2018 Top 10 Draft Summary and Explanation
1. DeAndre Ayton, Suns
Arizona center DeAndre Ayton was a lock for the first pick and the Phoenix Suns see in him a dominant big man who can give you 20+ points and 10 rebounds a night who is a pretty safe pick. His perfect body structure for a center cannot be understated, as he has a similar frame to either Demarcus Cousins or a prime Dwight Howard.
Although recently hired Head Coach Igor Kokoskov coached Luka Doncic, the other top pick candidate, the Suns opted for Ayton because Doncic sometimes plays shooting guard which is the same position as Suns star Devin Booker.
While I think he will be a great and even All-Star level player, I think the only potential problem with this pick is that Ayton is more of a traditional big in that he cannot really shoot from outside, so even if he fulfills most of his potential, a top 2 center in the NBA might not even be a top 10 player in the league, which brings into question if that is how you would spend your first pick. Still, I like Ayton and the Suns got themselves a beast to pair with Booker.
2. Marvin Bagley, Kings
While most have said that Luka Doncic is the 2nd best prospect in the draft, the Kings continually did not like what they saw from him in workouts and chose the American Marvin Bagley out of Duke to be their next big man of the future. Since Skal Labissiere does not show All-Star potential, the Kings did not really have an issue of fit when selecting the power forward/center.
Bagley definitely has one of the highest ceilings in the draft because of his athleticism and ability to score in college using only a raw, less polished skill set. The lefty big man is a 4 or a 5 in position and this and his physical mobility will provide Sacramento with both positional and spacing versatility.
With this pick, the Kings believe they are taking the best player available, not to mention that they already have DeAaron Fox, so they wouldn’t need a passing guard like Doncic.
3. Luka Doncic, Mavericks (via Hawks)
The Dallas Mavericks traded for the rights to the Hawks’ 3rd pick in Luka Doncic in exchange for their 5th pick and a future first round pick. As to who won this trade it will take years to determine, but let’s focus on Luka for now. Luka Doncic is the most accomplished European prospect ever to enter the NBA draft.
This statement is not an exaggeration. Doncic has played professional basketball in Europe against grown men, not college kids, since he was 16 years old and just won Euroleague MVP and a championship. While the 6’8” kid out of Slovenia is not very athletic, he is a phenomenal playmaker, possesses a tight handle, can shoot off the dribble, and can play point guard, shooting the guard, or small forward. Because the Mavs have PG Dennis Smith Jr and SF Harrison Barnes on the roster, Doncic will likely start at the 2 for now.
I think this kid has superstar potential and also is a very safe pick to contribute if he does not live up to the hype, but let’s just say the Mavericks are very much set.
4. Jaren Jackson Jr, Grizzlies
Memphis is lucky they landed Jaren Jackson Jr. A week before the draft, Mo Bamba, Michael Porter Jr, and Jaren Jackson Jr would not give their medical information to the Grizzlies in an attempt to not get drafted by the team. However, Jackson Jr gave in a few days before the big night and Memphis gets the pick they should be satisfied with.
The Michigan State big man, while not putting up crazy numbers, is considered the safest pick in the draft to become an above average player because of his outstanding defensive ability, rim protection and decent jumper for a guy his size. Jackson was an elite rim protector in his only season as a Spartan, averaging 3.0 blocks per game with an unreal block percentage of 14.3%.
To put this into perspective, the “best rim protector in the draft,” Mo Bamba, has a block percentage of 13.1%. Jackson Jr can really do it all, and while his offensive ability may never cause him to be a superstar, he is a piece any championship team needs and is a good fit to play power forward for the Grizzlies.
5. Trae Young, Hawks (via Mavericks)
In the trade that put Luka Doncic in Dallas, the Atlanta Hawks received the draft rights to Trae Young in return. This is the first pick in which fit is an issue and a team will indirectly have to make an offseason move to fix it. With Young standing at 6’2”, he can only play point guard, but the Hawks’ best player is 24-year-old PG Dennis Schroder.
However, there was already speculation that the Hawks would be shipping him out this year due to his discontent with team failure, and this draft selection affirms it. Now with Young, the Hawks are selecting a hit or miss prospect. His offensive game is based on dishing out assists and lighting it up from three, and if he puts it all together he will be a perennial All-Star.
However, being not very strong, he will always be a liability on defense and may not be able to penetrate defenses and make plays. So, Young’s career really depends on his shot-making ability, and Atlanta is swinging for the fences with this one.
6. Mo Bamba, Magic
The Magic selected the best player available in Mo Bamba with the 6th overall pick. Standing at 7’1”, the Texas center boasts an otherworldly 7’10” wingspan, the longest in NBA history. With his phenomenal frame and decent defensive instincts, he is going to be a lock to be an elite rim protector at the least.
Talking about the other side of the ball, his offensive game, admittedly, does need work. While there have been videos about him making open threes in an empty gym and scored 13 points a night as a freshman, he is going to have to learn how to score in his role on an NBA offense. He might not get there the first or second or fourth season, but if he reaches his potential he is going to be a concern for defenders and a nightmare for an opposing offense.
Regarding fit within the organization, the Magic are stacked with centers, specifically starter Nikola Vucevic. I would prefer Bamba to land in somewhere like Atlanta with room to grow, but the Magic may deal Vucevic to free up minutes or even play Bamba over him to begin with.
7. Wendell Carter Jr, Bulls
Paired with star Marvin Bagley in the Duke frontcourt, power forward/center Wendell Carter Jr. is a player who may not have the highest ceiling but has almost no holes in his game. The freshman bluedevil averaged 13.5ppg and 9rpg and shot very efficiently from the floor.
To put it simply, Carter Jr. is an all-around big who has solid post moves. One aspect of his game that has been overlooked is his post scoring ability, which is where he will have the potential to get his buckets in The League. In the beginning of summer league, he has demonstrated his impressive rim protecting ability. This proved to me that he has the ability to play alongside Lauri Markkanen, who is a poor defender. Wendell will be able to compensate for Markkanen on that end and can play center because of his rebounding and rim protection.
While he may not have a huge impact right away, Wendell Carter Jr looks to be yet another piece in this young Chicago core along with Kris Dunn, Zach Lavine, Jabari Parker, and Markkanen.
8. Colin Sexton
Along with Kevin Knox, point guard Colin Sexton out of Alabama was one of the two players I wanted the Knicks to draft. Built for the NBA, Sexton possesses a dangerous mix of speed and strength which will let him hold his own even in his rookie season against older guards and rim protectors.
While he is not a particularly good playmaker in terms of assists, Sexton is a talented scorer which can open up opportunities for his teammates who, as of right now, need a creator to get them shots. The new Cleveland floor general is respectable behind the arc, although he will not torch you from deep.
More importantly, however, Sexton is straight up phenomenal at using his speed and James Harden-like strength to make his way past defenders and get to the rim. If he can get more efficient when finishing at the rim he should be dangerous on the offensive end. On the flip side, this man’s defense is what separates him from other talented guards, not just in this draft, but going forward in the NBA. Most scoring guards are weak on D but Sexton’s on-ball defensive ability is a strong suit.
Further, Sexton has earned himself the nickname “Young Bull” due to his ferocity, another asset when looking to shut down opposing guards. Taking a major step back, look to see Young Bull making plays with the ball in his hand often this season.
9. Kevin Knox
I try to remain unbiased, but Kevin Knox’s offensive game seems as complete as they come. Watching game film before the draft of the Kentucky forward actually had and still has me drawing similarities to his offensive style and abilities and those of Jason Tatum and the Boston Celtics.
Knox has shown in college and in the NBA Summer League that he is a solid if not above average 3 point shooter for a young wing, which is a good sign for a player walking into the modern league. He also is fairly skilled at driving and getting to the rim. Of course, even if he is not as effective in blowing by a defender, Knox is 6’9” and 215lbs and can use his strength to bump and bruise a quicker defender to his advantage. Potential problems with the Wildcat lie in the fluidity in his offensive game and quickness as a small forward.
While Knox’s skill set was effective in college and he does have the ability to score from the paint, midrange, and 3, he is not completely “polished” and seems a bit uncomfortable when doing his thing. However, this will improve with time spent in the league.
His lack of quickness could hurt him on the defensive end against stars and moving him to the power forward is not much of an option unless the Knicks wish to play star Kristaps Porzingis at the center position. Nonetheless, the talent and upside is there for Kevin Knox and a great selection for this team in need of bucket getters and creators.
10. Mikal Bridges
The Phoenix Suns acquired Mikal Bridges 1 hour after he was selected with the 10th pick by his hometown Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for 16th pick Zhaire Smith out of Texas Tech and an unprotected 2021 1st round pick. Bridges is the newest member of what is becoming a very talented young core in Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, and co-rookie DeAndre Ayton.
Mikal was actually a perfect fit along Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid in Philly because he is a win now player, being already 22 years old and a specialist 3 and D player. However, the Suns are finally looking to take their first step away from the tank by not moving TJ Warren and signing Trevor Ariza.
The Villanova junior is the ideal role player in the modern NBA, boasting an above average 3 point shot (43% his senior year) and being a lockdown on ball defender with his otherworldly 7’2” wingspan. While he may not ever be an All-Star due to his subpar ability to create opportunities for himself and his teammates off the dribble, Mikal Bridges is the type of player every team wants to have on their team.