Finals didn’t fill your fix? Good news, the 2018 NBA Draft kicks off on Friday.
Beginning at 9:00am (AEST), the speculation surrounding this years potential selections only continues to grow. In case you missed it back in May, the NBA’s Draft Lottery process finalized the first round, and the Top 5 selections are as follows…
- Phoenix Suns
- Sacramento Kings
- Atlanta Hawks
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Dallas Mavericks
It’s a big year for the Suns, who finished with the worst record in the league last season. For the first time in their 50-year history, Phoenix owns the number one pick, and although there’s been plenty of talk regarding trades, the Suns look to be the only team likely to stay put.
For the first time in a while this years draft class features a great mix of guards and big men, who are not only capable of scoring points, but also playing defence.
Here’s a look at the best bets and player profiles ahead of Friday’s 2018 NBA Draft selections:
NBA Draft Bets
Number 1 Overall Pick – Deandre Ayton ($1.15)
Deandre Ayton’s odds have fluctuated, but his overall ranking on draft boards hasn’t. Favoured as the number pick for the entire season, Ayton’s strong body and athleticism will automatically make him one of the most talented players on the roster should the Suns choose him, and at age 19, his future looks bright as Phoenix’s franchise big man.
As a centre, Ayton averaged 20.1 points-per-game last season at Arizona, but he’s certainly no one-dimensional player. The 7-foot big man also averaged 8.2 defensive rebounds per-game last year, which believe it or not, was an area the Suns ranked sixth in last season.
Ayton will need some coaching when it comes to transition defence, rotations and protecting the open floor, but he still shapes up as an above-average defender in the paint and around the rim.
It’s way too early, but some are already comparing him to Patrick Ewing, which is almost fitting considering Ayton’s size, and the fact he can dunk the pill like this…
The rim is still rattling after this one.
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) December 31, 2017
Ayton’s wingspan is incredible, and so is his overall frame. After taking up offseason weight lifting only a year ago, he’s packed on lots of lean muscle, but that hasn’t only translated to strength around the rim. Ayton can also knock down a mean jumper from mid-range and use his quick feet to place himself in an open position.
With all this in mind, if the Suns go as predicted and select Ayton with the number one overall pick, they can rest assured they are receiving the best big man in the class capable of developing into a Top 5 centre.
2018/19 NBA Rookie of the Year – Luka Doncic ($3)
Thanks to Luka Doncic, the ever-growing list of international NBA stars continues to expand. He’s pegged as an overall Top 5 pick, but there’s no reason the Real Madrid point guard can’t walk away with Rookie of the Year honours.
It may come down to where Doncic lands, but he’s certainly got the tools to hit the ground running in the NBA. Doncic was a force in Europe, averaging 14.5 points-per-game and 4.6 assists with Madrid. We’d hate to jinx him, but Doncic has copped comparisons to Manu Ginobli in the lead up to the draft, and standing at 6’8, it’s more than fair.
The only disadvantage Doncic seems to have heading into Friday’s first round is his lack of a three-point shot. He shot just .309 from three-point range last year, but Doncic more than makes up for that lack of production by taking advantage of smaller players and finding lanes towards the rim.
The thought of Doncic landing in Sacramento at the number two spot is exciting, what with last year’s Rookie of the Year runner-up Donovan Mitchell currently headlining the Kings’ roster.
Wherever Doncic does land, though, he’s likely to come out as one of the shining rookies of this years class.
Other Potential First-Round Picks
- Marvin Bagley III ($4.50) – A versatile centre who could help out at many different positions. Doesn’t possess a great jump shot, but has the speed to race past defenders and make simple baskets in transition. Should be a regular on the highlight reel with big time dunk/alley-oop capabilities.
- Michael Porter Jr. ($6.00) – Towers above defenders at 6’10. Whoever drafts him will have the luxury of playing him at either power-forward or small-forward. Was troubled with a back injury in his younger years, so teams will be wary of him in the first round. Also questions surrounding his attitude, but deserves the right to prove himself and certainly has the athleticism to do so.
- Trae Young ($8.00) – Big sleeper for Rookie of the Year. Needs to bulk up a little more physically, but is perhaps the most creative and agile guard in the draft. Potential to be the future star of any team, and has drawn comparisons to Steph Curry. Capable shot maker from anywhere on the floor and also presents a strong base as a defender.
- Jaren Jackson Jr. ($8.00) – At just 18 years of age, Jackson comes in as one of the youngest players in this years draft. He’s another big man who can play ‘d’, but his age and lack of physical development might keep teams on the verge of playoffs at bay. Lots of three-point potential though, and is dangerous when given space.
- Mikal Bridges ($8.00) – Still a lot to prove but figures as an instant contributor to any team. Shot 43.5% from three-point land last season at Villanova.
- Mo Bamba ($11.00) – Could easily go inside the Top 5 thanks to a fantastic wingspan that lends itself to great defence. Also loves a three-pointer and is strong around the glass averaging 10.5 rebounds-per-game last season at Texas.