The upcoming 2018 NBA draft is one of the most intriguing in recent memory, with multiple franchise-changing players entering into the league. Those players have the potential to alter the course of the league upon their arrival, but they’ve got to live up to the hype that is being laid out for them in college. Today, we’ll take a look at my prediction for how this draft is going to look when June rolls around. Here is my 2018 NBA Mock Draft 2.0
- Atlanta Hawks – DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona, Freshman
Ayton is a dominant low-post big on both ends of the floor who will fit in perfectly with John Collins as Atlanta builds their frontcourt of the future. Ayton brings down a lot of rebounds, which is something that the Hawks have always struggled with, so finding a long-term rebounding solution is important for the future of the next great Hawks team.
- Phoenix Suns – Luka Doncic, G/F, Real Madrid, 18 years old
If Ayton falls to the Suns, they almost certainly will take him, but I think the Suns will take the best player available, and Doncic’s fit in Phoenix as a creator next to Devin Booker will be dynamic for years to come.
- Dallas Mavericks – Marvin Bagley III, F, Duke, Freshman
Another “best available” pick, but Bagley is a very intriguing prospect as Dallas looks to replace Dirk in the next few seasons. Bagley is an extremely talented offensive prospect and pairing him with Dennis Smith Jr. could provide a lethal combination that terrorizes the Western Conference in a few years.
- Orlando Magic – Trae Young, G, Oklahoma, Freshman
One of the most dynamic scorers in the NCAA, Young provides whatever team drafts him with a lethal perimeter shooter from almost anywhere inside of half court. Pair that with his distribution skills and Orlando is getting their point guard of the future after the trade of Elfrid Payton at the deadline.
- Sacramento Kings – Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri, Freshman
Porter Jr. is currently battling a back injury that has sidelined him all season, but the talent is undeniable for Porter, who was the consensus top-ranked recruit coming out of high school. Porter’s game is very unique, and provides a new dynamic for the Kings, who are building a young nucleus around De’Aaron Fox.
- Memphis Grizzlies – Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas, Freshman
Bamba is the best defensive center in the draft, and with Marc Gasol aging, the Grizzlies need to bring in the new age of defense-first basketball in the form of Bamba. Bamba also has a capable low-post game that can stretch out into the midrange, which makes this an intriguing spot for Bamba to go as his game rounds out.
- Cleveland Cavaliers – Jaren Jackson Jr., F/C, Michigan State, Freshman
The biggest non-injured wildcard in this class, Jackson does a lot of things well, which makes him a very intriguing prospect for the Cavaliers as they begin to brace themselves for a potential post-LeBron James world. Picking Jackson with this pick might not be the swing-for-the-fences selection, but it provides a solid center option to potentially keep LeBron, or to build for the future if LeBron leaves.
- Chicago Bulls – Wendell Carter Jr., F, Duke, Freshman
The Bulls are looking to acquire more talent to put around Zach LaVine and Lauri Markannen, and picking the best available player is what the Bulls will probably do here. Carter is very well-rounded coming out of playing with Marvin Bagley III, and with the Bulls not really having a long-term option at the center position (sorry Bobby Portis), look for them to take a swing on a potential option down low for the long term.
- New York Knicks – Collin Sexton, G, Alabama, Freshman
With the Knicks trading for Emmanuel Mudiay for the rest of the season, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Frank Ntilikina is not the long-term option as the lead guard for the Knicks. Insert Collin Sexton into the picture, and it opens up a multitude of options for the Knicks to build around for the future. Add in the bright lights of New York City, which Sexton would thrive in as an ultra-competitive player, and the Knicks might have their next franchise point guard.
- Philadelphia 76ers – Mikal Bridges, F, Villanova, Freshman
Bridges is the local kid in Philadelphia, and he fits one of the needs for the 76ers as a combo forward that can shoot from the perimeter and defend as the typical “3-and-D” build in the modern-day NBA. Bridges will be able to slot into a bench role for the Sixers as they look to add to their young core and make a playoff push.
- Charlotte Hornets – Miles Bridges, F, Michigan State, Sophomore
Miles is a much different player than his Bridges counterpart, being a great straight-line driver and finisher around the basket. The Hornets will probably take the best player on the board, which looks to be Bridges, and will put him next to Kemba Walker as they look to retool around Walker.
- Los Angeles Clippers – Robert Williams, F/C, Texas A&M, Sophomore
A defensively-minded center is what the Clippers need to begin grooming for the eventual departure of DeAndre Jordan, which could come as soon as this offseason. Williams has a lot of defensive upside that could be very useful in the right system, and if his offense can come along more than it already has, Williams can be a piece in a championship contender down the line.
- Utah Jazz – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G, Kentucky, Freshman
The Jazz, while they probably won’t be picking at 13 due to their recent play, will look to pick up a guard to pair with their rookie star in Donovan Mitchell. Gilgeous-Alexander, at 6-6, will provide a lead guard to allow Mitchell to play both on and off ball, which could lead to the next great Utah backcourt in a few seasons.
- Los Angeles Clippers – Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky, Freshman
The Clippers are looking for shot creation off of the wing with their second pick after selecting Robert Williams to be a big option for the future, and Kevin Knox provides that role for the Clippers as they look to rebuild and retool post-Blake Griffin. Knox can score the ball, as evidenced by his 34-point outburst against the aggressive press defense of West Virginia, but consistency has been an issue, so if Knox can be more consistent, he can be that wing that the Clippers have lacked for a long time.
- Phoenix Suns – Daniel Gafford, C, Arkansas, Freshman
A late-riser in this draft, Gafford has been an impressive low post presence for Mike Anderson’s Razorback squad, which is something that the Suns are looking for in this draft to eventually replace Tyson Chandler and Alex Len. Gafford is an explosive athlete, and has an attractive physical profile that teams look for, which makes him an attractive target for the Suns in this spot.
- Chicago Bulls – Troy Brown, G/F, Oregon, Freshman
The Bulls need talent on the wings, since it doesn’t exactly look like Denzel Valentine is going to pan out into a star wing, so taking a wing like Troy Brown here is a smart pick to get another body on the wing to develop that’s young, has good size, and has a package of skills that teams would love to get their hands on and develop into a potential 3-and-D type of player. Brown possesses those skills, so look for him to go in this range.
- Philadelphia 76ers – Lonnie Walker IV, G, Miami (FL), Freshman
At this point in the draft, I think the best player remaining on the board will come off in Walker, who is a talented guard that loves to slash and has a good perimeter shot. The Sixers are looking at the impending free-agency of J.J. Redick, so finding a guy that plays the same position, even if they aren’t the same style of player, will be important for the Sixers to do either in the draft or in free agency.
- Portland Trail Blazers – Hamidou Diallo, G, Kentucky, Freshman
The Trail Blazers lack guards that can play behind Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, so picking Diallo, who has generally been utilized off-ball for Kentucky, would be ideal for the Blazers to pick up to relieve some of the pressure off Lillard and McCollum during the long season as the Blazers look to build a playoff contender.
- Denver Nuggets – Dzanan Musa, F, KK Cedivita, 18 years old
Musa is a long forward at 6’9” that can score in bunches and has a frame that can fill out with time, and with the Nuggets losing both Wilson Chandler and Will Barton potentially this offseason, the Nuggets will look to replace both of those players, starting with the draft and free agency this offseason.
- Minnesota Timberwolves – Bruce Brown, G, Miami (FL), Sophomore
Brown is an athletic defender that need to develop his offensive game to be a good NBA player, but the athleticism is too much to deny. His profile seems to be one that Tom Thibodeau would love to get his hands on and mold, and if his shot can progress like it probably should, look for Brown to become a good to even great NBA player.
- Milwaukee Bucks – Chandler Hutchison, G/F, Boise State, Senior
Hutchison is receiving a lot of hype from the college basketball media, and rightfully so, even if college basketball fans at large don’t recognize Boise State as being a national powerhouse. Hutchison’s long body and offensive skills really appeal to NBA scouts as a long-term option at the wing, and no one can deny that he can play, being one of the best scorers at the mid-major level.
- Indiana Pacers – Shake Milton, G, SMU, Sophomore
A bigger guard at 6’6”, Milton has high level shooting ability and could fit in as a quality backup point guard behind Cory Joseph, with the potential to eventually take over the starting guard spot next to Victor Oladipo down the line, if the Pacers keep him around. Nevertheless, Milton could be a value pick in the later stages of the first round for a team needing a lead guard that has shooting and unselfishness.
- Washington Wizards – Anfernee Simons, G, IMG Academy, 18 years old
Simons opted to forgo college for what would have been his freshman season and might still go to college before he enters the NBA draft, but if he does declare, the Wizards really need a third guard that they can rely on that isn’t named Tomas Satoransky (even though Satoransky has been good this season) or Jodie Meeks to back up John Wall and Bradley Beal. Simons is a bit raw, but if he can put it together quickly, the Wizards might finally find their backup point guard.
- Atlanta Hawks – Trevon Duval, G, Duke, Freshman
The Hawks explored dealing Dennis Schröder at the trade deadline, and even though they didn’t get a deal done for him, it’s becoming more and more apparent that GM Travis Schlenk doesn’t view Schröder as the point guard of the future for the Hawks, so picking Duval here makes a lot of sense for the Hawks. Duval’s athleticism is undeniable, but he has issues with defensive awareness and some ill-advised decisions that have led to turnover issues. The Hawks aren’t in a hurry to be great, which will allow Duval to work out his issues, potentially behind Schröder to start.
- San Antonio Spurs – Jontay Porter, F/C, Missouri, Freshman
The Spurs are notorious for selecting high-IQ players that can fit into their system, and the player that most fits that mold is Jontay Porter at Missouri. Porter plays with a high motor, can step out to the three-point line, and knows how to play the game at a high level from a smarts perspective. With LaMarcus Aldridge aging by the day, finding his replacement should be on GM RC Buford’s mind, so look for Porter to potentially be a Spur on draft day.
- Los Angeles Lakers – Mitchell Robinson, C, Chalmette HS, 19 years old
With the impending free agency of Brook Lopez, the Lakers will be looking for options to replace him with this pick without messing up their cap space for the summer. They could trade out of this pick into the second round to help out with that, but if not, selecting a high upside player like Robinson, who is coming into the NBA with a chip on his shoulder after skipping college at Western Kentucky, is a good option to take a swing for the fences to help in their free-agent pitches to LeBron James and Paul George.
- Boston Celtics – Khyri Thomas, G, Creighton, Junior
With Marcus Smart getting expensive very soon, the Celtics might want to consider looking for his replacement, and Khyri Thomas fits that mold almost perfectly. Thomas is generally regarded as one of the best on-ball defenders in college, which is similar to what Marcus Smart is in the NBA. If Thomas can maintain his high level of play consistently, he has a good chance to be a serviceable NBA player.
- Brooklyn Nets – Melvin Frazier, G/F, Tulane, Junior
One of the latest risers in this upcoming draft, Frazier is an incredible perimeter defender both on and off the ball at 6’5” with a whopping 7’2.5” wingspan. His long arms allow him to average 2.7 steals and 1.0 blocks per 40 minutes, and with that defensive upside that he possesses, it’s worth it for a team to take a shot on him late in the first round, and with a head coach like Kenny Atkinson in Brooklyn, the fit makes sense for him to slot in behind Allen Crabbe for the forseeable future as his offensive game develops.
- Golden State Warriors – Landry Shamet, G, Wichita State, Sophomore
Shamet is one of the best mid-major players in the country, and with Pat McCaw entering restricted free agency and the Warriors lacking cap space, they will look to draft his potential replacement here. A bigger guard at 6’4”, Shamet possesses the brains and the shooting ability from an off-ball position to fit right in to the Warriors’ scheme. He can also run the second unit potentially if needed and has an unselfish quality that can fit right in next to the multitude of shooters on the Warriors’ roster.
- Atlanta Hawks – Keita Bates-Diop, F, Ohio State, Senior
Bates-Diop is a lengthy defender that has positional versatility across the wing spectrum. He has a bit of a high release point on his jumper, which might not look good, but it goes in at a semi-high rate. If he can become a more consistent player and stay healthy, he can become a rotation player as his NBA career progresses. Getting him into the Hawks’ development system, dubbed “Hawks University”, will undoubtedly help his career get off the ground.
- Atlanta Hawks – Gary Trent, G, Duke, Freshman
- Phoenix Suns – Rodions Kurucs, F, Barcelona, 20 years old
- Dallas Mavericks – Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV, Freshman
- Orlando Magic – Chimezie Metu, F/C, USC, Junior
- Dallas Mavericks – Alonzo Trier, G, Arizona, Junior
- Memphis Grizzlies – Tyus Battle, G, Syracuse, Sophomore
- Philadelphia 76ers – Jalen Brunson, G, Villanova, Junior
- New York Knicks – Rawle Alkins, G/F, Arizona, Sophomore
- New York Knicks – Jarred Vanderbilt, F, Kentucky, Freshman
- Brooklyn Nets – Moritz Wagner, F, Michigan, Junior
- Orlando Magic – Nickeil Alexander-Walker, G, Virginia Tech, Freshman
- Detroit Pistons – Killian Tillie, F/C, Gonzaga, Sophomore
- Utah Jazz – Goga Bitadze, C, Mega Bemax, 18 years old
- Houston Rockets – Shamorie Ponds, G, St. John’s, Sophomore
- Dallas Mavericks – Isaac Bonga, G/F, Frankfurt, 18 years old
- New Orleans Pelicans – Justin Jackson, F, Maryland, Sophomore
- Philadelphia 76ers – Arnoldas Kulboka, F, Brose Bramberg, 20 years old
- Dallas Mavericks – Devonte’ Graham, G, Kansas, Senior
- Los Angeles Lakers – Jacob Evans, G/F, Cincinnati, Junior
- Oklahoma City Thunder – Vince Edwards, F, Purdue, Senior
- Phoenix Suns – Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, G, Kansas, Senior
- Indiana Pacers – Grayson Allen, G, Duke, Senior
- Washington Wizards – Theo Pinson, G, North Carolina, Senior
- Minnesota Timberwolves – Bonzie Colson, F, Notre Dame, Senior
- San Antonio Spurs – Jevon Carter, G, West Virginia, Senior
- Charlotte Hornets – De’Anthony Melton, G, USC, Sophomore
- Oklahoma City Thunder – PJ Washington, F, Kentucky, Freshman
- Phoenix Suns – Billy Preston, F, BC Igokea, 20 years old
- Denver Nuggets – Jaylen Adams, G, St. Bonaventure, Senior
- Philadelphia 76ers – Kostja Mushidi, G, Mega Bemax, 19 years old