Welcome to this 2018 NBA Draft Deep Dive, I put it in reverse order to make it more suspenseful. I gathered stats, tape an analysis from various sports writers, YouTube and basketball reference. If there are any typos don’t let me know about it because I genuinely do not care. Enjoy.
30. Atlanta: GRAYSON ALLEN
SG, Duke, Senior
OK, OK, Duke haters talk some shit please, vent out your frustrations, this guy is a total dick! He’s like a Winklevoss twin who learned etiquette from Draymond Green. Sure he sucks as a person but how many Duke players have been the most annoying cocky white guys ever and still performed at the next level? I’m looking at you JJ! Besides all of the bs this guy can ball. His EFG% is 53.6 percent, he’s a good passer with just below 5 assists per game and he’s an 85 percent free throw shooter. What are the negatives? Besides what I said before? He’s not the most consistent defender, but he plays hard.
You have to respect someone with a high motor like Allen. He’s extremely athletic and can drain 3s and since he has stuck around four years he will most likely be ready to ball come the start of the season. This is pretty much a best player available scenario for the Hawks, if they wait until 34 he will most likely be off the board and he deepens their bench greatly. Matching him with someone like Mo Bamba could really stretch the floor. Also Kent Bazemore is 28, usually a time when players on bad teams get traded for assets. Look for them to find a cheaper replacement in Allen.
29. Brooklyn Nets MORITZ WAGNER
Center, Michigan, Junior
Mo Wagner is the prototype of the neo(nazi?) white big in the NBA. He’s 6’11 and a good shooter from beyond the arc. Honestly I love this guy because when I was picking games for the NCAA tournament I see this big white foreign guy and I just rode with that till the final where Villanova was obviously going to destroy them. This German plays hard and comes from a winning culture. I like that.
What I don’t like is the prospect of Wagner guarding Karl Anthony Towns and Joel Embiid down low. He’s gonna get dunked on a lot. He’s a good screener and not a suspect ball handler like most big white guys. He could be decent at the four if he develops better perimeter d. Throwing him and Mozgov together could certainly create matchup problems for teams and his motor and energy on the court could definitely translate at the next level. Brooklyn loves chucking up 3s, they were essentially a very very very poor mans Rockets, and they are stuck this year in rebuild mode and without any lottery picks this year it seems like 2019 will be much of the same. They mine as well take a player like Wagner with a high ceiling and make him their little summer project.
28. Golden State DZANAN MUSA
Small Forward, Cedevita, 19
This guy is raw, but with the right coaching he could be great. A great shooter with a lightning trigger and just a big body with an unpredictable style. This guy is fearless and has great handles and great vision. I see him as a high energy Dario Saric type with a better shot and better shooting off the dribble.
I could also see Musa get burned guarding wings at first but he has great footwork and size, his wingspan is about an inch smaller than his height, which could present a problem both shooting and defensively but his high energy and quick release will probably make up for that. His shot is wonky and he does play erratically but he has that type of rhythm on the court that will just keep defenders guessing. I’m predicting him going to Golden State because typically in the mock drafts I’ve read he’s going between 25 and 29 so I settled with a team that needs more bench scoring in the Warriors. He is so raw and inconsistent at this point he may be well served playing in the G-League for a stint before he can fully understand how to play a more organized form of basketball.
By the way I love this dudes name. It sounds like a game of thrones character. Dzanan is just a dope name I can’t wait to hear Bill Simmons try to pronounce it after the draft.
The teams where he would fit best would be the Warriors, Spurs, Celtics and 76ers. Teams with track records of producing quality homegrown talent and not throwing players into the fire day one and seeing how it goes. This is a guy with a very high ceiling and a very low floor, so it’s a gamble, but if he falls into the right system he could be great. Also if anyone has seen train spotting this guy looks like he could be a character in that movie. I don’t know if he is a drug addict but I’m damn sure he could play one.
27. Boston Celtics OMARI SPELLMAN
Power Forward, Villanova, Freshman
This may be the first reach I pull out of my bag but let’s act like Danny Ainge hasn’t pulled a fast one before. For anyone acting like they know what’s going on inside that mans brain is ludicrous. He could couple this pick with Terry Rozier and some other pieces to move up and get Mo Bamba, or he could like what he sees in someone like Spellman.
Spellman is a versatile freshman who can space the floor and crash the boards. He may not be an A+ defender but give him a season with Brad Stevens and I’m sure he will be able to flourish in that system. Spellman checks all of the Celtics boxes. He is a hard worker and a raw talent who is used to a winning culture. Perfect fit.
I saw a lot of mock drafts who thought the Celtics would pick up a shooting guard. I mean that’s just overkill they have 4 wings most teams would kill to have and if they are going to retain Marcus Smart, although he is capable of playing down low, they would be better suited picking up a versatile big man who can learn under Al Horford how to do the little things that will inevitably lead to success.
26. 76ers JOSH OKOGIE
Shooting Guard, Georgia Tech, Sophmore
Okogie is a scorer, his shooting has been decent from 3 at 38% and his defensive skills are great. He has the ability to be Robert Covington with a better off ball ability. Even though his shot is good he has a low release which could deter the Sixers because of last years Fultz blunder, but that being said the Sixers will need more wings if they let Jj and Bellineli walk. This would be a great fit for Okogie because he wouldn’t have to handle the ball and having Joel under the basket would help space the floor and leave him open to spot up. Okogie would be an automatic upgrade over Bellineli defensively and could be a nice spark off the bench offensively.
The Sixers need scorers bad, when Embiid and Redick were off the court, they struggled to put up consistent points. Dario and Covington will both improve offensively but neither are exactly prolific off the dribble, Okogie is a work in progress for sure but his repertoire of moves off of the dribble could prove to be valuable.
25. LA Lakers DONTE DIVINCENZO
Point Guard, Villanova, Sophmore
This dudes just a gritty player with speed and can heat check with the best of them( see national title game). This guy is NBA ready. I see him as a Fred Van Vleet, Tj Mconnell type with more size and better court vision. His 3PT% sits firmly at 40% which is great and his handles and speed will get him easy shots. The negatives with Donte are that he isn’t a proven spot up 3 point shooter and this could pose a problem running him and Lonzo together but his upside is clear.
Lonzo put together a great rookie season but their roster has a hole at backup point guard. Adding Divincenzo would strengthen their bench and add another scorer with athleticism to a team that has only a couple go to scorers. He can play well within team defense, switches might prove effective against him but he is a big athletic guard with a high NBA IQ, my guess is he’ll be fine. With a nickname like “The Big Ragu”how can you not love this guy. Gingers have no souls, therefore if he ever gets dunked on in an extravagant soul sucking way, good news he’ll be just fine. Just look at these highlights from the combine, confidence, tenacity and talent. This guys a can’t miss.
24. Portland Trailblazers KHYRI THOMAS
Shooting Guard, Creighton, Junior
This guy will be a great 3 and d wing. Anything more than that will be a bonus. 41 percent 3 point shooter, on defense he can defend the perimeter better than anyone and even though he is only 6’4 his wingspan is a whopping 6’10.5. This guy has the goods and has improved his, at times, suspect handles throughout his time at Creighton. This might seem like a weird pick because Portland has an amazing player in CJ McCollum, but who knows how long that will be for. This team has not performed well during the playoffs and the return on a guy like McCollum might be juicy enough for them to pounce.
Portland has above average bigs and point guards on the bench but they need someone who can score in bunches. That could very well be Khyri. I have no idea how to pronounce his name but I want to say it like Kyrie. If that’s the case this guys sure fire gold. If he’s getting a lot of attention coming from a school like Creighton best believe the hype is real.
23. Indiana Pacers AARON HOLIDAY
Point Guard, UCLA, Junior
Holiday might not be the flashiest pick here but his mixture of 3PT%, 42.9, and passing ability more then make up for his lack of size and athleticism. He is a smart player who plays hard defensively and could definitely excel with a penetrating guard like Oladipo around him. His passing ability will help get others involved on the second unit and create more offense for a team that looked stagnant when Oladipo was out for stretches during the season.
This is a great pick because it really helps Indiana space the floor and give Myles Turner and the other bigs more room to work with down low. Holiday’s passing ability will result in good looks for Bogdonovic and Oladipo as well, averaging 5.8 assists per game is great, especially since his teammates were not good shooters.
Darren Collison is a good point guard with a good shot but his play making can be severely lacking at times, that’s where Holiday can help. It’s also pretty cool he is the younger brother of Jrue and Justin Holiday, those dudes have killer genes. I wonder if their parents adopted me I would become a better baller through osmosis, maybe a contact buzz of game suddenly appears.
22. Chicago Bulls CHANDLER HUTCHISON
Shooting Guard, Boise State, Senior
Most mock drafts point to Hutchinson here. He is an athletic wing who knows how to score. His 3PT% is suspect at 35.9 but he is a great player on both ends and was a leader, given Boise State was not a very good team, it’s still impressive. Chicago needs athletic 3 and D players and Hutchinson basically fits the mold. He’s tall for a shooting guard and will be a very versatile defender.
Chicago has two picks in the first round and it seems like they could conceivably make the playoffs as a 7 or 8 seed this year. The east is top heavy per usual and Chicago was tanking for much of the season and still won a few games against good teams. With its young core and a few more players who can produce right away this team has a shot of making the playoffs.
21. Utah Jazz JACOB EVANS
Small Forward, Cincinnati, Junior
Evans is a prototypical 3 and D wing, he is an excellent passer and a high basketball IQ player that can switch on d and make winning plays. His athleticism has come into question but think of him as a better defending Bogdan Bogdonovic who has a high ceiling because of his steady improvement throughout his 3 years at Cincinnati. His inefficiencies driving and penetrating won’t be as glaring with Donavan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio playing along side him. If he continues to shoot well imagine the spacing he and Joe Ingles could create.
Utah needs more forwards to supplement the potential loss of Derrick Favors. Evans does not have Favors size and athleticism but he is a much better shooter, and in a league trending more and more toward small ball lineups, he will fit right in. Also look at the dudes hair, hes like a black Elvis, which is ironic because Elvis stole rock and roll from black people( fun fact).
20. Minnesota Timberwolves
Shooting Guard, Maryland, Sophmore
Huerter has us all victim to a thing I love to call recency bias. Sure he had a good year, and he does shoot 41.7 percent, but after the combine many were comparing him to Klay Thompson. I understand he has a similar style to Klay but that’s just insane. Klay is a top 3 shooter all time and he is faster, more athletic and a better defender than Huerter. The positives for Huerter are simple, he has a silky smooth jumper and is great off screens. He’s also an above average passer but does commit a lot of turnovers.
Huerter does play hard on defense and with a good coach and a little luck he could be an above average perimeter defender. He also could very well be the best shooter in this draft. The problem is, Huerter is 6’7 and not incredibly athletic, he is skinny and is going to get pushed around a lot by most shooting guards.
This is a no brainer pick for Minnesota, they are a good team without a real three point threat. Maybe with Huerter in the rotation KAT will be forced to go to the post more where he can dominate. Huerter’s performance in the combine made him a hot commodity, so much so he didn’t even show up to the second day, what a freakin g.
19. Atlanta Hawks ELIE OKOBO
Point Guard, Pau-Orthez/ France
Okobo is the Charlie Kelly of this draft, just a complete wildcard. He’s been compared to Deron Williams and Delonte West. Which may seem like a slight but before Delonte was fooling around with Lebron’s Mom he actually was a decent player. I do not know why anyone would want to have sex with Delonte West though dudes picture comes up first when you google syphilis. Seriously, he’s ugly.
Okobo seems pretty decent, he’s 6’3 which is average for a point guard and he’s athletic, with a 41.3 percent 3 point percentage. He’s an OK passer but his recent switch from shooting guard could prove to be a problem, he doesn’t have the best ball handling skills and he’s not the best defender. Those are both big problems for a point guard in this league but he is a pure scorer and definitely has a high ceiling making him worth the risk.
The hawks need an athletic high octane point guard and in a nutshell, that’s Okobo. This team is going to be wading in the lower half of the league for the foreseeable future so they mine as well gamble on someone like Okobo and give him a decent amount of minutes to figure out his NBA game.
18. San Antonio Spurs Troy Brown Jr
Shooting Guard, Oregon, Freshman
Troy Brown seems like one of those Popovich projects. He is not a great 3 point shooter at 29% but his ability to create for his teammates and get himself open. Brown is an excellent ball handler and a great defender within his comfort zone. He’s 6’6 with a 6’10 wingspan and can be disruptive cutting off passes and turning defense into offense.
The big reason why Brown sits here at 18 is because of his basketball IQ, he is a smart player who will in turn make his teammates better through communication and he plays within himself.
Pop is known for taking smart, raw players like Brown and turning them into stars, this kid will flourish under Pop’s tutelage. If San Antonio loses Kawhi expect them to pull the trigger on a player like Brown. Even if Kawhi stays if he doesn’t sign the Super max extension, they will definitely want an insurance policy.
17. Milwalkee Bucks SHAI GILGEOUS ALEXANDER
Guard, Kentucky, Freshman
If Alexander sticks around this far it is a perfect fit for the Bucks. Alexander is a playmaker, scorer, and excellent ball handler. He’s a 6’6 guard with a 7 foot wingspan. Alexander the type of player who can get his teammates open looks, and with Giannis, Bledsoe and Middleton on the court he should shine. Anytime a player comes from Kentucky its pretty obvious they have monster potential. Calipari only recruits 5 star athletes and Alexander is no different. He is a pretty decent 3 point shooter at 40 percent but he has a screwy looking shot, better than Lonzo, worse than Markelle.
The biggest question mark is his defense. He is not strong enough to guard post ups but his lateral quickness could prove to be his saving grace against quick guards in the NBA.
The Bucks need ball handlers and passers, Bledsoe is not the leader they need to take the ball up and Giannis’s handles can be sloppy. With a hard working high energy playmaker like Alexander to match Giannis’s aggression this should be a match made in heaven and make for a very fast paced team.
16. Phoenix Suns ZHAIRE SMITH
Small Forward, Texas Tech, Freshman
Zhaire Smith is so athletic, like video game hops. He’s a decent passer and shot really well from 3 point range during his freshman season. Those are things that will translate well into the NBA. Scouts have their doubts about him producing at a 45% clip from deep but dudes a freshman, and shooting that well has to be a good sign. Smith can guard smaller guys very well but because he is a little over 6’4with a solid frame and will not get backed down easily.
This move makes sense for the Suns especially if they can find a way to improve his handles they could transition him to a great second option of the bench. He’s a high energy high flying talent and his tenacity on the glass and skill in setting picks will come in handy for a Suns team looking to to fight their way back into NBA relevancy.
15. Washington Wizards ROBERT WILLIAMS
Big, Texas A&M, Sophmore
Williams is an athletic big, and today in small ball lineups, putting him at center won’t be an issue. His defense speaks for itself. He is a quick, versatile defender, capable of blocking and altering shots in bunches.
Williams played out of position at Texas A&M due to a two big style offense and wasn’t supremely effective at the 4 offensively but in the NBA his length( 7’5 wingspan) and bounce will make him a huge threat for putbacks and lobs. For now he is strictly an in the paint shooter as a result of an inconsistent jumper and bad mechanics, although his quickness could lead to easy buckets. Rebounding is ironically not one of his strengths and he will have to work on box outs and his timing.
Washington needs a new big man. Gortat and Wall’s relationship has soured and the Wizards don’t have much hope with what’s left on their roster. It’s always tough commuting to 6’9 non shooters like Williams because of the length and coordination many bigs have in the game today. I’d say his ceiling is a poor mans Clint Capela and the floor is an Emeka Okafor type player, but with a much worse shot. Washington’s best shot at taking a big man of the future would be to trade Otto Porter and this pick to Dallas or Orlando, and draft Mo Bamba.
14. Denver Nuggets MELVIN FRAZIER
Small Forward, Tulane, Junior
Frazier is an unreal defender, with a high basketball IQ and a tendency to make good things happen when he’s on the court. He’s a good shooter from anywhere on the court when he spots up, his off the dribble shots don’t fall with the same consistency because of his footwork. He can be erratic at times, especially around the rim. An overall solid passer. For a wing he is an excellent rebounder and his quickness and bounce are incredible.
The fact is the Nuggets need a good defensive wing, they have an assortment of scorers but no one who can consistently match up on the wing. Frazier solves that problem. His athleticism and spot up shooting will match perfect with Jokic and his passing ability will help make life easier for Jokic, Harris and Murray.
13. LA Clippers KEVIN KNOX
Forward, Kentucky, Freshman
Knox projects as an upside scorer and versatile defender. He can finish around the rim well and plays smart and controlled on the offensive end. He will be tough to guard if he can develop his shot a bit more and that will open up lanes for him to score. Great off the ball on the offensive end.
The Clippers have two darts to throw at the board at 12 and 13, Knox projects to have a higher offensive ceiling than Tobias Harris and could play the four side by side with him when Deandre Jordan is off the floor(or traded). His rebounding deficiencies shouldn’t be a problem when Jordan is on the floor and if the Clippers draft a point guard capable of making plays, he should fit in just fine. He kind of looks like Markelle Fultz got dropped as a baby.
12. LA Clippers TRAE YOUNG
Point Guard, Oklahoma, Freshman
Young’s stock has never been lower. He busted out onto the scene and early in the season was straight bodying teams. He took 327 threes, and shot 36 percent. It may have been his team’s lack of talent that forced him into tough situations later on in the season.
Young has great handles and is a great off the dribble shooter. Though he has a low release point, and that could spell trouble in the NBA. As a passer he is above average with good vision and can make fantastic plays, with that he can also give the ball up by trying to force passes. Definitely a below average, low effort, defender.
I think Young slides to the Clippers here because Colin Sexton is the more complete point guard. Young and Lou Williams will make an interesting backcourt that would be tough to defend and give up a lot of points. His ability to penetrate will help teammates get open looks and I’m sure Deandre Jordan will be a recipient of his playmaking many times. Who knows what this kid is capable of. He had arguably the best start to a season in college ever, then he flamed out. Only time will tell.
11. Charlotte Hornets LONNIE WALKER IV
Shooting Guard, Miami, Freshman
Walker is a solid defender at the guard positions and projects as a solid scorer at the next level. He has all the mechanics, moves and footwork to be a great scorer in the NBA. Not the best ball handler but his quickness and athleticism make up for his mediocre handles.
Walker struggles passing and could be a turnover liability with his sub par instincts. He isn’t strong enough to guard forwards, also a year removed from a torn right meniscus. Shooting percentage is a concern and he possesses a low basketball IQ.
Imagine Walker squared starting for the Hornets this year. The name is far more enticing than the product, but Lonnie Walker could fit in to this system well. He has all the necessary tools to become a great player and if he shares the court with Kemba, best believe he’s going to have the weaker defender guarding him. He is young with a lot of raw potential. Here’s to hoping the Hornets finally strike gold after so many lackluster picks the last few years. That guys hair is an issue, I’ve never seen anything like it, he looks like a character from Tekken or something.
10. Philadelphia 76ers MIKAL BRIDGES
Small Forward, Villanova, Junior
Bridges is probably one of the safest picks in this draft. A 6’7 wing, shooting 43.5 % from 3, and a great wing defender, compares to Robert Covington with more upside. His potential is clear, get a better shot off the dribble and more dynamic handles and he could be a star player.
The problems with his game are due to his lack of an ability as a scorer and playmaker, he’s a great shooter, but he can’t create his own shots off the dribble, and he can’t gain separation with his handles. Bridges is not going to dominate defensively on the low post with a lanky frame.
This pick will work out well for the 76ers, they need shooters to compliment Embiid, and Simmons and help space the floor. With Bellineli and JJ Redick’s futures with the team uncertain, it is the perfect time to pick up a shooter like Bridges.
The only problem I foresee with this partnership is that Bridges’s lack of shot creation could come to bite the Sixers again in the playoffs against teams like Boston with smothering perimeter defense. Hopefully he can work on his shot creation over the next few years to solidify his role as a potent offensive talent.
He is the “old man” of the draft at 21, which is hilarious because that’s when many players used to enter the draft years ago, but times have changed, and GMs unfortunately value raw potential over proven talent.
9. New York Knicks COLIN SEXTON
Point Guard, Alabama, Freshman
Sexton’s score first mentality, and drive to win, can’t be overstated, this guy came to ball. He averaged 19 points a game and his ability to lockdown guards is suffocating as well. Sexton has the ability to finish with either hand around the rim which is very advanced for a Freshman.
Another great attribute of Sexton is his ability to handle the ball well in traffic. He can get to the hole in a split second with a lightning fast quick step and that will open up the floor for his teammates.
Unfortunately Sexton is not a great pure passer, he air mails a lot of passes and he can be erratic at times, taking bad shots and not involving his teammates enough when he gets penetration.
The Knicks need someone to score along side Porzingis, Frank Ntilikina, the Knicks rookie point guard last year was great defensively, but his scoring and passing ability is severely lacking. This is a guard centric league and for the Knicks to have success they need a great scorer like Sexton to couple with the Unicorn.
Sexton doesn’t have to worry about money either because he got a few racks thrown his way via Alabama, who says colleges don’t care about players?
8. Cleveland Cavaliers MICHAEL PORTER JR
Forward, Missouri, Freshman
Michael Porter Jr has clear upside. He can hit any shot on the court, he’s a big wing with the potential to be a 4 position defender, he can move well without the ball well for catch and shoots and those are great tools to have and could propel him to stardom with his handles on fast breaks, if he develops half court handles and plays smart his potential is limitless.
His athleticism can’t be ignored either, with a frame he could certainly build muscle on as well. Teams are high on him, he was projected to be the number 1 pick before the college season and complications after back surgery sidelined him for most of the season, so effectively his combine and high school tapes are the best barometer on his talent.
For all the good there is a lot of bad with Porter, his injury might still be lingering, he didn’t prove in his short time in college that he can be the best player on a winning team, but that could be the sample size. His shot didn’t fall in college, but that was 10 attempts from 3 and 30 field goals attempted total. He’s honestly just a huge wildcard, and the question marks are still there, but it’s a question if he can become the player people think he can be.
If the Cavaliers lose Lebron James, they will need to take a big risk in the draft, someone to get their fans excited. That is Michael Porter Jr. Start the rebuild fresh and trade Kevin Love and hope for a couple lottery picks in the next few years if he leaves. It’s a big risk big reward move but I still think Porter has a relatively high floor if he can stay healthy.
Another thing the Cavs ought to love is his cockiness, he just thinks he is going to be the next Lebron, you like to see that in somebody that young who unfortunately hasn’t proven himself on the court yet, he’ll need to prove his work ethic and improve his game to get to the level he can project to.
7. Chicago Bulls MILES BRIDGES
Forward, Michigan State, Sophmore
Known as the better Bridges, he is a stout, strong forward who has a winning mentality and can turn a team with potential from a middling talent to an 8 seed with the right guidance. Bridges is a good shooter from the college 3 point line but his shot needs to be a little more consistent.
Bridges is a tenacious rebounder who makes timely plays to put his team over the limit. His great rebounding is a product of his athleticism mixed with his big frame. This and his ability to penetrate the paint could translate into some fantastic athletic plays.
Bridges will be a good player in the NBA but his ceiling may be capped if he doesn’t develop better dribbling skills. He also does not have an overly impressive wingspan and could potentially get blocked down low on shots he made in college. His effort on defense also comes into question but these problems could point to his offensive workload and conditioning. The most glaring problem with Bridges has to be his passing, he can make easy passes but does not have the high basketball IQ offensively, to match his motor.The Bulls have a roster with potential, they need a glue guy, a guy that can make an important shot or rebound at the right time. That is Bridges.
If his three pointer gains consistency in the NBA imagine how well him and Lauri Markkanen will be able to stretch the floor. They will have great length on defense as well. Bridges defensive prowess is versatile enough to guard 1-5 with his athleticism and size helping stay in front of guards and not get tooled on by big men on the post. What this team needs is an upside scoring role player who is a difference maker on the defensive end. That’s Miles Bridges.
6. Orlando Magic WENDELL CARTER JR
Center, Duke, Freshman
Wendell Carter is like a Swiss Army Knife, there are so many tools at his disposal, it is hard to see why he is currently situated outside the top 5. As a center he is averaging 41.3 percent from 3. He has elite quickness for a center, and although his hops may be a concern he has the wherewithal to expose weaknesses on defense with soft touch, great passing and spot up shooting.
Carter’s IQ can not be overstated. He was overshadowed at Duke by Bagley’s need to be ball dominant. He positions himself great for rebounds and can screen and cut with some of the best in the league. When teams talk about intangibles, this is what they mean. That’s why many compare him to Al Horford.
The negatives on Carter are sparse for the most part. He does not possess elite athleticism which might put a cap on his potential. He can be a turnover liability at times when he forces it. He also has an awkward jumper that takes away from his ability to drive and pop well.
The Magic need a player like Carter, a glue guy who can be the focal point of the offense and defend big men well and smartly. Orlando will probably be hanging around the bottom of the league if they lose Gordon which could help Carter get reps shooting in games. He will be an instant difference maker in every facet of the game and might make the Magic an attractive place for free agents once again if he can dominate.
The truth is that the Magic are years away from contention and their best shot at relevancy is drafting the best player available, and that’s Wendell Carter JR. If they take a risk like Porter and he busts they may have to give a free 6 pack with every ticket just to keep fans coming.
5. Dallas Mavericks Marvin Bagley III
Big, Duke, Freshman
Scouts are getting cold on Bagley and I can’t for the life of me understand why. He has the most complete game in the draft, he’s 6’11 and athletic as hell. Bagley has great shooting form and a drive that can be compared to NBA greats. With the quickness of a guard and the strength of a center Bagley will dominate defending the perimeter.
This guy killed college basketball last year, sure his shot needs improvement and he doesn’t have the length to match up with typical centers but the NBA is a position-less League now a days. Look how a freak athlete like Giannis dominates now, how would he have been used in years passed? As a center? Getting 20 minutes a game?
Bagley has a feel and comfort for the game that cannot be overstated, he is always crashing the boards and making the right plays, shooting 39.7 from 3 isn’t great, and his passing numbers leave much to be desired. His defensive effort can swing sometimes and he has much to develop and polish to become a star at the next level.
Bagley on the Mavericks would be great, he adds energy and poise to a decently talented squad with Dennis Smith Jr, Harrison Barnes, an old Dirk with a few tricks left and a good defensive center in Nerlens Noel.
Bagley keeps sliding down the rankings for one reason, and yes I’ve said it before, recency bias. It does not matter that he played great in the tournament, or the fact that compared to everyone except Doncic in the top 5, he is the only other player who played deep into the postseason. That means something, and he was the team’s leader, something the Mavericks desperately need. If the Mavericks decide to part ways with Noel in the future, Bagley would be the perfect small ball 5. Bagley has the skill set and drive to be the best player in this draft.
4. Memphis Grizzlies LUKA DONCIC
Guard, Real Madrid, 19
What more can be said about Doncic that hasn’t been said a million times, he is was the 19 year old MVP of the Euroleague, he won the Euroleague championship and he is the leader of his team.
Doncic has amazing court vision and passing ability, with the intelligence to take great shots. A 6’8 guard, comparable to the likes of James Harden and Manu Ginobili, his handles are amazing for his age and has great touch in the paint on floaters. This guy is the package deal. He has already developed a James Harden type step back three and he will only improve shooting as he gains more experience.
Doncic played 90 games this year, nearly 60 more than most college players. He’s NBA ready, and he’s ready to dominate. Doncic will fall in this draft because scouts really don’t understand what makes him special, that’s good for him, he will go to a better team and be that much closer to stardom.
The negatives with Doncic are apparent, and don’t project to get much better. He is an average athlete with average quickness, this will keep him from being an elite level defender. His three point shot percentage is pedestrian at 31.6 % but he does show good form so the shot has potential to be deadly.
Imagine a backcourt of Doncic and Conley, with Marc Gasol at center. That’s easily an 8 seed in their first year. Doncic is a win now prospect, he has the skill level to be a star as the basketball IQ to eventually make deep playoff runs.
3. Atlanta Hawks MOHAMED BAMBA
Center, Texas, Freshman
Bamba’s stock has skyrocketed since the video of him draining a bunch of threes in a row. Sure that was impressive but what else can he do?
Well Bamba has a 7’10 wingspan and he is incredibly coordinated for his height. Other than that he can finish with either hand and obviously there is the immense upside of three point shooting.
Bamba is one of the most athletic big men you will see, with big strides he can cover the court in seconds. He can pretty much defend anyone on the court, with his long arms as a security blanket for when faster defenders get around him. Bamba is often compared to a Rudy Gobert who can shoot. If this is the product he will be absolutely terrifying in the NBA.
Bamba’s downside is a result of his upside, his length makes him skinny and look fragile. He is not strong and can get pushed around on the post. It will also effect him offensively, it seems like whenever a defender pushes into him he is unable to adjust and make a good attempt. This is concerning. He also doesn’t have a great basketball IQ. He isn’t going to out work his defender, he will just used his pure ability.
While I understand the Gobert comparisons because of his ability, Gobert is a driven defender with a high motor, Bamba has not displayed that thus far.
Atlanta wants a big name not named Doncic, that’s Bamba, he has the potential to be an all timer and the personality to be a star in Atlanta. Atlanta has Taurean Prince and John Collins. That will make for a huge front court that will tower above everyone else. The defensive possibilities are endless, and with Bamba’s potential 3 point shot being a weapon this makes for great floor spacing and will create opportunities for their backcourt to cut and get open while Bamba threatens shot from the top of the key.
2. Sacramento Kings JAREN JACKSON JR
Big, Michigan State, Freshman
Jackson probably has the highest floor of anyone in the draft. He is an excellent shot blocker, potential 5 position defender. He jumps straight up when he contests, making it hard for players to draw fouls.
Offensively Jackson has touch and an above average shot for a big, with decent handles. Jackson possesses a high motor and finishing power. He is a player that will come in and instantly make a difference, with his quick cutting, and ability to drive, it makes life easier for his teammates. Jackson is also an above average passer in the paint and usually makes good choices with the ball.
The downside’s to Jackson’s game are kind of head scratching when you think about it, he is not a great rebounder despite his size and tenacity, because he doesn’t box out well. He is lean and not an imposing force that will deter defenders from driving on him. Jackson is not an A+ hopper, and lastly he has funky mechanics with a low release point on his shot.
Jackson will excel in Sacramento as a plus defender/ glue guy. His offensive game will come along fine, with a reliable shot, and great driving ability. Expect Jackson to fly under the radar his first year, but make the players around him significantly better, spotting up for threes and being a switchable defender capable of guarding anyone on the court.
1. Phoenix DEANDRE AYTON
Big, Arizona, Freshman
Ayton has been comfortably on top of many draft big board’s since the middle of the college basketball season. His potential is clear, a center built for the new NBA with a great shot, post moves and the athleticism to dominate from anywhere on the court.
His ball handling is much better than most bigs his age, perhaps that would have been more apparent if he didn’t play in a college system at Arizona that had him playing down low most of the time. He is a great rebounder because of his size and athleticism, and can run the floor like a Clydesdale, fast and nimble for his size. Ayton has potential on defense with his quick feet, athleticism and ability to defend straight up and down, making it hard for defenders to draw fouls. Ayton also has great court vision for passing, finding cutters and shooters alike and doesn’t cough the ball up much on doubles.
What Ayton struggles at the most is defense, this could be a lack of effort or understanding where to be at the right time. This is where the DeMarcus Cousins comparisons ring true. He is not good at guarding switches or playing help defense, and with a guard centric NBA that is a problem. He could become a turnover problem as a result of not taking care of the ball. The worry with Ayton is, at the next level will he sit at the three point line too much, like Karl Anthony Towns, or make his presence felt on the low block.
By all accounts Phoenix will taken Ayton, and why shouldn’t they, in their opinion he is the best player in the draft. Despite having a talented young big in Dragen Bender and the fact that a high upside guard like Doncic may thrust them into contention alongside Devin Booker, all of that is hearsay at this point.
Ayton will make a nice inside out game with Booker, he can also stretch the court and keep defenders honest if he catches passes at the top of the key. His fast break motor and ability to find the open man, will make him a handful to guard and could set up a lot of open shots for his teammates.
There is very little bust potential with Ayton because of his offensive game and athleticism. The upside is clear, on any team he will be a tough guard and Phoenix is no different. The potential with two studs such as Ayton and Booker on the court is undeniable.
Thanks to the Ringer Draft Guide, CBS Sports Mock Drafts, SB Nation Mock Drafts, and all the YouTube mocks out there dissecting players.