With the NBA set to return to action in late July, the focus has once again returned to the playoffs. Among many of the teams returning this season are players from the 2018 draft class. These players have had one full season and about two-thirds of this one to establish themselves in the NBA. While some players from the class have emerged as franchise-caliber players, others have played below their draft slot or are still question marks.
My redraft is based on accomplishments so far, as well as potential. Just for note, I’m leaving out team needs in this article and am relying on the best-player-available principle.
1. Phoenix Suns: Luka Doncic
I think this is the easiest pick as Doncic has left most of his classmates in the dust. The second-year pro is arguably the best young player we’ve ever seen and has drawn comparisons to LeBron James in his sophomore season. Some argue that Doncic has produced the best second-year ever. Considering the Slovenian national is putting up averages of 28.7 PPG, 9.3 REB, and 8.7 AST, it’s hard to argue against his case. Doncic is on pace to become the youngest player ever to average 28/8/8. This season, the Mavs forward is fourth in PER (27.75), trailing only Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, and Anthony Davis.
Doncic is the only player on this list who even garners consideration to crack the top-15 NBA players list. If the Mavs secure a top-4 finish in the West this season, I could see Doncic playing his way into the top of the MVP conversation. He projects as a perennial MVP candidate and could become the best international player ever if he puts up these numbers for the next decade or so. There’s no way he slips past the number one pick in a redraft.
Actual pick: Deandre Ayton
Actual draft slot: No. 3 Dallas Mavericks
2. Sacramento Kings: Trae Young
When Trae Young drew comparisons to Stephen Curry in college, I was dumbfounded. Young has quickly proven me wrong, and I see him as a replica of the Warrior’s star. The Hawk’s point guard is currently averaging 29/4/9 and is one of the best shooters and playmakers in the association. Although his defense is atrocious, his offense more than makes up for it. He has “logo-range” and is a transcendent passer. We saw him lead college basketball in scoring and assists, and I see him doing that in the NBA sometime in the future.
Some would like to see other players at this spot, but Young’s shooting ability and vision are far too great to pass on.
Actual pick: Marvin Bagley III
Actual draft slot: No. 5 Atlanta Hawks
3. Atlanta Hawks: Jaren Jackson Jr.
Jaren Jackson Jr. screams modern stretch four in every way possible. He also has formed great chemistry with rookie point guard Ja Morant to create one of the best young duos in the NBA. Although his field goal percentage has taken a dip, down 4% from his rookie season, he has upped his three-point percent to almost 40% (39.7%). That’s a terrific percentage for a big man and one that even guards fail to accomplish.
Jackson could use some significant improvement in the rebounding department (4.7) as well as his defense. The Grizzlies PF has averaged a little over four fouls per game, way too many for a young, capable defender. That being said, he has tremendous upside and is an excellent fit for Memphis.
Actual pick: Luka Doncic (traded to Dallas)
Actual draft slot: No. 4 Memphis Grizzlies
4. Memphis Grizzlies: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Gilgeous-Alexander played point guard all of college in his lone year at Kentucky but has been able to adjust beautifully while playing the shooting guard position. Alongside Chris Paul, SGA’s game has improved tremendously in addition to his already-impressive rookie campaign. He’s upped his point average to 19.3 PPG and his rebounding at 6.2 RPG. At 6’5”, Gilgeous-Alexander has emerged as an outstanding defender registering a steal and 0.7 blocks per game.
He may not post eye-popping numbers but has tremendous value after making the playoffs with the Clippers as a rookie and is on the verge of doing the same in Oklahoma City this season.
5. Dallas Mavericks: Deandre Ayton
I wanted to put Ayton above Jackson Jr. and Gilgeous-Alexander, but his game lacks the transition to the modern-day NBA. He’s a true post scorer while averaging 19 PPG and 12 REB this season. Ayton was criticized for his effort on defense during his rookie season but has made tremendous strides as his block averages increased from 0.9 to 1.7 blocks per game.
Ayton is somewhat under the radar in terms of his production, and he’s quietly snuck into the conversation as a top-10 center in the league. If he increases his production on the defensive, his value should climb back to his original draft slot.
Actual pick: Tray Young (traded to Atlanta Hawks)
Actual draft slot: No.1 Phoenix Suns
6. Orlando Magic: Michael Porter, Jr.
This pick is strictly based on Porter’s massive potential, as he has drawn comparisons to Kevin Durant in the past. Ranked number 1 in his class coming out of high school, MPJ has displayed effortless scoring from all three levels. It’s pretty hard to cement this pick as he has failed to stay healthy during his brief NBA career.
Despite playing only 49 games in his career, Porter has already produced per-36-minute averages of 19.2 points and 10.7 rebounds. His effortless stroke has led to 49.5% shooting from the field and 42.2% beyond the arc.
Actual pick: Mohamed Bamba
Actual pick: No. 14 Denver Nuggets
7. Chicago Bulls: Mitchell Robinson
Robinson takes a massive leap in my redraft as he was the No. 36 selection in the actual draft by the New York Knicks. He holds the highest field-goal percentage every (74.2%) of any player with at least 1,000 minutes played. The Knicks center combines ridiculous bounce and length en route to 2.2 blocks per game through his first two seasons.
Like Jackson, Robinson has drawn a lot of criticism for his foul rate. Due to the number of fouls he picks up, Robinson’s career minutes per game are a measly 21.8 MPG. His lack of playing time is a massive problem because I believe Robinson to be the Knick’s best player. If Robinson cuts down on his fouls and manages to stay on the court, his upside is enormous, as he has all the tools to be a perennial contender for DPOY.
Actual pick: Wendell Carter Jr.
Actual draft slot: No. 36 New York Knicks
8. Cleveland Cavaliers: Collin Sexton
Sexton is the first player on this list to make the same team in my redraft and real life. Sexton had an impressive rookie season in which he averaged 16.7/2.9/3.0. This season he’s bumped his scoring up to 20.8 PPG through 65 games and on 47.2 percent shooting from the floor. Although Sexton, lacks the amount of team success that other members of the class have had, we can’t knock him for the situation he was thrust into.
Sexton is one of the NBA’s best young scoring guards, and his game should continue to grow if he becomes a better playmaker and an even more efficient shooter. For now, I believe the Cavs can build around Sexton as he’s already proven himself as a high-level scorer in this league.
Actual pick: Collin Sexton
Actual draft slot: No. 8 Cleveland Cavaliers
9. New York Knicks: Marvin Bagley III
Like Michael Porter Jr., Bagley’s pick is based on his potential, and his numbers are not quite at the level of some players above him on this list. Through one and a quarter seasons, Bagley had failed to stay healthy and stay on the court. In less than 82 games, Bagley has complied per-36-minute averages of 21 PPG, 10.8 REB, and 1.3 BLK per game.
Bagley is essentially a walking 20 point; 10 rebounds a night player is he can stay healthy. I’m not too high on his fit in Sacramento either, as he’s only playing around 25 minutes a night.
Actual pick: Kevin Knox II
Actual draft slot: No. 2 Sacramento Kings
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Wendell Carter Jr.
The Bull’s big man doesn’t possess the same type of potential that his higher-ranked classmates have, but Carter has been a solid starter through two seasons. He’s averaged around 10 points and 10 rebounds with a block during his short career. I look for those numbers to bump up in the next couple of seasons, as the Bulls have lacked any sense of stability in the two years that Carter has been there. Carter projects as a quality starter who could make an All-Star appearance if appropriately used.
Actual pick: Mikal Bridges (traded to Phoenix Suns)
Actual draft slot: No. 7 Chicago Bulls
11. Charlotte Hornets: Devonte’ Graham
Graham went from an end of the bench player to Charlotte’s starting point guard in one offseason. Despite the addition of Terry Rozier, Graham has taken the role of Hornet’s best player while posting averages of 18.2/3.4/7.5 and shooting 37% beyond the arc.
12. Los Angeles Clippers: Mikal Bridges
Bridges’ pick here screams value. The 26-year-old has posted solid numbers throughout his young career so far. He’s compiled averages of 8.7 points on 51.6% shooting from the field and 35.2% from three. Bridges also ranks 15th at his position as a defensive stopper.
13. Los Angeles Clippers: Duncan Robinson
The former Division III player has turned himself into one of the best snipers in the NBA. He’s a career 43.8% shooter from deep, and his shooting alone makes himself a great value pick at 13. In his second season, Robinson has become an everyday starter for the Heat, averaging 30 minutes per game. He ranks third in made threes (243) and trails only James Harden and Buddy Hield.
14. Denver Nuggets: Donte DiVincenzo
Like Bridges, DiVincenzo is a jack-of-all-trades type of player who can start and come off the bench. He ranks 5th in plus/minus on the first-place Milwaukee Bucks and has become a dependable glue guy on the team. DiVincenzo screams winner.
15. Washington Wizards: Kendrick Nunn
Robinson’s Heat teammate Kendrick Nunn is one of the best feel-good stories in the NBA. The former undrafted guard has found a home in Miami, averaging 15.5 PPG and shooting 36.2% from three. He’s done enough to be included on the All-Rookie first team this season, and his scoring average alone puts him at number 15 on this list.
16. Phoenix Suns: Kevin Huerter
Like some of the best shooting guards in the league, Huerter combines great shooting (38.3 percent from three) and size (6’7”) at the position. Alongside Trae Young, Huerter gives Atlanta’s backcourt a chance to be in the discussion for a top-10 finish in the best shooting backcourts in the NBA.
17. Milwaukee Bucks: Landry Shamet
Shamet’s trade was somewhat under the radar when Philly shipped him to the Clippers. He trails only Luka Doncic, and Trae Young for career made threes from this draft class. Through two seasons, Shamet has posted an impressive 41% shooting from three.
18. San Antonio Spurs: Troy Brown Jr.
Brown is a quality glue guy like Bridges and DiVincenzo in this class. He’s number 18 on my list due to his lack of potential and consistency. Through two seasons, he’s put up 7.5 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists in 20 minutes per game. Brown also shoots the three at a decent clip at 33.6%.
19. Atlanta Hawks: Mohamed Bamba
Once again, this is an upside pick, as Bamba has all the tools to be a high-upside player. Bamba might have been higher on this list if he had gone to a better fit than Orlando, a team with an already crowded frontcourt. Bamba possesses excellent size (7’0”) and length (7’10” wingspan) to become a quality defender in this league.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves: Miles Bridges
Bridges hasn’t brought much to the table besides his elite athleticism. Although he plays heavy minutes for the Hornets, 30.7 MPG this season, his time on the court lacks equivalent production. Bridges has posted averages of 9.9/4.7/1.4 in his short career.