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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Best and worst picks of the 2018 NBA Draft

Michael Porter Jr

The mock drafts are now irrelevant. No more talk of wingspan, upside, medicals, or trade rumors. After months of speculation, the 2018 NBA Draft is in the books.

Thursday’s first two picks went as expected: Phoenix selected DeAndre Ayton and Sacramento picked Marvin Bagley III. Then things got wacky: Atlanta picked Slovenian sensation Luka Doncic, but shipped him to Dallas for Trae Young and a 2019 first-round pick.

The surprises didn’t stop there. Michael Porter Jr. and Lonnie Walker IV plummeted. Others, like Jerome Robinson and Troy Brown, shot up the charts.

Until Summer League commences July 6, fans will scrutinize their teams’ picks. Here is our take on the five best and five worst picks of the 2018 draft.

BEST PICKS

5. Khyri Thomas, No. 38, Philadelphia 76ers (sent to Detroit)

Most mock drafts had Thomas going in the top 20. Suitors may have been scared off by his age (22) and low level of competition at Creighton, but the film tells the story of a guy who will flourish in the NBA. Thomas, 6-foot-4, is perhaps the best shooter in the draft; he hit more than 40 percent of his three pointers. He’s also a strong athlete. Thomas finishes well at the rim — remind you of someone with a similar first name? But defense is his best attribute. He was a two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year. The Sixers looked wise for the pick, but they flipped Thomas to Detroit.

4. Robert Williams, No. 27, Boston Celtics

Williams’ fall, like that of Thomas, was stunning; I foresaw him going in the lottery. A 6-foot-9, 240-pound big who spent two years in College Station, Williams is a force at the rim. He averaged 2.6 blocks per game for Texas A&M this season. Williams needs to improve on the offensive end, but he’s a tremendous athlete and he’s efficient in the mid-range. In other words: he’s exactly what the Celtics, who already have ample shooters, need. He’ll do the dirty work, snag rebounds, and protect the bucket. Williams could transform into a better version of Marcus Morris.

3. Grayson Allen, No. 21, Utah Jazz

Allen will be ready to contribute immediately, which is perhaps part of the reason Utah selected him. During his four years in Durham, he was one of the most polarizing players in America. Some love to hate him. He hits all the benchmarks, however, for a modern NBA guard: he’s athletic, he can shoot, he plays hard on defense, and he’s versatile. The Jazz won’t need to rely heavily on Allen, as their backcourt is set with Ricky Rubio and Donovan Mitchell. With the pressure off, Allen, 22, should flourish in Quin Snyder’s system. Oh, and it seems Mitchell was thrilled with the pick.

2. Jacob Evans, No. 28, Golden State Warriors

Evans is a perfect fit for the Warriors; if he can improve his shooting, he could turn into Andre Iguodala 2.0. Iggy loves taking young wings under his, well, wing, and you can expect he’ll do the same for Evans. Evans, a first-team All-AAC selection, is built powerfully. The 6-foot-6 swingman can play multiple positions, and he excels on defense. He had 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks per game for Mick Cronin’s Cincinnati team this season. He’ll slide in beautifully alongside Jordan Bell and Patrick McCaw. The Warriors have said they’re looking to get younger going into next season — adding Evans to the rotation just makes sense.

1. Michael Porter, Jr., No. 14, Denver Nuggets

Even a few days ago, it seemed the Kings were considering Porter at the No. 2 spot. It was stunning to see just how far he fell. Porter, the top player in his class, likely would have been the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft if he were allowed to make the leap from high school. He went to Missouri, however, and a back injury and subsequent surgery ruined his draft stock. Porter could have been either a terrible or tremendous pick. The risk/reward at No. 14 makes this a wonderful pick for the Nuggets.

See the worst picks on Page 2

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