Friday, June 15, 2018

Josue Pavón's 2018 NBA Mock Draft: All in on Josh Okogie for the Celtics

The 2018 NBA Draft is one week away. The top-tier is loaded with bigs, followed by a handful of wings with a flurry of guards sprinkled throughout the mid-to-late picks. With the No. 27 pick, the Celtics will look to add to their back court and have a number of different options waiting for them at the end of the first round...

1. SUNS - DeAndre Ayton, Arizona [C] 

This one's a no-brainer for the Suns. DeAndre Ayton is the best player in the draft and will provide plenty of offense in the front court right away for Phoenix. Ayton can create in the paint -- due to his impressive footwork -- drain open jumpers and finish strong around the rim. He's also a stellar rebounder and has the tools to become a solid defender in the NBA.

2. KINGS - Marvin Bagley, Duke [PF]

Equipped with a handful of prospects from last year's draft, the Kings' best pick in two years may turn out to be Marvin Bagley. The Duke product is a versatile scorer with elite speed and will give the Kings -- the worst scoring team in the league last season (98.8 points per game) -- one offensive pillar who will make an immediate impact. Vlade Divac and co. will be tempted to take Luka Doncic here, but Bagley's scoring and NBA-readiness should force them to produce a DeAaron Fox-Bagley duo for their franchise to build around.

3. HAWKS - Jaren Jackson Jr., Michigan State [C]

As another elite big man of his draft class, Jaren Jackson wowed scouts with his efficient shooting touch. It's a facet of his game that turned him into a 50 percent shooter and when he doesn't have the ball he can create via backdoor cuts and has great hands. He's also a good defender, especially in transition. Jackson, who will still be 18 when he's drafted next Thursday, just needs to develop his body strength. However, his ceiling is still high.

4. GRIZZLIES - Luka Doncic, Slovenia [SG/SF]

While Luka Doncic is considered to be the best international prospect of all-time, the reigning EuroLeague MVP's stock has somewhat taken a hit in recent weeks. The top-tier is stacked with big men and while Doncic's game may not look as dominating as the players drafted before him, this is a great pick for the Grizzlies. The 6-foot-8 import is a pure point guard in a wing's body. With three years of professional play already under his belt, Doncic can also create his own offense -- which is driven by his ability to attack the rim and coupled with potential to become an efficient shooter. He'll also be a solid secondary facilitator to Mike Conley.

5. MAVS - Michael Porter Jr., Missouri [F]

No question Michael Porter Jr.'s health concerns (back) hurt his stock heading into this year's draft. After only playing in three games for Missouri, Porter impressed teams in workouts and Mark Cuban will take a chance on him -- he's going for a home run with this pick. Porter's a two-way player; a confident playmaker at 6-foot-11, an elite scorer with a Kevin Durant-like style and a fluid jump shot. Cuban is dying to strike gold on a cornerstone, franchise-changing player to bring his club back into NBA relevancy before shifting through the free agency pool and Porter is his best shot. He was touted as the best prospect in the country at the start of the season. Porter could turn out to be the best player in his class and is someone the Mavs can build their offense around.

6. MAGIC - Trae Young, Oklahoma [PG]

The Magic haven't had a reliable point guard since the days of Jameer Nelson. The ones that came after him sort of fell into the role, whereas, Orlando will take Trae Young with faith that he can flourish in it. The shoot-first point guard can score from just about anywhere. He's also a strong floor general and great in running the pick-and-roll.

7. BULLS - Mohamed Bamba, Texas [C]

Mohamed Bamba will be a defensive anchor for the Bulls for years to come. He gives Chicago a rim protector they haven't seen since Joakim Noah. Bamba's 7-foot-10 wingspan is absurd. The shot-blocking big man is limited offensively, and will need some time to develop an offensive arsenal.

8. CAVS - Wendell Carter Jr., Duke [C]

With LeBron James' future in Cleveland hanging in the balance, it's tough to predict if the 8th overall pick will even be heading to Cleveland. Hard to say if the Cavs will be sending it as part of a packaged deal to help persuade James to stay put, still, Wendell Carter is certainly one of the best players available. At 6-foot-10, he can run the floor well and finish strong around the basket. He has a decent mid-range shot that he will eventually polish at the NBA level and should develop a 3-point touch. Think of Al Horford, especially if he's able to drains 3's consistently throughout the beginning stages of his NBA career. Cleveland is hoping Chicago makes the mistake of not taking Michael Porter.

9. KNICKS - Mikal Bridges, Villanova [G/F]

Mikal Bridges could end up being the best two-way player of his class. He has the skillset to become an elite 3-and-D pro, his athleticism gives him the flexibility to guard multiple positions and he's an excellent scorer in transition with an outside shot that helped lead Villanova to two championships in three years. The Knicks desperately need a defensive-minded wing, especially one that is NBA-ready and with newly acquired head coach David Fizdale now at the helm, taking Bridges at No. 9 makes the most sense for the Knicks.

10. SIXERS - Miles Bridges, Michigan State [F]

Unless Michael Porter Jr. shockingly drops into Philly's lap, the Sixers will use their No. 10 pick to add a wing. Assuming Mikal is off the table, the other Bridges -- Miles -- is one of the best players available. Philly recently held workouts for both Bridges' and Lonnie Walker -- another possible option for the Sixers for his high basketball-I.Q. and other intangibles -- Bridges' defensive prowess should be too tempting for Philly to pass up here. As an athletic defender who can guard multiple positions, he fits today's position-less NBA and would complement Philly's front court nicely behind guys like Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and Robert Covington. Bridges will be a strong presence off the bench as the 76ers look to make a deep run next season.

11. HORNETS - Collin Sexton, Alabama [PG]

With no guarantee if Kemba Walker will be sticking around in 2019, Charlotte is going to have to plan ahead and take one of the best point guards of this class -- a potential franchise player in Collin Sexton. Charlotte will be grabbing the most versatile point guard out of a crop of first-rounders that's loaded with big men and it will pay off in the long run. The 6-foot-2 Alabama product combines his speed with great strength to blow past defenders and finish strong. He can shoot from the mid-range and has the vision and tools to develop into an efficient passer even as a score-first point guard.

12. CLIPPERS - Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kentucky [PG]

For a 6-foot-6 point guard, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a smooth athletic guard who can facilitate the floor and defend at a high level. His shot is limited but if he can develop a mid-range touch, his offense will be fine. This is a promising point guard for the Clippers to develop. Think of Dejounte Murray/Shaun Livingston.

13. CLIPPERS - Robert Williams, Texas A&M [C]

Whether DeAndre Jordan sticks around or not, the Clippers need to use one of their back-to-back picks to draft a big man and Robert Williams is the best option outside of the top-10. His 7-foot-6 wingspan makes a solid rim protector and for someone of his size (6-foot-9, 240lbs) he moves well offensively. He's very physical down low and possess a raw offensive skill.

14. NUGGETS - Kevin Knox, SF, Kentucky [SF]

Very good at finding his offense in a half-court set, Kevin Knox has a game that will remind you of Tobias Harris. He can shoot, attack the rim and has a high ceiling. The 18-year-old prospect has plenty of developing to do but is a solid pick for a Nuggets team that's seen two of its first-round picks (Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray) in back-to-back years blossom into team leaders.

15. WIZARDS - Zhaire Smith, Texas Tech [SG]

As one of the most athletic prospects in the draft, Zhaire Smith will give Scott Brooks a good option off the bench. With a high I.Q., Smith is a meticulous scorer and very explosive. He's also a solid passer, very patient offensively.

16. SUNS - Lonnie Walker, Miami [SG]

As a prototypical combo guard, Lonnie Walker is a great add to the Suns' back court. He can weave through defenders, score off the dribble and has the body (long arms) to develop into a good defender. Walker is a great fit here.

17. BUCKS - Troy Brown, Oregon [SG]

The defensive wing may turn out to be Jabari Parker's replacement if the Bucks lose Parker to free agency. Brown possess a similar skill set -- athletic, a near 7-foot wingspan -- with the ability to initiate offense and get past his defender.

18. SPURS - Donte DiVincenzo, Villanova [SG]

Donte DiVincenzo was a sharp shooter for Villanova in his second and final year. He'll be remembered as the guy who went off for 31 points off the bench in the title game but efficient scoring lasted all season long. He can also defend at a high level and has great size at 6-foot-5.

19. HAWKS - Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State [F]

Keita Bates-Diop's defensive prowess and athleticism makes him an ideal pick for the Hawks. He has a 7-foot-3 wingspan, can guard multiple positions at 6-foot-8 and can put the ball on the floor and beat his defenders off-the-dribble and in transition. He's a terrific add to Atlanta's front court.

20. TIMBERWOLVES  - Kevin Huerter, Maryland [SG]

Makes a lot of sense here, the Wolves would be adding a perimeter shooter in Huerter with a high basketball I.Q. who can space the floor for Minnesota and he has a quick release. He can also distribute the ball and is a decent defender.

21. JAZZ - Jerome Robinson, Boston College [SG]

His stock has been rising lately as move closer to the draft, Jerome Robinson is a pure scorer who shot close to 50 percent in his final season at BC. He finished behind Marvin Bagley as the ACC's top scorer and is an offensive weapon the Jazz need off the bench in their back court.

22. BULLS - Chandler Hutchison, Boise State [SG]

After playing three seasons at Boise State, Chandler Hutchison is ready to make an immediate impact with the Bulls. He will have a spot in Fed Hoiberg's rotation and is a classic 3-and-D guy. At 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot wingspan, Hutchison can defend any position and can attack the rim. He's also a good rebounder.

23. PACERS - Aaron Holiday, UCLA [PG]

With no pure point guard on the Pacers' roster signed passed next season, Aaron Holiday can really help out Indy. Defenders have a tough time keeping up with him, he's very quick off the dribble, can facilitate nicely and make quick decisions. And for someone who's 6-foot-1, he can certainly defend and is a threat from deep offensively.

24. BLAZERS - Khyri Thomas, Creighton [SG]

Khyri Thomas is a well-balanced scorer with a great looking shot and someone who can blow past defenders and get to the rim. His shot extends behind the arc and can really get going from deep when he's feeling it.

25. LAKERS - Mitchell Robinson, Western Kentucky [C]

As a rim-protecting big man with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, Mitchell Robinson has a body very similar to Rudy Gobert. His defensive prowess is what will get him far in the NBA due to his athleticism along with his shooting touch that can extend to the 3-point arc but is still raw. If it wasn't for lack of collegiate experience, Robinson would be projected much higher on most boards. However, he was suspended by Western Kentucky after leaving practice for a vacation to Costa Rica and decided to prepare for the NBA instead of forfeiting a year of eligibility to transfer to another college. There aren't a lot of shot-blockers in the first round and Los Angeles is in dire need of a defensive minded big to anchor its poor defense, Robinson is worth taking a flyer on.

26. SIXERS - Grayson Allen, Duke [SG]

Without knowing if J.J. Redick will return next season, Philly can afford to take a risk on sharp shooter Grayson Allen. Allen, who made 273 treys in the final three years of his four-year career as a Blue Devil, should get meaningful minutes with the Sixers. Especially if Redick decides to take his talents elsewhere.

27. CELTICS - Josh Okogie, Georgia Tech [G]

After wowing scouts at the combine, Josh Okogie gives the Celtics plenty of upside on the defensive end. At 6-foot-4 with a 7-foot wingspan, Okogie is the prototypical combo guard Danny Ainge and co. typically gush over. He wouldn't be a bad replacement for Marcus Smart, if the veteran guard ends up leaving town. Okogie is a great defender who shot nearly 40 percent from deep last season and can get to the free-throw line. This would be a great steal, if Okogie isn't available, Jacob Evans, or Jalen Brunson are good alternatives for the C's.

28. WARRIORS - Gary Trent Jr, Duke [SG]

Another pull-up shooter at the end of the bench for the Warriors. Gary Trent Jr. will need some time to develop in the G-League but the potential is there. He has a nice shooting touch and is a decent slasher when he puts the ball on the floor.

29. NETS - Jacob Evans, Cincinnati [G/F]

The defensive-minded wing bring plenty of intensity to the table. On the opposite end of the floor he can push the pace in transition and is a strong finisher at the rim. However, Evans' defense and high basketball- I.Q. is what makes him a late first-rounder, otherwise he'd be buried deep into the second round.

30. HAWKS - Anfernee Simons, IMG Academy [PG]

Atlanta could use some depth in the back court and while Anfernee Simons may not be ready to make an impact his rookie season, he's a good addition for the Hawks' long-term plans. Simons can score off-the-dribble, shoot from the perimeter and is a catch-and-shoot kind of scorer. There weren't any fitting point guards at no. 3 and 19 for the Hawks, so they're able to take one at no. 30 to round out the first round. With Dennis Schroeder expressing his frustration with the team's direction, the Hawks will definitely grab a point guard and Simons is the best one available, unless they really like Jalen Brunson.

Josue Pavón

Photos used are courtesy of Getty Images, Associated Press, USA Today

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