The 2018 NBA Draft is in four months. NBA fans who ignore the regular season but closely watch the NCAA Tournament will want to keep an eye on many of these players over the next four weeks. Our last 2018 NBA Mock Draft was in mid-December, and a lot has changed. And as usual, we had one in June after the 2017 draft.
1. Memphis – DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona
Not as polished as Bagley offensively right now, but much better defensively. Ayton will ease in as a rookie with Marc Gasol at center. Gasol was a defensive Player of the Year (2013) and All-NBA 1st team (2015). With a healthy Mike Conley and Chandler Parsons, the Grizzlies should be able to rebuild on the fly.
2. Phoenix – Mo Bamba, C, Texas
The Suns need a point guard and someone who plays defense, and even though Luka Doncic is a better prospect, I’m not sure they can pass up Bamba. I was lukewarm on Bamba before the calendar turned to 2018, but he started to look for his offense more in late January. He only had three games attempting double-digit shots before Christmas; he did that in three straight games in February.
3. Dallas – Luka Doncic, G/F
The hype machine will be in overdrive for months ahead of the draft, and it wouldn’t shock me if Doncic went 1st overall. The Mavericks have an awful roster, among the worst in the league. They’ll be right back here next year barring something lucky in free agency, but Doncic will contend for ROY and be the best scorer on the team.
4. Cleveland (via Brooklyn) – Marvin Bagley, F, Duke
Interesting spot for the Cavs, who may consider Trae Young here to sell tickets and have a draw when LeBron leaves for the Lakers. The emergence of Larry Nance – plus Tristan Thompson’s onerous contract – make Bagley a tough sell here, but ultimately, the reason is this: If they’re trading this pick after the draft, plus Kevin Love, in exchange for A Disgruntled Superstar, I think you want that pick to be Bagley.
5. Orlando – Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma
The Magic have more needs than any team in the NBA. Mostly that’s because 1) there’s no telling what will happen with Aaron Gordon and 2) who is their 2nd best player? Michael Porter may wow scouts in workouts, but we’ve seen Young decimate a very good Big 12. I’ve seen some Tracy McGrady in Porter, but you’ve got to have a point guard to start a team, so I’ll lean Young here.
6. Atlanta – Michael Porter Jr., SF, Missouri
Was the most acclaimed freshman until Bagley reclassified; then the 6-foot-10 scoring machine got hurt in his 1st game and he hasn’t played since. If Porter wants back in the Top 3-4 discussion, he’s got to actually play. The Hawks hit on John Collins (10.2 ppg, 7.1 rpg, probably 2nd team All-Rookie) in the 1st round last year, and Porter has the potential to be a home run.