Raphielle Johnson

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Mock Draft, Volume One

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Tuesday night, the lottery draw for the 2018 NBA Draft was held in Chicago, with the Phoenix Suns landing the top overall pick. With the order now known, there’s the opportunity to take a look at what teams may do with their selections. The next step in the pre-draft process is this week’s NBA Draft Combine, with the physical measurements, interviews, drills and 5-on-5 play all set to have a significant impact on draft boards at this early stage in the process. Below is our first mock draft, with brief explanations for the first round selections.


First Round


1. Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona
The Suns are in an interesting spot from an intel standpoint, as there are multiple connections to the University of Arizona (where Ayton played) in the organization and new head coach Igor Kokoskov coached a Slovenian national team that included point guard Luka Doncic to a EuroBasket title last summer. Ayton is the choice right now, but this one isn’t set in stone by any stretch of the imagination.


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2. Sacramento Kings: Luka Doncic, SF, Real Madrid
Doncic is one of the most intriguing players in this year’s draft, thanks to his play for both Real Madrid and the Slovenian national team. At 6-foot-7 Doncic has good size for a perimeter playmaker, and he has proven to be very good making things happen for himself and for others. 


3. Atlanta Hawks: Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke
The good news for general manager Travis Schlenk after the Hawks won just 24 games this season: the team holds four of the top 34 picks in the draft. Despite there being some concerns about him defensively, Marvin Bagley III’s offensive abilities makes him too good to pass up at this spot.


4. Memphis Grizzlies: Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Michigan State
The Big Ten’s top newcomer and defender in his lone season in East Lansing, Jackson shot nearly 40 percent from three (51.3 percent from the field overall), and he’s got the upside needed to add even more to the “toolbox” offensively.


5. Dallas Mavericks: Michael Porter Jr., SF, Missouri
Given the fact that he was limited to three games at Missouri due to a back injury, Porter’s pre-draft workouts and medical reports will be critical. That being said, the 6-foot-10 forward is a gifted offensive player who at the scholastic level showed himself to be capable of scoring at all three levels.


6. Orlando Magic: Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma
Given free rein in the Oklahoma offense, Young was one of college basketball’s best players this season. And Orlando, which ranked in the bottom third of the NBA in both scoring offense and offensive rating, needs a dynamic option at the point. Young can be that guy.


7. Chicago Bulls: Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas
The 6-foot-11 Bamba has a 7-foot-9 wingspan and during his lone season at Texas established himself as of the best shot-blockers in college basketball. In addition to the need to get stronger, Bamba does have some work to do with regards to his offensive skill set but the potential makes him a tantalizing prospect.


8. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Boston via Brooklyn): Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama
While Cleveland has managed to reach the Eastern Conference Finals, it’s become quite clear that the team needs more dynamic offensive options on the roster. The attack-minded Sexton fits that bill, as he can score at all three levels and apply pressure on defenses via his ability to break down defenses off the dribble.  


9. New York Knicks: Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova
With this pick the Knicks have the ability to address a glaring need on the wing, and in Mikal Bridges there’s a wing capable of being a factor on both ends of the floor. Given the fact that he spent four years in college Bridges may not be viewed in the same light as younger players (“upside”), but he’s got the ability to be more than just a “3 and D” wing.


10. Philadelphia 76ers (from LA Lakers): Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State
Bridges’ shooting percentages from the field and from three did dip some from his freshman to sophomore season, but he’s still an effective combo wing who can help a team. He has the potential to be a factor in Philadelphia, a team that appears to be on the cusp of being a factor in the East for years to come.


11. Charlotte Hornets: Wendell Carter Jr., C, Duke
The 6-foot-10 Carter was an incredibly tough matchup for opponents last season due to his combination of size, strength and athleticism, attributes that give him the ability to be an impact addition at the NBA level. Charlotte could also use another point guard, but Carter may prove to be too good to pass up if he’s on the board here.


12. LA Clippers (from Detroit): Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky
For the first of these back-to-back Clipper picks, Gilgeous-Alexander is worth considering. The point guard went from being a reserve to an indispensable member of the Wildcats’ starting lineup over the course of this past season. At 6-foot-6 he has good size at the point, and that combined with his athleticism made Gilgeous-Alexander a tough player for opposing point guards to get past.


13. LA Clippers: Robert Williams, C, Texas A&M
Williams was in a position last spring where, had he left Texas A&M at that point, he could’ve been a Top 10 pick. A second season in College Station may have dropped him some, but the 6-foot-10 Williams is a high-level athlete who can be a difference maker on the defensive end of the floor.


14. Denver Nuggets: Kevin Knox, SF, Kentucky
The 6-foot-9 Knox is a talented wing who has the ability to score at all three levels. Knox wasn’t always as aggressive offensively as he needed to be, at time settling rather than attacking the defense and taking full advantage of his tools. That being said, there’s no denying the fact that he can be a key addition for any team looking to bolster its production on the wing.


15. Washington Wizards: Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami
Walker’s lone season at Miami was a solid one, as he averaged 11.5 points per game on a team with multiple players given the freedom to make plays within Jim Larranaga’s system. The 6-foot-4 Walker is a highly athletic perimeter prospect, and his skill set is such that he can help the Wizards as they look to bolster their rotation.


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Raphielle has been writing about college sports for more than a decade for multiple outlets, including NBC Sports. Focuses have included game recaps, columns, features and recruiting stories. A native of the Northeast, he now calls Pac-12 country home. Raphielle can be followed on Twitter @raphiellej.
Email :Raphielle Johnson

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