Tuesday night, the lottery draw for the 2018 NBA Draft was held in Chicago, with the Phoenix Suns landing the top overall pick. With the order now known, there’s the opportunity to take a look at what teams may do with their selections. The next step in the pre-draft process is this week’s NBA Draft Combine, with the physical measurements, interviews, drills and 5-on-5 play all set to have a significant impact on draft boards at this early stage in the process. Below is our first mock draft, with brief explanations for the first round selections.
1. Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona
The Suns are in an interesting spot from an intel standpoint, as there are multiple connections to the University of Arizona (where Ayton played) in the organization and new head coach Igor Kokoskov coached a Slovenian national team that included point guard Luka Doncic to a EuroBasket title last summer. Ayton is the choice right now, but this one isn’t set in stone by any stretch of the imagination.
2. Sacramento Kings: Luka Doncic, SF, Real Madrid
Doncic is one of the most intriguing players in this year’s draft, thanks to his play for both Real Madrid and the Slovenian national team. At 6-foot-7 Doncic has good size for a perimeter playmaker, and he has proven to be very good making things happen for himself and for others.
3. Atlanta Hawks: Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke
The good news for general manager Travis Schlenk after the Hawks won just 24 games this season: the team holds four of the top 34 picks in the draft. Despite there being some concerns about him defensively, Marvin Bagley III’s offensive abilities makes him too good to pass up at this spot.
4. Memphis Grizzlies: Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Michigan State
The Big Ten’s top newcomer and defender in his lone season in East Lansing, Jackson shot nearly 40 percent from three (51.3 percent from the field overall), and he’s got the upside needed to add even more to the “toolbox” offensively.
5. Dallas Mavericks: Michael Porter Jr., SF, Missouri
Given the fact that he was limited to three games at Missouri due to a back injury, Porter’s pre-draft workouts and medical reports will be critical. That being said, the 6-foot-10 forward is a gifted offensive player who at the scholastic level showed himself to be capable of scoring at all three levels.
6. Orlando Magic: Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma
Given free rein in the Oklahoma offense, Young was one of college basketball’s best players this season. And Orlando, which ranked in the bottom third of the NBA in both scoring offense and offensive rating, needs a dynamic option at the point. Young can be that guy.
7. Chicago Bulls: Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas
The 6-foot-11 Bamba has a 7-foot-9 wingspan and during his lone season at Texas established himself as of the best shot-blockers in college basketball. In addition to the need to get stronger, Bamba does have some work to do with regards to his offensive skill set but the potential makes him a tantalizing prospect.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Boston via Brooklyn): Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama
While Cleveland has managed to reach the Eastern Conference Finals, it’s become quite clear that the team needs more dynamic offensive options on the roster. The attack-minded Sexton fits that bill, as he can score at all three levels and apply pressure on defenses via his ability to break down defenses off the dribble.
9. New York Knicks: Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova
With this pick the Knicks have the ability to address a glaring need on the wing, and in Mikal Bridges there’s a wing capable of being a factor on both ends of the floor. Given the fact that he spent four years in college Bridges may not be viewed in the same light as younger players (“upside”), but he’s got the ability to be more than just a “3 and D” wing.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (from LA Lakers): Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State
Bridges’ shooting percentages from the field and from three did dip some from his freshman to sophomore season, but he’s still an effective combo wing who can help a team. He has the potential to be a factor in Philadelphia, a team that appears to be on the cusp of being a factor in the East for years to come.
11. Charlotte Hornets: Wendell Carter Jr., C, Duke
The 6-foot-10 Carter was an incredibly tough matchup for opponents last season due to his combination of size, strength and athleticism, attributes that give him the ability to be an impact addition at the NBA level. Charlotte could also use another point guard, but Carter may prove to be too good to pass up if he’s on the board here.
12. LA Clippers (from Detroit): Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky
For the first of these back-to-back Clipper picks, Gilgeous-Alexander is worth considering. The point guard went from being a reserve to an indispensable member of the Wildcats’ starting lineup over the course of this past season. At 6-foot-6 he has good size at the point, and that combined with his athleticism made Gilgeous-Alexander a tough player for opposing point guards to get past.
13. LA Clippers: Robert Williams, C, Texas A&M
Williams was in a position last spring where, had he left Texas A&M at that point, he could’ve been a Top 10 pick. A second season in College Station may have dropped him some, but the 6-foot-10 Williams is a high-level athlete who can be a difference maker on the defensive end of the floor.
14. Denver Nuggets: Kevin Knox, SF, Kentucky
The 6-foot-9 Knox is a talented wing who has the ability to score at all three levels. Knox wasn’t always as aggressive offensively as he needed to be, at time settling rather than attacking the defense and taking full advantage of his tools. That being said, there’s no denying the fact that he can be a key addition for any team looking to bolster its production on the wing.
15. Washington Wizards: Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami
Walker’s lone season at Miami was a solid one, as he averaged 11.5 points per game on a team with multiple players given the freedom to make plays within Jim Larranaga’s system. The 6-foot-4 Walker is a highly athletic perimeter prospect, and his skill set is such that he can help the Wizards as they look to bolster their rotation.
16. Phoenix Suns (from Miami): Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech
Smith, a player few expected to be a one-and-done player before the season began, is an elite athlete who shot better than 55 percent from the field in his lone season at Texas Tech. While still needing to fine-tune his offensive skill set, Smith can make an impact as a defender thanks to his athleticism and effort level.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: Khyri Thomas, PG/SG, Creighton
In Thomas, the Bucks would add one of the top perimeter defenders in this year’s draft. The 6-foot-3 Creighton product, who won Big East Defensive Player of the Year after sharing the award in 2017, also made strides offensively throughout his collegiate career, developing into one of the better shooters in the Big East.
18. San Antonio Spurs: Troy Brown, SG, Oregon
At 6-foot-7 Brown has the size needed to play on the wing, and his versatile skill set allows the Oregon product to impact an offense both on and off the ball. In recent years the Spurs have taken steps toward accounting for the eventual retirements of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, and adding a player of Brown’s caliber can help in that regard as well.
19. Atlanta Hawks (from Minnesota): Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State
The Big Ten Player of the Year, Bates-Diop was a high-level offensive option for the Buckeyes this past season. While he wouldn’t be classified as an elite defender, Bates-Diop is further along in that area than international prospect Dzanan Musa, a player some have projected as a top-20 pick.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Oklahoma City): Mitchell Robinson, C, High school
Robinson’s recruitment was an interesting one, as he first pledged to Texas A&M before switching to Western Kentucky … where he ultimately withdrew from summer school and instead decided to work towards the 2018 NBA Draft. At 6-foot-11 Robinson certainly has size, but given the fact that he did not play competitively this season the upcoming workouts are going to be critical for him. Given their front court rotation, the Timberwolves can be a bit patient with a player like Robinson.
21. Utah Jazz: Dzanan Musa, SF, Cedevita
The 6-foot-8 Musa has been on the radar of NBA scouts for quite some time thanks in large part to his offensive abilities. There are some concerns on the defensive end of the floor, however. That being said, Utah’s team defense (second in defensive rating this season) could provide cover for Musa if he were to be selected.
22. Chicago Bulls: Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA
If not for the aforementioned Ayton, Holiday likely would’ve been the Pac-12 Player of the Year due to his productivity as both a scorer and a distributor. Yes the Bulls have some young guards on the roster, but it can be argued that the jury is still out when it comes to the question of whether or not they can be key building blocks moving forward. Go Holiday, whose skill set and athleticism make him a better option than young project Anfernee Simons.
23. Indiana Pacers: Landry Shamet, PG, Wichita State
The Pacers will have some things to figure out this summer on the perimeter, as Darren Collison’s deal for next season isn’t guaranteed, Lance Stephenson has a team option and Cory Joseph is entering the final season of his deal. Shamet would be a good choice, not only because of those question marks but also because he’s got good size at 6-foot-4 and can play off the ball in addition to serving as a distributor. Given how good Victor Oladipo is when it comes to creating, having a guard who doesn’t have to have the ball in his hands at all times would be a positive.
24. Portland Trailblazers: Chandler Hutchison, SF, Boise State
The 6-foot-7 Hutchison had the ball in his hands a lot at Boise State, and more often than not he made the right decision. Given the presence of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum he wouldn’t be in that kind of position in Portland, but Hutchison has the skill set needed to contribute (and a decent price tag) on a team that has to try to improve this offseason despite being hampered by some contracts that aren’t helping matters.
25. LA Lakers: Jerome Robinson, SG, Boston College
Expected to be major players in free agency this summer, the Lakers are also in a spot where they need to add bodies to the roster given the number of expiring contracts. Adding the 6-foot-6 Robinson to the mix would give the Lakers a talented scorer who averaged nearly 21 points per game and did so shooting 48.5 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from three. Regardless of how successful the Lakers are in free agency, they need additional depth on the wings.
26. Philadelphia 76ers: Gary Trent Jr., SG, Duke
With J.J. Redick set to be a free agent this summer, the 76ers will be in need of a guard capable of knocking down perimeter shots at a consistent rate. That could open the door for either Blue Devil — Trent Jr. or Grayson Allen — to land in Philadelphia. With Trent being three-plus years younger than Allen, who turns 23 in October, and his shooting better than 40 percent from three that could open the door for the freshman to make his way north.
27. Boston Celtics: Jacob Evans III, SF, Cincinnati
No, the Celtics don’t lack for wings with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum flourishing this season and Gordon Hayward set to return in 2018-19. But there are some young wings currently on the roster who have non-guaranteed deals next season, which opens the door for a player like Evans to be selected. The 6-foot-6 wing shot 42.7 percent from the field and 37.0 percent from three, and he led the Bearcats in both scoring (13.0 ppg) and assists (3.1 apg).
28. Golden State Warriors: Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova
Given all that he accomplished in college, slotting Brunson at this point may be too low. Not only is Brunson a winner but he was a highly productive one at that, and he’s a bit more athletic than people give him credit for. Given the way in which Villanova played offensively, spreading teams out and allowing their ball-handlers to aggressively make plays, he would be a good fit with the Warriors.
29. Brooklyn Nets (from Toronto): Omari Spellman, PF, Villanova
Thanks to past mistakes the rebuild in Brooklyn wasn’t expected to be a quick one by any means, but the team has made modest strides during the Sean Marks/Kenny Atkinson era. With promising Jarrett Allen performing well as a rookie this season, Brooklyn could stand to pair him up with another solid young interior talent. Enter Spellman, who took advantage of the season he was forced to sit out and was an impressive contributor on a team that won its second national title in three years. Spellman isn’t the defender that Allen is, but he’s very athletic and can score both inside and away from the basket.
30. Atlanta Hawks (from Houston): DeAnthony Melton, PG/SG, USC
Thanks to the FBI investigation, Melton never took the court for the Trojans this season. And boy did USC, which ultimately went to the NIT, miss the versatile guard who can play either on or off the ball while also being a plus defender. It remains to be seen what happens with the Dennis Schröder situation, but even if the Hawks’ incumbent point guard remains in Atlanta the team is in a spot where it needs to add a good perimeter defender.
31. Phoenix Suns: Shake Milton, PG, SMU
32. Memphis Grizzlies: Grayson Allen, SG, Duke
33. Dallas Mavericks: Chimezie Metu, PF, USC
34. Atlanta Hawks: Moritz Wagner, PF, Michigan
35. Orlando Magic: Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV
36. New York Knicks (from Chicago): Caleb Martin, SF/SG, Nevada
37. Sacramento Kings: Jontay Porter, PF, Missouri
38. Philadelphia 76ers (from Brooklyn): Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, SG, Kansas
39. Philadelphia 76ers (from New York): Alize Johnson, PF, Missouri State
40. Brooklyn Nets(from LA Lakers): Anfernee Simons, PG, IMG Academy
41. Orlando Magic (from Charlotte): Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova
42. Detroit Pistons: Tony Carr, PG, Penn State
43. Denver Nuggets (from LA Clippers): Elie Okobo, PG, Elan Bearnais Pau-Orthez (France)
44. Washington Wizards: Austin Wiley, C, Auburn
45. Brooklyn Nets (from Milwaukee): Cody Martin, PG/SG, Nevada
46. Houston Rockets (from Miami): Kevin Hervey, SF, UT-Arlington
47. LA Lakers (from Denver): Jevon Carter, PG, West Virginia
48. Minnesota Timberwolves: Allonzo Trier, SG, Arizona
49. San Antonio Spurs: Kenrich Williams, SF, TCU
50. Indiana Pacers: Gary Clark, PF, Cincinnati
51. New Orleans Pelicans: Goga Bitadze, C, Mega Bemax
52. Utah Jazz: Josh Okogie, SG/SF, Georgia Tech
53. Oklahoma City Thunder: Yante Maten, PF, Georgia
54. Dallas Mavericks (from Portland): Rawle Alkins, SG, Kentucky
55. Charlotte Hornets (from Cleveland): Malik Newman, SG, Kansas
56. Philadelphia 76ers: Justin Jackson, SF, Maryland
57. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Boston): Vince Edwards, SF, Purdue
58. Denver Nuggets (from Golden State): Arnoldas Kulboka, SF, Brose Bamberg (Germany; on loan to Capo d’Orlando in Italy)
59. Phoenix Suns (from Toronto): Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky
60. Philadelphia 76ers (from Houston): Jeffrey Carroll, SF, Oklahoma State