Who will the San Antonio Spurs take in the 2018 NBA Draft? Let’s look at one final mock before Thursday’s selection show.
The San Antonio Spurs will be part of Thursday’s 2018 NBA Draft, the opportunity for 60 players to hear their names called and earn a spot at the professional level. No. 18 belongs to the Silver and Black, picking at one of their highest spots of the draft in the past 20 years. They also own No. 49 in the second round.
Since the draft is only days away, the final projections for what could happen will start to trickle in. That mostly starts and ends with mock drafts, projecting players with each pick. In this case, for the final mock draft before the event finally arrives, it will be the first round only.
Who will the Spurs receive at No. 18? What about the Phoenix Suns at No. 1? Will the Sacramento Kings take someone to become the face of the franchise? Let’s take a look.
To little surprise, this pick stays the same from the first mock draft. Whether or not Deandre Ayton is the best player from this class remains unknown, but he owns the physical gifts and upside to hold the top spot in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Ayton dominated in his one season at Arizona, with 20 points and 11 rebounds to lead the way and become a force. He flashed the ability to become an elite center in the NBA, working inside and showing off the occasional 3-pointer. The latter is needed for almost any player to succeed in the modern-day game, including big men.
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There’s every reason to believe Ayton becomes a scoring force in the pros, but defense is another story. He never broke out as the rim protector that someone with his body and athleticism should have. 1.9 blocks per game might seem fine, but over the course of 35 college games against weaker talent, it’s a concern.
Even beyond shot blocking, Ayton needs to improve how he defends different plays from the opposition and finding the necessary position to use his body to alter shots. That can change, given the kind of athlete he is, but it will take tutelage from the new Phoenix Suns coaching staff.
With the Suns close to home, look for Ayton to be an issue for the San Antonio Spurs for years to come. He vs. LaMarcus Aldridge would become an interesting matchup.
Next: Sacramento Kings
If the Sacramento Kings trade the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA Draft, look for Luka Doncic to become the man here. However, without trades included in this mock, the pick changes and it becomes Michael Porter Jr., not Doncic.
Porter Jr.’s health is the story of his stock. If not for a back injury that took him out for most of the college basketball season, there’s a chance he becomes the No. 1 overall pick. So, it seemed he would go lower in the top 10.
However, according to Sean Cunningham of ABC Sacramento, Porter’s medical evaluation went “well” with a specialist who led teams. Yahoo’s Jordan Schultz also noted how Porter’s recent workouts impressed and showcased why he was the No. 1 recruit out of high school.
The evaluation in Chicago with Missouri's Michael Porter Jr. was characterized as having gone well for the draft prospect. A specialist led teams, including the Kings through an evaluation of Porter's medical report. Haven't ruled out visiting teams prior to Draft, sources say.
— Sean Cunningham (@SeanCunningham) June 16, 2018
#Missouri forward Michael Porter, Jr. really helped himself with a sensational private workout, sources say. Displayed the bevy of offensive tools that made him the No. 1 HS player in the country. As long as medicals check out, he will be one of the draft’s most coveted prizes.
— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) June 9, 2018
Porter’s combination of size, at 6-foot-11, and scoring ability, will drive interest in the draft. Especially after what Kevin Durant has done for the past 11 years, teams will attempt to figure out if this is the next long, lanky scorer of the NBA and be marveled with what he can do from mid-range and long distance.
Injuries should still be a concern, but the upside may outweigh the risk for some teams. That’s the case for the Kings, who lack star power and need someone who can carry the load on offense.
The selection of Porter Jr. might turn some heads, but if he plays anything, like, what made him a standout talent in high school, then, there’s a chance at stardom and a mismatch nightmare for the opposition, including the San Antonio Spurs.
Next: Atlanta Hawks
Since the Sacramento Kings selected Michael Porter Jr., the Atlanta Hawks receive arguably the next-best player in the 2018 NBA Draft, the international man of mystery, Luka Doncic. Well, maybe not the most mysterious player, but someone who has yet to play professional basketball in America.
The Hawks receive a potential star that can do a little bit of everything on offense, some of which he’s great at. Doncic’s court vision is exceptional, with the ability to find open players on the floor from almost anywhere. He owns the necessary range from 3-point distance to find success, as well, along with driving to the hoop and creating other forms of offense with the ball.
Doncic might be one of the hardest working players in the draft, but there’s a chance he’s weighed down by a lack of elite athleticism. This can take away his chances to attack the basket and provide defensive limitations against the league’s more athletic guards and wings. It’s a problem for someone that should be a multi-faceted offensive player, the part of his game that might have to lead the way in the NBA.
It’s hardly a guarantee Doncic goes at No. 3, anyway, with the Hawks in need of a big man to pair with John Collins. Both Jaren Jackson Jr. (the previous pick in the original mock draft) and Marvin Bagley III remain on the board, and it’s possible Atlanta has their choice on draft day, causing the Slovenian prospect to slide.
Doncic would be a fun player to see in the San Antonio Spurs system. Unless they use Kawhi Leonard to trade into the top five, there’s no chance this international talent dons the Silver and Black.
Next: Memphis Grizzlies
The Memphis Grizzlies are one of the best candidates to trade down. Three big men hold the top spots on the board, all of whom fit at center, not a position of need at the Grind House. Marc Gasol will enter his age-34 season and still puts up averages around his career marks of 15 points and 8 rebounds per game, but this will not last forever.
Putting any of Marvin Bagley III, Jaren Jackson Jr. or Mohamed Bamba next to Gasol makes little sense, for the aforementioned reason, so, for Memphis’ sake, it must hope for Luka Doncic or Michael Porter Jr. to fall to them. In this case, though, they will not.
However, if the Grizzlies can’t trade out, look for them to select Bagley, the closest fit possible to a power forward with a developed offensive game.
Bagley brings an athletic presence to the Grizzlies frontcourt, with the ability to run down the court in transition and use his moves around the basket to find opportunities. He even shot 39.7 percent from 3-point range at Duke, so he might not take as much paint away from the aging Gasol as expected.
Bagley has the size, at 6-foot-11, of a center, but not the overwhelming wingspan of Bamba or Jackson. He can still play inside, but it might deter him defensively from becoming elite, especially without the strong shot-blocking numbers shown in school (less than one block per game).
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
Mohamed Bamba jumps into the top five after a strong combine that saw him unveil a wingspan of 7-foot-10, the highest of any draft prospect in this class. That has shot-blocking, rim-protecting big man written all over him, with the athleticism to couple it, and become a defensive force in the NBA.
Offensively, Bamba remains a work in progress. His improvement has been touted between the end of the college season and the combine, but until anyone sees an improved jump shot in live action, he’s still a defense-first prospect. That’s not a bad thing and still leaves plenty of room for growth and to prove he’s an all-around talent.
The Dallas Mavericks need almost everything. One season after the selection of Dennis Smith Jr. this organization must find younger pieces to add to the future, one that will not include Dirk Nowitzki soon. Maybe, the Mavs still want to win before their all-time great retires, but the Western Conference is stacked at the top and features a handful of terrific teams that finished near the bottom of the playoff race.
Will Dallas find its star at No. 5? Maybe not, but Bamba at least gives them a fresh presence under the basket. He’s not the scorer that Michael Porter Jr. is or the do-it-all forward in Luka Doncic, but a combination with Smith Jr. has the potential to be interesting and not one the San Antonio Spurs will want to cover.
Next: Orlando Magic
I do not love Trae Young’s prospects in the NBA, at least to become a superstar or Stephen Curry lite. Collin Sexton, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Elie Okobo, none of which are close to perfect players, all offer more well-rounded games heading into the NBA.
Young is listed at 6-foot-2 but owns a 6-foot-3 wingspan, underwhelming for any prospect. It likely means he falls short as a defender in the pros and will need an offensive game to carry the way, which the Orlando Magic take the risk with at No. 6.
Sure, there’s a chance Young becomes an exceptional scorer without the athleticism and size. Curry did it, but he became elite.
Young shot 39.3 percent once the calendar turned to 2018 and only hit 32.9 percent of his shots from 3-point territory. He still averaged 26.1 points and dished out a quality 7.6 assists, but all of it came on an aggressive 19.9 shots per game, 10.4 of which from behind the arc. The shots just did not fall for the freshman in college, in the second half of the season, and questioned which version was real: the players who shot 47.5 percent, 41.3 percent on 3-pointers, had 29.6 points per game and 10.7 assists or the one who looked inefficient?
Orlando, at best, gets the next elite shooting point guard, or receives someone that will probably score double-digit points but at what rate? It’s also not a player that fits into what the San Antonio Spurs do, not like it matters, anyway, at No. 6.
Next: Chicago Bulls
Jaren Jackson Jr.’s already established defensive ability and outside game makes him an intriguing prospect and one with the upside to become a star. His rim-protecting skills might be elite and can transform anyone’s defense, including the Chicago Bulls at No. 7, who can pair him with 2017’s pick, Lauri Markannen, in the frontcourt and make for a dynamic pairing of players that contrast each other.
If the Michigan State product fulfills his potential, he can work inside and control the paint. While Markkanen stretches the floor and provides help on the boards to supplement Jackson’s work.
Jackson should last for a while based on his defensive ability, but if the offensive side of the ball fully comes around, there’s a chance the NBA has its next elite center. Although, that might be a few years away.
Why Jackson after Marvin Bagley and Mohamed Bamba? For now, Bagley can project as a power forward to play next to Marc Gasol and has the offensive game to supplement him. Bamba’s ability to be a defensive anchor, at least on paper, has outshone Jackson in the draft process. That’s not to take away from the latter’s talents, but it shows how deep the top of this class is.
If the San Antonio Spurs trade into the top 10 for any reason, Jackson would be a solid fit as their defensive anchor. Pau Gasol can’t handle it forever, so a replacement is needed at some point.
Next: Cleveland Cavaliers
If the Cleveland Cavaliers lose LeBron James this summer, they will need help at every position. If he stays, it means they need help at almost every position, even after a run to the NBA Finals, which showcased the problems across the roster.
Of course, if the Cavs see James go in free agency, it sparks a rebuild and one that will take years to climb out of. So it’s somewhat of a best-player-available situation for general manager Koby Altman.
At the same time, Cleveland’s guard play looked terrible at times, especially against the Golden State Warriors. Jordan Clarkson had a miserable run in the playoffs, with a 30.1 shooting percentage in 19 games. J.R. Smith remained inconsistent and had the Game 1 play that everyone spoke of. Kyle Korver disappeared after the Toronto Raptors series. George Hill remains, but he’s owed $19 million in 2018-19 and stands as a potential trade candidate.
There are a handful of guard options for Cleveland to go for. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s size and ball handling might make more sense, but if the Cavs want a scorer that hopefully takes pressure off James, then Collin Sexton to the guy at No. 8.
Next: New York Knicks
Wendell Carter Jr. is the second of the Duke prospects to go in the lottery. He’s probably the last one of them that will do so, but others should follow as the draft continues. There’s even a chance this player becomes the best of the Blue Devil prospects to enter this year’s process.
Unlike Marvin Bagley, Carter does not specialize in any part of the game of basketball. Instead, he flashes a little bit of everything on both sides of the floor, including an offensive game that can stretch behind the arc, passing, defensive intangibles and altering shots at the rim. It makes him projectable at either power forward or center.
For the New York Knicks, this works well in tandem with Kristaps Porzingis, the team’s star that suffered a torn ACL in the 2017-18 season. For now, Enes Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn remain, but both can become free agents this summer and do not offer a guaranteed return.
In case Porzingis’s injury keeps him out longer than expected, Carter Jr. offers a younger option inside, someone who’s somewhat of an insurance policy but can still work next to the team’s “Unicorn” for years to come. If anything, Carter’s skills supplement the offensive talent this Knicks star brings to the table.
Carter would be an interesting fit on the San Antonio Spurs frontline. However, unless they use Kawhi Leonard to trade up, do not expect this to happen.
Next: Philadelphia 76ers
At No. 10 overall, the Philadelphia 76ers stay relatively close to home, within the City of Brotherly Love, with the pick of Mikal Bridges from Villanova. He fits a need of theirs, too, a player that projects as a wing that can shoot and play between Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, the bookends of the Sixers.
Bridges projects as a “3-and-D” player in the NBA, or someone that specializes in 3-pointers and perimeter defense at the other end of the court. His collegiate stats, at least for the 2017-18 season, does not indicate he will become this and could actually exceed expectations. However, half of this two-time champion’s shots came from behind the arc.
Bridges owns other skills in his offensive game, but they are far from as developed as his jump shot. So he at least spreads the floor for the nonexistent shooting of Simmons and Embiid’s work inside. This would join Robert Covington, Dario Saric and JJ Redick, pending all of them remain in Philadelphia in the 2018-19 season.
With Kawhi Leonard potentially out and Rudy Gay’s player option in the balance it leaves a small forward spot open on the Spurs. Maybe Bridges falls due to his age since he’s 22, but it seems unlikely.
Next: Charlotte Hornets
The Charlotte Hornets made some questionable draft moves in recent seasons, almost none of which have panned out. 2012 No. 2 overall pick, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, has not panned out. Cody Zeller makes a lot of money to not put up starting caliber stats. Frank Kaminsky flashed some scoring promise but has not taken off. Outside of Kemba Walker in 2011, it’s hard to find a bright spot.
Under Mitch Kupchak, who took over as Charlotte’s general manager this offseason, this organization will look to get on the right track. They can go for best player available and not target a specific need, and Miles Bridges should be among the top players remaining in the draft.
Bridges brings high-flying athleticism at a solid size of 6-foot-6. He’s not a great shooter and does not project as a small forward or power forward in the NBA, given his rebounding ability; it makes him a tweener, but should anyone worry about that anymore?
The one negative Bridges might not get around is the wingspan, which is not that of a plus defender, at 6-foot-9. It might work fine on the perimeter but not inside, where he could play in smaller lineups.
Playing without a position could help head coach James Borrego utilize Bridges in different lineup formations and get creative. That versatility may be enough for this player to go even higher than No. 11, although by not too much.
The San Antonio Spurs worked out Bridges earlier this spring. Whether he falls to No. 18, though, is in question.
Next: Los Angeles Clippers
I already mentioned how the point guards in the 2018 NBA Draft should line up, but it will potentially end up with Trae Young first, Collin Sexton second and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander third, but, all of them will become lottery picks.
With back-to-back selections in the first round, the Los Angeles Clippers have the chance to build a young core that plays next to a handful of veterans, none of which are stars. DeAndre Jordan is the closest player to that moniker, but he can leave this summer. So these picks will go a long way towards what this franchise does for years to come.
Gilgeous-Alexander fills in a young ball-handler role for the Clippers. They have Patrick Beverley, who missed most of last season with an injury, and Milos Teodosic did not show enough to become the full-time starter in his rookie season.
The former Kentucky point guard has the size, at 6-foot-5, and wingspan, at 7-foot, to be a defensive weapon for Los Angeles. It even helps him tower over the smaller one-guards of the league. Along with above-average athleticism, it should help him settle into the NBA.
Shooting is the skill that leaves something to be desired, as he attempted just 1.5 3-point shots per game. Once upon a time that would be a non-issue, but until it becomes a consistent part of Gilgeous-Alexander’s game, it’s a flaw, but a teachable attribute.
The San Antonio Spurs have Dejounte Murray, who’s a similar player to Gilgeous-Alexander, so a repetitive selection does not make sense.
Next: Los Angeles Clippers
Robert Williams is an athletic freak that has the size to handle power forward or an undersized center in certain lineups. The 7-foot-6 wingspan will intrigue teams, as well, and these traits along should get him into the lottery, or even the top 10, right?
Williams was known for his inconsistent motor at Texas A&M which, according to NBADraft.net, made him disappear for stretches in games. There’s little to no jump shot in his repertoire, either, so the physical tools are there, and he’s one of the best shot blockers in the draft, but that may only go so long for his status.
Most mocks have Williams in the low lottery range, but he’s a candidate to slip beyond this and into the late teen’s or early 20’s, given the questions on his game. However, will the Clippers overlook this and add one of the best remaining big men to their almost nonexistent group?
If the Clippers desire a shot blocker to replace some of DeAndre Jordan’s production, this might be one of their best bets left in the draft, unless they gamble in free agency. This is still a risk in the draft, but with depth needed it makes sense to at least fill one spot.
Someone with on-court character issues does not seem, like, the prototypical player for the Spurs. Although, with a potential roster breakdown this offseason, could there be changes?
Next: Denver Nuggets
Kevin Knox’s upside might be the most intriguing of any player since Jaren Jackson Jr. at No. 7. This player stands at 6-foot-9, has a 7-foot wingspan and is already a solid scorer. In an NBA that consistently looks to expose mismatches, his ability to rack up points should rise fast and make him a capable small forward or power forward in an array of lineups.
NBADraft.net also noted how Knox’s defense took a step up in the latter half of his freshman season. If that translates to the next level, along with above-average athleticism, teams could have a decent prospect on their hands for bigger lineups.
If Knox possesses this upside, why does he fall to No. 14? It’s partially based on needs of other teams, the inconsistent motor, an unusually bad turnover rate (1.4:2.4 assists-turnovers) and does not have a strong shot selection. All small traits that could push him down the draft, but it would be a surprise to see him fall outside the lottery.
As for Knox and the Denver Nuggets, they get a wing that can take Wilson Chandler’s spot and potentially Will Barton’s, who can also become a free agent this summer. So there’s the potential for a sizeable frontcourt with Knox, Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap, flanked by Jamal Murray and Gary Harris.
Knox makes sense for the San Antonio Spurs, especially with Kawhi Leonard almost out the door. However, do not expect him to be there at No. 18.
Next: Washington Wizards
Zhaire Smith makes plenty of sense for the San Antonio Spurs as an athletic, projectable guard that Gregg Popovich can hold for a few seasons. That’s the case with other teams, too, and could lead to Smith as a pick just beyond the lottery or to one of the Denver Nuggets or Los Angeles Clippers picks.
Smith is considered one of the draft’s most athletic guards, which helps with his near 6-foot-10 wingspan while standing at 6-foot-4. It should help him towards being a successful perimeter defender, and the ability to drive past defenders to the basket and in transition.
The physical tools are there but Smith’s shooting ability remains in question. He did not develop a consistent 3-point shot at Texas Tech and can often be erratic with his shots. Plus, there’s still room for him to create his own shot off the dribble, which does not exist in his game, according to NBADraft.net.
On the Washington Wizards, Smith fills in as guard depth behind Bradley Beal and can play alongside John Wall in certain lineups. That’s along with taking Jodie Meeks’s spot in the rotation, who opted into his contract for the 2018-19 season but can become a trade candidate after a lackluster campaign.
After Wall’s injury-filled season, though, the Wizards could stand to find a point guard at No. 15. Although, the defensive upside of Smith might be too much to pass up.
Next: Phoenix Suns
Elie Okobo has risen in the draft process over the past month, with the potential to become a starting caliber point guard in the NBA. He offers a 6-foot-8 wingspan that helps him, as a 6-foot-2 point guard, that can make him a quality defender at the next level. It should help in playing the other guard position, as well, and the athleticism to supplement it.
In today’s need to shoot Okobo is capable enough to extend the floor, maybe even above average. He shot 39.4 percent or Pau-Lacq-Orthez in 2017-18 on 4.7 attempts, so he’s not shy to go behind the arc and fit in with the modern-day NBA style. That should make him appeal to more teams and help him move up the boards, potentially just outside the lottery.
The Phoenix Suns could select Okobo at No. 16 to pair with Deandre Ayton and make a formidable duo, playing alongside Devin Booker to form three-fifths of the starting lineup. After this team’s disastrous 2017-18 campaign, they can use any young pieces to fill most of their lineup, including point guard, even if Elfrid Payton returns.
The San Antonio Spurs would be an interesting option for Okobo, but with Dejounte Murray and the potential return of Tony Parker, do not expect anything to happen here.
Next: Milwaukee Bucks
Lonnie Walker has the chance to go as high as the top 10 or fall near No. 20, with all the guards that should be selected within the first two-thirds of the NBA Draft. The physical tools are there, though, to sustain a successful career.
This 6-foot-4 shooting guard has the chance to become a defensive force on the perimeter, with a wingspan that eclipses 6-foot-10. Along with above-average athleticism, it makes for someone to provide depth at shooting guard, and the physical tools can develop into something more. He owns a capable jump shot to accompany this, but it could receive some consistency.
According to NBADraft.net, Walker can lack defensive intensity, causing his potential on the opposite side of the ball to not be reached. Offensively, he works well with the ball in his hands but struggles otherwise. That could be an issue at first, but it’s a teachable aspect of the game.
The Milwaukee Bucks might not have a strong need at shooting guard, but some insurance is needed with Eric Bledsoe’s contract almost done, Sterling Brown an unproven commodity and the overpaid Matthew Delllavedova in the mix. Walker provides a fresh presence in this group and have a chance to grow into a bigger role in one or two years.
Walker is a viable option for the San Antonio Spurs at No. 18, especially with the need at shooting guard. I do not think he will be there, but it’s possible given the dearth of options at this point of the draft.
Next: San Antonio Spurs
Donte DiVincenzo soared from almost out of nowhere in the 2018 NCAA Championship Game. His 31 points propelled Villanova to its second title in three years and put him on the radar for NBA scouts.
The combine only pushed DiVincenzo into a bigger spotlight. His 42 inch vertical leap was among the best of anyone that measured and hinted at his athleticism at the next level, which was also on display in the title game.
However, the 3-point shot will be one of, if not the top calling card in DiVincenzo’s game. He will stretch the floor for any team he joins and act as a shooter off the bench. Whether it goes beyond, that remains to be seen, as he’s not a standout defender but good enough to hold his own.
The San Antonio Spurs need the help at shooting guard, with Manu Ginobili’s potential retirement, Danny Green’s player option on the horizon and Bryn Forbes’s restricted free agency. Derrick White is there but spent most of this season in the G League, so the Silver and Black can stand to go even younger here.
DiVincenzo might not scream “3-and-D,” but his shooting ability is there and if Gregg Popovich and company can work with him on the defensive end, there’s upside for this player to work well at both sides of the floor.
Next: Atlanta Hawks
Kevin Huerter joined Donte DiVincenzo as another slick shooting guard to move up the draft boards at the combine. For the former, it was not due to athleticism but a remarkable display of shooting work from beyond the 3-point line. Along with a 6-foot-7 frame, it draws comparisons to Klay Thompson, one of the NBA’s best two guards. Whether that potential is fulfilled, though, will take time.
At worst, Huerter will become a shooter off the bench and back up another player at the same position. Defense, however, may become the difference between in how far he goes in the NBA, without an overwhelming wingspan and athleticism to supplement it.
Getting a role player at No. 19 can’t hurt, especially for the Atlanta Hawks who need everything. Though, they can use starting caliber talent to push this rebuild forward and fight for a bottom-of-the-barrel playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. It’s at least a player to fit into the modern-day look of the league, but not someone who’s guaranteed to make an impact at both ends of the floor.
Hurter could become an option for the San Antonio Spurs, with the need at shooting guard. Although it’s not public knowledge if they worked him out.
Next: Minnesota Timberwolves
Another potential fast-riser in this NBA Draft, Josh Okogie possesses the length and athleticism to work as a defender in the league. That’s similar to the previous shooting guards, including Lonnie Walker, Mikal Bridges, and Zhaire Smith. It’s a matter of the Georgia Tech product’s offensive skills and if they come around, that will determine his success in the pros.
Okogie has a 3-point shot in his arsenal, as he shot 38 percent from distance in the 2017-18 season. A 41.8 shooting percentage, though, will draw some criticism and be something for him to work on. It also pushes his stock down the draft, despite being an elite athlete with a 7-foot wingspan.
Can Okogie overcome this? Possibly, but there’s room for him to be a role player at the next level, and Grizzly Bear Blues even compared him to Tony Allen. Both have the size, length and athleticism to hold their own on defense, with a sporadic outside shot or two to add. So the two-year collegiate should last in the NBA, it just depends on how high teams want to take a potential role player.
The Minnesota Timberwolves can use an extra wing defender. Andrew Wiggins, while a talented forward, is far from an elite defender. Okogie can be his defensive replacement or work in tandem and hide the four-year pro at the opposite end of the court. It’s even insurance for Jimmy Butler’s possible departure in 2019, as well.
Okogie works as a potential San Antonio Spurs pick. He would not be a surprise to see at No. 18.
Next: Utah Jazz
Jerome Robinson becomes the latest rising player to join the bottom half of the first round. He grew from year to year at Boston College to become a rare junior selected in the opening 30 picks of the NBA Draft. This actually hurts his stock, similar to Khyri Thomas, but someone will take a chance around No. 20.
Robinson grew into a strong shooter in his final collegiate season. A 48.5 percent mark and 40.9 percent from long range were both career-highs. At 6-foot-5, it only increases his appeal as a shooting guard or small forward in the NBA.
This is also the latest shooting guard that offers solid perimeter-defense work. He should handle wings at the next level with the proper height, wingspan and athleticism to contain opposing players. So, there’s at least role player upside at No. 20, for the Utah Jazz, and someone to play next to or behind Donovan Mitchell.
Robinson is far from perfect at both ends of the floor, however, and will need time to develop, as Peach Tree Hoops noted. So, this might not be an impact player initially, but a projectable guard to act as depth.
This is a work-in-progress pick for the San Antonio Spurs, if Robinson is even in consideration at No. 18. I think he will be there but not worth the selection that high and can easily fall into the bottom of the first or early second.
Next: Chicago Bulls
Chandler Hutchison had one of the most curious combine processes of any NBA prospect. Nearly one month ago he pulled out of workouts and has a rumored “promise” from the Chicago Bulls, according to NBADraft.net. Someone can still leapfrog the Bills and take Hutchison, but the low 20s or early second round seem, like, the best spots for him to go.
Hutchison broke out in his final two years at Boise State, with a 48.5 shooting percentage and 36.5 percent from 3-point range. His 20 points and 3.5 assists per game in 2017-18 were career-highs as he grew into a main scoring role for the Broncos. Having nearly as many turnovers — 3.4 — as assists hurts his stock.
Defensively, Hutchison should be able to guard wings and has the length to play above his 6-foot-7 size. He needs to add weight, though, after hovering around 200 pounds in college. That could mean some time in the G League, to build strength and work against tougher competition, before a larger role with the Bulls, who also need help across the court and may even use him upon selection.
Hutchison did not showcase strong free-throw shooting in school, but improved for his highest mark in his senior year, at 72.8 percent. Along with a better shot from behind the arc, he should continue to develop, whether or not G League time is needed.
The San Antonio Spurs make some sense for Hutchison, but will anyone not able to work him out provide consideration in the bottom half of the first round?
Next: Indiana Pacers
After an injury-plagued season in the 2016-17 season, Keita Bates-Diop returned for a strong final season at Ohio State. He broke out for 19.8 points per game, 8.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.9 steals and 1.6 blocks to burst onto the scene.
However, Bates-Diop’s game goes beyond the statistics. He tested remarkably well at the comibne, showing off his ridiculously 7-foot-3 length for a player just over 6-foot-8. That’s the length of a power forward or center, which should make him an overwhelming defender at the next level, even if it’s just in a specialist role for a playoff team.
There’s a chance for Bates-Diop to become a “3-and-D” player, but his calling cards will always be the length and athleticism that allows him to play at small forward, power forward or an undersized center. It’s the versatility that may see him taken earlier in the first round, but that depends on if teams think he will go to another level on the offensive side.
On the Indiana Pacers, Bates-Diop can act as a defensive specialist on a team that just missed the second round of the playoffs and provides versatility against the Cleveland Cavaliers (if they get LeBron James back), a quality defender against the Boston Celtics’ young forwards and someone to contain the Toronto Raptors backcourt.
Bates-Diop would be an interesting play at No. 18 for the San Antonio Spurs. He’s projectable as their next great defender and could make sense for the selection.
Next: Portland Trail Blazers
The 2018 NBA Draft has international mysteries near the top and spread out across the highest projected prospects, but Anfernee Simons falls among the domestic men of mystery near the bottom half of the first round. Simons did not attend college, but since he had one year out of high school and is 19 years old, it qualified him for June’s selection process.
Simons stands at 6-foot-3 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, so he’s at least projectable as a perimeter defender. His size, though, does not fit as a shooting guard and more towards a point guard, despite playing off the distributor role.
The athleticism is there for Simons to drive to the hoop and have his way in certain offensive situations. It will help him keep up as a defender, too. However, teams will select him for his upside from mid and long range, whether that takes one or multiple years to develop.
Simons must add weight, as he clocked in at 183 pounds at the combine. It obviously does not help his stock and could require a trip to the G League, to build the necessary strength and work his way up. Or it’s avoidable and makes him able to take a role on the Portland Trail Blazers in the interim, who may need depth behind Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
Simons could be in play for the San Antonio Spurs at No. 18. Would they take a scorer that may need time to add weight and adjust to a higher level of basketball?
Next: Los Angeles Lakers
Mitchell Robinson falls into the same boat as Anfernee Simons: A player that did not attend college and no one knows how he will translate against professional competition. They play different positions but offer the same unknowns about their respective games.
Robinson has an outside jump shot, at least in mid-range, so it somewhat covers his underwhelming 225-pound frame that needs work in the gym. If that comes around, the rim-protecting potential should come through, especially with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, and the athleticism to run the floor in transition and stay with his opponent.
The talent is there for Robinson to succeed as a center in the NBA, but no one saw him play against talents greater than the high school level, so it potentially drops him out of the lottery. No. 25 seems low, and it’s possible the Los Angeles Lakers get a steal, but it’s also conceivable that he finds a spot in the top 20 and closer to the Denver Nuggets at No. 14.
Robinson can be the young big man the San Antonio Spurs need. Whether they would take someone who has not displayed his skills against a higher level of competition, remains to be seen.
Next: Philadelphia 76ers
Melvin Frazier fits a similar role to Mikal Bridges, but the more the merrier, right? Especially for a Philadelphia 76ers team that can use versatile players in-between Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
Frazier had a fringe draft profile entering the 2017-18 season, but his offensive game took off as a junior. That’s with 15.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.2 assists on 55.6 percent shooting and 38.5 percent from 3-point range, all of which were career-highs.
Teams will be intrigued by Frazier’s defensive potential, as he owns a 7-foot-1 wingspan to cover players on the perimeter. He will not act as a “3-and-D” guy, yet, unlike Bridges, so it could mean a minor role on the Sixers bench or a trip to the G League to start. The 38.5 3-point percentage does stand out, but it was only on 1.2 made baskets per game.
Frazier more than likely can develop into a role player at the NBA level, but it may take some development and patience, on a four-year rookie scale deal. There are fewer guarantees at this point of the draft, anyway, so the Sixers would bank on the offensive side of his game coming to fruition.
Frazier likely falls out of range from the San Antonio Spurs. Unless he’s there at No. 49, this might not work at No. 18.
Next: Boston Celtics
It’s the rare NBA Draft that the Boston Celtics will not select in the top 10, as they sent the Brooklyn Nets pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Kyrie Irving trade. Given their regular season success, they find themselves near the bottom of the first round and out for a role player at this spot.
The Celtics have Terry Rozier for one more season and Marcus Smart can leave as a restricted free agent this summer, possibly outpricing himself on an offer sheet. Plus, with Gordon Hayward set to return from a gruesome injury, it makes sense for Danny Ainge to target insurance at shooting guard.
Khyri Thomas stands at 6-foot-3 but with a wingspan, much like the other shooting guards, that makes him projectable as a defender at the NBA level. He also provides quality outside shooting and should stretch the floor for Irving, Hayward, Al Horford, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as just another young weapon for this rising team.
At age 22, though, it hurts Thomas’s stock, as teams can perceive him as an already maxed-out player. It leads to him falling outside the lottery and potentially in the 20s.
Thomas could be in play for the San Antonio Spurs at No. 18, but there are higher upside players at the same position and should make them lean elsewhere.
Next: Golden State Warriors
There’s a chance Jarred Vanderbilt goes undrafted on Thursday. He only played in 14 collegiate games due to frequent injuries and has as limited of a game as anyone in the 2018 class. It’s everything else, though, that makes him interesting.
Vanderbilt stands at 6-foot-9, with a wingspan over 7-foot, and showed the ability to control the glass among the best in the class. He grabbed 7.9 rebounds in just 17 minutes per game for Kentucky, a ridiculous rate for anyone, and it added up to 18.5 rebounds per 36 minutes. Add in nearly one block per game, which he could average in consistent minutes in the NBA, and it paints a decent defensive profile.
However, Vanderbilt barely topped 200 pounds in college, has no jump shot and the aforementioned injuries that plummeted his stock. It prevents him from a spot outside the lottery and creates a potentially undraftable prospect.
Why the Golden State Warriors, then, in the first round? With their embarrassment of riches, they can afford a project that either pays off in a year or two or falters and no one remembers, due to their likely place in the 2019 NBA Finals and beyond, pending another superteam challenges them.
Vanderbilt, if there at No. 49, could be an option for the San Antonio Spurs. With all the baggage he brings, though, maybe not.
Next: Brooklyn Nets
Gary Trent Jr. played behind Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. on one of the nation’s most talented teams in 2017-18. He spread the floor and found success, shooting 40.2 percent from 3-point range for 14.5 points and 4.2 rebounds.
Trent does not project as a main scorer on an NBA team, as he shot an inefficient 41.5 percent on 11.5 attempts per game; 6.5 of them came from behind the arc. It represented an erratic shot selection, as well. That will not stop him from joining someone’s bench, as a team can deploy him in an instant offense role, in the mold of Bryn Forbes.
Forbes is a smaller player than Trent, but neither player has the ideal measurements to act as more than a shooter. The latter man is not the most explosive athlete, either, as NBADraft.net noted, which hurts his stock entering the draft.
Unlike other shooting guards in the first round, Trent does not have the defensive acumen to be a “3-and-D” guy, either. That pushes him further down the first round and even a candidate to go in the second round.
Trent worked out for the San Antonio Spurs in May, so it’s possible they consider him at No. 18. I would pass on him and consider other options that offer more upside.
Next: Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks close out the first round with their third pick. Luka Doncic and Kevin Huerter fill out the middle of the lineup, while Omari Spellman becomes the young big man they do not have.
Spellman, even at 6-foot-9 and over 250 pounds, might project as a stretch four in the NBA. Nearly half of his shots at Villanova were from 3-point distance, which he shot 43.3 percent from to help a team that overwhelmed its opponents with outside shooting.
Aside from shooting, Spellman acted as a decent player inside for the Wildcats, with 1.5 blocks per game on the defensive side and 8 rebounds to clean up the glass.
Spellman is a subpar free-throw shooter, which causes his stock to take a small dip. He’s not the most athletic big man, either, a possible negative against players that teams deploy in undersized four or five roles. Add in a post game that’s not developed, and there are some questions on his ability to succeed at the next level. It’s reminiscent to Adreian Payne from 2014.
Age also goes against Spellman, who is already 21 years old after his freshman year. Like Khyri Thomas, it may mean teams feel his development nearly maxed out.
The San Antonio Spurs sat down with Spellman during the combine process, so there’s a chance he joins the consideration at No. 18. They need a younger big man, meaning this becomes a possibility, even though there’s a chance the North Royalton, OH native falls to the bottom of the first round.