Large chunks of the 2018 NBA Draft unfolded as expected on Thursday night. DeAndre Ayton was selected by the Phoenix Suns with the number one pick while Marvin Bagley III headed to the Sacramento Kings as the number two pick. There were no surprise additions to the top 10.
Here are a few other noteworthy takeaways:
The Mavericks are big winners with Luka Doncic heading to Dallas
Many experts had Doncic ranked as the best player in the draft. Dallas managed to trade their way into the number three spot and scoop up the do-it-all wing. Doncic should be a terrific fit alongside Dennis Smith Jr., with future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki on hand as a mentor. A few teams – including the Atlanta Hawks, who traded the pick to the Mavericks and moved down to number five – may regret not doing more to draft such a talented playmaker. As for Atlanta, they selected Trae Young, who should be a terrific NBA scorer but is under extra pressure to shine after the Hawks passed on Doncic.
Concerns over Michael Porter Jr.’s back injury were more widespread than expected
Twelve months ago, Porter Jr. was slated to be one of the first picks in this draft. But his back injury caused enough fears for a string of teams to take a “safer” path. Porter Jr. slid all the way to the Denver Nuggets (14th pick), at which point any perceived risk was well worth taking. If he stays healthy, this is a huge coup for Denver. Porter’s smooth shooting stroke will fit nicely alongside their young core.
Lonnie Walker IV was a sneaky good pickup for the San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs’ future plans hinge on whether Kawhi Leonard sticks around. But regardless of whether San Antonio is competing or rebuilding, Walker IV (18th pick, out of the University of Miami) will be able to help. Some projections had him going five or six picks earlier. With the Spurs’ player development expertise, do not be surprised if Walker IV ends up being a key part of the next chapter in San Antonio.
With so much free agency uncertainty, it was a quieter night for trades
Beyond the Leonard situation, many teams are waiting to see what LeBron James, Paul George and others decide to do in free agency. Rather than use up any assets to get involved in the draft, the trend on Thursday was to sit back and wait. We saw the Doncic-Young picks traded, a pick swap between the Charlotte Hornets and Los Angeles Clippers and another deal involving the Suns and Philadelphia 76ers, but little else. Veteran players were not dealt. Once July 1 rolls round, the frenzy will begin and all bets are off.