San Antonio Spurs Draft

2018 NBA Mock Draft: Spurs select 18th in first round

By Rob Wolkenbrod
NEW YORK, USA - JUNE 22: NBA Draft 2017 held in Barclays Center in Brooklyn borough of New York, United States on June 22, 2017. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, USA - JUNE 22: NBA Draft 2017 held in Barclays Center in Brooklyn borough of New York, United States on June 22, 2017. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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CHARLOTTE, NC – JUNE 25: Tim Duncan taken number one overall by the San Antonio Spurs shakes NBA Commissioner David Stern’s hand during the 1997 NBA Draft on June 25, 1997 at the Charlotte Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1997 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC – JUNE 25: Tim Duncan taken number one overall by the San Antonio Spurs shakes NBA Commissioner David Stern’s hand during the 1997 NBA Draft on June 25, 1997 at the Charlotte Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1997 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

The San Antonio Spurs line up at No. 18 in our first 2018 NBA Mock Draft.

The San Antonio Spurs saw their postseason run come to an end Tuesday, with a Game 5 loss to the Golden State Warriors. This eliminated the Silver and Black from the 2018 NBA playoffs and sent them away, to regroup for one of the franchise’s most interesting offseasons ever.

The playoffs will last into June. Whenever the NBA Finals wrap up, the 2018 NBA Draft will follow in the weeks afterward. It sees players from across college basketball, along with some international prospects, enter for a chance to become a member of one of the Association’s 30 teams.

With about four weeks before the lottery, let’s look at the full draft order for the first round:

More from Spurs Draft

  1. Phoenix Suns
  2. Memphis Grizzlies
  3. Dallas Mavericks
  4. Atlanta Hawks
  5. Orlando Magic
  6. Chicago Bulls
  7. Sacramento Kings
  8. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Brooklyn Nets)
  9. New York Knicks
  10. Philadelphia 76ers (via Los Angeles Lakers)
  11. Charlotte Hornets
  12. Los Angeles Clippers (via Detroit Pistons)
  13. Los Angeles Clippers
  14. Denver Nuggets
  15. Washington Wizards
  16. Phoenix Suns (via Miami Heat)
  17. Milwaukee Bucks
  18. San Antonio Spurs
  19. Atlanta Hawks (via Minnesota Timberwolves)
  20. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Oklahoma City Thunder)
  21. Utah Jazz
  22. Chicago Bulls (via New Orleans Pelicans)
  23. Indiana Pacers
  24. Portland Trail Blazers
  25. Los Angeles Lakers (via Cleveland Cavaliers)
  26. Philadelphia 76ers
  27. Boston Celtics
  28. Golden State Warriors
  29. Brooklyn Nets (via Boston Celtics)
  30. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston Rockets)
  1. Phoenix Suns
  2. Memphis Grizzlies
  3. Dallas Mavericks
  4. Atlanta Hawks
  5. Orlando Magic
  6. Chicago Bulls
  7. Sacramento Kings
  8. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Brooklyn Nets)
  9. New York Knicks
  10. Philadelphia 76ers (via Los Angeles Lakers)
  11. Charlotte Hornets
  12. Los Angeles Clippers (via Detroit Pistons)
  13. Los Angeles Clippers
  14. Denver Nuggets
  15. Washington Wizards
  16. Phoenix Suns (via Miami Heat)
  17. Milwaukee Bucks
  18. San Antonio Spurs
  19. Atlanta Hawks (via Minnesota Timberwolves
  20. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Oklahoma City Thunder)
  21. Utah Jazz
  22. Chicago Bulls (via New Orleans Pelicans)
  23. Indiana Pacers
  24. Portland Trail Blazers
  25. Los Angeles Lakers (via Cleveland Cavaliers)
  26. Philadelphia 76ers
  27. Boston Celtics
  28. Golden State Warriors
  29. Brooklyn Nets (via Boston Celtics)
  30. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston Rockets)

There’s plenty of draft analysis to dive into, so let’s see who goes in the first 18 picks of the 2018 NBA Draft.

Next: No. 1 and 2

Scouting Report. DeAndre Ayton. 66. Pick Analysis. Center. Arizona. 1

There may be some debate about who goes No. 1. Whether it’s DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley, Luka Doncic or someone else, this will be a debated topic as the spring continues and the lottery arrives in May. However, for now, Ayton heads to the Phoenix Suns to start the 2018 NBA Draft.

Ayton can be the young center Phoenix needs to pair with its developing players at power forward and in the backcourt. Tyson Chandler will be 36 years of age to start the 2018-19 season, and Alex Len could leave the team in free agency. That leaves a path for Ayton to not only receive marquee minutes but begin his NBA career as a starter.

Ayton could be a handful for the San Antonio Spurs to cover, as they do not boast an athletic rim-protecting presence next to LaMarcus Aldridge.

Duke. 2. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Power Forward. Marvin Bagley. 211

The Memphis Grizzlies can go in any direction at No. 2, with needs at almost every position and a much-needed youth movement to continue. This can take off with Duke’s Marvin Bagley, someone to work with Marc Gasol and develop into the next great big man for Memphis.

Bagley can play either center or power forward, given his athleticism and ability to shoot from long range. He does not possess an elite shot-blocking ability, so it’s possible he works alongside Gasol and not as a replacement center.

Bagley would be another athletic presence in the Western Conference, providing problems for the Spurs on defense, unless they make a personnel change this offseason. There’s no chance he falls to them at No. 18.

Next: No. 3 and 4

Pick Analysis. Shooting Guard. 79. Scouting Report. Real Madrid. Luka Doncic. 3

Luka Doncic possesses star upside on the wing. At 6′ 8”, he can stand up to the other small forwards and shooting guards in the NBA, with a sharp jumpshot and a passing ability that can leave him as the point guard in certain situations. Plus, if Doncic’s offensive upside comes to fruition, he could become a matchup nightmare if used at either backcourt spot.

For the Dallas Mavericks, Doncic can pair with budding star Dennis Smith Jr. to give fans something to be excited about. The Slovenian prospect also potentially usurps Wesley Matthews at shooting guard, who has been a disappointment since signing a four-year deal 2015 (2018-19 is a player option he may not decline), and works next to Harrison Barnes, the team’s leading scorer.

Scoring wings with size gave the San Antonio Spurs issues in the 2017-18 season. If Kawhi Leonard does not return, Doncic could continue this when the Mavericks come to town.

Scouting Report. Small Forward. Missouri. Michael Porter Jr.. 125. Pick Analysis. 4

If not for a back injury that cost Michael Porter Jr most of the 2017-18 college basketball season, he may be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. At 6′ 10”, he can tower over other small forwards and shooting guards, along with a stretch-four spot in other lineups. That’s if his scoring ability lives up to the hype.

Teams will not know what to expect from Porter, however. His small and uninspiring sample size at Missouri, and the injuries that took him away for most of the year, could lead to a steeper drop in the NBA Draft than this.

The Atlanta Hawks need players with upside, though, after losing their core over the past few years. They boast Dennis Schroder and John Collins, but can use a primary scorer to fit in between them that can take over games. While it’s unknown if Porter can do that, there’s potential to believe he will fill a starting role.

Unless Porter’s back issues raise more red flags, he will not be available for the San Antonio Spurs.

Next: No. 5 and 6

Point Guard. 5. 38. Scouting Report. Oklahoma. Trae Young. Pick Analysis

After the Elfrid Payton trade, the Orlando Magic were left with an opening at point guard. DJ Augustin was only a short-term solution and other options are better suited at shooting guard or small forward. That makes the one spot an imminent need at the 2018 NBA Draft which Trae Young can fill.

Young can go as high as No. 5, but other point guard prospects may eclipse him, including Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Collin Sexton. For now, though, the Oklahoma product offers the most scoring upside of the bunch. His shooting outbursts made him appear as one of college basketball’s best players, but questions of a lack of athleticism to make up for being 6′ 2” could be a downfall.

There is no reason to think Young will be available for the San Antonio Spurs. If not, it would be a stunner.

Michigan State. 6. 24. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Power Forward/Center. Jaren Jackson Jr.

Jaren Jackson Jr would become the second consecutive power forward/center to go to the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Draft. They took Lauri Markkanen in 2017, who appears to be a future star as a seven-footer that can shoot from all over the court. Jackson Jr can space the floor, as well, along with performing as a shot-blocker that plays side-by-side with Markkanen.

Jackson Jr offers upside as an all-around player if he pans out at the next level. With the aforementioned rim-protecting ability, working in the post, shooting 3-pointers and finding his way up and down the court, the full package may be there. It’s if he can harness it, though, which could tempt teams in the top five to select him.

This would be a fantastic acquisition for the San Antonio Spurs, if there was any chance at selecting Jackson Jr. It would likely take a Kawhi Leonard trade with a team in the top 10 to make this a possibility.

Next: No. 7 and 8

Mohamed Bamba. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Center. Texas. 7. 84

After the DeMarcus Cousins trade in 2017, the Sacramento Kings were left with young options at center. None of them have stood out, however, to the point where the organization can rely on them as the future. Willie Cauley-Stein has yet to break out, Skal Labissierre only saw backup minutes in 2017-18 and Harry Giles did not suit up this season due to injury.

Texas’ Mohamed Bamba can step in and be the answer, at least defensively. His shot-blocking ability (3.7 per game) and consistent presence under the basket lines him up for ample opportunities at rebounds, putbacks and some post moves. It could even give him double-double potential if everything pans out. Sacramento’s crowded frontcourt would temporarily prevent this, though.

Bamba would work well as the center of the future for the San Antonio Spurs, but there’s no chance he falls to them at No. 18.

Small Forward. Mikal Bridges. 8. 156. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Villanova

Mikal Bridges may begin the run of versatile wings/forwards around the end of the top 10. He can shoot from 3-point range — along with every other Villanova player in the NCAA Tournament — and provide strong perimeter defense, as NBADraft.net noted. With his 6′ 7” frame, this should carve him out an NBA role for years to come.

For the Cleveland Cavaliers, they may need a LeBron James replacement. Of course, no one can cover what one of the NBA’s greatest players of all time has accomplished and brought to the table, but Bridges at least becomes someone to carry upside in a wing role, pending he eclipses the “3-and-D” mantra.

Bridges would be an intriguing candidate for the Spurs. He offers the much-needed size on the wing, and someone to matchup with the Western Conference’s larger backcourts. It may take a trade or an unforeseen circumstance to make this happen, however.

Next: No. 9 and 10

27. Pick Analysis. Center. Duke. 9. Scouting Report. Wendell Carter Jr.

The New York Knicks need help at almost every position. Kristaps Porzingis’ injury does not help this, as no one knows how he will perform upon return. For some insurance, along with Enes Kanter’s potential departure, they can look at Wendell Carter Jr. from Duke.

Carter Jr. can not only act as a prototypical center but a player that stretches the floor. From grabbing rebounds to hitting shots from the perimeter, there’s unique potential for this college star to anchor someone’s defense. He’s even been compared to Al Horford — not a superstar but a player that performs well across the board.

Carter Jr. would be an intriguing player in the San Antonio Spurs’ defense, but unless he falls, because of a red flag, there’s no reason to think he will be there after the lottery.

Kentucky. 93. Pick Analysis. Kevin Knox. 10. Scouting Report. Small Forward/Power Forward

The Philadelphia 76ers, once stuck at the bottom of the NBA, now host an embarrassment of riches. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, two superstars in the making, panned out well. Dario Saric, Markelle Fultz, Robert Covington and a handful of quality veterans (including former Spur Marco Belinelli).

So, getting a lottery pick from the Los Angeles Lakers (the Michael Carter-Williams trade that took years to fulfill because the Lakers were in the bottom three), one that can potentially move into the top five is outstanding for the Sixers.

Kevin Knox lines up as the pick at No. 10, but Philadelphia can go in almost any direction and it would make sense. The former Kentucky star offers versatility at the wing, something the Sixers do not need but can increase their wealth in, and at least act as a 10-15 point scorer for years to come.

Playing Knox in a lineup of Embiid, Simmons and Saric offers scoring and size from top to bottom, with JJ Redick, if he stays in 2018-19, as a 3-point complement.

The Spurs can only dream of someone with wing size that can score. Even if Kawhi Leonard returns, they need someone else to fill this role, but it is difficult to think Knox falls out of the lottery.

Next: No. 11 and 12

Pick Analysis. Point Guard. Alabama. 11. Scouting Report. Collin Sexton. 170

Collin Sexton and Trae Young can easily flip spots in the 2018 NBA Draft, depending on how teams view each point guard prospect. Young has the scoring potential but Sexton also displays more athleticism that sees him move up draft boards.

Sexton on the Charlotte Hornets might seem questionable, but if Kemba Walker does not have a future in North Carolina, this could be his replacement. Walker’s contract expires after the 2018-19 season, but it’s possible the organization trades him before that.

Charlotte just selected Malik Monk in 2017, but after a disappointing rookie season, and new management under Mitch Kupchak, history might not matter for this organization selecting another freshman guard.

Sexton would make for an interesting combination with Dejounte Murray on the San Antonio Spurs. Although, it does not make much sense for them to take point guard for the third consecutive year.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander . 77. 12. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Point Guard. Kentucky

The third point guard to join the mix, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander offers the size that neither Sexton or Young offer. He stands at 6′ 6” with a 7′ 0” wingspan, offering defensive upside at the next level.

Gilgeous-Alexander has a solid stroke from the field, too, and the athleticism to cut the basket for points. There will be questions on his 3-point ability, however, since John Calipari had him taking fewer than one shot from long distance per game.

After Chris Paul’s departure in 2017, the Los Angeles Clippers were left without a star at point guard. Patrick Beverley suffered a season-ending injury, but he did not appear to be their long-term answer. Milos Teodosic played well in spurts, but did not break out as a 31-year-old rookie and may not have ample upside.

Gilgeous-Alexander compares to the Spurs’ Murray, and having no players of similar caliber would not be ideal for a team that needs help elswhere.

Next: Mitchell Robinson

Center. N/A. 77. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Mitchell Robinson. 13

Mitchell Robinson is one of multiple mystery men in the 2018 NBA Draft, even though he’s not an international player. Instead, he did not attend college and chose to wait for June’s selection show.

Robinson stands at 7′ 0”, giving him elite size at center. A 7′ 4” wingspan will make it easy for him as a rim protector and to grab rebounds. However, he also brings impressive athleticism to the table, which should tempt teams into making him a lottery pick or in this vicinity.

Work on offense is needed for Robinson to fulfill his potential, though, which may cause him to fall out of the lottery. Although, with a Los Angeles Clippers team that may lose DeAndre Jordan to free agency, the former Western Kentucky commit can become the replacement.

Robinson offers similar attributes to Jordan’s, but needs to bulk to battle the league’s strongest players under the basket. If he can do that, and develop part of an offensive game, the potential is there for this to be an upgrade at center, except a few years down the line.

The San Antonio Spurs can use an athletic force under the basket. Pau Gasol is not the answer and LaMarcus Aldridge usually sticks at power forward. If teams pass on Robinson, since he is a project, will the Silver and Black get him at 18?

Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Robert Williams. 73. Power Forward/Center. Texas A&M. 14

For now, Robert Williams slides in at the end of the lottery. The Denver Nuggets need insurance at power forward and center, especially as Paul Millsap dealt with injuries this season and nears the wrong side of 30. Kenneth Faried fell out of favor, as well, so depth behind Millsap and Nikola Jokic could become an offseason priority.

Williams stands at 6′ 9”, 240 pounds, but does not have a set position. He offers wingspan and solid athleticism, but with scoring issues in both seasons at Texas A&M, this could be a player that leans heavily on his defensive performance for value.

If teams do not believe Williams can break through his offensive struggles, there’s a case for him to be a lottery selection. Otherwise, this could be a player that falls into the late teens or early twenties on draft night.

The Spurs need depth under the basket, so Williams makes sense as an option. Scoring limitations could thwart this and not leave a clear-cut role on their roster.

Next: No. 15 and 16

Point Guard. Khyri Thomas. Creighton. 15. 142. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis

The Washington Wizards not too long ago gave John Wall a massive contract extension. However, he missed about half of the 2017-18 season and left a gaping hole at point guard. Washington can’t let that happen again, even though Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre all offer talent at guard and forward.

Khyri Thomas might be the top point guard remaining, as well as the rare junior to be selected in the first round. He may be better classified as an undersized shooting guard, standing at 6′ 3”, but a 6′ 10” wingspan offsets this and makes the former Creighton star an intriguing prospect.

Thomas may just be 22 years of age, but that could be enough to scare off teams that think he fulfilled his potential. Sure, other players entered the league as juniors or seniors and flourished, but teams often gamble on freshmen to see if they have yet to reach their upside.

Thomas could be available for the San Antonio Spurs at 18 and offers defensive potential that could appeal to Gregg Popovich. A guard with size is needed, though, which could deter this player as an option.

Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Small Forward/Power Forward. Miles Bridges. Michigan State. 16. 66

If Miles Bridges declared in 2017, he had the opportunity to be a top 10 pick. With all the talent in the 2018 NBA Draft, and an extra college season that sometimes hurts players, he falls out of the lottery and to the Phoenix Suns.

Bridges adds an undersized presence at small forward, but he offers less finesse and more toughness as a scorer, unlike TJ Warren. As FanSided’s Daily Knicks also noted, Warren ranks among the worst defenders in the NBA, so he may not have a long-term future in Phoenix’s starting lineup.

There’s a chance Bridges remains when the Spurs select at No. 18. He’s a gritty player that can fit in and offer some versatility at positions that need the depth.

Next: No. 17 and 18

Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. N/A. Anfernee Simons. 17. 89. Point Guard

Anfernee Simons might be the biggest mystery man of the 2018 NBA Draft. He never played above the high school level, and was able to declare for this summer’s selection show. After spending one year away from high school, playing at IMG Academy and being 19 years old, it made him eligible to enter the draft.

Simons was expected to be a lottery pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, but without scouts receiving a look at him in college, his inexperience leaves something to be desired. Being an undersized shooting guard does not help, either, so a lottery team might not take the risk. Someone will, though, which could be the Milwaukee Bucks at No. 17.

The Bucks already have Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon to play guard, but after taking Thon Maker, another project, could they do the same with Simons and let him develop behind established players?

Simons seems ticketed for the G-League, as well, which is not a bad thing but it means he would not impact an NBA team immediately. That could lead to a steeper slide in the NBA Draft, potentially near the end of the first round.

Simons is interesting, but his lack of size and years of needed development do not make him an option for the Spurs.

Pick Analysis. Shooting Guard. Texas Tech. 29. Scouting Report. Zhaire Smith. 18

After 17 picks, let’s finally move to the end of this abbreviated mock draft and get to the San Antonio Spurs. They need guards and wings with size, along with an athletic backup at center and power forward. This may change depending which players leave in free agency, along with Kawhi Leonard’s potential departure. Either way, this is far from a perfect roster.

In this first mock, Texas Tech’s Zhaire Smith becomes the pick at No. 18 overall. He’s a 6′ 5” shooting guard and one of this class’s best athletes. That’s flying back and forth on the court, being used at multiple positions and with an interesting 6′ 9” wingspan that teases a solid defender at the professional level.

With Smith’s athletic tools and measurements come setbacks, however. That starts with his offensive game, owning a jumpshot that needs work, according to NBADraft.net. He shot an efficient 57.4 percent from 2-point range, and a 45 percent mark from 3-point territory seems terrific, but it was on just 1.1 attempts per game.

Next: Top 25 players in SAS history

If Smith can find an outside shot, he has the potential to be an athletic, volume scorer for the Spurs. That may take a few years, but he can start as the presence this team needs in the backcourt to stand up to opposing teams’ scoring backcourts.

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