The 2018 NBA Draft goes down Thursday, June 21 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. In preparation for the first round—in which the Trail Blazers currently hold the No. 24 pick—Blazer’s Edge staff writers Steve Dewald and Brian Freeman have mocked the first 30 selections.
In the first part of our mock draft, we covered the initial 10 selections. Today, let’s take a look at the next set of picks—which includes two picks from the Clippers and one selection from Northwest Division rival Nuggets.
No. 11: Charlotte Hornets
Colin Sexton | PG | Alabama Crimson Tide
Class: Fr. | Age: 19 | HT: 6’2” | WS: 6’7”
Brian: The Hornets are not void of talent on their roster but they are void of long-term options. After missing the playoffs for the second straight year, it makes sense for the Hornets to look for Kemba Walker’s backup and eventual replacement. Sexton is small in stature at just 6’2, but he is a tremendous athlete and one of the quickest players in the draft. The future backcourt pairing with Malik Monk is small defensively, but that firepower could be fun to watch.
Steve: I fell in love with Sexton’s game at the 2017 Nike Hoop Summit, and that infatuation carried over to his play at Alabama. He needs to polish several parts of his game, but his swagger is undeniable. With Sexton in the fold, the Hornets could look to move Walker’s cap-friendly contract to a contender at the trade deadline. Like Brian mentioned, a Sexton-Monk backcourt would be undersized and exciting. Undersized and exciting, what could go wrong?
No. 12: Los Angeles Clippers
Miles Briges | SF/PF | Michigan State Spartans
Class: So. | Age: 20 | HT: 6’6” | WS: 6’9”
Steve: The Clippers will use the first of their two lottery picks on a perimeter player. Bridges is a explosive athlete, and could develop into a solid two-way player. His offense will need polishing, but his hustle will get him minutes early in coach Doc Rivers rotation. A forward rotation featuring Tobias Harris and Bridges will give the Clippers plenty of flexibility on both ends of the court.
Brian: The Clippers have question marks up and down their roster. They have no point guards with a guaranteed contract on the roster for next year. I could see Shai Gilgeous Alexander as an option here. The forward positions are the only spots locked in with Harris and Danillo Gallinari in place and the Bridges/Harris fit is a bit uncomfortable. That said, there are minutes to be had and Bridges has the ability to be a difference maker.
No. 13: Los Angeles Clippers
Robert Williams | C | Texas A&M Aggies
Class: So. | Age: 20 | HT: 6’10” | WS: 7’5”
Brian: It’s always a worry to use a lottery pick on a player with attitude and effort concerns, but the fit here is too perfect. DeAndre Jordan has a player option for next year and has been rumored to want out basically since he signed with Dallas and changed his mind. Robert Williams essentially fills the void as a smaller version of Jordan.
Steve: Williams is an obvious fit for the Clippers for the reasons Brian mentioned. Even with a skillset that would have been better suited in a previous NBA era, Williams will provide a defensive presence in the paint. The questions surrounding his motor are legitimate, but his measurements inspire hope for his future.
No. 14: Denver Nuggets
Zhaire Smith | SF | Texas Tech Red Raiders
Class: Fr. | Age: 18 | HT: 6’4” | WS: 6’9”
Steve: The Nuggets nab the intriguing 18-year-old wing with the final pick of the lottery. Smith has an all-star ceiling, and he will give Denver more options on the perimeter if Will Barton seeks a big payday elsewhere this summer. Combining Nikola Jokic’s passing with a cutting Smith could spell trouble for opposing defenses in a few seasons.
Brian: Smart money has Zhaire Smith winning a dunk contest one day. The guy glides through the air and his bounce is jaw-dropping. He also uses his insane vertical intelligently, sneaking behind defenders for lobs and challenging defenders at the rim. Nikola Jokic’s innate ability to make early reads and precise passes make this pick a match made in YouTube heaven. Smith is a bit raw but he also showed in college he can knock down a 3, shooting 45% from deep on limited attempts at Texas Tech. This is a great pick up for the Nuggets.
No. 15: Washington Wizards
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander | PG/SG | Kentucky Wildcats
Class: Fr. | Age: 19 | HT: 6’6” | WS: 6’11”
Brian: SGA is far and away the best player available at this point so the Wizards have to take him here. Back up point guard is not a strength for the Wizards, but they have bigger weaknesses on their roster that could be a addressed. Also the Wizards are looking at the repeater tax if they don't cut cap space this summer, so it would not be a surprise if the Wizards are shopping this pick for cap relief and a versatile big man.
Steve: Washington would have loved to see Williams fall to them at this pick, but Gilgeous-Alexander fits another set of needs for the Wizards. Due to his size and style, SGA will be able to play alongside both John Wall and Bradley Beal in the backcourt. The 19-year-old guard barely scratched the surface of his potential at Kentucky. If he continues to make strides, Gilgeous-Alexander could become one of the steals of the 2018 NBA Draft.
No. 16: Phoenix Suns
Lonnie Walker IV | SG | Miami Hurricanes
Class: Fr. | Age: 19 | HT: 6’4” | WS: 6’10”
Steve: The Suns already have an established shooting guard in Devin Booker, but Walker’s value is too great at pick No. 16. Given the 19-year-old guard’s questionable fit, Phoenix could look to pick up an asset or shed a contract in a trade. If they keep the pick, Walker’s versatility should fit nicely next to the Suns’ current backcourt pieces.
Brian: Walker and Booker are both natural shooting guards but either could run the point. There is a good possibility of the two could coexist. Walker is loaded with physical gifts and a good sense of the game. If the Suns are able to come away with Ayton and Walker in this draft, that will be a successful day for them.
No. 17: Milwaukee Bucks
Kevin Huerter | SG/SF | Maryland Terrapins
Class: So. | Age: 19 | HT: 6’7” | WS: 6’7”
Brian: The Bucks were among the league’s worst in 3-pointers taken, 3-pointers made, and 3-point percentage. That’s a shame, as Giannis Antetokounmpo could be exponentially more dangerous when surrounded by deep threats. The Bucks were so depleted of shooters, they had to revert to playing a 40-year-old Jason Terry for 16 minutes a game at shooting guard. Kevin Huerter is the perfect piece to fill that void. He’s a shooter by every definition of the word and he has good size at 6’7 for a shooting guard.
Steve: Huerter’s pre-draft rise has been monumental, but it is also well deserved. Surgery to repair damaged ligaments in his right hand will keep him out of Las Vegas Summer League play, but the 19-year-old wing’s offense will help him make up for lost time once training camp begins. The Bucks need shooters, and Huerter is one of the best in this class.
No. 18: San Antonio Spurs
Mitchell Robinson | C | Western Kentucky (DNP)
Class: HS | Age: 20 | HT: 7’1” | WS: 7’4”
Steve: Selecting Robinson would give San Antonio’s post rotation a much-needed influx of youth. Robinson is raw, but he has shown the early signs of becoming a force in the paint. Right now, rim-running and shot blocking are the 20-year-old center’s biggest strengths. The Spurs have repeatedly maximized their players’ gifts, which makes Robinson a tantalizing option for coach Gregg Popovich at pick No. 18. San Antonio’s excellent culture could be exactly what Robinson’s lottery-level talent needs.
Brian: This comes across to me as an un-Spurs-like pick. Robinson signed with Western Kentucky but had his scholarship revoked before he ever played a game. After sitting the entire year, Robinson responded by withdrawing from combine. The Spurs, a team that values character over physical attributes and puts a lot of effort into scouting, seem like the last team to take a shot in the dark on a project with a questionable mentality. A pick I could see the Spurs making here is...
No. 19: Atlanta Hawks
Keita Bates-Diop | SF | Ohio State Buckeyes
Class: Jr. | Age: 22 | HT: 6’7” | WS: 7’3”
Brian: Bates-Diop is the oldest player in the mock up to this point, which hurts his perceived ceiling, but there is a lot to like in his as a future NBA player. He has incredible length and defensive instincts and could guard four positions at the NBA level from day one. Bates-Diop wont be the 20 ppints per game scroere he was at Ohio State, but his shooting, rebounding and finishing skills should also translate to the next level. The Hawks have a similar player at the small forward spot in Taurean Green, but problems of too many versatile wings that can guard multiple positions are not actual real problems.
Steve: The re-building Hawks might look for a player with a higher ceiling with the second of their three first-round picks. With that said, Bates-Diop might be the most reliable player left on the board for Atlanta. Bates-Diop carried Ohio State’s offense last season. His defensive intensity will get a boost when he inherits a more defined offensive role at the NBA level. If his outside shot continues to improve, the 22-year-old big man could blossom into a valuable floor spacer.
No. 20: Minnesota Timberwolves
De’Anthony Melton | PG/SG | USC Trojans
Class: So. | Age: 20 | HT: 6’3” | WS: 6’8”
Steve: Old habits die hard, and Melton’s defense-first mentality will pique coach Tom Thibodeau’s interest. Outside of their starting backcourt, the Timberwolves will have a extremely thin backcourt rotation heading into next season. If Melton refined his outside shot in his year away from organized basketball, the former Trojan will capture meaningful minutes as a rookie.
Brian: Steve you're all about the ineligible guys today. The NBA’s worst shooting 3 point team doubles down by selecting one of the worst shooting guards in the draft. The Timberwolves could use a backup point guard if Derrick Rose parts ways but this is a team that is in dire need of spacing. Especially with Jamal Crawford declining his team option. Melton does have the tools to be a defensive menace in this league one day but his offensive game still has a long way to go.
Make sure to check out picks 1-10 in Part 1 of the Blazer’s Edge 2018 NBA Mock Draft.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below—did Brian and Steve get it right?