We're less than a month away from the NBA Draft Lottery on May 15 in Chicago, where the tankers will congregate to see whose tank job paid off best with the No. 1 overall pick.
It's an intriguing draft this year: Absolutely stacked in the top 10, and then after that come the question marks. This draft isn't nearly as deep as last year's draft – but but any of the top six or seven picks would have been in contention for No. 1 a year ago.
You won't find many mock drafts that have him higher than where I slot him, going No. 5 to the Orlando Magic. I believe in Young's skill and his confidence. I don't think the Steph Curry comparisons are as crazy as they sound. And I love the fit of having him go to a team like the Magic that's starved for a star.
You can't go wrong with a number of players at No. 1: Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, or Luka Doncic. But Ayton is the player a general manager doesn't want to have on his resume as passing on, because on paper he seems like the surest thing. The Bahamanian big man is the type of physical specimen who makes jaws drop when he walks into a gym. Plus he's versatile. Ayton is David Robinson-like on the offensive end.
Marvin Bagley III | Duke | Fr | PF/C
Another potential unicorn. Bagley is a physical marvel who works harder than anyone else on the floor. Bagley's and Ayton's collegiate stats were virtually identical: Bagley averaged 21.0 points, 11.1 rebounds and shot 39.7 percent from 3-point range, while Ayton averaged 20.1 points, 11.6 assists and shot 34.3 percent from 3-point range. All things being equal, I'm tempted to go against the emerging consensus and take Bagley over Ayton as No. 1. That motor is what sets Bagley apart.
Luka Doncic | Real Madrid | SG
The 19-year-old Slovenian dominated this season while he played against grown men in the Spanish league. Doncic was 15th in the Spanish ACB league in points, fourth in assists, and 12th in rebounds. He's a remarkable shot creator and shot maker – a smart, shifty, versatile, confident player. Think Manu Ginobili.
Bamba would join John Collins in giving the Hawks a young frontcourt with sky-high potential. as well -- he can put the ball on the floor, has a nice shooting stroke and shot a promising 68.1 percent from the free-throw line -- but the incredibly long 7-footer will make his money as a Rudy Gobert-like defensive force. Bamba ranked second in college basketball in blocked shots as a freshman.
Trae Young | Oklahoma | Fr | PG
A reach to pick Young this high? Perhaps. But the Magic need a point guard, badly, as well as some excitement surrounding a franchise that's been stuck in neutral, and utterly identity-less, since Stan Van Gundy was fired. Young is a potential star. Sure,on the young man's shoulders, but his playing style as well as his college stats back it up.
Jaren Jackson Jr. | Michigan State | Fr | PF/C
Jackson is big, long, athletic and versatile, with an outrageous ceiling on both ends of the floor. His versatility as a playmaker and as a shooter – he shot 80 percent from the free-throw line, 40 percent from 3-point range – would fit well in Fred Hoiberg's system. I'm not sure how the fit with Lauri Markkanen would be, but when you can get this big of a talent with the sixth pick, you take it. Period.
Michael Porter Jr. | Missouri | Fr | SF
If you saw Porter only during his ill-fated return from back surgery to Missouri in March, Kevin Durant comparison some made was going too far, but I see where the thought comes from. I see Porter as a Jayson Tatum-type player, but just a tick better in many ways.Before this season, I thought he'd be in contention for the No. 1 pick over this very strong competition. Porter can make shots from anywhere on the court. The
Pick acquired from Brooklyn
The Cavaliers presumably won't know what will happen with LeBron's future until after the draft, which makes this pick difficult. Adding an experienced two-way player like Villanova's Mikal Bridges, for example, could be the type of pick that would provide immediate dividends for a LeBron-led team with title aspirations. But the younger Sexton's ceiling is higher, and I expect this pick to be a building block for the future. Sexton is streaky, and his confidence can border on an off-putting arrogance, but the explosive, exciting score-first point guard is the closest there is to a Russell Westbrook in this draft.
Wendell Carter Jr. | Duke | Fr | C
I'm assuming the Knicks are sticking with Frank Ntilikina as their point guard of the future; otherwise, Kentucky's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander would be an intriguing, high-upside option here. (He could also be an intriguing option playing beside Ntilikina, though they have similar strengths and weaknesses.) But -- as a post scorer and a perimeter shooter, as a rebounder and a shot-blocker -- would give the Knicks a helluva frontcourt if paired alongside Kristaps Porzingis.
Pick acquired from Los Angeles Lakers
Mikal Bridges | Villanova | Jr | SF
A win-now pick for a team that's looking to win now. Plus the Villanova star gets to stay in a city that loves him for the two titles he helped win in three seasons at Villanova. The 21-year-old Bridges is an excellent athlete, a two-way stud who can make 3-pointers and make plays. He could have an immediate impact.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander | Kentucky | Fr | PG
It sure sounds like Mitch Kupchak is taking a stick of dynamite to an organization that's been mired in mediocrity for years. As such, I don't know what sort of chance there will be for Kemba Walker to stick around. So why not get a head start on a potential point guard of the future? If Gilgeous-Alexander were to stick around for a sophomore season at Kentucky, add some muscle and some leadership experience, I believe he could be in the running for a top-five or perhaps top-three pick in the 2019 draft. He was the main reason why Kentucky morphed from an incoherent team in January to a team that was rolling come March. He's tall and long, a good athlete, and a very good shooter.
Pick acquired from Detroit
Miles Bridges | Michigan State | Soph | SF
A shorter Blake Griffin, sorta maybe? Bridges could be the most explosive athlete in this draft. Yes, there are questions whether being a tweener could hurt his NBA ceiling. And there are questions whether he's a real basketball player or just an athlete playing basketball. But the dude is exciting, has incredible raw natural abilities, and is a very good shooter and rebounder.
Lonnie Walker | Miami | Fr | SG
Walker is an explosive athlete with beautiful shooting form, shooting 34.6 percent from 3-point range and 73.8 percent from the line this season. His stats were hampered because he took a while to get up to speed to the college game after an offseason injury. He's a long, lean athlete with a big ceiling.
Robert Williams | Texas A&M | Soph | PF/C
A freak. A total athletic freak. Williams can jump out of the gym, blocking shots and grabbing rebounds others can't get. He averaged close to a double-double, yet his sophomore season felt somewhat disappointing because the expectations were so high. Williams offensive game is somewhat limited and didn't show growth during his sophomore year. Perhaps he could develop into a Clint Capela-like character and really help the Nuggets on defense.
In December, UNLV faced off with Arizona in a matchup of two stud big men: McCoy and potential No. 1 pick DeAndre Ayton. It was an incredibly fun, tight game, despite Arizona having much more talent than UNLV, and McCoy more than held his own. He scored 33 points and had 10 rebounds; Ayton had 28 points and 10 rebounds. Against the best competition, McCoy has always been at his best, like when he played for Team USA at the FIBA U-19 World Cup last summer. The Wizards have a great core of John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter, but a massive void in the post. McCoy could make an immediate impact here.
Pick acquired from Miami
Kevin Knox | Kentucky | Fr | SF
I'm surprised I have Knox slotted so low here, as I have long believed he's a mid-lottery talent. This would be a steal for the Suns. I don't see Knox as anything close to an NBA star, but as a very good rotation player who can do a bit of everything for a winning team. He can get to the rim, he can shoot it well-enough from deep and he can defend multiple positions. Knox is a valuable prospect.
Eric Bledsoe has one year left on his contract. Do we even know if he's the long-term solution for the Bucks anyway? Holiday is an explosive scorer. He may only be 6-1, but his incredibly long wingspan makes him an excellent perimeter defender. For a win-now team, this upperclassman with NBA pedigree feels like a great fit.
Chandler Hutchinson | Boise State | Sr | SF
The senior's game steadily progressed through his four years in college to the point where he's a top-five wing in a draft that's short on elite wings. He's a capable athlete who can do a bit of everything on the court. His 3-point shooting is far from elite, but it's good enough, and has shown vast improvement there.
Pick acquired from Minnesota
Bruce Brown | Miami | Soph | SG
Brown's sophomore season was heading toward disappointment even before it ended early with an injury. His 3-point shooting was the most alarming part, dipping all the way down to 26.7 percent. But it's not as if he has a broken shot. And his high-level defense, toughness and athleticism mean there's a whole lot to like here. He's much better than the player we saw this season.
Pick acquired from Oklahoma City
Yep, another Creighton product heading to Minneapolis in the footsteps of Justin Patton a year ago. While the Patton pick has yielded absolutely zero results so far, Thomas could be different. Thomas may be the best two-way guard available in this draft. He can shoot it – something the Timberwolves need – and he can defend multiple positions – something the Timberwolves need. Tom Thibodeau will love the way he competes.
Donte DiVincenzo | Villanova | Soph | SG
What do the Jazz need most? A secondary scorer outside of Donovan Mitchell. DiVincenzo is one of the best raw athletes in this draft, plays with incredible intensity on offense and defense, and can flat-out score. DiVincenzo shot 40 percent from 3-point range for a Villanova team that was one of the most efficient offenses of all time. After , former Villanova point guard Ryan Arcidiacono told a couple of reporters that DiVincenzo could end up becoming the best NBA player to ever come from Villanova. (Arcidiacono may have forgotten 1950s legend Paul Arizin.) Perhaps this is too early for DiVincenzo, but there's no obvious weakness in his arsenal.
Pick acquired from New Orleans
Bates-Diop projects as an athletic 3-and-D player for a Bulls team with a bunch of intriguing young pieces. He can do a bit of everything on the court and ought to make a nice role player.
A high upside pick for the already deep Pacers. The long and athletic Smith is a force on the defensive end, and is could develop into an explosive offensive player.
Dzanan Musa | Cedevita Zagreb | SF
A versatile wing in a wing-starved draft. In EuroCup competition this season the young, lean Musa has shot 36.4 percent from 3-point range while averaging 18.7 points per 36 minutes.
Pick acquired from Cleveland
D'Anthony Melton | USC | Soph | PG/SG
It's a shame we didn't get to see more of Melton during his sophomore season at USC, which was cut short by his involvement in the FBI investigation into college basketball. I saw Melton at a USC practice in February -- he was the best player on the court, and he knew it. He has a certain swagger to his game, on offense and defense, though shooting from deep is not his forte.
Jalen Brunson | Villanova | Jr | PG
I've been in love with Brunson since seeing him in high school. Ben Simmons is catching a breather. He's going to be a winning NBA player for 15 years., nor was there a consistently more efficient scorer. TJ McConnell has one year left on his contract; Brunson could immediately be slotted in as the perfect backup point guard to throw teams off their rhythm when
Mitchell Robinson | N/A | C
A home-run swing no matter where he's taken. Robinson is a helluva physical specimen, a hugely athletic 7-footer who is one of the best shot-blockers in a draft that has a few stellar ones. Robinson is a liability on the offensive end for now, but with some time in the G-League, this project could become a late-first-round gem.
Gary Trent Jr. | Duke | Fr | SG
A beautiful shooter for a team that's already full of them. He's not the most impressive athlete, but he's an absolute pit bull on the court.
Pick acquired from Toronto
Omari Spellman | Villanova | Fr | PF/C
A hard-working and surprisingly nimble big man who can hit from 3-point range. An incredibly smart, intuitive player who Nets general manager Sean Marks ought to love.
Pick acquired from Houston
A long and athletic wing, Battle played more minutes than any other player in college basketball last season. His efficiency suffered because of it, but that should not take away the fact he averaged nearly 20 points for a team that made the NCAA Tournament. His 32 percent 3-point shooting should be offset by his 84 percent free-throw shooting.