All eyes are on the college basketball world as the NCAA Tournament looms. It was a terrific week watching conference tournaments as some players really lit the world on fire. The last 2018 NBA mock draft was right as the final stretch of the season was underway.
Now, though, we will take a look at how the prospects stack up as we head into the NCAA Tournament.
First, it is important to explain my positional categories. I did not use the traditional position names, as those are growing more antiquated each year. I categorized the players into five, more modern, positional roles: Lead guard, combo guard, wing, combo forward, and big.
2018 NBA Mock Draft
1) Luka Doncic: Real Madrid- Wing
Luka Doncic is the versatile wing who is an ideal franchise centerpiece. Doncic is the most complete prospect in this draft.
2) DeAndre Ayton: Arizona- Big
The top two remains the same from the previous 2018 NBA Mock Draft. Doncic and Ayton prove to be in a tier of their own. Ayton seems to be creeping closer and closer to Doncic, though. His recent 26 & 20 game to cap off the season has scouts keen on his ability.
3) Mohamed Bamba: Texas- Big
Bamba has missed some time recently with a toe injury. Despite that, Bamba has continued to improve his offensive game in the final stretch of the season. Pair that with his elite defensive ability and 7-foot-9 wingspan, and you have yourself a truly elite NBA prospect.
4) Jaren Jackson Jr: Michigan State- Big
Jaren Jackson has been receiving much more national praise as of late and is creeping up most boards. The elite two-way big man remains at four right now but has a legitimate shot at cracking the top three at some point.
5) Marvin Bagley: Duke- Big
The ever-productive Bagley remains put at fifth in the 2018 NBA Mock Draft board. There are still questions about footwork, creation, and defense but his tools and activity level will offer enough promise.
6) Michael Porter Jr: Missouri- Wing
The final member of the ‘elite prospect tier’ features Michael Porter Jr. We finally saw Porter play in the SEC Tournament. It wasn’t much to judge off of, but it will be interesting to see how he plays in the NCAA Tournament.
7) Mikal Bridges: Villanova- Wing
The 3-and-D specialist also remains put here at seven. Bridges is shooting 42% from deep on the season and is ready for immediate impact on the NBA level due to his archetype and subsequent role. Every team could use a 3-and-D guru.
8) Trae Young: Oklahoma- Lead Guard
The lightning in a bottle that was Trae Young has seemingly fizzled out. The final stretch of the season has not been pretty, and Young ultimately did not receive a single vote for Big 12 Player of the Year. Despite the burnout, Young made his elite scoring and passing potential very much clear throughout the season.
9) Wendell Carter Jr: Duke- Big
Wendell Carter has been an unsung hero for Duke this season. He can score in a plethora of ways while also showing some real rim protecting ability. Carter also has the potential to rise even further on mock draft boards.
10) Miles Bridges: Michigan State- Combo Forward
The first change from the previous 2018 NBA Mock Draft is here. Bridges is the versatile forward who has been the leader for the Spartans this season. He has shown the ability to consistently hit jumpers from all distances all the while scoring 1.368 points per possession around the basket via Synergy. His extra year of college experience will also put him in a better position for immediate NBA impact.
11) Lonnie Walker IV: Miami- Wing
Lonnie Walker put a slow start behind him as he helped carry the Hurricanes to a third-place finish in the ACC. Walker ranks in the 96th percentile in ISO scoring via Synergy and has really shown prowess as a jump shooter. Walker’s athleticism and physical tools provide upside on both sides of the ball. He may not be ready for immediate high-level production in the NBA, but Walker has already shown that he can improve significantly in short periods of time.
12) Kevin Knox: Kentucky- Combo Forward
Knox has had a rocky year but has really hit a stride in the final stretch of the season. At the college level, Knox is a versatile and athletic forward who can impact the game on both sides of the ball. It remains to be seen just which skills will translate to the NBA. Knox has a smaller frame and is not an elite athlete. He also really struggles to shoot off the dribble and create for himself. He will have positional questions to answer on both sides of the ball, but his physical tools and versatility provide a healthy upside.
13) Collin Sexton: Alabama- Lead Guard
Sexton has been disappointing this season relative to expectations. In a vacuum, though, he has been fine and has shown some translatable qualities. Sexton is an elite athlete and one of the better point of attack defender in the country. His scoring and playmaking abilities are spotty, but the flashes he has shown give hope that he can become consistent at the next level. See: His SEC Tournament performances.
14) Troy Brown Jr: Oregon- Wing
The do-it-all wing who has point guard skills has remained extremely steady over the course of the season. Part of it is due to very few players being able to pass him, and the other part is due to Brown not being able to pass players ahead of him. He doesn’t do any one thing great but the versatility on both ends is ideal in today’s NBA as long as the right situation can mold him.
15) Landry Shamet: Wichita State- Lead Guard
Landry Shamet moves up four spots from the previous 2018 NBA mock draft, but that may be due more to the players ahead of him falling. Shamet is a very good prospect, no doubt, but this is where the draft starts getting really weird. Anyway, Shamet is a 6-foot-4 point guard who shoots 44% from deep and rarely makes a bad decision.
16) Rob Williams: Texas A&M- Big
Outside of the top ten, the draft is devoid of polished big man prospects. Rob Williams serves as one of the better high-upside bigs that will need some work. Williams is a massive presence and offers major rim protecting upside.
17) Mitchell Robinson: N/A- Big
The next elite physical specimen big man prospect is Mitchell Robinson. He opted not to play college ball, so we haven’t seen much of him. Despite this, we know that Robinson is an outstanding athlete who has some ability to be a solid creator down the road.
18) Daniel Gafford: Arkansas- Big
The surprising freshman Daniel Gafford is the third member of this “elite physically but can only serve as rim protectors and rim divers” group. A similar mold of the previous two, Gafford has a desirable skill-set for the modern-day NBA center. Look for the combine to be the real separator for these three.
19) Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: Kentucky- Lead Guard
The hype around Gilgeous-Alexander has cooled recently, but that does not take away from the upside that he possesses. He has terrific size and physical tools for a point guard while showing glimpses of good playmaking ability. This class does not have many great point guards, so taking a guy with high upside seems ideal for teams in need of another lead guard.
20) Shake Milton: SMU- Lead Guard
Shake Milton has missed some time recently through injury, but his physical tools for the lead guard spot are undeniable. Milton offers versatility to play off the ball, too, as he hits 43% from deep. He doesn’t have eye-popping athleticism, but his size paired with shooting ability and defensive upside will be attractive.
21) Bruce Brown Jr: Miami- Lead Guard
Brown is another notable dropper from the previous 2018 NBA mock draft. He has missed the last month or so due to injury and may not make it back this season. Apart from that, Brown simply has not shown the ability to be a consistent reliable scorer or advanced playmaker this. What keeps him afloat, though is his defensive ability and potential, as well as his performances from last season.
22) Dzanan Musa: Cedevita- Wing
At this point in the draft, players with high scoring upside are running few. There will not be many better options than a versatile 6-foot-9 wing who can score at all 3 levels.
23) Khyri Thomas: Creighton- Combo Guard
Thomas is one of the best spot-up scorers in the country and can play both guard positions. He may be best served as the off guard, but his size (6-foot-3) is not optimal there. He is an outstanding defender, though. His floor seems to be as a viable 3-and-D guard.
24) Jacob Evans: Cincinnati- Wing
Jacob Evans come in as another 3-and-D wing that can be an excellent addition to a winning team. There are questions about his own ability to create and the ability to finish at the rim, but in the right system, he can thrive as a 3-and-D specialist.
25) Brandon McCoy: UNLV- Big
McCoy has dropped from the last 2018 NBA mock draft quite a bit. His self-creation and ability to switch on to guards is a question for most. At the moment, he would simply be a paint presence on both ends. His size and length, though, do offer some solid upside.
26) Keita Bates-Diop: Ohio State- Wing
The Big Ten Player of the Year keeps his stock rising. Bates-Diop is an extremely versatile wing prospect who can score in a multitude of ways. He isn’t great at any one aspect of the game but is a jack of all trades who could provide a boost to a good team that will be picking late.
27) De’Andre Hunter: Virginia- Combo Forward
De’Andre Hunter is a redshirt freshman who has surprised everyone this year. Hunter has outstanding two-way potential in the NBA. He doesn’t get a large amount of playing time or volume, but he has shown some real, translatable skills. He ranks in the 92nd percentile in all man defense situations via Synergy, aided by his 7-foot-2 wingspan. He is also a good- yet low volume- shooter. Look for Hunter to be a hot riser on 2018 NBA mock draft boards.
28) Chandler Hutchison: Boise State- Wing
Hutchison is a senior wing who can also do a little bit of everything. The senior is an extremely smart player who knows how to pick his shots. He may not have an extremely high ceiling, but he is rather polished and can serve as a feature role player.
29) Jontay Porter: Missouri- Big
Jontay Porter makes his first appearance in the first round of my 2018 NBA mock draft. Porter is certainly more of a raw prospect, but he has shown flashes of skills that signal a possible NBA force. He is a mobile center with long arms and good instincts on D. His jumper is a little unpredictable right now, but he does offer some hope in creating his own baskets.
30) Zhaire Smith: Texas Tech- Wing
To round out the 2018 NBA mock draft, we have a surprising freshman who has shown some terrific flashes. Smith has long arms and is an extremely dynamic athlete. His offensive game is very raw and is even a bit spotty on defense. Though he has shown that he can be an elite defender while flashing glimpses of a nice jumper- especially of the dribble. He is shooting an extremely low volume 42% from 3 (0.9 attempts per game) but the foundation is there.