10 bold predictions for the 2018 NBA Draft

By Vincent Frank

It seems like just a few days ago that the Golden State Warriors repeated as NBA champions. But as we’ve seen throughout the years, there’s really no down time around the Association.

Starting with the draft Thursday night in Brooklyn, the next several weeks will feature some major news. Does this mean that multiple All-Stars will be dealt during the 2018 NBA Draft? Our answer to that question is a resounding yes.

Meanwhile, NBA teams are set to welcome into the Association one of the most loaded draft classes in recent history. Where will some of the big names land? Who will fall further than we anticipate?

We answer these questions and more in giving you 10 bold predictions for the 2018 NBA Draft.

Sacramento Kings make a shocking selection at No. 2 

Recent rumors seemingly indicate that Sacramento is zeroing in on former Duke forward Marvin Bagley III at No. 2 overall. That could very well be how this plays out, especially given that Harry Giles can’t necessarily be relied on as Sacramento’s power forward of the future.

Even then, there continues to be loud whispers from California’s capital city that some within the Kings’ brass are infatuated with the idea of adding the enigmatic Michael Porter Jr. with this selection. Based on what we’ve seen from the Kings’ organization in the past, this clearly seems to be on the table. Flush with elite athleticism, Porter Jr. has become a divisive prospect leading up to the draft. That’s primarily due to injury concerns. Look for Sacramento to take a major risk with this embattled forward early on Thursday.

Grizzlies and Wizards will both be big time sellers 

By now, it’s well known that both of these teams are looking to trade away hefty contracts as a way to move forward with more ideal cap situations. For Memphis, that could reportedly include adding the fourth overall pick in a package including the overpaid Chandler Parsons. Having played 70 games in two seasons with the Grizzlies, Parsons is set to earn a combined $49.2 million over the next two years. Any deal involving Parsons would likely have to include the team yielding that valuable fourth pick.

From the Wizards’ perspective, it’s a tad different. Knowing full well that their supporting cast isn’t living up to expectations, GM Ernie Grunfeld and Co. are looking to move at least one expiring contract in a deal that includes the 15th overall pick in the draft. Certain teams have the capability to take on a Marcin Gortat or Markieff Morris contract if the trade includes a first-round pick. Look for that to happen Thursday night in Brooklyn.

Cavaliers trade for Kemba Walker 

Rumors earlier in the week seemed to indicate that Cleveland was interested in adding this Charlotte Hornets All-Star point guard. At that point, most concluded that any Walker-centric deal wouldn’t be made with the idea of luring LeBron James back to the Cavaliers. That can now be thrown out the window, as it looks like any deal to bring Walker to Cleveland would be made under the guise of potentially retaining James in free agency.

Either way, there’s a darn good chance that Cleveland ultimately won’t use the eighth pick in Thursday’s draft on an actual player. Instead, the team seems intent on finding a proven star to team up with James (or whoever might be left over) on the roster. In need of a point guard, Walker seemingly makes the most sense here.

Trae Young is not the first point guard selected 

Young might liken himself to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson in Golden State. As ridiculous as this might seem, his three-point ability is far and above better than any prospect in the 2018 NBA Draft. But much like Curry back in 2009, Young is seen as a boom-or-bust prospect. His ability to succeed at the next level will depend heavily on who he teams up with in the NBA.

It’s in this that we’re going to predict that Young is not the first point guard off the board in Brooklyn Thursday night. Instead, that honor will go to a fast riser in that of 6-foot-5 former Kentucky point man Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. If somehow Gilgeous-Alexander doesn’t go first, look for Alabama product Collin Sexton to be selected over Young.

Luka Doncic falls outside of the top five

Whether it’s fatigue or something completely different, it seems that Doncic has fallen down the draft board some. Rumors are persisting that teams are not comfortable with the small amount of tape they have on him from overseas. While that’s absurd given that Doncic starred in the second-best pro league in the world, it seems to be a real concern.

We know that the Dallas Mavericks — selecting No. 5 overall — have shown some interest in Doncic. Outside of that, there’s certainly a good chance he’ll drop outside of the top five when all is said and done. If so, there promises to be a ton of teams looking to move up for his services. After all, this is a narrative that could cost multiple squads a future All-Star.

Gary Trent Jr. falls to the Warriors 

Hear that? It’s the sound of the entire NBA screaming internally at the thought of this 6-foot-5 sharpshooter somehow landing with the defending champs at No. 28 overall come Thursday evening. Though, it’s not anywhere near as unlikely as we would like to let on. The first point here being that Golden State actually had a workout with the former Duke standout this week. General manager Bob Myers and Co. have to believe he might be available.

The second point is a bit more intriguing. Just from a basic count of major draft boards out there, this year’s event includes as many as a dozen first-round caliber shooting guards. Even if Trent Jr. is in the middle of the pack when it comes to this position, there’s a darn good chance he’ll be available for the Warriors at 28.

Sixers move into the top five 

Philadelphia boasts an absurd six selections in the 2018 NBA Draft. That includes the 10th and 26th picks in the first round. Certainly, these Sixers are looking to move up as a way to find that next franchise cornerstone to go with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. The names bandied about are clear. Former Villanova forward Mikal Bridges and the above-mentioned Michael Porter Jr. have been mentioned.

According to a report, Philadelphia has been hesitant to include Dario Saric and/or Robert Covington in any talks about moving up from No. 10 overall. One of them will have to be moved in order for Philadelphia to get into the top five. Short of either of these players being included in a hypothetical Kawhi Leonard trade, it makes sense for the Sixers to simply bite the bullet in a move up into the top five.

Cavaliers trade Kevin Love

Cavaliers stars LeBron James and Kevin Love

Regardless of what happens at No. 7 overall Thursday night, there’s a darn good chance Cleveland will talk about trading Love with several teams. Heck, LeBron James’ future in Cleveland likely won’t impact what the Cavaliers do with this All-Star.

What we do know is that the four-time defending Eastern Conference champs have very few trade assets. In order to even entice James into returning to Ohio, the Cavaliers have to show they’re committed to short-term contention. Obviously, that could include trading for Kemba Walker. Even then, Love and his contract is a major chip Cleveland could offer to another team for a proven player. It’s certainly something to watch come Thursday in New York.

Dallas picks twice within the top five

In reality, this is piggybacking on the entire notion that Memphis will package the fourth pick in a deal centered around moving Chandler Parsons’ contract. With a working knowledge of what Parsons might bring to the table, Dallas has a real opportunity to stack up on valuable draft picks as it continues to rebuild.

Why not offer up Harrison Barnes or a combination of role players to Memphis for the fourth pick and Parsons? What do the Mavericks really have to lose here? This team has become irrelevant. And despite owner Mark Cuban’s willingness to spend in free agency, that outlet hasn’t necessarily helped this suddenly downtrodden organization regain its relevance.

Kawhi Leonard is traded to the Lakers

Sign, sealed and delivered. By the time the 60th pick is made in the 2018 NBA Draft Thursday night, this former NBA Defensive Player of the Year will be a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s a situation that won’t drag on until free agency starts next month. It’s going to happen sooner rather than later.

San Antonio isn’t openly shopping its disgruntled forward, but the team is reportedly listening to offers. Meanwhile, it’s been noted that Leonard has told the Spurs he plans on signing with the Lakers next summer. Why not expedite the process by dealing Leonard to Southern California in exchange for Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and at least one first-round pick? It just makes too much sense not to happen. Get it done, guys.