T.J. the Sports Geek’s 2018 NBA Draft Preview

NBADraftPreview18

Hello Everyone,

Here is my annual NBA Draft Preview with all 30 draft picks in the first round,who the teams I think are projected to select,and a summary for each pick. The Phoenix Suns have the first overall pick and are now on the clock…

SunsRetro1. Phoenix- DeAndre Ayton, C Arizona

The Suns draft first overall for the first time in their franchise history and with that pick,it may as well be the consensus first pick that almost everyone is saying,and that’s Arizona’s Ayton. He has been compared to the likes of Anthony Davis,Shawn Kemp and David Robinson and understandably so. He had a stellar freshman campaign with 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game and shot 61-percent from the field. At 7-0,260 lbs., Ayton has a great NBA-ready body and moves well for his size. He’s great with the pick-and-roll and controls the paint and the glass well. Beyond that,he gives great energy whenever he’s on the floor. I think this is the best player in the draft and the kind of guy Phoenix needs on their roster.

KingsRetroLogo2. Sacramento- Luka Doncic, SF Slovenia

There’s been a lot of debate as to what the Kings will do with this pick and I think they should get someone on the wing and I think they’ll take the Slovenian sharpshooter Doncic. He has a great ability to create his own shot in any scenario. Beyond that, his court vision and ball handling skills are exceptional, and he has the ability to create for himself and his teammates in traffic showing glimpses of rare talent. He is,however,a liability defensively and hasn’t been known to be quick but when you can create opportunities offensively it doesn’t matter. I think he would be great in Sacramento alongside their up and coming young core.

HawksRetro3. Atlanta- Marvin Bagley III, PF Duke

The Hawks could go any which way in this draft after being as bad as they were last year and that guy is Bagley. He catches everything that comes his way and is a strong finisher around the basket. He can also go coast to coast after nabbing a defensive rebound, he keeps possessions alive and shows great timing cleaning up after missed shots,not to mention his offensive skillset is highly multifacited. This kid averaged 21 points per game at Duke in his lone season as well as 11 rebounds per game. He would be a great addition in Atlanta.

GrizzliesRetro4. Memphis- Jaren Jackson, Jr., PF Michigan St.

The Grizzlies would benefit by adding to their frontcourt with Marc Gasol not getting any younger or healthier and a guy I could see them taking is MSU’s Jackson. He has a lot of potential that hasn’t been tapped yet and he has flashed some offensive ball skills and control that could be a prelude to his ability as an offensive weapon. Defensively, he showed that he can defend in space and guard the perimeter extremely well for his size. Though he didn’t score a lot in college, he is very good from beyond the arc as he had a 40-percent shooting percentage from three-point land. Yes,he is very raw and very young,but would be sitting behind some great veterans in Memphis hoping to be their future big man for years to come.

MavsRetro5. Dallas- Michael Porter, Jr. SF Missouri

The Mavericks are in rebuild mode and are looking for their next big superstar player once Dirk Nowitzki retires and Missouri’s Porter could be that guy. While he didn’t play much college ball due to injury, he’s being compared to Kevin Durant in terms of his size,strength,and ability. Porter combines strong athleticism with the ease of a ball handler, three-level scorer and flashes of playmaking and defense. There is concern,however,that his back injuries may not fully be healed and he might not be ready to go when the season starts. Despite a small sample size of his college days, he was a highly regarded prospect out of high school and is still in the conversation to be a top-five pick and I think Dallas is where he will land.

MagicRetro6. Orlando- Trae Young, PG Oklahoma

The Magic has a void at point guard and in this draft I think the best one is OU’s Young. A dynamic scorer who has been compared to Stephen Curry, Young has a limitless shooting range and is a threat to score from anywhere on the floor once he crosses half court and can seemlessly knock down shots beyond the NBA three-point line. HIs ability to operate out of the pick and roll is very advanced for a player of his age. He is,however,not the greatest defensive player,but there is hope that one day he may be able to be a threat to steal the ball at any time. I think he is the poing guard Orlando needs and would be a perfect pick at this spot.

Bulls7. Chicago- Mohamed Bamba, C Texas

The Bulls could use a guy who has a defensive presence on the floor and Texas’ Bamba is a good one. He has a 7’9″ wingspan,the longest in NBA combine history and has a 9’6” standing reach. In his lone season at Texas, he averaged 10.5 rebounds a game and 3.7 blocks. While he is as solid a defensive player as they come,his offensive game has yet to come along,though he does have a decent free throw percentage for a big man. He also does shoot decently from the college three-point line at 28-percent. He will be a great compliment to Lauri Markkanen and his perimeter capabilities in Chicago.

CavsRetro8. Cleveland- Mikal Bridges, SF/SG Villanova

While the Cavaliers could use this pick to nab a point guard, there is that high possibility that their franchise player leaves again and there may be a need to fill his position. Villanova’s Bridges does just that. Not only is he a defensive standout, but he also has turned into a dependable outside shooter and was one of the best wings college had to offer. He has also improved his ability to attack the rim. While he does need to improve his physical strength, he was the strongest player on his team last year,which by the way won another national championship. I think Bridges would be great in Cleveland and would play well with Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson.

KnicksRetro9. New York-Wendell Carter,Jr.

With Kristaps Porzingis’ playing status this season being an uncertainty, the Knicks need to get some upgrades in the frontcourt. Carter has a solid NBA-ready body and has enough size to even play the center position in today’s league. He’s also very mobile on both ends of the floor and a great scorer at the rim with a shooting percentage of 56-percent. He can continuously knock down jumpers from the post area and from mid-range and does it with confidence. He’s a very good defender as well with excellent prowess in the shot-blocking department. He’s also a great rebounder,averaging over nine a game at Duke. I think he would look great in New York on a team that desperately needs size.

76ersRetro10. Philadelphia- Miles Bridges, SF/PF Michigan St.

The 76ers have a bonus pick here that they can do pretty much whatever they want with, but I think they should go after a wing forward and MSU’s Bridges would be good here. He’s a guy who is able to play multiple positions,a key ingredient in today’s league. The fascination with Bridges starts with his NBA-ready frame and incredible explosiveness, he very well might be the draft’s top athlete with his power,quickness and leaping ability. He’s also a pretty decent rebounder for a player his size,averaging seven a game at MSU. I think Philadelphia would be even better with a guy like Bridges,a very competitive player with a high motor on their roster.

HornetsRetro11. Charlotte- Collin Sexton, PG Alabama

Charlotte could use a point guard in case Kemba Walker decides to leave after next year and Alabama’s Sexton could be that guy. A very dynamic guard on both ends of the floor, Sexton is a player that loves the spotlight and seems to be motivated by the dazzle of the bright lights and tough competition. He is a dangerous scorer in the mid range area,something today’s elite scorers excel at. While not a pass-first point guard,he does has great court vision and is a top-notch floor general. Beyond that,he has high upside on the defensive end. Combine that with his aggressiveness and explosiveness and you’ve got a great NBA point guard prospect. If he falls this far to the Hornets,he’s a for sure steal.

ClippersRetro12. L.A. Clippers- Robert Williams-PF/C Texas A&M

The Clippers have two picks back-to-back in the first round and I think with one of them they should bolster their frontcourt depth and I think a guy like Texas A&M’s Williams is the right fit. He has the best combination of size and athleticism which should prevent him from being bullied around the rim. He rebounds well and ball high in the air rather than letting the ball come to him as he averaged 9.2 a game at A&M. His offensive game isn’t what it should be,but it is coming along as he’s worked to develop an offensive repertoire both facing up and on the low block. I think he would bring a new dynamic to Los Angeles’ frontcourt and is,in my view,more underrated than he should be.

ClippersRetro13. L.A. Clippers- Donte DiVincenzo, SG Villanova

Some of you might think I’m nuts for having this player drafted this early,but I think he might be the most underrated guy in the draft. DiVincenzo has it all, he can score at will, play defense, is very athletic and a team oriented guy. A stellar sharpshooter, DiVincenzo hit 47-percent of his field goals, 40 percent from beyond the arc and 58-percent from two-point land and has shown the ability to score at or away from the basket. He’s aggressive on defense and shows his love to battle and compete on that end. Oh,by the way he was named The Most Outstanding Player of the 2018 NCAA Tournament and Big East Sixth Man of the Year. I think he will be a solid role player for any team that drafts him,even the Los Angeles Clippers.

NuggetsRetro14. Denver- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander,PG Kentucky

The Nuggets need to solve their point guard situation greatly and I think Gilgeous-Alexander would be a great one to add. He has excellent height and length for a lead guard and is a hard worker on defense and has a nose for the ball. He is also a threat to score in a variety of ways and as a shooter,many have described him as underrated. What concerns me,however,is that he is only 180 lbs. at 6-6. He does need to add some weight to his frame which he should be able to do. Here’s to hoping he can do in Denver what he did during his impressive year at Kentucky.

WizardsRetro15. Washington- Kevin Knox, SF/PF Kentucky

The Wizards could use some help in the frontcourt and one of the best forwards available at this point in the draft is Kentucky’s Knox. Knox has great shot mechanics that should translate well to the next level as he already has NBA range. He also moves off the ball well and uses off ball screens very well to get separation from defenders and not afraid to look for his own offense. He is,however,a project as his game continues to develop but I don’t think that would deter him from being selected by Washington if he happens to fall this far down the draft board.

SunsRetro16. Phoenix- Lonnie Walker IV, PG Miami (FL)

This is the Suns’ second first-round pick and now that they’ve got a big man first overall,they should go after some young backcourt help and the best point guard on the board is the U’s Walker. While he is a project, he has a lot of upside. He’s always aggressively looking to score both in half court sets as well as in transition and at Miami was a decent three point shooter at the college level, but form indicates that with small adjustments should be able to improve his percentage over time. As he matures,his 180 lb. frame on his 6-4 body should fill out. He’s also very unafraid of the big moment when it comes and will seek to create offense when his team needs it most. Phoenix needs some guys like that on their roster even if they will take some time to develop.

BucksRetro17. Milwaukee- Zhaire Smith, SG Texas Tech

The Bucks had a much better year last year and they need to get some more pieces to put around Giannis Antetokounmpo and a guy who has risen up draft boards is Texas Tech’s Smith. He has a feel for the game that is very underrated and also a versatile swing player with xceptional athleticism and bounce (45-inch vertical). He has high energy as well and his jumpshot is developing well and has excellent court vision. I’m most impressed at how great a rebounder he is at 6-4 and he’s very adept at leaving shooters little airspace. I think Smith would be a great addition to Milwaukee’s roster.

SpursRetro18. San Antonio- Khyri Thomas, SG Creighton

The Spurs need to get a young shooting guard and a guy that fits their system best is Thomas from Creighton. He shows a lot of determination and competitiveness in his game and also has a finesse shooting stroke. He was a reliable scorer averaging over 15 points per game in his junior season in college. Aside from that,he’s an exceptional defender player who anticipates well and generally doesn’t gamble or overplay passing lanes and is always composed. He just seems like the kind of player Gregg Popovich has in his system and I think he would shine in San Antonio.

HawksRetro19. Atlanta- Aaron Holiday, PG UCLA

This is Atlanta’s second first-rounder and I think if they select a big man at the third pick as previously projected that they’ll get a guard here. Holiday is a very quick point guard who is skilled at penetrating and beating opponents off the dribble. He also has great court vision and seems to always know when to shoot,when to pass,when to dribble. He can also score from anywhere. He’s also a very good defender and is expected to maintain that once he turns pro. I think he would be a great choice for the Hawks if they’re looking for a guard at this pick.

TWolvesRetro20. Minnesota- Troy Brown, SF Oregon

The Timberwolves are in need of some depth on the wing and I think they choose the next best one in the draft in Oregon’s Brown. While he did underachieve during his time in college,he has a lot of upside in terms of versatility,explosiveness and athleticism. He’s a player who is at ease with running the pick-and-roll and is a guy who makes plays for himself and his teammates off the bounce. He’s also a solid defender who could potentially bring a lot of versatility at the next level defending multiple positions. I think he would be a great fit in Minnesota and many other mocks wouldn’t have him here if it were otherwise.

JazzRetro21. Utah- Chandler Hutchison, SG Boise St.

At this point in the draft teams can go just about anywhere with their pick (s), but I think Utah should get a little bit of backcourt help/a wing. I think BSU’s Hutchison fits the bill here. A natural scorer,in his last year in college,he averaged over 20 points per game and shot 36-percent from the three-point line. He also had solid rebounding numbers,averaging 7.7 per game and is capable of forcing a turnover at anytime. He also shows great leadership qualities and is great at avoiding foul trouble. He won’t have to go too far if he gets picked by Utah,but they’ll go a long way with him on their roster.

Bulls22. Chicago- Kevin Huerter, SG Maryland

This is Chicago’s second pick in this round and after having selected a big man with the first one,it makes to get a guard with the other. Maryland’s Huerter is the next best one on the board. He’s got a sweet stroke from the perimeter and has become a terrific catch and shoot player from both a stationary position and coming off of screens. This past season he also showed capability to put the ball on the floor and knock down shots in the mid-range area. Also,he is an intelligent player and plays the game unselfishly and plays decent defense. I think he would be a great addition to the Bulls at this pick.

PacersRetro23. Indiana- Jalen Brunson, PG Villanova

With two of the Pacers’ point guards hitting free agency next year it might be a good idea to draft one and I think getting one of most accomplished ones would be wise. Brunson was highly productive in his final season, averaging 18.9 points and 4.6 assists as a junior while shooting 52.1 percent from the field and 40.8 percent from the three-point line and earned AP Player of the Year honors and the Wooden Award. He is an outstanding leader on the court and everyone around him is better. He is capable of scoring at all three levels and can be a quality facilitator of the basketball as well. He also has a strong fundamental defensive game. He would be great in Indiana as a role player and a leader.

BlazersRetro24. Portland- Gary Trent,Jr,PG/SG Duke

I think the Blazers could use a guy who could provide a spark off the bench and score at will. Who better than the son of a former Blazer? Trent is a very fundamentally sound player and is known for being a high level shooter, especially from beyond the arc. He’s also unafraid of taking big shots in big game situations. He’s also a very aggressive player and will crash the glass on both ends. When he’s locked in defensively he can move his feet and stay on his man. I think he would be a great asset on Portland’s roster.

LakersRetro25. L.A. Lakers- Mitchell Robinson, C USA

The Lakers could use somebody in the center position and I think a guy who has been preparing for this draft should be their guy. Robinson bypassed college,but his skills are very good. While he is a question mark as a result,he was a very athletic and explosive big man who ran the floor well. Even at 7-1 he is capable of knocking down the three ball every now and then. While his offensive game develops, he will primarily focus on being a shot blocker, lob catcher,and rebounder. While not much is known about him, he is a low risk,high reward guy who Los Angeles just might like.

76ersRetro26. Philadelphia- Landry Shamet, PG/SG Wichita St.

The 76ers have a second first rounder here and should they keep it,I think some depth to the backcourt might be necessary. I think a player like Shamet could work well here. He has become one of the best lead guards in the nation this year and has ideal size for the point guard position in the NBA at at 6-4 with long arms and can play the two-guard position as well. A smart player,Shamet makes great decisions with the ball and always plays the game under control and commands the offense exceptionally well. I think a crafty shot maker like him would be great in Philadelphia.

CelticsRetro27. Boston- Jerome Robinson, SG Boston College

The Celtics have a first round pick,but not a lottery one this year and I think with Marcus Smart heading for free agency that it may be a good idea to get some insurance in case he bolts and they won’t have to look for to find it. BC’s Robinson has great versatility and is one of the best shooters this draft has to offer. He is a very imaginative offensive player who likes to create shots for his teammates and himself if need be. He also is known to show some flash in his game as he goes for the dunk. I think Robinson will be a decent pro and would be a great player in Boston.

WarriorsRetro28. Golden State- Jacob Evans, SG/SF Cincinnati

The Warriors have so many shooters that maybe they should get some more defensive-minded players. I think Cincinnati’s Evans is a decent prospect for them here. He averaged 1.3 steals last season and was one of the top defenders in the American Athletic Conference. A smart player with the ball, one of the best aspects of his game last season was his awareness and patience on offense. He pushes the pace well in transition and make plays for himself as well as teammates in scoring opportunities on the fastbreak. I think that his skillset on an offensive team like Golden State’s makes him a prime asset and a great draft choice late in the first round.

NetsRetro29. Brooklyn- Elie Okobo, PG France

The Nets have a lot of ways they could go in the draft because they’re so bad,but I think getting a guard with a smooth jumpshot would help wonders for them. Okobo can create seperation from his opponent before shooting with a nice looking step back and his three-point shooting would be and will be higher when he learns to avoid taking tough shots. His pick-and-roll game is improving greatly as well with efficiency. He’s also a very active weakside defender and is great at chasing his opponent around the screens and can make a chase down block from time to time. I think he would be a great addition in Brooklyn.

HawksRetro30. Atlanta- Omari Spellman, PF/C Villanova

This is Atlanta’s third pick in this round and if they hold onto it at this point,they’re more than likely going to take the best player available and that’s Spellman. He has the physical stature and build to hold his own inside and he’s also very good from behind the arc as he shot 43-percent from there last season for the national champions. He also has good shot blocking instincts and is on a mission to protect the rim. He’s also a good team-oriented player. I don’t know if the Hawks will stay with this pick,but if they do they should nab the best player on the board regardless of need. Spellman is that guy.

 

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