With the lottery set, let’s look at the latest 2018 NBA Mock Draft. Who will the San Antonio Spurs pick in this projection?
The 2018 NBA Draft officially had its order confirmed Tuesday night. This took place at the lottery show, which determined the No. 1 pick and up to 14. 15-30 were set for the playoff teams once the 2017-18 regular season ended.
The San Antonio Spurs will pick at No. 18 in the first round of the draft, their highest selection that did not involve a trade since 1997. Tim Duncan went No. 1 overall and the rest was history. If trades are counted, then fans can look at 2011, with the acquisition of Kawhi Leonard from San Diego State. Even though his status is in doubt, it certainly became a successful move for the organization.
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Aside from San Antonio at No. 18, let’s look at the full order for the first round:
- Phoenix Suns
- Sacramento Kings
- Atlanta Hawks
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Dallas Mavericks
- Orlando Magic
- Chicago Bulls
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- New York Knicks
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Charlotte Hornets
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Denver Nuggets
- Washington Wizards
- Phoenix Suns
- Milwaukee Bucks
- San Antonio Spurs
- Atlanta Hawks
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- Utah Jazz
- Chicago Bulls
- Indiana Pacers
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Boston Celtics
- Golden State Warriors
- Brooklyn Nets
- Atlanta Hawks
It’s a full order, with multiple teams that own more than one pick, so the strategy for some will be intriguing to follow. That’s due to a flurry of pre-draft trades which took place over the past few years.
After the lottery, who will go where? Which situations make sense for the upcoming class of collegiate and international prospects? How does it impact the Spurs? Let’s take a look in this latest mock draft.
Next: Phoenix Suns
The 2018 NBA Draft kicks off with the Phoenix Suns, who won Tuesday’s lottery for the first time in franchise history. Couple that with a potential home-run player, and it’s a terrific set-up for the team with the worst record in the 2017-18 season.
Deandre Ayton was an offensive force at the University of Arizona, not too far from the Suns’ arena. With a 20-10 average, he stood out as one of college basketball’s best players, as a freshman, and flashed the upside of an elite center in the NBA.
The offensive game is what Ayton immediately brings to the table. His NBA body at 7’0”, 250 pounds, will be plenty for other opposing big men to handle. The same for his athleticism, is among the best in this draft class.
The problems come on the defensive end. Despite Ayton’s frame, he’s not known as an elite defender. His 1.9 blocks per game were not much to note of and he never stood out as a top rim-protector in general. This notion can change, however, if he uses his athleticism and finds proper coaching from Igor Kokoskov.
The San Antonio Spurs will have plenty to deal with for years to come. LaMarcus Aldridge could guard Ayton, but to what extent?
Next: Luka Doncic
With the luck of the draw, the Sacramento Kings soared into the No. 2 spot of the NBA Draft. It allows them to target one of this class’s top players, Luka Doncic, the latest international man of mystery.
Doncic profiles as a wing, standing at 6’8” or a taller shooting guard. He provides a little bit of everything but at a higher level that stands out, seemingly as a completed prospect. That’s overseas, though, as it still must translate to the NBA.
There’s the chance for Doncic to become a player that makes everyone better, with his passing ability via driving to the hoop and excellent court vision. It partially depends on his athleticism, as he will not be the fastest player, but a sharp basketball IQ could help and make him into a very good pro.
Doncic slides into the middle of the lineup for the Kings. He’ll receive plenty of passes from De’Aaron Fox and slide in next to Buddy Hield. It’s an interesting 1-2-3 trio that’s loaded with upside and could bring this organization some promise.
Doncic would be an excellent fit for the San Antonio Spurs. Unfortunately for them, there’s no way that happens. They will have to gameplan for this prospect for years to come.
Next: Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks were the other team that found the odds in their favor at the 2018 NBA Draft Lottery. They moved from No. 5 to 3 and now sit in line for one of the draft’s top power forward/center prospects.
Jaren Jackson Jr. and Marvin Bagley III will be compared for years to come, but the former offers more on the defensive end. That’s with a 7’4” wingspan and being a quality athlete.
Jackson will plug in as Atlanta’s rim-protecting presence, something new coach Lloyd Pierce may want. He goes defense-first and could want to establish an identity for one of the NBA’s worst teams, record-wise, in the 2017-18 season.
There’s something to be desired with Jackson’s offensive game, at least near the rim. He can shoot from mid and long range, however, so that could pull opposing team’s big men away from the hoop and open up the offense. If an under-the-basket game develops, then Atlanta might have a star on its hands.
With Dennis Schroder’s status in question, it’s possible the Hawks can go point guard at No. 3, as a case can be made for Trae Young. Though there are other guards that can be found later in the draft, unlike centers or power forwards.
Jackson would fit nicely on the San Antonio Spurs, who need a young big man next to Aldridge. Realistically, it must happen later on or free agency.
Next: Memphis Grizzlies
The second of two big men in the top five, Marvin Bagley finds his way to the Memphis Grizzlies, who slipped two spots in the draft order. It did not hurt them, though, since a young power forward/center is needed behind and next to Marc Gasol.
Bagley can become the next offensive force for the Grizzlies, with top-end athleticism and the ability to score all over the court. It was on display throughout the year at Duke and should translate to the NBA.
There’s every reason to think Bagley can score around 16-20 points per game, working as a team’s No. 2 or 3 scorer. He can be an alpha, but there are some questions around his game.
Bagley, as noted, is not a well-regarded defender and does not have the prototypical wingspan of a shot-blocker. He might find some difficulty altering shots and going toe-to-toe with some of the NBA’s most skilled big men, including Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic and Karl-Anthony Towns. It’s also due to a lack of strength, as NBADraft.net discussed.
That’s not to say Bagley won’t succeed in the NBA. His offensive game gives him immediate starter potential, but the complete player potential may not be there, unlike Deandre Ayton.
A Bagley-Aldridge matchup would be interesting in future Grizzlies vs. San Antonio Spurs games. It’s a battle of offensively-skilled big men that offer some of the same skills.
Next: Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks fell as well, but if this was about one year ago, taking Michael Porter Jr. at No. 5 would seem like a steal.
Porter entered the 2017-18 college basketball season as one of the best pro prospects. A back injury derailed most of his only year in school, though, aside from just three games. It’s hardly a sample size for anyone, but this 6’10” scoring forward offers enough upside to still go in the top five.
Before the back problems, Porter stood as one of the NBA’s next lanky scorers. He received some Kevin Durant comparisons, due to the size, wingspan and ability to shoot from anywhere, but it’s obviously difficult to know now for a player that totaled just 53 college minutes.
If Porter stays healthy, this is a star for the Mavericks, who need all the talent they can get, especially as the Dirk Nowitzki era nears its end. This started with Dennis Smith Jr. in 2017 and may take a while to complete, given there’s one year left on Wesley Matthews‘ contract and questions on Harrison Barnes as the top guy on this team.
Sure, Porter is a risk, but it’s one the Mavs need to take, while other teams continue to add stars or draft coveted players and see them succeed.
In the same state as the San Antonio Spurs, Porter could be a matchup problem for years to come. His development should have a close, four-times-per-year eye on it.
Next: Orlando Magic
Oklahoma’s Trae Young had hot and cold spurts in his lone college basketball season. At times, he looked like the nation’s top player. The second half of the year saw him go for more games below 40 percent shooting than above, which provided some concern for his shot selection.
Young could go higher than No. 6, as his college-star identity potentially makes another team fall in love with him. Although, it’s difficult to see him go to the previous five teams in the order, due to needs and talent above.
If an NBA team gets first half Young, they will be in for one of the league’s top scoring point guards. His shooting prowess, not-so-elite athleticism and wild shot selection Stephen Curry comparisons, but that’s miles away from becoming reality, if it ever happens.
The Orlando Magic, who need everything under the sun, can start with a point guard at No. 6. Young can anchor their offense and provide a stable pro at point guard, after the Elfrid Payton trade at the deadline.
Despite Aaron Gordon‘s success, the Magic have struggled to develop their lottery picks of the past five to six years. So they need to hit a home run in 2018, whether it’s Young, Wendell Carter, Mohamed Bamba or someone else. Going for this freshman guard is risky, but the upside is there to see 20-plus points per game in his future.
Young does not scream “San Antonio Spurs player,” but he would be an intriguing complement to Dejounte Murray nonetheless.
Next: Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls were a casualty of the draft lottery, but they still slide into a position that can get them a center, which is needed after the selection of Lauri Markkanen in 2017.
Mohamed Bamba might be the best defensive center in this draft class. His wingspan and standing reach make him a threat as a rim-protecting big man, someone who can alter shots and battle with some of the Eastern Conference’s toughest.
Defense and rebounding ability has the chance to make Bamba a long-term starter in the NBA. It’s just a question of how his offense develops as the years go on.
There’s upside in Bamba’s offensive game, as he can work around the rim to get a handful of buckets. Shooting is not his strong suit, whether it’s from long range or at the free throw line, and could be the center of his draft hype, according to the Houston Chronicle.
If Bamba bulks and finds a consistent jump shot, he can be more than just a defensive anchor for the Bulls defense. If not, there’s a chance for him to carve out a quality NBA career.
This would be a solid fit for the San Antonio Spurs at center. There’s just no chance of it happening.
Next: Cleveland Cavaliers
Life after LeBron James continues to be a question for the Cleveland Cavaliers, especially after they fell to 0-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals. A series loss could drive James out of “The Land,” but either way, the team can use another that’s around his size and score from the three spot.
Mikal Bridges saw his offensive output take off with the Villanova Wildcats, from 10 points per game to 18. It was a terrific development for his stock, along with the perimeter defense that already stood out in his repertoire.
Bridges projects as a “3-and-D” player, or someone that can shoot from long distance and get back to provide quality defense. With NBA teams’ desire to stretch their offense and gameplan to cover some of the league’s talent, most athletic players, it makes Bridges a long-term fit for any team.
The questions surround Bridges’ overall offensive upside, however. Can he be more than just a shooter? Will he find a way to put the ball on the ground and become an all-around threat? This could separate him from being a bench player and a starter.
The San Antonio Spurs make sense as a landing spot for Bridges. However, it would be shocking to see him fall past the lottery.
Next: New York Knicks
The New York Knicks had Kristaps Porzingis to anchor their team and everything started to trend in the right direction for this controversial franchise, until the dubbed “Unicorn” torn his ACL and missed a chunk of the 2017-18 season. This will potentially stretch into the middle of the 2018-19 campaign.
Even without Porzingis, the Knicks have questions at center and power forward. They can lose both Enes Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn to free agency, so depth will potentially be thinner than usual at the four and five spots.
The best big man available is Wendell Carter, who’s hardly a flashy player. He does a little bit of everything, from rebounding to passing to blocking shots, it’s reminiscent of Al Horford. There’s not superstar potential here, but the chance to be a very good player that complements the offensive-driven Porzingis.
Carter’s 7’3” wingspan even lets him work as a rim protector, and there’s a decent offensive game that accompanies it. So it’s an intriguing package for the Knicks to consider who may not get headlines on the back page of the New York Daily News or the New York Post, and that’s probably a good thing.
This do-a-little-bit-of-everything player would also be a nice fit with the San Antonio Spurs. Like the others, there’s no way he makes it to No. 18.
Next: Philadelphia 76ers
After the Philadelphia 76ers took off with their young core of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and host of veteran role players, this pick at No. 10 acts as somewhat of a luxury. Whether it’s to make a selection or dangle it in trade talks for Kawhi Leonard, the front office has options.
If the Sixers keep this pick, they can use a scorer between Embiid and Simmons. Markelle Fultz could have been this player, but after his physical issues and broken jump shot, it’s hardly a guarantee the 2017 No. 1 overall selection pans out. That’s where Kevin Knox steps in.
At 6’9” and a wingspan over 7’0”, Knox can become a quality defender at the next level. Couple that with solid athleticism and there’s the chance for him to cover some of the opposition’s taller players.
Scoring does not seem to be an issue for Knox, but as NBADraft.net noted, he’s a streaky player and can “lose focus” if he struggles. That’s obviously a concern on an already young team with not many veterans (unless Marco Belinelli and JJ Redick return), and could prevent him from breaking out into a star.
If Knox finds aggressiveness in his game, especially on a winning team, this could be an interesting fit. He would not need to anchor any kind of offensive load, but act as a piece next to the stars. It’s a pick the front office must hit, though, in this window of success.
Knox’s offensive potential is nice but the San Antonio Spurs might not be the best fit for a player that has effort questions.
Next: Charlotte Hornets
The Charlotte Hornets are in transition. With new Mitch Kupchak as the new general manager and former San Antonio Spurs assistant, James Borrego, as the head coach, this team will have a different look in the 2017-18 season.
The turnover might not happen overnight, however, with millions tied up in Nicols Batum, Dwight Howard, Marvin Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller for the next few years. It’s Salary Cap Hell, so whoever Kupchak selects at No. 11 must hit to be a low-cost, quality option for this struggling team.
Miles Bridges can upgrade the overpaid small forward that Charlotte brings to the table. Kidd-Gilchrist has not panned out; Williams makes a pretty penny for someone better suited as a role player; Batum’s production declined in 2017-18 due to injury and he’s on the cusp of 30 years old. A younger, more explosive threat can go in between these players.
Bridges’ game is based on athleticism and strength. He’s not much of a shooter and likes to work in the post, which could be a problem at his 6’7” frame and in the modern-day NBA. So unless he can spread the floor, there may be a limited presence that the Michigan State product brings to the professional level.
It actually would not be a surprise to see Bridges fall out of the lottery, due to the noted faults in his game. If so, he could be around for the San Antonio Spurs, but he’s not a great fit for Gregg Popovich’s system.
Next: Los Angeles Clippers
Mitchell Robinson could have gone to Western Kentucky and increased his stock for the 2018 NBA Draft. Instead, he opted to stay out of school and wait for the selection show in June. It’s a risk that can easily force him down the pecking order in the draft, but there will be someone that gives him a chance.
In a draft that’s not loaded with big men after the top 10, Robinson acts as one of the best remaining. With Blake Griffin out and DeAndre Jordan‘s possible departure in free agency, it leaves a gaping hole in the Los Angeles Clippers’ frontcourt. Match these statements together, and it’s a fit for both sides.
Robinson is a work in progress, and due to no one seeing him this season, it can drop him to the middle of lower part of the first round. Basically, this is his upside in the draft process.
Robinson arguably profiles as the best shooting big man of this draft, which helps his stock and fits him into the modern-day NBA. It’s everything other than this that puts him in question. Whether it’s if his body is NBA-ready, how much time he may need in the G League or defensive ability, it’s clear this player is a project. Will it be enough for the Clippers to gamble on at No. 12?
The long-term questions on Robinson’s game likely takes him off of the San Antonio Spurs board. A center is needed, though.
Next: Los Angeles Clippers
Since the No. 12 pick came via the Blake Griffin trade with the Detroit Pistons, the Los Angeles Clippers own back-to-back picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. It allows them to grab two consecutive young talents to build around, starting with center and continuing at point guard.
There’s a case for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to be the top point guard of the draft. He’s a bigger player than Trae Young and Collin Sexton, showed playmaking ability at Kentucky and has a wingspan that should turn him into a capable defender at the next level. The scoring will be what makes or breaks his value, which Young and Sexton arguably have the edge in.
Gilgeous-Alexander joins a backcourt that includes Austin Rivers, Lou Williams and Milos Teodosic. Rivers and Williams are outside shooting threats that act as hybrid guards, while Toedosic battled injuries in his rookie season and may not be anything more than a backup point guard. After missing most of the year due to his own injury, Patrick Beverley’s status is in question, too (his contract is not guaranteed for 2018-19).
While there’s upside in Gilgeous-Alexander’s game, the San Antonio Spurs do not need to find another young point guard. If anything, Tony Parker’s return or a new veteran should be a priority to play with Dejounte Murray.
Next: Denver Nuggets
With the Kenneth Faried era basically done, the Denver Nuggets need depth at power forward and center. At this point in the 2018 NBA Draft, that will be difficult to find, but Texas A&M’s Robert Williams should be there at No. 14.
Entering the NBA, Williams projects as a big body that can defend and rebound under the hoop. Along with solid athleticism, he should be able to work his way around the paint for the Nuggets and at least act as a backup at the four and five.
Offense will make or break Williams. He’s a streaky player in the points section and can’t shoot free throws (47.1 percent in 2017-18). If he can’t develop this side of this game, then Denver will only find a role player at this spot.
Defense is Williams’ calling card, so if he even finds a mid-range jump shot and a move or two under the basket, there’s potential for him to be more than a role player. However, that may take a few years and a stint or two in the G League before it comes to fruition.
If Williams had something of an outside game, he would make sense for the San Antonio Spurs. So it’s difficult to see them take someone with a limitd skill set out of the game in the middle of the first round.
Next: Washington Wizards
Collin Sexton has been mocked as a lottery pick, but in this scenario, he falls just outside of it in the 2018 NBA Draft. Despite that, the Washington Wizards should not be a poor fit for his talents in the 2018-19 season.
Sexton is a steal at No. 15, with his lightning-quick athleticism and ability to get to the basket. His offensive game is versatile, too, with multiple ways of creating offense for himself and to likely rack up some points on the stat sheet.
Quick feet give Sexton the chance to success as a defender, as well, despite not being the biggest player at his position.
The issues are Sexton’s 3-point game and ball-handling. He shot just 33.4 percent from long range in college, a number that may fall against more experienced defenders. The 3.6 assists and 2.8 turnovers per game give him a ratio under 1.0, which does not represent the best decision-making and may lead to some out-of-control offensive sequences in the NBA.
With the Wizards, though, there would not be a mountain of pressure on Sexton to succeed since John Wall sits entrenched as the starting point guard. He can learn for a few years and fill in when the five-time all-star suffers an injury (like during the 2017-18 season).
Sexton to the San Antonio Spurs fits the same description as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Next: Phoenix Suns
With Deandre Ayton in the fold, the Phoenix Suns can turn to another need on their depleted roster. This starts with point guard. Even though Elfrid Payton found success after a deadline-day trade, he’s not the answer as the starter.
The Suns can find a handful of point guards at this spot, despite Collin Sexton and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander moving off the board just picks earlier. Even if it’s not Troy Brown, Afernee Simons, Landry Shamet, Khyri Thomas and Trevon Duval are interchangeable options at No. 16. It just depends who’s favored over the other.
Brown has the chance to move up draft boards this spring, due to his 6’7” size to play the point guard position, versatility to handle multiple spots in the lineup, athleticism and 7’0” wingspan. This will at least make him a capable defender at the next level.
The questions come with his shooting, something needed to turn the Oregon product into someone that can actually handle the wing spot or multiple positions in the NBA. It may take a trip to the G League to figure this out, and if this works, the Suns can slot him in as their point guard of the future.
Brown’s size makes him an option for the San Antonio Spurs, especially at a position of need. He could be there at No. 18.
Next: Milwaukee Bucks
Afernee Simons is not an international prospect but another man of mystery in this draft class, that will likely go in the first round. His stock rose as a 2019 high-school prospect, which grabbed draft attention.
How can Simons be in the draft without a trip to college basketball? At 19 years old and one year out of high school, he’s able to bypass a middle ground and go pro. It’s a risk since no one has seen him play against older competition, but like Mitchell Robinson, the upside will be enough for someone to take a chance.
The Milwaukee Bucks have Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon to float around the guard positions, but it could use another dose of youth. That’s especially with Bledsoe on an expiring deal in 2018-19. Middleton after a career year can leave after next season, too, with a player option at his disposal.
Basically, Simons is insurance for whatever happens in the 2019 offseason. No one knows what to expect from him, a guard known for his outside shooting, but stashing him in the G League to gain professional experience would not be a far-fetched concept. Then, when the 2019-20 season approaches, Milwaukee can get a longer look at this youngster.
Simons brings intriguing upside, mostly because, again, nobody knows how his high school game translates to the pros. It would be a project for the San Antonio Spurs, who have not shied away from shorter guards that can shoot. But don’t be surprised if he’s available at No. 18.
Next: San Antonio Spurs
This pick remains the same from our first 2018 NBA Mock Draft. The San Antonio Spurs should see Zhaire Smith available at No. 18, an athletic shooting guard that showed flashes multi-category potential in college.
Smith’s athleticism stands out. He can fly across the court on defense, blocking shots with an explosive leap and soar for dunks. It’s a thrilling package that will make the AT&T Center rise to its feet on occasion.
The athleticism should translate into Smith as a capable defender at the next level, with the chance to guard point guards, shooting guards and an undersized small forward or two in smaller lineups.
There are questions on Smith’s offensive upside, however, which start and end with his jump shot. He can get to the rim but must find a consistent stroke from the outside to profile as a regular shooting guard in a league that makes everyone stretch the floor.
Smith’s 45 percent shooting from 3-point range is misleading, as he took just 1.1 shots per game from this area and just 40 total for the season. The attempts may rise in regular NBA time, but the percentage could sink into the low 30’s.
A semi-redshirt, similar to what Dejounte Murray and Derrick White went through in 2016-17 and 2017-18, respectively, could be in the cards. However, if the Spurs lose depth at shooting guard in free agency and find no outside options, could it make Smith a contributor this fall?
Next: Atlanta Hawks
With the Jaren Jackson Jr. pick at No. 3, it still left the Atlanta Hawks with questions at multiple positions. That includes Dennis Schroder‘s status and could mean a new point guard joins the roster in the 2018 NBA Draft.
The Hawks will miss on most of the point guard run but can still find a quality option in Khryi Thomas, the rare junior of the first round. The Creighton product profiles as a combo guard who can find his shot from the outside and make decent decisions, unless the 2017-18 campaign is taken into account, with his 2.8 assists and 1.8 turnovers per game.
Thomas already projected better as a shooting guard than at the one spot, anyway, so he can play off whoever the full-time point guard is. If not, the Hawks can take a risk and see what happens in what’s sure to be a lost season.
How much upside does Thomas have? He’s already 22 years old, but put up a steady 15.1 points per game on 53.8 percent shooting and 41.1 percent from 3-point range. Those numbers should not scare off teams, even if he can’t become a star. But it will cost him a lottery spot.
It would not be a surprise to see Thomas fall further than 19 or the Hawks find a more traditional point guard. With a young roster, though, going for a more experienced player may be the proper call and see if the turnover problems can be fixed.
Thomas will be an option for the San Antonio Spurs at No. 18. Could they consider him over Zhaire Smith?
Next: Lonnie Walker
Lonnie Walker could go in the late lottery, but with all the interchangeable guards from 13-25, it’s possible he slides to the Minnesota Timberwolves at No. 20.
For a team that hosted Karl-Anthony Towns, Jimmy Butler, Andrew Wiggins, Jamal Crawford and Jeff Teague, this was a remarkably poor offensive team. It’s strange to think this, with some of the NBA’s top young talent and veterans to support them, including the star, Butler. Is Tom Thibodeau’s offense to blame?
Minnesota will need to find an offensive option in the draft to supplement their quality defense. At this point, that can be Walker, who did not “wow” at Miami but has physical tools and some outside shooting ability to find success in the NBA.
According to DraftExpress’ scouting report on Walker, his athleticism and aforementioned physical tools stand out. This can help him push the ball to the basket, even as a somewhat undersized shooting guard at 6’4”. There’s some defensive potential, as well, with long arms to wreak havoc on opponents.
Walker had problems off the ball, though. He may not be an isolation player, but getting fully invested in a team’s offense could be something to watch for in his development. That’s along with an improved touch from the field, as he shot just 41.5 percent from the field.
Would Walker make sense for the San Antonio Spurs? There’s a chance he remains at No. 18, and it could be a fit for both sides.
Next: Dzanan Musa
Dzanan Musa is yet another international mystery man in this draft. He’s a 6’9” small forward from Bosnia & Herzegovina with an intriguing skill set that could make him rise up the draft boards, pending there’s not a draft-and-stash situation.
Musa is a multi-faceted scorer, with the ability to shoot from all parts of the court. His calling card could be 3-point shooting in the NBA, and at his height could be a mismatch for the opposition on the perimeter.
Versatility makes up part of Musa’s game, who can become an oversized shooting guard or play a stretch four role. The latter may not translate in the NBA, though, unless he bulks from the near 200-pound frame.
Musa does not have ideal athleticism, either, which could hamper him on the defensive end. This can make him a Davis Bertans-esque player unless there’s extra development on the way.
If the Utah Jazz get Musa for the 2018-19 season, he would further open up the Donovan Mitchell-led offense and give the team another outside scorer to play off paint anchor Rudy Gobert. It’s a change of pace from Derrick Favors, a potential free agent that played around the rim.
The San Antonio Spurs scooped up draft-and-stash players in years past, but they need someone to join their roster now. That should take Musa off the board.
Next: Chicago Bulls
Landry Shamet might not fit an immediate need for the Chicago Bulls, as they already have a young point guard, Kris Dunn, to man the one spot. After a miserable season, however, there’s no reason to not bulk up this position, especially after the selection of Mohamed Bamba at No. 7.
Dunn showed growth from his rookie to sophomore campaign, but mostly due to an increase in minutes. It would not surprise anyone if he started the 2018-19 season as the starting point guard, but finding depth behind him makes sense as a challenger and that Shamet has the tools to be a quality guard.
Shamet takes care of the ball, with a 3-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in college. Adding to that is a strong outside shot at 44.2 percent and 48.9 percent overall.
The downside is Shamet’s athleticism and quickness, which will make it tough to find an opening and create his own shot, as well as driving to the basket. It’s enough to limit his potential output in the NBA and be limited to a backup guard role, which is not a negative but caps any thoughts on being a starter.
Shamet may fit with the San Antonio Spurs as point guard depth, depending on what happens this offseason. Do they need another youngster behind Dejounte Murray, though?
Next: Trevon Duval
Yet another Duke freshman enters the first round of the 2018 NBA Draft. Trevon Duval did not receive the headlines of Marvin Bagley or Wendell Carter Jr., but there are a few attributes to appreciate with his game.
Duval showed distributor-first ability in college, with 5.6 assists per game to his 2.8 turnovers. He worked the ball to Bagley, Carter, Gary Trent Jr. and Grayson Allen to make for one of college basketball’s top offenses.
On the other side, Duval uses his size to be a capable defender and play aggressively. That should earn him some backup minutes at point guard, whether it’s the 2018-19 season or down the line.
Why will Duval probably live in the G League to start the year, though? He must find a jump shot and without one, there likely won’t be room on the Indiana Pacers roster. There are no long-term solutions at point guard, however, so maybe the organization gambles on someone who can take some minutes within the next one to two years.
As for a fit with the San Antonio Spurs, Duval fits a similar description to Landry Shamet.
Next: Jontay Porter
The Portland Trail Blazers only selected center Zach Collins one season ago. He stands as one of their starting big men of the future, but the rest of the team’s depth at power forward and center will come into question this offseason and make it an area of need.
Ed Davis and Jusuf Nurkic can both leave in free agency, while Meyers Leonard‘s bloated contract and limited use in the Blazers rotation make him a non-factor. There’s still the young Caleb Swanigan, but it’s unknown what they have in him, either.
Jontay Porter should be available at No. 24. He’s another big body to plug in and battle the centers of the Western Conference, with shot-blocking ability (1.7 blocks per game in 24.7 minutes) and a cool 11.1 rebounds per 40 minutes. Plus, the brother of Michael Porter Jr. has an outside shot that helps the offense spread the floor, especially at his 6’11” frame.
Porter excels at nothing, which could limit his upside. It’s not a terrible endgame since he can be a fine backup center, but this may take a year or two to accomplish. A lack of athleticism could become the downfall in his game.
Porter has an outside chance with the San Antonio Spurs, who need big-man depth. This is a project selection, though, and may make him unappealing at No. 18.
Next: Moritz Wagner
It was not long ago that Moritz Wagner dazzled as one of Michigan’s top players in the NCAA Tournament and helped them reach the title game. Not only that, but a solid body of work in the regular season made him stand out and become a legitimate NBA prospect.
At a lanky 6’10”, 210 pounds, Wagner must bulk up to battle with the league’s stronger players at the same size. If not, he should still be able to carve out a long-term role as a stretch four in the same mold as Davis Bertans.
In 2017-18, Wagner shot a career-high 4.1 3-point attempts per game and hit nearly 40 percent of them. Without much impact on the defensive end, this is clearly his calling card and makes him a useful player off the bench, pending there’s enough athleticism to boot.
The Los Angeles Lakers acquired this pick in the trade that sent Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to the Cleveland Cavaliers. They already have Kyle Kuzma, who established himself as a hybrid forward with ample scoring potential, but someone more one-dimensional can still supplement him and anyone else Magic Johnson brings in to play power forward and center. It’s another way to open the offense and give Lonzo Ball an extra player to kick out passes to.
Given the Bertans comparison, there’s no reason for the San Antonio Spurs to have two of the same player.
Next: Philadelphia 76ers
The Villanova hero staying in Philadelphia? That would be an incredible story and give the fanbase a familiar face to cheer for. Coincidentally, the selection of Donte DiVincenzo actually makes sense at No. 26 for the 76ers.
The Sixers might lose JJ Redick and Marco Belinelli in free agency, which leaves them with a gap at shooting guard. Markelle Fultz can be an answer to this problem, but no one knows what to expect after he barely played this season. So could the front office search for depth in the draft?
DiVincenzo broke out in his third season with Villanova, averaging 13.4 points on 48.1 percent shooting and a 40.1 clip from 3-point range. At worst, it means he will find a spot as a shooter off the bench. Quality perimeter defense should help establish his role, as well.
A lack of starting experience could raise questions on DiVincenzo’s game. He led off just 12 games across three seasons, including playing 30 games off the bench in 2017-18. Will NBA teams determine this to be a red flag?
If not, look for DiVincenzo to play a “3-and-D” role in the NBA and see if he can take another step forward from a breakthrough campaign.
This would be an interesting pick for the San Antonio Spurs at No. 18, but arguably as a reach.
Next: Boston Celtics
It’s back-to-back Villanova players in the back-end of the 2018 NBA Draft. Omari Spellman should hear his name called on draft day, with his NBA-ready body and rim-protecting ability. It should be enough to give him a chance at backup minutes, whether it’s with the Boston Celtics or someone else. If not, there’s a G League role for him somewhere.
Spellman was a 21-year-old freshman with the Wildcats, which won’t boost his stock on draft day. Plus, he does not possess much of an offensive game, under the basket or in 3-point territory. That may push him into the second round, but the fact he can shoot it from mid-range should help.
The Celtics have an embarrassment of riches of young talent, so why not add another player to the mix? Spellman would be insurance since Daniel Theis will return from an injury and Aron Baynes could leave the team in free agency. Guerschon Yabusele and Semi Ojeleye remain as young power forwards, but it’s unknown what Boston has in them.
If the frontcourt becomes crowded, Spellman can find playing time in the G League. It’s not the worst-case scenario for a team loaded with young talent, as they can let him bide some time before emerging for sporadic playing time or a bigger role in 2019-20.
If not Spellman, the Celtics can use a shooting guard at this spot. Gary Trent Jr. could be the alternate option.
Next: Golden State Warriors
This is where the end of the first round gets interesting, and not just because it’s the Golden State Warriors that have the pick. It’s Kentucky’s Jarred Vanderbilt, who’s one of this draft’s most interesting prospects.
In high school and college, Vanderbilt dealt with a slew of foot injuries that kept him off the court; it limited him to just 14 games in his one and only season in Lexington. Heck, he even won’t participate in the combine, which only raises questions about his health.
The intrigue lies in the abrupt sample size, however, as Vanderbilt displayed amazing rebounding ability that was maybe the best in the nation. He pulled in 7.9 rebounds per game in just 17 minutes. That’s a remarkable 2.1 rebounds per minute. Former Kentucky star De’Aaron Fox went as far as to call him the “best rebounder I’ve ever seen.”
The 7’1” wingspan is tantalizing, for sure, that gives him this rebounding acumen and excellent defensive potential. It’s everything else, along with the foot problems, that present an issue.
Vanderbilt showed no offensive game in school. He can’t shoot from long distance and only hit 42.6 percent of his shots. There’s no muscle on his body to battle with the stronger players of the league at just over 210 pounds, which hurts him on both ends of the floor.
If there are glaring negatives, why would the Warriors take him? With the talent they have to control the NBA’s landscape for years to come, a risk or two won’t hurt them, even if Vanderbilt gets stored in the G League. They can bank on his defensive and rebounding prowesses and hope something that resembles an offensive skillset arrives.
Vanderbilt should probably go back to school, but if he doesn’t, someone will take a chance on what he can do great. Don’t expect it to be the San Antonio Spurs, though, unless they want another project.
Next: Brooklyn Nets
2018 could be the final year the Brooklyn Nets pick this low in the draft, despite having one of the league’s worst teams for the past few years. Blame that on the historic Paul Pierce–Kevin Garnett trade that saw the Boston Celtics fleece the old Brooklyn regime for multiple first-round picks and the ability to swap choices in other years.
This trade took place in 2013. Five years later, the effects will still be felt, as the Cleveland Cavaliers (via the Kyrie Irving trade of 2017) have the Nets pick at No. 8 overall. It makes this hard to capitalize in the draft, but they can see what works at No. 29, with the selection of Gary Trent Jr.
Trent Jr. would stand as the fourth Duke player to go in Round 1. He has ideal size for a shooting guard at 6’6” and has a solid outside jump shot.
There’s actually a decent chance, despite going this late in the draft, that this freshman finds a way onto a team’s bench for a long time, but it will only take his shooting to carry him to the promised land. A lack of athleticism and measurables outside of Trent Jr.’s height will limit his potential, so it could make him a one-trick player in the NBA.
Trent Jr. has the size and shooting ability at the two that the San Antonio Spurs need. Could he have an outside chance to go earlier?
Next: Atlanta Hawks
Khyri Thomas can play point guard for the Atlanta Hawks, but also as someone who acts off the ball. What if they go point guard again, though? Elie Okobo of France would be a riskier play but with higher upside than Thomas to become a starter.
ESPN.com raved about Okobo’s draft prospects, including his size (6’3”) and wingspan to utilize at both ends of the court:
“Okobo has attracted significant attention this season from NBA scouts, not just due to his productivity but also his size, 6-8 wingspan and scoring instincts. He’s a fluid athlete who plays above the rim regularly, changes speeds smoothly in the open floor, is a prolific pick-and-roll player who can find the open man and has proven to be a capable shot-maker, pulling up off the dribble from long vantage points.”
This profile sounds like plenty to gush on what this 20-year-old guard can do. It could even tempt teams to take him higher in the first round. However, the international factor may push him down draft boards, if he intends to stay in France for another year or more.
The Hawks can afford to use a draft-and-stash pick and take a chance. They own frew players with upside, and if Schroder is on his way out, it leaves them with just Taurean Prince and John Collins. Of course, there’s whoever goes No. 3, but it’s no guarantee Jaren Jackson Jr. is the guy.
The San Antonio Spurs like their draft-and-stash players, but Okobo might not make sense in this year’s draft since there are more pressing needs.
Who will the San Antonio Spurs take on draft night? What about the other 29 teams? Let’s find out on Thursday, June 21.