NBA Mock Draft 2018: 1st-Round Predictions and Top Prospects on the Rise

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJune 20, 2018

Kentucky's Kevin Knox shoots during the second half of an NCAA college basketball quarterfinal game against Georgia at the Southeastern Conference tournament Friday, March 9, 2018, in St. Louis. Kentucky won 62-49. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

As we get closer to Thursday's 2018 NBA draft, there's little certainty about what will happen after the Phoenix Suns presumably select Deandre Ayton with the No. 1 overall pick. 

While a handful of prospects have dominated the top 10 conversation in the months leading up to the selection process, there are a few players who are on the rise in the last couple weeks who could shake up the selection order. 

With some uncertainty surrounding players like Michael Porter Jr., the prospects with booming stock could be taken higher than some expect if certain teams believe in their upside. 

Below is a look at three players rising on draft boards at the right time with the draft coming up Thursday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.


2018 NBA 1st-Round Mock Draft

1. Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona

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

3. Atlanta Hawks: Luka Doncic, SG/SF, Slovenia

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

5. Dallas Mavericks: Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas

6. Orlando Magic: Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

7. Chicago Bulls: Michael Porter Jr., SF, Missouri

8. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Brooklyn): Wendell Carter Jr., PF/C, Duke

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

10. Philadelphia 76ers (from Los Angeles Lakers): Mikal Bridges, SG/SF, Villanova

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

12. Los Angeles Clippers (from Detroit): Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama

13. Los Angeles Clippers: Lonnie Walker, SG, Miami

14. Denver Nuggets: Miles Bridges, SF/PF, Michigan State

15. Washington Wizards: Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M 

16. Phoenix Suns (from Miami): Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech 

17. Milwaukee Bucks: Jerome Robinson, SG, Boston College

18. San Antonio Spurs: Elie Okobo, PG. France

19. Atlanta Hawks (from Minnesota): Troy Brown, SG, Oregon

20. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Oklahoma City): Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland

21. Utah Jazz: Aaron Holiday, PG. UCLA

22. Chicago Bulls (from New Orleans): Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State

23. Indiana Pacers: Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova

24. Portland Trailblazers: Jacob Evans, SF, Cincinnati

25. Los Angeles Lakers (from Cleveland): Chandler Hutchison, SF, Boise State

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

27. Boston Celtics: Josh Okogie, SG, Georgia Tech

28. Golden State Warriors: Grayson Allen, SG, Duke

29. Brooklyn Nets (from Toronto): Dzanan Musa, SF, Bosnia and Herzegovina

30. Atlanta Hawks (from Houston): Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky 


Top Prospects On The Rise

Kevin Knox

Kevin Knox appeared in the top 15 of most mock drafts since the end of the college basketball season, but his stock has risen in the last week, as some teams in the top 10 have eyes on him.

The one-and-done player out of Kentucky stood out to the New York Knicks, who pick at No. 9, per ESPN's Ian Begley: 

Ian Begley @IanBegley

Some members of the Knicks organization came away ‘very impressed' by Kentucky's Kevin Knox after his performance in a group workout last Saturday, sources say. Knox is likely to be available when NYK picks at No. 9 on Thursday. More: https://t.co/v11JyTScaq

Knox also had an individual workout for the Philadelphia 76ers, who select right after the Knicks, Tuesday. 

The small forward's had quite the busy week, as he's worked out for the Sixers twice and the Charlotte Hornets, who possess the No. 11 pick, as Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer noted: 

Keith Pompey @PompeyOnSixers

#Kentucky SF Kevin Knox looked tired in the portion of the draft workout open to the media on Tuesday. He’s had a busy weekend. He worked out here Friday, at Charlotte Saturday, with his mom in Miami on Sunday and flew back here yesterday.

With the Knicks, Sixers and Hornets all interested in Knox, it's hard to see him dropping past No. 11 Thursday night.

There's always a chance Knox could be selected higher than No. 9, but if he's available when the Knicks pick, he could be their best option. 


Jerome Robinson 

Few players have had their stock soar more than Jerome Robinson in the last few weeks.

The shooting guard out of Boston College wasn't mentioned much in the first-round conversation until late May, and now he appears to be a potential top 20 pick.

Robinson impressed teams enough in the last month to earn an invite to the NBA draft green room alongside some of the top talent in the draft class, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski: 

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Sources with @DraftExpress: Beyond obvious high lottery picks, here are several green room invites for NBA Draft on Thursday: Robert Williams, Lonnie Walker, Donte DiVincenzo, Zhaire Smith, Jerome Robinson and Aaron Holiday.

According to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globethere's chatter about Robinson being chosen in the middle of the first round. 

Outside of NBA scouts who had a book on Robinson, few people were aware of his skill before his stock started to rise because Boston College is far from an elite program. 

When he gets drafted, Robinson will join a small fraternity of Boston College players in the NBA, as Jared Dudley and Reggie Jackson were the only former Golden Eagles to play during the 2017-18 season. 


Elie Okobo 

Luka Doncic is far and away the best foreign prospect in the draft class, but there are a few other European-based stars who could be selected in the first round. 

French point guard Elie Okobo's picked up more looks from NBA personnel recently due to an impressive close to the season with Elan Bearnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez in France. 

The 20-year-old point guard is high on draft boards across the league, as Yahoo's Jordan Schultz noted: 

Jordan Schultz @Schultz_Report

Keep a close eye on 20-year-old French PG Elie Okobo. Several decision makers have told me he is very high on their boards, while highlighting his dynamic scoring ability/P-R playmaking. Okobo could be another gem in France’s long list of quality players. #NBADraft

Okobo could fill a need for teams at the back end of the first round searching for a point guard, as he'd provide depth behind an experienced player or work into a starting role. 

Once Trae Young, Collin Sexton and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander go off the board, there's a debate as to which point guard will be selected after the trio, and Okobo is in the discussion alongside UCLA's Aaron Holiday and Villanova's Jalen Brunson. 

Where Okobo lands Thursday could come down to the preferences of the teams in the final part of the first 30 picks, or he could be a coveted prospect a team trades up for. 


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