Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:03 PM
2018 Mock Draft
With draft props widely available on where first-round picks will be slotted, the following is a scenario-filled mock draft finalized Thursday morning. Check out NBA Draft Props best bets for recommendations on what to ride.
1. Phoenix: Deandre Ayton, C/F, Arizona - No surprises are coming here. The Suns will get the one guy who can't miss. Say all you will about the league trending smaller and bigs becoming increasingly obsolete, but special is special. Puma's new top spokesman will have plenty of room to work thanks to the presence of wings Devin Booker and Josh Jackson. Defense won't be his strength -- he's no Joel Embiid on that end -- but an up-tempo system should suit him nicely.
2. Sacramento: Marvin Bagley III, F, Duke - Draft drama really starts here, but even with Vlade Divac's affinity for international stars like Luka Doncic, Bagley is the better fit as the latest piece for the rebuilding Kings. He slots into a young frontcourt that improved over the course of last season but needs a legitimate scorer at that position. His versatility and polish should allow him to hit the ground running, while passing on Doncic means the Hawks will have an opportunity to move the No. 3 pick to the highest bidder.
3. Atlanta: Jaren Jackson, Jr., F, Michigan State - Doncic could go here too, but it's going to be hard for the Hawks to pass on Jackson's upside if they keep the pick given the rebuild they're facing. The 18-year-old is the draft’s youngest player, raw and nowhere near as polished as the Serbian Euroleague vet, but he's got incredible potential. Nearly 7-feet tall with a smoot shooting stroke and a 7-foot-5 wingspan, it’s hard to imagine him slipping out of the top-three. A frontcourt featuring Jackson, John Collins and Taurean Prince would be great for the new regime to mold.
4. Memphis: Luka Doncic, F/G, Slovenia (Real Madrid) - Having Marc Gasol in place to help mentor him - even though the Griz star is a Barcelona man - would help ease his transition to the States, especially since he'd land in a small market with a passionate fan base, established leaders and a vacancy on the wing. Orlando and New York have been rumored to be in the market to move up to either No. 3 or 4, so the Grizzlies’ desire to shed Chandler Parsons’ crippling contract could lead to them moving this pick. If my top three picks are accurate and there’s a deal made, center Mo Bamba could emerge as the choice here.
5. Dallas: Mo Bamba, C, Texas - The Mavs believe a rim protector sets the tone for a championship defense, so they would be thrilled to be able to keep the Longhorns standout in-state. He had the longest wingspan ever recorded at the NBA combine (7-foot-10) and then dropped jaws in workouts by showing off a smooth shooting form way out to the 3-point line. If he’s off the board, Doncic would be an option, as would the other top forwards available here, Michael Porter, Jr. and Wendell Carter, Jr.
6. Orlando: Collin Sexton, G, Alabama - The Magic are in Year 2 of the Jeff Weltman/John Hammond era, took 6-foot-11 combo forward Jonathan Isaac and should bring Aaron Gordon back as a highly-priced building block. Although they could go big with one of the Juniors too, finding a point guard is higher on the checklist. I could see Porter being the choice given his star potential if Orlando is sold on his medicals, but the call here is that it pulls the trigger on the top two-way guard in this draft. Sexton's athleticism allows him to get to the rim better than Trae Young and will also make him a better defender, which better suits with the team’s vision for how Steve Clifford is most likely to succeed.
7. Chicago: Wendell Carter, Jr., F/C, Duke - The eclectic big man flew under the radar due to higher-profile teammates, but he's impressive in his own right. He's smart, big enough to legitimately play at the five and can really pass it and shoot it. At 6-foot-10, he’d be a nice fit next to Lauri Markkanen for the next five years. Porter is also a great option and wants to be in Chi-town, but the Bulls don’t intend to pick in the lottery too much longer and are likely to go for the sure thing.
8. Cleveland: Trae Young, G, Oklahoma - Whether LeBron James returns or not (he won't), the Cavs know their backcourt must be upgraded. Kyrie Irving asked out, Isaiah Thomas didn't pan out and the George Hill/J.R. Smith combo caused Cleveland to be swept out of the Finals earlier this month. Young, the national leader in points and assists in college last season, would check a lot of boxes no matter what direction the Cavs are headed. He’s an excellent passer with great instincts, but his success in the pros will hinge on how effective he can shoot it
9. New York: Michael Porter, Jr., F, Missouri - Porter's versatility and ability to put the ball on the floor makes him a great option to place next to Kristaps Porzingis. His back issues are well-known, but they can be overcome. If healthy, he’s got a shot to be similar to Jayson Tatum, only taller. He's got star potential, so even the New York tabloids wouldn’t be able to criticize taking a risk with this selection. Landing in the big city would ease the blow of sliding this far down for the No. 1 player in his high school class since he craves a big stage and isn’t shy.
10. Philadelphia: Mikal Bridges, F/G, Villanova - This seems inevitable. There’s a consensus top-nine that would all be gone if this projection goes as planned and a local star whose versatility would make him a great fit with the 76ers available as perhaps the best prospect in this next group. He’s won two titles in Philly, can shoot, defend and moves well without the ball. It’s impossible to script a better fit.
11. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G, Kentucky Charlotte - Michael Jordan and Mitch Kupchak have multiple options as they collaborate together on the draft for the first time and could be choosing between a pair of UK products if both SGA and Kevin Knox available. The Raptors are said to be intrigued at the prospect of trading up for the chance to grab the Toronto native, so moving the pick could be an option for the Hornets too.
12. L.A. Clippers: Zhaire Smith, G, Texas Tech Arguably the best athlete in the draft, he worked out twice for the 76ers and could be an option there if Bridges isn’t available. He won’t slip out of the lottery since teams are intrigued by his 6-foot-10 wingspan and explosiveness. He signed with Puma, which would love for him to end up in L.A.
13. L.A. Clippers: Robert Williams, F, Texas A&M - There are concerns over his motor, but ESPN reported that he met with owner Steve Ballmer earlier this week, so it’s very likely the Clips view him as a top option for their second No. 1 pick. With DeAndre Jordan’s future with the team in doubt, one Aggie could ultimately help replace another. Jordan is larger and a better shot blocker and rebounder, but Williams has the potential to be a tremendous defender at this level due to his agility and ability to guard multiple positions.
14. Denver: Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky - Will Barton is a free agent and Wilson Chandler and Kenneth Faried won’t be around much longer, so seeing Knox fall right into their lap would be a nice break for the Nuggets. John Calipari compared him to Tatum, which I think is a little much, but there’s no question he’s got a chance to be a solid offensive threat. Still just 18 until August, he’s tall, lanky and will be a valuable contributor if he fills out and continues to improve his shooting range. There’s been talk that the Suns have contemplated trading up for the Phoenix native, so keep an eye on that and expect this to be his floor. He’ll be a lottery pick.
15. Washington: Lonnie Walker IV, G, Miami (FL) - The Wizards struggled due to a lack of depth most of last season and can address that with this selection if the Reading, PA product is still available since he projects as a natural fit to back up Bradley Beal. That’s no illusion. There have been rumors that the Hawks have discussed trading up to get him too since he’s unlikely to be there when they pick to close out the teens.
16. Phoenix: Jerome Robinson, G, Boston College - One of the ACC’s most consistent performers as a 20-point scorer and all-conference honoree, Robinson has demonstrated why the Eagles were so competitive despite being overmatched in terms of depth as they worked their way up from conference doormat status. He’s got great size for a combo guard and is legitimately one of the top pick-and-roll options available in this draft. He drew a Green Room invite and met with Washington on Friday, so expect him to go right around this range.
17. Milwaukee: Aaron Holiday, G, UCLA - Siblings Jrue and Justin have proven they do things the right way at both ends of the floor, so there are certainly high hopes among NBA decision-makers that their kid brother will follow suit. He was the first Bruin to lead the Pac-12 in scoring since Reggie Miller and was the unquestioned leader on a team that replaced multiple first-rounders by setting the tone at both ends.
18. San Antonio: Khyri Thomas, G, Creighton - Considering my affinity for the Big East, it’s with some trepidation that I call this kid the steal of the draft. I’ve seen a lot of him. Still, don’t be surprised if we’re saying that he should’ve been a Top-10 pick five years from now. It’d difficult for that to be reality in the present since others are perceived to have higher ceilings, but I see Donovan Mitchell potential in this kid and did even before he went to the combine and checked in with nearly a 6-11 wingspan. He’s an impressive decision-maker and shoots it well, so whoever pulls the trigger will undoubtedly be thrilled to welcome the two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year into the fold. Since the Spurs typically mine gems like these, this marriage could be inevitable since he actually roots for San Antonio, listing Kawhi Leonard as his favorite player. I doubt R.C. Buford and Pop will hold that last part against him.
19. Atlanta: Kevin Huerter, G/F, Maryland - Breaking his hand won’t affect his draft stock after all since this is about the range he would’ve been selected in had that injury not occurred. Teams are convinced he’ll be one of the draft’s top shooters when all is said and done. He’s got great size out on the wing and is an excellent athlete. If they haven’t moved up, the Hawks could do a lot worse than landing his services here. Huerter secured a green room invite but declined in order to watch with family in upstate New York as opposed to attending in Brooklyn.
20. Minnesota: Donte DiVincenzo, G, Villanova - He may go higher since he’ll be a candidate at every spot post-lottery but winding up with the Timberwolves would be a nice landing spot. The two-time national champ and reigning Final Four MOP has impressed at the combine and on the workout circuit, cementing first-round pick status. With Jamal Crawford moving on, the “Big Ragu” would be in line to compete for minutes immediately despite Tom Thibodeau typically being averse to playing rookies .
21. Utah: Miles Bridges, F, Michigan State - He may have gone higher if he had left school after one season since scouts have picked apart his game, so there’s definitely a chance he’ll make all the teams that passed him over pay for the next decade. He’s got a winning mentality and is a tremendous athlete. Concerns hinge on him being a ‘tweener who is not refined enough skill-wise to excel at the three and not big enough to effectively influence the game as a four, but that remains to be seen since the game is changing and trending smaller. No one will question his toughness or leadership ability.
22. Chicago: Troy Brown, G/F, Oregon - The Las Vegas product is a 3 and D guy being compared to Wes Matthews and Andre Iguodala due to his big frame and the intensity which he plays. He can really fill up a stat sheet but can’t shoot. That’s obviously a skill that the soon-to-be 19-year-old will improve over time, so count on him being selected in the 20s, perhaps as early as this spot.
23. Indiana: Chandler Hutchison, G, Boise State - If I wasn’t so enamored with Thomas, this long wing would be my steal of the draft. There’s very little he can’t do, plays with a great motor and is mature enough to contribute immediately. If he can continue to improve as a shooter, which mechanically, should be expected, he’ll be an asset to a Pacers team that relies on its depth as an asset and can always use another versatile body on the wing to aid the cause.
24. Portland: Jacob Evans, G/F, Cincinnati - He did all the dirty work that Mick Cronin demands from his Bearcats on defense and improved on the offensive end over the course of his career. I don’t buy him becoming the next Jimmy Butler, but appreciate that he’s modeled his game after the Timberwolves star as a measuring stick in addition to adopting a similar work ethic, transforming his body into a pro over the past few years.
25. L.A. Lakers: Mitchell Robinson, C, USA - The 7-foot former McDonald’s All-American never got to play in college and withdrew from the combine but is a legitimate 7-footer with a great shot-blocking acumen. The Lakers expect to play deep into the postseason for years to come and won’t be able to resist adding an intriguing piece like this one that would likely ordinarily be a lottery pick under different circumstances.
26. Philadelphia: Elie Okobo, G, France (Pau-Lacq-Orthez) - A 20-year-old combo guard with terrific length, scouts like his chances of developing his point guard skills in order to emerge as a terrific international prospect over the next few years. The 76ers already have impressive young French wing Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot on the roster and can let Okobo marinate overseas if they choose to.
27. Boston: Omari Spellman, F, Villanova - In the same spot where Kyle Kuzma went last year, L.A.’s arch rival has an opportunity to add to its collection of young talent by plucking a champion out of the available pool. It’s unlikely to be point guard Jalen Brunson since they’re stocked at the one, but a stretch-four like Spellman could be a great addition. He’s flown under the radar in the draft process for a reason.
28. Golden State: Melvin Frazier, G/F, Tulane - He played for Mike Dunleavy, Sr. and instantly became the focal point at both ends, looking like a poor man’s Kawhi Leonard due to his braids, frame and seemingly relentless motor. Physically gifted and a willing defender, he’s the type of wing the Warriors are coveting at this spot.
29. Brooklyn: Anfernee Simons, G, IMG Academy - At 19, the Orlando-area product is an intriguing young guard who projects as a guy likely to deliver instant offense off the bench as he matures. He’s a solid athlete who shoots it well, so finding a team that can develop him without pressure is half the battle from a fit standpoint. Kenny Atkinson and his staff could afford to bring him along slowly and effectively tap into his potential.
30. Atlanta: Jalen Brunson, G, Villanova - While the Dennis Schroder situation must still be sorted out, the Hawks could certainly use another quality option at point guard to add to the mix and can’t go wrong with the seasoned Brunson, who is certain to be a solid contributor in this league for a decade due to his savvy and consistency. He’ll help whoever selects him get things done in practice and games, which is what all coaches want out of a floor general.
Others: Moritz Wagner, F/C, Michigan; Josh Okogie, G, Georgia Tech; Keita Bates-Diop, F, Ohio State; DeAnthony Melton, G, USC; Grayson Allen, G, Duke; Dzanan Musa, F, Bosnia; Landry Shamet, G, Wichita State; Gary Trent, G/F, Jr., Duke; Jevon Carter, G, West Virginia; Shake Milton, G, SMU; Rawle Alkins, G/F, Arizona; Hamidou Diallo, G, Kentucky; Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV; Chimezie Metu, F/C, USC, Bruce Brown, G/F, Miami (FL); Trevon Duval, G, Duke; Malik Newman, G, Kansas; Keenan Evans, G, Texas Tech; Kevin Hervey, G, UT-Arlington; Kenrich Williams, F, TCU.
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