2018 NBA re-draft: The way it should have been

There were some questionable decisions made by NBA teams in the 2018 draft, namely with who went second and third. Besides that, there was only one egregious pick in the Top 10, with that distinction belonging to the Knicks, who took Kevin Knox at No. 9.

We already have one player from this draft class who appears to be on a clear Hall-of-Fame trajectory and two more guards who could join him there if they’re able to keep up their current level of play for another half-decade-plus of action.

Below, check out our 2018 NBA re-draft, with players selected the way it should have been. At the bottom, you can see the biggest risers and fallers in comparison to the actual 2018 draft.

No. 1 pick: Luka Doncic

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Actual position: No. 3
Career earnings: $32,476,151
Career stats: 27.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 8.1 apg, 46.3 FG%, 33.9 3P%
Scouting Report

After an illustrious career with arguably the biggest non-NBA basketball team in the world, Real Madrid, some still somehow had questions about Luka Doncic’s play translating to the NBA. Well, he answered those questions quickly, earning 1st Team All-NBA honors three times already and looking like an MVP candidate in 2022-23 so far. Doncic has great size for a guard, elite vision, top-level tough-shot-making chops and is as clutch as they come. The only question about Doncic we have now is: How did he fall to third in the 2018 draft?

No. 2 pick: Trae Young

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Actual position: No. 5
Career earnings: $26,534,551
Career stats: 25.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 9.2 apg, 43.8 FG%, 35.2 3P%
Scouting Report

Trae Young came out firing in the NBA, being named an All-Star in his second season and 3rd Team All-NBA last year, at one point looking like a potential Stephen Curry 2.0. However, a down year with questions about how high-usage, no-defense style of play, along with his clashing with head coach, Nate McMillan, has raised a lot of questions about Young this season. Young might not be all that fun to play with, as he controls so much of the ball and has shown such little interest in improving his off-ball efforts. Plus, can a small point guard even lead a team all the way? Curry did. Can Young follow suit one day?

No. 3 pick: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

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Actual position: No. 11
Career earnings: $16,965,132
Career stats: 20.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.5 apg, 47.8 FG%, 34.7 3P%
Scouting Report

If we were judging solely on this season, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander would rank ahead of Young for No. 2, though career accomplishments to this point made us give the nod to Young. Still, Gilgeous-Alexander is now one of the most exciting young players in the league, capable of putting up 30 on any given night but in ways you have never seen before, with crafty dribbles, head fakes and floaters the likes we have rarely ever seen.

No. 4 pick: Jalen Brunson

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Actual position: No. 33
Career earnings: $6,112,770
Career stats: 13.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 4.1 apg, 48.9 FG%, 37.8 3P%
Scouting Report

Questions about size and athleticism caused Jalen Brunson to fall to the second round of the 2018 draft, which looks awful in hindsight if we remember Brunson was a two-time national champion, a national player of the year and a consensus 1st Team All-American in college. Brunson has gotten better every year so far in the NBA and has been able to shine this season under the bright lights of New York as the point guard of the Knicks, one of the most important – and intimidating – jobs in basketball.

No. 5 pick: Deandre Ayton

Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns
Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns

AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

Actual position: No. 1
Career earnings: $40,389,910
Career stats: 16.4 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 1.0 bpg, 59.7 FG%, 26.9 3P%
Scouting Report

Deandre Ayton has been a key component on a contending team for seasons now, accepting a smaller role on the elite Suns than he would get on a worse club. What might this double-double machine’s numbers look like on a low-level playoff team where he gets the ball 20 times per game down low to score, we wonder? The question throughout Ayton’s career has always been: Is he hungry enough? At times, it looks like he might be past those questions regarding his intensity and commitment, and then at others, it looks like we’re still on square one.

No. 6 pick: Jaren Jackson Jr.

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Actual position: No. 4
Career earnings: $29,280,440
Career stats: 15.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.2 apg, 46.0 FG%, 35.3 3P%
Scouting Report

Similar to Gilgeous-Alexander and Young, Jaren Jackson Jr. would rank higher on this re-draft if we had a larger sample size to go by this season because when he has suited up for the Grizzlies in 2022-23, he has been one of the most impactful two-way big men in the league. His rebounding remains a bit of an issue but besides that, Jackson is an outstanding young modern big, one who can shoot, dribble, score down low and who has the length, quickness and instincts to be a Defensive Player of the Year-caliber guy.

No. 7 pick: Mikal Bridges

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Actual position: No. 10
Career earnings: $17,635,125
Career stats: 11.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.2 apg, 50.0 FG%, 37.7 3P%
Scouting Report

Drafted by the 76ers before being traded to the Suns, where he has blossomed into one of the best 3-and-D wings in basketball, Mikal Bridges doesn’t have a picture-perfect jumper but it’s quite effective anyway, even going down after the wing takes a dribble or two before shooting it. Bridges’ defense is also very impactful, as his long arms and quick feet help him thrive on that end of the floor. He’s the perfect complementary piece for a contender, which Phoenix has been over the past few seasons, in no small part thanks to the former Villanova standout.

No. 8 pick: Michael Porter Jr

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Actual position: No. 14
Career earnings: $15,093,095
Career stats: 14.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.1 apg, 50.8 FG%, 41.6 3P%
Scouting Report

Had a major back injury not shortened his college career at Mizzou to three unimpressive games, Michael Porter Jr. would have gone higher in his draft class without a doubt, as he was a superstar recruit who would receive comparisons to Kevin Durant in high school. Porter Jr. has shown some flashes of that in the NBA, though his decision-making and tunnel vision need to be improved. Still, standing nearly seven feet tall, the Nuggets wing is one of the best shooters in the league who hasn’t met a shot he doesn’t like yet. Luckily for Denver, he’s talented enough that he makes enough of those tough shots for it not to be a huge issue for the team.

No. 9 pick: Anfernee Simons

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Actual position: No. 24
Career earnings: $10,178,218
Career stats: 12.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.3 apg, 42.9 FG%, 38.6 3P%
Scouting Report

Bypassing college may have hurt Anfernee Simons as a draft prospect, something that the Blazers must be elated about with how the now-23-year-old has developed in Portland. Forming a fun partnership with Damian Lillard, Simons is averaging 19.2 points on 44.1 percent shooting over his past two seasons, displaying bombastic shooting ability and solid finishing prowess in the paint.

No. 10 pick: Gary Trent Jr.

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Actual position: No. 37
Career earnings: $20,144,177
Career stats: 14.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.4 apg, 42.0 FG%, 38.4 3P%
Scouting Report

Considering the emphasis teams place on shooting in the modern NBA, it was surprising to see Gary Trent Jr. fall into the second round of his draft class after he averaged 14.5 points and shot 40.2 percent from three during his lone season at Duke. Trent Jr. has been able to translate that shooting to the pro level, too, as the former Blue Devil has been an above-average shooter in his NBA career, one who can score off the dribble a bit, too.

No. 11 pick: Robert Williams

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Actual position: No. 27
Career earnings: $9,286,016
Career stats: 7.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.7 bpg, 73.1 FG%, 66.7 FT%
Scouting Report

Celtics big man Robert Williams was considered a development project when he was taken late in the 2018 first round, a job that Boston undertook quite well, with Williams now performing like one of the best defensive centers in the league. Williams can score out of the pick-and-roll, around the paint mostly at a very efficient level, and is averaging an impressive 1.7 blocks in his NBA career to this point.

No. 12 pick: Collin Sexton

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Actual position: No. 8
Career earnings: $20,180,271
Career stats: 19.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 3.2 apg, 46.1 FG%, 37.9 3P%
Scouting Report

One of the most energetic guards in the league, Collin Sexton has enjoyed a solid NBA career thus far doing what he does best: scoring and hounding opponents on defense. Sexton might be best suited for a role off the bench, where he can come in, provide bundles of energy on both ends of the floor and focus on scoring and not on playmaking, an area he still struggles with to an extent.

No. 13 pick: Miles Bridges

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Actual position: No. 12
Career earnings: $16,317,853
Career stats: 13.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.3 apg, 47.3 FG%, 34.6 3P%
Scouting Report

Miles Bridges was taken 12th overall in his draft class, which is right about where we have him in our re-draft. Bridges’ on-the-court career hasn’t been disappointing, as he has produced about as expected, like a late-lottery pick. Bridges’ explosiveness, in particular, has shined on the open floor.

No. 14 pick: Wendell Carter Jr

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Actual position: No. 7
Career earnings: $22,017,107
Career stats: 12.6 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 2.1 apg, 51.4 FG%, 31.0 3P%
Scouting Report

Had this re-draft been written two years ago, Wendell Carter Jr. would have not fared as well, as he has turned things around as a member of the Magic after a slow start to his NBA career with the Bulls. Over his last two seasons in Orlando, Carter has blossomed into one of the East’s better starting centers, averaging 15.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists on 33.6 percent shooting from three.

No. 15 pick: Kevin Huerter

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Actual position: No. 19
Career earnings: $11,902,517
Career stats: 12.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.2 apg, 43.8 FG%, 38.5 3P%
Scouting Report

Kevin Huerter parlayed a solid sophomore season at Maryland, one that saw him average 14.8 points and shoot 41.7 percent from three, into a first-round selection in 2018, a position he has outperformed a bit, according to our re-draft. Huerter has translated that shooting in college to the NBA level, with the former Terp hitting 40.0 percent of his threes over the last two seasons while providing the Kings with some off-the-dribble scoring and playmaking.

No. 16 pick: Mitchell Robinson

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Actual position: No. 36
Career earnings: $6,511,070
Career stats: 8.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1.8 bpg, 71.6 FG%, 53.5 FT%
Scouting Report

A former superstar recruit, Mitchell Robinson skipped out on college after a messy situation at Western Kentucky, which caused him to fall to the second round of the 2018 draft. Everyone else’s loss has been the Knicks’ gain, who have turned Robinson into a very solid starting center, one who thrives as a shot-blocker, a finisher out of the pick-and-roll and as a rebounder.

No. 17 pick: Bruce Brown

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Actual position: No. 42
Career earnings: $8,655,279
Career stats: 8.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.4 apg, 48.5 FG%, 34.8 3P%
Scouting Report

An energizer bunny every time he steps on the court, Bruce Brown might not put up huge numbers but his impact goes far beyond the stat sheet. Brown has played just about every position, even filling in a small-ball center for a spell with the Nets. Though his specialty is on defense, where he’s able to defend every spot, and on the glass, Brown’s offensive game has improved, too, with the swingman hitting 40.1 percent of his threes over the last season-plus of action.

No. 18 pick: Duncan Robinson

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Actual position: Undrafted
Career earnings: $18,807,963
Career stats: 11.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.5 apg, 43.0 FG%, 40.1 3P%
Scouting Report

A huge riser in this re-draft, Duncan Robinson went from being undrafted in the 2018 draft to becoming a positive-impact rotation player as a sniper from beyond the arc for Miami. Robinson might have gone higher in this re-draft, too, if his shooting hadn’t somewhat abandoned him of late. Over the past two seasons, Robinson has made a mediocre 36.4 percent of his threes, in comparison to his elite 42.7 percent success rate from three over the two campaigns prior.

No. 19 pick: Mo Bamba

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Actual position: No. 6
Career earnings: $24,106,663
Career stats: 7.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 47.7 FG%, 35.6 3P%
Scouting Report

No player benefited more from pre-draft workouts in the 2018 class than Mo Bamba, who saw his stock rise heavily based on offseason workout videos that made him look like a knockdown shooter with a Durant-type skill set. The Orlando Magic fell for it, taking Bamba sixth overall after a decent one season at Texas for the 7-footer. Bamba remains in Orlando but hasn’t developed into much more than a decent backup big man. In fairness to Bamba, he is a pretty decent outside shooter in the NBA, one with huge shot-blocking skills.

No. 20 pick: Marvin Bagley

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Actual position: No. 2
Career earnings: $36,146,834
Career stats: 13.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 0.9 apg, 50.4 FG%, 28.9 3P%
Scouting Report

One of the big fallers in this re-draft exercise, Marvin Bagley was taken second overall in his draft class, which looks inexplicable now in hindsight but at the time wasn’t that crazy. Many forget now that in his one season at Duke, Bagley averaged 21.0 points and 11.1 rebounds on 61.4 percent shooting and was a consensus 1st Team All-American. Injuries and a lack of development physically have plagued Bagley to this point in his career, though he’s a solid player when healthy.

No. 21 pick: De'Anthony Melton

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Actual position: No. 46
Career earnings: $20,743,540
Career stats: 8.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.8 apg, 41.1 FG%, 36.8 3P%
Scouting Report

Still a bit of an underrated player, De’Anthony Melton has gone from being a mid-second-round pick to a very solid role player, one who thrives on the defensive end with pesky effort and impactful steals while still having the ability to score via spot-up three, as an off-ball slasher or in transition. Melton won’t ever be a star but he’s a rotation-level wing who any team –  contender or not – would take on its roster.

No. 22 pick: Jarred Vanderbilt

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Actual position: No. 41
Career earnings: $7,969,177
Career stats: 6.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.4 apg, 58.3 FG%, 27.5 3P%
Scouting Report

An expert on the defensive end with a lot of versatility, quickness and toughness on the less glamorous side of the floor, Jarred Vanderbilt deserves a lot of credit for accepting going from being a five-star, superstar recruit who went to Kentucky to now being a smart role player who makes winning plays and accepts doing the dirty work. A lot of former star recruits who don’t live up to the billing have trouble accepting lesser roles and hurt their careers for it, but not Vanderbilt, who has gone from second-round pick to solid rotation player.

No. 23 pick: Lonnie Walker

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Actual position: No. 18
Career earnings: $12,467,976
Career stats: 10.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.6 apg, 42.1 FG%, 35.1 3P%
Scouting Report

After a decent college career at Miami, Lonnie Walker’s scouting report read that he was an upper-level athlete with some skill, though he needed refinement in some areas, including playmaking and shooting. Walker has pretty much lived up to that, as although he is very quick and can soar through the air for eye-opening dunks, he’s just a decent shooter and still suffers from tunnel vision with the ball in his hands from time to time.

No. 24 pick: Donte DiVincenzo

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Actual position: No. 17
Career earnings: $13,110,150
Career stats: 8.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.6 apg, 41.3 FG%, 35.0 3P%
Scouting Report

Donte DiVincenzo went from being barely a rotation player as a freshman to playing an important piece on a national-championship-winning team in his third season at Villanova, though it took until the championship game of his junior campaign for DiVincenzo to catch the eye of most NBA fans. DiVincenzo went off in that championship game, scoring 31 points on 10-of-15 shooting against Michigan to help the Wildcats earn the 79-62 victory. That uber-confident shooting display probably played a part in DiVincenzo going a bit too early in the 2018 draft, as although he’s a decent role player in the NBA, he’s certainly not the star he looked like in that national championship performance.

No. 25 pick: Devonte Graham

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Actual position: No. 34
Career earnings: $15,069,177
Career stats: 11.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 4.6 apg, 37.0 FG%, 35.5 3P%
Scouting Report

Lack of size and athleticism for his position led to Devonte Graham falling to No. 34 in his draft class after a college career at Kansas that saw him be named a 1st Team All-American as a senior, as well as Big 12 Player of the Year. And it looks like those shortcomings are catching up with him a bit, as Graham is currently putting up his worst campaign since his rookie year. It’s crazy how life in the NBA works because if we did this exercise two years ago after Graham’s 18.2-point, 7.5-assist sophomore season, he would have gone far higher in this re-draft, blowing away the 34th-overall spot where he was taken. Instead, he’s starting to fall toward his actual draft spot.

No. 26 pick: Grayson Allen

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Actual position: No. 21
Career earnings: $11,106,375
Career stats: 9.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.7 apg, 43.5 FG%, 39.5 3P%
Scouting Report

Perhaps not the most popular player with opposing fans, Grayson Allen has nonetheless carved out a decent-enough NBA career to this point, thanks to his outside shooting, midrange game and defensive… tenacity, we’ll call it. Still, we do technically have him as underperforming his draft slot in this exercise, considering he was actually taken 21st overall his draft year after an illustrious college career at Duke.

No. 27 pick: Shake Milton

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Actual position: No. 54
Career earnings: $5,071,278
Career stats: 9.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.7 apg, 45.7 FG%, 36.5 3P%
Scouting Report

A late second-round pick, Shake Milton has been a very solid success story for the Philadelphia 76ers, as a good chunk of players taken that late in the draft never even reach the NBA, let alone become rotation-level players as Milton has. Just look at Ray Spalding, who the Bucks traded Milton’s draft rights for (along with Kostas Antetokounmpo) as an example. Spalding has played in 16 games in the NBA since getting drafted in 2018. Milton, on the other hand, is now a solid scorer off the bench who can be a spot starter if need be, one who can create for others and who uses crafty ball-handling and body feints to get to the cup and score.

No. 28 pick: Moritz Wagner

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Actual position: No. 25
Career earnings: $7,940,892
Career stats: 8.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.2 apg, 48.8 FG%, 32.1 3P%
Scouting Report

A tough-nosed big man who is not afraid of confrontation or doing dirty work, Moritz Wagner had star-like flashes during his time as a college player at Michigan, but he’s settled into being a solid backup frontcourt option in the NBA so far. Wagner will almost certainly never put up big numbers, but he can do the little things off the bench that help teams win games, including rebound and space the floor from the 4- or 5-spot.

No. 29 pick: Landry Shamet

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Actual position: No. 26
Career earnings: $9,559,422
Career stats: 9.0 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.7 apg, 40.7 FG%, 38.9 3P%
Scouting Report

Hovering right around his actual draft spot in this re-draft, it looked like Landry Shamet might actually outperform where he was selected (26th overall in 2018) early on in his career before he settled into being just a solid rotation player on various contenders. Shamet’s far from a star as his decision-making and finishing still need work, but at the very least, he’s a reliable outside shooter who can do a bit of scoring off the dribble.

No. 30 pick: Jae'Sean Tate

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Actual position: Undrafted
Career earnings: $2,963,678
Career stats: 11.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.7 apg, 49.8 FG%, 30.8 3P%
Scouting Report

An athletic slasher who is a two-way performer, Jae’Sean Tate spent four years in college at Ohio State, developing into a 2nd Team All-Big Ten performer as a senior before spending three seasons overseas, playing in the Belgian and Australian leagues, before finally breaking through in the NBA in the 2020-21 campaign. Tate’s story is a perfect example of perseverance as not many players go from being undrafted to finally becoming rotational NBA players in their age-25 seasons.

Biggest risers

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Duncan Robinson: From undrafted to No. 18
Jae’Sean Tate: From undrafted to No. 30
Jalen Brunson: From No. 33 to No. 4
Gary Trent Jr.: From No. 37 to No. 10
Shake Milton: From No. 54 to No. 27
Bruce Brown: From No. 42 to No. 17
De’Anthony Melton: From No. 46 to No. 21
Mitchell Robinson: From No. 36 to No. 16
Jarred Vanderbilt: From No. 41 to No. 22
Robert Williams: From No. 27 to No. 11
Anfernee Simons: From No. 24 to No. 9

Highest picks not listed

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Knox: No. 9
Jerome Robinson: No. 13
Troy Brown Jr.: No. 15
Zhaire Smith: No. 16
Josh Okogie: No. 20
Chandler Hutchison: No. 22
Aaron Holiday: No. 23

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Story originally appeared on HoopsHype