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The Lead’s 2018 NBA Draft Big Board v.1

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It’s a little too early for mock drafts. With how much things jumble around in the NBA, (the Chicago Bulls went 10-6 in December for example) the team fit aspect would be too messy. But big boards we can! This is a ranking of the 14-best NBA prospects that would join a non-playoff team and then a quick 2 seconds on what they do well when playing basketball, what areas of basketball they aren’t as proficient at and some questions yours truly has about that player going forward. Let’s go.

 

  1.    Luka Doncic – Wing, 19 Years old, 6’7”, 215 lbs. Real Madrid

Strengths: Pick-and-roll savant, fantastic court vision, advanced timing, deception, and has the size to deliver all of the passes. All of them. In the EuroLeague, he’s second in scoring, seventh in assists and has a true-shooting percentage of 66.1. Doncic to this point in his life has been absolutely awesome at playing basketball.

Weaknesses: May be a touch slow for smaller guard and a touch too small for more traditional bigs, could get exposed in space versus quicker players and beasted underneath.

Question: Who will he guard in the NBA? Can he create separation like he does in Europe?

  1.    Deandre Ayton – Big, Freshman, 7’1”, 250 lbs. Arizona

Strengths: Coordination and fluidity are his biggest advantage. At 7’1” Ayton moves like a guard and has the skills to attack with it. The fluidity shows up in every part of his game from the post moves, to his jumpshot, to sliding his feet when engaged. He’s an athletic monster who will have teams oozing.

Weaknesses: Seems to play like he’s 7’1”, 250 lbs and a freak athlete. He doesn’t always give his best effort. He has been the best player on the court, probably always, so it’s hard to blame him.

Question: Will he play hard when things are going bad? Will he learn to be the primary rim protector his physical tools say he can be?

  1.    Trae Young – Point Guard, Freshman, 6’2”, 180 lbs. Oklahoma

Strengths: Generational shooting talent. Has a potent combination of pull-up shooting, shiftiness with the ball and crafty passing vision that transition seamlessly into the modern NBA. But back to my first point – this guy can flat out stroke it. Watch.

Weaknesses: Below average physical profile for a lead guard in terms of height and length. Not an outlier in terms of top end speed and can’t play above the rim at all.

Question: Will the limited explosiveness not allow him to finish around the basket? Could he be a two level scorer with very limited defense?

  1.     Michael Porter Jr. – Wing, Freshman, 6’10”, 215 lbs. Missouri

Strengths: A 6’10” pure scorer that can get his own shots off the catch or off the bounce at any time. Porter Jr. is a tremendously fluid athlete with good explosion and gets off the floor quickly and easily as a leaper. Really high level scorer, with advanced moves. Has the ability to shoot off high speeds on pull-ups already with NBA range after stopping on a dime.  Would be my No. 2 prospect if healthy.

Weaknesses: Had microdiscectomy surgery of the L3-L4 spinal discs earlier this season. His injury leaves plenty of questions about where he’ll actually end up. Has other weaknesses, like: How good is his feel? Will he be able to involve others? How refined is his handle in tight spaces? The injury will dictate where Porter Jr. ends up going.

Question: How is the back? Does the injury limit his athleticism?

  1.     Marvin Bagley III – Big, Freshman, 6’11”, 240 lbs. Duke

Strengths: I could use a thesaurus to find a more elegant adjective to describe Bagley’s athleticism but I really feel like this works best: He’s super athletic. Super as in I’m not sure he’s built like the rest of us. Absolutely special combination of fluidity and explosive athleticism for his size. He can use his speed to outrun a wing on the break and then dunk on a big. Super.

Weaknesses: Less refined skill wise than any of the prospects above him. Isn’t a strong outside shooter, and is most productive by just out-working and having natural touch. The cracks in his defense have shown a bit, indicating he might not be a primary rim protector.

Question: Can he either hit 3’s or be a primary P&R defender?

  1.     Mohamed Bamba – Big, Freshman, 7’0”, 230 lbs. Texas

Strengths: 7’9” wingspan, 9’6” standing reach, and quick/coordinated hands create blocks, steals, and deflections. Greatest attribute by far. Unbelievable human specimen, much less NBA athlete.

Weaknesses: No feel for taking advantage of the defense. Reads/recognizes advantages slowly. Chases blocks too often.

Question: Does he know how to maximize his skills on offense?

  1.    Jaren Jackson Jr. – Big, Freshman, 6’11”, 238 lbs. Michigan State

Strengths: Skilled offensively. Has a bit of a knuckleball shot with a weird release but it goes in from college 3pt range. Outstanding rim protection, anticipation and instincts. Quick to the ball from the floor.

Weaknesses: While he has a high skill level he’s not a self creator or playmaker for others at a high level at all. Has to make all plays off of an advantage.

Question: High level support piece? Primary rim protector or weakside only?

  1.    Collin Sexton – Point Guard, Freshman, 6’2”, 185 lbs. Alabama

Strengths: Exceptional athlete. Speed and quickness at a whole other level vs. college defenders. Very tight handle lets him create space versus defenders and get in lane where he’s a good enough passer to take advantage.

Weaknesses:  Emotions get the best of him at times. He plays a little out of control on offense and ends up forcing bad shots.

Question: Only 6’3″ in shoes and 185 lbs. Will he be able finish in lane in the NBA?

  1.    Mikal Bridges – Wing, Junior, 6’7”, 210 lbs. Villanova

Strengths: Best perimeter defender in the class. Engulfs the opposition with a 7’2” wingspan and excellent footwork. Confident and capable off the catch off screens and shows the preparatory footwork to get buckets.

Weaknesses:  Doesn’t project to have a ton of upside. Just a high-level role player.

Question: Can he guard bigger-bodied NBA threes?

  1.     Wendell Carter Jr. – Big, Freshman, 6’11”, 260 lbs. Duke

Strengths: Projects best as a face-up playmaker at the NBA level with his passing awareness from the perimeter. Shooting mechanics look projectable to NBA 3 eventually.

Weaknesses: Not an outlier with size or athleticism. Will always have to win with higher skill level.

Question: Can he be an actual difference on both ends?

  1.     Miles Bridges – Wing, Sophomore, 6’7”, 230 lbs. Michigan State

Strengths: He’s one of the most explosive athletes in college basketball. Off of two feet he can jump higher than most other human beings. Has complementary skills – shooting off the catch, passing on the move, and rebounding for his size.

Weaknesses:  Not an outlier in terms of those skills. Can only drive in a straight line, not a good creator, not an above average defender. Room for the skills to be developed.

Question: What is the value of a dunker, switchy guy? If he just a play finisher, does he have top 10 value?

  1.      Robert Williams – Big, Sophomore, 6’9”, 240 lbs. Texas A&M

Strengths: A pogo-stick big man who teams will draft in hopes can be a DeAndre Jordan-lite.

Weaknesses:  Not many skills. Shows a bit of a jumpshot, but really will just have to rely on athleticism to succeed.

Question: Can he be a starting center? Will he have the mobility and rebounding to be worth it?

  1.      Kevin Knox – Wing, Freshman, 6’9”, 215 lbs. Kentucky

Strengths: Prototypical modern stretch-4. He’s a fluid athlete for his size, most comfortable with using the threat of a shot to attack the paint.

Weaknesses:  Very little creation value, both dribbling or passing. If he receives the ball in catch-and-shoot situations or cutting to the basket, he almost always shoots.

Question: Is he going to be good enough at anything to provide starting value?

  1.      De’Anthony Melton – Wing/Point Guard, Sophomore, 6’3”, 195 lbs. USC

Strengths: Lacks dynamic explosiveness and burst, but is a very functional athlete which shows through in his versatility (rebounding, shot-blocking etc). Has the court vision and enough handle to operate in pick-and-roll as a secondary creator.

Weaknesses:  Don’t foresee him becoming a plus shooter and doesn’t have ideal mechanics with a weird elbow flaring out.

Question: Will he be able to score well enough to have any self gravity? Will he be switchable 1-3 or just have to guard 1’s and 2’s?

Agree or disagree? Comment your thoughts below!

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About Josh Sinclair

General NBA and Bucks Lead contributor. Always down to talk buckets and why grilled cheese is the best. Twitter: @thejoshsinclair

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