SportsPulse: 2018 NBA draft prospects describe some of the odd questions team executives have asked during the draft process.
USA TODAY Sports
One day before the official NBA draft, it feels like the top 10 can still fall any number of ways. The biggest domino is Michael Porter Jr., the talented combo-forward whose questionable back will have massive implications on the final order. Would the Sacramento Kings potentially risk their future on someone coming off back surgery? Would any other team in the top five do the same?
The other name to watch is Luka Doncic of Real Madrid. Highly accomplished for his age, there’s the ever-present question of how well his skills will translate to the NBA. Some see him as a basketball savant, others see him as a productive distributor but a below-average defender.
USA TODAY Sports canvassed league executives ahead of its final mock draft before Thursday night.
Phoenix Suns – 1. Deandre Ayton
Arizona • Center • Freshman
Height: 7-1 • Weight: 250:
Between his physical gifts and offensive tools, no player in the draft has a better chance at becoming a franchise cornerstone than Ayton.
Sacramento Kings – 2. Marvin Bagley III
Duke • Forward • Freshman
Height: 6-11 • Weight: 211
Michael Porter Jr. would likely be the pick if the Kings were drafting lower, but the medical concerns relating to his back appear to have scared them off. Bagley’s ability to contribute immediately makes him less risky, with an outside chance that they go with Luka Doncic.
Atlanta Hawks – 3. Luka Doncic
Real Madrid • Guard
Height: 6-8 • Weight: 220:
The EuroLeague MVP has excellent size, vision and range. At minimum he’s a savvy distributor for years; at maximum he’s an All-Star.
Memphis Grizzlies – 4. Michael Porter Jr.
Missouri • Forward • Freshman
Height: 6-11 • Weight: 211:
The heralded prospect was in the mix for the Kings, but due to the risk of drafting a combo-forward coming off back surgery, Porter Jr slipped a bit. For what it’s worth, he’s handled the uncertainty of the pre-draft process with composure.
Dallas Mavericks – 5. Mo Bamba
Texas • Center • Freshman
Height: 7-1 • Weight: 225
Outside of his tremendous on-court attributes – length, agility and timing – teams have been impressed with his approach to learning and studying the game.
Orlando Magic – 6. Jaren Jackson Jr.
Michigan State • Forward • Freshman
Height: 6-11 • Weight: 236:
Jackson’s pro potential – length, timing, ability to stretch the floor and defensive versatility – was always evident even if not necessarily showcased at Michigan State.
Chicago Bulls – 7. Wendell Carter Jr.
Duke • Forward • Freshman
Height: 6-10 • Weight: 251:
High basketball IQ, sturdy frame, polished interior moves, it’s tough to see Carter Jr. being anything less than a steady, productive pro. His three-point shooting could be a bonus.
Cleveland Cavaliers – 8. Trae Young
Oklahoma • Guard • Freshman
Height: 6-2 • Weight:177
One of the most polarizing prospects in the draft, it’s fun to project his jitterbug finishes and rainbow 3-pointers at the next level as he benefits from more spacing. It’s also vital to ask how his size could handicap a team defensively.
New York Knicks – 9. Collin Sexton
Alabama • Guard • Freshman
Height: 6-2 • Weight:183
Bullish and aggressive, Sexton plays downhill, and he’ll need a team that wants to run with him. The Knicks could sorely use scoring out of their backcourt.
Philadelphia 76ers – 10. Mikal Bridges
Villanova • Guard • Junior
Height: 6-7 • Weight: 210
Teams are constantly in search of versatile, two-way wing players. Bridges can stretch the floor and switch on defense – essential fixtures in today’s modern NBA.
Charlotte Hornets – 11. Kevin Knox
Kentucky • Forward • Freshman
Height: 6-9 • Weight: 215
As the NBA becomes more positionless, players like Knox become even more coveted. As a stretch-four, Knox could present matchup nightmares from the perimeter and off the bounce.
Los Angeles Clippers – 12. Lonnie Walker
Miami • Guard • Freshman
Height: 6-5 • Weight: 196
Not many freshmen are built like Walker, one of the best athletes in the draft. He’ll never be a lead guard, but his defensive versatility coupled with his potential on offense make him intriguing.
Los Angeles Clippers – 13. Robert Williams
Texas A&M • Center • Sophomore
Height: 6-10 • Weight: 241
Few prospects are as tantalizing as Williams in terms of his athleticism and agility. There’s significant value if he can become more consistent.
Denver Nuggets – 14. Miles Bridges
Michigan State • Forward • Sophomore
Height: 6-7 • Weight: 220
An explosive athlete with three-point range, the biggest question for Bridges is on-court fit. He could be a valuable asset if teams feel comfortable in his ability to defend two through four.
Washington Wizards – 15. Zhaire Smith
Texas Tech • Guard • Freshman
Height: 6-4 • Weight: 198
An exceptional athlete with a good motor, Smith could develop into a steal as a high-flying, transition-oriented guard.
Phoenix Suns – 16. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Kentucky • Guard • Freshman
Height: 6-6 • Weight: 180
He has excellent length and size for his position, and he’ll become even more dangerous once he develops more of an offensive repertoire further away from the basket.
Milwaukee Bucks – 17. Jerome Robinson
Boston College • Guard • Junior
Height: 6-5 • Weight:188
He flew under the radar, but Robinson is an athletic, efficient scorer who can hit from outside or drive the lane and finish.
San Antonio Spurs – 18. Troy Brown
Oregon • Forward • Freshman
Height: 6-7 • Weight: 208
Wings are always at a premium, and though Brown isn’t known as a scorer, it’s his multitude of other skills – defensive versatility, rebounding – that could offer value in the NBA.
Atlanta Hawks – 19. Elie Okobo
Pau-Orthez (France) • Guard
Height: 6-3 • Weight:180
The lefty isn’t afraid to let it fly. He’s a shifty scorer from numerous levels, equally comfortable among the trees in the lane or out on the perimeter.
Minnesota Timberwolves – 20. Donte DiVincenzo
Villanova • Guard • Sophomore
Height: 6-5 • Weight: 200
His aggressive, three-level scoring approach won’t necessarily follow him to the NBA, but he’s athletic and hungry enough on the defensive end to make an impact.
Utah Jazz – 21. Kevin Huerter
Maryland • Forward • Sophomore
Height: 6-7 • Weight: 190
There’s a lot to like about the smooth-shooting forward. He moves extremely well without the ball, is comfortable attacking on his own and has a sound 3-point stroke that should translate well to the NBA.
Chicago Bulls – 22. Chandler Hutchison
Boise State • Guard • Senior
Height: 6-7 • Weight: 197
The four-year wing thrives in the open court and is comfortable taking it end-to-end. He is believed to have secured a first-round promise.
Indiana Pacers – 23. Aaron Holiday
UCLA • Guard • Junior,
Height: 6-1 • Weight: 185:
Crafty and heady, Holiday has excellent vision and doesn’t come with a ton of risk.
Portland Trail Blazers – 24. Josh Okogie
Georgia Tech • Guard • Sophomore
Height: 6-4 • Weight: 213
If he can become more selective in his shots and more consistent from outside, he’s got good two-way potential coupled with his bulky frame.
Los Angeles Lakers – 25. De’Anthony Melton
Southern California • Guard • Sophomore
Height: 6-3 • Weight: 193
A versatile, in-your-face defender, Melton can cause mistakes with his effort on that end of the floor.
Philadelphia 76ers – 26. Keita Bates-Diop
Ohio State • Forward • Junior
Height: 6-8 • Weight: 223
A good athlete with defensive versatility, he may have an adjustment as he tries to find his spots on offense at the next level.
Boston Celtics – 27. Grayson Allen
Duke • Guard • Senior
Height: 6-4 • Weight: 198
His stock rose with an impressive combine showing, and Boston’s depth gives him time to develop other areas of his game outside of his three-point shooting.
Golden State Warriors – 28. Mitchell Robinson
Chalmette High School • Center
Height: 7-0 • Weight: 233
Perhaps no player has a wider range than Robinson, who passed on his lone year in college. Robinson’s size and agility make him worth a first-round gamble.
Brooklyn Nets – 29. Dzanan Musa
Cedevita (Croatia) • Forward
Height: 6-9 • Weight: 195
A quick-trigger wing with good range, he’ll need to add bulk to compete on the defensive end.
Atlanta Hawks – 30. Jacob Evans
Cincinnati • Guard • Junior
Height: 6-6 • Weight: 210
A wing with good size and versatility, Evans made his mark as a relentless on-ball defender with a knack for blocking shots.