Projecting the 2018 NBA Draft requires some guesswork until the Draft order becomes clear when those fateful ping pong balls pop out on May 15, but now that the regular season is done, we at least know which teams hav the best chances of landing those prized top three spots. Here’s our updated mock draft based on the final regular-season standings.
Updated April 18
1. Phoenix Suns – DeAndre Ayton, C
SCHOOL: Arizona | YEAR: Freshman| HEIGHT: 7-1 | WEIGHT: 250 | AGE: 19
Ayton’s role in Arizona’s disappointing end-of-the-season has caused questions about his defense and desire to win to grow louder than ever, but the 7-footer should remind everyone of his all-star potential once pre-draft workouts begin. The only thing that could stop Ayton from being a quality NBA player (besides injury) is himself.
The Suns — the NBA’s worst defensive team — might not have the ideal infrastructure for Ayton to maximize his talents but he might ultimately too hard to pass up.
2. Memphis Grizzlies – Marvin Bagley, PF
SCHOOL: Duke | YEAR: Freshman | HEIGHT: 6-11 | WEIGHT: 235 | AGE: 18
Bagley might not transition perfectly to the modern NBA game, but he’d work well alongside a stretch-center like Marc Gasol. He’s also sort of a safe pick (in the sense that he should at the very least put up good numbers) and the Grizzlies can’t afford to strike out in yet another draft.
3. Dallas Mavericks – Mohamed Bamba, C
SCHOOL: Texas | YEAR: Freshman | HEIGHT: 7-0 | WEIGHT: 225 | AGE: 19
The Mavericks don’t have much beyond the ageless wonder Dirk Nowitzki in their frontcourt, so adding a player like Bamba, a potential defensive anchor and Dennis Smith lob-catcher, would make sense. Bamba’s length is comparable in the NBA only to Rudy Gobert’s and he’s much more advanced than Gobert at the same age. Bamba might not make as big of strides once he hits the league, but some team will happily snatch him up in the top-five. In Dallas, Bamba — who cited Texas’ business school as a one reason he chose the Longhorns — and owner Mark Cuban could team up off the court as well.
4. Atlanta Hawks – Michael Porter Jr., SF
SCHOOL: Missouri: YEAR: Freshman | HEIGHT: 6-10 | WEIGHT: 215 | AGE: 19
The Hawks have point guard Dennis Schroder locked up for the next three years and hit on big man John Collins in last year’s draft so drafting a high scoring wing who can lessen the load off Schroder’s shoulders makes sense from a need perspective. It also makes sense from a talent perspective as the 6-foot-10 Porter was in the conversation for the No. 1 overall pick before he underwent back surgery in November. He faces questions about his toughness but there’s no denying how advanced his perimeter skillset is for his size. He’s cut from the same mold as recent top-five picks Brandon Ingram and Jayson Tatum, but might most closely resemble Paul George, a less freakish but more skilled type of combo forward.
5. Orlando Magic – Luka Doncic, PG/SG
TEAM: Real Madrid | HEIGHT: 6-8 | WEIGHT: 220 | AGE: 19
The Magic desperately need help at guard and Doncic is the type of dynamic initiator that could provide one of the league’s worst offense some hope. After the failed Mario Hezonja pick, there might be some hesitancy to go the European guard route again in the top-five but Doncic is the choice here because he offers more offensive potential than both Jaren Jackson and Wendell Carter. He’s the type of player new GM John Hammond (the drafter of Giannis Antetokounmpo) can attempt to build around.
6. Chicago Bulls – Trae Young, PG
SCHOOL: Oklahoma HEIGHT: 6-2 | WEIGHT: 180 | AGE: 19
With Young, the Bulls could continue to embrace an uptempo offensive style that fits the strengths of its Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen core. The Curry-esque point guard and Dunn would complement each other well given their respective strengths (Young – shooting, Dunn – defensive versatility).
7. Sacramento Kings – Jaren Jackson Jr., PF/C
SCHOOL: Michigan State | YEAR: Freshman | HEIGHT: 6-11 | WEIGHT: 240 | AGE: 18
This would be the smart pick for the Kings, which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the direction they’d go. Jackson is the second youngest player in the draft, but his length, mobility, shot-blocking and IQ give him a high defensive floor and he has plenty of room to grow offensively. At this point in the draft, taking a low-risk, high-reward player like Jackson should be a no-brainer. The Kings have too many holes to draft specifically for need.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers – Mikal Bridges, SF
SCHOOL: Villanova | YEAR: Junior | HEIGHT: 6-7 | WEIGHT: 210 | AGE: 21
Bridges is the most NBA-ready player left on the board and he’d be a great fit next to LeBron James because he doesn’t need the ball to make an impact. He’s a knockdown three-point shooter who could become one of the best all-around players in the draft even if he doesn’t take off as a scorer.
9. New York Knicks – Wendell Carter, PF/C
SCHOOL: Duke | YEAR: Freshman | HEIGHT: 6-10 | WEIGHT: 260 | AGE: 18
Carter doesn’t have the highest upside among big men in the draft, but he still has potential to become an Al Horford type, which would obviously be excellent value at this stage. With Kristaps Porzingis as the Knicks’ main building block, Carter can develop as a supporting player alongside him, excelling on the glass and in the mid-range area while providing some resistance defensively as well.
10. Philadelphia 76ers – Miles Bridges, SF
SCHOOL: Michigan State | Year: Sophomore | HEIGHT: 6-7 | WEIGHT: 225 | AGE: 19
Bridges is a strong, athletic forward which is something the 76ers don’t have on their roster right now. His perceived upside might be a bit of a mirage given his average measurables and offensive skillset, but Bridges doesn’t need to be a star with Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Markelle Fultz in town. It’d be scary if the 76ers packaged this pick with their late first rounder and maybe another pick or two to move up and grab Jackson Jr. if he slips out of the top-five.
11. Charlotte Hornets – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG/SG
SCHOOL: Kentucky | YEAR: Freshman | HEIGHT: 6-6 WEIGHT: 190 | AGE: 19
Although it probably has a lot to due with the Lakers’ old triangle offense, new Hornets GM Mitch Kupchak has a history of drafting bigger point guards so he could lean toward Gilgeous-Alexander over Collin Sexton here, especially since Gilgeous-Alexander is a better fit next to Kemba Walker. The Malik Monk pick doesn’t look good right now, but new management shouldn’t be afraid to take a Kentucky guard in the lottery back-to-back years. After all, it worked for the Suns, right?
12. Los Angeles Clippers – Collin Sexton, PG
SCHOOL: Alabama | YEAR: Freshman | HEIGHT: 6-3 WEIGHT: 190 | AGE: 19
How about pairing Lou Williams with another playmaking guard from Georgia? The Clippers could use another point guard with Patrick Beverely’s contract expiring next season and Sexton is the best player available at this point. He’ll fit well in an up-tempo system.
13. Los Angeles Clippers – Robert Williams, PF/C
SCHOOL: Texas A&M | YEAR: Sophomore| HEIGHT: 6-9 WEIGHT: 240 | AGE: 20
The Clippers are hoping this pick — not the pick above it — will jump into the top-3 on lottery night as the Pistons have the other one top-four protected. If they end up picking back-to-back at the end of the lottery, they could go guard then big, or vice versa, which in this case sets up nicely for them to take Williams, the last projected first round big man with lottery upside who wouldn’t be a complete gamble. A defensive-minded center from Texas A&M, Williams could be groomed as DeAndre Jordan’s replacement.
14. Denver Nuggets – Zhaire Smith, SG
SCHOOL: Texas Tech | YEAR: Sophomore| HEIGHT: 6-5 WEIGHT: 194 | AGE: 18
Between Jamal Murray and Gary Harris, the Nuggets have a bright young backcourt with a lot of offensive ability. Smith could be a good complement on the wing as he’s a terrific athlete with a lot of defensive upside.
15. Washington Wizards – Mitchell Robinson, C
SCHOOL: Chalmette High School (La.) | YEAR: Post-grad| HEIGHT: 6-9 | WEIGHT: 230 | AGE: 19
The Wizards have long been stuck in mediocrity but are tied to their Wall-Beal-Porter core without any cap flexibility. Robinson is the biggest boom-or-bust pick in the draft, but he’s an extremely talented center that has the potential to raise Washington’s ceiling. The Wizards haven’t shied away from mysterious prospects in previous drafts.
16. Phoenix Suns – Khyri Thomas, SG
SCHOOL: Creighton | YEAR: Junior | HEIGHT: 6-3 | WEIGHT: 209 | AGE: 21
The Suns don’t want to be rebuild forever. Thomas is an NBA-ready wing who can complement starters Devin Booker and T.J. Warren with his defense. After taking Ayton No. 1, it makes sense for Phoenix to grab a low maintence player here. They have enough projects as is.
17. Milwaukee Bucks – Lonnie Walker, SG
SCHOOL: Miami | YEAR: Freshman | HEIGHT: 6-5 | WEIGHT: 205 | AGE: 19
Walker has lottery potential, but his freshman season at Miami brought more questions than answers. Still, he has a prototypical two-guard build and his two-way potential makes him a good value pick here. He isn’t a great ball handler, but the Bucks don’t need their two-guard to be a big-time creator thanks to the Greek Freak’s playmaking skills.
18. San Antonio Spurs – Melvin Frazier, SF
SCHOOL: Tulane| YEAR: Junior | HEIGHT: 6-6 | WEIGHT: 201 | AGE: 21
This is admittedly high for Frazier, but he could be a cheap replacement for a 30-year old Danny Green, who will be a free agent next year. A Frazier quick-twich, ultra-athletic wing who plays hard, Frazier isn’t the most gifted offensively player but he made noticeable strides as a three-point shooter under Tulane coach Mike Dunleavy.
19. Atlanta Hawks – Tyus Battle, SG
SCHOOL: Syracuse| YEAR: Sophomore | HEIGHT: 6-6 | WEIGHT: 205 | AGE: 20
Even if the Hawks draft Porter, they still could use more shot creators, something Battle had to do more than he was comfortable with at Syracuse. The 6-foot-5 guard shot under 40 percent from the field as a sophomore, but ranked second among all Power Conference players in isolation points behind Trae Young. He’s much more unselfish than he was able to show at Syracuse and also has potential as a defender, although he spent the last two years playing zone.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves – Kevin Knox, SF/PF
SCHOOL: Kentucky | YEAR: Freshman | HEIGHT: 6-9 | WEIGHT: 216 | AGE: 18
Knox tried to showcase himself as an offensive-minded wing at Kentucky, but he’s a more intriguing prospect as a two-way forward ala Aaron Gordon at the next level. A coach like Tom Thibodeau could get Knox, a solid value pick in the mid-first round, to buy into that role.
21. Utah Jazz – Keita-Bates Diop, SF
SCHOOL: Ohio State | YEAR: Junior | HEIGHT: 6-7 | WEIGHT: 235 | AGE: 22
Bates-Diop is the closest player in the draft to Rodney Hood, who was traded to Cleveland in February. Landry Shamet would also be a good fit for the Jazz.
22. Chicago Bulls – Troy Brown, SG/SF
SCHOOL: Oregon | YEAR: Freshman | HEIGHT: 6-7 | WEIGHT: 215 | AGE: 19
Sticking with the theme of the Bulls drafting offensive-minded players that can run the court, Brown is a high-upside wing that projects as a point-forward type. His shot needs work, but he could allow Young to play off the ball some — freeing him up to shoot — a couple years down the line.
23. Indiana Pacers – Aaron Holiday, PG
SCHOOL: UCLA | YEAR: Junior | HEIGHT: 6-1 | WEIGHT: 185 | AGE: 21
In his first year running the show for the Pacers, Indiana president Kevin Pritchard drafted two UCLA Bruins. If he goes for No. 3 this year, Holiday could learn under Darren Collison, another Bruin, as a rookie. The 6-foot-3 guard isn’t the most exciting pick, but he has a NBA pedigree and is versatile enough to defend both backcourt positions while play on or off ball offensively.
24. Portland Trailblazers – Christian Hutchison, SF/PF
SCHOOL: Boise State | YEAR: Senior | HEIGHT: 6-7 | WEIGHT: 196 | AGE: 22
The Blazers aren’t afraid to take upperclassmen or mid-major prospects in the first round. Hutchison fits both categories and offers a NBA-ready skillset. He can space the floor for Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum and attack closeouts.
25. Los Angeles Lakers – Dzanan Musa, SF
TEAM: KK Cedevita (from Bosnia) | HEIGHT: 6-9 | WEIGHT: 195 | AGE: 18
An aggressive, skilled scoring wing, Musa could be a good fit in the Lakers’ uptempo system that should become predicated in making quick decisions. He’s yet to turn 19 and lacks strength, but he won’t be pressured into a big role right away as Brandon Ingram’s backup.
26. Philadelphia 76ers – Jalen Brunson, PG
SCHOOL: Villanova| YEAR: Junior | HEIGHT: 6-3 | WEIGHT: 190 | AGE: 21
Brunson could be an immediate upgrade over TJ McConnell as the franchise’s backup point guard and — as funny as it sounds for a rookie — add a strong voice to a young 76ers locker room. It doesn’t hurt that the two-time Villanova national champion played his college basketball in Philly.
27. Boston Celtics – Bruce Brown, PG/SG
SCHOOL: Miami | YEAR: Sophomore | HEIGHT: 6-5 | WEIGHT: 190 | AGE: 22
Celtics GM Danny Ainge loves athletic guards who compete and play with toughness. Brown, a Boston native, does just that. Brad Stevens just needs to help him with his jumpshot.
28. Golden State Warriors – Jacob Evans, SG
SCHOOL: Cincinnati | YEAR: Junior | HEIGHT: 6-6 | WEIGHT: 209 | AGE: 20
We’re not as high on Evans as others, but he’s an already fairly developed player who can play multiple positions, which makes him a cheap depth rotation candidate for the Warriors.
29. Brooklyn Nets – Anfernee Simons, SG
TEAM: IMG Academy| YEAR: Postgrad | HEIGHT: 6-4 | WEIGHT: 165 | AGE: 18
Simons is one of the least NBA-ready players in the draft, but he offers a lot of potential as a scorer which should give fans in Brooklyn some hope to cling onto after a season in which Spencer Dinwiddie was arguably their most consistent player.
30. Atlanta Hawks – Bruno Fernando, C
SCHOOL: Maryland| YEAR: Freshman | HEIGHT: 6-10 | WEIGHT: 245 | AGE: 19
With three first round picks in a draft headlined by big men, the Hawks can’t afford to not address their frontcourt here. Fernando is raw, but he has a solid chance to develop into a useful rim-running/protecting center. He doesn’t need to be a big scorer alongside John Collins.
- Phoenix Suns – Shake Milton
- Memphis Grizzlies – Landry Shamet
- Atlanta Hawks – Jontay Porter
- Dallas Mavericks – Hamidou Diallo
- Orlando Magic – Justin Jackson
- Sacramento Kings – Gary Trent Jr.
- New York Knicks – Jerome Robinson
- Philadelphia 76ers – Elie Okobo
- Philadelphia 76ers – Grayson Allen
- Brooklyn Nets – Allonzo Trier
- Orlando Magic – Austin Wiley
- Detroit Pistons – Josh Okogie
- Denver Nuggets – Rodions Kurocs
- Washington Wizards – De’Anthony Melton
- Brooklyn Nets – Moritz Wagner
- Houston Rockets – Chimezie Metu
- Los Angeles Lakers – Gary Clark
- Minnesota Timberwolves – Rawle Alkins
- San Antonio Spurs – Shamorie Ponds
- Indiana Pacers – Jarrey Foster
- New Orleans Pelicans – Jalen Hudson
- Utah Jazz – Malik Newman
- Oklahoma City Thunder – Isaac Bonga
- Dallas Mavericks – Brandon McCoy
- New Orleans Pelicans – Thomas Wilder
- Philadelphia 76ers – Kostas Antetokounmpo
- Oklahoma City Thunder – Deng Adel
- Denver Nuggets – Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk
- Phoenix Suns – Devonte Graham
- Philadelphia 76ers – Karim Jallow