NBA Mock Draft 1.0: Luka Doncic, Trae Young & More Go Top-10
The Phoenix Suns struck gold last night as they were selected as the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft lottery, followed by the Sacramento Kings and the Atlanta Hawks as the second and third overall picks, respectively.
Below is my first NBA Mock Draft, which features a lot of nice talent from college hoops and overseas:
- Phoenix - Luka Doncic (PG, Real Madrid/Slovenia)
The Phoenix Suns have the task to either increase the backcourt duo with Devin Booker, or to put in some depth down low. If newly acquired Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov has any pull in Phoenix’s choice, he’s going with Luka Doncic, who he coached on the Slovenian national team and won EuroBasket in 2017.
Doncic is a 6-foot-8 guard, which would make the Suns backcourt lengthy and hard to stop. He’s a spot up shooter, but also knows how to drive to the basket well. It might take him time to adjust to the speed of American hoops, but he can really be an asset to the Suns down the stretch.
- Sacramento - DeAndre Ayton (C, Arizona)
DeAndre Ayton is basically a younger, hungrier Zach Randolph with the ability to shoot like Karl-Anthony Towns. He’s a 7-foot-1 center that had a monstrous freshman season with Arizona.
This is a make-or-break draft for the Kings, who don’t have a first round pick in the 2019 draft. They need a big man to compliment the up-and-coming backcourt duo of De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield.
- Atlanta - Marvin Bagley III (PF, Duke)
There’s not more of a dumpster fire of an organization than the Atlanta Hawks, who flipped every all-star they had for mediocre young players. For Atlanta at No. 3, it’s about getting the best available option.
Marvin Bagley III often plays immature, but shows flashes of greatness as a hybrid forward. He averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds with Duke last year and was a valuable asset to their Elite Eight run. If the Hawks morph him into a valuable rebounder, all they’ll need to worry about improving is their perimeter shooting.
- Memphis - Jaren Jackson (PF, Michigan State)
Memphis could be a team on the rise in the coming seasons if they work to fix the backcourt duo in Mike Conley and Tyreke Evans. But they need a big man to compliment the guards and help an aging Marc Gasol.
As a speedy forward, Jaren Jackson could emerge as a huge boost to the Grizzlies defense, as he is notorious for blocking multiple shots a game and gets good boards defensively. As a 6-foot-11 big man, he can spread the floor well and finish accordingly.
- Dallas - Mohamed Bamba (C, Texas)
Picturing Mo’ Bamba with Dennis Smith Jr. and Dirk Nowitzki is a sight to see. Bamba could be the much-needed defensive specialist that Dallas needs, along with his exceptional 3-point skills.
If Mavs owner Mark Cuban sticks with the fifth overall pick, he needs a big man like Bamba. But if he wants to trade, that fifth pick might be eye candy to a team like the Clippers or the Spurs.
- Orlando - Michael Porter Jr. (PF, Missouri)
Had Michael Porter Jr. not been injured throughout his freshman season at Missouri, he could have been the No. 1 overall pick in this NBA draft. With that being said, Orlando is taking a gamble here at No. 6 by taking the hybrid forward that is coming off a back injury last year.
If Porter Jr. can establish a shot, the Magic won’t regret this top-10 draft pick. But if he remains stagnant, he will be another flop for Orlando.
- Chicago - Mikal Bridges (PF, Villanova)
Mikal Bridges is the only non-freshman worthy of a top-10 choice. He averaged 17.7 points a game and secured 5.3 rebounds, leading his Villanova squad to a national title. This 6-foot-7 wing/forward can grow with proper coaching and could easily emerge as one of the league’s best rookies.
- Cleveland (from Brooklyn via Boston) - Trae Young (PG, Oklahoma)
On a team that needs a drastic change offensively, guard Trae Young could be exactly what the Cavs need in terms of scoring. With the Cavs, Young would be free to reign supreme as the lone guard for this team and overtake an inconsistent George Hill. His flashes of greatness make him a draft-worthy talent that could even persuade a guy like LeBron James to stay. Say LeBron leaves, Cleveland could build around a fearless point guard like Young.
- New York - Collin Sexton (G, Alabama)
Collin Sexton could be the ball handler that the Knicks absolutely need. He’s a fearless dribbler, loves to drive down the lane and might have the best looking dunk among any NBA prospect. The backcourt of New York has been nonexistent for a while, and they need a star-studded guard to help lift them from their inconsistencies.
- Philadelphia (from Los Angeles Lakers via Phoenix) - Miles Bridges (SF, Michigan State)
If Miles Bridges falls this low, which would be insane, the 76ers would get yet another significant piece to the process. He can be an off-ball forward, who can score heavy in stretches. Having Bridges in the lineup would mean less time for Dario Saric, which could be a good thing for Philadelphia. Bridges is a big rebounder with a lot of potential to mold into a strong product.
11. Charlotte - Wendell Carter Jr. (F, Duke)
Wendell Carter Jr. might be the best looking draft pick on film due to his size, ability to rebound and has the caliber to have a breakthrough rookie year. He put up some big games in the NCAA Tournament and shows time and time that he could rebound well. Marvin Williams and Frank Kaminsky are too inconsistent as big men, and adding Carter Jr. would give a great one-two punch with Dwight Howard down low.
- LA Clippers (from Detroit) - Robert Williams (PF, Texas A&M)
Whether or not DeAndre Jordan stays, the Clippers need help down low. Getting a defensive product like Robert Williams that can also score would be the prime material this team needs to increase rebounding and scoring in the paint.
- LA Clippers - Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (G, Kentucky)
Having back-to-back picks means this LA team needs to focus on improving its backcourt, which is already impressive. Lou Williams broke through last season and the Clippers will return Patrick Beverley to their lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander can be a dominant backup point guard that can defend well.
- Denver - Lonnie Walker IV (G, Miami)
Lonnie Walker IV has shown that he can compete at a high level, and here Denver gives him a shot to be the strong guard they need. Jamal Murray plays hard, but isn’t what the Nuggets necessarily want in terms of a ball handler. Walker IV, who averaged 14 points in Miami’s final five games, could have a dominant rookie season, showing Donovan Mitchell flashes in his play.
- Washington - Kevin Knox (PF, Kentucky)
What a better guy to replace Markieff Morris than Kevin Knox, who has a high ceiling to be a great player in the NBA. The Wizards need a low-post man other than Marcin Gortat to compliment their exceptional backcourt duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal. Knox can also score well, as he averaged nearly 16 points a game at Kentucky.
- Phoenix (from Miami) - Keita Bates-Diop (F, Ohio State)
If the Comeback Player of the Year award was recognized in college, it would be given to Keita Bates-Diop, who went from averaging 9.7 points in 2016-17, to 19.8 points in the 2017-18 season. It wouldn’t be surprising if Bates-Diop sneaks into the top-10 of the draft.
- Milwaukee - Troy Brown Jr. (G, Oregon)
The Bucks need a smart shooter to compliment Eric Bledsoe in the backcourt, and Troy Brown Jr. could be their guy. He averaged 11.3 points a game at Oregon and if he improves his 3-point shot, he could be a great sixth man for the Bucks.
- San Antonio - Jacob Evans (SF, Cincinnati)
This draft for the Spurs will weigh heavily on the return or departure of Kawhi Leonard. If he leaves, which it looks like he will, the Spurs go for a guy to fill his void at the small forward position. Jacob Evans’ defense makes him a desirable choice for the Spurs and could develop into a Jae Crowder-type forward that can shoot from deep and defend well.
- Atlanta (from Minnesota) - Zhaire Smith (SF, Texas Tech)
Adding more depth to this depleted team is what the Hawks need to do in this draft. Zhaire Smith, a versatile defender, can be their man. Smith could start off by being a sixth or seventh man to their squad, but his competitiveness makes him seem like a future starter for this team.
- Minnesota (from Oklahoma City via Utah) - Dzanan Musa (SF, Bosnia)
Hit-or-miss draft pick here as the Timberwolves decide to try and improve their depth with the 6-foot-8 wing out of Bosnia in Dzanan Musa. Minnesota will hope that his athleticism translates to the NBA and that he flourish into a top prospect.
- Utah - Khyri Thomas (SG, Creighton)
The two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year in Khyri Thomas makes him that much more desirable to a Utah team that has an already stacked defense. He’s got a 6-11 wingspan, averaged 15.5 points and shot 41.1 percent from beyond the arc for Creighton this past season. He’s the exact weapon Donovan Mitchell would love on his squad.
- Chicago (from New Orleans) - De’Anthony Melton (G, USC)
Although he’s sometimes inconsistent offensively, De’Anthony Melton could morph into a top off-the-bench defender for the Bulls. As a guard, Melton is a strong rebounder and has the wingspan (6-8) to defend any guard and some forwards.
- Indiana - Mitchell Robinson (C, N/A)
Mitchell Robinson is a player that never was in college by withdrawing from Western Kentucky after two weeks of being at school He’s a 7-foot center that can play any big man position. Indiana has a strong front-court with the likes of Myles Turner leading the way, so the big men could develop Robinson into a tough defender and someone that can score in the paint well.
- Portland - Chandler Hutchinson (SF, Boise State)
The Trailblazers, who could very well blow up their team before the draft, need the best-available option at No. 24. Chandler Hutchison, a 6-foot-7 wing, is a dominant scorer that averaged 20 points a game with the Broncos.
- Los Angeles Lakers (from Cleveland) - Grayson Allen (SG, Duke)
The Lakers have the 25th overall pick, so why not go out with a late-round bang and get Grayson Allen? He’s feisty defensively and has the swagger that fits in LA perfectly. He shot 38.2 percent from beyond the arc, which would compliment this backcourt well.
- Philadelphia - Aaron Holiday (PG, UCLA)
With JJ Redick on the free agency block, Aaron Holiday can fit the combo guard front perfectly for the 76ers. He averaged 20.3 points and 5.8 assists for the Bruins this past year and shot 42.9 percent from beyond the arc.
- Boston - Bruce Brown (SG, Miami)
Potentially losing the likes of Marcus Smart in the backcourt, the Celtics will need to fill the void of a prime defensive talent for this Boston squad. Bruce Brown is a strong wing/combo guard that can emerge to a top-tier NBA defender. He does need to improve his offensive game, however.
- Golden State - Elie Okobo (PG, France)
If anyone can mold Elie Okobo into a prime NBA guard, it’s Steve Kerr and the dynamic backcourt of Golden State. Overseas, Okobo scored 13 points a game with five assists to go along with it. He plays confident, like Steph Curry, and finishes well at the rim.
- Brooklyn (from Toronto) - Shake Milton (PG, SMU)
Shake Milton is a 6-foot-6 combo guard that might end up being the best mid-major pick up out of this draft. He shot an exceptional 43.4 percent beyond the arc and averaged 18 points a game. He might start as an off-the-bench product, but will quickly turn into a starter.
- Atlanta (from Houston via LA Clippers) - Jalen Brunson (PG, Villanova)
Why not improve the backcourt if you’re Atlanta? Jalen Brunson has high basketball IQ and can play outstanding defensively. His determination alone makes his ceiling that much higher as an NBA prospect. Most have him as an early second rounder, but if he can show up for NBA scouts, he will show them why he’s worthy of a first-round choice.