We are now just hours away from the 2018 NBA Draft, and the Memphis Grizzlies will soon be on the clock with a myriad of options to choose from. Luka Doncic, Marvin Bagley III, Jaren Jackson Jr., Michael Porter Jr., trading back for a Wendell Carter Jr. and some other piece...there are so many ways that this draft could play out in the Bluff City.
The GBB staff decided to take a swing at constructing a big board, and safe to say it was...eye opening. Nine of our staffers, including me, provided a top-30 list of the top prospects in the 2018 NBA Draft, and in terms of earning enough “points” to make our board for a 1st round grade only 22 players make the official board. At the bottom of the draft our staff had over 15 potential players for seven to eight spots, making it impossible to properly place them in the time provided and also displaying further evidence that there is real depth in this draft, which is nice for a team with the #32 overall pick like the Grizzlies.
Before we start the count down, here are ten players who “got votes” as late 1st round possibilities but didn’t make our big board cut, in alphabetical order-
- Grayson Allen, Duke- 1st round talent, undrafted knucklehead.
- Jalen Brunson, Villanova- Proven winner who may already be at his ceiling.
- Jacob Evans, Cincinnati- Can shoot, defend, and contribute now. Is he as good as he’s going to get?
- Melvin Frazier, Tulane- Another 3 and D type, but lack of “competition” concerns.
- Kevin Huerter, Maryland- A shooter with size that could translate nicely to the NBA.
- Elie Okobo, France- Scoring point guard with more questions than answers at this time.
- Josh Okogie, Georgia Tech- Wing with 3 and D potential, Grizzlies like him.
- Jerome Robinson, Boston College- Scoring wing/guard with positional uncertainty.
- Mitchell Robinson, USA- Possible lottery skill set as a big, but unable to put it all together in school.
- Moritz Wagner, Michigan- Big with range, but inconsistency concerns.
Now, to the board! Remember, these are the players that earned enough points across all nine draft boards to get a score under 30 - each pick represents points (Deandre Ayton got a lot of ones, for example).
The 2018 Grizzly Bear Blues NBA Draft Big Board
#22- Donte Divincenzo, G, Villanova
This guy was as high as #11 in our mock, and as low as #30. He had an amazing Final Four performance, and shows real potential offensively. He wasn’t a starter at Villanova, though, and there may be some “flash in the pan concerns” with him. Still, his athleticism and confidence make him an interesting prospect.
#21- Troy Brown Jr., G/F, Oregon
The thing that sets Brown apart from others above that didn’t make our cut is his potential as a playmaker. The NBA is all about versatility nowadays, and just having a guy that can shoot isn’t enough. Brown can defend, facilitate, and shows flashes of real potential as an NBA wing.
#20- Chandler Hutchison, G/F, Boise State
He’s an NBA role player with low potential to be a bust. At Boise State he had to be “the man”, but in the right setting in the Association he can provide spacing and the ability to defend multiple positions to a team. Hutchison isn’t a star, but not everyone is. What he is is a good basketball player.
#19- Aaron Holiday, G, UCLA
Our staff like this scoring point guard more than some, but in a make or miss league his ability to put the ball in the basket is really attractive. He may never be a staring-level player, but with bench production being more valuable than ever Holiday can be a real steal depending on when he comes off the board.
#18- Keita Bates-Diop, F, Ohio State
Almost 6’9” with a 7’3” wingspan? That’s the type of length NBA teams love, and the type of player than can defend both forward positions and maybe even the center spot depending on match-ups. Add on the fact he can shoot and score enough to keep teams honest, and Bates-Diop could very well be a rotation player from day one.
#17- Khyri Thomas, G, Creighton
Most big boards are very mixed when it comes to Thomas, and ours was no different. One GBBer had him 13th on their board, while another had him as a 2nd round talent. On one hand, he can defend and competes extremely hard. On the other hand he is undersized for the wing and is not a competent enough ball handler to be a point guard. He’s position-less...but maybe not in the best way.
#16- Zhaire Smith, G, Texas Tech
One of the most intriguing prospects in the draft when it comes to raw athleticism. He projects to be an elite defender in the NBA, and that athleticism will almost surely lead to plently of highlight reel dunks. Will that translate to an offensive game capable of keeping defenses guessing?
#15- Robert Williams, F/C, Texas A&M
In an era where bigs are becoming obsolete in some ways, Williams provides what is still very valuable in the NBA - exceptional athleticism. He could excel in the pick and roll as an elite finisher and has the size and lateral quickness to be a decent-to-good defender. The question here is how soon can he be these things...there are some discipline issues here.
#14- Lonnie Walker IV, G, Miami
Could be a go-to scorer when buckets are needed for a team, which is always nice to have either as a starter or a bench player. Explosiveness on the offensive end should translate to the defensive side of things eventually, but that is what will really determine his readiness for an NBA roster and contributing on it.
#13- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G, Kentucky
You want raw ability and size from the point guard position? Shai is your man, at 6’6” with an almost seven foot wing span. That should mean very good defense from him early on in the NBA, and he showed at Kentucky the ability to facilitate offense. His scoring the basketball as a shooter ability, though, could use some work.
#12- Miles Bridges, F, Michigan State
Here is a player who has extreme promise thanks to his athleticism and could possibly fit in at the 2, 3, or 4 depending on matchups. That versatile build and style of play is en vogue nowadays, and Bridges has shown the capacity to be “the man” on a good team. He lack specific offensive skills though, especially in terms of handling the ball. His talent is there, he just needs his game to catch up.
#11- Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky
Raw is a great way to describe Knox. He has skill, no doubt, and the ceiling for him could be pretty high considering his ability as a athlete to get to the basket. Knox’s game just isn’t refined yet - at least he hasn’t shown that it is consistently. The pieces are there, but it’ll likely take time to put it all together.
#10- Collin Sexton, G, Alabama
Personality wise, Sexton would be a hand-in-glove fit in Memphis. This guy is a bulldog with a never-say-die attitude that was on full display in a game this past season where he almost led Alabama to a win when THEY WERE PLAYING 5-on-3!!!! He is arguably the biggest competitor in this draft, but he is not the biggest point guard in terms of size. That scares off a lot of teams this day and age in the NBA.
#9- Mikal Bridges, F, Villanova
The common knock on Mikal is that he may be a finished product in terms of what he brings to an NBA team. He can defend, he can shoot, he can bring that ability to do multiple things on both ends of the floor. But he may have more potential than we know - he didn’t have to go it alone at Villanova on a championship roster, so he could play within himself. Pushing beyond that may reveal untapped potential. Bottom line- dude is a winner. I like winners.
#8- Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri
Surprised? This is a Memphis Grizzlies fan blog, so you shouldn’t be. There is no doubt “if healthy” Porter is a top three prospect in this draft. He can handle the ball, he can score from anywhere at any time, he can play essentially all front court positions. Yet if reports of his back issues lingering are true, he cannot be taken any higher than this and may well be a possible prospect that will tumble down boards...or he will go #2 to Sacramento, because KANGZZZZZZ.
#7- Wendell Carter Jr., F/C, Duke
When did Al Horford comparisons become a bad thing? Here’s a guy with no real weakness in his game. Sure, he doesn’t do anything at a particularly elite level, but the things he is really good at (agility, rebounding, defense) make him able to play either big man spot on the floor in this modern NBA and still be able to stay on the floor when teams go small. Those types are a dying breed...especially at the highest levels of the game. At #4? Maybe not. But if a hypothetical #4 for #7 and #22 trade goes down for the Grizzlies, I am DOWN for Wendell Carter Jr coming to Memphis.
#6- Trae Young, G, Oklahoma
Young’s ranking rose on our big board a bit because we had two writers put him as a top three prospect in this draft. If you read GBB enough, you probably know who they were. The Stephen Curry comps are lazy, to an extent - while Young scores and assists at an elite level, he also is not nearly as refined as Curry was coming out of Davidson. If those skills can translate directly to the NBA, he will be a star. If they don’t? He could cost some GM his job two years down the road.
#5- Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas
Arguably the biggest physical freak in this draft, Bamba tested out athletically as capable of running like a guard while having the length/size of Rudy Gobert. That is tantalizing in terms of potential...but Bamba’s all-around game is not ready to contribute at the NBA level just yet. A team that is rebuilding would be wise to swing at a big who, like Carter above, can be relevant at any point of an NBA game. They’ll just have to work and wait on that production to come to fruition, especially offensively.
#4- Jaren Jackson Jr., F/C, Michigan State University
The Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, like Bamba, should be able to influence games on the defensive end of the floor almost immediately. He also has shown “unicorn”-like abilities as a scorer and player out on the perimeter. However, one of this draft’s youngest players was not able to fully dominate the Big Ten and showed foul issues throughout his time with the Spartans. Is that enough for him to fall? Of course not. It is cause for pause, though, especially for a team like Memphis hoping for impact out of this pick immediately.
#3- Marvin Bagley III, F/C, Duke
Here’s a guy that Grizzlies fans should rejoice about if he is available at #4, but at the same time should be a little nervous. His teammate Carter, Bamba, Jackson...those are all bigs who can defend at a high level, or are at least projected to be able to in the NBA. The same cannot be said for Bagley, who despite his dominance as a scorer and rebounder was not able to translate that to defensive acumen. Hopefully that can be developed, because as a 20-and-10 big, Bagley could make any team immediately better.
#2- Luka Doncic, G/F, Real Madrid
Wait, the blog boys of GBB didn’t put Doncic #1? Who is running this thing?
The main reason Doncic is not #1 for us (or at least it wasn’t closer between him and the eventual #1 prospect on our board) is the fact someone put Doncic at #16 on their board. While this is quite possibly the hottest hot take of them all, it does bring to light the concerns surrounding Doncic as an athlete and consistent contributor as he progresses in the NBA. Is he as good as he’s going to be?
As arguably the most accomplished prospect in draft history, at 19 years old, I am guessing not. He is a perfect fit in Memphis, and I will rejoice at our draft parties if he falls to the Grizzlies.
#1- Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona
No real surprise here. Ayton is the Hercules of this draft, the prototypical big man who has been compared to David Robinson and Patrick Ewing, two of the best front court players in the history of the NBA. Anyone can be a bust in the draft, but the entire NBA would be stunned if Ayton does not work out. Tremendous athleticism, elite offensive potential, defensive versatility...he is the total package and a worthy #1 on any big board.
Thanks to McCarty Maxwell, Colin Griffith, Greg Ratliff, Parker Fleming, Nathan Chester, Ross Jarrar, Brandon Abraham, and Jack Noonan for taking part in making our GBB Big Board!