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2018 NBA draft could mark the return of dominant big men

It appears the big man will be back in vogue in the 2018 NBA draft.

This is not to say there won't be a wealth of wing players and point guards selected during the June 21 draft. But the forecast is that 10 of the 30 picks in the first round could be centers or power forwards, with as many as five going in the top 14. Possibly more.

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On Tuesday, the teams with those top 14 picks will find out the order in which they will select when the NBA has its draft lottery in Chicago.

The Clippers will be among that group, perhaps even getting two lottery picks, their own and that of the Detroit Pistons if it falls out of the top four, which is likely since 12 teams have better odds of landing there.

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The projections have the Clippers picking at 12 and 13 because of their and Detroit's regular-season records, so L.A. could be in position to land a big man. Jerry West, the former Lakers legend who's currently a Clippers consultant, will represent the team on stage at the lottery.

The Lakers have the 25th pick in the first round thanks to the Isaiah Thomas trade with Cleveland, and the 47th in the second round.

"This is the first year that there has been this many quality big men in a very, very long time," said a Western Conference NBA scout who was not authorized to speak publicly. "Pretty much all of these guys can play. So many of them are versatile, too."

A majority of NBA scouts and draft boards list the top big men as Arizona's 7-foot Deandre Ayton, Duke's 6-11 Marvin Bagley III, Michigan State's 6-11 Jaren Jackson Jr., Duke's 6-10 Wendell Carter Jr. and Texas' 7-foot Mohamed Bamba. Each could be a top-10 pick.

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Then there's 7-1 Mitchell Robinson, who never played in college after graduating from high school in 2017, Texas A&M's 6-9 Robert Williams, Missouri's 6-11 Jontay Porter, Villanova's 6-9 Omari Spellman and UNLV's 7-foot Brandon McCoy, all of whom are first-round prospects.

Ayton, a 260-pounder who has an NBA body and a nice offensive skillset, figures to be the first center taken and most likely the top overall pick in the draft.

Bagley, who is an elite athlete and has a soft touch for his size, is expected to be the second big man taken. Jackson, an athletic 240-pounder who is the son of a former NBA player, is also expected to go in the top five.

Depending on how many guards go early, Carter, who has a solid post game and runs the floor well, and Bamba, a rim protector, will be lottery picks. Williams, who is on the Clippers' radar in case center DeAndre Jordan opts out of his contract, should be available toward the end of the lottery picks.

"You usually got a mix of a couple of guards, a couple of wings, a couple of bigs," an Eastern Conference NBA scout said. "But this draft is definitely big-heavy."

The wing players are just as impressive and they have size, too.

Slovenia's 6-8 Luka Doncic, Missouri's 6-10 Michael Porter, Villanova's 6-7 Mikal Bridges, Kentucky's 6-9 Kevin Knox and Michigan State's 6-7 Miles Bridges all could be lottery picks.

And three point guards — Oklahoma's Trae Young, Alabama's Collin Sexton and Kentucky's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — are expected to be lottery picks.

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"Three of the top five guys in the draft are big guys," another Western Conference NBA scout said. "But the other two top guys are 6-7 guards and you have guys 6-7 or above who are small forwards. So there really is a lot of size in the draft."

The lack of big men in today's NBA and the need for versatile big guys has many scouts intrigued by the 2018 draft class.

"It's what we've been missing and talking about, that there is a lack of big men," a Western Conference scout said. "Now we have it. The question is how will they be used?

"So many teams want to play like Golden State, but they don't have the personnel to. So, now everybody wants these bigs that can step out and shoot. But how are you really going to use them?"

Lottery odds

The NBA draft lottery is Tuesday. Here are the teams that have the best odds of getting the No. 1 pick in the draft, which will be held June 21:

TEAM PCT

1. Phoenix — 25

2. Memphis — 19.9

3. Dallas — 13.8

4. Atlanta — 13.7

5. Orlando — 8.8

6. Chicago — 5.3

7. Sacramento — 5.3

8. Cleveland-a — 2.8

9. New York — 1.7

10. Philadelphia — 1.1

11. Charlotte — 0.8

12. CLIPPERS-b — 0.7

13. CLIPPERS — 0.6

14. Denver — 0.5

a-via Brooklyn

b-via Detroit

Twitter: @BA_Turner

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