NBA Co-Mock Draft 2018: Day Before The Draft Projections

By | June 20, 2018
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For the second year in a row, Hail To The District’s NBA Draft “experts” — and we use said descriptor in the loosest way possible — assembled to mock out what we think will happen in tomorrow’s 2018 NBA Draft.

And by experts, I’m referring to two knuckleheads in Dash Kannan and myself.

Similar to last year’s endeavor, after flipping a coin, I “won” the first pick, and made selections for all the odd-numbered picks, while Dash did so for the even-numbered teams, throughout the first 14 picks (the “lottery” selections). This year’s wrinkle was that we mocked out who we think each team will pick, and then included a section on who we think each team should pick.

And since the Washington Wizards picking 15th overall, we both did so for Washington’s pick.

On to the mock…

1. Phoenix Suns — DeAndre Ayton, Center, University of Arizona

Rajan: DeAndre Ayton would walk in and take over the center position, making Tyson Chandler a reserve. The Suns would trot out a lineup of Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, TJ Warren, and Ayton, which would be dripping with youth, energy, and athleticism, and put asses in seats (the Suns were in the bottom eight of average attendance per home game last year).

And more importantly than all of them: Suns owner Robert Sarver is a BIG booster for the University of Arizona. The #1 rule of life: old, rich white men control everything (just look at the Federal government). The Phoenix Suns are going to take DeAndre Ayton. Don’t overthink this.

Who They Should Take: Luka Doncic, Guard, Real Madrid

Rajan: Let me say this — part of me wonders if Ayton is a poor man’s Karl-Anthony Towns, destined to be a “good stats on bad teams” player (who can’t/doesn’t play defense) in the league. By comparison, I love Luka Doncic. The kid is a basketball savant, and a one-man offensive kickstarter. He’s 19 years old, and beasting on grown-ass men in Europe.

In this scenario, he’d also be reunited with his (former) Real Madrid head coach in Igor Kokoskov, who’s now the head coach of the Suns. I’m intrigued by a lot of players in this draft, and as someone with an admitted bias against most European players in general, I love Doncic.

2. Sacramento Kings — Marvin Bagley III, Forward, Duke

Dash: Bagley is a ready made scorer from Day 1 in the NBA – his defense on the other hand is very suspect. I also don’t understand how the top two picks in the NBA draft can be big men who can’t play defense, especially in today’s NBA.

Who They Should Take: Luka Doncic, Guard, Real Madrid

Dash: I also think Doncic is the best player in the draft, but it seems as if he’ll fall out of the Top 3, which is mindblowing to me.

3. Atlanta Hawks — Jaren Jackson, Center, Michigan State

Rajan: First of all, i’m not sure why everyone in Atlanta is hot-and-heavy over Marvin Bagley III, considering they have John Collins at power forward, who’s a really nice player. Assuming Atlanta doesn’t take Luka Doncic with this pick — they, rather inexplicably, don’t seem interested — then Jaren Jackson does make a lot of sense here. First off, Jackson played for Tom Izzo at Michigan State University, so you know he’s going to come into the NBA with a “grown-ass man” mentality.

More importantly: Jackson is coming off a season in which he averaged over 20 points and 11 rebounds per game, and just under six blocks per game. SIX. He might have as much upside as anyone in this draft, and is reminiscent of a Joel Embiid-type player – someone whom new head coach Lloyd Pierce coached while in Philadelphia.

Who They Should Take: Luka Doncic, Guard, Real Madrid

Rajan: Atlanta’s lack of commitment to Dennis Schroder isn’t exactly a secret to anyone. If they took Luka Doncic (and rid themselves of Schroder), they could put out a lineup of Doncic, Kent Bazemore, John Collins, and Dewayne Dedmon.

Will that win more than 30 games next year? Probably not. But it would at least give Atlanta something to get excited about for the future. And as of late Tuesday evening/early Wednesday morning, it does sound like the Hawks are intrigued by such an idea.

4. Memphis Grizzlies — Luka Doncic, Guard, Real Madrid

Dash: Regardless of who holds the pick at #4, I don’t think Doncic falls out of the Top 4. The Grizzlies are rumored to be shopping this pick maybe to trade back and offload the contract of Chandler Parsons. I proposed an Otto Porter and 15 for Chandler Parsons and #4 swap a month back. We’ll see.

Who They Should Take: Luka Doncic, Guard, Real Madrid

Dash: Best player in the draft. That’s it.

5. Dallas Mavericks — Mohamed Bamba, Center, University of Texas

Rajan: So honestly, what the hell is Mo Bamba? Is he really “Rudy Gobert with three-point shooting potential,” as TheRinger.com (among others) has described him? Or is he a ridiculously rich man’s Yinka Dare? Even if he’s something in the middle, like a more athletic Dikembe Mutombo or Theo Ratliff, does that type of player have a place in today’s NBA?

The 9’8 — NINE-FOOT-EIGHT! — standing reach is sick (not to mention the 7’10 wingspan), combined with the the way he runs the court, can finish lobs, and demonstrates good mechanics on his jump shot. But he’s also going to drive Rick Carlisle nuts with those (one too many) moments he loafs on defense.

Who They Should Take: Wendell Carter, Center, Duke University

Rajan: Let’s say the Mavericks want to go the route of “the safer pick.” As much as I despise players from Duke (or anyone who went to Duke), there’s a part of me that believes Wendell Carter might be one of those guys who’s better in the NBA than he was in college. If Dallas really wants someone who can come in and contribute right away, and become someone who can help this time make a run for a playoff spot this year (per owner Mark Cuban’s directive) in Dirk Nowitzki’s final year there, Carter might be the better pick.

Put simply: if I want immediate returns, I take Carter, but if I want longer-term returns, I take Bamba.

6. Orlando Magic — Michael Porter Jr., Forward, University of Missouri

Dash: Despite Michael Porter Jr.’s back issues, he was the consensus number one high school player a year ago. Maybe he shouldn’t have played hurt for the Tigers, but his potential is unlimited. There has been rumblings of him going #2 overall to the Kings, but I feel like he is too much of a risk to take in the Top 3.

For a team like Orlando, which has been drafting in the lottery for the better part of the decade, and trading away the only franchise player they’ve had in Victor Oladipo, a frontline of Porter, Aaron Gordon, and Jonathan Isaac would be tantalizing.

Who They Should Take: Wendell Carter, Center, Duke

Dash: Like Rajan, I also think Carter is going to be a better pro than college player. He indicated that he had been limited by Coach K’s system, which featured four other first round picks.

Carter is a modern center with the ability to score from everywhere and the positional versatility to defend wings.

7. Chicago Bulls — Wendell Carter, Center, Duke

Rajan: First off, good pick by Dash — I think Michael Porter Jr. to Orlando makes so much sense (as opposed to Trae Young, who seems to be the consensus pick). Right now, all the tea leaves are pointing to the Bulls taking Carter, unless Porter falls to this pick. Robin Lopez is a free agent after this season, leaving Chicago with Cristiano Felicio and the carcass of Omer Asik remaining at center. Carter would be the solid pick, if not the unspectacular one here.

Also, shout out to my buddy Neel, one of the most misanthropic Bulls fans you’ll ever meet (and who does a world-class job of trolling the Bulls’ official Facebook account) who’s going to loathe this pick, regardless of who Chicago takes.

Who They Should Take: Miles Bridges, Forward, Michigan State

Rajan: For Chicago’s sake, I really hope they don’t take Trae Young here. It’s not like i’m in love with Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine by any stretch of the imagination, but adding another shoot-first combo guard who can’t/won’t play defense worth a lick isn’t the right move here. If I was making this pick, I would strongly consider Miles Bridges here. I love what he brings from a toughness and versatility standpoint.

He’s admittedly a little bit of a “tweener” forward, but he’d be an absolute dog if/when the Bulls went to smaller lineups. He can rebound and play defense, and doesn’t need to be a ball-dominant player. His three-point shot has potential, meaning he could help further space the floor alongside Lauri Markkanen.

8. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Brooklyn) — Trae Young, G, University of Oklahoma

Dash: The Klutch connection is real and Trae Young serves two purposes — 1) to appease LeBron in an attempt to get him back, and 2) to position Cleveland for post-LeBron life in which Trae Young achieves his ultimate potential and becomes Stephen Curry-ish. Young is atrocious at defense and more importantly, maybe this gets rid of the unexplainable dependence on JR Smith.

Who They Should Take: Kevin Knox, Forward, University of Kentucky

Dash: After going through the Jayson Tatum experience for seven games in the conference finals, the Cavaliers should place an emphasis on playmaking, shot creating wings who can shoot. Knox could be a really good player in the league.

9. New York Knicks: Kevin Knox, Forward, University of Kentucky

Rajan: The recent scuttle is that the Knicks really like Kevin Knox, who’s gone from a mid-first round guy to a near-lock for the top 10 picks in the draft. Knox has some “poor man’s Jayson Tatum” to his game, with a solid mid-range jumper that can be extended out to the three-point line, a smooth shooting stroke, an ability to finish around the rim, and a high basketball IQ.

The Knicks already have the (hilariously overpaid) Tim Hardaway Jr. at the small forward spot, but Knox would apparently join him in some amalgamous mix of forwards they’ll trot out there… making life that much more complicated when Kristaps Porzingis comes back from injury.

But hey, Jimmy Dolan, everyone!

Who They Should Take: Collin Sexton, Guard, University of Alabama

Rajan: I’m still not ready to forgive Collin Sexton for leading Alabama past my Hokies in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament. But that’s the thing about Sexton: he’s not afraid of the big moment — meaning he won’t be afraid of stepping into Madison Square Garden and assuming the mantle of “starting point guard for the Knicks.” I don’t see how pairing him with French Frank in the backcourt isn’t a no-brainer pick.

But like I said: Jimmy Dolan, everyone!

10. Philadelphia 76ers (from LA Lakers) – Mikael Bridges, Forward, Villanova

Dash: Bridges’ mom is the HR director for the 76ers as well as the New Jersey Devils and Bridges is a local kid who won two championships of Villanova. He seems to be a guy who would mesh with head coach Brett Brown – a hard worker and a COMPLIMENTARY player to the skillset of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.

With Bryan Colangelo stepping down after burner-gate, Brown has more input on the draft, acting as the interim GM, and I think he tries to make his stamp on this team from a roster perspective before the next GM comes on board.

Who They Should Take: Zhaire Smith, Guard, Texas Tech

Dash: I think Smith is vastly underrated among the world of NBA rankings and he would be a better fit next to Simmons and Fultz than people realize. The guy has incredible athleticism and plays solid defense, and a starting line up with Simmons/Embiid/Smith would be a defensive nightmare.

In addition, he was a 45% 3 point shooter at Texas Tech and would help replace Reddick, Bellinelli, and Ilyasova’s production. Who knows if those guys are coming back?

11. Charlotte Hornets — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Guard, University of Kentucky

Rajan: Charlotte fans are probably shouting “Glory to Hanuman” that there are no tall, lanky white guys for Michael Jordan to force new General Manager Mitch Kupchak to take with this pick. Instead, they’ll go with the guy who’s the “anti-Kemba Walker” in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, of whom i’m a big fan.

Standing 6-6 with a 7-foot wingspan, Charlotte could play Gilgeous-Alexander in so many different lineups, especially given the fact that he doesn’t need th ball in his hands, he’s a fantastic defender, and he plays his ass off every game.

Who They Should Take: Collin Sexton, Guard, University of Alabama

Rajan: Collin Sexton would probably be a good fit here as well. He’ll have the green light — and the ability — to score as much as Kemba Walker did (how many people realize Walker took the 10th-most field goal attempts in the NBA last year?), and he’s a better on-ball defender than Walker as well (Charlotte was in the bottom-half of the NBA in points allowed last season).

Also, as a total aside: I can’t help but laugh as Charlotte becomes the latest team to take on Dwight Howard, and within one year, announce to the NBA: “can someone please take Dwight Howard off our hands?? Seriously, WE’LL DO ANYTHING if you’ll take Dwight Howard off our hands!!”

12. Los Angeles Clippers (from Detroit) — Miles Bridges, Forward, Michigan State

Dash: Miles Bridges could have been a lottery pick last year, but decided to go back to Michigan State where he thought his team would have a chance at winning all. Well, that went the way of nearly all Michigan State athletics this year – utter disappointment and embarrassment. Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo didn’t seem to understand how to play Bridges and Jaren Jackson together and that may have hindered his draft stock more than people realize.

He’ll be a solid pro, but not more than a 3rd option on a championship team.

Who They Should Take: Robert Williams, Center, Texas A&M

Dash: Billy Kennedy is often credited with the resurrection of Texas A&M basketball after the Mark Turgeon years, but he was completely lost when figuring how to use Williams. Drafting Robert Williams would allow the Clippers to firesale off Deandre Jordan and it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad move to trade him for pennies on the dollar.

I’m very curious to see what Jerry West does this offseason.

13. Los Angeles Clippers — Collin Sexton, Guard, University of Alabama

Rajan: Patrick Beverly is in the last year of his contract, and coming off a season-ending injury. So, the Clippers need a point guard.

As an aside: if Luka Doncic falls to #4, as he did in this mock and is very likely to occur on Thursday, I love the idea of the Clippers sending Tobias Harris and maybe Milos Teodosic — plus #12 and #13 — to Memphis, in exchange for #4 and Chandler Parsons. Yes, LA would be stuck with Parsons’ albatross of a contract, but Doncic would be a great fit for them.

Who They Should Take: Collin Sexton, Guard, University of Alabama

Rajan: This is a copout, but I can’t justify the Clippers taking someone else here. He would be a great pick for them if he falls this far. Even in year one, you could play a backcourt of Sexton and Beverly, and transition Sexton as the point guard of the future.

His “no fucks given” style of play would make him a marketable star, which is something the Clippers will need if their Staples Center co-tenants end up building the much rumored superteam.

14. Denver Nuggets — Mitchell Robinson, Center, Chalmette High School

Dash: Robinson is the most interesting player in the draft. After his so called ‘career’ at Western Kentucky, the guy has been an enigma. I think this wouldn’t be a bad pick for the Nuggets, pairing a defensive big man with the sieve that is Nikola Jokic. Also, will Kenneth Faried finally be traded?

Who They Should Take: Kevin Huerter, Guard, University of Maryland

Dash: Huerter has been rising up the boards since he went to the NBA combine and showed everyone that he can shoot and is super athletic. He was held back by Mark Turgeon’s inane coaching at Maryland and the prospect of a young, healthy, Danilo Gallinari-like player along with Jokic would be an interesting proposition. I think the Nuggets are desperate to make the playoffs sot his pick can be in play.

Also, another player i’d love to see here? Donte DiVincenzo from Villanova. It isn’t the best talent on the board, but it’s a mentality pick. The Nuggets didn’t have anyone except Jamal Murray to create during crunch time last season and Donte’s Inferno won the Cats the championship game to end college basketball. A 3-guard lineup of Murray, g, and DiVincenzo would be utterly annoying to guard.

15. Washington Wizards — Robert Williams, Center, Texas A&M

Dash: John Wall has been clamoring for a rim-running center for years now and shockingly Marcin Gortat, Ian Mahinmi, and Jason Smith, those elite stars we’re paying approximately $33 million per year don’t fit the bill. Williams would fill a need, but this team has another problem – a lack of talent.

Ben Standing from TheSportsCapitol.com also reported that the Wizards were willing to trade down from this pick to dump an expiring contract, which would be a typical Ernie move. Great things ahead for this franchise this Thursday.

Rajan: Let’s assume Ernie Grunfeld doesn’t pull the classic Ernie Grunfeld by trading away this pick in order to dump one of the Wizards’ hideous contracts (which one? take your pick!), as rumored by Standig. I can totally see Grunfeld going with the 10-years-ago-wisdom of “taking the most talented big man” available, and justifying it by saying “John Wall said he wanted to add an athletic big man to this team,” even though Williams is about three years away from contributing to a team that’s made to contend right now, and the classic Center is becoming decreasingly valued in today’s NBA regardless.

I’d honestly prefer Grunfeld even reach for one of the other European players in the draft — forward Dzanan Musa from Croatia or guard Elie Okobo from France — over Williams.

Who They Should Take: Lonnie Walker IV, Guard, Miami

Rajan: How about a long, strong, and explosive scorer who can provide instant offense off the bench, play on the wing in small-ball and/or crunchtime lineups, and defend multiple positions on the court? How about a kid who idolized the father who raised him (a man that happened to be a highly successful college basketball player himself), and whose father described his upbringing as: “Every day, we just breathed, slept, and ate basketball” ?

How about someone who makes trading away Otto Porter’s contract to a wing-needy team — like the New Orleans Pelicans, in exchange for Demarcus Cousins — a far more palatable option?

Who They Should Take: Elie Okobo, Guard, France

Dash: Okobo is a combo guard from France who has vast experience playing in international leagues. Pairing him with Tomas Satoranksy off the bench and perhaps Ty Lawson would finally reduce the dependence on John Wall and Bradley Beal and keep them fresh for the playoffs.

Okobo is a very good player and he has largely gone unnoticed in this year’s draft process because of the international discussion centering around Doncic.

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