Skip to content

2018 NBA Mock Draft: Ayton, Doncic stay on top

Ethan Miller / Getty Images Sport / Getty

theScore is predicting the full first round with only two months remaining before the 2018 NBA Draft, offering an in-depth look at the most realistic option for all 30 picks.

1. Suns - Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona

Phoenix guaranteed itself the best odds for the top pick in the draft, which few predict will be anyone but the 7-foot-1 Bahamian terror. Ayton's season was cut short after an upset loss to Buffalo in Round 1 of the NCAA tournament, but the Pac 12 Player of the Year averaged an impressive 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds during the regular season. Pairing Ayton with Devin Booker should speed up the rebuilding process for a struggling Suns franchise.

2. Grizzlies - Luka Doncic, G/F, Real Madrid (Spain)

A seven-year postseason streak came to a screeching halt after Mike Conley suffered a season-ending injury, and Memphis appears in need of an injection of youth. Enter Doncic, the 19-year-old Euro sensation who's been dominating professional competition non-stop since September. In 27 EuroLeague games, Doncic is averaging 16.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.6 assists in 25.7 minutes per game. The 6-foot-8 point forward is in contention for the top overall pick, especially if he snags MVP honors in the second-best league in the world.

3. Mavericks - Jaren Jackson Jr., C/F, Michigan State

Dallas needs a reset after another disappointing season, and Jackson has the two-way potential to become a superstar. He shot just under 40 percent from three on 96 attempts and was fourth in the country with a 14.3 block percentage. However, it may be tough to keep him on the floor after averaging 3.2 fouls in 21.8 minutes per game. The 6-11 center likely needs time to develop, but the Mavs aren't contending anytime soon.

4. Hawks - Marvin Bagley III, C/F, Duke

No team carries less star power than the Hawks, but they managed to find building blocks in John Collins and Taurean Prince during a rough campaign. Bagley's season-long dominance should outweigh his defensive limitations which were exploited during the tournament. His post play, ability to blow past opposing big men off the dribble, and improved shooting touch give him elite upside. The freshman averaged 21 points and 11.1 rebounds for one of the nation's best teams.

5. Magic - Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas

A seven-season playoff drought has forced the Magic to make some desperate moves, and arguably none have panned out. If Orlando views Aaron Gordon as a legitimate building block, adding an elite defensive talent is the right move. Despite being extremely raw on offense, Bamba has a soft touch and solid mechanics on his jump shot. What's more, he runs the floor like a gazelle. But what excites scouts most is how he might turn into one of the game's best shot-blockers with an enormous 7-foot-9 wingspan.

6. Bulls - Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri

Ideally, Chicago will look to add a scoring forward or one of the top-flight big men available. Porter could realistically be drafted in the top three thanks to his potential as an elite scorer. Unfortunately, he missed the majority of the college season before returning to play in Missouri's final two games. It's unfair to judge Porter on those post-injury performances, but he'll need strong pre-draft workouts to prove he's ready to produce at the next level. As for the Bulls, drafting a healthy Porter to join the trio of Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, and Lauri Markkanen would likely help them reach contention fairly quickly.

7. Kings - Wendell Carter Jr., C, Duke

The Kings have struggled to find stability at every position since trading DeMarcus Cousins last season. The roster build is strange, but a reliable center like Carter would serve as a fantastic building block for a franchise desperate to get back to the playoffs. At 6-foot-10, 260 pounds, Carter could give Sacramento a physical presence at the defensive end without ruining the spacing on offense, as he shot 41.3 percent from three in college.

8. Cavaliers (via Nets) - Trae Young, G, Oklahoma

Cavaliers receive Nets' unprotected first-round pick

With or without LeBron James, the Cavaliers have a chance to bring in one of the most hyped college athletes of all-time. Young led the country in points (27.4) and assists (8.7) - the first to do so since dimes became an official stat in 1983. His long-ranging shooting should translate well, especially if paired with more 3-point threats, as should his ability to finish in the paint. However, it was a tale of two seasons for Oklahoma, which flamed out after a hot start. How much of that falls on Young's shoulders is for NBA evaluators to decide.

9. Knicks - Collin Sexton, G, Alabama

After losing Kristaps Porzingis to injury, the bottom quickly fell out for the Knicks this season, as they missed the playoffs for a fifth straight year. The jury is still out on playing Frank Ntilikina at point guard, and drafting Sexton would help ease the former's transition to shooting guard. Sexton possesses blazing downhill speed and the ability to get to the line, as he finished seventh in fouls drawn (7.6 per 40 minutes). Meanwhile, a Ntilikina-Sexton backcourt paired with Porzingis' elite rim protection could turn the Knicks into a defensive juggernaut.

10. 76ers (via Lakers) - Mikal Bridges, G/F, Villanova

76ers receive Lakers' first-round pick if it lands No. 1 or Nos. 6-30; Celtics receive the pick if it falls between Nos. 2-5

The playoff-bound Sixers are still assured a lottery pick thanks to the Lakers. Bridges, a Philly native, would join the already massive core of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, and Robert Covington, giving them legitimate title hopes for the foreseeable future. The 6-foot-7, three-and-D wing shot 43.5 percent from behind the arc and averaged 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks thanks to his 7-foot-2 wingspan.

11. Hornets - Miles Bridges, F, Michigan State

Charlotte has locked itself into several bad contracts over the next few years, so the draft is the team's only hope of adding value to an expensive roster. The 6-foot-7 sophomore has a heavy build, but is a superb athlete with 3-point range and the versatility to play a similar role to Draymond Green. His 17.1 points and seven rebounds were similar to his freshman numbers, but he would immediately become Charlotte's most effective forward.

12. Clippers (via Pistons) - Shai Gilgeous- Alexander, G, Kentucky

Clippers receive Pistons' top four-protected first-round pick

Acquired in the Blake Griffin trade, this pick gives L.A. an opportunity to address its need for a ball-handler to run the offense. Gilgeous-Alexander is a 6-foot-6 point guard who can defend multiple positions. Prior to the season, little was expected from the Canadian, but he finished the year averaging 14.4 points, 4.1 boards, and 5.1 assists while leading the young Wildcats to the Sweet 16.

13. Clippers - Robert Williams, C, Texas A&M

The Clippers should use their second pick to secure a replacement center in case DeAndre Jordan bolts in free agency. Williams, a 6-10 big man with a 7-6 wingspan, was one of the college game's top rim protectors. He also dominated on the boards as a sophomore, grabbing 26.8 percent of defensive rebounds.

14. Nuggets - Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky

Denver has a $30-million team option for Paul Millsap in 2019-20, and after watching the 33-year-old miss three months with an injury, could decide to move on. Knox had a slow start to the year, but showed growth as a shooter when Gilgeous-Alexander joined the starting lineup, shooting four percent better from the field and seven percent better from deep. His athleticism will be hard to pass up, and will likely keep him in the top half of the draft.

15. Wizards - Lonnie Walker IV, G, Miami

The Wizards once again struggled to live up to expectations thanks to their lack of depth. Adding a gritty, two-way player to help bolster the bench would be ideal. Walker's physical profile is among the best in the draft for a perimeter player, and it's helped his stock rise despite some spotty play. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard has a 6-foot-11 wingspan, which should help him become a premier 3-and-D contributor.

16. Suns (via Heat) - Aaron Holiday, G, UCLA

Suns receive Heat's top seven-protected first-round pick

The Suns have an opportunity to pick up one of the best floor generals in the draft. Holiday, the younger brother of current NBAers Jrue and Justin, is already a terrific shooter with excellent on- and off-ball instincts. And although he's on the shorter side at 6-1, Holiday's 6-foot-6 wingspan will make him a pest on the defensive end, not unlike Jrue.

17. Bucks - Khyri Thomas, G, Creighton

Milwaukee's defense should be great in theory, but after finishing 17th in 2017-18, there's still a lot of work to be done. Drafting Thomas would help salvage that end of the floor, as the 6-foot-3 junior is a two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year. His 6-foot-11 wingspan allows him switch on almost anyone, which would make Giannis Antetokounmpo's and Eric Bledsoe's lives much easier. At the other end, Thomas is also a career 40.6 percent 3-point shooter.

18. Spurs - Dzanan Musa, F, Cedevita (Croatia)

They failed to reach 50 wins for the first time in nearly two decades, but the Spurs still fought their way into the playoffs despite an aging roster and no Kawhi Leonard. Drafting a superstar at this spot is doubtful, but San Antonio should look to replace 40-year-old Manu Ginobili, and that's where Musa comes in. Similar to Doncic, the Bosnian gunslinger has played outstanding against professional competition, averaging 12.2 points and 3.4 rebounds as an 18-year-old.

19. Hawks (via Timberwolves) - Zhaire Smith, G/F, Texas Tech

Hawks receive Timberwolves' lottery-protected first-round pick

Smith is another piece to help Atlanta expedite its rebuild. He had a tremendous tournament, helping Texas Tech reach the Elite Eight for the first time in school history. The 6-5 guard enters the draft as one of the best available athletes with an improving jumper, and it's possible he ends up being remembered as the steal of the 2018 class.

20. Timberwolves (via Thunder) - Troy Brown, G/F, Oregon

Timberwolves receive Thunder's lottery-protected first-round pick

Minnesota's lack of depth on defense was exposed with Jimmy Butler on the shelf. Adding an elite, multi-positional defender like Brown would be huge, especially if Andrew Wiggins continues struggling on that end. The 6-foot-7 forward is a Swiss army knife who can run an offense, has developed great playmaking, and is tough on the boards. If he adds a jumper, he could be a star.

21. Jazz - Jacob Evans, F, Cincinnati

Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell are in for the long haul with the Jazz, so adding a solid 3-and-D player should perfectly compliment their star talent. Evans led the second-best defense in the country while hitting 37 percent from three. Few teams are as tough as the Jazz and few players are as tough as Evans. It's a match made in heaven.

22. Bulls (via Pelicans) - Mitchell Robinson, C, N/A

Bulls receive Pelicans' top five-protected first-round pick

With multiple pieces of the perimeter puzzle set for the Bulls, it would be ideal to take a high-upside player at center. Robin Lopez is a UFA after next season and is backed up by the plodding Cristiano Felicio. A five-star recruit, Robinson was originally slated to play for Western Kentucky, but had a change of heart after spending a few weeks on campus. Some will see a red flag in his decision to abandon college to spend the year prepping for the draft, but the 7-footer projects as a strong rim protector and will surely entice many teams as a long-term project.

23. Pacers - Keita Bates-Diop, F, Ohio State

The Pacers suffer on the perimeter, relying too heavily on Victor Oladipo on both ends of the floor. Adding a big forward like Bates-Diop could make the overachieving Pacers a more balanced club. After undergoing surgery for a stress fracture in his leg in January 2017, he bounced back as a junior, averaging 19.8 points and 8.7 rebounds. With parts of four seasons of college ball under his belt, Bates-Diop is as NBA-ready as they come.

24. Trail Blazers - Grayson Allen, G, Duke

It's fair to say no playoff team struggles with wing play more than the Blazers, and Allen is the hard-nosed, emotional leader Portland's bench lacks. He's a solid shooter and deceptively athletic, often catching defenders sleeping and getting to the rim. It's easy to forget the Blue Devils played their best basketball when Bagley missed a few games, thanks in large part to Allen.

25. Lakers (via Cavaliers) - Gary Trent, G, Duke

Lakers receive Cavaliers' top three-protected first-round pick

The draft won't be a priority for the Lakers, with enough cap space to sign two max players (they also may wait until 2019 to break the bank). So there's a chance they play it safe and pick up a reliable shooter. Trent shot over 40 percent from three for Duke, and was one of the many reasons the Blue Devils reached the Elite Eight.

26. 76ers - Jalen Brunson, G, Villanova

The Sixers selecting two national champions in one draft? It could happen. It makes complete sense with Brunson entering the fray as one of the most efficient guards in the country. Philadelphia has suffered when its starters sit, and although TJ McConell has been a solid backup, Brunson has a higher ceiling. Most importantly, it's a lot easier to play Brunson - a 40 percent 3-point shooter - next to Simmons.

27. Celtics - Bruce Brown, G, Miami

It's hard to imagine the Celtics will pay Marcus Smart too much money, so a cheap replacement is the likely pick this late in the first round. Brown's season ended early, missing the final 12 games with injury. If he's fully recovered, he will provide plenty of versatility and excellent defense. He isn't much of a shooter, but the 6-foot-5 guard was averaging 7.1 boards and four assists. Brad Stevens is the right coach to coax the most out of Brown's potential.

28. Warriors - Jontay Porter, F/C, Missouri

The interior struggles continued for the Warriors, who will be desperate for rim protection next season. Porter (Michael's brother) should help with size while not messing with the team's spacing. Porter came off the bench for a depleted Missouri squad, but managed solid numbers throughout the year, ranking in the top 100 in block and rebound percentage while shooting 36.7 percent from three.

29. Nets (via Raptors) - Chandler Hutchison, G/F, Boise State

Nets receive Raptors' lottery-protected first-round pick

The Nets can use help at every position, and missing out on a top 10 pick will hurt. Using their late pick on Hutchison will supply the Nets with a solid playmaker from the perimeter. He's an improving shooter and a strong rebounder, averaging 7.7 boards per game.

30. Hawks (via Rockets) - Devonte' Graham, G, Kansas

Hawks receive Rockets' top three-protected first-round pick

Some believe the Hawks will ultimately move on from Dennis Schroder as their starting guard, and Graham could be that steady hand to take over the point. In his first season as Kansas' starting one-guard, Graham averaged 7.2 assists. He shot 40-plus percent from three for the majority of his career in Kansas and brings NBA readiness to the table.

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox