With the 2018 NBA Draft tonight, Phenom Hoops’ Jeff Bendel and Jamie Shaw go position by position to give their Top 3 and why.

Phenom Hoops’ Director of Player Analysis Jeff Bendel

PG:

  1. Collin Sexton
  2. Trae Young
  3. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Collin Sexton narrowly edges out Trae Young for the top spot on my list, simply because I’m betting on defense. Sexton will always be a better defender than Young, but he claims the second spot due to his highlight-reel shooting and underrated passing. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is someone we’ve examined closely since his days at Hamilton Heights, and he could certainly be the best of this group, but he’s a comfortable step below Sexton and Young for now.

SG:

  1. Donte DiVincenzo
  2. Lonnie Walker
  3. Zaire Smith

This draft isn’t quite as strong at the off-guard position as they’ve been in recent years, but there is still an opportunity to claim starter-level shooting guards. Donte DiVincenzo became a hot commodity after Villanova’s title run and has the NBA-ready game to contribute right away. The other two, Zaire Smith and Lonnie Walker, probably possess a higher upside than DiVincenzo given their athleticism and shooting, respectively. However, DiVincenzo has higher a chance to be in the league ten years from now.

SF:

  1. Luka Doncic
  2. Michael Porter Jr.
  3. Miles Bridges

With Luka Doncic going second in our latest mock draft, he claims the top spot given his likelihood of becoming, at the very least, a rotation/starter worthy player. That being said, all signs have been pointing towards Doncic becoming a star. My personal preference with Michael Porter Jr. is strong though. If not for injuries, Porter could easily be in the conversation with Ayton as the top pick, he’s that special. Though Doncic is more of an unknown, his playmaking and scoring abilities that are impressive, but question marks surrounding his translatability. He was the MVP of the second or third most competitive league in the world, which is worth noting. The third, Miles Bridges, leapfrogs Mikal Bridges due to his natural versatility and ability to affect so many facets of the game.

PF:

  1. Marvin Bagley
  2. Wendell Carter
  3. Jaren Jackson Jr.

This year’s draft has so many talented big men at the power forward position, but Marvin Bagley certainly has the pedigree and résumé to warrant his top ranking. There have been a lot of mixed feelings surrounding the duo of Wendell Carter and Jaren Jackson Jr., but I feel more comfortable envisioning Carter’s career in ten years. That being said, Jackson could jump ahead of both Bagley and Carter if he reaches his ceiling, which would entail him becoming one of the most exciting two-way players in the league. He’s the youngest player in this draft, so it sounds like teams are intrigued in taking him somewhere in the top five.

C:

  1. DeAndre Ayton
  2. Mo Bamba
  3. Moritz Wagner

Following right in line with the phenomenal strength at power forward, we look at a group of high-level centers—led by DeAndre Ayton. There should be no questions about the most valuable big man in this draft, because it is certainly Ayton. In all the mock drafts, no one has been able to agree on where Mo Bamba should get selected. So many people have differing opinions about him, but he should have a better career than Bismack Biyombo if nothing else. The third spot might come as a surprise to many, but Moritz Wagner carried Michigan in March and bolstered his stock tremendously, now likely to go in the first round and be one of the more intriguing rookies on display next season.

Wildcards:

  1. Gary Trent Jr.
  2. Grayson Allen
  3. Hamidou Diallo

The wildcard group is for guys worth taking a chance on. This group is led by Gary Trent Jr., who many proclaimed as a surefire lottery pick prior to last season. His teammate, Grayson Allen, is fairly well-known, but still deserves first-round consideration. He and Hamidou Diallo have fallen to the late second-round in most mock drafts, but teams should be looking to claim them earlier. It would be unwise to forget how well the NBA develops their players, and aside from Allen, these guys could benefit so much from that growth.

Phenom Hoops’ National Analyst Jamie Shaw

PGs

  1. Shai Gilgeous Alexander
  2. Trae Young
  3. Elie Okobo

Wild Card: Colin Sexton

This is an interesting year for the point guard position as there are a consensus two guys who have been talked about ad nauseum for the entirety of the college basketball season. Here, two of the three are guys who came on the scene late. Gilgeous-Alexander has great long-term projection with his length, quick first step and passing ability. Young will be able to play because of his ability to score the ball. He is also a playmaker with his ability to pass the ball. Okobo is an athletic and length left-handed lead guard. The 21-year-old is able to score the ball every way imaginable and has good court vision. After his 44-point output against Aaron Craft in the French League Final Four, he has length and athleticism to be a good defender as well.

SGs

  1. Jerome Robinson
  2. Lonnie Walker
  3. Dante Divicenzo

Wild Card: Troy Brown

This is kind of a down year for shooting guards at the top, but it is interesting why not. There is a crop of guys in this class who really fit the way the NBA is heading as two way guys. This was a tough list to make and leave off the likes of Shake Milton, Khryi Thomas, Deanthony Melton, etc…Robinson is a smooth player who has a complete offensive game. He can shoot the ball, attack the rim, handle in the half court. He has good size & length and flows within the modern day fluidity of the game. Lonnie Walker is someone who should sneak into the later lottery. His floor is as a Danny Green type 3 & D guy, his ceiling is as a play making wing who can defend the point of attack, an incredibly valuable piece. Brown is a swiss army knife player. He has great length and a nice floor game, vision, etc…As his jump shot continues to strengthen, so should his production. He fits into a lot of roles and while he still has room for growth you know what you’re getting. Divincenzo has all the tools, with athleticism and shooting, but it is his toughness and moxie that really stands out. His only real flaw is his lack of having a showcase role, the tools are all there.

SFs

  1. Luca Doncic
  2. Miles Bridges
  3. Melvin Frazier

Wild Card: Dzanan Musa

The power shift in the NBA has moved to the wing. Each of the teams who made it to their conference finals have a wing who is able to create. Doncic fits this, a guy who they compare to Tony Kukoc (who came 15 years too early). Doncic can handle, shoot and pass the ball. He has excelled at a high level and has great positional size. He is one who will have the ball in his hands a lot and will need to learn how to be a good team defender. Bridges development of his jump shot in the last year bumped him up the list some. The lefty is very strong and supremely athletic. He rebounds well and can be a multi-positional defensive stopper. Frazier is a wing who shows the ability to shoot the ball along with the physical dimensions to be a lock down defender. Frazer is a plus athlete with incredible length. There are a few late first, early second round wings who could outplay their draft position.

PFs

  1. Michael Porter Jr.
  2. Marvin Bagley Jr.
  3. Kevin Knox

Wild Card: Keita Bates Diop

Today’s power forward has somewhat morphed into a bigger small forward. A guy who is able to stretch the floor and move his feet. Porter Jr. was widely considered the top prospect in this entire class prior to an injury. As long as the medicals check out, he is still that player. His draft position is up and down the board, but his game fits the modern NBA very nicely. It is hard to ignore 20 points and 10 boards at Duke after graduating high school a year early. The lefty has incredible quick twitch and a swift second jump. He has touch and can stretch the floor to attack from the mid range or shoot from 3 off the catch. It will be interesting to see how he adapts his game once everyone is quick and athletic. Knox is similar to Porter Jr. in that he is a playmaking forward. He is able to create offense off the bounce and finish at each level. He was Kentucky’s only consistent scoring threat last season and his game fits well in the modern NBA.

Cs

  1. Jaren Jackson
  2. Deandre Ayton
  3. Mo Bamba

Wild Card: Mitchell Robinson

This position is clearly where the power at the top of the draft lies. We look at players like Wendell Carter and Robert Williams who will be lottery picks and not even on this list. Jackson has incredible length and great timing. He is able to stretch the floor with his 3-point range and can attack sloppy close outs off the bounce. Defensively, he has incredible natural timing. Ayton is interesting as his physical measurements are off the charts. His ability to run and jump are like no other player and he is strong with a great frame. The question with Ayton is IQ and defensive ability (ability is not a good word there, defensive consistency). Bamba walks into the NBA with the longest wing span in the game. He moves his feet well and is a natural shot blocker. He will need weight and the early returns of his jump shot look good in pre-draft workouts. Bamba is young, but he excels at very valuable things in today’s NBA game, elite rim protection and rebounding. Note it was tough to leave Wendell Carter off this list as he will have a 12-15 year NBA career.