The NBA regular season is over and the NBA Draft declaration deadline is on the horizon. The draft is beginning to take shape as we now know the draft order for picks 15-30 and lottery odds for each team. Thus, it is time for a team-oriented 2018 NBA Mock Draft.
Our previous 2018 NBA mock drafts were simply players ranked 1-30. Here, we will take into account team needs and fits, like a true mock draft following the results of the tiebreaker coin flips to determine the draft lottery. Draft season is upon us, meaning that 2018 NBA mock draft season is in full swing.
1. Phoenix Suns
Luka Doncic: Wing- Real Madrid
Luka Doncic is the best player in the draft and should be top pick regardless of the team. Though, a player with the versatility to fill multiple roles- including ballhandler- would be a vital pickup for Phoenix. Doncic’s passing ability would compliment Booker, Bender, and Jackson quite nicely.
2. Memphis Grizzlies
DeAndre Ayton: Big- Arizona
With an aging Marc Gasol, the Grizzlies picked a great year to be bad. While there are many needs in Memphis, grabbing the second-best prospect in the draft to replace a long-time star is a major win. Ayton is far from being a “Grit N Grind” player, but Memphis is moving away from that. He is suited for immediate impact on offense and could learn an overall savviness from Gasol.
3. Dallas Mavericks
Jaren Jackson Jr: Big- Michigan State
Like the Grizzlies, the Mavericks picked a great year to be bad. There are major questions in their frontcourt both immediately and long-term. While we know that Dirk Nowitzki will be back next season, they will still lack major quality. Jaren Jackson offers two-way ability and great long-term upside. Jackson can space the floor, create for himself, and protect the rim. Not only is he the ideal big for the modern NBA, he is just what the Mavericks could use.
4. Atlanta Hawks
Mo Bamba: Big- Texas
The Hawks drafted a major steal in John Collins last year, so they may not necessarily need another big man here. That said, there are no wings or guards worth drafting at 4. They may trade back, but if they do not, Mohamed Bamba should be the pick. Bamba and Collins could grow into one of the best young frontcourts in the league. The tandem of John Collins being offensive-minded and Bamba being defensive-minded could be a perfect compliment. Every team wants an elite rim protector, and Bamba could be amongst the league’s elite in just a few years.
5. Orlando Magic
Wendell Carter Jr: Big- Duke
The Magic are in a tough spot here. They have a crowded frontcourt but no clear answer as to who will be the main man going forward. Do they continue waiting and see if someone emerges? Or do they take a stab at an all-around talent? I say the latter. Wendell Carter, who was the final big name to officially declare for the 2018 NBA Draft, has shown a legitimate ability to protect the rim while being able to score in many different ways. Hypothetically, Jonathan Isaac and Wendell Carter could develop into an elite and versatile frontcourt in Orlando.
6. Sacramento Kings
Michael Porter Jr: Wing- Missouri
Two spots that the Kings seem comfortable with are at lead guard and center. Luckily for them, the sixth pick is a very nice spot to take a wing without reaching. While Michael Porter Jr missed almost the entire season through injury, his talent is well-known. Porter can offer a scoring punch at all three levels. He possesses self-creation ability while also being an underrated passer. The major questions will involve his injury recovery and which skills translate to the higher levels.
7. Chicago Bulls
Mikal Bridges: Wing- Villanova
The Chicago Bulls will be faced with a tough question: The raw talent of Marvin Bagley or the immediate impact of Mikal Bridges to fill a major need? Here, they go with their team need- more talent on the wing that can shoot threes and defend. Mikal Bridges is the best three-and-D prospect in the draft.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers
Marvin Bagley III: Big- Duke
The future of the Cavaliers is one big question. Regardless of whether or not LeBron James will leave, drafting the best player available is a very safe choice here. Luckily for them, two need picks have left a very talented player to fall to the eighth pick. Marvin Bagley is an extremely active and ferocious player. Rough around the edges, Bagley has shown the ability to dominate with his unique combination of size and athleticism. If he could improve on defense, he would prove to be a major steal at eighth overall.
9. New York Knicks
Trae Young: Lead Guard- Oklahoma
The first lead guard comes off the board here with the Knicks. The Knicks drafted Frank Ntilikina last year, but there are questions about whether or not he can play lead guard at the highest level. Enter Trae Young, a versatile lead guard with unlimited shooting range. Not only does he have elite range, but Young is an exceptional passer. Despite his questions about being able to create for himself in the NBA, his vision is undeniable. Pair him with Ntilikina and the two young guards can split ballhandling duties to create a more fluid offense.
10. Philadelphia 76ers
Miles Bridges: Combo Forward- Michigan State
The 76ers have no glaring needs on the team. Thus, they should pick the best player available. Bridges is 6-foot-7 and can play either forward spot. The former Spartan is also a fine ballhandler, showing flashes of some point-forward skills with exceptional PnR ballhandler ability. This type of versatility will help the overall depth and talent level in Philadephia.
11. Charlotte Hornets
Kevin Knox: Wing- Kentucky
The Hornets get exactly what they need in Kevin Knox, who also happens to be the best player available at this juncture. Charlotte has been desperate for a talented wing who can play both ends. While Knox is still mostly raw, we have seen his ability to score especially well off the bounce and use his near 7-foot wingspan to shut down offensive players.
12. Los Angeles Clippers
Collin Sexton: Lead Guard- Alabama
It feels like the Clippers played 100 different players this season. With so much turnover, there are many roster questions- including at lead guard. Sexton has incredible defensive upside and possesses the ability to get to the rim almost at will. His athletic ability is a major part of his game and would help the Clippers keep up in the era of dynamic point guards.
13. Los Angeles Clippers
Rob Williams: Big- Texas A&M
The Clippers dip into the SEC pool with back-to-back picks as they opt for a more need-based pick. With the future of DeAndre Jordan murky and a lack of quality frontcourt depth behind him, Williams is an ideal pick. The center that can screen and dive to the rim while protecting the paint is a highly sought-after archetype in the NBA. Williams should fit that role perfectly and could become a key player because of it.
14. Denver Nuggets
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: Lead Guard- Kentucky
The Denver Nuggets lack backcourt depth and even more so with Will Barton’s contract expiring. They find themselves in a great spot here, as the best player available happens to be a versatile guard. While primarily a lead guard, Gilgeous-Alexander has the size and versatility to play both guard positions. His defensive upside would also prove valuable in the Nuggets’ backcourt.
15. Washington Wizards
Mitchell Robinson: Big- N/A
Washington’s frontcourt is, simply put, not very good. With no consistent threat on either side of the ball in the frontcourt, Mitchell Robinson is an ideal selection. Robinson is 7-foot-1 with a 7-foot-4 wingspan and elite athleticism for his size. He could serve as a long-term rim protecting option while dominating pick-n-rolls with John Wall.
16. Phoenix Suns
Lonnie Walker IV: Wing- Miami
Any time you can get a lottery talent outside of the lottery, you do it. Phoenix opts to add to a backcourt that needs depth with this pick. Walker is an elite athlete and possesses an ability to score in big bunches. Still fairly raw, Walker flashed much of his upside in the latter half of his season. The two-way potential for Walker could be too much to pass on at this stage in the draft.
17. Milwaukee Bucks
De’Andre Hunter: Wing- Virginia
The theme in Milwaukee’s previous drafts has been raw talent with ideal length. De’Andre Hunter fits that bill perfectly. Hunter stands at 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan and often looked Kawhi-esque for Virginia. Hunter uses his size and length to excel in straight-line drives while being able to guard four positions. More versatility for Milwaukee.
18. San Antonio Spurs
Zhaire Smith: Wing- Texas Tech
With no off-guards inspiring long-term confidence apart from Derrick White and very little athleticism on the wings, Zhaire Smith is an ideal pick. Smith is still a large bet on upside at the moment. The freshman wing shot a very low-volume 45% from three this season. Smith has a propensity to be in the right place at the right time due to his high activity level and his explosive athleticism breeds highlight plays galore. Defensively, Smith can guard three positions thanks to his 6-foot-9 wingspan. San Antonio will welcome a player who could become a better version of Danny Green.
19. Atlanta Hawks
Landry Shamet: Lead Guard- Wichita State
Landry Shamet is a low-risk player who fills a couple of sore spots for the Hawks. Shamet gives Atlanta a reliable option at backup point guard while also having the skillset to play as the off-guard in certain lineups. At 6-foot-4, Shamet has ideal size. The guard is also coming off of a season in which he shot a very high-volume 44% from three. Also, Shamet is known for being careful with the ball- which seems like it would help a team which finished bottom five in the league in turnovers per game.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves
Troy Brown Jr: Wing- Oregon
Depth on the wings was shaky at best for Minnesota this season. Troy Brown Jr helps alleviate that with his all-around versatility. While the Wolves may prefer a better 3-point shooter, it is usually more profitable to look for shooters in free agency. Brown is a swiss-army knife of a basketball player. At 6-foot-7, he can score as a slasher from the wings or serve as a primary ballhandler and distributor.
21. Utah Jazz
Shake Milton: Lead guard- SMU
Dante Exum is a free agent this summer, Ricky Rubio has one year left and simply does not inspire much confidence either. Enter Shake Milton, a 6-foot-6 point guard who shot over 43% from three on almost six attempts per game. His size paired with a 7-foot wingspan gives him obvious defensive upside and versatility. Milton is a high-floor, low-ceiling type of player who can be productive immediately.
22. Chicago Bulls
Khyri Thomas: Combo Guard- Creighton
The Bulls need 3-point shooting and defense on the wings. After drafting Mikal Bridges to help on the wings, they’ll take a three-and-D player for their backcourt. Thomas was one of the best perimeter defenders in the Big East last season while shooting 41% from three. On offense, he will likely be best served as the off-guard. Defensively, though, Thomas could prove to be an outstanding point of attack defender.
23. Indiana Pacers
Dzanan Musa: Wing- Cedevita
Scoring and reliable depth on the wings is an area of need for the Pacers. Bosnian sensation Dzanan Musa offers both. Musa lacks elite athleticism but simply knows how to put the ball in the basket. The European wing has shown the craft to be a dominant scorer at all three levels.
24. Portland Trail Blazers
Moritz Wagner: Big- Michigan
The Blazers drafted a scoring big man last year in Zach Collins who did not have quite the overall impact that many were expecting. While Collins is still a good prospect, the frontcourt in Portland still lacks quality depth especially if Jusuf Nurkic and Ed Davis leave in free agency. Mo Wagner is an offensive force, shooting over 39% from three and showing serious craftiness in his driving and passing abilities. Its hard to imagine Wagner taking over a game in the NBA, but he can be inserted into a rotation immediately and provide some offensive relief.
25. Los Angeles Lakers
Jontay Porter: Big- Missouri
The Lakers lack a clear long-term option at the center position. Certain small-ball lineups worked this year, but it was clear that they needed a reliable rim protector. Jontay Porter is a long 6-foot-11 big man who shows versatility on both ends. Porter’s ability to anchor a defense as well as switch onto guards looks projectable at the next level. His offense is still a question due to his inconsistent nature on that end. Porter may never be a star, but could flourish in the right role.
26. Philadelphia 76ers
Jalen Brunson: Lead Guard- Villanova
This Sixers dip into the local pool and grab a reliable point guard who can light it up from deep. Brunson could run the offense as well as line up as an off-guard in certain rotations. As a 41% 3-point shooter, Brunson could provide offense in spot-up situations when he isn’t running the offense.
27. Boston Celtics
De’Anthony Melton: Lead Guard- USC
The Boston Celtics love versatility, especially on defense. Melton has ideal size for a lead guard and the length to defend off-guards as well. Anthony could serve as a do-it-all workhorse for the Celtics. He may not be a prolific player, but his versatile nature would be maximized under Brad Stevens.
28. Golden State Warriors
Keita Bates-Diop: Ohio State- Combo Forward
The Warriors add a glue-guy who can do a bit of everything. The Big 10 Player of the Year does not excel in any one aspect but can defend a couple of different positions while possessing three-level scoring ability in spurts. In a minimized role, Bates-Diop could thrive by doing the dirty work for the Warriors.
29. Brooklyn Nets
Caleb Martin: Nevada- Wing
The Nets shot the second-most 3-pointers in the NBA but ranked 20th when it came to actually making them. Caleb Martin is a 40% 3-point shooter who can create looks for himself at all three levels. With their backcourt looking secure in Lin’s return for next year, stockpiling talent on the wings that fit your style of play is a very safe option.
30. Atlanta Hawks
Jacob Evans: Wing- Cincinnati
With their third pick of the first round, the Hawks take a three-and-D wing. Ideally, they may want to select another big to help with their depth, but there is no big man worth taking here at 30. Jacob Evans can guard multiple positions at 6-foot-6 despite not being an elite athlete. Evans is smart and instinctual and always looks composed on defense. On offense, he projects as mostly as a spot-up shooter, as he is a career 38% 3-point shooter with little creation ability.