Detailed NBA Mock Draft – 1st Round

Mikal Bridges
Mikal Bridges (#25) is expected to be the first of four Villanova players selected in the 2018 NBA Draft.

In collaboration with Richard Harris, I present our first annual Detailed Mock Draft.  In a separate article, I detailed each NBA team’s needs, and in this article, I will be focusing on the prospects.  Keep in mind, that the goal of any mock draft is to predict who will be selected where, based on what each NBA club is most likely thinking.  In other words, this mock draft is not necessarily based on who I would pick at each spot, and the Hoops Prospects draft board will not match our mock draft because the latter is not based on how we rank the players.

Make sure to keep checking back because we are constantly making updates as developments warrant.

 

1.  Phoenix Suns – DeAndre Ayton (C/PF)

  • Age:  20.0
  • Height:  7-1
  • Weight: 250
  • Wingspan:  7-5
  • Vertical:  43.5

The Suns need a center and an inside presence to complement Devin Booker, and while the team has many options, look for Phoenix to go with the local product who has a huge upside.  Ayton will make an immediate impact offensively and on the glass.

Ayton is the most talented offensive center the NBA has seen in recent years.  In his sole season at the University of Arizona, he averaged 20.1 points on 61 percent from the field and 34 percent from beyond the arc, and among NCAA Division I players, he ranked in the 98th percentile in terms of points per possession.  Ayton productively uses his great size in the post with both power and finesse moves. In addition, he has shown promise as a midrange and 3-point shooter. He actually prefers to fade off picks rather than roll down the lane, though he does have the agility to roll effectively.  If Ayton solidifies his jumper, he will be deadly on the pick-and-pop, but he should be able to dominate in the paint immediately due to his size and strength. Ayton also rebounds the ball extremely effectively, averaging 11.6 rebounds per game, while being active on both the offensive and defensive glass, and he is always a threat to throw down a putback jam.

Despite his incredible physical attributes, Ayton does not perform well on the defensive end.  At Arizona, he was exploited at times on the perimeter, and he averaged less than two blocks per game. His struggles are mainly a result of a lack of effort, instinct, and awareness. Ayton mainly played the power forward position which forced him to guard the perimeter.  Fortunately, NBA teams rarely play two 7-footers at once for mostly defensive reasons. Ayton will look to sure up his defense in hopes to become a great rim protector because he currently projects as somewhat of a defensive liability.  

Read more:  DeAndre Ayton Scouting Report

2.  Marvin Bagley III (PF/C)

  • Age: 19.2
  • Height: 6-11
  • Weight: 234
  • Wingspan: 7-1
  • Vertical:

The Kings will go with Bagley over Luka Doncic because the former is a better fit with De’Aaron Fox, and they will go with Bagley over Michael Porter Jr. due to the latter’s injury concerns.  

Bagley was formerly the top recruit of the 2018 high school class, but he worked to reclassify and still impressed at college.  Bagley finished atop the ACC in points per game (21), rebounds per game (11.1), and field-goal percentage (61.4). This would make him only the third player in ACC history to do so.

The former Duke Blue Devil has incredible athleticism that allows him to jump higher than most for rebounds and putback dunks.  In addition, his elite athleticism gives Bagley an advantage on the fastbreak. He can go coast to coast with the ball for an easy finish in the paint, or use his underrated playmaking ability to find teammates in the open court.  Bagley consistently finds efficient ways to score, whether it’s on the 3-point line, exploding to the rim off the dribble, or attacking the offensive glass with his incredible vertical.

Bagley performs well on the defensive end of the floor.  He limited players to .79 points per possession, which put him at the 74th percentile.  The forward also held opponents to 31.6 percent from the field. Unfortunately, Duke played a good amount of zone, so it did not help Bagley grow as a defender.  His instincts guarding off the ball need improvement, but he is young and had minimal lapses defensively. Due to the small ball era, teams may look to place Bagley at the five, but he may struggle inside due to his lack of length and shot blocking (0.9 blocks per game).

Read more:  Marvin Bagley Scouting Report

3.  Luka Doncic (PG/SG)

  • Age: 19.3
  • Height: 6-8
  • Weight: 228
  • Wingspan:
  • Vertical:

The Hawks and point guard Dennis Schroder have had a stormy relationship for quite some time, but apparently that is coming to end.  If Schroder cannot be moved in trade, Doncic should still fit right in, as he is able to play anywhere between the one and the three spots.  

Doncic is the most decorated and talented international prospect ever.  At the age of 19, he has been named the EuroLeague Rising Star twice (2017, 2018), EuroLeague MVP (2018), EuroLeague Final Four MVP (2018), and won the 2018 EuroLeague championship.  He and his team (Real Madrid) also recently won the Spanish ACB championship, and Doncic was named MVP of that league as well.  Playing 25 minutes per game the past season, Doncic averaged 14.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.6 assists in EuroLeague and the Spanish ACB, combined. He also shot well from the field (46 percent), but struggled from deep (31 percent), despite projecting to be a good 3-point shooter.

His combination of size, ball handling, and passing make Doncic such an intriguing prospect.  His ability to lead a team at such a young age is incredible and should carry over to the NBA, where the European sensation will likely fill the role of a floor general.  Doncic excels in the pick-and-roll due to his high basketball IQ and passing ability; however, his handle is not as quick or steady as one may hope from a point guard. His isolation game is also limited because he lacks the explosiveness to blow by defenders.

Doncic could struggle on the defensive end in the NBA due to his lack of athleticism.  He does not have the quickness to keep up with speedy point guards, and even in Europe, he did not block many shots (.4 per game).  

Despite not possessing elite athleticism, Doncic can impact the game immediately with his crafty play, on and off the ball.  His youth, and the fact that he was far more productive than successful Euro players who have preceded him, such as Kristaps Porzingis, Nikola Jokic, Ricky Rubio, and Rudy Gobert, bodes very well for the Slovenian sensation.

Read more:  Luka Doncic Scouting Report

4.  Michael Porter Jr. (PF/SF)

  • Age: 19.9
  • Height: 6-11
  • Weight: 211
  • Wingspan: 7-0
  • Vertical:

Memphis’ decision at No. 4 will likely come down Porter and Jaren Jackson Jr.  Porter would appear to be the better fit to play at the four spot alongside Marc Gasol, but injury concerns could scare the Grizzlies away.   

Porter is the wildcard of this draft because of his boom-or-bust potential.  He missed most of his sole collegiate season due to a back injury, and when he returned to action in the SEC tournament in March, it was clear that he lacked the same vertical explosiveness that he had prior to the injury.  Recently, he had hip-spasm issues leading up to his second Pro Day on June 15th, so his health remains a concern.  

Porter is often compared to the two-time NBA champ, Kevin Durant, which is quite the honor for a player who has barely performed at the collegiate level.  Porter averaged 36.2 points, 13.6 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 3.2 steals, and 2.7 blocks per game as a high school senior. Despite those impressive numbers, the comparisons to Durant are unrealistic, but Porter does display the potential to be a consistent go-to scorer in the NBA.  

Porter is a versatile offensive threat.  His most promising skill is his ability to shoot from the outside, which is what he prefers to do.  Historically, his 3-point percentage has hovered around 33 percent, and his free-throw percentage has ranged from 76-82 percent.  At the next level, he could be very effective as both a pick-and-pop option and a catch-and-shoot marksman, working off screens. Porter already displays the ability to cut effectively without the ball and knock down shots on the move.  The 6-foot-11 forward also runs the floor well, and he can be extremely effective on the fastbreak (and on cuts to the basket) due to his ability to finish above the rim with both hands. He is also a threat to take the ball coast to coast by himself.  Additionally, he can post up and make shots such as turnaround jumpers. Where he is clearly inferior to Durant, is in his ability to create his own shot off the bounce. Porter’s handle can be shaky, and he tends to force the issue in isolation, rather than share the ball with his teammates.   

Porter could be effective on defense, but it is not considered a strong part of his game.  He tends to struggle in the post against stronger players, and he can also be beaten off the bounce by mobile ball handlers.  Porter’s size and mobility are two reasons to be optimistic, however.

5.  Mohamed Bamba (C)

  • Age: 20
  • Height: 7-1
  • Weight: 226
  • Wingspan: 7-10
  • Vertical:

With the Hawks leaning toward Doncic, the Mavs will likely be picking either Bamba or Jaren Jackson Jr.  Bamba appears to be the safest pick for a team that wants to build its defense around a rim protector, and if he can improve his offensive game, he will be a superstar in the league.

It’s not often that the NBA encounters a player with such physical traits as Bamba. The big man from Texas stands at 7-1 with a 7-10 wingspan. In addition, he ran a faster three-quarter-court sprint (3.04) than Russell Westbrook (3.08), Dwyane Wade (3.08), and John Wall (3.14).

Bamba is known for his shot-blocking ability.  At Texas, he blocked 3.7 blocks while playing 30.2 minutes per game. He has great timing as a shot blocker, and he has a knack for baiting opponents to take shots that he can swat away.  His presence in the paint allows his teammates to play more aggressively on the perimeter, and it literally forces opponents to change their offensive approach.  Whether he’s in the paint or coming from weakside, he is ready to block any shot.

His offensive upside is what concerns certain NBA teams, and that may sway some away from selecting the big man with the first few picks.  Bamba has a limited amount of post moves, but has improved on his inside game since the start of his freshman season. He also showed some promise as a 3-point shooter during private workouts.  Bamba stated, “I changed my mechanics and my jump shot, and I’m really seeing the difference.” He understands that the NBA game requires bigs to space the floor, so expect Bamba to expand his offensive game outside of the paint.  

Read more:  Mohamed Bamba Scouting Report

6.  Trae Young (PG)

  • Age: 19.7
  • Height: 6-2
  • Weight: 178
  • Wingspan: 6-3
  • Vertical:

The Magic sorely need a point guard and someone who can bring excitement to Orlando. Young’s potential as a floor general and a scorer should fit the bill.  Down the road, the Magic will likely look to pair him with a defensive-oriented running mate in the backcourt.  Collin Sexton is also in play at No. 6.  

Young is an electric and entertaining player due to his unlimited range and his ability to score and to set his teammates up at will.  He led all of college basketball in both points per game (27.4) and assists per game (8.7) this past season. He shot 36 percent from downtown this season, which is not an ideal percentage.  His release point is low, but that doesn’t appear to be the issue because his extremely quick release typically allows him to shoot unhindered. His shot selection was quite poor at times, and that severely hampered his efficiency.  He regularly shoots from beyond 25 feet, even when contested.

In addition to his deep range, Young has quickness, a tight handle, and the ability to shoot on the move, including a deadly pull-up jumper.  Shooting jumpers off the dribble this season, he averaged 1.05 points per possession (88th percentile). The nifty little point guard also has great vision and can accurately pass with either hand, and he is very effective in both isolation and pick-and-roll situations, making plays for both himself and his teammates.  The end result of this collection of skills was that he not only scored 876 points this season, but he also produce another 637 points via assists. That’s 1,513 points in 32 games (47.3 PPG)!

Young’s lack of physicality and his small frame make him a potential liability on defense at the next level. At Oklahoma, he allowed 0.844 points per possession (41st percentile) when defending in isolation. On a positive note, he has good instincts and is adept at jumping the passing lanes for steals (1.7 per game).  

Young is often compared to Steph Curry as an offensive player, but there are similarities on the defensive side as well. Both lack length and size, but Young is the smaller of the two. Recently in the NBA Playoffs, we saw Curry be targeted on defense, and expect Young to be targeted just as much, if not more, from day one.

Read more:  Trae Young Scouting Report

7.  Jaren Jackson Jr. (C/PF)

  • Age: 18.7
  • Height: 6-11
  • Weight: 236
  • Wingspan: 7-5
  • Vertical:

The Bulls get the other top rim protector in this class, and if his outside shooting translates to the NBA, they might be getting the better of the two players.

Jaren Jackson Jr. is among the youngest players in the draft, and with that, he is one of the most raw prospects.  He excels on the defensive end of the floor, blocking 5.5 shots per 40 minutes. The big man has the defensive tools to grow into an elite defender in the paint and on the perimeter.  In pick-and-roll situations, Jackson is effective when switching on guards, and he proved to be an excellent all-around defender for the Spartans, limiting his opponents to an impressive .67 points per possession (93rd percentile) and to a field-goal percentage of 27.3.  Despite his defensive prowess, Jackson often gets into foul trouble due to a lack of discipline. He averaged 5.9 fouls over 40 minutes at Michigan State.

The Michigan State product has shown that he can nail outside shots (nearly 40 percent from deep); however, his jumper may not translate to the NBA due to its low release point.  In addition, his shot would be considered a “push shot,” which is not only awkward but also hard to get off over taller defenders. Jackson does show promise in the post, especially when putting the ball on the floor, but he prefers playing on the perimeter.  This past season, 15 percent of his touches came in the post, and he ranked at the 98th percentile for points per possession.

Jackson’s ability to play defense is certainly his greatest selling point at this time.  How much he develops his offensive game, and how well he adjusts to playing at the five spot, where he projects to play in the NBA, will determine his long-term value.  

Read more:  Jaren Jackson Scouting Report

8.  Collin Sexton (PG)

  • Age: 19.4
  • Height: 6-1
  • Weight: 183
  • Wingspan: 6-7
  • Vertical:

The Cavs will have a big decision to make if either Young or Porter fall this far, but we believe that they still would likely go with Sexton in hopes to entice LeBron James to stay.  Unlike Young or Porter, Sexton would be fine without taking 15-20 shots per game.

Despite being undersized at 6-1, Sexton is one the most coveted prospects in this draft due to his grit and athleticism. He is one of the quickest players in this class, and his insane speed and ability to change direction in the open court allows him to be exceptional on the fastbreak.  Sexton, nicknamed Young Bull, uses his lethal quickness, combined with a strong handle and good strength, to fearlessly drive into the paint, and he does a great job at drawing fouls, averaging nearly eight free throws per contest.  Great vertical explosiveness and excellent body control allow him to make very difficult shots at the rim, and he is also very effective with floaters in the paint. And whether he is coming off a screen or on the break, he is always a threat to pull up on a dime and knock down a jumper.

Sexton is not yet a consistent 3-point (33.6%) or midrange shooter, but he usually has very little trouble finding space for his shot.  Defenders frequently sag off, fearing his driving skills, and the opponents who play him tight are often victims of his stepback and jump-stop moves.  It also helps that he has deep range.

This past season, Sexton was most effective in the pick and roll, averaging .96 points per possession (87th percentile), but he has a ways to go as a playmaker.  He displays the skills to be an exceptional passer, but he averaged just 3.6 assists per game this season. Part of that was to due to Young Bull being forced to carry the much of the scoring load for a Crimson Tide offense that lacked firepower. Additionally, Alabama was one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the nation this season, and this limited Sexton’s ability to drive and dish.

On defense, Sexton has the potential to lock up opposing players with his great lateral quickness and long arms, though he did not excel this season when defending in pick-and-roll and isolation situations.       

9.  Mikal Bridges (SF/SG)

  • Age: 21.7
  • Height: 6-7
  • Weight: 210
  • Wingspan: 7-2
  • Vertical:

The Knicks may be hoping that Michael Porter Jr. or Trae Young fall this far, but they will be happy to get Mikal Bridges.  He may not be as flashy as the other two, but he is more fundamentally sound.  Bridges appears to be the least likely of three to be a bust, and in the long run, he may turn out to be the most productive of the trio.  He also will fit into the Knicks’ starting lineup without requiring major adjustments; in other words, he fills a primary need.  

Bridges is the ideal 3-and-D player, who would be useful on any roster.  His versatility defensively allows him to guard multiple positions effectively, and he does not back down from guarding the best player on the court.  He boasts a combination of lateral quickness, general athleticism, and length that is ideal for today’s NBA, and he is well schooled in the concepts of playing team defense.  Out of 1,700-plus DI players who defended at least 150 possessions this season, Bridges ranked 34th this season (98th percentile). He also averaged 1.5 steals, 1.1 blocks, and 3.9 defensive boards per game.  

On the offensive side, Bridges has an all-around game that will suit him well at the next level.  Capable of scoring inside and out, off the bounce, and at the rim, he averaged 17.7 points this season on very efficient shooting from the field (51.4%) and from downtown (43.5%).  He was highly efficient in nearly every single facet of the game as a scorer. This past season, he ranked at the 90th percentile or better in terms of points per possession when handling in the pick and roll, spotting up, cutting, shooting off screens, and in transition.  Overall, he ranked at the 99th percentile as a scorer, averaging 1.22 points per possession. If there is a downside, it is that he doesn’t demand the ball, and he can be too passive at times.

10.  Miles Bridges (SF/PF)

  • Age: 20.2
  • Height: 6-7
  • Weight: 226
  • Wingspan: 6-9
  • Vertical:

Do to potential free-agent losses, the Sixers need to add shooters, and Bridges likes to shoot.

Bridges, who already has an NBA-like body, is known best for his explosive vertical and highlight-reel dunks, but his game is truly diverse, and he could be used anywhere between the 2 and 4 spots. Muscular and athlete, Bridges gets up and down the court quickly in transition, and he is very proficient at finishing around the basket. In the half court, he mostly plays off the ball, with the majority of his touches coming in spot-up situations, but he is actually most effective when either working off screens as a shooter or moving without the ball as a cutter.  As a cutter this past season, he averaged more than 1.4 points per possession, ranking at the 91st percentile.

For better or worse, Bridges is more of a jump shooter than driver.  Nearly 64 percent of his half-court shots were jumpers this season, and he made a solid, but not spectacular, 37.3 percent of those shots, which was slightly less than his 3-point percentage of 36.4 percent.  He is very capable of shooting off the bounce, especially when dribbling off screens. He is also effective catching and shooting when coming off screens. However, it’s safe to say that Bridges settles for too many jumpers, and he needs to work on his driving skills.  He is not the most gifted ball handler, and he favors going to his right and finishing with his right (despite being a lefty). His athleticism, especially his ability to change directions quickly, helped him to be very effective when going to the basket at Michigan State, but he clearly resists doing so.  And one of the results of being a reluctant driver was that he averaged just 3.2 free throws per game this season, which is a very disappointing number for someone who makes 85.3 percent of his shots at the charity stripe.

An underappreciated aspect of Bridges’ game is his ability to score in the paint.  He has the strength to compete inside, and has a more sophisticated post-up game than many of the highly touted centers in this draft.  He also crashes the offensive glass, and converts on nearly 73 percent of his putback attempts.

Bridges is a solid one-on-one defender (ranking in the 84th percentile in isolation), but he doesn’t display great team-defense awareness.  He gets lost at times, especially defending the pick and roll, and is often step behind on plays that involve a lot of ball/player movement.

11.  Wendell Carter Jr. (C/PF)

  • Age: 19.1
  • Height: 6-10
  • Weight: 259
  • Wingspan: 7-3
  • Vertical:

None of the players available at this spot will be a perfect for the Hornets.  They would likely prefer to get a power forward, so Kevin Knox is an option.  With the team seemingly willing to parts ways with Kemba Walker, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is another option.  Carter is the best player available here, and the impending trade of Dwight Howard should open the door for him to get some playing time.   

Carter flew under the radar for most of his freshman season at Duke due to playing alongside the flashy Marvin Bagley III.  With that said, Carter’s potential may be higher than some would expect. The former Blue Devil faired well on defense, despite not possessing the explosiveness and leap that most shot blockers have, averaging 2.1 blocks per game this season.  Carter also grabbed 9.1 rebounds per game, using a combination of hustle and strength. He consistently defended well in the post, but did struggle when forced to guard on the perimeter.

Carter dominated around the rim on non-post-up plays this season, making 68 percent of his shots and ranking at the 92nd percentile.  He played his best when attacking the offensive glass for putbacks, averaging 1.46 points per possession (94th percentile). In addition, he scored an impressive 1.36 points when cutting to the basket (82nd percentile).  He has yet to develop into a reliable low-block scorer, however, and he struggled immensely on post-up plays this season, averaging 0.73 points per possession in those situations (38th percentile).

Carter has the potential to be more than just an inside scorer and rebounder.  He has excellent passing ability for a big man, and he connected with Bagley numerous times with incredible dimes around the paint.  Carter rolls to the rim off picks very well, and due to his solid shooting form and high percentage from beyond the arc (41 percent), he could be a potential pick-and-pop player, too.  Despite his impressive percentage, Carter has not fully proven that he can knock down threes; he took only 46 attempts from downtown during his sole season at Duke.

12.  Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (PG/SG)

  • Age: 19.9
  • Height: 6-6
  • Weight: 180
  • Wingspan: 7-0
  • Vertical: 36.0

This is an easy pick if Gilgeous-Alexander is available.  He will give the Clippers a true point guard to build around.  

Gilgeous-Alexander is a long, thin (3% body fat) point guard, who can stuff the stat sheet every night with his scoring, playmaking, rebounding, and ball-hawking skills.  His outstanding length is a big plus on both sides of ball. Gilgeous-Alexander has plenty of athleticism, but the best part of his game might be his basketball IQ. He displays great decision-making skills, and understands his own limitations.  He is a long strider, who is more fast than quick. He does have plenty of nifty dribble moves, but he lacks elite burst and quickness for a point guard. He typically doesn’t blow by defenders in half-court one-on-one situations; instead, he often relies on screens to break free.  

Gilgeous-Alexander is at his best handling in the pick and roll.  He is a creative passer with good vision, and he constantly pressures the defense with penetration, scoring or setting up others to score.  This past season in the pick and roll, he ranked at the 81st percentile in efficiency as a scorer and passer combined. He scores regularly with floaters, and be it in the lane or at the rim, he uses his length and surprising ability to absorb contact to get off good shots with either hand.

As a jump shooter, Gilgeous-Alexander’s mechanics are not ideal, and he doesn’t get much lift off the floor – his deeper shots are set-shot like.  He compensates by knowing when and when not to shoot, and it also helps that he has an excellent stepback move. Alexander is far more efficient when catching and shooting (94th percentile) than when shooting off the bounce (65th percentile), and he limits his three-point attempts (made 40.4% of his 57 three-point attempts this season).  

Gilgeous-Alexander is a very good overall defender, as his length is a huge asset on this end of the court.  This past season, he ranked at the 81st percentile for points allowed per possession, and he averaged a combined 2.1 steals-plus-blocks per game.  Like on offense, he can struggle in isolation situations. Also, his slight frame makes it difficult for him to fight through picks, so trailing shooters off the ball can be an issue at times.

13.  Robert Williams III (C/PF)

  • Age: 20.6
  • Height: 6-10
  • Weight: 241
  • Wingspan: 7-5
  • Vertical: 40.0

This is another easy call, if everything else falls the way that we expect.  With DeAndre Jordan on the decline and possibly leaving via free agency, Williams fills a need at center.

Williams’ athleticism allows him to thrive on the court, especially on the defensive end.  Despite being very muscular and close to seven feet tall, his vertical rivals that of Zhaire Smith, and he moves like a wing as well.  Much like the aforementioned Jordan, a former Texas A&M Aggie, Williams lacks offensive skill, especially as a shooter, but he is a tremendous finisher at the rim and is a skilled shot blocker.

Offensively, Williams scores exceptionally well around the rim (97th percentile), throwing down alley-oops and dunks with ease.  He gets most of his points off lobs and putbacks, but he has some post moves as well, such as drop steps and right-handed hooks. In the post this past season, Williams faired well, ranking at the 82nd percentile.  The rest of his offense game is limited. He severely lacks shooting touch (4th percentile on jumpers), and he gained little experience in the pick and roll at Texas A&M. However, much like Jordan, Williams has the type of mobility to become a very reliable roller to the rim.

Williams has the potential to alter games with his defensive prowess.  Despite playing power forward at A&M, he will be a center in the NBA due to his shot-blocking ability (4.1 blocks per 40 minutes).  He was one of the least challenged defenders in the country; opponents attempted just 19 shots against him in the post all of last season.  In addition, his perimeter defense rivals that of Jaren Jackson Jr., when Williams is dialed in. Williams’ combination of length and foot speed also allows him to be very effective from the weakside and to grab rebounds out of his area (9.2 per game).

Williams’ effort was a limiting factor at A&M on both of ends of the floor.  If he expects to carve out a solid career, he will need to make some changes.  With a positive attitude, Williams may become one of the best defensive players in the NBA.  

Read More:  Robert Williams Scouting Report

14.  Zhaire Smith (SF/SG)

  • Age: 19
  • Height: 6-4
  • Weight: 195
  • Wingspan: 6-10
  • Vertical: 43.0

At this spot, Knox will be in play again, as will Lonnie Walker, but Smith not only fills a need, he also gives the Nuggets much-needed defense.

Smith may be the most explosive and athletic player in the draft.  His 41.5-inch vertical was one of the leading leaps at the NBA Combine, and he previously recorded jumps as high as 44 inches.  Additionally at the combine, he was among the very best in the three-quarter court sprint (3.05) and standing vertical (33 inches).  Smith’s athleticism, combined with hustle, allows him to consistently get his hands on the ball, and he produced a combined 7.2 steals, blocks, and rebounds per game this season at Texas Tech.  He also had a plus-minus rating of 12.0, which was the seventh highest in the nation.

Smith often showcases his athleticism on the fastbreak with highlight-reel dunks.  He scored an outstanding 1.34 points per transition possession (90th percentile). In the half-court, his game is still a work in progress, but there are reasons to be very optimistic.  He does not shy away from contact and finishes strong, even among taller opponents, and he shot exceptionally well around the rim (90th percentile) on plays such as cuts and putbacks. He also made 45 percent of attempts from beyond the arc, but it was a small sample size of 40 shots.  His biggest issue is his ability to make plays off the bounce, particularly in isolation. Smith is a bit stiff when he puts the ball on the floor in traffic, and he doesn’t have a lot of dribble moves.

Smith’s ability to extend possessions by grabbing offensive rebounds is impressive.  Thanks to great timing and explosiveness off the floor, he is able to win many battles vs. much taller players.  He finished 11th in the Big 12 with 2.2 offensive boards per game, which is an outstanding number for a 6-foot-4 wing.

The strongest part of Smith’s game is his ability to defend.  He was phenomenal when guarding one-on-one this season, allowing just 0.444 points per possession (92nd percentile) on isolation plays.  He also did very well when defending the pick-and-roll and spot-up plays.

15.  Kevin Knox (SF/PF)

  • Age: 18.8
  • Height: 6-9
  • Weight: 213
  • Wingspan: 7-0
  • Vertical: 36.5

The Wizards would prefer to get a rim protector like Robert Williams, and they will surely take him, if he is available.  Knox would give the Wizards versatility with their lineups, and he would likely see a lot of time as a stretch four.  

Knox is a combo forward who does not stand out in one specific way, but he finds ways to put the ball in the basket. He is not long, nor is he especially explosive in any fashion, but he uses a combination of size, strength, guile, and skill to be an effective scorer in a variety of ways.  

On the way to averaging 15.6 points per game this season, Knox showed that he could score in a number of situations, but he is clearly a jumper shooter, more than anything else.  He is a streaky shooter, who is not shy about launching threes (4.5 per game), and he made a modest 34.1 percent of his 3-point attempts. In the half court, more than 62 percent of his shots were jumpers, and most of his possessions came off the ball, with the majority coming in spot-up situations.  Most of the time, he simply caught the ball and shot, but he was far more effective when he put the ball on the floor for pull-up jumpers or runners in the lane. As a jumper shooter off the dribble, he ranked in 82nd percentile, compared to 44th on the catch-and-shoot. Overall, he averaged .98 points per possession as a jump shooter, which ranked at the 62nd percentile.  He also made 77.4 percent of his free-throw attempts.

Knox is not a particularly gifted ball handler.  He tends to be turnover prone (14.1% turnover rate this season), and he is not very adept at getting to the basket.  What he does, however, is excel with runners and floaters. This past season, he converted on 41 percent of those types of shots, averaging .87 points per possession (70th percentile).  Knox also displayed the ability to move very effectively without the ball and to score coming off screens and on cuts to the basket.  He seemingly knocked down at least one midrange catch-and-shoot jumper off a baseline curl in every single game at Kentucky. He also showed the ability to score in the post and to score as a handler in the pick and roll.  The only area where he performed significantly below average was in isolation.

Twenty percent of Knox’s touches came on the fast break, and he had very mixed results.   At times in transition, he appeared to have tunnel vision and overestimate his open-court skills.  Instead of sharing the ball, he would often try to make a spectacular play. As a result, his totals in transition this season were 33 buckets and 22 turnovers, with an average of 1.03 points per possession (49th percentile).    

Knox wasn’t a particularly impactful defender this season, averaging a total just 1.1 steals and blocks per game and forcing turnovers only 8.6 percent of the time.  He did, however, display surprisingly good lateral quickness and the ability to stay in front of his man. He limited opponents to .83 points per possession (63rd percentile), and he was especially effective in isolation, ranking at the 76th percentile. At the same time, he significantly struggled when defending players in the pick and roll and on handoffs, ranking at the 15th percentile in both categories.

16.  Elie Okobo (PG)

  • Age: 20.6
  • Height: 6-2
  • Weight: 180
  • Wingspan: 6-8
  • Vertical:

Having passed over Luka Doncic at No. 1, the Suns will take a chance on Okobo, who fills an obvious need at point guard.

Okobo is a relative unknown, but there are two other prospects in this draft who have some similarities: Doncic and Trae Young. Okobo is similar to Doncic in that both have had significant roles at a young age in one of the premier European leagues.  Okobo is similar to Young in that both are flashy and provide instant offense as a scorer and playmaker, and they both have reckless styles.

Okobo has many of the traits needed to be an NBA point guard.  He has great speed and quickness, plus a 6-foot-8 wingspan. He is a multilevel scorer, with deep range and a quick, compact release.  He can score off the bounce with a multitude of dribble moves, including an impressive stepback jumper. The left-handed point guard can effectively finish at the rim with either hand.  As a passer, he is very creative and has great vision, and he makes quick decisions. He can thread the needle with either hand, and he is especially adept at feeding the post with pin-point passes from all angles.  His main fault appears to be a lack of discipline – he often tries to do too much at times. He can be careless with the ball, and he takes ill-advised shots.

This past season, Okobo played for Pau Orthez in the top division of the French LNB.  He led the team in scoring with 13.8 points per game. He also led the club in assists (4.7 per game), 3-point percentage (41.8%), and turnovers (2.8 per game).  His best performance of the season came in the first game of the playoffs, when he dropped 44 points and four dimes on top-seeded Monaco, and he did so despite missing a good portion of third quarter due to foul trouble. Okobo’s stats from this season are even more impressive when you consider that young players notoriously struggle and rarely get big minutes in the French LNB.  His overall numbers compare favorably to former LNB players who are now successful in the NBA, such as Nicolas Batum, Clint Capela, Rudy Gobert, and Evan Fournier, and Okobo’s stats are significantly better than those posted by Frank Ntilikina, the eighth overall pick of last year’s draft. 

Most of Okobo’s possessions this season came in the pick and roll (40 percent), where he showcased his handle, passing, and ability to finish on the drive.  Okobo ranked at the 71st percentile among Europeans when scoring off a screen and roll. In addition, he proved to be an effective scorer in isolation, ranking at the 60th percentile.  His best quality is probably his ability to shoot jumpers on the move, and with those shots, he averaged 0.97 points per possession (80th percentile). His worst quality is his carelessness with the ball.  Okobo turned the ball over on 19.8 percent of his possessions this season.

Defense and rebounding are not Okobo’s top priority.  He is not a scrapper or a hustler on this end of the court.  Of course, point guards, especially smaller ones like Okobo, are not expected to hit the boards and block a lot of shots, but his .9 steals per game is not an impressive number, even by European standards.  Okobo does have the length and the athleticism to be a solid perimeter defender, and this season, he fared well in one-on-one situations, ranking at the 61 percentile among Europeans.

17.  Lonnie Walker IV (SG)

  • Age: 19.4
  • Height: 6-4
  • Weight: 205
  • Wingspan: 6-10
  • Vertical:  40.0

The Bucks will be pleased to land Walker, who will provide both offense and defense at the two spot.  Coming off knee surgery in the summer of 2017, we probably did not see Walker at his best this past season, and he has more upside than some of the players who will be taken before him. 

Walker is sturdy and muscular, and he is an exceptional athlete.  At the NBA combine, he was one of the top performers in the athletic testing portion of the event, and among all of the prospects in this class, he arguably has the best combination of hang-time, body control, and strength, all of which allow him to make incredible finishes at the rim.

While Walker may be athletic, he has a long ways to go before becoming a complete offensive player. He is not shy about shooting, but his shot selection leaves a lot to be desired. He struggles to get clean looks at the basket in the half court, and he settles for a lot 3s.  Nearly 65 percent of his half-court shots this season were jumpers, and most of them come as a spot-up player. He averaged more than five 3-point attempts per game, and made a modest 34.6 percent.  He can handle the ball in the pick and roll, and flashes the ability to penetrate and create, but with or without screens, he struggles at times to get all the way to the rim in the half court, especially when going left.  He is also unreliable when shooting jumpers off the bounce, making less than 26 percent of those shots this season. On the plus side, Walker did thrive this past season as a scorer in transition (73rd percentile) and as a cutter (100th percentile).  

Walker was more consistent on the defensive end of the court, limiting the opposition to .73 points per possession (86th percentile).  He has the athleticism, the strength, and the length to guard multiple positions. He is especially adept at staying connected to shooters, and he limited his opposing jump shooters to a field-goal percentage of 34.7 percent this season.  He’s not an aggressive defender, however, especially from the weakside, and he does not produce many steals, blocks, and defensive rebounds (a combined total of 4 per game this season).

18.  Kevin Huerter (SG/SF)

  • Age: 19.8
  • Height: 6-7
  • Weight: 194
  • Wingspan: 6-8
  • Vertical:  38.0

With Kawhi Leonard apparently wanting out, and both Rudy Gay and Kyle Anderson free agents, the Spurs suddenly have a gaping hole at small forward.  Huerter is one of the top sharpshooters in this class, and he has good size for a wing.  The start of his pro career will be delayed, however, due to recent hand surgery.  

It was assumed for much of this past season that Huerter would remain in college until 2019, so he was not on everyone’s radar.  However, the shooting guard had a tremendous sophomore campaign at Maryland. His smooth shooting stroke, deep 3-point range, and all-around skill made NBA organizations take notice, and after an excellent showing at the NBA combine, Huerter’s draft stock continued to climb.

There is no question that Huerter’s speciality is shooting from downtown, but he possesses the ability to score at all three levels.  In his sophomore season, he averaged 14.8 points on efficient shooting: 50 percent from the field and 42 percent from behind the arc. He was one of the top spot-up shooters in the country, averaging 1.14 points per possession, which ranked him at the 88th percentile.  He was excellent in other areas as well, ranking at the 92nd percentile or better in isolation and as a cutter. Though he is not an elite athlete or ball handler, Huerter showed that he was more than capable at scoring off the dribble, whether he pulled up for jumpers (82 percentile) or used runners/floaters (89th percentile) in the lane.  

Huerter averaged 3.4 assists per game, regularly finding his teammates in both the half court and transition.  As a passer and scorer combined, he produced 1.31 points per possession (91st percentile). He was especially effective as a set-up man on backdoor plays, often flashing to the foul line, receiving a pass, and then immediately throwing a dime to a teammate cutting to the rim.

Despite not having a long wingspan or the best lateral quickness, Huerter is a solid all-around defender. This past season, he limited opponents to .72 points per possession (88th percentile). He finds ways to be disruptive in the passing lanes and to contest shots.  He anticipates well and is an active team defender. His high basketball IQ will aid his development, as will adding more strength, but his lack of length and quickness may limit his growth on this end of the floor.

19.  Jerome Robinson (SG)

  • Age: 21.3
  • Height: 6-5
  • Weight: 188
  • Wingspan: 6-7
  • Vertical:

By taking Doncic, the Hawks are not really in a position to fill their need for a rim protector with any of their remaining three picks in this draft.  They seemingly have three basic options:  1) use one of their picks (mostly likely this one) to entice another team into taking Dennis Schroder off their hands, and in exchange, the Hawks would get a proven center, directly or indirectly; 2) package this pick and No. 30 to move up to select Robert Williams or Wendell Carter; or 3) entice a free-agent center to come to Atlanta.  Not matter what they do, the Hawks also have a need for a shooting guard.  

Robinson was one of the bright spots on a Boston College team that finished 12th in the ACC.  In early December, when his team upset the Duke Blue Devils, who were ranked No. 1 at the time, he began to get more attention.  He finished the season as the No. 2 scorer in the ACC, trailing only Marvin Bagley. Robinson averaged 20.7 points per game, while shooting 49 percent from the floor, 41 percent from beyond the arc, and 83 percent from the foul line.  He also notched 3.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.

Robinson improved his shooting percentages in each of his three seasons at BC, and he has developed into a big-time scorer, who also makes plays for others.  Possessing the ability to shoot off the bounce and featuring a number of slick moves, he has one of the better midrange games in this class. He creates space for his shot with stepback, turnaround, and hop-step moves.  He also has a quick first step, and he can finish at the rim with impressive style, even around length. He is very effective handling the pick and roll, displaying point-guard potential, but he is turnover prone (2.7 per game this season).  

This past season, Robinson was most effective in the pick and roll, averaging 1.04 points per possession (94th percentile).  He was actually slightly better as a cutter (97th percentile), but those type of plays accounted for only 7 percent of his touches.  He was especially effective on backdoor cuts, and had some impressive finishes on lobs. Most of possessions (22 percent) came on spot-up plays, and he produced good numbers (72nd percentile or better), whether he was catching and shooting, pulling up, and going to the basket.  The one area where he struggled was in isolation (40th percentile and 16.4% turnover rate). Robinson’s handle betrayed him at times vs. tight man-to-man defense, especially when going to his left.

Defense is not Robinson’s strong suit.  The wiry guard struggled to stop penetration and was easily outmuscled around the basket.  He had trouble with switches and rotations, as did many Boston College players this season, and when defending the pick and roll, he allowed .83 points per possession (35th percentile).  It wasn’t all bad for Robinson; he did did fairly well in isolation, allowing just .74 points per possession (58th percentile).

20.  Donte DiVincenzo (SG/PG)

  • Age: 21.3
  • Height: 6-5
  • Weight: 200
  • Wingspan: 6-6
  • Vertical: 42.0

The Timberwolves need outside shooting, and they need depth at both the two and three spots.

DiVincenzo impressed the nation with his 31-point performance in the National Championship game. His ability to score at all three levels was on display that night, but Nova fans were not surprised, as they were already accustomed to seeing their tough-minded shooting guard perform at a high level throughout the season.  Seemingly underrated at every level, DiVincenzo saw his draft stock rise throughout the season, and after a very impressive combine performance, including posting the top max and standing vertical, he is poised to make a splash in the NBA.

DiVincenzo has good ball skills, can play the point, and is a terrific shooter off the bounce, even with a hand in his face. He has deep range to match his ability to knock down contested shots, and he has great intangibles: intelligence, coachable, and hard-working.  He finished this past season with per-game averages of 13.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists while shooting 48 percent from the field and 40 percent from three.  He was phenomenal when handling in the pick and roll, averaging of 1.11 points per possession (97th percentile). He was also very effective shooting jumpers off the dribble, ranking at the 90th percentile.  The Villanova product was not a frequent driver, but his athleticism helped him finish at a respectable 60th percentile around the rim. When receiving the ball on a hand-off, DiVincenzo was able to score very effectively, either with a drive or on a pull-up jumper.  He scored 1.09 points per possession in those hand-off situations, which ranked him at the 82nd percentile.

DiVincenzo’s offensive prowess is paired with a solid defensive game.  He plays with an intense motor and a physical brand of defense. His pestering style, combined with good awareness and decision-making, allows him to effectively deal with screens and cover perimeter shooters.  He did his best work this season when defending shooters who were either handing in the pick and roll (63rd percentile), spotting up (62nd percentile) or coming off screens (97th percentile). He had his most trouble defending isolation plays, particularly midrange shooters off the bounce.  His main weakness is a lack of length. He averaged only .2 blocks per game this season, and even though he is usually in good defensive position, he simply cannot effectively contest shots.

21.  Chandler Hutchison (SF/SG)

  • Age: 22.1
  • Height: 6-7
  • Weight: 197
  • Wingspan:  7-0
  • Vertical:

The Jazz could use a power forward more than anything else, but this not an ideal spot to find one.  This appears to be a best-available pick, or possibly a trade.  Hutchison’s two-way game, versatility, and point-forward skills will draw plenty of interest.  

This season, Hutchison did not gain much national attention, and his absence from the NCAA tournament did not aid his draft stock.  He led Boise State with per-game averages of 20 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 3.5 assists, while shooting 48 percent from the field and 36 percent from deep.  

Hutchinson has a very versatile offensive game.  His size, combined with his ball handling, passing, and shooting skills, make him a threat at three levels.  He is at his best when driving all the way to the basket, which he does often. Around the basket this season, he averaged 1.34 points per possession, which ranked at the 85th percentile.  He also draws a lot of fouls (7.2 free throws per game), and shoots 73 percent from the free-throw line. On the downside, he is not consistent from the outside on his jumpers, especially off the dribble, and he is turnover prone (3.4 turnovers per game).

Hutchison is always alert and active on the defensive end of the floor.  This season, he produced 1.5 steals and 6.8 defensive rebounds per game, and he was a very good overall defender, ranking at the 78th percentile for points allowed per possession.  As his career develops, his strength will come, and that will enhance his defensive game even further. His experience over four collegiate seasons will also give him a head start in being a sound defensive player.

Read more:  Chandler Hutchison Scouting Report

22.  Troy Brown (SF/SG)

  • Age: 18.8
  • Height: 6-6
  • Weight: 208
  • Wingspan: 6-10
  • Vertical:  33.0

The Bulls secured a rim protector at No. 7, and they need a quality player at the three spot.  Brown is a potential defensive stopper, and not yet 19, he is still developing his game.  He is not overly athletic in terms of speed and vertical, but he has good size, strength and length for a wing.

Billed as a two-way player by many, Brown appears to be a long way away from being a consistent contributor on the offensive end of the court.  During his freshman season at Oregon, his offensive performances were mostly underwhelming, though at times, he displayed glimpses of tremendous talent.  He was often an afterthought in the Oregon attack, even when he had favorable matchups, because of his shooting struggles and his tendency to turn the ball over.  Brown played with indecision and often made the wrong decision – the college game seemed a bit too fast for him. For the season, he averaged 11.3 points and 2.5 turnovers per game, while making only 29.1 percent of his 3-point shots. On the plus side, he did show promise as a passer, averaging 3.2 assists per game.

In the half-court at Oregon, most of Brown’s touches came on the perimeter.  He took his share of threes (3.1 per game), but he preferred to put the ball on the floor and drive, usually all the way to the rim.  He displayed some wiggle, dribble moves, acrobatics at the rim, but his handle was far too loose at times. He frequently turned the ball over in traffic, and struggled to get to the rim and finish when he met some resistance.  On isolation plays this season, he drove nearly 92 percent of the time, and he had a turnover rate of 22.2 percent. Brown didn’t fare any better shooting jumpers off the bounce, making less than 28 percent of his shots and ranking at the 22nd percentile for points per possession.  Be it spotting up or pulling up, his shooting form didn’t look bad, but he was unable to knock down outside shots with any consistency this season.

Brown looked far more comfortable handling the ball in pick-and-roll situations.  Coming off the screen, he didn’t try to get too tricky with the ball, and it gave him space to pull up for midrange jumpers.  He also displayed good playmaking skills as a handler in the pick and roll. As a passer and scorer combined on pick-and-roll plays, Brown produced .92 points per possession, which ranked at the 66th percentile, and his turnover rate was a better-than-average 11.9 percent.

On the defensive end, Brown looked like a completely different player.  He displayed confidence and leadership, and he communicated on assignments.   He was very active and engaged, and gave consistent effort. He used his length to harass ball handlers and shooters.  He played tight on the ball, while displaying good lateral movement and avoiding getting beat off the dribble on a regular basis.  He knew how to help without losing touch with his man, and he was excellent at playing the passing lanes. Overall as a defender this season, Brown limited his opponents to a field-goal percentage of just 32.7 percent and to .75 points per possession (83rd percentile), and he averaged 1.6 steals per game.  Brown also came up with a lot of loose balls, and was a very good rebounding wing (6.2 per game). He didn’t just catch rebounds that fell into his hands – he fought for position and boxed out.

23.  Aaron Holiday (PG/SG)

  • Age: 21.7
  • Height: 6-1
  • Weight: 187
  • Wingspan: 6-8
  • Vertical:  33.0

Over the last 4-5 weeks, the Pacers have spent at lot of time looking at wings, but a quality point guard might be difficult to pass over because 30-year-old Darren Collison is not the long-term answer.  

Holiday has an NBA pedigree, and based on his success at UCLA, he will likely be the third Holiday brother to be a regular contributor in the NBA.  With the Bruins this season, he averaged 20.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 5.8 assists on 46 percent shooting from the field and 43 percent from downtown. Additionally, as a passer and scorer combined, Holiday produced 1.33 points per possession, which ranked at the 92nd percentile.

Holiday lacks athleticism, especially for a point guard, but his diminutive size is not as much of a concern as one might expect because he can compensate with good length.  It also helps that he is a good technician, and has solid fundamentals and a high basketball IQ.

Holiday possesses an excellent combination of shooting and playmaking ability.  He knows how to create for others, be it driving and dishing, hitting the slipping/rolling screener off the pick and roll, or igniting the break with full-court passes.  He is also a floor general and vocal leader, though he can be a bit too emotional at times.

At UCLA, Holiday played off the ball much more than your average point guard.  Part of that was due to playing with Lonzo Ball in 2016-17, and part of it was because Holiday lacks the explosion to consistently win one-on-one battles vs. defenders.  Typically, he would initiate a play with a simple pass on the perimeter, make a cut, loop back around off a screen, and then get the ball back via a pass or a handoff. This type of movement gave him the space and the momentum that he needed to either shoot or drive. This is not to say that Holiday is incapable of creating on his own — he has plenty of agility to maneuver and shoot on the move — but he generally performs better off the ball.

This season, 26 percent of Holiday’s possession came as a handler in the pick and roll, and 24 percent came as a spot-up player.  He fared better as the latter, ranking 84th percentile, than as the former (71st percentile). He also fared better when catching and shooting (98th percentile) than when he did shooting off the dribble (67th percentile).  Only 10 percent of his touches came in isolation (62nd percentile). Holiday was not strictly a jump shooter; in fact, a little over 41 percent of his shots were around the basket. He made a respectable 51 percent of those shots, with roughly a third being runners and floaters.  By being a frequent driver, he had the added advantage of going to the free-throw line 5.2 times per game.

Despite having a nice wingspan, Holiday is still undersized, and when combined with his lack of athleticism, his ability to defend is bound to be an issue at the next level.  This season, he fared well as a overall defender, ranking at the 67th percentile for points allowed per possession. However, he wasn’t overly impactful in terms of steals, blocks, and rebounds, and he didn’t face this stiffest competition by playing in the PAC-12.

24.  Dzanan Musa (SF)

  • Age: 19.1
  • Height: 6-9
  • Weight: 195
  • Wingspan: 6-9
  • Vertical:

This is another pick that very well could be traded.  The Blazers appear to be a team that needs to be restructured, and Damian Lillard is probably the only safe bet to be starting for them next season. Ideally, he would be paired with a backcourt player who can play defense. The team also sorely lacks scoring from the 3 and 4 spots, and Jusuf Nurkic is not a great rim protector.  Musa would add needed offense at the three spot, but he may not help much in the immediate future.

This past season, Musa was a the sixth man for a solid Cedevita club that won the Croatian Premier League, was a semifinalist in the Adriatic League (ABA), and was a top-16 finisher in EuroCup.  Musa was a sparkplug for Cedevita, providing consistent offense off the bench, averaging 12.4 points per game, with an effective field-goal percentage (eFG%) of 54.2. He struggled from the 3-point line (31.3%), but he had a positive assist-turnover ratio of 1.23, and he was excellent from the free-throw line (80.4%).  In the recent past, the Adriatic League has produced productive NBA players such as Dario Saric, Jusuf Nurkic, and Nikola Jokic, and though Musa’s ABA numbers are not as impressive as those produced by any member of that trio, he is still highly regarded due to his age and his potential.

Musa is a very thin and lanky small forward with short wingspan.  He is not overly broad through the shoulders, and he may always be on the slight side.  He is a solid all-around athlete, who has a diverse set of dribble moves and is capable of scoring in a variety of ways.  He is a smart player, who has good shot selection and gets to the free-throw line on a regular basis. He is capable of handling in the pick and roll, and he displays playmaking ability.  He also has a very smooth jump shot, with a quick release, and his height helps him get his shot off.

In terms of points per possession among Europeans this season, Musa finished at the 79th percentile or better in pick-and-roll, spot-up, and isolation situations.  He also was effective scoring in transition and off cuts to the basket. Musa received most of his touches in the pick and roll, and he was the most productive in those situations, producing .98 points per possession (87th percentile).

Musa took a fair amount of spot-up jumpers this season, but he was far more effective off the dribble. When he does put the ball on the floor, he is just as much a threat to go to the basket, as he is to pull up for a stepback jumper.  He is effective with either hand around the rim, and he can be deadly with right-hand runners. When shooting pull-up jumpers and runners this season, he ranked at the 80th and 81st percentile, respectively.

Musa doesn’t project to be a great NBA defender.  He is engaged on the defensive end, moves well laterally, and has good awareness when switching and rotating.  However, he is significantly hampered by his lack of muscle and length; he averaged an anemic .2 blocks per game this season.  

25.  Mitchell Robinson (C)

  • Age: 20.1
  • Height: 6-11
  • Weight: 233
  • Wingspan: 7-4
  • Vertical:

The Lakers need a rim protector more than anything else, and they can’t count on securing one in free agency if they plan to pursue LeBron James and Paul George.  Robinson is a high-risk, high-reward pick, and if nothing else, by going to the Lakers, he would be destined to be in a future episode of Game of Zones.

Robinson is the most interesting prospect in the NBA Draft this year because we know so little about him.  Well, we do know that he can’t seem to make up his mind. First, there was his college recruitment, which turned into a bizarre story that included him changing his course a number of times and ended with him not going anywhere.  Then there was the NBA Combine, which he suddenly declined to attend. At the time, it was rumored that he been made a first-round promise, and he would not be working out privately for any teams leading up to the draft.  However, over the last week or so, he has worked out for the Bucks and the Clippers.

Another thing that we know about Robinson is that he was a dominant rebounder and shot blocker at the high school and AAU levels. He averaged 20.9 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 8.1 blocks in his senior season at Chalmette High School.  Robinson has the size, length, and explosiveness to potentially be a great rim protector and a solid rebounder, but the rest of his game appears to be limited.  Offensively, his game mostly consists of scoring on lobs and putbacks, and on the defensive end, he lacks awareness and intensity.

Unlike Anfernee Simons, Robinson did not participate in competitive games this past year, and his game is far more raw.  With that said, his development may take significantly longer than other players in this draft class, and he is not a particularly young prospect, either.  Robinson’s potential is high enough for someone to take a chance him in the first round, but whichever team selects him would be foolish to expect him to be much more than a role player, who protects the rim and cleans the glass.

26.  Khyri Thomas (SG)

  • Age: 22
  • Height: 6-3
  • Weight: 199
  • Wingspan: 6-11
  • Vertical: 35.0

With both J.J. Redick and Marco Belinelli headed to free agency, the Sixers will likely look for potential replacements with their multitude of picks.   

Thomas is a 3-and-D guard, who has a very impressive wingspan and is known for his defensive prowess.  This season at Creighton, he repeated as the Big East Defensive Player of the Year, and he averaged 15.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game, while shooting 54 percent from the field.

Thomas’ strength and length gives him the ability to guard multiple positions.  He plays with intensity, and he does not give opposing players much room to breathe.  He also has the mentality of a shut-down defender, and is usually assigned to guard the best scorer on the opposing team.  On top of that, he has good defensive awareness and IQ, both of which help him to be a top-notch team defender. His specialty is forcing turnovers.  Among players who defended at least 150 possessions this past season, he forced his opponents to turn the ball over 16.1 percent of the time (86th percentile).  

On the offense end, with the exception of some occasional post-up moves, Thomas shows limited ability to create his own shot, but he is excellent as a spot-up player, shooting threes, with some straight-line drives mixed in.  Thomas consistently fared well from beyond the arc in each of his three years with the Bluejays. He never made less than 39 percent of his 3s, and he finished his collegiate career with an average of 41 percent from downtown.  However, he struggled when shooting jumpers off the bounce, making less than 32 percent of those shots this season.

Thomas was also fantastic in the open court this season, averaging 1.47 points per transition possession (97th percentile).  Thirty percent of his possessions came on the break, which is both impressive and concerning. On one hand, the guard has the stamina and athleticism to run the floor for a significant amount of minutes (31.7 per game). However, on the other hand, it is unlikely that Thomas can amass that many opportunities in transition at the next level.

27.  Josh Okogie (SG)

  • Age: 19.7
  • Height: 6-4
  • Weight: 211
  • Wingspan: 7-0
  • Vertical: 42.0

The Celtics are another team that would like to add a rim protector, but chances are that they will have settle for a guard at this spot.  They have a crowded backcourt right now, but due to free agency, they could potentially loose Kyrie Irving, Terry Rozier, and Marcus Smart over the next two years.  Okogie is one of a number of guards who are options at this part of the draft.

Despite being highly productive in a number of ways for two straight years at Georgia Tech, Okogie is still a bit raw and appears to be just starting to tap into his potential.  A young sophomore who is not yet 20 years old, Okogie averaged 18.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1 block per game this season, while making 38 percent of his 3-point attempts and 82.1 percent of his foul shots.  He is a strong, muscular player, who is solidly built, but not yet completely chiseled. On the basketball court, he doesn’t appear to be an exceptional athlete, but at the NBA combine, he was one of the top performers in the agility, speed, and jumping drills, including a max vertical of 42 inches.

This season at Georgia Tech, Okogie did most of his damage playing off the ball.  He was very productive when catching and shooting, averaging 1.32 points per possession (93rd percentile), effectively using screens to break free for clean looks.  He was also solid in transition (63rd percentile), where he could make use of his athleticism in space.

The rest of Okogie’s offensive game is somewhat hindered by his inability to consistently make plays off the bounce. When he has the ball, he is seemingly unable to make best use of his athleticism – his movements are not always explosive, and he doesn’t always get a lot of lift off the ground around the rim.  It doesn’t help matters that his handle isn’t sophisticated, and he is not adept with runners and floaters. This past season, he was so-so when shooting jumpers off the dribble (42nd percentile), and he struggled around the basket (23rd percentile).

Okogie has the potential to be a triple threat on offense, possibly even spend some time at the point, but he has a ways to go as a ball handler and a playmaker.  He flashes the ability to make plays for others off penetration, but this past season when playing in the pick and roll, he had a high turnover rate (16.2%), and as a scorer, he averaged a modest .75 points per possession (48th percentile).

Due to his physical skill set and his intangibles, Okogie has the potential to be an excellent defender.  He is alert and active, and he hustles. He covers a lot of ground to make plays, including full-court sprints to prevent breakaway layups.  He is generally a sticky on-ball defender, and he was solid defending isolation plays (58th percentile) this season. He does a good job of sliding over and fighting through screens, and has the length and lift to effectively contest shots.  Okogie also gives his team extra possessions by being an excellent rebounding guard. Additionally, he was usually able to avoid foul trouble at Georgia Tech, despite giving good effort on defense and playing a ton of minutes.

28.  Keita Bates-Diop (PF/SF)

  • Age: 22.3
  • Height: 6-8
  • Weight: 224
  • Wingspan: 7-3
  • Vertical:  35.0

Due to free agency, the Warriors could potentially loose Kevon Looney, David West, JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia, and Nick Young.  Finding similar front-court pieces will not be easy at this spot in the draft, but finding someone to fill Young’s shoes should not be too difficult.  In this scenario, Bates-Diop falls right into the champs’ lap.  

Bates-Diop is a tweener for sure, who lacks ideal size for the 4 spot, and doesn’t have ideal athleticism to be a wing. His length helps him compensate, and his likely role as a pro will be as a stretch 4. Of course, we are in the era of position-less basketball, and Bates-Diop, who does a little bit of everything, should find a comfortable spot in the NBA.

Saying that Bates-Diop “does a little bit of everything” is quite literally accurate when describing his offensive skill set. He is mostly a spot-up player, but he also can be productive in transition, in the post, off the pick-and-roll, on cuts to the basket, and on putbacks.  The only significant area where he struggles is in isolation.

As a post-up player this season, Bates-Diop ranked at the 66th percentile.  He was very effective in the mid-post, knocking down turnaround and fadeaway jumpers.  His length and a fairly quick release allow him to get off shots even when closely guarded by taller players.  In general, he was very effective around the basket, especially as a cutter and an offensive rebounder, averaging 1.39 points per possession (92nd percentile).

On the perimeter, Bates-Diop is not yet an elite marksman from beyond the arc (35.9% this season), and he is not proficient at making plays off the bounce.  Shooting jumpers off the dribble this season, he ranked at the 44th percentile, making less than 35 percent of his shots. He displayed the most potential when shooting after setting screens in the pick and roll – on pick-and-pop type plays this season, he averaged an outstanding 1.28 points per shot.  As a driver, Bates-Diop is very effective at taking advantage of hard closeouts when spotting up, but he is not the nimblest ball handler nor is he the quickest driver. He can be effective in space, such as the open court, going coast to coast and throwing down a violent jam, but he struggles when trying to create shots in traffic against tight man-to-man defense.

As an overall defender this season, Bates-Diop was in the middle of the pack, ranking at the 48th percentile.  He did his best work inside, defending in the post, using a combination of good footwork and shot-blocking ability (1.7 blocks per game).  He also displayed the ability to play solid team defense, and he did a good job vs. the pick and roll. Like on offense, he mainly struggled in isolation, which was mostly due to him being an average athlete in terms of speed, quickness, and the ability to change direction.  

29.  Moritz Wagner (C/PF)

  • Age: 21.1
  • Height: 6-11
  • Weight: 241
  • Wingspan: 7-0
  • Vertical: 34.0

The Nets need to get bigger and quicker, and they need to improve defensively.  They also need a building block for the future, but there are none of those at pick 29.  They could take a flyer with Anfernee Simons, but Wagner is the more logical choice. He has the size and the front-court shooting that is sorely missing in Brooklyn.  

Wagner is a rare player because he combines his high basketball IQ, mobility, and shooting ability with a 6-foot-11 frame.  In addition, he provided leadership for Michigan on their Big Ten Championship run and improbable NCAA run. He has a lot of the skills necessary to produce on offense as a stretch-four/five.

Wagner has nice shooting touch and a high release that allows him to shoot over defenders with ease. This past season, he knocked down 39 percent of his threes, and in spot-up possessions, he averaged 1.27 points (95th percentile).  His shooting ability will make Wagner a threat in the pick and pop, especially if he is paired with a guard that can successfully attract the defense.  His offensive skills are not limited to shooting from the outside, however, as he is capable of driving from the perimeter and posting up in the paint.

Wagner has a short wingspan for a center, so defending the basket will certainly be difficult at the NBA level.  In addition, he does not have the upward explosiveness and timing to contest and block shots in the lane. He allowed 0.97 points per post-up possession this season, which put him at the 27th percentile.  Although he plays with a lot of heart and fire, Wagner is just not a capable defender at this point in time.

Read more:  Moritz Wagner Scouting Report

30.  Anfernee Simons (SG)

  • Age: 19
  • Height: 6-3
  • Weight: 183
  • Wingspan: 6-9
  • Vertical: 41.5

Again, it seems likely that the Hawks will be trading some of their picks, with No. 19 being the mostly like one to go.  If no trades happen, their biggest need at this spot would be a rim protector, but it’s highly unlikely that they could fill that need at No. 30.  With that said, we’ll base this selection on the most upside available, which would be Simons, a former top-10 high school recruit, who decided not to attend Louisville due to the FBI scandal.  

Although he’s 19, Simons did not attend college; instead, the highly-touted recruit took a prep year following his high school graduation to play at IMG Academy.  The shoot-first guard has a terrific wingspan and vertical, and is extremely quick with his dribble moves. He also uses his length and quickness to make plays defensively, but he needs to add strength to be a more potent defender.  Over his recent high school and AAU careers, Simons has averaged roughly 18.5 points, 3.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 1 steal per game, while shooting between 40-42 percent from the 3-point line. According to Synergy, he ranked at the 75th percentile or better as a scorer in transition, isolation, pick-and-roll, and spot-up situations in 2017 Under Armour Association events (AAU).

Offensively is where Simons really shines, and he has a scorer’s mentality.  He has the explosiveness to not only blow by other guards, but also to rise up and dunk on them.  He is very shifty with his dribble moves, and has the ability to change direction on a dime. The combination of his abilities to attack the basket and to shoot from the outside make him a difficult player to defend.  He is experienced in the pick and roll, having grown up playing the point, and though he is not best known for his playmaking skills, he has the potential to be a triple threat.

Simons has quite the upside due to his age, his versatility, and his ability to score at multiple levels, but don’t expect him to dominate right out of the gate.  Remember, he hasn’t even competed at the college level. Bust potential is certainly there, but whoever drafts will be hoping that he grows into a the player he was projected to be, a few years down the line.

 

Click here to go the Second Round of the 2018 NBA Draft.

 

Sources, Credits, and Acknowledgements: Stats used in our articles mainly come from Synergy Sports and RealGM, and occasionally from Hoop-Math.com and Sports Reference.

 

About Brendan O'Sullivan 4 Articles
Brendan O’Sullivan is currently majoring in journalism at Quinnipiac University, and is a regular contributor to HoopsProspects.com as a writer and analyst. He has also contributed to Allsportsnews.com and FancredSports.com.