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Picking Teams: The Top 10 of the 2018 NBA Draft

Luka Doncic by Fotos Baloncesto is licensed under CC BY SA-2.0

Picking Teams: The Top 10 of the 2018 NBA Draft

Estimated Reading Time: 15 Minutes

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#10 – Kevin Knox

Kentucky – 6′ 9″, 212, 18

Notable Stats: 15.6 PPG, 5.4 REB, 34.1% 3P%, 77.4% FT%

Pro Comparison: Floor – Rodney Hood. Ceiling- Better version of Nic Batum.

Tampa Catholic kid that just dominated high school basketball in Florida. Scored 45 effortlessly and was a lights out shooter. One of the reasons that his three-point percentage is so shocking at Kentucky. Really thought he would be floating around 40% and I do not think that 34% is indicative of his true shooting percentage at all. Was not utilized correctly by Calipari at the beginning of the year and once he implemented sets for him his game shined in conference play and the tournament. Had the 9th highest effective field goal % in the SEC so his numbers look much better in that realm. When he was successful he was run off NBA action. Downscreen on the block that leads to a catch and a decision he usually made correctly. If sagged off he shot, if closed to hard he drove and if there was a miscommunication he passed. Really loved his vision in those sets and saw some real improvements. Not a great offensive rebounder but defensively was a strong rebounder for a Kentucky team that spread the wealth on that end of the floor. Love him in P and R and think teams can be extremely creative with him. Defensively does not move his feet well but improved over the year like many Kentucky kids do. Must do better in defending P and R especially because his size and length are so valuable. I am more confident in Knox than any other player to ‘get his shot right’ and become a high-end three-point shooter. Can become a great defender with his length but will take time to get to that point. Realistic comp seems like Nic Batum.

Best Fit: Charlotte

They really need a guy that can shoot on the wing. Malik Monk is more of a combo guard and Marvin Williams and MKG simply create too defensive of a lineup. Batum can help him as they are similar players and provides a lot of upside to a Charlotte team stuck in mediocrity. They’re tied to so many bad wing contracts that new GM Mitch Kupchak knows he needs to move some of them. Knox allows them to go smaller, move bad contracts, and hopefully develop a talent that was a top 5 pick entering college last year.

#9 – Trae Young

Oklahoma – 6′ 2″, 177, 19

Notable Stats: 27.4 PPG, 8.7 APG, 5.2 TOV, 36.0 3PT%

Pro Comparison: Floor – Ty Lawson. Ceiling – Steph Curry (Lazy, but so tough to find a comparison)

The most criticized player in all of college basketball. Was the Wooden Player of the Year for most of the year till Oklahoma collapsed. Limitless range from three-point land. His shot is his biggest asset as people must defend him far from the basket. 36% doesn’t represent his true three-point ability, took a lot of crazy shots because the Oklahoma team was just not good. Almost miraculous he had 9 assists a game with the players around him. Dangerous P and R player with his range and is perfect for the NBA now. An underrated finisher around the rim as he can finish with contact and has a very good floater. Bigger defenders don’t worry him because he knows his quickness is elite. When he struggled in the second half of the season he was face-guarded 35-feet from the basket and also full court. This will not happen in the NBA or else teams will pay. Incredible court vision, a leader among teammates, and passionate young man.  Defensively will always struggle in the NBA. Will be the target of P and R by every team as well as post-ups. Needs to bulk up more at only 177. Young is a polarizing prospect but truly has Steph Curry potential. He is a magician offensively and can immediately make an impact in this league.

Best Fit: Cleveland

He could make an impact on many different teams but the Cavs could contend with him. Lebron has never played with a Point Guard that can shoot like Young. Irving could drive incredibly but Young’s three-point ability is where the league it at and going. Lebron also loves Young and could influence him to stay more. Also allows to shed Hill’s contract with a pick and use more cap space to possibly get another FA. Cavs need to get younger post-Lebron and Young offers this.

#8 – Jaren Jackson

Michigan State – 6′ 11″, 235, 18

Notable Stats: 10.9 PPG, 5.8 REB, 39.6% 3P%, 3.0 BPG

Pro Comparison: Floor – Myles Turner. Ceiling – Chris Bosh

The most complete defensive player in this draft. Can switch 1-5, judges P and R extremely well, instincts are special. His basketball IQ helps him on the defensive end of the floor immensely. Has the ability to keep quicker players in front of him and very rarely lets his hands down. This not only makes it difficult to shoot over him but also frustrating to make the essential pass. Numbers do not show it but great rebounder. Michigan State typically played large when he was in games which cut into his stats. Izzo very rarely ran sets for him but was effective on catch and shoot threes and showed glimpses of terrific isolation plays. Body still filling out and will grow more. Offense is truly untapped potential. Use in P and R is lethal and can step out and make difficult shots. One of a handful of players that could step into a crucial 4th quarter situation right now and make an impact. Scary thing is some games just disappeared. Against Syracuse he was practically irrelevant both offensively and defensively. Dad was a longtime NBA veteran.

Best Fit: Memphis

Allows him to learn from Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. Can play 4/5 with or without Gasol and help defensively on P and R switches with Conley. Offensive action with Gasol would be very interesting and the team would be competitive. Creates an opportunity to make an impact in playoff games. Does not need to be the star.

#7 – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Kentucky – 6′ 6″, 180, 19

Notable Stats: 14.4 PPG, 4.1 REB, 5.1 APG, 40.4% 3P%, 1.6 SPG

Pro Comparison: Floor – Malcolm Brogdon. Ceiling – Prime Manu Ginobili

The guy in the draft that has just shot up all of my boards and fits the modern NBA the most. He is a 6’6 guard with a 7’0 wingspan that was given the keys to the Kentucky offense over better recruits and returning players. Calipari is very reluctant to do so and loves the kid. When evaluating prospects you like to see great size, production in college, and an NBA skill set that translates to the league. SGA is all that. He can create his shot off the dribble and elevate over smaller players. In the Vanderbilt game, he consistently rose up and made jump shots over players effortlessly. He is the best P and R player in the draft. He makes the correct decision in it and is not afraid to shoot jumpshots or drive to the rim. Can finish with both hands and produce off the dribble with both hands. 40% from three is not an anomaly, shot 82% from the line and has a great stroke, extremely high release point. Absorbs contact so well and finishes even better. Made threes from all over the arc and didn’t need the ball in his hands at all time. Defensively just swallowed up smaller players with steals and blocks. Rebounded well even though he was on the perimeter. I think he fits perfectly as a ball dominant 2 that can run the P and R in the half court. Needs to be better in transition and put on some weight but really excited to see where he ends up.

Best Fit: Phoenix

I wish more than anything Phoenix would try to make this work but appears unlikely. However by fit if they were able to move to say the Clippers at 12 maybe it would work. Him running pick and roll with Ayton, Jackson, and Booker would be lethal. The Suns get even longer and have the ability with Jackson and SGA to close down more athletic wings in the West. The Sixers proved you can find guys to build around the core and get good quick. SGA would be a perfect fit for a super dynamic Suns team and orchestrate the offense and build chemistry early in the career.

#6 – Mikal Bridges

Villanova – 6′ 7″, 191, 21

Notable Stats: 17.7 PPG, 5.3 REB, 43.5% 3P%, 1.5 SPG, 1.1 BPG

Pro Comparison: Floor – Wesley Johnson. Ceiling – Demar Derozan with better D

Perfect example of why you go back to school and try to refine your game. Everyone knows Bridges is a terrific three and D guy that the league loves now. However, this year we really saw him create shots for himself off the dribble more than any prior year. When Brunson could not create a shot at the end of the shot clock it typically came down to Bridges to try and get it done. A perfect example was in the Big East Championship when he made back to back threes to change the game and win them the title. Can absolutely stroke it from three now off the dribble, catch and shoot and even in transition. Really improved getting to the basket, would love to see him develop more of a floater/mid-range game that could make him all around. Defensively has lockdown characteristics where he gets to the spot so much quicker than the offensive player. Great in P and R also where he always makes the right decision defensively. Sometimes gets lazy on defense where he tries to bait quicker players and goes for the block but instead gets beat. Won a lot of games at Nova and will bring that mentality to the NBA.

Best Fit: Philadelphia

Just makes way too much sense. Stays in Philly, can become the 3 and D guy that will play tons of minutes in late game situations. Especially helpful if Simmons cannot stay on the floor in late game situations. Finally, if the Sixers choose they can try to move Covington and his contract with the assurance Bridges can fill that role better. Equals more cap room for Simmons, Embiid, Saric, Fultz contracts.

#5 – Michael Porter, Jr.

Missouri – 6′ 11″, 211, 19

Notable Stats: Only played three games, 53 minutes

Pro Comparison: Floor – Chandler Parsons. Ceiling – All star Danny Granger

Easily one of the more difficult players to evaluate in the draft. When he came back at Missouri he really hurt the team more than helped them. Did not look comfortable whatsoever and completely out of shape which was to be expected. A ton of fade always to create space and simply became a role player that shot too much. In High School was a terrific shooter. Electric from three and showed limitless range. Effective both catch and shoot and off the dribble from three. Has really interesting offensive moves when posted up. Quick shimmies, nice drop step to gain position and rises well over players. When healthy superrrr athletic to catch lobs and just make shots. Defensively has always been a problem. Can block shots but mostly in transition. One on one defense has always been difficult. Does not move his feet well, very lazy in P and R especially when having to guard smaller players. Gets blown by way to quick for someone as athletic as him. Back injury a real issue. Really concerning that he came back not healthy and tried to force the issue. Back issues in the past have affected players and reoccur easily. Porter needs his athleticism to be successful and without it severely limits his ability.

Best Fit: New York

Just screams the Knicks. They need athleticism and talent plus something to spark the fan base and Porter would be the guy if he arrived at MSG. Young core of him, KP, and Nitlikina would be really important and Fizdale is a good coach that can help him a lot. He and KP can rehab and take more time in order to not rush the Knicks plan too quickly. Provides more three-point shooting and excitement the Knicks organization screams for.

#4 – Mo Bamba

Texas – 7′ 0″, 225, 20

Notable Stats: 12.9 PPG, 10.5 REB, 3.7 BPG, 68.1% FT%

Pro Comparison: Floor – Hassan Whiteside. Ceiling – Kristaps Porzingis

One of the craziest wingspans ever (7’10). A true shot blocker with the ability to be a defensive force. Blocks lots of shots but alters exponentially more. His reach is so long it’s almost impossible to shoot over without being wide open or erratic. Must work more on his P and R defense more. He is good but gets lazy often and loses his man or tries to bait into a block. Typically the bait works but will be more difficult to do so against quicker and savior NBA players. Terrific rebounder that can even improve more. Uses his wingspan to get rebounds a lot and is still trying to understand how to get better position and footwork. Has the chance to put up Deandre Jordan/Andre Drummond rebounding numbers. Offensive game at Texas was limited but like Jackson was mostly because of his coach. Improved stroke in off season and has various post moves. simply can elevate above players and is near unstoppable for lobs. “Backboard range”, anywhere near the backboard and he will put it in the hoop. Did foul a lot and can improve screen setting and hip movements when rolling out of screens. Phenomenal kid and great locker room guy. Has interests outside basketball and is a special person.

Best Fit: Chicago

Talk about a young and energetic 4 and 5 combo with Markannen and Bamba. Bamba can make up for the Finns lack of rebounding and defense. P and R with the two could be lethal if Bamba’s jump shot plays out. Chicago would be very long along the frontline and allows them to toy with many different pairing. Markannen and Bamba would feed off each other and could get a lot of looks early in their careers. Bamba would thrive in the large Chicago market and would help a team that ranked 28th in defensive rating.

#3 – Luka Doncic

Real Madrid – 6′ 11″, 234, 19

Notable Stats: 14.5 PPG, 5.2 REB, 4.7 APG, 80.2% FT%

Pro Comparison: Floor – Hedo Turkoglu. Ceiling – Larger Jason Kidd

Youngest player we have ever seen influence the Euroleague like this. Terrific during the FIBA Euro Championships. Truly a 6’8 point guard. One of the best passers in the draft and his vision and predictive skills are special. He always seems like he will play himself into trouble and then a layup happens within the blink of an eye. Will make an immediate impact in the NBA. 3PT% is concerning (31%) but shoots well from the line and has a good stroke. Rarely misses right or left and has to shoot a lot at the end of the shot clock. NBA moves already in his pocket. Spin move, pump fake to pull up, and up and under are his most notable. Does not have the athleticism many people will complain about but is clever enough to make up for it.

LOVES the big stage. Against Latvia, in the Euro Championships, he called for P and R against Porzingis. Step back three first possession and second possession he faked the jump shot to drive past him for an easy layup. Has a ton of Manu Ginobili to his game but with better vision and handle. Defensively his lack of athleticism is apparent. Struggles to move his feet in isolation situations. P and R against quicker guards could be an issue. Rebounds well for his size. Must note that the Euroleague is significantly better than NCAA and runs the offense for the best team. Only 19 and can really grow into a more complete player. Developing three-point shot is extremely important when predicting his career. If improved can really make up for lack of athleticism.

Best Fit: Atlanta

Allows for them to get away from Schroder and move him for more assets. Gives the keys to Doncic and can add around him to help him. John Collins can make up for his defense and create dangerous P and R. New coach worked with Ben Simmons in Philly to mold him and the pairing appears beneficial for both. Atlanta is multiple years away and putting Doncic in a less competitive environment allows for the acquisition of more assets, development of young talent, and improvement of the Slovenian’s game.

#2 – Marvin Bagley

Duke – 6′ 11″, 234, 19

Notable Stats: 21.0 PPG, 11.1 REB, 4.0 ORB, 39.7% 3P%, 62.7% FT%

Pro Comparison: Floor – Kenneth Faried. Ceiling- Blake Griffin

Widely considered the number one recruit when coming out of high school. Unbelievable athlete. First jump is truly phenomenal but his second jump is special. Allows him to rebound misses, especially his own, extremely well. Four offensive rebounds per game was ridiculous and not just dominated opponents but demoralized them Game against Florida State was perfect example where his rebounding just killed the Noles and no matter the shot it just felt like Bagley would clean up. Jump shot is there but needs improvement. 39% from three is impressive but the fact he shot 63% from the line is confusing. A lot of misses were left or right and not straight on. My biggest offensive issue is he almost never uses his right hand to finish. Could use athleticism in college to get away with it but won’t happen in the pros. Has to be able to use his right hand and is something that needs to be monitored. Defensively, difficult to evaluate because of the Zone Coach K played. Not entirely sure it was Bagley rather Carter/Duval. Showed in the UF game he was able to switch onto guards and defend one on one. Not great but not disagree that he is a liability defensively like many believe. Fantastic kid, body still growing, will put up immediate numbers.

Best Fit: Atlanta

Let him dominate the game and put up massive numbers. Him and Collins as interchangeable 4s and 5s would be extremely interesting and allow them to tank a couple more years for more assets. Best way to improve defense is to just get as many reps as possible. Dedmon can also provide insight as a veteran who is good defensively. Can also work on shot and right hand without serious implications.

#1 – Deandre Ayton

Arizona – 7′ 0″, 250, 19

Notable Stats: 20.1 PPG, 11.6 REB, 61.2% FG%

Pro Comparison: Floor – Amare Stoudemire   Ceiling – Anthony Davis

Actually chiseled out of stone. One of the most NBA ready bodies to come into the NBA in the last 15 years. Dominates both the offensive and defensive board not just through physical abilities but also his positioning and footwork. When rebounding his eyes rarely look below the rim, he tracks the ball well, and grasps it effortlessly. Almost never brings the ball down to allow guards to swipe at it. Offensively, his game is expandable and can grow. Has many different post moves and very rarely fumbles the ball. Footwork footwork footwork. For a man his size his footwork is so much more advanced then it should be. Can make jump shots from the free throw line and stroke is gorgeous. Shot 73% from the line and 34% from three. Can easily see both those numbers going up 4-5% each. Needs to work on defense especially when pulled into p and r. As much as he struggled with guarding smaller players it will be beneficial for his career. Played next to a larger center in Ristic and was forced to try to learn how to guard smaller 4s and guards when switched on to them. Thus, shot blocking was not at desired levels.

Best Fit: Phoenix

Desperately needs a big down low. Dragan Bender and Alex Len are simply not what they thought they were getting. P and R with him and Booker would be lethal. Takes the pressure off Jackson and Booker to score. New coach loves P and R with massive, stretchable big. Franchise changer.

William Glenn is a student at Villanova University who was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida. William is a huge Tampa Bay Rays fan and continues to struggle with the loss of every decent player and Evan Longoria.

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