My NBA Mock Draft – The Top-16 Picks (with projected trades)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…the best part of the NBA season is the draft. The regular season, with the exception of the occasional notable game is BORING and PREDICTABLE. The playoffs were thoroughly BORING and predictable.

Last year I wrote this in my draft column about the 2017-18 season:

For now here’s what I do know (yes, know not think):
-Golden State will win the 2017-18 NBA Championship.
-Boston or likely Cleveland will again face the Warriors in the NBA Finals.
-Next Summer, LeBron James will leave Cleveland for a destination in Southern California.

Two of those predictions came true and the third one is an extremely good bet at this stage.

Now it’s the fun time for Suns fans who once again can dream about a light at the end of the tunnel for their team. My predictions this year are a bit out there (from picks 2-16) but we’ll see how correct I end up…

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1. PHOENIX SUNS: Deandre Ayton (C, Arizona)
It’s a great thing when you land the #1 pick and a potential franchise center is in the draft. Ayton is a home run pick for the Suns franchise who hasn’t been relevant in terms of winning in nearly a decade. Please tell me they won’t screw it up…

2. SACRAMENTO KINGS: Marvin Bagley III (F, Duke)
The Kings don’t want to deal with the headache of Doncic wanting to play in a giant rebuilding project. Bagley and (last year’s first round pick, point guard) DeAaron Fox will be a fun duo to watch over the coming years.

3. DALLAS MAVERICKS (projected trade with Hawks): Luka Doncic (G/F, Slovenia)
The Mavs reportedly love Doncic and though it will cost them next year’s first round pick in addition to the #5 overall pick, it’s a trade that Mark Cuban’s squad has to make if they’re looking for a cornerstone with Dirk Nowitzki nearing retirement.

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4. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES: Michael Porter, Jr. (F, Missouri)
Injury concerns aside, Porter might be the best scorer in this draft when it’s all said and done. Think Kevin Durant Part II if all goes well…

5. ATLANTA HAWKS (projected trade with Mavericks): Jaren Jackson (F/C, Michigan State)
Getting the same player at 5 as they would’ve at 3 + picking up an extra 1st rounder = A+ move if it happens. Jackson is a major project but oozes with upside as he adds some weight and works on his offensive game.

6. LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (projected trade with Magic): Trae Young (G, Oklahoma)
The Clippers trade picks 12 & 13 to the rebuilding Magic in order to select their point guard of the future, in the dynamic Young. Could he be the next Chris Paul in a Clippers uniform?

7. CHICAGO BULLS: Mohamed Bamba (F/C, Texas)
I’m a big Bamba fan and this would be an absolute steal for the Bulls if he drops this far. Might end up being one of the three best players from this class – think a better Rudy Gobert if he pans out.

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8. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: Collin Sexton (G, Alabama)
The (likely) rebuild in Cleveland starts, like it did the last time LeBron left, with a point guard. Having seen Sexton play in person last season, there’s no question he’s the real deal and would be a nice building block for the Cavs.

9. NEW YORK KNICKS: Wendell Carter, Jr. (F/C, Duke)
The Knicks need help just about everywhere (outside of PF) and Carter has the talent to become a solid NBA center. Nice value for New York if he slips to this pick.

10. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS: Mikal Bridges (F, Villanova)
Bridges doesn’t have to travel far from his college team to the pros – and gives the Sixers a much needed scorer and defender on the wing.

11. CHARLOTTE HORNETS: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (G, Kentucky)
Assuming Kemba Walker gets shipped out of Charlotte, this pick makes too much sense. The Suns front office groans as SGA is the player they crave in this area.

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12. ORLANDO MAGIC (projected trade with Clippers): Kevin Knox (F, Kentucky)
Knox is a nice player and will fill Aaron Gordon’s SF role as he will likely leave in free agency. With that said, the Magic’s roster still is a train wreck, with only Sacramento’s and Brooklyn’s more in disarray.

13. ORLANDO MAGIC (projected trade with Clippers): Elie Okobo (G, France)
The ultimate in project picks…but if Okobo doesn’t go here, I’d be all in favor of the Suns drafting him at pick 16. His upside, per reports, is that of a poor man’s James Harden and that’s all I need to hear from a PG in this range.

14. DENVER NUGGETS: Robert Williams (F/C, Texas A&M)
Full of defensive talent and next to no offensive game, I expect Williams to be a solid 6th man or so throughout his NBA career.

15. WASHINGTON WIZARDS: Miles Bridges (F, Michigan State)
A star in college, Bridges would be incredible value to the Wizards if he drops completely out of the lottery. Does this mean Washington would trade the seemingly overpaid Otto Porter to clear a starting spot for Bridges?

16. PHOENIX SUNS: Lonnie Walker IV (G, Miami)
Could Walker be the next Donovan Mitchell? In Igor Kokoskov’s offense, it’s very possible. The Suns would then be able to to offload T.J. Warren in an attempt to sign a high profile free agent.

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Now if the Suns can take (two-time national champion) Villanova point guard and Wooden Award winner, Jalen Brunson at pick 31…that would be an A+ draft if I’ve ever seen one!

To read previous entries of my blog, click here. Also make sure to follow me on Twitter @eacohen83.

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