NBA Draft: Trae Young, Mo Bamba headline five biggest boom-or-bust prospects in 2018 class
These prospects could be this year's most volatile candidates
The 2018 NBA Draft class is loaded with the type of talent that could significantly alter the the immediate- and long-term complexion of the NBA. At the top of most mock drafts at CBS Sports, in some variation, you're most likely to see Deandre Ayton, a 7-foot-1 unicorn Center from Arizona, as well as Slovenian star Luka Doncic. Duke standout Marvin Bagley III and Michigan State one-and-done big man Jaren Jackson Jr. are also considered top-tier prospects, and all of them are projected by many -- myself included -- to eventually develop into All-Star quality players.
As you mozy your way down the list of likely lottery picks and projected first-round talents, there's a strong case that the first-round pool is as talented as its ever been in several years. But if history tells us anything, it's that those prospects -- in the lottery or later in the first round -- don't have a 100 percent hit rate. First-round selections aren't synonymous with can't-miss talents, and some come with a higher level of volatility than others.
Some may label these prospects as high risk, high-reward talents for their recognizable flaws but undeniable upside. Boom or bust, you might call them. For the sake of this post, we're going to look at those handful of specific prospects in the 2018 draft class and rank them from least to most volatile.
5. Mohamed Bamba | 7-1, 226 | Texas | PF
- Boone Mock:
Bamba is 2018's most inscrutable prospect. Some analysts believe he has the talent to go as high as No. 1, while others believe he's worthy of a selection later in the lottery. Guilty. Ultimately, the only evaluation of importance are of the teams drafting inside the lottery -- but it's safe to say he's not a ready-made prospect.
No matter where you stand on him, most will cede that Bamba isn't a surefire star. A block-everything rim-protector at Texas, Bamba is a Rudy Gobert-like talent with a 7-10 wingspan that should translate to immediate shot-blocking capabilities at the next level. Still yet, Bamba needs to add weight to his tall, lanky frame, and while he took 3-pointers in college, he wasn't particularly efficient (27.5 percent) at knocking them down. He's far from a finished product, particularly on offense, and he still has long strides to make to realize his potential as a two-way star.
4. Donte DiVincenzo | 6-5, 201 | Villanova | SG
- Boone Mock:
Donte DiVinvenzo shot his own virtually non-existent stock to the moon after putting up 31 points and knocking down 5-of-7 shots from 3-point range in leading Villanova to its second national championship in three seasons. He's a 6-4.5 wing with scoring upside galore and defensive capability that projects to be good enough to contribute at the next level. So, you ask, what's not to like about all that?
The talent, upside and ability is obviously there, but the only drawback with DiVincenzo is that he may be seen as a flash-in-the-pan prospect. I don't think he is -- as I do have him going No. 22 -- but it's a fair argument to make. He was the third-leading scorer on the Wildcats last season, and was never thrust into a role on offense that forced him to handle the brunt of the workload like he showed he could do in the title game. I'm high on him because I think he's such a great shooter his lack of experience in a premier role won't ultimately matter, but there's a risk here that he may simply get drafted in the first-round, warranted or not, because of how great he was on college basketball's biggest stage and how he tested at the Combine.
3. Mitchell Robinson | 7-0, 223 | No college | C
- Boone Mock:
What NBA team wouldn't take a flyer on a 7-foot, rim-running center? Mitchell Robinson checks a lot of boxes for what teams look for as a big man in the modern NBA, but he comes with his own red flags -- the most obvious one being that he skipped college to train for the NBA and thus has no real tape to go off when evaluating him.
Robinson is a super-athlete whose wingspan is plenty long enough to translate into a shot-blocking savant and throw down lobs like Clint Capela, but he's still very raw as a weapon on offense and his decision making is basically untested against quality competition. The only way to know if he'll fit in with other NBA talents is by giving him a chance, but he'll need a long runway to develop his game and needs to find the right franchise willing to be patient with him.
2. Trae Young | 6-2, 178 | Oklahoma | PG
- Boone Mock:
The most polarizing college basketball player of last season is, unsurprisingly, one of the most polarizing prospects in the 2018 talent pool of draft-hopefuls. Oklahoma's Trae Young is almost assuredly going in the top 14 -- and maybe even the top 10 -- but there are legitimate concerns that his lack of size could get him thrown around at the NBA level and that the open shots he created for himself in college simply won't be there against upper-tier athletes.
Young isn't an elite athlete nor is he particularly twitchy, so he won't be able to blow by defenders in the NBA the same way he did in college. He's still got a smooth jump shot, is an above average shooter off the dribble and has excellent court vision as a true point guard. However, his lack of of mobility and burst is a real sticking point. Becoming a good defender will be an uphill climb for him and creating shots -- both for himself and for teammates -- likely won't come without challenges given his certain limitations.
1. Michael Porter Jr.| 6-10, 215 | Missouri | SF
- Boone Mock:
If you were to tell me Michael Porter Jr. parlays an injury-plagued freshman season at Missouri into a 10-time All-Star NBA career, I'd believe you. I'd also believe you if you told me he never puts it all together and, despite his incredible skillset on offense, turns into little more than a role player in the league and ultimately flames out.
The big question mark surrounding Porter isn't talent but rather a back injury he suffered in college that required surgery. He returned in the postseason for the Tigers in college, but was a mere shell of the player that was once considered the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2017. If he can return to the form he was before his back injury, a team may be getting a steal to snatch him at, say, Nos. 4 or 5, but there's no guarantee he'll be the same player he once was -- and red flags continue to be raised after he reportedly canceled a pro day workout due to hip spasms.
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