2018 NBA Consensus Mock Draft – Ver 2.0
Each week, four of Basketball Insiders’ top writers will break down the latest news and notes surrounding the 2018 NBA Draft. Included is an updated mock draft that reflects how each writer sees the draft landscape based on the latest news, workouts, and information from the pre-draft process.
Benny’s Notebook: Even with the NBA Draft Lottery and Combine now officially on the horizon, there’s not much movement in my updated mock draft. Still, there remain plenty of unused talking points from last week, so let’s jump right in. Surprisingly, I was the only one to select Luka Dončić with the first overall pick and, believe me; I’m ready to die on this hill. Dončić has looked wise beyond his years in a strong overseas league all season, and he’ll be able to contribute from day one.
Additionally, the case for Dončić at No. 1 got a little stronger last week when the Phoenix Suns hired Igor Kokoškov as their new head coach.
Of course, Kokoškov coached Dončić and the Slovenian national team to an upset gold medal in EuroBasket 2017, so this dynamic is certainly worth watching as we move forward. Dončić will arrive after four professional seasons with Real Madrid, and he’s just 19 years-old until February — sign me up.
Once the sure-fire studs in Dončić and DeAndre Ayton are off the board, there’s the matter of Jaren Jackson Jr. and Marvin Bagley III. Make no mistake; the pair should have no trouble transitioning to the NBA — but, for now, it’s hard not to get overly excited about Jackson Jr. The former Michigan State man blocked a ridiculous three shots per game, good for seventh-best in the entirety of Division-I. On top of that, the 6-foot-11 prospect can both shoot and defend at the three-point line; something front offices will salivate over ahead of the draft.
Bagley will have no issues fitting in himself, but Jackson Jr., to me, could be really, really special.
Last but not least, Mikal Bridges. Version one saw our experts project the two-time national champion to fall somewhere between Nos. 7 and 10 — but Philadelphia will do backflips if he’s available at their pick. With Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons soaking up the majority of touches, Bridges can bring hard-nosed defense and consistent three-point shooting — a role Robert Covington has found success in — without the heavy usage. Born and raised in Pennsylvania before three accomplished seasons at Villanova, Bridges would be a perfect fit for the 76ers’ budding core.
Moke’s Notebook: I pretty much find myself in the same situation as last week. As is the case every year, I expect that my mock will look much different once the lottery has passed and we actually know who will select where.
At this point, though, I’ve already begun hearing that the Sixers have their eyes on Trae Young while the Knicks are enamored with Mikal Bridges. Again, though, this early in the process, any information that comes out should be taken with a grain of salt. The other prospect I’d keep an early eye on is Rodions Kurucs.
Kurucs was highly-regarded by a few scouts during last year’s pre-draft process, but he withdrew and opted to head back to FC Barcelona for another season. After a mostly up and down season, it’s difficult to know exactly where his stock lies at the moment, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him end up a late lottery pick. There were quite a few that were high on him last year, and an inconsistent year in Spain might not turn everyone completely off.
I’ve still got DeAndre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III as my top two, though whether they stick there will be determined by who wins the lottery. It’ll take place on May 15, and since we’ll be on the ground in Chicago, one week from now, we should have some more reliable intel.
Jesse’s Notebook: The NBA Lottery is just a few days away, and I am excited to get a set draft order out as it will give us a better sense of how the draft might ultimately play out. Going through the top 30 picks again is a reminder that this draft class is packed with talent and that there are several intriguing prospects at the point guard position. I expect many analysts to have a wide range of opinions on Trae Young, Collin Sexton and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the order in which they should be selected. The NBA is already loaded with average to superstar level point guards, but these three lead guards all have the potential to be selected with a top-10 pick.
I anticipate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander rising up teams’ draft boards as they get a closer look at him and envision how versatile he could be in a few years when he adds some more muscle to his frame. Gilgeous-Alexander has a developed skill set and the size to be a plus-defender against NBA point guards, shooting guards and maybe even small forwards. Getting a two-way lead guard with that sort of defensive potential will be hard to pass up for any team that doesn’t already have a standout guard who can play effectively on both ends of the court.
Steve’s Notebook: Looking at the unprecedented volume of underclassmen that have declared for the draft, and how few of them made the 69 player NBA Draft Combine list it is easy to think that there will be a mass exodus before the May 31 NCAA withdrawal date. Or, that some players may be making a tragic mistake.
There is, however, a third option. Just because a player declares for the draft doesn’t mean there is an expectation of being drafted. In many cases, some of the players who were head scratchers aren’t living in a bubble. Most are simply ready to earn money as a professional and with the NBA’s G-League no offering 60 decent paying roster spots by way of the new two-way contracts, some players are simply going through the process with their eyes on a slightly less sexy prize.
The truth of the draft process is that not every player wants to be a college athlete, equally not every player gets the kind of coaching and development resources that can be available to them as professionals.
So, before you judge some of these guys too harshly, understand there isn’t necessarily delusions of grandeur at play. There is simply a reality that moving on to the next level likely gives them a chance to earn money playing and developing and sometimes that is far more appealing then returning to college, even if you don’t get drafted.
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