FULL disclosure I don’t think there is anyone in this upcoming class who can do the same things that Donovan Mitchell did this year. The Louisville rook landed in the perfect scenario for his first pro season, where he was able to have the ball in his hands most of the time and thrive for Utah to begin the post Gordon Hayward era. While there might not be another star who shines like Mitchell in this year’s crop, there are a handful of players who could burst onto the scene and outperform their projected draft position.
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Khyri Thomas, SG/PG, Creighton
Last SBF Mock Draft: 14th – Denver Nuggets
IRONICALLY I had Khyri Thomas going to the Nuggets in my last mock draft, the same team that drafted Donovan Mitchell before trading him on draft night. There is a high chance that Thomas won’t be as highly ranked in my next mock, even though he has the chance to be a serious steal. With a 6′ 10″ wingspan, Thomas wreaks havoc on the perimeter as a defender and is more than capable on offense. In the right situation, he can flourish from day one.
Anfernee Simons, SG, IMG Academy
Last SBF Mock Draft: 19th – Atlanta Hawks
SIMONS is still super young and looms as a bit of a bang or bust prospect. Chances are he will be a late first rounder and it would be unfair to expect a hell of a lot from him in his rookie season. That being said, he has all the athletic tools to shine and if he can piece it together he will demand playing time, regardless of which team selects him. I think Simons’ is more of a project than a player who will make an impact right away.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG/SG, Kentucky
Last SBF Mock Draft: 13th – L.A. Clippers
THE biggest concern around SGA is his jump shot. He looks like an awesome defender and should make life hell for NBA guards with his length. Unless he can continue to develop his jumper, he’ll find it hard to star in the modern league though. His percentages look fine but don’t be deceived. The hitch in his shot has some people screaming Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and although Gilgeous-Alexander offers much more upside as a playmaker, he’ll struggle to thrive like Mitchell without a consistent J.
Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama
Last SBF Mock Draft: 8th – Cleveland Cavaliers
BAMA’S freshman stud Collin Sexton could be a star right away if he is drafted by the right team. His heart and ferocity are enough to see him become a top 10 pick and he has some people (me) calling him a poorer version of Russell Westbrook. That aggressive demeanour will see him bulldoze his way to the rim with regularity next season and if he lands at a team who needs a primary ball handler (maybe the Clippers or Knicks) then he has a chance to live up to Mitchell’s reputation. If he lands alongside a ballhog he might struggle to have an impact on the game though.
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Zaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech
Last SBF Mock Draft: 16th – Phoenix Suns
IF I was a betting man this would be my pick of the bunch. Zaire Smith is fast rising up mock drafts thanks to his athleticism and well-rounded game. He will need to couple his explosiveness with a reliable 3-pointer if he is to live up to the hype in 2018-19. Smith didn’t fill up the scoring column a ton with Texas Tech, but then again Donovan Mitchell didn’t in college either. He has all the tools and if the right fit comes to fruition later in June then the skies the limit for Smith.
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