As the NBA season approaches tip-off on December 22nd, it felt fitting to look back at some of the most impactful NBA Drafts in the past several years. To start off the series, let’s look at the 2018 NBA Draft which was filled with talent, but most likely has several top 10 teams looking back with regret. While team need is considered in certain spots, it is important to remember that any re-draft has the advantage of hindsight. Now knowing more about these players and teams, we’ll start from the top and run through the top 10 picks of the 2018 NBA Draft.
1. Phoenix Suns
Original Pick: Deandre Ayton
Re-draft Pick: Luka Doncic
Although it is hard to blame the Suns for picking Deandre Ayton at the time due to need, this pick can certainly be looked back on with some regret. While this is no knock on Ayton, who has had a solid career besides a suspension for a banned substance, Luka Doncic is a superstar in the making if not one already. While the Suns do have Devin Booker at the guard position already that should certainly not deter them from Doncic. The pairing of Booker and Doncic would be lethal, and nearly unstoppable. If the Suns could go back in time, they would select Doncic in a heartbeat.
2. Sacramento Kings
Original Pick: Marvin Bagley III
Re-draft Pick: Trae Young
At the time of the 2018 draft, Marvin Bagley looked like an elite talent with endless amounts of potential. While Bagley has not been a bad player, and is still young, he does not deserve to be the 2nd pick in this redraft. While many people would shy away from Trae Young because the Kings already have De’Aaron Fox, this is not one of those cases. Trae Young is set in stone as the second best player from this draft class and appears to only be getting better. When you are in a position like the Kings, you draft the best player available, and in this case, Young is way too good to pass up on. While a back court of Fox and Young would maybe be unconventional, it would certainly be a headache for opposing defenses if they could co-exist well.
3. Atlanta Hawks
Original Pick: Luka Doncic (Traded for Trae Young)
Re-draft Pick: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
With Doncic who the Hawks picked in this spot originally, and Young the player they traded him for off the board in this spot, the Hawks take the next best floor general available. In this case, that title belongs to Shai Gilgeous-Alexadner who has proven to be a very solid two-way player, with solid court vision and an improving scoring touch. While this is certainly a downgrade from getting Young like they did originally, the drop off is actually not as significant as some may think. Out of the draft class, Gilgeous-Alexander ranks 4th in both points and assists and is improving at a rapid rate. This pick fits a need, and gives the Hawks a solid piece to build around.
4. Memphis Grizzlies
Original Pick: Jaren Jackson Jr.
Re-draft Pick: Jaren Jackson Jr.
With Deandre Ayton still on the board this is a tough spot for the Grizzlies. While it is a no-brainer to consider Ayton in this spot, the Grizzlies would do well to stick with Jaren Jackson and leave the re-draft with the same player they originally drafted. Jackson Jr. has elite athleticism, an improving scoring touch from deep and the ability to play well above average on both sides of the floor. Ultimately, the decision between Ayton and Jackson Jr. comes down to the fact that Jackson Jr. is a better fit for today’s NBA as big men shoot more and more and are asked to stretch the floor without sacrificing defensive ability. While Ayton has produced at the NBA level and looks like a very solid player, the need for a true center is a dying breed in the NBA, and Jackson Jr. can play the five with more athleticism and offensive versatility than Ayton possesses.
5. Dallas Mavericks
Original Pick: Trae Young (Traded for Luka Doncic)
Re-draft Pick: Deandre Ayton
Let’s be honest: getting Luka Doncic was the win of the 2018 draft for the Mavericks. The Mavericks initially selected Trae Young and shipped him to Atlanta for Doncic on draft night. With both of those players off the board, and Deandre Ayton starting to enter slide territory, the Mavericks take Ayton off the board at 5. While they do have Kristaps Porzingis now, this pick still makes sense. Ayton is a very solid center who is the best rebounder from the draft class and third in field goal percentage at 57%. He is a solid anchor on both ends of the floor and is by far the most sure-thing talent left on the board at this point, making him an easy pick for the Mavericks.
6. Orlando Magic
Original Pick: Mohamed Bamba
Re-Draft Pick: Michael Porter Jr.
Pick 6 is when things start to get more interesting. With Mo Bamba never quite catching his stride as a back-up to Nikola Vucevic, he is out of the equation for this pick, despite the upside many still believe he possesses. If you haven’t noticed yet, a big theme of this re-draft is taking players who have made an immediate NBA impact, but still have room for growth. Michael Porter Jr. is a perfect example of this. Porter Jr. missed his whole rookie season with a back injury, and his health is still a concern as he has only played 55 games over two seasons. Despite that, he has shown that he could be a borderline star in the making with solid shot making, improving range and solid athleticism to run the floor and slash to the rim. Porter Jr. was the #1 recruit in his class coming out of highschool and he will move up eight spots from 14 to 6 in this re-draft.
7. Chicago Bulls
Original Pick: Wendell Carter Jr.
Re-Draft Pick: Mitchell Robinson
While Wendell Carter has not been a bad player by any metric, there is a player at the same position who has arguably been better in Mitchell Robinson. He is the draft class leader in field goal percentage just under 75% and is third in rebounds behind Ayton and Doncic. The Knicks have yet to fully unleash Robinson, which is a bit odd considering they are not a contender and are in a good spot to play a young player. Despite this, Robinson is the pick here based on efficiency on offense and his impact defensively blocking over 2 shots per game on average.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers
Original Pick: Collin Sexton
Re-Draft Pick: Devonte’ Graham
In 2018, the Cavaliers went with a point guard with this pick, and they will do the same here, taking a different one. While it is basically a toss up between Graham and Collin Sexton, Graham offers more as an all around point guard. Sexton has scored with more volume than Graham, but Sexton’s limitations as a facilitator are glaring making him a tough player to build around. Graham is 3rd in the draft class in assists behind only Doncic and Young, after only one full season as a member of the Hornets rotation. As a rookie, Graham only played in 46 games averaging around 14 minutes per game, so to be third in assists in the class is very impressive, and shows the rapid improvement Graham is experiencing. Last year, Graham averaged 18 points and also displayed a solid stroke from deep shooting 37%. He is a better all around point guard than Sexton and that is why he jumps him in this re-draft.
9. New York Knicks
Original Pick: Kevin Knox
Re-Draft Pick: Collin Sexton
While Knicks fans were excited for Kevin Knox at the time, he is not in consideration for this pick as he has not really improved like many expected. With Sexton still on the board, the Knicks pounce on him due to his offensive ability. As mentioned before, Sexton is not the best playmaker and that limits his upside, but his scoring ability is hard to question. Averaging over 18 points over his first two seasons shooting 45% from the field and 39% from three point range is more than respectable and gives the Knicks someone who can put the ball in the basket. The Knicks are another team that are not good enough to draft for need, so they take the best remaining talent in Sexton and hope they can develop his facilitation skills.
10. Philadelphia 76ers
Original Pick: Mikal Bridges
Re-Draft Pick: Marvin Bagley III
This is a tough one as there are certainly players who have produced more than Bagley. While players like Mikal Bridges, Donte Divencenzo and Wendell Carter Jr are still available this is an upside pick. Bagley is still 21 years old and there’s no reason to believe that he does not still possess the potential that made him the original second pick in this draft. Injuries have hurt his development so far, but people should not be giving up on Bagley just yet. While he only played 13 games last season, he showed a brief flash of the ability he has scoring 14.2 points with 7.5 rebounds. Obviously a very small sample size, but Bagley displayed he has what it takes to be a major contributor, and it’s worth betting on the upside. Heading into his age 22 season, Bagley is a breakout candidate that is worth gambling on as long as he stays healthy.
Photo: John Hagen, Associated Press