By Adewale Apata
How far will former McDonald’s All-American MVP and top 2 prep prospect Michael Porter Jr. fall in the draft? Are the Suns thinking about passing up on Deandre Ayton to reunite new head coach Igor Kokoskov with European phenom Luka Doncic? Who’s going to make the polarizing Trae Young their point guard of the future? You’ll find the answers to these questions and much more in the Spectator Sporting 2018 NBA 1st Round Mock Draft!
- Suns–Deandre Ayton Ht 7-1/Wt 260/C/Arizona/Age 19 Ayton will force double teams from the post plus he can step outside the paint and shoot it with a nice touch all the way to the 3 point line. The Suns hired new head coach Igor Kokoskov who coached Luka Doncic in Slovenia but the Suns shouldn’t get cute with their first ever #1 pick and select the best player in the draft.
- Kings–Luka Doncic Ht 6-8/Wt 225/PG-SG/Slovenia/Age 19 Doncic is a versatile prospect that can run the point guard position or play off the ball as a wing. He gets knocked because he’s not super athletic but he’s a crafty passer and has a soft shooting touch. King’s General Manager Vlade Divac is from Serbia and knows more than most about Doncic who played close to his home country in Slovenia.
- Hawks–Marvin Bagley III Ht 6-11/Wt 235/PF/Duke/Age 19 Atlanta should be thrilled that the Kings passed up on this rebounding and scoring machine. Bagley averaged 21 points plus 11 rebounds at Duke. His combination of consistent intensity, skills and hustle makes him a no brainer at the number 3 spot.
- Grizzlies-Jaren Jackson Jr. Ht 6-11/Wt 240/PF/Michigan St./Age 18 You don’t see many 3&D guys at 6’11”. But Jackson Jr. qualifies as one. He shot 39% from long range and averaged 3 blocks a game to earn the Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year Award. He needs to work on his post-game but at 18 years old, he’s one of the youngest players in the draft and Marc Gasol should take him under his wing.
- Mavericks–Mo Bamba Ht 7-0/Wt 220/C/Texas/Age 20 With a 7’10” wingspan, Mo Bamba should look like Mo Mutombo out there. In today’s NBA, he has the measurements and style of play similar to Rudy Gobert and Clint Capela.
- Magic–Trae Young Ht 6-2/Wt 180/PG/Oklahoma/Age 19 The Magic traded Elfrid Payton to the Suns for a 2nd round pick and created a huge void at to PG position in Orlando. Trey Young is an electric scorer and playmaker who led the nation in points and assist. Young should be the pick here, he’s a prolific shooter but he’ll also create plays for his teammates.
- Bulls–Miles Bridges Ht 6-7/Wt 230/SF/Michigan St./Age 20 Miles Bridges is a big, explosive and versatile SF who can also provide valuable minutes as a stretch 4. The Bulls are lacking a starting wing and Miles Bridges fits right in and should flourish with his solid finishing ability in the paint. Plus this lefty showed that he has the touch from 3 as he shot 39% from the arc last season.
- Cavs–Collin Sexton Ht 6-2/Wt 185/PG/Alabama/Age 19 Sexton is a fiery PG that Cavs fans should get excited about whether “The King” leaves or stays. Sexton led Alabama to their 1st NCAA tourney since 2012 and was poised in clutch moments while averaging 19 points per game. He’ll be an ideal player to build around during a rebuild or a formidable side kick to LeBron James.
- Knicks–Mikal Bridges Ht 6-7/Wt 210/SF/Villanova/Age 21 TheKnicks reached for French PG Frank Ntilikina with the 8th pick in last year’s draft. So, play it safe this year and select the solid 3&D junior from Villanova.
- Sixers–Michael Porter Jr. Ht 6-10/Wt 215/SF/Missouri/Age 19 Porter Jr. was a top 2 prospect coming out of HS but he slips to Philly due to microdiscectomy surgery on his back in November. “The most famous recent example of a basketball player to undergo a microdiscectomy is Dwight Howard. Howard had the procedure done in 2012 before he was traded to the Lakers (SBNation, Ricky O’Donnell, 2017).” Porter Jr. made a comeback at the end of the Missouri season and played 3 games. But he didn’t look explosive by settling for layups on a couple fast breaks. However, the Sixers take him at the 10 spot as a high risk high reward prospect.
- Hornets–Kevin Knox Ht 6-9/Wt 215/SF/Kentucky/Age 18 Knox is a sleeper steal type pick as he’s been flying under the radar. Kevin Knox is a 6’9” smooth SF with a nice shooting stroke and isn’t shy about driving to the paint. He’s only 18 years old and has the potential to make people wonder why he slipped in the draft in a few years.
- Clippers–Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Ht 6-6/Wt 180/PG/Kentucky/Age 19 Gilgeous-Alexander is a tall versatile PG and led Kentucky to the Sweet 16 as a Freshman. Shai would challenge Austin Rivers for that starting point guard spot.
- Clippers–Wendell Carter Ht 6-10/Wt 260/PF-C/Duke/Age 19 Deandre Jordan has the option to opt out of his contract and become a free agent. Wendell Carter Jr. would be a solid replacement at the center position. Carter is a reliable shooter as a big-man and shot 41% from the 3 point line last season.
- Nuggets–Troy Brown Ht 6-7/Wt 215/PG-SG/Oregon/Age 18 Brown is a playmaker at the wing position and has a knack for driving and finishing in the paint. Expect him to play some point guard as Denver is thin at that position after trading Emmanuel Mudiay.
- Wizards–Mitchell Robinson Ht 7-1/Wt 225/C/USA/Age 20 Robinson was a top ten 2017 HS recruit. But he chose Western Kentucky then dropped out of school and prepared for the NBA Draft. He shocked scouts again by declining to participate at the NBA pre-draft workouts in Chicago. He remains the man of mystery but the Wizards take a chance on the nimble 7 footer at the #15 spot.
- Suns–Lonnie Walker Ht 6-4/Wt 200/SG/Miami/Age 19 Phoenix needs to solidify their point guard position but they shouldn’t reach for one here and select the best player available. That player is Miami shooting guard Lonnie Walker. He raised his stock in the draft at the NBA combine and should be a solid backup to Devin Booker during his rookie season.
- Bucks–Donte DiVincenzo Ht 6-4/Wt 205/SG/Villanova/Age 21 After winning the Final Four Most Outstanding Player Award, DiVincenzo carried that momentum throughout the NBA combine workouts. DiVincenzo’s 34.5 inch vertical leap at the combine wowed NBA scouts and I’ll be shocked if he falls out of the top 20.
- Spurs–Kevin Huerter Ht 6-7/Wt 190/SF/Maryland/Age 19 The Spurs was the 4th worse 3 point shooting team in the league at 35.2%. Huerter is the 2nd best shooter (behind Trae Young) in the draft.
- Hawks Zhaire Smith Ht 6-5/Wt 195/SG/Texas Tech/Age 19 Sign this guy up for the 2019 NBA Dunk contest as soon as the commissioner calls his name on draft night. Smith is not only an amazing dunker, he shot 42% from the arc and has a high motor on defense. He slips this far in the draft due to his lack of playmaking ability off the dribble.
- Timberwolves Gary Trent Jr. Ht 6-6/Wt 215/SG/Duke/ Age 19 What was the Wolves’ biggest weakness last season? If you said 3 point shooting, you’re absolutely correct! The Wolves was the worst team in the league by shooting a dismal 22% from long range. Trent Jr. should develop into a 3-point threat off the bench.
- Jazz–Robert Williams Ht 6-9/Wt 240/PF-C/Texas A&M/Age 20 Jazz big man Derrick Favors could leave as a free agent this offseason. But even if he stays, Robert Williams would enter into the Utah big-man rotation off the bench. He’s extremely athletic but relies on his athletic ability too much. He must develop a jump shot and/or post skills in order to establish some longevity in the NBA.
- Bulls–Jerome Robinson Ht 6-5/Wt 190/SG/Boston College/Age 21 Robinson has the ability to develop into the best scorer off the Bulls bench. He averaged 18 points as a sophomore and 20 points as a junior last season. This guy is a shooter spotting up, on the move or off the dribble.
- Pacers–Chandler Hutchison Ht 6-7/Wt 195/SF/Boise State/Age 22 Hutchison is a late bloomer who averaged 17 points and 7 rebounds as a junior and 20 points and 7 rebounds as a senior.
- Blazers–Grayson Allen Ht 6-5/Wt 210/SG/Duke/Age 22 Allen can fill it up from long range and create some more space for CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard to operate. Plus the Blazers can use all the help they can get from their reserves as Portland posted the 3rd worse scoring bench in the league. Now just sit back and wait for Grayson to trip somebody.
- Lakers–Jalen Brunson Ht 6-2/Wt 190/PG/Villanova/Age 21 Before the Lakers attempt to trade for Kawhi, sign PG13 and King James, they’ve got a draft pick to make. Magic Johnson must select the most NBA ready prospect. That’s son of former NBA PG Rick Brunson and 2-time NCAA champ Jalen Brunson. He’ll be a steady point man off the bench backing up Lonzo Ball (If he’s still there after a potential Kawhi Leonard trade).
- Sixers-Omari Spellman Ht 6-9/Wt 260/PF/Villanova/Age 20 The Sixers will need a big man off the bench if they decide not to resign mediocre free agent Amir Johnson. Spellman has a high motor and fits right in at that stretch 4 role.
- Celtics-Dzanan Musa Ht 6-9/Wt 195/SF/Bosnia/Age 19 Musa just turned 19 years old a few weeks ago and he will most likely be a redshirt guy for the 2018-19 season and continue to develop in a professional league in Croatia. He’s a scorer/shooter but he needs time to add some bulk to his thin frame before he’s asked to bang with the pros in the NBA.
- Warriors–Khyri Thomas Ht 6-3/Wt 210/SG/Creighton/Age 22 Thomas is a combo guard who made a name for himself on the defensive end. But he’s no liability on the offensive side with a 40% career 3 point shooting mark in his 3 year career at Creighton.
- Nets-Elie Okobo Ht 6-2/Wt 180/PG/France/Age 20 With Jeremy Lin rupturing his patellar tendon, Brooklyn can use a solid backup point guard to D’Angelo Russell. Okobo has an above average leaping ability and is not afraid to mix it up in the painted area. However, he is still learning the point guard position and must cut down his 2.7 turnovers per game average.
- Hawks–Anfernee Simons Ht 6-3/Wt 180/PG-SG/USA/Age 19 Simons committed to Louisville University before last season but decommitted due to the Rick Pitino Scandal. He decided to continue to play as a post-graduate in HS then entered the NBA draft. He remains a mysterious prospect because he declined an invitation at the NBA combine. But this athletic scoring combo guard is worth the gamble at the end of the first round.
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Jerome Robinson. (2017). Retrieved from http://bcheights.com/2018/04/28/jerome-robinson-hires-agent-will-remain-in-2018-nba-draft/
Jalen Brunson. [Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports]. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.fanragsports.com/nba/jalen-brunson-displays-nba-value-during-final-four-run/
Lonnie Walker IV. [Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.zimbio.com/photos/Donte+Ingram/Lonnie+Walker+IV/NCAA+Basketball+Tournament+First+Round+Dallas/Fo19SHDX3sy
Marvin Bagley. (2018). Retrieved from https://inthefrontrow.com/
Miles Bridges. (2017). Retrieved from http://thecomeback.com/ncaa/miles-bridges-michigan-state-national-title-contender.html