It may seem too early to begin predicting who the most highly sought after draft picks will be in 2018, but general managers all over the NBA have been diligently studying next season’s upcoming prospects, and a few names clearly stand out in front of the rest.
Considering how much talent was packed into this past year’s draft class, following up with one of equal or even more talent seems impossible. But, that is not the case in the eyes of GMs and analysts all across the league. The following players are some of the many talented prospects that will all, more than likely, make an NBA roster in 2018.
Marvin Bagley III
Transitioning between a power forward and a center, Bagley is an athletic 6’11” player with a style similar to that of Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans. Aside from his size allowing him to be dominant in the paint, Bagley’s shooting and handling skills are unlike most other centers his age.
He is set to enter his first season with Duke at just 18 years old, and is expected to have a profound impact almost immediately. This comes just after his announcement that he will forego his senior year at high school to join the Blue Devils for the 2017-18 season. While considering Bagley such an enormous progress seems like jumping the gun, his size and skills are already near NBA-level. If he performs as expected at Duke and declares for the draft following an impressive first season, he very well could be 2018’s first overall pick depending on what team holds that position.
With a style of play similar to Russell Westbrook, Bridges possesses the athleticism to play either small forward or power forward at a height of 6’6”. His freshman year at Michigan State showed that his three-point shooting abilities are on par with most NBA players today, but team scouts and his combine performance will judge whether or not it is just a flash.
A problem for Bridges in his college career has been turning the ball over. He averages a decent number of turnovers per game, but that should not be a defining factor in his play. The recently drafted Jayson Tatum struggled with the same issue and was still taken no. 3 overall by the Boston Celtics in last year’s draft. Bridges should prove to be an asset for any team looking to add both speed and size.
A recent commit to Arizona, 19-year-old DeAndre Ayton has been turning heads throughout the basketball world as a center with the athletic abilities of a strong forward (reminiscent of one Joel Embiid). At 7’0”, he is primed to dominate in the paint, but actually prefers to stay on the perimeter.
His shooting skills are well defined, and he has impressive speed for his size. Team scouts will want to see just how well he plays in his first year at Arizona. Should he have a season as successful as many people expect him to have however, he could easily be the first overall pick in the 2018 draft for a team yearning for a center.
Michael Porter Jr.
Another player entering his first year in the NCAA, Porter has committed to Missouri, and will undoubtedly make an impact almost immediately. Standing at 6’10”, he has the size and skills that may remind one of Kevin Durant. The question is, can he be as dominant in the NBA?
If Porter is able to prove that his passing is on par with his shooting, teams looking for another big man should not hesitate in drafting him, so long as he is still on the board. It will be worth watching how he handles defenders at a college level as well. This may provide insight as to how he deals with much more aggressive NBA defenders. Regardless, Porter is poised to be a standout player in his 1 year at the collegiate level.