Buckle your seat, hold onto your hat, and grab your popcorn because the 2018 NBA Draft will be a riveting and memorable ride.
Below are the locked-in picks:
- Deandre Ayton
- Marvin Bagley
- Luka Doncic
- Jaren Jackson Jr.
- Trae Young
- Mo Bamba
- Wendell Carter
- Collin Sexton
- Kevin Knox
- Mikal Bridges
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
- Miles Bridges
- Jerome Robinson
- Michael Porter Jr.
- Troy Brown
- Zhaire Smith
- Donte DiVincenzo
- Lonnie Walker IV
- Kevin Huerter
- Josh Okogie
- Grayson Allen
- Chandler Hutchison
- Aaron Holiday
- Anfernee Simons
- Moritz Wagner
- Landry Shamet
- Robert Williams
- Jacob Evans
- Dzanan Musa
- Omari Spellman
- Elie Okobo
- Jevon Carter
Trades that have gone down so far:
- Trae Young lands on Hawks and Luka Doncic lands on Mavs. Hawks get future second-rounders in trade.
- Mikal Bridges, originally drafted by the Sixers at 10, was traded to the Suns for Zhaire Smith, the 16th pick, and the 2021 Miami Heat First-Round Pick.
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander picked 11 was sent to LA Clippers for Miles Bridges who was picked 13 plus a future second-rounder.
Here are some rumors that Occurred Prior to the Draft:
- Deandre Ayton is a lock to go number 1, according to Shams Charania. Although don’t overrule a trade for Kawhi.
- Marvin Bagley is a lock for 2 to the Kings, Shams Charania reported.
- Doncic is a lock at 3 for Atlanta.
- Mavs are making a concerted effort to trade with the Hawks to get Luka Doncic. Unfortunately, the Hawks’ main target is also Doncic. The Mavs’ second option is Bamba.
- Kevin Knox is rising. Expect him to go in the 7 (Bulls) to 11 (Hornets) range.
- Jerome Robinson is moving up draft boards. I have him 23rd in my mock draft, but he is expected to go anywhere from 12 (Clippers) to 19 (Hawks) range. He met with Washington executives a day before the draft.
- Trae Young is widely known as a lock to land in Orlando. He is either picked 6th or may fall out of the top 10. Bill Simmons proposed a trade that had the Magic trading the 6th pick to the Clippers for the 12th and 13th pick and Patrick Beverly. Even if they do pull the trigger on this trade, the Magic will probably land the Oklahoma boom-or-bust point guard.*
- *The Atlanta Hawks draft Luka Doncic will be sent to Dallas Mavericks for Trae Young and a future first-round pick to be named later.
- Michael Porter Jr. is free falling out of the top 10. His original top suitor, the Chicago Bulls, prefer Wendell Carter Jr. over him, in accordance with K.C. Johnson.
- Lakers are stocking up on assets for Kawhi Leonard, they traded cash considerations and a 2019 second round pick for the 39th pick, Shams Charania reported.
- Spurs are denying all trade offers from the Lakers. Popovich has a grudge about the trade that sent Pau Gasol to the Lakers instead of the Spurs in the Summer of 2007. He is simply not interested in trading within the Western Conference.
- The Celtics will have to offer Jaylen Brown in a deal for Kawhi, which makes them the top trade partners for a trade with the Spurs.
- Dwight Howard was released by the Nets after hearing he would be a backup to young center, Jarrett Allen. The Celtics and Warriors are two top options for the potential ring-chasing center.
- The Warriors may pay their MLE ($5.1 million) to acquire a second-round pick, according to TheRinger. This is a result of a poor free agency for role players (38-year-old Jamal Crawford would be their top target if they stay put).
- No one on Charlotte is off-limits, Kemba Walker included. The 8th pick and Kevin Love was offered for Kawhi recently. Keep in mind, the Cavs yearn to keep Kevin Love no matter where Lebron chooses to go. This is probably to keep Love’s trade value high and will discreetly be listening to offers. Expect Marc Gasol, Demar DeRozan, or Kemba Walker to be dealt to Cleveland.
- If Cleveland keeps Kevin Love or adds another star, they will be the most expensive team ever, maxing out at $250 million on their books.
- If the Cavs keep the 8th pick, they will target a playmaker like Trae Young, Colin Sexton, or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
- Hawks really like Lonnie Walker IV, if they do ultimately deal the 3rd pick for the Clippers’ 12th and 13th pick
- The Timberwolves want to add a playmaking shooter off the bench, with Jamal Crawford jettisoning out of Minnesota. Look for the Wolves to draft Donte Divincenzo at 20 if he falls.
- Kostas Antetokounmpo declined all workouts in the last week, he may have gotten a promise from a team in the second round. Devonte Graham, Rodion Kurucs, and Jarrod Vanderbilt all may have received promises as well, according to league sources. TheRinger confirmed this rumor.
- Chandler Hutchison is a lock to go 22nd (Bulls), barring a team picks him any higher.
- The Knicks reportedly do not possess enough assets to move up in the draft, they were trying to move up for Bamba or Doncic.
- Mitchell Robinson is expected to fall out of the first round. He was limited to jump-shooting in workouts, according to Adrian Wojnarowski.
- 7 teams are trying to trade for the 3rd or 4th pick according to Adrian Wojnarowski. At least half those teams are also trying to trade for the 5th pick. All depends on what the Kings do with the 2nd pick. If they pick Doncic or Bamba, some teams won’t pursue a trade for the 3rd or 4th pick.
Here are the offers that could be on the table for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th pick:
Seven. That’s the number of teams trying to trade with the Atlanta Hawks for the 3rd pick. The Suns are ready to take Ayton first (or trade with San Antonio for Kawhi). The Kings seem dead set on taking Bagley.
You never really know with Vlade Divac and Sacramento, though. You have probably heard the saying; “past behavior is the best prediction for future behavior.” That could not ring truer as the clock hits 6:00 PM in Chicago.
After all, Sacramento made the surprise pick to take unknown Georgios Papagiannis 13th overall last season, and high-ceiling, low-floor guys (Ben Mclemore and Willie Cauley-Stein) years prior. They could easily surprise viewers by making the unpopular choice by drafting Wendell Carter III or choosing another center in Mo Bamba. Here is one thing you do not hear often: The ball bounces in Vlade’s court.
If the Kings do take Bamba, the list of suitors for Atlanta’s 3rd and Memphis’ 4th pick dwindles substantially. Why is that so? According to league sources, there are 7 teams who have inquired about moving up in the draft.
I will first break down why the Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies are making a concerted effort to slide down into later in the lottery. Then I will discern who the 7 teams are targeting and why they are doing so.
The Atlanta Hawks are looking for a Leader
With Dennis Schroeder on the trading block, the Hawks need a floor general. Lloyd Pierce has coached exceptional playmakers; Lebron James, Stephen Curry, Mike Conley, Jrue Holiday, and Ben Simmons. Travis Schlenk is aiming for either Trae Young or Luka Doncic as the draft approaches.
Option 1: Stay Put and Draft Luka Doncic
Doncic will be readily available at pick 3 unless Chicago swoops in for a trade with Sacramento and snags the European prodigy. Although, Sacramento has made it clear they want the Duke star, Marvin Bagley III.
Doncic averaged 14.5, 5.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists on his way to being voted MVP for the EuroLeague champions Real Madrid. Luka hit a game-winning fadeaway floater to seal the Spanish League championship versus Kirolbet Baskonia. The Spanish Team also won the EuroLeague championship 85-80 versus Fenerbahce.
Option 2: Trade Down and Draft Trae Young
Teams are calling and given the opportunity, moving down and getting assets while still drafting Trae Young could be the superior alternative. Young led the NCAA in points and assists with 27.4 and 8.6, respectively.
Choosing either one will expedite their rebuilding process and add a quarterback to their revolutionary offense.
What Direction are the Memphis Grizzlies Headed in?
Option 1: Stay Put and Draft Mo Bamba
For reasons unbeknownst to outsiders, players in this draft are refusing to play in the City of Blues. Outspoken center, Mo Bamba, has made it clear that he does not want to play in Memphis. He did not hand over his medical records and denied the opportunity to work out for them.
There has been a lot of movement in Memphis in recent months. Marc Gasol seemingly wants out of Memphis, but Robert Pera made it clear that he would not trade the Spanish center as long as he was in charge. Gasol was accused of getting the former head coach, David Fizdale fired. Pera envisions a 50 win season as soon as next year. All of this with Conley only playing 12 games last season and Gasol having his worst defensive season in terms of defensive box plus/minus and scoring fewer points than last season. To add salt to the wound, Memphis went 22-60 and hired the perpetual interim head coach, J.B. Bickerstaff, and his probable replacement, Jerry Stackhouse, as their assistant.
Option 2: Trade Down and Draft Wendell Carter
With Conley and Gasol implanted in the Grizzlies’ future, Memphis are targeting a player that could impact the team right away. They like Wendell Carter Jr., who may as well be a carbon copy of Zach Randolph. Carter produced 13.5 points and 9.1 rebounds for Duke as a one-and-done. Grit and Grind continues.
It will be extremely expensive to move up. The Grizzlies signed injury-prone Chandler Parsons to a max contract 2 summers ago. It looks like he will be hooked on to any deal for the number 4 pick. Teams moving up in the lottery are going to have to pay a steep price. Parsons is on the books for $49.20 million over the next 2 seasons. Parsons has suited up for less than 43% over the past 2 seasons while maintaining a -0.2 value above replacement player.
What do the Dallas Mavericks Really Want?
Option 1: Trade up and Draft Luka Doncic
Proposed Trade: Wesley Matthews and the 5th pick for Chandler Parsons and the 4th pick
The team is also linked to trading for the number 4 pick and selecting Luka Doncic if teams 1-3 pass on him. They selected point guard Dennis Smith Jr. 9 overall last year but could be grabbing another one here. Of course, Doncic could slide to the 2 or 3 as a secondary ball handler and aide Smith Jr. in passing while allowing Smith Jr. to become more of a scorer. Smith Jr. produced 6.3 assists per 36 minutes while Doncic produced 6.6. Don’t be surprised if Luka takes the torch from fellow European, Dirk Nowitzki, and lands in Dallas.
It’s worth noting that Chandler Parsons was signed to the 4 years $94.8 million deal with the Mavericks in the Summer of 2016. It’s not like they left on bad terms though, as Cuban just was not willing to offer Parsons a max contract after a season of putting up 13.7 points. The wheel has come full circle for Dallas and Chandler Parsons.
They would also have to throw in a piece alongside their number 5 pick. Harrison Barnes is too hefty a price. The former Warrior had a career year, averaging his most points, assists, and rebounds per 36 minutes. Wesley Matthews could offset the Parsons’ contract and Cuban would not mind unloading him.
Option 2: Trade up and Draft Mo Bamba
Option 3: Trade Down and Draft Michael Porter Jr.
Porter Jr. is reportedly a favorite of ownership. Cuban might see a better version of his former players, Caron Butler and Josh Howard, in the consensus number one player coming out of high school.
The Clippers have expressed interest in moving up in the draft. Trading the 12th and 13th pick for the 5th pick could be a reciprocal return for both organizations. The Mavericks add talent to their 24-58 squad and the Clippers could add an elite talent (Bamba) to their fringe playoff team.
The Orlando Magic Love Trae Young
Option 1: Draft Trae Young
Currently, the Magic have one objective at hand, get Trae Young at any cost. Pictured with young Orlando players, Jonathan Isaac and Aaron Gordon, the Magic jersey fitted naturally onto Young’s thin frame. He even admitted it would be a mutual fit, “You definitely envision it,’’ Young said on Thursday following his individual workout with the Magic. “When you put on this (black, sleeveless Magic) shirt or step on this court, you have to envision yourself being here every day and working out. Nighttime and when you are alone on those early mornings, you have to envision all of that if you want to be great.”
Option 2: Trade up and Draft Trae Young
Proposed Trade: Evan Fournier and 6th pick for the 3rd pick and Kent Bazemore
Young could add another level of playmaking to this pass-starved roster. Shelvin Mack led the team in assists with 3.9, which was the lowest by any assist leader on a team. The Hawks seem to have an eye on Young, though which might be troubling executives, John Hammond and Jeff Weltman. This may propel the Magic to trade assets to the Hawks for the opportunity to select their version of Steph Curry.
Adding Evan Fournier to a depleted Hawks’ adds talent and youth. Fournier is only 25 years old and produced his most points and rebounds while hitting his efficiency peak, retaining a solid 15.5 PER. He could be the difference-maker Atlanta is looking for.
Getting Bazemore off the books would be an additional compliment to this franchise-altering trade. While he did produce an average stat line of 12.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists, he is not equivalent to his eye-opening contract. Bazemore is on the books for $37 million for the next two seasons and might be what it takes for Orlando to move up.
The Chicago Bulls Pick is Contingent on What Happens Early in the Draft
Option 1: Trade up and Draft Mo Bamba
Proposed Trade: Denzel Valentine, the 22nd pick, and the 7th pick for Chandler Parsons and the 4th pick
Chicago is simply looking for a big man who compliments Lauri Markkanen. The ‘Finnisher’ was a Markkanen was third in 3-pointers made per game for power forwards. While he did not lead his team to the playoffs like Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum, or Ben Simmons, Lauri had a historic season in his own, being the first rookie ever to score 1,000 points, grab 500 boards, and sink 110 threes. He reminds fans and coaches alike of Dirk Nowitzki.
While the Nowitzki comparison may be overbearing, Markkanen is a more refined player at an early age. Nowitzki only made 14 three’s his rookie year while averaging 8.2 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. Notably, Nowitzki captured a singular championship in 2011, knocking off the favorited Miami Heat. Markkanen and Nowitzki similarly struggle on the defensive end. Markkanen allowed 60.8% in shots less than 6 feet. He was an albatross as a rim protector and Robin Lopez, Bobby Portis, or Cristiano Felicio unquestionably did not make up for his defensive shortcomings. Nowitzki had Tyson Chandler in his immaculate 2011 run to the finals. Markkanen could use a defensive and rebounding specialist akin to Chandler. Think of Mo Bamba as a more talented Tyson Chandler and Markkanen as a less talented Dirk Nowitzki. At least that’s what Gar Forman and John Paxson have in mind.
Option 2: Trade up and Draft Luka Doncic
Proposed Trade: Kris Dunn and Denzel Valentine and 7th pick for the 3rd pick
If they’re able to climb up to the number 3 spot, they would be fond of taking Doncic. He and Lauri already seem to be close friends, with Lauri tweeting at Luka Doncic after games. Luka would immediately replace the inconsistent Kris Dunn, who appeared in only 52 games and struggled with turnovers throughout the year.
Option 3: Trade up* and Draft Michael Porter Jr.
Proposed Trade: Bobby Portis, Denzel Valentine and 7th pick for the 5th pick
The Chicago Bulls have not remained quiet in their alternative pursuit of oft-injured star Michael Porter Jr. Michael Porter Jr. has concealed his medical records to all teams besides Chicago and has been a longtime Chicago Bulls fan. The Mavericks seem to be equally interested in Porter Jr. if their main targets (Bamba and Jackson Jr.) are off the draft board. That means the Bulls would have to convince the Mavs the talent at 7 brings the same intrigue as 5.
*Update: MPJ seems to be free-falling down draft boards. Jonathan Givony, Mike Schmitz, and Kevin O’Connor have placed Porter Jr. outside the top 10. The Bulls should trade down with the Clippers and get MPJ and a sure-thing at 13.
New York Knicks want another Unicorn
Option 1: Trade up and Draft Mo Bamba
Proposed Trade: Joakim Noah, the 9th pick for Chandler Parsons and the 4th pick
New York wants to create their rendering of the twin towers by pairing Mo Bamba with fellow unicorn Kristaps Porzingis. Porzingis and Bamba would be eternal mismatches at the 4 and 5. Both have the ability to block shots, Porzingis swatted 2.7 shots per 36 minutes and Bamba denied 4.9 shots per 40 minutes. Guards would be legitimately chilled to the bone coming into the paint and bigs would be stood up by larger presences.
This deal saves Memphis about $11 million. Is getting Joakim Noah worth dropping down 5 picks? Probably not, unless we are talking about 2011 Joakim Noah. Noah seems more interested in extracurricular activities than getting healthy. Also, the 9th pick brings way less to the table than the 4th. Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Trae Young are expected to be available at 9. Bamba is head and shoulders above any of these players as a prospect.
The Denver Nuggets are a Surprise Team to Trade up, but they do have Assets
Option 1: Trade up and Draft Mo Bamba
Proposed Trade: Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried, Gary Harris, and the 14th pick for Chandler Parsons, Wayne Selden, and the 4th pick
Denver could just sit back and make the safe pick. Right now, Miles Bridges is expected to be taken at 15 by the Nuggets. He would fit well in their scheme, emulating Paul Millsap as an elbow passer that can handle the ball on the wing, step out for a 3, or bang in the low post.
Adversely, they can make the wildcard play and trade up to draft a star in the top 5. With Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, and Nikola Jokic they have a nice core they can build around. Jokic has proven to be everything except a winner, Murray is a score-first shooting guard with no alternative discernible talent, and Harris is a defensive guard that can fill the stat sheet in a variety of distinct categories. No player stands out as a superstar who can lead the Nuggets to their first playoff appearance since 2012.
So which player fits on this team?
Mo Bamba, while a fascinating talent, would not fit alongside center Nikola Jokic. In his short-lived career, Jokic has played just 14% of his minutes at the 4 spot and a whole 86% of his minutes at the 5. Bamba, at 6’11’’ with an enormous 7’10’’ wingspan, is clearly a center in the NBA. The Joker and Bamba are not a great fit.
Boston Celtics are in the Discussion…Again
Danny Ainge is captivated by the length and offensive and defensive prowess of the Texas center. He is no stranger to big men either, he has targeted Karl Anthony-Towns, Demarcus Cousins, and Dwight Howard in seasons prior. He even swooped in on a deal for Kevin Garnett in 2007. Mo Bamba could be the anchor to a team filled with shot-scoring wings and creative guards.
Boston has officially ruled out trading rookie star Jayson Tatum, but have not declared Terry Rozier or Jaylen Brown untouchable. They also have 9 first round picks in the coming 3 years. The 58-win Celtics are not short on assets. Expect them to take a risk and move up in the draft.
Proposed Trade: Jaylen Brown, the 27th pick, 2018 Sacramento Kings’ top-1 protected pick, Memphis Grizzlies (If pick falls outside top-8), and 2021 1st round pick
There will be a myriad of trades in this draft. Everyone wants to move up on the totem pole and compete with the Warriors for the championship. Teams will be trading up, down, and around during the draft. The motto for the draft is: “Don’t be afraid of change, you may end up losing something good, but you will probably end up gaining something better.” Who knows, that ‘something better’ could very well be Kawhi Leonard. Unless you’re the Lakers.