The 2018 NBA Draft is now less than a week away, and with that the rumor mill will pick up even more speed. The biggest storyline in the aftermath of the NBA’s withdrawal deadline (June 11) passing isn’t even a player who had a decision to make by that date, as the general expectation was that Real Madrid star Luka Doncic would remain in the field despite the possibility of his remaining in Spain for another season was reported in the spring. The biggest storyline at this stage is the health of former Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr., a projected lottery pick who appeared in just three games this past season due to a back injury.
Porter was to go through a workout for teams Friday in Chicago, but a reported hip issue led to an MRI and the workout being cancelled at that time. However, according to Yahoo Sports the MRI results were clean, with doctors clearing Porter to work out for teams. With the workout back on, lottery teams will have the opportunity to see Porter up close and personal as they gather all the intel needed to make a decision. Porter’s status will be the biggest wild card in the draft lottery, as an impressive workout — and medical evaluation — could have a significant impact on teams’ draft boards.
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Below is our latest mock draft update, beginning with the Phoenix Suns.
1. Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona
A team in desperate need of an infusion of talent, the Suns simply have to go with the best player on the board. Ayton is that guy, with his size and skill set making the Arizona a prospect capable of making a noticeable impact immediately. Ayton would also fill an area of need for the Suns, as Alex Len will be a free agent and while Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss have had their moments during the early stages of their respective careers it’s tough to say that either has shown enough to be considered a focal point of this rebuilding project.
2. Sacramento Kings: Luka Doncic, SF, Real Madrid
With multiple front court players entering the final guaranteed year of their respective deals, Sacramento could very well go big in this spot. That being said, it would be tough for the Kings to pass up a talent like the 6-foot-8 Doncic, who would give the team a needed playmaker on the wing capable of working with point guard De’Aaron Fox, last year’s lottery pick.
3. Atlanta Hawks: Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke
Do the Hawks go with a big in Jaren Jackson Jr. who fits the mold of what teams need from the power forward/center role in the current NBA? Or do they go with a gifted power forward in Bagley who averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game last season and can play either in the post or away from the basket offensively? Atlanta ranked 25th in the NBA in scoring offense and 26th in offensive rating last season, and that’s something GM Travis Schlenk and new head coach Lloyd Pierce will need to address. For that reason the choice here is Bagley, who could turn out to be the best player in this draft.
Memphis, which won 22 games last season, is looking to rebound from its worst season in a decade. Having their key players stay healthy would certainly help with that aim, as would adding a versatile front court option in Jackson who can defend both around the basket and away from it and is also comfortable playing away from the rim offensively. With Mohamed Bamba and Michael Porter Jr. on the board at this point GM Chris Wallace won’t lack for options, and Memphis could be a team worth watching if everything goes well regarding Porter’s medical reports/Friday workout.
5. Dallas Mavericks: Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas
While Dallas could use some help offensively, especially as the franchise prepares for a future without Dirk Nowitzki (whenever he decides to retire), there’s also the need to improve the team’s overall talent in the front court. While Bamba still needs to make strides offensively the reports throughout the pre-draft process have been positive, and with his upside, size and shot-blocking ability he could prove too good for the Mavericks to pass up. However as is the case with Southwest Division rival Memphis, the Mavericks could also kick the tires on Michael Porter Jr. in this spot as they look for a high-level scorer at the forward position in preparation for life after Dirk.
6. Orlando Magic: Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma
The Magic will have a decision to make regarding Aaron Gordon as he’ll be a free agent July 1, and in addition to this there’s a glaring need for a point guard on this roster. While D.J. Augustin and Shelvin Mack don’t lack for NBA experience, neither has shown that they should be the team’s long-term answer as the starting point guard. Enter Young, who led college basketball in both scoring and assists as a freshman and would provide a needed boost in excitement to a franchise that has not reached the postseason since 2012.
7. Chicago Bulls, Michael Porter Jr., SF, Missouri
As noted in the intro Porter is the wild card of the lottery, as his medical reports and workout on Friday should give teams a better idea of where he is health-wise heading into the draft. Porter entered last season as the top freshman in college basketball in the eyes of many, but hip (preseason) and lower back injuries left the 6-foot-10 forward on the sideline for all but three games. It should be noted that Porter took a physical with the Bulls’ medical staff, with his representation planning to distribute those results to other teams, so Chicago won’t lack for information in this regard. With Friday’s workout back on, a lights out performance could propel Porter higher in the lottery than this.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Boston via Brooklyn): Wendell Carter Jr., C, Duke
The Cavaliers do need to add a perimeter playmaker to the ranks, especially if they were to lose LeBron James — who can opt out and become a free agent — this summer. However the front court also needs to be addressed, preferably by adding a player who can play either the four or the five and not feel uncomfortable on the perimeter. Carter would fit that mold, as he was able to score in the paint and away from the basket while on the other end of the floor posting Duke’s best individual defensive rating (92.8). Adding Carter to the mix would give Cleveland another versatile big man as the team gears up for free agency.
9. New York Knicks: Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova
The wing has been an area of need for New York for quite some time, and the front office will have an interesting decision to make here. Do they go with a player in Bridges who spent four years in college (playing three), winning two national titles and developing into a very good player on both ends of the floor? Or do they go with a player like Kentucky’s Kevin Knox, whose stock has risen recently and has the “upside” factor? New York could go either way here, but the pick is Bridges due to his abilities as a defender in addition to what he can bring to the table offensively.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (from LA Lakers): Kevin Knox, SF, Kentucky
Coming off of a 52-win season, Philadelphia is expected to be a major player in free agency next month. For that reason the front office, currently being led by head coach Brett Brown in the aftermath of Bryan Colangelo’s departure, may look to go the “draft and stash” route later in the draft. However, in this spot adding a player who can play off of a Ben Simmons and knock down shots on a consistent basis would be the way to go. Knox would fit in well for that reason, and with the 6-foot-9 wing not turning 19 until August he’s on the “younger” side in comparison to some of the other top prospects in this draft.
11. Charlotte Hornets: Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama
Going with a point guard here makes sense for multiple reasons. First and foremost, there’s the fact that the Hornets really need to improve the depth behind All-Star Kemba Walker. Secondly, Walker’s entering the final season of his contract and the franchise does need to cover itself should he decide to head elsewhere in the summer of 2019. Sexton would be an option worth considering here, with the hope being that the spacing of the pro game would help boost shooting percentages that weren’t all too impressive during his lone season at Alabama.
12. LA Clippers (from Detroit): Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State
While the wing may not be an area where the Clippers have a pressing need, given the players off the board in this mock draft it’s tough to argue that Miles Bridges isn’t the best remaining option. A plus athlete who saw a considerable amount of time as an undersized power forward during his freshman season before being used solely at the three in 2017-18, Bridges would give the Clippers a versatile option to add to the forward rotation. There are more pressing needs at guard and in the post, but with consecutive picks the Clippers can address at least one of those issues in advance of free agency.
13. LA Clippers: Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami
With Bridges being the pick at 12, which need will the Clippers look to address: the post, with DeAndre Jordan able to opt out and become an unrestricted free agent this summer, or the perimeter with both Milos Teodosic and Austin Rivers having player options as well? The choice here is the highly athletic Walker, who spent the majority of his lone season at Miami playing off the ball. He’ll need to be better as a shooter in order to be an effective pro, but should Teodosic and Rivers both return the one-and-done guard will have some time to work his way into the rotation. Should LA look to grab a big, Texas A&M’s Robert Williams would be a good option.
14. Denver Nuggets: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky
Denver has some good perimeter building blocks in Jamal Murray and Gary Harris as the team looks to reach the postseason after missing out by one game last season. But with Will Barton and Devin Harris both set to be free agents come July 1, the Nuggets need to improve their depth. While Gilgeous-Alexander spent the majority of his time at Kentucky initiating the team’s offense, at 6-foot-6 he has the size needed to handle the responsibilities of multiple positions on the other end. And with his ability to make plays off the dribble, Gilgeous-Alexander has the ability to get the ball to the likes of Murray, Harris and forwards Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap in spots where they can be most successful.
15. Washington Wizards: Robert Williams, PF, Texas A&M
Washington will pay centers Ian Mahinmi and Marcin Gortat more than $29 million in guaranteed money next season, and the former has another year on his contract after that. The issue for both established pros is that neither is all that mobile, and with John Wall and Bradley Beal being the focal points offensively the Wizards would be best served with an athletic big who runs the floor well and can defend around the basket and in ball-screen situations as well. Williams, should he be available at 15, would certainly help in those areas.
16. Phoenix Suns (from Miami): Khyri Thomas, PG/SG, Creighton
While the Suns are in a position where the team simply needs to add talent regardless of the position, there is a need to address the perimeter in this draft. While Tyler Ulis has been a solid competitor during his time in Phoenix, the team still has a need for a lead guard as Brandon Knight has struggled with injuries and Elfrid Payton will be a restricted free agent after being acquired from Orlando during the 2017-18 season. Adding a versatile guard in Thomas who played both on and off the ball offensively and was a very good defender as well (two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year) would help the Suns in the team’s rebuilding process.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech
Smith’s measurements at last month’s combine did not jump off the page, with his height of 6-foot-4 with shoes leading to his being projected as a pure two at the NBA level as opposed to the combo wing who was the focus of some lottery chatter earlier in the pre-draft process. But he’s one of the best athletes in this draft, which could help make up for some of those measurements moving forward. Smith will need to improve his ball-handling and perimeter shooting in order to be a quality pro, but the athleticism and defensive ability are traits that Milwaukee can utilize in a perimeter rotation that has established offensive options.
18. San Antonio Spurs: Troy Brown, SG, Oregon
With Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili both in the twilight of their respective careers, the Spurs could be in the market for a perimeter player who can fill multiple roles. Brown, who was solid in his lone season at Oregon, can play either on or off the ball which in addition to planning for an era without Parker or Ginobili would fit in well with the likes of Kawhi Leonard (provided he and the Spurs get back on the same page) and LaMarcus Aldridge.
19. Atlanta Hawks (from Minnesota): Elie Okobo, PG, Elan Bearnais Pau-Orthez
Given the Dennis Schroder saga, the Hawks could very well use one of the team’s three first-round picks on a point guard. And even if thing get worked out, Atlanta is still in a position where it needs to improve its perimeter depth. Okobo, who averaged 13.8 points and 4.7 assists per game this season, is a 6-foot-2 left-hander who led Pau Orthez in scoring and was at his best in ball-screen situations. Okobo’s play during the French LNB Pro A playoffs has helped his NBA draft prospects, and it would come as no surprise if he were to continue that climb.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Oklahoma City): Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova
Jamal Crawford’s already gone on record saying that he will opt out of his contract to become a free agent after a disappointing 2017-18 season. Yet even if Crawford were to return the Timberwolves are in a position where adding a perimeter player who can work off of a Jimmy Butler or Andrew Wiggins would be a good idea. DiVincenzo, who boosted his stock during the national title game and also received positive reviews after the combine, can play off of the ball and in Villanova’s system he also had opportunities to make plays for himself. DiVincenzo’s a good athlete as well, and while not lauded for his defensive ability he isn’t a liability on that end of the floor either.
21. Utah Jazz: Kevin Huerter, SF, Maryland
Huerter suffered a setback of sorts, as it was announced earlier this week that he’ll miss up to two months due to a hand injury that required surgery. That will rule out Huerter for summer league action, but the expectation is that he will still go in the first round. At 6-foot-7 Huerter has the size teams look for in a wing, and his ability to serve as a secondary playmaker is appealing as well. Also Huerter was usually the man Maryland used to defend the opposition’s best perimeter player, which could be appealing to a Jazz squad that’s placed a high priority on the defensive end of the floor under Quin Snyder.
22. Chicago Bulls: Chandler Hutchison, SF, Boise State
With Zach LaVine set to be a restricted free agent next month, the Bulls would be well-served to add a perimeter option who can be used in multiple roles. Hutchison, who was the focal point of Boise State’s offense and was used either on the ball or coming off of screens, would fit that mold. Hutchison averaged 20.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a senior, and adding Hutchison to the mix would improve the Bulls’ depth at both wing spots due to his versatility.
23. Indiana Pacers: Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA
Victor Oladipo was the focal point of the Pacers offense last season and that will remain the case. But with all three point guards currently on the roster (Darren Collison, Cory Joseph and Joseph Young, who has a team option for 2018-19) set to become unrestricted free agents in 2019 Indiana really needs to improve the depth at that position. Holiday, who led UCLA in scoring and assists as a junior, shot the ball well throughout his final two seasons. And he has plenty of experience playing off the ball, as Holiday spent his first two seasons on squads that featured the likes of Bryce Alford and Lonzo Ball.
24. Portland Trail Blazers: De’Anthony Melton, SG/PG, USC
Portland could have some holes to fill on the perimeter this summer, as Shabazz Napier and Pat Connaughton will both be restricted free agents. And given the contracts doled out to some players on the roster, the front office doesn’t have a great deal of flexibility when it comes to addressing the need for additional depth. Drafting Melton, who did not play last season due to the FBI’s investigation into corruption and bribes in college basketball, would help in this regard. Melton’s a good athlete who is comfortable playing either on or off the ball, which is key given the presence of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum on the Trail Blazer roster.
25. LA Lakers (from Cleveland): Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State
The Lakers are hoping to be a major player in free agency this summer, and with the likes of Paul George and LeBron James expected to be available Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka won’t lack for elite options to chase. Also worth noting regarding the Lakers and free agency is the fact that Julius Randle will be a restricted free agent, leaving another possible hole to be filled. But there’s still the need to account for the possibility that the Lakers won’t be able to add an elite option, and in Bates-Diop the team would be adding a forward with the size/ability to be used at either the three or the four. Bates-Diop was the unanimous choice for Big Ten Player of the Year in 2017-18, as he averaged 19.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.
26. Philadelphia 76ers: Jerome Robinson, SG, Boston College
Even if JJ Redick, who will be a free agent next month, were to return to Philadelphia the 76ers are in a spot where they can use more players who can knock down perimeter shots consistently. Robinson, who averaged 20.7 points per game last season, shot nearly 41 percent from three as a junior despite being one of the two players (Ky Bowman being the other) opposing defenses were geared towards stopping. Sure the 76ers, per this mock, would already have Kevin Knox, but a team can never have too many capable shooters.
27. Boston Celtics: Jacob Evans III, SG, Cincinnati
Evans, at 6 feet, 5.5 inches tall, has good size for an off-guard and can more than hold his own defensively. That could be big for the Celtics, with Marcus Smart set to hit the market as a restricted free agent next month. Also, Evans shot 37.0 percent from three-point range and 37.7 percent for his entire career at Cincinnati. At the very least Evans would be another asset at a decent price on a Boston roster that doesn’t lack for young talents on rookie contracts.
28. Golden State Warriors: Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova
Golden State’s more pressing area of need in the aftermath of the franchise’s third NBA title in the last four seasons would be in the front court, as multiple veterans are set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1. But at this point in the draft going with a big would be a roll of the dice, as the majority of those prospects are players with more upside than experience (Michigan’s Moritz Wagner being the exception). Jalen Brunson, a high-level point guard who won two national titles and nearly every national Player of the Year award as a junior during his Villanova career, could be a player who proves to be too good for the Warriors to pass up at pick 28.
29. Brooklyn Nets (from Toronto): Dzanan Musa, SF, KK Cedevita
The Nets didn’t shoot the ball all that well last season, ranking 29th in the NBA in overall field goal percentage and 20th in three-point percentage. Adding the 6-foot-9 Musa to the mix could help in that regard, as his size and shooting ability make the native of Bosnia and Herzegovina a player capable of being used at either the two or the three. There are some strides to be made defensively, but he can be a solid bench scoring option early in his NBA career.
30. Atlanta Hawks (from Houston): Josh Okogie, SG, Georgia Tech
The Hawks don’t lack for perimeter players who will be under contract for the 2018-19 season. That being said, there’s a new head coach in Lloyd Pierce and a number of those players will either be restricted free agents or have a team option following next season. And the Hawks simply need to improve the overall talent level on the roster, and adding a player in Okogie to the mix would help. Standing 6 feet, 4.5 inches tall, Okogie’s wingspan of 7-feet even was the third-longest among off guards measured at last month’s combine. Also, while Okogie’s overall field goal percentage (41.6 percent) last season wasn’t great he did shoot 38.0 percent from three.
31. Phoenix Suns: Melvin Frazier, SG/SF, Tulane
32. Memphis Grizzlies: Omari Spellman, PF, Villanova
33. Dallas Mavericks: Gary Trent Jr., SG, Duke
34. Atlanta Hawks: Chimezie Metu, PF, USC
35. Orlando Magic: Moritz Wagner, C, Michigan
36. New York Knicks (from Chicago): Mitchell Robinson, C, High School
37. Sacramento Kings: Grayson Allen, SG, Duke
38. Philadelphia 76ers (from Brooklyn): Rodions Kurucs, PF, FC Barcelona B
39. Philadelphia 76ers (from New York): Shake Milton, PG/SG, SMU
40. Brooklyn Nets (from LA Lakers): Alize Johnson, PF, Missouri State
41. Orlando Magic: Bruce Brown, SG/PG, Miami
42. Detroit Pistons: Justin Jackson, PF/SF, Maryland
43. Denver Nuggets (from LA Clippers): Kevin Hervey, SF, UT-Arlington
44. Washington Wizards: Jevon Carter, PG, West Virginia
45. Brooklyn Nets (from Milwaukee): Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky
46. Houston Rockets (from Miami): Anfernee Simons, SG, High School
47. LA Lakers (from Denver): Rawle Alkins, SG, Arizona
48. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jarred Vanderbilt, SF/PF, Kentucky
49. San Antonio Spurs: Sviatoslav Myhkailiuk, SG, Kansas
50. Indiana Pacers: Tony Carr, PG, Penn State
51. New Orleans Pelicans: Devon Hall, SG, Virginia
52. Utah Jazz: Gary Clark, PF, Cincinnati
53. Oklahoma City Thunder: Trevon Duval, PG, Duke
54. Dallas Mavericks (from Portland): Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV
55. Charlotte Hornets (from Cleveland): Malik Newman, SG, Kansas
56. Philadelphia 76ers: Landry Shamet, PG, Wichita State
57. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Boston): Issuf Sanon, PG/SG, Petrol Olimpija Ljubljana
58. Denver Nuggets (from Golden State): Allonzo Trier, SG, Arizona
59. Phoenix Suns (from Toronto): Karim Jallow, SF, Bayern Munich II
60. Philadelphia 76ers (from Houston): Arnoldas Kulboka, PF, Brose Bamberg (on loan to Capo d’Orlando)