With the NBA Draft lottery just a week away, now seems as appropriate a time as ever to preview the ten best players that will be selected in late June. Continuing a trend of strong recent draft classes, this year’s crew could produce multiple all-stars and franchise players at all positions, what with a handful of blue-chip big men, wings, and guards. Without further ado, here are the top ten players in this years NBA Draft.
1. Luka Doncic
2017-2018 Stats (Europe): 14.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.6 APG
Projection: Top 3
There is some debate as to who should be selected first in June, split into two camps. Some say Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton should be the guy, while others, like me, think it should be Doncic. Playing professionally this season for Real Madrid in Spain, a country who’s league is considered the second best in the world behind the NBA and a notch ahead of the college game, Doncic has averaged almost 15 points per game, 5.2 RPG and 4.6 APG in limited minutes. Doncic also starred in last summers FIBA Eurobasket, leading Slovenia, with Goran Dragic, to a championship.
2. DeAndre Ayton
2017-2018 Stats: 20.1 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 1.9 BPG
Projection: Top 2
Ayton will be an excellent consolation prize for whatever team misses out on Doncic. At Arizona, Ayton averaged a monster 20 points and 11 rebounds while leading the Wildcats to a Pac-10 Title. There are some concerns about Ayton’s motivation after an ugly first-round loss to Buffalo in the NCAA Tournament, where the star center looked sluggish and underwhelmed.
3. Marvin Bagley III
2017-2018 Stats: 21.0 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 1.5 APG
Projection: Top 5
Bagley is the player many expected to be the top prospect in the draft heading into the college season. Indeed, Bagley was considered by many to be the best player in the country, averaging 21 points on 65 percent shooting and 11.1 rebounds on a Duke team that made the Elite 8 before falling to Kansas in perhaps the best game of the tournament. There are concerns about Bagley’s game translating to the NBA — he was largely a back to the basket low-post guy at Duke without much of a three-point shot — but his athleticism and basketball IQ are off the charts, which alleviate some of the worries.
4. Jaren Jackson Jr.
College: Michigan State
2017-2018 Stats: 10.9 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.0 BPG
Some prefer Jackson, the starting Power Forward on a loaded Michigan State team that underachieved in the Tournament, to Bagley. Jackson’s game is a lot NBA friendlier than his Duke counterpart, as Jackson can shoot the three and protect the rim in a manner that franchises covet and Bagley lacks. I personally have Bagley ahead of Jackson only because I think the former has the potential to lead a franchise as the #1 guy, while the latter projects as a very useful contributing piece on a building team, rather than a potential superstar.
5. Mohamed Bamba
2017-2018 Stats: 12.9 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 3.7 BPG
A hyper-athletic center from the University of Texas who has drawn comparisons to Rudy Gobert. Bamba was second in the country in blocks at 3.7 per game. Bamba would likely have been projected even higher some ten years ago, but as the game has become faster and far more perimeter oriented, big defensive centers aren’t valued quite as highly.
6. Michael Porter Jr.
2017-2018 Stats (3 games): 10.0 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 0.3 APG
Before Marvin Bagley re-classified a year early, Porter was the consensus first overall pick last summer when discussing the 2018 draft. Porter missed all but three games at the end of the year, including Missouri’s NCAA tournament loss to Florida State, with a back injury. Porter still oozes potential, despite some concerns related to his injury and lack of versatility, and in the right situation could become a star.
7. Wendell Carter
2017-2018 Stats: 13.5 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 2.1 BPG
The Robin to Bagley’s Batman at Duke this season. Carter is less flashy than his superstar teammate, but, thanks to his defensive potential and passing ability, has drawn comparisons to successful longtime NBA players like Al Horford and David West. Carter could go anywhere from sixth to late lottery.
8. Trae Young
2017-2018 Stats: 27.4 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 8.7 APG
Perhaps the most controversial prospect in the entire draft. After a blistering start where Young appeared at once unguardable and unstoppable, the Oklahoma point guard cooled off during conference play when teams figured out how to contain him. Some believe he is the next Steph Curry or Damian Lillard, while others, concerned with his small size and frame and college burn-out, see a bust in the making.
9. Collin Sexton
2017-2018 Stats: 19. PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.6 APG
Projection: Late Lottery
A tough-minded freshman point guard that put a football powerhouse in the University of Alabama on the map in the Basketball world. Sexton averaged 19.2 points per game while leading Alabama to the second round of the NCAA tournament, where the Crimson Tide would lose to eventual national champions, Villanova. Some believe that Sexton is a better prospect than Young, and could very well be taken ahead of him.
10. Mikal Bridges
2017-2018 Stats: 17.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.5 SPG
Projection: Late Lottery
The top prospect from the national champions. Bridges played on both Villanova Championship teams in 2016 and 2018, gaining accolades for his 3-and-D ability. Bridges averaged 17.7 points per game with 5.3 rebounds this season while being named to the All-NCAA Tournament team. The New York Knicks, hoping to rebuild with new coach David Fizdale, are one team that has expressed interest in the Villanova Forward.