The NCAA basketball season is entering its final third. With college football over and NFL wrapping up, the focus is shifting towards the NBA and college hoops. Naturally, that means it is time for 2018 NBA mock drafts and big boards.
This is the first 2018 NBA mock draft here at DefPen, and it is very much subject to change. In the age of positionless basketball, I have not classified the prospects by traditional positions. Instead, I categorized the players into five, more modern, positional roles: Lead Guard, combo guard, wing, combo forward, and big.
A lead guard is essentially a point guard who guards the point of attack on defense. A combo guard being a player who does not fit directly into a wing position or a lead guard spot. They can usually play both guard spots, though maybe not thriving at either while usually being able to guard both guard spots- like Donovan Mitchell. A wing is simply a player who plays on the wing, typically a combination of traditional shooting guards and small forwards. A combo forward is a big wing who can play at the four spot, usually being able to guard both positions as well. A big is just that, a big man. Typically an NBA center but many power forward types are also included.
1) Luka Doncic: Real Madrid- Wing
Our 2018 NBA mock draft begins with the international sensation Luka Doncic. Doncic is set to become one of the most highly touted foreign prospects in a very long. The point forward stands at 6-foot-8, 225 pounds with a 6-foot-11 wingspan. In short, Doncic can do it all. While he isn’t a generational athlete, his combination of skill, size, and versatility is that of a franchise player. The Slovenian prodigy has veteran instincts with elite playmaking ability,
2) DeAndre Ayton: Arizona- Big
DeAndre Ayton stands at 7-foot with a nearly 7-foot-6 wingspan and an extremely chiseled frame. He is one of the best post players in the country and also scores on 43.5% of all jumpshots via Synergy. His offensive versatility paired with his elite athleticism poses a match-up issue even at the NBA level. Ayton also has a rebound percentage of over 20%, as he is great at finding a body then using his strength to box out. He’ll need to show a high level on defense more consistently, but he has all the tools to succeed.
3) Mohamed Bamba: Texas- Big
Mo Bamba has made a name for himself as the best rim protector in college hoops. The lanky big 7-foot with an absurd 7-foot-9 wingspan. His mere presence deters offenses from going into the paint and when they do go in, Bamba often sends the shots back out. He is the ideal rim-protecting center in today’s NBA. Bamba’s offense is coming around as well. He is averaging almost 17 PPG in his last five games while shooting 39% from deep in his last eight. The upside is through the roof.
4) Jaren Jackson Jr: Michigan State- Big
Jackson does not get the media attention as some of the other elite bigs, but make no mistake- he is just as legit. The freshman stands at 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-4 wingspan. He plays the four at Michigan State, but likely projects as a five in the NBA due to his defensive ability. He is smart, instinctual and uses his long arms to average over three blocks per game. Jackson also shoots 43% from three, making him an incredibly dynamic player on both ends. While not an explosive athlete, Jackson seems tailor-made for the NBA game.
5) Marvin Bagley III: Duke- Big
Bagley is arguably the highest-profile prospect in the entire draft. He is a dominant college player who produces nightly. The freshman phenom is 6-foot-11 with a wingspan that measures just above 7-foot. A well-known elite athlete, Bagley poses issues for other bigs who are not as quick. His jumpshot is still a work in progress but offers promise. He rebounds at a high level though and is incredibly active on offense as an extremely smooth finisher. His defense must improve, but his upside is through the roof.
6) Michael Porter Jr: Missouri- Wing
Porter Jr was a widely revered prospect heading into the college season but was sidelined for the season with an injury. Luckily for him, his reputation and physical tools are still intact. The 6-foot-10 wing has a 7-Foot Wingspan and can handle the ball like a guard. His versatile scoring and defensive upside will keep him in the top ten.
7) Trae Young: Oklahoma- Lead Guard
Trae Young has sent tidal waves through the college basketball world and has been touted as the “next Steph Curry.” Young has elite scoring ability as well as NBA-ready passing vision. He is smaller than desired at 6-foot-2, 175 pounds and an average 6-foot-4 wingspan. His instincts and offensive ability, though, are far too good to overlook. He’ll need to clean up the turnovers and find a way to be at least average on defense, but Young has the legitimate star potential.
8) Collin Sexton: Alabama- Lead Guard
Collin Sexton, known as the Young Bull, plays with a fiery passion and does not hold back in his attack. Sexton is 6-foot-2, 185 pounds with a near 6-foot-7 wingspan. He is a pest on defense, using his strength and quickness to get after the opposition. While he can score at all three levels, he’ll need to garner some consistency on that end. Expect many verbal battles with Sexton and NBA opponents.
9) Mikal Bridges: Villanova- Wing
Mikal Bridges isn’t a freshman like the players listed before him, but the junior is still a top ten talent. Bridges projects as the ideal 3-and-D player that NBA teams covet. The Villanova star is 6-foot-7 with a wingspan of over 7-foot. His quickness and length make him a lockdown defender with the versatility to defend four positions. On the other end, he is hitting 43% of his 3-point attempts. Place Bridges on any team and he is a valuable piece immediately. Will be hard to get him out of the top ten of any 2018 NBA mock draft.
10) Wendell Carter Jr: Duke- Big
Wendell Carter has really come along after a slow start to the season. Carter is 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan. He is a very good rebounder, always finding the body to box out. He possesses a versatile offensive game with an array of post moves and range that extends to the 3-point line. I liken his playstyle to a more athletic LaMarcus Aldridge type of game. He has that sort of upside, but we will have to see if he can keep his great play on a consistent basis.
11) Miles Bridges: Michigan State- Combo forward
Bridges opted to come back to school after being projected as a lottery/top ten talent in last year’s draft. His stock is essentially the same as it was last year, but he has shown positive improvements. The 6-foot-7 combo forward has a near 6-foot-10 wingspan has shown an all-around improved scoring ability. He has also shown that he can, in fact, defend both the three and the four. While he may be best suited as a modern-day four, his versatility will be valuable for NBA teams.
12) Lonnie Walker IV: Miami- Wing
Walker is beginning to heat up after starting the season slowly due to an injury setback. Walker is showing a real ability to defend multiple positions due to his combination of athleticism and physical tools. He is 6-foot-4 with an outstanding 6-foot-11 wingspan. Walker is averaging 19 PPG in his last five games while shooting over 44% from 3-point range in that same span. If Walker can harness his raw offensive ability and make it a consistent factor, he can be an all-star in the NBA. The foundation is there, it will be up to the NBA team to help develop it.
13) Kevin Knox: Kentucky- Combo forward
Kevin Knox is one of the youngest players in the draft and also possesses terrific physical tools. Knox is 6-foot-9 with a near 7-foot wingspan. He likely projects as a four in the NBA with his ability to stretch the floor and defend multiple positions. He’ll need to shoot it at a better rate to get true stretch-four status, but his upside is tremendous. Knox serves as an ideal late-lotto pick in the 2018 NBA mock draft.
14) Troy Brown Jr: Oregon- Wing
Yet another versatile wing makes the list. This one, though, is more of a point-forward type who will be valuable to almost any team. The 6-foot-7 wing offers ballhandling ability as well as being able to rebound at a high rate. A perfect triple-double type of player. His 6-foot-11 wingspan offers major defensive upside. He has shown that he can defend positions 1-4. His scoring game is still too raw to project him much higher right now, but Brown is as intriguing as you’ll find in the mid-teens.
15) Bruce Brown Jr: Miami- Lead guard
Bruce Brown is an incredibly interesting yet perplexing prospect. He plays both the wing and at point guard for the Hurricanes and has legit translation potential at both. I see him best as an attacking lead guard. He is 6-foot-5 with a wingspan of 6-foot-8 and is a tremendously dynamic athlete- offering Russell Westbrook comparisons in his athletic, attacking nature. This would give him a massive size advantage over most point guards. He has elite defensive potential and an offensive game that is inconsistent but unstoppable at times. Brown is a very high upside candidate that is going to add a spark to any team.
16) Rob Williams: Texas A&M- Big
Williams is another sophomore who passed on being a lottery pick. His stock, though, has taken a bit of a fall. Williams is, and has been, a bet on his upside. But going another year without showing real development, people are naturally cooling on him. Williams is 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-4 wingspan and he projects as a rim-protecting NBA five. He’ll have to improve his overall offensive game to become an elite prospect.
17) Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: Kentucky- Lead Guard
Gilgeous-Alexander has absolutely blasted his draft stock. He has come from not being on draft boards at all, to the middle of the first round. He has elite physical tools for the point guard position at 6-foot-6 with a near 6-foot-11 wingspan. Look for him to be higher in our next 2018 NBA mock draft. His stock could keep rising if he shows a more versatile scoring ability.
18) Brandon McCoy: UNLV- Big
Playing in the MWC, McCoy doesn’t face the big-name talent very often. McCoy himself, though, is a big-time talent. The center stands at 7-foot-1 and has a 7-foot-2 wingspan, serving as an elite rim protecting option. His scoring game is still limited, but the freshman still has time to grow. There aren’t many high-upside options outside of the lottery of the 2018 NBA mock draft, so look for McCoy to be taken before the 20s.
19) Hamidou Diallo: Kentucky- Wing
Diallo is another one of the few projects worth investing outside of the lottery. He chose to return to school despite being eligible for the 2017 NBA Draft. Diallo is primarily a slashing wing but has begun to develop his jumper. He’s 6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan to combine with elite athleticism. He has the tools to be able to guard multiple positions and become an all-around contributor. In the right system, Diallo could flourish and become an incredibly impactful player.
20) Landry Shamet: Wichita State- Lead Guard
While Wichita State has gone through its recent struggles, Shamet has still looked terrific. Shamet, at 6-foot-4 projects as a valuable 3-and-D point guard. This puts him in the early twenties of the 2018 NBA mock draft. He is a terrific and smart defender, and uses his long arms to deny passes and alter shots. On offense, he is a terrific creator for his teammates while shooting a whopping 47% from deep. He may not have the upside of some of the freshman taken just ahead of him, but Shamet is a mature, high-floor point guard.
21) Mitchell Robinson: N/A- Big
Mitchell Robinson is a major upside project. He has elite physical tools but looks to be extremely raw, and not playing in college won’t help things. He stands at 7-foot-1 with a 7-foot-4 wingspan and has incredible athleticism. Right now, he is simply a rim-protector. In the right system, a team could develop him into a well-tooled NBA center.
22) Dzanan Musa: Cedevita- Wing
Musa is just the second international prospect on the board, but he offers a great option as a long-term project. He has the tools to develop into a big-time contributor but also has a floor that will allow him to contribute as a bench scorer. He has been playing well in Europe and is one of the younger players in the class. Look for him to be an upside option in the 20s.
23) Chimezie Metu: USC- Big
Metu is an intriguing player who lacks legitimate consistency. At his best, Metu projects as a high-potential stretch four that can crash the boards. At his worst, Metu can’t regularly space the floor and is a below average defender. Right now, he is probably somewhere in between those two players. His upside looks murky, but the flashes he has shown should get him drafted in the early/mid twenties.
24) Shake Milton: SMU- Lead Guard
Milton is another big guard in our 2018 NBA mock draft who could be an elite 3-and-D player. Milton is 6-foot-6 with a 7-foot wingspan. That elite size and his polish as a junior should mean that he is ready for immediate NBA impact. His age may signify that his ceiling isn’t quite as high as some freshmen, but shooting almost 43% in his college career is nothing to ignore. Milton is in position to continue rising, but any team with an immediate need of a guard will drool over his film.
25) Daniel Gafford: Arkansas- Big
Daniel Gafford is finding himself all over draft boards after not being on the draft radar at all before the season. Gafford’s physical tools pop out when watching him. He is 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-4 wingspan while also being an elite athlete. He can jump over you while also dunking on you. He is still incredibly raw at the moment, though. Right now, he looks like a paint protector on defense and rim-diver on offense. He’ll need to work to be able to create for himself, but a team at this point will likely take a chance on his upside.
26) Khyri Thomas: Creighton- Combo Guard
Khyri Thomas is a perfect pick for an established team that wants to keep winning now but does not want to wait for a developing player. Thomas is a junior who has already established what he is. At 6-foot-3 with an average 6-foot-3 wingspan, he is a bit awkward positionally due to him being a score first player rather than a point guard. He is a terrific defender who can also shoot the 3-pointer at a good clip. Thomas is the perfect type of rookie to insert into an important depth role.
27) Jacob Evans: Cincinnati- Wing
The NBA is valuing 3-and-D players more and more each year, and this draft has a lot of players of that cloth. Jacob Evans is no different. Evans is an elite 3-point shooter, making the deep shots at a 42% rate. The 6-foot-6 guard can also defend all guard positions as well as wing players. Another high-floor player will be available for the playoff teams who could use a valuable two-way depth option.
28) Grayson Allen: Duke- Wing
Seeing the trend around the late first round? High-floor players who can provide quick impact but may not have elite ceilings. Grayson Allen is next in line. The notorious Duke star has had an up-and-down career but has mostly found his identity. He is a solid athlete who can score at all three levels, especially from deep. His immediate projections show him as a bench scorer. A great addition for any team picking this late.
29) Trevon Duval: Duke- Lead Guard
With the high-floor talent beginning to dry up a bit, teams may look for some upside here. Trevon Duval is an elite athlete with great physical tools but hasn’t been able to put it all together yet. His shooting woes are well noted, but he is a good passer and has an outstanding 6-foot-8 wingspan that gives him the potential to be a good defender in the future. In a system that does not put too much pressure on him, Duval can very well grow and become a starting point guard in the future. This puts him late in the first in our 2018 NBA mock draft.
30) Chandler Hutchison: Boise State- Wing
Hutchison here offers a team the ability to help some immediately but also has a relatively high ceiling. Being a senior makes him older than the average, but he has improved each year and looks to keep improving. The 6-foot-7 wing can score at all three levels and his long arms offer major defensive upside. Hutchison could be Kyle Kuzma-esque in his first-year polish and scoring ability.
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