NBA Draft

NBA Mock Draft 2018: Suns, Grizzlies snag top prospects; Cavs pick perfect partner for LeBron

deandre-ayton-ftr-050718.jpg
Arizona center Deandre Ayton (Getty Images)

The NBA playoffs are in full swing, which also means the collection of teams hoping to land the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft via the lottery is set. So, it seemed like the perfect time to roll out a Mock Draft.

Here's a look at how the draft could go down in June...

1. Suns - Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona

Age: 19.7 | Height: 7-1 | Weight: 260

Ayton's college career didn't end exactly as planned when his Arizona squad was upset in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats were routed by Buffalo, 89-68. Still, on the basis of his season-long performance, Ayton figures to be a top-two pick come June.

The 19-year-old has the potential to be a dominant offensive force at the next level. He is a capable midrange shooter with 3-point upside, a beast on the offensive glass and an improving post-up threat.

Keep up to date with all of the latest :tag: news!
Sure Not Now

NBA teams have historically prized prospects like Ayton. The 7-footer possesses an intersection of size and athleticism that can't be taught, and front offices will likely trust their development systems to smooth out Ayton's rough edges.

2. Grizzlies - Luka Doncic, G, Real Madrid

Age: 19.1 | Height: 6-7 | Weight: 218

Despite a difficult February and a couple of weeks off to rehab a thigh injury, Doncic continues to put up monster numbers for Real Madrid. Between EuroLeague and Liga ACB play, he's averaging 21.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 6.7 assists per 36 minutes on a 60.4 true shooting percentage. The 19-year-old will come to the NBA with an argument as the top European prospect in history.

In Memphis, Doncic can bridge eras. He should be able to contribute immediately in some capacity alongside (hopefully) healthy versions of Mike Conley Jr. and Marc Gasol next season while giving the Grizzlies a future franchise cornerstone.

3. Mavericks - Jaren Jackson Jr., C, Michigan State

Age: 18.6 | Height: 6-11 | Weight: 242

The Mavericks won a coin flip against the Hawks for the third spot. The two teams will split ping pong balls and have virtually equal lottery odds, but if things fall in line, it'll be Dallas who selects first on draft night.

Jackson is one of the youngest prospects in the 2018 draft class and his statistical profile - in part due to his age - is one of the most promising. The 18-year-old averaged 5.5 blocks per 40 minutes as a freshman while shooting 39.6 percent from behind the arc. He has legitimate unicorn potential. Turning him into a long-term ball screen partner with Dennis Smith Jr. would be a terrific move for a franchise looking to bring back its glory days.

4. Hawks - Marvin Bagley III, PF/C, Duke

Age: 19.1 | Height: 6-11 | Weight: 234

Pairing John Collins with a prospect who might be best described as "a better version of John Collins" may not be the smartest front office decision given some of the potential defensive deficiencies a Bagley-Collins frontcourt would face, but it's tough to turn down the Duke big man's talent.

Bagley has the potential to be the best player in the class if his skill level catches up with his athleticism and motor. The 19-year-old averaged 21.0 points and 11.1 rebounds per contest as a freshman. His second and third jumps make him a dominant force on the offensive glass, and he should be a dangerous pick-and-roll threat.

More enticing, though, is his potential short roll play-making. Bagley's ability to pass a bit on the move gives him a leg up on some of the draft's other elite bigs.

5. Magic - Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

Age: 19.6 | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 180

Need and fit intersect here at No. 5 with the Magic. Orlando shipped out point guard Elfrid Payton at the trade deadline, so the front office will need a long-term replacement.

It's easy to highlight Young's end-of-season numbers as a reason to avoid him on draft night, but he still managed to put up historic numbers as a freshman. Young averaged 27.4 points and 8.7 assists per game. He shot 36.0 percent from behind the arc, is one of the best young pull-up jump shooters in recent memory and can facilitate an offense with his passing. There's risk here, but the upside is too great.

6. Bulls - Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas

Age: 19.9 | Height: 6-11 | Weight: 225

It's tempting to slot Villanova's Mikal Bridges here, as Chicago has a history of selecting college upperclassmen, and the team has a glaring need at small forward. But the upside of Bamba is too much to pass up. The 19-year-old's skill set would fit perfectly alongside Lauri Markkanen in the frontcourt.

Bamba projects as a shot-erasing rim protector. He has a 7-9 wingspan and averaged 4.8 blocks per 40 minutes as a freshman for the Longhorns. Bamba remains a work in progress on the offensive end, but with Robin Lopez under contract for another season, he'll have some time to work out the kinks.

7. Kings - Michael Porter Jr., SF/PF, Missouri

Age: 19.8 | Height: 6-10 | Weight: 215

Porter didn't look great after returning from back surgery at the end of the season, but that was to be expected given his lack of conditioning. The 19-year-old remains an intriguing, high-upside play for a franchise seemingly lacking in future star power.

Porter has the potential to be a go-to scoring option on the wing. His size allows him to get his shot off over smaller opponents, and his quickness is too much for bigger defenders to handle. He's a three-level scorer with fluid athleticism and an improving jump shot. Porter would also give Sacramento a more modern look on frontline.

8. Cavaliers (via Nets) - Mikal Bridges, SG/SF, Villanova

Age: 21.6 | Height: 6-7 | Weight: 210

Assuming LeBron James sticks around, there may not be a better marriage in the draft than Bridges with Cleveland. The 21-year-old projects as a traditional 3-and-D wing who could alleviate some of the Cavaliers' defensive troubles while giving James a potent 3-point shooter on the other side of the ball.

Bridges averaged 1.9 steals and 1.3 blocks per 40 minutes as a redshirt junior. He also possesses an excellent understanding of team defensive concepts. On offense, he's a career 40.0 percent 3-point shooter on 400 attempts. His improvement shooting off movement makes him a more versatile threat.

If James leaves in free agency, Bridges will remain a valuable part of a rebuild. Every team needs viable wing prospects, and he still may possess some untapped potential as an offensive creator.

9. Knicks - Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama

Age: 19.3 | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 190

The Knicks largely just need talent, but it's hard to ignore the glaring need to fill the point guard spot presuming Frank Ntilikina isn't viewed as a long-term solution there. Despite the late-season surge from Kentucky's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Sexton remains the draft's second-best point guard prospect.

The 19-year-old is a competitive force, and his presence alongside Ntilikina would give the Knicks an interesting defensive backcourt in time. Offensively, Sexton's game runs downhill. He's intent on getting to the rim. However, he still needs to develop into an above average 3-point shooter to be a more well-rounded offensive player.

10. Sixers (via Lakers) - Miles Bridges, SF/PF, Michigan State

Age: 20.1 | Height: 6-7 | Weight: 230

A Philadelphia-based reunion with Mikal Bridges was cut short a few picks ago, so a replacement Bridges will have to do. The Michigan State sophomore doesn't necessarily excel at any one thing, but he's good at a lot of them.

Adding the 20-year-old would bring another versatile defensive option to the 76ers' roster. He would also give Ben Simmons another perimeter outlet. Bridges shot 37.5 percent from behind the arc on 339 attempts in college. He's at his best in off-the-catch situations, whether shooting or attacking in a straight-line drive. Philadelphia is primarily concerned with rounding out its roster around Simmons and Joel Embiid. Bridges fits the bill.

11. Hornets - Wendell Carter Jr., C, Duke

Age: 19.0 | Height: 6-10 | Weight: 259

Given the quantity of bigs at the top of the draft and the league's emphasis on guards and wings, it feels inevitable that one of the frontcourt players is likely to slip a bit on draft night. Don't let that be a reflection of Carter's overall talent level, however.

The 19-year-old is an exciting playmaker on the offensive end where his ability to dribble, pass and shoot is impressive for a young center. On defense, there are more question marks. He looked like a solid rim protector playing as the middleman in Duke's 2-3 zone this season, flashing good timing and the ability to get off the ground quickly. However, he's also part of the reason the team went to a zone, as he regularly struggled defending ball screens.

12. Clippers (via Pistons) - Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

Age: 19.8 | Height: 6-6 | Weight: 170

Gilgeous-Alexander forced his way up draft boards with some impressive late-season performances. No freshman in college basketball was as crafty getting to the rim as the 19-year-old Kentucky star. Gilgeous-Alexander excelled as a pick-and-roll ball-handler and finisher at the rim. On the other end, his length offers up some interesting potential versatility should he put on strength.

After shipping out Blake Griffin earlier this season, the Clippers are looking for an influx of talent with their two late lottery picks. Gilgeous-Alexander should help.

13. Clippers - Kevin Knox, SF/PF, Kentucky

Age: 18.7 | Height: 6-9 | Weight: 215

Back-to-back Kentucky freshman to Los Angeles. Knox's intersection of size, youth and athleticism forms the baseline for his intrigue as a prospect. He projects as a versatile combo forward capable of sliding up and down the lineup.

Although he shot just 34.1 percent from deep, his shooting inputs, including 1.9 made 3s per 40 minutes and a 77.4 free throw percentage, are positive indicators of future success. Knox doesn't necessarily project as a high-upside play, but prospects in his archetype are extremely valuable in the modern NBA.

14. Nuggets - Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

Age: 18.9 | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 195

The Nuggets were rumored to be interested in OG Anunoby at the draft last year, so perhaps they'll reach up a bit and snag the wing prospect with similar traits in this year's draft. Although Smith is smaller than Anunoby, his combination of athleticism and positive statistical indicators suggest he could be a high-upside prospect.

Whether on the offensive boards or jumping passing lanes, he shows a high-level feel for the game. Improving as a ball-handler and jump shooter will be critical to developing him as a viable offensive player.

15. Wizards - Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

Age: 20.5 | Height: 6-10 | Weight: 240

Marcin Gortat is already 34 years old, so the Wizards will likely be moving into the center market at some point in the near future. Landing a young one with the draft's 15th pick makes quite a bit of sense.

Williams has tremendous instincts as a rim protector. He averaged 3.9 blocks per 40 minutes as a sophomore. Offensively, he'll function largely as a rim runner, getting out in transition and catching lobs in the pick-and-roll.

16. Suns (via Heat) - Troy Brown, SF, Oregon

Age: 18.7 | Height: 6-7 | Weight: 215

This pick is a difficult spot for Phoenix. After selecting Ayton at No. 1, the franchise's biggest need is a point guard, but this draft's middle is lacking in them. So, the path forward might be to amass wing talent.

Brown is a versatile piece with playmaking and defensive upset. He's a comfortable creator with the ball in his hands and can slide up and down the lineup on the other end. He needs to develop his jumper, though, in order to become a potent offensive piece, as he lacks the athleticism necessary to blow by defenders.

17. Bucks - Dzanan Musa, SF, Cedevita

Age: 18.9 | Height: 6-9 | Weight: 195

The Bucks were the biggest winners following a set of coin flips in that losing their flip was actually a positive. Milwaukee's first-round selection would have transferred to the Suns had the team won the coin flip and picked 16th. Now, they'll get to make a first-round pick in a 2018 draft that looks better than 2019.

Musa faces plenty of defensive question marks, but his ability as a scorer on the wing will still be prized by front offices. Long-term, he may not profile as much more than a bucket getter off the bench. However, finding a 6-9 wing who can do that in the middle of the first round is good value.

18. Spurs - Jontay Porter, C, Missouri

Age: 18.4 | Height: 6-11 | Weight: 240

Call this a hunch. Porter is still working his way up draft boards, as he played just 24.5 minutes per game this season. However, publicly available analytic models love him due to his youth and unique skills.

Porter averaged 16.1 points, 11.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists per 40 minutes this season. He is a capable offensive playmaker who can shoot and drive in straight lines. San Antonio's got a smart front office and a history of succeeding with players like Porter on offense. This might just be the time for a reach.

19. Hawks (via Timberwolves) - Lonnie Walker, SG, Miami

Age: 19.3 | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 204

The Timberwolves finished the regular season in a tie with the Spurs, but they lost Friday's coin flip, so the Hawks will use their pick to select 19th on draft night.

Walker is a dynamic shot creator who can generate buckets at all three levels. However, he needs to work on his efficiency. He posted just a 52.7 true shooting percentage as a freshman. Still, his package of athleticism and creation ought to be attractive.

20. Timberwolves (via Thunder) - Keita Bates-Diop, SF/PF, Ohio State

Age: 22.2 | Height: 6-7 | Weight: 235

The Timberwolves, via the Thunder, were the big winners of a four-way coin flip scenario. They'll pick 20th on draft night. Their selection could have been as low as 24.

One way to help modernize the Timberwolves offense? Draft a 22-year-old, ready to contribute as a small-ball power forward. Bates-Diop was one of the most effective college players in the country. He's long and capable of shooting over smaller defenders on the offensive end. He's made 35.2 percent of his career 349 3-point attempts. He's also a viable multi-position defender. He could be an excellent Taj Gibson replacement over time.

21. Jazz - Jacob Evans, SG/SF, Cincinnati

Age: 20.8 | Height: 6-6 | Weight: 210

Utah had the second-best defense in the league during the regular season, per NBA.com stats. It'd make sense if its front office prized prospects who could fit in that team construct.

Evans is an impressive defender, on point with his rotations and capable of being disruptive to offensive actions. He's also a career 37.7 percent 3-point shooter. There's not a ton of upside here, but Evans rates out as one of the more promising 3-and-D prospects in the class.

22. Bulls (via Pelicans) - Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, IMG Academy

Age: 18.9 | Height: 6-4 | Weight: 180

Trying to sort out what the Bulls plan to do with their backcourt is almost a fruitless exercise. Given some of the playmaking struggles their ball-handlers had this season, perhaps they'll explore a high-upside play here.

Simons is capable of creating and knocking down shots, but he'll need a few years of development before he's ready to contribute.

23. Pacers - Khryi Thomas, SG, Creighton

Age: 21.9 | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 210

Indiana could target Thomas, a 3-and-D shooting guard who could compliment the Pacers' backcourt in a variety of lineups. The 21-year-old possesses a 6-10 wingspan that makes him a much more versatile defender than his height would suggest. He's also a career 40.6 percent 3-point shooter.

24. Trail Blazers - De'Anthony Melton, SG, USC

Age: 19.9 | Height: 6-4 | Weight: 190

Melton didn't play this season due to the FBI probe into corruption in college basketball. However, his freshman season performance ought to be enough for a team to take a shot at him in the first round.

The 19-year-old is a capable playmaker with the ball in his hands and an impressive defender. He averaged 2.8 steals and 1.5 blocks per 40 minutes as a freshman. Melton would be a nice third guard to play alongside either Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum in various lineups.

25. Lakers (via Cavaliers) - Mitchell Robinson, C, N/A

Age: 20.0 | Height: 7-0 | Weight: 223

This would be a bit of a slip for Robinson, but it wouldn't be a surprise if NBA teams were concerned about how he handled his college career (or lack thereof). The 20-year-old was once committed to Western Kentucky, but an on-again, off-again relationship ended with him sitting out this season.

Still, he projects to be one of the more promising defensive bigs in the class. During his final season in the Nike EYBL, he averaged 4.1 blocks per game, more than either Deandre Ayton or Mohamed Bamba.

26. 76ers - Bruce Brown, SG, Miami

Age: 21.7 | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 190

Brown's sophomore season was riddled with injuries. He played in just 19 games. But the 6-5 guard will ideally develop into a 3-and-D wing with a bit of added playmaking. He can pass out of the pick-and-roll and is a very willing defender already. Brown should be able to guard 1-3 in the NBA.

He might fit as an interesting piece in Philadelphia, where he could play alongside either Ben Simmons or Markelle Fultz.

27. Celtics - Chandler Hutchison, SF, Boise State

Age: 22.0 | Height: 6-7 | Weight: 197

The Celtics have an obvious affinity for wings, which makes sense given the pathway of the modern NBA. Hutchison would be a nice late first-round edition.

The 6-7 senior is an improved 3-point shooter who massively increased his volume this season. He can make plays as a driver off the catch and has the physical tools to be a competent defender.

28. Warriors - Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

Age: 21.5 | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 185

Every roster spot for the Warriors is extremely valuable given their luxury tax situation, so figuring out what they'll do with this pick is tough. Although they recently signed Quinn Cook to a multi-year deal, adding another guard to the roster could be in the cards.

Holiday had an excellent junior season despite a rough NCAA Tournament performance. He can run an offense or work as a shooter off the ball, and he's an aggressive point-of-attack defender.

29. Nets (via Raptors) - Shake Milton, PG/SG, SMU

Age: 21.6 | Height: 6-6 | Weight: 205

Positional fit isn't much of a concern for the Nets right now. They just need to add talent to a roster depleted by prior mismanagement. Milton might fit the mold of what they're looking for.

He's a talented combo guard with enough size to defend on the wing. Most importantly, he's a career 42.7 percent 3-point shooter on 445 attempts.

30. Hawks (via Rockets) - Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova

Age: 21.6 | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 190

Brunson had an outstanding junior season en route to a national title. He averaged 23.8 points and 5.8 assists per 40 minutes while posting a 63.5 true shooting percentage. The 21-year-old is a career 39.3 percent 3-point shooter and is comfortable off the bounce or on the catch.

He won't blow anyone away with his athleticism, but his strength and chance of pace allow him to create space. He'd make a nice long-term backup.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

More from NBA.com

larry-bird-081818-ftr-getty.jpg
ON THIS DATE: Larry Bird announces retirement
Scott Rafferty
kawhi-leonard-081818-ftr-getty.jpg
Blogtable: Who will you be watching intently to start the season?
NBA.com Staff
nba_summer-workout-plan_og.jpg
What Anunoby needs to do to take the next step
Scott Rafferty
gordon-kemba-081718-ftr-getty.jpg
Biggest offseason move each Southeast Division team made
Gilbert McGregor
Kawhi Leonard and Marcus Smart
Biggest offseason move each team made in Atlantic Division
Micah Adams
Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond
Top players in Central Division
Micah Adams
More News