The 2018 NBA Draft is here, and as draft night has approached, more questions have continued to rise.
Who will the Kings take at No. 2? Will the Grizzlies move their No. 4 pick? Is Michael Porter Jr. healthy? Where will Jaren Jackson Jr. and Miles Bridges go?
To answer those questions, Impact Sports has assembled a team of six experts, acting as NBA GMs.
1. Phoenix Suns — Noah Goad (@NoahG423)
Pick: Deandre Ayton (Freshman, Arizona)
Position: Center | Height: 7’0” | Weight: 250 | Age: 19.9
Last Year’s Statistics: 20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds, 1.9 blocks
Why is Ayton the pick… Outside of the fact that he wouldn’t even have to move out of state, Ayton was a man among boys on the court, averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 61-percent from the floor. Not to mention Ayton’s freakish stature (7-feet tall, 7-foot-5 wingspan and 250 pounds), he possesses all the tools to be the NBA’s next 20-10 center.
Professional Comparison: Karl Anthony-Towns
2. Sacramento Kings — Ryan Cole (@ryan_cole9)
Pick: Luka Doncic (Real Madrid/Spain)
Position: Point Guard | Height: 6’7” | Weight: 220 | Age: 19.3
Last Year’s Statistics: 14.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists
Why is Doncic the pick… Doncic joins De’Aaron Fox to create the most enticing young backcourt tandem in the league. Sacramento has lacked an identity for some time, and this combination has the chance to pull some buzz away from the nearby Warriors. He will have his doubters, as every player from Europe carries. But Doncic has the game, the accolades and the youth — he’s still 19 — to live up to the hype and make a big difference for the Kings.
Professional Comparison: Manu Ginobili
3. Atlanta Hawks — Zachary Swiecicki (@zachswies)
Pick: Jaren Jackson Jr. (Freshman, Michigan State)
Position: Power Forward | Height: 6’11” | Weight: 236 | Age: 18.8
Last Year’s Statistics: 10.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.0 blocks
Why is Jackson Jr. the pick… With Atlanta in a full-rebuilding phase, the Hawks need as many building blocks as possible: Jackson Jr. joining John Collins and Taurean Prince in the frontcourt is a good start. This pick addresses a need at power forward, while also giving ATL one of the youngest and highest-upside players in this draft. The questions surrounding the freshman from MSU are centered around his playing time, or lack thereof (21.8 minutes per game), and ability to stay on the court (112 fouls in 35 games played). Combining his outside shooting (39.6-percent from behind-the-arc) and shot blocking ability — more than doubling the school record in single-season blocks (106) — Jackson Jr. projects as a possible All-Star.
Professional Comparison: Serge Ibaka / Anthony Davis
4. Memphis Grizzlies — Ryan Collins (@Collins5Brian)
Pick: Mohamed Bamba (Freshman, Texas)
Position: Center | Height: 7’0” | Weight: 225 | Age: 20.1
Last Year’s Statistics: 12.9 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.7 blocks
Why is Bamba the pick… Mohamed Bamba’s measurables are undeniable, his length and mobility will make him a force on the defensive end. Bamba shows offensive glimpses but will take time to develop an NBA-level offensive game. Bamba, alongside Jaren Jackson Jr., have the highest ceilings of any of the talented bigs at the top of the draft. Regardless if Bamba develops his game on the offensive end, his 7-foot-10 wingspan will always allow him to be a premier rim protector in the NBA. Memphis could also look to shop this pick if Luka Doncic is not available.
Professional Comparison: Joel Embiid
5. Dallas Mavericks — Tamar Davis (@TamarrDaviss)
Pick: Marvin Bagley III (Freshman, Duke)
Position: Center | Height: 6’11” | Weight: 235 | Age: 19.2
Last Year’s Statistics: 21.0 points, 11.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists
Why is Bagley III the pick…Marvin Bagley III has been a player that makes grabbing 11 rebounds while scoring 20 points look easy. Bagley is one of the most fundamentally sound players in this draft. With the NBA evolving into a league that requires a player standing over 6-foot-10 to not only be able to shoot, but also be mobile and stretch the defense out, Bagley will come into the league and make an immediate impact. Being coached by Rick Carlisle and playing alongside with an explosive point guard like Dennis Smith Jr., a simple pick-and-roll play with Bagley and Smith Jr. can be a young and dynamic one-two punch.
Professional Comparison: Chris Bosh
6. Orlando Magic — Joey Ellis (@JEllis1016)
Pick: Trae Young (Freshman, Oklahoma)
Position: Point Guard | Height: 6’2” | Weight: 180 | Age: 19.8
Last Year’s Statistics: 27.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 8.7 assists
Why is Young the pick… Trae Young was one of the more up-and-down players in all of college basketball last year. The freshman point guard led the nation in points and assists last season and drew strong comparisons to Stephen Curry, thanks to his playmaking ability and perimeter shooting. While there is a risk for Young that he may not be able to overcome his defensive struggles when he’s not producing offensively, his floor is still significantly higher than many would think. Young is a great player to build a roster around thanks to his sheer point guard skills.
Professional Comparison: Stephen Curry
7. Chicago Bulls — Joey Ellis (@JEllis1016)
Pick: Wendell Carter Jr. (Freshman, Duke)
Position: Center | Height: 6’10” | Weight: 259 | Age: 19.2
Last Year’s Statistics: 13.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.1 blocks
Why is Carter Jr. the pick… Chicago definitely wouldn’t mind Trae Young or Michael Porter Jr. here, but they can get great value at 7 getting a player as talented as Carter Jr. When it’s all said and done, Carter’s high-basketball IQ and ability to play both ends of the floor could distinguish himself as the top player in this class. He’d find an immediate role in Chicago’s offense and could form quite the frontcourt duo alongside the young and talented Finnish forward Lauri Markkanen. At the minimum, Carter Jr. is a 15-year pro.
Professional Comparison: Al Horford
8. Cleveland Cavaliers — Tamar Davis (@TamarrDaviss)
Pick: Collin Sexton (Freshman, Alabama)
Position: Point Guard | Height: 6’2” | Weight: 190 | Age: 19.5
Last Year’s Statistics: 19.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists
Why is Sexton the pick… Cleveland doesn’t know if Lebron James is returning to “The Land”, so why not pick a point guard with a high motor, unlimited emotion, and fearless attitude on the court that you could build around and possibly make your next franchise All-Star. Sexton goes by the name “The young bull” for a reason, averaging 19.2 points per game is in college is what a few fans would call “a walking bucket” simply explaining how easy it is for Sexton to score at any time of the game.
Professional Comparison: Kemba Walker / Russell Westbrook
9. New York Knicks — Ryan Collins (@Collins5Brian)
Pick: Mikal Bridges (Junior, Villanova)
Position: Small Forward | Height: 6’7” | Weight: 209 | Age: 21.8
Last Year’s Statistics: 17.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists
Why is Bridges the pick…Mikal Bridges is the whole package and I think will be the Rookie of the Year next year. He shoots the three at a high rate shooting 43 percent his final year at Villanova. While being knockdown from three-point range his length and athleticism made him one of the elite wing defenders in college basketball. If Mikal Bridges ends up in Philadelphia, I’d watch out if I’m the rest of the NBA because he’d fit into that system so well, not having to create his own shot which I’d say is his biggest weakness.
Professional Comparison: Kawhi Leonard
10. Philadelphia 76ers — Zachary Swiecicki (@zachswies)
Pick: Michael Porter Jr. (Freshman, Missouri)
Position: Power Forward | Height: 6’10” | Weight: 210 | Age: 20.0
Last Year’s Statistics: 10.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.0 steals
Why is Porter Jr. the pick… The odds are slim Porter Jr. would slip past the top five, let alone the top eight, but Philadelphia would gladly take the 2017 No. 1 high school recruit. Though, it would be fitting for Porter Jr., still not fully healthy after mid-season back surgery — another low floor-high ceiling player with injury concerns — to go to Philly. Regardless if MPJ is there at 10, the 76ers need shooting, and the Mizzou forward provides that. He would not have to start immediately, but could develop into a key piece of “the process”. Porter Jr. would join Dario Saric and Joel Embiid in an intimidating frontcourt.
Professional Comparison: Chandler Parsons / Paul George
11. Charlotte Hornets — Ryan Cole (@ryan_cole9)
Pick: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Freshman, Kentucky)
Position: Point Guard | Height: 6’6” | Weight: 180 | Age: 19.9
Last Year’s Statistics: 14.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists
Why is Gilgeous-Alexander the pick… Charlotte is in a strange place these days. The Hornets have of the more underrated stars in the league at point guard in Kemba Walker, but rumblings have gone throughout the last year or so surrounding the potential of trading him. With or without Walker, the team could use a body at point guard. He offers a different physique for defenses to cover compared to the much shorter Walker. Gilgeous-Alexander won’t be expected to offer All-Star numbers off the bat, but he can learn under Walker or be thrown to the fire if Walker is traded.
Professional Comparison: Jamal Murray
12. Los Angeles Clippers — Noah Goad (@NoahG423)
Pick: Kevin Knox (Freshman, Kentucky)
Position: Small Forward | Height: 6’9” | Weight: 213 | Age: 18.9
Last Year’s Statistics: 15.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists
Why is Knox the pick… The Clippers could use an upgrade at the small forward position over an injury prone Danilo Gallinari. Knox’s 7-foot wingspan should allow him to bring down plenty of rebounds over smaller players at his position. His height and length could create matchup problems in the future for opposing defenders.
Professional Comparison: Tobias Harris
13. Los Angeles Clippers — Noah Goad (@NoahG423)
Pick: Jerome Robinson (Junior, Boston College)
Position: Point Guard | Height: 6’5” | Weight: 190 | Age: 21.3
Last Year’s Statistics: 20.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists
Why is Robinson the pick… Robinson, a three-year starter for Boston College, averaged 17.7 points per game in his college career playing in the ACC Conference, home to some of the NCAA’s most formidable foes. Robinson is one of the draft’s top shooters (40-percent from beyond-the-arc) and has excellent ball-handling skills. Overall, he is one of the top guards in the entire draft with a great fell for the game. He is going to fit in wherever he goes.
Professional Comparison: C.J. McCollum
14. Denver Nuggets — Ryan Cole (@ryan_cole9)
Pick: Miles Bridges (Sophomore, Michigan State)
Position: Small Forward | Height: 6’7” | Weight: 225 | Age: 20.3
Last Year’s Statistics: 17.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists
Why is Bridges the pick… Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but this is about as good a landing spot as Bridges can get, even if it’s a little bit of a fall to 14. Bridges looks primed to have a similar beginning to his career as Gary Harris. So why not go with the team that rewarded Harris with a big-time extension? Bridges gets to play alongside a fellow Spartan on a team with established talent, but not a screaming need for him to step in and put up All-Star numbers. Bridges will have to work on his defense and shot-creating ability, but his work ethic and athleticism should set him up for a solid NBA career.
Professional Comparison: Andre Iguodala
15. Washington Wizards — Zachary Swiecicki (@zachswies)
Pick: Robert Williams (Sophomore, Texas A&M)
Position: Center | Height: 6’10” | Weight: 237 | Age: 20.7
Last Year’s Statistics: 10.4 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.6 blocks
Why is Williams the pick… Robert Williams would be an above average insurance plan for if/when Marcin Gortat leaves and/or retires. Markieff Morris is also not guaranteed to stick around in Washington much longer. Projected as a center in the NBA, Williams’ athleticism and 7-foot-5 wingspan explain his natural ability to finish at the rim and guard multiple positions. With a limited offensive game outside of the paint and a 47.1-percent free throw percentage last season, Williams represents one of the dying breeds in the NBA: the traditional big.
Professional Comparison: Clint Capela
16. Phoenix Suns — Noah Goad (@NoahG423)
Pick: Zhaire Smith (Freshman, Texas Tech)
Position: Shooting Guard | Height: 6’4” | Weight: 199 | Age: 19.0
Last Year’s Statistics: 11.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists
Why is Smith the pick… Smith is just the type of player the Suns need. He has grit. He has tenacity. He would help add a backbone to a rather spineless Suns team. His athleticism paired with his ball handling skills and passing ability make him capable of running the point. His size and leaping ability make him capable of shutting down opposing guards on offense. With a little work on his shot, Smith could be a great two-way guard for years to come.
Professional Comparison: Avery Bradley
17. Milwaukee Bucks — Ryan Collins (@Collins5Brian)
Pick: Lonnie Walker IV (Freshman, Miami)
Position: Shooting Guard | Height: 6’4” | Weight: 196 | Age: 19.5
Last Year’s Statistics: 11.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists
Why is Walker IV the pick… Bucks need better guard play to relieve Giannis Antetokounmpo of the stress he has to face in this years playoffs. Walker IV was an effective combo guard with freakish ability around the rim for the Hurricanes this past season. Lonnie Walker IV‘s knock has been his consistency shooting the ball has he only shot 34 percent from three in his one season at Miami. Walker IV will not fall this low on draft night, I’d expect him to go to a lottery team. Walker IV landing in Milwaukee would be great, I trust Mike Budenholzer to develop young players as he did a terrific job of that during his time with the Atlanta Hawks.
Professional Comparison: Lance Stephenson
18. San Antonio Spurs — Tamar Davis (@TamarrDaviss)
Pick: Donte DiVincenzo (Sophomore, Villanova)
Position: Shooting Guard | Height: 6’5” | Weight: 201 | Age: 21.4
Last Year’s Statistics: 13.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists
Why is DiVincenzo the pick…Donte DiVincenzo would come from a championship system at Villanova ran by Jay Wright and would fit right in with another championship system ran by Coach Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs. DiVincenzo is the swiss army knife Popovich will enjoy using while providing crucial minutes for the team during clutch minutes. Rebounding, assisting, or scoring the ball, nothing beats how much of a team player he is and how well he can adapt to his role on the team he plays for.
Professional Comparison: Delonte West
19. Atlanta Hawks — Zachary Swiecicki (@zachswies)
Pick: De’Anthony Melton (Sophomore, USC)
Position: Point Guard | Height: 6’3” | Weight: 190 | Age: 20.1
Last Year’s Statistics (2016/2017): 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists
Why is Melton the pick… One of the characteristics that sets Melton apart from other possible guards in this range is his ability to play defense. He contributes in all facets of the game but does not shoot the ball extremely well (28.4-percent from deep). Melton had to sit out his entire sophomore season at USC while the FBI investigated his eligibility. He wound up withdrawing in February to prepare for the draft, giving teams hope that he improved his shot and strength.
Professional Comparison: Marcus Smart
20. Minnesota Timberwolves — Joey Ellis (@JEllis1016)
Pick: Troy Brown Jr. (Freshman, Oregon)
Position: Shooting Guard | Height: 6’7” | Weight: 215 | Age: 18.8
Last Year’s Statistics: 11.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists
Why is Brown Jr. the pick… If Minnesota has a chance to get rid of some salary, they could look to move off this pick. If not, Troy Brown Jr. provides versatility as a winger to take some pressure off Andrew Wiggins and Jimmy Butler defensively. He does have a tendency to disappear offensively, but this team wouldn’t ask him to be much of a scorer in the early stages. Shooting just 29-percent last year from the 3-point line, an improvement there could make him a valuable pick.
Professional Comparison: Caris Levert
21. Utah Jazz — Joey Ellis (@JEllis1016)
Pick: Kevin Huerter (Freshman, Maryland)
Position: Shooting Guard | Height: 6’7” | Weight: 190 | Age: 19.5
Last Year’s Statistics: 14.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists
Why is Huerter the pick… There’s a lot to love about this smooth-shooting forward. Huerter had one of the more impressive NBA Draft Combines to boost his stock tremendously. He’s a great mover without the ball and his deadly 3-point shooting would be a great luxury to have for Donovan Mitchell.
Professional Comparison: Bogdan Bogdanović / Klay Thompson
22. Chicago Bulls — Joey Ellis (@JEllis1016)
Pick: Chandler Hutchison (Senior, Boise State)
Position: Small Forward | Height: 6’7” | Weight: 196 | Age: 22.2
Last Year’s Statistics: 20.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists
Why is Hutchison the pick… Hutchinson had easily his best season of his collegiate career last year. His frame and skill set give him the ability to be a prototypical quality NBA wing. Hutchinson is great in the open court and can play both on and off the ball. He’d have the opportunity to slide into the rotation right away and be a big boost to a Bulls squad that desperately needs some playmakers.
Professional Comparison: Nicolas Batum
23. Indiana Pacers — Tamar Davis (@TamarrDaviss)
Pick: Aaron Holiday (Junior, UCLA)
Position: Point Guard | Height: 6’1” | Weight: 187 | Age: 21.7
Last Year’s Statistics: 20.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists
Why is Holiday the pick… Holiday is what the NBA is starting to see a lot of, which is combo guards who not only can put the ball inside the rim at an efficient rate but also be a floor general and facilitate the ball. Indiana made a nice run in the playoffs last postseason with a great performance from starting shooting guard Victor Oladipo. If only the Pacers had a backup point guard that could knock down three-pointers consistently, their series against the Cleveland Cavaliers could’ve had a different outcome. Depth is something this franchise can improve and Holiday would benefit this team in a couple of ways.
Professional Comparison: Mike Conley
24. Portland Trailblazers — Ryan Collins (@Collins5Brian)
Pick: Mitchell Robinson (Chalmette High School)
Position: Center | Height: 6’11” | Weight: 225 | Age: 20.2
Last Year’s Statistics: N/A
Why is Robinson the pick… I like the idea of taking chance on a high ceiling guy at this point in the draft, why not roll the dice? Robinson sat out all last year after leaving Western Kentucky. That’s a red flag but with the cap-space Portland currently has rolling dice isn’t the worst option. Robinson will most likely spend his first season or two in the G League, giving him the time to knock of the rust. Robinson in High School was a terrific rim-runner with decent touch from the outside, it’ll be interesting to see if he could translate those skills to the NBA.
Professional Comparison: Hassan Whiteside
25. Los Angeles Lakers — Zachary Swiecicki (@zachswies)
Pick: Elie Okobo (Pau-Orthez/France)
Position: Point Guard | Height: 6’2” | Weight: 180 | Age: 20.7
Last Year’s Statistics: 13.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists
Why is Okobo the pick… Elie Okobo finds himself in that point guard tier below Young, Sexton, and Gilgeous-Alexander, but that doesn’t mean we won’t look back in five years and say Okobo was one of the best players in this year’s draft. His floor is a scoring guard off the bench (41.3-percent from three). His ceiling is developing into a smaller James Harden. If he was taller, he would fit perfectly alongside Lonzo Ball in LA’s backcourt, but Okobo also acts as a Lonzo backup plan if his injuries persist or he wants to focus on producing “Ball In The Family”.
Professional Comparison: Kyle Lowry
26. Philadelphia 76ers — Zachary Swiecicki (@zachswies)
Pick: Keita Bates-Diop (Senior, Ohio State)
Position: Small Forward | Height: 6’9” | Weight: 224 | Age: 22.4
Last Year’s Statistics: 19.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists
Why is Bates-Diop the pick… This is another pick that could be moved on draft night. If Philadelphia picks at 26, Bates-Diop adds shooting (35.2-percent from three in his OSU career) and depth, as soon as he walks in the door, to a team in win-now mode. As Golden State has proven, you can never enough of those two qualities on a team. Keita Bates-Diop can play multiple positions and offers all of the qualities — scores at all levels, rebounds, and defends 1-5 — of an NBA role player.
Professional Comparison: Anthony Tolliver / Trevor Ariza
27. Boston Celtics — Ryan Cole (@ryan_cole9)
Pick: Jalen Brunson (Junior, Villanova)
Position: Point Guard | Height: 6’2” | Weight: 190 | Age: 21.8
Last Year’s Statistics: 18.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists
Why is Brunson the pick… This seems like a classic Celtics pick, doesn’t it? Brunson isn’t the flashiest prospect in the draft, but just about every college or pro basketball expert uses one word to describe him: winner. Brunson led the way for Villanova’s incredible three-year run that ended in two national championships. That winning attitude fits perfectly into the Celtics’ culture, and his savvy playmaking ability fits perfectly into Brad Stevens’ system. He won’t be a perennial All-Star in the pros, but Brunson can be counted on to help bring a championship contender to the next level, both on and off the court.
Professional Comparison: Tony Parker
28. Golden State Warriors — Noah Goad (@NoahG423)
Pick: Moritz Wagner (Junior, Michigan)
Position: Center | Height: 6’11” | Weight: 240 | Age: 21.2
Last Year’s Statistics: 14.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.0 steals
Why is Wagner the pick… Mo Wagner is a winner. He helped lead the Wolverines to back-to-back Big Ten Tournament championships along with taking them to a National Title game. He is a crafty scorer and was a key piece on one of the more high-tempo offenses in the college game under John Beilein. Wagner would fit right into Steve Kerr’s game plan.
Professional Comparison: Kelly Olynyk
29. Brooklyn Nets — Noah Goad (@NoahG423)
Pick: Isaac Bonga (Frankfurt Skyliners/Germany)
Position: Small Forward | Height: 6’9” | Weight: 200 | Age: 18.6
Last Year’s Statistics: 6.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists
Why is Bonga the pick… Although he doesn’t have a dominant tool, Bonga is a solid player that is going to fill up the stat sheet. Bonga has great court vision and shares the ball well. He has the ability to make difficult passes thanks to his length (7-foot wingspan) and his high basketball IQ. He has the ability to play one through four and has the making to be a poor man’s Ben Simmons.
Professional Comparison: Robert Covington
30. Atlanta Hawks — Zachary Swiecicki (@zachswies)
Pick: Dzanan Musa (Cedevita/Bosnia & Herzegovina)
Position: Small Forward | Height: 6’9” | Weight: 195 | Age: 19.1
Last Year’s Statistics: 12.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists
Why is Musa the pick… It’s easy to find yourself in the shadows of Luka Doncic, which is exactly where Dzanan Musa is heading into the draft, but the lengthy forward is safely in the top five foreign players in my rankings. Offensively is where Musa shines, with the ability to score at multiple levels, he offers the Hawks wing production off the bench. Developed properly, Musa could be an above average NBA sixth man.
Professional Comparison: Marco Belinelli
The NBA Draft will be televised at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.
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