving, it feels like the Association's trade dam could burst at any minute.

Blockbuster swaps or not, the hoops landscape is getting ready to shift. The league is set to welcome 60 budding ballers into its ranks Thursday night, and some of these prospects will change their franchise's fortunes.

Let's predict what will happen for the draft's first round and take a closer look at what might be awaiting three of the top prospects.


2018 NBA Mock Draft

1. Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona

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

3. Atlanta Hawks: Luka Doncic, SG, Slovenia

4. Memphis Grizzlies: Jaren Jackson Jr., PF/C, Michigan State

5. Dallas Mavericks: Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas

6. Orlando Magic: Michael Porter Jr., SF/PF, Missouri

7. Chicago Bulls: Wendell Carter, C, Duke

8. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Nets): Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

9. New York Knicks: Kevin Knox, SF, Kentucky

10. Philadelphia 76ers: Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova

11. Charlotte Hornets: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

12. Los Angeles Clippers (via Pistons): Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama

13. Los Angeles Clippers: Robert Williams, C, Texas A&M

14. Denver Nuggets: Lonnie Walker, SG, Miami

15. Washington Wizards: Miles Bridges, SF/PF, Michigan State

16. Phoenix Suns (via Heat): Zhaire Smith, SF, Texas Tech

17. Milwaukee Bucks: Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

18. San Antonio Spurs: Kevin HuerterSG, Maryland

19. Atlanta Hawks (via Timberwolves): Troy Brown, SF, Oregon

20. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Thunder): Jerome Robinson, PG/SG, Boston College

21. Utah Jazz: Keita Bates-Diop, SF/PF, Ohio State

22. Chicago Bulls (via Pelicans): Chandler Hutchison, SF, Boise State

23. Indiana Pacers: Jacob Evans, SF, Cincinnati

24. Portland Trail Blazers: Josh Okogie, SG, Georgia Tech

25. Los Angeles Lakers (via Cavs): Donte DiVincenzoSG, Villanova

26. Philadelphia 76ers: Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton

27. Boston Celtics: De'Anthony Melton, PG/SG, USC

28. Golden State Warriors: Melvin Frazier, SG/SF, Tulane

29. Brooklyn Nets (via Raptors): Dzanan Musa, SG/SF, Bosnia and Herzegovina

30. Atlanta Hawks (via Rockets): Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky


Doncic Lands in Atlanta

Luke Doncic's draft ceiling is getting lower.

It's been clear for a little while now that Deandre Ayton, not Doncic, would go first to Phoenix. But now it sounds like No. 2 might also be out for Doncic.

"Word around the NBA is [the Kings] are not high on Luka Doncic and have their sights set firmly on [Marvin] Bagley," ESPN.com's Jonathan Givony wrote.

But Doncic's floor could be rising, too.

While some mocks still see him slipping to fourth, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Doncic is generating the most discussion in Atlanta:

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Luka Doncic has moved to forefront of Atlanta's internal conversation on the third overall pick in Thursday's NBA Draft, league sources tell ESPN. Michigan State's Jaren Jackson and Duke's Marvin Bagley (if Kings pass on Bagley at No. 2) remain in contention for No. 3.

As the Hawks' 24-58 record would indicate, they need just about everything.

That said, adding a potential offensive fulcrum like Doncic would give them something to build around. They were 26th in offensive efficiency this past season and have seen trade speculation engulf their top scorer and distributor, Dennis Schroder.


Magic Pounce on Porter

Dwight Howard wasn't known first for his scoring during his Orlando tenure, yet he stands as the franchise's last 20-point-per-game scorer.

In fact, he's one of only three Magic players to average 20 points per game during the 2000s. Retirees Tracy McGrady and Steve Francis were the others.

That's a long way of saying Orlando needs a No. 1 option. The demand should be great enough for the Magic to gamble on Michael Porter Jr.'s health.

There's a ton of risk selecting someone who played a total of 53 minutes and underwent back surgery this past season. There's also significant bargain potential; less than 12 months ago, we deemed Porter as the cream of this crop.

And we weren't the only ones, as Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel explained:

"Many recruiting services ranked him as the top player in his high-school class. He joined Alonzo Mourning, Chris Webber, LeBron James and Dwight Howard as the only player in history to win the Naismith and Gatorade boys national player of the year awards and be named the most valuable player of the McDonald's All-American Game."

Porter has a skyscraper's ceiling. The Magic, who have yet to unearth their first post-Howard star, would have a tough time passing that up.


Cavs Get Young

The Cavaliers will be drafting blind, at least in relation to LeBron James' upcoming free agency. Numerous sources told Cleveland.com's Joe Vardon the Cavs won't be privy to James' offseason intentions when they go on the clock for this critical selection.

They should be fine without knowing, since Trae Young could fit with or without James.

Cleveland scrambled through point guards last season and never stumbled on anything close to a suitable Kyrie Irving replacement. It's way too early to say Young can definitively be that, but he looks more interesting than any incumbent option. Even though he faded late, he still finished his freshman campaign as the country's leader in points (27.4) and assists (8.7) per game.

His on-ball creativity and Stephen Curry-esque gravitational pull on defenders should make Young a capable focal point, whether he's easing the load on LeBron or carrying it entirely without him. Young's deep shooting range also allow him to play off the ball, a necessary skill for anyone sharing a roster with James.

And if Cleveland eventually puts this pick into a trade—Vardon's report mentioned Kawhi Leonard and Kemba Walker as possible targets—Young's ceiling could give him the most value of any prospect in this range.


Statistics used courtesy of Sports Reference and NBA.com.


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