Nick Pooler’s 2018 NBA Mock Draft
This year’s draft is going to be exciting, full of talent, and each player will impact each team tremendously. With the draft coming up on Thursday night, here is my mock draft for the first two rounds:
- Phoenix Suns- Deandre Ayton- Arizona C 7’1 260:
Ayton is a clear pick here for Phoenix. This gives them the size that they have lacked. They have tried in the past to bring in players like Alex Len, Tyson Chandler, and Dragan Bender. By drafting Ayton, the Suns get in my opinion the most NBA ready player in the draft and form their own big three of Ayton, Devin Booker, and Josh Jackson. This will give the Sun’s a starting five of Elfrid Payton, Booker, Jackson, TJ Warren, and Ayton. Though they will more than likely still miss out on the playoffs as they grow, expect them to win upwards to 35-40 games this season.
- Sacramento Kings- Marvin Bagley III- Duke PF 6’11 234
The Kings are basically a team where every college standout has gone the last two years. As a college basketball fan, you look at their roster and wonder how they are not good. With the likes of Justin Jackson, Frank Mason, Nigel Hayes, Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, De’Aaron Fox, Harry Giles III and Buddy Hield, it is almost like they took the all-star team out of college. This just proves that just because the talent was there in college does not mean it translates. Picking up Bagley would be huge. He is another player who is NBA ready. With the showing of Bogdan Bogdanovic last year, and the growth of Cauley-Stein and Hield. The Kings still need more but they are on the right track and there is a lot to like about them. Led by the veteran leadership of Vince Carter, Iman Shumpert, and Zach Randolph. Expect Bagley to impact the team immediately and he is my pick for Rookie of the Year. This gives the Kings a starting five of Fox, Bogdanovic, Hield, Bagley, and Cauley-Stein. I predict the Kings record the go from 32-50 to 38-44.
- Atlanta Hawks- Luka Doncic- Slovenia SG 6’8 228
Probably the biggest mystery in the draft. Doncic has destroyed ball overseas. The biggest question is the talent he faced over there compared to here. In my opinion, I think he is going to be fantastic. A great leader and shooter who can impact a young Hawks team and get them steering in the right direction. The Hawks are taking a chance here but I like this pick. Dennis Schroder needs help in Atlanta before he asks for a trade. John Collins was tremendous this past year and needs some added talent to open himself up more. This gives the Hawks a starting five of Schroder, Doncic, Kent Bazemore, Taurean Prince and Collins. This makes them young, athletic and respectable going forward. Like the Suns, don’t expect them to make the playoffs but expect them to go upwards in wins this season.
- Memphis Grizzlies- Jaren Jackson Jr.- Michigan State PF 6’11 236
Jaren Jackson came alive last year for the Spartans in his freshman season. He sparked them and showed off how long, athletic and strong he can be. A great shot blocker in the middle and a fantastic defender on the inside. Jackson was a great player for Tom Izzo and had a great touch inside by the basket. The Grizzlies are a strange team. Last year they could have got a lot of young talent by giving up Tyreke Evans at the deadline but opted not to. This makes me wonder that they believe they can make the playoffs with a healthy team they have now, and to be honest I agree. Bringing in Jackson will team him up with a similar Spartan who has the same type of game in Deyonta Davis. With a healthy squad, the Grizzlies have a lineup of Mike Conley, Tyreke Evans, Chandler Parsons, JaMychal Green and Marc Gasol. With a solidified bench of Jackson, Davis, Mario Chalmers, Dillon Brooks and Ben McLemore. I like this Grizzlies team led by Conley and Gasol and Jaren Jackson is a great fit as he will learn from Gasol during his last years. Expect the Grizzlies to be a lot better if healthy as I stress again and possibly contend for the 8 spot out West.
- Dallas Mavericks- Mohamed Bamba- Texas PF 7’1 226
Bamba can only slide so far. This is an interesting pick because this could very likely involve a trade. Boston has been interested in Bamba to finish off their team. If there is no trade and Dallas gets a steal at five here. Dirk Nowitzki is just about all done and having Bamba to learn alongside Nerlens Noel puts Dallas in young good hands. Dallas will go from laughing stock of old players to a completely new look, young team. Other than Dirk, JJ Barea, and Wes Matthews, everyone who impacts their team is under the age of 27. With a starting five of Dennis Smith Jr, Matthews, Harrison Barnes, Dirk, and Bamba. This gives Dallas an explosive 1-2 punch with Smith Jr and Bamba. The Bench is talented as well with Seth Curry, Max Kleber, Noel, Barea, Dorian Finney-Smith, Doug McDermott and Dwight Powell. The Mavs will look a lot more talented this year. Regardless of record, I could see them dealing Matthews at the deadline to maybe get some assets going forward. I’m going right around 38 wins this year for Dallas.
- Orlando Magic- Collin Sexton- Alabama PG, 6’2 183
Sexton and the Magic make a great match. The Magic parted ways with Elfrid Payton last season and are in need of someone to run the offense. Bringing in Sexton would be awesome for Orlando as he is a natural born leader. He literally led a team of 3 players against a good Minnesota team a season ago. Sexton was a game changer to Alabama’s team and helped them go further than most had expected. Teaming Sexton up with Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac and Jonathan Simmons gives the Magic added talent that they need. I expect the Magic to be a lot better than last year, and as we know anything can happen in a weak Eastern Conference. Also, with the addition of new head coach Steve Clifford, it gives Sexton a great person to learn from after he has spent the last several years coaching Kemba Walker. Sexton should thrive in Orlando and set up Vucevic to be even better than before. Vucevic just so happens to be one of the most underrated players in the league. Sexton will make sure everybody gets the open shots they are looking for.
- Chicago Bulls- Wendell Carter Jr.- Duke PF 6’10 251
Carter Jr. is hard to judge. He comes from Duke where all of the most talented players go so it is hard to pick apart the ones that don’t get their name talked about the most but Carter Jr did it all. He was the plug for Duke in the middle and with his long, athletic body, Carter will suit Zach Lavine perfectly. With Robin Lopez still there, it will give Carter Jr. a year to develop to the game and back up Lauri Markkanen. I like what the Bulls are doing. I believe that in the long-run they have benefitted from the Jimmy Butler trade. Bringing in Kris Dunn and Lavine as their core guards. Adding those two with Markkanen, Lopez and Denzel Valentine leads to a good young core of a starting five. With Bobby Portis, Carter Jr., Jerian Grant, Noah Vonleh and Cristiano Felicio coming off the bench the Bulls are looking better. Not quite there yet, but better. I expect them right around 25-30 wins and still looking for another core young player next year. Expect Markkanen to have a breakthrough year as well.
- Cleveland Cavaliers- Michael Porter Jr.- Missouri SF 6’10 215
The most interesting pick so far. The Cavaliers are desperate as ever right now. Picking Porter Jr. is their best bet. Despite his injury this past year, the Cavaliers need to treat Porter Jr. as a saint. By picking him, it could lure LeBron into maybe staying. Picking him and teaming him with James and Love, the Cavs could go after a player like Kemba Walker and solidify a strong starting five. If James walks, Porter is a very safe pick here that could keep them in the hunt. If Porter stays healthy and plays well, with James they could be looking at a starting five of George Hill, JR Smith, Porter, LeBron, Love. If LeBron leaves then Tristan Thompson will just slide in. Michael Porter Jr.’s rooking year will strictly depend on if he is LeBron’s teammate or not. If he is, he can learn from the greatest. If he isn’t, it is now his and Love’s team. Porter was the for sure number one pick until his injury. Hoping he bounces back this could be the steal of the draft at the 8th pick.
- New York Knicks- Trae Young- Oklahoma PG 6’2 178
Trae Young is a player the Knicks have been begging for. New head coach Dave Fizdale is a great coach with how close he is to his players. Fizdale will love Young. Young stole everyone’s hearts with his tremendous shooting in comparison to Steph Curry. Hoping that he turns out to be the great leader and athlete he was a year ago, this could be a very special draft for the Knicks. With the franchise leader Kristaps Porzingis, adding in the good showings from Michael Beasley, Kyle O’Quinn, Enes Kanter and Tim Hardaway Jr., the Knicks could improve with this. Although, Porzingis is expected to miss significant time, it will give Young a learning experience of being a true leader even if they do lose a lot. Give it 2-3 years and Young and Porzingis will be lethal hoping that his game translates smoothly to the NBA. I expect the Knicks to not have a good year and try to sell O’Quinn and Kanter at the deadline. Big things are coming soon for New York though, stay tuned.
- Philadelphia 76ers- Mikal Bridges- Villanova SF 6’7 210
Bridges has winning in his blood. He has helped this Nova squad out greatly and what the 76ers are missing is that true SF and he is right here. Bridges can absolutely shoot the rock. Team him with the passing of Ben Simmons and TJ Mcconnell, and the inside game of Joel Embiid and Amir Johnson, added with the outside shooting of free-agent to be JJ Redick, Robert Covington, Dario Saric and Marco Belinelli, and this 76ers team is dangerous. Bridges would be a spark plug on their defense that they have been missing. I expect the 76ers to be a top 3 team in the East this year and they will need everything they got to get past Boston. Bridges is a step in the right direction as he is the best player on the board at this point in the draft.
- Charlotte Hornets- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander- Kentucky PG 6’6 180
With all of the talk going on about Kemba Walker finding a new home via trade, the Hornets need to react fast. Picking Gilgeous-Alexander is a win-win for them. If Walker stays, Gilgeous-Alexander gets to learn from him and team up with fellow Wildcat Malik Monk off of the bench. If Walker leaves, Gilgeous-Alexander will fill in and have to learn quickly but the Hornets at least found a replacement. The Hornets are a weird team, they have all of the talent in the world but for some reason haven’t succeeded with it. For example, a roster with Kemba, Dwight Howard, Nic Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jeremy Lamb and Marvin Williams sounds somewhat decent especially in the East. Hopefully the addition of Gilgeous-Alexander will boost the team in the positive direction.
- Los Angeles Clippers- Miles Bridges- Michigan State SF 6’7 220
If the Clippers take Miles Bridges here, it is the smartest move they could make. Despite the poor showings come tournament time, Bridges destroyed the Big Ten Conference and was by far Tom Izzo’s best player (which is strange seeing another Spartan go 4th overall). Bridges will bring leadership and scoring to the table for the Clippers. Sort of reminds me of a smaller Blake Griffin. Doc Rivers has stated he really likes Bridges and could see him in the system. The only problem I have with him has been somewhat of inconsistency over his two years at MSU. The Clippers have a lot of talent that goes unnoticed. With a potential starting five of Patrick Beverley, Avery Bradley, Danilo Gallinari, Tobias Harris and DeAndre Jordan, and a bench of Wesley Johnson, Montrezl Harrell, Austin Rivers, Milos Teodosic, Miles Bridges and all-star 6th man Lou Williams, this Clippers team could be dangerous. I expect them to have a great year as long as they stay healthy. As a Clippers fans expect one of two things, either they slide in to take 7 seed in the playoffs, or everything goes wrong and Jordan, Harris and Williams all get shipped at the deadline. It will be an interesting turn out.
- Los Angeles Clippers- Robert Williams- Texas A&M PF 6’10 240
Even though Williams is not the top prospect on the list at this time, they need a true big man who can defend inside and score on the low post. Williams did just that coming out of Texas A&M which included an upset tournament win over North Carolina. Williams has been a standout for the Aggies the past two seasons and is a true leader. He will learn from DeAndre Jordan and gang and hopefully step into a huge role as he joins Miles Bridges as the Clippers get back-to-back picks here. On the other hand, if a couple trades do go down for the Clippers, Williams will see a huge opportunity right in front of him for him to take.
- Denver Nuggets- Kevin Knox- Kentucky SF 6’9 213
The Nuggets are a weird team. They are always on the edge of getting over the hump but never can. With the addition of Paul Millsap last year to go with Nikola Jokic on the inside, they solidified their big men. Jamal Murray and Gary Harris showed that they could be legit if needed at the guard positions. What we haven’t seen is a consistent shooter and wing defender. Which is why the perfect pick here for them is Kevin Knox. He does not have to start right away as he can learn from Wilson Chandler for the time being. Another key is how Richard Jefferson is on the roster and can use what he has left in the tank to take the time to work with Knox. Knox is a great young player and learned a lot from his one year at Kentucky. If Knox plays to his potential, this will help Denver immensely and hopefully help them slide into the playoffs.
- Washington Wizards- Zhaire Smith- Texas Tech SG 6’4 199
The Wizards have shown a lot of interest in Robert Williams but he is off the board after sliding to the Clippers at 13. Their next best option is to give themselves some depth. Zhaire Smith shocked the world with what he did with Texas Tech this year. He led them to an elite eight where they ran into an unstoppable Villanova squad. Smith is only going to get better learning from one of the league’s best shooting guards Bradley Beal. He would immediately impact their bench and give them a stronger bench of Tomas Satoransky, Smith, Kelly Oubre Jr., Jason Smith and Ian Mahinmi. Expect them to go find a big man with their next pick but for now they will settle for a talented scorer in Smith.
- Phoenix Suns- Lonnie Walker IV- Miami SG 6’5 196
The Suns already brought in Ayton with the number one pick and what better way to keep it going then to have another pick in the top 20. With Brandon Knight coming back, some may say they don’t need another guard. But, based on injury past they do. Walker IV is a strong, safe pick here for the Suns. Walker IV can score greatly and defend the ball very well. They got upset early as they were shocked by the Cinderella team of Loyola-Chicago. In that game, Walker struggled only scoring 12 points and that’s where he lacks is the inability to perform at random points. But entering the league and getting to backup Devin Booker is a good place to develop and learn. Good pick for the Suns here at 16.
- Milwaukee Bucks- Brandon McCoy- UNLV PF 7’1 250
The Bucks were one win away from defeating a depleted Boston team in the first round of the playoffs and instead they find themselves picking 17th in the NBA draft. The Bucks are known for one thing and that’s being long. Their team is full of athletic shot blockers who play out of this world defense. Which is exactly why I have them skipping over several prospects to pick a very underrated player in Brandon McCoy. McCoy was not heard of much as he played in the Mountain West conference but he was by far a forced to be reckoned with. He averaged 16.9 points and 10.3 rebounds in his lone year. He will set up a three headed monster down low with Thon Maker and John Henson. The Bucks are going to go as Giannis Antetokounmpo goes.With his leadership, McCoy should fit in just well. Expect the Bucks to lock up the 4 seed in the East, and contend for the Eastern Conference Finals.
- San Antonio Spurs- Keita Bates-Diop- Ohio State SF 6’9 224
An odd site for NBA fans seeing the Spurs pick somewhere this early. I’m sure all fans want to know what is going to happen about Kawhi Leonard who said he wants out of San Antonio. The draft revolves around what happens but unless there is a draft night trade, the safest bet for the Spurs will be to draft a small forward. The best available one and the safest pick here is a reliable Keita Bates-Diop. Bates-Diop turned Ohio State’s program back around in the right direction. He is a pure scorer and was by far a top 3 player in the country last year for college basketball. The Spurs still have Kyle Anderson and Rudy Gay but I could see Bates Diop sliding right in the starting five and teaming with Dejounte Murray and starting a youth movement for the Spurs. The Spurs are going to slide record wise, but with Gregg Popovich at the helm, don’t expect them to miss the playoffs. They will still remain a threat out West and LaMarcus Aldridge will make sure of that.
- Atlanta Hawks- Donte DiVincenzo- Villanova SG 6’5 201
Quite possibly a favorite in this years draft after his stardom run with Villanova. His hustle on defense and ability to shoot the 3 ball is miraculous. He has potential to be a great player in this league and gives me a really good comparison of Klay Thompson. He will give Atlanta a huge spark and will also learn to play both point and shooting guard as Luka Doncic will be joining him there. Atlanta fans should be very happy with what they are receiving in the first round of this draft.
- Minnesota Timberwolves- Khyri Thomas- Creighton SG 6’4 199
Thomas is undersized but a great shooter. Playing behind Jimmy Butler and learning from Jamal Crawford is the perfect spot for him to land. Not much has been talked about Thomas but he is NBA ready. Led his Creighton team as much as he could but did not have the talent around him. Minnesota needs a lot of help on their bench as Thomas will team up with former teammate Justin Patton in establishing a bench presence for them after an early bounce in this years playoffs.
- Utah Jazz- Omari Spellman- Villanova PF 6’10 254
The Jazz exceeded all expectations for 2017-18. They were led by rookie phenom Donovan Mitchell and everything around him just fell into place perfectly. If there is one thing the Jazz could use it is size off of the bench. Omari Spellman is the best available big man in the draft. Spellman was crucial in Villanova’s run to the championship but it was also that he had declared after just one season. Averaging 10.9 and 8.0, Spellman will be a good backup for Derrick Favors as he sets himself into the league. He is a quick learner as seen in college and should impact Utah’s team tremendously.
- Chicago Bulls- Aaron Holiday- UCLA PG 6’1 187
The Bulls got their big man earlier in the draft with Wendell Carter Jr. Now it is time for them to get a guard to complement Kris Dunn and Zach Lavine. Aaron Holiday is a great pick for them and not just because his brother is on the team. When holiday gets drafted, it will make it so there are 3 brothers in the NBA all at the same time. Expect Holiday to help the Bulls greatly and feel comfortable in his role as his brother, Justin Holiday, should make it very easy for him to feel at home. He is undersized, but should grow and develop as time goes on. It’s hard telling which brother he will compare to more, but from experience I am leaning more towards Jrue Holiday and I am hoping Aaron has a very successful career.
- Indiana Pacers- Anfernee Simons- IMG Academy SG 6’3 183
The Pacers shocked the sports world this year when they traded Paul George away. Pacers fans hated it, but in return that got a man by the name of Victor Oladipo. The Pacers were projected by many to be the worst team in the league. They turned that down right away and showed talk is cheap when they brought LeBron and the Cavs into seven games in the playoffs. Despite losing that game, they showed more fight then they could have and look to build on that with a star in the making leading the way in Oladipo. The Pacers have options with this pick with so many guards on the table but ultimately take the best in their opinion with Anfernee Simons. Simons opted to skip college and take a prep year at IMG Academy. He is athletic and can shoot the ball and handle the ball well. The cool thing about Simons is nobody knows what to expect and that is exactly what the Pacers are about. Oladipo and company is going to love this new addition. He does need to bulk up, I expect him to spend some time in the G-League so expect this to be a stock pick and a chance taken for Indiana.
- Portland Trail Blazers- Kevin Huerter- Maryland SG 6’7 194
Huerter is coming off a disappointing season for Maryland but not for him. He averaged 14.8 points and showed why he is a first round pick. Strictly because of how well he can shoot the ball. Shooting .417% from 3, and .503% from the field, Huerter is what the Trail Blazers are missing. A true wing shooter. This will take pressure off of CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard. Huerter should slide right in and learn from a good shooter in Evan Turner and a good defender in Al-Farouq Aminu. Hoping he turns out to his potential, he gives me a great comparison in Kyle Korver. If he ends up shooting the rock just that well, watch out Portland.
- Los Angeles Lakers- Dzanan Musa- Bosnia SF 6’9 187
The Lakers are at a point where they have so much on their plate that they can stock some picks. Taking only the 2nd foreign player in this years draft, Musa has a lot to grow on but reminds me of a younger Dario Saric. Musa just recently turned 19 years old so he is still very young. This could be a project pick for the Lakers here with potential of bringing in LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard.
- Philadelphia 76ers- De’Anthony Melton- USC PG 6’3 193
Melton is not the sexiest pick here for the 76ers. Thet selected Mikal Bridges earlier in my mock draft and Melton is a young, speedy point guard who is ranked as the 5th best point guard in the draft. Backing up Markelle Fultz and TJ McConnell is going to find him some time in the G-League to develop but there is nothing wrong with that because it is just what he needs after coming out of school early. Melton is a terrific defensive guard and I am interested to see his growth as time goes on.
- Boston Celtics- Chandler Hutchison- Boise State SF 6’7 197
Hutchison did the smartest thing a person like him could do, and that is go to college all four years. He is not going to wow anybody with his game play but boy can he score. Averaging 20 points and 7.7 boards this past season. He has developed himself into an NBA player. He does have a lot of talent ahead of him however. He will head up to Maine to play on their G-League team and get even better with creating his own shot. Expect to see him get some minutes here and there and impress Brad Stevens a lot. Chandler Hutchison is Stevens kind of player. A hard working grinder who does not give up. Could see him get some crucial minutes in a system where you never know who is going to play at any time.
- Golden State Warriors- Jalen Brunson- Villanova PG 6’2 198
This is scary. The player of the year and defending champ heads to the Golden State. Brunson is the 4th Nova player taken in the 1st round and finds himself in a back court with Shaun Livingston and Quinn Cook controlling the second unit. Brunson is a true born leader and should adapt just fine to the next level. His shooting is only going to get better with three of the greatest shooters ever on his team with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant. Brunson could impact this team right from the start.
- Brooklyn Nets- Gary Trent Jr.- Duke SG 6’6 204
Finally the Nets are on the clock .After terrible trades in the past they have no assets to go with them. But luckily for them Gary Trent Jr. falls to them and gives them some sort of hope. After acquiring D’Angelo Russell and getting Jeremy Lin back from injury, Trent Jr. is the perfect fit for this team. Averaging 14.9 PPG for the Blue Devils a year ago. He is a player that will give a lot of minutes as he averaged 34 for Duke his freshman year. He comes from a great program and will give the Nets the sort of hope that they have been waiting for when they here they selected someone from Duke. Hopefully it works out for them as they will still be a bottom team in the NBA regardless.
- Atlanta Hawks- Moritz Wagner- Michigan C 7’0 241
With the last pick of the 1st round, the Hawks have their 3rd pick of the draft already. Already selecting two great shooting guards with Luka Doncic and Donte Divincenzo, they now make the move to the inside. With a well known player sitting pretty for them right there. Moritz Wagner, the stud out of Michigan is the perfect pick for them here. Adding him in the post with John Collins is perfect. The Hawks by making these 3 picks could easily turn their franchise around in the next couple years as they all grow and develop together. Wagner is a steal with this pick and could easily be a force in the next couple years for the Hawks. Dennis Schroder is somewhere watching this draft and putting a huge smile on his face.
- Phoenix Suns- Mitchell Robinson- C 7’0 223
- Memphis Grizzlies- Hamidou Diallo- Kentucky SF 6’6 197
- Atlanta Hawks- Elie Okobo- France PG 6’2 180
- Dallas Mavericks- Bruce Brown Jr.- Miami SG 6’5 195
- Orlando Magic- Jarred Vanderbilt- Kentucky SF 6’9 214
- Sacramento Kings- Troy Brown- Oregon SG 6’7 208
- New York Knicks- Grayson Allen- Duke SG 6’5 198
- Philadelphia 76ers- Rodions Kurucs- Latvia SF 6’9 205
- Philadelphia 76ers- Chimezie Metu- USC PF 6’10 220
- Brooklyn Nets- Devonte’ Graham- Kansas PG 6’2 186
- Orlando Magic- Kostas Antetokounmpo- Dayton SF 6’11 195
- Detroit Pistons- Trevon Duval- Duke PG 6’3 191
- Denver Nuggets- Jacob Evans III- Cincinnati SF 6’6 200
- Washington Wizards- Landry Shamet- Wichita State PG 6’5 189
- Brooklyn Nets- Josh Okogie- Georgia Tech SG 6’5 211
- Houston Rockets- Jerome Robinson- Boston College PG 6’5 188
- Los Angeles Lakers- Isaac Bonga- Germany PG 6’9 200
- Minnesota Timberwolves- Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk- Kansas SG 6’8 212
- San Antonio Spurs- Shake Milton- SMU PG 6’6 207
- Indiana Pacers- Billy Preston- Kansas PF 6’11 222
- New Orleans Pelicans- Trevon Bluiett- Xavier SF 6’6 198
- Utah Jazz- Tyler Davis- Texas A&M C 6’10 264
- Oklahoma City Thunder- Allonzo Trier- Arizona SG 6’5 198
- Dallas Mavericks- Tony Carr- Penn State PG 6’5 199
- Charlotte Hornets- Issuf Sanon- Ukraine PG 6’4 185
- Philadelphia 76ers- Melvin Frazier- Tulane SG 6’6 198
- Oklahoma City Thunder- Keenan Evans- Texas Tech PG 6’3 183
- Denver Nuggets- Bonzie Colson- Notre Dame SF 6’6 224
- Phoenix Suns- Joel Berry II- North Carolina PG 6’3 195
60. Philadelphia 76ers- Jock Landale- St. Mary’s C 6’11 255