I previously wrote a 2018 NBA lottery mock draft with player comparisons in April. Now that the draft order is set, it’s time to take another look. The first overall pick went to the Phoenix Suns, who had the best chance to get the pick at 25 percent. Picks No. 8 to No. 14 also stayed the same, coinciding with what the pre-draft odds said.
Picks No. 2 to No. 7, not so much.
- The Sacramento Kings jumped from No. 7 to No. 2.
- The Chicago Bulls fell from No. 6 to No. 7.
- The Orlando Magic also dropped one spot from No. 5 to No. 6.
- The Atlanta Hawks moved up a spot from No. 4 to No. 3.
- The Dallas Mavericks dropped from No. 3 to No. 5.
- The Memphis Grizzlies dropped from No. 2 to No. 4.
Let’s take a look at how the draft may play out and check out the first mock for some player comparisons.
1. Phoenix Suns: DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona (⇔)
This pick remains the same. Phoenix could go with European phenom Luka Doncic here, but Ayton is the safer selection. Doncic says he isn’t sure about his NBA decision yet and Ayton is about as sure of a selection you can make. The Suns can’t afford to miss on this pick and their last top-5 European pick Dragan Bender hasn’t panned out.
2. Sacramento Kings: Luka Doncic, G, Real Madrid (⇑1)
The No. 2 spot was originally supposed to go to Memphis, who I had taking Marvin Bagley III in the first mock. The Kings are in a position to take the best player after moving up to No. 2. That would be Doncic, a 19-year-old coming off a championship and MVP in the second best professional basketball league in the world (Euroleague). There are some questions about if or when he’ll come over, but the Kings should jump at the Europeans potential if he does. A young core of De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Doncic and Willie Cauley-Stein could help Sacramento make efforts toward their first winning season in 12 years.
3. Atlanta Hawks: Jaren Jackson Jr., C, Michigan State (⇑1)
The Hawks get the same guy they wanted in the first mock, this time a pick earlier. Teaming Jackson up with John Collins could end up being a great idea, with Jackson’s outside shooting and defense complimenting Collins’ athleticism and offensive rebounding. Atlanta is still in the early stages of their rebuild so taking the young center with a high ceiling is the right move.
4. Memphis Grizzlies: Marvin Bagley III, F, Duke (⇓2)
The Grizzlies still get their man after falling two spots. The 6-foot-11 forward makes perfect sense for Memphis. He seems like a great compliment for Marc Gasol and Mike Conley Jr. as the Grizzlies try to get back into contention after a disastrous season. If they don’t, at least they’ll have the 19-year-old to build around going forward.
5. Dallas Mavericks: Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas (⇑2)
Bamba moves up two selections. Dallas dropping two spots likely puts them out of the Doncic sweepstakes (unless he threatens to stay overseas if he doesn’t get picked by the team of his liking), but the former Texas center would not be a shabby second choice. His wingspan at the NBA draft combine measured at 7-foot-10, the longest in combine history. Combine measurements aren’t everything but it seems Bamba, at the very least, will be a shot-blocking presence in the NBA. For reference, Rudy Gobert‘s 2013 combine wingspan was 7-foot-8.5.
6. Orlando Magic: Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri (⇔)
Porter believes he’s the best player in this draft. He’s 6-foot-11 and has solid shooting mechanics and athleticism. He also has injuries, only playing in three games in college due to a back injury and the subsequent surgery. Porter could end up being the best player in the draft or a player who’s injuries seem to always limit his potential. With the sixth pick, it’s worth a shot.
7. Chicago Bulls: Wendell Carter Jr., F/C, Duke (⇑4)
Despite a rough season, the Bulls have a solid young core in Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine. If injuries subside to the later two, adding Carter Jr. to the mix will vastly improve that core. Markkanen has the ability to step outside, leaving enough space for Carter Jr. to operate in the paint. This has the makings of a young, talented, complementary frontcourt.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers: Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma (⇓3)
This pick will be all about pleasing LeBron James. The draft will be held June 21, a week and change before free agency begins July 1. Both Mikal Bridges and Young would be good pieces to help LeBron. This pick could go either way. Young seems to have more to build around if LeBron were to leave so the Cavaliers will decide to take the polarizing point guard.
9. New York Knicks: Mikal Bridges, G/F, Villanova (⇔)
Bridges goes at the same spot, to the same team, in Mock 2.0. A talented three-and-D player with room to get better should entice the Knicks. A defense featuring Kristaps Porzingis, Frank Ntilikina and Bridges would cause some headaches. How much better Bridges can get will remain the question.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Collin Sexton, G, Alabama (⇓2)
Originally I had Philadelphia taking Kevin Knox in this spot, but with Sexton dropping after Trae Young fell to the Cavaliers, the Sixers scoop up the Alabama guard. Sexton isn’t the greatest shooter but his energy and athleticism would fit nicely alongside Ben Simmons in the backcourt. It’ll also give some guard competition to former No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz.
11. Charlotte Hornets: Miles Bridges, F, Michigan State (⇑1)
Charlotte had Wendell Carter Jr. fall into their laps in the first mock. Here, they get the second Bridges of the draft. A 6-foot-6 forward with elite athleticism, Bridges will have to utilize his game much like former Michigan Stater Draymond Green. If he shows he can defend multiple positions, develop a trustworthy jumper and improve his ball-handling and passing; he could be the steal of the draft.
12. Los Angeles Clippers: Robert Williams, F/C, Texas A&M (⇑2)
Another slot I thought about placing Kevin Knox, but the Clippers already have Tobias Harris who is Knox’s older clone. Robert Williams is a DeAndre Jordan clone (same college too) and drafting him would allow Los Angeles to let the 29-year-old Jordan walk in free agency and get younger at the center position.
13. Los Angeles Clippers: Lonnie Walker IV, G, Miami (⇑)
Walker IV had an impressive combine showing and hence moved into the lottery, bumping Shai Gilgeous-Alexander out. Austin Rivers needs to be replaced and with Avery Bradley and Patrick Beverley on the roster, the Clippers can afford to take a chance on a player with big offensive upside albeit some defensive and injury concerns.
14. Denver Nuggets: Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky (⇓4)
Denver should be happy to have Knox fall to them at 14. He would be an immediate upgrade at the small forward position over the aging Wilson Chandler and undersized Will Barton. Adding the former Kentucky forward to a young lineup of Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris and Jamal Murray could push the 46-win Nuggets into the playoffs next season and seasons to come.