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2018 NBA Draft Prospect Big Board: New Names Appear Post NCAA Tournament

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The Draft picture is starting to get a little more clear at least in terms of who is declaring and who will wait to see how they test before deciding. There hasn’t really been any surprises yet besides Daniel Gafford heading back to Arkansas. Though I’m sure someone else will be a surprise as we have a couple every year.

This doesn’t take into account where teams will end up in the Draft as that tends to play a role in who gets drafted when, but rather if a person is looking at best player available. This list is obviously just college players as well as that’s what we’re focusing on. This Draft is expected to be dominated by college kids, especially in the first round but there are two international guys that feel like locks for first round picks -Luka Doncic, Dzanan Musa.

This doesn’t take into account where teams will end up in the Draft as that tends to play a role in who gets drafted when, but rather if a person is looking at best player available. I’ll put out a full mock draft later in the week, once we start to get an idea of lottery odds and where teams will end up.

*Notes the player signed with an agent

% Notes the player is testing the waters, but did not sign with an agent

& Notes the player hasn’t announced yet

1. Deandre Ayton* (Arizona, Freshman, Post)
Ayton became the first player in 25 years to average at least 19.5 points, 11 rebounds and 1.5 blocks while shooting more than 60 percent from the field. Now, remember he did all of that while essentially playing out of position quite a bit as Sean Miller lined him up next to Dusan Ristic. There is concern about who Ayton is defensively, but he’s one of the most polished offensive players in quite some time. I’m not worried about how he played against Buffalo to end his NCAA career, this guy is an absolute freak.

2. Luka Doncic (Real Madrid/Slovenia, Wing)
Doncic has the ability to play on or off the ball with his ability to just create as a playmaker. He can shoot off the dribble or off the catch and at just 18 years old is unbelievably polished. The numbers he’s currently putting up at Real Madrid are absolutely nuts as he’s putting up 15.2/5.3/4.6 in just 25 minutes per game as an 18-year old. He’ll step in from day one and be able to provide shooting and off ball playmaking.

3. Marvin Bagley* (Duke, Freshman, Post)
Really, these three guys are all in the top tier for me as they are quite interchangeable. e’s absolutely unreal on the boards and extremely polished when it comes to finishing. Watching him everything just looks in slow motion due to his smooth finish around the rim. Throw in the fact he’s uber athletic and can score in a variety of ways, I’m a big fan of his game. The concern is his defense and I’m not sure how good of a defender he’ll be, but I’m still buying him as a top-3 lock.

4. Michael Porter Jr. * (Missouri, Freshman, Stretch)
So this is obviously pending whatever NBA doctors find out about his back when the teams do their research. That said, if he comes back with a clean scan and everything like that he’ll be right up there for the No. 1 pick. He’s the prototypical stretch four with good size, the ability to create his own shot and shoot from the outside.

5. Jaren Jackson Jr. * (Michigan State, Freshman, Stretch)
Jackson was a bit overshadowed by his teammate Miles Bridges at the collegiate level, but believe me when I say Jaren Jackson Jr., is a freak and that’s a total compliment. He averaged 3 blocks per game, has the ability to stretch the floor and shot over 39% from three. His big problem was his ability to stay on the floor as he constantly found himself in foul trouble. That’s going to be the question to watch at the next level is if he can defend without fouling. One of the biggest advantages he has though is he’s incredibly young for this class, giving teams an extra year essentially with him.

6. Mikal Bridges& (Villanova, Junior, Wing)
The prototypical 3-and-D guy is exactly how Mikal Bridges will be described. He’s 6’7? with a 7’2? wingspan who can really bother shots as he’s averaging over a block and a steal per game. He’s also shooting 43% from the 3-point line this year. With the NBA going more to a positionless era, Bridges’ ability to guard 3 positions is important here. I also have him this high because he feels like the safe pick. You know what you’re getting with Bridges. While he doesn’t have the ceiling as other lottery picks, his floor is a lot higher too.

7. Mo Bamba* (Texas, Freshman, Post)
He’s an absolute freak defensively and has the ability to be a real game-changer on that side of the ball. He’s not as polished offensively as the other top guys here, especially the other bigs, but he’s the best defender of the group. He started to come alive offensively before he was injured and missed three games, eventually finishing the season averaging 13 per game. I just wonder how polished his game will end up being offensively and how long it takes him to get there.

8. Collin Sexton* (Alabama, Freshman, Point)
I love how pissed off Collin Sexton plays and it’s a huge advantage for him. He has a 6’7? wingspan which really shows on the defensive side of the ball. I’d like to see him be more consistent with his shot selection and finishing, as he shot just 33% from three this year. He can get tunnel-visioned at times, but at the next level you wonder if playing with that sort of talent will help him round into the more prototypical lead guard than scoring guard.

9. Trae Young* (Oklahoma, Freshman, Point)
When you think about Young, I know most people will be turned off by his shot selection and turnovers. However, you have to remember he was doing that with minimal help at Oklahoma. I actually think he’ll be even better at the next level when he has more space to operate with. There were a bunch of times he found an open teammate who missed a layup or bobbled the pass. That won’t happen at the next level. He has the ability to break guys down and create for himself and he’s a legit 6’2″. His biggest question is who the hell can he defend at the next level?

10. Wendell Carter& (Duke, Freshman, Post)
The second Duke post player in the top-10 here, Wendell Carter would be putting up more absurd numbers if it wasn’t for Bagley. Carter can protect the rim with 2 blocks per game. He has good size. He has the ability to step out and shoot the three (he’s shooting 41% on 46 threes this year). Just like Bagley, Carter is an absolute monster on the glass averaging over 9 rebounds per game. He’s also one of the smarter players in this class.

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11. Kevin Knox* (Kentucky, Freshman, Wing)
Knox was inconsistent to start the year, not looking to attack. However, there was a change offensively where he started to run off screens more, getting into the motion of the offense and really found his shot. He became one of the two go-to guys for Kentucky as he scored over 15 per game. He developed a nasty floater on the baseline that he likes to use after one dribble and at 6’9″ has great size to get it over most defenders. Similar to Jackson, he’s one of the younger players in the draft, giving teams more reason to think he can develop.

12. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander& (Kentucky, Freshman, Point)
Gilgeous-Alexander has firmly planted himself as the third best point guard in this draft. He’s a 6’6? point guard with a 7’0? wingspan that should translate to being a good defender at the next level. He’s not unbelievably athletic or anything like that, but he does an excellent job of finding spots and attacking that way. During his run late in the year he started to show his ability to pull up off the dribble from three, adding that to his game.

13. Miles Bridges* (Michigan State, Sophomore, Stretch)
Bridges has shown his ability to play the three this year despite being made to be a college four. It’s that sort of versatility along with his athleticism that GM’s will love. The biggest sign of improvement though? He shot 85%% from the free throw line this year, up from 68% last year while he still shoots the same amount of free throws per game. He has the athleticism to excel at the next level and defend both wings and stretch players.

14. Robert Williams* (Texas A&M, Sophomore, Post)
Williams struggled in the beginning of the year, but eventually bought into his role and looked like the lottery pick from a year ago. He’s one of the best defenders in this class with his ability to protect the rim. His numbers aren’t eye-popping but that’s also because A&M played through Tyler Davis more and used Williams for rebounding and lobs. Because of that, Williams did also play out of position as A&M ran two bigs nearly the entire time. He’d be best utilized as a center, setting high ball screens and diving to the rim.

15. Zhaire Smith% (Texas Tech, Freshman, Wing)
Zhaire Smith has been the winner of climbing the draft boards over the last month or so. The freshman wing is arguably the most athletic player in the country and quite honestly the most fun player to watch for me with his ability to break out a dunk at almost any minute. However, there are questions about just who he is on the offensive side of the ball. His shot needs some work as it’s a bit quirky. He did shoot 45% from three, but only attempted 1.1 shots per game. He’s an elite defender though who can step in and fill that role right off the bat.

16. Lonnie Walker IV* (Miami, Freshman, Wing)
Walker got off to a little bit of a slow start after suffering a meniscus injury before the season, but NBA teams are still high on him due to his length and defensive ability. He’s been inconsistent but he improved his 3-point shooting to 35% on the year. He can guard multiple positions and is starting to figure it out offensively, especially when he was one of the go-to options once Brown got hurt. At 6’4″ with a 6’10” wingspan though he’s going to be enticing to most teams.

17. Troy Brown* (Oregon, Freshman, Wing)
Brown is one of the more intriguing guys out there due to his versatility. At 6’7″ he can play multiple positions, especially when you factor in his ability to handle the ball, find the open man and the fact that he’s in consideration for smartest player in this class. He does need to get more consistent with his shot, especially since he’ll be playing on the wing at the NBA, but he does an excellent job of attacking the rim and making the right play. He should be able to step in the rotation in year one simply because of his versatility.

18. Mitchell Robinson* (N/A, Post)
It’s a shame we didn’t get to see Robinson play college ball at Western Kentucky, because I think he’d be about 5 spots higher on this list. During his high school/AAU days he relied on athleticism to dominate players and while he does have tremendous athleticism, we simply don’t know how polished his game has gotten over the last 8 months.

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19. Khyri Thomas& (Creighton, Junior, Wing)
There’s a lot to like about Thomas’ game, most notably the fact he’s been an absolute shutdown defender this year. More importantly he’s continued to grow on the offensive side of the ball, which was always the question with him. He’s upped his free throw shooting and points per game so far this year. With the game getting a bit ‘smaller’ Thomas is an intriguing prospect because of his wingspan and ability to play both on and off the ball.

20. Keita Bates-Diop* (Ohio State, Junior, Wing)
Bates-Diop took one of the biggest leaps this year as he bounced back from injury to average just about 20 and 9 per game. He has good size at 6’7″ to play that stretch position, especially with his ability to create shots for himself. He has a high release point on his jumper as well, making it even tougher to contest his shot when he pulls up off the dribble. His athleticism will be a question at the next level, but with the right fit he can slide into the 3 or 4 spot and give you instant shooting/scoring.

21. Aaron Holiday* (UCLA, Junior, Point)
I really like Holiday’s game for the NBA level. He obviously has a couple of brothers who can give him pointers, but the fact he’s already played on and off the ball at UCLA shows that he can do the same at the next level. As the main guy this year for UCLA, he put up All-American numbers as he averaged over 20 per game and shot 43% from three. Despite being just 6’1″ he has a good wingspan to defend at the next level and does a great job of staying in front of guys.

22. Jalen Brunson& (Villanova, Junior, Point)
Yes, I think he’ll end up being one of those better college players than NBA players, but he’s absolutely someone who you want as a backup point guard that can play from day one. He’s been compared to guys like Andre Miller, Jameer Nelson and TJ McConnell and I see a little bit of all. He gets teammates involved, can shoot off the dribble and catch and is physical enough to defend. I’m higher on him than most. The Kansas game sealed that for me, especially some of the moves he did to show his ability to create for himself. The one in particular was with Graham on him, he hit him with a crossover, pull back into a rhythm three, which is an NBA move. This guy will play for 12 years at the next level.

23. Chandler Hutchison (Boise State, Senior, Wing)
Hutchison is one of those wings with great size, 7’0″ wingspan, that can do a little bit of everything. If he can prove he can be consistent with his shot during workouts, he could easily land in the top-20 of the Draft. He was a consistent double-double threat from the wing at Boise State as he averaged 20 points and just about 8 rebounds per game. An encouraging sign was the fact his free throw shooting jumped to a career high 72% this year.

24. De’Anthony Melton* (USC, Sophomore, Point)
Melton was one of those guys who got screwed with the FBI investigation this year as he didn’t get to play as USC held him out due to eligibility concerns. However, he’s an ideal combo guard who can guard both positions and really attack. He only averaged 9 points per game as a freshman, but he threw out over 4 rebounds and 3 assists per game as well. Similar to this group of point guards in this level, he’s what you’re looking for to help run the second unit.

25. Anfernee Simons* (N/A, Wing)
Simons was a one-time Louisville commit before the Pitino/FBI stuff hit and he’s since decommitted. He’s now skipping college all together and entering the NBA Draft as he’s technically one year removed from high school as he’s playing at IMG Academy. At the current level we do know he likes to attack off the bounce and is a good shooter off of there as well.

26. Shake Milton* (SMU, Junior, Wing)
Milton is another guy who can play on or off the ball and at 6’6? has enough size to play multiple positions. He’s an excellent shooter as he’s about a 43% shooter for 3 for his career at SMU. Along with being able to defend multiple positions, he does a great job of creating for teammates. He’s a guy that can step in with the second unit and fill spots right away. It’s worth noting he did miss the last 11 games of the season due to injury.

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27. Jacob Evans% (Cincinnati, Junior, Wing)
Evans is one of those guys who just looks the part. He’s 6’6″, 210 pounds and has the NBA body. However, he never really looked comfortable as being the go-to guy this year for Cincinnati. That’s why he’ll be more of a 3-and-D guy at the next level as he has the ability to defend a couple of positions and shot 37% from three this past season. If he can crash the boards and be aggressive, he’ll slide in nicely in the rotation in year one.

28. Dzanan Musa (Cedevita/Bosnia)
At just 18 years old he’s still a work in progress and that’s evident whenever you watch him attempt to play defense. However, he’s someone who can step in and provide shooting right away.

29. De’Andre Hunter&  (Virginia, Freshman, Stretch)
Hunter started to shoot up boards before suffering a wrist injury in the ACC Tournament that caused him to miss the NCAA Tournament. At 6’7″ he came off the bench and played that stretch role for Virginia. Now, the tricky thing here is scouting Virginia’s offense, which was predicated on screens for guys like Hall and Guy. Hunter was able to knock down shots though and was really an elite defender. He has the athleticism to guard a couple of different spots.

30. Devonte’ Graham (Kansas, Senior, Point)
There’s a ton to like about Graham’s game. He showed the ability to play on or off the ball during his four years at Kansas, playing alongside Frank Mason. But, this year as the lead guard he upped his scoring to 17 per game while still shooting 40% from three and got teammates involved with over 7 assists per game. Kansas ran a bunch of pace and space, high ball screens, something he’ll see a lot of at the NBA. He can also defend other guards, something he was known for coming into college.