With the 2018 NBA Draft almost here, the Air Alamo staff broke down the San Antonio Spurs’ direction for their two picks.
The San Antonio Spurs will enter Thursday’s 2018 NBA Draft with the No. 18 and 49 picks. These will help shape the future of the franchise, which seems to be fluctuating more than ever, as Kawhi Leonard seeks his departure from the organization.
Who will the Spurs take with these picks? No one will know until they arrive, but it’s worth speculating, especially at this time of the NBA calendar, when everyone wonders who the next superstar will be. If not that, it’s who contributes to the next championship-winning organization.
How might everything shape up? What about the standing for other players, out of range for the Spurs, in the draft? The Air Alamo broke everything down just 48 hours before Adam Silver opens the festivities.
Your top five players of the 2018 NBA Draft are…
- Deandre Ayton: Ayton has been labeled as the consensus number one overall pick in most mock drafts and for good reason. As a freshman Ayton burst on to the scene quickly for the Wildcats. He received consensus All-American honors and won the Karl Malone award as well as numerous Pac-12 honors. Most scouts believe he has the body and skills to be a dominant big man in the league.
- Marvin Bagley III: Along with Ayton, Bagley has also been labeled as one of the best big men on the board. Also a consensus first-team All-American, Bagley was also named ACC Player of the Year and won the Pete Newell Big Man Award. Another one-and-done Blue Devil going high in the draft? Nothing new here.
- Michael Porter Jr.: Yes, he missed practically all of last season with a back injury, playing in only three college games, but Porter had been labeled as an NBA prospect before setting foot on the Missouri campus. He led his high school team to a perfect 29-0 mark in route to a state championship while averaging 36.2 points per game. He was also a McDonald’s All-American and took home the game’s MVP honors. Most experts have him projected to go early despite his brief college career.
- Trae Young: Son of former Texas Tech Red Raider Rayford Young, Trae has been labeled as one of the best guards in this year’s draft. After deciding to sign with Oklahoma, Young took over the college basketball world his freshman year. He led the NCAA in points per game, averaging 27.4 and assists per game, averaging 8.7. Scary good numbers. He was also named Big 12 Freshman of the Year and a consensus first-team All-American.
- Mohamed Bamba: With an impressive wingspan and length, Bamba has been labeled as arguably the best shot-blocking big man in the draft. Named second-team All-Big 12, Bamba averaged 3.7 blocks per game and 10.4 rebounds per game during his freshman year for the Longhorns. A force in the middle, Bamba would be an upgrade to any team’s frontcourt.
- DeAndre Ayton
- Luka Doncic
- Marvin Bagley III
- Mohamed Bamba
- Jaren Jackson Jr.
- Deandre Ayton: What more can be said about the presumptive No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft? Ayton was a double-double machine during his lone season with the Arizona Wildcats. The big man posted gaudy numbers, averaging 20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game on 61.2 percent shooting. Ayton even knocked 34.3 percent of his three-pointers; he only attempted 35 over the course of the season but developing a reliable long distance shot will make his game even more lethal.
- Luka Doncic: Regarded as the greatest prospect of all time by some basketball pundits, Doncic is considered the most pro-ready of all the players in the draft. Doncic’s EuroLeague resume speaks for itself. The Slovenian swingman has garnered accolades left and right, including EuroLeague Finals MVP and EuroLeague MVP, becoming the youngest player to receive that honor. At 6’8”, Doncic can do a little bit of everything. He is an experienced playmaker, a reliable ball-handler and a versatile offensive threat who can contribute immediately to whatever team selects him.
- Marvin Bagley III: Similar to Ayton, Bagley was a man amongst boys during his one season at Duke (don’t forget: Bagley re-classified to play college ball last year and should have just graduated high school a few weeks ago, which makes his dominance all the more impressive). Bagley put up almost identical numbers to Ayton, averaging 21 points and 11.1 rebounds a game on 61.4 percent shooting. However, the one knock on Bagley coming out of college is his defensive motor.
- Mohamed Bamba: The former Texas Longhorn has the potential to become a Rudy Gobert-type defensive player with a three-point shot. At the NBA Combine Bamba recorded a 7’ 10” wingspan and 9’ 3/4” standing reach, each the longest in NBA history. Bamba did not put up the flashy numbers like Ayton or Bagley, but averaged a steady 12.9 points and 10.5 rebounds during his freshman season. More impressive, Bamba averaged 3.7 blocks a game, racking up a school record of 111 blocks on the season. To put that in perspective, the Chicago Bulls averaged 3.5 blocks per game last season. While it’s unrealistic to expect Bamba to produce those kinds of numbers as a rookie, Bamba has defensive player of the year written all over him.
- Mikal Bridges: Some scouts have projected Bridges becoming the next Kawhi Leonard-type player. Bridges is a heady defender and a proficient perimeter shooter, connecting on 43.5 percent of his attempts during his junior year. His 6’8” frame gives him the ability to guard multiple positions and his defense will help him carve out a role in a starting rotation. While his offensive game can still use some work, he has the potential to develop into the best two-way player in this draft class.
My top five players of the draft are the same as many others. Mohamed Bamba, Deandre Ayton, Luka Doncic, Marvin Bagley, and Jaren Jackson Jr. all check most boxes that teams are looking for in a top-five player. I would say Ayton, Bamba, and Doncic are slightly above the other two. It’s too early to say which of the five will end up having the best career, any one of them could end the season as the Rookie of the Year.
A lot of it comes down to fit. The Suns have reportedly already made their choice clear.
This draft is as stacked with top tier talent as any that we have seen in the past decade. It’s a deep class, too. That being said, these five players have clearly separated themselves.
- Deandre Ayton: At the very least Ayton will become a physical force on the offensive end. I think he eventually taps into his athleticism and frame on defense to make him one of the best centers in the NBA.
- Jaren Jackson Jr.: This will probably not be the second big man taken in the draft, but I love Jackson’s upside to become an all-around big man in the NBA. The defensive work is there and he already owns something of an outside shot. If the low post offense comes around, then, there’s plenty to be excited for.
- Mohamed Bamba: At one point Bamba appeared to be a top 10 pick. Now, he might be top five or top three. All the tools are there for him to anchor a defense and the offensive adjustments to his game, since the 2017-18 season ended, are promising signs. Whether it happens in live game action remains to be seen, but there’s a lot to like here.
- Luka Doncic: I’m not on the hype train for Doncic as a future superstar, but he has the chance to become a solid player for years to come. He can do a little bit of everything on offense and should fit as a team’s No. 3 or 4 player down the line, but not someone to build a roster around.
- Michael Porter Jr.: On talent alone, Porter Jr. should be a top two or three pick. He will stand above the rest on offense and find no issue shooting over smaller players at the three and even the four. The back injury is a major concern, though. If he manages to stay healthy this pick is a home run.