First things first: The 2018 NBA Draft isn't this year's draft.
The 2017 draft was an embarrassment of riches. Nearly every lottery team landed a potential foundational star, and the three or four teams at the end of the lottery still ought to get solid NBA starters.
The five point guards drafted in the lottery -- Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, De'Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina -- might have made this the best point guard draft since 2009 (Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, Tyreke Evans, etc.), if not earlier. And while I don't believe there's one no-doubt, can't-miss superstar like the LeBron James draft, or the Anthony Davis draft, or the Karl-Anthony Towns draft, few have had this sort of depth at the top. There aren't any no-doubters, but there are a ton of could-be-great-ers.
But "that" will not be "this." The 2018 draft will not have nearly the depth of 2017. However, the very top of the 2018 draft will have a handful of studs who certainly would have been in consideration as top-three picks in the 2017 draft. It's loaded with big men in the way this year's draft was loaded with point guards. There's an international player getting buzz as a possible No. 1 overall pick. And you better believe that the next 12 months will find plenty of players who aren't on our radar now, but will be soon.
So if you're bummed about your team's showing in Thursday's draft, don't fret -- there's always next year. And here's a way-too-early look at next year. We're basing our draft order on SportsLine regular-season projections for 2018 run before Thursday's draft. Never to early to dream, I suppose.
|Via trade with Nets|
DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona
The ideal modern-day big man, Ayton can block shots, run the floor and shoot it from deep. Such a high ceiling. The next guy is the better player, but Ayton is the better fit.
|Michael Porter Jr., SF/PF, Missouri|
Like Jayson Tatum, but a tick better in every way: Bigger, stronger, with a better shot and better defensive abilities. Immediately turns the Kings into a young franchise on the rise.
|Luka Doncic, SG, INTL|
If the perfect wing could be constructed for today's NBA, it would look a lot like Doncic: Tall and versatile, a great shooter with a natural basketball mind.
|Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas|
A tall, long center who has the potential to be an elite post defender and rebounder in the NBA. His game needs to grow on the offensive end, but he is by no means a project.
|Via trade with Lakers|
Miles Bridges, SF/PF, Michigan State
A possible lottery pick this year, Bridges will move up draft boards in next year's weaker draft as a powerful and explosive athletic freak.
|Wendell Carter, PF/C, Duke|
Not an elite athlete, but a mature, efficient basketball player for a teenager. A very high floor, though perhaps not an All-Star ceiling.
|Kevin Knox Jr., SF, Kentucky|
The son of a former NFL player, Knox is incredibly built for a 17-year-old, and a very versatile player on both ends.
|Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky |
The best shot-blocker in this draft, Robinson is an absolute force in the paint. Will take time to develop offensively.
|Trevon Duval, PG, Duke|
Similar to Dennis Smith Jr., Duval is a superior athlete with a great handle who sometimes plays too much hero ball. After dealing Kris Dunn to the Bulls, the Timberwolves could be in the market for a new point guard.
|Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M|
Williams may have been a lottery pick in 2017 had he opted to leave school, based solely on his ridiculous size and athleticism. An incredible upside.
|Via trade with Heat|
Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky
Diallo isn't a complete player yet, though he made huge strides after enrolling at Kentucky a semester early. As a runner and a jumper, Diallo is tops in this draft. Has the potential to be an elite perimeter player.
|Chimezie Metu, PF/C, USC|
My bet is Metu can put together his incredible physical skills and size and turn them into a great junior season. I've long liked Metu's shot-blocking and rebounding abilities as an energy guy, but he's yet to develop an offensive skill set.
|Nick Richards, C, Kentucky|
We'll see if Richards can develop more offensive skills and defensive feel, but his physical profile and athletic explosiveness means his upside is big.
|Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama|
Emmanuel Mudiay's not working out. Perhaps Sexton, an explosive athlete who will learn under Avery Johnson at Alabama, can change the Nuggets' luck at that position.
|Justin Jackson, SF, Maryland|
A strong wing with an incredibly long wingspan, Jackson shot an impressive 43 percent from 3-point range his freshman year at Maryland.
|Lonnie Walker, SG, Miami|
Has the perfect build for an NBA wing and is an excellent shooter.
|Andrew Jones, PG/SG, Texas|
You didn't see the best version of Jones in last year's disastrous season in Austin. His situation was a bit like Frank Jackson's at Duke, a natural two forced into playing the point. Jones is explosive in getting to the rim.
|Via trade with Thunder|
De'Anthony Melton, SG, USC
Perhaps too high for Melton, but I love his high-intensity defense paired with a do-it-all offensive game. A player who will fit just about any team.
|Kris Wilkes, SF, UCLA|
A pick with huge upside. Wilkes is one of the best athletes in this draft, almost Andrew Wiggins-like, but his game (and frame) will take a while to develop.
|Mustapha Heron, SG, Auburn|
A big, strong, confident guard who plays with the certainty of an NBA vet. He can shoot it from deep and rebounds well for a guard.
|Grayson Allen, SG, Duke|
Crazy to think the much-maligned Allen will win national player of the year this coming season? Not at all. He's got great athleticism and is a very good shooter.
|Troy Brown, SG, Oregon|
Brown has elite size and length for a wing, and doesn't have many weaknesses in his game. It would not surprise me if a great freshman year propels Brown into the lottery.
|Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV|
An upside pick, McCoy is tall and strong with excellent strength and athleticism. If he develops, this could be a steal.
|Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, SG, Kansas|
Remember that Svi was the college youngest player when he began his career at Kansas, so he's really a sophomore-aged player. While he hasn't lived up to sky-high projections, Svi is still a big, smooth wing who can shoot it.
|Austin Wiley, PF/C, Auburn|
Two Auburn players in the first round? Two Auburn players in the first round. Wiley reminds me a bit of Bam Adebayo. No, he's not always the world's most graceful athlete, but Wiley can overwhelm people with his strength and motor. Both of his parents were high-level basketball players in college and internationally.
|Quinton Rose, F, Temple|
Sleeper alert: At this week's Team USA tryouts in Colorado Springs, the oh-so-smooth Rose was as good as the McDonald's All-Americans who surrounded him.
|Allonzo Trier, SG, Arizona|
Trier had a weird sophomore season at Arizona with the PED suspension, but he really came on at the end. He's an excellent scorer, someone who can get into the lane as well as he can shoot it from deep.
|Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova|
One of the highest-IQ point guards in college hoops, Brunson was born to be a Spur.
|Landry Shamet, SG, Wichita State|
Shamet is smart and versatile, and the type of 3-point gunner the Cavs crave.
|Vince Edwards, SF, Purdue|
Edwards is a well-built wing who can score efficiently from all over the court and has potential to become much better on the defensive end.