2018 NBA Draft: Rumors, draft order, time, picks, trades and everything you need to know

Watching the NBA Draft is always fun because of the chaos with picks and guaranteed trading up and trading down that always occurs. It's also fun in its own way because, unlike the NFL Draft, everything gets settled in one night.  

It surely helps to go in with even more context. Here's some day-of draft buzz, and answers to a lot of the big (if not obvious) questions pertaining to this year's festivities, and general info to be up to date on. 

How to watch the 2018 NBA Draft

  • When: Thursday at 7 p.m. ET
  • Where: Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • TV: ESPN
  • Free stream: CBS Sports HQ will bring you live coverage throughout the NBA Draft with up-to-the-minute pick-by-pick analysis, on-site reporting (from yours truly) and draftee interviews. Tune in at CBSSportsHQ.com!

Now, let's get to some questions and topics with this year's event. 

Mock drafts to consider

Here's mine, and here's Gary Parrish's, and here's Reid Forgrave's. Give them all a look. All have insight and different approaches to building out picks. I love seeing how each of us differ.

Who's the likely top pick?

Signs have pointed, for months, to former Arizona Wildcat Deandre Ayton. This is the first time in Phoenix franchise history that it's had the No. 1 pick. Ayton is 7 feet tall, weighing around 240 pounds and is potentially a franchise-changer for the Suns. He has a power game around the rim, but is also capable of facing up and shooting from the mid-range. He's a reliable rebounder and, physically, the most impressive player in this draft. Fair to say it would be a stunner if he doesn't go to Phoenix. 

What's up with Trae Young's stock?

It's been in flux ever since he started taking over college basketball back in late November. Young was never projected as a one-and-done prospect, but by February it was clear that his statistics and offensive acuity were going to zip him right to the league. 

There is mixed opinion on him because of his size, his defensive liability, and the fact that his stats waned over the final 10-12 games with Oklahoma. Still, he led college basketball in points and assists average. Had never been done. He's going to be a high pick. Where will he land? A source told me on Wednesday that Orlando at No. 6 and the Los Angeles Clippers (who have the 12th and 13th picks) is the range. 

But here's the twist: Atlanta is reportedly considering trading maybe trading down from the No. 3 spot with the intention of getting Young elsewhere in the lottery. Why would this be? The Hawks like Young a lot, but could feel it would be hard to justify taking him third overall. A source told me Young's workout with the Hawks last week was the best team workout he had in this process.   

The buzz around Brooklyn

Let's run down some quick-hit items that are in flux in the hours before the draft:

  • Michael Porter Jr.'s quirky hip and how it may, or may not, affect where he's taken. That's a primary storyline heading into Thursday night. Reports from ESPN.com last week had Porter struggling to get out of bed without significant pain. On Wednesday, Porter told reporters that his hip issue is not connected to the back injury that kept him out of most of the college season. 
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander could be the biggest sleeper in the lottery. The former Kentucky point guard, who wasn't expected to be a one-and-done prospect at the start of last college season, has gone from a guy projected in the 20s by most back in late March to someone who could go as high as No. 6 on Thursday night. His floor is No. 12 or No. 13 to the Clippers. In many ways, his situation matches up with Trae Young's.
  • There's a lot of fascination with what the Cleveland Cavaliers will do and who they will draft, because they need to draft someone who best fits their dual-destiny situation: with or without LeBron James on the roster. Personally, I think that's Wendell Carter Jr. out of Duke
  • Trades are inevitable and will be plentiful. Teams are expecting an inordinate amount of transactions on Thursday night because players projected outside the lottery and into the early second round are moving targets on varying team draft boards. By the time we get to the second round, it wouldn't be a surprise if at least eight picks wind up getting swapped. 
  • The Grizzlies are considering trading out of the fourth overall spot, according to a report late Wednesday night from ESPN. The team's cap situation is part of this, as is the fact that some top prospects refused to work out for Memphis, which has a sketchy history of draft picks over the past decade.  

Will John Calipari be there again?

Yes. He's always there. Kentucky's had at least one player go in the lottery literally every year since he became UK's coach in 2009-10. Most college coaches go to the NBA Draft when they have players positioned to be taken in the top 20. This is Cal's annual victory lap, though UK will have two players tops be lotto picks this year (Gilgeous-Alexander and Kevin Knox). With fewer tables to hop, Cal won't burn as many calories in the green room this year. 

Who's this Luka Doncic guy?

He's from Slovenia and he's undeniably awesome. As in: has done things in European basketball and achieved things in multiple professional leagues that no one at the age of 19 has done before -- until Doncic did them earlier this spring. He got into New York City on Wednesday night. His former coach is now the coach of the Phoenix Suns, but most think he'll be taken second or third. Don't doubt him just because he's from Europe. There are some evaluators who consider him the most NBA-ready player, and expect him to wind up with the biggest impact in the year's draft crop.

How much money do these guys get paid?

It's a predetermined amount, based on the collectively bargained rookie pay scale. All draft picks sign four-year contracts. The top eight picks are guaranteed at least $4 million.  

Here's the cheddar (before taxes and paying agents and financial advisors and other representatives) the top eight picks will take home:

  • No. 1: $8,251,477
  • No. 2: $7,382,837
  • No. 3: $6,629,778
  • No. 4: $5,977,870
  • No. 5: $5,412,922
  • No. 6: $4,916,346
  • No. 7: $4,488,019
  • No. 8: $4,111,429

The 30th pick is owed $1,637,600. Second round picks aren't owed guaranteed deals, but many players wind up getting them. 

How crazy might this night get?

Probably wacky. In speaking with sources in recent days, the expectation is that there are more trades than usual this year vs. much of the past decade's worth of drafts. Reasons for this vary, as teams have different needs or are stuck in certain contract situations that could prompt transactions as the draft is unfolding. Traditionally, the second round is a carnival of pick swapping. This year, though, the lottery could see two or three teams move their position. Atlanta and Memphis are reportedly mulling that, and by the time the draft starts, another franchise could easily be in play.

Keep that in mind, and pay attention, as some players could walk off the stage wearing one team's hat but wind up on a plane Friday morning bound for a different city. 

Do the Warriors get draft picks? They probably don't need any.

Valid point. Nevertheless, they are in position for No. 28 pick. (Golden State previously dealt its second round pick, which is No. 58, do Denver.) 

Riskiest prospects:

For my money, here are the boom-or-bust guys projected to go in the first round. I'll keep the critiques short:

  1. Jaren Jackson Jr. (Michigan State): Big, talented, very good on defense. He was inconsistent at Michigan State, though, and played fewer minutes than any other prospect in this draft. He'll be picked anywhere from second to seventh. 
  2. Michael Porter Jr. (Missouri): For all the reasons written above. We simply don't know how hurt he is, how long it will take him to get to 100 percent, and if taking most of the past eight months off is going to affect his ability to adapt to the NBA.
  3. Donte DiVincenzo (Villanova): Huge name entering Thursday night's festivities. Scored 31 points in the title game. But keep in mind: Had DiVincenzo only scored six points in that NCAA champ game, he's probably not in this year's draft. Now he's going to go in the top 20, and he's not a proven point guard. 
  4. Robert Williams (Texas A&M): Could have been a lottery pick in 2017 but returned to college and didn't get much better. He has the size and physical tools, but it's inarguable that many players with his skillset have come into the league over the years and fizzled upon getting to the NBA. 
  5. Zhaire Smith (Texas Tech): First of all, amazing story on this kid. I wrote about it here. He's going to be coachable and will work hard. But in speaking with some NBA personnel, there's uncertainty about how much he can actually bring to a team outside of being a really good defender. He had a rapid rise despite being a hard scout and having a limited role at Texas Tech.

Safest prospects:

The nature of the draft indicates that the players closer to the top are safer, though history has long established that's not the case. With that in mind, here are five players who I believe will translate well to the NBA, have a great chance of playing up to the draft position, and will last a decade-plus in the NBA. I'm picking guys outside the top 10:

  1. Miles Bridges (Michigan State): Has the athleticism, work ethic, body build and shooting stroke to stick in the league for a long time. Great team player, good character. No matter who drafts him, he's going to make a living in the NBA doing this until at least 2028. 
  2. Jerome Robinson (Boston College): No player has done more for his stock in the past month than Robinson. He's exceptionally teachable, a good natural scorer, and someone with almost no ego. Hard to see him busting out of the league. 
  3. Jalen Brunson (Villanova): Too easy. Helped Villanova to two titles in three years, was the National Player of the Year for 2017-18, is smart, has great footwork and understands the game. 
  4. Khyri Thomas (Creighton): Fundamental two-way player who is a top-five defender in this draft and someone who's grown into a reliable offensive threat. Good build. Three-and-D model. Is going to last. 
  5. Gary Trent Jr. (Duke): He's got the size, shooting form and NBA skills on offense to ensure he averages, minimally, 8 points per game over the course of his career. Don't think he'll ever be a star, but I bet you catch him coming off the bench for a playoff team and providing good minutes eight years from now. 

Draft sleepers are fun. Who's in that category?

Glad you asked. I have a big story dedicated to that. I also wrote about the Cinderella stories of this year's draft -- the players who weren't ranked with respect coming out of high school but now are guarantees to be picked. 

Is Grayson Allen getting drafted?

Yes, it's going to happen. His range is 23-33, I believe. I have him on the lower end of that. 

Who are the biggest risers?

Jerome Robinson (Boston College), Donte DiVincenzo (Villanova), Kevin Huerter (Maryland), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Kentucky, Anfernee Simons (IMG Academy) and Chandler Hutchison (Boise State) have come a long way since early April.

The draft order: 

NBA Draft: First round
NBA Draft: Second round
CBS Sports Senior Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning senior writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his ninth season reporting on college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics... Full Bio

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