The 2018 NBA draft is finally in the rearview. And what a draft it was.
Deandre Ayton went first, to almost no one's surprise. Marvin Bagley III went second. And a huge trade landed No. 3 pick Luka Doncic on the Dallas Mavericks.
It was early, but that may have been the climax of the night. There were plenty of trades after the Doncic deal, but none with so much at stake.
Dallas comes out looking like a clear winner, but it wasn't the only team that had a good Thursday. The following grades are not only based on the players each team wound up with, but also on the spot at which they got them.
Atlanta Hawks: Trae Young (5th), Kevin Huerter (19th), Omari Spellman (30th)
The Atlanta Hawks were the team that sent to Doncic to the Mavs, in exchange for Dallas' No. 5 pick in this year's draft and a 2019 first-rounder that will be top-five protected. So, if the Mavericks are in the top five again next season, they get to keep the pick.
That certainly sounds like a steal for Dallas. And maybe it will prove to be just that. But given the return, Atlanta must have been high on Trae Young. And who could blame them?
Young averaged an absurd 27.4 points and 8.7 assists this season. Among freshmen, his Offensive Box Plus-Minus of 11.2 is the highest (by a long shot) in Sports Reference's database, which dates back to 2010. It ranks third overall, regardless of class.
Young has a chance to be a superstar, but the selection doesn't come without risks. His size and lack of elite explosiveness lead to questions about his defense. If he can manage to even be average on that end, he has a chance to be special.
After Young, the Hawks went after more shooting. Kevin Huerter is a 6'7" wing who moves off the ball like Klay Thompson and shot 41.7 percent from three this year. Omari Spellman is another 40-plus-percent shooter who has stretch 5 potential.
Yes, it looks like the Hawks lost the biggest trade of the night. But they recovered about as well as one could expect.
Boston Celtics: Robert Williams (27th)
Robert Williams was projected as high as the Los Angeles Clippers at No. 12 in some mock drafts leading up to this week. To snag him at No. 27 is a steal.
Williams is one of the most explosive leapers in this class and has a chance to be a rim runner in the mold of fellow Aggie DeAndre Jordan.
Brooklyn Nets: Dzanan Musa (29th), Rodions Kurucs (40th)
The Brooklyn Nets got fantastic value out of both the picks they made on Thursday. Dzanan Musa is still a teenager and averaged double-figures in the Adriatic League this season. And Rodions Kurucs was a lottery prospect in mock drafts a couple years ago.
Both have a chance to be effective floor spacers who could spend time at the 3 or the 4.
Charlotte Hornets: Miles Bridges (12th), Devonte Graham (34th), Arnoldas Kulboka (55th)
There was a big run on potential 3-and-D wings once the draft got to the double-digit picks. And the Charlotte Hornets landed one of the most explosive ones in Miles Bridges:
Considering the fact that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's offense never really came around, there's a chance Bridges could work his way into Charlotte's rotation pretty quickly.
Chicago Bulls: Wendell Carter Jr. (7th), Chandler Hutchison (22nd)
The Chicago Bulls may have landed the most modern big in the top 10 when they selected Wendell Carter Jr. His numbers stacked up next to Ayton's paint an interesting picture:
|Wendell Carter vs Deandre Ayton|
In today's game, bigs need to be able to pass, defend all over the floor and knock down threes. Carter may have the edge over Ayton in all of the above.
And Chicago wasn't done there. Senior Chandler Hutchison's age is a red flag, but his size and versatility give him the potential to be a prototype modern wing.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Collin Sexton (8th)
Collin Sexton may be slightly undersized for today's game. His jump shot in college was, to put it kindly, inconsistent. And his usage was through the roof.
Competitiveness, which is important, seems to be the biggest strength.
Dallas Mavericks: Luka Doncic (3rd), Jalen Brunson (33rd), Ray Spalding (56th), Kostas Antetokounmpo (60th)
The Mavericks got the best player in this draft. According to Nylon Calculus' Jacob Goldstein, his Box Plus-Minus (BPM) in Europe would've translated to roughly 3.9 against NBA competition.
Al Horford's BPM of 4.0 ranked 21st in the NBA this season, per Basketball Reference. Otto Porter, Draymond Green and Kemba Walker are a small sampling of players who came in under Doncic's theoretical 3.9.
Oh, and he's still just 19 years old and he just won EuroLeague MVP, EuroLeague Final Four MVP and Spanish ACB MVP. He averaged 20.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.6 steals per 36 minutes while posting a .592 True Shooting Percentage.
And at 6'8" with ridiculous passing skills, he plays exactly the role, point forward, that tons of teams are dying to fill right now. This seems like such a no-brainer. And Dallas looks like the team that actually got it.
In addition to Doncic, the Mavericks added a potential backup point guard in Villanova's Jalen Brunson and took two late flyers, one of which was on Giannis Antetokounmpo's brother, Kostas.
Denver Nuggets: Michael Porter Jr. (14th), Jarred Vanderbilt (41st), Thomas Welsh (58th)
The Denver Nuggets also hit this draft out of the park. Thanks to his injury concerns, Michael Porter Jr. would've been a risk to plenty of teams. But not the Nuggets.
Denver's already loaded on offense, so Porter can take his time getting healthy. If he does get all the way back, Denver has a guy at the 3 who was seen by many as the top prospect just 12 months ago.
Then, there's Jarred Vanderbilt, one of the steals of the draft, according to Dean Demakis:
Add those two to the late flyer on stretch big Thomas Welsh and this looks like one of the best drafts of the night, relative to position.
Detroit Pistons: Khyri Thomas (38th), Bruce Brown (42nd)
The Detroit Pistons had to wheel and deal to even get into this draft. And they came away with pretty good value, given the circumstances. Khyri Thomas was seen as a first-rounder by some experts coming into the night.
Golden State Warriors: Jacob Evans (28th)
Jacob Evans seems like a perfect fit for the Golden State Warriors. A 6'6" player who averaged 11.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.9 blocks in college seems tailor-made for the position-less era.
Houston Rockets: De'Anthony Melton (46th), Vince Edwards (52nd)
Without a single first-round pick, the Houston Rockets nailed the 2018 draft. Actually, they didn't even make their first pick till the back half of the second round.
They came away with two advanced stats darlings in De'Anthony Melton and Vince Edwards. Melton is especially intriguing, as several mock drafts had him as a comfortable first-rounder.
Indiana Pacers: Aaron Holiday (23rd), Alize Johnson (50th)
Aaron Holiday was plenty productive at UCLA, but his age and lack of size are both a bit concerning. Alize Johnson is a relatively unknown big from Missouri State.
Los Angeles Clippers: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (11th), Jerome Robinson (13th)
Freshman Shai Gilgeous-Alexander could be a template for the point guard of the position-less era. He's 6'6", can shoot a little and has a knack for getting to the rim.
Jerome Robinson isn't quite as exciting. The junior averaged over 20 points this season, but he was also one of the only prospects in this year's class with a negative Defensive Box Plus-Minus, per Sports Reference.
Los Angeles Lakers: Moritz Wagner (25th), Isaac Bonga (39th), Svi Mykhailiuk (47th)
Brook Lopez will be a free agent this summer. And with the Lakers trying to preserve as much cap space as possible for a run at multiple free agents, maybe Moritz Wagner can replicate a bit of Lopez's shooting on a significantly smaller contract.
According to Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, the Michigan product was a "big target" of Magic Johnson's:
After that, the Lakers landed a possible draft-and-stash candidate in Isaac Bonga and another shooter in Svi Mykhailiuk.
Memphis Grizzlies: Jaren Jackson Jr. (4th), Jevon Carter (32nd)
Along with Carter and Mohamed Bamba, Jaren Jackson Jr. is the big whose fit in the NBA is easiest to see. He can knock down a three, but more importantly, he's probably the best defender in this class.
His versatility and ability to guard all over the floor might even allow him to play alongside Marc Gasol.
Miami Heat: No Picks
Thanks to the trade that landed them Goran Dragic, the Miami Heat didn't have any picks in this year's draft.
Milwaukee Bucks: Donte DiVincenzo (17th)
This feels like a perfect fit for a team that has given backcourt rotation minutes to Matthew Dellavedova, Tony Snell and late-30s Jason Terry over the last couple years.
Donte DiVincenzo can create for himself and others, hit threes and jump through the roof. In sum, he has the potential to be a long-term answer for the Bucks at shooting guard.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Josh Okogie (20th), Keita Bates-Diop (48th)
The Minnesota Timberwolves are another team that did a lot with a little. Josh Okogie is one of the best athletes in the draft. Keita Bates-Diop's slide to the end of the second round was shocking. He was a lottery pick in various mocks leading up to the draft.
New Orleans Pelicans: Tony Carr (51st)
It's hard to do anything flashy when you only have one pick and it's in the 50s. So, you can't really fault the New Orleans Pelicans for going after the raw production of Tony Carr.
The 6'5" Carr averaged 19.6 points, five assists and 4.9 rebounds, while shooting 43.3 percent from three for Penn State.
New York Knicks: Kevin Knox (9th), Mitchell Robinson (36th)
Miles or Mikal Bridges seemed like the safer 3-and-D options, but the New York Knicks elected for the upside of Kevin Knox, who, like it or not, is already drawing tangential comparisons to Michael Beasley.
"What they extracted from Michael Beasley last season and coach David Fizdale's ability to connect with young talent are considered a combination that could unlock Knox's potential," Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher wrote. "Executives say he's a better scorer than the collegiate analytics give him credit for, something take-that-for-data Fizdale should appreciate."
For a league that's becoming increasingly comfortable with layers of analysis that include objective data, that description is...something.
To Knox's credit, though, he's still just 18 years old. And he showed flashes of efficiency at Kentucky. His ceiling is probably higher than peak Beasley, but his floor is a little daunting, too.
New York's second-round pick might be easier for fans to talk themselves into. Mitchell Robinson was being mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Ayton and Jackson when all these guys were in high school. Sitting the year out hurt his stock, but he's loaded with athletic ability and was more than worth a shot in the 30s.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Hamidou Diallo (45th), Devon Hall (53rd), Kevin Hervey (57th)
The Oklahoma City Thunder went bananas at the end of the second round. There's a chance none of these guys make it, but Hamidou Diallo certainly has some intriguing physical tools.
Orlando Magic: Mohamed Bamba (6th), Melvin Frazier (35th), Justin Jackson (43rd)
Bamba's ceiling is scary to think about it. If he truly can turn into Rudy Gobert with a reliable three-point shot, that's one of the best centers in the NBA.
Justin Jackson is also interesting. He was showing up in the first round in 2017 mock drafts before he decided to go back to school, thanks in large part to his frame and athleticism.
Philadelphia 76ers: Zhaire Smith (16th), Landry Shamet (26th), Shake Milton (54th)
Trading Philadelphia native Mikal Bridges put a strange spin on a feel-good story, but the 76ers accepted a great deal there.
Zhaire Smith has the 10th-best freshman BPM ever recorded, according to Sports Reference. Landing him and a future first was too much to pass up:
|Zhaire Smith vs Markelle Fultz|
Additionally, Landry Shamet is one of the best shooters in this class, and Shake Milton has a chance to fit well in the position-less era.
Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton (1st), Mikal Bridges (10th), Elie Okobo (31st), George King (59th)
The desire to take Ayton first overall is understandable. Physically, his gifts may be unrivaled by anyone in this class.
But after seeing bigs as good as Joel Embiid played off the floor in the 2018 playoffs, the desire to build around a traditional big is tough to understand.
Now, there's obviously a chance Ayton isn't that, but he's closer to it than Jackson, Carter or Bamba. And his BPM was nearly identical to Jahlil Okafor's, which is a tad foreboding.
As for the Bridges deal, it seems like a bit of an overpay, but he has a chance to be the best 3-and-D guy in this class. And he can instantly plug into position-less lineups with Devin Booker, Josh Jackson and T.J. Warren.
Of the second rounders, Elie Okobo has the best chance to stick. He's another player that some saw going in the first round.
Portland Trail Blazers: Anfernee Simons (24th), Gary Trent Jr. (37th)
The Portland Trail Blazers landed two guards in Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr. who could use some time to develop. It's a good thing Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are already there.
Sacramento Kings: Marvin Bagley III (2nd)
Ayton wasn't the only player who had roughly the same college BPM as Okafor. Bagley was right there too.
This year's top two picks are undoubtedly different from Okafor, but the overall impact being so close is, at the least, interesting.
If Bagley is the tweener version of Okafor—an all-offense, no defense Blue Devil—this is going to look like a mighty big miss, especially with some of the players who were taken in the rest of the lottery.
San Antonio Spurs: Lonnie Walker (18th), Chimezie Metu (49th)
Lonnie Walker feels like another raw prospect that shooting coach Chip Engelland and the San Antonio Spurs machine could transform into a bona fide starter. He has great size and athleticism for a 1. Adding a consistent jumper could allow San Antonio to play him alongside Dejounte Murray.
Chimezie Metu, meanwhile, seems like even more of a project, which of course isn't much of a problem at No. 49.
Toronto Raptors: No Picks
The Toronto Raptors traded their only pick, King, to the Suns.
Utah Jazz: Grayson Allen (21st)
The Utah Jazz were 14th in threes made and 11th in three-point percentage last season. Adding another shooter to the mix could push them closer to the top 10 in both categories.
Grayson Allen shot 38 percent from deep over his four seasons with Duke, and the career-low BPM of 5.6 that he posted as a freshman was better than the one Knox posted this season.
He's maybe a little small for position-less basketball, but he could certainly log minutes at either guard spot.
Washington Wizards: Troy Brown (15th), Issuf Sanon (44th)
If Troy Brown figures out how to shoot, he'll likely be a hit. He has good size and playmaking chops for a wing and could be a nice complement to Kelly Oubre off the bench.
Issuf Sanon looks like a draft-and-stash pick.
Unless otherwise noted, stats courtesy of NBA.com or Sports Reference.
Andy Bailey covers the NBA for SLC Dunk and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter (@AndrewDBailey) and listen to his Hardwood Knocks podcast, co-hosted by B/R's Dan Favale.