2018 NBA Mock Draft Deandre Ayton goes No 1 but is he the best player in this years class?

2018 NBA Mock Draft Deandre Ayton goes No 1 but is he the best player in this years class?

A total athletic freak for a team that desperately needs more big men. Williams can jump out of the gym, blocking shots and grabbing rebounds others cant get. He averaged close to a double-double, yet his sophomore season felt somewhat disappointing because the expectations were so high (and because the Aggies roster just didnt fit together well). Williams offensive game is somewhat limited and didnt show growth during his sophomore year. Perhaps he could develop into a Clint Capela-like character in Washington.

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Maybe LeBron stays. If he does, a win-now pick perhapsVillanovaMikal Bridges, an experienced two-way wing would make more sense. But the Cavs wont know if LeBron is staying until well after draft night, so this pick needs to plan for a LeBron-less future. The younger Sextons ceiling is higher than Bridges, and therefore a better building block for an uncertain future. Sexton is streaky, and his confidence can border on an off-putting arrogance, but the exciting score-first point guard is the closest there is to aRussell Westbrookin this draft. I dont think it would be crazy in the least if the Cavs tookShai Gilgeous-Alexanderhere, who could well end up as the top guard from this draft.

Jaren Jackson Jr. Michigan St. Fr PF

As silly as it looks in retrospect that thePortland Trail Blazerspicked all-time bust Greg Oden over all-time greatKevin Durantin 2007, at the time that was something approaching a consensus pick.

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A long lefty point guard with a solid all-around game, Okobo is a very good athlete who has NBA range on his shot. Watching tape from him, youll notice his unorthodox shooting form but its a quick release, and it goes in. He has excellent defensive potential as well.

If theres one thing that might convince NBA general managers that Spellman is ready for the NBA, its Spellmans answer to which NBA player he most models his game after:Draymond Green. At the combine Spellman cited Greens versatility and unselfishness as why he admires him. Spellman can stuff the stat sheet as a nimble, intuitive big man who can hit the 3-pointer.

Shai Gilgeous-AlexanderKentuckyFr PG

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One of the best shooters and playmakers in this draft. Robinson tore it up as the featured player on a Boston College team that had one of its best ACC seasons in a long time. The Bulls could use an elite shooter or two, and Robinson could become that in the NBA.

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And so just because the experts say a player is a consensus No. 1 pick, or a consensus top-10 pick, or a consensus no-way-hes-even-in-the-first-round-pick, does not make that a players destiny. In this draft, a consensus has emerged aroundDeAndre Aytonas the No. 1 overall pick. But if we were betting on whod be considered the best player from this draft 10 years from now, Id pick the field over Ayton. Heck, Id pick Luka Doncic over Ayton, and maybe evenMohamed Bambaover Ayton, as the guy wholl turn out to be this drafts brightest star.

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. Its amazing to think that DiVincenzo, Novas sixth man, almost certainly would have returned for one more season if he hadnt went off for 31 points in the national title game. Theres no obvious weakness in his arsenal.

Thomas may be the best two-way guard available in this draft. He can shoot it something theTimberwolvesneed and he can defend multiple positions something the Timberwolves need. Tom Thibodeau will love the way he competes.

2018 NBA Mock Draft: Deandre Ayton goes No. 1, but is he the best player in this years class?

Potential is the key word with Bamba; he already is seen as an elite, Rudy Gobert-like rim protector, but the incredibly long 7-footer (hell have the longest wingspan in the NBA at 7-10) will have to add weight and improve his offensive arsenal. Joel Embiid told me of a conversation he had with Bamba during the collegiate season when Embiid told Bamba that the better spacing in the NBA will prove a boon to Bambas offensive game just like it did for Embiids. Bamba often played on a clogged court at Texas, like Embiid did atKansas. His shot is more than adequate for a big man, though he certainly has room for improvement; he shot a promising 68.1 percent from the free-throw line and 27.5 percent from 3-point range. Bambas college coaches raved to me about his basketball IQ, specifically his ability to see plays before they develop and to pass out of double-teams. Theres certainly some risk to this pick: Will Bambas body fill out? Will he show the burning desire to become great? But the reward is that theMaverickscould get the best player in this draft.

Holiday is an explosive scorer. Hes only 6-1, but his long wingspan makes him an excellent perimeter defender. And I dont need to tell you about his NBA pedigree with his brothers Jrue andJustin. Holidayhad a variety of college experiences, from backing upLonzo Ballto becoming The Guy last year, and that should help him accept whatever role an NBA team asks of him. Hes a great fit for a Bucks team that could be looking to move on fromEric Bledsoe.

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Like Ayton, Bagley is a physical marvel with unicorn potential on the offensive end with some questions on defense. Bagleys and Aytons 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 rebounds and shot 34.3 percent from 3-point range. Scouts look at Bagleys narrow frame and see someone who doesnt have nearly as much physical upside as Ayton. I look at Bagleys elite athleticism and out-of-this-world second jump and see a taller version ofAndrew Wiggins and most importantly, a taller Wiggins with a ridiculous motor. Bagleys coaches at Duke told me theyd never seen a player this talented play this hard, whether its in preseason practices or during the pressure of March. The fact that Bagley says hes excited about Sacramento makes him even more intriguing of a pick.

A huge risk, given the health concerns. But at some point the reward outweighs the risk. Going into the season Porter was considered in the running for the No. 1 overall pick. Then the hip problem and microdiscectomy surgery on his back sidelined him for the bulk of his one-and-done season. Its around this point where the draft begins to thin out, and Porters enormous ceiling begins to outweigh his risk. Hes a natural scorer. The Kevin Durant comparison some have made is 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 almost every way (and a tick taller, too). Its a dream for theBullsif Porter falls this low, because he could end up as the best player in this draft. But if his health concerns continue, the dream could turn into a nightmare.

What Im saying here is that the 76ers scouts basically didnt have to leave the Wells Fargo Center during the past season, as I have the 76ers taking two Villanova products Bridges and Brunson, who played college games at the 76ers arena in the first round. Ive been in love with Brunson since seeing him in high school. There wasnt a smarter player in college basketball than Brunson, nor was there a more consistently efficient scorer. TJ McConnell has one year left on his contract; Brunson could immediately be slotted in as the perfect point guard to throw teams off their rhythm when Ben Simmons is catching a breather. Hell be a winning NBA player for 12 to 15 years.

Think Kemba Walker will be around after next season? I dont, so its time for theHornetsto start planning for a Kemba-less future that might have a couple more lottery picks, since this team needs to go down before it can go up. 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 lackluster 2019 draft. He was the main reason why Kentucky morphed from an incoherent team in January to a team that was rolling in March. Hes tall and long, a good athlete, and a very good shooter. Hell need some time to develop. But if the Hornets have anything, its time.

DraftingNBAplayers is far from an exact science. Remember what Sam Hinkie wrote in his epic 13-page resignation letter last season about drafting the hugely talentedJoel Embiidand taking on the injury concerns that went with selecting him third overall: You can be right for the wrong reasons. In our business, youre often lionized for it. You can be wrong for the right reasons. This may well prove to be Joel Embiid.

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Go no further than just one year ago, whenMarkelle Fultzwas considered by most to be the hands-down, for-sure, no-doubt top pick in the draft. While the jury is still out on Fultz one injury-riddled, funky-shooting rookie year does not necessarily make a bust youd have to think thePhiladelphia 76ersarent thrilled about passing overJayson TatumDonovan Mitchelland others for Fultz.

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Jackson is the type of player a general manager can look at as a blank canvas: Big, long, athletic and versatile, with an outrageous ceiling on both ends of the floor. He has versatility as a playmaker and as a shooter; he shot 80 percent from the free-throw line, 40 percent from 3-point range. Theres some risk here; Jacksons highlight reel is incredible, but he only averaged 21.8 minutes per game atMichigan State a very small sample size. I often worry about the blank canvas type of players who check all the boxes but dont necessarily have the resume.

Knox wont become an NBA star. But he can become a solid starter a nice third option for a winning team. He can get to the rim, he can shoot it well enough from deep, he can defend multiple positions. Knox is a valuable and versatile prospect at a position that this draft is short on.

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Its a shame we didnt 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 winter; 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. At the combine, when he was asked about being taken by a team in his hometown, Meltons eyes lit up with excitement.

Smith is long and athletic, a player who somehow went from unheralded college recruit to one-and-done potential lottery pick. TheSunscan take a bit of a risk on a bit of a project albeit a project with excellent athleticism, great defense and the ability to become a shooter. Very high upside pick for a team that has three first-rounders.

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2018 NBA Mock Draft: Deandre Ayton goes No. 1, but is he the best player in this years class?

I was torn between two beautiful Duke shooters to add even more shooting depth to a team that already has plenty. This was a toss-up between Trent andGrayson Allen, both of whom I think would fit in here perfectly from day one. WithNick Youngs one-year deal up, theWarriorscould use another shooter off the bench. I can see the argument for Allen here; hes older and with more experience than Trent, so theoretically hed be more able to help the Warriors in their quest for a fourth title in five years. But I like Trents athletic gifts, and his ceiling, slightly more than Allens. Hes an absolute pit bull on the court. (Though the idea of the hated Warriors adding the hated Allen would be an excellent troll move.)

A home-run swing no matter where hes taken. And when you take a big swing, you can often strike out. 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. Or he could become absolutely nothing. There are so many red flags here: The disastrous collegiate situation where he committed to and then pulled out ofWestern Kentucky; the dumb decision of pulling out of the NBA combine at the last minute. But theres no question about his momentous physical abilities; hes right up there with the elite big men of this draft. Heres to the possibility of the Brad Stevens culture reaching Robinson and helping him mature as a player and a person.

A dream fit for the team and a dream fit for the player, should Young last this long. TheMagicneed a point guard, badly. They also need some excitement surrounding a franchise thats been stuck in neutral, and utterly identity-less, since Stan Van Gundy was fired. Young is a potential star. Sure, theSteph Currycomparisons put way too much pressure on the young mans shoulders, but his playing style as well as his collegiate stats back it up. Scouts question whether he can bulk up. His size is the biggest question mark but hes the roughly the same size asChris PaulandKemba Walker, so size doesnt have to kill his game. Pressure seemed to get to him last season as he became the face of college basketball. Playing in a relatively pressure-free environment in Orlando could be perfect for him.

A tall and versatile shooter and playmaker, Huerter and his 41.4 3-point percentage are an ideal fit for todays NBA. If hed stayed in school one more year like he was considering, Huerter would have become a surefire lottery pick in 2019.

Bridges could be the most explosive athlete in this draft. Hes a tweener, though Im not sure if tweener status matters as much in todays NBA as it used to. The dude is exciting, has incredible raw natural abilities, and is a capable shooter and rebounder. TheNuggetshave some special pieces, and Bridges would fit in with them nicely.

Luka Doncic and Mohamed Bamba could be the brightest stars in this years NBA Draft

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. Hes a long, lean athlete with quite a ceiling.

Bates-Diop projects as an athletic three-and-D player who will be ready to contribute on day one. He can do a bit of everything on the court and ought to make a nice role player and can succeed immediately. He measured with an incredibly long wingspan (7-3 ¼) at the combine, which will only help his draft stock.

TheKnicksare in a difficult position. Theyre just at the end of the space of this draft that finds potential franchise-changers. They have to wait and see who falls to them. I believe there are as many as nine potential franchise-changers in this draft. If Sexton falls to nine, he could be a nice fit withFrank Ntilikinain the backcourt. If Carter falls to nine, he could be a nice fit alongsideKristaps Porzingisin the frontcourt. If Porters injury concerns drop him to nine, hed be a risky home-run swing for the Knicks in trying to get a potential superstar. Carter has a fundamentally solid, versatile game as a post scorer and a perimeter shooter, as a rebounder and a shot-blocker. He has a pretty high floor.

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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. Hes a remarkable shot creator and shot maker a smart, shifty, versatile, confident player. Think youngManu Ginobili.

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Does Ayton have the highest ceiling in this draft? Thats not a certainty. Another uncertainty is the value of a freakishly large and athletic big man in todays NBA. I still believe what a whole lot of scouts that Ive spoken with believe about Ayton: That while other players may fit better in todays NBA (like the versatile Slovenian wing Luka Doncic), and while other players may have a higher ceiling (like the absurdly long big man Mohamed Bamba), nobody has a higher floor than Ayton. Im not sold that Ayton is the hands-down best player in this draft like I thought aboutBen Simmonsin 2016 orAnthony Davisin 2012. And Im not sold that he will turn his mediocre defense at the collegiate level into elite defense at the NBA level. But I am sold that his explosive offensive skill set his unicorn-like offensive ceiling makes him the safest pick in this draft.

Okogie killed it at Mays combine as one of the best athletes in the draft, tying Donte DiVincenzo for the highest vertical leap at 42 inches and getting the top time in the three-quarters sprint. At 6-4 with a 7-0 wingspan, Okogie projects to become a versatile wing player in todays switchy NBA. Okogie can create shots and make 3-pointers (18.2 points per game his sophomore season, shooting 38 percent from 3-point range and 82.1 percent from the free-throw line). He can rebound the ball, too. Theres so much to like here. In another world, Okogie could have been a lottery pick; getting him late in the first or early in the second could be a steal.

A win-now pick for a team thats looking to win now. Plus the Villanova star gets to stay in the city where he won two titles in three seasons at Villanova. The 21-year-old Bridges is an excellent athlete, a two-way player who can make 3-pointers and make plays. Im not sure if the ceiling is much higher than NBA starter level for Bridges. But he could have an immediate impact on a winning team.

Theres plenty of groupthink in NBA Draft circles. I guess thats just the deal: Team executives, scouts and pundits all move in the same circles and see the same players at the same tournaments and the same workouts. It makes sense that consensuses tend to emerge by the time a draft comes around.

D Wade returning to Heat for last season

An older, versatile wing who showed steady improvement in each of his four years in college. Hes an ideal size (6-7 with a wingspan of 7-1) for todays switchy NBA.

Donte DiVincenzoVillanova Soph SG 6-5

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