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3 reasons the 2018 NBA Draft could get absolutely bonkers

Everything is set up for a draft night for the ages. Expect the unexpected.

Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

We are now one week away from the 2018 NBA Draft. This is a draft people have been watching for years because of the talent available. The talent, in fact, has improved over the past year as certain players found ways to become eligible a year earlier than expected.

While the 2017 NBA Draft was infamously stacked with high-end prospects — resulting in one of the best collective rookie showings in memory — there’s plenty of major promise here, too. This could turn into a multi-year bumper crop of future all-stars who could help the NBA transition between generations.

There is also a gargantuan amount of uncertainty surrounding everything in the NBA right now ... everything but the Warriors, that is. These are wacky times in the NBA, and the NBA Draft is often wacky all on its own. The combination of the two could create a truly bonkers night that could kick off a truly bonkers offseason.

Here are three big reasons we think the NBA Draft could get nutty.

1. Everything is debatable in the lottery. Everything.

Should DeAndre Ayton or Luka Doncic go No. 1 in the draft? Debatable. Will Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, or Jaren Jackson, Jr. be the best big man from this class? Debatable. Is Michael Porter, Jr. so good that questions about his back are mostly irrelevant? Debatable. Do Trae Young and Collin Sexton have star potential? Debatable. Is Mo Bamba the future of the NBA? Debatable.

No one agrees about anything in this NBA draft class, and it’s more than the typical skirmishing over minor differences of opinion. Everything is still up for debate, even with high-end prospects who in other years might be the consensus No. 1 pick.

All that disagreement, assuming it also applies to decision-makers, likely leads to prospects who fall further than expected, prospects who go higher than expected, teams that capitalize on those disagreements to swoop in and grab undervalued prospects, and overall mayhem.

Take an example from another year where there was basically no consensus about anything: 2013. This is the Anthony Bennett year. There ended up being three different draft-day trades in the lottery, one featuring a young All-Star, Jrue Holiday. The four best players in the class were picked No. 2 (Victor Oladipo), No. 10 (C.J. McCollum), No. 15 (Giannis Antetokounmpo), and No. 27 (Rudy Gobert).

There’s a bit more consensus and a lot more talent at the top this year. But the uncertainty about who might go where could spark one trade, which could spark another, and so on.

2. An epic free agency situation will destabilize everything.

A black hole looms out on July 1, threatening to suck everything into its gaping maw. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Paul George are all unrestricted free agents. Durant is probably staying with Golden State, but LeBron’s options are wide open and PG-13 is seen as a huge factor in whatever happens with the top contenders to the Warriors. DeMarcus Cousins is out there, too, and the Rockets and Sixers have huge plans to make splashes. Kawhi Leonard might still be on the trade block.

One problem: few teams have cap space. The market is really tight. Teams that want to get into the mix need to get creative. The draft is the unofficial start of summer trade season, and given how much is at stake in free agency, the thirst to clear cap space and hoard talent could lead to some wild machinations on draft night as offers fly fast and hot.

Consider Danny Ainge’s Celtics, who don’t have a lottery pick but have a grip of assets and big dreams. Boston seems to win just about every trade it makes, so you can expect Ainge to get into the mix on Thursday, looking for opportunities to upgrade both now and into the future. Houston’s Daryl Morey has always been a mover-and-shaker in the draft as well, and he has a lot to juggle this summer.

The draft itself is a huge opportunity for chaos based on its structure. With pure chaos set to start July 1 when free agency opens, we might as well combine the two episodes into one giant party of wild doom-making.

3. The Kings are extremely unpredictable.

I don’t know how to put this delicately, but no one seems remotely confident that the Kings are going to do anything at all rational after winning the No. 2 pick in the draft. Perhaps this is unfair. The Kings did keep it rather boring last year, making close to a consensus choice with De’Aaron Fox at No. 5.

But we all remember 2016, where the Kings traded down from No. 8 to pick Georgios Papagiannis and Skal Labissiere. (Papagiannis was cut this year. Skal was the ninth man on a 27-win team last season.) We all remember the Hinkie heist, where the Kings essentially gave up two lottery picks (Nik Stauskas and the 2019 selection) and a pick swap option for cap space they then used to help turn a 29-win team into a 33-win team. We all remember the bizarre process surrounding the DeMarcus Cousins trade.

We all remember all the times the Kings acted irrationally, and we all see the Kings at No. 2 in this already chaotic draft setting. We should all prepare, frankly, for Vlade Divac to set it all aflame with some completely off-the-wall decision right from darn near the top of the derby.

The Kings aren’t the only unpredictable team in the high lottery — the Grizzlies strike me as a chaos candidate, given their unstable front office situation, absentee franchise owner, and delusions of near-term revival. But Sacramento is the most unpredictable actor based on recent evidence and because they have the higher selection. The Suns can only do so much damage from their perch at No. 1.

This isn’t to say that Divac is a chaotic figure in that he wants to watch the NBA draft burn. He just has a habit of accidentally setting his team on fire. It’s an inferno all the same.