NBA mock drafts from 'The Edge'

By Matt Youmans  (VSiN senior editor) 

June 20, 2018 07:37 AM
Deandre Ayton is an overwhelming odds-on favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.
© USA Today Sports Images

It is assumed that Deandre Ayton, a 7-foot-1 center who played one controversial season at Arizona, will be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. Ayton said he will be the top pick, and offshore oddsmakers agree.

Ayton is an overwhelming odds-on favorite — anywhere from 1-10 to 1-25 — to go first. All things considered, that’s a preposterous price. In a league going the way of small-ball and scoring guards and wings, traditional centers are becoming dinosaurs. Ayton will be a standout player at the next level, no doubt, but those who believe this is an easy pick for the Phoenix Suns to make are not thinking it through.

Point guards are more valuable, and 6-8 Luka Doncic from Slovenia probably would be a better top pick for the Suns. Marvin Bagley III, a power forward from Duke, is a freak athlete who can score on anyone around the rim and shoot it from the perimeter. The Phoenix pick, in my opinion, should be a coin flip between Doncic and Bagley.

Las Vegas bookmakers are greeting this NBA Draft with such indifference that no propositions will be posted this week. That is understandable. This event has nowhere near the public appeal of the NFL Draft, and about 90 percent of the action would come from sharps while the Average Joes sit on the sideline.

This is an unpredictable draft with a potential Kawhi Leonard trade looming. If Ayton does not go first, expect this mock to get mucked up. But here’s a shot at how the first round could develop:

1. Phoenix: Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona

First, the positives: Ayton is a monster rebounder, strong low-post defender and has a soft touch on his jumper. Now, the negatives: He’s perceived to be a great athlete, but in reality he’s mechanical when compared to Bagley. He’s seldom a high-energy guy. His 3-point shooting for the Wildcats (12-for-35, 34 percent) was nothing to brag about. His outside game is overrated. The Wilt Chamberlain comparisons that some have made are ridiculous. But the Suns see a potentially dominant big man, so they likely make the pick that will be most popular in Arizona.

2. Sacramento: Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke

The Suns would make a mistake by passing on Doncic, but it seems the top of the draft will play out this way. Sacramento already has De’Aaron Fox to run the point, so Bagley is the obvious choice here. The knock on Bagley is he’s weak on the defensive end. His offensive game is enormous, though. He made 39.7 percent of his 3-pointers as a freshman and his shot will continue to improve. The 6-11 Bagley is a dynamite athlete with a nonstop motor. He will score and rebound at a high level immediately.

3. Atlanta: Luka Doncic, PG, Slovenia

In two or three years, expect Doncic to be regarded as one of the NBA’s elite point guards. Listed at 6-6 and 6-8, he’s got the size and skills to be a star. Doncic is a sensational passer, playmaker and scorer who can handle both guard spots. He’s tough, too, which is a question mark that shadows some European players. He turned 19 in February and was the EuroLeague MVP. The Hawks would be foolish not take him if he’s on the board. If the Suns snag Doncic, Atlanta will go with either Ayton or Bagley, so they cannot screw this up, right?

4. Memphis: Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Michigan State

Jackson emerged as a 6-11 freshman who put on dunking exhibitions, defended the paint and proved he could shoot from the perimeter, though his shot mechanics are awkward. His stock is rising and his potential as a two-way player is exciting.

5. Dallas: Mo Bamba, C, Texas

The 7-footer is nowhere near as polished as Ayton or Bagley on the offensive end, but Bamba is the best rim defender in the draft. He totaled 111 blocked shots as a freshman. This would be a tough call for the Grizzlies because more talented scorers will be available. Bamba could slide.

6. Orlando: Wendell Carter Jr., PF, Duke

How did Mike Krzyzewski fail to coach the Blue Devils to the Final Four? Bagley and Carter are similar in many ways. The 6-10 Carter made 41 percent of his 3s and averaged 2.1 blocks. The Mavericks will be tempted to take Carter with the fifth pick.

7. Chicago: Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

Young is the wild card in the top 10 because he’s the most likely player to bust. His ability to score (27.4 points per game) is undeniable, yet his production declined when teams figured out how to defend him. He averaged 5.2 turnovers and his 3-point shooting slipped to 36 percent. Young is slight and will get pushed around by physical NBA guards.

8. Cleveland: Michael Porter Jr., SF, Missouri

If not for back and hip injuries, Porter would go in the top five. He might go there anyway. He’s a versatile athlete at 6-10, and for a team on the brink of losing LeBron James, Porter is a decent replacement. The Cavs need a point guard, too, but there’s no way to pass on Porter.

9. New York: Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova

The Knicks took a point guard in the top 10 a year ago, so expect them to go with a wing or big man in this spot. Bridges is skilled and tough on both ends, a Kawhi Leonard-type player, so if he’s on the board the Knicks would be crazy not to call his name. This draft is incredibly deep at the top and the Villanova star is a steal in this spot.

10. Philadelphia: Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

If the Knicks fumble the ball, which is always possible, the Sixers are salivating at the thought of getting Mikal Bridges here. The other Bridges who starred for Tom Izzo is a good backup plan. He can shoot the 3 and is a prototype NBA wing as a high-flying 6-6 athlete. But if Kevin Knox goes to the Knicks, Mikal Bridges will stay home in this spot.

11. Charlotte: Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama

12. L.A. Clippers: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, SG, Kentucky

13. L.A. Clippers: Robert Williams, PF, Texas A&M

14. Denver: Kevin Knox, SF, Kentucky

15. Washington: Lonnie Walker, SG, Miami

16. Phoenix: Zhaire Smith, SF, Texas Tech

17. Milwaukee: Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky

18. San Antonio: Dzanan Musa, SF, Bosnia

19. Atlanta: Aaron Holiday, SG, UCLA

20. Minnesota: Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton

21. Utah: Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland

22. Chicago: Troy Brown, SF, Oregon

23. Indiana: Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State

24. Portland: Josh Okogie, SG, Georgia Tech

25. L.A. Lakers: Chandler Hutchison, SF, Boise State

26. Philadelphia: Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova

27. Boston: Grayson Allen, SG, Duke

28. Golden State: Melvin Frazier Jr., SF, Tulane

29. Brooklyn: Jacob Evans, SF, Cincinnati

30. Atlanta: Omari Spellman, PF, Villanova

Jonathan Von Tobel’s mock draft

Co-host of "The Edge" @meJVT

1. Phoenix: Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona

The global favorite to be selected first overall, Ayton will be a great cornerstone in a young front court that already includes intriguing youngsters Josh Jackson and Marquese Chriss.

2. Sacramento: Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke

Multiple reports indicate that this is a match made in heaven due to Sacramento souring on Luka Doncic, and the lack of development coming from Willie Cauley-Stein. 

3. Atlanta: Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Michigan State

Jackson will be a great addition for Atlanta’s young guns — Taurean Prince and John Collins — with his ability to stretch the floor, and guard multiple positions. 

4. Memphis: Luka Doncic, PG, Slovenia

Multiple scouting sites have Doncic listed as the best prospect in this draft, and he would be a blessing in this spot. A healthy Mike Conley and happy Marc Gasol could have one last postseason run in them with Doncic as a teammate. 

5. Dallas: Mo Bamba, C, Texas

With the issues between Rick Carlisle and Nerlens Noel last season, it seems that experiment has run its course. Bamba would give the Mavericks everything the team has pursued in the past few offseasons: An athletic big with floor-running capabilities. 

6. Orlando: Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

In a backcourt that is devoid of talent at the point guard position, Young will get plenty of run in his first season. The Magic were a bottom-tier shooting team as well, so his distance is needed.

7. Chicago: Wendell Carter, PF, Duke

Lauri Markkanen was everything the Bulls were hoping for at power forward, now they must find a low-post player to team him up with. Carter has a solid back-to-the-basket game that should pair nicely and give Chicago a frontcourt to build around. 

8. Cleveland: Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama

Regardless of what LeBron James decides to do, the Cavaliers desperately need a playmaking guard. Sexton will be just that, and will be a solid building block should the team need to start from scratch. 

9. New York: Kevin Knox, SF, Kentucky

The Knickerbockers are in need of a dynamic wing who can play defense and score from multiple spots. That is Knox. His presence will give New York a very solid frontcourt with size.

10. Philadelphia: Michael Porter Jr., SF, Missouri

If Porter drops this far, and he is healthy, the Association is in for a rough stretch of about 10 years. Porter is everything the 76ers want in that he is big, agile and can shoot. If he is here don’t expect Philly to take long submitting its pick. 

11. Charlotte: Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova

12. L.A. Clippers: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, SG, Kentucky

13. L.A. Clippers: Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

14. Denver: Jerome Robinson, PG, Boston College

15. Washington: Robert Williams, PF, Texas A&M

16. Phoenix: Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

17. Milwaukee: Lonnie Walker, SG, Miami

18. San Antonio: Zhaire Smith, SF, Texas Tech

19. Atlanta: Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland

20. Minnesota: Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova

21. Utah: Omari Spellman, PF, Villanova

22. Chicago: Chandler Hutchison, SF, Boise State

23. Indiana: Troy Brown, SG, Oregon

24. Portland: Josh Okogie, SG, Georgia Tech

25. L.A. Lakers: Grayson Allen, SG, Duke

26. Philadelphia: De’Anthony Melton, SG, USC

27. Boston: Elie Okobo, PG, France

28. Golden State: Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky

29. Brooklyn: Dzanan Musa, SF, Bosnia

30. Atlanta: Jacob Evans, SF, Cincinnati

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