JUST over a fortnight remains until the draft order is locked and loaded for 2018. Prospects are starting to declare their intentions of going pro with Mo Bamba, DeAndre Ayton and Trae Young leading the charge. With a few noteworthy changes from my first mock, things are starting to take shape ahead of June’s all-important NBA Draft.
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Pick #1 Phoenix Suns – DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona
AYTON isn’t the one to blame for Arizona’s earlier than expected exit from the NCAA Tournament. He is still the pick of the bunch in my eyes, even if he does look lost sometimes on defense.
Pick #2 Memphis Grizzlies – Luka Dončić, SG/SF, Real Madrid
IF Ayton is 1A then Doncic is 1B. I wouldn’t blame a front office for taking the Slovenian sensation first overall as he continues to produce for Real Madrid. This kid’s special.
Pick #3 Orlando Magic – Michael Poter Jr, SF/PF, Missouri
MY ‘lock of the draft’ was Trae Young to the Magic last time around, but his stock is sliding him towards the bottom half of the top 10. That leaves Orlando in a great spot to take Porter and pair him with the uber-athletic Aaron Gordon.
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Pick #4 Atlanta Hawks – Marvin Bagley, PF, Duke
BAGLEY has fallen out of the conversation for the No. 1 pick after some sloppy play on both offense and defense lately. While there are clear cons to drafting Bagley, the pros heavily outweigh them, making it hard to pass on the Duke freshman at four.
Pick #5 Dallas Mavericks – Jaren Jackson Jr, PF, Michigan State
ANOTHER player who didn’t have the best tourney experience, Jackson still has a ton of upside as an NBA prospect. At just 18, Jackson can develop into a reliable two-way talent and future star if things go according to plan.
Pick #6 Sacramento Kings – Mohammed Bamba, C, Texas
THE Kings would love to climb up and take a true franchise star in 2018. That being said there’s no reason why Bamba can’t become DeAndre Jordan 2.0 and form a lethal combo with De’Aaron Fox.
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Pick #7 Cleveland Cavaliers (from Brooklyn Nets) – Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma
WITH so much uncertainty around LeBron’s future Cleveland will probably take a ‘best player available’ approach into draft night. Trae Young also fits a need for them providing a scoring punch much like Kyrie Irving did before the Cavs front office screwed up.
Pick #8 Chicago Bulls – Wendell Carter, PF/C, Duke
I love the looks of Wendell Carter. Carved in the similar mould as Al Horford, his lack of athleticism doesn’t stop him from impacting the game in a variety of ways.
Pick #9 New York Knicks – Mikal Bridges, SG/SF, Villanova
IF you haven’t heard of Mikal Bridges go back and watch Nova’s second half against Bama. He poured in 22 points showcasing his ability to not only defend but score in a variety of ways.
Pick #10 Charlotte Hornets – Kevin Knox, SF/PF, Kentucky
KNOX offers Charlotte a perfect ‘Robin’ to Kemba Walker’s ‘Batman’. One of the youngest players in the draft pool, some GM’s are concerned that he is just a raw, athletic forward who might not piece it all together. Adding a scorer to the Hornets is a great get at 10 though.
Pick #11 Philadelphia 76ers (from Los Angeles Lakers) – Miles Bridges, SF/PF, Michigan State
THERE might not be a better fit that Miles Bridges going to the 76ers. Imagine Philly rolling out a lineup of Simmons, Redick, Bridges, Saric and Embiid with Covington and Fultz off the bench. Damn.
Pick #12 Los Angeles Clippers (from Detroit Pistons) – Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama
AUSTIN Rivers and Milos Teodosic are fine players, but Collin Sexton would be the walk up starting point guard if LA took him. Pairing Sexton with Lou Williams and potentially DeAndre Jordan would be nice.
Pick #13 Los Angeles Clippers – Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M
WILLIAMS has had a great NCAA tournament, showcasing his potential in the pros. Even though he hasn’t reached the heights some wanted him to in college the Texas A&M big man is forcing us to pay attention again.
Pick #14 Denver Nuggets – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG/SG, Kentucky
NO one has boosted their stock more throughout the conference and national tournaments than SGA. The Kentucky ball-handler is showcasing his defensive and playmaking traits, tempting many a front office executive. The Nuggets will happily take the combo guard regardless of the fact he lacks a reliable jumper.
Pick #15 Phoenix Suns (from Miami Heat) – Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech
ANOTHER climber since the last mock is explosive Texas Tech guard Zhaire Smith. The high-flyer is a stereotypical athlete prospect that a team would draft in the hope he could put it all together and develop into a star. A worthwhile gamble for the Suns.
Pick #16 Phoenix Suns (from Milwaukee Bucks) – Džanan Musa, SG, KK Cedevita
THE third pick inside the top 16 for the Suns puts them in a pretty flexible position. They can almost take the best prospect left on the board at this point and while Musa might not fit that description he does give them a natural scorer that can grow in the NBA.
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Pick #17 Washington Wizards – Daniel Gafford, C, Arkansas
WITH Ian Mahinmi owed a boatload of money and Marcin Gortat looking every bit like a 33-year old this season Washington would relish the chance to add a young big to the mix.
Pick #18 Utah Jazz – Shake Milton, SG/PG, SMU
WITH a lot of guards available at this spot the Utah Jazz might be tempted to find Donovan Mitchell a running mate. Rubio and Exum are fine but Milton provides the Jazz with a ready-made, score first attacking player that they could even deploy from the bench.
Pick #19 Indiana Pacers – Jacob Evans, SF, Cincinnati
NO disrespect to Victor Oladipo, but the Pacers don’t really have a true superstar and it will be hard to find one this late. With solid young bigs, they may decide to address their wing depth by adding the Bearcats Jacob Evans, a 6’6″ 3-and-D type who could be a big piece of their future.
Pick #20 Atlanta Hawks (from Minnesota Timberwolves) – Anfernee Simons, SG, IMG Academy
NEWS broke as I was writing this mock that Simons will be declaring for the draft after forgoing the opportunity to play college ball. The explosive guard would be a nice fit next to Dennis Schroder.
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Pick #21 Philadelphia 76ers – Kyhri Thomas, PG/SG, Creighton
IF Lonnie Walker or Troy Brown were better shooters they could land at this spot. Instead, I’ve got the Sixers snapping up Thomas, who eases the pressure on Fultz and could help replace Reddick should he bounce in free agency.
Pick #22 Chicago Bulls (from New Orleans Pelicans) – Lonnie Walker, SG, Miami
THERE is every possibility that Walker will be taken way earlier than this. Considering he isn’t a great shooter though, expect to see him hovering around this mark come draft night.
Pick #23 San Antonio Spurs – Mitchell Robinson, C, Chalmette High School
THERE isn’t a lot the San Antonio Spurs need to be successful. After years of playing with the methodical Tim Duncan a high energy, athletic big man would be nice to see in Pop’s system though. Enter Mitchell Robinson.
Pick #24 Minnesota Timberwolves (from Oklahoma City Thunder) – Gary Trent Jr, SG, Duke
JAMAL Crawford isn’t getting any younger so finding his replacement in Trent is a smart move. Even though Thibs doesn’t like playing many guys from his bench adding the smooth shooter should help the league’s worst bench scoring team.
Pick #25 Los Angeles Lakers (from Cleveland Cavaliers) – Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV
WHETHER LA hits or misses in the free agency period will dictate the future direction of the franchise. Whatever that direction is, they could use more big bodies to clog the lane like McCoy.
Pick #26 Portland Trailblazers – Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State
SCORE first, ask questions later. That seems to be the way to describe Bates-Diop’s game and the Blazers seem to play a similar way led by the captivating backcourt. He would add a nice string to Portland’s bow.
Pick #27 Boston Celtics – Troy Brown, SG, Oregon
BOSTON doesn’t really need a lot of help across the board, with a great young nucleus only destined to get better with Hayward’s return. While Brown isn’t a hell of a scorer he can do a bunch of other things for the Celtics.
Pick #28 Brooklyn Nets (from Toronto Raptors) – Landry Shamet, PG/SG, Wichita State
WITH Dinwiddie set to make next to nothing and D’Angelo Russell a certain backcourt starter for the team it may be tough to slide Shamet into the mix. If they do though it would provide them with a fantastic three-man rotation at the guard spot.
Pick #29 Golden State Warriors – Grayson Allen, SG, Duke
SURPRISINGLY the Warriors bench is very average shooting the deep ball ranking last in 3-point makes and 26th in percentage. Grayson Allen helps address those problems.
Pick #30 Atlanta Hawks (from Houston Rockets) – Rodions Kurucs, SF, FC Barcelona
INTERNATIONAL prospects are probably the way to go for the Hawks to end the first. There are a few players in the mix, but Kurucs would give them a nice draft-and-stash guy or at worst there would be no expectations for him to succeed right away.
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