The 2018 NBA draft class is bursting at the seams with talent. Luka Doncic is obviously the class headliner with his MVP-caliber play in just his second season in the NBA. However, dozens of others players from this year have already established themselves as valuable role players in their sophomore years. Some even look like possible superstars in the future.
Let’s take on the incredibly difficult task of redrafting the top 10 picks in this draft. There were, unfortunately, many players deserving top-10 billing in a normal class who couldn’t make it with this class. So keep in mind that many of the selections closer to No. 10 were very difficult.
1. Phoenix Suns select G/F Luka Doncic
Original pick: C DeAndre Ayton
Without a question, Doncic is the best prospect in this class. In fact, Doncic’s first two seasons match up favorably with pretty much any player in NBA history. He easily won Rookie of the Year in 2018-19 with averages of 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6 assists per game, then those numbers exploded to 28.7, 9.3 and 8.7, respectively.
The Suns should have pounced at the chance to lock up Doncic two summers ago. With his 6’7” size, top-tier offensive skills and amazing feel for the game, any team with Luka leading it is guaranteed to have a very good offense.
2. Sacramento Kings select F/C Jaren Jackson Jr.
Original pick: F/C Marvin Bagley III
The Kings needed either a switchable forward or a two-way center in the 2018 draft to build around guards De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield. Jackson is a great option, as he has the versatility to play both the power forward and center positions very well.
Jackson is a great big man for the modern NBA. This season, he took 6.3 three-pointers per game and made 39.7 percent of them. He also blocked 1.6 shots in 28 minutes per game and is very capable defending smaller players on switches.
While Jackson’s weaknesses are clearly rebounding and avoiding foul trouble, he is still just 20 years old. His amazing strengths at such a young age make him destined for future All-Star appearances.
3. Atlanta Hawks select G Trae Young
Original pick: G/F Luka Doncic (traded to Dallas Mavericks)
Young is currently a better player than Jackson. However, the Kings already had (and still have) point guard De’Aaron Fox leading the team and picking Young would have detracted from the impact of both players. However, the Hawks, Young’s actual team, benefit by grabbing him at No. 3.
On offense, Young is one of the top few players in the NBA. He averaged 29.6 points and 9.3 assists per game on a 59.5 true-shooting percentage this season. His elite ball-handling, passing and shooting abilities make him a nearly impossible player to cover.
The other end is a different story. Young might be the NBA’s worst defender, which means the Hawks will need to load up on excellent defensive players if they plan to win an NBA championship with him playing a leading role.
4. Memphis Grizzlies select C DeAndre Ayton
Original pick: F/C Jaren Jackson Jr.
In my opinion, the Grizzlies have two choices here: Ayton or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Ayton’s ceiling is a bit higher, while Gilgeous-Alexander strikes me more as a good No. 2 option on a championship team at his peak, but not a future superstar.
Memphis was about to dive into a complete rebuild and I think the Grizzlies would roll the dice on Ayton. He hasn’t stretched his shooting range out to the three-point arc yet, but his defense improved tremendously in his sophomore season and he is still a monster scoring and rebounding inside with his well-sculpted seven-foot frame.
5. Dallas Mavericks select G/F Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Original pick: G Trae Young (traded to Atlanta Hawks)
Versatility is the name of the game in the NBA today, and the Mavs get a jack-of-all-trades perimeter player here in Gilgeous-Alexander. At 6’5” with excellent length, SGA can play on or off the ball on offense and can capably guard pretty much any perimeter player in the NBA.
Dallas gets a fast-rising star to get its rebuild going here. Because of SGA’s diverse skill set, the Mavs then have the flexibility to build the rest of their roster in several different ways.
6. Orlando Magic select F Michael Porter Jr.
Original pick: C Mo Bamba
The Magic have been a bottom-10 offensive team in the NBA for the past eight seasons. Orlando has fixated on acquiring size and defense in the draft and free agency and it has hindered the team’s ability to consistently put points on the board.
Porter plays both forward spots at a lanky 6’10”, so he would admittedly contribute to the team’s frontcourt logjam. However, he is a potential offensive star as a No. 1 offensive option, something Orlando hasn’t had since Dwight Howard left the team in 2012.
The fact that MPJ plays on a deep Denver Nuggets team has hindered him from showcasing his true potential, but he is a supremely talented young player.
7. Chicago Bulls select F/C Wendell Carter Jr.
Original pick: F/C Wendell Carter Jr.
I was torn on Carter, the Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson or the Kings’ Marvin Bagley. All look like very good big men to depend on as a solid No. 2 or 3 starter for the future. However, Carter seems like a most versatile player who relies less on physical tools to make an impact.
While Carter hasn’t yet shown the consistent ability to shoot three-pointers, I think he has the work ethic to do that eventually. In the end, I think Carter should end up having a very good career in Chicago, assuming he gets over some of the injury issues that he has had so far.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers select F/C Marvin Bagley
Original pick: G Collin Sexton
At the draft in 2018, the Cavaliers were looking for a player to lead them into a future (potentially) without LeBron James on the roster. James did end up leaving Cleveland for the Los Angeles Lakers, so it is imperative that the Cavs don’t pick someone here solely with LeBron in mind.
Sexton was a solid original pick. His scoring numbers have been excellent (18.5 points per game in his two seasons so far), but his contributions on defense and with playmaking have struggled mightily. Cleveland has the NBA’s worst record (38-109) since the 2018 draft with Sexton playing all 147 games, though, so it is hard to say that the team truly nailed the Sexton pick.
Bagley has had significant trouble staying on the court in his two seasons, but he has the most superstar potential of the players remaining on the board. If he figures some things out, he could be a perennial 20-point, 10-rebound big man.
9. New York Knicks select C Mitchell Robinson
Original pick: F Kevin Knox
In real life, the Knicks had two selections in the 2018 draft: Kevin Knox (No. 9 overall) and Mitchell Robinson (No. 36 overall). One guy has been great and the other looks like he doesn’t have much of a future as an NBA rotation player.
Surprisingly, Robinson is the key cornerstone, and Knox has been the dud. Robinson is a center in the DeAndre Jordan mold, a guy who should average 15 points and 12 rebounds in his prime with very excellent efficiency from the field and fearsome rim protection.
Robinson’s overall offensive arsenal is very limited, as he gets most of his points either on putbacks or nice passes from teammates. He also fouls a ton. However, with the right players around him, he can be a major contributing player on a winning team.
10. Philadelphia 76ers select G/F Kevin Huerter
Original pick: G/F Mikal Bridges (traded to Phoenix Suns)
This is a pick for team fit, not talent. Collin Sexton, Donte DiVincenzo, Kendrick Nunn, Devonte’ Graham, Mohamed Bamba and maybe some others are more tantalizing prospects than Huerter is in a vacuum.
However, the 76ers are building around Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Both guys have All-Star talent, but neither guy is a major three-point threat and both guys need the ball in their hands to be effective on offense.
Huerter and Landry Shamet have both solidified themselves as very good spot-up shooters thus far in their careers, but Huerter’s 6’7” size (three inches taller than Shamet) helps him defend and get his shot off better. Huerter can also provide some additional playmaking assistance when Simmons is on the bench.