We will finally know the order for the 2018 NBA Draft on Tuesday. The Phoenix Suns, Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks have the best chance at the No. 1 overall pick, but we’ve seen surprises in the lottery before.
That’s exactly what happened when we ran ESPN’s Lottery Machine for our final fake draw.
The Chicago Bulls, positioned No. 6 in the lottery with a 5.3 percent chance of getting the top pick, come up as the lucky winner. This has happened for Chicago before. Back in 2008, the Bulls cashed in on a 1.7 percent chance to win the lottery and draft Derrick Rose.
That worked out pretty well. For a while, anyway.
1. Chicago Bulls - Luka Doncic, G, Slovenia
The Bulls found a cornerstone player from Europe last season when they drafted Lauri Markkanen at No. 7 overall. Doncic would be an ideal offensive fit next to him, forming a devastating pick-and-pop combo that could leverage Markkanen’s elite shooting with Doncic’s special ability to make plays off ball screens for a 6’8, 230-pound guard.
Doncic doesn’t have the raw athleticism you typically expect from a No. 1 overall pick, but he checks so many other boxes. He’s able to change speeds as a ball handler effortlessly while showcasing rare vision and passing ability. He’s been an advanced stats darling as a teenager playing in the best leagues in the world outside of the NBA. More than anything, Doncic simply makes winning plays, which is why we’ve viewed him as the No. 1 pick since last June.
2. Phoenix Suns - Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona
The Suns likely want Doncic after hiring his Slovenian national team coach Igor Kokoskov last week, but they’ll will gladly settle for Ayton if he lasts to No. 2. Arizona connections aside, Ayton is one of the most physically gifted big men to enter the draft in the last decade. His combination of size and explosiveness is unmatched, and he’s got a developing skill level with his face-up game.
Can Ayton anchor a defense as a rim protector? That’s really the only question. He’ll have plenty of time to learn that end of the floor as a 20-year-old. Everything else Ayton brings to the table are the type of things you can’t teach. This is a tremendous raw talent who is going to put up big-time numbers from day one.
3. Los Angeles Clippers - Jaren Jackson Jr., C, Michigan State
Jaren Jackson Jr. is perfect for the modern NBA. He’s a mobile center who can block shots, hit three-pointers and has shown flashes of developing ball skills. He’s also the second youngest player in this mock draft (behind only Jontay Porter), which is more proof that he’s just scratching the surface on his talent level.
Jackson averaged only 11 points and six rebounds at Michigan State, paltry numbers compared to those put up by Ayton and Duke’s Marvin Bagley. More than anything, that’s evidence that per-game statistics don’t always tell the full story. The team that drafts Jackson will have to be patient, but he has every skill the NBA demands out of a modern big man.
4. Memphis Grizzlies - Marvin Bagley III, F/C, Duke
Memphis is the best possible landing spot for Bagley. He’s a preternaturally gifted inside scorer who leverages his athleticism and soft touch to get buckets at will around the basket. His high motor style of play should also resonate with the city and fanbase. His questions come on the defensive end, but that’s where Marc Gasol can help. Gasol’s newfound proficiency from three-point range should also give Bagley plenty of room to operate. Bagley would likely succeed anywhere, but he’d be especially good in Memphis.
5. Dallas Mavericks - Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri
Dallas found its point guard of the future in the draft last year with Dennis Smith Jr. Now it needs to find everything else. Porter represents this year’s boom-or-bust pick. He’s a 6’10 combo forward who can theoretically score from all three levels, but never got to prove it at the college level due to back surgery that derailed his season. A year ago at this time, Porter was considered the No. 1 recruit in the country and a candidate for the No. 1 overall pick in this draft. That potential is still within him, if he’s healthy.
6. Atlanta Hawks - Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas
Bamba has the potential to be one of the best defensive centers in the world. He will have the longest wingspan in the NBA (7’9) from the moment he’s drafted. He already knows how to put it to good use, finishing No. 5 in the country block rate during his freshman year at Texas. His offensive game is raw, but he’s shown signs of a developing jump shot and should be a premium lob target from day one.
7. Orlando Magic - Trae Young, G, Oklahoma
Orlando needs to find its point guard of the future after giving up on Elfrid Payton at the trade deadline. Young would be a blessing if he lasts all the way to No. 7. He’s the best shooter and passer in the draft. His defense will be a big issue, but it’s possible he provides so much value offensively that he makes up for it.
8. Sacramento Kings - Wendell Carter, C, Duke
Carter has drawn Al Horford comparisons from some because of a solid all-around skill set with few holes in it. He’s a strong inside scorer, rebounder and shot blocker, and already has a quality face-up game. His biggest question mark is his lateral quickness on the defensive end.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers - Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky
Four-star recruits typically have a way of getting lost in the shuffle at Kentucky. Not Gilgeous-Alexander, who almost immediately blossomed into the Wildcats’ best player. He’s a gifted offensive creator in the half court, able to find teammates or get to the rim and finish off ball screens. He’s also a highly switchable defender at 6’6 with a 7-foot wingspan. If his jump shot continues to develop, SGA is going to be a problem in the league.
10. New York Knicks - Miles Bridges, F, Michigan State
Bridges is a 6’6, 230 pound wrecking ball on the wing. He’s at his best flying downhill and attacking the basket, but he also proved to be a good shooter during his two years at Michigan State. He’s a little short for a modern four (6’6 with a 6’9 wingspan) and will need to develop his handle to be a full-time three, but his combination of strength and athleticism gives him a high floor as a versatile energy guy in any lineup.
11. Philadelphia 76ers - Zhaire Smith, G, Texas Tech
This time last year Smith was ranked as the No. 294 recruit in his class. Now it’s starting to feel like he’s the breakout star of this draft. He’s an elite athlete for a 6’5 shooting guard, capable of making plays above the rim on both ends of the floor. He was one of the most impactful players in college basketball this year, finishing No. 7 in BPM. Philly fans might be pining for Villanova’s Mikal Bridges at this pick, but consider that Bridges was redshirting when he was Smith’s age. Smith’s upside is higher, and that’s why he’s the choice for the Sixers.
12. Charlotte Hornets - Mikal Bridges, F, Villanova
Bridges will be immediately useful as a 3-and-D role player. He’s always been a gifted defender with quick feet and a 7-foot wingspan, though he’ll have to continue to add strength. He’s not much of a creator offensively, but he’s grown into an excellent three-point shooter during his four years at Villanova. This is the type of player who could help any team. He’d be a great value for Charlotte at No. 12.
13. Los Angeles Clippers - Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama
Sexton is a pure scorer as a downhill point guard who lives at the foul line. He’s not a polished shooter or passer yet, but he’s an unbridled competitor who almost won a game 3-on-5 this year. This is the type of player you want in your foxhole.
14. Denver Nuggets - Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky
Knox is an athletic 6’9 wing who can knock down shots. He needs to improve as a ball handler, passer and decision maker, but his combination of youth and physical gifts gives him both a high floor and high ceiling at a premium position.
15. Washington Wizards - Robert Williams, C, Texas A&M
Williams is a rim protector and lob target in the mold of Houston’s Clint Capela. He has great bounce, a 7’5 wingspan and good shot blocking instincts. The Wizards need athleticism and young blood in the front court. This feels like an ideal fit.
16. Phoenix Suns - Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami
Walker is a bet on physical tools over statistical production. He struggled to score efficiently as he returned from a torn meniscus in the preseason, but there were plenty of occasions where his natural talent shined through. At his best, Walker is an athletic shooting guard with a 6’10 wingspan who can hit threes and get to the rim. Coming away from this draft with Ayton and Walker would have Suns fans feeling really good.
17. Milwaukee Bucks - Jontay Porter, C, Missouri
Jontay Porter isn’t an elite athlete like his older brother Michael, but his skill set is a perfect fit in today’s NBA. The younger Porter is a solid three-point shooter (40 makes at 36.7 percent), a good shot blocker and has really high basketball IQ. He’s also the youngest player in this draft.
18. San Antonio Spurs - Troy Brown, G, Oregon
Brown’s game is all about the little things. He was raised as a point guard, and retained his ball handling and passing ability as he’s transitioned to the wing. He’s also a versatile defender who will be able to switch anything across the perimeter. He’s not a great pure scorer, but rather the type of role player who simply helps teams win games.
19. Atlanta Hawks - Anfernee Simons, G, IMG Academy
Simons is a fifth year high school player who enters the draft through the same loophole Thon Maker once used. He’s a bouncy 6’4 combo guard with a projectable jump shot and the quickness to break opponents down off the dribble. The Hawks might need to stash him in the G League for a year or two, but he’s a high upside pick who could pay major dividends down the line.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves - Chandler Hutchison, F, Boise State
Hutchison is a 6’7 wing who can slash and has made big strides as a shooter. The senior dropped 44 points on San Diego State in his best performance of the year:
21. Utah Jazz - Jacob Evans, G, Cincinnati
Evans is a potential 3-and-D wing who served as the backbone of a Cincinnati team that finished No. 2 in defensive efficiency this season. He’s a limited offensive creator right now, but he’s the type of specialist teams can find value with at this point in the draft.
22. Chicago Bulls - Keita Bates-Diop, F, Ohio State
Bates-Diop is 6’7, 235-pound wing who blossomed in his fourth year at Ohio State, averaging nearly 20 points per game and improving as a three-point shooter (36 percent on 66 makes). He fits the Bulls’ profile as a veteran player from a major program.
23. Indiana Pacers - Elie Okobo, PG, France
Okobo is still learning how to play the game, but a smart team could have itself a quality player if it can harness his physical gifts. He has good physical tools as a 6’3 lead guard with a 6’8 wingspan, and he’s also an impressive shot-maker off the dribble.
24. Portland Trail Blazers - Dzanan Musa, F, Bosnia
A straight bucker-getter from Bosnia. Get familiar with the 6’9 forward:
25. Los Angeles Lakers - Mitchell Robinson, C
Robinson is a super athletic 7-footer who blocks shots and catches lobs. This is a high-upside pick at No. 25.
26. Philadelphia 76ers - Shake Milton, PG, SMU
Milton is a great fit next to Ben Simmons as a 6’6 point guard who can play off the ball. He hit over 40 percent of his threes in all three years he spent at SMU.
27. Boston Celtics - De’Anthony Melton, G, USC
Melton is a tough guard who can handle, pass and defend multiple positions. Boston has a way of turning guards like that into contributors. He missed his entire sophomore season amid allegations of his involvement in the FBI scandal, but NBA teams will remember why he broke out as a freshman.
28. Golden State Warriors - Josh Okogie, G, Georgia Tech
Okogie is a high-energy 6’5 wing with a 7-foot wingspan he has hit 38 percent of his threes in two seasons at Georgia Tech. He struggles to score off the dribble, but he checks a lot of boxes as a role player.
29. Brooklyn Nets - Jalen Brunson, G, Villanova
The consensus national player of the year and a two-time national champ. Brunson is wired to score as a thick 6’2 guard who can knock down threes and bully smaller defenders in the post. He’s going to have a long pro career.
30. Atlanta Hawks - Khyri Thomas, G, Creighton
Thomas makes his mark as a fearsome perimeter defender (two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year) and a quality outside shooter. There’s a place in the league for someone like that.