NBA Draft: Redrafting the 2018 lottery after watching a deep class of rookies led by Luka Doncic, Trae Young
A glimpse of how the 2018 draft might look if every lottery team got a mulligan
They say hindsight is 20/20, but that still requires you to be far enough away from the situation to make that determination. After just a year under the belts of the 2018 NBA Draft class, we still have nowhere near a complete picture of how the players' careers will play out.
It's safe to say, however, that at least a few teams would think twice about their selections last summer given the information that they have now. With that in mind, we decided to redo the 2018 draft, keeping in mind team needs and the skill sets that were displayed by last year's rookies. As you'll see, the draft order varies quite a bit, but some teams end up sticking with their initial choices.
1. Phoenix Suns
Actual pick: Deandre Ayton
Last summer the Suns earned the top pick in the draft for the first time in franchise history and elected to go with Ayton, who turned in a strong rookie season. But still, after watching Doncic become the only rookie besides Oscar Robertson to average over 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists per game, Phoenix must already be second-guessing the decision. Doncic seems like the perfect fit for the modern NBA, and a backcourt of him and Devin Booker would be devastating offensively for years to come.
2. Sacramento Kings
Actual pick: Marvin Bagley III
Bagley improved all season as a spark-plug scorer/rebounder off the bench and looks like a good piece moving forward, but after one season Jackson's ceiling seems to be much higher given his two-way ability. Jackson's defense was spectacular for a rookie, and his offense was way ahead of schedule as the second-youngest player in the 2018 draft class. He shot a sparkling 36% from 3-point range, and his volume will only increase as he becomes more comfortable. Assuming the Kings wanted a power forward to pair with the electric backcourt of De'Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield, in retrospect Jackson seems like a more promising pick than Bagley.
3. Atlanta Hawks
Actual pick: Luka Doncic (traded to Dallas for Young and a 2019 first-round pick)
Young and Doncic will be forever linked because of their draft day trade, but after one season it appears to be working out for both teams. Doncic will likely win Rookie of the Year, but Young had incredible moments and proved himself to be every bit worthy of the "point guard of the future" tag the Hawks assigned to him. On top of that, the trade also netted them the No. 10 pick in the 2019 draft. There's no reason to think that, if Atlanta had to do it over again, they would take anyone but Young with the No. 3 pick, particularly with Doncic already off the board.
4. Memphis Grizzlies
Actual pick: Jaren Jackson Jr.
The Grizzlies did well to land Jackson at No. 4, but if he were off the board then Bagley would be a solid option. At the time of the draft Memphis still had Marc Gasol, so taking Ayton wouldn't have made as much sense. Bagley doesn't have the defensive potential of Jackson, but offensively he's much more polished and is a better rebounder, particularly on the offensive glass. Bagley was inconsistent from 3-point range, but there's plenty of reason to think he'll continue to improve from deep. He'd be a nice asset for the impending Memphis rebuild.
5. Dallas Mavericks
Actual pick: Trae Young (traded to Atlanta for Luka Doncic)
There's certainly reason to believe that Dallas might have traded down if Doncic was already selected, but if not then Ayton would have been a steal at No. 5. People will look at Ayton falling from No. 1 to No. 5 in the redraft and think it's a slight -- it's not. Ayton was great in his rookie season, but it's simply a product of the modern NBA that a center who can't stretch the floor and isn't projected as an elite rim protector would be less valuable than the players taken ahead of him in this redraft. The Mavs could do much worse than someone who looks like a perennial 20-10 guy with the No. 5 overall pick.
6. Orlando Magic
Actual pick: Mohamed Bamba
After posting the largest wingspan in the history of the NBA combine, Bamba was underwhelming in a rookie season cut short by injury. If the Magic would have known they'd improve to a playoff team behind an All-Star year from Nikola Vucevic, they might have drafted someone more NBA ready. Gilgeous-Alexander fits the bill, as we saw him become a critical member of a deep and talented Clippers squad. Orlando's point guard troubles have been well noted over the years, so locking in someone like SGA as a versatile floor leader who thrives on both ends of the floor would have been a prudent move.
7. Chicago Bulls
Actual pick: Wendell Carter Jr.
Given the options left at No. 7, Carter still seems like the right choice for the Bulls. He played well in his rookie year before going down for the season in mid-January with a thumb injury. Along with Lauri Markkanen, the 6-foot-10 Carter helps comprise a promising young frontcourt that's versatile on both ends of the floor and compliments the scoring of Zach LaVine on the wing.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers
Actual pick: Collin Sexton
The Cavs were hoping the Brooklyn pick they obtained from the Celtics in the Kyrie Irving deal would end up a bit higher, but it fell to No. 8 and Sexton was the best player available. Given Cleveland's need for a young ball-handler, Sexton would still be the pick here. Despite an inefficient rookie season in which he struggled to get teammates involved offensively, Sexton proved that he can score consistently and shot the 3-ball much better than most expected (40%). He may not project as an All-NBA point guard, but the Cavs could have done much worse at No. 8.
9. New York Knicks
Actual pick: Kevin Knox
You can't sugar-coat Knox's rookie season: It was not good. That being said, at No. 9 he's pretty much the only player left who projects as a potential franchise guy (given Michael Porter Jr.'s injury issues). The Knicks were desperately searching for someone to sell to their fans, and Knox -- a 6-9, rangy wing who can shoot from distance -- fits the bill. He may not ever reach that ceiling, but it would still be worth a shot for New York at No. 9.
10. Philadelphia 76ers
Actual pick: Mikal Bridges (traded to Phoenix for Zhaire Smith and 2021 Miami first-round pick)
Some would argue that the Sixers would have been better off simply keeping Bridges, but given the team's lack of shooting around their stars, Huerter seems like the right choice at No. 10. The 6-7 Maryland product shot an elite 39% from deep on 4.7 attempts per game, and showed a strong off-the-dribble game while playing solid defense. He would be a good piece off the bench, and provide insurance should Philly get out-priced for the services of J.J. Redick this summer.
11. Charlotte Hornets
Actual pick: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (traded to Clippers for Miles Bridges and two second-round picks)
At this point it would be hard for Charlotte to pass up someone with Bamba's upside. He may not have produced much in his rookie season, but not many expected him to have an immediate impact. Bamba projects to be an elite rim protector with offensive potential to stretch to the 3-point line, along with being a lob threat. Charlotte has been a middling, fringe playoff team for several years now, and Bamba would at least give the fans something to be excited about.
12. Los Angeles Clippers
Actual pick: Miles Bridges (traded to Hornets for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander)
If you were asked to construct the perfect 3-and-D NBA player, he would come out looking exactly like Mikal Bridges. At 6-7 with arms that look even longer than his 7-foot wingspan, Bridges had a strong defensive impact as a rookie while knocking down 34% of his 3-point attempts. He would fit in nicely with the playoff-ready Clippers as a versatile wing capable of guarding multiple positions.
13. Los Angeles Clippers
Actual pick: Jerome Robinson
The Clippers would still take a Robinson with the No. 13 pick, but instead of a 6-5 shooter it would be a 7-foot shot-blocking machine. With Mikal Bridges already in the fold, the Clippers would be free to take a flier on Robinson, who set New York on fire with his electric performance in the second half of the season with the Knicks. His offense is still a gigantic question mark, but Robinson proved that if he can, at the very least, be an elite lob catcher and rim protector for a long time in this league.
14. Denver Nuggets
Actual pick: Michael Porter Jr.
Despite his alarming medical history, Porter is still the best selection for the Nuggets with the final pick of the lottery. Denver is set up nicely for the future with its core of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Gary Harris and clearly had no problem winning games. So it makes sense to gamble on Porter, considered the top player in his class out of high school by some recruiting services. He missed what would have been his rookie season while rehabbing, but if he can return healthy, the 6-10 forward has All-Star potential -- not easy to come by at No. 14.
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