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2018 NBA Draft Sneak Peek

After waiting months and months to find out whether Markelle Fultz truly would be drafted first overall, or whether Lonzo Ball really was going to be a Laker, the 2017 NBA Draft process is over, just like that. That means that the 2018 NBA Draft is of course, nearly a year away, and while there is plenty to happen between now and then, taking a quick look at what next year gives us a glimpse of an impressive list of new basketball stars.

Michael Porter, F, Missouri
Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

When Washington fired Lorenzo Romar after a rough 2016-2017 it wasn't altogether surprising. Romar had consistently underachieved in Seattle, and the Huskies had missed the postseason for six consecutive years. What was surprising about the move was the fact the Huskies opened the door for Michael Porter, the top player in the Class of 2017, to transfer. Porter, now without the chance to play for the coach he wanted, opted to head elsewhere, settling on Missouri, where new head coach Cuonzo Martin was able to land him. Porter immediately upgrades the talent level in Columbia, and should be very interesting to watch. A 6'10" forward with exceptional length and athleticism, Porter's offensive tools are already incredible to watch. If he can grow as a defender and true leader in his lone season with the Tigers, there is a good chance the explosive athlete is taken No. 1 overall in 2018.

Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State
Long considered to likely be a one-and-done, Miles Bridges stunned much of the college basketball world when he announced he was staying one more season in East Lansing. Bridges had some serious growing pains in his first season with Michigan State, but also flashed serious potential. Bridges is still not a great shooter (a part of his game that will have to grow) but he's incredibly strong and athletic, and an extremely imposing presence when taking the ball to the rack. Bridges is also a rock-solid playmaker who will play a big role in running the Spartans' offense in '17-'18. If he can show scouts an improved jumper and that he has limited his turnovers, it may be enough to catapult him from a likely fringe-lottery selection in 2017 to a Top 5 selection a year later.

DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona
Two of the last elite big men Sean Miller had at Arizona went in the Top 5 of their respective Drafts (Derrick Williams & Aaron Gordon). Now, five-star recruit DeAndre Ayton is trying to continue that trend as he arrives on campus in Tucson. Ayton isn't the mobile, athletic big that either Williams or Gordon were, but he's a more traditional back-to-the-basket center that relies on his impressive touch around the rim and undeniable power. While the tools are there for him to be an absolute force, Ayton must develop a more all-around offensive game as he begins his collegiate career. He has to show the ability to hit from mid-range and at the free throw line consistently, or else his limitations can only grow.

Luka Doncic, G, Slovenia
At just 19 years of age, dynamic guard Luka Doncic has already blown away NBA scouts with his impressive play against aged pros in the Euroleague, and many view him as a future difference-maker upon arrival in the United States. Doncic plays the game with a calmness and poise rarely seen by people his age, and has already built a polished jumper and formidable slashing skill set. Doncic is already a great passer and playmaker, and his wide range of skills will be a perfect fit in the new-look NBA. If he can continue to showcase his skills this season at Real Madrid, there is a chance Doncic could be the first International prospect taken first overall since Andrea Bargani in 2006.

Hamidou Diallo, G/F, Kentucky
Despite not playing a single game after enrolling at Kentucky for a semester this past season, Hamidou Diallo was getting lottery projections by many scouts following an impressive NBA Combine. Diallo's jaw-dropping vertical, impressive agility and ability to finish explosively all indicated a player ready to be a real force on the wing, if he could fill in the other major gaps in his game. However, Diallo opted to stay one more season at Kentucky, where he will have to compete with many impressive newcomers for playing time. Even if he doesn't dominate, Diallo's incredibly high ceiling and known work ethic will attract NBA scouts to take a chance on him.

Mo Bamba, F/C, Texas
Even though there were rumors he was heading to Kentucky for years, Mo Bamba opted to spend what will likely be his only collegiate season at Texas, where he'll operate in Shaka Smart's wide-open offense. Bamba is very similar to fellow top-recruit Ayton; he's a dominant force in the low post that thrives at carving out space and finishing. The thing that makes Bamba so dangerous is his size, as he stands at 7'0" and presents a gigantic 7'9" wingspan that is ideal for swatting opponent's shots. Despite that size, Bamba still runs the floor pretty well, something he will definitely have to do plenty of in Texas' fast-paced offense. With that size and physical nature, Bamba already looks ready for the Association, and ready to be a centerpiece of a franchise.

Chimezie Metu, F/C, USC
While the play of Lonzo Ball, T.J. Leaf and Ike Anigbogu wowed scouts at crosstown rival UCLA, Chimezie Metu was quietly dominating posting a statline of 14.8 PPG, 7.8 RPG and 1.5 BPG while shooting 55 percent from the field. What was even more impressive about those numbers is that Metu did it a young true freshman still learning the ropes in a new USC offense. Imagine what he can do with another year under his belt, and an off-season where he'll grow stronger and more fit? There should be no overshadowing of Metu this season; the sophomore is about to put on a show this year for the Trojans and likely cement himself as a high draftee in '18.

Rodions Kurucs, F, Latvia
After pulling his name out of the 2017 NBA Draft, Rodions Kurucs hopes further play with the Barcelona 2 will get him more exposure and in turn, boost his draft stock. Kurucs is still extremely raw at just 19 years of age, but he has plenty of potential. Kurucs uses his impressive size (6'8") to overpower weaker defenders, and get to the rim. He is very good at posting up, even though it isn't a huge part of his offensive abilities just yet. Kurucs is also a fine passer, and could be an ideal fit in a number of NBA offenses that lean heavily on ball movement and spacing. Even though he is still so young, Kurucs is going to get NBA interest, and should continue to take major steps forward.

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