Regardless of which player from the 2019 NBA Draft has the best career, it will be remembered as the “One with Zion Williamson.” Williamson will live up to the hype or get overshadowed by another player. Either way, he will be in the center of the discussion as the certain #1 overall pick. The next two picks of Ja Morant and RJ Barrett seem almost as certain. After that, the draft should open up with five picks battling for the next five spots. I considered six players for the final two spots in my top 10.
When committing to Duke, Wendell Carter Jr. thought he would be the best one-and-done Blue Devil available for the 2018 NBA Draft. Unfortunately, 2018 #2 overall pick Marvin Bagley graduated high school early and joined him for their one-year college basketball experience. Carter’s stat line of 13.5 ppg and 9.1 rpg fell short of Bagley’s production of 21.0 ppg and 11.1 rpg. The lesser regarded Dukie can’t be too upset going to the Chicago Bulls with the 7th overall pick. Then again, former Duke players haven’t had the best success in the NBA so perhaps he should be concerned.
During his one season at the University of Texas, Mo Bamba proved to be a defensive stalwart who led the Big 12 in rebounds and finished second in the NCAA in blocks. Given that you can’t teach size, Bamba became a very desirable pick due to 6’11” height and 7’10” wingspan. While I agree that he draws a valid comparison to 2017-18 Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, it’s possible that the 2018 #6 overall draft pick could turn into T10B Hasheem Thabeet instead. Using those two comparable players as the upper and lower bounds, I predict Bamba will have an NBA career closer to the top than the bottom.
Oklahoma point guard Trae Young led the NCAA in both scoring (27.4 ppg) and assists (8.7 apg) for the 2017-18 college basketball season. By doing something that had never been done before, Young became a consensus 1st Team All-American. With those credentials, it should be hard to argue against Young’s selection as the 5th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Still, I’m not convinced that his talents will transcend to the next level. Relative to all top 10 picks this year, Young has the highest probability of becoming a bust.
I watched Michigan State forward Jaren Jackson several times during the 2017-18 college basketball season and remember thinking that he was a “beast” who could excel at the next level. When preparing for this post, I was shocked to learn that he only averaged 11 points and 6 rebounds per game last year. Jackson averaged 3 blocks per game during the season and had seven games with at least 5 blocks so perhaps I based my impression on a limited sample size. As someone who finds truth in numbers, I give Jackson an above-average chance of becoming a bust.
As an international prodigy, Luka Doncic signed his first professional contract at the age of 13. Doncic won numerous “Rising Star” and “Best Young Star” awards before getting recognized as the best player outside of the United States by winning the 2018 Euroleague MVP and leading his team to the 2018 Euroleague title. With these credentials, Doncic became the most anticipated international player to come to the NBA since 2003 #2 overall pick Darko Milicic. Whereas Milicic became a bust, Doncic will avoid the same fate. As the most proven player in the 2018 NBA Draft, I give him the lowest probably of becoming a bust relative to the top 10 overall picks.
Marvin Bagley III capped off an impressive freshman year at Duke by earning ACC Player-of-the-Year and consensus 1st Team All-American honors. Based on his accomplishments, he deserved to be considered as the top pick of the 2018 NBA Draft. However, that distinction went to Arizona center Deandre Ayton instead. With the 2nd overall pick, the Sacramento Kings couldn’t pass on the former Blue Devil power forward. Given his size and skill set, Bagley should be able to avoid becoming a bust. I just worry his performance might suffer when he doesn’t get the recognition he craves playing in the shadow of nearby stars Steph Curry and Kevin Durant. Oh yeah, there’s also a guy named LeBron who just took his talents to the same state.
The Phoenix Suns selected Deandre Ayton with the #1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Based on their proximity, teams scouts had plenty of opportunities to watch Ayton play for the Arizona Wildcats last year. Given everything I’ve seen, I have no basis to second guess the pick. As detailed in the following post, I give the 2018 consensus 1st Team All-American a very low probably of becoming a Top 10 Bust.
Heading into the 2018 NBA Draft, the prohibitive favorite as the #1 pick is Arizona’s Deandre Ayton. From there, the likely #2 to #4 picks are Duke’s Marvin Bagley, Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson and international phenom Luka Doncic, respectively. Despite any excitement surrounding these players, the free agency of LeBron James and trade request by Kawhi Leonard will dominate fan interest going into the 2018-19 NBA season. This year’s draft lacks a guaranteed superstar so each and every team should be willing to use their picks to get into the James/Leonard sweepstakes. I don’t have the foresight to predict all of the possible iterations so I’ll simply offer my 2018 NBA Mock Draft based on the current draft position of each team.
On the cusp of the 2017 NBA Draft, I’m running out of time to predict the Top 10 overall picks. Earlier this week, the 76ers traded their #3 pick (along with a future 1st rounder) to secure the Celtics’ #1 spot. According to most NBA insiders, Philly will take Washington PG Markelle Fultz. With the 2nd overall pick, the Lakers presumably will select Lonzo Ball. After that, it’s anyone’s guess. As usual, I’ll provide my assessment of potential Top 10 Busts from this draft prior to the start of the upcoming season. For now, here’s my 2017 NBA Mock Draft.