By Hocine LOUKKAF on 5/16/2018
Three weeks from the draft, with college early entries now known, it will be surprising to see Phoenix passing on Ayton. Between what I think would be the best choices and what the teams are going to do, here is my fourth 2018 NBA mock draft.
Team needs : C/PG
DeAndre Ayton, 7-0 260, C, Arizona, freshman
A lot of teams have cooled off about Doncic, who was a bit exposed during the Final Four. Ayton seems to be definitely the pick there. Even with Kokoskov relationship with the Slovenian prodigy, passing on Ayton seems pretty impossible.
2. Sacramento Kings
Team needs : PF/SF
Mohamed Bamba, 7-0 230, PF/C, Texas, freshman
Sacramento has to fill two spots at SF and PF. Doncic could still be the pick there, but him and Bogdanovic would not be the most complementary pair. To me, Bamba may be the prospect with the biggest upside and could form a nice pair with WCS. What about trading this pick to the Celtics? Bostons seems more and more interested in Bamba since his Combine measurements and willing to trade up. As I said several times on twitter, Brown could be the trading piece. A very interesting recruit for the Kings, Brown would bring much needed offense and defense on the wing and went to college (only for one year I know) less than an hour from Sac-Town.
3. Atlanta Hawks
Team needs : C/talent at SF and SG
Jaren Jackson Jr, 6-11 240, PF, Michigan State, freshman
Lik other teams picking in the top 4, the Hawks may go with the best big man available and give up on Doncic. After Ayton and Bamba, Jackson seems to be the one with the most upside, being a better defender and shooter than Bagley. The Spartan has to gain maturity and consistency but would form a nice pair with Collins.
4. Memphis Grizzlies
Team needs : Talent at every position except C and PG (for now)
Marvin Bagley, 6-10 235, PF, Duke, freshman
With Ayton, Bagley has been the most dominant inside player this year. The Duke freshman still has room to improve on his shooting and above all defense. He may be the safest pick but lacks Ayton or Bamba’s length. Memphis needs an offensive threat inside and Bagley would fit perfectly to improve their roster.
5. Dallas Mavericks
Team needs : C/PF/SG
Luka Doncic, 6-8 220, SG/SF, Real Madrid, 1999
With the top big men gone, Dallas could opt for Doncic, whose talent and maturity are undeniable. Once again, his relative lack of athleticism could make him slip a bit and Dallas could go for Carter, a hard nosed and versatile center, or Porter, if he shows that his athleticism is back.
6. Orlando Magic
Team needs : PG
Trae Young, 6-2 180, PG, Oklahoma, freshman
Trae Young was tired at the end of season, but is it exceptional for a freshman who played 35min per game? Young had one of the most incredible season ever with 27pts and 8.7as, let alone for a freshman. Orlando gave up their starting PG and may need a catalyser for their young guns. Young may be this guy and try to emulate Stephen Curry.
7. Chicago Bulls
Team needs : SF/C
Wendell Carter, 6-10 260, C, Duke, freshman
Rebounding, defense, shooting, Carter is a versatile player who fits well the new mold of centers. He didn’t have a good Tournament with 0 3pt made and only 2rbds in the loss against Kansas. Yet, at the 7th spot, he would complement well with Markannen and he’s as good inside as he’s from outside. If Porter Jr shows that his athleticism is back, he will probably be Chicago’s pick as Lopez still can do the job at center.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers
Team needs : C
Michael Porter Jr, 6-10 220, SF, Missouri, freshman
The Cavs’ roster is full of outside players but with the seven clear best prospects gone, Cleveland would have to go with Porter Jr. Michael Porter Jr’s stock is still high, but I haven’t seen enough to put him in the top five. He has just played 53min this year and may need some time to get back to his old athleticism. Yet, he was the top high school player last year and a potential star at the small forward spot. His workouts between now and the draft will determine where he’ll be picked.
9. New York Knicks
Team needs : SF
Kevin Knox, 6-9 220, SF, Kentucky, freshman
What the Knicks lack is a consistent small forward and Kevin Knox may be that guy. A bit raw, Knox has to improve on many fields like his shooting consistency, passing or being a more efficient defender. He measured very well at the Combine and that may help the Knicks take a decision.
10. Philadelphia Sixers
Team needs : Talent at SG/PF
Mikal Bridges, 6-7 210, SG/SF, Vilanova, junior
The Sixers may go local with Mikal Bridges. The Villanova swingman brings versatility, shooting and defense to a revamped Sixers team. He still has work to do on his handling but fits well alongside Fultz and Simmons. If he’ not available, Philly could choose Gilgeous Alexander to bring even more versatility.
11. Charlotte Hornets
Team needs : PF/BPA
Shai Gilgeous Alexander, 6-6 180, PG/SG, Kentucky, freshman
Whether Walker stays or not, Gilgeous Alexander could be the backcourt future for the Hornets. The Canadian kid was not the most hyped Kentucky recruit but has risen to be the most important player, helping the Wildcats have a positive season. Gilgeous Alexander is a good defender and passer and has improved on his shooting. He has poise beyond the years and should adapt well to the League. He could form a very efficient combo with his better scoring co-alumni Malik Monk.
12. LA Clippers
Team needs : PF/talent at PG
Miles Bridges, 6-7 230, SF/PF, Michigan State, sophomore
Clippers needs an efficient and skilled power forward. Bridges is not an academic player. He didn’t measure very well at the Combine, has a low release, could improve his handling, but at the end of the day, he brings shooting, athleticism, even passing and could be a glue guy for the Clippers.
13. LA Clippers
Team needs : PF/talent at PG
Collin Sexton, 6-2 180, PG, Alabama, freshman
I’m not a fan of Sexton. I confess he has heart but is a bit of a ball hog and doesn’t have elite size or athleticism for the League. The Clippers may need another promising PG alongside the aging Teodosic. Sexton could be a good complement if he learns the nuances of the game behind the Serbian vet. If the Clippers feel Jordan could be leaving, Williams is another possibility here.
14. Denver Nuggets
Team needs : talent at PF/SF
Robert Williams, 6-10 240, PF/C, Texas A&M, sophomore
Williams has incredible body and athleticism. he was one of the best defender in the NCAA with more than 9rbds and 2blks in only 25min and may bring more toughness to the Clippers. He has to work on his IQ and outside shooting to play the PF spot or else will be forced to be a pure defensive inside player. He could be a very good complement to the more cerebral Niko Jokic.
15. Washington Wizards
Team needs : C
Mitchell Robinson, 7-1 220, C,
Mitchell Robinson is the unknown prospect of this draft. Since his senior season of high school last year, he hasn’t played, decommitting from Western Kentucky in the process. Yet, in high school, he was one of the top centers in the nation with very good running and leaping ability for someone his size. The small footage of workouts available show tremendous size and athleticism. He could learn the game from Gortat and be Washington’s future rim protector.
16. Phoenix Suns
Team needs : PF/PG
Elie Okobo, 6-4 185, PG/SG, Pau Orthez (France), 1997 born
The French combo guard was flying under the radar but since the last mock draft, he had his coming out party with a 44pts playoff game against French championship leader Monaco. At 6-4 with a 6-7 wingspan and good athleticism, he has played as the primary ball handler in the tough French championship, adapting very well to his new position, while improving on his shooting and passing (4.8as, 39% 3pt). He could form a very interesting pair with Booker, bringing good size and much needed outside scoring at the PG spot.
17. Milwaukee Bucks.
Team needs : C/SG
Lonnie Walker, 6-4 200, SG, Miami, freshman
Despite his upside as an athletic shooting guard, Walker has a lot of work to do on his shooting and consistency. He’s far from being a complete combo guard now and could have been a top 10 pick with one more year of work. I can’t deny he has some very interesting tools and seems to be a smart kid. He will have room to improve with the Bucks, unsatisfied with Tony Snell’s poor performance in the playoffs.
18. San Antonio Spurs
Team needs : C/SG
Goga Bitadze, 6-11 250, C, Mega Leks (Serbia), 1999 born
The Spurs are one of numerous teams who need size but there are not many interesting big men in the second part of this first round. Despite being very underrated, Bitadze is the best European big men his generation. He’s pretty mobile, averages 7rbds and 2blks in only 23min un the Adriatic League and is also working on his outside shot (6/12 from three over the last 9 games after missing his first 15 attempts). He’s foul prone and still has room to improve but he could be another Nurkic for the Spurs.
19. Atlanta Hawks
Team needs : Talent at SG/SF
Zhaire Smith, 6-4 200, SG, Texas Tech, freshman
After picking a big, the Hawks could go with the best SG/SF available. Being measured at only 6-3 barefoot at the Combine, Smith is a hard nosed SG who brings intensity on defense. He has shown signs to become an efficient shooter (40% but only 18 shots made) and passer (1.8as for 1to per game). He also benefited from a good Tournament where he shot 50% from three and had a breakout game against Florida with 18pts 9rbds and 7as for only one to.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves
Team needs : depth/talent at PG
Troy Brown, 6-7 215, SG, Oregon, freshman
Brown brings versatility in a team that has his starting Five set (if no one leaves). He measured well at the Combine at 6-7 with a 6-10 wingspan. Like Chicago’s own Evan Turner, Brown is not the most athletic or the best shooting player but has poise beyond the years and is a very good rebounder for his size.
21. Utah Jazz
Team needs : PF/talent at PG
Omari Spellman, 6-9 245, PF/C, Villanova, freshman
After a promising season, the Jazz could be interested in an inside player who can spread the floor. Spellman, despite being 21, was very efficient as a freshman and, above all, is exactly what the NBA teams are searching as a shot blocking/rebounding/shooting big man (8rbds 1.5blk 43% from three).
22. Chicago Bulls
Team needs : SF
Chandler Hutchinson, 6-7 200, SF, Boise State, senior
Apparently, Hutchinson got a promise from the Bulls. He’s not my favourite prospect as, despite being a senior, he wasn’t that much of a shooter (36% with 4 attempts per game) and is a good but not exceptional defender.
23. Indiana Pacers
Team needs : Back up PG/inside talent
Jalen Brunson, 6-2 190, PG, Villanova, junior
With Cory Joseph possibly searching for a more lucrative deal this summer, Brunson would be a perfect fit as Collison’s back up PG. He is exactly the type of player Indiana loves, a mature, poised leader who has been successful in his college career, both collectively and individually. Despite his lack of size and athleticism, Brunson was one of the most effective player on offense and is set to have a long carrer in the League.
24. Portland Trailblazers
Team needs : Strong SG/SF
Khyri Thomas, 6-3 200, SG, Creighton, junior
Portland’s backcourt with Lillard and McCollum is good but may lack some length and toughness. With Donovan Mitchell’s success, undersized SG with wingspan and defensive ability are trendy. This is exactly what Thomas, a two-way SG who can shoot and defend hard brings to the table. The Blazers could also get help from a skilled SF but there are few of them projected in the first round at this position and the others (Frazier, Evans, Bates Diop..) would be reaches at this point.
25. LA Lakers
Team needs : talent
Anfernee Simons, 6-3 180, SG, IMG Academy
The Lakers gave up their first round pick to the Sixers and, as they will be trying to sign a a star or two this summer, they may go with the most promising player. Simons decided to skip college to focus on his game at IMG Academy. The young guard has impressive athleticism and shooting, despite a low release point. He still has work to do on his handling and will have to adapt to NBA’s toughness. He’s a good fit alongside Ball and has the potential to become a top scorer.
26. Philadelphia Sixers
Team needs : PF/talent
Donte DiVincenzo, 6-4 200, SG, Villanova, sophomore
Another local pick for the last Final Four MOP. DiVincenzo had a very interesting Combine where he measured a top 42 inches vertical leap. He also show good defensive activity during the scrimmages. While he’s not a completely ready combo, he could see minutes at the two spot and works on being more of a PG in the coming years.
27. Boston Celtics
Team needs : Talent
Moritz Wagner, 6-11 240, PF, Michigan, junior
The potential Boston/Sacramento pick could mean this pick would land in California. In this second fictional pick, the Kings could be looking for a solid PF as Labissiere has not shown enough consistency and toughness. The safest pick would be to go with Moritz Wagner, the sharp shooting 7ft shooter from Michigan. If Boston keeps the pick, they could go with Huerter, a late riser with solid all around skills and shooting.
28. Brooklyn Nets
Team needs : PF
Ajdin Penava, 6-9 215, PF, Marshall, junior
I know there are few chances his name is called that early, but the Bosnian, despite not being as mainstream as other PF prospects like Wagner, offers a combination of defense, passing and developing shooting that are worth the risk as a late first rounder. His last game against WVU with 18pts 6rbds 6as with 2/2 from three are a good illustration of what the collegiate top shot blocker can do.
29. Golden State Warriors
Team needs : C/talent
Kevin Huerter, 6-7 200, SG/SF, Maryland
Another late riser, Huerter had a very interesting sophomore season with Maryland, displaying very good outside shooting (42% from three with 5 attempts per game) and versatility (5rbds 3.4as). He may not be the longest swingman but fits well the Warriors’ type of game.
30. Atlanta Hawks
Team needs : PG
Landry Shamet, 6-4 190, Wichita State, junior
With rumors of Schroeder asking for a trade this summer, the Hawks may use their third pick on a PG. Landry Shamet could be the pick there. Contrary to other PG prospects like Duval or Carr, Shamet doesn’t have a major weakness. He’s a very solid shooter and passer who will have to adjust to the speed and strength of NBA point guards.