The NBA draft is less than one week away.
The annual event serves as a chance for rebuilding teams to secure a potential superstar to build their franchise around, or a contender to add the final piece to a championship puzzle.
This year’s talent-pool has been widely considered the deepest in years, making it harder than ever to predict who will land where.
The Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Clippers all appear to be the big players in this year’s draft, with no less than nine first-round picks between them. But with trade rumours circling like vultures, the draft order could be flipped on it head in an instant.
Here’s how things might go down.
#1 Phoenix Suns –DeAndre Ayton, Arizona
Center – 20.1 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 1.6 APG
Arizona center DeAndre Ayton is the consensus choice for the first pick in this year’s draft.
The 19 year-old is an elite level prospect with all the makings of an NBA star. He is a physical freak who moves exceptionally well for his size. Ayton controls the glass, averaging over 11 rebounds per game and can score in a number of ways, showing ability past the three-point line.
The Phoenix Suns were the only team he visited during pre-draft workouts, and with the seven-footer supposedly hanging out with a number of their players to watch the NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors. Expect his name to be the first called on draft night.
#2 Sacramento Kings – Marvin Bagley III, Duke
Power Forward – 20 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 1.5 APG
Big-man Marvin Bagley III has the potential to be a franchise player in Sacramento. The 19-year old was a stand out at Duke during his freshman year, averaging over 20 points and 11 rebounds per game.
Bagley has an NBA ready body and possesses great ability to create as a classic inside scorer. He appears to potentially be an ideal small ball five for today’s NBA. If he can improve his defensive fundamentals and develop an outside jumper, he’ll be a star in the NBA.
The Kings seem comfortable with their backcourt of De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield, meaning they’d contemplate passing on Luka Doncic and other guards to satisfy a need for an elite big-man –Bagley is exactly that.
#3 Atlanta Hawks – Jaren Jackson Jr, Michigan State
Power Forward – 10.9 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.1 APG
Jaren Jackson is a 6’11 power forward who could very well play center at the NBA level.
The Big Ten Freshman of the year is a high-level athlete with an extremely effective jump shot. Jackson Jr is also a good on-ball defender and a great paint protector – averaging three blocks in under 28 minutes per game.
Jackson Jr would immediately slot straight into the Atlanta Hawks’ starting five and could serve as their future franchise player to build their roster around.
#4 Memphis Grizzlies – Luka Doncic, Spain (Real Madrid)
Shooting Guard – 16.9 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 4.6 APG
For a while, Slovenian wing Luka Doncic was the consensus choice for the number one pick. Perhaps he still is the best player in the draft, certainly the one who will able to best contribute right away.
His passing, creating off the dribble and size and length on the perimeter would help immediately. The 19-year old is heralded for his playmaking and shot creating.
Doncic is the kind of polished star the Memphis Grizzlies need to make a playoff push and bounce back from a disappointing season.
#5 Dallas Mavericks – Mohamed Bamba, Texas
Center – 12.9 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 0.5 APG
Texas Center Mo Bamba had an outstanding draft combine and, equipped with a 7’10 wingspan, has the potential to be a game-changer on the defensive end.
Bamba’s size will allow him to impact immediately as a capable rebounder and rim protector. He has a nice looking jumper and has shown glimpses of a reasonable offensive game throughout his freshman year at Texas.
With Dirk Nowitzki’s career coming to an end, and Nerlens Noel showing issues maturing in the NBA, picking Bamba if he is still available should be a no-brainer for the Dallas Mavericks.
#6 Orlando Magic – Trae Young, Oklahoma
Point Guard – 27.4 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 8.7 APG
Oklahoma guard Trae Young could be the next Stephen Curry. He could also be the next Jimmer Fredette.
Young is an above average shooter off the dribble and has excellent court vision as a true point guard. He led the NCAA in both points and assists per game. But questions remain regarding his ability to produce at the professional level.
With needs of both a point guard and scoring, the Orlando Magic should take a risk on the most polarizing college basketball player of last season.
#7 Chicago Bulls – Collin Sexton, Alabama
Point Guard – 19.2 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.6 APG
Despite picking up Kris Dunn via trade last offseason, the Chicago Bulls are reportedly high on point guards Collin Sexton and Trae Young.
They were also high on Michael Porter Jr, but with the Bulls promising small forward Chandler Hutchinson with pick 22, it makes sense for them to be looking at Sexton.
The 19-year old is one of the most dynamic guards in this years draft class. He has the strength and athleticism to finish through contact, and he gets to the free throw line at a very high rate.
Sexton’s nickname is ‘Young Bull’ so getting drafted by Chicago seems almost too fitting.
#8 Cleveland Cavaliers – Michael Porter Jr, Missouri
Small Forward – 10 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 0.3 APG
Michael Porter Jr is arguably this year’s draft’s biggest wildcard.
The 19 year-old missed the majority of his freshman year with Missouri due to a back injury, and has cancelled several workouts with teams in the lead up to the draft due to muscle spasms.
Porter Jr was the number one player ranked player out of high school and is still regarded as a top prospect by a number of teams picking inside the top ten.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are seemingly entering a rebuild with LeBron James almost certain to leave in free agency. Regardless of the injury concerns, and if available at pick eight, Cleveland would be foolish not to take a chance on Porter Jr.
#9 New York Knicks – Mikal Bridges, Villanova
Small Forward – 17.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.9 APG
The New York Knicks are reportedly prioritising selecting an athletic wing in this years NBA draft.
At his worst Villanova’s Mikal Bridges will bottom out as a high-level three-and-D player in the league. He is an unselfish player with range beyond the NBA three-point line. He is also a high level defender who has the frame and wingspan to make an instant impact on both ends of the court.
For a Knicks team that desperately needs wings who can defend and shoot, Bridges makes complete sense at pick nine.
#10 Philadelphia 76ers – Wendell Carter Jr, Duke
Center – 13.5 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 2 APG
The Philadelphia 76er probably won’t be targeting another high-level big in the lottery, but if Carter Jr is still on the board at pick 10, they’d be foolish not to select him.
The 6’11 big-man is an elite rebounder who has a solid post game and is a very efficient scorer. A unique skill that separates him from the other bigs in the draft is his great court vision and passing, particularly out to three-point shooters.
If Philadelphia were to select him, Carter Jr would be able to step into the rotation and run many of the same plays Joel Embiid does.
#11 Charlotte Hornets – Miles Bridges, Michigan State
Small Forward – 17.1 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 2.7 APG
Michigan State forward Miles Bridges offers the Charlotte Hornets versatility as a high level rebounder and scorer at pick 11.
Despite being undersize at both positions, the 20 year old can play as a small forward and power forward. His strength, athleticism, shooting ability, versatility, and defensive potential build him as an effective two-way player in the NBA.
Charlotte had one of the worst defences in the NBA last season. With Bridges showing the ability to guard positions two through four in at the collagen level, he could be a key piece in leading the Hornets back to the playoffs.
#12 Los Angeles Clippers – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kentucky
Point Guard – 14.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 5.1 APG
Point guard Shai Gilgeous Alexander drove himself into lottery selection with an outstanding second half of the season for Kentucky.
At 6’6 tall, with a 6’11 wingspan, Gilgeous-Alexander has all the physical tools to compete both offensively and defensively. He is a very strong playmaker and is a gifted pick-and-roll defender whose length allows him to cover the switch.
In Gilgeous-Alexander, the LA Clippers would add a versatile, talented piece that has good on-ball skills and incredible length on both ends of the floor.
#13 Los Angeles Clippers – Robert Williams, Texas A and M
Center – 10.4 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.4 APG
The LA Clippers don’t know what the future holds with starting center DeAndre Jordan or back up Montrezl Harrell. This could lead them towards taking Texas Aandamp;M big-man Robert Williams with the 13th pick.
Williams possesses a nice combination of size and athleticism and is a high level rebounder and shot blocker. He still lacks any consistency with his jump shot, and is somewhat unreliable on the offensive end but all the physical tools to develop into a difference maker in the NBA.
With neither Jordan nor Harrell guaranteed to be in Los Angeles next season, Williams could prove to be great insurance if the Clippers lose one, or both, of their centers.
#14 Denver Nuggets – Lonnie Walker, Miami
Shooting Guard – 11.5 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 1.9 APG
19 year-old Lonnie Walker been compared to Rookie of the Year candidate Donovan Mitchell in the lead up to the draft.
He is an explosive, pure athletic, bouncy wing who operates best in catch-and-shoot opportunities where his quick release helps him aim and fire with ease. His measurements are ideal for versatile wings in today NBA.
The Denver Nuggets have one of the best young cores in the league, Lonnie Walker would certainly add to it while potentially replacing Wilson Chandler in Denver’s starting five in the near future.
#15 Washington Wizards – Mitchell Robinson, USA
Center – 22.8 PPG, 12.6 RPG, 0.5 APG
Star point guard John Wall said it himself, the Washington Wizard are in desperate need of an athletic big.
While Mitchell Robinson may fall late in the draft, as he has absolutely no college experience after the NCAA forced him to sit out his freshman year, the Wizards could make a reach for him with the first pick outside of the lottery.
The 20 year-old fits the NBA build perfectly. He is a raw prospect that thrives as a premier shot blocker who is athletic for his size. But if there was ever a high-risk pick, this is it for Washington.
Robinson didn’t play any competitive basketball in 2017-18, however with the best of the big-men off the board, the Wizards might take a chance on him.
#16 Phoenix Suns – Kevin Knox, Kentucky
Small Forward – 15.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.4 APG
When considering best talent available at this point in the draft, Kevin Knox seems to have the potential to be far superior than anyone left on the board.
Knox thrived as a face-up forward and has a silky jump shot that can be improved at the next level. He also has the length to be an influence on the defensive end of the floor.
The Phoenix Suns would be hard-pressed to pass on a player like Knox if he’s still available at pick 16, and pairing him with DeAndre Ayton would make the Suns big winners in this years draft.
#17 Milwaukee Bucks – Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State
Small Forward – 19.8 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.6 APG
Keita Bates-Diop took a huge leap during his senior year at Ohio State.
He is a versatile player who is able to slot in at either forward spot and his scoring proficiency and ability to fill out his skill set further on the NBA level makes his an exciting prospect.
With the impending restricted free agency of Jabari Parker, and Milwaukee Bucks needing to stock up reserve forwards behind Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bates-Diop, who might be bit of a reach as a mid first-round pick, would slot in great in the Bucks’ rotation.
#18 San Antonio Spurs – don’te DiVincenzo, Villanova
Shooting Guard – 13.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 3.5 APG
Villanova’s don’te DiVincenzo’s stock soared with an excellent draft combine and NCAA tournament.
The freshman guard can score at will, play defence and is a very athletic, team-orientated player.
The San Antonio Spurs need to groom their next guard to succeed Manu Ginobli; DiVincenzo may just fit the bill.
#19 Atlanta Hawks – Zhaire Smith, Texas Tech
Shooting Guard – 11.3 PPG, 5 RPG, 1.8 APG
With arguably their best player, Dennis Schroder, requesting a trade, the Atlanta Hawks should be targeting guards will their mid and late first-round picks.
Texas Tech’s Zhaire Smith is the best athlete in this year’s draft class. He has a high basketball IQ and is a great finisher at the rim.
Smith is raw in certain aspects of his game but if he can develop a reliable jumper and become a contributor on the defensive end, the Atlanta Hawks may pick up a steal at pick 19.
#20 Minnesota Timberwolves – Jerome Robinson, Boston
Shooting Guard – 20.7 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 3.3 APG
The Minnesota Timberwolves have serious wing depth issues heading into the off-season, and Jerome Robinson might tempt Tom Thibodeau with the 20th pick.
The 20 year-old is an explosive guard who shot over 40 percent from three and exhibited the speed and athleticism to thrive on the break.
Due to his slight frame, Robinson struggles on defence, but if the Timberwolves pick him, they’ll be getting one of the more talented shooting guards that seems to be flying under the radar, despite a very impressive skillset.
#21 Utah Jazz – Troy Brown Jr, Oregon
Small Forward – 11.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 3.2 APG
Despite his youth, Oregon wing Troy Brown Jr could see minutes in the NBA straight away.
The 18 year-old is versatile and possesses all the tools to be a good all-around player at the next level. He figures to be a solid two-way athlete who has an abundance of all-round skills that should translate to the NBA.
Brown Jr needs to develop a reliable jumper and three-point range, but his versatility should find him minutes in the Utah Jazz’s rotation if they draft him.
#22 Chicago Bulls – Chandler Hutchinson, Boise State
Small Forward – 20 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 3.5 APG
Boise State forward Chandler Hutchinson pulled out of the NBA draft combine after the Chicago Bulls promised to select the 22 year-old with their second pick in the draft.
Hutchinson has a good NBA build and a skillset to match. He will need to improve his outside shooting to be considered a viable three-and-D player. But scouts see him as a player who can be a solid contributor from the start.
In Hutchinson, the Bulls would get their future starting small forward to pair with Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and number seven pick, Collin Sexton.
#23 Indiana Pacers – Aaron Holiday, UCLA
Point Guard – 20.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 5.8 APG
The pedigree is certainly there for UCLA’s Aaron Holiday. He is the younger brother of Jrue and Justin, and could offer the Indiana Pacers an upgrade at the point guard position.
Holiday is capable of penetrating and beating opponents off the dribble, and finishes well through contact and in traffic. He can score from all three levels: around the rim, mid-range, and three-point range, and does a good job defending without fouling.
The 22 year-old will need to adjust to the size and speed of the NBA, but Indiana should have no issues drafting Holiday with pick 23.
#24 Portland Trailblazers – Khyri Thomas, Creighton
Shooting Guard – 15.1 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 2.8 APG
Creighton guard Khyri Thomas is exactly the type of player the Portland Trailblazers should be targeting in the draft.
He fits well as an off-ball scorer and was named his conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. Thomas uses his big wingspan to disrupt opponents’ looks and passing lanes, and proved to be a very effective three-point shooter in college.
At almost 22, he may have less upside than other three-and-D players available late in the first-round, but if the Trailblazers want someone who can impact immediately, Thomas could be their man.
#25 Los Angeles Lakers – Kevin Huerter, Maryland
Shooting Guard – 14.8 PPG, 5 RPG, 3.4 APG
Maryland’s Kevin Huerter’s stock dropped dramatically after he confirmed he’ll need hand surgery and will be out of at least two months. Regardless, it was reported that the LA Lakers have promise to take him with their first-round pick.
Huerter is a smart, skilled playmaker that offers a nice versatile package for the Lakers. He has ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter and is intelligent player who plays the game unselfishly.
In recent years the Lakers have been savvy with late first-round picks, adding Kyle Kuzma at 27 and Josh Hart at 30. If the Lakers keep their promise to Huerter, he could be another valuable addition to their roster.
#26 Philadelphia 76ers – Landry Shamet, Wichita State
Shooting Guard – 14.9 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 5.2 APG
With the Philadelphia 76ers selecting big-man Wendell Carter Jr with their first pick in the draft, the 26th pick becomes significant in addressing their needs for a three-point shooting wing.
Wichita State’s Landry Shamet is one of the best shooters and playmakers in this year’s draft class. He made 44.2 percent of his three-point attempts during his sophomore year. However He may have to rely on his length to come up with steals and blocks in order to at least be semi-productive on the defensive end.
Shamet could provide instant offense off the bench for the Sixers if they decide to draft him.
#27 Boston Celtics – Jalen Brunson, Villanova
Point Guard – 18.9 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 4.6 APG
The Celtics will be favourites in the East next season and don’t have any pressing needs, so they could go a number of ways with their late first-round pick.
After his impressive results at the NBA combine and a great showing at Boston’s pre-draft workout, Villanova’s Jalen Brunson is reportedly among the Celtics top draft choices.
The 21 year-old is a crafty prospect and natural shooter. What he lacks in size as an ideal guard on the defensive end, he makes up for with leadership and intensity.
The Celtics could use another shooter in the backcourt, even if they do re-sign Marcus Smart – Brunson could satisfy that role.
#28 Golden State Warriors – Jacob Evans, Cincinnati
Shooting Guard – 13 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.1 APG
Like Boston, the Warriors have no pressing needs heading into the draft. They’ll be eyeing a player that fits their system.
Cincinnati guard Jacob Evans would fit well with the Warriors current roster. He is a prototypical three-and-D prospect and is a good defender who picks up steals and blocks because he knows how to be in the right place.
Evans wouldn’t be a player who is used much offensively outside of spot-up situations, but his good decision-making and ability to switch onto bigger players when defending should make him an ideal target for the Warriors.
#29 Brooklyn Nets – Moritz Wagner, Michigan
Power Forward – 14.6 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 0.8 APG
German international Moritz Wagner is perhaps one of the most NBA-ready players in this year’s draft.
In his three years at Michigan he showed he is a shooting big-man who possesses handles and ball control better than any other power-forward available. Wagner is also a stellar defender both inside the paint and outside the three-point line.
His draft stock has been bouncing up and down during the year, but he is certainly a first-round prospect that the Nets should consider selecting with the 29th pick.
#30 Atlanta Hawks – Dzanan Musa, Bosnia
Small Forward – 10.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 0.9 APG
Bosnian forward Dzanan Musa could come in right away and play meaningful minutes for the Hawks.
The 19 year-old has played high-level basketball overseas and has shown high basketball IQ. He is a natural shooter whose quick release makes it difficult for opponents to block his shot.
At the pick 30, Musa would be a nice gamble for the Hawks.