Writer: Caleb Akpan
The 2018 NBA Draft is just around the corner,, so there’s not much time for NBA teams to continue pondering on their selections. To give them some help, here’s some suggestions for the lottery team picks in three sentences or less.
h/t USA Today
1. Phoenix Suns: DeAndre Ayton (Center, Arizona)
NBA Comparison: DeMarcus Cousins
DeAndre Ayton’s physical attributes are almost exactly what NBA scouts look for in a center. His skills are almost just small additions in comparison, but with the potential to be an all-time great big, the Phoenix Suns would be crazy to not take their chances on the center who has already played a couple of years in Arizona. It also helps that Ayton is already guaranteeing he’ll go number one following a workout with the team.
2. Sacramento Kings: Luka Doncic (Small Forward, Real Madrid/Slovenia)
NBA Comparison: Manu Ginobili
The Kings need help at a couple of positions. Doncic could probably play three (point guard, shooting guard, small forward) at the pro level. He’s certainly got the most accolades of his peers, with a Euroleague championship and MVP to his name, and he’s also only 19. Sacramento could end up taking a post player here, but the best player available definitely seems to be Doncic.
3. Atlanta Hawks: Mohamed Bamba (Center, Texas)
NBA Comparison: Rudy Gobert
Somebody’s combine measurements always help them to move up a bit in the draft. Mo Bamba’s pre-draft measurements have reached historic levels and he was already being considered as a top five pick beforehand. Don’t be shocked if this rim protecting prodigy gets taken off the board early, he’s the exact kind of center teams want in the modern day NBA.
4. Memphis Grizzlies: Jaren Jackson Jr.(Power Forward, Michigan State)
NBA Comparison: Myles Turner
Jaren Jackson Jr. may have the highest potential of any of the 2018 draft prospects. He already shows signs that he can play at a high level on both ends of the court, and the Michigan State big is still just 18 years old. Memphis loves their big man, and Jackson could learn a thing or two from their grit-n-grind system and star center Marc Gasol.
5. Dallas Mavericks: Marvin Bagley Jr. (Power Forward, Duke)
NBA Comparison: Julius Randle
Marvin Bagley has raw college stats that are just about even with top prospect DeAndre Ayton, so getting him at five could prove to be a steal. Some fear that his game won’t translate as well to the NBA as others, but his measurements match up with your usual post player draft pick and Dallas gives him a place that will make sure his skills carry over to the next level.
6. Orlando Magic: Kevin Knox (Small Forward, Kentucky)
NBA Comparison: Jaylen Brown
If anybody’s gonna make an extremely surprising pick during the lottery, it would probably be Orlando. Kevin Knox going sixth would definitely turn some heads, but Knox has potential even if sixth seems like a reach. It’s the ultimate, high risk, high reward move that Orlando seems to be in love with these last couple of years.
7. Chicago Bulls: Wendell Carter Jr. (Power Forward, Duke)
NBA Comparison: Al Horford
There’s a lot of different ways that Chicago could go with the seventh pick. A point guard, wing, and frontcourt pick all make sense, but finding someone to build a Twin Towers-like duo with forward Lauri Markkanen seems ideal. Wendell Carter Jr. could very well be the best big in the draft, but his star potential has been questioned more than any of the other top prospects, he’ll have a lot to prove if he makes it to the Windy City.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers: Michael Porter Jr. (Power Forward. Missouri)
NBA Comparison: Harrison Barnes
It feels like Cleveland is just weeks away from losing LeBron James to free agency one again. If that does happen, they’ll need to find someone at the eighth spot to fill his star void. Without multiple injuries in the last year, Michael Porter Jr. would probably be a top-five pick, the Cavs should replace their all-around icon with a young forward who has that kind of all-around potential.
9. New York Knicks: Trae Young (Point Guard, Oklahoma)
NBA Comparison: Isaiah Thomas
Trae Young feels like he was born to play for the New York Knicks. By far the most talked about college basketball prospect, the small point guard dazzled throughout the NCAA’s regular season, before fizzling out a bit towards the end of the year and during March Madness. Despite this, Young’s offensive skills still dazzle NBA scouts, and his shot-making abilities could have Madison Square Garden rocking at levels not seen at quite some time if he’s available at nine.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Mikal Bridges (Small Forward, Villanova)
NBA Comparison: Otto Porter Jr.
Philadelphia’s game plan seems to involve a mixture of Joel Embiid’s post play, Ben Simmons driving to score or pass, and everyone else around them being able to defend or hit the three point shot. Mikal Bridges would fit perfectly into that system as the draft’s ultimate 3&D player, with the potential to reach even higher levels than that. The 76ers don’t need to hit a home run with this pick thanks to their success last year, but a player like Bridges would be a great role-playing addition, while still possibly turning out to be a star.
11. Charlotte Hornets: Miles Bridges (Small Forward, Michigan State)
NBA Comparison: Tobias Harris
Miles Bridges was already being discussed as a top-ten pick for last year’s draft before he decided to return to Michigan State for another year. With an NBA-ready body, solid athleticism, shooting ability, and solid defense, Bridges can play both forward positions and while his game may not pop out as much as other players, he has all the tools to succeed in the NBA. Marvin Williams has been solid at the power forward for Charlotte, but Miles Bridges could prove to be a day-one improvement if selected.
12. Los Angeles Clippers: Collin Sexton (Point Guard, Alabama)
NBA Comparison: Eric Bledsoe
The LA Clippers look like they’re about to go into full rebuild-mode, and the perfect starting point would be to find a franchise point guard. Alabama’s Collin Sexton might be the best point guard in the draft despite Trae Young’s hype, with a better physical frame and motor rivaled by few other prospects period. The Alabama point guard is tough, confident, and seems ready to carry the load for an NBA team one day, the Clippers shouldn’t hesitate to get him as one of their new young pieces.
13. Los Angeles Clippers: Robert Williams (Power Forward, Texas A&M)
NBA Comparison: DeAndre Jordan
DeAndre Jordan seems like he wants out of LA, so why not replace him with a player that could turn out to be just like him? A&M’s Robert Williams possesses the same athleticism that helped to make Jordan an all-star level player. The 6’9 forward still seems a bit raw, but if any coaching staff knows what to do with a player of his skill-set, it’s the Clippers.
14. Denver Nuggets: Zhaire Smith (SF, Texas Tech)
NBA Comparison: Gerald Green
Comparing Zhaire Smith to Gerald Green is mainly athletically based. The Texas Tech forward look just like Green as he flies out of the gym in his college highlights, but already looks to be a superior defensive player. Just missing the playoffs, the Nuggets could use this pick on a plethora of player types, but with his highlight-making ability, Smith’s name could be what pops off the page at 14.