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NBA Draft 2018: Top 40 Big Board

Deandre Ayton, No. 1
1. Deandre Ayton, F/C, Arizona
Projection: 1st to Phoenix
Strengths: Size, finishing ability, shooting upside
Weaknesses: Rim protection, transition defense
Bust Potential: Low
Widely regarded as the top prospect in this stocked Draft class, it would be a shocking revelation if Phoenix did not make Deandre Ayton the top selection this Thursday. The former Arizona Wildcat has all the physical tools to be a dominant big for a long time; he's lengthy, strong and already has a pretty polished jumper. He still has some strides to make defensively and in the smaller parts of the game but he is a legitimate stud. Comparisons to NBA legend David Robinson will obviously be tough to fulfill, but they are not by any means hyperbolic. Ayton is going to be a star in this league for years and years.
2. Luka Doncic, G, Slovenia
Projection: 3rd to Atlanta
Strengths: Playmaking, shooting, maturity
Weaknesses: Transition to NBA defenses
Bust Potential: Low
Doncic has been viewed as European basketball's next big thing for some time now, but on the eve of the NBA Draft, teams appear to be bailing on him. Rumors are swirling Doncic could drop out of the Top 5, after being considered a real possibility to go No. 1 overall for some time. I think that is preposterous; Doncic is the safest pick in this Draft in my opinion. At 19, he already has a basketball resume more impressive than anybody else in this Draft, and as a 6'8" playmaking guard, he fits exactly in the modern NBA. Doncic may not have the ceiling of say, Ayton, but I think he has the highest floor out of any of the big names in this Draft, locking him in as my No. 2 prospect.
3. Marvin Bagley III, F/C, Duke
Projection: 2nd to Sacramento
Strengths: Rebounding, touch around the rim, athleticism
Weaknesses: Tweener, defensive questions
Bust Potential: Moderate
Bagley was originally going to be heading to college this upcoming fall before reclassifying and joining Duke's 2018 class. All he did in his lone season in Durham is average 21.0 PPG and 11.1 RPG while shooting 64 percent from the field. With impressive size, incredible instincts and superb athleticism, he is going to be a double-double machine at the next level. However, if there are concerns they come up when considering Bagley doesn't really fit the mold of either a PF or C in today's NBA, and he won't be able to overpower opponents the way he often did in college. These are valid things to wonder about, but I still view the Duke product as a future stud.
4. Mo Bamba, F/C, Texas
Projection: 6th to Orlando
Strengths: Incredible length, shot-blocking ability, underrated athleticism
Weaknesses: Shooting, offensive polish
Bust Potential: Low
There are a lot of freaks in this Draft, but none come close to Texas' Mo Bamba. Bamba stands at 7'1", but has a nearly unimaginable wingspan of 7'9" and a standing reach of 9'6". He used that extreme length to swat plenty of shots with the Longhorns, and I expect him to be a dominant defensive force from the get-go in the Association. He still has a long way to offensively, but the raw tools are already there and he can really blossom in the right situation. I'm really high on Bamba because I think he will be able to contribute in a ton of ways, even if he is never really able to take the next step offensively, making him low in the bust potential.
5. Wendell Carter, F/C, Duke
Projection: 9th to New York
Strengths: Rebounding, versatility, touch around the rim
Weaknesses: Free throw line, not much of a floor spacer
Bust Potential: Low
If there is one big man I don't think is getting enough respect in this Draft, it is probably Wendell Carter, who was often overshadowed by Bagley this season. Even so, Carter flashed the ability to really be a force on the glass, and finish through contact. He is also a guy with underrated athleticism; he is very nimble for his size and he can guard multiple positions. He still has a long way to go at the free throw line and needs to grow his mid range game, but I still think he has the potential to be a huge steal in this class.
6. Jaren Jackson Jr., F/C, Michigan State
Projection: 4th to Memphis
Strengths: Length, rim protection, shooting ability
Weaknesses: Lack of production, needs to bulk up
Bust Potential: Moderate
Despite not putting up huge numbers in his lone season in East Lansing, NBA scouts are drooling over Jaren Jackson. He checks off nearly every thing NBA personnel looks for in a modern big man; he is lengthy, can guard multiple positions, protect the rim and shoot the ball. With that being said, he needs to get a lot stronger if he wants to be very effective at the next level. It also worries me that despite all his talents, he was never able to make a bigger impact the Spartans. With that being said, his potential is off the charts, and I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up being a splash for some team in the Top 5.
7. Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri
Projection: 5th to Dallas
Strengths: Athleticism, scoring ability, incredibly high ceiling
Weaknesses: Serious injury concerns
Bust Potential: Moderate
Porter was the top player in this class coming out of high school, and I think he is the ultimate wild card in this Draft. We got to see very little of him while at Missouri, but in the high school ranks, he proved to be a dominant scorer who could be deadly in the isolation-heavy NBA. That back injury that took him out basically the entire season is alarming. Back injuries for any player with his athleticism is concerning, and he has also had hip problems in the pre-Draft process. I understand the immense potential Porter possesses, and I wouldn't be stunned if somebody took a flier in the Top 3 of this Draft, but his injury issues are so bad I would stay far, far away as an NBA executive.
8. Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama
Projection: 8th to Cleveland
Strengths: Explosiveness, competitiveness, confidence
Weaknesses: Shooting from the outside, consistency
Bust Potential: Moderate
Collin Sexton is the best point guard in this class, and I seriously debated having him higher on this board. There are concerns about his shooting touch and overall streakiness, but we've seen that with countless NBA prospects at this stage, and they've been able to develop that jumper. There is no denying his explosiveness with the ball, or his love for the game. This is a guy that is going to give it his all every time he steps on the court, which isn't always easy to find in the NBA. He could immediately jumpstart any offense in the late lottery, likely where he will land.
9. Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma
Projection: 7th to Chicago
Strengths: Limitless shooting range, court vision, ball-handling
Weaknesses: Size, funky mechanics on shot
Bust Potential: Moderate
A weak second half of the season hurt Trae Young's Draft stock, but he is still likely a Top 10 lock. His first half of the year was truly remarkable, where he showed the ability to hit any shot he wanted and flashed amazing playmaking potential. The issue is, I just don't think we will see much of that Young in the NBA. He is very small and frail at the moment, which wasn't as big of a deal in college because he could get by with quickness, which will not be the case at the next level. I also worry about the mechanics on his shot. If you examine it, it has a very low center and while it is quick, the lengthy NBA defenders still might be able to affect it. I understand some of the comparisons made between Trae and Steph Curry because some of the stuff they can do on the basketball court is special, but I just don't see Young being at Curry's level at any point in his NBA career.
10. Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky
Projection: 11th to Charlotte
Strengths: Scoring potential, length, decent rebounder
Weaknesses: Tweener, questionable shot selection
Bust Potential: Moderate
Kentucky struggled to score all year long, but if they really needed a bucket, they often went to Kevin Knox, and for good reason. At 6'9" with the ability to create any shot, Knox has the potential to be a potent one-on-one scorer in the NBA, although he has to improve his shot selection. The major concern I have when it comes to Knox is his fit at the next level. I'm not sure if he is quick enough to guard small forwards, and he is slightly on the small side to be a power forward. That could be a concern, but his offensive upside is so intriguing, I like Knox a lot.
11. Zhaire Smith, G, Texas Tech
Projection: 16th to Phoenix
Strengths: Defense, size, finishing ability
Weaknesses: Average upside, shooting from three
Bust Potential: Low
12. Mikal Bridges, G/F, Villanova
Projection: 10th to Philadelphia
Strengths: Versatility, shooting touch, defensive potential
Weaknesses: Not a high-volume scorer, needs to bulk up
Bust Potential: Low
13. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G, Kentucky
Projection: 13th to Los Angeles Clippers
Strengths: Playmaking ability, size, leadership 
Weaknesses: Offensive polish, defensive consistency
Bust Potential: Moderate
Mitchell Robinson, No. 14
14. Mitchell Robinson, C, USA
Projection: 25th to Los Angeles Lakers
Strengths: Athleticism, size, defensive upside
Weaknesses: Maturity, free throw shooting
Bust Potential: High
15. Miles Bridges, G/F, Michigan State
Projection: 15th to Washington
Strengths: Athleticism, experience, playmaking
Weaknesses: Streaky shooting, lack of confidence
Bust Potential: Low
16. Troy Brown, G/F, Oregon
Projection: 18th to San Antonio
Strengths: Offensive versatility, defense
Weaknesses: Average upside, average production in collegiate ranks
Bust Potential: Low
17. Robert Williams, F, Texas A&M
Projection: 12th to Los Angeles Clippers
Strengths: Ability to catch and finish lob passes, rebounding 
Weaknesses: Maturity, fit in an NBA offense, shooting
Bust Potential: Moderate
18. Kevin Huerter, G/F, Maryland
Projection: 19th to Atlanta
Strengths: Three-point shooting, length, potential as stretch four
Weaknesses: Lack of elite athleticism, defensive questions
Bust Potential: Low
19. Lonnie Walker IV, G, Miami
Projection: 14th to Denver
Strengths: Explosiveness, ability to get to the rim and finish, leadership
Weaknesses: Lack of consistency, streaky shooting
Bust Potential: Moderate
20. Donte DiVincenzo, G, Villanova
Projection: 27th to Boston
Strengths: Shooting, size, impressive instincts, defensive ability
Weaknesses: Lack of a large body of work, somewhat of a tweener
Bust Potential: Moderate
21. Gary Trent Jr., G, Duke
Projection: 28th to Golden State
Strengths: Shooting, size
Weaknesses: Inconsistent, can become invisible on the court
Bust Potential: Low
22. Josh Okogie, G, Georgia Tech
Projection: 23rd to Indiana
Strengths: Size, efficiency, superb shot creator
Weaknesses: Fit in an NBA offense, defensive questions
Bust Potential: Moderate
23. Khyri Thomas, G, Creighton
Projection: 21st to Utah
Strengths: Maturity, shooting, consistent improvement, hard-worker
Weaknesses: Average upside, lack of elite athleticism
Bust Potential: Low
24. Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA
Projection: 17th to Milwaukee
Strengths: Athleticism, quickness, instant offense
Weaknesses: Decision-making, streaky shooter
Bust Potential: Moderate
25. Jerome Robinson, G, Boston College
Projection: 31st to Phoenix
Strengths: Ideal size, playmaking ability, great locker room guy
Weaknesses: Average shooter, mediocre defensively
Bust Potential: Moderate
26. Anfernee Simons, G, IMG Academy (HS)
Projection: 20th to Minnesota
Strengths: Elite athleticism, massive potential on both ends of court
Weaknesses: Extremely raw, zero experience beyond high school ranks
Bust Potential: High
27. Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova
Projection: 33rd to Dallas
Strengths: Incredible feel for the game, great leader, can score in a variety of ways
Weaknesses: Average upside, size
Bust Potential: Low
28. Melvin Frazier, G, Tulane
Projection: 32nd to Memphis
Strengths: Length, finishing ability, defensive upside
Weaknesses: Mediocre shooter, played relatively weak competition in AAC
Bust Potential: Moderate
29. Omari Spellman, F/C, Villanova
Projection: 30th to Atlanta
Strengths: Versatility on both ends, physicality, shooting ability
Weaknesses: Not ideal size for NBA, average defender
Bust Potential: Moderate
30. Chandler Hutchison, G/F, Boise State
Projection: 22nd to Chicago
Strengths: Ideal size, versatile offensive player, plenty of room for growth
Weaknesses: Needs to bulk up, decision-making
Bust Potential: Moderate
31. Grayson Allen, G, Duke
Projection: 36th to New York
Strengths: Well-rounded offensive player, can play both guard spots, very experienced, great competitor
Weaknesses: Consistency, character concerns
Bust Potential: Moderate
32. Dzanan Musa, F, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Projection: 29th to Brooklyn
Strengths: Ideal build for stretch four, brimming with potential, solid defender
Weaknesses: Still very raw, still very inconsistent
Bust Potential: High
33. Elie Okobo, PG, France
Projection: 26th to Philadelphia
Strengths: Great length, very quick, quality ball-handler
Weaknesses: Suspect shooter, defense needs refinement
Bust Potential: Moderate
34. Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV
Projection: 35th to Orlando
Strengths: Size, strength, back-to-the-basket game
Weaknesses: Not very mobile, offensive game still very raw
Bust Potential: High
35. Jacob Evans, F, Cincinnati
Projection: 24th to Portland
Strengths: Great defender, very versatile, strong rebounder
Weaknesses: Average upside, not a shot creator offensively
Bust Potential: Low
36. Jevon Carter, PG, West Virginia
Projection: 42nd to Detroit
Strengths: Superb defender, incredibly high motor, great leader
Weaknesses: Mediocre shooter, undersized
Bust Potential: Low
37. Keita Bates-Diop, F, Ohio State
Projection: 40th to Brooklyn
Strengths: Versatility, can score in a variety of ways, guard multiple positions
Weaknesses: Injury history, lacks elite athleticism
Bust Potential: Moderate
38. Jarred Vanderbilt, F, Kentucky
Projection: 47th to Los Angeles Lakers
Strengths: Rebounding, shot-blocking ability, immense offensive upside
Weaknesses: Injury concerns, very raw, poor free throw shooter
Bust Potential: Moderate
39. Mo Wagner, F/C, Michigan
Projection: 34th to Atlanta
Strengths: Can space the floor, intense competitor, still growing
Weaknesses: Lack of elite physical tools. average defender
Bust Potential: Low
40. Keenan Evans, G, Texas Tech
Projection: 44th to Washington
Strengths: Clutch player, bonafide playmaker, strong defender
Weaknesses: Lacks significant upside, not very quick for position
Bust Potential: Moderate

1 comment:

Mike McGowan said...

Looking forward to the draft. How many years in a row now will this be with no MN Gophers taken?

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