I’LL admit my coverage around this year’s draft crop has been a bit lacklustre and all over the shop. I was against doing a mock draft while all the teams were continuing to shuffle draft order, but I’ve bitten the bullet and fired out my first one of the year. While there may be a little bit of shuffling of teams and players, the guts from this draft plan should hold. In saying that though just last night Dallas held the No. 2 pick and have now moved to No. 6. And it will probably change again tonight… Tankapalooza is on!
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Pick #1 Phoenix Suns – DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona
MY pick of the bunch, Ayton reminds me of a young David Robinson. It may be a lofty call and he has been comped to Patrick Ewing, which probably is a bit more realistic. You can see why Sean Miller paid $100K for the big man averaging 19.9 points and 11.2 rebounds and bullying his opponents on a nightly basis.
Pick #2 Atlanta Hawks– Luka Dončić, SG/SF, Real Madrid
THERE are moments when Dončić seems to dip off the radar a bit, only for him bounce back up and have a viral highlight on YouTube/Instagram/Twitter. The 18-year old assassin is playing against grown men and making it look easy. The Hawks would be lucky to have him.
Pick #3 Orlando Magic – Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma
SPOILER alert Trae Young will become a member of the Orlando Magic in 2018. It’s almost my lock of the draft. Yes, I know it’s not even March yet, but after trading away Elfrid Payton at the deadline, the Magic need a new floor general. Young will be their man.
Pick #4 Sacramento Kings – Marvin Bagley, PF, Duke
WITH the exception of missing a few of Duke’s recent games due to a knee injury, Bagley has been balling out and hardly put a foot wrong. There are little pieces of his game that need work, but his athleticism and motor combined with a solid jump shot have him shaping up as a transcendent star.
Image from bleacherreport.com
Pick #5 Memphis Grizzlies – Jaren Jackson Jr, PF, Michigan State
EASILY the highest riser in recent mock drafts, Jaren Jackson has gone from a projected lottery pick to top-5 worthy and even shown up as high as 3rd in some mocks I’ve seen. The shot blocking defensive standout has all the tools that a pro team covets and it will probably translate to him being taken around this mark.
Pick #6 Dallas Mavericks – Michael Poter Jr, SF/PF, Missouri
THE curious case of Michael Porter Jr continues after an injury-plagued season. After it was declared that Porter is fully fit and healthy this week, he failed to suit up against Kentucky, raising eyebrows over his availability moving forward. I have already addressed why he should stay on the sidelines, but there are now rumours that he will even return for his sophomore season at Missouri. Either way, he is a star in the making and if he does return to the court and look fine this year he won’t slide past pick six.
Pick #7 Cleveland Cavaliers (from Brooklyn Nets) – Mohammed Bamba, C, Texas
CLEVELAND find themselves in a tough spot because they won’t be sure if LeBron James is returning before draft night. It’s smart to go with the best player available at this point and while Colin Sexton is tempting, adding Mo Bamba to their roster with or without ‘The King’ is a good choice for their future.
Pick #8 Chicago Bulls – Wendell Carter, PF/C, Duke
ONE of the underrated prospects in the draft if you ask me is Wendell Carter. The Blue Devils’ freshman has somewhat been overshadowed by his teammate Marvin Bagley, so don’t surprised if in five years we look back and see the Bulls got a steal.
Pick #9 New York Knicks – Kevin Knox, SF/PF, Kentucky
THE Knicks need to accept the fact that Porzingis should be playing the five-spot. If and when they do this Knox could be the perfect four to play alongside him with the ability to score in a number of ways and scare the hell out of defenses.
Pick #10 Philadelphia 76ers (from Los Angeles Lakers) – Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama
COLLIN Sexton is one of the toughest players to predict his landing position. In some drafts, I have seen him in the top-5 while others have him just on the edge of the lottery. Full of heart and athleticism he might not be available at this spot when draft night arrives. If he is though then the 76ers will have a bargain on their hands.
Pick #11 Charlotte Hornets – Mikal Bridges, SG/SF, Villanova
PERHAPS the best 3-and-D prospect in the draft is Villanova’s Mikal Bridges. He isn’t a sexy pick, but the Hornets need as many good players on cheap contracts as they can get right now.
Pick #12 Los Angeles Clippers (from Detroit Pistons) – Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M
A big question mark looms over Williams’ head as we progress closer to the end of the season. As a sophomore, he progressed slightly, but at times he has looked lost and out of place. Still, he has skills that will translate to the pros (finishing/blocking shots) and would be a great replacement for Jordan should he walk.
Pick #13 Utah Jazz – Džanan Musa, SG, KK Cedevita
THE second international prospect taken in the lottery could emerge as a promising scorer for the Jazz. Musa has been delivering in the European pro’s for years and much like Dončić this should make the transition into the NBA a whole lot easier.
Pick #14 Los Angeles Clippers – Lonnie Walker, SG, Miami
DON’T let his per game numbers fool you, Lonnie Walker’s potential is sky high. The athletic beast can score in a variety of ways and has a chance of being a great defender too. That’s enough to warrant drafting him in the lottery.
Pick #15 Phoenix Suns (from Miami Heat) – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG/SG, Kentucky
CHANGE of pace and craftiness might honestly be Gilgeous-Alexander’s greatest strengths. At 6’6″ he also has the length to guard wing players with ease and has a knack for swiping the ball away too. He could turn into the type of player everyone thought Michael Carter-Williams was.
Pick #16 Denver Nuggets – Daniel Gafford, C, Arkansas
DENVER lacks a really good back up big man and despite Nikola Jokic continuing to evolve into a star, they need someone to help him. Gafford can fill that void.
Image from hogcountryonline.com
Pick #17 Philadelphia 76ers – Shake Milton, SG/PG, SMU
HAVING another scoring punch off the bench would be a blessing for the 76ers, especially if Reddick leaves in free agency. Milton is a proven bucket getter and considering Philly is 25th in bench scoring, he fills a necessity for the team.
Pick #18 Milwaukee Bucks – Troy Brown, SG, Oregan
A swiss-army knife type of player who does everything well, Troy Brown lands in Wisconsin alongside another versatile star of the game. Brown doesn’t have one or two skills that separate him from the rest, but there is certainly room to grow in all areas.
Pick #19 Minnesota Timberwolves (from Oklahoma City Thunder) – Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky
THE biggest slider in recent times, Diallo hasn’t had a memorable stretch of games recently. Still, that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be drafted, showcasing incredible athleticism at times and a raw jump shot. He still deserves to be drafted in the first-round.
Pick #20 – Indiana Pacers – Trevon Duval, PG, Duke
TREVON Duval was one of my favourite players entering this season. He doesn’t fill GM’s with confidence, but every now and then will show a flash of greatness. Fitting him in at Indiana as a backup, who can take the full-time reigns in a few years is a perfect scenario.
Image from dukechronicle.com
Pick #21 Portland Trailblazers – Anfernee Simons, SG, Undeclared
YOU may not have heard Anfernee Simons’ story before and that isn’t surprising. Able to potentially enter the draft through a loophole, Simons has shown a great ability to create off the dribble and shoot the rock. He is still young and needs to build his strength, but with youth on his side, he could be an interesting prospect.
Pick #22 Chicago Bulls (from New Orleans Pelicans) – Mitchell Robinson, C, USA
I introduced my readers to Robinson in an earlier piece nearly six months ago. After working out for a year and forgoing college, Robinson will have to rely on his workouts and interviews to sell himself to NBA teams. I think he’ll be able to convince a top-25 team to take a chance on him.
Pick #23 Washington Wizards – Bruce Brown, SG, Miami
EVEN though the Wizards seem to have great depth at the wing position adding Bruce Brown at pick 23 is too good to pass up. The Hurricanes guard is sidelined with an injured foot right now, but all reports indicate that he will back to the court soon.
Pick #24 San Antonio Spurs – Kyhri Thomas, PG/SG, Creighton
SAN Antonio has made Dejounte Murray a starter in the latter half of the season and he seems set to be a big cog in their future. While he is technically listed as a point guard, Murray could definitely play alongside Thomas and form a formidable, flexible backcourt for the Spurs’ future.
Pick #25 Los Angeles Lakers (from Cleveland Cavaliers) – Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV
IT’s tough to determine what exactly the Lakers are going to do here with young talent at most positions and an eye on some big fish come free agency. If they fail to land the likes of Boogie Cousins there is a gaping hole in the middle and for all his shortcomings, McCoy can provide a scoring punch and potentially expand his skillset.
Pick #26 Atlanta Hawks (from Minnesota Timberwolves) – Landry Shamet, PG/SG, Wichita State
BASKETBALL IQ can sometimes be a skill that is forgotten by the casual NBA fan. A smart scorer and playmaker for the Shockers, Shamet could help a young and rebuilding Hawks team with his intelligent play.
Pick #27 Boston Celtics – Grayson Allen, SG, Duke
WITHOUT Gordon Hayward the Celtics have shown that they have an Achilles heel when it comes to scoring the ball. The team first philosophy is great for winning a title, but they need a dude who can come in from the sidelines and go off for 15-20 in a quarter. Allen is that man.
Pick #28 Brooklyn Nets (from Toronto Raptors) – Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State
WITH a bunch of multi-dimensional wings on their roster, Brooklyn may look to address another position here. Bates-Diop has arguably increased his stock more than any player this year and as a result, he is in the conversation to be taken in the first round. His ability scoring the ball would be a huge plus for the Nets.
Pick #29 Golden State Warriors – Rodions Kurucs, SF, FC Barcelona
IT’S not breaking news to tell you that Golden State isn’t very desperate for help in a lot of spots. Taking an international player isn’t something that they have toyed with doing in the past. Adding a versatile wing who can play both forward positions is worth the gamble though.
Pick #30 Atlanta Hawks (from Houston Rockets) – Gary Trent Jr, SG, Duke
WITH Kent Bazemore’s inflated salary still on their books for a few years there aren’t a ton of minutes at the 2-guard spot. If they find a trade for Baze though, they need to have someone ready to step up and if Duke’s shooting guard is still on the board this late, it’s hard for Atlanta to pass up on taking him.
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