Way-too-early 2018 NBA Mock Draft: Celtics take Mizzou's Michael Porter at No. 1

The 2017 NBA Draft was deep and filled with at least five incredible point guard prospects. The 2018 NBA Draft should be neither of those things. But that doesn't mean there won't be stars at the top - most notably Missouri Tigers 's Michael Porter Jr., Texas Longhorns ' Mohamed Bamba,  Arizona Wildcats 's DeAndre Ayton -- and Luka Doncic, a 6-foot-8 guard from Slovenia.

I love them all.

And ranking them in almost any order is reasonable.

But I prefer Porter to the other three - if only because I can't envision a scenario (barring injury) where the 6-10 forward doesn't prove to be an amazing slasher and scorer from the wing. He's not Kevin Durant any more than Lonzo Ball is Jason Kidd. But when you watch him play, you can see where the comparison comes from. And that's why I can't wait to watch him play in the SEC.

Bottom line, I think, Porter will be the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. And if the projections for SportsLine's Stephen Oh prove correct, he will become a member of ... the Boston Celtics . So the rich get richer.

SPORTSLINE: BIG MOVEMENT IN NBA WIN TOTALS POST-DRAFT

And here's my first 2018 NBA Mock Draft:

2018 NBA Mock Draft
1

VIA TRADE WITH Brooklyn Nets

Michael Porter Jr., SF/PF, Missouri

Porter is a combo forward with unlimited potential. The only question is whether he can do what Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz couldn't - i.e., be a one-and-done star who leads a recently struggling program to the NCAA Tournament. 

2

Luka Doncic, SG, Slovenia

Doncic shot 37.1 percent from 3-point range for Real Madrid this season and was voted the Spanish League's "Best Young Player." He's a 6-8 guard who should become the first top-five pick from Slovenia in NBA Draft history. 

3

Mohamed Bamba, PF, Texas

Bamba is the prize of Shaka Smart's top-10 recruiting class. He's a 7-foot forward with a 7-9 wingspan who should be a terror on the defensive end of the court for many years to come. 

4

DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona

Ayton could become the first player since Anthony Davis in 2012 to win a national title and then be the No. 1 pick in the subsequent NBA Draft. He's a super-talented big who will become an NBA star - if he ever learns to A) play at a high level consistently, and B) avoid complacency. 

5

Miles Bridges , SF/PF, Michigan State Spartans

Bridges was the highest-rated college prospect to return to school, and I'm betting he improves his stock because of it. Plus, he could lead Michigan State to a Big Ten title -- and possibly a national title -- before becoming a lottery pick. 

6

Wendell Carter, PF, Duke Blue Devils

If you're wondering how Duke could lose Luke Kennard , Jayson Tatum , Frank Jackson , Harry Giles and Amile Jefferson but still be a national title contender, Carter is among the reasons. He'll be impactful for the Blue Devils from Day 1. 

7

Robert Williams , PF/C, Texas A&M

Williams is a terrific athlete with undeniable upside who averaged 11.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in just 25.8 minutes per game as a freshman. He should improve across the board as a sophomore and then become a top-10 pick. 

8

Trevon Duval, PG, Duke

Duval was a big and important late pickup for Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski. He'll be Duke's primary ball-handler this season and perhaps the key to Coach K's sixth national title.

9

VIA TRADE WITH Los Angeles Lakers

Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama Crimson Tide


Yes, it's possible three different SEC players could be taken in the 2018 NBA Draft before a single Kentucky Wildcats player is picked. That's a testament to the talent upgrade in the league.

10

VIA TRADE WITH Miami Heat

Jaren Jackson Jr., PF/C, Michigan State

Jackson is a 6-10 forward who should be terrific next to Bridges in East Lansing. His father played in the NBA - and he will too. 

11

Hamidou Diallo , SG, Kentucky

Diallo could've entered the 2017 NBA Draft and possibly been a first-round pick. But he opted to instead play next season at Kentucky - where he'll prove to be a lottery pick if he shows he can do more than just be a super-duper athlete who runs and jumps well. 

12

Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky

Robinson will be the best prospect to play in Conference USA since Tyreke Evans was at Memphis Tigers in 2009. He's a fluid athlete for a 7-footer - and an above-level shot-blocker. 

13

Kevin Knox, SF, Kentucky

Knox picked Kentucky over Duke in the late signing period. He's a 6-9 versatile athlete who can play either forward position. 

14

Chimezie Metu , PF/C, Southern California Trojans

Metu averaged 14.8 points and 7.8 rebounds as a sophomore. He could help USC push Arizona at the top of the Pac-12 standings. 

15

Lonnie Walker, SG, Miami

Walker is a big and strong shooting guard who should be able to defend multiple positions. He's also an effective 3-point shooter - proof being how he shot 40 percent from 3-point range last summer in the EYBL. 

16

Troy Trojans Brown Bears , SG, Oregon Ducks

What Brown lacks in athleticism he makes up for with a high basketball IQ and unusual wingspan for a player his size. He's not Donovan Mitchell . But the comparison works. 

17

Isaac Bonga, SF, Germany

Bonga wasn't great at the Adidas EuroCamp in June. But he still showed signs of why he's a likely first-round pick next year. 

18

Bruce Brown , SG, Miami

Brown averaged 11.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists as a freshmen. He should be better as a sophomore, which means the Hurricanes will be better too. 

19

Nick Richards, C, Kentucky

Richards should be the next in a long line of bigs who have been drafted out of Kentucky. He's still raw. But the talent is undeniable. 

20

VIA TRADE WITH Minnesota Timberwolves

Grayson Allen , SG, Duke

Allen's junior season was a nightmare in a variety of ways. But I fully expect him to bounce back, lead Duke in scoring and establish himself as a first-round pick. 

21

Allonzo Trier , SG, Arizona

Trier is a tremendous scorer who should lead the Wildcats in shot attempts and points per game. He won't be the first Arizona player taken. But he should be a First Team All-American. 

22

Jarred Vanderbilt Commodores , SF, Kentucky

Vanderbilt is one of four UK players who should go in the first round. That'll top the number of Wildcats who were picked among the top 30 in the 2017 NBA Draft. 

23

De'Anthony Melton , PG, USC

Melton didn't play well down the stretch last season. But he's good enough to help the Trojans make back-to-back NCAA Tournaments. 

24

Shake Milton , PG, SMU Mustangs

Milton has averaged double figures in points in each of his two seasons at SMU. The 6-5 athlete can play either guard position. 

25

Justin Jackson , SF, Maryland Terrapins

Jackson was wise to pull out of the 2017 NBA Draft and return to Maryland. His reward for that will come via a guaranteed contract next year. 

26

V.J. King, SF, Louisville Cardinals

King only averaged 13.5 minutes last season even though he was a five-star prospect out of high school. But he should have a breakout season not unlike the one Donovan Mitchell just had for the Cardinals.

27

Ethan Happ , PF, Wisconsin Badgers

Happ was Wisconsin's best player last season and a legitimate Big Ten Player of the Year candidate. The 6-10 forward took 10.1 shots per game and made 58.6 percent of them.

28

Vince Edwards, SF, Purdue Boilermakers

Edwards wasn't a top-100 prospect coming out of high school. But he's been terrific for Purdue and established himself as a legitimate NBA prospect.

29

Austin Wiley , C, Auburn Tigers

Wiley was impressive in USA Basketball's U19 tryouts. If he continues to improve, he'll be a millionaire this time next year. 

30

Mikal Bridges , SF, Villanova Wildcats

Bridges is among the reasons the Wildcats should win yet another Big East title. He's a 6-7 forward due for a big junior season. 

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Gary Parrish is an award-winning college basketball columnist and television analyst for CBS Sports who also hosts the highest-rated afternoon drive radio show in Memphis, where he lives with his wife... Full Bio

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