2018 NBA Draft: Live Grades for Every Pick
The future of the NBA has officially arrived.
With Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III and Luka Doncic (aka, Trae Young via trade) rounding out the top three, it's clear tomorrow's NBA is in good hands. The fact that they're rounding out the lottery and not headlining it is potentially disappointing for them, but it's a beautiful indication of what's to come for pro basketball fans everywhere.
The question is: How many teams selecting these prospects made the right choice?
Here's a pick-by-pick look at how each selection grades out.
No. 1: Deandre Ayton to Phoenix Suns
When you struggle as much as the Phoenix Suns did in 2017-18—finishing dead last in both offensive and defensive rating—you can go in any number of directions with the draft's first overall selection. Excited as the Suns may be about the futures of Devin Booker and Josh Jackson, no lineup slot should be off the table, especially considering the ever-expanding malleability of positions in today's NBA.
Sticking with that line of thinking, it would appear Phoenix felt hometown hero Deandre Ayton was the best player in this year's class. And the former Arizona Wildcat may well be, so long as he can put to rest the legitimate concerns about his defensive chops.
That's the biggest weakness in the center's profile. Whether because of a consistent intensity deficit or instincts that aren't where they need to be, he missed too many rotations during his brief collegiate career, posted block and steal rates that belie his sculpted-from-marble physical profile and frequently failed to provide necessary help from the weak side.
But those flaws still pale in comparison to the strengths. Booker and Ayton could become a modern-day Shaquille O'Neal-Kobe Bryant tandem if the latter is everything he's cracked up to be on the scoring end. With a marvelous combination of finishing ability (both of the finesse-driven and overpowering variations) and range that extends to the three-point arc, he's everything a team covets in a new-age center.
If Ayton blossoms on defense and becomes the switchable stud at which his natural tools hint he’ll be, this pick will be a home run. However, even if he flounders on the preventing end, his offensive aptitude will allow him to shine so brightly that the Suns still won't be disappointed.
No. 2: Marvin Bagley III to Sacramento Kings
If you scan through the Sacramento Kings roster, how many players fill you with that can't-miss feeling?
De'Aaron Fox might still belong in that class even after a disappointing rookie campaign. Bogdan Bogdanovic looks the part of a long-term rotation member, and the collection of Justin Jackson, Willie Cauley-Stein, Buddy Hield, Skal Labissiere, Frank Mason and Harry Giles will produce some keepers. But the Kings still need a surefire go-to scorer who can take over possessions on a nightly basis and single-handedly will the offense to high-level production.
Marvin Bagley III could be that guy.
The ACC Player of the Year averaged an even 21.0 points per game during his freshman season at Duke, shooting 61.4 percent from the field, 39.7 percent from downtown and 62.7 percent at the stripe. In doing so, he proved how diverse his offensive skill set could be: a healthy mix of interior finishing, spot-up shooting and unabashed pick-and-roll dominance. His jumper may need tweaks—a concern aggravated by his shaky free-throw percentage—but he has the tools to become one of the NBA's leading scorers in short order.
Sacramento needs to decide whether he's a power forward or center and act accordingly by placing complementary talents around him. Leaving him alone as a primary paint defender is a recipe for disaster. But those are concerns for later picks and stages of the offseason. Right now, the Kings can revel in landing an elite, roster-complementing talent—flawed as he may be in some areas—who could move them out of their perpetual rebuild.
No. 3: Luka Doncic to Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks didn't begin the night with the No. 3 pick, but they're getting their hands on it all the same. Per ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski, they're trading the No. 5 pick and a future first-rounder to the Atlanta Hawks for the rights to draft EuroLeague sensation Luka Doncic.
The 19-year-old MVP and reigning champion in the world's second-best basketball league possesses the tools necessary for unquestioned superstardom, boasting a James Harden-esque step-back jumper with three-point range, miraculous passing vision and the size (6'8") necessary to create a nightly mismatch out of the backcourt.
Do concerns exist? Of course. We're talking about a prospect, after all.
Doncic isn't an ace defender, and he lacks the explosion necessary to create loads of space against top-notch athletes—you know, the kinds of athletes who populate every NBA roster. His jumper was also inconsistent at times and needs work before it's ready to become an elite weapon on this side of the pond.
And yet, he may still be the most talented player in this class. Already proven against older, more experienced contributors, he's shown himself a clutch offensive artist who can handle pressure without sacrificing his generational passing talent or ruthless scoring instincts. And best of all, he's exactly the type of rookie who will instantaneously make his teammates better by setting them up with feeds in the shooting pocket, which only helps expedite the Dallas rebuild and maximize the abilities of other up-and-comers surrounding him.
The Mavericks hit a home run here. It may well have cleared not just the fences, but also the top level of seats and walls marking the boundaries of the ballpark.
No. 4: Jaren Jackson Jr. to Memphis Grizzlies
High floor? Check.
High ceiling? Even bigger check.
Jaren Jackson Jr. is almost everything the Memphis Grizzlies could want in a prospect at No. 4. He's an ideal big for a league that prioritizes switching and three-point range (39.6 percent on 2.7 attempts per game), and he profiles as a devastating shot-blocker who can capably display scoring touch on the interior.
But we said "almost" for a reason.
Jackson remains a bit of a project, in need of fundamental work on basic aspects of his game—rebounding and shooting form chief among them. He's also still 18 years old and will need to spend plenty of time in NBA weight rooms before he has the physicality necessary to bang around with bigger frontcourt players for a full 82-game season, especially after spending just 21.8 minutes per game on the floor at Michigan State.
He'd make sense for just about every rebuilding team...except the Grizzlies are supposed to be aiming for NBA-ready contributors who can capitalize on a closing playoff window alongside incumbent veterans Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. The timing here is a bit funky for a team that doesn't have the cap space necessary to make massive overhauls without sacrificing one of its stars in a salary-dumping trade.
Even if Jackson develops into a stud, that likely won’t happen until the 2018-19 season has drawn to a conclusion, thereby pushing both Conley and Gasol deeper into their 30s.
No. 5: Trae Young to Atlanta Hawks
For all the adoration the basketball-watching world heaped upon Trae Young's shoulders when he was obliterating three-point records and skyrocketing up draft boards, it somehow managed to overlook his other elite tool.
This Oklahoma product is a transcendent passer with experience running the show in pick-and-roll sets, displaying premier vision and timing while evaluating rolling and spot-up options alike. He knows how to create space and use his body to shield off defenders, and he can deliver ambidextrous feeds that always seem to find his teammates in stride.
Once he's surrounded by more offensive talent and no longer tasked with doing so much of the Sooners' heavy lifting, he should regain the space and composure necessary to post shooting percentages commensurate with his talent as a marksman. He could become the best offensive product in this draft class, which the Atlanta Hawks surely won't mind as they try to find a replacement for disgruntled floor general Dennis Schroder.
Unfortunately, the Hawks passed on arguably the best player in the draft to move back for Young, swapping Nos. 3 and 5 to acquire a future first-round pick. And that's a major mistake.
It would be hard to fault them for this pick in a vacuum, given the need for an upside-laden floor general. Then again, they also have to be at least slightly concerned about his defensive limitations. Porosity is one thing, but Young's best-case scenario still leaves him using his 6'2" frame and 6'3" wingspan to guard only a single position. He'll always be a liability on switches, even if he starts displaying intensity that will help him mitigate some of those unsolvable physical shortcomings.
But this isn't taking place in a vacuum. Getting another selection is nice, but passing up on a future superstar for a one-way commodity makes for a shortsighted move.
No. 6: Mohamed Bamba to Orlando Magic
Especially if they retain restricted free agent Aaron Gordon, the Orlando Magic will have a glut of forwards on their roster. They do not, however, boast a rim-protecting 5 who can capably hold down the inside of their defense and let the more mobile contributors flit around the perimeter. With the longest wingspan in combine history (7'10") and a resume that includes 4.9 blocks per 40 minutes as a freshman at Texas, the 7'1" Mohamed Bamba certainly qualifies.
They could also use a big who can not only excel as a rolling presence, but also step out to the perimeter and drain triples—a skill that's even more crucial after the team finished outside the top half of the league in threes per game. Well, it just so happens that Bamba flashed some three-point range during his lone NCAA campaign and has been shining in that area during predraft workouts.
Talk about killing two birds with one stone.
Uniqueness isn't technically measured on a scale. You're either unique or you're not. But let's buck that convention and declare Bamba one of the most unique prospects to ever grace the draft-day stage. As a legitimate 7-footer with an unfathomable wingspan and three-point potential, how could he not be?
Bamba will desperately need to bulk up in expeditious fashion and demonstrate he can't be pushed around either physically or mentally. But we're talking about the type of upside that will make teams kick themselves repeatedly if they pass up on a fully actualized Defensive Player of the Year candidate with significant offensive stretchiness.
No. 7: Wendell Carter Jr. to Chicago Bulls
Wendell Carter Jr. is not Robin Lopez, and that has to excite the Chicago Bulls as they seek frontcourt upside to pair with rising sophomore Lauri Markkanen.
If anything, he's more like a newer, shinier version of Al Horford. And that should be even more exciting.
Carter's most notable trait is his quickness, which should allow him to both protect the interior—saving Markkanen some wear and tear as he continues to bulk up—and switch out to the perimeter, where he can stick with even some of the league's quicker guards. But unless you ask him to play an above-the-rim game and show off DeAndre Jordan-type athleticism at center, he's the rare teenager whose profile is practically devoid of weaknesses.
This Duke product can knock down catch-and-shoot jumpers. He can roll to the hoop and either finish plays or kick the rock back to the perimeter with quick touch passes. He can rebound with the best of 'em, and his lateral mobility should also ease the offensive-glass transition he'll face against NBA bigs.
Chicago might not have found an elite rim-protector or a high-profile scorer on the wings. But this is the next-best option, as the Bulls have eschewed true needs for an all-around asset who lifts both the floor and ceiling in the Windy City.
No. 8: Collin Sexton to Cleveland Cavaliers
Is Collin Sexton going to fit alongside LeBron James? Is he going to the Cleveland Cavaliers because he can take the reins if the world's best player leaves in free agency this summer?
Until we have clarity, it's hard to know exactly how we should feel about this particular selection. So with that in mind, let's grade the pick as if it's happening in a vacuum—only the value of this Alabama prospect at No. 8 matters.
That's good news for the Cavs, because Sexton can reasonably be considered one of the best players available at the time of his march across the stage for his first official meeting with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. He's one of the leading figures of the second tier of point guards, thanks to his immense two-way potential.
To maximize that upside, this 19-year-old needs to improve his shot selection and become a more natural passer. But his aggression as a scorer from all areas of the court, both in transition and within the half-court set, is already a positive. So too is his relentlessness on the defensive side, where he seems to genuinely love serving as a pestilent presence on and off the ball.
Sexton could be a complementary figure to an all-time great. He could be a take-no-prisoners leader. And that means he's getting high marks.
No. 9: Kevin Knox to New York Knicks
The New York Knicks simply had to find a three-and-D contributor in this portion of the draft. That's the only way to maximize the talents of Frank Ntilikina and Kristaps Porzingis without requiring more roster spots, and it's a commodity rostered—at least once—by literally every competitive team in the Association.
Well, they got halfway there.
Knox's upside is immense, hence his coming off the board so early despite often failing to stand out at Kentucky. But his defensive prowess is limited by his inability to maintain focus throughout an entire 40-minute game, much less a 48-minute battle. For all his physical gifts, he fell victim to the "hand down, man down" theory on too many occasions and lost his mark entirely on a number of other possessions.
This former Wildcat could be that coveted three-and-D guy. But right now, it's more likely he thrives on offense as a basket-attacking wing capable of operating the pick-and-roll with the potential to grow into a harrowing spot-up threat down the road.
It's not exactly what the Knicks needed, but it's still a valuable mold. And if Porzingis' recovery from a torn ACL is delayed, which would thrust more scoring responsibilities onto the shoulders of this incoming rookie, he could show off his full arsenal of skills quicker than expected.
No. 10: Mikal Bridges to Phoenix Suns
Though Mikal Bridges seemed like a perfect fit alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, Yahoo Sports' Shams Charania reported the Philadelphia 76ers were trading him to the Phoenix Suns for the No. 16 pick (more on that later) and a 2021 first-round selection conveyed by the Miami Heat.
Fortunately, he works for Phoenix, as well.
Bridges is arguably the ultimate three-and-D prospect in this draft, which makes a whole lot of sense for a team that, once more, finished in the NBA's worst spot on both ends of the floor. He'll imbue the defense with much more upside while covering up for the mistakes made by Booker and Ayton, and the two-man combination of him and Jackson could be off the charts on the preventing end.
But that three-point ability is also key. If he can provide more spacing for Ayton's interior exploits and Booker's basket attacks, all the better. Giving up a first-rounder to move up for a player of that caliber is a sensible decision.
Basically, Bridges is everything Phoenix needs as it tries to move out of the Western Conference basement. He can space the floor. He can provide sterling defense on a squad that desperately needs that skill. He's even proficient at attacking the basket off the bounce or facilitating for his teammates, though he rarely needed to do so while operating for a talent-laden Villanova team.
No. 11: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers really wanted Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Per Wojnarowski, the Clippers moved up one spot by trading two second-round picks and No. 12 to the Charlotte Hornets for the right to select this Kentucky floor general at No. 11. And now, we can start swooning over the defensive potential of a backcourt comprised of Gilgeous-Alexander and Patrick Beverley.
He's a questionable fit because of the uncertainty surrounding his shooting form and its ability to translate, but that defense is, at times, awe-inspiring. This former Wildcat should be thought of as the future of the position in Los Angeles, though he can immediately start bringing the preventing chops next to or in relief of Beverley.
A 6'6" floor general with lanky arms, Gilgeous-Alexander has all the tools you could covet on the preventing end. He has the physicality necessary to harass smaller and bigger guards alike, but he may be even better away from the primary action. In that setting, he's freed to use his instincts to wreak havoc in passing lanes, causing deflections and jump-starting transition opportunities that frequently see him jet past everyone in his path.
If his free-throw shooting (81.7 percent) is an indication that his three-point marksmanship (40.4 percent) is for real despite limited attempts, he could be a steal outside the top 10. But "could" is the operative word.
No. 12: Miles Bridges to Charlotte Hornets
The Charlotte Hornets offloaded Dwight Howard during the early portion of the 2018 offseason, but that wasn't a clear indication of their intended direction. They could still be waffling between attempting to compete for a back-end spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs and looking to rebuild entirely, potentially setting the stage for a Kemba Walker departure.
This doesn't provide clarity.
Acquired after the Hornets moved down one spot and picked up two second-rounders, Miles Bridges could fit in Charlotte for either scenario. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, because the 20-year-old forward projects as a classic complement to just about any lineup. He’s also capable of filling myriad roles and is constantly doing what's best for his team—sacrifices be damned.
Avoid comparing this Michigan State product to Draymond Green, though the Golden State Warriors star is similarly capable of doing so many different things. Bridges isn't always a plus on the defensive end, and that'll need to change if he's going to thrive in a lineup that will count on preventing potential from the wing spots.
At the very least, he'll be able to provide spacing with his spot-up prowess and keep defenders off balance with his explosion in cutting to the hoop. So long as he accepts an off-ball role, that's an undeniable positive. The extent of the positivity, however, remains uncertain.
No. 13: Jerome Robinson to Los Angeles Clippers
Why take one point guard in the lottery when you can take two? Better still, why not do so when you already have Lou Williams, Beverley and Jawun Evans under contract, Austin Rivers about to pick up his player option, per Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times, and Milos Teodosic evaluating a player option of his own?
And yet, here we are. Two selections after trading up to grab Gilgeous-Alexander, the Los Angeles Clippers are doubling down with their choice of Jerome Robinson. It's positional overload to the max, and that's a bizarre decision with so many other intriguing players on the board.
Don't get me wrong. Robinson would typically be a strong value at No. 13, given his incredible scoring talent. He's a gifted offensive player who can rain down triples in both spot-up and pull-up situations, and that doesn't prevent him from doing plenty of damage while attacking the basket, where he can either finish in live action or draw whistles for constant journeys to the free-throw stripe. His defensive weakness can also be covered up by incumbents (Beverley and Rivers) or the other new lottery addition.
This is a head-scratching move that might indicate more is yet to come. But without any indication of future roster shuffling, we don't have the luxury of grading the pick with coming transactions in mind.
No. 14: Michael Porter Jr. to Denver Nuggets
At this stage of the draft, taking a risk on a top-shelf talent is appropriate.
That's exactly what Michael Porter Jr. is, considering his remarkable scoring ability. Though a back injury prevented him from displaying that bucket-getting acumen during his brief Missouri career, little doubt exists that his sweet shooting stroke and comfort conducting himself in both on- and off-ball scenarios should translate to the sport's highest level.
Moreover, he's a strong positional fit for the Denver Nuggets. They're set in the backcourt with Jamal Murray and Gary Harris. Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic make for an elite frontcourt tandem. But they're scrambling to find solutions at small forward, and that'll become especially true if Wilson Chandler opts out in search of a long-term deal elsewhere. To find a solution with this much upside on a rookie-scale deal is a big plus.
But then we have to consider why Porter fell. Medical concerns are the story there, with the USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt reporting that lingering back issues are so troubling he could end up sitting out for the entirety of the 2018-19 campaign.
Defensive shortcomings alone made Porter a slightly less-than-ideal fit with Denver's roster. Now, he becomes an even bigger risk-reward selection—still an acceptable choice with the lottery's final pick.
No. 15: Troy Brown Jr. to Washington Wizards
John Wall. Bradley Beal. Otto Porter Jr. Markieff Morris. Marcin Gortat.
If the Washington Wizards were truly trying to address a positional need, they'd take a big man at No. 15. Instead, they reached for a defense-first wing who'll likely spend significant time coming off the bench behind an incumbent All-Star.
Perhaps the Wizards can play Troy Brown Jr. alongside Beal, Wall and Porter in a small-ball lineup. The Oregon standout is 6'7" with a wingspan slightly over 6'10", after all. He certainly has the size necessary to match up against NBA 3s, and his distributing ability would make for a de facto death lineup with offensive explosions coming from many different sources.
But Brown doesn't stretch the floor, and he's not quite quick enough to hang with true backcourt members at the highest level. Those are troubling issues for a player either billed as a backup to Beal or a portion of small-ball units, especially because he's coming off the board far sooner than expected.
Up to this point in the prospect pageant, he's easily the biggest reach.
No. 16: Zhaire Smith to Philadelphia 76ers
As reported by Charania, the Philadelphia 76ers gave up a perfect selection in Mikal Bridges at No. 10 to move back and take Zhaire Smith six slots later, also picking up a 2021 first-rounder (via the Miami Heat) in the process.
The Texas Tech stud isn't the three-and-D prospect Bridges profiles as, but he's even better on the defensive end. The potential preventing ability he’ll provide while working alongside Simmons, Covington and Embiid could break the Eastern Conference.
Smith was a defensive stalwart during his collegiate career, refusing to stop exerting his energy and featuring peerless athletic tools as he earned the nation's No. 20 score in defensive points saved, per NBA Math. Better still, the players who finished ahead of him were largely big men—natural beneficiaries of this particular metric.
The wing's ability to literally fly—maybe not "literally," but you might get confused when you watch him defying gravity for jaw-dropping time periods—will also play well with Simmons' passing. If he could wreak havoc with limited backcourt members setting him up at Texas A&M, he may become an elite off-ball threat with a preternatural distributor setting him up.
The fit makes sense. The value is immense outside the lottery. The defense is awe-inspiring. Picking up another first-rounder never hurts. Only the trade away from the perfection of the Bridges pick keeps this from earning top marks.
No. 17: Donte DiVincenzo to Milwaukee Bucks
Did the Milwaukee Bucks really need another ball-handler?
They already have Eric Bledsoe on the books after last campaign's midseason trade, and taking the rock away from Giannis Antetokounmpo is rarely a good idea. Even if Donte DiVincenzo joins Khris Middleton as a sterling spot-up threat, he's still the type of player who wants to earn his own looks off the bounce and occasionally run the show as a pick-and-roll creator.
Moreover, his 6'6" wingspan limits his positional availability, making it harder for Milwaukee to run out a dual-point guard backcourt comprised of this incoming rookie and Bledsoe. For a team that needs a center upgrade and always seems to prioritize lankiness, the Villanova standout makes for a questionable selection—yes, even outside the lottery.
DiVincenzo's two-way upside, however, does force us to give the Bucks more credit. Despite potential lineup limitations, his relentless nature on the preventing end and impressive athleticism give him the ability to thrive when he's matching up with opposing 1-guards.
After all, there's a reason he rocketed up draft boards throughout his sophomore season. Many reasons, actually.
No. 18: Lonnie Walker to San Antonio Spurs
Especially with the ongoing Kawhi Leonard drama that could leave the San Antonio Spurs operating without another go-to scorer to complement LaMarcus Aldridge, the NBA's model organization needed to find another source of offensive production.
Enter Lonnie Walker.
Though head coach Gregg Popovich will need to work on his new toy's shot selection and get him to stop forcing looks in traffic—more willingness to serve as a distributor off the bounce wouldn't hurt, either—the 19-year-old has already found success as a No. 1 option. He didn't function as such throughout the entirety of his freshman campaign with the Miami Hurricanes, but he became a much more consistent scorer after getting more opportunities midway through the year and still wound up averaging 16.6 points per 40 minutes while slashing 41.5/34.6/73.8.
Of course, looking at the season-long numbers is a mistake. Focus instead on his numbers over his last 17 appearances: 14.5 points per game (17.2 per 40 minutes) while shooting 41.1 percent from the field, 36.0 percent from downtown and 77.5 percent from the stripe.
Oh, and did we mention Walker is also a versatile defender who can reasonably line up against both point guards and shooting guards?
No. 19: Kevin Huerter to Atlanta Hawks
Can you sense a trend yet?
The Atlanta Hawks traded down to grab Trae Young with their first pick of the first round, and the Oklahoma Sooner was widely regarded as one of the best shooters in this particular draft class. He might even earn plaudits that extend over a much lengthier temporal period. Then they doubled down with another of the draft's premier marksmen.
When Fansided's Brandon Jefferson ranked the best pure shooters in this year's class, he slotted Maryland's Kevin Huerter at No. 3, writing: "Huerter, a 6'7" New York native, mostly spotted up around the perimeter and waited for Melo Trimble drive-and-kick passes, catch-and-shoot opportunities off offensive rebounds or kickouts from post players to get off shots."
Young was No. 1 in Jefferson's countdown, so the Hawks are clearly trying to find elite shooters to pair with Taurean Prince and John Collins. Now they have an off-the-bounce weapon and an elite spot-up sniper who connected on 41.7 percent of his triples while taking 5.5 attempts per game as a sophomore.
That Huerter can hold his own defensively might just be gravy for this team.
No. 20: Josh Okogie to Minnesota Timberwolves
Let's play a game.
The Minnesota Timberwolves finished the 2017-18 season ranked No. 4 in offensive rating. Meanwhile, they sat all the way down at No. 22 in the stat's defensive counterpart, allowing a whopping 108.4 points per 100 possessions. Only the Cleveland Cavaliers finished below them and still made the playoffs—an achievement the 'Wolves only barely matched by winning a de facto play-in game against the Denver Nuggets to conclude the regular season.
So, where do you think Minnesota needs to improve?
If the answer weren't already blindingly obvious, the 'Wolves helped your cause by selecting Georgia Tech's Josh Okogie.
Though he could find success as a cutter and has potential to develop into a spot-up threat, he's a first-round prospect because of his well-rounded work on the preventing end. Need an off-ball stop? He's always focused and excels at denying the ball to team's leading scoring threats. Moreover, he knows when to rotate away from his assignment and should rack up deflections at the next level. Buoyed by a 7'0" wingspan and quick-twitch instincts that lead to advanced levels of defensive awareness, he may be even better in on-ball scenarios.
Okogie may be the antithetical wing to Andrew Wiggins, and that's exactly what Minnesota needs.
No. 21: Grayson Allen to Utah Jazz
The Utah Jazz desperately needed to find another scorer to help out Donovan Mitchell, who excelled throughout his rookie season but was still tasked with too large a burden during the team's two-round playoff run. Even though he continued to thrive as a featured option, he should only grow more dangerous when paired with another talent who can siphon away some defensive attention.
Grayson Allen may well be the right answer.
The Duke prospect can flat-out score. He's a great athlete with excellent shooting form and a quick release, which he showed off while averaging 15.5 points and slashing 41.8/37.0/85.0 as a senior. Had he declared after his second season with the Blue Devils rather than returning and watching as his game—and decision-making—got picked apart, he may have become a lottery pick.
But that's still not the best news.
In the wrong situation, Allen might be such a defensive liability that he becomes unplayable. The Jazz are not that team. Not with Rudy Gobert pacing the interior, waiting to contain the dribble-penetration this 2-guard allows on a consistent basis. They might be the squad best suited to mitigate his primary weakness, and his improvements as a distributor under Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski will only help the offense continue to blossom.
No. 22: Chandler Hutchison to Chicago Bulls
"Chicago might not have found an elite rim-protector or a high-profile scorer on the wings. But this is the next-best option, as the Bulls have eschewed true needs for an all-around asset who lifts both the floor and ceiling in the Windy City," we wrote when the Chicago Bulls chose Wendell Carter Jr. with their first of two opening-round selections.
Well, they also found the high-profile scorer in a continuation of an excellent draft. Really, all the picks in this range have seemed more than solid; it's not just Chicago.
Chandler Hutchison is a top-notch scoring threat and is coming off a season that saw him average an even 20.0 points per game while shooting 47.5 percent from the field, 35.9 percent from trey-land and 72.8 percent on his freebies. Moreover, his game should translate nicely to the NBA because of the sneaky athleticism that manifests itself as cutting excellence and his dual ability to spot up and create for himself. Whether he's functioning as a primary initiator for the Bulls or playing off Kris Dunn along the perimeter, he's going to be comfortable putting up points and keeping the Chicago scoreboard operators busy.
And he displayed all these skills while serving as Boise State's unquestioned leader. With Carter, Markkanen and others supporting him, Hutchison might become even more efficient while showcasing the well-rounded nature of his game.
No. 23: Aaron Holiday to Indiana Pacers
Darren Collison won’t stick around forever. The veteran point guard may still be one of the NBA's more underrated commodities with his remarkable efficiency as a ball-handler and three-point splasher, but he's already in his 30s with a game predicated upon speed.
Now, Aaron Holiday gets to serve as his understudy. And if you're keeping score at home, that does mean the Holiday family gets three NBA representatives before the Balls have anyone joining Lonzo.
This 1-guard doesn't play the game similarly to Collison, which means they might even be able to work in conjunction with one another. More realistically, he'll function as a change of pace off the pine, counterbalancing the starter's speed with his defensive intensity and mastery of the pick-and-roll, where he can attack the hoop for a tricky finish, pull up for a triple or keep his eyes up to find an open teammate.
But it's that upside on the less glamorous end that makes him most intriguing for the Indiana Pacers.
Need a bucket? Collison is available. Trying to put together a defense-first lineup? The potential of a Holiday-Victor Oladipo duo is tantalizing, even if the former isn't quite quick enough to stick with some of the league's speediest guards.
This isn't a perfect fit or a perfect prospect, but it's hard to fault Indiana with the first wave of 1-guards already doing post-selection interviews.
No. 24: Anfernee Simons to Portland Trail Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers finally proved just how well the Damian Lillard-CJ McCollum pairing could work in their backcourt. By placing strong stoppers all around them and getting the guards to buy in and develop as pick-and-roll defenders, they eliminated that primary weakness and elevated the team's ceiling. Sure, it didn't work in a first-round sweep at the hands of the New Orleans Pelicans, but the duo was successful enough that it should've ended concerns about the backcourt's long-term feasibility.
Naturally, that means Rip City took a guard. And a project, nonetheless.
Anfernee Simons has immense upside as a scorer, but he's a 19-year-old without a game of experience above high school. He also weighs just a hair over 180 pounds despite boasting a 6'3" frame with a wingspan slightly above 6'9". Until he hits the gym with NBA supervision, shores up his shot selection and proves he can body up against professional guards, it'll be tough to justify handing him any minutes that come at the expense of Lillard and McCollum—or Shabazz Napier, if the free agent is retained.
Portland should still be trying to compete right now, and taking a wing or big was the advisable course. If the Blazers were set on adding depth at the 1 or 2, they needed to go after a bigger prospect who was also ready to contribute more from Day 1—admittedly, a tough ask this deep into the first round.
No. 25: Moritz Wagner to Los Angeles Lakers
It sure seems safe to say Brook Lopez isn't long for the Los Angeles Lakers now that they're bringing in another stretchy center.
Moritz Wagner has an all-around offensive game, but his three-point range stands out most. Though he's an intelligent passer from the blocks and the perimeter, that skill still pales in comparison to his shooting stroke, which allowed him to connect on 39.5 percent of his 3.0 deep tries per game as a sophomore and 39.4 percent of his 4.1 triple attempts per contest as a junior. Now, imagine what he might be able to do with Ball's on-target feeds setting him up while Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and, perhaps, a marquee free-agent addition draw the bulk of the defensive attention.
And yet, this is still a major reach.
Wagner's inability to finish plays around the basket and defensive shortcomings—most easily seen when he gets caught in a switch and tries to defend a fleet-footed guard in flat-footed fashion—had him billed as a second-round prospect who may even fall closer to Mr. Irrelevant than the No. 30 pick. Seeing him come off the board in the 20s was quite the surprise.
No. 26: Landry Shamet to Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers already found their ace defender in Mikal Bridges Zhaire Smith, so now it's time to unearth another spot-up threat who can feed off Simmons' passes and the attention absorbed by Embiid on the interior.
Landry Shamet, though a bit of a stretch at the end of the first round because of his significant athletic limitations and foot issues, could be that guy. The Ringer, for example, compared him to Kevin Martin, Denzel Valentine and Seth Curry when trying to find his best NBA doppelganger.
Throughout the NCAA's 2017-18 season, only 10 qualified players managed to shoot 44.2 percent from beyond the rainbow while taking at least 5.9 deep attempts per game. As you may have guessed, those are Shamet's exact figures as a sophomore at Wichita State, and plenty of the conversions came in spot-up situations. He can hit off the bounce on the rare occasions that he carves out space, but he's far more comfortable peeling around screens and exhibiting constant activity away from the ball until he extricates himself from the clutches of the defense.
Then, he consistently demonstrates the ability to square his body to the basket and launch an on-target hoist.
Shamet is a far less established marksman than JJ Redick, who's preparing for another foray into free agency. But if he can provide a convincing simulacrum of the veteran's off-ball skills—and avoid declining in clutch situations, like Redick inexplicably did throughout his stint with the Sixers—he'll be a cheap, heavily used option off the pine.
No. 27: Robert Williams to Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics already have everything.
Their projected depth chart, even without including Greg Monroe (unrestricted free agent), Marcus Smart (restricted), Aron Baynes (unrestricted) and Shane Larkin (unrestricted), remains overloaded with talent at every position:
Point guard: Kyrie Irving, Terry Rozier
Shooting guard: Jaylen Brown, Abdel Nader
Small forward: Gordon Hayward, Semi Ojeleye
Power forward: Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris, Guerschon Yabusele
Center: Al Horford, Daniel Theis
So why not take a gamble on a lottery-level talent slipping through the cracks?
Robert Williams can't help but draw comparisons to DeAndre Jordan, thanks to his ridiculous upside as a rim-running center with extreme athleticism. He was a dominant pick-and-roll threat during his brief time at Texas A&M, the kind of player who required constant defensive attention—a different type of gravity than the Stephen Curry variety—because of his penchant for finishing plays in thunderous fashion if he received even the tiniest modicum of space while cutting toward the hoop. Let your attention lapse, and he could make you pay.
Just for good measure, he also swatted 3.9 shots per 40 minutes.
Shooting range and a lack of discipline likely dropped him down the board, but that's a risk Boston can be, and apparently is, willing to take. If he works out, he could morph into an All-Star center capable of making a Jordan-esque impact (we're still talking about DeAndre, not Michael). And if he doesn't, he can just slot in as a third-string center playing behind Horford and Theis.
No. 28: Jacob Evans to Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors—shocker—may have found themselves yet another draft-day steal, and they didn't even have to buy a pick from the Chicago Bulls to make this one happen. Though this class boasts a ridiculous amount of defensive talent, Jacob Evans could emerge as one of the premier stoppers and fell all the way to the defending champions at No. 28.
Evans isn't much of a leaper, and his 6'9 ¼" wingspan is nothing to write home about. But his cerebral tools allow him to overcome the limited athleticism and lackluster physical traits that somehow only seem to affect him when he's attempting to create his own looks on the scoring end.
As he consistently showcased for the Cincinnati Bearcats, this forward can read and react to just about every situation. He knows when to switch without batting an eye. His rotations from the weak side are always on the mark. He's great at mirroring his assignments, always keeping his body between the ball and the hoop. He contests shots with aplomb. He boxes out with physicality and displays strong hands when rebounding in traffic.
You name the defensive skill, and he's demonstrated it at some point during his three-year collegiate career.
The Warriors might have wanted to find a better shooter with their first-round selection, given the spacing limitations that popped up whenever their stars weren't available. But Evans is still a strong value at No. 28 whose skill set complements that of his new teammates rather nicely, and his 37.0 and 75.4 percent clips from three-point territory and the free-throw line, respectively, give hopes of three-and-D upside.
No. 29: Dzanan Musa to Brooklyn Nets
Upside is the name of the game for the Brooklyn Nets, and they found some by taking Dzanan Musa with the penultimate pick of the opening round. The scoring sensation from Bosnia and Herzegovina is a strong on-ball scorer who can get buckets from all over the court, and he only fell into the Nets’ hands because of his chosen developmental path.
"The Nets take Dzanan Musa. I'm told he would have been taken much higher had he agreed to be stashed in Europe next year, but his insistence on coming to the NBA right away caused him to slip a bit," Jonathan Givony revealed for ESPN during the selection process. "I like this pick for the Nets. Musa gets buckets, is competitive and super young."
In this instance, "super young" means Musa only just celebrated his 19th birthday. And that's fine for the Nets, because his insistence allows him to develop with the team—hardly a bad thing for an organization that's not trying to skip steps in the rebuilding process and is instead restructuring the roster in patient fashion.
General manager Sean Marks has consistently tried to parlay his situation into more talent, usually by accepting unpalatable players in exchange for sweeteners. This is no different, even if the methodology varies.
Maybe Musa struggles against NBA defenders as a rookie and has to learn through a trial by fire. Where's the harm in that for Brooklyn, so long as it doesn't stunt his long-term development?
No. 30 Omari Spellman to Atlanta Hawks
We've already established that the Atlanta Hawks are prioritizing shooting above all other skills with their first-round selections of Young and Huerter. But does Omari Spellman, who they took off the board with the final pick of the Adam Silver round, fit the trend?
Of course he does.
Though surprisingly raw for a soon-to-be 21-year-old prospect and in dire need of conditioning work that will help his defense and explosiveness, the Villanova power forward is willing and able to do all the little things. Perhaps most importantly for the Hawks, that includes stepping out to the perimeter and waiting—not moving around the outskirts of the half-court set, in most cases, unless working in pick-and-pop action—for a spot-up opportunity.
As a redshirt freshman, Spellman took 3.8 triples per contest despite playing only 28.1 minutes during his average appearance. He connected on a staggering 43.3 percent of those looks, though that number may be a bit of fool's gold. Free-throw percentage is typically a strong indicator of success from beyond the three-point arc, and this power forward only hit at a 70 percent clip in limited attempts (1.8 per game).
If the shot does translate, the Hawks have themselves a steal. If it doesn't (and he improves his conditioning), he has the raw skill necessary to become a useful glue guy off the bench.
No. 31: Elie Okobo to Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns landed their center and small forward of the future during the first round—Ayton and Mikal Bridges, respectively. Leading off the second round, they managed to nab a point guard who could provide a nice complement to Booker and imbue the backcourt with more defensive upside.
Wait, no—that’s what they should’ve done. But that's not what French floor general Elie Okobo is good at. If anything, defense is his biggest weakness because of an undisciplined nature and poor instincts that waste some of his physical talents. And that's troubling if he's going to fit in next to Booker, who's already one of the NBA's weaker defenders occupying a big-minute role.
Okobo's scoring upside, especially the portion of his game that falls under the off-the-dribble umbrella, would've otherwise made him a good value here. But the fit is too questionable unless his mentality does a 180 upon entering the Association.
No. 32: Jevon Carter to Memphis Grizzlies
In the interest of full disclosure, I'd be giving the coveted A-plus to any franchise selecting Jevon Carter at No. 32. I'm already on the record stating that teams—yes, even lottery ones—are going to regret not selecting the West Virginia floor general in the opening round.
Obviously, the first part applies to the Memphis Grizzlies, who should immediately set him up as a strong backup to Mike Conley.
During the 2017-18 NCAA season, Carter led the entire field in NBA Math's TPA metric. He thrived on both ends of the floor and should have the spot-up acumen and pesky defense necessary to continue putting up positive numbers at the next level. With plenty of experience running an offense and remarkable tools on the preventing end, he's the classic example of a second-round gem only dropping because he's already almost 23 years old and therefore has to be perceived as possessing less of that ever-coveted upside.
No. 33: Jalen Brunson to Dallas Mavericks
Speaking of prospects only falling because of age...
Jalen Brunson isn't an elite athlete, which will create a stark differentiation between him and starting Dallas Mavericks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. whenever he enters the game. But his steadiness and undeniable production as a leader of Villanova's championship outfits still make him an intriguing second-rounder.
During his junior season, the 21-year-old averaged 18.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game while slashing 52.1/40.8/80.2. Moreoever, he was the Player of the Year in both the Big East and, per the AP, the entire NCAA. That's first-round pedigree right there.
No. 34: Devonte' Graham to Charlotte Hornets
Continuing the run of top-tier collegiate point guards coming off the board to open the second round, Devonte' Graham should make an immediate impact for the Charlotte Hornets with his defensive prowess. He's an ideal change-of-pace guard behind Walker, presumably content to focus on shutting down foes after the starter is finished torching them in pick-and-roll sets.
But that's not where Graham's skills end.
As he proved by exhibiting constant improvement throughout a four-year Kansas career, he's a hard-working prospect who's already displaying solid spot-up skills. His 40.6 percent shooting as a senior is nothing to sniff at, and that's the product of increased comfort operating in all different types of action. Plus, though his off-the-bounce scoring may prove more difficult to maintain at the NBA level, overlooking a player with this much energy and desire to work on his craft always makes for a dangerous game.
Graham, acquired by Charlotte after the Hornets traded to get the pick from the Atlanta Hawks, per Charania, may already be 23 years old, but he's the type of athlete who should keep getting better throughout the foreseeable future.
No. 35: Melvin Frazier to Orlando Magic
No. 35: Melvin Frazier to Orlando Magic
It's three-and-D time.
Melvin Frazier thrived on both ends of the court as a junior for Tulane, averaging 15.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 2.2 steals and 0.7 blocks per game while slashing 55.6/38.5/71.2. But that says nothing about the volume with which he fired away from downtown or his actual impact on the defensive end, since steal and block tallies can often be misleading.
So how about this? Frazier was one of only 44 qualified NCAA players to take at least three triples per game, connect on at least 38 percent of them and post a defensive box plus/minus north of two. Sure, those are arbitrary benchmarks, but they still showcase talent on each end of the floor—a boon for the Orlando Magic, who already found a bigger three-and-D commodity by grabbing Bamba in the lottery.
No. 36: Mitchell Robinson to New York Knicks
The mystery prospect had to come off the board at some point, but it's a bit surprising the New York Knicks were the ones to take the flier on Mitchell Robinson. The 20-year-old center hasn't played above high school and is remarkably raw, making him a questionable grab for a team trying to dig its way out of the dumps with safer selections that won't set back the rebuild.
Sure, spending a second-round pick on Robinson isn't as concerning as opting to bring him aboard in the first round. He's an elite athlete—seriously, elite might not be a strong enough word—with immense upside on both ends of the floor. But we've seen plenty of prospects like this before, and history is littered with busts who never figured out how to parlay their physical gifts into production.
Therein lies the primary concern with Robinson. This isn't an evaluation of his work ethic, but rather a question about opting to avoid playing in collegiate games and instead training for the draft. On-court experience is typically quite valuable for players in this mold, and Robinson went without any for a while and now enters a situation where he'll likely be saddled with a limited role under the high-pressure rafters of Madison Square Garden.
No. 37: Gary Trent Jr. to Portland Trail Blazers
As Wojnarowski reported, the Portland Trail Blazers wound up with Gary Trent Jr. by trading with the Sacramento Kings. And whereas their first pick (Simons) was a raw point guard who will have to develop behind Lillard, their second selection is...a raw shooting guard who will have to develop behind McCollum.
Yay for consistency?
Again, the Blazers' thinking is a bit baffling. Talented as Trent may be—primarily operating as a sharpshooter who connected on 40.2 percent of his treys as a Duke freshman—he's a remarkably poor defender who was constantly targeted by opponents throughout his brief collegiate career. That won't change in Rip City, and you'll likely see one foe after another get him caught in a switch before running a clear-out set that exploits his limited lateral mobility and shaky foot speed.
No. 38: Khyri Thomas to Detroit Pistons
By springing for Khyri Thomas in a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, as Charania reported, the Detroit Pistons demonstrated serious interest in the Creighton shooting guard. The bigger mystery is why, because this is a franchise that needs to find shooting talent to provide spacing for the Blake Griffin-Andre Drummond duo or a replacement for the point guard carousel comprised of Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith.
Thomas is a defensive menace, but we're still not quite sure whether his shooting form will allow him to make the leap from college treys to NBA threes. Even though he knocked down 41.1 percent of his triples as a junior, they were almost all of the spot-up variety and typically came with his toes mere inches from the arc.
Whether he can extend that range enough to justify this selection remains to be seen, though getting another strong defensive presence on board is never a bad thing.
No. 39: Isaac Bonga to Los Angeles Lakers
In a class this deep, you don't want to reach for draft-and-stash prospects this early. And that's exactly what Isaac Bonga is, as the German small forward still hasn't celebrated his 19th birthday and has plenty of areas that need substantial work.
Until he adds muscle to his 6'9", 203-pound frame, he'll get bullied by virtually every NBA player. Beyond that, his jumper often seems broken, and he struggles to avoid turning over the rock at even the slightest hint of defensive pressure.
Sure, Bonga has upside. But so do a lot of other players the Los Angeles Lakers could've selected during the first third of the second round.
No. 40: Rodions Kurucs to Brooklyn Nets
As Jonathan Tjarks explained for The Ringer, Rodions Kurucs' unique situation makes him difficult to evaluate:
"Kurucs has been caught in limbo all season. He was unwilling to extend his contract with FC Barcelona, so the team kept him on its B team rather than promot[ing] him to its senior team or loaning him out somewhere else. It's hard to evaluate him considering his substandard competition, and he may need to leave Barcelona before he can build enough buzz to stay in the draft."
Nonetheless, he stayed in the draft. And the Brooklyn Nets apparently saw enough to like that they sprung for him at No. 40 despite plenty of talented prospects with more established pedigrees on the board.
Kurucs is a ball-handling small forward who could blossom into a secondary creator down the road, but don't expect to see this 20-year-old in the NBA for a while.
No. 41: Jarred Vanderbilt to Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets already have—deep breath—Paul Millsap, Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur, Trey Lyles, Juancho Hernangomez and Tyler Lydon under contract at power forward. Why not select one more 4, especially when you have to trade with the Orlando Magic, per Charania, to acquire the prospect?
Seriously, roster construction alone makes this one hard to explain.
Jarred Vanderbilt is a sterling defender with impressive rebounding chops, and he likely could've become a first-round pick if he'd stayed healthy throughout his Kentucky career. Even without any semblance of scoring ability from the inside or outside, he'll work his way onto an NBA court through sheer point-preventing versatility and intensity.
But another power forward? Really?
No. 42: Bruce Brown to Detroit Pistons
Bruce Brown's value to the Detroit Pistons is predicated upon his ability to channel either the freshman- or sophomore-year efforts he put up for the Miami Hurricanes.
Freshman Brown averaged 11.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists while slashing 45.9/34.7/74.4. Sophomore Brown averaged 11.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists while slashing 41.5/26.7/62.9.
That's a troubling progression, even if development as a rebounder and distributor helped negate some of the shooting backsliding. His defense alone should make him rosterable, but Brown won't carve out a rotation role unless he can fix his woeful shooting mechanics, prove the foot injury that ended his sophomore season prematurely is firmly rooted in the past and show he can create quality looks against NBA defenders.
No. 43: Justin Jackson to Orlando Magic
What if Justin Jackson had gone pro after his freshman season or never suffered a shoulder injury that brought his Maryland career to a halt? Would he have been viewed as a first-round lock like he was when leaving the high school ranks and preparing to enter the NCAA as a potential two-way stud?
The Orlando Magic, who acquired this pick from the Denver Nuggets, per Sports Illustrated's Jeremy Woo should be eager to find out. They don’t really need another forward with plenty already on the roster—doubly true if restricted free agent Aaron Gordon is retained alongside Jonathan Isaac and first-round selection Mohamed Bamba—but a flier on this type of upside can’t hurt.
Jackson is more of a combo forward than anything else. And that's a compliment, because the status stems from his chiseled frame and ability to hold his own defensively against both perimeter-dwelling wings and back-to-the-basket bigs.
No. 44: Issuf Sanon to Washington Wizards
Issuf Sanon won't be ready to contribute to the Washington Wizards for a while, but the 18-year-old point guard from Ukraine has plenty of upside. Let's turn it over to Sports Illustrated's Jeremy Woo, who went over the youngster's strengths in detail:
"-Rangy, athletic combo guard who plays both ends of the floor. Puts pressure on the rim. Likes to get downhill and attack the basket. Shows flashes in transition. Lots of natural talent.
-Leaper who can finish above the rim and throw it down. Prefers to elevate off one foot.
-Good change of direction off the dribble. Handle still developing. Hard to stay in front of with a full head of steam.
-Competes hard defensively. Motor isn’t in question."
That's all well and good. But isn't it strange that a team in perpetual search of more quality backups is going the draft-and-stash route?
No. 45: Hamidou Diallo to Oklahoma City Thunder
Hamidou Diallo will technically remain a part of the Brooklyn Nets for a little while, but Wojnarowski reports the Oklahoma City Thunder will acquire his rights when the deal can officially process July 6. For all intents and purposes, we're considering him an OKC acquisition.
That's a good thing for the Thunder.
Diallo is a fundamentally flawed player with a nonexistent jumper and plenty of bad basketball habits that need breaking as soon as possible. He's more athlete than anything else, which is always troubling for a young man preparing to enter a league as sophisticated as the NBA.
But the athleticism is still off the charts, and he has the physical tools to coast as an on-ball stopper and instinctual cutter. That's his floor, and most teams still covet players who profile as potential lockdown defenders with above-the-rim offensive ability.
No. 46: De'Anthony Melton to Houston Rockets
De'Anthony Melton hasn't scored a point, collected a rebound, dished out a dime or made a single defensive play in a full collegiate season. But that's only because USC ruled him ineligible during the FBI's probe, depriving him of the ability to build upon a freshman campaign in which he averaged 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.0 blocks while slashing 43.7/28.4/70.6.
Those offensive numbers aren't impressive, but this 6'3" guard is one of those players who could sit down on the scoring side and still manage to function as an overall positive. Frankly, I'm surprised his defensive acumen alone wasn't enough for him to get some first-round love, because he was that good in any and all situations.
Most freshmen struggle to maintain focus in off-ball situations, but Melton was the exception who proved the rule back in 2016-17. He actually posted a 5.3 defensive box plus/minus, thanks to his ability to contribute across the board, and that mark left him trailing only 14 qualified guards.
Melton may not fit the Houston Rockets' three-point-jacking identity, but they surely won't complain about those preventing habits that should immediately translate.
No. 47: Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk to Los Angeles Lakers
Biggest losers with the No. 47 selection: sports writers everywhere who will need to learn how to spell Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk if he morphs into a contributor of note for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Biggest winners with the No. 47 selection: Mykhailiuk himself for getting a shot to make the roster of an up-and-coming squad, and the Lakers themselves for adding such a potent sharpshooter at this stage of the draft.
The Kansas product made major strides during his fourth NCAA season by developing as a distributor without sacrificing anything on the defensive end. But it was still his shooting stroke that made him most intriguing from an NBA standpoint—a natural byproduct of taking 6.6 attempts per game from beyond the arc and connecting at a 44.4 percent clip.
Dating back to 1992-93, only 73 other players have matched or exceed that volume/efficiency combination. Mykhailiuk, though, was the only member of the club to earn entry during the 2017-18 campaign.
No. 48: Keita Bates-Diop to Minnesota Timberwolves
The reigning Big Ten Player of the Year, Keita Bates-Diop, might be more of a tweener—the label that comes with negative connotations—than a true combo forward. But that's solely because he doesn't have the athletic profile of a typical 3-4 hybrid, as he lacks the foot speed necessary to stick with smaller players and the requisite physicality to bang around with bigger ones.
Then again, he has the raw basketball skills necessary to succeed if the Minnesota Timberwolves are able to surround him with complementary talents who can cover for his flaws.
Bates-Diop is one of the smarter players in this class, and that intelligence oozes from his pores when he plays. He understands the nuances of positional defense, already knows when to switch advantageously and always fills the right spaces on offense, even when he's not rewarded with shooting opportunities. Cliche as it may be, he's good at the little things.
Even if his shooting stroke doesn't go with him from Columbus, Ohio, to Minneapolis, he has the tools necessary to contribute in a plethora of areas and become a convincing glue guy for the second unit.
No. 49: Chimezie Metu to San Antonio Spurs
Chimezie Metu is a confusing prospect whose production and physical tools don't always seem compatible.
Watch even the tiniest bit of his tape, and you'll see his ability to block shots in a variety of situations. He can stuff the post-up attempt of a bigger opponent with either hand on one possession, then rotate from the weak side and explode for an above-the-rim swat on the next trip down the floor. But his wingspan is barely greater than 7'0", and his 6'10" frame doesn't make him a remarkably big center, should that become his natural position in the Association.
So it goes for most of his other skills.
He thrives as a rim-runner, but he struggles on the boards. He looks the part of a stretchy big and posts respectable numbers at the stripe (.730 last season), but he hasn't yet demonstrated three-point range and sometimes looks uncomfortable on the perimeter. So on and so forth. The seesaw continues.
Naturally, the San Antonio Spurs got their hands on him at No. 49 and will probably manage to squeeze all the good out of his malleable frame.
No. 50: Alize Johnson to Indiana Pacers
As C.J. Moore noted for Bleacher Report, Alize Johnson, the newest member of the Indiana Pacers after he came off the board at No. 50, followed an interesting journey to the NBA:
"Johnson is a max-effort player who developed a reputation as a workhorse in college. He hits all the right notes for a mid-major prospect. He was a late bloomer who was a 5'11" point guard as a high school freshman. He was 6'5" by the time he graduated high school and continued growing, topping out at 6'8".
He doesn't just rebound; he attacks the glass with a ferocity that shows his hunger to succeed. This is a player who was forced to go the junior college route because of his academic performance. He's been known as a high-character guy at all of his stops, and he impressed last summer at the Adidas Nations camp with his work ethic and motor."
High-motor bigs have frequently fallen out of favor in the space-happy modern NBA (see: Faried, Kenneth), but Johnson does have a definining skill that could help him buck the trend. Averaging 3.7 assists per 40 minutes as a senior at Missouri State, he demonstrated he could handle the rock and push the pace after crashing the glass—a skill no doubt derived from his former status as a 1-guard.
No. 51: Tony Carr to New Orleans Pelicans
Point guard isn't really a need for the New Orleans Pelicans unless Rajon Rondo gets away in free agency, but Tony Carr's upside must've been too much to pass up with one of the 10 final picks in the 2018 NBA draft. Though the Penn State product doesn't create space every trip down the floor, he's one of those guys who just knows how to—clears throat until finding the Uncle Drew voice—get buckets.
As a sophomore, the oversized point guard maximized his 6'5" frame by averaging 19.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 5.0 assists while knocking down 40.8 percent of his field-goal attempts, 43.3 percent of his triples and 79.9 percent of his free throws. He could find twine from all over the half-court set, whether he was letting his teammates set the table for him or going to work in search of a mid-range jumper off the dribble.
Carr's shot selection leaves a lot to be desired, but that's natural for a go-to scorer leading the charge for a non-blue blood. Given his range, high release and size, he should still be able to transition into a sparkplug role off the bench.
No. 52: Vince Edwards to Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets spent 2017-18 lofting a record-setting 42.3 three-point attempts per game—two more than their 2016-17 iteration and 6.6 more than the highest number posted by any other franchise past or present. Naturally, they had to find at least one sniper in the draft, even if landing one required acquiring the No. 52 pick from the Utah Jazz, per Wojnarowski.
Melton, selected six slots sooner, doesn't fit the billing. Vince Edwards does.
The Rockets won't want him creating any looks for himself, but he's an intelligent cutter who's quite comfortable setting up from beyond the arc. That was where he did much of his damage for the Purdue Boilermakers, using his 6'8" frame to shoot over defenders from deep 3.7 times per game and hitting on 39.8 percent of his attempts as a senior.
Astoundingly, that may have been his worst shooting season in the last three years.
No. 53: Devon Hall to Oklahoma City Thunder
Devon Hall, a 6'6" wing with plenty of experience playing fundamental basketball even before finishing up his collegiate career as a senior at Virginia, took 3.9 triples per game and hit 43.2 percent of them during his final go-around. His southpaw stroke and ability to square his shoulders and hips were on full display whether he was cleanly spotting up or curling around screens to receive a feed, and he hit 89.4 percent of his free-throw attempts—further validating his shooting success.
That's not all. He also posted his fourth straight season with a defensive box plus/minus north of four—something only 70 players since 2010-11 have done during each of their four collegiate campaigns.
Say it with me now: "Three-and-D" for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
No. 54: Shake Milton to Philadelphia 76ers
Brett Brown should enjoy using this new toy, whom the Philadelphia 76ers acquired after trading their Nos. 56 and 60 selections for the No. 54 pick originally owned by the Dallas Mavericks, per Charania.
Shake Milton isn't just a 6'6" guard with quick defensive instincts and the 7'1" wingspan necessary to capitalize upon his reads. He can run the show in the pick-and-roll, spot up on the wings or even body up against some forwards. Versatility is the name of the game, which makes sense for a team accepting of the NBA's positionless trends.
No. 55: Arnoldas Kulboka to Charlotte Hornets
Even though Arnoldas Kulboka towers over many forwards with his 6'10" frame, he's a bit of a stick figure. With only 201 pounds to his name, the Lithuanian floor-spacer needs to bulk up significantly before he can display the interior skills necessary to make the leap from Orlandina Basket in Italy's second-tier league to the Charlotte Hornets roster.
The shooting is there. So too are the hops.
But Kulboka is already closer to 21 than 20, which has to be a bit concerning for a skinny draft-and-stash frontcourt player not yet averaging double-digit points or playing in Italy's top division.
No. 56: Ray Spalding to Dallas Mavericks
"Two years ago, I was chatting about Louisville with an NBA scout, and he told me he thought [Ray] Spalding was the best pro prospect on that roster," C.J. Moore reported for Bleacher Report. "It's important to note Donovan Mitchell was a Louisville Cardinal then. Most front offices would probably like a mulligan on Mitchell, but it speaks to Spalding's potential."
Upside is important for the Dallas Mavericks here, and it comes on both ends of the floor. Spalding is raw and doesn't yet have a reliable jumper, but his timing on rolls and ambidexterity from the post offer hope on offense, while his defensive switchability is likely the reason he got drafted at all.
Dallas doesn't need this big man to pan out after using a bottom-five pick to acquire him, but he has more short-term potential than many selections in this range.
No. 57: Kevin Hervey to Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Hervey won't be able to play with offensive autonomy like he so often did at UT Arlington. That wouldn't fly on any NBA team, much less one with Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and, maybe, Paul George.
But the Oklahoma City Thunder have to be intrigued by the scoring tools this former Maverick—no, not the Dallas variety—put on display. They let him average 20.5 points per game as a senior, even as he committed too many turnovers and forced up plenty of misfires he had no business launching.
If even part of his scoring profile translates, whether it’s the athletic cuts into space, the point-forward habits or his spot-up work, he could be a useful spark off the bench.
No. 58: Thomas Welsh to Denver Nuggets
"The big man averaged a double-double over the course of the season, putting up 12.6 points per game and 10.8 rebounds per game while shooting 40 percent from deep," Brendan Vogt revealed for Denver Stiffs. "[Thomas] Welsh recorded 18 total double-doubles that year—the most in a single UCLA season since Kevin Love."
Obviously, the Denver Nuggets managed to unearth the next Kevin Love with the No. 58 selection of the 2018 NBA draft. Expect plenty of All-Star appearances as Welsh also challenges for All-NBA bids and MVP votes.
(We're talking about a comparison to Minnesota-era Love here, to be clear.)
Or, more realistically, Denver prized his rebounding and floor-spacing ability, likely planning to let him develop in the G League to get ready to challenge one of the many, many incumbent bigs for a spot on the actual roster.
No. 59: George King to Phoenix Suns
Per Charania, the Phoenix Suns acquired this pick from the Toronto Raptors so they could select George King, an intriguing shooter who also managed to turn himself into a consistent asset on the glass.
King is already 24 years old, making him one of the older prospects you'll see selected during a modern-day draft. But that's not all that makes this small forward unique. He was one of only 11 qualified NCAA players in 2017-18 to take at least four triples per game, hit at least 39 percent of his deep looks and grab over seven rebounds per contest.
Carving out a rotation role in the desert will make for quite the challenge, but at least King has a pair of calling cards to fall back upon.
No. 60: Kostas Antetokounmpo to Dallas Mavericks
The Milwaukee Bucks selected Giannis Antetokounmpo with the No. 15 pick of the 2013 NBA draft. Obviously, that's worked out rather nicely.
The New York Knicks took Thanasis Antetokounmpo at No. 51 in the next draft. He hasn't panned out nearly as well, as he’s still fighting for his NBA life after logging only two appearances since that 2014 selection process.
Now, Kostas Antetokounmpo is joining the club as 2018's Mr. Irrelevant. Only time will tell if he'll prove a steal, but he has name recognition and plenty of scoring upside working in his favor.