Before the NBA draft Thursday night, reporters who cover teams on a daily basis took a crack at predicting how the first round would unfold in The Times’ inaugural beat writers’ mock draft.
The 2018 NBA draft is considered by many scouts and executives to be among the deepest in several years. Most NBA personnel people believe that in the top 15 selections teams could find prospects with the potential to contribute immediately or with more development.
The draft has plenty of big men available — from 7-foot centers Deandre Ayton and Mohamed Bamba to 6-11 power forwards Jaren Jackson Jr. and Marvin Bagley IIII — as well as top-tier point guards and wings.
Teenager Luka Doncic of Slovenia, a 6-6 playmaker, is the wild card because he hasn’t given a clear indication that he’ll play in the NBA next season. He was just selected most valuable player in the Euroleague after leading Real Madrid to the championship.
This mock draft features each reporter making a pick and giving a rationale for that selection.
1. Phoenix | Center Deandre Ayton, Arizona, 7-0, 260. Suns finally get their franchise center. — Scott Bordow, azcentral.com.
2. Sacramento | Power forward Marvin Bagley III, Duke, 6-11, 235. The Kings get somebody that can play right away. — Jason Jones, Sacramento Bee.
3. Atlanta | Power forward Jaren Jackson Jr., Michigan State, 6-11, 235. There aren’t many NBA centers who can protect the rim and shoot three-pointers. Jackson, the youngest player among the top draft prospects, has the potential to do both. — Michael Cunningham, Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
4. Memphis | Center Mohamed Bamba, Texas, 7-0 220. The Grizzlies view him as their center of the future. — Ron Tillery, Memphis Commercial Appeal.
5. Dallas | Shooting guard/Small forward Luka Doncic, 6-6, 220. They want the Euro kid. — Eddie Sefko, Dallas Morning News.
6. Orlando | Point guard Trae Young, Oklahoma, 6-2, 180. They don’t have a point guard of the future and need a long-range shooting threat desperately. — Josh Robbins, Orlando Sentinel.
7. Chicago | Power forward/Center Wendell Carter Jr., Duke, 6-10, 260. The Bulls are in need of a big man. — KC Johnson, Chicago Tribune.
8. Cleveland | Small forward Michael Porter Jr., Missouri, 6-10, 210. The Cavaliers just hope that he’s there so they can draft him. — Joe Vardon, Cleveland.com.
9. New York | Small forward/power forward Kevin Knox, Kentucky, 6-9, 215. He can play two positions and is a good shooter. — Marc Berman, New York Post.
10. Philadelphia | Shooting guard/Small forward Mikal Bridges, Villanova, 6-7, 210. He’s a good defender and can shoot the three and get out and run. — Keith Pompey, Philadelphia Inquirer.
11. Charlotte | Point guard Collin Sexton, Alabama, 6-2, 185. Charlotte needs help in the backcourt. — Rick Bonnel, Charlotte Observer.
12. CLIPPERS | Point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, 6-6, 180. The Clippers have targeted him as their main guy. — Broderick Turner, L.A. Times.
13. CLIPPERS | Small forward/Power forward Miles Bridges, Michigan State, 6-6, 230. — He gives the Clippers toughness and can play two spots. — Broderick Turner, L.A. Times.
14. Denver | Shooting guard/Small forward Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State, 6-7, 235. — He’s athletic and can play two positions. — Chris Dempsey, Altitude Sports.
15. Washington | Shooting guard Lonnie Walker IV, Miami, 6-5, 205. The Wizards need depth on the wing. — Candace Buckner, Washington Post
16. Phoenix | Shooting guard Zharie Smith, Texas Tech, 6-5, 195. Smith gives the Suns a perimeter defender who can guard three positions. — Scott Bordow, azcentral.com
17. Milwaukee | Point guard Aaron Holiday, UCLA, 6-1, 185. Holiday has the skills and talent to play right away. — Broderick Turner, L.A. Times
18. San Antonio | Shooting guard Khyri Thomas, Creighton, 6-3, 210. He’s a wing player the Spurs can develop. — Jabari Young, San Antonio Express-News.
19. Atlanta | Power forward/Center Omari Spellman, Villanova, 6-9, 260. Spellman was a good shot blocker, rebounder and three-point shooter in college. He needs to get in better shape to do the same in the NBA. — Michael Cunningham, Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
20. Minnesota | Shooting guard Troy Brown, Oregon, 6-7, 215. He can shoot and defend.— Jerry Zgoda, Minneapolis Star Tribune.
21. Utah | Shooting Jerome Robinson, Boston College, 6-6, 190. The Jazz like that he’s a creative scorer. — Tony Jones, Salt Lake Tribune.
22. Chicago | Shooting guard/Small forward Chandler Hutchison, Boise State, 6-7, 190. After drafting a big man, the Bulls need a wing. — KC Johnson, Chicago Tribune.
23. Indiana | Point guard Jevon Carter, West Virginia, 6-2, 185. The Pacers like that he can play defense and shoot. — J. Michael Falgoust, IndyStar.com.
24. Portland | Shooting guard/Small forward Jacob Evans, Cincinnati, 6-6, 210. — Portland needs help in the backcourt and needs a defender. — Kerry Eggers, Portland Tribune.
25. LAKERS | Shooting guard Kevin Huerter, Maryland, 6-7, 190. The Lakers are looking for shooters. — Tania Ganguli, L.A. Times.
26. Philadelphia | Shooting guard Grayson Allen, Duke, 6-5, 210. — He’s gritty and a good shooter. — Keith Pompey, Philadelphia Inquirer.
27. Boston | Point guard/Shooting guard Donte DiVincenzo, Villanova, 6-5, 205 . He’s versatile and can help out in the backcourt because he can play different positions. — Gary Washburn, Boston Globe.
28. Golden State | Shooting guard/Small forward Melvin Frazier, Tulane, 6-5, 200. He’s a three-and-D guy and the Warriors need wing players. — Mark Medina, Bay Arena News Group.
29. Brooklyn | Point guard Elie Okobo, France, 6-2, 180. The Nets would be pleasantly surprised if Okobo is there for them to draft. — Brian Lewis, New York Post.