Arizona's Deandre Ayton is defended by a pair of Stanford players on March 1, 2018, at the McKale Center in Tucson, Arizona.

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Schmeelk: 2018 NBA Mock Draft

John Schmeelk
June 14, 2018 - 9:50 am
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I have redone this thing so many times I have lost count. It’s never going to be right, so I’ve decided to put this together with a working theme: overcompensation. We saw this a few years after Dirk Nowitzki came out and teams started taking Euros who weren’t worth their slot in the June 21 draft.

Anyone who watched the NBA playoffs knows the most valuable players on the floor are the ones who can shoot and defend multiple positions. It’s my guess those are the traits teams are going to attack in this draft, even to a fault at times. This is not how I would do things, but it’s an outside-the-box guess as to how the draft might play out. (Plus I wanted to give you guys a still-plausible mock draft that you are not seeing everywhere else.)

(Note: I put whom I would pick in italics through the top 10 picks)

1. Phoenix Suns: DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona
This is starting to look like a sure thing. There’s little doubt Ayton will be an impactful offensive player, but there are legitimate questions about his defensive upside. He does have the athleticism to be a rim protector and someone who can switch, but the instincts might not be there. (My pick: Luka Doncic)

MORE: Schmeelk: Outside Options For The Knicks

2. Sacramento Kings: Jaren Jackson Jr., PF/C, Michigan State
Jackson can hit the 3, defend the rim and switch on the perimeter, guarding every position. He has all the skills you want from a modern-day center. The 7-foot-5 wingspan doesn’t hurt either. (My pick: DeAndre Ayton)

3. Atlanta Hawks: Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas
This goes back to where the league is heading. Bamba is an elite rim protector with the athleticism to move around and the potential of becoming a range shooter. He has more modern NBA skills than Marvin Bagley III. (My pick: Jaren Jackson Jr.)

Texas' Mohamed Bamba is fouled while playing Oklahoma on Feb. 17, 2018, at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
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4. Memphis Grizzlies: Marvin Bagley III, PF/C, Duke.
Bagley is a great fit for the Grizzlies with his athleticism, scoring punch and finishing ability next to smart and defensive-minded Marc Gasol and Mike Conley Jr. Great value here. (My pick: Marvin Bagley III)

5. Dallas Mavericks: Wendell Carter Jr., C, Duke
Yup, seriously, still no Luka Doncic. The Mavs have their primary ballhandler in Dennis Smith Jr. and want a versatile pick-and-roll partner. Carter is also a prototypical modern big, and I think he is athletic enough to become a switching perimeter defender. (My pick: Wendell Carter Jr.)

6. Orlando Magic: Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma
He is not the defender NBA teams covet, but Young is the shooter and passer every single team wants running its offense. The Mario Hezonja experience scares Orlando off Doncic. (My pick: Trae Young)

MORE: Schmeelk: The Dangerous Temptation of Trae Young

7. Chicago Bulls: Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova
The Bulls need to make sure they have a perimeter defender next to Lauri Markkanen, which is why they choose Bridges over Doncic and Michael Porter Jr. here. Bridges shoots and defends at the wing with the best of them. (My pick: Mohamed Bamba)

MORE: Schmeelk: Knicks Might Face Draft Decision Of Bridges vs. Bridges

8. Cleveland Cavaliers: Luka Doncic, SF, Real Madrid
Did you really think I was going to have Doncic fall in the Knicks' lap? They just don’t get that lucky. Cleveland, however, does. Doncic becomes the point forward that will run the Cavs' offense for the next 10 years, and he'll become the best player in the draft class. (My pick: Michael Porter Jr.)

9. New York Knicks: Michael Porter Jr., SF/PF, Missouri
The Knicks have a tough choice here between Porter and Miles Bridges. I don’t think either will be elite defenders, so you pick the guy with the best chance to be an elite offensive player. Medical reports on Porter's back are huge here. (My pick: Mikal Bridges)

MORE: Schmeelk: Michael Porter Jr. Is The Great Unknown In NBA Draft

Michael Porter Jr.
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10. Philadelphia 76ers: Miles Bridges, SF/PF, Michigan State
To me, this is the perfect fit next to Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Bridges can play both forward spots, rebound and be a finisher.

11. Charlotte Hornets: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky
He is a potential future replacement for Kemba Walker and has the size and defensive upside to play next to Malik Monk long term.

12. Los Angeles Clippers: Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama
This is the best player available, and he is the ball-dominant, penetrating point guard the Clippers need.

13. Los Angeles Clippers: Kevin Knox, SF/PF, Kentucky
Knox is the perfect power forward in the modern NBA to play next to Sexton. He’s only 18 years old and has tons of upside.

14. Denver Nuggets: Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami
The Nuggets are in a transition period, trying to build around Nikola Jokic. Walker has the best scoring upside as a wing player.

15. Washington Wizards: Robert Williams, PF, Texas A&M
The Wizards have guards and need a rim-running big man like Williams.

16. Phoenix Suns: Zhaire Smith, SF, Texas Tech
Here’s a super athletic, defensive shooting guard to play next to Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton.

Texas Tech's Zhaire Smith shoots over West Virginia's James Bolden at the Big 12 Tournament semifinals March 9, 2018, in Kansas City, Missouri.
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17. Milwaukee Bucks: Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland
The Bucks need a shooter, and Huerter fills that role.

18. San Antonio Spurs: Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA
Patty Mills isn’t the point guard of the future.

19. Atlanta Hawks: Troy Brown, SG, Oregon
He’s a wing with some upside that teams love.

20. Minnesota Timberwolves: Josh Okogie, SG, Georgia Tech
Thibs loves guys who love to defend.

21. Utah Jazz: Dzanan Musa, SF, Cedevita (Croatia)
Utah needs wings who can put the ball in the basket.

22. Chicago Bulls: Jerome Robinson, PG, Boston College
After getting a wing player who can defend in Mikal Bridges at No. 7, the Bulls go with a guard who can score here.

23. Indiana Pacers: Donte DiVincenzo, PG/SG, Villanova
Pacers get some shooting to spread the floor.

Michigan Wolverines guard Charles Matthews and Villanova Wildcats guard Donte DiVincenzo go for a loose ball during the national championship game on April 2, 2018, at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
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24. Portland Trailblazers: Elie Okobo, PG, Pau-Orthez (France)
The 6-4 guard with a 7-0 wingspan can learn behind two excellent guards.

25. Los Angeles Lakers: Bruce Brown, SG, Miami
Lakers get some scoring from a guy who dropped due to injuries last year.

26. Philadelphia 76ers: De’Anthony Melton, PG/SG, Southern California
Philly gets a combo guard who can create and score.

27. Boston Celtics: Mitchell Robinson, C, No College
Celtics are loaded with wings so they go with an athletic center who can finish.

28. Golden State Warriors: Grayson Allen, SG, Duke
The only reason I am mocking this pick is so two of the most annoying basketball players alive, Allen and Draymond Green, are on the same team.

29. Brooklyn Nets: Jacob Evans, SF, Cincinnati
An athletic wing with some upside.

30. Atlanta Hawks: Melvin Frazier, SF, Tulane
Hawks add another wing.

BONUS

New York Knicks (36th overall): Jevon Carter, PG, West Virginia
Even though point guard isn’t necessarily a need here, I think Carter is the pick just because of his elite defensive skills. He will set the tone of aggression and effort that coach David Fizdale wants from his team. He will pick up players full-court and harass them until they quit.