The 2018 NBA Draft is Thursday night as the entire league will be filled with rumors and 60 new players. The top 10 players seem to be solidified but the order of where they will be chosen is anyone’s guess. Teams as high as number two overall (Sacramento) to as low as Toronto (no first round pick) have looked to trade in different directions. The draft provides insight into free agency plans and the direction teams head in. the 2017 NBA Draft saw the Celtics and 76ers trade picks as well as All-Star Jimmy Butler traded to Minnesota.
The draft will take twists and turns but here I have decided to focus on the players. My top-30 big board delves into each player and how they fit in the ever-changing NBA. This NBA Draft guide is the perfect way to educate yourself on the best prospects who are ready for basketball stardom.
#30 – Jalen Brunson
Villanova – 6′ 2″, 198, 21
Notable Stats:18.9 PPG, 4.6 APG, 52.1 FG%, 40.8 3P%, 80.2% FT%
Pro Comparison: Floor – Luke Ridnour. Ceiling – Little better Andre Miller
One of the most decorated college players to only play three years. Really stocky and although many people thought he was not very athletic he actually tested well at the combine. A leader, great person, and works his absolute hardest. As a point guard he is your ideal backup point guard in the NBA. Distributes really well, can score off the dribble and in a variety of ways. His post-up ability is really intriguing. We have seen many NBA teams try to do this in late-game situations to create matchup problems and open shooters when collapsing on them. As the league goes smaller Brunson could easily thrive in this role. His post moves are really advanced for a point guard and is extremely intelligent in the situations. 41% three-point shooter, able to get to the rim and absorb contact, has a midrange game. Offensively is so gifted and as a point guard that can run the team. Works hard on defense but can get blown by at times. Must work hard to improve that side of the floor. Winning mentality will help him in the league. Best possible scenario is he becomes a solid starting lead guard that wins games and scores.
Best Fit: Memphis
Conley needs backup point guard help especially after all of his injuries the past couple of years. Andrew Harrison did not get it done so they brought in Marshon Brooks who could score but is 29 and must be signed to a new contract. Brunson would be a terrific backup point guard that could learn from Conley and help a team that has a chance to win now too.
#29 – Dzanan Musa
Cedevita Zagreb – 6′ 9″, 195, 19
Notable Stats: 13.5 PPG, 47.2% FG%, 30.3 3P%, 3.9 REB, 80.4 FT%, 4.7 3PA
Pro Comparison: Floor/Realistic – Nick Young. Ceiling – Rodney Hood.
A fascinating prospect who is second on his Croatian league team in scoring. His team is first in the Croatian league and currently trailing 1-0 in the tournament finals. One of the most confident players in the draft without a doubt. He is a natural leader that takes it upon himself to shoot and create when his team trails. As seen in the finals this can be a problem as he went 3-9 from three with 2 turnovers in a finals loss to Cibona. Really not a terrific three-point shooter (30% in Croatian league) but did shoot 36% in the Eurocup. Fortunately, shoots 80% from the line and does have a good stroke. Also, a lot of his shots are super erratic. Loves to come off a screen or iso and whenever he senses he has a little bit of separation he pulls the trigger. Can get to the rim and finish with a quick first step but does not score well while embracing contact. His handle is solid which pairs well with his first step. Athletically really quick, great size, decent jumping ability. Defensively really has to improve and that starts with bulking up. Bigger players back him down in which he panics and fouls while smaller players can blow by him quickly. Still only 19, but has been playing professionally since 16. Offensively can score in a variety of ways but must improve decision making and defense to succeed.
Best Fit: New Orleans
They have a glut of wings on the roster; E’Twaun Moore, Darius Miller, Nikola Mirotic and Ian Clark. Clark hits FA this summer, Moore makes almost $8.5 million till 2020, and the rest finish in summer of 2019. Each one of these guys are 27 or older and they need some youth on the wings. Musa can either stay another year in Europe or come over and improve his game on a contending team. Provides shooting ability and a fearlessness that New Orleans would love with Rondo and Holliday already there.
#28 – Kevin Huerter
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Maryland – 6′ 7″, 194, 19
Notable Stats: 14.8 PPG, 5.0 REB, 3.4 APG, 41.7% 3P% on 5.5 3PA, 2.5 TOV
Pro Comparison: Floor – Nik Stauskas, Ceiling – Evan Fournier
Terrific shooter who can really stroke it from three. 42% his sophomore season in a variety of ways. Has the mentality that if your hand is down when guarding him he will pull up and shoot every single time. Freshman year against Syracuse absolutely torched the zone when he had space. No need to worry about NBA range because he has it. Loves shooting off of screens and ending up at the wing. Maryland utilized him a lot in an action where the 4 or 5 screened in the corner while he ran off it and was prepared to knock down the jumper. Extremely quick release that gets out of his hand in the blink of an eye. Able to get to the rim but typically needs some sort of p and r to do so. Very rarely could beat guys off the dribble without one. When he did get to the rim he finished well. Has a great floater game and uses his height to put in second-chance efforts. Handle is solid but could use a bit of improving especially going left. On p and r he passed extremely well and made great decisions. Tough to guard because you have to run him off the three-point line but his vision and intelligence is top notch. Defensively not very quick but has the size and athleticism to be a very formidable defender. I think he typically guards 3s but can switch onto smaller guards like he did in college. Will struggle if matched up on big guys that take him down to the post.
Best Fit: Brooklyn
They finished 19th in three-point shooting and lose some of their best guys like Stauskas, Joe Harris, and Cunningham this summer. Brooklyn needs talent and Huerter has a lot of upside at only 19 and a terrific shooter. Best case scenario is he breaks into the rotation, spreads the floor, and makes great decisions out of the p and r. Huerter provides the best combination of talent and potential the Nets could get with a late first round pick.
#27 – Chimezi Metu
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USC – 6′ 9″, 220, 21
Notable Stats: 15.7 PPG, 7.4 REB, 1.7 BPG, 30.0% 3P% on 1.2 3PA, 73.0% FT%
Floor – Jordan Bell. Ceiling – Prime Luol Deng.
He is a man and one of the most athletic bigs in the draft. Metu is extremely athletic with almost a 7’1 wingspan, about 6’9.5 and 220 but can also put on more weight. The more I watched him, his offense really stood out to me. He loved catching the ball in the paint around the free throw line, taking one to two dribbles and heading to the rim. Finished with both weak and strong hands and in a variety of ways. Even against NBA talent like Jonathan Motley in the 2017 NCAA Tournament had 28 and really dominated against the now Mavericks big man, Has a really great handle, jab steps well and absorbs contact. Even though he may be undersized at 6’9 he can be a center in the league with his athleticism. Had some of the craziest dunks in his college career. Just caught crazy lobs and threw them down as if they were nothing. Most interesting part of Metu is that his jump shot is a fascinating development. He shot 30% from threes and 73% from the line with a very good stroke. At the least, he’s a small, floor-running 5 that will be able to score and rebound for his team. On defense, he blocked a lot of shots for the Trojans but what I liked even more was how he disrupted them. Straight jumper that only averaged 2.5 fouls a game. Was able to switch onto smaller players and make plays even though he does need to be careful of pump fakes. Metu is a guy that provides a lot of energy as a small 5 with possible upside to improve offensively.
Best Fit: Philadelphia
With Amir Johnson out of contract and Richuan Holmes extremely inconsistent, the Sixers need a backup 5 that can run the floor and possibly stretch it. Metu would do this for them and allow them to go smaller and play more shooters around him the combat smaller second units. Metu has a great personality and would fit in with ‘the process’ to make him a real impact guy. There have been rumors they want a guy like Nerlens Noel back and I really think Metu could fill that role.
#26 – Omari Spellman
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Villanova – 6′ 9″, 253, 20
Notable Stats: 10.9 PPG, 8.0 REB, 43.3% 3P%, 70.0 FT%, 1.5 BPG
Pro Comparison: Floor – Better shooting Kyle O’Quinn. Ceiling – Bobby Portis
Interesting prospect that has an NBA game especially with the ability to shoot the three-pointer. Spellman sat out his first year at Nova through academic issues. In his second year, he was the Big East Freshman of the Year through his ability to score and rebound. Great catch and shooter that punishes opponents who give him too much space. Has a great stroke that finishes high above his head. Was the 4th or 5th option on Nova’s offense and did damage with it. In the post needs to develop a couple go-to moves. Had some jump hooks and spins but nothing that made defenders worry about him in the post. In p and r he is difficult to guard with his athleticism and shooting ability. Needs to develop a better mid-range game but not something farfetched to achieve. Athletically, a gem. Has a solid wingspan, grabs rebounds all over the glass, and has a great vertical leap as seen with the ability to put down some monster putback dunks. Not sure we have any idea what his true ceiling is at. Nova very rarely goes to its bigs and I wonder if Spellman’s game blossoms more when he gets to the NBA. Has a lot of potential defensively to block shots as well. A straight jumper who does not foul frequently and does well to use his wingspan to block or alter shots. Was not bad when switched onto smaller players, could stick with them and disrupt their momentum towards the basket. Understood P and R well but at times sagged off jump shooters when he clearly should not have. Fits the small ball 5 role at 6’9 but do worry about him getting pulled from the basket more by stretch 4s or pounded down low by big 5s. Does not have great post-defense. Lot of upside but fit will be massively important so that he can develop well.
Best Fit: LA Lakers
Spellman needs a place he can play minutes in an extended bench role. Los Angeles (assuming they do not get Lebron) would fit that well. Channing Frye, Julius Randle and Brook Lopez are Free Agents this summer and it appears likely they will do everything they can to trade the Luol Deng contract. Spellman can embrace the small ball 5 role or the stretch 4 on a young core. Best case scenario he turns into another late 1st round stud for the Purple and Gold.
#25 – Grayson Allen
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Duke – 6′ 4″, 198, 22
Notable Stats: 15.5 PPG, 4.6 APG, 41.8% FG%, 37.0 3P%, 1.7 SPG
Pro Comparison: Floor – Delon Wright. Ceiling – Prime Devin Harris
Super controversial college player with all the tripping incidents and getting into it with others. I don’t think he’s like that, a lot of the media overblowing it and has had to be the leader in back-to-back years because of the amount of freshman turnover on the roster. I did not like how he was used throughout this season. To me, he’s a playmaking 2 guard, not a point guard. If anything it will help him in the NBA but it forced him to take crazy shots and a lot of the workload at Duke because of Duval’s inability to run the offense. Allen can really shoot and has a textbook stroke. Shot almost 42% from three his sophomore year when he was in the off-ball role more. Great in the P and R and makes smart decisions especially when the big sets the pick. Has a midrange game and nice floater repertoire too. Also will not just sit in the corner and be a shooter. If teams want to use him as a spark guy off the bench he can be that. Tested well Athletically at the combine with great agility, leaping ability, and first step. In isolation, he takes too many jumpshots because he struggles to get by opponents. On defense jumps passing lanes and gets steals that lead to fast breaks. Not a terrific on-ball defender but can get the job done. Will be interesting to see how he does against bigger wings and could be a problem.
Best Fit: Charlotte
The second unit was run by Michael Carter-Williams and Jeremy Lamb is not the ideal combination. Allen will provide a much-needed spark for a bench group that only got better when Malik Monk got more minutes. Monk should slide into the 6th man role or the starting rotation depending on how much overturn the Hornets roster has. Allen provides creativity, great P&R and some shooting to a second unit that could use an offensive-minded 2 guard.
#24 – Troy Brown
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Oregon – 6′ 7″, 208, 18
Notable Stats: 11.3 PPG, 6.2 REB, 3.2 APG, 29.1% 3P%
Pro Comparison: Floor – Quincy Pondexter. Ceiling – Shabazz Muhammad
A little confused why people have him so high on draft boards. He really finishes well in traffic and has creative moves when going to the hole. Can spin either way off the dribble and has long strides that creates separation easily. At the rim he has terrific touch off the glass, with a floater, and using both hands. Slowly became the guy for Oregon at the end of shot clock situations. Also had an average mid-range jumper game (around 45%) that he used consistently. Struggled from 3 all year. Even catch and shoot he did not excel at. His shooting stroke changes and can become lazy, elbow sticks out too much. Defensively is long but not the quickest and may struggle against quicker 3s. I like him guarding larger players but still think he is average overall. Rebounded well at 6’7 but wish he was more aggressive on the offensive glass. Athleticism is not really there also. At the combine had lower agility then Mo Wagner, vertical leap was less than guys like Jevon Carter. A massive reach for a team in the teens even if he is only 18.
Best Fit: Detroit
Reggie Bullock, Eric Moreland, and Luke Kennard are some of the wings on the roster currently. After shipping out Avery Bradley and Tobias Harris Detroit desperately needs a better wing with some potential. Furthermore, Detroit has arguably the worst salary cap situation and needs to hit on draft picks (see Donovan Mitchell). Hopefully Brown develops and provides proper wing help for the Pistons.
#23 – Chandler Hutchison
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Boise State – 6′ 7″, 190, 22
Notable Stats: 20.0 PPG, 7.7 REB, 3.5 APG, 35.9% 3P%, 3.4 TOV
Pro Comparison: Floor – Alec Burks. Ceiling – Harrison Barnes.
Athletic winger that did not test at the combine because of an apparent promise that is rumored to be Chicago. Long wingspan (around 7’0), great jumper, quick but does not look like it. Can get by defenders easily due to his great first step and quickness. I love how he gets to the rim and collapses the defense. Once he is by the defender he rarely hesitates and finishes so well. Can use both hands around the rim and does not have a ‘starting position’. He drives from the corner, straight ahead or on the wing. At the rim he has a really nice floater and uses the glass to his advantage. Might be best in transition where he is lethal against opponents. Finds teammates when the defense breaks down and never slows down, just goes full speed ahead. 36% from three this season but junior year he shot around 38%, also free throw percentage improved by almost 7% in his senior year. His production in college was great but I really enjoyed his rebounding. He worked hard on the glass, boxed out wall and was not lazy especially when his Boise State needed him. Good court vision but can get sloppy and force bad passes. Turnovers could be a real problem if his jumpshot struggles in the NBA and players start to jump passing lanes. Defensively, got up to 1.5 SPG last season. Used his length well and won’t get beaten by quicker wings or bigger 4s. Can get confused in the P and R also off the ball gets a tad lazy too. Even though he is 22 I do think his game can diversify a little more which is promising.
Best Fit: Chicago
They’re the team that supposedly gave him the promise and it makes a ton of sense. The Bulls are young but really don’t have a lot of wings especially because Zach Lavine and Noah Vonleh both hit free agency. I also don’t love Jerian Grant and Justin Holliday. Thus, Hutchison makes a ton of sense for a team that wants to get better on defense and try to score more. Hutchison meets those demands and can come in and contribute immediately. Makes a ton of sense for the Bulls to promise him like they did.
#22 – Robert Williams
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Texas A&M – 6′ 9″, 237, 20
Notable Stats: 10.4 PPG, 9.2 REB, 2.6 BPG, 47.1% FT%
Pro Comparison: Floor – Kenyon Martin. Ceiling – Thaddeus Young.
Tune into the two NCAA tournament games this season to check out Williams’ athleticism. Two crazy windmill dunks where his head was above the rim. When drafting Williams you are getting a big man that is extremely athletic and defensively makes a real difference. Showed the ability to switch onto guards and take on bigger centers. In the NCAA tournament he ate up guys like Luke Maye and Rodney Bullock that tried to stretch the floor on him. Even showed the ability to make a jump shot from specific places on the floor. Williams is super super athletic but offensively there is not much to be excited about. Cannot shoot well at all as seen by the 47% from the line. Misses are extremely erratic and the appearance of his shooting motion is not pretty at all. Almost no post moves and does not create off the dribble as well. Best case scenario with Williams is he becomes a crazy athletic defender that develops his offensive game. Problem is it is really really tough to imagine him on the floor in late-game scenarios. People would easily just not guard him no matter where he is and he would be susceptible to fouling. So intriguing athletically but offensively will have to make significant strides to stay on the floor.
Best Fit: Sacramento
Williams is a difficult prospect to apply a team fit to because he’s not necessarily a 4 or 5 and is limited offensively. However, Sacramento can stockpile talent especially with great vets like Randolph and Carter. Maybe the freedom in Sacramento allows for Williams to develop an offensive game and have a John Collins-like rookie season.
#21 – Gary Trent, Jr.
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Duke – 6′ 6″, 204, 19
Notable Stats: 14.5 PPG, 4.2 REB, 40.2% 3P%, 87.6% FT%
Pro Comparison: Floor – Tony Snell. Ceiling – Danny Green
Electric shooter and also very streaky at the same time. Has games where he completely struggles (0 for 6 against Indiana) and some games where he refuses to miss (6 for 9 against Miami). Terrific shooting stroke, loves to extend his range when on fire, and loves to come off screens. Off-ball screens could be extremely helpful in the NBA where his feet are in a great position and has lots of separation. Importantly for Trent Jr., he is not simply a three-point shooter. Trent has shown the ability to make mid-range jump shots, beat defenders off the dribble, and finish in the lane. When shots did not fall against a team like UNC, he decided to go to the rim and score. Players like Pinson and Johnson struggled to contend with him. Solid wingspan at 6’9 but great size at 6’6. Love the idea of him as a large 2 in the NBA. Even rebounded well for a guard by crashing the glass over larger players. Interesting in P and R with the ability to shoot and have a physicality advantage over smaller guards. Could be swallowed up more by bigger, more athletic players. Average defensively, with decent movement but not incredible. Really tough to evaluate because of the zone that Duke played. I think he can be a formidable NBA defender but will need to identify roles in the P and R more as well as show effort on that side of the floor. His shooting will be a gift for any NBA team and I like him more than a Luke Kennard type prospect from last year as a more complete offensive player.
Best Fit: San Antonio
Very similar to Zhaire Smith situation but could be the player more likely to be there at 18. Has the three-point shooting they need for a team that finished fourth-worst in three-point field goal percentage as a team. Trent can space the floor, is still very very young and helps provide more depth for a team with older players and contracts coming off the books in the next two years. Popp would help him defensively and he and Murray could be a fascinating backcourt.
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