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June 18, 2018

2018 NBA Mock Draft: Could Luka Doncic really slide to fourth overall?

The NBA draft is Thursday and it's time to start making predictions. (Well, technically this is the NBA, and making predictions is a full-time hobby in the now year-round sport.) But instead of pontificating on what LeBron James Jr.'s high school enrollment means for his father's future whereabouts, the time is ripe for a Mock Draft ahead of the event later this week.

We do expect there will be quite a few trades this week — especially keeping in mind that the Sixers, Suns, Hawks and Clippers each have multiple first round picks. Here's an educated guess as to how things will proceed in Brooklyn, solely focusing on the current order of picks:

1. Deandre Ayton, C, Phoenix Suns

This is the simplest pick to project as the consensus seems set on the Arizona star to be the first off the board. At 7-foot-1, his raw offensive talent makes up for any learning curve he may face on the defensive end. He's a good fit for rebuilding Phoenix.

2. Marvin Bagley III, PF, Sacramento Kings

The second best player on the board is Luka Doncic. But the Kings don't usually do as expected. Mock drafts across the internet are totally split over the second pick and Bagley looks to be gaining momentum at this spot.

3. Mohammad Bomba, C, Atlanta Hawks

A third straight big man off the board? Bamba's stock has improved of late and the Hawks may be weary of taking the safe route — which is Slovenia's Doncic. His 7-foot-10 wingspan is an all-time record at the combine, in a league obsessed with measurables.

4. Luka Dončić, SF, Memphis Grizzlies

This is the miracle the Grizz are waiting for. With Marc Gasol and Mike Conley expected to be back and healthy in 2018-19, a ready-made pro in Doncic could be enough to get Memphis back in the playoffs very quickly.

5. Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Dallas Mavericks

Jackson fits the profile of a high-ceiling big that would be perfect in Dallas. He can learn from the master of stretch-4's in Dirk Nowitzki as he brings his 40 percent three-point shooting rate to the NBA from Michigan State.

6. Trae Young, PG, Orlando Magic

His stats at Oklahoma — 27.4 points and 8.7 assists per game — may not translate right away to the NBA, but there is a ton of buzz around the 6-foot-1 point guard and he could be off the board earlier than expected.

7. Michael Porter Jr., PF, Chicago Bulls

If it wasn't for back surgery and an injury history, Porter would be a top 3 pick. Instead, the Bulls — if their medical staff is satisfied — will take a chance on a guy good enough to outplay several taken ahead of him if everything goes right.

8. Wendell Carter, PF, Cleveland Cavaliers

This pick is hard to project as there is a good chance the Cavs trade this pick for a piece as they try and keep Lebron James. Or they can take the best player left in Carter, a one-and-done star from Duke who can score, rebound and defend.

9. Collin Sexton, PG, New York Knicks

It's time for the Knicks to take a swing in the draft, and diving into the 6-foot-3 speedster who can score from everywhere is a good first step. Sexton scored 19 points per game as he was a stud for Alabama last season.

10. Mikal Bridges, SF, Philadelphia 76ers

This isn't a homer pick. The Villanova star is the perfect wingman for the job. With the status of Philly's trek to land a whale in James, Paul George or Kawhi Leonard, a capable rookie who can score without the ball (which will be in other hands most of the time) is a priority.

11. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Charlotte Hornets

SGA is one of those guys who may have been able to better his draft stock by returning to school, but the Kentucky wingman is worth a lottery pick investment.

12. Miles Bridges, SF, Los Angeles Clippers

If L.A. keeps both its lotto picks expect them to take the two best players left. Bridges is a bit raw but has a lot of upside.

13. Kevin Knox, SF, Los Angeles Clippers

Knox is a wildcard in this draft. He's one of the youngest players — still just 18 — and projects even at 6-foot-9 to be a talented NBA stretch-4.

14. Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Denver Nuggets

In a bad situation Miami — made even worse with knee injury woes — Walker could be a star in the NBA, or he could be a wasted lottery pick. The Nuggets are on the cusp of competitiveness and are willing to take a chance.

15. Robert Williams, PF, Washington Wizards

16. Zhaire Smith, SG, Phoenix Suns

17. Aaron Holiday, PG, Milwaukee Bucks

18. Donte DiVincenzo, SG, San Antonio Spurs

19. Jacob Evans, SG, Atlanta Hawks

20. Dzanan Musa, SF, Minnesota Timberwolves

21. Bruce Brown Jr., SG, Utah Jazz

22. Brandon McCoy, C, Chicago Bulls

23. Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Indiana Pacers

24. Anfernee Simons, SG, Portland Trailblazers

25. Khyri Thomas, PG, Los Angeles Lakers

26. Elie Okobo, PG, Philadelphia 76ers

27. Grayson Allen, SG, Boston Celtics

28. Jalen Brunson, PG, Golden State Warriors

29. Gary Trent Jr, SG, Brooklyn Nets

30. Mitchell Robinson, C, Atlanta Hawks