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2018 NBA Mock Draft: A Sea Of Blue Edition

This draft should get really wild after the first 8-10 picks.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional Practice Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

  1. Phoenix Suns: DeAndre Ayton, Arizona

Phoenix appears to be all but sold on taking Ayton at #1. It is a perfect pairing as Ayton is a native of Arizona, and the Suns are getting a a near-perfect center prospect to play with Devin Booker and Josh Jackson. It may never turn out to be like Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire, but it may be enough to finally get the Suns rolling towards legitimacy.

2. Sacramento Kings: Mohamed Bamba, Texas

Despite being one of the most intriguing center prospects ever Mo Bamba had been on the outside looking in; in terms of the top overall prospects and even the top big-men prospects. However, pre-draft workouts have been real good to Bamba as he seems to have everyone convinced of his legitimacy after building up his frame and adjusting the mechanics of his jump shot.

The Kings have a splendid surplus of talent in their backcourt, with a budding star in Bogdan Bogdanovic along with top picks De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield. Their down low play, in comparison, is far from great. Bamba’s pure impact and potentially-elite defense are what Sacramento needs to finally make a push back to the postseason.

3. Atlanta Hawks: Jaren Jackson Jr., Michigan State

The Hawks have had a fairly massive upheaval that has now resulted in a new head coach and their first top-five pick in a decade. They already have a potential star down low with John Collins, along with Taurean Prince on the perimeter and whatever they can manage with their four top-34 draft picks.

The most consistent name that being connected here is Jaren Jackson Jr., which gives indication that Travis Schlenk is jumping in on the big men revolution and is trying to build the Hawks through two athletic monstrosities down low. Jackson is a game-changer defensively and Lloyd Pierce will have some serious star-potential to work with in his rookie season.

4. Memphis Grizzlies: Luka Doncic, Real Madrid

Many would label this international prodigy as the top prospect in this draft class, and few would argue the fact that he is the most NBA-ready prospect by a wide margin. It’s also hard to think of a more perfect marriage in terms of team fit.

Doncic is the type of player that the Grizzlies have branded themselves with for the better part of this decade. He is fundamentally game-altering alongside the still-effective Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, maybe enough to make this Memphis rebuild a very short one.

5. Dallas Mavericks: Marvin Bagley, Duke

The Mavericks should be going for best player available at the time of their pick, in this case it is the versatile forward Marvin Bagley. Bagley and Dennis Smith Jr. would make for an excellent duo for Dirk Nowitski to hand the keys off to, two must-see athletes that would make the Mavericks very league-pass worthy.

Bagley has an unparalleled ceiling, but needs perhaps more work in developing than any other top prospect in the class. His potential is magnificent and with an NBA coaching scheme and much better spacing we should expect to see Bagley fit in well with any coach on Rick Carlisle’s level.

6. Orlando Magic: Trae Young, Oklahoma

The Magic are in desperate need of, well, anything. The better part of this decade has been completely disastrous for this franchise, and just about every lottery pick they’ve had in that time has either flunked or play amazingly for another team.

Trae Young is a good start and could pretty quickly be Orlando’s best point guard since Jameer Nelson. Regardless of who the pick eventually is, Orlando needs it to go well in the worst way.

7. Chicago Bulls: Wendell Carter Jr., Duke

The Bulls struck gold with this pick last year when they picked Lauri Markkanen. Carter may not be the most electrifying pick with guys like Michael Porter Jr. and Mikal Bridges on the board, but he is the best fir.

Carter would be a fantastic compliment to Markkanen’s perimeter-oriented game; with his elite low-post offense and defensive proficiency. Big men are taking over the league, and it makes sense now for teams to start loading up on them.

8. Cleveland Cavaliers: Michael Porter Jr., Missouri

This wouldn’t be a bad first step for the potential post-LeBron era upcoming for Cleveland. There is clear risk with Porter because of the back injury he suffered; however his scoring talent is too legitimate to ignore.

Whether or not Porter steps into a “face of the franchise” role immediately or not will likely determine a lot about his career. There is legitimate star power in him, but perhaps too big of a risk for certain teams.

9. New York Knicks: Mikal Bridges, Villanova

This should be a dream come true for Knicks fans as they get one of the best fundamentally gifted prospects in this draft.

Bridges’ masterful perimeter defense and efficient shooting make for a perfect fit in just about any NBA lineup. He’s a reserved star, as is anyone who plays for Jay Wright, and is the prototype 3&D wing to put alongside a franchise player like Kristaps Porzingis.

10. Philadelphia 76ers: Troy Brown, Oregon

Okay, hear me out.

Troy Brown has been a major beneficiary of the pre-draft workout process and the 76ers could use extra depth on the wing. Brown has the makings of an excellent defender with his ability to read passing lanes and make plays on the ball.

He is also a major athlete, but also a major project being picked this high. However with JJ Reddick set for free agency it wouldn’t hurt for Philly to swing at a curveball here.

11. Charlotte Hornets: Miles Bridges, Michigan State

Perhaps more than any other team in the lottery, the Hornets really need to make good on their pick this year for the sake of fan investment and their legitimacy as a franchise.

The Hornets picked up Malik Monk with this pick last year; and well, nobody’s really sure how that ones gonna turn out. Monk, similarly to Bridges, brings excitement when he’s on the floor and Charlotte needs a good bit of that too.

Bridges’ bouncy athleticism makes for highlights almost every single game. However, many are underestimating his effectiveness as an all around player. His jumper is much better than given credit for, he handles the ball and facilitates effectively and isn’t the worst defender either. For Charlotte’s sake, let’s hope he’ll be playing alongside Kemba Walker.

12. Los Angeles Clippers: Collin Sexton, Alabama

Jerry West seems pretty fixated on stacking his lottery picks together for a higher pick, so maybe this pick isn’t even worth mentioning. For practicality’s sake, let’s give them Collin Sexton.

In all seriousness, Sexton falling to the end of the lottery seems likely now and it wouldn’t be a horrible idea for the Clippers to try and unleash that fiery star power he possesses. Even as a potential backup point guard Sexton could make a good impact if he’s not rushed into an awkward role with the team right away.

13. Los Angeles Clippers: Robert Williams, Texas A&M

Seriously, what were the Pistons thinking.

The Clippers need to be preparing to invest in a center once the seemingly displeasured DeAndre Jordan leaves in free agency in July. In this part of the draft, Robert Williams would likely be their best option.

Williams is a tank and a phenomenal athlete for his built-up frame. He’s always been a highly touted defensive prospect with a high ceiling for his offensive game to grow. The only issue is Williams play regressed heavily in his sophomore season, but is surely still worth taking a gamble on if you need a big.

14. Denver Nuggets: Kevin Knox, Kentucky

Small forward play has been less than spectacular after Andre Iguodala left half a decade ago. Knox offers a good bit of offensive versatility and a very high ceiling under the right developmental system.

Knox’s superior length and shooting ability make for an intriguing combo forward, however his potential will never fully materialize until his improves his ball handling. Potential low risk, high reward pick for a growing Nuggets team.

15. Washington Wizards: Mitchell Robinson, High School

The Marcin Gortat-Markieff Morris front-court in DC is extremely outdated and the Wizards need something better down low before things start getting sticky for their franchise.

Robinson is intriguing. He offers great length at the five position though his frame is still rather slim. He has fantastic mobility and dunking ability along with a halfway decent mid range jumper. We’ve also never seen him compete against anybody above high school level, so there is still a lot to be learned of Robinson’s potential.

16. Phoenix Suns: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kentucky

“Draft them all, draft them all I say!” says Suns general manager Ryan McDonough when he sees a draft pool of Kentucky guards.

Alexander would be considered a steal here considering many have him right outside of being a top ten prospect. He’s not the most proficient scoring lead guard to come out of Kentucky recently, or really a top-5 one, but his defensive prowess is absolutely phenomenal. Given how the rest of the Suns roster looks right now, they could desperately use some improved defense on the perimeter.

17. Milwaukee Bucks: Lonnie Walker, Miami

We all know Milwaukee’s picking a lengthy big man here, however they really need some better depth when it comes to perimeter players and Walker is one of the bigger sleeper picks of this draft class.

Armed with an explosive offensive skill set and a high ceiling as a perimeter defender, a player like Walker on the wing would likely be beneficiary especially if he can evolve into a starter or legitimate 6th man.

18. San Antonio Spurs: Zhaire Smith, Texas Tech

Zhaire Smith is part of the sleight of intriguing wing prospects projected to be taken in the mid-late teens and early 20s. Smith is an outstanding athlete and leaper but has a legitimate jump shot as well.

With the great Spurs coaching there is little doubt that Zhaire could become a starter in San Antonio—especially considering they just pulled it off with Dejounte Murray who you could argue had less upside than Smith does now.

19. Atlanta Hawks: Donte DiVincenzo, Villanova

The MVP of the 2018 National Championship Game dominated the NBA Draft Combine and has worked his way up from a potential 2nd round pick to a fringe-lottery pick.

The Hawks don’t necessarily have issues on the wing but they do need anything they can to power their roster. DiVincenzo’s scoring proficiency and physique could give Atlanta a major steal at the 19th pick for the 2nd year in a row.

20. Minnesota Timberwolves: Khyri Thomas, Creighton

Minnesota took a Creighton prospect last year in center Justin Patton, here they could really bolster their bench depth by selecting one of the better defensive guards in this draft class.

Thomas is a spectacular defender with his ability to move, switch and recognize opposing offensive sets. Offensively he is a solid 3PT shooter and has great downhill speed in transition. More than anything he is an intelligent player and should excel in a bench role.

21. Utah Jazz: Kevin Huerter, Maryland

Huerter is a highly intriguing wing prospect. His ceiling isn’t as high as some of the other wings taken ahead of him; however, his combination of length and fluidity off the dribble make him one of the better pure scorers in the post-lottery.

He as an incredibly smooth release on his jumper and shot just under 40% from 3 in his collegiate career. Given the right opportunity Huerter could wind up being one of the bigger sleepers in the draft.

22. Chicago Bulls: Anfernee Simons, High School

With the Bulls seemingly not as high on Kris Dunn as maybe we all believed after an impressive sophomore season, a flashy point guard could be the best move in this scenario where they have Wendell Carter down low with Markkanen.

Simons was a 2019 recruit that decided to make the full jump from high school to the NBA and is a ton of fun to watch. He is an above-the-rim finisher with his impressive leaping ability and might have the best handles in this draft. While a pretty unproven project, his upside is tremendous.

23. Indiana Pacers: Landry Shamet, Wichita State

Yes Darren Collison led the NBA in 3PT% last season. Yes the always defeating expectation Pacers still need a reliable young point guard to potentially take over in the near future.

Shamet is fantastic from a fundamental standpoint, and has all the physical gifts in the world for a lengthy point guard. His offensive game is extremely solid with a good combination of rim-attacking and perimeter shooting, though his defense is a certain question mark.

24. Portland Trail Blazers: Chandler Hutchison, Boise State

The finest of the Mountain West Conference, Chandler Hutchison is an entertaining swingman at 6’7” with a load of offensive skills that screams effective forward off the bench. Portland could use as much of that as they can even in the form of a late first round pick.

25. Los Angeles Lakers: Omari Spellman, Villanova

The Lakers seem to fairly set with their young core, but they do lack frontcourt depth with Julius Randle hitting free agency and the bruising Omari Spellman could bring occasional production off the bench.

26. Philadelphia 76ers: Aaron Holiday, UCLA

Markelle Fultz is far from a lost cause however Philadelphia could use better scoring production from the point guard position off the bench given that TJ McConnell is primarily a facilitator.

Holiday erupted last season for UCLA and averaged 20 points per game. He is smooth yet explosive off the dribble and his jumper should allow him to maintain NBA minutes.

27. Boston Celtics: Elie Okobo, France

If the Celtics somehow decide that Marcus Smart isn’t worth a supermax, this foreign point guard would certainly be a fantastic replacement. Okobo has exploded onto the draft scene after a recent dominant run overseas and has the look of an effective point guard in the league even as a backup.

28. Golden State Warriors: Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State

The Warriors tend to go with low ceiling guys with slightly higher floors with their draft picks (think Kevon Looney and Patrick McCaw among others), and the skilled combo forward who really changed the direction of the Buckeyes program could make for an interesting project with the 2x defending champions.

29. Brooklyn Nets: De’Anthony Melton, USC

The Nets finally have some solid core pieces after trading for D’Angelo Russell and striking gold by picking Jarrett Allen last year.

Melton is an intriguing guard that can do a variety of different things on the court. Likely a G-League player until further developed, but should get plenty of NBA opportunity with a team like Brooklyn.

30. Atlanta Hawks: Jerome Robinson, Boston College

The likelihood of the Hawks picking three players in the first round while also having the 34th overall pick is highly unlikely. Jerome Robinson would be a good fit off the Atlanta bench and would get plenty of opportunity to produce given how few backcourt players are actually set to be back in Atlanta next season.