2018 NBA Mock Draft

  1. Phoenix Suns (21-61)

Prediction: DeAndre Ayton

Rotation: Elfrid Payton, Devin Booker, TJ Warren, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, Tyler Ulis, Josh Jackson, Troy Daniels, Tyson Chandler

Biggest Need: Talent

There are a variety of reasons to bet on the Suns drafting DeAndre Ayton with the first overall selection, despite hiring Luka Don'i''s long-time coach, Igor Koko'ov, just weeks ago. While they certainly have a glaring long-term need for a point guard, neither Collin Sexton nor Trae Young would truly fit alongside Phoenix's ball-dominant cornerstone in Devin Booker.

They extended TJ Warren (4-yr/$50M) and drafted Josh Jackson last season, locking up their depth at the forwards. Jackson showed flashes but still has a long way to go in order to be a factor on offense while Warren remains one of the Suns' most consistent players.

Phoenix already has a logjam of intriguing big men on the roster, which could make the Ayton selection somewhat shaky. Tyson Chandler is still the most reliable center on this roster, but Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss made solid strides last season and both are only twenty years old. That being said, Ayton can be the franchise-altering big man prospect Phoenix has been hunting for and could bring a dominant interior presence on both ends of the floor. Aside from Ayton and Don'i', Marvin Bagley is the only likely candidate here, given his ties to the Phoenix area.

  1. Sacramento Kings (27-55)

Prediction: Luka Don'i'

Rotation: De'Aaron Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield, Zach Randolph, Willie Cauley-Stein, Garrett Temple, Justin Jackson, Kosta Koufus

Biggest Need: Scoring

The post-Demarcus Cousins Kings have an abundance of intriguing prospects, but this group showed very little cohesion last season and could desperately use a player with proven ability. Which is a big reason why Luka Don'i' will be their selection, under the assumption that Ayton goes first (otherwise they'll take the Arizona product). Don'i' is the only player here who really fits alongside Sacramento's core, however, he could emerge as the best player on the roster as soon as next season.

This team was horrendous last season, playing at the slowest pace in the league and scoring the fewest points per contest. Due to the lack of experience, Sacramento relied on 36-year old Zach Randolph and 41-year old Vince Carter to carry their scoring load far too often. Not a single one of their five-man units (which logged at least 100 minutes) had a positive scoring margin, and neither did any combination of players with De'Aaron Fox.

The Buddy Hield-Frank Mason-Kosta Koufus trio was by far their best three-man group last season, and they were actually quite productive in the 369 minutes they shared the floor together. Willie Cauley-Stein is still nothing more than an interesting piece; he hasn't shown any type of formidable offensive skillset but has upside as a defender who can protect the rim and switch across four or five positions. Harry Giles is the biggest question mark on the roster, and the Kings' selection on draft night will be very telling about their feelings on Giles. Bogdan Bogdanovic was a massive bright spot on this team last year and he should fit perfectly alongside Don'i'.

  1. Atlanta Hawks (24-58)

Prediction: Marvin Bagley

Rotation: Dennis Schr'eder, Kent Bazemore, Taurean Prince, John Collins, Dewayne Dedmon, Isaiah Taylor, Mike Muscala Malcolm Delaney

Biggest Need: Star Power

Last year marked the Hawks lowest point since 2004-2005, a season where they went 13-69 with one of the most horrific rosters in league history. They were awarded the second pick and drafted Marvin Williams directly ahead of Deron Williams and Chris Paul, a pair of perennial All-Stars. Though they botched the '05 class, Atlanta still has hope for the present, with the third pick in an absolutely loaded draft. While there's an outside chance that the Hawks might make a move for Mo Bamba here, but Marvin Bagley still seems like the safest bet.

This team desperately needs foundational pieces, considering none of their best players'John Collins, Taurean Prince, and Dennis Schr'eder'are necessarily seen as 'untouchable' by the franchise. Collins, as a rookie, was the best overall player from this group in nearly every category. His 18.3 PER and 5.4 Win Shares led the Hawks, yet his usage rate was tenth on the team, which means that Collins is already the most productive player on the roster. His TS% (True Shooting Percentage) and TRB% (Total Rebound Percentage) marks fell second among the Hawks, which is incredibly encouraging, since he doesn't turn 21-years old until September.

Basically, Atlanta will be hoping that their frontcourt pairing of Bagley and Collins can properly coexist. There should be optimism about the pairing, since Collins' strongest impact came on defense last season as one of the best rebounders and shot-blockers on the team. Mike Budenholzer is a big reason why this team was just outside the bottom-five offensively, but now they'll be forced to reassess things with Coach Bud heading to Milwaukee.

  1. Memphis Grizzlies (22-60)

Prediction: Michael Porter Jr.

Rotation: Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Dillon Brooks, Tyreke Evans, Jarell Martin, JaMychal Green, Mario Chalmers, Ben McLemore

Biggest Need: Forward/Wing Production

The Grizzlies of Memphis endured their worst season in ten years, finishing 22-60 after starting the season 7-12. They fired David Fizdale and basically decided to punt this year, which is understandable, since the Western Conference is a bloodbath. Memphis looked towards a loaded draft class, where they had the highest likelihood of landing the top selection, yet fell to the fourth spot.

This team was atrocious in every statistical category, with blocked shots as the lone bright spot from an otherwise sad roster. Mike Conley suffered an early injury and sat out 70 games this season; notable free agent, Chandler Parsons, played just 36 games. They were led by Marc Gasol, but the lack of supporting cast was clear, and he was unable to consistently anchor this team on both ends of the floor. The youth of Dillon Brooks was refreshing, but they need more young assets that can contribute on a nightly basis. This group banked on Tyreke Evans and won a lot of games, but he probably doesn't have a place in their long-term plans and will be hunting his next contract this offseason.

The Grizz will surprise a ton of people should they select Michael Porter Jr. with the fourth pick, because of the commonly-known commodities available, but he could be their star of the future. He can take all of Parsons' minutes at either forward position and should give them an immediate upgrade in the process. For those who don't know Porter, he is one of the most versatile prospects in the draft, especially on offense, and could feasibly be an All-Star in three to five years. His combination of size and skill should carry him far in the NBA, but it'll be interesting to see which team takes a chance on Porter in the draft.

  1. Dallas Mavericks (24-58)

Prediction: Mo Bamba

Rotation: Dennis Smith Jr., Harrison Barnes, Yogi Ferrell, Wesley Matthews, Dirk Nowitzki, Maxi Kleber, J.J. Barea, Dwight Powell

Biggest Need: Interior Presence

The Dirk-led Mavericks battled through another season as the face of their franchise continues to deteriorate towards the twilight of his career. They've begun the transition from Nowitzki to Smith Jr. quite seamlessly, which has allowed the point guard to appropriately mesh with Rick Carlisle and the rest of their core pieces. Their acquisition of Harrison Barnes has worked out decently well, but there is no indication that he is a part of any long-term plans beyond his current contract.

This team has a nice mix of young prospects and veterans, but none of their truly youthful pieces (aside from Smith) have been able to stay on the floor for an extended period of time. There have been some murmurings about Jaren Jackson Jr. getting selected here, but Mo Bamba truly fits what they are trying to do. The Mavs were actually pretty solid on defense last season, however, they ranked 27th in rebounds and 29th in blocks on a nightly basis, which is where Bamba comes in. He will provide Dallas with a modernized center that can score, rebound, and protect the rim at a high level.

  1. Orlando Magic (25-57)

Prediction: Trae Young

Rotation: Jonathan Simmons, D.J. Augustin, Bismack Biyombo, Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic, Mario Hezonja, Jonathan Isaac

Biggest Need: Point Guard/Leader

There isn't a team in the lottery that is more desperate for a point guard than the sad-sack Orlando Magic. Since trading away Dwight Howard, the Magic have been absolutely dreadful from all angles. They traded away two of their best prospects, Tobias Harris and Victor Oladipo, for some nickels and a high-five. It didn't make any sense then, and certainly doesn't make sense now. Drafting Aaron Gordon was probably their smartest move in recent years, but they've had a considerable logjam at power forward since drafting him and it's only hurt Gordon's overall development. That being said, there is still something of substance here between Fournier, Gordon, Isaac, and whoever they draft in July. There is no evidence that Gordon and Isaac can coexist on the floor together, but Orlando doesn't really have much to lose anymore.

Many people wouldn't take Trae Young with the sixth pick, but it feels like something the Magic are simply dying to do. There has been a lot of pessimism about Young lately, mostly about how his shooting and shot-creation abilities will translate to the NBA. He still has legitimate forty-foot range and should add some much-needed spacing to an otherwise clogged offense.

  1. Chicago Bulls (27-55)

Prediction: Wendell Carter

Rotation: Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Justin Holiday, Denzel Valentine, Lauri Markkanen, Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant, David Nwaba, Bobby Portis

Biggest Need: Talent

The Bulls of Chicago have been in search of their next star for multiple seasons now, but after acquiring Zach LaVine and drafting Lauri Markkanen, things began looking up. It shouldn't be a surprise if they drafted Collin Sexton, but a backcourt pairing of with him and LaVine wouldn't be very cohesive. The Bulls should be content with Kris Dunn and overjoyed with Lauri Markkanen, but they don't have many young prospects on the roster. The trio of Justin Holiday, Denzel Valentine, and Jerian Grant has yet to show much promise, but time is on their side.

If Chicago decides to pass on Sexton, Wendell Carter becomes the obvious choice at the seventh overall pick. The pairing of Carter and Markkanen could be special, given the variety of ways the duo can destroy opposing teams while sharing the floor. Carter could emerge as the perfect frontcourt partner for Markkanen, able to play center full-time, protect the rim, and apply pressure on offense. Chicago won't hesitate to scoop up Michael Porter Jr., should he slip down the draft board.

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers (50-32) (Via Brooklyn Nets)

Prediction: Jaren Jackson Jr.

Rotation: George Hill, J.R. Smith, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, Kyle Korver, Jeff Green, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr.

Biggest Need: Immediate Contributors

The Cleveland Cavaliers are stuck between a rock and a hard place, because LeBron's future is completely in the air. On one hand, if he stays, they could look to draft someone who can contribute right away like Jaren Jackson Jr. or simply trade the pick for proven assets. On the other hand, if LeBron does leave, this team has a need at basically every position since they were handpicked to play with the King. While there are no indicators pointing to him re-signing, it still feels like they will take Jackson here, given his mix of production and potential. If they get word that LeBron is headed for greener pastures, then they will take the best long-term prospect available at number eight.

  1. New York Knicks (29-53)

Prediction: Collin Sexton

Rotation: Courtney Lee, Tim Hardaway Jr., Kristaps Porzingis, Enes Kanter, Frank Ntilikina, Michael Beasley, Jarrett Jack, Kyle O'Quinn, Lance Thomas, Emmanuel Mudiay

Biggest Need: Perimeter Threats

Last year was one of the best non-playoff seasons in recent New York Knicks memory. They were still pretty bad in terms of wins and losses, but the Knicks were actually pretty decent across the board, statistically speaking. The midseason acquisition of Emmanuel Mudiay brought hope to a team in dire need of a floor general. Ultimately, Kristaps Porzingis is the only untouchable player on this roster, and the Knicks seem set on drafting a guard.

Collin Sexton should be able to join the Knicks organization and give them 20-28 minutes on a nightly basis. He will probably struggle on defense throughout his first season, but he has been a high-level defender at all levels and still possesses all the necessary tools to maintain that reputation in the professional ranks. That being said, we all know Sexton is a cold-blooded killer with the ability to score twenty before even lacing up, so scoring will likely be his main focus in year one. The Knicks find themselves in a great position, especially should Sexton fall here, where New York would be foolish to pass on the combo guard.

  1. Philadelphia 76ers (52-30) (Via Los Angeles Lakers)

Prediction: Mikal Bridges

Rotation: Ben Simmons, Robert Covington, J.J. Redick, Dario Saric, Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz, T.J. McConnell, Amir Johnson

Biggest Need: Depth/Shooting

After enjoying one of the most successful seasons since the departure of Allen Iverson, the Philadelphia 76ers have an incredibly bright outlook for the future. They made the playoffs for the first time since 2011-12, when Andre Iguodala was still at the helm. It turns out, the process is actually somewhat trustworthy when you're betting on Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, a duo that has made the NBA more entertaining for everyone.

Now, they enter this draft with the Lakers' pick and aspirations to improve even more than they displayed in the last year. There has been a lot of talk about Mikal Bridges and Philadelphia uniting on draft night, but they already have a solidified core, which would force the Villanova product to the bench. Bridges fits the 3-and-D mold, but Philly should worry about retaining J.J. Redick if shooting is among their main concerns.

  1. Charlotte Hornets (36-46)

Prediction: Miles Bridges

Rotation: Kemba Walker, Malik Monk, Jeremy Lamb, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marvin Williams, Cody Zeller, Dwight Howard, Nic Batum, Frank Kaminsky

Biggest Need: Two-Way Players

The sports teams of Charlotte have endured a tough time over these last few years, from the Hornets to the Panthers. Every year, it feels like Charlotte does whatever they can to remain in 'no-mans land,' always too good for a top pick and too bad for playoff contention. Another year in the books, and yet another year we'll see the Hornets drafting between eight and twelve. However, unlike years in the past, the Hornets actually have a chance to make the right pick and draft Miles Bridges.

Though Bridges doesn't necessarily fit well with Nic Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, or Marvin Williams, he could easily absorb most of the non-Cody Zeller power forward minutes. There is so much upside with this choice, as it would give Charlotte a versatile, two-way forward with serious defensive upside and athleticism that the Hornets desperately need.

  1. Los Angeles Clippers (42-20) (Via Detroit Pistons)

Prediction: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Rotation: Milos Teodeosic, Lou Williams, Tobias Harris, DeAndre Jordan, Austin Rivers, Sindarius Thornwell, Wesley Johnson, Montrezl Harrell, Danilo Gallinari

Biggest Need: Star Power

It seems foolish to proclaim their biggest need as ‘star power,' but it is what they lack, now without Chris Paul or Blake Griffin. However, they were a very quality NBA team last season and could've been a playoff team if Danilo Gallinari/Patrick Beverly stayed healthy for more than 32 combined games. With no real need, expect the Clippers to swing for the fences with these two picks.

They could feasibly get their star prospect here with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a point guard that Phenom Hoops has been tracking for a while. He has grown tremendously since we saw him at Hamilton Heights. First by becoming a starter at Kentucky, to dominating on a nightly basis, to emerging as the top player on the roster, to then getting projections as a lottery pick speaks volumes about how far he's come. The 6-foot-4 point guard has incredible upside, but only time will tell if he can develop into a star.

  1. Los Angeles Clippers (42-40)

Prediction: Robert Williams

The Clippers will probably look to make waves with this selection as well, but the possibility of a trade shouldn't be ruled out either. With DeAndre Jordan slated to turn 30-years old in a month, Los Angeles shouldn't be shy about searching for their next big man. They certainly don't want to continuously give Jordan max-contracts, especially when he has legitimate value on about twenty or twenty-five other teams. So, look for Robert Williams to be the selection, should they keep the pick. The Texas A&M center has picked up a ton of buzz in the last three months, and seems to fit better on the Clippers than anywhere else.

  1. Denver Nuggets (46-36)

Prediction: Kevin Knox

Rotation: Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Wilson Chandler, Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic, Will Barton, Mason Plumlee, Trey Lyles

Biggest Need: Wing/Forward

The Nuggets pick has become increasingly clear since the lottery results were revealed. They need someone to replace Wilson Chandler, whose better days are behind him, and Kevin Knox seems like the smartest pick. The Kentucky product has quite an impressive reputation, but he'll get serious minutes and an opportunity to crack the rotation as a rookie. Denver has based most of their personnel decisions based on floor-spacing and shooting surrounding Nikola Jokic, which rises questions about Knox's fit. That being said, he has every physical tool worth getting intrigued about and could emerge as a phenomenal pick here.