With the NBA regular season finished, the draft order for the 2018 NBA Draft is set….kind of. While a few ties need to be broken, the order is all but set.
For the Lakers, that means the team will have the 25th pick in the draft as they own Cleveland’s first-round selection as part of the Isaiah Thomas-Jordan Clarkson trade.
And while the playoffs are always exciting for all NBA fans, many Laker fans will take a glimpse toward the future and who may be joining the young core, assuming the Lakers don’t move the pick as part of a potential Luol Deng or cap-clearing trade.
1. Phoenix Suns – DeAndre Ayton, Arizona, center
While I think Luka Doncic is the best player in this draft, most every indication has been that DeAndre Ayton will be the top pick. Ayton is still a stud and an incredible physical specimen.
2. Memphis Grizzlies – Luka Doncic, Real Madrid, guard
Putting Luka Doncic next to Marc Gasol and Mike Conley will be incredibly fun, though that is dependent on both of those players being there at the start of the 2018-19 season.
3. Dallas Mavericks – Marvin Bagley III, Duke, forward/center
I’m still a big believer in Marvin Bagley, likely bigger than most. Bagley would give the Mavericks’ frontcourt a shot in the arm and would be a fun pairing next to Dennis Smith Jr.
4. Atlanta Hawks – Michael Porter, Missouri, forward
The Atlanta Hawks are desperate for any kind of star power. Or just NBA players. Michael Porter slid under the radar, but I think after individual workouts, he’ll start climbing big boards again.
5. Orlando Magic – Jaren Jackson Jr., Michigan State, forward/center
The Orlando Magic have a bit of a crowded frontcourt, especially assuming they bring back Aaron Gordon. But I’m not sure many of them are long-term pieces with the franchise like Jaren Jackson Jr. would be.
6. Chicago Bulls – Trae Young, Oklahoma, guard
Trae Young would step onto the court in Chicago and be arguably the best shooter on the team. Plus, like many teams this high in the draft, he gives the Bulls a face of the rebuild.
7. Sacramento Kings – Mo Bamba, Texas, center
The Kings don’t really have a need that can be addressed with how this draft shakes out. Instead, the team -should- draft the best player available, which is Mo Bamba in this case. But it’s the Kings. So they probably won’t.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Nets) – Wendell Carter, Duke, center
I’m a huge Wendell Carter fan and think he’ll be a stud in the NBA. Given the Cavaliers’ situation, taking best player available makes the most sense.
9. New York Knicks – Miles Bridges, Michigan State, forward
This season’s annual top-10 picks for the Knicks sees them take Miles Bridges, a player who I’m higher on than most and someone I think fits well next to Kristaps Porzingis.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via Lakers) – Mikal Bridges, Villanova, forward
It’s crazy to think that Mikal Bridges is a top 10 pick and it was his teammate, Jalen Brunson, who won National Player of the Year. But at least Bridges gets to stay in Philadelphia after winning a title with Philadelphia’s college team.
11. Charlotte Hornets – Collin Sexton, Alabama, guard
Another player I’m very high on, Collin Sexton is a stud. The fit next to Kemba Walker could be weird at times, but overall, I’m a fan of taking best player available and figuring out the fit later.
12. Los Angeles Clippers (via Pistons) – Kevin Knox, Kentucky, forward
13. Los Angeles Clippers – Zhaire Smith, Texas Tech, forward
With James Harden ending the career of Wes Johnson late in the season, the Clippers have a big hole at the forward spot that either of these guys could potentially fill.
14. Denver Nuggets – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kentucky, guard
The Nuggets have literally never had a problem drafting a guard with a shaky jumper.
15. Washington Wizards – Robert Williams, Texas A&M, center
For seemingly the 15th year in a row, the Wizards’ bench needs work. Robert Williams probably should have come out last season, but his stock didn’t take much of a hit as he’s still a borderline lottery talent.
16. Phoenix Suns (via Bucks) – Lonnie Walker IV, Miami, guard
17. Phoenix Suns (via Heat) – Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State, forward
If you’re going to draft Ayton, the best thing to do is just surround him with guards that are shooters. Lonnie Walker helps that strategy as does Keita Bates-Diop. Diop is one of my favorite prospects in this draft and someone who could really flourish in the current NBA.
18. San Antonio Spurs – Mitchell Robinson, none, center
This just feels like a Spurs pick. Mitchell Robinson spent the year out of from college but is still a first-round talent.
19. Atlanta Hawks (via Timberwolves) – Aaron Holiday, UCLA, guard
Quick! Can you name the starting shooting guard in game 82 for the Hawks? If you guessed Tyler Dorsey, congrats on looking up the answer beforehand.
20. Indiana Pacers – De’Andre Hunter, Virginia, forward
Did you know Al Jefferson is still in the NBA? Did you know he’s younger than LeBron James?
21. Utah Jazz – Jacob Evans, Cincinnati, guard/forward
Unfortunately for Jacob Evans, or whomever the Jazz select, they’ll have a heck of an act to follow with Donovan Mitchell healing the heart of a city this year as a rookie.
22. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Thunder) – Troy Brown, Oregon, guard
Does it really matter who the Timberwolves select here considering Tom Thibodeau is just going to play Andrew Wiggins 47 minutes a night anyway?
23. Chicago Bulls (via Pelicans) – Dzanan Musa, Bosnia, forward
Hands down my favorite prospect in the draft, Dzanan Musa is going to be a ton of fun offensively and a trainwreck defensively. But he’s 19 years old and already playing professionally overseas and should provide some fun for Bulls fans.
24. Portland Trailblazers – Chandler Hutchinson, Boise State, forward
I’m very excited for the Trailblazers to give Chandler Hutchinson a max contract in four years, further crippling their cap space.
25. Los Angeles Lakers (via Cavs) – Khyri Thomas, Creighton, guard
Arguably the biggest area the Lakers need to address in the draft is shooting and wing depth. Khyri Thomas definitely helps the shooting as he can score and create and can be a much more valuable contributor off the bench than Tyler Ennis. Though, that’s a low bar.
26. Philadelphia 76ers – Landry Shamet, Wichita State, guard
Putting shooters around Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid is probably a focus for the Sixers this summer and Landry Shamet might be the best shooting guard in the draft.
27. Boston Celtics – Jontay Porter, Missouri, center
He’ll be a bust.
28. Golden State Warriors – Grayson Allen, Duke, guard
Things worked well with the Golden State Warriors and a former Duke guard this season and Grayson Allen would fit right into their style with great shooting and an ability to create offensively.
29. Brooklyn Nets (via Raptors) – Hamidou Diallo, Kentucky, guard
The Nets should likely continue to look at long-term, project type prospects. Hamidou Diallo nearly came out last season but elected to return to school. As a result, his stock took a hit, but given he’s only 19 years old, there’s no reason to believe he couldn’t be a productive player in the future.
30. Atlanta Hawks (via Rockets) – Anfernee Simmons, none, guard
Like the Nets’ pick, the Hawks can afford to take a player that could be a long-term project. Anfernee Simmons is another player who didn’t attend college this season and may need a little more work before turning into a contributor at the NBA level.