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NBA Mock Draft 2018: Latest Pre-Lottery Projections for 1st-Round Action




NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 16:  Michael Porter Jr. #13 of the Missouri Tigers plays against Phil Cover #00 of the Florida State Seminoles during the first round of the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 16, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The NBA‘s Southeast Division received the unfortunate distinction of being the only one of the league’s six divisions to not have a team that won a playoff series this year.

The Miami Heat and Washington Wizards represented the Southeast in the playoffs, but they bowed out to the Atlantic’s Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors, respectively.

The Charlotte Hornets hung around the perimeter of the playoff picture until late winter but couldn’t contend for a No. 8 seed down the stretch. The Atlanta Hawks and Orlando Magic were out of it by the end of the 2017 calendar year.

Three of those teams have lottery picks, and you can take a look at what they are predicted to do below with them in addition to a mock draft for all 30 first-round selections. 

              

NBA Mock Draft: Lottery

1. Phoenix Suns: Arizona C Deandre Ayton

2. Memphis Grizzlies: Real Madrid PG/SG Luka Doncic

3. Dallas Mavericks: Duke F/C Marvin Bagley III

4. Atlanta Hawks: Michigan State F/C Jaren Jackson Jr.

5. Orlando Magic: Missouri SF/PF Michael Porter Jr.

6. Chicago Bulls: Texas C Mohamed Bamba

7. Sacramento Kings: Duke C Wendell Carter

8. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics): Oklahoma PG Trae Young

9. New York Knicks: Alabama PG/SG Collin Sexton

10. Philadelphia 76ers (via Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns): Villanova SF Mikal Bridges

11. Charlotte Hornets: Texas Tech G/F Zhaire Smith

12. Los Angeles Clippers (via Detroit Pistons): Texas A&M F Robert Williams

13. Los Angeles Clippers: Kentucky PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

14. Denver Nuggets: Cedevita Zagreb SF Dzanan Musa

                                           

NBA Mock Draft: Picks 15-30

15. Washington WizardsMissouri C Jontay Porter

16. Phoenix Suns (originally via Miami Heat): Villanova PG Jalen Brunson

17. Milwaukee Bucks: Chalmette High School C Mitchell Robinson

18. San Antonio Spurs: Michigan State SF/PF Miles Bridges

19. Atlanta Hawks: Miami SG Lonnie Walker

20. Minnesota Timberwolves (originally via Oklahoma City Thunder): Kentucky SF/PF Kevin Knox

21. Utah Jazz: Boise State SF Chandler Hutchison

22. Chicago Bulls (via New Orleans Pelicans): Ohio State SF/PF Keita Bates-Diop

23. Indiana Pacers: USC PG/SG De’Anthony Melton

24. Portland Trail Blazers: Creighton SG Khyri Thomas

25. Los Angeles Lakers (originally via Cleveland Cavaliers): Oregon F Troy Brown Jr.

26. Philadelphia 76ers: Duke SG Gary Trent Jr.

27. Boston Celtics: Villanova F/C Omari Spellman

28. Golden State Warriors: UCLA G Aaron Holiday

29. Brooklyn Nets (originally via Toronto Raptors): IMG PG Anfernee Simons

30. Atlanta Hawks (originally via Houston Rockets): Villanova SG Donte DiVincenzo

                      

Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic may have to rebuild their initial rebuild as former lottery picks Mario Hezonja and Aaron Gordon are unrestricted and restricted free agents, respectively.

Gordon blossomed as a power forward this year (a career-high 17.6 points and 7.9 rebounds) and Hezonja fared well in his 30 starts (12.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, per Basketball Reference), but it might be best if the Magic part ways with both players and start a brand-new era.

With that being the case, picking the player with the most upside should be a mission, and that could be Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr. He missed almost all of last season due to a back injury but was considered the second-best prospect in the high school class of 2017, per ESPN. If he was healthy, it’s possible he would have been talked about as a top-two or -three selection.

If Orlando is lucky enough to land a top-three pick, it should just take the best player on its board regardless of position. Evan Fournier is the only player under contract in the summer of 2020, so the future depth chart is wide-open.

                  

Atlanta Hawks

Per ESPN, the Atlanta Hawks finished 26th in offensive efficiency and 21st in defensive efficiency last season. It’s clear they should use their lottery pick on someone who can contribute on both ends immediately.

Michigan State forward Jaren Jackson Jr. seems like a good fit if Atlanta lands in the top four. He averaged 3.0 blocks and 10.9 points per game in just 21.8 minutes per night. The 18-year-old also shot 39.6 percent from beyond the arc, which could certainly help a Hawks team that finished middle of the pack in that category.

Jackson probably (and shouldn’t) be asked to play 30 minutes a night right away, but he could eventually form a great pairing with John Collins, whose energy and strong rebounding could help form a strong frontcourt with the former Spartan.

If Atlanta gets the No. 1 pick, Arizona center Deandre Ayton seems like the best bet, and the Hawks would then have one of the strongest rebounding frontcourts in the NBA. Luka Doncic could be a possibility, although a pairing with point guard Dennis Schroder doesn’t seem like the best fit; Doncic would be better off running the point on his future team.

        

Charlotte Hornets

The Charlotte Hornets are in an odd position.

First, they don’t have as much salary-cap flexibility as other teams. Per HoopsHype, they have the sixth-smallest cap space for 2018-19, 13th-smallest in 2019-20 and sixth-smallest again in 2020-21. That’s not a big deal if you’re a championship-contending team, but the current roster simply didn’t work out this year, as the team went 36-46 and missed the playoffs.

Second, they have an All-Star to build around in Kemba Walker, but he needs more scoring help in the backcourt, as he was the only guard on the team to average 13 or more points per game.

Center Dwight Howard‘s contract also runs out after the 2018-19 season, so the team may also need a center to take over in the 2019-20 campaign.

Ultimately, the Hornets can go a multitude of different ways, and the best guess here is that they take the player with the most upside. That could be Zhaire Smith of Texas Tech, a wing whom NBADraft.net gave a perfect 10-out-of-10 athleticism score in their prospect write-ups.

Smith has to further develop his offensive skill set (he made 55.6 percent of his shots but only attempted 7.5 field goals per game), but if he does so, he could become one of the better two-way players in the league.



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