The NBA season is officially over and all eyes are now on the draft. On top of that, the official NBA withdrawal deadline has passed, meaning the draft field is totally set. Thus, its time to update our 2018 NBA Mock Draft.
Not too much has changed last time, however, there are some few crucial prospects that have moved. DeAndre Ayton seems more and more of a lock to go first each day while Luka Doncic looks like a major wildcard. This particular draft seems extremely hard to read given that so many players are close in status. However, here goes my take on what I think will and should happen in this draft.
2018 NBA Mock Draft
1. Phoenix Suns
DeAndre Ayton: Big- Arizona
All signs point to Phoenix selecting the local big man over Luka Doncic. Speculation persists about Marvin Bagley and Jaren Jackson, however. The Suns do not have an elite big man prospect and Ayton could fill that void. Ayton can dominate the paint offensively due to his rare combination of size and athleticism which will provide an immediate impact. Betting on the upside with Ayton could pay major dividends alongside a player like Devin Booker.
2. Sacramento Kings
Luka Doncic: Wing- Real Madrid
Luka Doncic is the obvious wildcard in this draft. With projections showing him everywhere between 1 and 5, it is hard to pin what the interest levels are for Doncic. The Kings need more offense and grabbing a high-level playmaker doesn’t hurt. With small-ball reigning supreme, drafting another big alongside Cauley-Stein could get messy. A team can never have enough talent on the wings- and Doncic isn’t just any talent.
3. Atlanta Hawks
Jaren Jackson Jr: Big- Michigan State
Jaren Jackson is the best player available and, for the Hawks, the defensive anchor that can play alongside the offensive force that is John Collins. The two could grow and become one of the most versatile in the NBA. Jackson has plenty of versatility; he possesses the ability to score in face-up situations from 12 feet out and he also shot 40% from deep. Defensively he is primed for the NBA. Jackson can switch out onto quicker guards and wings, using his quick feet and 7-foot-5 wingspan to disrupt their offense.
4. Memphis Grizzlies
Marvin Bagley III: Big- Duke
The Grizzlies have a bad history with lanky rim protectors who are projects on offense, so they’ll pass on Mo Bamba for the electric Marvin Bagley. The Grizzlies have not had much excitement around their franchise lately, so a highlight machine in Marvin Bagley could bring high energy to the team. Bagley can work inside and out. He uses his elite size and athleticism combination to finish at the rim while flexing a respectable shot from deep. The media hype around Bagley may have cooled, but all reports show that many GMs love him.
5. Dallas Mavericks
Mo Bamba: Big- Texas
The Mavericks had one of the worst interior defenses in the NBA last season. Enter an elite rim-protector of the likes in which we’ve rarely seen. Mo Bamba is a prospect that provides an immediate impact on defense and can grow to become a contributor on offense. Bamba’s 7-foot-10 wingspan allows him to alter and block shots from anywhere on the court. Pair that with quick feet and he can be a real danger even on weakside rotations. As a rim-diver on offense, expect a potentially dynamic combination with Dennis Smith Jr.
6. Orlando Magic
Trae Young: Lead Guard- Oklahoma
All signs point to this pick being a choice between Trae Young and Michael Porter Jr. The Magic choose Trae Young for a couple of reasons. Selecting Porter comes with potential injury concerns and a logjam in the frontcourt. Too many combo forwards. Orlando is desperate for a point guard who can distribute and score. Enter Trae Young- who brings immediate playmaking impact with an ability to get others involved. Throw in his ability to create his own offense from the perimeter and the Magic might have found themselves a point guard to build around.
7. Chicago Bulls
Michael Porter Jr: Combo Forward- Missouri
The clearest need for Chicago is scoring from the wings. Luckily for them, a scoring specialist is available here at seven. This pick could be franchise-altering, as Porter could well be an absolute star. Porter is 6-foot-10 with the skills of a true wing and a versatile scoring arsenal. He didn’t get to show much of it at Missouri due to injury, however, his scoring polish has always been ahead of his peers. Work will have to be done to gain explosiveness and quickness with the ball before Porter can become a star. Though, it is easy to see him playing at an all-star level in time.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers
Wendell Carter Jr: Big- Duke
With the future of LeBron unclear, the future of the team is also murky. The Cavaliers would be best served taking the best player available here. Luckily for them, Wendell Carter Jr is not only the best player, but he does help a sore spot on the team. Interior defense was a weak spot this season and Carter’s 7-foot-3 wingspan is well-suited to bring some relief. Carter may not be able to switch onto many guards, but he can hold down the paint and protect the rim at a high level. Offensively, they get a big man who can space the floor and possesses the level of footwork necessary to score in the post.
9. New York Knicks
Mikal Bridges: Wing- Villanova
The Knicks are in a perfect spot here with Bridges landing to them. Adding 3-point shooting on the wings is a necessary tool for any team, especially one that is looking to rebuild. Mikal Bridges gives them a rock-solid option for spot-up shooting every night. The Knicks may consider Miles Bridges here, but will opt for Mikal’s two-way dominance. He can guard multiple positions and is the ideal switchable wing defender for the modern NBA. Bridges is an ideal building piece for new head coach David Fizdale.
10. Philadelphia 76ers
Miles Bridges: Combo Forward- Michigan State
The theme for the 76ers core is versatility and switchability on defense. Miles Bridges can jump in and fit right in. Despite being a 6-foot-7 combo forward, Bridges was still one of the best pick-n-roll ballhandlers in the country last season. He can create his own offense, utilizing a smooth pull-up jumper and can also spot up off the ball. Bridges should be an impactful player in a team focusing on positionless basketball.
11. Charlotte Hornets
Lonnie Walker: Wing- Miami
The Hornets are in need of a promising two-way wing and Lonnie Walker fits that bill. It appears that the plan is for Kemba Walker to hang around. Adding promising pieces could make him want to stay when his contract is up next summer. Walker has shown some serious potential on both ends of the court. With the ability to conjure up his own offense paired with length and switchability on defense, Walker is a high-ceiling player with a desirable skill-set.
12. Los Angeles Clippers
Collin Sexton: Lead Guard: Alabama
The Clippers are in a state of flux at the moment. DeAndre Jordan is set to be a free agent this summer and they have no long-term prospects to build around. The best choice is to select the best player available and ideally your point guard of the future. Collin Sexton qualifies as both here. Sexton is going to set a tone defensively at the point of attack, pestering opposing guards. Offensively, he’ll need to polish his game off. However, his attacking nature and shotmaking ability is a great foundation to have. Sexton could help lead the way for a Clippers rebuild.
13. Los Angeles Clippers
Rob Williams: Big- Texas A&M
Los Angeles has another chance to get an impact player for the future with this pick as well. They won’t want to select a guard again, so Rob Williams is the next best option. Especially when you consider that DeAndre Jordan may very well leave. Williams is an elite shot-blocker who projects as a rim-diver on offense. His athleticism is astounding for his size, making him one of the best rim-roller’s in the class. Similar to that of DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers could get an immediate replacement with this pick.
14. Denver Nuggets
Kevin Knox: Combo Forward- Kentucky
Kevin Knox gives Denver the ability to play both forward positions as well as guard multiple positions. As a promising off-the-dribble scorer, Knox serves as an ideal complimentary scorer. Knox can work off the ball and spot up off screens as well as take the ball and break down the defense himself. His quick feet paired with his size and near 7-foot wingspan will make him a switchable defender. Learning under Paul Millsap can only help.
15. Washington Wizards
Zhaire Smith: Wing- Texas Tech
The Wizards’ primary need is an improved frontcourt. However, Zhaire Smith is a clear edge ahead of the next best available big man- all things considered. Smith offers some much-needed depth on the wings for Washington. Smith projects as a high-level 3-and-D talent with elite athleticism. Growing alongside elite players like Wall and Beal will afford him time to develop the rest of his game.
16. Phoenix Suns
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: Lead Guard- Kentucky
The Suns will be celebrating here as a lottery talent falls to them at 16. Phoenix grabs Gilgeous-Alexander as a prospect who could be their long-term answer at point guard. After being one of the worst defensive teams in the league, Gilgeous-Alexander’s near 7-foot wingspan and defensive acumen offer immediate help in a problem area. At this stage, the lanky guard is a cant-miss prospect.
17: Milwaukee Bucks
Khyri Thomas: Combo Guard- Creighton
The Bucks will be hoping that Zhaire Smith falls, but there are good options even if he does not. The Bucks are a long and defensively versatile team that needs more floor spacers. Enter Khyri Thomas; a guard with a 6-foot-10 wingspan who shot 41% from deep. His fit on the team could be seamless and Thomas can provide something that the team really needs.
18: San Antonio Spurs
Keita Bates-Diop: Combo Forward- Ohio State
San Antonio will want to update their frontcourt and add more versatility to the team. Keita Bates-Diop is just under 6-foot-8 with an over 7-foot-3 wingspan- an ideal build for a modern power forward. A four-year college player, Bates-Diop has a level of maturity and nuance that the Spurs prefer. His skill-set is enticing and Rudy Gay-esque. Bates-Diop can manufacture points from the perimeter as well as inside the point. A better shooter than his percentages show, the Big Ten Player of the Year could thrive as a floor-spacing power forward. Defensively, his length and IQ allow him to switch on screens and guard multiple positions.
19: Atlanta Hawks
Troy Brown Jr: Wing- Oregon
The Hawks solidified their frontcourt earlier in this draft and will now want to add depth to their wings. Troy Brown is a swiss-army knife of a player who has legitimate point guard skills at 6-foot-7. Brown currently projects as a slashing scorer with playmaking tendencies. On the other end, Brown looks to be an ideal switchable wing who can guard three or four positions.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves
Donte DiVincenzo: Wing- Villanova
Donte DiVincenzo may be exactly what the doctor ordered for the Timberwolves. DiVincenzo adds much-needed depth and scoring on the wings. The Villanova prospect can space the floor and operate as a spot-up shooter while also being able to create for himself. An elite athlete, DiVincenzo can keep defenses honest with his threat to attack the rim or shoot. Defensively, his bulldog motor makes him a pest for either guard position.
21. Utah Jazz
Elie Okobo: Lead Guard- Pau-Lecq-Orthez
Elie Okobo recently made headlines after dropping 44 points on former dominant NCAA defender Aaron Craft. That was the tipping point of what has been a massive improvement over the last couple of months. The Jazz will likely want an adaptable guard to pair with Donovan Mitchell, and Okobo is the perfect fit. Okobo shot just under 40% from deep with a serious off-the-dribble prowess. His playmaking ability really stands out, however. He has high-quality vision and the length to make passes around defenders. Two versatile guards with switchable defense upside is the way to go for modern NBA.
22. Chicago Bulls
Mitchell Robinson: Big- N/A
After hitting the relative jackpot with their scoring wing earlier in the draft, the Bulls will go for the best player available. To add to a solid core, Chicago opts for Mitchell Robinson. Robinson stands at 7-foot-1 with elite athleticism. Every team needs a high-level rim protector; Robinson’s 7-foot-4 wingspan may allow him to be just that.
23. Indiana Pacers
Kevin Huerter: Wing- Maryland
The Indiana Pacers will look for some scoring on the wings to build upon the successful season. Kevin Huerter is a perfect fit. Huerter can impact the game without the ball in his hands, coming off screens and spacing the floor due to defenders having to play tight on him. At Maryland, Huerter shot 42% from three last year. He isn’t just a shooter, however. Huerter can put the ball on the floor and possesses the craft to finish in the paint with a smooth floater. This pick would be optimal to provide support for budding star Victor Oladipo.
24. Portland Trail Blazers
De’Anthony Melton: Lead Guard- USC
The Trail Blazers will be intrigued with the scoring prowess of an alternative such as Jerome Robinson. However, the all-around game of notable glue guy De’Anthony Melton is a picture-perfect fit for a team that needs backcourt depth. Melton could become one of the best second unit leaders in the league with some developing. It also helps that Melton has high-level defensive upside. This pick isn’t a dazzler, but its one that could highly impact the overall structure of the team.
25. Los Angeles Lakers
Moritz Wagner: Big- Michigan
This pick seems pretty simple. The Lakers need a scoring big who can space the floor to add to their young core. Mo Wagner fits that bill while having the entertaining personality to stand out in Los Angeles. Wagner is an ideal floor-spacing big who should prove valuable as many Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram prefer to operate within the arc.
26. Philadelphia 76ers
Jerome Robinson: Wing- Boston College
One of the primary issues that the 76ers faced last season was spacing on the wings and quality scoring. Robinson provides microwave scoring at all three levels. While his finishing at the rim leaves some to be desired, his shooting ability in spot-up and off-the-dribble situations is as good as you’ll see in this class.
27. Boston Celtics
Aaron Holiday: Lead Guard- UCLA
The Celtics face two key guards with expiring contracts next season. Without the logical means to pay both what they deserve, it makes sense to inject another high-energy guard into the roster. Aaron Holiday possesses a legitimate 3-point stroke with pitbull- like attitude on defense. He may not be the biggest of most physically gifted guard, but his energy and shooting make up for it.
28. Golden State Warriors
Jacob Evans: Wing- Cincinnati
The best pick for the Warriors to make given the state of the franchise is niche role players. Evans is a 3-and-D specialist who projects as just that in the NBA. With the core of stars that Golden State has, adding a player like Evans is the best way to compliment such an ensemble.
29. Brooklyn Nets
Chandler Hutchison: Wing- Boise State
The Brooklyn Nets still aren’t exactly sure what they have with their young pieces. In this situation, the best option is to stockpile talent on the wings. We have seen how the addition of versatile wings has helped in Boston, and maybe Brooklyn could follow suit. Hutchison is a mature scorer who rarely has a mental lapse. The Boise State product would fit in nicely with Brooklyn’s budding core.
30. Atlanta Hawks
Jalen Brunson: Lead Guard- Villanova
The future of Dennis Schroder is in the air and Hawks may want to start planning for his exit. Brunson is a mature point guard who knows how to run a high-level, efficient offense. An elite 3-point shooter with elite basketball IQ, Brunson is an ideal player to replace Schroder.