NBA Mock Draft: Lottery Pick Edition

1. Phoenix Suns:

DeAndre Ayton C #2 Overall Player- Talks of trading the pick have surfaced the past few days for Kawhi Leonard but its too much of a risk for this franchise.  Phoenix has been a perennial lottery team the past few seasons and being able to resign Kawhi is by no means a for sure thing.  Using the first pick on Ayton offers the Suns a much-needed stretch 5, who can also rim run with the best of them.

Ayton perfectly fits the mold of the young big men of the NBA, think KAT, Jokic, Embiid or KP.  Drafting Ayton pairs Booker with a cornerstone big man who can help him finally make the postseason sooner rather than later.  Couple that with the friendship Josh Jackson and Ayton have shared since high school and the Suns will finally work their way out of the lottery yearly.

2. Sacramento Kings:

Marvin Bagley PF/C- Pairing the speedy De’Aaron Fox with the long and agile Bagley seems to be the most Sacramento move here.  A combination of inside and outside game between the two, this move would give the Kings two cornerstones in their rebuild.  Reports are they are toying with the idea of Porter Jr. and Luka but drafting Luka, another playmaker, doesn’t bode as well for the progression of Fox as an orchestrator of offense.

While Bagley doesn’t come with the same injury history as Porter does, Bagley is a safer pick for a franchise who needs to stay safe.  Jaren Jackson Jr, is an intriguing possibility here that offers higher possible potential than Bagley, however reaching for Bagley seems like more of a Kings move.

3. Atlanta Hawks:

Trae Young PG- I know, I know, the team who has a solid PG in Dennis Schroeder is going with PG?  Yes, they will.  It has been no secret their infatuation with Young and their want to trade down to nab him, but the only team that gives them that trade would be the Magic.  It has been reported throughout the year how Dennis is upset with the rebuild he has found himself in, the only reason he is still on the Hawks is his contract as he is owed $46.5 million through 2021.  Trae Young gives them another young cornerstone for their franchise but more importantly fits the mold that GM Travis Schlenk is accustomed to.  Schlenk came to Atlanta from Golden State, a team that constructed its current roster under a Trae Young type building block in Steph Curry.  It’s not a far stretch to think he will attempt to repeat the same blueprint.

Trae Young offers playmaking ability from the minute he steps on the court, being the only player in NCAA history to lead in Points and Assists.  The only issue that may force him to fall in the draft is his frame.  His body draws similar comparisons to Steph Curry when he came out of Davidson so hopefully he doesn’t slide to 7,8 or 9 because of it.

4. Dallas Mavericks (*trade with Memphis):

Luka Doncic SG/SF- My favorite overall player in this draft, Luka Doncic is the perfect fit for the playmaking stricken team in Dallas.  Their guard play could use an upgrade, to say the least as Dennis Smith Jr. proved to still have many strides to take orchestrating an offense and Wesley Matthews who is not getting any younger, has never proven to be a great playmaker for others.  Luka offers Dallas an already polished game for his age, fantastic feel for the PnR that will translate immediately, and great vision on the court.  Pairing the lane slashing Dennis Smith Jr. with the playmaking Luka gives the Mavs a solid backcourt to build around.

*Memphis Trades: Chandler Parsons and the 4th pick Dallas Trades: 2019 First Round, 2021 First Round.  The Grizzlies find someone to take on Parsons’ contract.  making room for the return of Tyreke Evans and obtain a 2019 First round pick (they don’t have a 2019 first rounder).  For Dallas, the trade nets them two key building blocks for their future, while taking away the worry of resigning their 2019 pick.  This will aid in relieving the financial stress they will succumb to after resigning their young core in 2022 (Dennis Smith, Mo Bamba, and Luka Donic).

If Memphis keeps their pick, I don’t see a way Jaren Jackson Jr. doesn’t don a Grizzlies jersey.

5. Dallas Mavericks:

Mo Bamba C- Bamba is one of the more intriguing prospects in this year draft as his combine numbers proved him to be a freak athletic talent for his height. The Mavs have been in the market for an anchor at the Center position ever since the Deandre Jordan fiasco of 2015 and Bamba gives them defense, rebounding and a big who loves running the floor from the start.  I can easily see Bamba becoming an All-Defensive player in his future and if you’re the Mavs, how can you pass on pairing him with Dennis Smith Jr. It is still questionable how his shot will translate but not out of the question that he will be an all-around stretch 5 in the future.  Drafting Bamba saves them the cap space of signing Demarcus Cousins, giving them more room to work and better their roster this offseason.

6. Orlando Magic:

Michael Porter Jr. SF/PF-  Porter’s injury history makes him the wild card of the 2018 draft.  A very talented player, who can create shots for himself inside and out, who was restricted to only 3 games in college due to a back injury/surgery.  It was apparent in his three games he still was not in complete game-ready shape but did show flashes of the player many believe he can be.  The upside and ceiling are very high as he is one of the most talented players in this draft but injury history and his unwillingness to share his medical results may lower his draft stock.  Other than the Sacramento Kings, I don’t see any team taking the chance on Porter before the Magic.

7. Chicago Bulls:

Wendell Carter Jr.PF/ C- The Bulls are one of the bigger question marks in the 2018 Draft.  Stocked with young Power Forwards in Lauri Markkanen and Bobby Portis, the talent of Jaren Jackson may not be able to shine stuck behind two other players. Wendell Carter makes the most sense here as he can fit into the Center Position from day one with his NBA ready body. Wendell Carter is a safe pick a polished big man, with great IQ and intangibles, this pick would give the Bulls a big man to take over from Robin Lopez as the season progresses.  Pairing Lauri and Carter together gives the Bulls a serviceable frontcourt for the foreseeable future.

8. Cleveland Cavaliers:

Collin Sexton PG- Sexton is an aggressive scoring guard, similar to Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox, that fills a position the Cavs desperately need.  Couple that with Dan Gilbert and LeBron’s love for Sexton, drafting Collin might be the Cavs last-ditch attempt to entice Bron to remain in Cleveland, while serving as a decent backup plan as well.  If LeBron is to leave, drafting Sexton gives the Cavs a ballhandling playmaker to help but not completely replace LeBron’s unrivaled point guard abilities.  Sexton gives a franchise destined for the lottery the next two-three years, a building block to move forward with.

9. New York Knicks:

Jaren Jackson Jr. PF- A bit of a stretch that he will be here so late but not by much.  The Cavs need help at guard play, MPJ to Magic just seems so Magic, Hawks have John Collins, and Mavs are set with their picks. The two teams I could see taking JJJ before would be the Kings or the Bulls but I like Wendell Carter in Chicago better. If the Kings do not take Porter Jr. and the Grizzlies do trade away their pick, its very reasonable Jackson Jr. is here at 9.

The 6’11 big man is a talent the Knicks cannot pass on, Jaren brings length and defense immediately to the league.  His defensive IQ led him to the Big Ten Defensive player of the year and is complemented by his ability to stretch the floor, making him a prototypical big man in today’s league.  The Knicks taking him offers them an insurance plan if Porzingis proves unable to stay healthy or a great asset to pair with KP in the frontcourt if all goes right.

Their infatuation with Kevin Knox shouldn’t be forgotten. If Jaren Jackson is gone at 9, no way they pass on Kevin Knox.

10. Philadelphia 76ers:

Mikal Bridges SG/SF- Mikal is a prototypical Nova player, great on both ends of the court and very cerebral.  Mikal brings a great three and D player who does everything other than creating for himself, so pairing him with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid to play off of makes sense.  A product of Villanova, drafting a local kid should work well for the 76ers.  Mikal would provide depth for a team looking to make a deep playoff run this upcoming season.

11. Charlotte Hornets:

Miles Bridges SF/PF- An uber-athletic tweener who can play either forward position in small ball lineups, Bridges brings help to a position the Hornets desperately need.  Only having one true SF on the roster (Kidd-Gilchrist) the Hornets were forced to play Nicolas Batum at the 3 in many of their sets this season.  Batum is getting older and had an injury-plagued season in 2017-2018, taking Miles gives the Hornets a player to take over for MKG after the 2019-2020 season.

The Hornets are once again strapped for cash this offseason so the draft must be their way to improve, Miles will help them be more competitive right away.  Wouldn’t be surprised if the Hornets even went a different route and took Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to replace Kemba Walker (trade talk and he is a 2019 Free Agent) but Bridges may the better long term fit for the Hornets.

12. LA Clippers:

Robert Williams PF/C- Williams is the bridge to gap Deandre leaving, as both of these Texas A&M big men share many traits (dunks, defense, and poor Free throw shooting).  Williams offers the Clippers an explosively athletic player, who jumps out of the gym and can hold down the paint on the defensive end.  Concerns about his work ethic and drive may be enough to steer the Clippers in a different direction but replacing Deandre with Williams should be the move.

13. LA Clippers:

Lonnie Walker PG- Walker is one of the better guards in this draft and if still here the Clips should jump all over him.  Lonnie is a versatile player who brings slashing ability with a great defensive work ethic.  Lonnie gives the Clipps a player to replace 31 years old, Six-man of the Year, Lou Williams with or even Milos Teodosic.  Lou has a very enticing contract for future instances when a playoff team is looking for a bench scorer to put them in championship contention and could easily net a later first round pick.

14. Denver Nuggets:

Kevin Knox SF/PF-  With a weaker Pro Day, sources say Knox has made up for that with his team workouts with teams such as the Knicks reportedly interested.  Knox is a fascinating prospect with his ability to create offense but the 18-year-old needs a team like the Nuggets.  A team with the ability to remain patient with him, as he grows further into his body and game.

The past few years the Nuggets have proven to be one of the more superior teams at getting the most out of young players (Jokic, Harris, Murray), so maybe Knox finds a perfect home in Denver.  Wilson Chandler has a player option this season at an already thinly stretched small forward position, so the need for Knox should be more prevalent compared to other players in this draft for the Nuggets.