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.
Over the past week I’ve gotten some intel from outside of Sacramento that suggests that the Kings are seriously considering Marvin Bagley III with the second pick. A team that’s in a perpetual rebuild needs as close to a “sure thing” as possible to pair with DeAaron Fox and Willie Cauley-Stein. For them, I’ve been told, Luka Dončić and Bagley, at least right now, are the two likeliest choices. Time will tell.
From there, if the Kings do indeed take Bagley, there will be a domino effect, but I don’t see the Grizzlies passing on Doncic. So this week, I have the biggest wildcard in the draft falling to the Grizzlies at fourth.
I suspect that things will continue to change between now and the actual draft, but the way I see things playing out will result in the Magic getting Trae Young with the sixth pick and the Knicks being shut out on both he and Michael Porter, Jr. In New York, they’re looking for a wing player, with Kevin Knox and each of the Bridge “brothers” drawing their interest.
Based on what I know now, this is how I see the top 10 picks stacking up.
Surprisingly, Wendell Carter is the one I expect to slip, with the Clippers ending up with him and a backcourt player at the end of the lottery.
The two players whose stock has risen quite dramatically over the past few weeks are Donte DiVincenzo and Jevon Carter. I can see a scenario where Philadelphia nabs Colin Sexton at 10th and still opts for Carter at 26th, but if they do manage to get their hands on Sexton, it would make sense for Carter to be traded to a team looking for a point guard. Carter hasn’t gotten much press, but I’ve been told there are at least four teams that are looking at him as a second-round prospect, but that Philadelphia could reach for him.
Aside from that, I’ve been told that the Lakers will go best player available while the Warriors will look to add help on the wing. The Brooklyn Nets, I’m told, would love to move up while the Thunder (who won’t select until 53rd) are trying to get their hands on an earlier pick so they can get some shooting help.
I’d expect most things to remain the same for me for the next few weeks, but we’ll see what happens, especially with a number of lottery players will be hosting pro days.
Jesse’s Notebook: It’s unclear what the Sacramento Kings plan on doing with the No. 2 overall pick but there is now more noise that Luka Dončić could drop out of the top two on draft night. I still expect Dončić to go top three, but there seems to be genuine concern that Dončić doesn’t have the ceiling that many argue he has. The leverage Dončić has in terms of remaining in Europe for another season is another factor that could potentially play into this situation.
The more I watch film of Mohamed Bamba, the more I become convinced he could go higher on draft night than many project. The league continues to trend toward pace-and-space, small-ball lineups, which limits the value on true big men. But Bamba has the size and defensive potential to be a true anchor that teams can build their defense around. I won’t be surprised if Bamba is ultimately picked behind guys like DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, and Jaren Jackson Jr., but I think it’s a closer race than many realize.
As for the back end of the first round, it appears Aaron Holiday will be picked in the late teens. Additionally, I think wing players like Keita Bates-Diop and Jacob Evans have the potential to impress in workouts and jump a few spots higher than their current projections. This draft class doesn’t have a ton of star power at the wing position, but there is a lot of depth. I expect these players to shift up and down mock drafts as teams bring them in for workouts and filter out their impressions to people around the league who are plugged into the pre-draft process.
Benny’s Notebook: While there’s a massive amount of unpredictability outside of the lottery, it still feels like almost anything could happen up top. Of course, my top ten remains the same — but should Michael Porter Jr. or Wendell Carter Jr. jump a spot or two, the entire draft board may just crumble in chaos.
Right now, I find myself really fascinated by the Los Angeles Clippers’ back-to-back picks at No. 12 and 13 — their possibilities are truly endless. I’ve had them locked on Miles Bridges and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander since the start, but plenty of intriguing options exist if Robert Williams, Collin Sexton or Lonnie Walker are available in those slots as well. It goes without saying, but this is a big chance for the Clippers to jumpstart their next era of basketball.
Also, it’s finally time to mention Donte DiVincenzo, the NCAA Tournament’s most recent folk hero. I waited on discussing him because I truly thought he’d return to school — it’s just how that program works. DiVincenzo’s incredible performance in Chicago this month gave him the confidence to remain in the pool, and he’s set to cash in next month. Obviously, I’m not the first to suggest this, but DiVincenzo to Philadelphia (No. 26) makes a ton of sense. If not, one pick later to the Boston Celtics (No. 27) does as well.
Steve’s Notebook: As NBA teams start getting a sense of where things may land for them, there are a few things flowing out of the process worth noting – the way fans and the media see this draft class isn’t how teams see it. That’s typically true in most drafts, but more so in the 2018 Draft, where it seems the same three names were cemented at the top of Mock Drafts for months.
The prevailing thought in NBA circles is that DeAndre Ayton will go number one overall. While there are a lot of reasons for the Suns to consider other candidates, its seems at this point Ayton is their guy.
The Sacramento Kings at the number two spot seem to be looking past euro sensation Luka Dončić in favor of some of the domestic big men, with league sources pegging Marvin Bagley III at the likely front-runner. The Kings are also said to be fairly high on Missouri big man Michael Porter Jr, so there could be some drama that plays out in the march up to the June 21 NBA Draft.
The Hawks at number three are interesting because there has been a pretty constant narrative that the Hawks are very very high on Oklahoma guard Trae Young. That doesn’t seem practical at number three, meaning either the Hawks trade down, trade for an additional pick towards the top of the draft or simply pick a different player. Assuming the Hawks stay at three the name to watch could be Jaren Jackson Jr, there is a sense his camp isn’t going to work out for a team outside the top 6 or 7.
The Memphis Grizzlies and the Dallas Mavericks seem to be weighing the same group of “fall to them” players – Dončić, Texas big man Mo Bamba and Duke’s Wendell Carter Jr.’s.
The smart money says the Grizzlies pounce on Dončić if he is generally there at four, leaving the Mavericks to choose between Carter and Bamba, with league sources pegging Carter as more likely than Bamba.
Assuming the draft plays out as it looks today, that could leave some big options available in the next five with Bamba, Young and Porter Jr. all looking to be on the board at this point in the process.
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