EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Empire of the Suns NBA Mock Draft: Final predictions for draft week

Jun 18, 2018, 6:02 AM | Updated: 7:22 am
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After months of discussing what the Phoenix Suns will do in one of the franchise’s most important offseasons in years, we are finally at the week of the NBA Draft.

Be sure to check out our Empire of the Suns category, where we’ve covered every section of the draft from a Suns perspective. Big boards, trade-up targets, trade-up spots, veteran trade targets and the prospects under consideration at Nos. 1, 16 and 31.

Here is our final mock draft, where I will be attempting to do the quite literally impossible task of predicting all the picks.

1. Phoenix – Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona

Is this such a foregone conclusion that we aren’t looking at the possibility it isn’t? I don’t think so, but Ayton’s press conference was so obvious and over the top that either the Suns were bad at masking their adoration for Ayton or they planned on making it look that way. Leave it to me to shoot a conspiracy theory out there because we’ve had too much time in-between that media session and the draft. Anyway, Ayton is the guy. Duh.

2. Sacramento —Marvin Bagley III, PF/C, Duke

All we have heard is Bagley and Michael Porter Jr. in this spot. Some say it’s #smokescreenseason and I really can’t buy a team not seeing it with Luka Doncic. The Kings are also the Kings. Tough call. I’ll go with the Kings being the Kings, but not to a Porter at second overall extent.

3. Atlanta – Luka Doncic, G/F, Real Madrid

My gut tells me Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk is the type of guy to see the value in Doncic. And, you know, taking the best available prospect.

4. Memphis — Jaren Jackson Jr., C, Michigan State

The most difficult part of this exercise is predicting where this draft goes off the wheels. It happens every year. Shouts to Thon Maker.

Memphis is an absolute wild-card with Chris Wallace’s history and especially with their owner’s ludicrous claim of seeing 50-win potential next season.  Jackson could play with Marc Gasol in stretches and despite some raw parts of his game, projects as the type of defender and shooter to make positive contributions as a rookie.

5. Dallas – Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri

The Mavericks are the team we are hearing the most about when it comes to a trade. Project bigs take time and they don’t seem the type to be interested in that. Porter’s size, shooting and scoring is “safe” compared to the other prospects around this draft.

6. Orlando — Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas

The Magic would be thrilled with this outcome.

7. Chicago – Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

Did you know that Cameron Payne, Jerian Grant and Kris Dunn are a thing? The Bulls really want a young point guard and it hasn’t worked out for them. They punt on defense here and get the guy who will put butts in seats and keep one of the league’s most historic franchises relevant in a rebuild. Oh, and there’s a chance Young is really, really good too.

8. Cleveland (from Brooklyn via Boston) — Wendell Carter Jr., C, Duke

When Jackson goes off the board, Carter is the best available “win now” prospect. He can play a small role on a good team right away while he develops into the next Al Horford. Seems like a good “meet me in the middle” for the Cavaliers in the LeBron James scenario.

9. New York – Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky

The Knicks giving the 76ers Mikal Bridges by taking the more raw and unproven wing is perfect. Someone will convince themselves he’s the next Jayson Tatum, and they could be right, but only to a certain extent.

10. Philadelphia (from Los Angeles Lakers via Phoenix) — Mikal Bridges, F/G, Villanova

Bridges now jumps to the top-five of a post-draft big board when taking team fit into consideration.

11. Charlotte – Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama

Sexton spending time learning under Kemba Walker before he leaves or becoming Walker’s day one replacement when he gets traded works.

12. LA Clippers (from Detroit) —Robert Williams, C, Texas A&M

Another good match of a proven veteran who could leave and raw first-round pick with DeAndre Jordan and Williams.

13. LA Clippers — Miles Bridges, F/G, Michigan State

One of the Bridges or Knox will fall this far or even further I think, so trying to figure out which one it could be is difficult. Bridges’ red flags of size and offensive contributions make him my pick and a steal for the Clippers at 13th.

14. Denver — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

Gilgeous-Alexander being the third guard for Jamal Murray and Gary Harris makes a whole lot of sense. He seems like the type of smart, instinctual player to potentially be ready for situational minutes on a team looking to make the playoffs.

15. Washington — Keita Bates-Diop, F, Ohio State

I’m keeping Bates-Diop here after our last mock. The last two surefire prospects in this range are raw and need time. The Wizards don’t have any money to spend and this pick — outside of a trade — is their best way to add a piece for next season.

16. Phoenix (from Miami) — Zhaire Smith, G/F, Texas Tech

The two best guys on the board left by a sizable margin are Smith and Lonnie Walker IV.

I buy the Suns still being in on Davon Reed, and while Smith plays the same position, the similarities between him and Reed are small, unlike Reed and Walker. Smith gives the Suns a mix of the intangibles they desire as an intelligent, unselfish defensive specialist with the upside that his athleticism and brief offensive flashes provide.

17. Milwaukee — Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami

Add shooting around Giannis. Don’t overthink this.

18. San Antonio — Troy Brown, F/G, Oregon

The Spurs have a knack for betting on an unbalanced scale for a prospect’s skill-set lately, whether that’s Kyle Anderson’s basketball IQ or Dejounte Murray’s athleticism. Brown is a mix of both, but by far his most positive asset is his size and build as an NBA wing.

19. Atlanta (from Minnesota) —Kevin Huerter, G/F, Maryland

Atlanta needs shooters. Huerter could very well be the best one in the draft.

20. Minnesota (from Oklahoma City via Utah) — Donte DiVincenzo, G, Villanova

DiVincenzo would fill an immediate need of a guard off the bench and all the little things he does add up to a player Tom Thibodeau would love, despite his lack of desire to play younger pieces.

21. Utah – Jerome Robinson, G, Boston College

Utah needs some offensive help for Donovan Mitchell. Robinson is instant offense off the bench.

22. Chicago (from New Orleans) – Chandler Hutchison, F, Boise State

Hutchison is reported to have a first-round promise from the Bulls. There is also a chance it could be Indiana, but Chicago’s need for scoring at forward makes him a logical fit as well.

23. Indiana – De’Anthony Melton, G, USC

Pairing Melton with Oladipo long-term would be the league’s best defensive backcourt by a sizable margin. Oladipo also runs the offense enough to off-set Melton’s lack of primary ball-handler stock.

24. Portland — Khyri Thomas, G, Creighton

I continue to not understand how Thomas isn’t a tremendous prospect to put around a Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum backcourt.

25. Los Angeles Lakers (from Cleveland) — Grayson Allen, SG, Duke

I think the Lakers think they are going to be very good next year and want to add someone here who can help right away. Allen is 22 and a terrific shooter with an attitude that would fit right in on a winning team.

26. Philadelphia – Elie Okobo, PG, France

Can you say , “Markelle Fultz insurance?”

27. Boston — Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

Can you say, “Marcus Smart replacement but with way less defense and way, way more shooting?”

28. Golden State — Josh Okogie, G, Georgia Tech

Someone will pay Patrick McCaw and Kevon Looney, so the question is which direction the Warriors look to replace them. I think Okogie, who could be worked on as a guard stopper first and offensive player second in Golden State.

29. Brooklyn (from Toronto) — Melvin Frazier, SF, Tulane

Frazier could be paired with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson as the signature perimeter defenders for the Nets.

30. Atlanta (from Houston via LA Clippers) — Mitchell Robinson, C, Chalmette High School

Quite the fall for Robinson, but most teams in this range aren’t interested in a raw center. Atlanta could be.

31. Phoenix Suns – Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova

The Suns didn’t expect Tyler Ulis to fall to No. 34 in 2016 and I assume they will feel the same way about Brunson if this happens.

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