Now that the June 11 NBA withdrawal date has passed, the 2018 NBA Draft field is officially set. The combine has come and gone, with players now doing individual team workouts. The trade rumors, posturing and speculation has begun, so let’s jump into it all!
#1 Phoenix Suns – DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona – Even though there are some Doncic to the Suns rumors going around, I just can’t see Phoenix passing up on Ayton. He is physically gifted, ready to play, and has the perfect inside-out offensive skill set to play alongside Devin Booker. He’s already had a workout for Phoenix, so this one should be in the bag.
#2 Sacramento Kings – Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke – Bagley is super athletic, made for today’s NBA, and has All-Star potential written all over him. He is ready to contribute right away after having a monster freshman season at Duke, averaging 21.0ppg and 11.1rpg last year, all while shooting 61.4%. The Kings have spent back-to-back high first round picks on Buddy Hield and De'Aaron Fox, so I just don’t see them going Doncic here. With Bagley, they would add one of the best players in the entire draft to their already promising young core.
#3 Atlanta Hawks – Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Michigan State – The Hawks, who are in no hurry to start competing, go high ceiling at No. 3. JJJ has a 7-foot-4 wingspan, is still growing, and can already guard multiple positions at just 18 years old. His overall offense will improve with time, but he already possesses the ability to stretch the floor with his shooting, which most teams are looking for in a modern day big man. Jackson Jr. would also be a perfect fit next to their other big, John Collins. That combination would give the Hawks two good building blocks for years to come.
#4 Memphis Grizzlies – Luka Doncic, G/F, Slovenia – The man, the myth, the legend. Unlike most that are down on Doncic, I think he is going to be good for years to come. Doncic is 6-foot-8, just 19 years old, and fresh off a Euroleague title and Final Four MVP. Euro or not, athletic enough or not, the kid can ball. Luka has been playing against men in a high level league for a few years now, so he is already physically prepared to play in the NBA. He has a great feel for the game and high basketball IQ, so you know he will be just fine on the mental side. Playing alongside Mike Conley as another ball handler would be a great fit, and the pick-and-pops between him and Marc Gasol would be a joy to watch. Here is a great scouting video of Doncic from the guys over at DraftExpress:
#5 Dallas Mavericks – Mohamed Bamba, PF/ C, Texas – Mo’s measurables were off the charts at the combine, so he has been shooting up draft boards ever since. Bamba recorded the longest wingspan (7’10”) amongst all the draftees at the combine, and EVER in basketball history. Rudy Gobert was the previous record holder at 7’8″. Bamba, who is known for his defense and shot blocking abilities, has been putting in work to show off his new offensive skill set. His new shot looks good thanks to the combination of hard work and training with Drew Hanlen. Bamba fits exactly what the Mavericks are looking for in a frontcourt player to build around.
#6 Orlando Magic – Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma – The Magic are desperately in need of a point guard, so this is a perfect fit for both sides. Young, who is known for his shooting, is also a gifted passer. His combination of shooting, passing, and handles will be too much for Orlando to pass up here. Young and Aaron Gordon could be the start of something big if Young lives up to the hype.
#7 Chicago Bulls – Michael Porter Jr., SF/ PF, Missouri – If Porter Jr. didn’t sustain his back injury, he would’ve been a consensus top-3 pick in this year’s draft. The Bulls roll the dice here and get a guy that can flat out score if healthy. He can score facing up, off the dribble, and with his back to the basket. His combination of size and 3-point shooting ability gives Fred Hoiberg another weapon to add to the team’s arsenal. In today’s NBA, that combination is exactly what teams are looking for in a modern big. The quartet of Kris Dunn, Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine, and MPJ would be able to get some buckets for years to come.
Another interesting tidbit is that the Chicago-based firm of Priority Sports and Mark Bartelstein represents him. Bartelstein is a family friend of Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, and has had a good working relationship with the Bulls as he reps current Bull Bobby Portis, and former Bulls Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott, among many others. Apparently Priority has already sent MPJ’s medicals over to the Bulls. He looks like he is moving just fine from the footage I have seen in the predraft process. FWIW, Porter Jr. is living and training in Chicago this summer, and has said he loves Chicago as a city. As you can see, I’m all aboard the Porter to the Bulls train, which probably means we will get Wendell Carter instead. Doh! I doubt he drops this far, but I am trying to speak this into existence like LaVar Ball.
#8 Cleveland Cavaliers – Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama – Sexton really opened people’s eyes in the conference tournament and the NCAA tournament with his insane toughness and aggressiveness. With LeBron James likely to leave, I can see the Cavs filling a need at point guard, something they’ve been missing for years. With more teams going the team-oriented route, Sexton would make sense to build around.
#9 New York Knicks – Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova – The Knicks get a player that can come in and play right away in Bridges. While he does not have that high of a ceiling, his floor is pretty solid thanks to his shooting. Bridges shot 43.5% from three-point land last season, and can defend multiple positions. His game should translate well at the next level. With the Knicks probably tanking again next season, Bridges will be a nice piece to pair with Kristaps Porzingis when he is back, and their future lottery pick.
#10 Philadelphia 76ers – Kevin Knox, SF/ PF, Kentucky – The Sixers own six picks in this draft, so they can roll the dice for someone that has tremendous upside potential and fits a need. Knox would give the 76ers a scoring wing that can shoot and help space the floor next to Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. At just 18 years old, Knox still has time to develop and get better. What better place to go than Philadelphia for that? #TrustTheProcess