Drawing comparisons to the 1996 and 2003 NBA Draft classes, the pool of players selected in 2018 has the potential to be one of the best draft classes in league history. Headlined by two transcendent talents at the top in Luka Doncic and Trae Young, this class is a perfect mix of star power and depth, a combination that most classes fail to reach.
In a lot of cases, teams will take the best player on the board. In others, the team’s fit schematically comes into play with their decision. Not only that, but the team’s expectations come into play as well. If a team wants to win now, they’ll select a guy that comes in right away ready to perform. If not, they’ll search for the player with the best possible ceiling down the line. With that being said, here is TWSN analyst Justin LaCertosa’s 2018 NBA redraft.
1- Phoenix Suns Select- Luka Doncic (Original Pick- Deandre Ayton)
Without hesitation, the Phoenix Suns select Luka Doncic first overall. Phoenix adds a talent who’ll inevitably turn into an All-NBA First Team caliber player just two years after the draft to pair with Devin Booker. Despite not having Deandre Ayton or Mikal Bridges in this fantasy world, Phoenix will still have the assets to trade for Chris Paul in order to form basketball’s best trio by far. Nearly without question, adding Doncic to the equation likely gives Phoenix their long-awaited championship within three to four years of Doncic being on the team. Although Ayton has been one of Phoenix’s key pieces these past few years, this pick is a no-brainer. Doncic is a generational talent, and it’d be a crime to not pick him first overall in this go-around.
2- Sacramento Kings Select- Trae Young (Original Pick- Marvin Bagley III)
Although he’s no Doncic, Trae Young is quite easily the second-best player in the class. Critics can downplay him due to his defense all they want, but his offense is no short of masterful. Despite an iffy fit, the Kings snag by far the best player available. The Kings can run a two-point guard lineup with Young and De’Aaron Fox, using Fox as a scorer and slasher while Young handles the perimeter and playmaking duties. Again, despite an odd fit, Young is by far the best player on the board and is too good to pass up.
3- Atlanta Hawks Select- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Original Pick- Luka Doncic)
With Young off the board, the Atlanta Hawks select the best guard to replace him in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. A star in his own right, Gilgeous-Alexander has made a name for himself due to his offensive repertoire. His calm demeanor offensively allows him to be a well-rounded machine on that end, and in the biggest moments, Gilgeous-Alexander has proven to be one of the clutch players in basketball. He may not be able to replicate Young’s historic production, but Gilgeous-Alexander is by far the best player and replacement on the board.
4- Memphis Grizzlies Select- Jaren Jackson Jr. (Original Pick- Jaren Jackson Jr.)
The Memphis Grizzlies don’t change their pick here, as they once again select Jaren Jackson Jr. in this go-around. Although inconsistent offensively, Jackson Jr. was one of basketball’s most improved players this season on the defensive end. He went from above average on that end, to a Defensive Player of the Year finalist and Memphis’ clear-cut second-best player. He was drafted because of his defensive promise, and that potential has come to fruition. Memphis has one of the league’s best futures largely due to Jackson’s contributions, so it’d be odd for them to change it up.
5- Dallas Mavericks Select- Deandre Ayton (Original Pick- Trae Young)
Simply put, without Doncic, the Dallas Mavericks need anything they can get. Going with the best player available here is the only option, and despite a rocky career, Deandre Ayton still finds himself in the top five. Ayton is best when the offensive is catered towards him, and in Dallas, they can unlock his potential better than nearly any other team. Ayton becomes Dallas’ best player right away, and with the offense being centered around him. Ayton has space to grow year by year due to the opportunity Dallas presents.
6- Orlando Magic Select- Mikal Bridges (Original Pick- Mohamed Bamba)
The Orlando Magic are in desperate need of a wing, so taking the best wing in the class is yet another no-brainer selection. Like Jackson Jr., Bridges was a finalist for the Defensive Player of the Year this season, and throughout his career, Bridges has steadily gotten better and better by the year. His self-creation, passing, and defense continue to get better by the year, and soon enough, Bridges will make the jump from top-tier “glue guy” to bonafide star.
7- Chicago Bulls Select- Anfernee Simons (Original Pick- Wendell Carter Jr.)
The Chicago Bulls take a chance on the young, high-upside guard out of IMG Academy. Anfernee Simons took an impressive jump for the Portland Trail Blazers this season with Damian Lillard out, as he showed flashes of potentially being a lead guard down the line. His shiftiness and athleticism make it easy for him to get into the lane, and his perimeter play and playmaking gives him a complete offensive package. Simons has shown flashes of stardom, and with arguably the highest ceiling of those remaining, Chicago takes a chance on him to be their lead guard of the future.
8- Cleveland Cavaliers Select- Jalen Brunson (Original Pick- Collin Sexton)
The Cleveland Cavaliers still go with a guard, but this time, they select Jalen Brunson, who was taken 33rd overall in real life. Brunson jumps up into the top eight after his playoff performance, as he was one of the best players in the entire first round and was the second-best player on a team that made it to the conference finals. Brunson’s touch makes him an efficient finisher around the rim despite his height. His playmaking and ability to play off of nearly any other star make him one of the league’s most portable players. Although not a lead guard, Brunson has star potential and also has experience when the lights get the brightest.
9- New York Knicks Select- Michael Porter Jr. (Original Pick- Kevin Knox)
After taking Kevin Knox, arguably the biggest bust of the draft, the New York Knicks select Michael Porter Jr. to be the player they thought Knox would turn into. Despite incredibly questionable durability, the argument can be made for Porter Jr. having the third-highest ceiling in the class. He still has very glaring weaknesses with his passing and defense, but his off-ball ability and lights-out shooting at 6’10” makes him the perfect offensive wing in today’s NBA. If he can stay healthy and improve on his flaws, Porter Jr. will prove why he deserves the five-year, $172,000,000 extension he was given.
10- Philadelphia 76ers Select- Gary Trent Jr. (Original Pick- Mikal Bridges)
With Ben Simmons still as a core piece of the team, the Philadelphia 76ers must surround him and Joel Embiid with as many 3-and-D specialists as possible. Gary Trent Jr. fills the bill more than anyone else available here. He has developed into one of basketball’s best long-range shooters while having the intangibles to go from an above-average to an elite defender in the future. His creation game is slowly but surely coming along as well, and he can be a perfect complimentary piece to Simmons and Embiid long-term, with or without Jimmy Butler on the team.
11- Charlotte Hornets Select- Robert Williams (Original Pick- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander)
Robert Williams is yet another player from this class who is slowly but surely getting better by the year. There were question marks about Williams’ future coming into the league, as there were reasons for both his discipline and health to be problems, but Williams has cleaned up those problems quickly. Although there are still lingering health issues attached, Williams has become much more mature on and off the court. He’s developed into a top-tier defender in the league and is already proving to be a starting-caliber player on a championship team. Charlotte finally finds their center and defensive anchor for the future with Williams.
12- Los Angeles Clippers Select- Miles Bridges (Original Pick- Miles Bridges)
Miles Bridges comes in at pick 12 once again, but in this world, he goes to the Los Angeles Clippers instead of the Hornets due to trade reasons. Bridges was one of the league’s most improved players this year, as he’s a wing filled with star upside due to his advanced handle, creation ability, and slashing. Bridges has also become a more willing and high-IQ passer, and in a better situation, he has the potential to be an average defender at minimum. His skill-set combined with his on-court swagger makes him one of the draft’s most exciting players, slotting him in at the same spot as he was originally.
13- Los Angeles Clippers Select- Wendell Carter Jr. (Original Pick- Jerome Robinson)
To pair alongside Bridges, the Clippers select Wendell Carter Jr., who has fallen from the top half of the lottery to the bottom half. After taking one of the worst players in the entire draft in Jerome Robinson, Los Angeles bounces back by getting a more than reliable center in Carter Jr. The former Duke center still has time to shape out an Al Horford-esque career, as he’s a multi-talented defender with passing chops and offensive talent that draws striking similarities to Horford. Like Charlotte, Los Angeles finds a center they can build with long-term and who they can rely on to hold down the fort down low.
14- Denver Nuggets Select- Collin Sexton (Original Pick- Michael Porter Jr.)
To end off the redone lottery, the Denver Nuggets select Collin Sexton. Sexton was having a shaky career to begin, but even through all the adversity he’s faced in Cleveland, he still averaged 24 points per game in his third season. For a 24-point scorer to be selected last in a redraft, that’s when it’s clear how deep this class truly is. Sexton is ball-dominant, but he provides another closer next to Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. Sexton can be their bench spark plug for years to come while hustling on every possession defensively despite his size.