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2018 NBA Mock Draft 1.1: New Year, New Draft

Happy New Year folks! The first week of a new year is a perfect time to share resolutions. Diets are overrated, so I plan on indulging myself with more basketball this year than ever before. This is why I’m wasting little time paying it forward with the second installment of my 2018 NBA Mock Drafts. The first version can be found here.

*Draft Order was determined by the standings (prior to the games played on January 3).

  1. Atlanta Hawks – Luka Doncic, PG, Real Madrid: Congratulations on winning the Doncic Sweepstakes! Enjoy developing the best prospect to enter the league since LeBron. Maybe even run some plays where he takes full-court shots.
  2. Boston Celtics via Lakers – Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas: The best possible outcome for Danny Ainge, as this Lakers pick is protected 2-5 or else it goes to the Sixers. Bamba can develop into a DPOY in the vein of Rudy Gobert with a matching 7-9 wingspan and add elite rim protection to a team with incredible guard and wing depth.
  3. Orlando Magic – Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma: If you think he is the next Steph Curry, don’t let him drop past 3. The Magic need playmakers on the perimeter and Young is the ultimate matchup nightmare in space. While Elfrid Payton can’t make jumpers over the defense of his own hair, Young will make shots from anywhere.
  4. Memphis Grizzlies – Marvin Bagley, PF, Duke: This is an interesting position for the Grizzlies to be in. If they plan on keeping Gasol and Conley, this pick will likely come down to Bagley versus Porter, and with Porter’s injury and a successful Bagley season at Duke the selection may come down to process of elimination.
  5. Sacramento Kings – Michael Porter, SF/PF, Missouri: This is probably near the lower boundary of where Porter may end up in this draft due to his immense talent. His season-ending injury may be everyone else’s loss but the Kings’ gain if they snatch him here.
  6. Dallas Mavericks – DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona: For a player that could easily go as high as first or second, this selection is not a knock on him but rather a matter of fit with the teams selecting earlier. Perhaps Sacramento could be tempted, but they have taken so many big men in the lottery over the past few seasons that even Vlade may control himself this time around. Cuban will be puffing a victory cigar over the pick much like he did in 2017 with Dennis Smith last year.
  7. Chicago Bulls – Miles Bridges, SF/PF, Michigan State: Imagine that! A squad supposedly locked into tank mode –with its leading scorers including Lauri Markkanen, Nikola Mirotic, and Kris Dunn — picking in the seventh slot of the draft due to their surprising chemistry (especially considering the Portis-Mirotic fiasco). If Dunn continues to impress, taking Bridges will be a no-brainer unless they have concerns that he is too much of a tweener. Otherwise Collin Sexton is the pick.
  8. Cleveland Cavaliers via Nets – Kevin Knox, SF, PF Kentucky: The large elephant in the room is whether LeBron is still a part of this team. Thomas will be looking for a pay-day too. I’m predicting the King leaves The Land, Thomas stays, and the Cavs draft Knox. I could be wrong on all three fronts. Again, Sexton remains an option here.
  9. Charlotte Hornets – Wendell Carter, C, Duke: I’m going to hedge Sexton for the third pick in a row, but I just don’t see the Hornets taking him with Kemba and Monk already in the fold. Carter is looking very good this year, and if he continues to improve his shooting range his stock will rise.
  10. Phoenix Suns – Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama: This is the perfect fit for team and player. Sexton has proven that he can run an offense. Unfortunately, he may feel like he is playing 3-on-5 on an infinite loop unless the Suns upgrade their roster.
  11. Utah Jazz – Jaren Jackson Jr, PF, C Michigan State: A 6-10 big that swats everything in sight and knocks down 3’s? Sign me up. Imagine the Jazz snagging the steal of 2017 at 13 and the steal of the 2018 draft from a similar spot.
  12. Philadelphia 76ers – Mikal Bridges, SG/SF, Villanova: Local prep star goes to local university and ends up on his local NBA franchise. The 76ers could use him in their depleted wing rotation right now. He is a jack of all trades that can do everything pretty well and is showing consistent progress. Mikal’s shooting this season has been fantastic.
  13. Los Angeles Clippers – Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky: Without Lou Williams the Clippers would not have scored more than 75 points per game during Blake Griffin’s absence. Too bad Williams is a free agent who will be looking for perhaps his last big payday. Diallo is a different type of scorer, but an interesting fit around Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan (if he picks up his player option), Danilo Gallinari,  Austin Rivers, and Milos Teodosic.
  14. New York Knicks – Robert Williams, PF, C Texas A&M: Williams came back to school hoping to improve his draft stock. Not sure if that is going to happen, although his stock looks pretty stable to me. His rebounding and rim protection are translatable skills to the next level, but everyone will want to see him diversify his offensive skills and we just aren’t seeing it yet. The Knicks could see him as a potential fit next to Porzingis, allowing the Unicorn to space the floor on offense and conserve energy defensively as an elite help defender.
  15. New Orleans Pelicans – Dzanan Musa, SF, KK Cedevita: When you are a Bosnian kid playing in empty gyms on a relatively unknown Croatian team it is very easy to fly under the radar until clips start circulating where you look pretty darn impressive. Remember a Greek kid that came out of nowhere? Musa is a very different type of player but he has length, athleticism, and scoring skills. The Pelicans have mostly proven incapable of surrounding their bigs with wings that can contribute. This could be a hidden gem that keeps Anthony Davis engaged to New Orleans.
  16. Indiana Pacers – Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV: A talented 7 footer is teaching offensive clinics on a regular basis and his rebounding is legitimate. His defensive ability will determine how high or how low he goes in the draft. I wonder if the Pacers would be comfortable moving Turner to the 4 in supersized lineups alongside McCoy.
  17. Portland Trail Blazers -Troy Brown, SG, Oregon: The college kid next door provides the Blazers with floor spacing on the wing necessary for their talented backcourt. Brown has a lot of intangibles that could see him enter the lottery: 6-6 with nearly 7-0 wingspan, shooting, playmaking, and he won’t turn 19 until after the draft.
  18. Denver Nuggets – Trevon Duval, PG, Duke: Denver’s biggest question in every season this decade has been whether they have a floor general. The hope is that Jamal Murray still develops into some version of Steph Curry, but in case that doesn’t pan out, Duval has the best chance at developing into a starting point guard out of the prospects still on the board.
  19. Phoenix Suns via Heat – Anfernee Simons, Guard, IMG Academy: This could be the most surprising pick, as Simons is currently doing a post-grad year at IMG academy and will be eligible to declare for the draft. A smooth scorer, Anfernee will need to impress scouts in workouts to get into the first round. The Suns are in a position to make a high-risk high-reward pick here.
  20. Dallas Mavericks via Thunder – Daniel Gafford, C, Arkansas: A very quick riser up many boards due to his elite production so early into his freshman season. Questions remain regarding his fit in the NBA. Doesn’t have a jumper and his physical presence will not be as imposing against grown men.
  21. Milwaukee Bucks – Lonnie Walker, SG, Miami: Walker has been hyped as an elite scorer but has not showed out yet. The Bucks will either try to land a scorer or an interior presence to help Giannis. Walker has the rest of his freshman season to impress or else he may drop out of the first round.
  22. Washington Wizards – Mitchell Robinson, C: In perhaps the strangest situation of all the top prospects for this draft, Robinson decided school was NOT for him. Hopefully basketball and in particular NBA basketball is for him because he has the physical tools that will have scouts drooling. Washington needs to add some size; Gortat can’t play 48 minutes a game.
  23. Detroit Pistons – P.J. Washington, PF, C Kentucky: Often times when your head coach and general manager are the same person, the players you pick in the draft are those that you expect to make your team better immediately. So basically for Pistons draft picks I’m playing a game of “Who does Stan Van Gundy think will get him more wins next season?” It came down to Washington and Alkins, but they drafted Kennard last season so Alkins would be somewhat duplicative on offense. Washington has a very well-rounded game that Stan would probably like. Reminds me a lot of Patrick Patterson.
  24. Atlanta Hawks via Mavericks – Rawle Alkins, SG Arizona: A highly-productive guard that could immediately step in and contribute on both ends of the floor far a Hawks team that simply needs good basketball players. Alkins’ defensive versatility makes him a nice fit next to Doncic if Atlanta wins the lottery as they do in this scenario.
  25. Cleveland Cavaliers – Chimezie Metu, C, USC: Strong wiry athlete that resembles Tristan Thompson with a jump shot. His 50 percent three-point shooting is not sustainable for the rest of this season, but his confidence and willingness to shoot is going to be key in the league.
  26. San Antonio Spurs – Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova: Contrary to popular belief, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili will not play forever — and Brunson might be the type of player that Popovich could mold into a solid starter in his system. On a very hot streak shooting so far this year but could drop into the second round if teams become concerned that he can’t stay in front of anyone on defense.
  27. Brooklyn Nets via Hawks – Isaac Bonga, SG/SF, Frankfurt: Sean Marks has done a really good job picking up any high-ceiling players that become available. If Bonga lasts to 27, he will gladly take his chances on a lanky athletic kid that can shoot the rock. Bonga has multi-positional versatility that coach Atkinson would love. Very similar profile to Caris LeVert, who is having himself quite the season.
  28. Atlanta Hawks via Rockets – LaGerald Vick, SG, Kansas: Vick has been shooting very well from the floor this year, but I expect those numbers to regress in the NBA due to his 70 percent free-throw shooting. Vick has the pedigree and experience required to be an effective rotational player. His floor is high enough to warrant a late first-round selection for a team looking to throw their rookies into the fire immediately. The Hawks should have plenty of playing time available.
  29. Boston Celtics – Grayson Allen, SG, Duke: Pairing Brad Stevens with a gritty competitor like Allen seems too good to be true. The fans at the TD Garden are so engaged with their team, and Allen could be an interesting counterpoint to Marcus Smart. Combine Smart’s defense with Allen’s offense and you have the perfect gritty Boston athlete, but they will have to stay split as separate human beings for now.
  30. Golden State Warriors – Nick Ward, PF/C, Michigan State: Jordan Bell worked out well in 2017, Nick Ward will be the reward in 2018. (Channeling internal rhymes from my inner Marshall Mathers).

Second Round

  1. Atlanta Hawks – Jacob Evans, SF, Cincinnati
  2. Orlando Magic via Lakers – Allonzo Trier, SG, Arizona
  3. Memphis Grizzlies – Khyri Thomas, Guard, Creighton
  4. Brooklyn Nets via Magic – Rodions Kurucs, SF, FC Barcelona
  5. Sacramento Kings – Shake Milton, Guard, SMU
  6. Dallas Mavericks – Ray Spalding, PF/C, Louisville
  7. New York Knicks via Bulls – Devonte’ Graham, PG, Kansas
  8. Phoenix Suns via Hornets – De’Anthony Melton, PG, USC
  9. Philadelphia 76ers via Nets – Goga Bitadze, C, Mega Leks
  10. Phoenix Suns – Bruce Brown, SG, Miami
  11. Utah Jazz – Gary Trent Jr, SG, Duke
  12. Philadelphia 76ers via Clippers – Arnoldas Kulboka, SF, Brose Bamberg
  13. Philadelphia 76ers – Kostja Mushidi, SG, Mega Leks
  14. New York Knicks – Bonzie Colson, PF/C, Notre Dame
  15. Chicago Bulls via Pelicans – Landry Shamet, PG, Wichita State
  16. Denver Nuggets via Trail Blazers – Andrew Jones, Guard, Texas
  17. Indiana Pacers – Chandler Hutchinson, SF, Boise State
  18. Houston Rockets via Heat – Borisa Simanic, PF/C, Crvena Zvezda
  19. Los Angeles Lakers via Nuggets – Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA
  20. Oklahoma City Thunder – Alize Johnson, SF/PF, Missouri State
  21. Phoenix Suns via Bucks – Vince Edwards, SF, Purdue
  22. Washington Wizards – Ethan Happ, PF/C, Wisconsin
  23. Detroit Pistons – Trevon Bluiett, Guard, Xavier
  24. Minnesota Timberwolves – Tra Holder, PG, Arizona State
  25. Charlotte Hornets via Cavaliers – Kevin Hervey, SF, UT Arlington
  26. San Antonio Spurs – Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, SG, Kansas
  27. Phoenix Suns via Raptors – Jevon Carter, PG, West Virginia
  28. Philadelphia 76ers via Rockets – Tadas Sedekerskis, SF, BC Nevezis
  29. Oklahoma City Thunder via Celtics – Anas Mahmoud, C, Louisville
  30. Denver Nuggets via Warriors – Vanja Marinkovic, SF, KK Partizan
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