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NBA Mock Draft: Pre-March Madness Edition

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March Madness is right around the corner and tank season is officially here, meaning that it is finally time to take a look at the 2018 NBA Draft. The race to the bottom is going to be one of the more interesting storylines throughout the last 30 games of the year. The bottom six teams in the league are all tied in the win column, with 18 each. Brooklyn, Atlanta, Phoenix, Dallas, Sacramento, Orlando, and Memphis are all mired in a race to the bottom, with Brooklyn, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Charlotte at or below 24 wins. The lottery could go in several different ways. For the purposes of this mock draft, the lottery simulator at www.tankathon.com was used and generated the first five picks of the lottery in this order.

1)Atlanta – Deandre Ayton

Just three years ago, the Hawks won 60 games led by their dynamic frontcourt of Paul Millsap and Al Horford. Neither of the two are on the team anymore, Millsap in Denver, and Horford in Boston. Ayton gives them a chance to reclaim that dominant frontcourt by pairing him with their first-round pick from a year ago, John Collins. Ayton has great length with a 7’5” wingspan and has shown incredible athletic abilities. He uses that wingspan on defense as an imposing rim protector, with 3.3 blocks per 40 minutes. On the offensive end, Ayton has shown the ability to score in the post and outside. He averages 35 points per 40 minutes, shooting 33% from behind the 3-point line. There are questions about his motor, which seems to wane at times this season, but if coached correctly, he could be the next dominant center in the league, a franchise player for the Hawks.

2)Orlando – Luka Doncic

Doncic is one of my favorite players in this draft class. He is extremely advanced in terms of shot creation and playmaking for his young age. He plays overseas in the ACB, a level of competition greater than the NCAA and is flourishing. He averages 23.1 points per 36 minutes. He has a wide range of skills. He can pull up from 3-point range, use a variety of dribble moves to get to the basket, and once he gets there, he can finish with either hand and through contact. His vision as a passer is impressive for such a young player. For a team like Orlando, a team that has very little in terms of talent and especially talent in the backcourt, Doncic could become the face of the franchise and change the culture of the Magic.

3)Chicago – Mo Bamba

Bamba has one of the strangest bodies in this draft class. He stands at 7’0”, with a massive 7’9” wingspan, similar to that of Rudy Gobert. Like Gobert, Bamba blocks an absurd amount of shots, a 5.1 per 40 minutes. That is insane. That’s simply incredible production and drafting Bamba not only gives you that rim protection, it changes your entire defense. Utah’s defense has consistently been at the top of the league since they acquired Gobert and taking Bamba could similarly change Chicago’s defense. On offense, Bamba is extremely raw. He hasn’t shown much of a post-up game, but has shown a proficiency in finishing near the rim. His offensive game has a much higher ceiling, and pairing him with Lauri Markkanen, who is anything but a rim protector could mitigate some of the defensive concerns that the Bulls are sure to encounter with Markkanen.

4)Phoenix – Marvin Bagley

Bagley is one of those prospects where the production in college may inflate his draft stock to a level he cannot live up to. His position in the league is going to be center, and he doesn’t have the skills to be a great center. He can’t protect the rim exceptionally well, with only 1.3 blocks per 40 minutes. Bagley has shown some ability to shoot the three-pointer in college, with a 35% when he steps behind the arc. He also has a well-developed post game, although he hasn’t shown a consistent ability to finish with his right hand. He has a high floor, but his ceiling could be limited because of his defensive limitations. For Phoenix, that needs any talent they can get, he’s a good pick that should bring them to mediocrity at the least.

5)Dallas – Michael Porter Jr.

Porter is the biggest question of the draft. Before the year, he was compared to stars like Kevin Durant because of their similar shot creation abilities. Then, he underwent back surgery on his spinal discs. Nobody knows how Porter will look after his return, but for Dallas, this is the one time you have to take a risk. They could take a much safer player in Jaren Jackson, but if Porter becomes as good as he can be and hits his ceiling, he could be incredibly special. He and Dennis Smith could form a dynamic one-two punch for years to come.

 

 

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NBA Mock Draft: Pre-March Madness Edition