It's draft week. Finally, it's draft week. And the biggest question in these days leading up to Thursday's 2018 NBA Draft is whether a franchise picking in the top five is really going to use a high lottery pick on Michael Porter Jr. even though he A) is coming off of back surgery, and B) had to cancel a recent workout because of muscle spasms that reportedly made it difficult for him to get out of bed.
It's a total risk-reward deal.
If you pull the trigger, you could be getting a future NBA star at a spot in this draft lower than anybody projected Porter would be picked a year ago. That's terrific. But the other side of that has you passing on other fantastic talents to select somebody who might never reach his potential because of a well-documented back injury that required surgery last November. And that would be devastating.
|NBA Mock Draft - 08/06/2018|
|2. Sacramento Kings|
|Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke: I've heard all of the concerns about Bagley -- that he has short arms, that he's a defensive liability, that he doesn't have a natural position. So on and so forth. But I keep coming back to this: He was widely regarded as the best player his age every year he was in high school -- and then he went to college and was a First Team All-American who averaged 21.0 points and 11.1 rebounds while shooting 39.7 percent from 3-point range for a Duke team that finished ranked third at KenPom. So I'm simply going to bet on the player who has always been awesome to continue to be awesome. Honestly, I'd probably take him first in this draft. So the Kings would be wise to snatch him up when he drops to them.|
|6. Orlando Magic|
|Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma: Scouts are all over the place on Young -- who was the story of college basketball for much of his one season at Oklahoma. The 6-2 point guard became the first Division I player in history to lead the nation in points (27.4) and assists (8.7) per game, and his unique ability as a shot-creator and shot-maker had some comparing him to Stephen Curry. But once defenses adjusted in February and March, Young began to struggle. And his skeptics believe that's a truer version of Young, whom literally nobody projected as a one-and-done lottery this time last year. For what it's worth, I think he'll be really good. Probably not good enough to be a two-time NBA MVP and three-time world champion like Curry. (Who is?) But good enough to make him a worthy pick in the top half of the lottery.|
|13. Los Angeles Clippers|
|Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky: Gilgeous-Alexander was only the seventh-best prospect in Kentucky's 2017 class, according to 247Sports, but he emerged as one of the Wildcats' most important players as the season progressed. The one-and-done combo guard averaged 14.4 points, 5.1 assists and 4.1 rebounds while showing a unique ability to get into the lane. At 6-6 with a 7-foot wingspan, Gilgeous-Alexander could become a great perimeter defender in time, which is obviously a terrific skill in the modern NBA where perimeter players dominate the league. Yes, his shot needs some work. But his pros far outweigh his cons. And he would also fill a position of need for a Clippers franchise with multiple lottery picks.|
|15. Washington Wizards|
|Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami (Fla.): Walker's freshman season didn't get off to a great start -- evidence being how he only averaged 8.1 points in 20.9 minutes per game through Miami's first 15 contests. But the 6-4 freshman averaged 14.0 points in Miami's final five regular-season games to remind NBA scouts why they view him as a strong-framed shooting guard with a future. Yes, he only shot 34.6 percent from 3-point range this season. But, remember, Walker shot 40 percent from beyond the arc two summers ago on the Nike EYBL circuit. So his lower percentage at Miami isn't too concerning and probably has more to do with his teammates than him.|
|17. Milwaukee Bucks|
|Troy Brown, SG, Oregon: Brown developed a reputation in high school as somebody who values defense and could reasonably play at least three positions at the collegiate level, and he showed flashes of that at Oregon while averaging 11.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 31.5 minutes per game. If he can develop a consistent 3-point shot -- Brown only shot 29.1 percent from beyond the arc this season -- he'll be capable of providing the versatility NBA franchises crave while flourishing at both forward positions.|
|18. San Antonio Spurs|
|Elie Okobo, PG, France: Okobo is a 6-2 point guard with a 6-8 wingspan who has been on NBA radars for years but made a big jump playing in France this season. He got 44 points in one playoff game and now looks like a lock first-round pick. With Tony Parker all but done being a meaningful player, it seems wise for San Antonio to use its first-round pick on an interesting primary ball-handler with a reliable jumper.|
|19. Atlanta Hawks|
|Dzanan Musa, SF, Bosnia: Musa is a 19-year-old Bosnian who averaged 20.2 minutes this season for Cedevita in the Adriatic League. The 6-8 wing has long had a reputation with scouts as a potential quality scorer in the NBA. The only concern is whether he's a good-enough athlete, and mature enough, to guard his position and flourish in general when he moves to the United States. But that concern shouldn't keep somebody -- especially a franchise with three first-round picks like Atlanta -- from selecting Musa in the first round.|
|22. Chicago Bulls|
|Chandler Hutchison, SF, Boise State: Hutchison had the best season of his four-year college career this season while establishing himself as a first-round talent. The 6-7 Mountain West Conference star has all the tools necessary to be a quality NBA wing. He averaged 20.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 31 minutes for a Boise State team that won 23 times.|
|28. Golden State Warriors|
|Jacob Evans III, SF, Cincinnati: Evans is a do-everything wing who guards multiple positions, plays tough and consistently makes outside jumpers -- evidence being how he shot 39.4 percent from 3-point range in his final two years at Cincinnati while helping the Bearcats earn a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. He didn't take over games often, it's fair to note. But it's not hard to imagine him flourishing with the Warriors and becoming a useful piece for a championship organization.|